Saturday, March 16, 2013

Note from a Stranger Regarding Ayahuasca

Good morning everybody. I got a note from a stranger today asking for help. It seems she read my book a couple of years ago and has an idea that I might be able to help her with a family situation. Her brother, she said, is schizophrenic and is on a downward spiral, in part due to the drugs being prescribed for him. She wants and needs help for him because she's afraid for his life. She imagines that the plants--and I think she is talking specifically about ayahuasca here--are his best hope.
   I have reservations about providing harsh jungle medicines to someone with schizophrenia. I got a glimpse of what can go wrong when a guest of mine last year--I knew the person was a bit nutty and edgy, but didn't know the person was capable of outright personality changes. At least I didn't until they drank ayahuasca and suddenly got it into their head that while I'd served everyone else ayahuasca (or that the curandero had), I had somehow poisoned him. We spent hours with this person not just ruining ceremony for everyone else, but in a deeply paranoid mindset in which he saw me as some CIA agent out to do him in for something he'd done in the past--and all the other guests were in on it. It took hours to get this person back to a rational state--after which they laughed about it all. Needless to say, that person was not permitted to do any more ayahuasca on the trip.
   So where I have always been cautious, I've become wary, and someone asking me for a recommendation about ayahuasca for a seriously ill schizophrenic--well, I couldn't do that. But that doesn't mean the writer's brother can't be helped by ayahuasca.
    This is what I wrote:
Dear X: I'm sorry about your brother's situation. But I'm not sure what you want: Do you want a recommendation for a curandero in Peru? 

   You know, traditionally the guests at ayahuasca ceremonies rarely drank ayahuasca. Generally that was left to the curandero. As background, physical or mental or spiritual illnesses or afflictions are generally seen in the Peruvian Amazon as the symptoms of a disorder on a different level of reality. The curandero drinks the ayahuasca to access those other levels, and then communicates with his spirit helpers or genios about a given person's situation and tries to find the cause of the disturbance that's producing the illness or affliction on the earthy level of reality.
   When the curandero returns from his "dream", he/she will often be able to explain what the disturbance is and what's causing it. The person with the affliction will need to change something in their life to eliminate the disturbance--or put things back into balance--which will then eliminate the symptoms on this level.
   So, if I were going to suggest anything for your brother, it would probably be to get him to a good curandero in Peru, and then let the curandero drink to try to identify what has gone so wrong on those other levels of reality that your brother is dealing with the symptoms of schizophrenia on this level. I would not suggest that your brother drink until and unless the time came that the curandero recommended it.
   Aside from the obvious problem of the curandero dealing with a potentially out of control client who is under the influence of ayahuasca, there is also the possibility that some of the drugs your brother is taking could have an adverse reaction with the ayahuasca--and you're not really going to find a curandero who knows much about that sort of thing because it's not in their world view.
    Okay, that's background. Now, tell me what you need from me and I'll try to help. No promises because I don't know everything, okay?
Peter G

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Excellent reponse, Peter.
First off, it is dangeous for the person who is taking certain medications to be taking ayahuasca. Secondly, i have seen a curandero who tried to cure a person with schizophrenia and did not gave him ayahuasca.
I'm new on your blog but I love your postings.
I am so very honored to have met you 2 months ago (I will even send you a photo of us)!