Ayahuasca: A Door to Reality
Among the first to cook and consume Ayahuasca for spiritual and healing needs, the Shuar are an indigenous people that live in the tropical rainforest between the upper mountains of the Andes and the rainforests and savannas of the Amazonian lowlands, in Ecuador extending to Peru. The Shuar believe this world is not real, but rather a stepping stone. Ayahuasca and other hallucinogenic plants serve as mediators that aid the journey toward the real world; they represent the doors to reality from quotidian fantasy. In a modern context, Ayahuasca and other entheogens have become many people’s way to “melt the sensation of separation” and help to eliminate the gap created by the false dualistic separation of mind and body, consciousness and matter.
Because of this amazing capability, Ayahuasca use continues to increase. One example is the experience of interview writer for VOX, Sean Illing, who traveled to Costa Rica along with 77 other people seeking out Ayahuasca as a tool for psychological healing, personal growth, and expanding consciousness. His experience reflects Ayahuasca making its way from the indigenous fringe to mainstream culture in the US and Europe. In his own words, Illing hoped to “explode his ego, feel connection to something bigger, and bring down the imaginary wall that exists between a person and the world.” This yearning need to connect and bridge the imaginary division created by the pervasive separation of mind and body, brings people down many paths including meditation, spiritual traditions, and the use of psychedelic drugs, the latter giving practitioners a glimpse of the higher truth without years of disciplined practice.
Inner Traditions’ publishing imprint Park Street Press specializes in investigating matters of consciousness, including the use of entheogens and psychedelics—and confirming that the positive transformations created by these substances can be permanent and truly life-changing for the better. We have been publishing grounded, well-researched books on Ayahuasca for more than a decade.
Visionary Ayahuasca by filmmaker Jan Kounen is a “what to expect” guide for first-time ayahuasca users paired with accounts from the author’s extensive shamanic experiences in the Amazon. Kounen's interest in Shipibo culture and shamanism developed during his
trips to Peru to shoot music videos, leading to his apprenticeship to an
ayahuasca shaman. The book describes how to prepare for the first ceremony, what to do in the days afterward, and how to maintain a shamanic healing diet. This book should be your first step prior to committing to ayahuasca.
Ayahuasca Medicine by Alan Shoemaker offers an insider’s account of the Ayahuasca tradition and its use for expanding consciousness and achieving healing through access to other dimensions of being. It also provides examples of Ayahuasca’s ability to reveal the cause of an illness, including how the author healed his mother from liver cancer. Dennis McKenna, Ph.D., ethnopharmacologist and author of Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss and coauthor of The Invisible Landscape says, “Alan Shoemaker has seen it all, and done it all. In this book he narrates his life story with humor and passion. A read sure to be of interest!”
In Psychedelic Medicine, Dr. Richard Louis Miller and his contributors explore the biochemistry of consciousness and the use of psychedelics for self-discovery and healing. They examine Dr. Charles Grob’s research on the indigenous use and therapeutic properties of Ayahuasca as well as Dr. Gabor Mate’s attempt to transport this plant medicine to a clinical setting with the help of Canada’s Department of National Health.
DMT: The Spirit Molecule is a behind-the-scenes look at U.S. Government-approved and funded clinical research at the University of New Mexico in which the author injected sixty volunteers with DMT, one of the psychoactive compounds found in Ayahuasca. He makes the bold case that DMT, naturally released by the pineal gland, facilitates the soul’s movement in and out of the body and is an integral part of the birth and death experiences, as well as the highest states of meditation and even sexual transcendence. DMT: The Spirit Molecule continues to be the standard reference and bestselling book on the effects of DMT.
Cannabis and Spirituality, edited by Stephen Gray, explores the use of marijuana in a wide range of spiritual practices. Chapters from Brazilian ayahuasca shaman Mariano da Silva present wisdom on comingling cannabis and ayahuasca for unlocking the receptive energy in us all and helping us to feel connected to nature, to each other, and to ourselves. For additional information visit MAPS, a non-profit research and educational organization founded in 1986 that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful use of psychedelics and marijuana.
The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide by James Fadiman, Ph.D., presents practices for safe and successful psychedelic voyages and reviews the value of psychedelics for healing and self-discovery. Exploring the life-changing experiences of Ram Dass, Timothy Leary, Aldous Huxley, Huston Smith, Francis Crick and Steve Jobs, Fadiman shows how psychedelics such as Ayahuasca, used wisely, can lead not only to healing but also to scientific breakthroughs and spiritual epiphanies. A recent example of this sort of healing can be found in the book A Really Good Day, which describes Ayelet Waldman's experience in microdosing to treat depression.
This is just a small sampling of our innovative Park Street Press books. Check out the “psychedelics and entheogens” category on our website for many more!