The Psychedelic Journey of Marlene Dobkin de Rios

45 Years with Shamans, Ayahuasqueros, and Ethnobotanists

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The Psychedelic Journey of Marlene Dobkin de Rios
45 Years with Shamans, Ayahuasqueros, and Ethnobotanists

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Pages : 216

Book Size : 6 x 9

ISBN-13 : 9781594773136

Imprint : Park Street Press

On Sale Date : September 09, 2009

Format : Paperback Book

Illustrations : Includes 8-page color insert and 15 b&w illustrations

Marlene Dobkin de Rios has conducted extensive field studies in the use of ayahuasca in Peru and the Amazon, focusing on its use in the treatment of psychological and emotional disorders. She also examines altered states of consciousness that are experienced using biofeedback and hypnosis.
Description

About The Psychedelic Journey of Marlene Dobkin de Rios

A look inside almost half a century of pioneering research in the Amazon and Peru by a noted anthropologist studying hallucinogens, including ayahuasca

• Reveals how ayahuasca successfully treats psychological and emotional disorders

• Examines adolescent drug use from a cross-cultural perspective

• Discusses the deleterious effects of drug tourism in the Amazon

Ayahuasca is an alkaloid-rich psychoactive concoction indigenous to South  America that has been employed by shamans for millennia as a spirit drug for divinatory and healing purposes. Although the late Harvard ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes was credited in the early 1950s as being the first to document the use of ayahuasca, other researchers, such as the distinguished anthropologist Marlene Dobkin de Rios, were responsible for furthering his findings and uncovering the curative capabilities of this amazing compound.

The Psychedelic Journey of Marlene Dobkin de Rios presents the accumulated experience of de Rios’s 45 years of pioneering field studies in the area of hallucinogens in Peru and the Amazon. Her investigation into ayahuasca--which she undertook in collaboration with more than a dozen traditional Mestizo folk curanderos, shamans, and fellow ethnobotanists--focuses on the use of this revolutionary plant in the treatment of recalcitrant psychological and emotional disorders. She also shares some of her theories that prove that the ancient Maya used psychedelic plants as part of their religious rituals, thereby demonstrating the impact of plant psychedelics on human prehistory. In addition, Dobkin de Rios examines altered states of consciousness derived from the use of biofeedback and hypnosis and discusses her current work on the deleterious effects of drug tourism in the Amazon.
Excerpt

Book Excerpt

Chapter 3

Belen and the Amazon

THE NAIPES


At  this  time,  I began  to use  the naipes, or fortune-telling cards, I had learned about  in Salas. One night a healer  there  told his wife  to bring the cards down  to  the  tambo where his patients were waiting  for  the San Pedro  ceremony  to  start.  I  tried  to  find  out  about  the  cards  and how  they were used, but  the healer brushed me off. When  I got back to Lima,  I met with  the  institute’s  secretary. Although  she was  solidly middle  class  in  background,  she was quite  an  aficionada  of  the  cards and showed me how to read them.
    I had also purchased several little books on the naipes in the Chiclayo city marketplace. One was even supposedly written by Mme. Le Normand, reputed to be the advisor to Napoleon, which helped me read each card specifically. When  in Belen one day  I  took out  the naipes, quite  small and  compact,  and began  to  read  the  future of one of my  informants. At  the  time,  it didn’t occur  to me  to  ask  for  any  remuneration. After all,  these people were  so poor, why would  I want  to burden  them any further? However,  in November of 1968,  I  left Peru  for  a meeting of the American Anthropology Association  in Seattle, Washington,  and stopped first in New York to visit my family.
    In New York,  I  visited Ari Kiev,  a well-known psychiatrist  interested in psychopharmacology. I told his fortune with the naipes (no one had  ever  accused me  of  being  shy  .  .  .)  and  he  advised me  to  request money  for  any  reading,  even  if  it were  a  small  amount,  because  that was the norm for others who read the cards. In Seattle, Michael Harner advised me  similarly. When  I  returned  to  Iquitos,  I  became  a  full fledged  curiosa, a  specialist who could divine  the  future. Suddenly my practice  increased  tenfold and people practically  lined up  to have  their fortunes read.
    At  the end of a day of clients’  fortunes,  I could commiserate with others  in  the  barriada  about how  tired  I was,  like  them,  after  a hard day’s  work.  Two  women  with  whom  I  had  become  friends  acted  as agents  in the  field and sent me clients. They kept  insisting that I raise my prices, since I only charged the equivalent of a kilogram of rice, only a fraction of what was collected by my nearest competitor who  lived in another area of Iquitos.
    I learned that many ayahuasca healers and probably the San Pedro maestro  in  Salas  used  the  cards  as  a  diagnostic  technique  in  their work,  since  there were about  seventeen misfortune cards  that people would dialog with out loud, which gave healers some insight into their clients’ stressors and problems. The healers would appear omnipotent, all the while in a shamanic mode of total control. Soon, my walk from the Belen market  at  the  city’s  banks  down  to  the  river  community took a very long time, as people would call me the “gringa who knew things  .  .  .” and pull me  into their homes to tell their fortune. People would wake me up early  in the morning as they sought advice before making a business decision or going on any kind of travel.
    Fortune-telling has always been a marginal topic for anthropologists unless they go into great abstraction about people’s needs to understand their anxiety associated with not knowing what  the  future will bring. All  societies have  some means of  forecasting--whether  it’s  calculus  in mathematics  to  tell when a curve  is about  to nose-dive  in  the marketplace, or  if  it  is  fortune-telling cards  to  tell you  if your  lover will ever take you back.  In Peru,  I not only observed  the use of  fortune-telling cards but I also took the trouble to  learn how to read them, and when I returned to the United States, how to  interpret them mathematically and psychologically.
    When  I published on  the  fortune-telling data,  I  called  the  article “Fortune’s Malice,” to describe a little-known trait of the fortune-telling cards--namely  the malice  and bad  luck  that  is  ever present  in  a  card reading. When  examined  through  the  lenses  of  probability  statistics, one  sees  that  the  average deck of naipes  cards  in Peru, which  consists of forty-eight cards, has up to seventeen cards that can be seen to bring misfortune--such as  false pregnancies, business  losses, and even death. Because folk healers who use ayahuasca treat a large number of psychosomatic disorders  in  their clients,  these misfortune cards can be a  real source to reveal social stressors that clients face in their day-to-day lives, allowing the healer to appear omnipotent. This  is especially true when people in Peru “dialog” with the cards, commenting on all sorts of private  information  about who’s  angry  at  them  and who wants  them  to suffer.
    In my study, with the help of some colleagues of mine at Cal State, L.A., we  applied  a  complex mathematical probability  equation  to  the reading of  the naipes. The  likelihood of  at  least one misfortune  card would appear in a given reading was 99.76 chances in 100. Wow! That at least two misfortune cards would occur went down to 97.40 chances in a hundred. Finally, the likelihood that at least three misfortune cards would appear  in a given reading was 87.70 chances  in a hundred. The numbers fell precipitously after that. Each card read is modified by preceding  and  sequential  cards. Any  interpreter  could  construct  a  story line quite easily that focuses on  interpersonal conflict, material  loss, or illness. The deck effectively  is stacked not  in the direction of good fortune but as  fortune’s malice  to highlight  stress and conflict present  in the client’s world.
Table of Contents

Table of content


Foreword by Wade Davis

Introduction



Part One
An Overview of My Anthropological Life


1     Salas: Capital of Witchcraft

2     Belen and the Amazon

3     The 1970s

4     The 1980s

5     The 1990s


6     The Millennium


Part Two
Psychedelic Research Summaries


7     Theoretical Approaches to Psychedelic Research
Man, Culture, and Hallucinogens
Shamanism, Ontology, and Human Evolution
The Function of Drug Rituals in Human Society
Hallucinogens: A Cross-cultural Perspective
Entheogens: A New Terminology
Women and Hallucinogens

8     Psychedelics and Ethnographies
Australian Aborigines
New Guinea Mushroom Users
The Fang of Northwestern Equatorial Africa
The Aztecs of Mexico
The Incas
Salas: An Ethnography
Adolescent Drug Use from a Cross-cultural Perspective
Hallucinogens, Suggestibility, and Adolescence from a Cross-cultural Perspective
Tobacco and Shamanism in South America

9     Psychedelics in the Archaeological Record
Psychedelic Folk Healing in Peru: Continuity and Change
Plant Hallucinogens and the Moche Religion
Plant Hallucinogens, Sexuality, and the Ceramic Art of the Moche and Nazca
Out-of-Body Experiences and New World Monumental Earthworks
The Maya and the Water Lily

10     Psychedelics and Healing
Socioeconomic Characteristics of an Amazon Urban Healer’s Clientele
The Vidente Phenomenon in Third World Traditional Healing
Saladera: A Culture-Bound Misfortune Syndrome in the Peruvian Amazon
Paranoia and Banisteriopsis in Witchcraft and Healing in Iquitos, Peru
What We Can Learn from Shamanic Healing Ayahuasca and Tobacco Smoke: Healing or Harmful?
Ketamine Use in a Burn Center: Hallucinogen or Debridement Facilitator?

11     Psychedelics, Art, Music, and Creativity
Hallucinogenic Ritual as Theater
Hallucinogenic Music: The Jungle Gym in Consciousness
LSD, Spirituality, and the Creative Process
Ecstasy: In and About Altered States

12     Psychedelics and the União do Vegetal Church
Ayahuasca Use from a Cross-cultural Perspective
Hallucinogens and Redemption

13     Psychedelics and Drug Tourism
Mea Culpa: Drug Tourism and the Anthropologist’s Responsibility
A Hallucinogenic Tea Laced with Controversy

Epilogue


Glossary

Published Works of Marlene Dobkin de Rios, Ph.D.

Bibliography

Index

Author Bio
Marlene Dobkin de Rios, Ph.D. (1939-2012), was a medical anthropologist, associate clinical professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the University of California, Irvine, and professor emerita of anthropology at California State University, Fullerton, where she taught cultural anthropology from 1969-2000. She is the author of seven books and several hundred professional articles.
Reviews

Reviews

Book Praise

Book Praise

“In her new book, Marlene Dobkin de Rios summarizes her experiences and observations from forty-plus years of research in this field. The book is a treasure trove of information on the use of visionary plants in ancient and native cultures of South and Central America. Of special interest are the passages discussing the increasingly influential ayahuasca rituals and the effects of LSD and ayahuasca on creativity and artistic expression. This book will be of great interest not only for scholars and researchers but also for large audiences of laypeople interested in consciousness and spirituality.”
Stanislav Grof, M.D., author of Beyond the Brain, Psychology of the Future, The Cosmic Genius, and Spiritual Emergency

“An informative, insightful, and colorful journey with one of the founders of the modern anthropology of hallucinogens. Dobkin de Rios’s work has influenced the mind-set of all those who seek understanding through indigenous cultures’ use of psychoactive plants. This is a valuable academic resource as well as a moving autobiographical account.”
Rick Strassman, M.D., author of DMT: The Spirit Molecule and clinical associate professor of psychiatry, University of New Mexico School of Medicine

“This book describes the life and work of one of anthropology’s premier border-crossers. Marlene Dobkin de Rios was one of the first to postulate that hallucinogenic substances played an integral part in the development of many aspects of human culture and has clearly and forcefully distinguished between the constructive and the destructive uses of these substances. She has built bridges between anthropology and psychology, theory and practice, and traditional and modern cultures. Over the course of her adventurous life, she has learned love magic from women concerned about her then single status, used fortune-telling cards as an ethnographic research method, and counseled burn victims and other traumatized individuals using insights gleaned from her studies of shamanism. A fascinating book about a fascinating individual.”
John R. Baker, Ph.D., professor of anthropology, Moorpark College, and coauthor of Supernatural as Natural: A Biocultural Approach to Religion

“Dobkin de Rios is one of the few professional anthropologists who has had the courage to describe her personal experiences with psychedelics. Hers is a compelling story about how direct experience resulted in both wisdom and discernment.”
John W. Hoopes, director of Global Indigenous Nations Studies Program and associate professor of anthropology, University of Kansas

"It is of interest to those who share her enthusiasm with hallucinogens and everyone interested in the discipline's earlier history."
Michael Heinrich, Centre for Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy, University of London, Feb 2010

"De Rios writes in a very accessible, easy style that even a novice in the field--like myself--can understand. . . . For anyone following a more shamanic path, I'm sure that de Rios's insights in the field of ethnobotany and how native healers around the world use those plants will be of great value to their personal spiritual practice."
Bronwen Forbes, Pagan Book Reviews, April 2010

“This academic resource is a journey in itself. One of the first medical anthropologists to explore hallucinogens, de RIOS furthered findings by the late Harvard ethnobotanist Richard Evans, who documented the use of ayahuasca (Diplopterys cabrerana) in the 1950s. In this book she summarizes her forty years of research on visionary plants of Peru, the Amazon, and the Mayans. She moves gracefully from autobiographical anecdotes to scholarly information in a readable story line.”
American Herb Association, September 2012
Back Cover

Back Cover Copy

ENTHEOGENS / SHAMANISM

“In her new book, Marlene Dobkin de Rios summarizes her experiences and observations from forty-plus years of research in this field. The book is a treasure trove of information on the use of visionary plants in ancient and native cultures of South and Central America. Of special interest are the passages discussing the increasingly influential ayahuasca rituals and the effects of LSD and ayahuasca on creativity and artistic expression. This book will be of great interest not only for scholars and researchers but also for large audiences of laypeople interested in consciousness and spirituality.”
--Stanislav Grof, M.D., author of Beyond the Brain, Psychology of the Future, The Cosmic Genius, and Spiritual Emergency

“An informative, insightful, and colorful journey with one of the founders of the modern anthropology of hallucinogens. Dobkin de Rios’s work has influenced the mind-set of all those who seek understanding through indigenous cultures’ use of psychoactive plants. This is a valuable academic resource as well as a moving autobiographical account.”
--Rick Strassman, M.D., author of DMT: The Spirit Molecule and clinical associate professor of psychiatry, University of New Mexico School of Medicine

Ayahuasca is an alkaloid-rich psychoactive concoction indigenous to South America that has been employed by shamans for millennia as a spirit drug for divinatory and healing purposes. Although the late Harvard ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes was credited in the early 1950s as being the first to document the use of ayahuasca, other researchers, such as the distinguished anthropologist Marlene Dobkin de Rios, were responsible for furthering his findings and uncovering the curative capabilities of this amazing compound.

The Psychedelic Journey of Marlene Dobkin de Rios presents the accumulated experience of de Rios’s 45 years of pioneering field studies in the area of hallucinogens in Peru and the Amazon. Her investigation into ayahuasca--which she undertook in collaboration with more than a dozen traditional mestizo folk curanderos, shamans, and fellow ethnobotanists--focuses on the use of this revolutionary plant in the treatment of recalcitrant psychological and emotional disorders. She also shares some of her theories that prove that the ancient Maya used psychedelic plants as part of their religious rituals, thereby demonstrating the impact of plant psychedelics on human prehistory. In addition, Dobkin de Rios examines altered states of consciousness derived from the use of biofeedback and hypnosis and discusses her current work on the deleterious effects of drug tourism in the Amazon.

MARLENE DOBKIN de RIOS, Ph.D., is a medical anthropologist, associate clinical professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the University of California, Irvine, and professor emerita of anthropology at California State University, Fullerton, where she taught cultural anthropology from 1969-2000. She is the author of seven books and several hundred professional articles.

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