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Singing to the Plants: A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon - Stephan Beyer

$29.95
SKU: BKI-0826347290

Product Dimensions: 530 Pages Paperback

Availability: In stock

Quick Overview:

In the Upper Amazon, mestizos are the Spanish-speaking descendants of Hispanic colonizers and the indigenous peoples of the jungle. Some mestizos have migrated to Amazon towns and cities, such as Iquitos and Pucallpa; most remain in small villages, their houses perched on stilts on the shores of the rivers that are their primary means of travel. Here in the jungle, they have retained features of the Hispanic tradition, including a folk Catholicism and traditional Hispanic medicine. And they have incorporated much of the religious tradition of the Amazon, especially its healing, sorcery, shamanism, and the use of potent plant hallucinogens, including ayahuasca. The result is a uniquely eclectic shamanist culture that continues not only to fascinate outsiders with its brilliant visionary art but also to attract thousands of seekers each year with the promise of visionary experiences of their own.

Ayahuasca shamanism is now part of global culture. The visionary ayahuasca paintings of Pablo César Amaringo are available to a world market in a sumptuous coffee-table book; international ayahuasca tourists exert a profound economic and cultural pull on previously isolated local practitioners; ayahuasca shamanism, once the terrain of anthropologists, is the subject of novels and spiritual memoirs. Ayahuasca shamans perform their healing rituals in Ontario and Wisconsin.

Singing to the Plants sets forth, in accessible form, just what this shamanism is about -- what happens at an ayahuasca healing ceremony, how the apprentice shaman forms a spiritual relationship with the healing plant spirits, how sorcerers inflict the harm that the shaman heals, and the ways that plants are used in healing, love magic, and sorcery. The work emphasizes both the uniqueness of this highly eclectic and absorptive shamanism -- plant spirits dressed in surgical scrubs, extraterrestrial doctors speaking computer language -- and its deep roots in shamanist beliefs and practices, both healing and sorcery, common to the Upper Amazon. The work seeks to understand this form of shamanism, its relationship to other shamanisms, and its survival in the new global economy, through anthropology, ethnobotany, cognitive psychology, legal history, and personal memoir.

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"Eminently readable, clear, and engrossing... This is really outstanding, important work. I would not hesitate to say that this could become one of the classics of its kind." --Ka?an Arik, PhD, University of Chicago, author of Shamanism, Culture and the Xinjiang Kazak: A Native Narrative of Identity

"The author is a consummate scholar, a compelling and elegant writer, an authority on hallucinogens... His rare combination of qualities gives multiple dimensions to the story he tells--spiritual, anthropological, and political. Impossible to put down once you pick it up." --Wendy Doniger, DPhil, PhD, University of Chicago Divinity School, author of Dreams, Illusion, and Other Realities

"A rare mixture of exhaustive scholarship and gripping first person account... Find room in your backpack. You'll want to return to this one again and again as your journey unfolds." --Richard Doyle, PhD, Penn State University, author of The Ecodelic Hypothesis: Plants, Rhetoric and the Evolution of the Noösphere

"Encyclopedic in scope, theoretically nuanced, eminently readable, and thoroughly spellbinding. A tour de force... the definitive work on this topic." --Bonnie Glass-Coffin, PhD, Utah State University, author of The Gift of Life: Female Spirituality and Healing in Northern Peru

"This is a classic volume that provides an unsurpassed understanding of the healing power of shamanism, its use of spiritual rituals and visionary plants, its light and dark sides, its sophistication and humor." --Stanley Krippner, PhD, Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, co-author of Spiritual Dimensions of Healing

"The real deal--scholarly and quite compellingly written... Treated as an apprentice, the author was able to gain insights into the rituals, beliefs, and practices that form the social context and the inner world of shamanism." --David Lukoff, PhD, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, author of "Visionary Spiritual Experiences and Mental Disorders"

"Elegantly written... incorporating thoughtful analyses of psychological, cultural, and spiritual perspectives. A very valuable contribution to the literature." --Ralph Metzner, PhD, Green Earth Foundation, author/editor of Sacred Vine of Spirits and Sacred Mushroom of Visions

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