Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Iquitos, Peru: Ayahuasca (Part Three)

The epochal events of history are few, mostly over-lapping, and, I think, lasting for uncounted millenia, as in the case of hunting and gathering. The Agricultural Revolution begain, maybe, 7,000 years ago, and it is still not comprehensive in the world, hunter/gatherers still within an easy walk of where I live in the Amazon jungle. Nomadism too, is close by, looking to the Andes and the llama herders not too far away. For agriculture to come to the fore one must accept revolution as the good. Because it lasts, one has to admit it is better for most than previous modes of production. People do not willingly continue a bad practice on a world-wide scale for 7,000 years. When something better comes along, it must be immediately and demonstrably far superior to the previous. So it is with the Industrial Revolution of 1760, the beginning of Modernity. Like every revolution, the Industrial Revolution has its reactionary enemies. 
There were three other revolutions contemporary with the Industrial Revolution, world-shaking and continuously dynamic to this day: The American Revolution, bringing personal freedom to the masses for the first time in history, the right to own ones own life as private property in a state of equality at birth, i.e. that one is not born to class or privilege; there is the French Revolution, in which the aspiration was to greater freedom through the universal nation of patriots equal but beholden to the state for security; and, regrettably, the German Revolution, the counter-revolution of neo-fuedalism, of state supremacy, of collective identity, of rights bestowed from above by an intelligentsia of meritocratic authoritarians determined to control the masses at a macro level and to engineer through superiour intelligence, will to power, and sheer brutality and murder, a utopia of peasant authenticity in the industrialised new mode of production, i.e. state capitalism. It might come as a surprise to some that the German Revolution is directly engaged in ayahuasca “science” in the Amazon, that the figures of Frederick the Great, Bismarck, and Hitler are all points on a line that leads to ayahuasca celebration by Modernists in the jungles and lodges of Iquitos, Peru. True, there are other revolutions significant to this discussion, the proto-monotheistic revolutions from Zoroaster to Abraham, most prominent. In my time my mother continuously bought a range of revolutionary new cleaning products for the house, and my father bought a range of revolutionary new gadgets to putter with around the yard. Revolution in my time has become a cliché, and now it means next to nothing in conversation and often enough in academic journalism. But genuine revolution is significant to us nonetheless, and to have a sense of the significance of Modernist's imbibing ayahuasca we might profit from thinking about revolution in terms of our place and time and ayahuasca use as a part of a counter-revolution against Modernity stemming from the German Revolution we mostly know little to nothing of. We might see a religious revolution against monotheism and against Modernity as one counter-revolutionary, reactionary impulse among adherents of an intuitive fascism, an expression of counter-revolution in the use by some among the lower intelligentsia of entheogenic drugs. A moment then to look at the term entheogen.
Entheogen: [B]roadly, the term entheogen is used to refer to any psychoactive substances when used for their religious or spiritual effects, whether or not in a formal religious or traditional structure. This terminology is often chosen to contrast with recreational use of the same substances.

Further, “en·theo·gen [god within; god- or spirit-facilitating] a psychoactive sacramental; a plant or chemical substance taken to occasion primary religious experience.”

Finally, the etymological: 
The neologism entheogen was coined in 1979 by a group of ethnobotanists and scholars of mythology (Carl A. P. Ruck, Jeremy Bigwood, Danny Staples, Richard Evans Schultes, Jonathan Ott and R. Gordon Wasson). The term is derived from two words of ancient Greek, ἔνθεος (entheos) and γενέσθαι (genesthai). The adjective entheos translates to English as "full of the god, inspired, possessed," and is the root of the English word "enthusiasm." The Greeks used it as a term of praise for poets and other artists. Genesthai means "to come into being." Thus, an entheogen is a substance that causes one to become inspired or to experience feelings of inspiration, often in a religious or "spiritual" manner.[8]

Entheogen was coined as a replacement for the terms hallucinogen and psychedelic. Hallucinogen was popularized by Aldous Huxley's experiences with mescaline, which were published as The Doors of Perception in 1954.

Psychedelic, in contrast, is a Greek neologism for "mind manifest", and was coined by psychiatrist Humphry Osmond; Huxley was a volunteer in experiments Osmond was conducting on mescaline.

Ruck et al. argued that the term hallucinogen was inappropriate owing to its etymological relationship to words relating to delirium and insanity. The term psychedelic was also seen as problematic, owing to the similarity in sound to words pertaining to psychosis and also due to the fact that it had become irreversibly associated with various connotations of 1960s pop culture. In modern usage entheogen may be used synonymously with these terms, or it may be chosen to contrast with recreational use of the same substances. The meanings of the term entheogen were formally defined by Ruck et al.:
In a strict sense, only those vision-producing drugs that can be shown to have figured in shamanic or religious rites would be designated entheogens, but in a looser sense, the term could also be applied to other drugs, both natural and artificial, that induce alterations of consciousness similar to those documented for ritual ingestion of traditional entheogens.

Some people aren't so sniffy.

Addressing the long-standing debate regarding appropriate terminology for consciousness-modifying plants and compounds, de Rios prefers the term “psychedelic”, or, somewhat surprisingly, “hallucinogen”. The latter, deriving primarily from the medical discourse, is surprising because it connotes a judgement regarding the ontological status of the experiences it denotes. It is unlikely, however, considering her decades-long work in this field and her approach to it, that de Rios would be intending to pass such a judgement. She has clarified this point with the understandable explanation that when publishing in medical and psychiatric journals, one must use their lingo. In contrast, de Rios does explicitly criticise the more recently coined term “entheogen”, meaning “creating [the one] God within”. In traditional societies where visionary plants are utilised, there are often numerous sources of spiritual power. Monotheism is a very late arrival in human prehistory, and the term “entheogen”, therefore, may not be appropriate for describing psychedelic plants utilised within these societies.


For those wanting to know what psychedelic means:
The term psychedelic, which means mind-manifesting, was introduced in 1957 by Humphrey Osmond, who hoped that this new label would liberate “scientific investigation from the enduring influence of the Psychotomimetic paradigm, which offered limited field application and a definite pejorative bias” (Yensen 1989:33). 
Evgenia Fotiou , “From Medicine Men to Day Trippers: Shamanic Tourism in Iquitos, Peru.” University of Wisconsin, Madison. 2010.

It is a grotesque mistake to assume that scientists are intellectuals; and it is even more grotesque a misunderstanding to assume that intellectuals are intelligent. Some yes, but few. The majority of working scientists are competent in their fields, and beyond that they have no better idea of anything about anything much than my retarded friend Clarence. My friend has the good sense, on the other hand, to refrain from making idiot comments about the stray ideas that pass through his rather poor mind. Not so with too many scientists and most intellectuals. Intellectuals are often enough no brighter than the retarded man I beat at chess. Those who write and speak about entheogenics demand skepticism from the average thinking person, all the moreso because the intellectuals promoting this term are promoting something far more than simple drug taking. They are, whether they know it or not, and one must assume that their colossal ignorance of history bespeaks itself of a broader ignorance generally, not informed about their field of study and interest. Further, given the base level of ignorance, they are not involved in a greater socio-political attempt to counter the revolutions of Modernity. Most of the men we will see involved in entheogenics below are probably simply not particularly intelligent. They are demonstrably ignorant. They are effectively sinister, even if unconsciously so, in terms of human freedom. Dangerous idiots. None of this should take away form our interest in ayahuasca, however. Ideally we should come away from this with a deeper and better understanding of ayahuasca use. 
The problem I see with the so-called spiritual Modernist is his pretension of all encompassing superiority over his fellow Modernist who has no such pretension toward Gnostic wisdom. The so-called spiritual seeker is prone then to making such statements about others, and as if it were proper, that, for example, one gets from taking ayahuasca, “the trip they needed, rather than the trip they wanted.” From a certain type of personality, using me for as an example, the speaker above would receive an instant invitation to sexually exit himself from my presence, and depending on the rapidity of or lack of removal from my presence he might then suffer facial contusions to go with his oral pretensions. And there, going so philosophically deep as to refer to the German Romantic philosopher Fichte, one can cite him in his fundamental contribution to the canon of all good learning, “It depends on what kind of person one is.” There is no principle underlying philosophical road that leads one a priori to prissiness and moralistic posturing. It is, very naturally and simply, a matter of personality. For a growing number of ayahuasca enthusiasts from the Modern, one finds a growing number of prissy philistines. One of the keys to seeing this clearly is in the use of the neologism, “entheogen.” Intention plays an essential and non-trivial part in the choice of drugs one might take, as we see in the case of ayahuasca users, but the foundational and true fact is that one is still a drug user. There is a qualitative difference between a man with a Ph.D in chemistry from an accredited university in California and an illiterate man shooting heroin in an alley in New York. Nevertheless, both are engaging in what is, aside from the arm twisting exemptions available to scientists, illegal. In Iquitos, Peru, using ayahuasca in tourist circles is an essential aspect of the local economy. At home, as it were, the same activity is a class one felony. 
Yes, but.

Yes, but no. Unless one is willing to accept the fact that taking illegal drugs is illegal, one is gaming the language to devious ends. Coining the term entheogenics is the work of an intellectual, persons merely clever without necessarily being intelligent, sneaky and clever but not the work of an honest mind. Further, what one sees in the use of a term like entheogen is a class snobbery meant to elevate by intellectual obscurantism ones pretensions to a level beyond criticism. The ayahuasca user from the heart of the Modern is not a low-life drug user, he is suddenly transformed into a spiritual seeker of societal value, deserving of esteem and riches and adulation for his Gnostic brilliance and rebellion against the evils of the flesh and the mundane. He is not a mere hedonist drunk at a party, he is not a mere loser smoking hash in a flop house with other losers; he is instead a scientist with a full doctorate in a legitimate field doing research for the general good of mankind. But he's still taking dope on the sly, regardless of his noble intentions for our benefit. I guess.... Today, the average highly educated intellectual is not generally capable of dealing with Latin, and the Greek scholar is so rare as to be limited to a handful of specialists in small departments at universities with grand endowments. One might find a weird middle aged guy living in the jungle in Peru who can sort of get through some Greek as well. To use a Greekish neologism is a sign of something to hide. At risk of belabouring the point, such people are phonies.

The phoniness of the “spiritual” drug user is his basic personality. A cursory reading of a range of religious biography will reveal the personality type in abundance, most familiar to my is the Puritan of New England, c. 1600-1800 A.D. But it is never the intellectual cause that causes the man to act, but it is the man who uses the cause to be himself. Like attracts like, and opposite do not like each other often. Phonies thrive on each others' phoniness. Using a Greek term that would have embarrassed Plato is not the sign of an honest man, and thus other dishonest men are attracted to it. But this is a special kind of phoniness, one that demands of its group a level of sophistication most do not aspire to. Being a sophisticated sophist is a banality most people would forgo. OK, they do avoid it. Who would want to be a first class phony? Well, the bitter second rate intellectual with first class pretensions to spiritual superiourity. 
Ayahuasca use didn't of course begin as a neo-Gnostic fad for failed post-modernist intellectuals. As we have seen above, it was used as a better way to puke out worms. The New Age sheen of spirituality in a bottle comes later. Closer to reality is my Shipibo girlfriend's ancient father, roughly my age, who lives in hut with a grass roof and dispenses medicine in the jungle in competition with the pharmacy in town. 'Dad' provides a service for the villagers. He's a normal and decent guy. He is not special or spiritual. He likes Inca Cola. He has no idea what the crisis of alienation in the Modern world means. 
Nor, I suspect, do people like Ralph Metzner have any genuine grasp of the problem of alienation in the Modern world. A featured lecturer in a naïve post-Nazi attempt at filmmaking for the gullible girls at a vegetarian cafe in Iquitos, the girls squating cross-legged on the floor underneath the tables all around them, they scratched themselves and chatted about their spirituality while eying a handsome young Australian who wanted nothing to do with them, Metzner substitutes angry and moralistic cliches on camera in an attempt to sound both Prophetic and scientific at the same time, coming across as an idiot.

From the film:

Himself (Metzner, Ralph): People who have power want to keep power. People who have wealth want to keep wealth. That's the primary motivation. Capitalism, what's called neo-elite model, is a dysfunctional model. It is not life sustainable. It does not support all of life. Half of the population on the planet is living under the poverty level. A billion people are permanently hungry.

In a popular book on string theory, Hyperspace (1994) or Parallel Worlds (2004), Michio Kaku quotes a famous physicist fed up with someone, saying, as I recall, “That's so stupid it's not even wrong.” Metzner is so wrong his statement about half the population today being under the poverty level because of capitalism that his statement is stupid beyond dispute. But how many intellectuals today understand that? How many kind of smelly girls at vegetarian cafes know it? The fact that every legitimate economist on earth knows that statement is fallacious means nothing to most people. Legitimate economists will not dispute that some and a shrinking number of people are living in poverty; the freer the market economy the higher the standard of living; those living in free market economies are now living at a level unimaginably higher in terms of provision than at any time ever. What is in dispute is not whether free markets create general wealth but how better to, and whether to, engineer economic equality among the economically successful and those who are, like me, on the bottom of the economic scale. Capitalism does not cause poverty, as any and every economist of worth will admit or explain. Only the peasant-minded German Revolutionary adherent will argue that resources are limited and must be managed by an intellectual elite for the good of mankind. Unfortunately there is no scarcity of such fools. Happily, the price for such fools is extremely cheap due to the oversupply and lack of demand. In short, Metzner is babbling about economics and he has no idea what he's on about. That is not his concern. His point has nothing to do with economics, which is why he is obviously content with his ignorance. His point and purpose in making his asinine statements is to further his position as a guru of the German Revolution. He will use his pseudo-religious Gnostic babble to further his personal agenda, based almost entirely on his personality and his need to satisfy himself as ego-driven failed intellectual in search of, not spirituality but of authenticity, which he cannot achieve due to his ground of alienation. Being a better phony is no cure. Meztner is not addressing the failures of capitalism; he is addressing his failures as a man in an alien world he cannot find an authentic place in. About this, more later. 

For now, another quotation from the post-Nazi film Entheogen:

Himself (Grof, Stanislav): So all these inauthentic tendencies to have more- need to double, triple the gross national product, something that guarantees good living standards- is a fallacy. Countries that achieved that- achieved high levels of economic standard- don't necessarily benefit from that emotionally. Actually, there's more violence, more suicide, and more alcoholism, addiction, divorce and so on. There's disconnection, direct disconnection, between economic achievement and a sense of well-being.

Sadly, I was not, as I thought, the first to coin the term “povertarianism.” That dubious honor goes to a writer criticising M. Gandhi for his pseudo-religious affectations. Grof, to his everlasting discredit, is actually more honest in his vileness than the idiotic Metzner above. Grof addresses the central problem of the pseudo-religious poseur advocating today the use of ayahuasca as a spirit-facilitating avenue. Phony like the others, Grof gives away the game in one short quotation above. He doesn't care if half the world's population is living in poverty: he likes it and wants us all to be living in poverty. The problem with capitalism is that it makes people wealthy enough to ignore intellectual charlatans like Grof. People with money enough to choose and pursue their own interests do not have to submit to the authority of a sadist like Graf who would punish them for their own moral benefit. Affluent people can afford to ignore a buffon like Graf. Or they can afford to pay for his books and lecture fees if that pleases them. And Graf is a salesman. He is selling moralism. “You and the world itself, Mother Nature herself, would be perfect if only you would give me all power so I can make things perfect for us all. I am special. I know the Mystik. Adore me. Give me your money. I will take care of your souls and dispel your alienation. Then you too will be morally superiour to those who pursue the mundane rather than my version of the oneness of the universe as seen though a glass bottle darkly.” I calls it phony. It is Povertarianism, a fake longing for a sentimental reversion of a nonexistent Golden Age of peace and plenty. It's a con game that only the affluent can afford to play and lose at. This is not what ayahuasca is about. But what is that? We'll turn here to early discovery by Richard Spruce, unsurprisingly, a botonist.

When and how was Ayahuasca discovered by the world outside the Amazon?

History of ethnobotanical research

The earliest Europeans to mention Ayahuasca were Jesuits travelling in the Amazon. One of the earliest such reports of this “diabolical potion,” written in 1737, describes it as: “an intoxicating potion ingested for divinatory and other purposes and called ayahuasca, which deprives one of his senses and, at times, of his life.”

The serious scientific study of ayahuasca began in the 1850s with the field investigations of the English botanist Richard Spruce.... In 1851, while exploring the upper Rio Negro of the Brazilian Amazon, he observed the use of yage among the Tukano Indians of the Rio Uapes in Brasil. He collected samples of Banisteriopsis and sent them home for chemical analysis. He came upon it twice in Peru in 1853. Seven years later, Spruce again encountered the same liana in use among the Guahibo Indians on the upper Orinoco of Colombia and Venezuela, and, later the same year, found it used the Záparo Indians in Peru near the Ecuador border. In his Notes of a Botanist on the Amazon and Andes, he described its sources, its preparation and its effects upon himself.

Spruce suspected that additives were responsible for the psychoactivity of this beverage, although he noted that Banisteriopsis by itself was considered active. The samples he sent to England for chemical analysis were not located and assayed until more than a century later. They were still psychoactive when examined in 1966.

One of Spruce’s greatest contributions was his precise identification of the source of caapi as a new species of the Malpighiaceae. The species was described and called Banisteria Caapi. Subsequent botanical studies showed showed that it belonged to not to the genus Banisteria but to the allied genus Banisteriopsis. The correct name now is, accordingly, Banisteriopsis Caapi.

Although Spruce’s discovery predates any other published accounts, it was not published until 1873, when it was mentioned in a popular account of his Amazon explorations, and his notes were not published in full until 1908. Credit for the earliest published reports of Ayahuasca usage belongs to the Ecuadorian geographer Manuel Villavicencio, who in 1858 wrote of the use of Ayahuasca in sorcery and divination on the upper Rio Napo. The experience made him feel he was “flying” to most marvelous places. He reported that natives using this drink were able “to foresee and answer accurately in difficult cases, be it to reply opportunely to ambassadors from other tribes in a question of war; to decipher plans of the enemy through the medium of this magic drink and take proper steps for attack and defense; to ascertain, when a relative is sick, what sorcerer has put on the hex to carry out a friendly visit to other tribes to welcome foreign travelers or, at least to make sure of the love of their womenfolk.”

Richard Spruce was a self-taught Victorian botanist who spent 14 years crisscrossing the jungles of Amazonia and the Andes Mountains collecting and cataloguing 30,000 plant specimens. During this time Spruce noted the use of a botanical brew known [as] ayahuasca. Spruce identified ayahuasca’s principal ingredient as the giant woody vine known to science today as Banisteriopsis caapi, although he never experienced ayahuasca’s effects himself.
After Spruce’s identification in the 19th century, it was Richard Evans Schultes who did much of the excellent taxonomic detective work in the 1940s and early 1950s. Schultes established that, in addition to Banisteriopsis caapi, ayahuasca tea contained admixture plants. Two of those identified by Schultes, Psychotria viridis (Chacruna) and Diplopterys cabrerana (Chaliponga), were found to contain a potent short-acting hallucinogen: N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, or DMT. As the active alkaloids in the ayahuasca vine—the beta-carbolines harmine, tetrahydroharmine, and harmaline—were known to be only mildly psychoactive on their own, Schultes and his students speculated that ayahuasca’s dramatic effects were the result of a synergistic interaction between the alkaloids in the vine and the DMT in admixture plants. This would prove to be the case.

Spruce found wood. I fail to see him discovering the cure-all for the ills of alienation due to capitalism. We have to leave that to geniuses like our modern scientists specialising in Mythology Studies. For some of that we can turn to a popular magazine feature. Ted Mann, “Magnificent Visions.” Vanity Fair December 2011.

There are three scientists involved historically with ayahuasca now, Spruce being the first. The next, of cursory interest, being Richard Evans Shultes.

From 1941 to 1953, Richard Evans Schultes explored the Amazon (especially the Colombian Amazon), researching the plant knowledge of Amazonian peoples. Schultes, later a professor at Harvard and author of many books, is regarded as the “father of modern ethnobotany.” He documented the use of over 2,000 medicinal plants in the Amazon, and dozens of species are named for him. He observed the use importance of Ayahuasca in indigenous cultures throughout the Upper Amazon. He recorded the fact that admixture plants varied widely, but observed the B. caapi vine or a close relative was the one constant in the brews.

Here's where Shultes becomes somewhat interesting to the general reader and curious person:

Richard Schultes, during his many years of botanical research in the Amazon region, encountered a number of indigenous peoples who use ayahuasca. His overview of its effects and uses is highly illuminating:
Ingestion of Ayahuasca usually induces nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and leads to either an euphoric or an aggressive state. Frequently the Indian sees overpowering attacks of huge snakes or jaguars. These animals often humiliate him because he is a mere man. The repetitiveness with which snakes and jaguars occur in Ayahuasca visions has intrigues psychologists. It is understandable that these animals play such a role, since they are the only beings respected and feared by the Indians of the tropical forest; because of their power and stealth, they have assumed a place of primacy in aboriginal religious beliefs. In many tribes, the shaman becomes a feline during the intoxication, exercising his powers as a cat. Yekwana medicine men mimic the roars of jaguars. Tukano Ayahuasca-takers may experience nightmares of jaguar jaws swallowing them or huge snakes approaching and coiling around their bodies … shamans of the Conibo-Shipibo tribe acquire great snakes as personal possessions to defend themselves in supernatural battles against other powerful shamans. The drug may be the shaman's tool to diagnose illness or to ward off impending disaster, to guess the wiles of an enemy, to prophesy the future. But it is more than the shaman's tool. It enters into almost all aspects of the life of the people who use it, to an extent equalled by hardly any other hallucinogen. Partakers, shamans or not, see all the gods, the first human beings, and animals, and come to understand the establishment of their social order.

The third person in this panel of ayahausca writers is less interesting to me than any other involved so far. I have nearly nothing to add to the polished bullshit p.r releases below. However....

Dr. Rick Strassman (B. 1952- ) Los Angeles, California, United States. Psychiatrist with a fellowship in clinical psychopharmacology research. Strassman was the first person in the United States after twenty years of intermission to embark on human research with psychedelic, hallucinogenic, or entheogenic substances. During the intermission period, research was restricted by law to animals studies only.

Strassman investigated the effects of N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a powerful entheogen, or psychedelic....

DMT is the active “psyche.” in the psychedelic process of ayahuasca, and Strassman is a psychologist who writes books about the combination and effect on those who use it.

Rick Strassman MD performed the first new human studies with psychedelic drugs in the US in over 20 years. His research involved the powerful naturally-occurring compound, DMT – N,N-dimethyltryptamine. Led to this substance through his earlier study of the pineal gland as a potential biological locus for spiritual experiences, he administered several hundred doses of DMT to approximately 60 volunteers between 1990 and 1995. He wrote about this research in the popular book, DMT: The Spirit Molecule, which has sold over 100,000 copies....

Dr. Strassman is currently Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. He is also President and co-founder of the Cottonwood Research Foundation, which is dedicated to consciousness research.
Many of his research subjects were experienced psychedelic users, but they were unprepared for the intensity of DMT. One volunteer described his acute ten minute voyage into another dimension as being hit by a "nuclear cannon." While LSD allows the user a self-guided trip, the DMT experience has its own agenda, stripping the subject of any goals, expectations, and ego. As Stassman said, "DMT as the true spirit molecule, gave the volunteers the trip they needed, rather than the trip they wanted."

After 7 years he resigned from the University of New Mexico, and dropped out of the research study he created. He returned the drugs to an unnamed drug control facility and returned the grant money to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

I must learn this: To be a successful writer one must write the words “Spirit dancing balance healing.” My writing is not sustainable. I am a fascist, after all. Who knew? But there is more.
In a move not at all surprising here is a variant of “Replacement Theology” stemming from Western science attempting to show how those interested in ayahuasca have discovered the source of Hebrew revelation:

In 2008, psychology professor Benny Shanon published a controversial hypothesis that a brew analogous to Ayahuasca was heavily connected to early Judaism, and that the effects of this brew were responsible for some of the most significant events of Moses' life, including his vision of the burning bush.

It is that latter point that brings me to see the ayahuasca use among Modernists as a truly Gnostic endeavor. For more on that, though, one must wait. Later we will turn out attention to the shaman up the river an hour or so, and when I talk with him we might be able at last to leave behind-- for one installment-- the Crisis of Modernity and look directly at what ayahuasca is for those who use it traditionally.

In the coming installment here I want to turn to the most articulate writers I can find to get some idea of what drinking ayahuasca is about. There is more to ayahuasca than the typical comments along the lines of “Wow, man, that was heavy. And I puked really good, too.” Yes, there are some interesting accounts of this drug taking, and we'll look at some of those next time.

I will be offline for at least a short time, that depending on the girl in the jungle I am going to stay with. Longer away is definitively better for all of us. If she kicks me out quickly we will resume quickly our look at ayahausca in Iquitos, Peru. Regardless of when I resume, the next post on this topic will look at personal accounts of ayahuasca use by professional journalists, part four of this series, followed by interviews with local shaman in Iquitos, and ending with my own account of ayahuasca use. Yes, I am going to take that stuff. What kind of middle aged bum would I be if I travelled around the world and didn't for no good reason do stupid shit that could kill me. Till then, allow me to quote from memory Thomas Wolff, Electric Koolaid Acid Test

“No left turns unstoned.”

And remember, (as if you really forgot!) that reality is for people who can't face drugs.

A gentle reminder that my book, An Occasional Walker, is available at the link here:


And here are some reviews and comments on said book:


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