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Ayahuasca: Hallucinogens, Consciousness, and the Spirit of Nature Paperback – June 2, 1999

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

Ayahuasca is a tea made from two plants found, until recently, only in the Amazon basin. Indigenous people of the region have used it for medicinal and shamanic purposes since time immemorial. In the last century, it has been ceremonially incorporated by polyglot Christian/goddess religions springing up in Brazil and by seekers on the margins of consciousness exploration. In this book, Metzner, a hallucinogenic and mystical experience researcher for over 35 years, has compiled essays and journal-type writings from a wide assortment of people who have experienced its divinity-evoking effects--28 scientists, psychologists, chemists, curious laypeople, and practitioners of these religions. While uneven in literary ability, each contributor provides an insightful peek behind the curtain of an experience that until now has been shrouded in tribal secrecy and cult ritual--truly an adventure into the Amazon of the mind. --Randall Cohan

About the Author

Ralph Metzner, Timothy Leary's colleague at Harvard and a pioneer in psychedelic research, lives in Sonoma, CA.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Running Press (June 2, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560251603
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560251606
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,732,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Anderson on July 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book discusses Ayahuasca from a variety of perspectives: historical, religious, chemical, cultural, horticultural and experiencial. The way the book is structured it would be easy for a reader to skip over the topics that don't interest them. All of the information is presented in a thorough, well-written, and objective manner offering some conclusions while at the same time allowing the reader to form their own.
Most interesting were the 25 or so personal accounts, 3-4 pages each written by people who appeared to Americans/Westerners who took the drug for religious/spiritual purposes and in a religious/spiritual setting. It was clear, based on their mindset (objectives and beliefs) and the religious setting that Ayahuasca seems to somehow create a religious construct through which a person can work through personal issues or sort through personal beliefs. The experience seemed to have a profound affect on most of these people.
Overall, I got the impression that Ayahuasca was not connecting these individuals to something divine outside of themselves, but rather that it was freeing the brain up to explore the subconscious/ID in order to resolve problems or explore issues in the persons life.
Well worth reading if you're interested in this sort of thing.
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Format: Paperback
It is rare for me to have such unbridled praise for any individual writer, but Metzner is quite simply a shining intellect - a hero among others.
Anything with the name Ralph Metzner even remotely attached to it is a safe buy. Metzner brings vitality and encyclopedic awareness to every project. An elder statesman responsible for such dramatic shifts in consciousness within this nation and throughout the world, buy his works and read them with pleasure.
What is striking about this work is the respect he brings to the subject and the well-constructed tapestry of thought contained within the pages.
Also, the design of this book is beautiful.
Solid content with the stamp of greatness. Palatable to the senses and nourishing to the neurons.
Cannot go wrong here!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An entirely comprehensive guide to the ethnobotanical, phenomenological, historical and sociocultural nuances of ayahuasca, this book brings into context the growing global awareness of this particular traditional indigenous practice and its increasing relevance as a remedy for the modern human condition..Metaphorically rich and descriptively detailed, Metzner gathers the works of Callaway, Grob & McKenna, among others in a synthesis of acknowledgement and reverence for this powerfully psycho-spiritual tool, elaborating on the extraordinary nature of ayahuasca visions and deep revelations of the relationship between body, spirit and cosmos..Most moving are the many personal accounts of personal revelation, transformation and enlightenment revealing the potential that this medicine holds for humanity, it's past, present and future understanding of self, other and cosmos.
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'Ayahuasca' is a fascinating reader presenting personal experiences with the sacred Ayahuasca brew, and it’s a most valuable resource for both researchers and those interested in a spiritual voyage.

In addition to this invaluable source material, the introduction and comments by the editor of the book, Ralph Metzner, a widely acclaimed authority on shamanism and entheogens, are precious and well-written. The book throughout is very readable; there is no ethnobotanic gibberish, and the editor has mastered the task to unite different energies into a powerful laser.

I had an immense interest and pleasure reading this book, and it captivated me page after page. It is an absolute must-have in a personal growth library, in a spiritual library, in a library about tribal peoples, in an ethnobotanic library, and in a specialized library about shamanism.

Terence McKenna emphasized in all his books another important aspect of psychedelics: their boundary-dissolving nature. Patriarchy is unique in human history in its obsessional and neurotic striving for setting boundaries, putting up limits, erecting fences, dividing naturally grown landscapes, dissecting bodies for ‘vivisection’, splitting the atom, dividing life and nature into ‘white-god’ and ‘black-devil’, and so on and so forth. We won’t get rid of our patriarchal tradition by a magic stroke of destiny nor by rebellion. The way to go is to overcome the boundaries and gain access to the whole.

With erecting a divider between man and nature, our culture has developed a schizoid and delusional fantasy of man being ‘superior’ in creation, having ‘dominion’ over nature, obviously forgetting that we own our very existence to this nature that we tend to condemn as low and unspiritual.
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