Shamanistic rituals and the use of hallucinogenic plants have for centuries been a traditional practice in South America. Hallucinogenic drugs were being administered by South American shamans long before the Western drug craze that has developed since the 1960’s. Here I’ll take a look at some traditional shamanic practices and associated tourism potential.
A couple of years ago I saw an amazing BBC documentary called Tribe, in which a pretty adventurous English gentleman / marine named Bruce Parry went way off the beaten track to meet various extremely remote indigenous tribes. In one episode he was in the depths of the Peruvian rainforest, where he took a concoction of shamanic drugs that resulted in a highly positive life altering experience. Some of the bad deeds he’d done in the past, which he had subconciously blocked out of his memory, came back to him on an intense trip. After all this tripping and vomiting, he felt a more enlightened person at more ease with himself, and his past, and even felt compelled to get in touch with one person he had previously mistreated (I got the impression it was a girl). You can check out the video here. Drugs can indeed be enlightening [editor note: not cocaine though, which is done by complete no-life, complex ridden losers who indirectly sponsor terrorists in Colombia].
Anyway, back to the point of this artice - to suggest a few ideas for those hardy folk who are seeking shamanic or hallucinogenic tours in South America. Peru is the best option, where the hallucinogenic San Pedro cactus is used on people to bring about a period of revelation. The tripping person is supposedly able to see into the future, retrieve lost souls or discover the location of lost objects. In Peru, shamanism is most commonly practiced in the Northern Andes - Las Huaringas, Huancabamba, the region North of Chiclayo and East of Piura seeing the greatest concentration of such wizards. One of Peru’s most famous shamans is Eduardo Calderon, a shamanic healer in touch with the spirit world who lives near Trujillo. To get in touch with such shamans, get on a bus and go and ask - these guys don’t do websites or pre-booking!
There is also much shamanism practiced in Peru’s Amazon region (Iquitos being the gateway) - the Shipibo tribe of the Amazon are particularly well known for their shamanic practices and use of the hallucinogenic Ayahuasca plant, which induces a four hour trance. Peruvian shamans will tell you that the trip resulting from Ayahuasca is not based on the reality of the five senses, but rather a transcendental experience in a universe of multiple dimensions. The Ayahuasca plant is well known to cure various cancers and psychological illnesses, but has until recently been ignored by Western scientists as it’s considered a hallucinogenic drug. Ayahuasca is known to cure various addictions, anxiety disorders and depressions. Read this article from the National Geographic magazine for a great first hand account of Ayahuasca ceremonies, which are also practiced in the jungles of Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil (in each case it’s possible to arrange shamanic tours).