Ayahuasca – Medicine for the Soul Part 1

Ayahuasca - Medicine for the Soul Part 1Ayahuasca, is regarded as the ‘gateway’ to the Soul. This article explores this fascinating plant brew from the Amazon Rainforest. Ayahuasca is the jungle medicine of the upper Amazon. It is made from the ayahuasca vine ( Banisteriopsis Caapi) and the leaf of the Chacruna plant (Psychotria Viridis). The two make a potent medicine, which takes one into the visionary world. The vine is an inhibitor, which contains harmala and harmaline among other alkaloids, and the leaf contains vision-inducing alkaloids. As with all natural medicines, it is a mixture of many alkaloids that makes their unique properties.

After being virtually ignored by Western civilization for centuries, there has been a huge surge of interest in Ayahuasca recently. There is a growing belief that it is a kind of ‘medicine for our times’, giving hope to people with ‘incurable’ diseases like cancer and HIV, drug addictions and inspiring answers to the big ecological problems of modern civilization.

Spirituality is at the centre of the Ayahuasca experience. Purification and cleansing of body, mind, and spirit in a shamanic ceremony can be the beginning of a process of profound personal and spiritual discovery and transformation.

We humans have a special relationship and dependence on plants. Since our beginnings, they have been the source both directly and indirectly of our food, our shelter, our medicines, our fuel, our clothing, and of course the very oxygen that we breathe. This is common knowledge and in general we take if for granted. Yet we view plants in our Western culture as semi-inanimate, lacking the animating force labelled soul, mind, or spirit.

The biggest challenge for a Westerner undertaking this communion with the plants is to accept that there is another order of nonmaterial reality that a person can experience through his entrance into plant consciousness, and to do this requires a significant leap of the imagination. We are all born into the social paradigm that surrounds us, with all its beliefs, myths, and institutions that support its view of the world, and it is not within our worldview to accept the immaterial and irrational. Before we embark on this journey to the plant mind, then, we first need to examine some of our most deeply ingrained assumptions, assumptions still fostered by many of our religious and social institutions today. The starting place for this journey is we ourselves.

HomoSapien-centricity is a strange looking word but perhaps an appropriate one to describe the concept that many of us, consciously or not, carry within us: that we humans are the most important (and maybe even the only) conscious and self-aware, that is, ensouled beings in the universe. For shamans the world that we perceive through our senses is just one description of a vast and mysterious unseen, and not an absolute fact. Black Elk, In John G. Neihardt’s book, Black Elk Speaks , the Oglala Sioux medicine man, remarked, that beyond our perception is “the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. It is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that world.”

Visit our website for details on our Andean, and Amazon Ayahuasca Yoga Retreats

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About Howard G Charing

Since the late 90's I have organised journeys with Peter Cloudsley to the Amazon Rainforest and the Andes to work with the shamans and the sacred 'jungle doctors' (healing and visionary plants) of this area. I have written numerous articles about the Amazonian plant medicines, and have worked with some of the most respected shamans in the region. I was baptised into their tribe by the Shipibo Indians in the Amazon, and was initiated into the lineage of the maestros of the Rio Napo in the Upper Amazon. Co-authored the book Plant Spirit Shamanism, published by Destiny Books (USA) with a foreword by the great visionary artist Pablo Amaringo. Co-authored the book 'The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo', published by Inner Traditions (USA) April, 2011, presents a collection of never-before-published paintings by Amaringo. The book illustrated the evolution of Amaringo’s intricate art with 48 full-color reproductions, including detailed explorations of the rich Amazonian mythology underlying each painting. Now available - Fine art giclee prints and reproductions of Pablo Amaringo's beautiful work featured in the new book 'The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo'. http//ayahuasca_visions.imagekind.com

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