Guest speaker: Dr. Rachel Harris
We sit down with Dr. Rachel Harris who collected countless anecdotes of people’s work with ayahuasca and condensed them into the excellent book:
Listening to Ayahuasca: New Hope for Depression, Addiction, PTSD, and Anxiety.
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A bit off topic: a book that people interested in Ayahuasca may find fun to read.
It’s an old 1975-ish Sci-Fi novel, “A Time of Changes” by Robert Silverberg. The hero in the story is part of a strongly religious culture on a far away planet. One aspect of his culture is that they believe that being concerned with self is vain. They don’t even use the words “I” or “me”. Although attention to self is forbidden, the resulting isolation of individuals paradoxically creates a strong sense of self (the novelist explains this more clearly than I have!)
The hero encounters a traveler from another world who introduces him to a drug that opens minds, one to another. This shatters the lonely castle of isolated self in which he lives, psychically speaking.
Surprise: the drug comes from a plant found on his own planet.
The hero and the other-worlder travel to the Southern Hemisphere. Members of a “primitive”, low tech jungle tribe are sought in order to obtain quantities of the drug, which are brought back to the more “advanced” Northern continent.
Notice any potential metaphors so far?
As befits a psychedelic-themed story, there are multiple ways to view the situation. There is no simple Good or Evil just honesty. Although the book is 40+ years old, I feel sure that many psychonauts will find it a fascinating read.
Very warm and open minded look at the topic of healing through Ayahuasca with this intelligent therapy oriented doctor. It is interesting that she doesn’t know where to go with the question of the 70 + percent of her study group who profess an ongoing relationship with the spirit of Ayahuasca. She just doesn’t know how to present this in a way that is professionally acceptable and true to her respect for a mysterious and health -giving relationship. Yet she herself mentions her work on the project with her therapeutic mentor in which they agree that “mother ayahuasca” was the third collaborator on the project.
This conundrum appears throughout psychedelic studies and throughout all attempts to understand disciplines, practices and beliefs that accept the idea of a discourse with spiritual entities. I would argue it goes at least back to Jung and his attempt to give a scientific credibility to working with what he calls the archetypes of the unconscious. In one part of a talk, McKenna for example, is talking about entities encountered on DMT who defy categories, seem truly other( non-self) to him, and in the next part of his talk he is castigating gurus and unscientific practices. This either-or approach is hard to break and prodces inconsistency and even hypocrisy.
It seems to me hard to admit that we are baffled by what happens in psychedelic encounters, that the very nature of these encounters seems to challenge any orthodoxy of science or metaphysics. And it is hard to accept that there is amazing efficacy in the skill and world-view emerging from the traditions that have worked with these plants. Many talk about accepting paradox or “integration”, but what is so damn horrible and dangerous about the possibility that there really are entities of mind/consciusness/spirit who are part of the fabric of being and that the realities they represent are as inscrutable as we ourselves? Why do we of the “advanced west” need healing so desperately and does it have something to do with the mixed reasons for our imposition of a mechanized scientific model on the universe; this is a model which, after all, bears a striking resemblance to religious orthodoxy. I am 100 percent for using the model of the scientific method to probe at and understand our reality and test hypotheses. But we need ways of probing things we actually care about much more than how many quarks can dance through the head of an electron. The planet is reeling with greed, fear, anxiety and violence. Is this inevitable? Are there ways to change this mad trajectory?
The scientific method is practical and useful for many things, but its inherent bias is by no means pure. In fact it has always been deeply embedded in the technologies of war, of colonialism, of treating nature as a collection of raw materials to feed the engines of empire, greed, consumerism. It has also contributed wisdom, medicines, and enabled a global connectivity that has the potential for a more peaceful word. Considering that ambiguity and paradox it may behoove those embedded in a fundamentally scientific world- view to simply admit that the positive contributions of a spirit oriented world view be allowed into the dialog with full respect.
Ultimately there is only one mother. And for my self, I’m still processing the Rak Razam talk nr. 433. And btw MushLove, my dad’s mother died of brain tumor. Or actually died after* surgery, she was 89 yo and a scorpio. I’ve been thinking a lot about ancestors today. Maybe it was a tad idealistic to say ultimately there is only one mother.
*The point is, they tried to remove the tumor but I mean they “tried” to remove. Also known as craniotomy persecuted on a 89 yo woman. We’re going to get that motherfucking piece of shit cancer out of your head. Yeah. She never woke up. Probably it was just a trainee who got his virginity of skull-splitting done.
Yeah. It’s actually quite interesting, that our family was split by a scorpio. His daughter is a scorpio. Scorpios are all over the place 😀 No, seriously. Does anyone remember the talk where Terence mentioned Tattvas? and check this out if your short-handed of music to please the one and only mother
Enjoying this lecture a lot. Ayahuasca spirit took me to my own birth in order to help me forgive and heal my deceased mother. It was a difficult learning experience. Beyond all expectations. But I am a believer now.