What is Shamanism?


Shamanism exists across the globe in all cutlures that have a connection to spirit. Often indigenous shamanism is assisted by plant-based entheogenic (‘invoking the divine within’) sacraments; other times entering trance and higher realms is accomplished through drumming, breathing, and other modalities.
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In the Amazonian tradition, the men and women who safeguard the knowledge of the ayahuasca vine and of the spirits are the curanderos and curanderas (from the Spanish “to heal”), or as the West would call them, shamans.

Their role has been that of healer, priest and traveler between worlds, acting as intermediaries between the spiritual dimension and this world on behalf of their patients. Yet the demands of the profession and the rise of Western materialism throughout South America have seen a fall in prestige, and customers, for the curanderos.The profession, usually hereditary, was in danger of extinction before an unprecedented wave of Westerners started coming in search of ayahuasca and the healing it could provide.

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What is Ayahuasca?


Ayahuasca is a sacred plant medicine that has been used by indigenous people for millennia to heal, cleanse and purify the spirit, connecting it to the web of life. This Amazonian vine goes by the scientific name Banisteriopsis caapi and is known to contain various harmala alkaloids that are boiled up in a brew with a multitude of other plants, some of which contain the powerful hallucinogen DMT.
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Science has made cautious forays into the jungle to study the vine in it’s native setting or, as with the “Hoasca Project” in the 1990s, to study church members of groups like Uniao do Vegetal (UDV) which have been drinking ayahuasca as part of their belief system for decades. But what science cannot explain is the psychic effect of this mother of all plants, the amazing sense of the numinous and the spiritual world it opens up.

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What is DMT?

The mechanism of DMT is believed to be intimately connected to consciousness itself, where its similarity to the neurotransmitter serotonin allows it to bond to serotonin receptors in the brain and trigger hallucinogenic activity. Some medical researchers, like Jc callaway, of the department of Pharmaceutical chemistry at the university of Kuopio in Finland, believe it may be involved in producing the visual hallucinations we experience in dreaming.
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Dr. Rick Strassman, who wrote the book DMT: The Spirit Molecule about his legal research with volunteers taking DMT at the university of new Mexico in the 1990s, also suggests that a surge of DMT is released from the pineal gland at peak experiences like birth, the point of death or a near death experience, which may also explain spontaneous “contact” experiences throughout the West, whether that be with angels or aliens.

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What is Awakening?

Terence McKenna was one of the foremost proponents of the need for an “Archaic Revival” of culture. In 1989 he wrote: “Psychedelic shamans now constitute a worldwide and growing subculture of hyperdimensional explorers, many of whom are scientifically sophisticated. A landscape is coming into focus, a region still glimpsed only dimly, but emerging, claiming the attention of rational discourse–and possibly threatening to confound it.
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We may yet remember how to behave, how to take our correct place in the connecting pattern, the seamless web of all things.”

Twenty-three years later the massive global shamanic resurgence, spearheaded by the ayahuasca movement worldwide, is seeing critical mass of individuals exposed to the shamanic realms and healing the great medicine ayahuasca can provide. While the West commercialises and commodifies the ayahuasca experience, a critical mass are also being initiated into a spiritual awakening that is larger than the plants themselves, and goes straight to the core of the human experience.

You might think that ayahuasca is a niche subject but it is rapidly becoming a mainstream one that is peaking in global media. Ayahuasca could be the new global sacrament.