Year: 2009

Ecuador’s Constitutional Rights of Nature

Reflecting the beliefs and traditions of the indigenous peoples of Ecuador, the constitution declares that nature “has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.” The new constitution redefines people’s relationship with nature by asserting that nature is not just an object to be appropriated and exploited by people, but is rather a rights-bearing entity that should be treated with parity under the law.

Brazilian Ayahuasca Music

Authors: Beatriz Caiuby Labate, Institute of Medical Psychology, Heidelberg University, Germany ( and Gustavo Pacheco, National Museum/Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Publisher: Mercado de Letras, Campinas/SP, Brazil Year: 2009 Format: 11,5 x 21 cm Support: German Research Council (DFG) and the Collaborative Research Center “Ritual Dynamics” ( 120 pp. ISBN 978-85-7591-125-9 Price: U$ 16,00 (to be confirmed) + shipping fee Summary: This pocket book highlights the theme of music in the ayahuasca religions of Santo Daime (both the Cefluris and Alto Santo groups) and the União do Vegetal (UDV). Although most studies of the ayahuasca religions recognize the centrality of music in their rituals, the study of the music itself has generally been secondary to other themes, rather than the central focus that it is here. A rich cultural manifestation, ayahuasca music reveals multiple connections with Brazilian religiosity and with the musical expression of the Northeast and Amazonia, and has been one of the principal elements highlighted by recent efforts to designate ayahuasca as immaterial cultural heritage of the Brazilian nation. The book …

Bia Labate site and newsletter

Dear Friends I invite you to join the newsletter of my site. From time to time I send some news about my writings and my activities, about the universe of ayahuasca and psychoactive substances in general, legislation on drugs, important cultural events and conferences etc. Usually I do not send too much messages, and they do not follow a regular calendar. I just news that I consider really relevant, some messages go in English and some in Portuguese. You can sign the Newsletter by subscribing through the site’s right margin ( Best wishes, Bia Labate

Don Pablo Amaringo makes his Passage.

Don Pablo Amaringo, one of the most significant artists of our age, shaman of the highest order, and teacher to many, died November 16th. The world of art has lost a truly original visionary – a seer in all senses of the word. I think we all join together in wishing him a safe passage to the other side of the river… -Laurence Caruana Many blessings, thoughts and love to those who knew him personally. His art will continue to inspire wonder in many generations to come.

Therapeutic caapi tea: a prototype – Material and Method

More and more people are using or consider using ayahuasca tea as an alternative medicine for different therapeutic purposes: depression, Parkinson’s disease, ageing-related cognitive decline, etc.

Yet most of these actual or planned uses are relying on the rich pharmacodynamics of the caapi vine and don’t necessitate the preparation and use of a standard mix. Rather what is needed is a caapi tea specifically designed for these purposes.

Michael Winkelman


Steve Beyer
Anthropologist Michael Winkelman, at Arizona State University, says that shamanic practices — drumming, chanting, and the ingestion of sacred plants — create a special state of consciousness he calls transpersonal consciousness, and that these practices create this state of consciousness through the process of psychointegration — that is, by integrating a number of otherwise discrete modular brain functions. Anthropologist Homayun Sidky, at Miami University in Ohio, says that this theory, despite a surface plausibility, is without empirical justification.

A New Book on Ayahuasca Shamanism

Steve Beyer
In the Upper Amazon, mestizos are the Spanish-speaking descendants of Hispanic colonizers and the indigenous peoples of the jungle. Some mestizos have migrated to Amazon towns and cities, such as Iquitos and Pucallpa; most remain in small villages, their houses perched on stilts on the shores of the rivers that are their primary means of travel. Here in the jungle, they have retained features of the Hispanic tradition, including a folk Catholicism and traditional Hispanic medicine. And they have incorporated much of the religious tradition of the Amazon, especially its healing, sorcery, shamanism, and the use of potent plant hallucinogens, including ayahuasca. In my new book, Singing to the Plants: A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon, I try to set forth, in accessible form, just what this tradition is about.

Blending Traditions – Using Indigenous Medicinal Knowledge to Treat Drug Addiction

Jacques Mabit, M.D.
Ancestral medical practices are based on a highly sophisticated practical knowledge and view the controlled induction of non-ordinary states of consciousness as potentially beneficial, even in the treatment of the modern phenomena of drug addiction. These ancestral practices stand in contrast to the clumsiness with which Western peoples induce altered states of consciousness. Drawing from his clinical experience in the High Peruvian Amazonian forest, the author describes the therapeutic benefits of the wise use of medicinal plants, including non-addictive psychoactive preparations, such as the well-known Ayahuasca tea. Within an institutional structure, a therapeutic system combining indigenous practices with contemporary psychotherapy yields highly encouraging results (positive in 2/3 of the patients). This invites us to reconsider conventional approaches to drug addiction and the role of the individual’s spiritual journey in recovery.

Kambô, The Spirit of the Shaman

Marcelo Bolshaw Gomes
“Kambô circulates in the heart. Our shaman said that when we take Kambô it makes the heart move accurately, so that things flow, bringing good things to the person. It is as if there was a cloud on the person, preventing the good things to come, then, when it takes the Kambô; it comes a ‘green light’ which opens its ways, making things easier.”

Help to suspend laws that open up the Amazon to destructive industries

The Peruvian government has pushed through legislation that could allow extractive and large-scale farming companies to rapidly destroy their Amazon rainforest. Indigenous peoples have peacefully protested for two months demanding their lawful say in decrees that will contribute to the devastation of the Amazon’s ecology and peoples, and be disastrous for the global climate. But last weekend President Garcia responded: sending in special forces to suppress protests in violent clashes, and labelling the protesters as terrorists.

Crisis in Peru

Luien Chauvin, reporting for Time Magazine, says, “Peruvian President Alan Garcia is furious. His plans to open huge parts of the country’s Amazon jungle to foreign investors are crumbling … a casualty of violent protests by indigenous people in the northern jungle last weekend. … The violence was unleashed when police officers received word from Lima, the capital, to remove the protesters who were blocking a highway and the nearby pumping station on the northern pipeline.”

Santo Daime Followers Can Have Their Tea and Drink It Too

On Wednesday a federal judge in Oregon ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) allows followers of the Brazil-based Santo Daime sect to consume ayahuasca, a psychedelic tea ontaining the ordinarily illegal drug dimethyltryptamine (DMT), as part of their rituals. Guided by the Supreme Court’s unanimous 2006 ruling in “a very similar case” involving Uniao do Vegetal, another Brazilian religious group that also consumes ayahuasca, U.S. District Court Judge Owen Panner concluded that RFRA “requires that plaintiffs be allowed to import and drink Daime tea for their religious ceremonies, subject to reasonable restrictions.”

Guided by the Moon

Although the Daime works keep within the traditional shamanic parameters, one should take into consideration the remarks made by Couto, that, here, one is dealing with what he calls “collective shamanism”. The command of the works is held by more experienced shamans, but the shamanic activity is not, exclusively in the hands of a few initiates and all participants are considered apprentice shamans and even potential shamans. Taking part in the rituals is a way of learning the art, and it is thought that any of the participants of the ritual may display shamanic powers which are considered to be latent in human nature.

Ayahuasca and Mental Health Among the Shuar

Steve Beyer
We have talked before about the Grob, McKenna, Callaway, et al., psychiatric study on the long-term effects of drinking ayahuasca in the ceremonies of the União do Vegetal church. I noted that the study had not clearly disentangled any bias that might have resulted from the fact that the ayahuasca drinkers — but not controls — had been preselected for their orderly churchgoing habits. Here is a study that may shed some light on that question.