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Ayahuasca Reader: Encounters with the Amazon's Sacred Vine

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The AYAHUASCA READER is a four-part celebration of a sacred plant which grows in the Amazon rainforest and which, throughout the rainforest history, has been instrumental in allowing medicine men (and others) to leave their bodies behind and travel with their souls. Their experiences and the invaluable information they return with are so impressive that many anthropologists have felt the inclination to question them about these "trips” and the mythologies of their ancestors regarding them. Hence, part one of the ...
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Overview

The AYAHUASCA READER is a four-part celebration of a sacred plant which grows in the Amazon rainforest and which, throughout the rainforest history, has been instrumental in allowing medicine men (and others) to leave their bodies behind and travel with their souls. Their experiences and the invaluable information they return with are so impressive that many anthropologists have felt the inclination to question them about these "trips” and the mythologies of their ancestors regarding them. Hence, part one of the AYAHUASCA READER consists of information divulged in such interviews. Part two consists of essays by (or about) the scientists themselves upon experiencing Ayahuasca in ceremonial settings. Part three discusses the use of Ayahuasca as a present day religious sacrament, and finally, in part four, well known celebrities from the literary world discuss their experience of Ayahuasca.

All of this renders the AYAHUASCA READER the most comprehensive collection ever written on the subject, with essays translated from nearly a dozen languages. The many contributors include Françoise Barbira Freedman, Wade Davis, Philippe Descola, Allen Ginsberg, Jean Langdon, Peter Matthiessen, Dennis McKenna, W.S.Merwin, Richard Spruce, Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff, Mario Vargas Llosa, and more. As the myths within confirm, Ayahuasca has been a means "of reconnecting with the invisible layers of the cosmos” for millennia. Not surprisingly, the myths make for very fascinating reading in and of themselves, and certainly no study of world mythology is complete with them. The additional scientific, religious and literary points of view, then, are all wonderful bonuses.

There is a lot at work here: As if the various stories from these disparate groups were not enough, there are depictions of the artwork of the indigenous peoples, photographs of a few of the Ayahuasca practitioners (including Ginsberg), a copy of a Brazilian watercolor depicting Ayahuasca, a copy of an oil painting depicting visions induced by the plant, and much more. From the religion section there are hymns a plenty, and from the literary section, as much eloquent prose and spirited poetry as a reader is likely to find in any literary anthology.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Obviously the finest collection on the subject and a must-read for anybody interested in ayahuasca.” - Jeremy Narby
From The Critics
Ayahuasca is a sacred drink of the indigenous peoples of the Upper Amazon and Orinoco basins, and is used for divination, healing, and other cosmogonic/shamanic purposes. The Ayahuasca Reader: Encounters With The Amazon's Sacred Vine is a compilation of texts translated from several languages on the ayahuasca experiences. These accounts including indigenous mythic narratives and testimonies, religious hymns, and narratives related by western travelers, scientists, and writers who came into contact with ayahuasca in a variety of contexts. The Ayahuasca Reader is a seminal, benchmark publication and will be of intense interest to students of Amazonian indigenous culture, Native American spirituality, and metaphysical studies.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780907791324
  • Publisher: Synergetic Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2000
  • Pages: 254
  • Product dimensions: 8.54 (w) x 10.76 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Luis Eduardo Luna was born in Florencia, in the Colombian Amazon region, in 1947. He studied Philosophy and Literature at the Complutense University of Madrid.
Luna has over 30 years of experience with ayahuasca in various contexts: as an anthropologist with indigenous groups and among urban and rural mestizo ayahuasqueros in Peru and Colombia, with all the syncretic Brazilian religious organizations that use ayahuasca as a sacrament, and as a facilitator in specially designed workshops.

Born in Abingdon, Pennsylvania. Has lived and worked in many Latin American countries, a bilingual editor, translator and poet. Since 1987, teaching at St. Lawrence University and is a co-founder of its Caribbean and Latin American Studies Program.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
I Ayahuasca Myths and Testimonies 19
A Visit to the Second Heaven: A Siona Narrative of the Yage Experience 21
Two Ayahuasca Myths from the Cashinahua of Northwestern Brazil 31
Mythologies of the Vine 36
A Huaorani Myth of the First Miiyabu (Ayahuasca Vine) 41
Yaje: Myth and Ritual 46
The Creation Myth 48
Unamarai, Father of Yaje 51
Initiation Experience 55
Light of This World 63
At the End You See God 67
II Ayahuasca Cultural Encounters 81
On Some Remarkable Narcotics of the Amazon Valley and Orinoco 83
A Yaje Session 87
Yage Nostalgia 93
Discovering the Way 98
The Spears of Twilight: Life and Death in the Amazon Jungle (excerpt) 102
One River: Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest (excerpt) 105
Jaguar-Becoming 107
The Jaguar Who Would Not Say Her Prayers: Changing Polarities in Upper Amazonian Shamanism 113
Montage 120
Design Therapy 127
III New Religions: Santo Daime, Barquinha, and Uniao do Vegetal (UDV) 133
Hymns 135
Received by Raimundo Irineu Serra 135
Received by Sebastiao Mota de Melo 139
Received by Alfredo Gregorio de Melo 141
Received by Daniel Pereira de Matos 142
Received by Francisca Campos do Nascimento 144
The Book of Visions: Journey to Santo Daime (excerpt) 145
An Unusual Experience with "Hoasca": A Lesson from the Teacher 154
IV Writing Ayahuasca 159
The Yage Letters (excerpt) 161
At Play in the Fields of the Lord (excerpt) 164
Ten Poems on a Sunday Afternoon 172
Men of Chazuta 178
The Three Halves of Ino Moxo (excerpt) 183
The Real World of Manuel Cordova 191
Ayahuasca, or What There is at the End 198
The Storyteller (excerpt) 203
Returning 208
Aerial Waters (excerpt) 211
The Mother of the Voice in the Ear (excerpt) 214
Last River (and Other Poems) 219
Rio Napo 222
Bibliography 223
Appendix Selected Works in Their Original Languages 231
Notes on Contributors 242
Index 249
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