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Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by aspwatterson, Oct 15, 2007.

  1. aspwatterson

    aspwatterson The Unknown Soldier

    Quote :

    The chattering classes are heading to the Amazon in search of esoteric highs.
    Are shamans the new shrinks? Asks Clover Stroud.

    At a dinner party in Gloucestershire, Lucy, a mother of three, is regaling her guests with her last trip abroad. She has honeyed limbs and high maintenance hair, suggestive of regular villa braeks in Ibiza or Tuscany. But earlier this year, as a 40th birthday present to herself, she went to Brazil for a ten day guided retreat in the Amazon, where she underwent a series of plant rituals involving the powerful hallucigen Ayahuasca. "It was as far removed from taking normal party drugs as you can imagine" she says, eyes glittering. "It was frightening and etraordinary".

    Lucy's experience is symptomatic of a collective search for a complete wilderness experience as a panacea for our troubled souls. "I went to the Amazon because I felt my whole life needed shaking up, and I just didn't know how to do that in England. I had everything I wanted, interms of a stable marriage, lovely kids and a nice home, and although I knew I shouldn't feel dissatisfied, I did. I wanted to reconnect with myself and the way I live before I got much older".

    Deep immersion in a faraway jungle is the latest fix for those stuck in the cultural, spiritual or personal malaise that besets many in the 21st century. Having an extreme psychological experience such as Ayahuasca at the same time makes it all the more desirable. The Brighton-based writer and therapist Ross Heaven, author of Plant Spirit Shamanism, has been leading trips into the Amazon for 10 years. "In the 1990s, only real new-age devotees had heard of Ayahuasca, but that sort of person going on retreats has changed dramatically" she says. "I'm taking a trip in October that will include account managers, business professionals, a media figure, a conventional doctor and a nurse. People are getting turned on to the fact that in the Amazon we can learn something about the wisdom of native culture and the psychological healing aspects of the plants there, while also gaining from personal exploration and creativity".

    It was inevitable that we would find a faster, harder, more esoteric replacement for Yoga. As Eastern mysticism sarts to lokk a bit, well passe, people are looking elsewhere for their spiritual kicks. They now have the desire to immerse themselves in extreme environments, which is why the Amazon has never been a hot as it is now. Sting and Madonna first swung our global eyes to the rainforest in the 1980s.But the we forgot about it as we turned our gaze back to organic vegetable boxes and Carbon footprints.


    [To be continued....]

  2. Reverbeffect

    Reverbeffect I've got a zappy little nappy

    Self Delusion

    An interesting article that reminds me of the wife of a guy that used to be our best friends. Never satisfied with her lot and he being a little of a Luddite produced some tensions. She upped sticks and left the kids with him and shacked up with a junkie!

    Sometimes people realise too late that life isn't about fantastic experiences all the time, sometimes we just need simple and mundane things. By the time she realised it was too late. Life's relationships will always involve some self sacrifices and compromises with your partner. Fucking off to the Amazon to do drugs to me sounds very pretentious.

    I suppose it reveals that people often forget to count their blessings or appreciate what they have until its gone. I'm not trying to be judgemental but there's a lot of crap in the magazines about what to do when you feel life is passing you by.

    Some people just presume that they have the right to follow their whimsy no matter what the consequences to family or some remote culture.
  3. Bob Jacobs

    Bob Jacobs Ride away in style

    I agree with reverbeffect!
  4. aspwatterson

    aspwatterson The Unknown Soldier

    Jungle Fever


    The other day spent 40 minutes editing / adding Jungle Fever Part 2 then pressed SEND and it disappeared into the ether and lost all my hard work?!
    Perhaps you were doing something your end at the time and it didn't accept it? Probably stick with REPLY / QUICK REPLY button in future when I've got some more time...

  5. pd

    pd Slightly Desperate Staff Member

    As a general tip, if you are working on a long posting it's a good idea to type it into notepad first and save it from time to time so if there's a computer or network failure, the work isn't lost.
  6. aspwatterson

    aspwatterson The Unknown Soldier

    Jungle Fever [Part Two]


    "Now once more the Amazon is gripping our attention ; the interest in Ayahuasca is emblematic of a growing fascination with tribal life. A rumbling collective disquiet suggests that we've got it all wrong and those naked men in the jungle - whom we might once have dismissed as savages, or patronised by buying their hand-crafted tables for our fashionable lofts- who actually may have got it right. Could it be that such tribes hold a key to global salvation? Shamanism and Ayahuasca are slipping into the spiritual dialogue of the chattering classes where once there was Ashtanga and Kabbalah.

    Bruce Perry has done a brilliant job of bringing these wild worlds into our sitting rooms and in doing so has scored a hit for the notion of the noble savage who can teach us how to coexist with the planet. "We shouldn't romanticise these tribes, but they do have great way of living with the environment which we can learn from," he says "This is all in vogue because we are so worried about the way our individual morality is going. They have a much more sharing community".

    It is clear that these tribes, living in genuine harmony with their environment, possess a spiritual enlightenment that we, watching Big Brother in our centrally-heated houses, can only dream of. And the growth in the psycho-spritual healing industry suggests there is a huge market for lost souls in need of spiritual TLC. Going to the jungle to reconnect with the natural world is an obvious extension of this, but it is hardly new. Ayahuasca has been used by Amazonian tribes for 10,000 years. It is a monoamine oxidase inhibitor which means it causes your body to receive a chemical compound which it would normally screen out. It is prepared - ideally by a friendly indigenous Shaman - by boiling and blessing the stems of Banisteriopsis caapi with the leaves of Psychotria viridis, which is rich in the hallucinogen dimethyltryptamine, to produce a bitter-tasting liquid that induces a trip lasting several hours.

    The clinical psychologist and Shamanic healer Silvia Polivoy established Ayashasca Healing, her retreat in the Amazon in 1997, when only a handful of companies offered such sevices. Now, there are more than 40. She moved into transpersonal therapy after becoming frustrated by the limitations on conventional psychotherapy. In some circumstances, she says, a session of Ayahuasca can have the same effect as years of therapy." Unquote

    [to be cont....]

    Last edited: Oct 27, 2007
  7. aspwatterson

    aspwatterson The Unknown Soldier

    Jungle Fever [Part three]

    "There is romance to the idea of the wild, exotic spirtual healer, but the practice of Shamanism is not confined to the Amazon. Google 'shaman' and you'll probably find there's one living next to you, or running a local workshop in your local community centre. In America, there's even an international school of Shamanism, with a decidely western-sounding board of directors and a trade-marked name.

    Inevitably with increasing numbers of people travelling to the Amazon to experience Ayahuasca and find the Shaman to guide them, a new tourist industry is forming aroung the cult of the noble savage who can hold our hand as we hurtle towards environmental and psychological meltdown. Isn't there a danger that in attempting to connect with the mystical, we will destroy it? And isn't there something patronising about using our wealth to purchase the secrets of indigenous tribes, belching out tons of Carbon as we go?

    Genuinely losing it in the jungle is a pretty terrifying thought. But if there is hot and cold water and a masseur and chef on hand, well that's a different matter entirely. However according to Tahir Shah, who experienced the plant in decidedly non-luxurious circumstances in Peru whilst researching his book Trail of Feathers : In Search of the Birdmen of Peru, you can't really have a chichi Ayahuasca experience. "The point of Ayahuasca is that it completely undoes you. I was in total darkness in a longhouse in the deep jungle, and had to crawl through mud to the water's edge, slipping and sliding like a pig in filth. I crapped, threw up at the same time, my eyes blinded by colours. I thought I was dying. And that's the whole point."

    But practitioners argue that the growing interest in Shamans and their plants they work which is syptomatic of the fact that a collective consciousness is working together to seek out a redemptive future for the planet and mankind. They claim that the spirit of Ayahuasca is so stong, so extraordinary, it's creating it's own calling - just don't mention Carbon footprints.

    Tolivoy is philosophical about the environmental damage caused by flights to her retreat, but admits that Western culture could as well be served by it's own rituals and working with it's native plants.Maybe we would be better off drinking a potion made from tree bark and magic mushrooms and taking part in a Morris dance, which after all is closer to our spiritual roots? It's unlikely though that Lucy would want to entertain her dinner party guests with that trip, isn't it?"


    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 2, 2007

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