Ayahuasca for Americans

In another follow-up post, I offer this article from National Geographic describing the author's (Kira Salak) experiences down in the Peruvian Amazon drinking ayahuasca with an - *gulp* - American shaman. To be fair, the ceremonies were also attended by an old Indian shaman who had trained the American over the course of many years. Now the guy brings other Americans down to be healed by the powerful drink. The article details the physical experience, and offers an example of one of the many possible benefits for westerners - ayahuasca proved the most efficacious at treating the author's struggles with depression. Thanks to contributor re-mind for the heads up on this one...
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  1. Anonymous11:23 PM

    Can Americans (from the US) or Europeans for that matter really be trained as shamans? Are they ever really a true shaman - or is it just a new scam for the tourists?

  2. It's a really hard question actually. If you say no (which is my first instinct), then you run the risk of essentializing what might really be a learned trade (just like any healer or believer in a certain faith, for example). But if you say yes, then it seems some sanctity is lost.

  3. It is a tough question. Shamans typically undergo training over the course of many years, and there seem to be levels or layers to this learning. So... anthropologists and other adventurers have been getting "trained" now for 30+ years, but - and this is a big but - they seem to get trained in a season, perhaps 6 months or a year (and I am generalizing here). So perhaps these people are sort of being initiated in some way (like the first year of grad school or something), and falsely proclaiming to thereafter be shamans.


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