Saturday, December 31, 2011

The House of the Jaguar: Shamans meet scientists

(Poster abstract for the Towards a Science of Consciousness Conference)

The House of the Jaguar: Shamans meet scientists
Preserving knowledge of Ayahuasca, medicinal botany and its indigenous use.

Stephen Whitmarsh, Jan-Frank Gerards

The therapeutic and spiritual potential of Ayahuasca (yagé or yajé) has become recognized in popular culture resulting in an increasing number of Ayahuasca retreats are organized all over the world. Ironically, the knowledge of its use held by indigenous cultures, as well as knowledge of other medicinal plants and practices, faces increasing ecological, political, economic and legal challenges. While western science is slowly turning its head towards the staggering wealth of clinical and scientific questions that these practices raise, its indigenous knowledge is disappearing.
Since ten years the Dutch organisation “Kleinschalige Ontwikkelingsprojecten” (SKOP) is working together with the Columbian organisation Nabi Nuhue on a project to preserve knowledge of medicinal plants and indigeous healing practices. Nabi Nuhue is led by Kajuyali Tsamani. For the last 30 years he has been an apprentice of elder shamans of several tribes where he gained knowledge that was under threat of disappearing because either the tribes themselves where disappearing or because within those tribes there was no interest anymore in becoming an apprentice of the shaman.
In the south of Columbia project Nabi Nunhue owns about ten acres of land with a large botanic garden of medicinal herbs, fruit trees and crops. Six acres are natural preserve. In a moloca (ceremonial hut) cultural and shamanic exchanges take place between representors of tribes from Columbia, neighbouring countries and the US, such as the Kogi, Huitoto, Kofan, Camenza, Guambiano, Sikuani (all Columbia), Inbaya (Ecuador) and Lakota (US). People from the region, as well as people from all over the world, have come to Nabi Nunhua for healing and knowledge of traditional practices and its culture. Visitors are inspired by the use of Ayahuasca and other medicinal plants, indigenous traditions, art and alternative uses of energy, natural material and biological agriculture. The project has helped several shamans and tribes in preserving, stimulating and revisiting traditional medicine.

This poster will discuss future plans preserving and spreading knowledge of Ayahuasca, medicinal plants and indigenous healing practices. This will also be the first announcement of a symposium that will be hosted at the Nabi Nuhue where we will organize a multidisciplinary meeting between indigenous shamans and western scientists. Potential topics, speakers and attendance will be discussed.

Kajuyali Tsamani (left) with Kogi


  1. This has lead me to my personal fascination with knowledge of self and the universe we inhabit. Shaman And Ayahuasca I share my experiences, opinions, and information I have come across with the world.