From The Natural Mind by Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D.Here ... is a description by a Peruvian youth who was captured by Amahuaca Indians of the preparation of ayahuasca by the tribal medicine man. The Amahuaca made this powerful hallucinogenic drink (also known as yagé and caapi) from the thick stems of a woody vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and the leaves of a shrub (probably Diplopterys cabrerana):...the serious preparations started, accompanied by almost continuous chanting. First the vine was cut into one-foot long pieces with the stone ax and pounded on a flat stone with a large wooden mallet until it was well mashed.This kind of ritual seems to protect individuals and groups from the negative effects of drugs, possibly by establishing a framework of order around their use. At least, people who use drugs ritually tend not to get into trouble with them, whereas people who abandon ritual and use drugs wantonly tend to have problems.
The old man chanted:"Nixi honi [i.e., the vine whose extract produces visions]A layer of mashed vine pieces was then carefully arranged in the bottom of a large new clay pot. On top of this was laid a layer of the leaves in the shape of a fan. And as he did this [he] chanted:
boding spirit of the forest
origin of our understanding
give up your magic power
to our potion
illuminate our mind
bring us foresight
show us the designs of our enemies
expand our knowledge
expand our understanding
of our forest.""Bush with markings of the serpentThen alternating layers of mashed vine and leaves were put in place until the pot was more than half full. Clear water from the stream was then added until the plant material was well covered.
give us your leaves
for our potion
bring us favor
of the boa
source of good fortune."
A slow fire was started under the pot and the cooking was maintained at a very slow simmer for many hours until the liquid was reduced to less than half.
When the cooking process was completed the fire was removed and, after cooling, the plant material was withdrawn from the liquid. After several hours of further cooling and settling, the clear green liquid was carefully dipped off into small clay pots, each fitted with a tight cover.
The entire process took three days, being done with utter calmness and deliberation. The interminable chants accompanied each step, invoking the spirits of the vine, the shrub, and the other forest spirits.
This carefully and reverently prepared extract provided the potion for many subsequent ayahuasca sessions in the peaceful and secluded forest glade, sessions that progressed to incredible vision fantisies.
...Here is his report of an ayahuasca session called by the chief, who was about to die:It was a select group of twelve that went to the secluded glade in the forest. It included some of the older men and several of the best hunters. The rituals and chants were similar to previous occasions, perhaps a little more elaborate. From the prepatory chants of the fragrant smoke and evocation of the spirit of the honi xuma [i.e., of the vine that provides the drug] it was evident that Chief Xumu was attempting in this session to fix in my consciousness all the important or essential circumstances of their tribal life. There seemed to be an intense feeling of rapport among the group, all dedicated to the purpose of the old man.Evidently, these Indians experience the collective unconscious as an immediate reality, not just as an intellectual construct. It is significant that this experience of shared consciousness holds a most important place in the society. In fact, as a sacramental ritual, it is the basis of tribal unity because it proves and confirms the supposition that every person in the tribe is the same as every other person in the most fundamental way. I believe also that this kind of unconscious communication is the channel through which the wholeness of a healer can be transmitted to a sick person.
I was aware of the fragile hand that poured the magic fluid and passed the cups around to each. We drank in unison and settled into a quiet reverie of joint communion, savoring the fragrant smoke in the stillness of the silent forest. A quiet chant held our conscious thought together as the potion took effect. A second cup was passed to intensify the reaction.
Color visions, indefinite in form, began to evolve into immense vistas of enchanting beauty. Soon subtle but evocative chants led by the chief took control of the progression of our new visions. Embellishments to both the chants and the visions came from the participants.
Soon the procession of animals began, starting with the jungle cats. Some of these I had not seen before. There was a tawny puma, several varieties of the smaller spotted ocelot, then a giant rosetta-spotted jaguar. A murmur from the assembly indicated recognition. This tremendous animal shuffled along with head hanging down, mouth open and tongue lolling out. Hideous, large teeth filled the open mouth. An instant change of demeanor to vicious alertness caused a tremor to run through the circle of phantom-viewers.
From a memory recess in my brain there emerged with the stimulation of the cats an experience from my past. On a trip to the Rio Putumayo a year before coming to the Jurua to cut caucho [rubber], I had come face to face on a forest path with a rare black jaguar. It had been a terrifying experience, but I had dominated the flashing eyes of the beast and we had gone our separate ways without violence.
This mighty animal now intruded on our visions and a shudder passed through us all. As before, the demon of the forest went on his way. Other animals, snakes, birds passed in review, each with some significant characteristic important to the Huni Kui [the tribe] in dominating the forest.
Then came scenes of combat with the hated enemy, the Guacamayos ... a procession of the feared white-robed and hooded Bolanxos, and encounters with Kariwa and Kiruana, the hated invading rubber cutters. In one vision a village was in flames, the people scattered in panic into the forest. Here Xumu, then a much younger man, killed a rubber cutter in violent hand-to-hand fighting.
Scenes in the new village, where we now lived, gradually brought the visions to an end. We awoke to shafting sunlight and morning bird song penetrating both to our consciousness and to the place of our visions.
As I have explained before, it is impossible to describe satisfactorily the content and depth of feeling that captures the mind. During the visions I was aware within myself of a great feeling of empathy for these people in their struggle to dominate the forces of nature for their daily living and to defend themselves against their enemies.
A calabash of thick fruit gruel passed around by one of the guards restored our bodily sensations to the daily world of our existence, and in a subdued mood we returned to the village.
Everyone seemed aware of the source of the black jaguar sequence of visions. It left a strong impression on them and resulted in my being given the name Ino Moxo, Black Panther.
Of course, the drug does not cause this effect. It is a natural capacity of man's unconscious mind. Nor is there anything special about these Indians, except their relative lack of attachment to ego and intellect. Not only do I think each of us can share consciousness, I think all of us are already doing it all the time. We do not have to learn to be telepathic; we just have to notice that we already are by letting telepathic events into our waking awareness.
Extrasensory perceptions are not unusual talents possessed by specially gifted individuals. They are normal unconscious events, and scientists who attempt to document them by laboratory experiements will never get to experience them directly. Lama Govinda, member of a Tibetan Buddhist order, says of Tibetans:...[They] rely a great deal on their dream consciousness, and they are seldom proved wrong in their judgement.Shamanism
Besides dreams they have many other methods of contacting the deeper layers of their mind: meditation, trance, certain forms of oracles, and various natural and "supernatural" (psychic) portents. All these methods have been tried out for millenniums, and their results have been found sufficiently satisfactory to guide people in their daily live. Tibetans would be greatly surprised if one would doubt these facts, which are matters of practical experience and have nothing to do with beliefs or theories. To them the attempts of modern psychologists, who try to "prove" extrasensory perception by scientific methods, would appear crude and laughable, one might just as well try to prove the existence of light which is visible to all but the blind. The circumstances under which these modern experiments are carried out are in themselves the greatest hinderance to their success. In their attempt at "objectivity" they exclude the emotional and the spiritually directive elements of the human mind, without which no state of real absorbtion or concentration can be created. Their very attitude bars the doors of psychic perception.