The spirits must have granted me a momentary fit of prescience. On February 3, I published a blog post on selling spirituality; on the same day, the Los Angeles Times Magazine published an article on a self-professed ayahuasquero named Lobo Siete Truenos, or Wolf Seven Thunders, and the growing role of ayahuasca in what the article calls the “nouveau wealth” of suburban California.

Truenos has a murky background. He gives, the article says, “few straight answers about his background but plenty of mystic filigree.” He has founded his own church, which he calls Aurora Bahá, presumably to add a semblance of legitimacy to his use of a substance whose possession remains — despite the United States Supreme Court ruling exempting the União do Vegetal — a felony. Truenos also possesses an eagle’s wing. If he is not a Native American, that too is illegal. But his ancestry is as murky as his history: he is, apparently, Dominican, Lebanese, Basque, and Taino. According to an email attributed to him, this means mostly Lebanese.

Lobo Siete Truenos, Wolf Seven Thunders, also known as Francis de la Maza

What purports to be email correspondence by Truenos has been published in an online discussion group called the Ayahuasca Tribe. “I am the Keeper of the Fire Bundle of Purification of the Eagle and the Condor,” he wrote, “sometimes referred to as the Altar of Unification and the Altar of the Seven Thunders. This sacred Altar is the Manifestation of a Point of Light, which Point represents the Unification of Several Initiatic Currents on this planet.” These initiatic currents are, unsurprisingly, united in none other than Truenos himself. They are detailed on a Web page he has published, where he also calls himself Francis de la Maza, meaning Francis of the Mace, a mestizo curandero, initiated by the Shipibo-Conibo in Brazil. But there’s more. He is an Elk Dreamer and Keeper of the Fire of Quetzalcoatl, and he has been initiated into the Khemetic Mysteries of Egypt, the Tibetan Buddhist path of Dzogchen, the Gnostic Mysteries of the Rosicrucians, the Yucatec Mayan path of Puts’yaj, and the Yoruba Ifa path of Nigeria as a Babalao. He is clearly a busy guy.

He also claims to be a pipe carrier of the Yankton Sioux, and to be the carrier of a portion of the sacred bundle of Crazy Horse.

Now, there are thousands of ayahuasqueros who toil in obscurity in the Amazon, providing services to their communities — people of genuine learning, compassion, and integrity. My teacher don Roberto Acho works as a carpenter to support his healing work. But, of course, the Times was not interested in those ayahuasqueros. In fact, it was not all that interested in Seven Thunders. What the article was really interested in was his clientele — that is, the sort of people who read the Los Angeles Times.

These clients are pretty much as I described them in my post on selling spirituality. They are largely white, urban, relatively wealthy, and spiritually eclectic. They have no particular involvement with the struggles of the indigenous community whose healing ceremonies they are purchasing. Their goal is not an increased intellectual or scholarly understanding of the culture from which the ceremony comes, but rather their own personal spiritual growth, healing, and transformative experience. Indeed, the article repeatedly stresses that ayahuasca is the hallucinogen for smart people — liberal thinkers, academics, writers, journalists, psychiatrists, soul-searching intellectuals.

What are these people looking for? The article quotes one artist — it is not clear whether he is a client of Truenos — as saying that “ayahuasca brings your awareness to a place where it’s understood that you are connected to everything on Earth.” Another consumer, a high school math teacher, says that ayahuasca cured his clinical depression. He now offers ayahuasca ceremonies himself, for a suggested donation ot $75 to $300 per person. Author Graham Hancock credits ayahuasca with having improved his life. When pressed for details, he says, “I’m a better husband and father.” Truenos himself says that ayahuasca is a cure for the “cancer of indifference,” a remedy for our “failures in integrity.”

I am glad that ayahuasca ceremonies are making these people — talented, intellectual, privileged, rich — feel better about their lives. I hope Truenos has strong protective spirits. I hope la diosa holds his clients with compassion. I hope his clients are contributing their talents, their intellects, and their wealth toward the communities from which Truenos claims to have learned to heal.

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32 Responses to “Ayahuasca Mainstreamed”

  1. PJ says:

    Thanks for your post. I read the LA times article and was looking for more info on Lobo Siete Truenos. Keep up the good work.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your post as well. You actually put words to some concerns and gut-feeling of weirdness I had after going to a Lobo Siete Truenos ceremony. For a man that claims many different spiritual initiations, he acted as though he had sole claim to the “real truth.” And he actively tried to discredit others around him with other approaches to spiritual (plant medicine) exploration…

    I thought it was just me…

  3. Chuntaro's Corner says:

    As my uncles and Aunties would say…
    He must be a very holly man!
    I only know of one descendant of Tashunka Witco and all that he got was the rifle his relative surrendered to the US army and a pair of leggings and a lock of hair. It took many years for the government to give those back. Ceremonies also had to be performed to bring these in a proper way. So, If Mr. Truenos has any part of a bundle, he is either a very lucky man and very good in keeping this bundle away from the seven fires council of the Lakota or a very crafty person to not get caught by the museums security staff, who in turn decided to keep in secrecy the theft of such an important bundle.

    It is also very honorable to know of someone that actually carries the fire of Quezalcoatl. Especially since that distinction was for another kind of tlamakazke. The ones known as Tezcatlipocas. Also unless a person is a tlamakaske the function of fire carrier usually would go to a woman. Then again those Mexicas may be either very confused about their own traditions or making all sorts of concessions nowadays

    It just occurred to me! I have a bundle made up of clothes that got completely soiled in sweat, water and other bodily and nature based fluids during my last trips to South Dakota, Mexico and Colombia. I haven’t got around to wash them yet, due to the nature of the stench and yukieness of the garments. I wore these clothes in ceremonies and I was about to dispose of them, but stopped to wonder that if I bring them together I would qualify as a Condor-Eagle bundle carrier?

    If I ever met Mr. Truenos I’ll ask for a good blessing, a chakra alignment and an oil change
    I really need it!

  4. little lightening bolt says:

    i was contacted by him on tribes when he first came there… i could’nt beleive a word he said… i felt he was dellusional to be honest.

    “I am glad that ayahuasca ceremonies are making these people — talented, intellectual, privileged, rich — feel better about their lives.”

    this is a serious thing to address in the work with medicine today.the “use” of these sacred medicines for narcisitic personal development is somthing i see rampant today with “shamanic” healing circles. i often hear people talk about healing and the need for healing… or the healing they received… then i ask them what was wrong with them, what they need healed, few actually know… its not about healing its about getting more being more.. more more more, me me me, I I I… spiritual averice IMHO…

  5. Chuntaro's Corner says:

    One of the sad side effects of having so many ceremonies available is that people do not value the ceremonies as much and they become a fix. I was having a conversation with a Sundance intercessor last night about one version of 7 truenos that comes to our town and brings medicine, feathers and a really good time. But that fails in advising people to work hard and live a decent life. My uncle and I agreed that people use a ceremony to escape and feel good about their issues and as an excuse to not go to therapy. I have another uncle form Peru that when people come whining and not asking for healing, he asks them to change their diet for a healthy one and then go see a therapist, I love it!
    If the person that runs the ceremony is confused too this just creates more and more trouble in people. It is really common to encounter people that have gone to ceremony for years and do not know the basic protocol and meaning of he ceremony. However, these people can show you all of their fancy feathers and tell you of the thousands visions they had in ceremony. My elder Don Luis Martinez Macuiltochli had this observation about the plant medicine ceremonies –Look around, all these healthy people going to get cured!, there’s nothing wrong with them, they are just wasting good medicine!- this truth also applies to all ceremonies, it is less and less that I see an opening in ceremonies for people that are physically sick. Maybe those ceremonial leaders do not want that because then they would have to really show if they really have “medicine” and can heal. People should make a point of going to elders that are capable, can hold you accountable and they also can be held accountable and have communities behind them. If that is not available, then a combination of ceremony and therapy should suffice.

  6. Lobo says:

    Steve,

    I spotted your considerably crass comments while reading an article on the Internet. After some thought and consideration, I thought it appropriate to meet your inaccurate backbiting with a dose of some direct truth. For an individual with your background it was surprising to witness your complete and utter lack of independent investigation of truth. It begs the question whether you are deliberately attempting to mislead people.

    It is very evident from your approach and writings that you make many assumptions about people you do not know, nor have made any sincere effort to get to know. Where facts are absent, it appears your preferred strategy is to just make things up.

    With all due respect, you display many of the overly intellectual and myopically specialized characteristics inherent in those who have been steeped in an academic environment that seeks to compartmentalize humans into little containers. It would seem – and history can certainly attest – this is especially a ‘professional hazard’ of those in the field of ‘advanced’ psychology. Such a line of study and investigation certainly has its place in the world, though not in approaching the Mysteries of the Creator; which is exclusively the domain of a pure and sincere heart.

    I might add that your approach is exceedingly reminiscent of that advanced by the persecutors of the inquisition…and we know all to well who were the real ‘witches’ in that scenario.

    Perhaps the reason you are so focused on the selling of spirituality is that you represent the very culture and mindset from which such concepts and activity have arisen. Some of those who have tried to patent our indigenous medicines have had backgrounds not unlike yours.

    I do not feel that this message would be complete without saying that your preoccupation, dare I say fascination, with sorcery SPEAKS FOR ITSELF.

    If you are going to write about people, at least make a sincere attempt to do so fairly and accurately. What you have written about me is laced with half-truths.

    La realidad es que yo soy un Mestizo Curandero y Ayahuasquero y el guardián del Altar de Fuego de la Águila y el Cóndor…no porque yo lo deseaba ser, sino porque es mi Don. Conoces lo que es un Don? Un Don proviene de Dios solamente y no de el campo humano.

    Si…la verdad es que tengo abuelos y abuelas en varias tradiciones indígenas que me han entrenado y iniciado…Pero evidentemente, la verdad no te importa. Todo tus acciones estiman que no eres un hombre de integridad…Y yo no tengo pelo en la lengua para decir te lo.

    Tu atacas lo verdadero sin conocer. La conclusión mas razonable debe ser que tienes que atacar lo autentico para dar te credencia como un Ayahuasquero y “Shaman”. Pero se sabe bien que como uno que proviene de los Estados Unidos, tu no tienes ninguna raíz propia y verdadera como representante de la Madrecita…Tu no puedes decir lo mismo de los Taino’s de Quisqueya (mi madre tierra) que han usado la Cahoba por miles de anos. Tu deseo de tratar de desacreditar lo autentico es justamente la táctica que usan los brujos.

    Todas acciones tienen consecuencias, y tus mentiras y críticas a mi espalda tendrán ellas. Dios es el Justo Juez. Este es el Día de la Luz y el Reino del Dios de Gloria.

    Tal vez esta mensaje te inspirara a contemplar y meditar sobre tus métodos…No se…pero si se una cosa. Por ha ora, es claro que tu no eres un verdadero guerrero de la Paz.

    Lobo Siete Truenos

  7. Steve Beyer says:

    Lobo –

    I would be very grateful if you would use this space to correct any misstatements I have made.

    – Steve

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is the first time I am writing here. I’ve read the LA Times article and it disturbs me. I beleive Lobo and people like him are being careless and reckless like a certain predecessor from four decades ago…Timothy Leary. As there were substantial positive aspects to LSD, his careless ranting and raving about it, no doubt helped not a little in that substance and most of its class being outlawed. Similarly, I think Lobo is quite naieve about the individuals who sit on the Supreme Court. Their ruling about the UDV can easily be construed to mean just that…its about the UDV, not your church. And if you tried to appeal your case to the Supreme Court, they can easily decide to deny cert, and you will have effectively ruined ti for everyone else. Calm down, proceed slowly, try to keep ayahuasca in research circles, and maybe, just maybe, the laws will change a little. But what you and your ilk are doing, Lobo, is irresponsible and not helping the cause.

  9. Steve Beyer says:

    I agree with these concerns. No court has ever given any church a religious exemption for the unrestricted possession, use, and distribution of ayahuasca. Courts are eager to see ayahuasca users as a bunch of ragtag hippies attempting to evade the drug laws. The burden is on the claimant to show otherwise. Now my personal belief is that ragtag hippies should be able to drink ayahuasca if they want to, but that is unlikely to be the law in the foreseeable future. :-)

  10. osman oktay says:

    i am in bolivia… i want to meet shamans and do the ayahuasca ceremony…
    if you know where they are, please let me know…

    big love

    osman

  11. Rider says:

    Wow, quite the flare up there.
    Let these men’s words speak for themselves. Beyers ends his article by wishing Lobos and his clients –a tongue in cheek well wishing, but well-wishing nonetheless. Lobos’ retort is nothing short of hostile. Beware of flying spiders (now guess what I’m going to dream about tonight. Great.)

    Little Lightening Bolt (there you are again) I have to say, I have one friend who suffers from chronic severe pain, who claims (and I believe him) that the only thing he’s found that helps is ayahuasca. Similarly, I’ve a girlfriend diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, and she has really struggled–she’s found a pharmaceutical that helps, but before that the only answer was ceremony, and it remains the more powerful cure (though not permanent as some maintain, at least not as we’ve found). As for myself, I deal with my moderate but prolonged depression without synthetic chemicals, and I do okay but not great. But a regular practice with la medicina–I can’t tell you the difference that it makes. Unfortunately I don’t have regular access, so good blogs like this keep me moving in the right direction. Thanks for the good work Steve.

  12. Rider says:

    Actually, that should read “wishing Lobos and his clients well”

  13. Crypsis says:

    Interesting rebuttal, Steve. I read the Times piece as well and had much the same reaction; being connected to the West Coast medicine world (indirectly), I’d heard about Truenos; the consensus was that he may be skilled at running ceremony, but that it’s difficult to ascertain how truthful he is.

    I also agree with what you’re saying about people not contributing to the culture from which they’re borrowing this healing. However, having worked with several mestizo curanderos from Peru, I am glad that my community is no longer doing business with them. We’ve had one difficult experience after another. In some cases the curanderos saw us as ignorant rich gringos. (Two out of three are true; we’re not rich, though to a Peruvian living in the jungle, I suppose we seem so). There were many cultural misunderstandings about proper protocol. These curanderos, being mostly men, also made no effort to hide their attraction to women and in some cases openly made passes at them, playing up their almost guru-like status to woo impressionable young women.

    Fortunately, we live in a place where the plants grow well, and now all of our medicine is local. We no longer invite curanderos to facilitate, and we don’t have to deal with all the of the hassles (not the least of which involve visas, travel, housing, food, etc.–some of these guys come with what, to me, are unreasonably high expectations about how they ought to be treated). The medicine is working with us in a new context, forming new relationships. I believe that the medicine choreographed its immigration to our home, and now it’s developing into something different, something more connected to this place. It’s an interesting process to watch, and of course it’s just my interpretation. Who the heck knows what’s really going on?

    I will always honor the teachers and shamans and healers who brought this medicine into my life and community. And I would love to visit the Amazon someday and pay my due respects to the people and traditions there. But I am also happy that it’s evolving with us, and that we don’t need to rely on practitioners from thousands of miles (and another culture) away from. It may be that we lose something in translation; the curanderos have a millennium (or more) of practice, tradition and spirit allies behind them. But who can say what’s yet to be gained?

  14. Joe says:

    Interesting. Most people I have met at ceremonies in North America have something wrong with them physically or otherwise. Does not being separated from source count as being sick? As much as I think Lobos is not necessarily a genuinely trained Shaman I don’t care much for Mr. Beyers classification of what shamanistic practices are and are not. Ayahuasca is just a tool; that’s it. I have found that having a skilled Ayahuascero is indeed the best way to go and that perhaps people who draw certain types of these healers to them have something to learn; perhaps that the universe is a magical AND dangerous place. I appreciate the culture concerns but ultimately who is better off? Who does Mr. Beyer want to benefit? Perhaps make the poor curanderos who have access to an infinite universe replicas of the white gringos he so often criticizes? Do they need a nice car and fancy home and a pension plan? His whole approach reeks of a lack of bigger picture. Getting lost in the Mona Lisa’s smile really misses the point of what can be achieved with Ayahuasca. It all depends on how you look at it I suppose.

  15. Steve Beyer says:

    I am always happy for a vigorous discussion. I did edit the above post slightly to remove a few words I considered to be an attack on a person rather than an argument about ideas. The meaning, I believe, remains unaltered.

  16. Joe says:

    I think the real concern is, upon reexamining things, is maybe the loss of the Amazon itself and the danger of losing that to a filtered version of what Shamanism is as well. Then again, who am I to say what the future is or holds or should be? As the old Zen story says, “it’s all good”. I apologize if it came across as personal, it wasn’t meant to be.

  17. Ma says:

    Had an AMAZING round of ceremonies with Francis ( ie Lobo Siete Truenos ) in Los Angeles….

    Nothing but deep Gratitude for him….

    I have experienced many ceremonies prior…including ceremonies in the Amazon along with the Dieta experience…..

    However I must say the ceremony with Lobo Siete Truenos was the sweetest, most Beautiful….most Powerful experience….

    I was Pleasantly surprised…..i had heard he created a very strict container but I had no idea how Pure an experience I was about to be Witness to…

    I’m so Grateful….

    and I’d like to advise those who commented ….. please be Aware of the statements you choose to make … they leave a mark …

  18. Steve Beyer says:

    I am delighted that you had a sweet, beautiful, and powerful experience. I wish you all blessings on your path, and many more such experiences. I would like to ask you a few questions, if that is all right.

    – Whom did you drink with in the Amazon?
    – Is having sweet, beautiful, and powerful experiences the purpose of ayahuasca?
    – If that is the case, in what way does drinking ayahuasca differ from, say, masturbating?
    – Since you have been welcomed into Amazonian communities, I assume you are currently supporting the struggles of the indigenous and mestizo communities whose medicine has been so good to you. What in particular are you doing?

  19. Richard says:

    Good points, Steve.

    I often run into the new age version of ayahuasca usage. People who are only looking for a nice, gentle and sweet experience. When people are afraid of confronting their inner shadow and demons, they will push aside the real work and lose the benefit of the true healing potential of la Madre – or of any real deep healing work for that matter. The root of this is fear. I’ve seen real damage come from this attitude, and it’s a sad commentary on those for whom avoidance is a mode of being – often people who go from seminar to seminar or hopping from shaman to shaman, seeking the latest greatest transformational high; but always just scratching the surface. Really though, it’s impossible to repress the shadow for long. Eventually it will come up and need to be dealt with.

    But how will it be dealt with for those who are only seeking happiness at the expense of the real healing work that the plants offer?

    Not well, I think.

  20. Hmmm says:

    This question is directed toward Steve. I don’t care about what people say. I am interested in the experience of this and if it means I have to be a church member to make it legal then so be it. Are you still offering these sessions? Thanks!

  21. Steve Beyer says:

    I do not offer ayahuasca sessions of any sort, and I have not in the past. I am not qualified.

    If I understand you correctly, you are saying that you will join a church in order to drink ayahuasca, regardless of whether you share its beliefs, support its mission, or acknowledge its hierarchy. If I have that wrong, I would be happy to be corrected.

    • Jonathan says:

      I was wondering if Steve could give his take on what the appropriate involvement of a “gringo” should be who is interested in being involved in ceremonies for personal healing and for possibly learning to use in healing others, in the states and in the Amazon.

      Thanks so much for your great work and energy.

      Jon

      • Steve Beyer says:

        I am far from being in a position to give advice to anyone. But here is what I think:

        You cannot be a day tripper in the realm of the spirits. Every approach you make to the spirits entails reciprocal obligations. What those obligations are is a matter between you and the spirits, but at the very least they require gratitude and humility.

        You cannot just go to the spirits and expect them to give you what you want. They may well have other plans for you. In fact, rather than asking — or, as some people do, demanding — that they heal you, or transform you, or make you into someone else, just pour out your heart to them in prayer. Do not go to them with requests or demands or even expectations. Tell them what you need; tell them what you fear; tell them what you regret. Speak to them honestly from your heart, and then listen to their response devoutly with your heart.

        The spirits want you to be a human being, in right relationship with all persons, both human and other-then-human. Allow them to show you how. Do not block them by telling them to heal you or turn you into a healer. Perhaps you will be a healer in a way completely different from what you expect. Perhaps they will heal you, or perhaps you will be a healer who is himself wounded or broken. Put aside expectations. Pray with an open heart; weep for your vision.

        If you must ask for something, ask them to be your teachers. Ask them to give you a gift, not for yourself but for your people.

        At least that is what I have tried to do, with little success, often requiring the spirits to teach me humility with a two-by-four. :-) Your mileage may vary.

        • “Perhaps you will be a healer in a way completely different from what you expect. Perhaps they will heal you, or perhaps you will be a healer who is himself wounded or broken. Put aside expectations. Pray with an open heart; weep for your vision.”

          Ok, you just won me. I love you Steve. Keep keepin on! I hope to meet face to face :)

        • michael says:

          Such wisdom in this Steve. Do not cry to God of thirst and hunger asking to be brought drink and nourishment, you must travel to the source and humbly take what is yours a path made of toil and dedication, love and duty.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I think Francis was much hotter before he took on the pretension of the head wrap. He is just an ordinary secular man, like the rest of us. He holds no holy secrets. Anyone who thinks he does should take a break from the hallucinogens and read the histories of previous “gurus” (none are angels).

    “He is an Elk Dreamer and Keeper of the Fire of Quetzalcoatl, and he has been initiated into the Khemetic Mysteries of Egypt, the Tibetan Buddhist path of Dzogchen, the Gnostic Mysteries of the Rosicrucians, the Yucatec Mayan path of Puts’yaj, and the Yoruba Ifa path of Nigeria as a Babalao.”

    Yeah, I knew him. All I can say to this passage is CITATION NEEDED.

  23. Anonymous says:

    “You don’t need to follow me
    You don’t need to follow ANYBODY”
    -Life of Brian

  24. Thanks for your Work Steve, and your passion to ensure those who serve the Tea are coming from their hearts and not profiting, but rather giving back to the communities they learn from. Aho!

  25. Evan Pickrel says:

    Having sat with Francis for around 8 months (number of times per month varied, but usually twice per month) while he was in Austin for about a year, I can say that the ceremonies were always incredibly humbling. The symbols, the altar, the medicine (I helped pound the vine on occasion), and the raw force that went into organizing everything cemented his legitimacy as a healer in his own right.

    Getting bogged down in his pedigree is perhaps a distraction, as once you seal the pact with the mother by drinking her divine essence all bets are off and any negative side effects or gnostic revelations are brought about by you alone. All men like Francis can really do is provide a space of non judgement, and peace. Some healers may develop the ritual into something more, but this is the service I felt Francis provided to me, and many others.

    Is it safe to say the man in ceremony is slightly different than the man outside of ceremony?

    Did Francis make many claims that I personally did not for a second believe? Yes, but I myself can make many spiritual claims that will produce nothing but the most scathing criticism from any reasonable observer. Obviously, I’m not asking anyone to believe anything.

  26. Truth says:

    That’s what anyone gets for seeking truth in that way. The truth is in the journey and it’s nice that men like him provide a space to do it, whether or not he is delusional or not. Some people want to have their hands held in such a process as it’s not easy to brew ayahuasca at home either and people like to trip out in certain open areas provided to them. He speaks subjective truths and you have to appreciate the poetics of what people speak without taking it to heart. Like why talk about truth when someone is using such flagrant words like…temple of the condor or whatever the heck? Let your imagination run just as his have. So long as no one is actually hurt in the process. Is there evidence of that? Tell me, and I will have actual concern. Use the space and medicine for what it is good for, go and understand your own journey. I wonder if it is true that he discredits those around him because that’s where I can see an actual interference that would cause a bad trip. But do not seek the truth in HIM, seek the truth in the process, the journey. You all are talking like you’ve never been on a damn trip before.

  27. I stumbled across this website following an internet query regarding the use of DMT in conjunction with spiritual quests and a subsequent search of the Church of the Holy Light of the Queen. All of my life I have been traveling life’s path and searching for spiritual truth and knowledge through active inquiry and, in many instances, participation and practice. I was raised Roman Catholic, changed my Christian denomination in my late teens, then in my early 40′s, I opened myself up to other forms of religion outside of Christianity including shamanism, Buddhism, and study of other old-world religions. I am still traveling that spiritual path and I will likely continue to travel it until the day I die, as I believe this is the primary purpose in life (not excluding the need to also give of oneself to the spiritual community).

    By way of of my background, I am a female caucasion with a very mixed ancestry (German, Norweigen [Celtic], Blackfoot Indian, and who knows what else), but the older I get, the more I understand that ethnicity and the color of one’s skin has little or nothing to do with one’s spiritual path – after all, didn’t we all originate from Africa, the cradle of the world? In exploring the various articles I have found on this website, one of the questions I was seeking to find an answer to was whether I, as a blonde haired, blue eyed caucasion, would be welcomed and/or accepted to participate in a relegion that is comprised of primarily those of Amazonian descent. In other words, if I were to show up at a service, would I be asked to leave and/or be denied of being a participant of any part of the service?

    I can understand the Church’s position regarding “hippies,” “new agers” and people who show up that are interested in nothing more than experiencing the benefits of Ayahuasca just for the fun of it, but what about those of us who are traveling a spiritual path and believe they might gain a deeper spirituality and understanding of themselves and the spirit realm through participation. I have often wished to partake of a traditional Native American spirit quest, but I’m 50 years old, have very little (if any) survival training, and doubt if I would last a night in the “wilderness.” Nevertheless, a similar journey, such as that provided by Ayahuasca in a religious setting, might help me to find my spirit guide and open me up to my distant Native American ancestral past and a deeper self-understanding.

    Although I don’t have any physical ailments, I do have deep scars that need to be healed from my childhood that have been holding me back from advancing spiritually. I have used meditation, cleansing, regulating my diet and other recommended spiritual techniques to get past these barriers, but I still don’t seem to advance. Thus, I have continued to search for ways to get in touch with the spirit realm and thus my interest in Ayahuasca.

    I agree with the posts I have read on this site that advocate giving to one’s religious community and supporting those in that community. But, being an outsider, I was wondering if I could get past the “color” and ethnic barrier as a true seeker of spirituality without taking a trip to the Amazon. It seems from reading the posts on this site that such things are available through other means here in the US, (if one has the money to do so and seek the services of less respected sources), but I’m not interested in a quick “trip” that has little or no spiritual purpose. I do believe in giving, but I am neither rich nor influential and I can only imagine what such so-called “shamans” might charge for their services. On the other hand, I live in North Idaho, and Oregon is a near neighbor.

    I would appreciate any suggestions or advice. In love and pilgrimage,

    The Questing Traveler

  28. Scott says:

    Steve –

    Thanks for the work you do on your blog. This post brings up some very interesting areas for discussion, and I would like to add a couple tid-bits to the thread.

    Having recently partaken in my first ayahuasca ceremony (conducted here in Argentina by a Peruvian-trained shaman who is also a Chinese-medicine energy healer as his day job) I was immediately aware of the “widespread” beneficial effects that this medicine could have on western societies, given of course responsible contexts for usage and reverential relation to the plant, etc… I felt that not only does the plant speak to the individual, but that it has the capability to “re-wire” our collective Western linguistic, scientific and artistic traditions (i.e. The Humanities) toward an orientation of respect for the earth, and harmonious co-existence with nature. I imagined the good that the Ayahuasca experience could have on (just to name a few) architects, doctors, engineers, governors, artists, all sorts of decision makers who have important roles to play in our world. The reason for this is that the plant helps us to connect our own minds, our own educations, and cultural “technology” to very deeply felt emotions of empathy, dignity, the importance of respect for indigenous cultures. These are all things that I felt very strongly during my first session.

    For any of these discoveries or developments to be able to make it out of the Ayahuasca experience into usage for the betterment of our communities and our world as a whole (which I think is a totally legitimate and realistic mindset for psychedelic exploration in general), they first have to act on and within the individual. And it just so happens that many of the self-selected explorers of these realms tend to be intelligent and talented individuals who are at first, curious about the effects of the plants upon their own minds and their own consciousness.

    Of course, the dilemma arises when the individual experience of transcendence stays rooted and materialized in the ego-centric consumer. What makes me cringe is not so much the “Mainstreaming” of Ayahuasca, which as I have pointed out could have very positive ramifications, but the “Yuppification” of Ayahuasca, which seems to be what is going on in the LA TImes article you wrote about.

    Related to that, it makes me cringe a little when people come out and say that they are “against” personal enlightenment. Personal enlightenment is wonderful. The thing is, you have to be like a Bodhisattva once you have experienced it. Your personal development has to serve the development of others, especially those that suffer the most and have the least opportunities to escape from our world’s many black holes, such as poverty, pollution, abuse, and all the rest. Obviously the nouveau ayahuasqeros of Bervery Hills are probably not selling this point of view.

    Terrence McKenna was an advocate for the creation of legalized institutions and responsible setting for psychedelic research by a self-selected “explorer class” (my summarization) which could effectively make available the teachings of the sacred substances for the benefit of modern humanity in light of all of our impending doom-problems and inabilities to live in harmony with the planet. This is an image of “mainstreaming” that I think is very positive and is one which would necessarily owe a tremendous amount of support, respect and preservation of the indigenous cultures that have developed and protected the “technology” of Ayahuasca-shamanism for thousands of years.

    Regarding the charlatans, I applaud you for using this space to call them out and spreading awareness about all of these issues in general.

    Saludos!!!!

    Scott


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