“Gladness of heart is the very life of a person, and the joyfulness of a man prolongeth his days.”
In the early 1990s I was introduced to “plant medicine” by friends of mine who had spent time with shamans in the jungles of Peru and had invited them to bring their rituals and ceremonies to the California desert. I don’t know why I felt called to attend but I did—in large part because I trusted the integrity and wisdom of the people who were hosting the event. I went on to participate in about a half dozen ceremonies over a period of eight years.
The name “Ayahuasca” means “Vine of the Soul” in Quechua, the language of the indigenous peoples in the area of the Andes that was once home to the Inca Empire. It is a brew concocted of the vine and a few other plants native to that area. The mixture creates a psychoactive substance that, when ingested, induces a spiritual experience.
There are those, I know, who are skeptical of the validity of a spiritual experience that involves any use of substances. The use of such substances is an integral part of the spiritual life of many indigenous peoples. My own experience affirms the authentic power of these sacred substances.