Every generation of psychospiritual students have had their preferred stimulant of choice. From marijuana and LSD in the 1960s through to MDMA, DMT and psilocybin in subsequent decades; successive waves of consciousness explorers have used natural and manmade psychedelics as a way of speeding up spiritual development.
The rising star in this long list of psychoactive substances; and one that is particularly well-suited to the increasingly Shamanic context to modern spirituality, is Ayahuasca.
Whilst Ayahuasca its has actually been quietly used for thousands of years by the natives of the Amazon it came to the widespread attention of the Western world around about 2006. Consumed as a herbal tea derived from the leaves of the Psychotria viridis bush and the Ayahuasca vine it is increasingly being seen as a safe and effective cure for a wide number of serious psychological conditions.
Failure of Modern Methods
Dr Rachel Harris Ph.D has been in private practice for thirty-five years. During that time she has observed a small core of her patients continuing to suffer from conditions that are resilient to drugs.
In the introduction to her book Listening to Ayahuasca Dr. Harris shares her own healing experiences using psychedelics before presenting her unique research into the effects of Ayahuasca on patients suffering from depression, addiction, PTSD, and anxiety.
The Spirit Calls
Dr Harris insists that she did not so much find Ayahuasca as it found her. She explains this further by stating that over time she came to understand that the Ayahuasca plant appears to have its own resident protectress – a conscious spirit or sentient being that would direct her in her researches.
She rather charmingly calls it ‘Grandmother Ayahuasca’.
Dr. Harris is grateful for this supernatural support for as effective as it is Ayahuasca is in fact a notoriously difficult medicine to prescribe effectively. Its potency as a brew can vary greatly depending upon the time of the day the vine is cut, the stage of the moon at the time of preparation, and even by the type of songs that are sung during the brew’s creation.
In fact there are no definitives when dealing with this medicine for even its effects tend to vary greatly from one user to the next.
A Better Understanding
To glean a clearer idea of how all of these different variables impact upon the healing process Harris initiated a survey amongst its users to find more about the short and long-term effectiveness of the plant.
Her main Ayahuasca study was carried out between 2008 and 2010. It comprised of a sixteen-page questionnaire which the author handed out to Western Shaman. Eighty-one people completed it and as a result provided Harris with feedback on the effect of the plant before, during and after its application.
The accounts that she received back when considered alongside her own personal experiences using Ayahuasca, suggests that from a Shamanic, psychological and medical perspective Ayahuasca is proving time and again to be a remarkable plant with some quite specific and powerful healing properties.
Dr. Harris encapsulates this at the end of her book by stating “Ayahuasca gives us the opportunity to reorganise our psychic architecture, the very structure of our self-identity, in new ways. Our worldview is shattered.”
Our Review of Listening to Ayahuasca by Rachel Harris
Ayahuasca use in the United States – as it is in most countries throughout the Western world, has been prohibited to everyone except for those using it in registered religious practice.
Of course, before Ayahuasca is considered as a serious form of medication it will require more clinical and scientific research – which sadly is unlikely to occur due to its highly regulated use.
Until then we only have the research of intrepid analysts such as Dr. Rachel Harris to guide us.
If reading to Listening to Ayahuasca teaches us anything it is that as a living spirit the energy of the plant circumnavigates all traditional clinical and scientific analysis; leaving us to wonder just how this vitally important cure will ever become available to those who need it.
Until more enlightened rays of light shine down upon those that have control over this substance we have to rely upon the pioneering research on offer in Listening to Ayahuasca: though after reading it I doubt whether Ayahuasca is really destined to end up as an over-the-counter prescription pill, potion or medicine.
I have enjoyed reading many books on psychedelics but in Listening to Ayahuasca I felt that we have at last a publication that reveals the essence of the plant. We also have a publication that carries the core spirit of Grandmother Ayahuasca in a wonderfully warm and uplifting way.
Out of respect to the spirit of the plant and the non-linear approach of its author to Ayahuasca I shall psycho-analyse this book no further – just to say that to anyone who is even vaguely interested in psychedelics, entheogens, or Shamanic spirituality — in fact anyone who just wants to increase their understanding of the new frontiers of human consciousness, will find Listening to Ayahuasca by Dr. Rachel Harris to be a totally enchanting and deeply thought-provoking publication.
Book of the Month – April 2017