The History of Ayahuasca

Harvard’s ethnobotany, Wade Davis, has lived in the Amazon for over a year, at the request of Professor Richard Evans Schultes, a pioneer and a renowned expert in psychopharmacology (the study of hallucinogens). From the professor, he gets some tips that one of them is to, “Never go home before trying Ayahuasca”. Indeed, for some groups of people in the Amazon, drink a little of their usual Ayahuasca do on many occasions with a variety of purposes. For them, Ayahuasca is a “cure” that potentially treats physical and mental disorders. The famous Amahuaca hunters connect their sensitivity while hunting with the ability to see animal spirits after drinking Ayahuasca so they can learn the movements and habits of their prey animals. While the Tukanoan use Ayahuasca to communicate with their ancestors and explore the sky in an Ayahuasca ceremony.

In Davis’s note to Richard Evans Schultes on the Kofan tribe, “Ayahuasca is the source of all knowledge in all societies, drinking Ayahuasca means learning, from which everyone has the power and guidance of life.” When most hallucinogens produce a very varied picture of one person to another, it is not so with Ayahuasca. Even to new users who are not familiar with the cultural traditions of South America, Ayahuasca also gives the same hallucinations, in the form of a tiger or a large snake. This fact has long been a question mark for psychologists. Some argue that this picture may be due to a genetically inherited memory reserve, a sign of fear deeply embedded in a human gene, reappeared by Ayahuasca.

The visions due to Ayahuasca have other similarities. People who experience it can put their thoughts into the minds of people or other creatures. That ability comes from a compound in Banisteriopsis wine – now called harmine. No wonder they called her telepathine. Wade Davis was not surprised, shaman able to enchant animals in the forest to come surrender as animal offerings.