Don José Matsuwa is the renowned Huichol shaman from Mexico who passed away in 1990 at the age of 110. He was a farmer, healer, and master ceremonial leader, and a revered and respected elder throughout the Huichol Sierra. He dedicated his whole life to completing the sacred path of the shaman and it is his life and vision that are the inspirations for the Dance of the Deer Foundation.
For thousands of years, indigenous peoples thrived in the Amazon rainforest, enjoying its bounty, cherishing its beauty, and honoring its mysteries. Over generations they built up vast, invaluable storehouses of knowledge about the plants and animals that shared their home.
In the summer of 1993, two of our California Native guides, Doug Stewart and Lynn Reineke, escorted a small group of Indians from the depths of Mexico’s Copper Canyon to Leadville, Colorado, where they astounded the world of marathon racing by coming in first, second and fourth place in a 100 mile ultra-marathon race, wearing their native garb and sandals made out of discarded tires.
Recently settled as a result of contact with occidental society and the influence of Salesian missionaries (a Catholic order), the Hupda have small, incipient fields, but they are skilled hunters and specialists in the collection and cultivation of psychoactive and poisonous plants used not only by them but also by other neighboring groups with whom they interact. It is about these plants that we will speak, specifically, those related to Banisteriopsis caapi in the Hupda cosmology.
For the Tukanoans, at the time of creation, people arrived to populate the Comisaria del Vaupés. These people had to endure incredible hardship as the rivers were populated with dangerous fish and hideous snakes while within the forest lived spirits with cannibalistic proclivities. Only the spirit beings knew all the rules of life therefore it was “essential for the welfare of mankind to have at its disposal a simple and effective means by which, at any given moment, an individual or a group of people could establish contact with the supernatural sphere.”
The Yanomami comprise a society of hunter-agriculturists of the tropical rainforest of Northern Amazonia, whose contact with non-indigenous society over the most part of their territory has been relatively recent. Their territory covers an area of approximately 192,000 km2, located on both sides of the border between Brazil and Venezuela, in the Orinoco-Amazon interfluvial region (affluents of the right shore of the Rio Branco and left shore of the Rio Negro).
Taíno culture was the most highly developed in the Caribbean when Columbus reached Hispaniola in 1492. Islands throughout the Greater Antilles were dotted with Taíno communities nestled in valleys and along the rivers and coastlines, some of which were inhabited by thousands of people.
In this paper, the reader will be introduced to the sect of Santo Daime, a Brazilian religion which combines Christianity with the indigenous practice of using ayahuasca, a native entheogenic plant. This group should be of interest to ethnobotany because they represent a clear case where indigenous religious uses of a psychotropic plant were transferred wholesale to another (mestizo) culture through contact and exchange.
The Mazatec Indians eat the mushrooms only at night in absolute darkness. It is their belief that if you eat them in the daylight you will go mad. The depths of the night are recognized as the time most conducive to visionary insights into the obscurities, the mysteries, the perplexities of existence.
The night air in the backwater lowlands of the Peruvian Amazon was thick with the incessant buzzing of insects. Overhead bats flew, their shapes silhoutted by a half moon rising behind the forest across the Rio Lobo. Though the rainy season had begun, the river was still near the low point of the year, and great gnarled tree trunks, swept from the banks during the last flood season,
According to the Bwitist genesis, the hallucinogenic properties of the iboga were first discovered by the Pygmies in the interior of the jungle. They in turn passed their knowledge on the neighboring people, the Apindji and the Mitsogho, who started the first Bwitist rituals. Later on, this knowledge was passed on to the Fang, the Eshira and other ethnic groups throughout southern Gabon.
Shamanism, an ancient Tradition found in cultures throughout the world, values a balanced relationship between humanity and Nature. Because of the recent alarming increase in pollution and exploitation of the environment, along with the consequential negative ramifications, such as the emergence of new illnesses,