Singing to the Plants: A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon


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by Stephen V. Beyer

From the Publisher: In the Upper Amazon, mestizos are the Spanish-speaking descendants of Hispanic colonizers and the indigenous peoples of the jungle. Some mestizos have migrated to Amazon towns and cities, such as Iquitos and Pucallpa; most remain in small villages. They have retained features of a folk Catholicism and traditional Hispanic medicine, and have incorporated much of the religious tradition of the Amazon, especially its healing, sorcery, shamanism, and the use of potent plant hallucinogens, including ayahuasca. The result is a uniquely eclectic shamanist culture that continues to fascinate outsiders with its brilliant visionary art. Ayahuasca shamanism is now part of global culture. Once the terrain of anthropologists, it is now the subject of novels and spiritual memoirs, while ayahuasca shamans perform their healing rituals in Ontario and Wisconsin.

Singing to the Plants sets forth just what this shamanism is about–what happens at an ayahuasca healing ceremony, how the apprentice shaman forms a spiritual relationship with the healing plant spirits, how sorcerers inflict the harm that the shaman heals, and the ways that plants are used in healing, love magic, and sorcery.

Praise for the Book: Gorgeously written and eminently practical… Scholars will appreciate the depth and breadth of the learning here, and would-be ayahuasca pilgrims should consider this a must read.  – Cultural Anthropology, 25(4), 2010

Meticulous and rewarding… a fresh and evocative journey into the magical-realist world of indigenous plant medicines… infused with the colorful detail and ring of authenticity. – HerbalGram: The Journal of the American Botanical Council, 88, 2010

This extraordinary book is as thorough an account of any shamanistic complex as is available today… surely one of the more lucidly written books in the broader field of religious studies. – Religious Studies Review, 36(3), 2010

An exhaustively researched and detailed study, unique among its kind, and an absolute “must-have” for college library collections strong in anthropology and information on indigenous religions. – Midwest Book Review, 5(2), 2010

His own experiences with the potent hallucinogen ayahuasca are woven seamlessly into local, regional, and even global contexts…  Serious scholarship blended with subjectivity and self-reflection. – Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 25(1), 2011

About the Author: Stephan V. Beyer has a law degree and doctorates in both religion and psychology, and has previously published three books on Buddhism and Tibetan language and religion. He has been a university professor, a trial lawyer, a wilderness guide, and a peacemaker and community builder. He studied wilderness survival among the indigenous peoples of North and South America, and sacred plant medicine with traditional herbalists in North America and in the Upper Amazon.

ISBN: 0826347304    –    EAN: 9780826347305

Additional information

Weight 32 oz
Dimensions 9.9 × 6.8 × 1.5 in