Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ayahuasca - Paranormal Investigator's Ghost Buster?

There's always a risk you'll get burned when playing with fire, and the idea of a spiritual realm is definitely a metaphorical fire, if not a literal one. Paul and I have joked from the beginning about having to travel to Peru at the end of the series to be "cleansed", but perhaps there is more truth there then I initially realized. I've never doubted the significance the unknown can play on a person's physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, and with that knowledge, I have entered the world of "ghost hunting" with my eyes wide open, so to speak. However, being aware of the unknown doesn't make one any better equipped to deal with it. With the number of completed episodes mounting, and unexplained experiences increasing, I've recently redirected my research back to this idea of "aura cleansing." Just in case.

It seems that virtually every aboriginal culture has a means of cleansing the body of evil spirits and restoring harmony. One of the more controversial (from a "Western" sense), is that of a Peruvian shamanic ritual using a medicinal hallucinogen called ayahuasca. Derived of Banisteriopsis caapi (middle right picture) and Psychotria viridis, this ancient shamanic plant medicine has been used for thousands of years by Amazonian aboriginals to heal the mind, body and spirit, as well as serve as a direct link to other realms. The "tea" often causes a bombardment of drug induced visions over many hours which allows the drinker to confront unresolved psychological and traumatic issues. To the Amazonian aboriginals, ayahuasca allows you to see with your "third eye"; bridging the gap between our world and the spirit realms so that you can literally, get to the root of your problems: demons and other evils. They believe that illness (mental and physical) is caused by the attachment of these entities to our person, feeding off our energy and whispering doubt, fear, and unhappiness.

In an article published in the March 2006 edition of National Geographic: Adventure (link below), writer Kira Salak discusses her own personal experiences with ayahuasca during a shamanic workshop in the Peruvian jungle. During one ceremony, she describes having undergone a "small" exorcism where she was shown a vision of the past. Over a year and a half ago she climbed a supposedly haunted mountain in Libya, despite warnings from the local people. Through these visions, Kira devised that an entity attached itself to her while there. She underwent a violent and painful struggle during the ceremony in which the shaman confirmed with her that an entity was released from her body (top left picture).

While scientifically nothing can be proven, this kind of testimony renews recent concern surrounding paranormal investigator's wellbeing in areas of reputed high paranormal activity and reinforces that caution should always be exercised. I'm certain that anyone who has actually participated in a paranormal investigation would not refute these warnings. But I think it is important to recognize that even when all known safety precautions are executed, there is always the possibility that something can and will slip through. In some ways, I guess these "precautions" are like contraceptives to the paranormal world: more is likely better, but nothing is 100%.

So how can we protect ourselves? In short, I'm not certain we can. Likely, sooner rather than later, we will all be influenced by the energy we subject ourselves to. It is how we choose to deal with these energies that will allow us to succeed or fail. Now, a plant derived hallucinogen discovered thousands of years ago obviously may not be the only way to free oneself physically and spiritually. But, if this particular substance, with supervision, helps break down the walls we erect and allows our own minds to battle the demons we all have within us, paranormal or no, I'm all for it. Physical and psychological healing induced via the unconscious and conscious works of the mind and/or spirit is still healing.

But does ayahuasca really work? Will it rid the body of unwanted negative energies, evil spirits, or what have you? Can it heal physical and psychological ailments? There is scientific evidence to suggest so (at least as far as illness is concerned; the jury is still out on the existence of evil spirits and demons). However, even with positive data, how would one know that a practitioner is not simply experiencing a placebo effect? In this case, what's the difference? The mind is a powerful thing. It can inexplicably heal itself and the body...why not the spirit too? After all, if there are demons and evil spirits, even in the form of negative energies, what part of you would fight them off and keep them at bay? Surely not the purely physical. I think that with more and more people involving themselves in paranormal investigation and exploration, we'll be finding ourselves in increasing need of aura cleansing methods, ayahuasca or otherwise. You can't open that many doors and not expect a few unwanted visitors.

Bottom left picture: Visionary Artwork by Daniel Mirante

National Geographic Adventure: Peru: Hell and Back by Kira Salak


Ayahuasca Healing in Peru - Kira Salak


Ayahuasca Workshops / Retreats and Conferences: