We spoke here, briefly, about Takiwasi, the Center for the Treatment of Drug and Alcohol Addiction and the Research of Traditional Medicines, located in Tarapoto, and its techniques for healing addiction using ayahuasca and other traditional Amazonian medicines. Takiwasi — the name means House that Sings — was founded and continues to be directed by French physician Jacques Mabit. Whatever you may think of his methods or his claimed results, there is no doubt that Mabit is a fascinating guy.

According to his biography on the Global Giving website, Mabit was born in New Caledonia in Melanesia, spent much of his early childhood in Algeria and Djibouti, and then moved to France, where he completed his studies in general medicine. He pursued additional studies in tropical medicine in Belgium and then traveled to Peru.

From 1980 to 1983, he served as director of a hospital in the province of Lampa, in the high plains region of Puno, under the sponsorship of Doctors Without Borders. Here he conducted research on environmental, cultural, and social factors in the design of an appropriate health care strategy in the central Andean plains, for which he received a research doctorate from the University of Medicine in Nantes in 1984. He received a further diploma in natural medicine from the University of Paris in 1986 — the year, coincidentally, in which he had his first ayahuasca experience.

Although he maintains his French nationality, Mabit has lived and worked in Peru much of the time since 1980. He has also traveled widely in Asia and Africa and worked in various medical capacities in Tunisia, Burkina Faso, and Bangladesh. In fact, it was during a visit to Calcutta in 1984 that Mabit witnessed the spiritual tranquility of a dying man under the care of Mother Teresa — an experience that led him to examine the contributions that traditional healing practices could make to contemporary medical understanding and care systems.

In a 1997 interview with Nicholas Saunders and Anja Dashwood, Mabit describes his first ayahusca experiences:

In 1986 I had my first ayahuasca session. I was terrified by what I might experience, but nothing happened! So I took it a second time and within five minutes I was inside the experience. I experienced death — I was fighting giants and snakes and I was being pulled inside a very deep black hole… I was fighting for my life and it forced me to see what life really was. At one point I accepted that I would have to die and everything was finished and I had been very stupid to come to the jungle to die but it was time and, in the end, Jacques is not important. But at that moment everything changed and suddenly I understood many things, saw a lot of connections, and in that one moment ten years of previous psychoanalysis became clear. Two days later I was taking ayahuasca again.

I had had about ten sessions when the spirit of the plant told me that I was to work with drug addicts. Before that I had never had any interest in that area at all…. It was a total surprise and at that moment I had no idea what to do. But this ayahuasca revelation was so strong, it felt more real than ordinary reality. From 1986 to 1989 I didn’t do anything about drug addiction and just carried on doing ayahuasca and diets and fasting, following the way of learning to cure myself.

In 1989, during another ayahuasca session, the ayahuasca spirit told him that it was time to begin. Soon after that session, he returned to France to seek support for the project, traveling as well to the United States, Italy, Spain, Yugoslavia, Belgium, and Denmark. He found inspiration at a Buddhist temple in Thailand where they cured drug addicts with plants and a strong spiritual practice.

Most important, he lived with and learned from traditional Amazonian healers and shamans in Colombia and Peru. Speaking to BBC Radio’s Crossing Continents he said: “The idea was the result of my experience as a medical doctor, when I saw how limited traditional [Western] treatments were…. I met spiritual healers — shamans — and realised they had resources unknown in the West.” In 1992, three years after he began his quest, he founded Takiwasi.

The following video is an extended discourse by Mabit, recorded by Jerónimo M. M., which gives a good idea of his personality and ideas.

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7 Responses to “Jacques Mabit”

  1. E says:

    I had heard of Takiwasi before- when I was in Peru there was a travel book in a cafe that had a small paragraph regarding Takiwasi. The idea sounded appealing to me then- here I could go and participate in taking ayahuasca while my money will go to benefit people that they are helping. But at that point I had no idea that the guy who started it was so accomplished. Great videos.

    After reading this post I can say that I am definitely interested in attending some of Takiwasi’s ceremonies, if they still do them for travelers. I checked their website and it doesn’t seem to have been updated recently. I have attended ceremonies at Blue Morpho, which I know you are familiar with, but I don’t wish to confine myself to that particular kind of medicine always.

    Thanks for another good post. Hope you are well!

  2. Steve Beyer says:

    I have never myself been been to Takiwasi, although I was once stranded at the Tarapoto airport. :-) I am hoping there might be readers of this blog who can share their personal experiences with Takiwasi or Jacques Mabit.

    It is always good to hear from you.

  3. Michelle Neubert says:

    About 2005 I attended Dr. Mabit’s 12 day seminar at the Takiwasi Center in Tarapota. Also stayed in Tarapota 3 additional weeks between 2 trips. The seminars were only once every 2 months or 6 a year with only one of those with English. They were limited to 17 people. Dr. Mabit’s is genuine. authentic, and caring. He is my hero literally, and among the small number of people who are ‘self-actualized’ and helping others to grow towards becoming more integrated people. I asked him why he hasn’t written books and he hasn’t the time. He needs a Robert Bly type person who interviewed Joseph Campbell.

  4. Steve Beyer says:

    Thank you for sharing this personal experience. I am sure that people will find it to be valuable.

  5. Damien says:

    I am a friend of Takiwasi and Jacques. Sincere, accomplished, everything has been said about him. He genuinely dedicates his life to helping others and to promote traditional medicine. What I could add, and I think is most important in general, and for Jacques in particular, is that he promotes an “original version” of this powerful medicine. No new age added, no easy way negotiated, like we, westerner are inclined to do. Becoming a curandero (shaman) is not for everybody, and no, not each one of us has “an inner shaman” inside. Most of what can be found in Peru, in terms of contact with ayahuasca has been perverted and bought to commercial grounds. This means inefficient treatment for eventual problems to be solved, and dangerous potential outcomes, spiritually, psychologically and even physically.
    Jacques is a lonely voice in that prospect : the modern wold wants to understand, dismember… reduce things. And any hard (but necessary) part of a healing is promptly eliminated. Big sofas during sessions, recorded music, everybody thinging together, diet restrictions breached, sexual restrictions disrespected, even diapers during sessions… the group principles of Ayahuasca and its beauty and efficiency are perverted by the mass consumption that takes place today. Takiwasi fights this, as I do as a therapist, and as Jacques does. This isolation in front of the crowd of easiness and comfort lovers is the price for reaching real recovery and for healing people.

  6. Damien says:

    Just posted a comment, but with incomplete email. Here it is!


  7. As a healer who has 29 years ago developed in Mexico the Bio-Cosmo-Energy treatment (see http://www.alloneness.com/treatment) I was now in 2013 interested to know more about ayahuasca and its possible effect on DNA and a possible interruption of cell-memory in case of former accidents etc.
    This has brought me in connection with native ayahuasqueros in the region around Tarapoto.
    I had not looked for any center what works with ayahuasca at a big (and often expensive) scale; I looked for the original heartful ways of the natives.
    To my surprise I heard about Takawasi as a center what seems to have strange practices: Its founder claims to get from the native ayahuasqueros, where he has originally learned everything about ayahuasca and gotten many plants for the biological garden of his Takiwasi-center for free, multiple kilos of collected plants without any payment, just for the payment for the transport to deliver them to him. Takiwasi-Center writes about itself in its website to be a place of “low costs”, but it charges adults for 13 days (without room and board) Soles 4000 = US$1480.
    That means in clear text: Takiwasi with its french-peruvian founder, Dr. Jasques Mabit, is a place where exploitation of the knowledgeable native ayahuasqueros is the practise while charging people who come for treatments to the center quite a high amount of money (= double exploitation). Above of it: Takiwasi writes about itself to be a non-profit organisation….. ….good for tax-reasons….

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