Ayahuasca (aya-spirit/dead, waska-vine/rope) or Yage (ya-hey) are native Amazonian names for the jungle vine Banisteriopsis Caapi, and the medicinal (and visionary) tea prepared from it. Ayahuasca is used throughout the Upper Amazon to facilitate physical, mental and spiritual healing.
Steve Beyer’s Singing to the Plants, writes Morgan Maher, is “a wild ride out and across the jungles of mestizo shamanism. The book, and its wonderful cast of characters, curanderos, animals, plants, spirits and stories presents honest, accurate, respectful, levelheaded and, at times, outrageously marvelous descriptions of the environments and climates of mestizo shamanism in the Upper Amazon.” Morgan interviews the author.
The earliest Europeans to mention Ayahuasca were Jesuits travelling in the Amazon. One of the earliest such reports of this “diabolical potion,” written in 1737, describes it as: “an intoxicating potion ingested for divinatory and other purposes and called ayahuasca, which deprives one of his senses and, at times, of his life.”