José de Lima Kaxinawá (Yube Hunikuin)
José is from the Hunikuin people of Acre, Brazil. He is an Indigenous Agroflorestal Agent and Indigenous filmmaker. José has participated in indigenous film festivals in the United States, Germany, Mexico and Bolivia and his films have won the the following awards: ForumDoc Documentary Festival of Belo Horizonte -Brazil (2006); Tatu de Oro -Bahia Film Festival (2008); Tatu Plata -Bahia Film Festival (2009). He was Secretary of AMAAIAC (Association Movement of Indigenous Agroforestry Agentsof Acre) from 2002 to 2008 and Advisor for Indigenous Affairs with the Government of the State of Acre from 2011 until 2019.
Dennis McKenna’s professional and personal interests are focused on the interdisciplinary study of ethnopharmacology and plant hallucinogens. He received his doctorate in 1984 from the University of British Columbia, where his doctoral research focused on ethnopharmacological investigations of the botany, chemistry, and pharmacology of ayahuasca and oo-koo-he, two orally-active tryptamine-based hallucinogens used by indigenous peoples in the Northwest Amazon.
Leila is a mother, proud Chicana-Latina woman, and passionate defender of Mother Earth, the Amazon, indigenous rights and climate justice. Since 2015 she has served as the Executive Director of Amazon Watch, leading the organization in its work to protect and defend the bio-cultural and climate integrity of the Amazon rainforest by advancing indigenous peoples’ rights, territories, and solutions, including solar for energy, communications and transport in the Amazon. For 20+ years Leila has worked to defend the world’s rainforests, human rights, and the climate through grassroots organizing and international advocacy campaigns at Amazon Watch, Rainforest Action Network, Global Exchange, and Green Corps. She is a 1998 graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Rachel Harris is a Psychologist with both a research and a clinical background. She was in the 1968 Residential Program at Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA and remained on the staff for a number of years. During the decade she worked in academic research, Rachel received a New Investigator’s Award from the National Institutes of Health and published over forty scientific studies in peer-reviewed journals. She also worked as a psychological consultant to Fortune 500 companies including the UN. Rachel was in private psychotherapy practice for thirty-five years specializing in people interested in psychospiritual development. Rachel is the author of Listening to Ayahuasca: New Hope for Depression, Addiction, PTSD, and Anxiety
Rafael Guimarães dos Santos
Prof. Rafael Guimarães dos Santos holds a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and a Postdoctoral degree in Neuroscience. He is currently completing his postdoctoral studies in the Department of Neurosciences and Behavior at the Ribeirão Preto Medical School (University of São Paulo, Brazil), researching the potential therapeutic uses of ayahuasca, cannabidiol, and ibogaine in neuropsychiatric disorders. He is also a researcher at the Brazilian National Institute of Science and Technology – Translational Medicine, and a member of ICEERS’s Advisory Board.
Chris Kilham is an ethnobotanist, author, educator and TV personality who promotes plant-based medicines, sustainable trade and indigenous cultures. He has conducted medicinal plant research in over 45 countries and is the founder of Medicine Hunter Inc and The Ayahuasca Test Pilots. He has worked with South American shamans since 1993, with over 35 trips to the Amazon rainforest. Chris speaks all over the world and has been featured in The New York Times, Outside Magazine, Psychology Today, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and on CNN, NBC Nightly News, The Dr. Oz Show, HDNET, ABC Good Morning America, ABC Nightline, ABC 20/20, and many other top-tier media venues. The New York Times has called Chris “Part David Attenborough, part Indiana Jones.”
For the past twelve years, Erika has been traveling regularly to Peru to learn from ayahuasca and other teacher plants. She spent two years at an ayahuasca centers near Iquitos where she also led ceremonies. She is the author of a book The Time is Now: The Teachings of Ayahuasca, published under the pen name Isa Mea. Erika has been working for environmental NGOs and advocates the transition to circular economy, global equity in the distribution of natural resources, and the related attitude to indigenous communities.
Poet, writer, essayist, Alex met Santo Daime in 1982 and was initiated by Padrinho Sebastião Mota, disciple of Mestre Raimundo Irineu Serra. He was one of his main followers and one of those responsible for the great expansion of this tradition from the Amazon forest to the main cities of the country and the world. Since the 1980s, Alex has participated in the fight for the regulation of the sacramental drink and was the representative of the Santo Daime line in the GMT/CONAD working group that regulated the religious use of ayahuasca in Brazil. Alex has published three books on this topic: The Book of Mirations, The Forest Guide, and the Gospel of Sebastião Mota. A political activist in the 1960s, he is currently developing environmental projects in Vila Céu do Mapiá. He divides his time between Amazonia and Visconde de Mauá, where in the 1980s he founded a church and a Santo Daime community.
Alnoor’s work focuses on the intersection of political organizing, systems thinking, storytelling, and a return to Original Wisdom. He is a founding member and the Executive Director of The Rules (/TR), a global network of activists, organizers, designers, coders, researchers, writers and others dedicated to changing the rules that create inequality, poverty and climate change around the world. He is also a co-founder of Tierra Valiente (Brave Earth), a post-capitalist community and alternative healing center in Costa Rica.
Carlos Suárez Álvarez
Carlos Suárez Álvarez is an ethnographic researcher, writer and filmmaker focused on Amazon indigenous cultures and their position in globalization processes. He completed his MA in Amazon Studies with Honors, at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, and also holds a journalism degree from Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. He is the author of a multimedia documentary, Ayahuasca, Iquitos and Monster Vorāx, and a novel, Ayahuasca, Amor y Mezquindad, and has published numerous ethnographic chronicles on different ayahuasca traditions in various publications in Spain and across Latin America. Since 2007 he has been living in Leticia, on the Colombian banks of the Amazon river.
Débora González is a Clinical Psychologist with a Ph.D. in Pharmacology. Her doctoral work was supported by a fellowship from the Spanish government. She is co-author of several scientific papers and book chapters about ayahuasca, 2C-B, Salvia divinorum and research chemicals. Currently, Débora is conducting a longitudinal study on the long-term effects of ayahuasca on well-being and health of Western users with ICEERS and a pilot study of the treatment for complicated grief, involving holotropic breathwork and ayahuasca as therapeutic tools, with the PHI Association.
Edilsom Fernandes da Silva was born in Resplendor, Minas Gerais, Brazil. A computer professional, he currently works as an assistant in ethno-environmental consulting on the indigenous lands of three ethnic groups in Rondônia. He has worked with ayahuasca Since 1985, first in the (UDV) until 1989, and then with the Barquinha de Manuel Araújo, where he remained until 2000. After the death of Manuel Araujo, on August 17, 2000, Edilsom created an independent religious center, the Center for Spiritual Regeneration Casa de Jesús y Lar de Frei Manuel, a church of the Mestre Daniel Pereira de Mattos line, or Barquinha line, in Ji-Paraná Rondônia, of which he is currently president. He is working the Asociación Cultural y de Desarrollo del Apenado y el Egresso’s project, which aims at the social integration of prisoners through various therapies, such as Gestalt, Transformational Theatre, Family Constellations, Massotherapy, Ayurvedic Medicine, Enneagram, NLP, in addition to workshops and various courses. The Center for Spiritual Regeneration also collaborates with the Association for the Protection of Convicts of Ji-Paraná in situ, with Conferences, Constellations and Psychotherapies. Since 2013, the Center for Spiritual Regeneration has been serving convicts in its spiritual work with ayahuasca. This is the only part of the ACUDA project that takes place outside of the institution’s prisons and facilities.
Giorgio Samorini was born in Bologna (Italy) in 1957. He is an independent ethnobotanist who researches the traditional use of intoxicating plants and fungi in different cultures and their archaeological footprint. He has carried out research in modern ethnic groups in Africa, Latin America, Asia, specializing in the archeology and ethnography of intoxicating plants around the world. Among his research highlights the discovery of the oldest cult of psychoactive mushrooms in the Sahara desert, dated in the seventh century BC, and the study of the modern religious cult of Bwiti among the Fangs of Gabon, which use the visionary plant iboga. Giorgio has published numerous articles in scientific journals and several books, including Animales que se drogan, Los alucinόgenos en el mito, Funghi allucinogeni. Studi etnomicologici, Droghe tribali, Jurema, la pianta della visione, Archeologia delle piante inebrianti.
Jeffrey Bronfman was the lead plaintiff and legal strategist of the União Do Vegetal’s (UDV) successful legal action to secure its right to the religious use of its sacrament in the United States. Today, in addition to his continuing work on behalf the UDV internationally he is a member of the Steering Committee of ICEERS’s Ayahuasca Defense Fund.
Julie Hannah is the Director of the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy, where she has been leading high impact research and teaching projects since 2012. Her work has been internationally recognized in the areas of human rights and drug control. Julie’s current research focuses on human rights institutions and drug policy, migration and harm reduction, the intersection of the right to mental health and drug policy, and the human rights impact of a post-drug prohibition world. She is a member of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex where she is also an advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, supporting the mandate’s thematic research on mental health and engagement with civil society. She has also spent more than 10 years leading humanitarian and human rights projects for marginalized communities, particularly those in Southeast Asia.
Khalid Tinasti is the Executive Secretary of the Global Commission on Drug Policy. He also serves as a Visiting Fellow at the Global Studies Institute of the University of Geneva, and as an Honorary Research Associate at Swansea University. Khalid holds a PhD in political science from the Institut Catholique de Paris, and conducted his postdoctoral research at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. He is the author of scientific papers and policy research reports with a focus on public policies, democracy and the role of elections, and international drug control mechanisms.
Manuel Almendro is a clinical psychologist and the Director of Oxígeme. He is a member of the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations (EFPA), and on the board of several international journals of Psychology. Over four decades, Manuel has dedicated himself to researching the Traditional Indigenous Medicines (TIM) of southern Mexico, the American Amazon, and in the Zen tradition and Clinical Psychology, integrating all of them into the methodology of the Oxígeme process, a research and training program. Based in Spain, Dr. Almendro also lectures and conducts workshops throughout Europe and America. He is the author of articles and books on these subjects.
Born in Curitiba (PR), in southern Brazil, Onides Bonaccorsi Queiroz has been an ayahuasquera for 22 years and has been living in Acre, the Brazilian birthplace of ayahuasca, for nine years. She is uniformed from the Daime, in the lineage of Mestre Irineu. Since 2010, she has been Counselor of the Thematic Chamber of Ayahuasca Cultures of Rio Branco (AC), having held the position of articulator from 2015 to 2018. She has also been the Counselor of the Environmental Protection Area Raimundo Irineu Serra (Aparis) since 2010. Onides is a journalist, broadcaster, writer and storyteller, and author of the literary blog Verbo de Ligação.
Tal Arnon has an MA in Somatic psychotherapy from California Institute of Integral Studies. She has private practice in Israel, where she conducts somatic therapy, trauma healing, and music healing from South America. Tal is leader of healing and related therapeutic events in Israel and teaches workshops to therapists to combine shamanic tools with modern psychotherapy. She also teaches workshops about traditional Icaros. Tal lives close to nature as part of a beautiful spiritual tribe in Israel.
Pilar Verges lives in the mountains of the Garrotxa, Catalonia, and is part of the Santo Daime Church and also of the sorority of the Grove of Gaia where they work on awakening the feminine. Pilar has been working with Master Plants for several years. She participated in the Sacred Alliances of diverse traditions and also in several circles of Planetary Grandparents. Pilar currently runs a small Santo Daime headquarters and organizes and accompany vision quests.
Randy Borman was born only months before his parents – missionaries and linguists – ventured into the Ecuadorian rainforest to live among the Cofán people. This set in motion a life that, over five decades, has helped to shape the Cofán community into a model for success in the struggle for biodiversity conservation and indigenous land rights. Borman and the Fundación Sobrevivencia Cofán are fighting to save the rainforest and their culture.
Randy is considered one of the Cofán nation’s most important and respected leaders by the Cofán themselves. He is also a recognized leader of Ecuadorian environmental and conservation related issues and continues to work closely with various national and international non-governmental organizations.
Vera Fróes Fernandes is a historian from the Federal University of Acre, with a specialization in ethnobotany from the National Botanical Research Institute in Lucknow, India and holds a postgraduate degree in Innovation Management in Brazilian Biodiversity Phytomedicine from Fiocruz. She is vice-president of the Institute of Cultural and Environmental Studies (IECAM). Vera is author of one of the first books on Santo Daime, Santo Daime: Amazonian Culture (Juárez, 1986). She collaborated on the book Myth and Mystery of Birth in the Light of the Santo Daime (Primo, 2015), by Adelise Monteiro.
Wade Davis is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker whose work has taken him from the Amazon to Tibet, Africa to Australia, Polynesia to the Arctic. Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society from 1999 to 2013, he is currently Professor of Anthropology and the BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at the University of British Columbia. Author of 22 books, including One River, The Wayfinders and Into the Silence, winner of the 2012 Samuel Johnson prize, the top nonfiction prize in the English language, he holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. His many film credits include Light at the Edge of the World, an eight-hour documentary series written and produced for the NGS. Davis, one of 20 Honorary Members of the Explorers Club, is the recipient of 11 honorary degrees, as well as the 2009 Gold Medal from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, the 2011 Explorers Medal, the 2012 David Fairchild Medal for botanical exploration, and the 2015 Centennial Medal of Harvard University, the 2017 Roy Chapman Andrews Society’s Distinguished Explorer Award, and the 2017 Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration. In 2016, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada.
Jeremy completed a BA in history at the University of Kent in Canterbury, UK, and a Ph.D. in Anthropology at Stanford University (USA). Since 1990, he has worked for Swiss NGO Nouvelle Planète as a coordinator of Amazonian projects. He has published several books, including The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge, Intelligence in Nature, and Shamans through Time (co-edited with Francis Huxley). Jeremy is Canadian and currently lives in Switzerland.
Sitara is a psychologist with master studies in Gestalt Psychotherapy and Integrative Psychology. She also trained in Claudio Naranjos SAT program, meditation, body-oriented techniques, acting, and clown. Since 2002 she has been part of Grof Transpersonal Training (GTT) teaching staff, leading Holotropic Breathwork workshops and events throughout Europe. Since 2003 she has been the co-director of the GTT program in Spain and is currently international senior faculty staff. Through years of practice with Stan and Christina Grof, Sitara developed a deep interest in the therapeutic support in expanded states of consciousness, which is now the main focus of her work. Sitara went to Peru to learn from the healing effects of dieting plant medicines and ayahuasca retreats in the forest. Born and raised in Venezuela, Sitara lives in Spain where she has a private psychotherapy practice with a special interest in personal and transpersonal development
Claudio Naranjo was born in Valparaíso (Chile), where he studied Medicine, Psychiatry and Music. He then studied at several universities in the United States (Ohio, Harvard, Illinois, California, Stanford, Meriland), in Psychology of Values, Social Relations, Personality Studies and Psychology. In the 1960s, he learned Gestalt with Fritz Perls and belonged to the original team of the Esalen Institute. A professor and researcher in different fields of human knowledge, Naranjo has distinguished himself for his work integrating traditional and scientific wisdom, and the historical, anthropological, sociological, psychological and spiritual knowledge of humans. He is the creator of the SAT program, initially aimed at professionals in psychotherapy, which has developed over time into a program of individual and social transformation aimed especially at the educational field. He is the author of 19 books, many of which have been translated into several languages.
Charlotte Walsh is a legal academic at Leicester Law School, University of Leicester, where she runs a course on Criminology, with a particular focus on drug policy. Her research specialism is on the interface between psychedelics and the law, viewed from a liberal, human rights-based perspective, and she has published widely on this subject – in journals and edited collections – along with being a regular speaker at conferences and festivals. She is on the Steering Committee of ICEERS’s Ayahuasca Defense Fund and is involved with legal defence work and advocacy for policy reform.
Luis Eduardo Luna
Luis Eduardo Luna was born in Florencia (Colombia) in 1947. He has a B.A. from Universidad Complutense de Madrid (1972), an interdisciplinary M.A. from Oslo University (1980), a Ph.D. from the Department of Comparative Religion Stockholm University (1989), and an honorary doctoral degree from St. Lawrence, Canton, New York (2002). Since 1989, Luis has been a Fellow of the London Linnaean Society. In 2011, he retired from the Department of Modern Language and Communication at the Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki. He was an Assistant Professor in Anthropology (1994-1998) at the Department of Anthropology of Santa Catarina Federal University in Florianópolis, Brazil. Luis is the author of Vegetalismo: Shamanism among the Mestizo Population of the Peruvian Amazon(1986), co-author with Pablo Amaringo of Ayahuasca Visions: The Religious Iconography of a Peruvian Shaman(Berkeley, 1991), and co-author with Slawek Wojtowicz, Rick Strassman and Ede Frecska of Inner Paths to Outer Space: Journeys Through Psychedelics and Other Spiritual Technologies(Rochester, 2008). He is also a co-editor with Steven White of Ayahuasca Reader: Encounters with the Amazon’s Sacred Vine (Santa Fe 2000, with a second enlarged edition in 2016). Luis has curated exhibitions of visionary art in the United States, Europe and Latin America. He is the Director of the Research Center for the Study of Psychointegrator Plants, Visionary Art and Consciousness, in Florianópolis, Brazil
Tashka Peshaho Yawanawá
Tashka is the leader of the Yawanawá people and a philosopher. He has participated numerous international cultural, political and environmental events. Tashka was one of the leaders of the struggle for the expansion of Yawanawá territory. He is coordinator of the Yawanawa Sociocultural Association and organizer of the Mariri Yawanawá – Mutum Village Festival.
Sitaramaya Sita has traveled, worked and studied extensively in the Amazon for the past 17 years. She is a spiritual herbalist, pusangera and plant wisdom practitioner formally trained in the Shipibo ayahuasca tradition. She is the Founder of PlantTeachers, dedicated to cultivating entheogenic awareness, and producer of the Visionary Convergence conference. Sita stewards a 70 acre land conservation project in the Peruvian Amazon. She lectures, teaches, and works with individuals and groups in ceremonies and guides plant dietas. Sita currently trains, teaches and practices to heal personal, institutional and cultural trauma. She is an art curator and organizer of Ayahuasca & Visionary Art: A Coming Together of Cultures the art space and exhibition at AYA2019 in Girona, Spain.
Dr. Joe Tafur, MD, is a Colombian-American family physician originally from Phoenix, Arizona. After completing his family medicine training at UCLA, Dr. Tafur spent two years in academic research at the UCSD Department of Psychiatry in a lab focused on mind-body medicine. After his research fellowship, over a period of six years, he lived and worked in the Peruvian Amazon at the traditional healing center Nihue Rao Centro Espiritual. There he worked closely with master Shipibo healer Ricardo Amaringo and trained in ayahuasca shamanism. In his new book “The Fellowship of the River: A Medical Doctor’s Exploration into Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicine,” through a series of stories, Dr. Tafur shares his unique experience and integrative medical theories. He is now focused on his work with Modern Spirit and the Modern Spirit Epigenetics Project, a groundbreaking investigation currently being conducted in collaboration with Dr. Rael Cahn MD PhD at the University of Southern California Dept. of Psychiatry and the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).
Josep Maria Fericgla
Born in Barcelona in 1955. BA in Geography and History and a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Barcelona (UB ). He also attended advanced studies in Psychology, Music and Dramatic Art . Specialist in Cognitive Anthropology, Ethnomusicology, Ethnopsychology, shamanism, states of expanded consciousness and Anthropology of aging. He has conducted field studies in Turkish Kurdistan , in the Moroccan Maghreb, Catalunya and from 1991 to 2009 in the Upper Amazon of Ecuador. He has been a professor at the University of Salamanca and in Barcelona. He is founder and director of the Societat d’Etnopsicologia Aplicada (Sd’EA), and presides Josep Mª Fericgla Foundation.
Benjamin De Loenen
Benjamin De Loenen, M.A., studied audiovisual media and communications in The Netherlands, where he graduated with honors from his Masters with his documentary “Ibogaine-Rite of Passage” (2004), a film that remains an important reference on this subject matter. Since this achievement, Benjamin has been dedicated to making ayahuasca, iboga and other psychedelic plant practices valued and integrated parts of society. In 2009, he founded the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research & Service (ICEERS), a charitable non-profit organisation with United Nations consultative status, where he serves as Executive Director. Benjamin is the author of several publications and films, has presented at conferences around the world, and has participated in various leadership roles, including as a member of the Board of Directors of the Global Ibogaine Therapist Alliance (2012 – 2014).
José Carlos Bouso
José Carlos Bouso is a Clinical Psychologist with a PhD in Pharmacology. He developed his scientific actitives while at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, the Instituto de Investigación Biomédica IIB-Sant Pau de Barcelona, and the Instituto Hospital del Mar de Investigaciones Médicas de Barcelona (IMIM). During this time, he developed studies about the therapeutic effects of MDMA (“ecstacy”) and psychopharmacological studies on the acute and neuropsychiatric long-term effects of many substances, both synthetic and plant origin. As the Scientific Director at ICEERS, José Carlos oversees studies on the potential benefits of psychoactive plants, principally cannabis, ayahuasca, and ibogaine, with the goal of improving public health. He is co-author of numerous scientific papers and several book chapters.
Edson Lodi – Journalist and author of several books. Member of the UDV since 1976, having occupied several high positions in the hierarchy. He has been working on the institutionalization of the religious use of ayahuasca for over 25 years, having been an active participant in the elaboration of the Letter of Principles for the religious use of Ayahuasca in Brazil in 1991. He also acted as vice-president of the Brazilian Government’s Multidisciplinary Work Group, which defined the public policy and regulatory model for ayahuasca use in Brazil in 2010.
Dr. Ede Frecska
Dr. Ede Frecska is the Chairman of Psychiatry at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Debrecen. He received his medical degree in 1977 from the Semmelweis University in Hungary. He then earned qualifications as certified psychologist from the Department of Psychology at Lorand Eotvos University in Budapest. Dr. Frecska completed his residency training in Psychiatry both in Hungary (1986), and in the United States (1992). He is a qualified psychopharmacologist (1987) of international merit with 17 years of clinical and research experience in the United States, where he reached the rank of Associate Professorship. During his academic years, Dr. Frecska’s studies were devoted to research on schizophrenia and affective illness. In his recent research he is engaged in studies on psychointegrator drugs, especially on the physiological effects of DMT in acute and chronic cellular stress like hypoxia. His theoretical work focuses on the interface between cognitive neuroscience and quantum brain dynamics. He is specifically interested in the mechanism of initiation ceremonies and healing rituals. He published more than 100 scientific papers and book chapters on these topics. Dr. Frecska is a member of several professional organizations (APA, ECNP, CINP), and has received grants and awards from a variety of sources (NARSAD, NIAA).
Ede Frecska is a co-author with Rick Strassman, Slawek Wojtowicz and Luis Eduardo Luna of Inner Paths to Outer Space and has chapters in Ervin Laszlo’s books (The New Science and Spirituality Reader and A New Map of Reality). A recent study lead by him, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, proves that ayahuasca increases creativity and another one in Frontiers in Neuroscience that DMT has neuroprotective effect in hypoxia.
José Lopez Sanchez
José Lopez Sanchez (Shipibo name – Sanymeny meaning “The Messenger”), is a 35-year-old Onanya (Shipibo word for a master plant-spirit healer) from the Shipibo-Conibo native community of Royaboya in the Peruvian Amazon. He is the son of the legendary Maestra Ynes Sanchez and Maestro David Lopez.
José was named after his paternal grandfather, a highly respected Onanya, who trained him extensively since his childhood, transmitting the wisdom of his ancestors, the Shipibo-Conibo cosmovision and the sophisticated practices of Shipibo plant-spirit healing. At the age of seven, José began the preparation of his body, mind, and spirit by beginning his first traditional diet with master plants. At age sixteen, he began to heal people from his village and his work then expanded from the city of Pucallpa out into many other regions of Peru.
He has spent much time travelling, working in various communities and ayahuasca centers around Peru, and currently works at the Temple of the Way of Light and Niwe Rao Xobo – his mother’s center. He is also establishing his own center called ‘Shipibo Rao Traditional Medicine School’ to provide traditional training for local and foreign apprentices.
Puwe Puyanawa is one of the main spiritual and social leaders of the Puyanawa. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences and he is a teacher at the
Ixubay Rabui Puyanawa School. He is also president of the association of the community and has spent more than 30 years dedicated to rescuing and preserve indigenous culture and spiritual traditions. He has been working with sacred medicine for 16 years. In the year 2013, he began to travel to Europe with his mentor Benki Piyanko, thus being able to make known the history of their community and seek international support, in order to be able to purchase the sacred lands where their ancestors lived.
Sir Ghillean Prance
Sir Ghillean Prance FRS PPLS has conducted 39 expeditions to study the Amazon flora. He is a former Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, author of 24 books and monographs and extensive papers on the taxonomy of tropical plants, ethnobotany and conservation. He is a leading figure in the ecology, taxonomy and ethnobotany of the Amazon Basin. From 1981 to 1988, he served as the Vice-President for Science at the New York Botanical Garden and as Founding-Director of the New York Botanical Garden’s Institute of Economic Botany. He is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London for which he served as it’s President for many year. A Fellow of the Explorers Club and a Member of the Royal Danish Academy of Science and Letters, and a Corresponding Member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences. He was in charge of the design and creation of the rainforest biome at Biosphere 2, and currently serves as the Director of Research at the Eden Project. In 1994, he received the Patrons Gold Medal from the RGS, and the Victoria Medal of Honor in 1999 from the Royal Society.
Dr Riccardo Vitale
Dr Riccardo Vitale, since 2016, is a full-time advisor to the Union of Indigenous Doctors Yageceros of the Colombian Amazon (UMIYAC). He holds a PhD in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge with a thesis on human rights, free trade agreements and transnational support networks in the context of the Zapatista movement in Mexico. He has served as a researcher and consultant for international organizations, such as the United Nations, Oxfam America, GTZ, Norwegian Refugee Council and the International Crisis Group, on issues of human rights, indigenous communities in conflict zones, internal displacement, resilience and climate change adaptations.
Andrea Langlois holds a Master’s Degree in Media Studies from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. She is Director of Engagement at the International Centre for Ethnobotanical Education, Research, and Service (ICEERS). Prior to joining ICEERS, Andrea worked for over a decade in communications, community engagement, and research in the harm reduction and HIV/AIDS sector. She is the co-editor of two books on autonomous media and pirate radio and has been involved in research on media coverage of drug policy issues, social dimensions of health (such as housing and stigma), and psychedelic drug policy. Andrea is passionate about dialogue, social movements, and community engagement.
Atossa Soltani is the founder and board president of Amazon Watch, a nonprofit organization working to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin. She served as the organization’s first Executive Director from 1996-2014. Currently Atossa is the Director of Global Strategy for the Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative, working to protect 60 million acres of rainforest considered as the most biodiverse ecosystem on Earth. The initiative is led by an alliance of Amazonian indigenous nations of Ecuador and Peru in partnership with Fundación Pachamama, Amazon Watch and the Pachamama Alliance. Atossa is the Hillary Institute 2013 Global Laureate for Climate Leadership and recipient of the 2014 Hillary Step Prize. She is currently producing her first feature-length documentary film titled The Flow about learning from nature’s genius. From 2008-2017, Atossa served as a trustee of The Christensen Fund and was Board chair for five of those years.
Barry is a Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur who evolved into a conscious capitalist using business as a force for good. Barry is the Co-Founder of 1heart (www.1heart.com), a thriving tribe of 100+ heart-led leaders of conscious companies solving planetary problems. The lives they live, companies they build and examples they set are transforming the world. They believe we are all connected. We are all one. We are all 1heart. Barry’s the Chief Heart Officer of 1heart Journeys (www.1heartjourneys.com), a world-transformational travel company. As a ‘Love Doula’ ❤️, Barry
births self-love in top executives, entrepreneurs and global change makers. Together, they journey beyond their egos and deeply explore their individual and collective purpose. Journeys are led by leading practicers of modern and ancient modalities, including sacred plant medicine ceremonies, biohacking, breath work, sound healing, yoga, ecstatic dance, meditation and other proven methods to achieve higher states of consciousness. By accelerating human evolution through tribal co-elevation we transcend to our highest potential. Barry’s the Founding Advisor to Tuft & Needle (TN.com) who sold for hundreds of millions to Serta Simmons Bedding in 2018. Barry’s an Angel investor in Thrive Market (thrivemarket.com) who achieved $200 Million in sales and has a mission is to make healthy eating affordable for everyone. Barry’s the Co-Founder of Guided (getguided.co) the first to make coaching an employee benefit, Co-Founder at Superwell (www.besuperwell.com), providing access to nature’s most healing superfoods, and Co-Founder at Miami made (miamimade.org), a founder-led organization supporting the wellbeing of 200+ entrepreneurs choosing the hero’s journey. Barry’s been a paid consultant and executive coach to 100+ Fortune 500 companies. He is recognized by TechWeek as one the 100 Most Influential Leaders in Technology. Barry was the Global Practice Leader of Strategy & Innovation at Acxiom (NASDAQ: ACXM) and helped build a business unit from scratch to $315MM annual revenues which was sold to IPG for $2.3 Billion in 2018. Barry build and sold his first company called INBOX Marketing in San Francisco to Responsys prior to their IPO and $1.6 Billion dollar exit. Barry’s early career focused on ‘mass communication’. Now that the world is connected, he believes ‘mass collaboration’ is the key to unlock humanities highest potential as one collective consciousness. When not playing with his two sons (Beau & Nico), he enjoys being at one with nature and serving as a global citizen of planet earth.
Constanza Sánchez Avilés is a political scientist and holds a PhD in International Relations and International Law from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. Her work focuses on national and international drug policy, the political economy of illicit drugs, and transnational organized crime. She was a visiting scholar at the University of Miami (2010), the Justice in Mexico Project at the University of San Diego (2012) and Research Assistant at the Global Drug Policy Observatory at Swansea University (2013). She did fieldwork on drug policies in Europe, Peru, the United States, Mexico and the US-Mexico border. Constanza has attended the UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs several times and participated in the UN Special Session of the General Assembly on drugs in 2016 as a civil society representative. Her PhD thesis – “The international drug control regime: formation, evolution and interaction with national policies. The case of drug policy in Spain” – was recognized for its contribution to drug policy research in Spain and Constanza was awarded the Reina Sofía Drug Research Award 2015 and the AEPDIRI Award for the best thesis in International Relations 2013-2015.
Constanza joined ICEERS in 2013, where she coordinates law, public policy and human rights activities, which includes the Ayahuasca Defense Fund. She also collaborates with various institutions in the field of drug policy and publishes regularly on various topics in this area.
Jerónimo Mazarrasa is a documentary filmmaker, independent researcher, and interaction designer with extensive knowledge of the world of Ayahuasca. In the past decade he has produced, written and directed two documentaries about ayahuasca. The first about the Brazilian Ayahuasca churches, the second about the use of Ayahuasca in the treatment of drug addiction. He has traveled extensively through South America, researching a broad range of Ayahuasca practices, and has lectured internationally on Ayahuasca tourism and the appropriation of indigenous knowledge. He keeps a blog, curates a page of ayahuasca related news, and is currently preparing a book about his experiences.
Marc Aixalà coordinates support and integration services at ICEERS. In this role he provides integration psychotherapy sessions for people in challenging situations after experiencing non-ordinary states of consciousness. He is a Telecommunication Engineer and Psychologist with post degree studies in Integrative Psychotherapy, and Strategic Therapy, and is trained in the therapeutic use of Non-Ordinary States of Consciousness, and in MDMA assisted-psychotherapy for PTSD. Marc works as a psychotherapist in Barcelona, is a Holotropic Breathwork facilitator, and a member of the staff for Grof Transpersonal Training. He has facilitated Holotropic Breathwork workshops in Barcelona, Switzerland, Romania, Israel and Slovenia and is conducting research into its therapeutic applications. He has also been a Team Leader and Trainer at the Kosmicare psychedelic harm reduction service at the Boom Festival.
Maria Carvalho, living in Porto, Portugal, started as a junior research assistant in projects that studied the most problematic aspects of drug use. For her Masters research and PhD studies, she developed an interest for drug use by youth populations in recreational settings. As a lecturer in the field of Psychology at the Universidad Catolica in Porto she became particularly interested in teaching her students the evolution the human act of altering conscience has suffered, from a historically and culturally integrated practice to a “social problem” in modern societies, and how we see it becoming more recently a tool used by youth in their understanding of fun and pleasure. There are multiple challenges for intervention in this field.
Natalia Rebollo is a Mexican lawyer specialized in International Law and Human Rights. Her work, which is focused on drug control policies and the indigenous use of sacred plants, led her to study traditional medicine and shamanism with indigenous communities in Mexico for two years. She also holds a Master’s in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action at Sciences Po-Paris and she´s currently the coordinator of the Ayahuasca Defense Fund, a program of ICEERS.
Paulo Afonso Amato Condé
Paulo Afonso Amato Condé is an Agronomist, Master of Agro-Ecological Systems, Federal University of Santa Catarina / Brazil. He was Director of the National Institute of Agrarian Reform in Brasil (INCRA), from 2000 to 2003; State Superintendent of INCRA in Mato Grosso do Sul, from 1997 to 2000. Within the Spiritist Center União do Vegetal, he was Director of the Plantation Department from 2003 to 2006 and is currently the General Representative Mestre.
Badiner is a contributing editor at Tricycle magazine, and the editor of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics (Synergetic Press). He also edited the books, Dharma Gaia: A Harvest in Buddhism and Ecology and Mindfulness in the Marketplace (Parallax Press). Allan’s written work appears in other books including Dharma Family Treasures, Meeting the Buddha, Ecological Responsibility: A Dialogue with Buddhism, and The Buddha and the Terrorist. Allan holds a masters degree from the College of Buddhist Studies in LA and serves on the boards of Rainforest Action Network, and Project CBD. He is currently working on a book about dietary cannabinoids.
Manari is a ceremonial leader and healer from the Sapara people who live in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest. Manari has also been a key figure in the indigenous movement of his country as the Vice President of CONAIE (The National Indigenous Organization of Ecuador) from 2013-2016, and as the President of the Sapara Indigenous Federation from 1999 to 2012. He has also led the Sapara Bi-national Federation of Ecuador and Peru since its inception in 1996. As a healer, Manari has a special relationship with medicinal plants and cures ailments of the modern world. He is skilled at dream work of dreams and distinct spiritual connections to care for and heal people. As an entrepreneur Manari created the community association NAKU www.naku.com.ec, the word for “the forest” in Sapara language. Naku is a sanctuary and provides ecotourism and healing retreats with traditional plant medicine and alternative medicine and other Amazonian healing traditions based on ancestral knowledge. Manari has participated in numerous global events focused on healing and personal transformation. His commitment to justice has led him to take legal action to defend the rights of the Sapara people in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Permanent Forum of Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations, and the European Parliament. Manari is an outspoken advocate and movement leader in defending rights of indigenous peoples and their territories and a frequent speaker at global summits on biodiversity and climate, as well as on political and civil rights. As an advocate of indigenous rights, Manari led the Sapara people, to become recognized by UNESCO to be protected as an oral and cultural heritage of humanity. Manari has been a key player along with his sister Gloria Ushigua in stopping the expansion of the oil frontier in their territory. He has published a series of articles that reflect on extractive threats in its territory and how its people have resisted for more than 25 years in the defense of life and knowledge. In December 2019 Manari will launch his latest book on simbology, culture and dreams of the Sapara, a compilation covering the story of creation of the universal life of the contemporary Sapara people.
Gloria has a passion for art, healing and healthy living. These passions led her to partner with Amanda Sage and Shabnam Q to produce an inter dimensional, expressive, sustainable and active clothing line. Together, they took this collection of wearable art to festivals across the USA, Costa Rica and Australia. Gloria holds her main practice as a Womb Awakening Teacher, Shadow Work / Underworld Mentor. She works in depth with women whom have suffered through all types of abuse, trauma and fertility issues and is a direct guide to Feminine Empowerment. Gloria is devoted to guiding women and men in their spiritual growth, healing and awakening the magic of the feminine dimension within, and helping to unite the masculine and feminine into sacred union. As a seeker and student of life, Gloria connects to the beauty and intelligence of nature to connect to the sacredness in all. Gloria is also an art curator and is co-curator and organizer of “Ayahuasca & Visionary Art: A Coming Together of Cultures,” the art space and exhibition at AYA2019 in Girona, Spain.
Deep in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, Lorna Liana discovered her purpose drinking ayahuasca with indigenous shamans, in 2004. She was given a mission: “To leverage emerging technologies to preserve indigenous traditions, so that ancient wisdom can benefit the modern world, and technology can empower indigenous people.” In pursuit of this mission, Lorna became a new media strategist to sustainable brands, social ventures and visionary entrepreneurs, helping them attract their tribe and ignite a movement around their mission-driven businesses. In addition to leveraging viral Internet marketing mojo to raise awareness about the benefits of using psychedelic plants, when used with respect and responsibility, Lorna also brings to the ayahuasca movement over 10 years of social justice experience working on indigenous rights, cultural preservation, environmental sustainability and social innovation. She is the creator of EntheoNation, an online publisher of content covering psychedelics, shamanism, and visionary culture that reaches over 500K+ people a year via iTunes, YouTube, Facebook and Google.
Tabea Casique Coronado
Tabea is a leader who was born in the Ashaninka community in Chicosa, in the province of Atalaya department of Ucayali, Peru. She completed her primary and secondary studies in Chicosa, which provided hand the reality and problems of the indigenous people of the region. From a very young age, Tabea Casique stood out in her community for her participation in diverse community assemblies. Her desire to serve led her to leave her community at the end of secondary school and to study technical nursing at the Public Technological Institute of the Province of Atalaya. At the same time, she worked for the secretary of the Regional Indigenous Organization of Atalaya (OIRA), where she learned about the problems experienced by indigenous communities. Her participation and support for indigenous peoples led to her being elected Secretary of Economy of the Regional Coordinator of Indigenous Peoples AIDESEP of Atalaya (CORPIAA) and later as Coordinator of the Area of Education, Science and Technology, where she works presently. Tabea was involved in the officialization of the Asheninka language, due to the fact that the Ministry of Culture considered her an official interpreter of Asheninka.
Adrian Freedman is a professional musician from the UK. He spent 8 years in Kyoto, Japan studying the shakuhachi – Japanese zen flute. He leads retreats in sacred music, meditation and spiritual practice around the world. Adrian encountered the Santo Daime in Japan in 1995 and was a founder member of the Eternal Heart Centre. In 2012 he was acquitted of all charges following a 2-year court case against the UK Santo Daime brought by the British authorities.
Ibã Dua Bake Huni Kuin
Ibã Dua Bake Huni Kuin is from the Jordão region of Acre, in Brazil, and is a Txana (master of sacred songs) in the tradition of the Huni Kuin people. Ibã trained in bilingual Indigenous education in the 1980s and conducted an in-depth research project documenting the traditional songs of his father, Txana Tuin who was a keeper of the Huni Meka (the corpus of ceremonial chants transmitted from the forest spirits that accompany the Nixi Pae or ayahuasca ritual) among the Huni Kuin. He joined the Federal University of Acre in Cruzeiro do Sul in 2008 and created the Forest Spirit Project to research multimedia translation processes for these songs. He is also founder, with his son Bane, of the Huni Kuin Artists’ Movement, the MAHKU which has been exhibited at Histoire de voir Fondation Cartier for contemporary art, Paris (2012), MIRA – Contemporary Visual Arts of the Indigenous Peoples at the Federal University of Minas Gerais Cultural Center, Belo Horizonte (2013) Histórias Mestiças, at the Tomie Ohtake Institute, Sao Paulo (2014), Made by… Feito por Brasileiros (with Naziha Mestaoui) Sao Paulo biennale (2014), Au-delà de l’invisible (with Naziha Mestaoui) at the Espace Krajcberg gallery, Paris (2014). Ibã Huni Kuin was awarded the PIPA Prize for Brazilian contemporary art in 2016.
Dani (Rita Pinheiro Sales Kaxinawa)
Dani (Rita Pinheiro Sales Kaxinawa) is the daughter of Ibã Dua Bake Huni Kuin and an elected representative in the municipality of Jordão Acre (Brazil). She is a founder of the Kayatibu Cultural Centre in Jordão, an organisation that works to sustain, preserve and revitalize indigenous Huni Kuin culture through the promotion of the art, music, dance, and ceremony with the sacred plants of the forest. This indigenous youth organisation holds regular events and workshops to transmit and strengthen knowledge of Huni Kuin culture among urabn Huni Kuin youth, building and strengthening bridges between communities in the forest and the city. Kayatibu has a community centre in the Kaxinawá neighbourhood of Jordão and has led collaborations with a range of national and interantional organisations, most recently recording some of the sacred songs recovered by her father.
Emilia Sanabria is a French-Colombian anthropologist based at the CNRS in Paris. Trained in the United Kingdom (PhD in Anthropology from the Univeristy of Cambridge, BSc in Philosophy of Science from University College London) Emilia has been examining the fraught relationship between Western science and indigenous and traditional knowledges through a range of projects on sexual and reproductive health, nutrition and food justice and the (political) demarcations between drug and medicine. She is currently Principal Investigator of a 5-year, European Research Council-funded project called Healing Encounters that examines the transmissions and reinventions of healing practices that make use of ayahuasca. Healing Encounters is based in Paris and composed of a team of 5 people conducting ethnographic research on practices of healing in the “city,” “forest” and “lab” in Brazil and Europe.
Carlos Zúñiga Lossio
His most recent works are focused on consultancies and creation of educational projects for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage for CRESPIAL – UNESCO in Latin American countries.
He works independently in the documentary and institutional field. His personal works range from short fiction, to anthropological audiovisual documents and experimental works.
He is specialized in the development of audiovisual, technological educational and anthropological projects.
Kalista Zackhariyas is a social entrepreneur, storyteller and impact leader. She is the founder of Sparkseeker, a global platform that reinvents how people share their life journey, ideas, stories and foster meaningful connections that elevate and empower the human experience. Her inner seeker was awakened by her experiences of abuse, homelessness and poverty; consistent realities of her teenage years. Chronically suicidal by the age of 15, Kalista’s hunger for healing sparked the transformative journey that activated her own remembrance of her inherent power and ignited her purpose of awakening the individual’s limitless possibilities. Kalista is driven to unleash this human potential and ignite the collective power of people to co-create solutions for vulnerable communities lacking social and economic freedom, which she believes will transform the world as a whole. Her rare blend of wit, personality and creative advocacy will have you digging deeper, laughing harder and leaving inspired to create the shifts needed to spark your own transformation.
João Goulão has been the National Drug Coordinator of Portugal since 2005. A medical doctor at the University of Lisbon, João has more than 25 years of experience in drug and health-related issues. Until 2002 he was a member of the scientific committee of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addictions (EMCDDA). He was also a member of the Portuguese Committee which, in 1999, prepared the report upon which the first Portuguese Drug Strategy was based. Currently he is also the Director General of the Intervention Service on Behaviors and Addictive Dependencies at the Portuguese Ministry of Health. At the international level, João gives lectures on the benefits of decriminalization of drug use and of drug policies to reduce drug use, and shares his experience as good practice.
Kasia Malinowska is the director of the Global Drug Policy Program at the Open Society Foundations, which promotes drug policies rooted in human rights, social justice, and public health. She previously led the Open Society’s International Harm Reduction Development program, which supports the health and human rights of people who use drugs.
Before joining the Open Society Foundations, she worked for the United Nations Development Program in New York and Warsaw, leading capacity building and drug and HIV policy reform in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Malinowska publishes regularly on drug policy as it relates to women, social justice, health, human rights, civil society, and governance. Her academic publications include works in the Lancet, the British Medical Journal, and the International Journal on Drug Policy. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on “HIV among Drug Users in Poland: The Paradoxes of an Epidemic.” Malinowska coauthored Poland’s first National AIDS program; helped formulate policy at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria; the World Health Organization; and the Millennium Project Task Force on HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria. Malinowska holds an MSW from the University of Pennsylvania and a DrPH from Columbia University.
James Freeman graduated summa cum laude with a degree in economics and pre-medical sciences from the University of Colorado. He spent one year in the Peruvian Amazon, learning from Shipibo and Mestizo shamans and starred in the feature length documentary film The Last Shaman (2016).
Described by Rolling Stone as “the point man” for drug policy reform efforts and “the real drug czar,” Ethan Nadelmann has played a leading role in drug policy reform efforts in the United States and globally since the late 1980s. His advocacy began while teaching politics and public affairs at Princeton University (1987-994). He then founded first The Lindesmith Center (1994-2000, a drug policy institute created with the philanthropic support of George Soros) and then the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), which he directed from 2000 until 2017. He also co-founded, in 1995, the Open Society Institute’s International Harm Reduction Development (IHRD) program. His TED Talk, “Why we need to end the drug war,” has more than 1.8 million views, with translations into 28 languages. Ethan has played a key role as drug policy advisor to prominent philanthropists and political figures around the world, and been deeply involved in most major drug policy reforms in the United States.
Activating the Sacred
A spirituality that is only private and self-absorbed, one devoid of an authentic political and social consciousness, does little to halt the suicidal juggernaut of history. On the other hand, an activism that is not purified by profound spiritual and psychological self-awareness and rooted in divine truth, wisdom, and compassion will only perpetuate the problem it is trying to solve, however righteous its intentions. Andrew Harvey. I believe that Ayahuasca holds a gift for a community of problematic substance users who are literally dying for a spiritual solution to the pain caused by trauma, exclusion and criminalisation. Our society focuses on “the addict” as a diseased individual rather than a person medicating against emotional and spiritual pain. This is what I believe the medicine holds, my community cannot access this, often through economic and social barriers but fundamentally the illegal nature of the medicine. There is a growing international recovery movement which is no longer focused on abstinence, Recovering Justice want to create dialogue between the recovery, drug user and Ayahuasca communities so we can co-create our shared vision for healthy and self-actualised human beings and communities. Much of my work has been focusing on how we motivate communities and small movements to create larger ones inspiring grassroots advocacy and reform. What would a symbiotic community of healers and activists working together feel like and how do we embody both those aspects of ourselves without sacrificing integrity or burning out; is there a way to heal the activists and activate the healers? I believe that sacred activism or activating the sacred can dissolve the constructed boundaries between individuals, communities and movements. Attending this conference would be an incredible opportunity for my organisation to meet a new community and form alliances and partnerships.
Ayahuascero or tobaquero? Tobaco in the context of ayahuasca experiences
In the transcendental world of ayahuasca, we have demonstrated that the use of tobacco (Nicotiana Rustica) has particular properties for healing, self-knowledge and the expansion of consciousness. It is imperative to address this field of knowledge that goes beyond ayahuasca, sustains it and in fact, gives it its true importance.
The Mesa Verde Foundation (Rosario, Argentina), has documented research protocols for more than 20 years, through which we have defined the close relationship that both plants confer in ritualized contexts. The reassessment of tobacco has led us to understand its capacity for action in the physical, energetic and spiritual areas, exponentially enhancing the lessons gained from the use of ayahuasca. In Amazonian knowledge, the connection of these worlds (ayahuasca and tobacco) that merge into one is undeniable: the understanding of a unique environment that transcends the material.
In this presentation, we will discuss the properties of tobacco, its origins, its taxonomy and history, teachings and above all its manner of acting through the ayahuasca experience, giving new meaning to the approach of its therapeutic potential. In such a way that a true reassessment of ayahuasca and its therapeutic and dynamic capacity in the experience will be developed through an exclusive reconciliation in its combination with tobacco.
The journey of both plants working together will explain a deeper and more radical level of this ancient brew, as yet insufficiently explored.in the experience will be developed through an exclusive reconciliation in its combination with tobacco.
The journey of both plants working together will explain a deeper and more radical level of this ancient brew, as yet insufficiently explored. plantas invisten en contextos ritualizados. La revalorización del Tabaco, nos ha llevado a comprender su capacidad de acción, en los campos físico, energético y espiritual, potenciando de modo exponencial los aprendizajes procedentes del uso de Ayahuasca. En el saber amazónico es innegable la conexión de estos mundos (Ayahuasca y Tabaco) que se funden en uno solo: la comprensión de un entorno unívoco, que trasciende lo material.
En esta conferencia desarrollaremos, las propiedades del Tabaco, sus orígenes, su taxonomía e historia, aprendizaje y sobretodo su modo de accionar a través de las experiencias de Ayahuasca, dándole un nuevo sentido al abordaje del potencial terapéutico de la misma. De tal manera, que una verdadera revalorización de la Ayahuasca, su capacidad terapéutica y dinámica en la experiencia, será desarrollada a través de un acercamiento exclusivo en su combinación con el Tabaco.
El recorrido de ambas plantas trabajando en conjunto, explicitara así, un nivel más profundo y radical del brebaje milenario, no explorado lo suficiente hasta la fecha.
Our forgotten Therapist: Music and the Art of Listening
This talk will present the latest research findings into the the function of set, setting and music in facilitating transformative experiences with psychedelic medicines, and discuss implications of these insights for developing a new, more accessible, more effective and more humane future of mental health care.
Psychedelia and instutionialization: The emancipatory potential of ayahuasca
Psychedelic substance use plays a role in the various cultures and in the most diverse ways. In some of them, this use has been integrated in a traditional way into community life without causing major problems. On the contrary, in more than a few cases, have become — as demonstrated by the case of ayahuasca — a in source of inspiration and cultural creation, of emotional well-being and psychic balance, of respect and adaptation of social life to the natural environment, etc. In other societies, such as contemporary capitalist cultures, its appearance has been problematic, if not openly conflictive. It could not be otherwise in a system that is founded on antagonism.
The hypothesis that we explore in this presentation points out the need for an autonomous institutional framework (neither state-based nor commercial) to facilitate the sound incorporation of the benefits that psychedelic substances can offer and, at the same time, to minimize and/or avoid the problems that are being identified. In this sense, we understand that ayahuasca is of interest because, while it can be subject to the familiar disadvantages that it shares with other types of psychedelic substances, it is nevertheless true that it presents certain novel elements that may situate it as a deviant case on which to propose novel hypotheses to respond to the heuristics that the psychedelic question poses. Through the way its use is put into practice, ayahuasca could now find itself in a position to establish a useful institutional framework for its incorporation into society.
UFOs, ETs, ENOC, and DMT
From an unreleased video-interview made of the famous mestizo ayahuasquero healer Pablo Amaringo in 2003 (to be screened), and famous stories such as the “UFO” sighting of the ethnobotanist and writer Terece McKenna in the Colombian jungle, discussion of “extraterrestrial” imagery in experiences with ayahuasca and DMT, and the association between the UFO phenomenon, Non-Ordinary States of Conscience (NOSC), Indo-American cultures, and DMT.
Both the transpersonal visionary experience and the culture of mysterious objects in the heavens were marginalized by the modern hegemony, however, among the different visionary manifestations, the phenomena of light (tectonic, celestial or entheogenic), shamanism, and DMT appear to have a far deeper relationship than we ever thought before.
Notes on identifying potential malpractice in the globalized offer of ayahuasca
The exponential growth in the supply and demand of ayahuasca worldwide during the last decade is a fact. This globalization in turn drives up a series of variables directly related to the expansive effect that encompass the sustainability of source inputs, its production and marketing, and even the health risks and threats to the integrity of the people associated with malpractice on the supply-side. Thus, and as a crucial point, we attend risky scenarios not only for the health of people individually, but for the survival of the cultures of origin and their practices, as well as for the plants.
The need arises to approach the phenomenon from different aspects and, as a starting point, a deeper understanding is proposed of the cultural and contextual differences that exist between territories and communities of origin and the urban centers of different latitudes, which qualify the entheogenic experience. On the other hand, while the expansion of the supply is inevitably associated with the condition of aptitude, both in the minimum training needed to impart and in the format itself, the need arises to build and implement an ethical protocol for the consumption of these plants, both abroad and in their origins. We then expose a series of common elements identified and extracted from examples of providers related to malpractice, especially in Spain, trying to contribute to the construction of the fabric of these protocols.
The Roots Awaken: Media & Technology to Empower Indigenous Communities
The purpose of this presentation is to explore how we can empower indigenous communities maintaining ancestral ayahuasca practices through media, technology, and territorial mapping. Currently the Amazon Rainforest is vanishing due to the threats of great environmental destruction. The indigenous people are at the forefront of protecting the rainforest and the wisdom of thousands of plants; including ayahuasca.
Kumiko’s work with community based media and technology alongside Amazonian communities addresses the core issues that the tribes are facing. This talk will explore the various components that make up co-creative collaboration in working with local communities. In order to continue using the medicine we must protect the indigenous people and their territory.
Kumiko will present segments from the feature length film she is directing, The Roots Awaken, about people from the Andes Mountains to the Amazon Rainforest that are uniting to protect their culture and ceremony. She will share insight on how she was able to live with thirteen tribes in the Amazon and film their intimate ceremonies for four years. Her insight will open a discussion around the benefits of merging innovative technology with ancient wisdom in this time of globalization.
Wachuma, the medicine of dreams and self-knowledge
In the Andes of Peru, the Chavín culture discovered this medicine 3,000 years ago and left it as a bequest to humanity. The main quality of this plant is that it refreshes our memory, activates our dreams, teaches us through them and shows many more things for Living Well (el Buen Vivir). Wachuma or Huachuma, better known as San Pedro, whose scientific name is Trichocereus Pachanaoi or Echinopsis Pachanoi, is a cactus that grows in the Andes that has guided our ancestors for thousands of years, reminding them of their essence, the permanent connection with the divine, and teaching them to heal holistically: body, mind and spirit. Today, humanity is in crisis and nature is reacting, it is urgent to open our hearts and raise our consciousness to continue evolving. Master plants like Wachuma can be an excellent aid in this process. All physical diseases have their origin in the spiritual, emotional and mental aspects; when we get to the bottom of what we are holding that is making us sick, our physical healing begins, as well. So, we remember who we are, in essence, and learn to use our energy and all the resources we have more consciously with better results in our lives.
The tradition-less path
The presentation will be in a personal tone explaining my process with the plant, and where I am 17 years later. I will try to explain how my path began with hard drugs, continued with psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, legal drugs, different therapies and various admissions to sleep clinics etc….Until meeting the plant and beginning to see that I could change my way of being, of relating to the world, to people, to myself… There began my non-traditional path… Above all, I will talk about how I understand the intake of ayahuasca today.
Tales of an Explorer-Psychonaut: The Importance of Mind Set in Altered States Exploration
Rio Hahn will present from his psychonautic explorations of mind-altering substances, from ayahuasca in the Amazon to the deadly Datura in Nepal. Drawing on his personal experiences as an early psychonaut, and lessons he learned through personal experience with mentors such as Richard Evans Schultes, Albert Hofmann, John Lilly, Timothy Leary, Oscar Janiger and others, he will help us to understand the critical importance of “set,” meaning mind set, in any exploration of altered states of consciousness. At this time of ayahuasca tourism and self-made shamans, it is more important than ever to develop the ability to navigate the complex world of psychoactive substances and altered states of consciousness. His talk was developed to help new and experienced psychonauts gain new tools in their explorations, and help them avoid the exploitation that has occurred in our community.
Upper Napo Ayahuasca Commons: Networked, Biocultural Evolution of Health and Healing Rituals
Some plants with market power have centres of origin – bioregions identified as having the greatest diversity – to return to if commerce is genetically challenged.
It has been argued from a number of perspectives (Beyer 2012; Highpine 2013) that the original home of the ayahuasca vine and practice is the Upper Napo.
This talk, however, is more concerned with a diverse future than an original past. The Upper Napo is experiencing rapid urbanisation and gentrification, with territory and plants – and the practices based on them – disappearing fast. The resulting loss of micronutrients and healing powers from the forest, when moving from autonomous subsistence to consumerism, severely undermines popular health.
Yet fertile resistance to the civilising process is emerging: an agroecological ayahuasca commons is evolving. Based on a friend-of-a-friend protocol and reciprocity in perpetuity, the purpose is magical, not commercial: to ensure future generations can talk to the plants that co-evolved with the Napo Runa.
Individual specimens of ayahuasca, chali panga (Diplopterys cabrerana) and amiruka (Psychotria carthagenensis) that have been in the care of, and been caring for, families for generations are, following Free, Prior and Informed Consent, documented and propagated in networked ‘chakras’ (forest gardens) dedicated to in-situ, distributed conservation.
The future will include other significant plants and the wider purpose is to facilitate further biocultural evolution of the Upper Napo healing traditions and the chakras upon which they rest.
The Upper Napo ayahuasca commons is part of a larger chakra research and development project.
Ayahuasca Spiritual Practices at the Parliament of World’s Religions
In November 2018, a team of 15 ayahuasceros from around the world assembled at The Parliament of the World’s Religions, a religious conference in Toronto, to make a formal presentation about ayahuasca spiritual traditions. This was a monumental affair, as our delegates, some the members of indigenous tribes from the Amazon, were able to present a “freedom of religion” appeal and sing sacred ayahuasca songs in front of thousands. As these practices are typically met with governmental and legal hostility, acknowledgement of the religious validity of ayahuasca ceremonies by the world’s largest interfaith organization is a powerful step in gaining world-wide recognition, legitimacy, and acceptance.
How ayahuasca even came to be presented at the Parliament might itself be considered a miracle. It’s only because of the tireless efforts of one who was able to treat his so-called “untreatable” mental illness with ayahuasca, that this came to fruition. Benjamin Mudge, a man struggling with Bipolar Disorder, found relief, ease, and grace in his life after treating his condition with a unique blend of ayahuasca that he himself developed. The vast improvement in his mental health inspired him to pursue a PhD in Psychiatry, educate the world on this plant medicine’s many spiritual and healing benefits, and advocate for the religious freedom of those who responsibly hold sacred ceremonies with it. It is only through this personal struggle that the motivation to gather an international team and bring ayahuasca spiritualities to the Parliament of the World’s Religions came to be.
Shipibo Plant Medicine Demystified: Practitioner Training and Plant Diets Explained
This presentation focuses on two fundamental and overlapping elements of plant medicine about which accurate information is difficult to come by outside of practitioner’s inner circles: the shamanic training process and the role of plant diets. The specifics of these processes are complex and generally not shared publicly. However the basic concepts are easily conveyed and invaluable to a complete understanding of the tradition.
The Shipibo training process will be described at a practical level: differences in approaches between maestros and lineages, time and resource commitment, safety issues, where icaros come from, how they and other shamanic tools are used, etc.
Specific emphasis will be placed on the plant diet, which is the cornerstone of nearly all Amazonian medicine traditions and the mechanism by which practitioners learn to work with plant energies, including holding ayahuasca ceremonies. For participants, diets are the foundation for a deeper level of healing.
Diets will be discussed in depth; how one diets, physical and emotional challenges of diets, as well as how the diet connects the dieter to the energy and healing power of plants. Different approaches to dieting; healing vs. learning and isolation vs. social will also be explored.
Music and Psychedelic Therapy: Past, Present, and Future
Music has helped promote healing throughout history, and music’s capacity to engender or support altered states of consciousness remains a key component of today’s psychedelic therapy as well. Thanks to neuroscience and today’s brain imaging technology, we know more about this than ever before, even though this research has just begun to measure and quantify music’s capacity for healing and to engender or support altered states. We’ll take a global journey through the various uses of music as a method to guide or support therapeutic interventions throughout history, including how music is used with today’s psychedelic therapy and potential future applications.
Healing processes for women with Amazonian medicines
We will share the experience of the healing processes “Women and Amazonian Ancestral Medicine”; a safe, contained and professional experience, created for working with groups of women from different countries through a sustained process with ayahuasca medicine.
We constitute being a woman as a central aspect of the healing process, in the therapeutic design itself, incorporating:
– Women’s circles and integration after each ceremony, unifying the benefits of both practices
– Icaros oriented to “touch” on the transcendental experience themes linked to feminine life: Maternity, creative capacity, abortions, affective relationships, among other common themes. In this context, we have witnessed collective uterine cures, among other experiences.
In parallel, each participant presents unique motivations, the experience of women being very interesting with regard to mental health and psychophysical diagnoses (depression, addictions, uterine cancer, among others) and early traumas (especially childhood sexual abuse). We evaluate each case, designing a proposal of accompaniment before and after the experience in the forest, which allows the containment necessary to perform safe work with lasting effects in people with complex diagnoses. According to the case, we have incorporated interventions such as online psychotherapeutic support, plant intakes or other preparatory energetic interventions (with people trained in the participant’s city of origin), psycho-educational systemic interventions with family members (in cases where they oppose participation in the process with master plants), reports and networking with other treating professionals (psychologists, psychiatrists and/or practitioners of ancestral medicines), etc.
The globalization of Peganum Harmala and the x-huascas
For some decades, an old world plant has been experiencing rapid globalization in the context of the use of visionary plants, and revolves around the sphere of interests of ayahuasca: Peganum harmala or alharma. Their seeds contain the same alkaloids as the ayahuasca liana, with average concentrations ten times more powerful than the Banisteriopsis caapi vine.
As the most powerful MAO inhibitory plant source in the world, harmala seeds are used to unleash or strengthen the visionary properties of other plants (X-huasca combinations), both in psychonautic use and in ritual, spiritual and therapeutic contexts. In the last 20 years, harmala seeds have landed in Brazil, falling into combinations such as juremhuasca (jurema + harmel) and harmahuasca (harmel + ayahuasca brew).
Archeology has noted a relationship between humans and harmala of at least 7,000 years, while ethnobotany is highlighting an important religious role of this plant among the ancient populations of the Mediterranean and Asia, where, in many cases, it had assumed the role of the Tree of Life.
Another important aspect of harmala is its potential as an anti-cancer agent, being increasingly confirmed by clinical research; a fact that implies an indirect confirmation of the anti-cancer properties of ayahuasca itself.
Understanding the therapeutic potential of Ayahuasca: emerging psychological processes in a sample of users at the Temple of the Way of Light (Peru)
Our study is integrated in the broader research project “Long-Term Effects of Ayahuasca on the Quality of Life, Well-Being and Health of Western Users: A Longitudinal Study” conducted at ICEERS in collaboration with Beckley Foundation. In the context of this longitudinal, observational research project that aimed to assess the impact of ayahuasca on well-being and emotional symptomatology in visitors of the Temple of the Way of Light, we used qualitative phenomenological research that searches for the meanings underneath the participant’s subjective experiences and interpretations. Semi-structured in-depth interviewing was used to collect data next to an intentional theoretical sample of n=24 participants that presented criteria to integrate the groups of Depression, Anxiety, PTSD and Grief, immediately after the end of their experiences and while they were still at the TOWL. We asked participants to refer to the content of their experiences during the ceremonies, as well as to their views of the process at the moment of the interview in a stage coincident with integration. Our goal was to explain the broader research results that show high impact of ayahuasca in the relief of symptomatology by identifying and understanding the psychological processes that emerged from the participant’s experiences perceived as more related to ayahuasca’s therapeutic potential.
We developed a semi-inductive thematic analysis through qualitative data analysis software N-Vivo® 11 inspired by Grounded Theory. Semi-inductive data analysis allows a rigorous and systematic exploration of the content of the participant’s experiences while also authorizing creativity of the researcher in finding new and emergent content during data analysis.
Four groups of broadly understood psychological processes emerged that we associated with predominantly cognitive processes (for e.g. awareness or insight, self-control, acceptance), predominantly emotional processes (for e.g. emotional release, connection with self), predominantly spiritual processes (spiritual connection) and processes associated with the body (recognizing anxiety’s primary symptoms, connection with the body). Within these four main themes, cognitive processes accounted for an expressive part of the global results, with a total of 536 references coded and 21 participants referring to the theme of awareness. Predominantly emotional processes emerged in 138 references, with 17 participants referring to the theme of emotional release. Psychological processes associated with spirituality emerged in 37 references, with 12 participants referring to the theme of spiritual connection. Finally, psychological processes related with body awareness emerged in 33 references, with 8 participants referring to the theme of recognition of anxiety triggering primary symptoms. After exploring the emergence of these themes in the context of the various symptom groups we will discuss qualitative research’s potential to offer a deeper understanding of the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca; the relation between our findings and current literature around the therapeutic potential of psychedelics; and the relation our themes present with psychological processes set in motion by conventional psychological approaches to the treatment of these symptoms.
Evaluation of the Possible Interactions Between Canabidiol and Ayahuasca in Healthy Volunteers: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Study with Placebo
Ayahuasca is a psychoactive beverage traditionally used by Amazonian indigenous groups and by religious groups such as Santo Daime for ritual and therapeutic purposes. The main active principle of ayahuasca is dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a hallucinogenic tryptamine that acts as an agonist of the 5-HT2A serotonergic receptor. Studies in animals and humans suggest that ayahuasca has anxiolytic and antidepressant effects. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the major phytocannabinoids present in the Cannabis plant. Although the mechanisms of action are poorly understood, basic and clinical studies have shown that CBD has anxiolytic, antipsychotic, anticonvulsant, antioxidant and neuroprotective effects, among others. Basic studies have found evidence of interaction between 5-HT2A receptors and the endocannabinoid system. This interaction has not been evaluated in humans. Therefore, the objective of this project is to evaluate the effects of CBD on the subjective, cardiovascular and cognitive effects of ayahuasca. 20 healthy volunteers will participate in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial where they will receive the following treatments: placebo or CBD (600 mg) followed by ayahuasca (1 mL/kg). The assessment of subjective effects and social cognition will be performed through the application of scales and tests (VAMS, ESS, BAI, Recognition of Facial Expressions Task). These scales and tests will also be applied 1, 7, 14 and 21 days after administration of ayahuasca for the evaluation of subacute effects. Cardiovascular assessment (blood pressure and heart rate) will be performed only during the acute effects of ayahuasca (0-6h).
Evaluation of the healing potential of ayahuasca and the integration of experiences
In the years 2015 and 2016 Rabbit Hole institute from Slovenia, conducted the study on healing potential of ayahuasca. In the study we focused on evaluating the risks and benefits of ayahuasca and compared the healing potential of ayahuasca with healing potential of psychotherapy.
Regarding the reported great benefits of ayahuasca experiences we tried to “translate” the healing process of ayahuasca experience in the language of therapy practitioners, trained in western psychotherapy. Most western psychotherapists are skeptical towards the indigenous healing methods, especially the ones, facilitated with the intake of psychoactive substances, that are in our culture still regarded as drugs. In the talk, I will present the main findings of the qualitative part of the study and insights from my work with integration of ayahuasca experiences.
Ayahuasca Ritual Use During Treatment of Severe Physical Illnesses: a Qualitative Study
Recent evidence shows that ayahuasca may act as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of psychiatric disorders such as addiction and depression. Preliminary studies also hypothesize that it could present therapeutic effects in the treatment of physical illnesses, including cancer. Diseases that threaten life or generate severe incapacitation also affect mental health, since they can raise existential questions and trigger psychospiritual processes. Currently, an increasing number of people have sought ayahuasca after the diagnosis of severe physical illnesses (SPI). However, this phenomenon has been little studied and the psychological mechanisms of the possible therapeutic effects are unknown. Thus, the purpose of this study was to use qualitative methods to investigate how the ritual use of ayahuasca influences the ways people with SPI understand and relate to illness and treatment.
Fourteen participants (7 female, 7 male) who consumed ayahuasca ritualistically during the period of medical treatment for SPI (gastrointestinal, dermatological, neurological, and rheumatologic diseases, HIV positive and cancer) were included. Data analysis was performed by thematic analysis and sample size was defined by theoretical saturation.
The results suggest that the ritual use of ayahuasca may promote a deep introspection that could facilitate autobiographical-related catharsis and the attribution of new meanings to their illnesses, increasing acceptance. Illness acceptance, as well as reported positive effects on mental health, seem to favor changes in the relationship to illness and treatment, usually with better coping. New views towards life, death, and spirituality also contribute to a change of perspective of ayahuasca drinkers regarding their SPI.
“The liana of life”: Traditional indigenous medicines – a vital component for the treatment of eating disorders?
Eating Disorders, ED, are serious and especially difficult to treat, with a tendency to increase in different cultures; there are more and more cases of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder in prepubescent girls, adult women, boys and men.
They present the highest morbidity rate of all current psychological disorders: 1 person dies every 62 minutes. An estimated 40% relapse after receiving traditional western treatments. And they usually still live in secret and silence, able to go unnoticed for years.
Can traditional indigenous medicines be a key to their important and longed-for healing, especially chronic, resistant or adult sufferers?
Traditional indigenous medicines have facilitated a range of valuable and diverse experiences, until recently inaccessible – to understandings, to reconciliations or refocusing on how they look, nourish or relate and connect with themselves, with others and with the world, with those who have minimized symptoms and neurosis, vitality has been reactivated, or the integral and healthy development of the people discussed in this presentation has continued.
The reflections, analysis and experiences that are shared come from three sources. From the actual healing process of a person with severe anorexia nervosa treated with psychiatry, clinical psychology, psychotherapies and traditional indigenous medicines and diets in the Peruvian Amazon by the speaker; from psychotherapeutic cases; and from recent research on the effects of ayahuasca taken ritually on ED.
The comprehensive body points to yes: they can be a key piece. They can, finally, lead to a return to eating, loving, feeling, enjoying, to simply starting to live.
re los efectos de la ayahuasca tomada ritualmente en los TCA.
El conjunto completo se dirige al sí: pueden ser pieza clave. Pueden, finalmente, llevar a volver a comer, amar, sentir, disfrutar, a, sencillamente, empezar a vivir.
Forest Gardens and Ancestral Health in the Urbanising Ecuadorian Amazon
The Upper Napo Runa, Amazonian Kichwa of Ecuador, used to roam the forest at all scales. ‘Chakras’ – a network of polycultural forest gardens of great biological diversity – were distributed across large territories with wild parts to traverse, and used to be the basis for health, social relations, and transmission of knowledge.
Chakras far from dwellings could provide solitude for magical practice and autonomy from states, empires and conquerors unable to identify these horticultural sites camouflaged in “virgin” forest, yet visible to fellow people through property patterns encoded in the vegetation, sculptured for millennia through selection and promotion of some species and the containment of others. Chakras near dwellings provided food and medicine daily. Chakras were at the heart of abundant Kichwa subsistence together with the wild, the rivers and the rocks, and people floated freely between them.
Today, however, squeezed between conservation policies, deforestation, mining, oil fields, roads and urbanisation, the chakra system has almost disappeared entirely, taking with it health and healing powers forged through the ages in communion with spirits, plants, animals, and many other beings. The territory of the yachak – the one who knows – has disappeared.
Given this context, and based on numerous conversations with Napo Runa friends since 2005, I ask what kind of spaces and cultural alliances can form the basis for the continued but changed existence of ancient healing practices, in the Ecuadorian Amazon, today, and for the future.
Ayahusca for treating trauma and post traumatic stress discorder
In the ayahuasca ceremonies that are currently performed in the western scene, we often see cases of people who have suffered some type of trauma in their lives, some of them presenting symptoms of post-traumatic stress. In this presentation I will present a protocol for working with these cases, from preparation before the ceremony, the care and interventions during the experience and the post-session tracking.
Transformation of consciousness from the use of ayahuasca in Santiago, Chile
This research sought to learn the course of human living of a group of people after the ritual use of ayahuasca, in everyday life. The question that guided this study was: How does the experience of the ritual use of ayahuasca relate to human living? This research was constructed from a qualitative approach and has an exploratory character. Methodologically, a focus group technique was used with a group of twenty subjects; adult men and women from Santiago, Chile, who had experienced the ritual use of ayahuasca at least once during the last three years. Two focus group sessions were held, where spaces were opened for conversation and reflection about the motivations, reflections and transformations of human living in their daily life, from the ritual use of ayahuasca. In relation to the results obtained in this investigation, it was possible to conclude that the result of the ritual use of ayahuasca in the daily life of the subjects of the study is Loving. That it is the relational pain or suffering that motivated the subjects to resort to the ritual use of ayahuasca. And that this operates as an orthogonal encounter and a liberating conversation that opens the possibility for reflection. And that it is in that reflective state where they could observe the relational matrix of their human existence. It was also concluded in this study that the worldview of the subjects was changed by the ritual use of ayahuasca.
A Contribution About the Psychoanalytic Concept of Transference to the Understanding of the Relationship Between Leader and Adepts in Ayahuasca Groups.
Recently, some ayahuasca leaders have been denounced by inappropriate conduct as psychological and / or physical abuse. With these violations, it raises the question of the possibility of an aggravation of these behaviors when is seen the growth of ayahuasca groups worldwide.
There are leaders not always aware of their unconscious phantasms, and experienced regarding to ayahuasca effects
and /or its administration to the novices. The beginner adept prone to the psychological changes proper to the early stages of this contact either by the tea effects, or by fascination emanated by the newly acquired cosmogony and cosmovision can become victim of unconscious desires on the part of unsuspecting leaders.
What is the needed understanding to maintain a impeccable leadership given the subtlety of the dynamics in the intensely affective relationship established in EAC, or from the more continuous contact with the psychoactive? Would it help in the ayahuasca healing process if the transferential love phenomenon could be seen with a better understanding?
This is an introduction that seeks a more solid formation for those interested in conducting spiritual works as well as caution to beginners through a brief understanding of the transferential phenomenon present in hierarchical relationships with a spiritual leadership to whom is given authority over many aspects of life. Currently, researches shows strong indicators of psychological well-being as a consequence of the use of the psychoactive in liturgical or experimental context, and is important the mitigation of the harmful consequences of this kind of ignorance.
I present “A contribution about the psychoanalytic concept of Transference for the understanding of the relationship between leader and adepts in ayahuasca groups.”
Aya Woke: Elevating Humanity Through Business
In this presentation I will share my authentic story of how I went from a startup founder with a unicorn exit to waking up thanks to ayahuasca and now doing what I love and living my dreams with eyes wide open by being in service to others through conscious capitalism. All too often we talk about ayahuasca ceremonies and not the journey of integration in our lives and especially businesses. I’m living proof of what’s possible when you wake up (AYA WOKE) and practice divine downloads in the real world as evident from birthing with my best friend and co-Founder of 1heart Brandon Evans 1heart.com, 1heartjourneys.com (transformational travel using Aya for top executives and high growth startup founders) and Superfood brands like SUPERWELL.com to bring mother nature and nurturing plants to the masses. And, best of all, are the stories of these beautiful light beings birthing beautiful dreams with universal support.
Ayahuyasca Practices as a Destination for Westerners
There is general recognition not only of tourism as an “ideal” vehicle for intercultural dialogue but also of modern travel as a basis for personal development. This is obviously two-sided: it can either be seen as a quest for status based on the construction of a façade or as a genuine search for self-fulfilment. This paper focuses on the latter.
The number of international tourists pursuing a meaningful experience to evade from their daily life contexts and to be immersed in natural – sacred spaces or times (rituals) increases day by day. Yet, there is still little research done about this quest for meaning from the perspective of tourism studies.
Hence, the goal of this exploratory study is to investigate the quest for personal transformation, taking Westerners travelling to Latin America in order to engage in Ayahuasca practices as a case study. Specifically, we aim at describing their motivations (pre-trip) and long-term outcomes (post-trip).
We have undertaken in-depth interviews as the basic methodology to make our study a relevant contribution for the development of social studies and to extend the numerous pieces of research on “experiential tourism” upon which theory can be constructed. Our work also connects to social studies in adding a new perspective to the general understanding of how a highly secularised society feels the need for a holistic approach to life, which can be achieved by the quest for spiritual and transformative experiences.
New Findings from a Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial with Ayahuasca for Treatment-Resistant Depression
The use of ayahuasca, an indigenous brew from the Amazonian basin with psychedelic properties, has increased worldwide and its therapeutic value has been investigated. Recently, we conducted a randomized placebo-controlled trial with ayahuasca in 35 patients with treatment-resistant depression. The results suggest a significant antidepressant effect of ayahuasca with rapid onset, already one day after a single session with ayahuasca. Compared to placebo, between-groups differences increased from one day (Cohen’s d = 0.8) to seven days (Cohen’s d = 1.4) after dosing. In addition to the antidepressant effects, in this trial we also explored the sub-acute effects of ayahuasca on a number of markers such as psychiatric scales, neuropsychological tests, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG), and, saliva and blood tests. All assessments occurred one day before and one day after the treatment session with ayahuasca or placebo, in all patients with depression as well as in a group of 50 healthy individuals. This presentation will focus on showing some of the new findings from these measurements, which should help informing on safety and on the mechanisms behind the observed antidepressant effect of ayahuasca.
Regulatory challenges in contemporary world and the politics within the Ayahuasca community
Demand for ayahuasca has increased in the modern world both within and outside of its original cultural and historical context, now including the West, due to the growing scientific research on its medicinal and therapeutic effects. This presents challenges for governments, policymakers, and other stakeholders regarding its legal status, regulation, and transnational governance. To contribute to understandings of these challenges, this paper explored, from a sociological perspective, how collective strategic action can be a source of both social change and stability for the governance of ayahuasca. It did so by looking at two opposing collective strategic groups as a case study: The Ethnobotanical Stewardship Council (ESC), who aimed to ensure participant safety, sustainability of the plant itself and fair remuneration to local growers; and a group of more than 60 academics and other experts who disagree with the ESC’s approach. Consequently, differing ideologies clashed: a risk mitigation approach based on dialogue, by the ESC, vis-à-vis the claim of anti-cultural appropriation and indigenous representation, by the opposition. Results from interviews and discourse analysis of documents during the episode of contention in 2014, between the ESC and the opposition, suggest that to change the governance of ayahuasca, the collective strategic action of the ESC was based on cooperation while the oppositions was based on coercion to restore the status quo and stabilise the field. Coercion and influence as power, from the opposing group, suggested that the ayahuasca community has an underlying political issue that has been overlooked since the ESC’s dissolution.
The Human Brain Under Influence of Ayahuasca: Insights from Computational Neuroscience
Reports about Ayahuasca experience usually involve changes in perception and cognition such as increasing of awareness, flexible thoughts, insights and memory retrieval. We argue that alterations on functional patterns of brain activities
underlie metal state shifts. Using Complex Network approach and concepts from Theory of Information we evaluate functional magnetic resonance data from the same group of individuals before and during the Ayahuasca experience. We report here two finds: 1) an increase in Shannon entropy of the degree distribution and; 2) an increase in the characteristic geodesic entropy of functional brain networks during Ayahuasca experience.
The first find indicates that the connectivity patterns on the functional brain networks during Ayahuasca experience are less constrained by the distribution of connections. The increase in characteristic geodesic entropy suggests that, considering the whole network structure, the overall statistical dependence among the brain regions activities is lower. Both results point in the same direction: the functional brain connectivity patterns are less constrained during Ayahuasca experience. These results support the hypothesis that the psychedelic states, as the state induced by Ayahuasca, arises due to a higher entropy of the brain’s functional connectivity. In other words, the “freedom of mind” on the psychedelic experience can be partially explained by the reduction of constraints in the functional brain connectivity.
Psychedelic Medicines: A Paradigm Shift from Pharmacological Substitution Towards Transformation-Based Psychiatry
While psychoactive drugs such as ketamine and psilocybin have been researched extensively in the past decades, scientific interest in ayahuasca has just started to grow, due to its potential therapeutic benefits. Beyond its traditional indigenous and mestizo use in the Amazon, ayahuasca is currently spreading all over the world as an alternative plant medicine in various ritualistic contexts. This rapid dissemination coincides with the observational evidence that ayahuasca facilitates transformational processes with beneficial health outcomes. However, more empirical research is needed to move beyond anecdotal evidence and further verify therapeutic efficacy and biomechanisms of ayahuasca under controlled conditions.
In this talk, I will outline future possibilities of ayahuasca-assisted therapies based on the biomedical literature on psychedelics and other contexts in which ayahuasca is used to support health and wellbeing. First, psychedelic medicines will be contrasted with standard psychopharmaceuticals as a novel treatment option that necessitates a paradigm shift from substitution- to transformation-based therapy. Second, various adaptogenic effects of ayahuasca will be reviewed, including effects on body, brain and mental functioning. Third, a novel transformational psychotherapy framework will be introduced that outlines how ayahuasca could be used to support sustainable transformation. Finally, future research directions of developing pharmahuasca applications in clinical settings will be contrasted with traditional and indigenous contexts of ayahuasca use, highlighting the challenges of intercultural knowledge transfer.
Ayahuasca and cooperative learning: the experience of União do Vegetal
Cooperative learning (CL) is an educational innovation, which can contribute to the construction of a more collaborative and sustainable world, insofar as learning to be cooperative and supportive is fundamental for our human survival. The five elements that comprise it (positive interdependence, promoter interaction, individual and collective responsibility, social skills, group processing) are present in the universe of ayahuasca and can be identified in the work of the Centro Espírita Beneficente União do Vegetal – UDV. This qualitative ethnographic research carried out in the doctorate program at the University of Valladolid-Spain analyzes the cooperative learning experience in the realm of the UDV, founded on the ideas of Ovejero (2019), professor at the University of Valladolid, my director of thesis, JOHNSON (1993), KAGAN (1993), and FREIRE (2006). Some countries such as the United States, Norway, Finland, Portugal, Spain, Brazil and others have invested in this methodology. In the testimonies of members of the UDV it is possible to identify it as a religious stamp institution, which is used in training a pedagogical line with similar principles to those of CL. The people in this training process, with the experience provided by ayahuasca, support each other in a united way, collaborate with the development of socio-emotional competency and increase the capacity for positive influence, strengthening the feeling of belonging and wellbeing. It is possible to identify in the research that the UDV carries within its organization the principles of CL with a humane training that heals individualistic and competitive behaviors.
The Significance of Therapeutic Ethics of Care for the Spiritual Practice of Medicine Work.
Ethics of care that have been developed in the field of psychology can help mitigate the problems that come from the inevitable evolution of spiritually-oriented medicine works. This presentation discusses important ethics of care considerations for all people facilitating medicine works as safeguard for the work, participants, and the facilitator themselves. It is based on the premise that evolution will happen and that we are best aided in this process by carefully looking at how to assist this evolution in the best possible way
The traditional formats for spiritually-oriented medicine ceremonies help to eliminate the problems that can arise in deeply transformational work such as transferential issues, boundary crossing, abuses of power, and confidentiality breaches. As the spiritual traditions of medicine work become more utilized, they are often adapted to new cultures and merged with other practices. This type of growth has both positive and negative implications. Very often the people adapting these spiritual ceremonies do not fully understand the effects that the customs and practices have on the safety and health of the work for the participants and because of this make changes to the ceremonial components that create problematic dynamics. The ramifications of these problems for the individual, for the participants, and to medicine work at large can be great and can harm individuals and compromise the work itself . The problems can be decreased through understanding and instituting ethics of care.
Palestinians, Israelis, and Ayahuasca: Can Psychedelic Medicines Promote Reconciliation?
A number of ayahuasca groups in Palestine/Israel include both Jewish and Arab participants. We have interviewed 36 participants of these groups to understand processes within this context which might promote reconciliation between group members.
Some examples of themes shared by the interviewees were: 1) Strong connection based on universal humanity – beyond cultural identities. 2) Strong connection based on the identity of ‘the other’ as well – usually through music or recitations of texts – an experience which many reported as being transformative in their relation to the other culture. 3) Painful visions of war and destruction such as seeing the bleeding earth, and compassionate visions in which one sees himself as ‘the other’ in the painful moments. 4) Re-experiencing painful moments of conflict-related personal or collective traumas. 5) The shared ayahuasca experience brought ways in which one is trying to change the conflict through compassion and love (in opposite to many models of activism which are confrontational). 6) Fear or shame in initial encounters which dissipates after intense psychedelic experiences. 7) The appreciation that witnessing someone else’s expression of diversity expands one’s own identity boundaries. 8) An appreciation that one needs to do ‘self-healing’ before trying to change the conflict. 9) Seeing the connection between “Pachamama” and the “Holy Land” and considering the conflict as unsacred.
These interviews support the view that psychedelics can be used for reconciliation and conflict resolution, and the themes found in these interviews support our current development of a model for psychedelic-assisted reconciliation.
The Fundamental Right to a Religious Use of Ayahuasca: a New Approach to Strategically Position Ayahuasca in a Regulated Scenario
This abstract is based on my thesis “FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND PSYCHOACTIVE SUBSTANCES: a comparative legal study relating to Ayahuasca as a sacrament”, presented in Samford University as part of a Master of Comparative Law program, my personal experiences as Federal Judge in Brazil, Constitutional Law professor and UDV member.
The international system of drug control established as lawful the use of plants containing psychotropic substances for medicinal and research purpose. The UDV case in USA represented a new category, when the Supreme Court recognized as lawful the religious use of Ayahuasca as a religious sacrament, establishing an historical precedent.
The Brazilian experience is also studied, addressing the legal status of Ayahuasca in a religious context through a multidisciplinary dimension, where a new regulatory standard was set considering medical, sociological and anthropological aspects of the religious use of the tea.
The scope of the fundamental right of freedom of religion is examined through personal autonomy, private and public health. Human dignity is presented as an ethical standard, an interpretative vector in order to reach government decisions that promote respect to autonomy and self-determination of the human being.
International treaties on psychotropic substances are discussed, as well as its interpretation throughout international organizations and consequences to the legal and political status of several countries.
Finally, we present an approach to strategically position Ayahuasca in a regulated scenario nationally and internationally, considering the results on individuals, communities and societies when used responsibly in a religious context.
Can the environmental characteristics cause variation in DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) production in Psychotria viridis Ruiz & Pav?
Environmental parameters direct some of the major physiological processes of plants and may affect the production of their biochemicals compounds. In this study were evaluated plants grown in two regions of the Brazilian Western Amazon, where they have been recorded higher and lower annual rainfall rate respectively. Leaves were collected to verify the interference of the environment on the leaf structural traits to understand if intraspecific leaf alterations can lead to the variation in DMT production. This study included the description micromorphlogical, anatomical and histochemical of leaf sample of P. viridis. The histochemical characteristics were revealed with specific reagents and the morphoanatomical description were made using stereomicroscope, light microscope and scanning eléctron microscopy (SEM). The foliar morphoanatomic pattern found was the same in all plants of the two study areas. Epidermis uniseriate with druse, tector trichomes of varied morphology, apical stipula, amphi-hypostomatic stomata and domatia. Differences in stomatal density, leaf area and glandular ducts were the main leaf characteristics found that indicate intraspecific changes promoted by interactions between plants and the environment. Histochemical tests revealed higher total alkaloid content in leaves of plants under the highest annual rainfall mean. The results showed that water availability promoted structural and quantitative changes in leaves of P. viridis which possibly induced functional responses with effect on the production of alkaloids in plants under a lower rainfall rate. This allows us to consider that the variation in the DMT production of this species is closely related to the environmental parameters supported by the plants.
Ayahuasca, the Drug War, and the International Movement For Drug Decriminalization
When it comes to drug policy, the political landscape has changed as quickly as any other issue over the past few years – especially in the U.S., which historically has propagated the global “war on drugs”. A growing majority of people in the U.S. support making marijuana legal, significantly reducing the role of the criminalization in drug policy, and treating drug use as a health issue rather than a criminal one. Yet, as in numerous other countries, people who use ayahuasca in the U.S. remain vulnerable to stigmatization, marginalization, and even criminal punishment.
How do we build a world where legal ayahuasca makes sense, where people are free to live openly as their full selves? How can we ensure that ayahuasca isn’t just legally accessible for a privileged few, while communities who have historically suffered the worst harms of prohibition remain marginalized?
First, we must overcome ongoing barriers to scientific and medical research – the potential benefits and risks of ayahausca need to be better understood, but the drug war and its ideology continue to drastically limit the scope of scientific research. Second, we need to carefully guide the public narrative about how ayahuasca is perceived and managed – public support for legal access to ayahuasca remains low due to unsubstantiated myths that are vestiges of the drug war.
Third – and most importantly – we must repair the harms of ayahuasca’s prohibition and reduce the role of criminalization in drug policy more broadly. The prohibition of ayahausca, like the prohibition of other illegal substances, is a legacy of racism, colonialism, and the repression of indigenous cultures – and any drug policy reforms must include reparative justice provisions that account for this history.
As the U.S. and numerous other countries move toward ending the criminalization of people who use drugs, what does this mean for people who care about ayahuasca? And why might we have a critical role to play in moving broader drug policy reforms forward that could ultimately break the back of global drug prohibition?
The Potential of Ayahuasca-Assisted Therapy in the Treatment of Mental Health Challenges
This presentation is based on the synthesis of observational research on the use of ayahuasca for the treatment of addiction and eating disorders and over a decade of psychotherapeutic work with the preparation for and integration of ayahuasca experiences. The presentation explores the therapeutic mechanisms of well-guided ayahuasca experiences for psychotherapeutic change in mental health challenges such as addiction, eating disorders, trauma and treatment resistant depression; addressing the value of complementary psychotherapeutic work and other conditions for successful therapeutic outcomes. Also experiences from psychotherapeutic work with patients who have suffered trauma from inappropriate Ayahuasca use will be touched on.
Clarifications regarding the regulation of ayahuasca in Spain: current legal and judicial status
Ayahuasca is a vegetable preparation containing dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a substance listed as Schedule I on the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of the United Nations of 1971. The regulation of this substance raises the question of whether such a control system is applicable to ayahuasca, as such. In our presentation, this issue will be addressed within the Spanish legislation. Consequently, whether there is a legal basis to consider ayahuasca a controlled substance capable of constituting the material object of the crime of drug trafficking will be analyzed (Article 368 of the Criminal Code) and will face the conclusion to be reached with the existing minor case-law/jurisprudence in our country. Also, a review will be done of its legal situation at the administrative level.
Discussions concerning power and the new uses of yajé
Including new uses of a therapeutic and spiritual nature, the expansion of the use of yajé has transformed the rituality, the actors, the settings, and the purposes and aims of the practice, in the face of a new type of users. The sources of legitimization of the ritual use of this psychotropic have also adapted, not without risks, to the new scenarios. This presentation seeks to account for some of the most sensitive transformations in the sources of legitimacy of yajé consumption. If until a few years ago it was the indigenous curacas who held the power of its use, today we are faced with a dissimilar field of specialists who handle the psychoactive: taitas, shamans, therapists, doctors, psychiatrists, pharmacologists, etc. The diversity of actors contrasts with the logic of power that the traditional uses of yajé hold. The forms of social power mobilized historically by this ritual practice in their original contexts (the power of the jungle, the power of different, the power of “Indianness”) have been displaced by the logic of a new political economy of yajé, and of the commodification and globalization of new uses. What implications do this opening have for a new scenario of globalized consumption?
Molecular Investigation of the Rapid Antidepressant Effect Involved in the Pharmacodynamics of Ayahuasca in Patients with Resistant Depression: Bibliographic Review
According to the World Health Organization, Major Depression by 2020 will be the most disabling disease on the planet, with great difficulties in treatment. Currently, almost 50% of the patients do not show significant improvement in the first 8-12 weeks and only 20 to 35% will present complete remission, being difficult the treatment of patients with resistant depression. Ayahuasca has been evaluated in several studies, both animal and human as a new treatment, that has the potential to reverse the major depression core symptoms, vis a vis resistant depression and major depression in a single dose. The ongoing study aims to show where constituents do their actions, what effects, and how these effects acts to improve the depressive state. The present review describes that DMT has great affinity for chaperone Sig-1R. Sigma Receptors are implicated in regulation of neuronal cell morphogenesis as synaptogenesis and myelinization growth, immunoregulation and other complex neuronal functions. The ß-carbolines, Harmina, Harmalina, Tetrahidroharmina are IMAOs, which inhibit the degradation of DMT, and demonstrate strong psychoactive properties as stimulants in the central nervous system leading to neogenesis, stem cell proliferation, astrogliogenesis and neuronal plasticity. This study has the potential to evaluate new pharmacological targets that can be translated in new treatment for Major Depressive Disorder.
The Therapeutic Effects of Ayahuasca: Mindfulness and Psychological Flexibility as two Potential Mechanisms of Action
There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca for treating depression and anxiety. However, the mechanisms of action involved in ayahuasca’s therapeutic effects are not well understood. Mindfulness and cognitive flexibility are two possible mechanisms which are both associated with psychological wellbeing, while rumination and rigid thinking are associated with psychopathology. Like other classical psychedelics, ayahuasca also leads to an afterglow effect of increased subjective wellbeing that persists after the acute effects have subsided. This afterglow period may also offer a window of increased therapeutic potential.
UDV Science: scientific and Academic Interests and Guidelines of the Centro Espirita Beneficente União do Vegetal (CEBUDV)
The UDV is the most structured religion in Brazil among those that use the tea Hoasca (Ayahuasca) as a sacrament. In the formative process of the UDV, we can trace the importance of scientific investigation about not only the tea but also about the religion itself, as a social institution. Starting in 1970’s, after being publically attacked by a physician in the local newspaper the city of Porto Velho, the Center opened its door to scientific research. Again, in 1985, after the Brazilian Government arbitrarily classified – without any scientific study – Banisteriopsis Caapi as a dangerous substance, there was a juridical demand from the UDV, and Brazilian government consequently created a Work Group to study ayahuasca religions from a broader perspective (Anthropology, Sociology, Law, Psychology and Medicine). In the 1990’s after a few other persecutions and prejudices, the UDV decided to invite some scientists to conduct a study in order to assess the Tea Hoasca (Ayahuasca) form a medical and pharmacological point of view, which resulted in the Hoasca Project, and also opened its doors for the assessment of the effects of the tea on teenagers (Ayahuasca in adolescence Project). Today, the CEBUDV is restructuring its Scientific Department (UDV Ciência or UDV Science) as well as redefining its scientific policies. My communication will talk about the historical vocation of the CEBUDV towards academic and scientific interest and will also announce the reformulation of the Scientific Department of the UDV and its policies. It will also announce to the research community how we can support some new researches.
Effects of Ayahuasca on Mindfulness Capacities, Self-Compassion and Emotion Dysregulation in a Community Sample.
Ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic brew original from the Amazon basin. Findings on its psychological effects are still arising parallel to the willing to find out a new potential therapeutic agent. Previous studies suggest increases in mindfulness-related capacities (e.g. decentering, non-judging, non-reacting and acceptance) and in emotion regulation after ayahuasca intake in community samples. Our data also show improvements on emotional dysregulation in individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) traits, which suggests that ayahuasca therapy could be of special value in clinical populations affected by these deficiencies. Moreover, preliminary results also suggest increases in self-compassion and in self-criticism/self-reassurance. Our findings indicate that acute ayahuasca intake could be as effective at improving self-compassion as more lengthy and costly interventions. Future studies should address the benefits of combining ayahuasca administration with mindfulness-based interventions. Self-compassion may promote well-being and healthier coping strategies (and consequently less avoidance reactions to aversive events) and thus may have a positive impact on negative affect and other psychopathological conditions. It would be of great value to examine the potential mechanisms behind the benefits of ayahuasca over wellbeing. To sum up, we present several findings on the effects of ayahuasca and introduce related issues such as personality, psychotherapy and modalities of consumption of this substance.
Biophilia & the Biosphere: Psychedelics and Nature Connection
Recent research has highlighted how experiences with psychedelic substances such as ayahuasca can increase people’s feelings of nature connection. Increased levels of nature connection are correlated with enhanced wellbeing, and also strongly predict pro-environmental attitudes and behaviour. Given our time of increasing disconnection and ecological destruction, could psychedelics provide a means of healing both humans and the biosphere through reconnecting us to the natural world? Could this research play an important role in translating indigenous wisdom into something recognised in modern western discourse? How can research in this important area be advanced so that the nature reconnecting potential of psychedelics can be better understood and acknowledged, and so play a role in reconnecting our species to the biosphere, to help facilitate human and planetary healing?
Psychosis and ayahuasca
The research aims to ascertain the relationship between ayahuasca and psychotic symptoms (unusual experiences defined as delusions, hallucinations, experiences of deep malaise, severe depression, severe eating disorders) that manifest once the ritual is over and last up to a month after the ceremony. The hypothesis is that the ayahuasca ritual can allow old memories to surface, pre-verbal experiences that, if not integrated into a worldview, could lead to moments of fragmentation, with experiences of persecution. In the same way, the experience with ayahuasca could allow, through the emergence of old traumas and pre-verbal memories, the ability to find meaning in symptoms that would not commonly fit in the whole personality of the individual. This would then mean that the experience with ayahuasca would have a therapeutic potential to modify and expand the awareness of lived experiences, not only on the individual level. Through collaboration with the Takiwasi Center in Tarapoto, the research foresees a study on 8 cases from the Center that have experienced psychotic symptoms. The study would be carried out through the analysis of the material compiled with Project Plus, in order to find out whether ceremonies with ayahuasca may have therapeutic potential in the understanding and cure of psychotic symptoms or, conversely, an effect of exacerbation and triggering of latent psychoses. In addition, through different associations in Italy that perform rituals with ayahuasca, there would be 10 interviews with people who have sought this experience to cure psychotic experiences or who, conversely, after an experience with ayahuasca, have had psychotic experiences, analyzing how the process has developed over time.o como el proceso se ha desarrollado en el tiempo.
What is in the Cup? Chemical Composition of Ayahuasca and its Substitutes
102 samples of psychoactive brews offered as ayahuasca in different locations and traditions were chemically analyzed at the Institute of Chemistry of the University of Campinas, SP, Brazil in collaboration with the research group of Prof. Alessandra Sussulini. Concentrations of DMT and characteristic alkaloids of B. caapi (tetrahydroharmine, harmine and harmaline) in all collected samples were determined by reversed-phase UHPLC-MS/MS. Qualitative analyses for suspected non-traditional additives such as moclobemide, yuremamine and psilocin were performed by UHPLC-MS.
Chemical compositions of studied psychoactive brews offered at ceremonies as ayahuasca were variable but mostly consistent with ayahuasca made from Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis. However, from “ayahuasca ceremonies” held in Europe we found two related samples of counterfeit ayahuasca containing moclobemide (likely from a pharmaceutical source), psilocin, high concentrations of DMT from Mimosa tenuiflora (confirmed by presence of yuremamine) and very low concentrations of B. caapi alkaloids. Some analogues of ayahuasca (Peganum harmala, Mimosa tenuiflora) were used in Europe with partial informed consent of the participants. No counterfeits or analogues were found among ayahuasca samples from Brazil or samples from Santo Daime ceremonies held outside Brazil.
Based on these results we recommend for ayahuasca users open enquiry and awareness about the constituents of the used brew, especially concerning ceremonies held outside of Southern America and its spiritual traditions. We see a need for development of evidence-based legal regulations and ethical self-regulations in collaboration between practitioners of ayahuasca rituals.
The Power of Ritual: Set and Setting in the Santo Daime
Set and setting is a fundamental concept in the field of psychedelic drug research, which points to the profound dependence of psychedelic effects on psychological, social and cultural factors. The study of set and setting, explores the various extra-drug parameters and techniques used for controlling drug response.
Santo Daime is a Brazilian rainforest religion, which makes elaborate use of ordering principles, techniques and symbology to shape and direct the effects of the hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca. The talk will explore the principles, methods and ideologies (set and setting) employed by the Santo Daime doctrine in order to shape hallucinogenic experiences within its ritual. It will discuss the reasoning behind specific instructions given to ceremony participants, their benefits for creating a safe set and setting, which supports the occurrence of conversion-type mystical experiences, as well as the types of situations in which ritual environment and provisions might backfire and worsen set and setting conditions. Understanding the use of set and setting techniques in ritual setting is especially important in an era in which psychedelic research returns to the fore, seeking new ways to conceptualize the role of set and setting in shaping hallucinogenic effects.
Modulatory Effects of Ayahuasca on Personality Structure in a Traditional Framework
Ayahuasca is a powerful psychoactive South American plant brew mix containing dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). It is used by certain communities within the Amazon basin and surrounding areas for ceremonial purposes. Westerners are now entering such communities primarily seeking alternative physical, psychological or spiritual healing. Glorified media representations have resulted in exponential growth in ayahuasca tourism, yet the brew itself is vastly understudied. This paper assesses the impact of traditional ayahuasca use on human personality; typically deemed to be stable above the age of 30 and measured using the five-factor model (NEO-PI3), correlated with the extent of a perceived mystical experience (MEQ30) following ayahuasca ingestion. Rationale is based on Maclean et al. (2011) which found a similar compound, psilocybin, caused long term increases in levels of Openness on the NEO-PI after a single administration. Current study sample group N=24 found significant short-term (12 day) increases in levels of Agreeableness from pre-post ingestion, along with significant reductions in levels of Neuroticism. Long-term (six month) reductions in Neuroticism were sustained, whereas changes in Agreeableness were no longer observed. Personality changes showed positive correlation with perceived mystical states within participants. These findings support the growing body of research that suggest therapeutic avenues for psychedelic compounds, and of mystical/peak experiences.
Ayahuasca and Tobacco Smoking Cessation: Results from an Online Survey in Brazil
Tobacco smoking is a highly concerning public health matter around the world. Conventional treatments are unsatisfactory. Recent evidence suggests that psychedelics may be effective for the treatment of addiction. This research evaluated the experiences of people who reported having stopped or reduced tobacco smoking after ayahuasca consumption. An online survey was conducted collecting sociodemographic information, data about smoking patterns before and after the ayahuasca experience, smoking dependence and the mystical experience of the most influent experience on the smoking cessation/reduction, evaluated with the Mystical Experience Questionnaire (MEQ30). A total of 452 valid responses were collected; 401 (88.7%) volunteers reported going to the ayahuasca ceremony without previously intention of quitting smoking; 316 (69.9%) reported that they had completely stopped smoking after one or more ayahuasca experience(s). Logistic regression was conducted with the conditions of total abstinence (quitters group, n=316) and reduced smoking (relapse group, n=136). Age, having a child, marital status, MEQ30 4 factors, and frequency of ayahuasca consumption were used as associated factors in the model. Being in a relationship (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.2-2.8), being older (1.03, 1.005-1.06), drinking ayahuasca frequently (1.984, 0.257, 3.1]), having experienced a more intense mystical experience (1.03, 1.006-1.05) were detected as factors associated with the quitter’s group. These results suggest that the mystical nature of the ayahuasca experience may act as a predictive factor for stopping smoking and the frequency of ayahuasca consumption is strongly associated with quitting, corroborating the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca as an auxiliary tool for addiction treatment.
The Lympho-Neuric Syncytium: A New Model for the Integrated Use of Ayahuasca on Mind and Body
Advocates of natural medicine and ayahuasca speak of a psycho-neuro-endocrine-immunologic network whereby psyche affects the nerves which affect the hormones which affect the immune system. While such a cascade certainly exists, a more accurate depiction is an integrated syncytium comprised of both neurons or nerve cells in the brain and lymphocytes, a kind of white blood cell, in the immune system that circulates in the blood and emanates from the bone marrow. Both neurons and lymphocytes bear serotonin receptors on their cell surfaces, which explains their capability of being tuned directly by ayahuasca. Both the nervous system and the immune system maintain an internal image of Self, and are thus both cognitive systems that differentiate between Self and non-sense. The new hypothesis presents the nervous and immune systems as complementary aspects of a single integrated syncytium that is capable of being tuned instantaneously by ayahuasca and related entheogenic, serotonin-modulating compounds. Beginning research using ex-vivo models is outlined for elucidating the underlying mechanisms, veracity, and implications of this phenomenon for psychophysical integration and treatment of chronic diseases.
Could Psychedelics Serve as a Prevention of Mental Health Disorders?
Research data worldwide suggest that the prevalence rate of mental health disorders is increasing continuously and treatment itself may not be sufficient to successfully improve global public health. To achieve that a focus on prevention strategies may significantly help.
At the same time, the growing evidence from psychedelic medicine is showing that psychedelics administered in the controlled setting, are effective in treating a range of mental health disorders as well as promoting positive mental health aspects in healthy volunteers. Psychedelics showed to increase well-being, flexibility, openness, creativity, and mindfulness as well as facilitating spiritual experience and increasing neuroplasticity. These traits and phenomena are at the same time identified as important correlates of mental health and their strengthening frequently a focus for health interventions, either therapeutic or preventive. Key aspects mentioned are very interrelated and often overlapping.
We hypothesize that there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the mechanism of functioning of psychedelics could also be effectively used in mental health disorder prevention, by strenghtening the certain traits and enhancing the psychological processes which are associated with the mental health across the different diagnosis as well as in healthy people. As the most promising we consider the constructs of psychological flexibility and resilience. These seem to be directly associated with the radical increase in neuroplasticity, often perceived as spiritual experiences, during the acute phases of psychedelic states.
If confirmed, this would be of huge importance for mental health care. If that is the case, psychedelics could offer even more socio-health-economical benefits than we have thought so far. Specific techniques for achieving the prophylactic effect will need to be explored by rigorous research.
Proposed hypothesis is based on the evidence from current research and supported by the novel preliminary data from the studies exploring the change of psychological flexibility factors and resilience after use of psychedelics (psilocybin and secretion from Bufo alvarius).
Electromagnetic environmental changes due to the effects of ayahuasca
Until now there has been no dissemination of the research on the biophysics of the effect of ayahuasca – or no such research exists. In different Amazonian ethnic traditions, there is talk of the presence of ‘entities’ that appear during sessions or ceremonies of the entheogen and that indigenous shamans claim to perceive and even use according to their interests.
In recent years I have been recording the changes that occur in the level of environmental electromagnetism during ayahuasca sessions when there is a minimum group of participants – measured in micro-teslas – and the results are, at least, surprising. The different change in the process of crystallization of proteins in a sample within the group of consumers, and outside, has been observed and photographed, in the measurements of environmental electromagnetism, both conducted both in a closed space as well as an open space while occupied by a group of consumers. These data, which I will present in the presentation, allow us to elaborate certain hypotheses about the influence of the internal world of the human being on the environment while under the effect of an entheogen in a certain context. I will present comparative data of ayahuasca sessions, meditation retreats, etc.
Since 2014, we have been carrying forward the first postgraduate course in Traditional Indoamerican Medicine (TIM) in the city of Rosario, Argentina. It is a collaboration between the Faculty of Medicine, the University of Rosario and the team of professionals of the Mesa Verde Foundation.
Thanks to this initiative, we are drawing closer to the western scientific community, through the University, the theoretical teachings of ancient medicinal practices of different native peoples of America, made invisible since the European invasion of Abya Yala (American continent).
In each class we work with shamans, healers and traditional indigenous doctors who share their wisdom together with an interdisciplinary team composed of psychiatrists, psychologists, anthropologists and lawyers.
This unprecedented integration is the first of its kind in the academic world of Argentina and a large part of South America. This postgraduate course follows the guidelines of WHO, Unesco and other international organizations, promoting, educating, informing, protecting and teaching traditional medicine for the common good.
One of the main objectives of the postgraduate course is education on the different sacred plants, especially ayahuasca and a complex field of knowledge that includes and sustains its ritual use, researched by the Mesa Verde Foundation for more than 20 years, along with traditional Amazonian ayahuasquero doctors.
This labor of many years is a great first step toward the integration of ancestral knowledge into academic institutions, the decolonization of university thought, the promotion of future standards for TIM and the proper and respectful integration of western knowledge and ancient knowledge.
adecuada y respetuosa del saber occidental y el saber milenario.
EEG Studies of the Acute Effects of Smoked DMT
Over the past years I have been conducting EEG studies on DMT, employing N,N-DMT from Mimosa hostilis and also 5-MeO-DMT (both synthetic and Bufo alvarius toad venom). The main findings are in good agreement with published EEG Ayahuasca studies reporting DMT effects.
For N,N-DMT EEG changes consisted of suppression of power across broad frequency band (1-20 Hz) and increased power in High Beta (25-30 Hz) and Gamma (40-50 Hz, P<.0001, N=20). Both N,N-DMT and 5-MeO-DMT induced reversible hypercoherence resulting from increased neural network connectivity. These findings share features reported for meditation and lucid dreaming work. Acosta-Urquidi, J. 2017, Advances in Psychology Research, vol. 130, 173-199; Acosta-Urquidi, J. 2015, Cosmos and History, Vol. 11 (2), 115-129.
The Therapeutic Potential of Ayahuasca for People with Bipolar Disorder
Although people with bipolar disorder have high suicidality and limited treatment options, they are usually excluded from ayahuasca ceremonies. Given the evidence indicating ayahuasca’s efficacy for treating depression, I question whether ayahuasca is safe and effective for treating bipolar disorder?
There is valid concern that ayahuasca would worsen manic/depressive symptoms in people with bipolar disorder, because most antidepressant pharmaceuticals and most psychedelics are known to do so. My research has indeed documented numerous cases of bipolar people developing manic symptoms after drinking ayahuasca, but detailed analysis indicates that many of these are false negative results, and that the real majority of bipolar people have therapeutically-positive experiences with ayahuasca. I explain these contradictory results by deconstructing the set and setting of ayahuasca ceremonies, as well as deconstructing the tea itself.
I will present qualitative data from 60 bipolar people that have drunk ayahuasca, and chromatographic quantification of the psychoactive ingredients in 100 batches of tea. I conclude that the crucial factor determining bipolar people’s response to ayahuasca is the cooking technique, because variations in cooking technique affect the ratios of the 4 psychoactive ingredients in ayahuasca, thereby affecting the balance of bipolar brain chemistry.
I have developed novel theories about the receptor binding times of 5-TH2AR agonists, the interaction of SRIs with DMT, fermentation, the CNS action of harmala alkaloids – all of which provide scientific explanations of my dogma-refuting qualitative evidence that ayahuasca can be a safe and effective psychedelic medicine for people with bipolar disorder.
Exploring the Psychological Relevance of Intersubjective Experience During Ceremony
Legal in many countries, retreats working with psychedelics and plant medicines offer a structured, supportive environment for an ever increasing group of individuals seeking healing, insight, or personal growth through the use of these compounds. Yet, little empirical research has been done on the psychological, social, and environmental factors which determine acute subjective and long-term responses to guided experiences in ceremonial and other naturalistic environments. In order to examine the influence of contextual factors on the acute psychedelic experience and its psychological outcomes, we conducted a study (www.ceremonystudy.com) that prospectively collected data from >300 individuals who planned to take a psychedelic substance or plant medicine in a guided setting. Traits, variables pertaining to set, setting, and the acute subjective experience were assessed at five time points before and after a guided experience, ceremony, or retreat. At AYA2019, I would like to present data on social components at play during ceremonies that was collected during this study. Specifically, how the experience of ‘communitas’ , identity fusion, and other intersubjective phenomena during ceremonies and sharing circles can have an impact on long-term changes in psychological well-being, social connectedness, interpersonal tolerance, and related concepts, such as reciprocity. This work is related to the submission by my colleague Leor Roseman and I would ideally like to present during the same panel as him. Thank you very much for considering this proposal.
Ayahuasca: A Review on Phytochemistry, with Emphasis on its Neuropsycho-Pharmacology and Potential Medical Uses
Ayahuasca, the psychotropic plant-brew, has been used for centuries by the indigenous people of South American-Amazonia for ritualistic, medicinal, and recreational purposes. In the last couple of decades, it has generated a worldwide interest as a novel psychoactive stimulant. The decoction of Ayahuasca is most commonly prepared by boiling the stems of Banisteriopsis caapi with an adjuvant plant such as Psychotria viridis, or even Diplopterys cabrerana, Nicotiana sp. and Datura sp. The decoction contains alkaloids, ranging from seratonergic-neuromodulators, N, N – Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and Monomethyltryptamine, to monoamine oxidase-enzyme inhibitors such as harmine, tetrahydroharmine, harmaline, and harmol. The activity of these molecules causes neuro-psychological effects of Ayahuasca, which includes enhanced visual imagery, vivid “projections”, “mystical/spiritual revelations”, and “increased introspection”. Research has highlighted Ayahuasca’s potential for treatment of neurological disorders ranging from depression to substance-addiction.
DMT is an important constituent, responsible for psychedelic actions such as kaleidoscopic display of geometric pattern, euphoria or anxiety, and awareness of dissociation from the physical body (out of body experiences). It has been well established that DMT is endogenously produced in humans and primates. It acts on serotonin receptors: 5-HT2A (primarily), 5-HT1A, and 5HT3A. More recently, it has been reported that DMT also activates trace amine-associated receptors (TAAR) and sigma- 1 receptors.
This article focuses on neuropsycho-pharmacology of Ayahuasca, enlisting reports such as enhanced creative performance in visual arts by artists and intuitive thinking/insight generation by scientists. Further, the pharmacokinetics and mechanisms of action of Ayahuasca’s phytocomponents and its potential clinical uses are discussed. It finishes with suggestions for future research on better understanding of its actions in the central and peripheral nervous systems.
Dilemmas in the recognition of ayahuasca as cultural heritage in Brazil
The presentation will be a reflection on the area of debates around the recognition of ayahuasca as an intangible cultural heritage in Brazil. Following the request made by representatives of the so-called “Brazilian religious lines” – and signed by the Secretariat of Culture of Rio Branco, capital of the province of Acre – to the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute, a process was established in the State sector to identify the ways and practices that make the “ritual use of ayahuasca” a “cultural reference” for communities and for national identity and education, in accordance with the terms set out by the cultural heritage policy. Giving a brief ethnography on the development of the process is proposed, that includes the production of an inventory in which a team of researchers presents local traditions and defends the recognition; the increase in awareness of local actors about the diversity of stakeholders in patrimonialization, a perception closely related to the phenomenon of the expansion of ayahuasca use to the most varied geographical regions and areas of knowledge; the holding of seminars in which indigenous peoples have decided, among themselves, to deliberate on what meaning the recognition of ayahuasca as a cultural heritage may have for the continuation of their historical projects, for the protection of their traditional knowledge and, in addition, on the possible consequences that the growing interest in ayahuasca may have for their culture and community.
Ayahuasca and Beyond: Herbal Traditional Amazonian Medicine for Human Therapy and Planetary Health
Despite the internationalization process of the Ayahuasca consumption, from a biomedical perspective the authentication of the plants material and the composition of the finished brew is still matter of debate. Within the scientific community there is a consensus about the main ingredient of Ayahuasca preparation, identified in the plant Banisteriopsis caapi (Spruce ex Griseb.) Morton. From a taxonomical viewpoint, this genus is constantly evolving and rather complex including 136 species. Ethnobotanical data on Ayahuasca report different common names for same plant species and vice-versa. The preparation can also be a matter of concern being a key process for potential variation of chemicals in the finished products. It seems, however, that a simplification/standardization process for the preparation of Ayahuasca brew goes together with its internationalization, both in terms of botanical material used (including its domestication) and herbal formula.
The increasing popularity of Ayahuasca has triggered a considerable growing of the so-called shamanic tourism in the Amazon basin, allowing foreigners to discover a whole series of practices derived from Traditional Amazonian Medicine (TAM) including the shamanic plant diet, a ritualized ingestion of others medicinal plants beyond Ayahuasca. However, the above mentioned simplification versus internationalization process could affect the quality, safety, and efficacy of these traditional herbal remedies, as well as determine the loss of significant cultural heritages related with the proper use of such kind of ethnomedicines; a traditional ecological knowledge that can play a role not only in the context of human therapy, but also for planetary health issues at large.
Effects of DMT in the Brain and Human Experience
DMT is known for inducing rich experiences characterised by feelings of deep immersion into a subjectively-felt “different reality or dimension” in which people encounter complex scenes and communicate with seemingly conscious entities. In our research we studied the effects of DMT by administering more than 60 doses while capturing the effects of the compound in the brain using EEG and fMRI, as well as range of subjective effects inspired by a neurophenomenological approach. Results reveal an intimate relationship between different measures of brain activity and dynamic shifts in different dimensions of conscious experience. Our findings indicate the potential relevance of using DMT in the context of consciousness research as well as its similarities with dreams, near-death experiences and a range of non-ordinary states of consciousness.
The patrimonialization and social diversity of ayahuasca in Brazil
We will present a communication that is based on some reflections on my thesis entitled:
Tradition and modernity in the field of ayahuasca: an analysis of the processes of regulation and patrimonialization of ayahuasca in Brazil during the period 1986 – 2016, which analyzes the dynamics of social and political linkage in the field of ayahuasca in Brazil via assessment of the broad process of public recognition of ayahuasca – both in its normalization and its cultural heritage. This process involves representatives of religion present in this field, the State, groups and individuals outside the field identified by the use of ayahuasca in the state of Acre, in Brazil and throughout the world. Their study shows, through the analysis of the speeches of the actors involved, the conflicts between the social actors (from Bourdieu’s field theory), their intentions and efforts to contemplate them. In addition, we will see what the establishment of different configurations means (in the sense proposed by Elias), the exploration of the dynamics between tradition and modernity. The survey included a review of documents, a set of semi-structured interviews with important actors in the field of ayahuasca, with members of the judiciary, the Ministry of Culture, legitimate interpreters of the history of ayahuasca (or Daime), and the life stories of important actors from the religious traditions present in the field of study. Our main thesis is that the processes analyzed represent moments in which the tensions arising from the desire for recognition and legitimacy – meaning in relation to the dialectic between tradition and modernity in the Brazilian ayahuasca camp – produce intentional and unintended results by the actors in tests in the field.
ducen resultados intencionados y no intencionados por los actores en pruebas en el campo.
Ayahuasca Clinical and Neuroscientific Research in the United States: Update
Ayahuasca is an ancient South American ethnomedicine with applications in the treatment of major depression, PTSD, drug and alcohol addiction, neurodegenerative diseases and possibly in cancer as well. – the plagues of our time. It healing power is due to its psychedelic consciousness effects as well as its neurochemical action in both the brain and the gastrointestinal system. Ayahuasca may also have transpersonal effects in which humans can communicate instantly over space. This is why the Harvard ethno-pharmacologists who were the first westerners to study the use ayahuasca tea among indigenous groups in the Amazon basin called the alkaloid constituent of ayahuasca tea ‘telepathine’. Ayahuasca has much to teach us as healers, physicians and scientists. Legal ayahuasca research in the United States requires an FDA-approved standardized ‘botanical drug’, and FDA-approved clinical trial or brain research study and a DEA licenses to measure DMT, to manufacture, distribute and administer a DMT-containing study medication in human beings who are enrolled in an institutional ethics review board approved study. I will describe the technical and legal challenges of ayahuasca research and describe my path to FDA IND approval for ayahuasca research, the status of the U.S. project and the need for consciousness and neuroscience fMRI research of the ayahuasca state of consciousness.
From Jaguars to Ego Death: Some Thoughts on Ayahuasca Medicalization
Despite a long and diverse history of use across shamanic and religious cultural practices, ayahuasca is increasingly being defined as medicine by an assemblage of scientific research groups, media institutions, and patient and consumer populations. Through the act of measurement, scientific instruments negate the cultural shaping of ayahuasca drinking in an attempt to render it objective, standardized, and knowable within an emerging technical discourse connected to broader research on psychedelic medicine. This talk considers how the attempt to scrub culture from psychedelic science is paradoxically helping to animate pharmacological matter with political and moral agency. While indigenous Amazonian approaches often ascribe a morally ambiguous agency to the spirits that appear in ayahuasca visions, psychedelic scientists are foregrounding chemicals as unambiguous moral agents when used safely.
The Dynamics of Ayahuasca Phenomenology Approached from a Jungian Analytical Psychology perspective
The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) influenced the psychology of the 20th century with his concepts, ideas and theories, but he often remained controversial in the academic world. Essential for Jung were spiritual and transcendent dimensions of man, he sought for depth and meaning in the human soul. With his work he worked in the areas of religious psychology, philosophy, astrology and ethnology. Introspection was for Jung the key to self-knowledge and individuation. In the psychotherapeutic process, Jung was concerned with dealing with complex episodes, with special consideration of the affective levels. In a creative process with the inclusion of dreams and inner images, a process of development and change was to be initiated in the client.
Ayahuasca drinkers talk about ayahuasca as a tool to explore undiscovered areas of the human mind. The effects of ayahuasca involve a wide range of mental and physical phenomena, including the reliving of autobiographical memories, the intense feeling of physical sensation, or transpersonal and supernatural experiences. Also unpleasant, Carthaginian processes can be experienced, which can be described in Jung’s words as encounters and work with your own shadow. In this lecture, the speaker wants to deal with parallels in Jung’s concepts and the phenomenology of ayahuasca experiences.
Some Ideolgocica Risks of Psychedelics: Spiritual Inflation and Utopianism
Psychedelics, including ayahuasca, are, as we all know, very potent substances that can have extremely positive consciousness enhancing and healing effects on individuals. We also all know they can be problematic when given to the wrong person (or even the right person in the wrong setting or with poor preparation). But beyond their impacts on individuals these substances can also have important effects on the larger society, helping spawn cultural trends and aesthetic movements, and influencing socio-political ideas. These cultural phenomena have not been studied in any depth because psychedelics have generally been proscribed and demonized in our culture, so serious mainstream sociologists and cultural observers have largely ignored their larger social impacts, but that is no reason we who are sympathetic to psychedelics’ potential shouldn’t honestly and critically look at their socio-cultural effects. In this session, J.P. Harpignies will explore one troubling aspect of psychedelic subcultures, especially contemporary ayahuasca circles—a fairly widespread tendency toward the uncritical acceptance of a number of extremely naive utopian ideas and some very paranoid conspiratorial ones, as well as toward certain strains of spiritual megalomania. He will discuss some possible reasons for these tendencies and how perhaps to mitigate some of the negative consequences these problematic ideological tendencies can have.
Ayahuasca as Relational Medicine: Intimate Encounters at the Frontiers of Liquid Modernity
This presentation is based on over two years of ethnographic and qualitative research conducted at an ayahuasca retreat center in the Peruvian Amazon, a collaborative study between the Temple of the Way of Light, ICEERS and the Beckley Foundation. These observations are likewise informed by my lived experience as a retreat facilitator on site. In this presentation, my aim is to address the social, political and onto-epistemic dimensions of health and wellbeing, made visible through the participants’ ayahuasca experiences, contextualized by the setting provided by the retreat structure and the encounter with a radically different cosmology and worldview, manifest in the work of the Shipibo healers. The interaction between ayahuasca and a group setting that promotes intimacy, horizontality, and mutual responsibility amongst participants often encourages a social dynamic where participants can both safely express and listen to each others’ struggles, difficulties, and breakthroughs. This break with the individualistic, pharmacologically-driven focus of bio-medicine alone greatly contributes to counteract the feelings of alienation and isolation that exacerbate suffering when it remains private. In the increasingly liquid societies of modernity (drawing from Bauman), these rare, shared experiences of communal struggle, breakthrough and healing allow participants to recognize the interconnected and interdependent nature of health and wellbeing, prompting them to pay special care to their eroding social bonds and to reframe experiences of loneliness, alienation, anxiety, depression, or trauma in all their multi-dimensional complexities, moving beyond an exclusively individualistic framework and making visible the impact that social, cultural, political, or environmental factors have on their own wellbeing. Ethnographic approaches, I propose, can elucidate the multilayered complexities of affliction and healing that often are lost through a purely quantitative or biomedical lens.