Ayahuasca for the many…

From Brooklyn to Australia, there is a growing demand for ayahuasca, a tribal, hallucinogenic tea said to have both spiritual and curative properties. But, like any globalization fairy tale, the world’s embrace is threatening to suffocate the tradition at its source. The herbal tea, made by combining a rare vine and shrub found in the thick of the Amazon, has become the “it” drug for celebrities like Sting and Lindsay Lohan, who rave about its spiritual properties. But for the Amazonian tribes that have used ayahuasca for 5,000 years to communicate with God on matters ranging from politics to medicine, the trend is dangerous.

“The sacred art of Indians has been transformed into entertainment”, said Moises Pianko, a member of the Ashaninka tribe of northern Brazil.

The ayahuasca tourism industry grows exponentially. An estimated 40 therapeutic retreats around the world now specialize in ayahuasca, according to Carlos Suarez, an independent researcher who writes about economic development and cultural change in the Amazon. Some researchers see the global commercialization of ayahuasca as inevitable, and think the tribes should focus on getting a cut of profits. Some tribes want to get on board, but demand for ayahuasca is surging too fast to keep up.

At the same time, the rush for ayahuasca has tribes questioning the sustainability of their own ceremonies. Because extraction of the plant is largely unregulated, foresters have found that amature ayahuasca brewers wandering the jungle often cut off a piece of the rare vine and leave the rest to rest rot. Finding the once abundant vine in Peru’s Iquitos region, where most centers are located, now takes days. (1)

Spiritual world for sale.

The epitome of western civilization.

Once again the ignorance of the many leads to misconceptions about the knowledge of the few. Shamans used this vine for their spiritual rituals, but that does not mean that whoever drinks it will have the same experience or the same spiritual journey. One needs to be prepared for the higher realms of spirit and soul – what difference would it make to drink a tea like this if your “god” is money and sex?

Prepare yourself to enter the cave.

Yes, you will see things inside.

But only what you take with you…

Hoopa, lost artifacts, modern nihilism…

As High Country News describes it, the Hoopa Tribal Museum is more like a borrowing library than a display museum. If you’re a member of the northern California tribe, you can check out the museum’s artifacts to use in ceremonies. Pretty cool.

There’s one strange catch, however. Some of the artifacts are poisoned, literally. Museum staff keep them quarantined in a special room because they’re not safe for would-be borrowers to handle, wear, or keep in their homes. But at least one lab is now developing a cost-effective method for cleaning the artifacts—something tribes could afford and do themselves, High Country News reports.

The poisons, including mercury, arsenic and DDT, are a legacy from European American anthropologists who took the artifacts from tribes during the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. Anthropologists dipped their stolen clothes, headbands, and prayer sticks in toxic solutions to keep insects from damaging them. Then the scientists put the artifacts into glass-covered museum displays, no touching allowed. This happened not only to objects belonging to the Hoopa, but to tribes all over the U.S. (1)

However the real poison in this case is not the poison it self.
The real poison is the attitude we have towards things.
We have destroyed the meaning of living.
We have turned things into objects. (αντι-κείμενα)
We have lost the sacred nature of everyday being.
And we try to find consolation in our idolization of everyday objects.
We admired those things.
Things the tribes used just for… everyday chores!
And now we want to give them back.
As if these tribes did not know how to blend with nature, how to be one with the cosmos even if someone stole their… basket…
Who’s the real primitive?

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