Shamanism And Peter Gorman
Peter Gorman has been facilitating shaman's journeys to the Amazon for years. His new book can be found at:
Ayahausca In My Blood
*Excerpt From Peter's book below.
"Ayahuasca is the sacred visionary vine of the Amazon. Peter Gorman, a personal friend, is an accomplished storyteller whose visceral accounts of his life among the curanderos of the Amazonian rainforest will cast you under their magic spell. I have been there with him myself in the jungle and know that there are few in the world who are the real deal more than Peter. He's done it, and been there, and now he's written about it to our benefit. There is more than the gift within his work of tales of the vine, there is an underlying story woven into his odyssey like an Ayahuasca vine wrapping around the heart, refusing to let go until we are thoroughly enchanted. His work has added more magic to the world. Thank you, Peter." Tom Wright, author of The Steel Shaman.
"Unlike many writing about ayahuasca, Peter Gorman knows this plant and these forests long and well. Explorer, ethnobotanist, writer and raconteur - Gorman is uniquely qualified to tell this incredible tale. A wild mixture of adventure, horror, spirituality, tenderness, and insight, Ayahuasca in My Blood is most highly recommended!"
-- Mark J. Plotkin, author of Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice.
"I have been devouring this book. Peter, you are the real deal -- you are a true mitayero, a man of the jungle, and you have had adventures others can only dream of. And you are a wonderful storyteller, powerfully honest about yourself, with a deep connection to the spiritual life of the Upper Amazon, both the light and the dark. I am recommending it to everyone."-- Steve Beyer, author of Singing to the plants
"Long before ayahuasca tourism became a pastime for rich gringos, Peter Gorman was knocking around Iquitos and the Amazon. He's traveled the rivers and quaffed the brew with the best (and the worst) of them and been way, way beyond the chrysanthemum on many a dark jungle night. This is the intensely personal story of an old-school jungle rat for whom ayahuasca is not just a hobby, but a life-long quest."
-- Dennis McKenna, Ph.D, co-author of The Invisible Landscape
"I have known and traveled with Peter for almost a decade and was present for a number of the events he included in this book as well as many others. Don Julio was the most powerful man I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Further, as a trained scientist I believe the plant medicine truly offers a doorway to a rich world that needs to be understood in our postmodern lives. This is destined to become a must read for anyone who is serious about understanding the world of the shaman."
-- Lynn Chilson - CEO Chilson Enterprises, Inc. (edited by author)
Peter Gorman's Bio:
Finally, after 25 years of incubation, Peter Gorman's book is out. Ayahuasca in My Blood - 25 Years of Medicine Dreaming concerns his longstanding relationship with the Amazonian visionary medicine.
Peter Gorman is an award-winning investigative journalist--named Texas' Print Journalist of the Year in 2007 and 2010--and a second in 2009--by the Houston Press Club and the recipient of two first place, National Association of Alternative Newsweekly awards in 2010--who has spent parts of each of the last 27 years in the Peruvian Amazon. During that time he has collected medicinal plants for Shaman Pharmaceuticals, indigenous artifacts for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and herpetological specimens for the FIDIA Research Institute of the University of Rome.
Peter Gorman's feature stories and investigations have appeared in over 100 major national and international magazines including Omni, Penthouse, Playboy, Die Zeit (Germany), Sette and Airone (Italy), Geo (Spain), The Sunday Times of India and the New York Times.
Ayahuasca In My Blood, Peter Gorman:
Among the indigenous peoples of the world, there are several plants considered to be, in essence, master teachers of the human race. Several plants, in particular are said to possess the ability to allow a human, on their ingestion, to expand his or her perception and to temporarily access other levels of reality normally prohibited to all but visionaries, the dying, the very young and those in moments of extreme stress. Among these is Brugmansia grandiflora, also known as datura or toé, the trumpeted flowers of which possess the ability to transport man to worlds beyond imagination—though few are strong enough to use it.
Lophophora williamsii, peyote, is the ancient cactus of northern Mexico and the Southwest US. Its cousin is San Pedro, Trichocereus pachanoi, the cactus of the Inca and before them the people they conquered, both shape-shifters. Amanita muscaria is a mushroom so potent that Siberian shamans ingested it, then offered their urine—filled with the power of the mushroom bolstered and balanced by the spirit of the shaman—to the mushroom’s devotees to drink. Also among them are Iboga tamarinth, the West African plant teacher, and ayahuasca—also known as yagé, natem, hoasca, depending on the region—the visionary and curative vine of the Amazon.
This is the story of my experience with ayahuasca over a period of 25 years as its student. The first time I experienced a cup of the foul-tasting tea I had no idea of what it was, how important it was to the people of Amazonia, or how my life would change because of it. That first time it was just something to try. But something extraordinary happened, something that drew me back for a second cup the following year. Then a third. With each, the vine exposed a little more of her spirit, and with it I was lead deeper and deeper into my consciousness. I had no idea that what lay ahead of me would take me beyond the limit of bearable fear, teach me to heal, help me through the bitter and painful breakup of my family, and finally put me back together again, just as I was, but somehow completely different. I can say that during those 25 years I have visited countless worlds and spent time, often awestruck, with unimaginable entities. I have been tickled by invisible hands from other worlds until I was rendered immobile from joy. I have been attacked by forces I did not know existed, and once was given the gift of a moment of absolute unconditional love.
It’s been an incredible journey of the heart and one I’m thrilled and honored to have been allowed to take. The best part, of course, is that my schooling has just begun.
I’m going to begin with a supposition: that all matter has a life force. By that I mean that all matter is sentient. And all matter dates from the first moment of time. You and I can trace our lineage back to that moment, when we were just cosmic dust balls billions of years from becoming slime creatures and millions of years away from coming out of the primordial soup and clambering up onto land.
The same would hold true for a mountain, a rock, a flower. Everything we know and millions of things we don’t know trace back to that first moment when matter came into existence. If we were to look at a mountain, for instance, and apply my supposition—imagine what that mountain has gone through since the dawn of time, imagine what it has experienced, and now imagine what it would be like to be able to communicate with that mountain about those experiences. It’s my belief that that’s doable; it’s my failure that I don’t know how to communicate with that being, its will, its personality. But that doesn’t mean it’s not doable, just that I fail at it.
Imagine the same for an ocean, for a fish that’s just been bitten by a predator, for a plant.
Plants, like everything else, are our co-dwellers in the universe. But humanity has a special relationship with plants. Since the beginning of humanity plants have provided the bulk of our food, our clothing, our shelter. Some provide us with the loveliest scents; some with extraordinary color. They’re the source of our medicines. They go so far as to take the poisonous carbon dioxide that humans exhale and turn it back into life-giving oxygen. That’s some relationship. Of course it may be that plants only invented us to distribute their seeds, so I’m not suggesting they live to cater to us. But they do provide us with much of what we need to exist on this planet.
Among the flora of the world as we know it, several plants are not just allies, they are considered master plant teachers. You might extend that to read master plant teachers of humanity. These plants might be considered gate-keepers of a sort. These plants are the plants that allow us, we humans, to slow down enough to communicate with the mountains; to speed up enough to communicate with a hummingbird; to visit the other realms past and present and simultaneous that are here but that we don’t ordinarily see or hear within the bandwidths of our senses. When I say other realms that are already here, what I mean are other realities that co-exist with ours. Imagine a dog whistle. You blow it, you hear nothing. Your cat hears nothing. Birds hear nothing. But a dog will yelp in pain at the sound.
So while you couldn’t hear it, it was still there. Your hearing just didn’t have a broad enough band. Now, what I’m suggesting the master plant teachers do is broaden the bands of our senses so that we see, hear, feel, touch, taste and sense things we can ’t under ordinary circumstances. There are several that are commonly known, though there are undoubtedly others whose existence humanity has either not yet discovered or whose existence is being closely guarded by the peoples who use them.
These teachers all have, I believe, will and intent, and have made the choice to be teachers to humanity. They all, also, have built-in mechanisms that ensure that humanity has to want to ingest them, has to want the knowledge they can impart once they have opened the gates they guard for us. Most of them prevent frivolous or accidental use simply by being physically difficult to ingest. One might pick a peyote button and eat it with little difficulty, but to eat the 30 or 50 or 100 one would need to talk with its spirit is a very difficult thing. Similarly, the vile taste of datura or ayahuasca—coupled with the intense purging and often terrifying visionary states they induce—makes frivolous or accidental use almost impossible.
So while the rose suggests we come to her to bathe in her glorious scent, the master plant teachers warn us away from them. You pretty much have to want what they have to offer, and be willing to prove it with physical discomfort, before they will share.
But once they do, well, when those gates are once opened, they will never quite close all the way again. Your broadened band of senses will never quite be able to forget seeing or interacting with the spirits you encountered, the spirits that are sharing your/our space. In other words, the spirits never leave once you’ve made their acquaintance.
Of course, if you don’t want to learn that ghosts or spirits are everywhere, if you don’t want to learn what a flower is “thinking” or how a tree feels when you prune its branches, you may not want to deal with those medicines.
In my own case, some of the teachings have taken years and dozens of sessions to learn; others have been very simple but no less profound. Once, years ago, I was in an ayahuasca dream and asked the spirits what I could do to make a better living as a writer. Without hesitation a spirit said: “Drink less. Write more.”
That was it. The whole answer. So I drank less, wrote more and pretty soon was able to support my family on what I earned as a journalist.
Realizing that inviting the spirit of a master plant teacher like ayahuasca into your life has lasting repercussions is just one of the frequently overlooked but important aspects of these plants. There are several others as well.
Healing is a vital element of all of the master plant teachers. With ayahuasca, with which we are concerning ourselves, that healing occurs on physical, emotional and spiritual levels—sometimes all in the same session. In northwestern Amazonia, where I have spent my time with ayahuasca, illness is almost always seen as a symptom of a disorder or disturbance on another plane. Accessing that plane and identifying that disorder will frequently eliminate the symptom. Ayahuasca is one of the methods curanderos—healers—use to access those other planes.
In that same region, things like mal ojo, the evil eye; celoso, jealousy, and other forms of negative energy, whether produced by a person or by a brujo—sorcerer—paid by someone, are considered to produce very real results. That’s because of a belief, or awareness, that intentions, like everything else, have a life force. And that force, good or bad, affects what it touches.
At its most basic level, a person living on a river might go to a curandero and say that he’s got a problem. His problem is that his chickens keep dying and he doesn’t understand why. He asks the curandero to drink ayahuasca to see what’s causing it.
The curandero drinks, contacts his spirit allies and asks them the cause of the problem. They in turn might show him that a neighbor who is angry with the chicken farmer is adding a touch of poison to the chicken’s feed at night.
But the work doesn’t end there. A good curandero would look further, to see what might have caused such anger, and see that the chicken farmer, at some earlier time, had caused a problem for the neighbor.
When the curandero comes out of his dream he has good news and bad news for the chicken farmer. The good news is he’s identified the problem. The bad news is that until the chicken farmer acknowledges the initial wrong he did to his neighbor, the poisonings will continue and the chickens will keep dying.
One time, a man who kept hurting himself shortly after he sold his plantains went to visit my teacher Julio and said he suspected someone was giving him the evil eye. He asked Julio to drink ayahuasca to see who it was. Julio did, and when he came out of his dream he told the man that no one was giving him the evil eye. “Then why do I keep getting hurt?” asked the man.
“Because every time you have money you get drunk in that little cantina in Herrera, and then when you leave you trip on the broken step,” Julio chuckled. “So you can either stop drinking when you sell your plantains or you can fix that step.”