the Ayahuasca vine

Notes on the Western Paradigm of Ayahuasca

Preface:
This article is not to attack anyones practices and beliefs, but it tries to elucidate where in the West we have underplayed the role of the Ayahuasca vine and beta-carbolines within our Western notion of Ayahuasca, which has, since the early 1990′s wave of entheogenic literature, been very DMT-centric. Such an view has begun to lead onto the attitude that smoking DMT or Changa is ‘the evolution of Ayahuasca’ or ‘smokable Ayahuasca’. In this we risk falling into cultural appropriation, since the indigenous use of Ayahuasca (B.caapi) is many thousands of years old.

“ayahuasca” or “ayawaska” (“Spirit vine” or “vine of the souls”: in Quechua, aya means “spirit” while huasca or waska means “vine”) in Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru, and to a lesser extent in Brazil. The spelling ayahuasca is the hispanicized version of the name; many Quechua or Aymara speakers would prefer the spelling ayawaska. The name is properly that of the plant B. caapi, one of the primary sources of beta-carbolines for the brew.
Wikipedia- Ayahuasca entry

Ayahuasca is the indigenous Amazonian name for the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, where it has been used for thousands upon thousands of years in healing, sorcery, and cleansing. The vine is used as a gatekeeper to the realm of a myriad of medicinal plants, such as Ajo Sacha and Tobacco, which are ‘dieted’ in close proximity to the Vine.

Ayahuasca lives within a unique complex of customs, traditions, knowledge and wisdom which are strong to this day, and continue to develop within syncretic communities and movements such as UDV, Barquinha and Santo Daime, as well as through the unique and individualistic exploration with the tea in the Western world.

Ayahuasca in Psychedelic Literature

Beginning with ethnographic exploration, beat-generation literature, and the psychedelic research of the 1960′s, Ayahuasca research entered the Western world. Since the mid-1980′s Ayahuasca was popularised in North America and Europe through the writings of Terrence McKenna and other ethnobotanical luminaries such as Jim DeKorne and Jonathon Ott. This wave of literature was important and paradigm-shifting, despite the Ayahuasca often being understood from a Westernised ethnocentric perspective. The literature of this time focusses on the botanical classification of entheogenic plants and the principle psychedelic compounds they contain. Westerners approached indigenous traditions as pilgrims and explorers, ‘discovering’ the ways and means to work with the powerful psychedelic properties of shamanistic medicines.

Two books stand out as seminal from this time. ‘Ayahuasca Analogues’ by J.Ott, and ‘Ayahyasca Visions’ by Pablo Amaringo and Luis Eduardo Luna. It was perhaps only with the publication of ‘Ayahuasca Visions’ by Pablo Amaringo and Luis Eduardo Luna that the rich levels of meaning, knowledge and tradition connected with the indigenous Ayahuasca universe became evident. This was because the Ayahuasca was spoken of from the perspective of an Ayahuasquero – someone who had immersed themselves for many years within the culture of Ayahuasca practices and the accrued, empirical knowledge of countless generations of people working with the Ayahuasca potion. The phenomenology and shamanistic practices of the plants takes precedence in this information. The bias of knowledge is in furthering the internal horizon with the aid and agency of plant spirits and other intelligences accessible through the ambassador of the Ayahuasca.

‘Ayahuasca Analogues’
or
Potions-with-their-own-names

‘Ayahuasca Analogues’, by Ott, revealed the exciting prospect of developing Ayahuasca-type synergystic potions from plants in boreal climates. The book is composed of potentially useful plants that are identified as containing either DMT, 5-Meo DMT, and beta-carbolines. Analogues are plants or chemicals used in place of the traditional constituents of the ayahuasca brew. In the perspective of this book, analogues can produce an ‘ayahuasca-effect’. Two of the most common are Peganum harmala and Mimosa hostilis, as replacements for the B. caapi vine, and DMT-containing admixture plants, respectively. It discusses the prospect of Ayahuasca-analogues preventing psychedelic prohibition, and ushering in a pan-Gaian entheogenic revival. Whilst the book is an incredible contribution to human knowledge, it does present certain axioms that, in light of further research, could be analysed further.

Through ‘analogues’, many have experienced profound healing and accessed visionary states not entirely unlike those produced by traditional ayahuasca brews, and most agree that modern analogue plants are extremely powerful and deserving of respect. However, analogue brews are not the same as Ayahuasca and deserve unique status. This is because experienced ayahuasca drinkers who have also had the opportunity to drink ayahuasca admixture brews, such as tea made from Syrian rue and Mimosa, generally conclude that the effects are different.

And infact, many ‘Ayahuasca analogues’ are plants with their own histories and traditions as shamanistic catylists. They have their own names. Calling unique plant potions ‘Ayahuasca analogues’ encourages a uncreative approach to the specific identies and properties of other medicine plants. Different plants, such as Jurema (Mimosa Hostilis), Haoma (Syrian Rue) and Golden Wattle (Acacia) have their own names and their own unique teachings, if one is working with the plant and not a highly refined isolate.

Ott, in his ‘Ayahuasca Analogues’ book describes a series of experiments where he works to lower the beta-carboline component of the tea to a point where it is simply enough to allow tryptamines to be orally active. So, using the bare minimum of Caapi, and focusing only on the visionary DMT effects as the “main event” can result in the impression that Caapi and Rue, or any MAOI are similar and interchangeable. This view of the spiritual and entheogenic unimportance of the beta-carbolines has been assumed by many who have followed:

“Through the hard and potentially dangerous work of back yard shamans and amature ethnobotanists, any plants have been discovered that have the alkaloids necessary to produce the ayahausca effect…. The ayahuasca effect is simply the inhibition of enzymes in the body that normally degrade ingested DMT, allowing the DMT to pass though the body altering consciousness without being destroyed by the body’s enzymes.”
- Chen Chow Dorge

But Ayahuasca is not ‘simply’ a vehicle for DMT. This is over-simplified to the point of fallacy. The Ayahuasca vine itself could only be considered a simple ‘inhibitor of the enzymes’ if it were without its own experiential and bio-active dimension.

Ayahuasca is not an ‘effect’. It is the name of a plant, and the tea made from the plant. And its effects are unique. The indigenous Amazonian perspective is that Ayahuasca is the B.caapi vine, and the admixture plants are her “helpers.” It is no accident that the brew is called “Ayahuasca,” the name of the vine. Most of the common native names for the brew — Ayahuasca, Yage, Caapi, Natema, Caapi, Dapa, Mihi, Kahi, Pinde, Nixi, etc — are also names for the Vine, whereas there is no record of any group naming the brew for the tryptamine-containing admixtures. It took many decades for the importance of the admixture plants even to be recognized by ethnobotanists, because every indigenous group recorded as using Ayahuasca stressed the Vine, and not uncommonly use Vine alone, and admixtures vary widely while the Vine is the common denominator.

A DMT-centric view of Ayahuasca neglects the powerful influence of the beta-carbolines. The psychopharmacology of the beta-carbolines, in their specific and fluctuating levels within the vine, is poorly understood both pharmacologically and experientially in the West, and its role underappreciated by many psychonautic western researchers.

The Ayahuasca vine is not merely a facilitator for a DMT experience. It is a profound entheogenic plant teacher in its own right, and patterns any other plant taken with it according to its unique character. Although not considered ‘psychedelic’ to an conventional, LSD orientated Western standard, the vine is notheless capable of producing profound noetic experiences, visions, amplified dreams, anti-depressive effects, and both physical and spiritual cleansing. This is why in the Amazon it is often used by itself, or with many other plants. The vine is also known as a bearer of THH, which is a minimal MAOI, but generates receptor sites for serotonin thus producing a long lasting antidepressant effect. THH occurs in much greater concentration in B. caapi than in other plants bearing ß-carbolines, such as Peganum harmala (Syrian rue). THH may be (according to Dr Alexander Shulgin) completely absent from Syrian Rue. This is just one example how each plant has their own unique signature, chemically speaking. This doesn’t even cover the differences in spiritual character.

This dynamic aspect, the vine as an ambassador of the plant kingdom, is part of the very beauty of Ayahuasca traditions, which is corroded by a view of the vine as a mere delivery system for DMT.

The idea that a combination of plants results in a simple ‘ayahuasca effect’ depicts a vision of plants as simple repositories of alkaloids. The reality is each plant has its own unique biochemical signature, and this is what gives a plant its ‘character’ when consumed.

To briefly pay homage to the indigenous vision (the wisdom accured over millenia of first-hand phenomenological shamanistic experiences)… Plants are not simple repositories of chemicals. They are living dyanmic systems, organisms, which, when accessed from an entheogenic state of mind, reveal themselves as ‘plant-teachers’.

Banisteriopsis Caapi - Ayahuasca

Banisteriopsis Caapi - Ayahuasca

Changa & Ayahuasca

To highlight the issue of cultural appropriation, recently, an interesting article has appeared on the internet penned by Chen Cho Dorge, claiming an ‘Evolution of Ayahuasca’. www.realitysandwich.com/changa_evolution_ayahuasca … discussing ‘changaya‘, a smoking mixture made from a DMT-rich alkaloid extract soaked into herbal carrier, sometimes including dried, potentised B-caapi leaf, the article rolls with the idea that the reader agree that this smoking mixture is Ayahuasca.

The article relays a definition of Ayahuasca which intentionally attempts to sever the word ‘Ayahuasca’ completely from the plant and its indigenous lineages, and asserts that the reader think of Ayahuasca as a DMT based ‘ayahuasca-effect’. It is a paradigm that is the logical outcome of a view of Ayahuasca where the role of the Ayahuasca vine is strongly overlooked. The early 1990’s wave of entheogenic literature was very DMT-centric. Such an view has begun to lead onto the attitude that smoking DMT or Changa is ‘the evolution of Ayahuasca’ or ’smokable Ayahuasca’.

In many peoples minds this is a form of cultural appropriation, because even though there is this push to call the smoke some sort of evolution of Ayahuasca, it removes the central role of the Ayahuasca vine as a medicinal tea and purgative, and makes the Ayahuasca vine – at the very most- a secondary ingredient.

“The sacred medicine that has historically provided incredible transformations in those who drink it has itself transformed. It has become Changa… Changa is quite possibly one of the most amazing innovations in the technology of the sacred in our lifetime.”
- Chen Chow Dorge

To claim any plant combination that enables DMT to become orally active is ‘Ayahuasca’, or more, that the DMT effect = ‘Ayahuasca effect’ = Ayahuasca itself, is trouble on grounds of cultural appropriation, because it ignores a living indigenous tradition, language, etymology, folklore, taxonomy. It is a conflation:

Conflation occurs when the identities of two or more individuals, concepts, or places, sharing some characteristics of one another, become confused until there seems to be only a single identity — the differences appear to become lost.[1] In logic, the practice of treating two distinct concepts as if they were one does often produce error or misunderstanding — but not always — as a fusion of distinct subjects tends to obscure analysis of relationships which are emphasized by contrasts.

A refined DMT alkaloid extract from acacia or mimosa (in the great majority of cases, extracted with non-lab grade petrochemicals), absorbed via the burning of a herbal carrier (which may or may not include caapi leaves), is a very different matter than imbibing an aqueous solution of the entire water soluble aspect of the plants. Such a smoking blend may be profound, entheogenic, and, if made cleanly enough and taken with intention and preperation, could be cleansing and healing.

But nobody in South America, the thousands of people working regularly with the tea as a sacrament, shamanistic tool or healing medicine, would recognise Changa as Ayahuasca. Changa is a tryptamine rich smoking mixture, where the actual Ayahuasca – the beta-carboline rich vine – may be slightly present or completely absent from Changa depending on the recipe.

Unless we want to inadvertantly decimate a living taxonomical, historical, and indigenous definition, it is useful to learn the individual names of entheogenic plants and not conflate them. With so little indigenous knowledge left in the world, we would do well to respect and preserve the diversity of knowledge, language and tradition.

To iterate, this is not a moral issue, of what is ‘better or worse’, ‘right or wrong’, its about taxonomy and language, and the accompanying paradigms around plant teachers.

Theres a difference in paradigm between an approach that looks at Ayahuasca as a DMT carrier, looks at the plants as delivery systems of a certain number of chemicals we know to be powerfully entheogenic, or looks at Ayahuasca through a systemic or ecological view, looks at the plants as being highly complex signals, highly complex communications, highly complex identities, where the powerful entheogenic substances like DMT and the beta-carbolines, are modulated, signatured and patterned by the total sum of all elements within the plant. Because a plant is made from hundreds if not thousands of different molecular patterns, all of which interact, all of which make up the plants own ‘true name’.

Links

See also www.ayahuasca.com/ayahuasca-overviews/what-are-ayahuasca-analogues/

Comments
21 Responses to “Notes on the Western Paradigm of Ayahuasca”
  1. Mark Chapford says:

    There are many names for Aya, like yage, and names change, but I suppose they are names for the plant and brew, not an ‘effect’.

  2. admin says:

    Hi Mark. Thanks for your response. Thats exactly the point of the piece. Ayahuasca is the name for the plant and the tea made from it, not the name of anything that is orally active DMT.

  3. Actually changaya as the only word I could use for it when trying to get a name for the blog spot account as changa was taken up already. I never called it changaya… I believe that was you that called it that. It never referenced as such on the site out side of the address fro the blog.

    There are so many things I could correct you on, or misconceptions I could attempt to clear up, and try to achieve more clarity in our mutual understanding of our opinions, but I am not sure that would make any real difference. The ayahuasca forum (which I used to be a moderator on) has a fairly focused political agenda in their view on DMT and its extraction. I have been told and in many private discussions on the ayahausca forum where this point was the focus. The extraction of DMT (even with lad grade green non-petrochemical D-Limmonene) if viewed as a threat to the legalization and legitimization of ayahuasca use in legalized religious settings. DMT is placed often times by the ayahuasca community as being some how sacrilegious, a drug, a profane chemical that has something to do with elves or some such thing. Any attempt to connect a extract of DMT with any part of B. Caapi would there for seem to be even doubly threatening to this politically motivated stance on DMT and its extracts, due to the fact that it is viewed as a potential threat to the ayahuasca churches and the ayahuasca community in general in their work to legitimize their spiritual practices out side of their South American origins. I personally view this entire article as politically motivated spin doctoring to create as much distance from changa and its extracted DMT sources as possible from traditional ayahuasca. Makes me sad to see it honestly, I wish that people did not wish to see changa as some sort of division between tea and smoke. From my stance Changa is a smokable form of ayahuasca… But your are welcome to your opinions.
    Blessings

  4. “Hi Mark. Thanks for your response. Thats exactly the point of the piece. Ayahuasca is the name for the plant and the tea made from it, not the name of anything that is orally active DMT.”

    And the tea made from it also contains DMT additives such as P. Viridis. Changa has DMT and B. Caapi in it just like these brews that are made with hot water. Ayahuasca when it has DMT brewed into it (most brews are brewed with the DMT continuing plants added to it during the brewing) is also often times referred to as AYAHUASCA… or what ever name it is called traditionally.
    My Use of the word ayahuasca on my site on changa is in reference to this tea we call ayahausca that is brewed with both DMT containing plants and harmala containing plants. Which I have also communicated several different times both on the RS site and on the site.

    Also I must say that quotes from written work can be easily taken out of context from the entire work itself and easily used to confuse the readers of the criticism. Which ironically is often the case in politics which I sincerely believe is the motive behind this critique.

  5. sacha says:

    Excellent response, Mariri.

    “When people speak of ayahuasca, they are not generally speaking of the vine B. Caapi. They are generally speaking of the synergistic complex of two or more plants that has come to be known as ayahuasca”

    Of course, that depends on the context. The same person can say “I am going to drink Ayahuasca” one day and “I am going to plant Ayahuasca” another day. But when speaking of the Ayahuasca brew, most people mean a brew in which B. caapi vine is the indispensable ingredient, though other plants are likely to be added. ( “Most people,” of course, includes South Americans.)

    There is a reason why the admixture plants are called “admixtures.” From the first western discovery by Richard Spruce, reports by anthropologists and explorers consistently describe the brew as made of the Ayahuasca vine, with admixtures often added. (“Often” is the word used by ethnobotanist Richard Schultes, who experienced more different indigenous Ayahuasca cultures than anyone in history.) Never is the vine represented as the admixture and the leaf as the main ingredient in the brew. (In fact, the word “chakruna” in Amazonian Quechua actually *means* “admixture,” and, where I lived, with Amazonian Quechua speakers, that name was applied to other plants besides P. viridis.)

    There is a reason why over a century passed from the time the western world discovered Ayahuasca till the time it occurred to western researchers to take a look at the admixture plants. It took so long because, everywhere anthropologists and explorers witnessed Indians making and using the brew, the Indians presented the vine as they key ingredient of the brew, while the admixtures were optional, variable, and described as helpers. The very name “ayahuasca” contains the word “vine.” Almost every Ayahuasca culture names the brew after the vine — a few have a distinct word for the brew, but not a single culture has been found to name the brew for the DMT plants. Indigenous Amazonians, and mestizo ayahuasqueros as well, have many intricate distinctions and classifications of the vine, but no similar attention is given to creating fine classifications of the DMT plants. (There are articles with more details elsewhere on this site.)

    A few decades ago, western researchers discovered the DMT component and decided that they had found the “answer” to ayahuasca: it means “DMT made orally active through the use of an MAOI (any MAOI)” During the 1990s, the western psychedelic world learned about Ayahuasca through that vector, and thus took on the idea that Ayahuasca was simply orally active DMT. But that has been changing rapidly in the last decade as more and more westerners have traveled to the Amazon and learned about the Amazonian practice.

    So even if “most people” means “most western people,” (at least, those few who actually know the word “Ayahuasca”), the suggestion that even among most westerners Ayahuasca means simply “MAOI + DMT” is a notion that is rapidly becoming obsolete. To try to revive that fading definition of Ayahuasca would be a step backwards in the evolution of the human relationship with Ayahuasca.

    Although Ayahuasca leaves are an ingredient of Changaya, it is implied that other, non-Ayahuasca MAOIs could be used with almost the same effect. If it is possible to dispense with the Ayahuasca in Changaya, then Changaya cannot be called Ayahuasca. It might with more justice be called an evolution of Changa, because adding the Ayahuasca leaves may help to bring Changa closer to the Ayahuasca spirit, thus birthing a new form of Changa called Changaya.

    I don’t understand why the author does not believe that Changa or “Changaya” can stand on its own, without an attempt t0 redefine Ayahuasca.

  6. “But the author has asserted that an actual living organism – the Ayahuasca vine, including its surrounding, living human traditions, has evolved… into a smoking blend. ”

    I really don’t believe that nor did I say it or allude to that. I have said something very very different from that… and if you read all of what has been written on the web site http://www.changaya.blogspot.com and not just the introductory article published on reality sandwich you will find that I have indeed NOT asserted this at all.

    I could go on and on… but as I said I really do not see the point.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Nice essay.

    One need not wax anthropologically or philosophically to see that changa and ayahuasca are two separate things, although such musings add clarity to the situation. This isn’t to slight changa, but it is confusing, misleading, and ultimately unsupportable to conflate them in one’s mind.

    Smoking changa and thinking that you’ve had ayahuasca makes about as much sense as drinking ayahuasca and thinking you’ve actually smoked changa. I’m sure everyone sees the absurdity of the latter, so it’s surprising that some don’t see the absurdity of the former, considering they are logically the same thing.

    I’m also a bit surprised that after 10 years of intense use and exploration amongst western users of entheogens that some people still think of ayahuasca as “orally active DMT.” Even if one doesn’t feel comfortable adopting an indigenous perspective on plants and plant teachers, there is still the evidence of one’s own experience, and that evidence argues unambiguously against a definition of the tea being “orally active DMT.”

    I have nothing against DMT, changa, ayahuasca, or any entheogenic/psychedelic preparation, but the issues these preparations raise are deep and complex, so one should at least begin with clarity on the simple things!

  8. admin says:

    Chen Chow Dorge, you say you didn’t allude to Ayahuasca evolving into a smoking blend, yet you wrote “The sacred medicine… has become Changa.” I’m sorry if there has been crossed wires but with many passages of your essay that go like this, its hard not to take you in this way.

    Most people understand vaporised DMT as something different to Ayahuasca. Someone working with smoking Changa would not claim they’ve drank Ayahuasca. Someone drinking Ayahuasca would not claim to have smoked Changa. There is a simple distinction between them which is not neccesary to remove. They are very different preperations, and their effect and duration are very distinct. Changa is an evolution of the delivery system for a smoked DMT experience, not an evolution of Ayahuasca…

    The original RS essay was worth responding to because a drive to conflate the two seemed to be at the heart of the essay, rather than much info on the changa recipe or experience itself.

  9. carpedmt says:

    Most people I know seem to agree that Changa is not an evolution or mutation of Ayahuascam – but DMT.

    For many, I think it is largely as simple that the ayahuasca vine or leaf in Changa extends the experience and provides a pleasant afterglow.

    Generally in the vine or leaf form Ayahuasca is the primary plant admixture of Changa. Depending on your knowledge and understanding of plants, this alchemy can be taken quite far.

    People in Australia were never looking to experience Ayahuasca in a smoked form due to scarcity of vine, because they could not obtain vine to drink (which is not true, as people do import it in and there are quite a few older vines which people regularly prune from)

    Changa came about as a way that people could smoke DMT they extracted from Acacia, and make friends with that state – rather than being frightened by dealing with how to smoke the freebase crystal and the often extreme states faced, which most people do not seek to repeat too often!

    Yes, the Changa state is very similar to an Ayahuasca state. It is a mini-ayahuasca experience and has inordinate value in its capacity to reach anyone, anywhere and provide illumination from the plants!

    And this is unlike Ayahuasca brew, which is inaccessible to most of the earths citizens due to cost and local inavailability.

    But Changa is not anything like a replacement for Ayahuasca in my opinion, it is a phenomena of itself – its own very unique “thing”

    Most people who are serious, find they need more time to go in there, and they can do that via the brew. What we do see, is people starting smoking Changa and then being comfortable with those states and often wanting to go deeper with the brew.

    People who are more serious about smoking DMT, will often make a 50% blend of Ayahuasca leaf or vine or Blue Lotus or just keep smoking the crystal in a bucket bong!

    That someone as experienced with Ayahuasca as TIHKAL has been so inspired by Changa, is something we can all take note of surely.

    Yes, I do think there is some prejudice against DMT on this site. And part of that is that DMT is clearly an illegal drug in the eyes of law enforcement and perhaps a more subtle aspect of that prejudice, is that DMT is not anchored in any sort of culturally sanctioned tradition like Ayahuasca – where a kind of ontological and theological certainty and a stability often lies – within a particularly church or shamanic practise.

    But I think we can all agree that DMT has a role to play, in waking people up! And that without DMT as an admixture in Ayahuasca brews – it cannot provide the same depth of work.

    Yet, DMT is not superior to Ayahuasca, just as Iboga is not superior to Ayahuasca – they are just different medicines.

    What you get out of them is what is important here. One person’s Changa or experience can be as life changing and transformational as one persons Ayahuasca or Iboga experience – often moreso.

    For example, I have seen people give up decades long drug addictions after one smoke of Changa and totally change their diet from a McDonalds and Coke only one to fresh juices and healthy eating.

    So, on the one hand, I think it is “good” that TIHKAL, is giving Changa its own room to become culturally accepted and understood – on the other hand, I do think that strongly associating Changa to Ayahuasca in order to cement its validity and value is unecessary. And it is clear his exact language has somewhat offended those who purport to value linguistic precision, but may not always acheive it!

    And also, I do think this article sublely and not subtlely disparages the possibilities of a preparation such as Changa.

    Quote:

    “Different plants, such as Jurema, Haoma, Rue, and Acacia have their own names and their own unique teachings, if one is working with the plant and not a refined isolate.”

    This implies that any refined isolate cannot have any unique teaching, and therefore meaning.

    In my experience, yes, plants lose something when extracted (not always isolated), but not their teaching!

    Quote:


    A refined DMT alkaloid extract from acacia or mimosa (in the great majority of cases, extracted with non-lab grade petrochemicals), upon burnt caapi leaves, is a very different matter than imbibing an aqueous solution of the entire water soluble aspect of plants.”

    Changa is not extracted upon burnt caapi leaves. Caapi leaves or vine are burnt when smoked!

    And then we get the possibility to get tied up in plant politics and semantic conflict… lets not lose sight of the power of all the plants and the possible alchemies we can go into here with them.

    Julian.

  10. Thanks Julian… we don’t agree on every point, but still thanks none the less. I would love to continue talk with you else where on the subject.
    “And then we get the possibility to get tied up in plant politics and semantic conflict… lets not lose sight of the power of all the plants and the possible alchemies we can go into here with them.”

    well said…

    On another note…
    I have no desire to continue discussing this on this site, as I feel that it is a biased set up by the ayahuasca forum to further their political agenda in stigmatizing DMT and any thing that has to do with a DMT extract not done with hot water… sigh.
    SO I will no longer be posting responses here. This can be a nice place for the ayahuasca forum to continue to publicly bash my work or changa or what have you to continue supporting their political agenda enjoy… but I will not be participating.

  11. Anonymous says:

    “I have no desire to continue discussing this on this site, as I feel that it is a biased set up by the ayahuasca forum to further their political agenda in stigmatizing DMT and any thing that has to do with a DMT extract not done with hot water”

    I guess that just proves that people see what they want to see, and that–despite much persuasive and poetic rhetoric to the opposite–the entheogens, by themselves, do little on that score.

    I’ve seen absolutely nothing in this little thread that “stigmatizes” DMT. Quite the opposite in fact. But you were obviously predisposed to–nay, desirous of–conflict. For some strange reason you seem to want the ayahuasca forum to have some kind of “political agenda.”

    I guess I’m glad you got what you wanted!

  12. Kiambote’

    The plants do the speaking’ we do the listening!
    There is no taking away of this fact’ within the “Name Game”
    Would be good to see more working with the plants and spiritual alchemies’ than these attempts at pulling to pieces’ Each others personal perceptions” about the name game!
    No one has right on the plants’ the plants have their own agenda’ and plants like Ayahuasca Vine and Iboga belong to the whole world!
    If folks wish to “Smoke” Aya vine to help prolong the “spice” experience’ then this is my book is “Working with the plants”
    More “Work” less talk’ and much less attachments to names and supposed ownership and degradations of peoples workings of spiritual alchemies!

    Yet again I SEE of why I no come here!

    Ayahuasca belongs to the world and no one has ownership or right over a plant’

    Nsala Malekun

    Nganga Nobunoni +

  13. admin says:

    Nganga,
    Yes, the plants do the talking. Its not all about ‘DMT’. This is the entire point of the article. There is no bias ‘against’ DMT except in the sense of reducing Ayahuasca phenomenology to a DMT effect. Even during the early 1980′s, explorers of trytamine and beta-carbolines combinations such as Gracie and Zarkov recognised what a deep signature beta-cabolines, and the different beta-carboline bearing plants had on entheogenic experiences. For instance, the difference of character between Rue and Caapi.

    Westerners have fixated upon DMT due to the 1990′s wave of psychedelic neoshamanic literature, which at the time was not deeply versed in an indigenous cosmology and context for working with plants, and so we risk loosing an understanding of the plants themselves as spiritual entities, as biochemical communicators within the deep ecology.

    “In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery”

    There is a big difference in the effects and biochemical signature of changa and Ayahuasca. Critiquing this conflation is not about pulling someones perception apart. If you write on a high traffic publication of RS and attempt to re-define Ayahuasca according to an ‘effect’, then you are going to get a response which simply aims to elucidate a different perspective.

    Is there something wrong with that? It sounds like you’ve already come here with some sort of bias, Nganga. If you honor Dorge’s view then maybe you have an open enough mind to honor other perspectives too?

  14. It is no doubt the vine that is creating all of this anyways’ so no fret over how folks ingest it!
    The plants have their own agenda working in symbiosis with human conciousness!
    All i can see is respect for the plants’ the ritual and the life!

    I am sorry but without googling Dorge’ I have no clue’ I no read other peoples philosophies’
    I work with my plants’ speak with Iboga and Ayahuasca conciousness and create of our own!

    All good stuff upon your workings’ you no doubt got a lot of study there’
    I suggest to you to take this away with yourself and put it through ceremony’ allow the plants to give you some reflections other than of what you see of other peoples views and ideas are and of how they rub against you’
    I too must be a reflection of you as you are of me’ you no doubt asked to meet ME/other reflections of yourself so you can learn’

    Good Evening’

    Nganga Nobunoni +

  15. admin says:

    Nganga

    “Way simpler to walk through “Ritual” and partake of Ceremony with choice plants and get it all sorted out’ instead of chewing it for weeks’”

    I think its a bit rich to assume anyones level of work with the plants here.

    “Why The Warfare! Would you wish to wage warfare upon me becasue I make and then smoke my own combo mixes of light and shadows’ Ingest of my own personal self found potions’?”

    There is no warfare except in the eye of the beholder. If you feel expressing a different outlook is warfare then I suggest you take a look at NVC, non-violent communication. Theres a way to express divergent ideas without it being warfare. Friends or brothers give each other the gift of their true mind, not keeping silent through some sort of complicity. So, you see what you want to see.

    People who diet with Ayahuasca, work with it consistently, or live within the traditions or lineages of South America do not need someone telling them their sacrament has ‘evolved’ into something else. Even if said person is full of the wonders of their new ally. Is this so difficult to understand ?

  16. Kiambote’

    >>>People who diet with Ayahuasca, work with it consistently, or live within the traditions or lineages of South America do not need someone telling them their sacrament has ‘evolved’ into something else. Even if said person is full of the wonders of their new ally. Is this so difficult to understand ?<<<

    Then what happened?
    Aya vine is evolving all over the planet'
    It takes no thing away that Aya is still a sacrement' in any form that it is ingested'
    The thing I am attempting to explain here is it is the plant through the action with human conciousness that causes of change' it is the way of DNA' it adapts'
    Would you wish to take away the right from people to seek and find healings through these plants' all over the world' just because of traditional ways'

    I would like to also say' I disagree with some of the postings made by the "changralero"
    Aya vine is staying Aya vine' but people are finding new ways' outside of traditional settings to seek healing and communion with the plants and the spirits'
    There is no disrespect' the vine would soon tell you if there was'

    We do well to speak and stick together' in my work and my life I work closely with these plants' they give people a chance to become strong again' away from addictions and the chaos of the lives they have created for themselves'
    The plants show of what needs changing' then' hopefuly' we do with intent nessesary and work with the plant alie' attempting to learn and grow in the 'symbiosis'
    Ways of ingestion outside of traditional settings is down to the individual' we that know the plants are here to guide'
    We all found our own paths to these beautiful alies' there is no disrespect in anyone working with them' for I see it is the plants that teach of respect as we work closer with them!
    Thank you for your time and the debate'

    Nsala Malekun

    Nganga Nobunoni +

  17. Daniel Mirante says:

    “Would you wish to take away the right from people to seek and find healings through these plants’ all over the world’ just because of traditional ways’”

    This sort of outlook is not expressed anywhere in the essay itself. And there is never any mention that changa is ‘bad’, a closer reading is that its incredible that there are all of these different plants and mixtures and they all deserve their recognition, not as ‘analogues’ but as their own entities and spirits.

    This article is not to attack anyones practices and beliefs, but it tries to elucidate where in the West we have underplayed the role of the Ayahuasca vine within our Western notion of Ayahuasca, which has, since the early 1990′s wave of entheogenic literature, been very DMT-centric. Such an view has begun to lead onto the attitude that smoking DMT or Changa is ‘the evolution of Ayahuasca’ or ‘smokable Ayahuasca’.

    In many peoples minds this is a form of cultural appropriation, because even though there is this push to call the smoke some sort of evolution of Ayahuasca, it removes the central role of the Ayahuasca vine as a medicinal tea and purgative, and makes it- at the very most- a secondary ingredient.

    So really Changa and Aya are different medicines rather than ‘the same’. In the forests of the Amazon its very clear what Ayahuasca is. But here on the internet any drive to either conflate them or keep them distinct could indeed be viewed as ‘political’.

  18. Juremapreta says:

    Many years ago, after my 21st ayahuasca experience, I had the opportunity to have a smoked DMT session. At that time, I was very predjudiced against chemical extractions, but I tried it anyway out of curiosity as an explorer of altered states. Much to my suprise, the first thing that happened was that I was shown a mental “video clip” of my ayahuasca experiences, how each one built upon the previous one in a progressive manner. Then Spirit took me to another space and said “this is the next step in your development”.
    From this, another decade of drinking ayas and leading groups and periodically delving into Xanga, I tentatively concluded that through the DMT molecule is the clearest, most direct route to Spirit. However, the aya vine is of utmost importance in integrating and grounding DMT experience, and failure to use it [or its lesser cousin analogues can lead to serious health issues and premature death.

  19. Al-Qemi says:

    I am so pleased to see this essay with someone besides myself asking people to consider the Vine as its own being, with its own intelligence and wisdom, and stop being so fixated on the reduction of the whole Ayahuasca experience as only about DMT.

    In my personal life and business, I have worked with the myriad of plants that can go into the brew, connecting with each as an independent and coherent being, and I have learned just as much from the Vine alone as I have from any mixture, despite it’s supposed “lack of active psychedelic ingredients”. DMT is but one way that the plants place their communications into molecular forms that we can receive. Each form speaks in a different voice, with different stories to tell, and the more of them we accept and connect with, the wiser we can become.

    Strength & Wisdom,
    Al-Qemi

  20. adrian says:

    Is it safe to add nymphea caerulea to my straight ayahusca batch? I plan on boiling 40grams of red cappi and taking 3 grams of syrian rue in a capsule an hour befor i take my ayahasca. DO you have any information of whats not safe to add to ayahuasca. thank you

  21. Sankenmeni says:

    I guess there are two things that bother me about this article, both by their absence.

    First, there is a great deal of work on the politics of the appropriation of “native culture,” Brown’s “Who Owns Native Culture?” (Harvard UP) is a great starting point. Wallis’ “Shamans/Neo-Shamans” doesn’t discuss ayahuasca, but it’s required reading for anyone looking for a more political critique of contemporary appropriations of native spiritual sites, materials and narratives. It’s a shame we don’t get to hear what the people whose culture is supposedly being appropriated have to say, nor from the anthropologists and activists who are working on the ground.

    Second, I don’t think that conflation is a very useful term here – ayahuasca is, I think, better seen as a “hybrid material.” This is, at root, a conflict between the modern and premodern.

    An influential, though controversial, French philosopher of science and modernity, Bruno Latour, writes extensively about the idea of hybridity:

    The hypothesis of this essay is that the word “modern” designates two sets of entirely different practices which must remain distinct if they are to remain effective, but have recently begun to be confused. The first set of practices, by “translation,” creates mixtures between entirely new types of beings, hybrids of nature and culture. The second, by “purification,” creates two entirely distinct ontological zones: that of human beings on
    the one hand; that of nonhumans on the other. Without the first set, the practices of purification would be fruitless or pointless. Without the second, the work of translation would be slowed down, limited, or even ruled out.

    (diagram

    What link is there between the work of translation or mediation and that of purification? …My hypothesis — which remains too crude — is that the second has made the first possible: the more we forbid ourselves to conceive of hybrids, the more possible their interbreeding becomes – such is the paradox of the moderns, which the exceptional situation in which we find ourselves today allows us finally to grasp. The second question has to do with premoderns, with the other types of culture. My hypothesis – once again too simple – is that by devoting themselves to conceiving of hybrids, the other cultures have excluded their proliferation.” (Latour, We have never been Modern.) http://books.google.com/books?id=TzQAPY8

    I find the literal work of “purification” in the production of alkaloid extracts VERY resonant with Latour’s use of the word. In the “appropriation” of aya, etc, and the scientific discovery of the processes through which the “essence” of the plant can be isolated, Latour’s two worlds, “that of human beings on the one hand; that of nonhumans on the other,” the place of native peoples is unstable. I think there is a tendency for the “aya scene” to try to purify native culture too – while at the same time, using a lot of scientific terms, thus creating a hybrid. This hybrid has modern and premodern, human/non-human aspects; indigenous peoples, certainly today in cosmopolitan sites like Iquitos, fall awkwardly across these boundaries, and hence risk exclusion, I think, from *both* ontological worlds…

    PS: FTA: “Unless we want to inadvertantly decimate a living taxonomical, historical, and indigenous definition, it is useful to learn the individual names of entheogenic plants and not conflate them. With so little indigenous knowledge left in the world, we would do well to respect and preserve the diversity of knowledge, language and tradition.”

    I can think of several instances in which there is a substantial disjuncture between botanical names and ethnocategories!! For instance, the classification of the Cyperus spp. (esp articulatus) by the Shipibo, into different
    “wasté” subtypes (eg. noi rao, the love herb; kené rao, the plant that teaches the Shipibo their geometric designs). But it’s really with the idea of “native taxonomies” that I take issue – taxonomy is one of the defining features of modernity, and I think we need to be wary of assuming that native peoples also divide their world into neat boxes, as we moderns do.

    And to end on a positive note, “we would do well to respect and preserve the diversity of knowledge, language and tradition” – a thousand times YES!!!

    “So little indigenous knowledge left in the world?” Perhaps. The aya scene in general needs to take a radical look at how it relates to indigenous peoples (and their knowledgeS), I feel. How many people do you know, including those who have been blessed with the opportunity to work with native healers in the Amazon or elsewhere, who are fluent (or even stumbling) in their teachers’ native language, if that’s not a European tongue? Every time a Western student is described as “more Shipibo (or whoever) than the Shipibo (or whoever)” by another Western drinker – and that happens rather often – it reminds me, sadly, of how unconscious most of the scene is of the importance of the qualities of their relations with the First Peoples whose medicines we are all drawn to.

    This is changing, though slowly. The Kayapi lodge in Ecuador which was recently reviewed in the New York Times, is attached to a UNESCO award-winning ecotourism lodge which is owned and controlled by the native people of the area (rather than a foreign company or single shaman). Interestingly, a few years ago, the community behind the lodge said that they did *not* want to share their shamanism with tourists, as it was both too sacred and too hard to control. I’d be fascinated to learn what made them change their minds!!

    So – look closely at the lodge you’re considering, if you have the opportunity to come to the Amazon. Beautiful though their medicine songs are, the native peoples of the world deserve to have their voices heard in this world, as loudly as on the spiritual plane.

    Kawe josho honibo!!

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