Sunday, April 28, 2013

Do participants drink ayahuasca in traditional Mestizo ceremonies?

On a board on which I occasionally post, there has been some talk of how traditional ayahuasca was utilized. Did everyone at a ceremony drink it? Did only the curandero drink it? Well, someone brought up my name and something I posted--and subsequently took down--so I sort of had to chime in. I've covered this before but I think this is a better version of what I have seen and experienced.
   It starts with me responding to someone noting that there seems to be a variation in the way different indigenous groups utilize ayahuasca.
Certainly it's an astute point that there is plenty of variation in how ayahuasca has traditionally been imbibed--the extent of which we can't really know since the Panoan language group was not a written language and only began to be one with the SIL--Sullivan Language Institute, the notorious U.S. CIA front, and before that the Office of Strategic Services front -- coming into northwestern Amazonia and writing it down.
What I was talking about was more mestizo shamanism, and even then, from my experience. With 25 or so different curanderos that I drank with in the 1980s/early 1990s, there were always locals there for healing and it was unusual for a guest to drink. With my mother-in-law and father-in-law, who both had different curanderos in Iquitos who've never served a gringo--and still haven't--it was rare for them to drink with the curandero. Ma drank at onset of puberty, then just prior to marriage and that was it, until I took her to Airport Juan Tangoa and later Francisco Montes and finally Julio to drink--but that was to help deal with very advanced cancer and she wanted guidance that she thought the plant spirit alone could give her. My father-in-law, he drank on a boast as a teen, then later when his father told him to drink at 21, and then never again (he said) until he had his legs amputated due to diabetes and he was scared to death and wanted to talk directly to the spirit.
I think Marlene Dobkin de Rios saw a similar pattern among the people who visited her father-in-law for healing as well. 
None of that goes back to pre-rubber boom time, when the indigenous still lived a much more traditional tribal life than they have at any time since. So no telling how they did it or how it varied from village to village and group to group.
And yes, Westerners are very hands-on people, so we want to know. We want to touch, taste, feel and deal with it. So we have turned the mestizo paradigm on its head. That's just what it is, and the fallout--good and bad--won't really be tallied for some time, I don't think.

1 comment:

23 said...

Kudos to Peter...just read his quote in an NPR article!