Time for contributing to his blog has been scarce in recent weeks. This post simply catches up on some developments related to the growing use of ayahuasca and related entheogens for religious and therapeutic purposes in different parts of the world.
UDV in Santa Fe. The União do Vegetal (UDV) Temple in Santa Fe, New Mexico, officially opened a few weeks ago after years of legal wrangling. Its inauguration is documented by the Brazilian anthropologist Bia Labate in an article in the Huffington Post in late April. In classic participant-observer fashion, Labate describes herself as “enjoying, alongside the members of the UDV, the pleasant taste of justice, freedom, and victory.” A story not to be missed.
When ayahuasca lands on the pages of the Wall Street Journal, you know that something is going on. The article, by Ryan Dube, includes obligatory references to ayahuasca sessions that have resulted in violence or psychological injury, but it generally avoids sensationalism. As Dube notes, the explosive growth of centers oriented to international ayahuasca tourism in Peru’s jungle cities––Iquitos and Tarapoto most prominently––is both good for the local economy and a happy hunting ground for opportunistic shysters. Even as I write, doctoral dissertations are being written about ayahuasca tourism and its effects.
Apropos of which, I recently corresponded with Miroslav Horák of Brno University, who has authored a report on a Tarapoto-based drug-treatment facility that uses ayahuasca as part of its treatment regimen. The report, entitled The House of Song: Rehabilitation of Drug Addicts by the Traditional Indigenous Medicine of the Peruvian Amazon, is available for full-text download (4.7 MB) from Horák’s Academia.edu page.
On a completely different note, don’t miss Indian Country Today‘s extensive coverage of a recent series of SAR public talks on the future of repatriation 25 years after the implementation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE. I was contacted by Ricardo D’Aguiar, a freelance videographer and producer, about his documentary about ayahuasca therapy in Tarapoto. Most definitely worth a look!
Here’s Ricardo’s description of the video and relevant links to view the trailer and the complete documentary:
The film presents the work of the research & treatment center Takiwasi based in the High Amazon region of Peru. Founded in 1986 by French, Japanese and Peruvian doctors, Takiwasi uses Traditional Amazonian Medicine combined with Western psychology to achieve a high success rate in the treatment of severe drug addiction, depression and other psychological ailments. Patients from around the globe as well as from the local community seek Takiwasi which also offers seminars for self-exploration and spiritual research. Takiwasi relies on a interdisciplinary, multinational staff of both western-trained professionals and traditional healers from around the region which is notorious for producing some of the greatest curanderos of the Amazon. The center has developed a unique approach of integration and articulation between Western science and traditional methods to produce a therapeutic protocol focused on long term, sustainable results for its patients.”
ANOTHER UPDATE, 9/5/2016
Now in distribution: The World Ayahuasca Diaspora: Reinventions and Controversies. Edited by Edited by Beatriz Caiuby Labate, Clancy Cavnar, and Alex K. Gearin. An excerpt from Glenn Shepard’s forward is available here.