Ancient psychedelic Ayahuasca's Brooklyn and Silicon Valley devotees


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/09/12/ancient-psychedelic-ayahuasca.html


#2

“We manifest abundance wherever we go,”

ie. “yes, drug-dealing is a very lucrative business, especially when the primary consumers are yuppies”


#3

And you are lucky if you get one good one in every 10 tries. So you will probably have to try it again. Meanwhile the hippie chick in the corner seems like she is having a good one…


#4

But can you get it in a smoothie, yet?


#5

Can they make it gluten free?


#6

Neat! I was looking for a working definition of cultural appropriation…


#7

This is the same BS that marginalized LSD until it became a “hippie drug” instead of the life saving treatment it had once been and could be today.


#8

Thanks. I’m most of the way through the article, and it looks like — outside of the noise about expensive cultural appropriation for yuppies, vomit, or comparing it to “kale” — there are a lot of similarities with the effects of psilocybin, which were also covered in a (much lauded) New Yorker article.

Specifically, people seeming to come away from these experiences better people. More open, happy, social, aware. Freed from anxieties or anger that oppressed them. Some quote in the article compared it to the effects of years of “normal” therapy. The article posed a few neurological hypotheses why it might be true, but we haven’t studied it at all to understand the reasons yet, nor have we really quantified the effects of the drug. (There have been some eye-opening studies on psilocybin, though, from the other article.)

But as long as we sneer at it as just Silicon Valley yuppies appropriating other people’s cultures, we won’t get to study it enough to find out what’s really going on.


#9

“We manifest abundance wherever we go,” she told me. Her boyfriend added, “Consciousness is its own economy.”

What? Do they communicate this way all the time and get things done or are those the last two surviving braincells firing randomly in their language center?


#10

Question 1: Will it get me laid?


#11

Sorry Sam Sam, but I’m not a supporter of what these people are doing. You want to take Ayahuasca fine by me. Bring it to the publics attention and make it a thing to do and I can’t get behind you, Like LSD, it works best under close medical and professional supervision. Without that, some people are going to be hurt and that’s just no ducky.
My worries is that these “Silicon Valley yuppies” are going to ruin it for us just like Ken Kesey, the Merry Pranksters, and Timothy Leary did. By making it about woo and spiritualist fluff, it will not be taken seriously, continue to be considered an intoxicant with no medical value, and kept out of the hands of legitimate research which might actually do some people besides making a few hippies feel better about their lives…
I see people leaving church more open, happy, and social but I don’t recommend it unless you understand how much of that is simply you and how much of that is related to social conditioning refined over the past two millennia to make you a true believer via weekly re-indoctrination. Drugs like DMT and religion are dangerous and should only be used by the informed or well supervised.


#12

“” Bergen allows that, of the nine ceremonies he’s attended, eight have been “unpleasant experiences.” But he intends to continue using ayahuasca for the rest of his life.”

Pretty much the definition of being addicted. The mind finds way to rationalize the demands of the body even when the road leads to self-destruction.


#13

Have you never met people who talk like that? It happens.

They are also likely to say that they were “gifted with” some lovely item and not “given” said lovely item. They are likely to “be with you when finished downloading coffee” because right now they are “feeling very ungrounded” need to “embrace the innate wellness of the body”.

Now, when you ask about getting things done, I have no idea on that. I’ve never known folks like this in any kind of professional capacity. On the other hand, they have vehicles, places to live, kids, jobs, so I guess they get by.


#14

[Citation needed]

If all these various drugs are doing is re-wiring the brain, then sure, your surroundings make no difference and medical supervision is probably useful if you happen to choke on your vomit.

But if the user’s mental state is a factor, then their ability to have a good/meaningful/lasting trip may well depend on their surroundings, and the atmosphere under which they took the drug.

In the psilocybin studies, the therapists were all trained, in part, in how to allow for a “good trip.” They were just sticking the subjects in a cold, bright lab and surrounding them with people holding clipboards. Why? Because the atmosphere probably has a strong effect on the result.

Further, if LSD and psilocybin hadn’t been used by stoners and people talking about “woo and spiritual fluff,” what are the actual chances any lab would have cared enough to study them? And specifically to study them on “spiritual” questions, such as helping terminal patients accept their own mortality?

(…Besides, nowhere above did I advocate that cultural appropriation was ok here, I just said that making fun of the folks using it allows us to dismiss it, which blinds us to the very real positives this drug might have, after real study.)


#15

"The process of making ayahuasca is beyond artisanal: it is nearly Druidical. “We pick the chacruna leaf at sunrise in this very specific way: you say a prayer and just pick the lower ones from each tree,” a lithe ayahuasquera in her early forties—British accent, long blond hair, a background in Reiki—told me about her harvests, in Hawaii. “You clean the vine with wooden spoons, meticulously, all the mulch away from the roots—they look so beautiful, like a human heart—and you pound these beautiful pieces of vine with wooden mallets until it’s fibre,” she said. “Then it’s this amazing, sophisticated process of one pot here and one pot there, and you’re stirring and you’re singing songs.”

Always sell the sizzle, not the steak.


#16

One of my favorite Future Sound of London albums includes this track titled after ayahuasca’s native common name, ‘yagé’. Listening to it suggests many things but the two that come to my mind are (1) it sure as hell sounds like these guys have done it, and (2) at about three-and-half minutes in, you realize that a pleasant experience is not guaranteed. Nor, apparently, necessary.

Corroborating this last point is an NPR interview with an ethnobotanist who described it as the most harrowing experience of his life:

RAZ: What do you remember?

PLOTKIN: Just crying and screaming and wishing I was dead.

RAZ: What did you feel like?

PLOTKIN: I was in my misery and I wanted to be put out of it. It was terrible.

RAZ: You were in pain - nausea? I mean…

PLOTKIN: All of that.

RAZ: So how did you experience death?

PLOTKIN: I saw myself die and dead, but painful and horrible and terrible. It wasn’t like I just floated to the top of the room and there I was. It was awful. And then it got worse. I ended up vomiting purple, phosphorescent scorpions.

[…]

And so afterwards, I said to the shaman, why did you do that to me? And he said, the fate of my culture, the fate of my forest is joined with that of you and your organization. I wanted you to experience death so you would never fear it again.


#17

No, the definition of addiction is being compelled to do something despite one’s intentions.

I suppose that it can, in some circumstances. What demands does Ayahuasca place upon the body? And what evidence is there that it leads to self-destruction?


#18

At least it’s American, which is more than can be said for pizza.


#19

Pff, uninformed blather, much? Psychedelics aren’t addictive.

The reason folks go back for another potentially harrowing and hellish experience is that they find these experiences extremely valuable, and the results are virtually unobtainable by any other means. The transcendence of everyday reality as we generally perceive it, and the depth of the user’s reactions give the experiences a great deal of significance and power. People have tried to explain what it’s like, but if you haven’t been there, there’s no way to understand something so ineffable.

Sure, but shrooms or acid are to high school what DMT with MAOIs is to university.

You can get it in a bong.

Like, wow, baby. From zero to peaking in 1.5 seconds.


#20

Just because some ancient tribe has been doing this for centuries and has established interesting and endearing rituals around it doesn’t make it a good idea.