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The other night, I watched one of those “investigative journalism” shows about Norteamericanos who travel to Peru and other Central and South American countries for the express purpose of imbibing ayahuasca. The bark of the woody vine ayahuasca is distilled to extract the hallucinogenic alkaloid, harmine. People drink ayahuasca for different reasons, but generally it is considered to be something that is used by the medicine people of the indigenous Central and South American cultures for their own traditional ceremonies. This particular television show was about former military personnel who suffer from PTSD trying to get relief from their symptoms. They had gone down to Peru to a retreat center run by a man named Bob, who calls himself a Gringo Shaman.

I am familiar with the “instant shaman” culture that has been running rampant for years and people like Bob who think that they have become shamans because they have had one, or a few, hallucinogenic experiences. They may have actually been taught a few things by Indigenous people. There is a strong case that those “teachers” were not, in fact, the true shamans or medicine people of the culture. Sadly, people like Bob perpetuate a trend of guiding others under the guise of having become a shaman because they have taken the ayahuasca.

Here’s my guideline about shamans: those who need to announce that they are shamans, aren’t.

I want to be extremely clear about this as my own story continues to weave through my life. I have been fortunate to study with some amazing people, some of whom are well-respected Indigenous Medicine People whose skills are rooted in their culture. They went through significant training that began when they were young children. I have learned much from them, and what I have learned is for me to use in my own growth. It will never make me a shaman. I have had some amazing experiences both as a learner and on my own. They have been both significant and mystical, and they do not make me a shaman.

I want to write about these things because they have the most importance in how I have lived my life and how I raised my son. I will write about them without telling the entire story of them, for, as with dreams, the more one says about them, the less power they have. And, their power is for me alone. It is their outcome and their effect upon me that concerns me most and the telling of the path I walk is only in support of that greater issue.

The experiences are mine, and they are real. I know that things sometimes happen that are not easily explained, or understood for that matter, but that does not mean that they did not happen. I am very happy to say that none of them were induced by any drug or hallucinogenic substance. I am very happy about that because I never ask the question, “Did it really happen, or did I hallucinate it?”

I write this now because I don’t want anyone to get an overblown impression when they read what I write as the story of my journey goes forward. I have been given certain abilities which I have spent my entire life trying to understand and to use in the best way I can to benefit as many people as I can. That’s what I am writing about here. I will link back to this page often so that those who may read my installments out of sequence will have this as a reference point.