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Ayahuasca: The Visionary and Healing Powers of the Vine of the Soul Paperback – October 10, 2003

3.7 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Joan Parisi Wilcox paints a riveting account of her spiritual odyssey of self-awareness via the Vine of the Soul. The botany and chemistry of ayahuasca and other plant medicines, the ritual cleansing diets, and the magical worldview of vegetalistas are all described in engaging detail. Her dreams and inner voyages precipitate confrontations with the liminal challenges of existence.” (Jon Hanna, author of the Psychedelic Resource List)

"Her narrative and descriptions are extremely rich and sensitive and communicate the complexities of her visions and reactions very well." (Stephen Joseph, Library Journal, January 2004, Vol. 129 No. 1)

From the Back Cover

ETHNOBOTANY / SELF-HELP

“Joan Parisi Wilcox paints a riveting account of her spiritual odyssey of self-awareness via the Vine of the Soul. The botany and chemistry of ayahuasca and other plant medicines, the ritual cleansing diets, and the magical worldview of vegetalistas are all described in engaging detail. Her dreams and inner voyages precipitate confrontations with the liminal challenges of existence.”
--Jon Hanna, author of the Psychedelic Resource List

Ayahuasca: The Visionary and Healing Powers of the Vine of the Soul
is an autobiographical account of the author’s work with ayahuasca, a potent and sacred plant brew of the Amazon region that is known for its extraordinary visionary and healing powers. As she learned from her experience, with the help of ayahuasca we are able to grasp our paradoxical nature, the first step to acceptance of ourselves in both our glorious and dark aspects. Ayahuasca teaches how to dispel the illusions we hold about ourselves, making it possible for us to release our true nature and our power.

This book reveals the ritual protocols that must be followed before receiving the powers of the plant spirit from an ayahuasquero, a healing master, and the sacred songs, icaros, that are sung when imbibing the substance. Although the use of ayahuasca is growing among “underground” spiritual seekers and through the burgeoning ayahuasca tourism trade in South America, few of its seekers understand how it is used traditionally and the importance of the rituals the indigenous people follow. With this book, the author hopes to restore the importance of these indigenous practices so that we may truly understand all the gifts of ayahuasca.

JOAN PARISI WILCOX has been initiated into the Q’ero shamanic tradition of the Andes and is the author of Keepers of the Ancient Knowledge: The Mystical World of the Q’ero Indians of Peru. She lives in North Carolina.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Park Street Press (October 10, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892811315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892811311
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,376,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
What I really like and respect about this book, in addition to the excellent factual material it provides about ayahuasca, is the intensity of the personal viewpoint it provides. There are a lot of books that cover the science of ayahuasca, and its history and ethnobotany. There are even some good books, like Metzner's, that combine sciene with excerpts from experiences by "regular" people. But this is the only book I've found that showed in a sustained way what it's really like to study with this plant teacher from a personal perspective. In fact, that's what the author frankly explains as her intent, and it's what she delivers--beautifully. If you don't want a memoir, an intimately personal experience, then don't read a memoir. You can't, as at least one reviewer has done, blast a book for being exactly what it claims to be! But if you do want a personal portrait that also includes excellent additional factual material, then this book is among the best.

In addition, I think there is little that is self-indulgent about this author. Some reviewers have charged the author with wearing rose-colored glasses and romanticizing her experiences. Have they read the same book? Maybe their memory is selective. I found the author to be surprisingly frank, especially about her fears and about the embarrassing situations that came up during her ayahuasca retreat. She certainly doesn't try to "pretty" things up in the least. Yes, she does take an intensely spiritual perspective, even what some might call "New Age," which some might not agree with. But I found her insights heart-felt and sincere. I also found her experiences caused me to ask a lot of questions about my own journey.
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By A Customer on March 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
In chapter 11 of her book, Wilcox opens with a quote from Carl Jung: "In psychology one possesses nothing unless one has experienced it in reality. Hence a purely intellectual insight is not enough, because one knows only the words and not the substance of the thing from the inside."
Although Wilcox offers plenty of fascinating intellectual insights, this book is first and foremost a personal account of her experience with Ayahusaca, and it is the autobiographical nature of the book that makes it so engaging. Wilcox actually experienced "the substance of the thing from the inside" and then openly shared it with us in her book. If and until the rest of have the chance to experience the "Vine of the Soul" for ourselves, this book is the next best thing.
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Format: Paperback
If you are looking for a serious and intensely personal take on the magic of our universe, the plant world and indigenous deep spirituality then here is one of the best reads I have found. I have read many books on this and related subjects by strong and informative writers such as McKenna, Pinchbeck, Calvo, Luna, and Strassman, and I heartily recommend this warm and human exploration of the mystery of our universe and consciousness.
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Format: Paperback
Joan Parisi Wilcox reports an adventure in healing using the assistance of Peruvian shamans and psychedelic medicine in "Ayahuasca: The Visionary and Healing Powers of the Vine of the Soul."

Unfortunately for Wilcox, it seems as though she undertakes her Ayahuasca adventure with the main goal being that of writing a book about Ayahuasca.
Her book is cobbled together as well. She patches her shoddy writing up with quotes from other writers, and she gives long and detailed accounts of her dreams and visions that are not interesting.

She also has, evidently at one time, memorized a list of vocabulary words in preparation to take a standardized test, possibly the GRE. It's obvious that she memorized this list because GRE words are liberally dispersed all throughout this Ayahuasca book.
Undulate and coalesce are Wilcox's two favorite GRE words. I know this because Wilcox uses undulate on almost every page of her book. When she is not using undulate, she is using coalesce.

I can't understand why her editor didn't insist that she go through and make different word choices for variety. You can't use the same two GRE words over and over again on every page of your book and then call yourself a writer--it's unacceptable.

And lest I forget, there is also a terrible interview with a shaman included in the book. During the interview, Wilcox clearly states that the shaman is bored and no longer wants to answer her stupid questions.

It was about halfway through this book that I began to wonder if the Ayahuasca would ever be able to cure Wilcox's pretty obvious pretension. A pretension that is almost palpable in all its horrible glory.
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Format: Paperback
This work is an account of a dedicated shamanic student's experiences with one aspect of shamanism. She does not purport to be an ayahuasquero. Rather, one of her stated purposes is to instill a respect for the traditions and knowledge of the plant masters. She does this extremely well. The writing is solid, at times delightful. One can tell that she was a teacher of English. The story itself read like an adventure novel, akin to those by Castaneda. The material was well researched (which, I suspect, is why she cited other authors). Highly recommended for those who seek to understand plant allies.
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