The Ayahuasca Experience

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2014-03-02
  • Publisher: Park Street Pr
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An exploration of the chemical, biological, psychological, and experiential dimensions of ayahuasca

• Details the scientific discovery of ayahuasca’s sophisticated psychoactive delivery system in the brain and body and its potential applications in medicine and psychology

• Includes contributions from Dennis J. McKenna, Ph.D., J. C. Callaway, Ph.D., and Charles S. Grob, M.D., on the ethnopharmacology, psychology, phytochemistry, and neuropharmacology of ayahuasca

• Provides 24 firsthand accounts of ayahuasca experiences and resulting life changes

Widely recognized by anthropologists as the most powerful and widespread shamanic hallucinogen, ayahuasca has been used by native Indian and mestizo shamans in Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador for healing and divination for thousands of years. Made from the Amazonian vine Banisteriopsis caapi and the DMT-laden leaf of Psychotria viridis, ayahuasca is regarded as the embodiment of intelligent plant beings who can offer spiritual teachings and healing knowledge to those who respectfully engage with them. Many Western-trained physicians and psychologists now acknowledge that ayahuasca allows access to spiritual dimensions of consciousness, otherworldly realms and beings, and visionary experiences indistinguishable from classic religious mysticism.

With contributions from leading psychoactive scholars Dennis J. McKenna, Ph.D., Charles S. Grob, M.D., and J. C. Calloway, Ph.D., on the ethnopharmacology, psychology, phytochemistry, and neuropharmacology of ayahuasca, Ralph Metzner provides a comprehensive exploration of the chemical, biological, psychological, and experiential dimensions of this Amazonian hallucinogen. He includes more than 20 firsthand accounts from people who have participated in ayahuasca rituals and experienced major life changes as a result. He details the scientific discovery of ayahuasca’s sophisticated psychoactive delivery system in the brain and body as well as the deep psychological impact of this potent entheogen. He concludes with his own findings on ayahuasca, including its applications in medicine and psychology, and compares the worldview revealed by ayahuasca visions to that of modern cultures.

Author Biography

Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist and professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. He studied psychology and psychopharmacology at Harvard University and was part of the Psilocybin Research Project with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (later Ram Dass). He is the author of Green Psychology, coauthor of The Psychedelic Experience, and editor of Sacred Mushroom of Visions: Teonanácatl. He lives in Sonoma, California.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Amazonian Vine of Visions
Ralph Metzner, Ph.D.

1. Ayahuasca: An Ethnopharmacologic History
Dennis J. McKenna, Ph.D.

2. The Psychology of Ayahuasca
Charles S. Grob, M.D.

3. Phytochemistry and Neuropharmacology of Ayahuasca
J. C. Callaway, Ph.D.

4. The Experience of Ayahuasca: Teachings of the Amazonian Plant Spirits

Initiation into Ancient Lineage of Visionary Healers

Raoul Adamson

We Are Experiencing the Joyful Phenomenon of Re-creation
Cristina Santos

Having So Recently Experienced My Death, It Felt Miraculous to Be Alive

Stefan C.

Breaking from the Bondage of the Mind
Kate S.

A Vision of Sekhmet

The Pieces of My Life Fell Together in a More Meaningful Pattern
Ava S.

Knowledge Was Graciously Invoked in Me by the Plant Teacher

Oregon T.

Here Began a Series of Teachings about the Nature of the Heart

Joseph S.

A Vision of the Fabric That Is Woven by Us All
Caroline S.

Ethereal Serpents Held Me in Thrall
Shyloh Ravenswood

I Was Exploring Being with Greenness
Pamela C.

Liquid Plum’r for the Soul
I. M. Lovetree

The Plant Spirits Help Me to Heal Myself and Others

Eugenia G.

The Great Serpentine Dance of Life
Raimundo D.

A Most Palpably Buddhist-like Experience
Renata S.

Journey to the Emerald Forest
Richard N.

The Long, Multifaceted Journey of Jewish Experience

Abraham L.

Teaching the Body Its Relationship to the Spirit

Wahtola H.

Ancient Augury of My Resurrection
Barry F.

An Entirely New World of Spirit Beings
Frank Owings

Death and Rebirth in Santo Daime
Madalena Fonseca

Nature Has Embraced Me, Blown the Breath of Life into Me

Stefan C.

The Buddha, the Christ, and the Queen of the Jungle


Agony and Rapture with Santo Daime
Raoul Adamson

5. Conclusions, Reflections, and Speculations

Ralph Metzner, Ph.D.

Notes on Contributors

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