1 PLANTS R ITUAL, AND M EDIATION IN THE AYAHUASCA SHAMANISM OF THE PERUVIAN AND ECUADORIAN AMAZON By JAMES C. TAYLOR A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMEN TS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2013
2 2013 James C. Taylor
3 To Laurie,
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank Laurie Taylor, my partner and best friend, who encouraged me to take a risk of a new direction, when I could no longer see my way forward. I thank Robin Wright, who has been a mentor and inspiration to me, supporting my efforts with new ideas, and challenging me to always return to the real ground of what people say, what they do, and how they live. I thank Tod Swanson and his family at Iyarina for an experience of the Runa way of life that changed the way I see the world. I thank Mike Heckenberger, who has challenged me to see the implicit political e thical responsibility in the act of thinking and writing anthropologically. I thank my family for their support throughout this process I thank the Center for Latin American Studies for the opportunity to pursue this course of study. I thank the staff of the Latin American Collection at the University of Florida for their friendship and support. And finally I thank the plants of the Amaz onian rainforest, for their own unexpected agency in all of this.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 4 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 7 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 8 CHAPTER 1 CONTEXT AND LITERATURE ................................ ................................ ......................... 10 Plants and Mediation ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 10 The Dissemination of a Ritual Complex ................................ ................................ .......... 11 Mediation as an Analytic Category ................................ ................................ ................... 14 Social Plants ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 16 Bodies and Healing ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 18 2 EXCHANGE AND ETHNOGENESIS ................................ ................................ .............. 23 Networks ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 23 Geographic Outline of the Region ................................ ................................ .................... 24 Contact, Rupture, and Transfor mation ................................ ................................ ............ 29 How to Do History in Amazonia ................................ ................................ ................. 29 Contact, Disease, Missionization, and Transformation ................................ ......... 31 Exchange Networks in Amazonia ................................ ................................ ..................... 39 Exchange Networks on the Ucayali ................................ ................................ .......... 43 Exchange Networks on the Napo ................................ ................................ .............. 46 Exchange in the Rubber Epoch ................................ ................................ ........................ 49 Ethnogenesis ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 54 Of Medi ators and Brokers ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 60 3 ORIGINS OF AYAHUASCA ................................ ................................ .............................. 63 ................................ ................................ .......................... 64 Vine, Additives, and Plant Knowledge ................................ ................................ ...... 64 Ancient or Modern Origin ................................ ................................ ............................ 69 A Complex of Shared Beliefs and Practices ................................ ................................ ... 73 A Space of Encounter between Worlds ................................ ................................ ........... 79 Mezcla ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 80 Rivers and Ayahuasca ................................ ................................ ................................ 85 Globalization ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 88 A Question of Mediation ................................ ................................ ............................. 94 4 PLANTS AND MEDIATION ................................ ................................ ............................... 96
6 A Spectrum of Mediation ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 96 Human Plant Relationships ................................ ................................ ............................... 98 Sacha Ambi Medicinal Plants among the Runa ................................ ................ 100 Plant Teachers in the Vegetalismo of the Mestizo Shamans of Iquitos ............ 103 Rao among the Shipibo Conibo ................................ ................................ .............. 105 Tobacco ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 107 Tobacco in the Americas ................................ ................................ .......................... 108 Tobacco and Shamanism in South America ................................ ......................... 110 Datura ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ 115 Wanduj ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 116 To ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 119 Ayahuasca ................................ ................................ ................................ .......................... 120 The Vine of the Soul ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 123 Ayahuasca in Vegetalismo ................................ ................................ ....................... 126 The Nishi Oni of the Shipibo Conibo ................................ ................................ ...... 129 To Be between Worlds ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 133 5 OF BODIES AND HEALING ................................ ................................ ........................... 136 Song and Smoke ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 136 Where to Begin ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 136 Of Suffering and Healing ................................ ................................ .......................... 138 The Transformational Body ................................ ................................ ............................. 141 A Note on Theory ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 142 The Body as Swarm ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 147 Corporeality Smoke and Breath ................................ ................................ ........... 149 The Suffering Body ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 151 Social Suffering ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 151 Sorcery and Violence ................................ ................................ ................................ 154 Historica l Sorcery ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 159 The Space of Encounter in Ritual Healing ................................ ................................ .... 164 Song and the Suffering of the Shaman ................................ ................................ .. 164 Ritual Acts and Acts of Healing ................................ ................................ ............... 169 Of Montage and the Body ................................ ................................ ......................... 173 6 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 178 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 189 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 204
7 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 1 1 Map of the Napo, Iquitos, Ucayali region. ................................ ................................ .. 62
8 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillme nt of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts PLANTS, RITUAL, AND MEDIATION IN THE AYAHUASCA SHAMANISM OF THE PERUVIAN AND ECUADORIAN AMAZON By James C. Taylor May 2013 Chair: Robin Wright Major: Latin American Studies In the Amazonian indige nous and mestizo shamanic traditions located in the geographic region beginning with the Napo River to the north, following downriver toward Iquitos, Peru to the east, and finally back upriver along Ucayali River to the south, plants, or plant spirits, use d in ritual contexts play a unique role as mediators guides and gateways, paths and guardians animals, stones, places, and humans all likewise participate in material, spiritual, social, and cultural worlds, plant s in particular aid humans as part of the shamanic ritual traditions of this region by mediating for those who desire, for a variety of purposes, to acquire the knowledge and power of, or relationship with, beings of these other worlds. As suggested by Whi tten for Quichua yachaj the crossing of thresholds and boundaries, and mediating between worlds, is in many ways the defining position of the shaman, as it is in many of the ritual and cosmological systems throughout Amazonia. With this in mind, it is m y contention that the ritual use of ayahuasca, in context with the related uses of tobacco and Datura, is particularly suited to this mediatory function of shamanism in this region, in historical, cultural, and religious terms; and that the complex of idea
9 riverine cultural and geographic region owes both its form and its manner of
10 CHAPTER 1 C ONTEXT AND LITERATUR E Plants and Med iation In the Amazonian indigenous and mestizo shamanic traditions located in the geographic region beginning with the Napo River to the north, following downriver toward Iquitos, Peru to the east, and finally back upriver along Ucayali River to the south, plants or plant spirits used in ritual contexts play a unique role as mediators guides and gateways, paths and guardians between one world and another. While animals, stones, places, and humans all likewise participate in material, spiritual, social, and cultural worlds, plants in particular aid humans as part of the shamanic ritual traditions of this region by mediating for those who desire, for a variety of purposes, to acquire the knowledge and power of, or relationship with, beings of these other w orlds. As suggested by Whitten for Quichua yachaj boundaries, and mediating between worlds, is in many ways the defining position of the shaman, as it is in many of the ritual and cosmological systems throughout Amazonia. With this in mind, it is my contention that the ritual use of ayahuasca, in context with the related uses of tobacco and Datura, is particularly suited to this mediatory function of shamanism in this region, in historical, cultural, and religious terms; and that the riverine cultural and geographic region owes both its form and its manner of omplish three primary goals with this paper. My first goal is to provide a thorough historical orientation to the geographic region and cultural groups under consideration, with a specific focus on indigenous exchange networks and the situation of particul ar cultural groups as
11 political economic and cultural mediators between the indigenous and white cultural worlds. My second goal is to provide a rigorous ethnographic contextualization and defense of the thesis statement in terms of plants and me diation, with an explicit parallel being drawn between the shamanic conceptions of mediation between worlds and a historical role of intercultural brokerage. My third goal is to put plants, mediation, hropological and religious studies theoretical work on embodiment. The Dissemination of a Ritual Complex I have selected t he riverine cultural and geographic area to be discussed in this paper by way of ethnographic comparison, geographical similarities, h istorical contact, and linguistic exchange. In order to establish this region as one within which it is viable to discuss the development of a particular ritual complex, I begin by tracing the historical relationships of exchange between a number of the in digenous groups, or their predecessors, of this geographic region. I make use of work by A. Taylor ( 1999 ) Myer s ( 1974; 1981 ), Oberem ( 1974 ), and Hudelso n ( 1984 ) among others to outline the general shape of exchange networks and the political field more b roadly, of the Napo and Ucayali River regions from early days of contact and missionization on through the beginnings of the rubber economy. I suggest that those indigenous groups of this region who historically have played the role of economic brokers and cultural mediators are those same groups who have been responsible for the greatest development of the ayahuasca note that the ritual elements that tend to persist throughout this complex are those e and power can be
12 ovides a crucial analytic construct with which to approach the dissemination of ritual knowledge and broader trade networks throughout the region. ethnogenesis ( 1996 ) to suggest that for the groups most often associated with th e creation and elaboration of this ritual complex, particular ethnic identities are in an ongoing process of development and elaboration, where the maintenance of tradition goes together with the generation of novelty, perhaps especially where this interse cts with ritual and religious elements. Gow (1994) suggests that ayahuasca shamanism, especially of the region under consideration here, is of relatively recent origin. He suggests that it has roots in the intensive indigenous cultural exchanges that began with the Catholic mission reducciones and continued its expansion with the trade of the rubber economy. This has proved to be a controversial claim, inasmuch as the received wisdom, suggested and defended by studies in the 1970s and 80s (Luna 1986; Dobki n de Rios 1972), and further affirmed by more recent work (Narby 1998; Llamaz res and Martnez Sarasola 2004) 1 have stated that ayahuasca shamanism of Amazonian Peru and eastern Ecuador were based on centuries old, if not millennia old, indigenous ritual p ractice. While this debate is far from wholly resolved, recent scholarship by Beyer (2012a), Highpine (2012), and Brabec de Mori (2011) has begun to offer fresh historic and linguistic evidence that sheds new light on the subject. This evidence suggests th at the phenomenon of ayahuasca shamanism as it is found in among the riverine cultural groups of the Napo, Ucayali, and lower Urubamba rivers from Ecuador to Peru is a 1 Cf. Beyer 2012a
13 complex of related ideas and practices, an open but shared system that saw its most rece nt genesis among Napo Runa ritual specialists. This research does not state, however, that all ayahuasca use, especially the uses of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine in particular, were isolated to this area or had their origin here. It suggests rather that a particular complex of ideas and practices perhaps overly is in some ways unique to this geographic and cultural region, and is of relatively recent origin. In order to engage with this phenomenon that extends t o these geographic limits, I draw on historical and ethnographic work dealing with three distinct cultural groups, as well as culturally, historically, and linguistically related cultural groups of the region. These groups include the Kichwa speaking Runa people of Ecuador, drawing from the work of Uzendoski (2005; 2012) and Swanson (2009; N.d.b) on the Napo Runa, Whitten on Canelos and Puyo Runa (1976; 2008); the mestizo shamans of Iquitos, Peru, drawing on the work of Luna (1984a; 1984b; 1986; 1999; 2000) Dobkin de Rios (1972; 1994; 2005; 2009), and Beyer (2009; 2012a); and the Shipibo Conibo, drawing on the work of Tournon (1984; 1988; 1991; 2002), Crdenas Timoteo (1989), Roe (1982), Illius (1994), and Gebhardt Sayer (1985; 1986). While bearing in mind a concern toward over generalization, I follow Whitten's lead in noting that there is something of a shared religious complex of ideas among the Runa and the Shuar of the Napo, Puyo, Canelos, and Pastaza regions (2005). I will therefore draw on Harner's wo rk on Shuar ritual practices (1972; 1973; 1990) from this region as well. Similarly, while it is necessary to avoid assuming cultural commonalities based solely on a shared linguistic family, the Pano speaking Cashinahua/Kaxinawa (Peruvian/Brazilian spelli ngs) have many substantial ritual and cosmological tenets held in common with the
14 Shipibo Conibo. Because the Cashinahua are an interfluve group, distinct from the riverine culture of the Shipibo Conibo, this makes ethnographic work by Kensinger (1973; 199 5) and Lagrou (2002; 2004; 2006; 2009) worth noting for the similarities, but also for the divergences, with Shipibo Conibo ritual practice and belief. Insofar as Gow (1991; 1994; 2001; 2002) has been foundational in much of the work on ayahuasca shamanism of this region, it proves worthwhile to address his work with the Arawak speaking Piro in this context as well, for while they do not share a language family with the Cashinahua and Shipibo Conibo, they do live in close proximity. Unlike the Cashinahua an d Ashninka, the Piro are a riverine and not an interfluve or forest oriented cultural group, making the ethnographic work dealing with the spread of an ayahuasca shamanic ritual complex to their cultural region on the Bajo Urubamba relevant. Finally, maki ng use of the ethnographic sources as noted, I outline what I take to be the most central tenets of the phenomenon of ayahuasca shamanism in this region. This is not an attempt to generalize a predictive schema, but rather an effort to trace what seem to b e the historical and cultural outlines of an open but shared set of ritual images, practices, beliefs, and ideas. Mediation as an Analytic Category The trope of mediation is the most pivotal analytic category that I make use of in this paper, applying it t o spirit worlds, cultural contexts, historical moments, and geographic regions in kind. Mediation as a metaphor, has the potential to extend its reach almost ad infinitum insofar as all communication, interaction, and exchange can in some ways be underst ood as mediatory. W ith that concern in mind, I focus on three facets of mediation which I take to be the most expressive in terms of the thesis: 1)
15 c ontact, as the establishment and maintenance of relationships, 2) t ranslation 2 as the expression and trans formation of concepts, selves, and sociality across boundaries and borders, and 3) t ransportation, or the radical disjuncture of move ment wholly across a boundary It is my argument that the phenomenon of ayahuasca shamanism within th is cultural and geogra phic region has its context within a broader understanding of plants as mediators between worlds, peoples, and beings. As has been well documented by many ethnographers and anthropologists working in this region, rivers and the under water world have a cen tral place in the cosmology of this form of ayahuasca shamanism (Luna 1986; Luna and Amaringo 1999; Arvalo 1986; Crdenas Timoteo 1989; Tournon 2002). C reatures such as the bufeos (pink dolphins) and anacondas take on significance and potential danger as yacuruna (Quechua for 'water people') spirits, beings of the water world wh o are specifically considered in terms of love, seduction, and attraction. Rivers are, unsurprisingly, the defining feature of daily life for the riverine cultural groups under disc ussion here, and so there is little wonder that rivers would have distinct place in the shamanic cosmologies of these groups However, simultaneously, rivers are a place of significant cultural exchange, with all the ambivalence th is entails c ontact with other groups does not always or even regularly imply a fully benign exchange of knowl edge, power, persons, or goods. To this end, the cosmological category of rivers, the water world, attraction, seduction, danger, movement, exc hange, and engagement with of both human and spirit 2 Cf. Viveiros de Castro (2004b) and Benjamin (1997) for some of the problematics of translation In and human worlds in these terms, it is p spirit world, manifested in the human, without demanding a simplistic identity between them.
16 worlds suggests a metaphoric harmonic with the mediation and translation across worlds that ayahuasca is capable of facilitating. In effect, it is my argument that there is something specific about the ritual conception s and use s as well as the phenomenological effects, of ayahuasca that make it, among the other mediatory and teacher plants of the region, uniquely suited to being that ritual plant which has evidenced historical dissemination along the rivers throughout this region. While I have recourse to certain therapeutic, neuro biological, and cognitive psychological models to situate this assertion (Shanon 2002; Metzner 2006; Grob 2006; Winkelman 2000 ), I support this claim with reference to ethnographic work rathe r than construct ing a hybrid neurocognitive model of the actions of ayahuasca as they relate to cultural uses. Social Plants Following work by Wright (2009), Swanson (2009), and Hill (2009) among many others, I suggest that plants play an eminently social role in both daily and ritual life, a role whose relations are not wholly confined to the predator prey orientation of the (2002). 3 The concept of plantas maestras or 'tea cher plants', in emic discourse (Luna 1984b; Arvalo 1986 ) opens on to a broad range of potential relationships, pointing to a re conceptualization and reframing of relationships between human s and plant s. The questions this concept presents range from the existential what is knowledge, who or what can possess it and pass it on, where are the boundaries of personhood and subjectivity drawn to the practical and categorical which plants teach, in what contexts, how do they teach, and to whom. Comparativ e ethnographic work in the 3 Cf. Wright 2009
17 region does not pain t a single, unambiguous image in response to these questions : some plants are doctors ( doctores ), while some are brujos (witches); some are mothers or have mothers ( mamas in Quechua); many have almas or souls ; some plants teach but only when contacted in altered states b rought on by still other plants; some plants teach only after or during intensive, long term dietas (akin to alimentary 'diets', but with extended ritual pro and prescriptions) This is to sa y that any exhaustive or even reasonably robust treatment of all plants considered as potential teachers is far beyond the scope of this investigation. However, three plants stand out in this geographic region as playing significant roles in shamanism and ritual practice for each of the cultural groups under consideration: tobacco ( Nicotiana spp though rustica is most common in ritual settings ), ayahuasca ( Banisteriopsis caapi and various additives of which Psychotria viridis ost well known) and Datura (in fact a group of Brugmansia spp., though commonly referred to and until recently taxonomically considered to be of the Datura family). Tobacco is, in many ways, the ritual plant par excellence of Amazonia, and one could argue for the Americas in their entirety (Wilbert 1987; Harner 1973). Datura is widely dispersed throughout Amazonia but plays a notable role in the shamanic complexes of Andean cultural groups as well (Schultes and Raffuf 1992; Schultes et al. 2001) Ayahuasca specifically in terms of the practice of brewing it with DMT containing Psychotria viridis leaves and other additives, is in large part unique to Amazonia, 4 and is especially to be found in the Northwest Amazon. Along with marking ge ographic boundary conditions at the rivers rather than fo cusing on forest or interfluve cultural groups it is my intention to mark cultural 4 and Jungaberle 2011
18 bounds for this investigation in ter ms of ritual plants, insofar as certain plants do not feature prominently, o r at all, into the particular practices of ayahuasca shamanism under discussion here. These plants, specifically, are the Andean mescaline containing Trichocereus spp., as well as the Virola spp. (among others) DMT containing snuffs found in other parts of the Amazon. While certainly these plants could find place in terms of teacher plants, as well as the more specifically theoretical aspects of subjectivity, sociality, and personhood of other than human beings they fall beyond the geographic and cultural bounds of this investigation. T he selection of tobacco, ayahuasca, and Datura allows me to address the concept of mediation in terms of contact, translation, and transport respectively It is my contention, following the ethnographic evidence of this regi on, that in terms of mediation: tobacco can be understood through the lens of contact or the establishment and maintenance of relationships with spirits and spirit worlds; Datura is associated with and facilitates transportation int o wholly other spirit w orlds for the purposes of acquiring knowledge and power ; and finally that ayahuasca is associated with translation or simultaneous presence in more than one world, allowing the expression and transformation of concepts, selves, and sociality across the bo unda ries of worlds both spirit and distinctly human cultural worlds. Bodies and Healing Ayahuasca shamanism, as a complex of ideas and practices in this region as it has been described by Gow (1994) and Brabec de Mori (2011) among others, is oriented tow ard healing, to the virtual exclusion of other elements (i.e. hunting, warfare) common to many other indigenous Amazonian shamanic systems. It is my contention, following Beyer (2009:44), that in the ritual spaces of ayahuasca shamanism, it is
19 necessary to focus on the dense physicality of healing the blowing of smoke, the shaking of a leaf rattle, the coughing of phlegm, the sucking, vomiting, spitting, massaging, palpating, and fanning that all put the body of the shaman in immediate contact with the bo dy of the patient. A focus on embodiment and practice has shown itself to be a necessary corrective, in both anthropology and religious studies, to tendencies toward textualism, idealism, structural ism, and the swarm of post 's (V squez 2011; Csordas 1988; Bourdieu 1977 ). In analyzing the ayahuasca ritual complex in terms of shamanic action in this region of the Amazon, I suggest an orientation to the body as the site o f suffering transformation, and contact with other bodies. 5 make contact that I intend to focus the question of embodiment and ayahuasca shamanism. I follow shamanism as indelibly marked by a history of colonialism (1987). However, based on a h istory of its origination as a cultural complex in this region and an analysis of its phenomenology and the ritual beliefs surrounding it I would also like to suggest of the ritual complex of ayahuasca shamanism that it is precisely because of the simult aneity in multiple worlds t hat it affords the shaman that this complex is oriented to bodies through the idiom of healing Ayahuasca resonant with a region wide history of indigenous exchange and socio political mediation provides a means of remaining in place while simultaneously reaching beyond to the transformative power of the spirits and spirit worlds. T he power of the spirit world to bring about transformation in terms of healing manifested as discourse, performance, songs, stories, chants, r itual acts, among other practices is not unique to Amazonian 5 Cf. Kleinman (1992), Kleinman et al. (1997), Good (1992; 2008), Das (2000; 2001) on suffering, bodies and social illness in anthropology.
20 shamanism nor to ayahuasca shamanis m in particular. However, the phenomenology of this plant brew and the particular political historical position of its origin and its dissemination, suggest that the effects of the plant on the body of the shaman already s tructurally transformational with regard to ritual space and the suffering body of the patient ar e entirely consistent with the concept of mediation. Mediation then allows healing to be t hat act in which the transformational power of spirit beings is applied to the flesh of bodies that suffer, especially as these bodies are produced by material, biophysical, psychological, religious, economic, historical, ecological, and both macro and mi cro political power. This orientation toward mediation allows a juxtaposition of two of the bodies in ritual space the transformational body of the shaman, and the suffering body of the patient. The body of the shaman, as a site of mediation between hum an and spirit worlds, opens to theoretical notions of Amerindian perspectivism (Viveiros de Castro 2002), Granero 2009), transformational bodies as in the shaman jaguar complex outlined by Reichel Dolmatoff ( 1975), and bodies as multiplicities in terms of inhabitation by other than human beings in both spirit and material forms (Viveiros de Castro 2004a; Harner 1990; Luna and Amaringo 1999; Walker 2009). To that end, particular myths and stories of the cul tura l groups on which this paper focuses ( drawn in part from Tournon 2002; Uzendoski 2012; Luna and Amaringo 1999; Swanson 2009) 6 are utilized in order to contextualize shamanic bodies and spirit worlds as transformational, especially as such t ransformation s a t boundaries between worlds are as much social transformation s as they may be spiritual or somatic. 6 Comparative ethnographic material of theoretical import for the discussion will be drawn from Wright (2009), Hill (2009), and others.
21 At times, such a social transformation may be uncontrolled: b eing abducted by the yacuruna (water people), for example, and tak en to worlds beneath the wat ers, threatens that the abductee will transform in such a way that he or she can no longer return. Indeed by dint of being somatically socially re constituted it may be the case that the abductee no longer even wishes to do so. 7 This potential for uncont rolled or uncontained transformation is further reflected in the consistent concern widespread in Amazonia that a shaman, who is by his or her very nature one capable of transforming into a jaguar or a number of other beings may forget his or her humanity and remain a predator, turning on his previous kin (Wright In Press). I suggest, at the same time, that it is necessary to counter pose the potentially transformational body of the shaman with the suffering body of the patient, not in a typological duali ty, but rather to orient the point of contact between bodies. In an analysis of the particular practices of ayahuasca healing common throughout the region, I follow Taussig (1987) in suggesting that the phenomenon of shamanic healing bears the ineradicable political historical marks of colonialism. In addition to colonialist indigenous and ribereo peoples of this region must be understood as being simultaneously both produced and afflicted by power in terms of political repression, economic exploitation, racist segregation from sites of cultural capital, residence in specific ecological sites both urban and riverine, religious or ritual experiences and expressions der 7 Cf. Luna 1986, Beyer 2009, Whitten 1976 on the problem of abduction by chullachakis and yacuruna
22 ve ry bodies and subjectivities they produce. This is not to suggest a social constructivist orientation to the body, 8 but rather represents an effort to point to the composition of the field from which the processes of montage (Taussig 1987), bricolage (Lvi Strauss 1966), paradigm manipulation (Whitten 1976), and world making (Overing 1990) draw material with which to work, as these weave both micro and macro political histories together with cosmological and historical referents. I highlight the irreducibl e carnality of the body, as well as its situation as an expressly political object subject to, and generative of, historical change, by way of reference to anthropological theories of violence and sorcery (Whitehead and Wright 2004; Whitehead 2004; Stewart and Strathern 2004), as this work finds immediate intersection with the concept of the I return to the notion that particular plants, by way of their ritual mediatory c apacity, open these other worlds for shamanic engagement allowing a shaman to t emporarily become toward the world of the spirits In drawing on transformational power within the in direct contact and mater ial engagement with the suffering body of the patient a conduit, tool, or site of transformational, and thereby healing, power. 9 8 Cf. (2011:211 257) for a thorough analysis and critique of constructivist orientations to the body. 9 Cf. Luna 1986, Beyer 2009, and Gow 1994 for more on bancos they act.
23 CHAPTER 2 EXCHANGE AND ETHNOGENESIS Networks In this chapter I take a network oriented approach to an analysis of the indig enous exchange networks of the Napo and Ucayali rivers of Ecuador and Peru. As this thesis is concerned with the transmission of the beliefs and practices associated with ayahuasca shamanic complex 1 throughout this region, I follow Langdon in her suggestio n that ritual material, knowledge, and power should be understood within the distinct from other forms of exchange (1981:112). While ight seem to be more in line with a geography so dominated by rivers in the case of indi genous exchange networks in their historical specificity in this region a networks approach will serve better. This is because the critiques leveled against a approach especially in terms of the movement of religious goods outlined by Vsquez ( 2008 ) are at play here. Though the rivers lend themselves to a sense of fluid transit, these passages were never without points of colonial control, mission reducti on, rubber slavery, assault from warring in digenous groups, and the miasmic threat of disease. The will to control indigenous bodies was paramount in this region during the colonial era bodies that were captured as slaves, isolated and organized in missi ons, and pushed from ancestral lands by disease and violence This does not suggest that there were not very fluid transfers of items, goods, knowledge, and power between indigenous groups, and even between heterogeneous networks of highland pe oples, lowla nd peoples, missionaries colonial outposts, and rubber traders. Rather, it 1 See Chapter 3 for an outline of the particular features that characterize this ritual complex
24 highlights the ways in which these flows were punctuated by sudden and violent breaks, stops, redirections, disciplines, and transformations Beginning with a brief geographic outl ine of the region to be investigated, I turn to a critical analysis of how history, in terms of ethnicity and ethnogenesis, are to be undertaken in Amazonia, following the lead of Whitehead (1994), Fausto and Heckenberger (2007), and Hudelson (1984), among others. The profound effects of disease, slavery, and missionization are then addressed, in order to put in context the remarkable degree of historical agency expressed by indigenous gr oups of this region in adapting, transforming and re establishing exc hange networks for nearly three centuries after contact. I then turn to the particular networks on the Napo River and the Ucayali River, and the Quichua and Pano speaking groups of these rivers respectively, leading up to the beginnings of the rubber econ omy. The further radical transformations that indigenous groups underwent during the ravages of the rubber economy are put into context with the patterns of ethnogenesis and the generation of new indigenous historical and political identities. Geographic O utline of the Region The region I take as the object of this investigation is a part of Ecuadorian and Peruvian Amazonia, particularly following the Napo River from its source near the foothills of the Andes downstream toward Iquitos, Peru, and from there back upstream the Ucayali River toward where it is formed by the Apurmac and Urubamba. Though this region could be extended to include the Putumayo River region to the north in Colombia given a number of geographical and cultural resonances with the regio n under investigation, I follow Gow (1994:93) in excluding it from this context in that the history of mass colonization from the Andes throughout that region suggests for it a distinct historical situation from the region under investigation here. Through out this
25 historical overview I present ethnographic, historical, and linguistic evidence to suggest that this region can be considered together, for while the cultural heterogeneity to be niformity of in historical terms is a goal of this chapter, and it will be beneficial to outline certain other treatments of this region in anthropological literature tha t support the methodological consistency with other work in selecting this region, especially through a historical explication of particular facets of the region as a whole. 2 As with many parts of Amazo nia, this region is defined by its rivers. Focusing specifically on the major rivers and their headwaters the Amazon River is formed where the Ucayali and the Maran meet, about sixty miles from Iquitos (Beyer 2012a), while the Napo flows into the Amazon about fifty miles downstream from the same city. This proximity helps to establish the geographic rationale for demarcating the region under investigation near the urban center of Iquitos, especially given that within twenty miles of Iquitos, the Napo swi ngs to within five miles of the Amazon River, though it does not actually join it until further downstream. The Napo River begins in foothills of the Andes in Ecuador, flowing east toward its conjunction with the Amazon. The Upper Ucayali and Lower Urubamb a rivers to the south are host to a number of the cultural groups to be referenced in the ethnographies analyzed in this thesis; these rivers, as already noted, flow one into the other, with the Ucayali later joining the Amazon. There are a substantial num ber of other, smaller rivers in this region, but those mentioned here are the primary orienting 2 See Figure 1 1.
26 bodies of water. It is worth noting that Brabec de Mori, in an ethnomusicological analysis of the ikaro as a song form specific to the ayahuasca shamanic comple x, suggests that the geographic boundaries within which these ikaros are found are the Napo and Urubamba rivers (2011:42), which suggests northern and southern endpoints, respectively, that match with the region outlined here. The riverine regions suggeste d by Brabec de Mori to be the primary locations of the ikaro song form, in particular, are the similar region (2011:37). Of the lowland Quichua, who will play a pronounced r ole in this thesis both historically and ethnographically, Hudelson demarcates an area in the Upper Amazon of the lowland Quichua ethnographies that have been written Puyo Runa (200 Napo Runa (2005) for example. What is worth bearing in mind is that, as Hudelson suggests, these regional distinctions are valid by way of orienting a group 1984:62), such divisions tend to reify individual groups as isolated from the larger lowland re gional scale and supra
27 under univocal history or cultural homogeneity to this region, but rather to take up a critical element of the historic representation of Amerindian societies: that there is a deep and dynamic history in these regions that must necessarily foreground intra and inter tribal, as well as intra and inter ethnic, social, economic, and political relationships that existed before, during, and despite contact with European cultures. These relationships can be understood as complex networks of both exchange and warfare, oftentimes with one leading to the other and vice versa. Such relationships are not solely political and economic, but have the potential to lead to exchanges of ritual and cosmological elements at the same time. Of these ritual or cosmological supra regional systems, the N orthwest Amazon in Brazil, and closely related cultural groups in V enezuela. This concept is oriented toward both archeological evidence of particular rock art and landscape features, as well as place names found in ritual songs and chants. The as cosmological r eferences, which have shared meanings for more than individually isolated tribal units, suggesting what can be understood as a supra Kuwai N orthwest Amazon. While the Kuwai religion as such is not present in the region under disc ussion in this chapter, the concept of mythscapes as it relates to the presence of meta regional systems of shared concepts and beliefs in Amazonia pre contact and continuing for even centuries thereafter highlights the shared space that ritual knowled ge and power occupy with other political, economic, and material exchanges.
28 A. western sub the region in an inter related context of multiple contested points of exchange and friction does not imply uniformity. However, the degree to which cultural exchange does in fact impact and modify the performance and even persistence of cultural forms can tend toward a s ense of homogenization if not carefully kept in context with specific historical events and situations. As A. Taylor goes on to note of the upper Amazon, ethnic group s of the region is in many ways belied by the range of sociopolitical configurations in the history of these same groups. These groups, A. the end of the pre (1999:208). This statement is consistent with work done by Fausto and Heckenberger (2007), which suggests that the historical complexity of particular sociopolitical formations in intra and inter tribal populations must not be measured against contemporary colonial or neo colonial situations of particular peoples who, often for centuries, have been e xposed to the pressures of missionization, disease, and economic exploitation. A s this chapter endeavors to explore, the powerful process of ethnogenesis among many other aspects of indigenous sociopolitical engagement continues to display the dynamic, adaptive, and historically generative capacity of many indigenous groups in Amazonia. However, this dynamism and generative agency of indigenous groups does not offset the political ecological pressures of the ever
29 encroaching modern State in league with neoliberal Capital, which do inestimable damage to indigenous lifeways in Amazonia and worldwide. As such, in order to contextualize the exchange networks that are key to a more thorough understanding of complex (Langdon 1981:112), it is vital to hold the following two concepts together. 1) There was and is immense cultural exchange of both goods and ideas via indigenous trade networks within the Amazonian region outlined for th is study. 2) This exchange, which exerted and exerts culturally transformative pressure in contact with other groups, has played a role in both producing cultural similarities and generating historical novelty for these cultural and ethnic groups. Contact, Rupture, and Transformation Before putting forward a history of contact, disease, missionization, and drastic transformation that this region has undergone as a prelude to understanding the situation of the exchange networks that extended throughout lowla nd Amazonia and much of the Andes, it is necessary to elaborate briefly on how to approach the historical character of this region, and Amazonia more broadly. How to Do History in Amazonia and supra concurs with archaeological work being done in Amazonia more generally (H eckenberger 2004a; 2010; Heckenberger et al. 2008), is that the sophistication and heretofore unrecognized extent of Amerindian socio cultural and political organization throughout Amazonia in the pre Columbian era critically provides a context for
30 underst anding the transformations and displacements that occurred through the history of contact, slavery, colonization, and the rise of the modern State. Whitehead also no (1994:37), and points to crafting systems and the extensive networks of exchange that e engagement with contemporary indigenous ethnic boundaries, highlighting their Amazon ia, and more a particular time and place in its historical and political uniqueness. 3 This bears on the subject of this investigation directly. Any discussion of human p lant, human animal, and human spirit relationships, 4 and other non techno engaging with, living in, and conceiving of the world, which cannot be disentangled from the political, historical, and economic lives and bodies of those doing this living, engaging, and conceiving. change throughout Amazonia and the Andes, it is also necessary to address the often too drastic distinctions made between the lowlands and the highlands in terms of what 3 See especially Zarzar and Romn (1983:22 25) for a concise discussion of the political, historical, p 4 Cf. Viveiros de Castro 1992, 2002, 2004a; Descola 1992, 2009; and Descola and G sli 1996.
31 (20 05). Of the common refrain that Amazonia was considered marginal even during the early periods of contact, A. Taylor argues instead that the equatorial piedmont of the Andes was in fact inhabited, urbanized, and administere d to a greater degree than the corresp onding Andean and coastal zones (1999:197). She d the Amazonian and Andean regions were, A. Taylor suggests, specifically a result of colonial history. Colonial pressures were responsible for the breakdown of regional networks, resulting in the isolation of previously interconnected political and economic organizational groups, which lead to far more insular forms of local political organization ( A. Taylor 1999:208). This is, in large part, what gave rise to the kind of phantasmal historical moment described by Steward 5 and Metraux in their historical theoretical orientation to Amazonia ( A. Taylor 1999:208). Contact, Disease, Missionization, and Transformation My intention in this chapter is not to give a complete histor y of the dramas of contact, the horrors of disease and drastic population decline, the tendencies toward ethnocide of the projects of missionization, and the profound adaptations and transformations that indigenous groups of this region underwent from roug hly 1550 to present. However, without situating the succeeding material on regional indigenous networks of exchange within this overarching historical context, even if not to the degree 5 Cf. Steward 1963
32 that the density of the material might ultimately warrant, the resilie nt nature of these networks as they are perpetuated for over three centuries in the face of destructive historical forces might well be lost. I endeavor to point to political, social, and economic pressures occurring throughout the region, from the mid six teenth century to roughly 1767 with the expulsion of the Jesuit missions, before continuing to an analysis of exchange networks. The period of nascent capitalism that ran from the post Jesuit mission era to the beginning of the rubber economy (1769 1880) i s incorporated below with a discussion of the substantial transformations of exchange patterns that occurred during the Rubber Boom. 6 Contact, disease, slavery, and missionization cannot be understood apart from one another, as each is intimately related t o the next. The primary source of contact for which of course immediately acted as the primary vectors for disease introduction to these same indigenous populations. It is the steep population decline that provides the clearest lens through which to view the colonial situation in this region, and as (1994:43). According to A. constitutes what is tantamount to a cultur al cataclysm, a world ending event. Whatever life was prior to 1550, and what life would be again after, would of necessity be so different as to be virtually unrecognizable. In an analysis of the mission period, which he 6 The historical periods used here are drawn in part from the work of San Romn (1975).
33 dates from 1542 1769, the Peruvian historian San Romn characterizes the mission pueblo, translation). As part and parcel o indigenous groups with which the missionaries came in contact, otherwise mobile styles of life horticultural and hunting sites were tra nsformed, according to San Romn, to lifestyles bodies, and thereby souls, more amenable to mission regularization and Catholic disease outbreak far more deadly than it might have otherwise been. Kohn, writing of the Ecuadorian Runa, notes that two thirds of the indigenous population, by 1665, had died, with disease continuing to claim e ver more lives even up to 1762, as the survivors continued to flee the missions and go deeper into the forest (1992:51, my translation), given this dramatic populatio n decline and active fleeing of the mission sites by indigenous groups. Given the substantial population loss, however, conflicts entirely, the mission locations did act as central place s in which different indigenous groups began to generate relatively new cultural manifestations (1992:51 porated aspects of several other indigenous groups, as well as highland traditions and even European cultural traditions.
34 It is important to note that the Ecuadorian Runa, in this sense, have been, from relatively early on, actively engaged in ethnogenesis participating in a culture that is, by its very mode of origination to say nothing of its geographical and historical locations in exchange networks already made up of a heterogeneous mix of cultural elements. Whitten, likewise of the Ecuadorian Runa sometime prior to the early nineteenth century is accurately conceptualized as Times of extension of disease, contagion, and resulting deaths. Speaking in particular of the Canelos Puyo region of Ecuador, but certainly with resonance to the rest of Amazonia percent of various peoples resulted as measles, smallpox, chicken pox, and malaria important to note, as Whitten does, that disease was able to spread n ot simply due to a naturalistic biological accident of epidemiology. Rat her, the spread of disease was calculated intentions of both the Spanish State and the Catholic Church that actively produced economic and political situations down to the very organization of indigenous bodies and the extraction of their labor, time, and even internal states of belie f and understanding that made possible the spread of disease in so destructive a manner. While it is certainly worth being aware of the historical role played by pathogenic contact between human bodies in terms of disease, the deaths of indigenous people were not abstracted from the political
35 economic aims of the institutions exerting their influence in this region, and throughout Amazonia. Such aims could not be unilaterally imposed, however, as the town of Canelos, from which the regional Runa derive th e designation, which was founded in 1581 by Dominican missionaries, had to be wholly relocated twice because of Jvaro attacks (Whitten 1976:207). While the Dominicans had some influence in the Ecuadorian Amazon among the Runa near the Napo and Pastaza riv ers, turning to the Peruvian Amazon near the Ucayali, Urubamba, and Pachitea rivers to the south, the Catholic missionaries who were most prominent in the cultural landscape were the Jesuits and the Franciscans, who approached the region from the n orth and s outh respectively (DeBoer 1981:31). Similarly to San Romn and A. Taylor cited previously, Myers states that on the Ucayali there is archeological evidence that suggests large, complex societies were in existence in the pre contact period, but that here, as elsewhere in the Amazon, the evidence generally toward a reduction in numbers and societal stark population declines as Myers notes, alre ady in 1657 when the Franciscans reached the Setebo and other groups living near and around the Ucayali, it is very likely that these groups had already experienced significant population decline (1974:147). Though early reports on the status of indigenous groups by these missionaries may 1974:139). Again, the picture is complex. Both the Jesuits and the Franciscans were forced out of the Ucayali River region in the mid to late 1600s and again a century later
36 (Myers 1974:147). Disease so radically altered the demographics of the Cocama that though upon initial contacts with this missionaries returned in the late 1650s to the same regi on, the population loss was on the order of seventy percent (Myers 1974:147). This fundamentally altered the balance of power on the Ucayali, and by the 1790s both the Conibo and Setebo were moving into areas formerly controlled by the Cocama (Myers 1974:1 54). This change would prove to be a critical marker for the continued history of the region, especially in terms of trade networks. The Conibo, who had long been pillage oriented predators on the Pachitea and Ucayali, gained control of a significantly lar ger territory in terms of river passage. This gave the Conibo a distinct advantage in managing trade and all forms of passage in this region. As Myers notes, both the Cocama and Conibo were very likely sizeable chiefdoms at the time of Spanish contact (197 4:155), but with the abrupt population decline of the Cocama, the Conibo moved into a position of remarkable political and economic power. Other, smaller Pano groups such as the Shipibo and the Setebo traveled these and nearby smaller rivers as well, and t hough, much later, these groups would begin to integrate into a more unified political entity, during this period there were a series of alliances and enmities declared between them, entirely un reliant on though not unaffected by the missionaries and the Spanish. By the 1790s the two major forces on the Ucayali River were the Conibo and the Piro, and both played significant roles in the indigenous exchange networks throughout this region of Amazonia, reasons for which included their simultaneous access to missionary goods
37 and the historic trade with the Andean highlands. Though the Conibo always had something of an ambivalent relationship with the Catholic missionary groups which is (DeBoer 1981:37), and occasionally doing just that in the late eighteenth century they even requested their especially iron implements (Myers 1974:153). Interestingly durin g this period, the in fighting between the Catholic orders over found the Jesuits at tempting to establish themselves in the same region (Ortiz 1974:77). The Conibo managed to work this situation to their advantage, deriving iron tools and other trade goods from each group (DeBoer 1981:34). The Franciscans, however, desired to missionize a s many indigenous groups as possible, as quickly as possible, and as such began to, somewhat prior to 1766, make gifts of iron tools to the Setebo and Shipibo as well (Ortiz 1974:181). The Setebo and Shipibo were consistent enemies, and though the Francisc ans founded a mission at Santo Domingo on the Pisqui River to attempt to craft some kind of amiability between the two, this had little effect beyond putting in plain view of the Shipibo the gifts and trade that the Franciscans engaged in with the Setebo a nd the Conibo at the same time, destroying any sense of trust or alliance between the Shipibo and the Franciscans (Ortiz 1974:182 183). It was during this period that the rebellions initiated by Juan Santos Atahualpa and Runcato along the Ucayali roughly two decades later began to occur in the broader region. As Tournon suggests, beginning in 1740 there was a series of indigenous rebellions in
38 Peru, with one of the most well known being those led by Atahualpa, which began 1745 (2002:59). It was with thi s atmosphere of widespread resistance that Runcato was able, in 1766, to unite the previously fractious and conflict prone Setebo, Shipibo, and Conibo into a unified group, enough to mobilize them to attack and drive out the missionaries (Tournon 2002:61 6 2). Ortiz, a historian of the Catholic Missions of the Pachitea and Ucayali Rivers notes citing a letter fr om Padre Amich in 1766 that Runcato was able to convince groups of Conibo warriors and Shipibo warriors to dispatch significant numbers of priests a cristianos takes to be something like astonishment, name after name of priests no longer living in the Ucayali region, and the missions that had been utterly abandoned or destroyed (Ortiz 1974:188 189 ). Inasmuch as it was the arrival of the missionaries that had re ignited many of the conflicts between the Setebo, Shipibo, and Conibo over access to missionaries term political cultural sense (Tournon 2002:63, my translation). Though the Dominicans and Franciscans played a not insignificant role in the missionization of the region, the most importan t mission was the one established by the Jesuits at Mainas ( A. Taylor 1999:223). As A. Taylor notes, this was both due to its size, and the influence of its forms of reduction and missionization that greatly influenced the culture of other missions through out the region (1999:223). Features understood to be common to many Jesuit missions had their origin here: the preference for situating indigenous populations on riverbanks, the forcible adoption of Qu e chua by groups from the Napo to the Ucayali, the aband onment of traditional dress styles, and even the
39 modification of traditional horticulture and agriculture from a primary orientation to subsistence to a new orientation toward trade crops. Each of these was a Jesuit legacy in the region, and had their orig in in Mainas ( A. Taylor 1999:223 226). These new socio A. Taylor 1999:231). Given their positions between the highlands and the more extensive reaches of the lowlands and the Ucayali were the chief vic ( A. Taylor 1999:231). This is particularly important to emphasize, especially as this chapter later grapples with questions of ethnogenesis in just these two regions. Exchange Networks in Amazonia Fol lowing Myers, I suggest of the Napo and Ucayali riverine populations that the d was made up of long distance trading routes along the major rivers, reaching to the Andes both prior to and after Spanish contact, which then intersected with regional exchange networks of interfluve and forest groups (Myers 1981:19). As has been suggested of the Conibo case previously, engaging in warfare did not exclude continued trade relationships with other groups, 7 and as Myers suggests, there were in fact groups o f specialist traders working the rivers of the Amazon who commonly maintained forms 7 Cf. Whitehead (1994:38), for warfare being included as a form of exchange.
40 of treaty or alliance throughout these larger trading routes along the rivers, in order to provide for the continuation trade (Myers 1981:19). The rivers, unsurprisingly, a re the key factor in making long distance trade possible. As Myers suggests, transport on pottery and other similar wares, would have made up the majority of the trade (Myers 1981:20). What is central to recognize from this is that while there is no doubt that European goods, especially iron tools and the like, had profound effects on indigenous groups, the desire for these goods did not necessitate new means of dissemin ation of goods throughout Amazonia. These networks were already in place, and while they certainly adapted themselves to demographic and political changes during European system long developed trade relationships with the highlands, often as a way of establishing social and political entanglements with highland groups (Zarzar and Romn 1983:49 51). As Za rzar and Romn make clear, many indigenous groups prior to European contact relied on these systems of exchange for any number of goods that would have been at least inconvenient, if not impossible, to procure locally particular varieties of stone for ha tchets, bits of jade and precious metals, cotton, salt, tobacco, hides, dogs, and even canoes of particular trees (1983:51). This is to say that the introduction of European goods into this network should not seem surprising indigenous groups had been tr ading for uniquely crafted goods not available through local artisans for what were likely centuries. Zarzar and Romn go so far as to suggest that these networks allowed for groups to develop specializations in particular trade items (1983:50), which
41 reso but could instead be founded on a craft technique or specialization that was sustained Where this leads for this chapter and for the investigation more broadly is to the notion that beliefs, ritual knowledge, and spiritual power were all also considered to be, in some senses not unlike curare, pottery, and salt actively exchanged along these networks (Langdon 1981:101). While certainly particular 1981:106), it was the regional and supra regional connections facilitated by these trade routes that made it possible for shamans and novices to travel over long distances to acquire knowledge and power from groups farther off. As Langdon notes, many shamans of the Sibu proportions and admi xtures, facility with particular visions, and other features of shamanic knowledge in order for the visiting shaman to be able to make use of the yag rituals correctly once they had returned (Langdon 1981:109). 8 Though this point will be returned to more fully later on, Langdon makes the remarkable assertion of Sibundoy Valley shamans that the yag ritual ultimately becomes a manner of enacting a particular sensibility of indigenous identity, and that though the exchange networks under discussion here do 8 Cf. Wright (In Press, Chapter 3) for another example of ex tensive indigenous networks established for the training of shamans and the exchange of ritual knowledge and power in the Northwest Amazon
42 It only remains, then, before underta king a more detailed look at the exchange networks on the Napo River and Ucayali River in their specificity, to address the more general situation of the region as a whole as backdrop against which to understand these two cases. By way of tracing the outli nes of the trade network throughout this region, it will be simplest to cite directly from A. Taylor: The Campa Antis were one of the poles of a vast trade network linking the great chiefdoms of the Ucayali, the Pano interfluve groups, and the Urubamba Pir o. Similar relations tied the Sibundoy Indians and the Chibcha to the western Tukano groups of the Colombian piedmont and tied the Quijos of the upper Napo to the Tupian Omagua. [ A. Taylor 1994:199] The locations and ethnic groups who resided in this exten sive region highlight that indigenous exchange networks reached to a remarkable breadth of people and places. A. Taylor, similar to Zarzar and Romn, suggests that two different kinds of networks intersected here. The first were long distance trade routes along rivers, specialized in by riverine groups such as the Piro and Conibo, and the second were the intra regional trade networks that included interfluve and forest groups ( A. Taylor 1994:199). Interestingly, Zarzar and Romn add a third category to this set of networks, that of trade between riverine indigenous groups and the missions (1983:56), which was a tertiary circuit of trade with its own benefits and, as has been elaborated, substantial costs. Echoing the previous statements on the far more fluid sense of relationship between the highlands and the lowlands that existed before that division had been concretized by colonial history, the specialization in trade items by particular indigenous groups meant that lifestyles, goods, and cultural objects t hat often now differentiate an interfluve group from a riverine, and lowland riverine groups from highland groups, were
43 A. Taylor 1999:208). This accentuates a component of the trade strategies of indigenous lowl and groups highlighted previously, that of attempting to make use of exchange relationships as political force. A. Taylor notes of the Spanish entradas in 1616 and 1635 that the indigenous groups along the pe of forcing the Spaniards into exchange were not simply in want of iron tools, though certainly economic demand played no small role. These strategies must also be u nderstood as distinctly socio political devices meant to orient particular kinds of indigenous Spanish relations, modeled on previous lowland highland historical trade arrangements. As Spanish and mission incursions into indigenous territories increased, i ndigenous groups began to develop new inter tribal political forms to adapt to the encroachment. A. Taylor notes that there was a sharing of defensive military and trade networks based on a Campa prohibition on intratribal violence, the scope of which was ultimately extended to other non Campa groups, spreading to include the Piro, Amuesha, riverside Pano, and the Tupi of the lower Ucayali, among others (1999:241). Exchange Networks on the Ucayali The history of trade on the Ucayali is a varied one, involvi ng 1) pre Columbian exchange between the highlands and lowlands and the perpetuation of these contacts in varied forms from nearly 1550 through 1850 (Zarzar and Romn 1983:13; A. Taylor 1999:199; Myers 1981:22); 2) warfare as a means of extracting, making available, and relocating both bodies and goods from place to place; 3) the integration of missionary goods and bureaucratic political organizational tendencies into existing geographic political structures (DeBoer 1981:31 34; A. Taylor 1999:221); 4) the r adical changes in
44 local power dynamics with waves of population decline among different indigenous groups who by turn controlled different parts of the rivers and thereby the networks of exchange (DeBoer 1981:35; Zarzar and Rom n 1983:51); and finally 5) t he concomitant changes in local indigenous socio political organization styles, in general moving from more to less complex, based in large part on demographic collapse and the pressures of missionary reductions (Myers 1974:135; Zarzar and Romn 1983:55 56 ). The Jesuits first made contact with the Cocama in 1644, and seven years later over seventy percent of their population was dead of disease (Myers 1974:147). This marked a substantial shift in the regional balance of power, as from the pre contact era th e Ucayali and adjacent rivers had in large part been the domain of the Cocama, the Conibo, and the Piro. The Piro had long maintained Andean trade contacts, traveling as far as Cuzco to obtain gold, a relationship which they continued to exploit from the m id sixteenth century on through the early nineteenth (Myers 1981:22; Zarzar and Romn 1983:51). Indeed, in terms of trade itself as a means of exchange, it was the Piro who most excelled at the long distance trade routes among wide varieties of indigenous groups (Zarzar and s (1981:19 23). Trade, however, was not the only means of exchange current on the Ucayali during this period. DeBoer describes the Conibo position on the river as one of whereby they actively plundered for wives, slaves, and goods other less powerful indigenous neighbors, and then traded these both material goods and human bodies to the missionaries for metal tools and salt (1981:31). Trade, as DeBoer and Chasuta (1981:31 32). Trade in salt had, unsurprisingly, a pre contact history
45 throughout the indigenous networks of exchange in the region, an d the Jesuits, by securing access to such a critical resource, were able to position themselves within these existing networks. This gave them leverage over both salt and metal tools, two items of exchange that were certain to draw high demand throughout t he extents of these exchange networks. Salt from the deposits they controlled reached as far as the Upper Napo (DeBoer 1981:31 32). The Franciscans were not blind to the degree of control this afforded the Jesuits, and had as their own explicit goals in th e missionization process to secure access to their own salt deposits in the region, specifically from the Cerro de la Sal up the Peren (DeBoer 1981:32). The expansion of Conibo power in the region was predicated on the Cocama population collapse. In the c entury after 1651 when the Cocama had been ravaged by disease, the Conibo expanded into their territory, taking on ever greater control of the river traffic (DeBoer 1981:33). Although smaller groups did not submit in any particularly quiescent way, the res istance that the Conibo did encounter was on a scale that was relatively easily rebuffed by their larger, more well organized raiding parties (DeBoer 1981:33). A notable exception to this was the Piro who, already being experienced long distance traders an d a relatively powerful group in the region, managed to establish a presence on the Tambo River. From here they staged ambushes of such cost that it formed a barrier to the 1981:35). The Conibo often traded in the bodies of their captives from these raids, salt, and the like. The Jesuits were happy to receive the human cargo, as they would
46 train them in the use of Quechua, in order to act as translators and interpreters for other groups in the region (DeBoer 1981:33). In a strange bit of irony, the Conibo rationalized their capture missionaries had toward their own efforts with the Conibo (1981:37 38). Exchange Networks on the Napo What can be described as the ayahuasca shamanic complex has its origins in material goods were not the only items to travel the exchange networks, and that ritual knowledge also traversed these routes (Langdon 1981:106). With this in mind, I turn now to address the situation of the lowland Quichua speaking peoples of Ecuador as cultural middlemen and economic brokers between highland, and later colonial, cultural g roups and other more distant indigenous groups of lowland Amazonia. Hudelson notes that the predecessors of the lowland Quichua, given their previous experience as political encounter with highland groups including the Inca positioned them to adapt to the arrival of the Spanish with Pizarro more effectively than they might otherwise have done (1984:59). This had, according to Hudelson, a dual effect. For one, because of the proximi ty to the Andean capital of Quito and the routes of passage to the lowlands exploitation of
47 several distinc t cultural groups that shared a lingua franca and had close trade 1984:65). However, the other side of this proximity meant that the lowland Quichua of this region develope access to the material goods of the whites, on the one hand, and the forest products of the indigenous groups on the other (Hudelson 1984:69). This cultural capital, 9 based on A. Taylor 1999:235) provides some of the more substantial grounds for explainin g the cultural impact that the ritual traditions of these groups had throughout the region. Whitten suggests for Quichua yachaj (2008: 61), the crossing of thresholds and boundaries, and mediating between worlds, is in many ways the defining position of t he shaman, as it is in many of the ritual and cosmological systems throughout Amazonia Following this, it should not seem surprising that a political economic situation as mediators and brokers between white and indigenous cultural worlds would lend weigh t to the shamanic traditions of the lowland Quichua so situated. The Jesuit mission at Maynas (Mainas) held substantial sway throughout the whole of this region. The Jesuits, in large part, made use of the route through Archidona on their way to Maynas, an d as such the lowland Quichua groups came into regular contact with them, both for trade and as paddlers for the long journeys (Oberem noted previously of the salt depos its that the Jesuits controlled, the lowland Quichua 9 Cf. Bourdieu (1985) on cultural capital.
48 went as far as the Huallaga to trade for salt (Oberem 1974:349). Though this did not tie the Quijos into the Conibo/Piro exchange networks of the Ucayali in a profound way, the mutually implicative natur e of regional trade networks as they extend to supra regional areas can be clearly recognized. It is worth noting, however, the perhaps obvious parallel between the Quijos and the Piro in this sense, as each group maintained trade relationships with the hi ghlands, the missions, and the lowland indigenous groups, albeit from points of access on the Napo and Ucayali rivers respectively. Though the focus of much of the trade between the lowland Quichua groups (Canelo, Quijo, etc.) and other lowland indigenous groups further downstream was on European trade goods, it bears repeating that the previously existing trade networks and the demand for indigenous trade products did not dissolve with European contact. In fact, it is interesting to note that many groups, the Shuar (Jvaro) in particular, traded with the Canelo for blowguns, a product the Canelo were well known for producing. This is a particularly interesting parallel in that the Shuar according to Harner, even in contemporary history, are certain that the Canelos Runa have the most potent tsentsak or spirit darts, which are in a 123). The Shuar are not the only group to derive shamanic or ritual power and knowledge from the lowland Quichua. Ac shamans taking their training from the lowland Quichua as well, which suggests that this was not an isolated practice. The lowland Quichua the Canelos, the Quijos, and those who would become the Puyo and Napo Runa seem to have, throughout this period
49 and up until today, es tablished themselves as mediators between the cultural worlds of the whites and indigenous groups, while simultaneously developing a reputation for during the rise of the m meta Quichua cultural presence and even prominence to spread throughout both eastern Ecuador and on into Peru, such t day identity politics to play a powerful role (1976:213). Exchange in the Rubber Epoch 10 The site which was to become Iquitos was established in the eighteenth century as a Jesuit mission, though it was not until the 1840s that the Iquitos Indians settled there with their white patrn (Stanfield 1998:30), founding the city in its modern economic and historical context. Located near the confluence of the Nanay and Amazon rivers, and less than eighty miles fro m where the headwaters of the Ucayali and Maran themselves converge, Iquitos has been, from the very beginning, located at a key geographical point for trade flowing through the Peruvian Amazon. Class and racial divisions, still evident today, were likew ise present from the beginning, where a small white elite economically, socially, and politically dominated and oppressed the significantly more numerous indigenous and mestizo populations (Stanfield 1998:30). Though Iquitos was well situated for commerce, until the advent of the rubber economy, the city remained relatively small. By 1864, however, little more than twenty years from its founding, steamboats, factories, docks, and manufacturing centers were brought to 10 Portions of this section have been previously released in prior form on the web as part of J. Taylor 2010.
50 the city by British companies and the Pe ruvian navy, bringing rapid growth with them demand for rubbe r throughout the world (San Rom n 1975:127), and Iquitos was inundated with thousands of new immigrants, fur thering indigenous population decline through slavery and disease. This, as has been attested to previously, significantly altered the political and cultural realities of those who remained (Stanfield 1998:36). As be sold on the world markets. But on the tributaries of the Upper Amazon the native peoples were the immediate prize and the target of the rubber because the caucheros systematically arranged the ir raiding and terrorism against town, where Indians and partially acculturated cho los formed the working class, Chinese merchants and restauranteurs figured prominently among the petty retailers, while European merchants controlled the most lucrative wholesale trade. Along the muddy streets, one could see along with the harried Indian porters and the pigs routing through garbage newcomers from Germany, Brazil, Spain, Italy, France, England, China, Portugal, Morocco, Columbia, Ecuador, as well as a few from North American and Russia. [Stanfield 1998:108] Notably, it was not only the s welling population, systemic racism, and the acculturative impact of European goods that so distinctly shaped much of what modern Iquitos was to become. The techniques of rubber tapping themselves, as they were practiced in the Amazon, played a significant role. Tapping a Hev e a tree, which produced a finer quality of latex, was something that could be done sustainably where a single tapper, working in relative isolation, could tend a few hundred trees at a time,
51 spread over many dozens of acres of forest The trouble with this was that even with a hundred trees or more, Hev e a trees, while sustainable, could only yield roughly 5 7 pounds of dry rubber per tree annually. Castilloa trees, while they had to be felled, killing the tree, could produce upwards of 200 pounds of latex in a matter of days. The caucho model of scouring the forest for these immense trees caused the vast majority of rubber tappers to be constantly wandering, untraceable, forever in search of these lucrative but highly perishable resource s. necessary for caucho collection resulted in a less stable lifestyle, one that proved highly disruptive for 1998: 24). When the Rubber Boom did finally collapse aroun d 1912, it was due, again, to the details of harvesting the latex from the trees. Hev e a trees are susceptible to a particular form of leaf blight that is common in the Amazon, making plantations of them unfeasible in the region as the blight passes from t ree to tree. However, in Southeast Asia, India, and Africa, this blight does not exist. Vast plantations of the sustainable Hev e a trees were planted in these locations and as they both produced a finer quality latex than the Castilloa trees and did not re quire anything like the same labor to acquire from the forest the costs of the latex from these plantations so drastically undercut the Amazonian market that it simply could not compete In the short years after the expulsion of the Jesuits from this regi on in the late nineteenth century but before the significant arrival of the rubber economy, as San Rom n suggests, the Napo River had been somewhat forgotten in economic terms (1975:150). However, as the rubber economy found its way into this area right ab out 1900, the Napo River region returned immediately to playing a key economic role, with
52 the arrival of Ecuadorian, Peruvian, and even Colombian patrnes ( San Romn 1975:150). Hudelson, in an analysis of the spread of Quichua culture, notes with these arr Napo to the Putumayo, from the Pastaza to the Tigre, further extending traces of the Quichua cultural imprint (Hudelson 1984:68). While certainly the treatment that Quichua cu terms of overall population decline than other indigenous groups (Hudelson 1984:68). Inte restingly, however, with the relatively sudden collapse of the rubber economy in 1912 1914, many of the Quichua men who had been forcibly relocated to other areas and other rivers did not return home, but elected to stay (Hudelson 1984:68). Given the this dispersal is that though the Quichua who had relocated or been relocated were theor etically moving into alternative indigenous contexts, it was the groups into which they moved and began to inhabit who ultimately, and intentionally, acculturated to Quichua cultural patterns (Hudelson 1984:68). It was the rubber economy that finally and m ost fully collapsed t he long enduring indigenous trade networks throughout the region. The regional and supra regional economies and networks of exchange that had existed prior to European contact had
53 managed to survive or at least re constitute themselv es time and again by incorporating European goods, a trade in indigenous bodies and labor, even turning the tendencies toward ethnocide of the Catholic missions toward exchange. Rubber would change that. San Romn suggests that it was during this era, fr om 1880 1914, that saw n). And just as the Catholic missionaries had come in step with the sword of conquest, so too did the Protestant missionaries arrive with incipient capitalism and the machete of the cauchero ( San Romn 1975:124, 140). The missions and reducciones had made indigenous groups of the region vulnerable to social atomization and collapse, but it was the radical dislocation of indigenous bodies facilitated by the capitalist rubber economy that made a return to previous forms of inter tribal exchange networks final ly untenable. Though this is in no way to suggest that indigenous groups did not subsequently re establish new forms of exchange, during the period of the rubber economy and for long years after this was not feasible. What did occur, however, was a cultura l exchange and mixing among indigenous groups that would have otherwise been far too remote from one another to have come directly into contact, based simply on this new enforced proximity in rubber camps ( San Romn me zclado rise to the ribereo culture of the region today. As San Romn notes of these mixing my translation). The question of ribereo culture and its relationship to ayahuasca shamanism, especially the
54 vegetalismo investigated by Luna (1986) and Beyer (2009) is taken up in a subsequent chapter, but it is very much to the point that the origins of the brew, the ritual traditions, and cosmological implications of the shamanic complex surrounding ayahuasca were dramatically affected by just this cultural mixing in the rubber camps (Gow 1994). Ethnogenesis y a label for the historical emergence of political struggles to create enduring id entities in general contexts of radical change and Runa peoples of lowland Amazonia in Ecuador and Peru, as well as the contemporary Pano speaking Shipibo Conibo gro ups of the Ucayali. Neither the Runa peoples of the Napo River, the Shipibo Conibo of the Ucayali, nor the ribereos in the areas these groups is the product of that ethnogenesis: the struggle to create identity. For each of these groups this occurred during periods of catastrophic population decline from slavery and disease the tendency toward ethnocide of mission ization, the encroachments of colonial expansion, and the economic, ecological, and human depredations of the rubber economy. An analysis of identity in terms of ribereo mestizos near Iquitos is undertaken in the next chapter limiting scope here in order to make clear the struggles and processes of ethnogenesis for indigenous groups of this region in particular.
55 level expansion reduces multilingual, multicultural regional networks to territor ially discrete, culturally 8). It is vital to recognize that pre colonial ethnic groups were not necessarily oriented toward particular territories or linguistic families, but were dynamic, evolving cons tructs in conjunction with trade good specialization, warring patterns, and kinship structures, among others which overlapped and mutually informed group identity as such (Whitehead 1994:37 38). This joins in a dichotomy between isolated Indian populations and ethnic groups cannot be (1996:9). This dichotomy is one that deline a degree of integration with the nation state, situating the formation of an identity as a particular political movement within a more or less contemporary political historical field. distinct from modern persons engaged in political identity struggles (1996:7 11). This orientation toward the process of ethnogenesis is critical in understanding the strategic nature of identity creation and development for both the Runa and the Shipibo Conibo, especially as this decidedly includes ritual and religious contexts. Hill notes that religions can have the potential to act as a profoundly important aspect of the maintenance of an
56 entity, from the Putumayo through to lowland Ecuador, and by implication, on to wherever these shared ritual practices extend throughout indigenous groups in Amazonia (Langdon 1981:112). As Hill notes of his work with Wright, the Wakunai phratries had exp erienced a long history of interethnic relations with expanding colonial and national societies of Latin America and that this history was actively remembered through an array of narrative discourses and ritually powerful ways of speaking. [Hill 1996:147 1 48] This suggests that ritual practices and beliefs have the capacity to produce a critical engagement with history from indigenous cultural, political, and economic perspectives entity creation and maintenance. 11 While the Shipibo Conibo have themselves undergone a process of ethnogenesis, this has to a great extent already been described in the previous analysis of Shipibo, Setebo, and Conibo trade and pillage relationships, the e fforts toward unification that the Franciscans attempted prior to the Rubber Boom, and the beginnings of integration which occurred during the Runcato led rebellion against the missionaries. The eventual population decline of the Conibo lead, as with the C ocama before them, to a flagging of their political power on the Ucayali, and they fell from categorization as it is a particular ethnic identity, though certainly it is a cat egory based on the realities of shared customs, beliefs, practices, living spaces, and language. Such cultural mixing was noted even in the late eighteenth century on the Ucayali, reported 11 Taussig, in his work with yag shamans along the Putumayo in Colombia, has also taken up this notion of ritual practice as a form of indigenous critical engagement with histories of colonialism (1987).
57 s by later With the above in mind it is my intention here to elaborate more fully on the previously sparse analysis of Runa or Quichua ethnogenesis. Oberem states that the nsisting both biologically and people near the Napo and Pastaza rivers of the Ecuadorian Amazon highlights the geographic, cultural, and historical role as mediators that indigenous Amazonians of this region have played, and continue in many ways to play today. The expansion of Quichua culture has, according to Hudelson, two historical points of origin, the first being Jesuit missionization, and the second an active encultu ration of smaller, less politically powerful indigenous groups during, and especially after, the period of the rubber economy (1984:73 Basin when the first white colonists arrived in the sixteenth Quichua of this region were in a unique position to both be inordinately affected by disease and slavery (Hudelson 1984:65). They were, however, also strategically placed to capitalize on the new relationships with Europeans, as they already had cultural were decimated, they shared enough cultural material, especiall y after the experience of
58 the Jesuit missions, to begin to actively constitute themselves as a political identity as Quichua if not immediately a political entity on the national stage. These groups, having had economic ties pre contact, and having und missions, shared much of their cultural systems, pronouncedly in the religious systems of shamanism and cosmology. It was not, however, the missions that solely produced these shared cultural to have consisted of several distinct cultural groups that shared a lingua franca and had by Whitehead and F of this period were a potentially arbitrarily isolated group of a complex regional network of interrelation, treated as a socially self d ivision existed. Whatever the precise arrangement of historical factors that established mis sion pressure toward the acculturation of other lowland indigenous groups. What is interesting to note is that this expansion of Quichua culture, as it has occurred under the historical agency of the Quichua themselves, has in large part occurred as a poli tically adaptive strategy of the assimilated smaller indigenous group. That is to say that assimilation for neighboring Indian groups during the past three centuries meant that while other nearby indigenous groups are seeing a continued population decline and cultural loss, the Quichua are actually expanding (Hudelson 1984:59 60).
59 Whitten points to the intrusion of national power with the rise of the moder n nation state expanding and reconsolidating a ttenuated ayllu cultural extents (Whitten 1976:213). Finally, though, as A. happened rather was a growth of form ations characterized by a suspension or freezing A. Taylor 1999:234). As such, it is important to note that while eth nogenesis as a process should be understood as a n ongoing struggle to generate and maintain identity, this is not an uncontested process at the same moment. A. Tayl or notes that multilingualism, so common in this region, and most definitely among the Runa, 12 ethnic identity must be under stood as a distinctly political act, one made in a historical often limited extent, socio economic and political resistance and mobilization. A. Taylor continues, how ever, to note that despite the potentially multiple nature of identity white split in these overall identities themselves that make original tribal affiliations 12 Cf. Whitten 20 05 on the common occurrence of multilingualism among Canelos Quichua.
60 largely ir colonial powers. As such, it is a mistake to consider ethnogenesis as a single historical act of any particular tribe or cultural group it is always a negotiated process, utterly bound up with historical and political realities. Of Mediators and Brokers In this chapter I have attempted to present the historical context of indigenous groups on both the Napo and Ucayali rivers in terms of their situation as cultural mediators and economic br okers between the highlands and the lowlands, between the Europeans and indigenous Amazonians further east. In doing so it has been necessary assumed to reference a part icular territorial or linguistic group, especially as these constructions of ethnicity have a tendency to reify cultural boundaries that were unlikely to have been the central points of demarcation for pre colonial indigenous groups themselves. I have also intended to point to the heavy tolls of disease, slavery, and missionization on indigenous peoples, while at the same time noting the adaptations and historical agency of these indigenous groups. With such a radical population decline, it is impossible to and agency. The exploitation and socio economic marginalization of indigenous groups continues today, and if the historical and political motives are not identical, it would be absurd to suggest an absence of genealogy between the situations. What is striking in this is not that indigenous groups developed their own cultural responses and novel formulations despite these pressures, but that these persisted, in changing but undeniable forms, for c enturies Indigenous exchange networks collapsed, but were consistently reconstituted or freshly established from 1550 on through nearly 1880, all
61 the while adapting to cataclysmic loss of life, vicious power struggles, wave upon wave of disease, European trade goods, slavery, and missionization. 13 It was not until the rise of the proto modern nation state and nascent capitalism of the rubber economy that these networks ultimately collapsed, and even then they found expression in the continued exchange of r itual knowledge and power from group to group along similar, if approaching the exchange of ritual knowledge and power as part of this history of trade networks, with the recognition that the trade of ritual plants, stones, artifacts, and may be understood to b e grounded in, if not reductively wholly ascribed to, the geographic and political brokerage that the lowland Quichua were known for, and the cultural capital which this position entailed. The ayahuasca shamanic complex described here originated on the Nap o River with just these shamans, and it is to this origin, and the spread of this complex, that I turn in the next chapter. 13 Cf. Sweet (1977) for the collapse and redevelopment of indigenous exchange networks in the middle Amazon valley as these responded to missionization, disease, and slavery.
62 Figure 1 1 Map of the Napo, Iquitos, Ucayali region.
63 CHAPTER 3 ORIGINS OF AYAHUASCA Langdon suggest s that ritual knowledge and power, as well as ritual artifacts and materials, were traded as part of the far more elaborated exchange networks throughout both pre and post contact indigenous communities in both the Peruvian and Ecuadorian Amazon (Langdon argument set forward here. It is my contention that there is something about the ayahuasca brew and the rituals sur rounding it that have situated it historically as an item of exchange likely to spread along the riverine populations of thi s region. I argue that is significant that it is ayahuasca, as opposed to other psychoactive plants, that is the central component o f the shamanic complex that has, over the last three hundred years, become pervasive. Indigenous exchange networks were robust and resilient routes along which goods, persons, and ideas were capable of passing from the highlands to the lowlands, from missi ons to interior indigenous groups. In tracing the origins of this complex of shamanic traditions, I have as my target less an attempt to produce a kind of complex h as both adapted and remained consistent as it has traversed these exchange networks, in order to situate its place as a means of ritual healing and identity making. 1 Part of the difficulty with the academic literature on the subject of ayahuasca has been a consistent confusion of terms between brews made specifically from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, without admixtures, and brews made with admixtures, most famously those with Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) bearing plant additives. I begin by describing differen ces 1 Cf. Langdo n (1981:112 yag
64 between particular uses of the vine in different indigenous contexts in the Northwest Amazon in order to disentangle these potentially confused vine brews and the cultural contexts within which they are found. By drawing this distinction it will then b e possible reaching assertion that ayahuasca shamanism is of such recent origin (1994), while still recognizing the utility of much of his critique of the assumptions underlying the previous anthropologic al crediting of its antiquity. Following this, I outline the dispersal of the ayahuasca shamanic complex throughout this riverine region, suggesting the importance of rivers in all facets of life material, discursive, and otherwise. Rivers and mediation highlight issues of mezclado and cultural mixing as these inform the use of ayahuasca to establish spaces of encounter between worlds. Finally, I address concerns raised in the anthropological literature on ayahuasca tourism as a form of globalization, as this presents a new site of encounter between worlds, with all the ambivalence this has historically entailed. Vine, Additives, and Plant Knowledge Due to dramatic population decline as a result of disease and slavery during the post contact era, the Runa as they are constituted today were formed directly from the survivors of other indigenous groups, many of whom had undergone similar histories of missionization and the forced acquisition of the Quechua language. As Kohn note s, such were actively engaged in the search for new remedies (1992:52, my translation). reducciones these p eoples would have had an opportunity to exchange knowledge of medical systems, plant and forest remedies and their cultivation techniques for a wide variety of illnesses,
65 in a much more rapid way than would have been the case prior to European contact. Sim ilarly, even Old World remedies would have been made available in the midst of these cultural exchanges, at least to some degree. This suggests the potential for extremely rapid changes, advancements, and discoveries in ethnomedical knowledge (Kohn 1992:52 day Napo Runa are renowned in Ecuador among scholars and other Indian groups alike for the number of different plants they especially re markable once understood in context. As both Highpine (2012:17 18) and Kohn (1992:54) state, the Waorani are a forest dwelling group in the Ecuadorian Amazon which had, until recently, been relatively uncontacted (though of course not un affected ) by Euro Americans or even the reaches of the modern s demeanor and behavior toward outsiders. Because of their relative isolation, it was assumed that there would be a substantial reserve of tradition al medicinal knowledge of plants by many of those who hoped to interact and work with this group (Davis and Yost 1983; Davis 1996). However, upon engaging with the Waorani and beginning to catalogue their ethnobotanical knowledge in terms of plant remedies researchers were that these indigenous people use few medicinal plants because in large measure they had escaped the ravages of illness and epidemics that had affected the more contacted more isolated indigenous groups did not, in all cases, maintain robust ethnomedical systems of plant and forest remedies. Instead, it is important t o note that a group
66 relatively geographically near the Napo Runa, but who had not been in a historical situation to interact directly with European cultures, did not in all cases find it necessary to master such a remarkable range of plant medicines as the 1200 estimated of the nslation). Whatever the facts of any particular ethnic group throughout Amazonia, what this does serve to highlight is the particular historical contingency of the Napo of knowledge. Rather than expecting the Runa, or a ny other indigenous group, to corpus the experimental, dynamic nature of indigenous medical knowledge as a system that builds on, adapts, re of changing historical political situations (Kohn 1992:55, my translation). Indeed, as Highpine notes, the Napo Runa discovered these many hundreds of plant remedies continues, stating that though malaria had been problematic for thousands of years around the world prior to its introduction to the Amazon, within twenty five years of its nine, was discovered by indigenous This is meaningful for the origins of ayahuasca, as it makes clear that the Napo Runa plant specialists were already very familiar with local flora, to a degree that seems likely to have outstripped other indigenous groups of the same region. Before continuing on to a more thorough discussion of Runa conceptions and uses of ayahuasca in line
67 with their understandings of plant medicines more broadly, it is necessary briefly to disambi guate ayahuasca in terms of the vine alone, from ayahuasca in terms of the brew which is often prepared with a wide number of additives. Brabec de Mori suggests that the linguistic and ethnomusicological evidence points to the Napo River region as the orig in of the ayahuasca brew with its wide array of additives as distinct from beverages (both decoctions and infusions) made from the vine alone (2011:24). This leaves open the wide variety of other uses that the caapi (ayahuasca) vine had and has in othe r parts of the Amazon. This is a necessary qualification, as it paints a more which are positions taken and argued in the broader anthropological literature. 2 Highpine suggests that the ayahuasca shamanic complex as outlined for this region began originally with the use of the Banisterioposis caapi vine on the Napo River, where many dif ferent components were added to the brew, though these were not added for their DMT visionary effects (2012:1). She suggests instead that DMT containing additives Psychotria viridis and Diplopterys cabrerana were added to the brew, much in the manner which other plants were added, but in other geographic regions near and around Iquitos, Peru and on the upper Putumayo River, respectively (Highpine 2012:1). It was from these secondary locations that the DMT containing brew disseminated, though with the ritu al components, practices, and cosmological referents of Quichua 3 shamanism continued as part of the transmission of the complex 2 Cf. Brabec de Mori (2011), and Beyer (2012a). 3 speaking peoples of lowland Ecuador, or the Quechua language spoken in this region. The spellings are indicative of
68 surrounding the use of the vine. Indeed, if the DMT additives were crucial to the Quichua uses of the brew as it was made use of manifestly not the case, as Highpine produces a lengthy list of indigenous groups who make use of the vine alone, and for whom cosmologica l references to the brew imply symbolism for the vine alone, and not the DMT admixture leaves (2012:5). As she notes, chacruna the word very commonly employed throughout this region to describe the Psychotria viridis bush, in the Quichua dialect used in m any parts of the Napo River, some cases (Highpine 2012:8 9), or rather to bring v isions of the plants so added, to learn of them and how to make use of them practically and medicinally (Highpine 2012:19). Indeed, it is just this practice of adding different plants to a decoction of the and DMT additive brew that has become the subject of so much popular and scholarly the MAOI effects of the harmine and harmaline beta Carb oline alkaloids in the caapi vine with the DMT of both P. viridis and D. cabrerana is distinctly unlikely to have produced a brew of this sort. Highpine contextualizes this stating that there are upwards of 80,000 catalogued plant species in this region o f the Amazon, with an estimated million more potentially uncatalogued (2012:18), numbers that make largely random particular political configurations in line with either establishing indigenous identities distinct from Peruvian re spelling of the word in order to avoid the Spanish, and thereby colonial, spelling.
69 processes of discovery unlikely. Relatedly, trial and error as a mode of finding medicinal plants for particular illnesses seems an implausibl e source for the rapid growth of medicinal plant knowledge as suggested of the Napo Runa during the years of European contact (Highpine 2012:19). In terms of the ayahuasca brew containing DMT additives, it is important to recognize that the common statemen t in much of the more popular literature about ayahuasca that DMT is not active without the MAOI of the vine is true, but misleading. While DMT is not active orally, the plants that contain it, in this case the P. viridis and D. cabrerana are themselv es psychoactive alone through other compounds (Highpine 2012:21). As such, adding these plants to the brew fits within the overall pattern of adding potentially useful plants to the ayahuasca brew to ry to how the synergy between B. caapi and the DMT Ancient or Modern Origin As noted previously, in an pivotal article on the origins of ayahuasca, Gow argues that ayahuasca shamanism is in large pa rt a relatively recent phenomenon, one curing rituals of ayahuasca shamanism were a product of the cultural exchange that Columbian He notes here Chaumiel (1983) and Harner ( 1972) as examples of ethnographies that stipulate just this idea, though as noted previously, the same can be found in the work the ayahuasca drink has been used for 5000
70 the popular and even academic literature surrounding the brew (2012a). In many ways this contention by Gow is a necessary corrective to the de historicized nature of the rhetoric surrounding ayahuasca use in the Amaz on, but the argument also proves to be somewhat overreaching. This is perhaps in large measure simply because there is a lack of clarity around exactly which uses of ayahuasca are under discussion, and, as this thesis has set as its target, misrecognizes t he missions and the rubber economy as the sole modes of transport for the ideas and practices bound up in this shamanic complex. In effect, it is necessary to be clear when discussing ayahuasca whether one means preparations based solely on the vine, or wh ether the ayahuasca under discussion is that with DMT additive plants. Vine only brews are widespread throughout northwest Amazonia and have documented uses in hunting, warfare, and more complex group rituals among a number of indigenous groups. 4 Similarly focusing so expressly on the missions as sites in which this form of shamanism was developed, and relying largely on the explanation of the rubber economy to account for its spread as described in the previous chapter, leave the extensive indigenous trad e networks almost entirely unexamined. As Langdon has suggested, these must be taken into account to understand the flow of ritual materials, practices, and beliefs (1981). These two critiques can then begin to account for problematic assertions on the par t of Gow, such as in the origins 4 Cf. Highpine (2012:5) for a more complete listing.
71 shamanism, nor that the missions did not play a substantial part in its sp read. Instead it is to re insert the historical agency of indigenous peoples into the history of ayahuasca robust scholarship, and these critiques are not meant to deny the distinct relevance and pertinence of his insights. Indeed, his assertion that ayahuasca shamanism of this people in western Amazonia and to the historical circumstan central orientation to both this chapter and the investigation as a whole (Gow 1994:111). ayahuasca use in indigenous tradition has become perpetuated in so much of the popular and academic literature with so little foundation. While he does not offer lengthy evidence for the statements, I argue that his two answers are compelling. First, he lennia potent way to legitimize ayahuasca use in popular contexts (2012a). Second, he points Euro been lost as part of a techno bureaucratic and self a critique distinctly echoed by Brabec de Mori (2011:27). These critiques sound a trenchant insight, especially in the face of the dea rth of evidence to suggest that ayahuasca in terms of the brew with DMT additives it. The difficulty is that ayahuasca, unlike many other psychoactive plants in the Amazon, requires no special paraphernalia to drink a bowl or cup, no different from
72 any other drinking vessel likely to be found in the archeological record, is all that is evidence upon which virtually all claims of the an tiquity of ayahuasca DMT combinations are made (2012a). This archeological research was carried out by Naranjo (Beyer 2012a), who, as Brabec de Mori notes, entirely avoids associating this archeological evidence with ayahuasca use in his later work (2011:2 4). Citing critique of for (2012a). This is not to say that these drinking vessels did not hold ayahuasca brews, but rather that there is no evidence for what they held at all, making anthropological claims about the ancient origins of ayahuasca on this sparse archeological data highly problematic. Beyer notes that the Inca, who had reached Ecuador by the late 1400s, were well known as keen observers, especially of plant uses, but had no record of ayahuasca (2012a). This echoes the fact that Europeans who arrived in the area in t he mid to late 1500s regularly reported the use of psychoactive snuffs, and their continued use caused and seventeenth containing snuffs from Anadenanthera seeds (2012a). Likewise, missionaries and travelers throughout the region commonly reported tobacco use in ritual contexts, but ayahuasca brews are notable in their absence, given their nigh ubiquity in the region today. There is as yet no absolute consensus on the origin point, either geographically or historically, for the use of ayahuasca, in the context of the shamanic complex of
73 beliefs and ideas for this region. Scholarly agreement, though, has begun to solidify were among the first to discover and make use of the brew, likely somewhere along the Napo River (Brabec de Mori 2011:24). Brabec de Mori has put forward an interesting ethnomusicological argument in terms of the spread of ayahuasca. Brabec de Mori constructs a close analysis both of word usage and song structures of the ikaros of multiple ayahuasca using groups throughout the region. These icaros ( ikaros ) are songs specifically linked to the ritua l practice of ayahuasca shamanism. Brabec de Mori notes ikaro is truly recognizable between the Napo and the e Mori 2011:43). His point is that all other ritual songs, healing songs, cosmological songs, and the like which do not intersect with ayahuasca rituals tend to be unique to the particular indigenous group, sung in the language of the group (Brabec de Mori 2011:36). This provides evidence, by contrast, for the markedly different musical structures of the songs known as ikaros (Brabec de Mori 2011:42 43). He notes of ikaros these songs indigenous groups (Brabec de Mori 2011:43). This is a telling analysis, one which is not, to my knowledge, duplicated anywhere in the literature on the origins of ayahuasca, and which pre sents a compelling case for the relatively recent dissemination of the ritual complex of practices and beliefs surrounding the use of ayahuasca in this region. A Complex of Shared Beliefs and Practices Ayahuasca shamanism in this region should not be treat ed as a closed system of shamanic belief and practice, one that must manifest some set of identical features in all
74 historical or geographical locations in order to be recognized as such. What is described understood as an open and dynamic complex of shared ritual practices and beliefs, with enough resonance between its manifestations in different contexts throughout this region to be recognizable, without being exclusive of novel interpretation, practice, a nd the incorporation of differing cosmological elements in different times and places. That said, it is nonetheless necessary to outline the particular features that are common to this complex. Following the work of Gow (1994), Whitten (1976, 2005; 2008), Brabec de Mori (2011), Highpine (2012), Luna (1986), and Beyer (2009) among others, I suggest the following practices region: 1) the drinking of ayahuasca brews, with a dmixture (both DMT containing and other) plants, 2) a particular focus on healing, as opposed to other forms of ritual practice, 5 3) the singing of icaros or power songs as a recognizably distinct song structure in this region of the Amazon, 6 4) the use o f Quechua words for significant cosmological elements, such as supay, shitana, and banku, 7 5) the centrality of anacondas, rivers, and the water world to discourses of power and seduction, 8 6) a of the forest, plants, stones, and rivers, (which can be understood in contradistinction to 5 Cf. Gow (1994:110) 6 7 Cf. Brabec de Mori (2011:34 35); Highpine (2012:11 12) 8 Cf. Luna (1986); Luna and Amaringo (1999)
75 a quasi ngs or deities), 9 7) the use of leaf rattles as a ritual space, and 8) the pathogenic invasion by spirit darts, and the shamanic incorporation of the same. 10 Other sham anic elements common to this complex, but not particularly identified with it as distinct from other Amazonian shamanic systems, are the prevalence of diets, fasts, and sexual abstinence as means to gain power; the i power either from indigenous traditions or Catholicism; sucking and vomiting of pathogenic elements during treatment; the power of the breath, especially as manifested in and through tobacco smoke; and the recognition of soul loss and the attempt to divine the location of absent souls. 11 It is important to note again that this is not an exhaustive list, nor is it exclusive. I have outlined certain elements of the ayahuasca shamanic complex that I see as central to locating its multiple manifestations in the region, but thes e are not meant to be definitive. Relationships with spirits of the forest and rivers is a feature of many Amazonian shamanic systems, for example, but this plays such a central role in the cosmologies of ayahuasca shamanism that it would be an oversimplif ication to assign it a place as solely bound up with Amazonian shamanism more broadly. In line with this, the ayahuasca shamanic complex as outlined here finds engagement with forest, river, mountain, plant, tree, and stone spirits among its many manifesta tions, using related 9 Cf. Gow (1994:94,107) 10 Cf. Harner (1972) on tsentsak among the Shuar/Achuar (Jvaro); Beyer (2009) for more on virotes throughout the region. 11 Soul journeying does not pla y an especially prominent role in terms of retrieval in ayahuasca shamanism allies and intercessors are made use of, whereas in other forms of Amazonian shamanism, the soul journey may be undergone by the shaman him or herself.
76 concepts and even identical Quechua words regardless of the particular language of the people involved. What is rem elements 12 are ignored, but rather that these elements are those that vary from p lace to place. While certainly Catholic Christianity has inserted any number of saints, apparitions of the Virgin, and the like into the cultural consciousness of many groups in this region, not all s of Catholicism. Often even As Highpine notes, the complex of beliefs and practices described here as d as a vine only admixture plants (esp. P. viridis ) with the vine was discovered near Iquitos, Peru (2012:1). Inde ed, she goes on to than the DMT to Iquitos positioned the DMT containing brews to begin to migrate back up the Ucayali River, toward the Urubamba. It is in this region on the Ucayali and Bajo Urubamba that both indigenous groups who live, and historically have lived, in this region for centuries the pr actices of ayahuasca shamanism are reported by indigenous shamans of both groups to have been learned by them from other indigenous or mestizo shamans nearer to Iquitos (Gow 1994:96 98; Brabec de Mori 2011:30 31). This may not seem immediately surprising, until it is taken 12 an irreconcilably fraught distinction. My intention here is not to construct an unnecessary and cumbersome division between these, but rather to highlight what I take to be a tendency toward the particular manifestations of practices an d cosmological relationships
77 into account that ritual knowledge and power is, in this region, almost universally ascribed to the forest, the sacha. that the source of illness and curing, like the source of ayahuasca, (1994:98). Indeed, urban shamans of Iquitos or Pucallpa point to their experiences of study and learning with forest dwelling indigenous groups as a sign of the authenticity and potency of their own power (Gow 1994:96). However, Brabec de M ori states that insofar as his research has shown, there are no cases of Shipibo shamans stating that they went to study ayahuasca shamanism with more remote forest groups, but rather that each ayahuasquero went toward larger urban areas, particularly Iqui tos, to study with shamans there, only returning to more remote areas later, as practitioners of power, while the inverse is the case for forest peoples, showing by thei r actual travels to learn, if not in discourse directly that the respected sources of ritual knowledge and power are toward the urban areas (Gow 1994:97). It is possible, of course, that this is simply another example of the common trope in Amazonian sh Brabec de Mori, I believe, sheds more light on this. The Kukama (Cocama) are a riverine people who saw dras tic population decline chronologically before the Conibo experienced a similar loss on the Ucayali River. They are situated nearer Iquitos than the Shipibo Conibo, both today and historically. Brabec de Mori states that the Shipibo with whom he worked reco ayahuasqueros
78 eir brujos not associated with ayahuasca shamanism by the Shipibo according to Brabec de Mori. If that is the case, then the seeming con tradiction between the forest shamans as sources of power and the urban shamans as sources of power, each pointed to by the alternate group, may in fact be a residual effect of their being two different forms of shamanic power operative in the region mor ayahuasqueros I would argue that the common notion of the most powerful shamans being elsewhere is, in fact, the case here, but not as a simple truism it presents rather as a historical e ffect of the expansion of the ayahuasca shamanic complex throughout this region. Forest shamans are a source of ritual knowledge and power, a form of knowledge and power not immediately available to many urban or peri urban ayahuasqueros. However, ayahuasc a shamanism has been developed historically in situations of contact, mediation, and exchange, and as such those most capable and experienced with this form of shamanism are, still today, those at an inte rsection point between worlds. Today, the more urban ized locales of Iquitos and Pucallpa are those points of contact more than on the Ecuadorian Napo River as was the case in centuries past, and as such the ayahuasqueros that are known to be powerful are now resident in these urban zones. I suggest that it is less a question of who has ritual knowledge and power, but rather what kinds of ritual knowledge and power each group has access to, and why these might be held in higher esteem.
79 A Space of Encounter between Worlds Ayahuasca is unique from other psychoa ctives made use of in this region (Datura between worlds. Highpine suggests that in addition to the more commonly recognized uses in healing ceremonies and divination, a mediator and translator (2012:11, emphasis mine). She goes on to present the argument that ayahuasca, among Napo Runa ritual specialists, teaches about other plants an d makes possible relationships and communication between humans and plants (2012:11). 13 This notion cate Whitten suggests of ritual specialists of this region that the defining position of the yachaj or shaman is the crossing of thresholds and boundarie s, and mediating between worlds (2008: 61). The Runa of this region have, historically, played a pronounced role as cultural mediators between the Andean the indigenous worlds further downstream. It is my assertion that this resonan ce is not arbitrary. The shaman as a mediator, ayahuasca as a translator, and the historic position of the Runa people as cultural brokers are each in their way understandable lds may be between human and spirit worlds, between humans and plants in particular, or 13 The vine brew is thought to teach of other plants in large part by adding these plants directly to the mixture, as this allows, during the ritual visionary experience, the spirit of the plant and ultimately the song of the plant as well to become known to the specialist.
80 between different human cultural worlds. Whitten notes of shamans in this region, both es the interface between cultural continuity (or reproduction) and cultural change (or yachaj knowledge, continuously transforms that very knowledge, and imbues it with novel insi Whitten 2005 ). This allows the shaman ( yachaj ) to simultaneously enforce and transcend boundaries between cultures. If this is the case, then the affinity between the hu 14 Just as the relationship of the Runa to other groups both highland and lowland points to their historical ag ency, so too is ayahuasca credited with its own kind of ritual agency. Rather than being a passive component of a strictly human dynamic, ayahuasca, long vine with Napo Runa activ ely teach shamans of other plants, and techniques for deepening these human and other than human relationships (Highpine 2012:10). Mezcla Throughout this region, and perhaps most especially in the urban centers of Iquitos and Pucallpa, being m is a complex identity, a form of hybridity, 14 facets or features of bo th, rather than strict characteristics.
81 contradictory and ambivalen 294). 15 Though os tensibly referring to those covers a wide range of persons, from acculturated indigenous people s to the varying mixtures of white and indigenous lineages, and pertinent to life in Iquitos, the varying shades of the color of skin (Luna 1986: 31). This hybridity echoes the city of Iquitos itself in some ways, situated as it is on the river, which is th e essential mediator between city and forest If the river negotiates the bounds of city and forest the mestizo identity negotiates the boundaries between indigenous and white, in some cases incorporating both, and in others marki ng them as distinct (Beye r 2009: 307). The river being the dominant feature, it is perhaps no surprise that a term often interchangeable with mestizo is ribereo 2009: 296). In reality, ribereo culture is composed of a broad range of people of many di fferent ethnic or historical origins, all living in very similar ways. Speaking Spanish, wearing European clothing, making and working in swidden gardens, hunting, fishing, foraging in the forest and traveling the river in peque peque and/or dugout canoes are all the hallmarks of ribereo c ulture in the Peruvian Amazon (Beyer 2009: 297). Though the majority of the population of Iquitos is culturally mestizo, a segment of the population does self identify as indigenous Shipibo women can often be seen sellin g handcrafts and wares by the side of the street (Fotiou 2010: 29), and a number of successful Shipibo shamans have migrated upriver from Pucallpa to be nearer the tourist clientele (Fotiou 2010: 121). T here are other indigenous groups that have historically lived and still live nearer Iquitos than the Shipibo, but the Shipibo who have migrated to Iquitos are particularly relevant in the discourse surrounding 15 Portions of this paragraph and one following it have been released in modified form in J. Taylor 2010.
82 ayahuasca shamanism. Having a reputation as the most powerful ayahuasqueros ( Fotiou 2010: 29), Shi pibo shamans are sought out by both Westerners and mestizos alike. 16 Though many of the healing techniques made use of by Shipibo shamans are similar to those used by mestizo shamans 17 the foundational cosmologies and theories through which many Shipibo sha mans conceive of and perform their work differ in significant way s from those of mestizo shamans However, what marks out difference between indigenous and mestizo in the daily life of Iquitos is not necessarily visible characteristics, nor the claims to European ancestors, and many mestizos do not. The criteria defining these two groups are cultural, and, inc 295). This is not to suggest that indigenous identities are so porous as to become undifferentiated from mestizo identities, but rather that these identities may be defined more by those living them, than by externally ascertainable or assignable criteria. In line with this, Gow points to two orienting factors in the ayahuasca shamanic relationships that structure popular understandings of ay ahuasca shamanism. In effect, cultural groups live where, and what these geographic al or spatial orientations suggest in terms of ritual or political economic power. As Gow suggests, the category of mestizo 16 Sh ipibo groups. 17 Cf. Arvalo (198 6)
83 indio with all the historical accretion these ent urban centers of official techno bureaucratic political and economic power, while the indio is understood to be poor or marginalized in economic and political terms, but to have access to not only fores t product commodities but also to the ritual power considered to be a property of the remote forest (Gow 1994:98 101). Mestizos are located, rhetorically if not in fact, socio spatially between these poles, acting as a again, a question of mediation and brokerage between worlds factors into this question of ritual power (Gow 1994:102). Cultural mixing occurred at an unprecedented level in the context of the mission reducciones and the present day Runa are in many ways still actively engaged in a process of ethnogenesis that began centuries a go, after drastic population decline due to disease and slavery. 18 conquest Napo was a society with much y interacted with slavery, missionization, and later the rubber economy all had on the indigenous groups of this region, the cultural exchange that was precipitated by thes e events was not without historical antecedent, even if the scale, violence, and forcible manner of much of this exchange did prove to be radically different in the post contact context. This is 18 Cf. Highpine (2012: 16 ) and Kohn (1992: 49 50 ) for more elaborated lists of indigenous groups absorbed by the Runa through this process.
84 important to note because, as Highpine affirms, the ayahuasca shamanism practiced by vegetalismo or egrates indigenous 2012:25) and, within the scope of the research I am aware of, no menti on whatsoever of the esoteric components of vegetalismo in the ayahuasca shamanism of Napo Runa shamanism originated in the reducciones (1994:92) and that it is to mes tizo cultures that we should look for its continued elaboration (1994:105). Highpine describes the ard, where he however, no begin in the Napo region, and move later down toward Iquitos, then the subsequent absorption of Catholic practices, esoteric practices, and even alternative botanical admixtures to the brew would all make sense in context with the open dynamic, and transferrable nature of this particular shamanic complex (2012:25).
85 Rivers and Ayahuasca Though recent research has in some ways eclipsed an association of the origins of ayahuasca shamanism specifically with the missions and the rubber econ omy, these elements nevertheless played a pronounced role in its eventual dissemination. Borrowing a term from Taussig (1987), Gow describes ayahuasca shamanism as a form seems to be particularly apt even in light of more recent research, Gow suggests that the rivers, in extension, the worlds of the whites and the Indians (1994:104 ). The association of ayahuasca shamanism with the rivers is defensible in historic terms, but this association does not end with only a historical geographical situation. The muraya shamans, bancos recognized for their mastery in particular relationship to the rivers (Gow 1994:104 105). The muraya 1994:104 105). 19 This capacity to cross boundaries between worlds is directly related to the knowledge of where the ayahuasca vine is said to grow, and i ts patterns of cultivation or extraction. The ayahuasca vine grows both as a cultivar and wild in the 19 Cf. Luna and Amaringo (1999: 82 85)
86 forest, and the most powerful vines are those that are said to have been planted in ancient garden plots, no longer in current use (Gow 1994:105; Beyer 20 12a). This is important in the sense that like the rivers, and like the shaman, the very locations in which ayahuasca is said to grow echoes the traversal and mediation of boundaries and borders between socio spatial poles. Gow notes as well that the windi ng and twisting of recognize in ayahuasca a set of historical, biophysical, geographical, discursive, ritual, and phenomenological resonances between the ayahuasca vine, the shaman, and the rivers. This is furthered by noting that for many forest and interfluve indigenous gr oups even those living in this region and who do in fact make use of ayahuasca their ritual modalities of practice and belief do not consistently situate ayahuasca in similar ways to the shamanic complex under discussion here. 20 Those indigenous and mes tizo groups who live on the rivers and can be described as participating in a broadly ribereo culture are those to whom this complex has spread most immediately, and for whom the shared concepts most readily work themselves into the cultural contexts of d ay to day life. The complex of practices and beliefs described here as ayahuasca shamanism composition of icaros (Beyer 2012a). Amazonian Quechua already had significant dispersal prior to 20 Cf. Gow (1994: 110 ) for a brief overview of in digenous groups who make use of ayahuasca in this region but do
87 contact, and should not be considered a consequence of Andean political economic press ure or military invasion, 21 nor of missionary activity or the rubber economy, though these did play a role in extending the language to other groups. However, the Quechua language continued to be a bearer of cultural capital for other indigenous groups, and it has remained distinctly associated with the ritual potency of Napo River Runa shamans. ks and which has bearing on an understanding again of the rivers of the region, though, is how ayahuasca, both as a vine and as a component of ritual practice, were actually edicinal species in suggests that the ubiquity of ayahuasca throughout this region and much of northwest Amazonia may be similar to the spread of tobacco but on a much smaller scale. 22 If th is is the case, then it makes sense to view the spread of ayahuasca as part of a regional and supra regional system of exchange, both of materials goods and ritual social 21 See Whitten (1976 : 21) and Higphine ( 2012: 11 14) for a more thorough analysis of the origins of Amazonian Q uechua. 22 Cf. Wilbert (1987) and Schultes (2001) for more thorough analyses of the immense geographic area throughout which tobacco has been historically spread by human activity. See Rindos (1980) as a foundational article on the co evolutionary agency of plants with humans, albeit in the context of agriculture.
88 Globalization 23 A thorough discussion of the globalization of ayahuasca is beyond the scope of this chapter, and ultimately beyond the scope of this investigation, insofar as that topic reaches far beyond the historic and geographi c confines of the Napo and Ucayali rivers. Labate and Jungaberle (2011) have put together a rigorous and highly nuanced volume under discussion here, but ultimately extending to both rural areas and densely populated urban centers of Brazil, to the United States and the particular constellation of legal forces and resistances that are arrayed around the subject of the DMT containing brew, and to the establishment of S anto Daime churches of Brazilian origin in different cities of Europe. However, it is not my intention to attempt to summarize or even engage with such a broad range of subjects, but rather to address the particular ways in region under discussion here. However briefly, it is necessary to point to the ways in which the rise of ayahuasca in Euro American imaginary, and the concomitant influx of persons and money that this h as brought about, have altered or are altering the landscape of ayahuasca shamanism of the region. This is particularly relevant insofar as it is possible to see the phenomenon of ayahuasca tourism as perhaps yet another mediation between worlds in terms o f the ayahuasca brew and the indigenous and mestizo groups who make use of it in these settings. While it is implausible to flatly deny the neo colonial aspects of some, if not all, ayahuasca tourism, to suggest a simple 23 Portions of this section have been released in modified form in J. Taylor 2010.
89 space of exploitation is to deny th e particular historical agency of the indigenous and mestizo persons engaged in this economic and one could argue, political enterprise. Brabec de Mori effectively sums the situation of the effect of globalization on indigenous and mestizo shamanic sys tems: Many mdicos are shifting their main occupation from curing patients or producing and countering sorcery to providing spectacular experiences for visitors from the West. The change itself does not pose a problem, as Amazonian people have always been conservative. [2011:43 44] as their focus an intention to tr ain with ayahuasca not as a means of acquiring a more robust knowledge of a cosmopolitical shamanic practice, but rather with the economic motive of working to hold ceremonies for tourists (2001). As Brabec de Mori know how to cure certain problems. They are trying to bring to perfection the visionary experience of ayah to the exclusion of mastering the condemn this pract ice as I, in kind, do not he markedly different and often Euro American reproducing despite epidemics, conquest, missionary conditioning, and Marlene Dobkin de Rios a medical anthropologist whose work has been foundational in the study of ayahuasca especially in and around the city of Iquitos has
9 0 been one of the most st Her critiq ues of th is phenomenon provide some of the greatest challenges to any possibility of meaningful cross cultural healing in shamanic experience, especially in Iquitos. O ne of the most difficult critiques to grapple with is the doubtable authenticity of the p ractitioners she has labeled 128) 24 These men or women often have no formal shamanic training, and have not undergone the rigorous traditional diets and apprenticeships, but nevertheless offer what they at least profess to be ayahuasca to unwary tourists Those that she describes as little interest in healing, oriented almost exclusively to the profits to be made in tourist encounters It is an enduring and unsolved problem, a phenomenon still readily found in Iquitos, which has the potential to leave long lasting psychological and emotional damage in its wake. Dobkin de Rios has also pointedly described ayahuasca and drug trafficking around the world 169), and women who tour Latin American simply to 16 7 ). She has asserted that the majority of Western motivations for seeking out ayahuasca shamanic ex psychological states such as low self esteem, values confusion, 16). Between the charlatanism of certain ayahuasqueros and the 1994: 16) of the Western seeker, these critiques seem damning for any hope of engagement between healer and patient. 24 This use of the term should be understood as distinct from its use in terms of members of techno bure aucratic cultures participating as
91 S he suggests : Unlike some anthropologists, who hope for a mutual learning experience culturally to occur between people who dif fer ethnic I think that there is little hope for communication between the drug tourists and the Amazonians. The Amazonians' tradition of ayahuasca use is linked in a matrix dealing with the moral order, with good and evil, with animals and humans, and with he alth and illness, which has little correspondence or sympathy with the experiences of pe ople in industrial societies. [Dobkin de Rios 1994:18] While there many instances of of Western seekers, this leaves, as Fotiou suggests, little space for any valid or meaningful s piritual experience (2010:126). This is problematized by the substantial number of reports of the efficacy of these cross cultural shamanic healings. Interestin gly, research suggests that cross cultural healing and the facilitation of personal transformation is not only viable, but accomplished with some degree of regularity, in these ayahuasca shamanic ceremonie s (Fotiou 2010, Winkelman 2005), raising the questi on of how to reconcile this with the critique s that Dobkin de Rios leverages. If a shared healing myth does not exist between the healer and the patient, ethics ar e sometimes in doubt, it is difficult to account for the consistency with which h ealing does seem to be effected. Though an answer may not be easily suggestible, there are a number of ways in which these critiques can be addressed, if not completely closed The potential significant number of anthropologists and even other well established shamans. In an
92 interview, a well known Shipibo shaman, Guillermo Arvalo 25 describes wh at he calls 2005: 203). He opposes this to traditional Western sensibilities, for the purposes of extracting money. However, by that same t oken, Arvalo himself is the owner and operator of an ayahuasca lodge and retreat by Cosmica Euro seekers, having been the subject of a number of articles, an d even two feature length documentary films. 26 given shaman may si mply be something that has to be decided in a similar way to that of indigenous societies: effectiveness. Arvalo, in a sepa rate interview, suggests that 2009: 281), and as Fotiou suggests, some of the concern s over charlatanism in ayahuasca notions 3 4). This is not to downplay the reality of the harm that can be brought about by those who attempt to make use of powerful psychoactive substances without the proper training, especially when they are called on to act as the leader or safeguard in these situations. Such actions can have very real and very dangerous consequences for those involved. 27 Rather, it is to suggest that establishing authenticity in shamanic practice has traditionally been a problematic endeavor even for ind igenous 25 Cf. Crdenas Timoteo (1989:107, 278 (Aplicacin de Medicina Tradicional) as part of his work to sust ain and develop Shipibo medical and ritual traditions. 26 Documentary films: Other Worlds and Vine of the Soul 27 emergency situations following the dea th of an ayahuasca tourist in 2012.
93 communities. Ultimately, it is those shamans who cannot heal, who diagnose illness incorrectly, or fall prey to other tell tale signs of fraud or even sorcery who are castigated, and suffer the loss of their clientele. That this kind of self regul ation can prove effec tive in indigenous communities does not suggest that the transient nature of correction. I t may however imply that opportunism is not a phenomenon th at is wholly new to to urist centric shamanic practice, either In his case study of the attendees of an ayahuasca retreat in Brazil, Winkelman found that for many Western seekers, the motivations they gave for their desire to participate in an ayahuasca sh amanic retreat were distinctly different than the consumerist noted He states of these motivations and intentions that the primary reasons included : establishing spiritual awareness and relations and personal spiritual dev elopment. For many, the motivation included emotional healing, and for some, assistance in dealing with substance abuse issues. Others expressed the desire to get a personal direction in life, to engage in a personal evolution. Only one responden t mentione [Winkelman 2005:211] America sim ply to get Dobkin de Rios 2009: 167) may hold for some seeking out the se experiences, many others have motivations mo re in line with healing and personal transformation, hallmarks of many spiritual pursuits. While Fotiou (2010) and Winkelman (2005) have some of the clearest data on the subject, a diverse range of anecdotal accounts can be put forward from many internet f orums 28 and even feature length documentaries (such as Vine of the Soul ) that all suggest similar patterns of a 28 See http://www.erowid.org/ and http://www.ayahuasca.com/ as prototypical examples.
94 desire for healing and transformation as the primary stated intentions for participating in these experiences. Guillermo Arvalo has stated of hi s personal experience with Principally, these tourists come to try to resolve personal problems. They say it is a self encounter. They want to find the solution to their own problems and then to liberate themselves from those pro blems or the psychological traumas that they suffer. Others look for spiritual responses. They want to know the true spiritual path. [ Dobk in de Rios 2005:204] These statements make it difficult to countenance the suggestion that a desire to participate in an ayahuasca shamanic ceremony is purely the product of a consumerist driven need to fill In many ways, this discourse describes many of the same themes that have been elaborated in the anthropology of pilgrimage especially as it is compared to the modern tourist. The questioning of the sincerity and authenticity of motivation that seem to be at the core of the critique of this kind of shamanic tourism are very resonant with many critiques leveled at tourism more broadly, and are subject to much the same problematization 29 A Question of Mediation While the potential authenticity of a spiritual encounter in the guise of ayahuasca tourism must at least be accepted as possible, this does not close the door on Dobkin nor does it stifle concerns over the economic and cultural impact of Euro American money and expectations on indigenous and mestizo communities in the region. This, perhap s, is not surprising though. As suggested in this chapter and the previous one, the historical agency of indigenous groups throughout this region when placed in 29 Cf. Morinis (1992) and Ivakhiv (2003) for more extensive treatments of pilgrims and tourists.
95 confrontation and engagement with Euro American points of contact has shown indigenous peoples to be consistently capable of generating novel and effective strategies to survive and often thrive in changing circumstances. However, that agency does not, and should not be imagined to, mitigate the colonial and now neo colonial harm inflicted on indige nous and mestizo groups of this region by this same contact. Ayahuasca shamans throughout this region who particularly cater to tourists can, I argue, be understood as occupying a position not dissimilar to the historic position of shamans as mediators, br okers, and translators between worlds. That this mediation is ambivalent is entirely in keeping with the nature of shamanic mediation in Amazonian indigenous cultures more broadly. It is this theme of mediation in particular that I take up in the next cha pter. By highlighting ethnographic evidence from the literature with regard to the use of tobacco, Datura, and ayahuasca among the Napo Runa, the mestizos of Iquitos, and the Shipibo Conibo on the Ucayali, I present a more nuanced image of just what this attempt to produce a closed schema any more than the outlining of the particular facets of ayahuasca shamanism are intended to in this chapter. Rather, I suggest that each of these plants plays a particular role in the ritual practices of ayahuasca shamanism, which, among other perspectives, may be meaningfully analyzed in terms of mediation. I present evidence that ayahuasca is understood in emic discourse of these gro ups each of which practice a variation of the shamanic complex outlined here as that plant particularly suited to a role of mediation as translation between worlds.
96 CHAPTER 4 PLANTS AND MEDIATION A Spectrum of Mediation A Runa man walks into the fores t 1 a morning's walk distant from his home and the chagra in which his wife tends to the manioc plants P erhaps he has already been to the shaman, the yachaj in Ecuadorian Kichwa, to have the smoke of mapacho cigarettes blown over his head, his hands, and his feet. Maybe it was not enough. And maybe the shaman has drunk ayahuasca already, and the spirits came, but, for this man in this case, there was no healing to be had no pathogenic object to be sucked from the body, no sorcery to remove and send back to its source. It could be that for the man, it is not an illness to be healed, but knowledge lacked, or power needed, that motivates his steps along the path into the forest. He reaches an overgrown place, a chagra that has been abandoned for a decade or more, not old growth but re growth, and there he finds a Brugmansia plant, wanduj in Kichwa. For if tobacco can cleanse the body and build relationships between the human world and the spirit world, and if ayahuasca can translate between humans and spirits to teach of plants that heal and spirits that instruct in song, then wanduj sets one on a quest, a journey into a space where one either returns with power, or does not return at all. There are different plants for different needs in the Runa rainforest. There are different degrees to which one might need to enter into the world of the spirits, varying purposes to which certain plants are suited not all psychoactive plants act in similar ways, nor do they make available similar possibilities in ritual sp ace. Beyer suggests of tobacco, ayahuasca, and to 1 Cf. Whitten for a complete elaboratio infusion of a Brugmansia sp. (2008:82 88).
97 ( Brugmansia teaching and power, respectively (2009: understanding this context for these psy choactive plants and their uses in the geographic and cultural region of this investigation I am interested in this chapter in focusing more specifically on understanding these plants in terms of the theoretical device of mediation. Without suggesting tha t these plants can only be understood in this suggest, given the historical and ethnographic evidence presented in the two previous chapters, that mediation is a powerful o rientation toward understanding shamanism in this region, and the shamanic use of these plants in particular. To this end, I suggest of the Peruvian and Ecuadoria n Amazon make available. These range from tobacco with respect to contact and the establishment or maintenance of relationship with spirit worlds; to ayahuasca with regard to translation as the simultaneous presence in multiple worlds, and bridging a space between them ; and finally to Datura and the transport across the boundaries between worlds, for the purposes of acquiring power or knowledge worthy of risking death. It is not difficult, in a survey of indigenous religious traditions throughout Amazonia, to find instances of ritual practice and belief that suggest the idea of mediation between worlds. Indeed, in many cases, this is definitively the position of the figure of the shaman, insofar as ethnographic analysis relates it (Whitten 200 8:61). It is n ot my contention that the Runa near the Napo and Pastaza rivers, the Shipibo Conibo of the Ucayali River, or the mestizo shamans near and around Iquitos are unique in this
98 regard nor, in many ways, is their use of particular plant psychoactives. While th ese groups do manifest certain cultural variations with regard to these plants that are, to some extent, unique in Amazonia, elsewhere there are similarities of shamanic practice and belief such that suggesting an absolute distinction would be unwarranted. Similarly, in this region and of these ritual specialists, I am not interested in attempting to divine Castro (2002; 2004 a; 2004b ), or the revived and reimagined An imism of Descola (1992; 2009 ; Descola and G sli 1996 ), as grand theoretical models. Doing this, only to then and choosing ethnographic data to match, seems like an unnec essary truncation of lifestyles and worldviews into sometimes cumbersome and often imprecise molds. Rather I am interested in foll owing this trope of mediation, and its particular fit with the political and economic histories of the Runa, the Shipibo Conib o, and the mestizo shamans near Iquitos, as cultural mediators. This historical fit lends particular power to the notion of mediation in ritual contexts for these groups. In line with the historical analysis situating these groups within robust exchange ne tworks of pre Columbian origin, it is my contention that the ritual use of ayahuasca as part of the complex of beliefs and practices, in context with the related uses of tobacco and Datura, is particularly suited to this notion of mediation both between hu man cultural worlds, and between human and spirit worlds Human Plant Relationships To speak of plants and the social roles they play among the Napo Runa, the Shipibo Conibo, and ribereo mestizo groups near and around Iquitos, it is necessary to recogniz e that within these cultural contexts plants and trees are not considered to be
99 beings so dramatically di fferent from humans and animals. Writing of indigenous groups within this cultural region, Karsten et al. state n ( 1964: 79). These relationships between humans and plants are not, in a broad sense, rel ationships with plants, as they are made use of and integrated into social life, suggest a dynamic process of relationship building with plants in the lives of individual human healing and ritual specialists. Reichel Dolmatoff notes of the use of particula r psychoactive plants as they are made use of in Amazonia more broadly that they are 1975: 200). This sentiment is echoed by Wilbert as he notes that known for their empirical knowledge of the mportant to 1987: 145). This is to say that knowledge of plants in general cannot be understood without the recognition that all knowledge and relation ship with plants are ultimately, with specific plants, for particular uses, understood in ways that orientation for insights into human plant relationships, in this region and beyond. T hese plants virtually never have any other more functional or utilitarian use associated with them neither food nor material goods are commonly made from them. Of plant
100 plants are not generally understood as part of t he life of the plant (Schultes et al. 2001: 20). Though it has been suggested that the psychoactive principles in many of these plants, because they contain nitrogen, may be akin to uric ac id in animals, a waste product of metabolism, Schultes et al. argue against this concept, noting that not all plants function in this way ( 2001: 20). And while many of these plants are toxic in large doses, they are not toxic to many of their major predator s, which suggests that ( Schultes et al. 2001: 20). T psychoactive plants in human social life, as well as the uncert ain status of the action of the psychoactive chemicals in the biology of the plant s themselves make the se human plant intersection s all the more novel as a point of articulation in an understanding of human plant relationships in their specificity. Sacha Ambi Medicinal Plants among the Runa As Kohn notes of Runa classificatory systems for plants and other sources of ambi : medicinal herbs are known as sacha ambi : 7 8, my translation). It is the personal experimentation, the immediate experiences and intimate understandings of plants, Kohn suggests, that provide for such a dynamic and adaptive system of medicinal herbs among the Runa ( 1992: 77). Such intimate unders tandings of plants are not won simply through traditional lore surrounding particular plants, though this undoubtedly plays a role. The social nature of human plant interactions, particularly in ritual contexts among the Runa, are bound up in the establish ment and maintenance of personal relationships. T he ways in which plant persons are conceived of in ritual space are highly c ulturally bound ed
101 generational character where grandparents instruct grandchildre n about landscapes and the plants that grow there. However, knowledge of plants and their place in individual lives must also be won on a personal level. Swanson notes of ritual contexts Quichua term runa (man) or warmi (woman), suggesting that they 38). These persons are supai ion, while ( Swanson 2009: 38). These relationships with plants are not disembodied affairs, relegated to some wholly other transcendental spirit world. Indeed, among the Runa ar ound the Napo region, the flowers of the Grias neuberthii or the pitn in Kichwa, are given to young girls to hold in their mouths (Swanson N.d.c ). These flowers are thought to have a taste that makes the flavor of chicha more delicious, and the girl is t hought to, quite literally, take on the flavor of these flowers throughout her young life. As a woman who has come of age and whose making of chicha is a sign of her sensuality, the beverage is thought to take on the flavor of these flowers to the extent t hat the woman has absorbed the scent and flavor of the blossoms such that she now produces the taste and smell herself ( Swanson N.d.c ). The same plant, whose leaves are long and do its strength and beauty ( Swanson N.d.c ). In this way the pitn plant is taken into the body of a woman, shaping her as she incorporates it through her lifetime, building a relationship with the plant that is not solely one of spirits and myth, but with the very bodies of both the plant and the woman.
102 According to some ethnobotanical sources, the Runa living near and around the Napo River know and use in the neighborhood of 1200 medicinal plants (Highpine 2012: 17). T his number is in large part representativ e of the early and frequent contact that the predecessors of the contemporary Runa had with Europeans and their diseases, making the acquisition of knowledge of such a vast number of plants a necessity to find remedies for survival. Nevertheless, this numb er reflects a profound engagement with the lives and ecological spaces of flora in Runa lifeways and orientations to the world. However, finding a plant remedy among the extraordinary biodiversity of this region makes the plausibility of simple methods of trial and error unlikely sources of insight 2012: 19). Napo Runa ritual specialists themselves routinely suggest that it is ayahuasca that has taught them which plants to use, and for what illnesses. The plants, once found, are often taken with an ayahuasca brew in order to build a relationship between the healer and the new plant ( 2012: 19). As Swanson notes of healing and plan ts in Runa thinking, the ingestion of a plant facilitates the building of relationship as might be expected of a biomedical reme dy ( N.d.d ). This personal relationship with plants is bound up with relatives, memory, and time, such that human plant relations are also familial and even generational relationships, where in order to engage with the nature, or personhood, of a pla nt, it must be known through dreams or visions, and history of relationship ( Swanson N.d.d )
103 Plant Teachers in the Vegetalismo of the Mestizo Shamans of Iquitos Vegetalistas of plants called doctores vegetalismo (Luna 1984b: 135). Vegetalismo Luna 1984b: 142), as a form of shamanism, is specifically oriented toward healing ( Luna 1986: 32), and is closely associated with the drinking of ayahuasca. Still, while ayahuasca may play a dominant role in ritual space, this is less because ayahuasca is shaman of the other plants. Many mestizo shamans who practice this ritual tradition are known as tabaqueros and ayahuasqueros (ritual practitioners who specialize in the use of tobacco and ayahuasca, respectively), while others are known as paleros specialists who work in large part with the barks of tall, straight trees which are thought to be particularly powerful (Mazzatenta 2003: 169 171). Though these barks are generally not psychoactive, they do contain many bitter alkaloids that are thought t o strengthen the body of one who drinks it, transmitting its power to the specialist. T he remocaspi tree ( Aspidosperma excelsum, Pithecellobium laetum), failure to adhere to the diet can, likewise, bring the wrath of the tree (Luna and Amaringo 1999: are met is followed, practitioners of vege talismo giving the shaman powerful songs, or icaros (Luna 1984b: 135). Through the power of these icaros the spirits of particular plants can be invoked in ritual spac es for healing or forms of spiritual defense. For example, the pucunucho or rotoco plants, both of the
104 Capsicum genus, provide icaros capable of stunning enemies in struggles for the health of a patient (Luna and Amaringo 1999: 112). Central to this specia lization in the use of particular plants among vegetalistas is the notion that these shamans develop personal relationships with the plants of which they intend to make use. Beyer suggests that many mestizo shamans of this region ot from human teachers, but in dialog (2009: 346). This concept is extremely common in the ethnographies of vegetalismo of the plants taught had a human as a teacher at all (Luna 1984b: 142). Though i t would be ill advised to presume that teacher to student transmission of power and knowledge is not in f act very common in this regi on, 2 nevertheless there is the sense in which the power of a shaman, and his or her capacity to heal, is related to the number and depth of relationships that he or she has with plants and plant spirits. To learn from a plant or its spirit is to learn from of the plant (Luna 1984b:139). T is a term often used in vegetalismo to refer not only to the spirit of an individual plant, Many plants are likely to have mothers, thou gh perhaps especially i mportant food plants like manioc, large trees like the lupuna ( Ceiba pentandra ), psychotropic plants, and plants used in the preparation of important 1999: 54). If many plants, not only those with psychoactive properties, are thought to have mothers or spirits, then the question becomes which plants actually teach, and what makes them 2 S ee the previous chapter s on the exchange of ritual knowledge and the following chapter on the transmission of songs, spirit darts, and phlegm
105 potentially distinct from other plants and plant spirits. Luna, in his work with a numb er of vegetalistas suggests five distinct features common to, if not necessarily definitive of, (1) produce hallucinations if taken alone; (2) modify in some way the effects of the ayahuasca beverage; (3) produce dizziness; (4) possess s trong emetic and/or cathartic properties; (5) bring on specially vivid dreams. Quite often a plant has all these cha racteristics, or some of them. [Luna 1984b:140] Though there is some disagreement among practitioners as to whether or not a plant must be p sychoactive to be a teacher, the question of whether and how a plant might teach should not eclipse the related notion that each plant, whether it teaches on its own or not, m ay well have a mother or spirit. This spirit can, through the mediation of other teacher plants, instruct the shaman in its use, and make available a potential relationship between human and plant. As d on Emilio, one of the shamans with whom d on Celso affirm 140). Rao among the Shipibo Conibo Similar in some ways to ambi in Runa healing systems is the rao of the Shipibo Conibo a term that covers a wide range of potential uses. T hough what mean varies from context to context, rao among the Shipibo Conibo can indicate plants that including medicines, may be venoms, fish poisons, plants to attract animals for hunting, plants for seduction, plants to protect from the spirits, a nd hallucinogenic o r psychoactive plants (Tournon 2002: 394). Some of these properties, of course, are more easily verifiable in a techn o scientific sense than others. A s Tournon notes, it is easier to determine the antibacterial properties of a plant tha n those properties ass ociated with the psychoactive, and often thereby spiritual, effec ts of a plant (2002: 403). Many plants,
106 both psychoactive and otherwise, find their way into ayahuasca brews, used by shamans known as onanya ( unaya ) and meraya ( muraya ) ( Tournon 2002: 396; Arvalo 1986: 151). In ways resonant with both the Runa and mestizo shamans of the region, many plants in the ecological space which the Shipibo Conibo occupy are considered to group is known as ivo (Crdenas Timoteo 1989: 130). This ivo 1989: 130, my translation). Many plants have an ivo not onl y psychoactive plants. H ivo Conibo plant plantas maestros Timoteo 1989: 130, my translation). The lupuna tree in the ethnography o f the Shipibo Conibo is particularly central. The Ceiba penta n dra 3 rey de los palos 1989:131 ), making the lupuna ll, straight trees that stand out so stri kingly in the Amazon rainforest. Roe suggests, even, that for the Shipibo with whom he worked, it is possible to consider the lupuna tree as a ( 1982: 118). Be that as it may, the tree is regularly considered to be dangerous, and the smoking still reluctant to fell for 3 A ccording to Crdenas Timoteo the lupuna tree is the Ceiba penta n dra as cited above, though Karsten et al. (1964:82) state that the lupuna tree is the Trichilia tocacheana. Some familiarity with the literature suggests to me that the Ceiba designation is th e genus more commonly referred to as lupuna
107 1999: 54). However it appears in visions, the sap is understood to be the source of power, and very dangerous. A ccording to Karsten et al. virote 1964: 82). Still, while the lupuna may be the most widely noted powerful tree, Gebhart Sayer suggests that shamans call on many spirit he lpers, particularly of the trees, w hen beginning a treatment (1986: 203). Arvalo, in a discussion of plants used by Shipibo shamans, notes some thirty or better plants, many of which are trees ( 1986: 151). As Roe states, bo mythology is its emphasis on the tree spirits, which 1982: 119). Tobacco Indigenous peoples of the Americas were cultivating and making use of tobacco thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans (Karsten et al. 1964: 91 92), though it immediately proved to be a practice deemed particularly noteworthy by Columbus and his crew (Fairholt 1968: 13). According to Wilbert, the cultivation of Nicotiana species, especially the parent species of the two primary culti gens rustica and tabacum reach some eight thousand This means that the domestication of these plants may well antedate even the domestication of fo od crops withi n this region While bearing in mind the agency of the plant in terms of co evolutionary processes, t he wide dispersal of tobacco throughout the Americas was due in large part to human agency, being brought from South America onto the northern continent so me 2 000 years ago (von Gernet 1995: 68). In noting that the nicotine content of the cultivated species of tobacco is significantly greater than wild species, Wilbert states that there is
108 a basic difference in South American Nicotiana geography between the natural distribution of wild species and their cultural insignificance, on the one hand, and the man effected distribution of cultivated species and their immense cultural relevance, on the other [ Wilbert 1987:4] Interestingly, tobacco species have been f ound as widely dispersed as Australia, demonstrably existing prior to European contact on that continent as well, though these Austrialian species claim a genetic history that still finds home in South America. The precise means by which these species of t obacco reached Australia is unknown, but while contentious, the claim has been made that there was some traffic between South America and Australia (Goodman 1993: 3). Regardless, the extensive production of small land use in terms of cultivated area (Goodman 1993: 7). Dating from pre Columbian history in the Americas, the dispersal of N. rustica which suggests, given its wide range of habitable climates and ecological niches, that it However, N. tabacum has become, today, the more widely cultivated of the two, being the preferred commercial variety (Goodman 1993: 3). Tobacco in the Americas cally 1992: 87). Tobacco smoke is seen as materialized spirit, not simply a sign but rather a manifestation of ritually powerful breath (von Gernet 1995: 69; Beyer 2009: 107; Goodman 1993: 28; Wilbert 1987: 186). According to historian Goodman who si milarly
109 1993: (Karsten et al. 1964: 91) that tobacco holds in the shamanic traditions of the A mericas all the more noteworthy T hough an extraordinary range of psychoactive plants are found ed 1993: 24). Given the violent nature of Brugmansia and Datura hallucinations, despite the similar range of dispersal for these plants throughout many parts of the Americas, Goodman suggests that tobacco found such a ubiqu largely predictable, relatively short lived and not life threatening (as datura could be) 1993: psy choactive effect makes it possible for tobacco, then, to act as a remarkable point of contact between humans and spirits. Gifts of tobacco, left in ritually important places of the landscape, or smoke offered directly to the spirits, bind humans and other than humans together in mutually dependent relationships ( Goodman 1993: 25 26). Goodman notes that beyond its immediately psychoactive effects on the ritual specialist, tobacco can be understood as the foo d of the spirits, a notion familiar to many shamanic and ritual traditions of the Americas ( 1993: 27). Indeed, as Wilbert notes, hunger for food 1987: 173), 1987: 182). Tobacco, in shamanic traditions of the Americas, has no equal in its breadth of dissemination and its wide range of ritual uses. I t is that plant which establishes and maintains relationships between humans and the spirits more consistently a nd
110 effectively than any other plant. C ommunication between the human and spirit worlds, dividual living ritual traditions of many indigenous groups in the Americas, both North and South (Goodman 1993: 32). Tobacco was s o central, in fact, that even those groups who Goodman 1993: 33), marking it as a particularly noteworthy example of the social intersection between humans and plants in ways beyond the simple facts of daily sustenance. Tobacco and Shamanism in South America Though many aspects of tobacco use in shamanic and ritual systems of indigenous groups throughout the Americas have certain commonalities, here I focus on the shamanic uses of tobacco of indigenous and mestizo groups in South America. 1987: xvii), which is to say that its use permeates both daily and ritual life. This is evidenced by the widespread use of tobacc o recreationally as well as ritually, though the men and women who make use of tobacco recreationally tend to xvii). Shamanic consumption of tobacco is of such a dramatic degree as to pot entially lead to Wilbert 1987: xvi xvii). Wilbert notes that observers unfamiliar with the nicotine concentration of the tobacco used by n by Indians in 1987: 17), as these concentrations have been measured in excess of 18 percent ( 1987: 142). Wilbert lists over a dozen potential reasons for the consumption of
111 tobacco in South American indigenous cultures, ranging from social purposes to fertility here is a broad range of potential modes of consumption, though as Wilbert suggests, drinking tobacco juice and smoking dried tobacco are overwhelmingly the most common forms o f ingestion ( 1987: 64, 139). Drinking tobacco juice can be an effective mode of nicotine delivery, amounts of tobacco juice during shamanic initiations ( 1987: 139). Howe ver, it is the 1995: 69) The blowing of widespread phenomenon in South America n shamanism (Wilbert 1987:143). Tobacco smoke is often le and magically endowed br giving breath of the Wilbert suggests this provides ient ( 1987: 186). ning uring a healing ayahuasca ceremony, the tobacco effects a process called paskarina in Ecuadorian lowland Kichwa, which, in t his context, itself ( Uzendoski 2012: 28). Among the Runa, bodies are not just opened, but cleansed by tobacco smoke as well (Whitten 1976:158). T his cleansing is not just done for human bodies or a
112 kind of spirit stuff, that might prove harmful ( Whitten 1976: 153, 155). T he breath is powerful, an d not only in healing rituals. A ccording to Wh itten, all adult men of the Runa 1976: 44). The Ecuadorian indigenous groups known as the Yumbo, Quijo, Canelos Quichua, and Zaparo all now find themselves br oadly within the politico 4 Wilbert notes that these groups each make use of tobacco drinking of this juice 1987: 37). Such drinking and accl i mation is a necessary process in that this practice goes hand in hand with the development of shamanic power, e specially when combined with drinking ayahuasca and huanto ( Brugmansia sp.) ( Wilbert 1987: 37). Among the Shipibo Conibo, shamans make use of tobacco for many similar reasons as ot her indigenous and mestizo shamans already described: to cleanse plant medici nes, to blow over the bodies of patients, and to cause evil spirits to flee (Crdenas Timoteo 1989: 272). However, while mapacho cigarettes are very common among mestizo shamans and some Runa specialists many Shipibo Conibo ritual practitioners make use of pipes for their smoking of tobacco, pipes called shinitapon (Crdenas Timoteo 1989: 272; Karsten et al. 1964: 204; Arvalo 1986: 154; Wilbert 1987: 100). Karsten et al. likewise describe a small pot designed for drinking tobacco juice, often used in conjuncti on with the pipe, called a roncon ( 1964: 204). Arvalo, himself an accomplished Shipibo shaman, suggests that after drinking the ayahuasca 4 Though I hasten to add that this does not suggest the absence of a specific ethnic identity as well
113 melodies, and blows [ sopla ] over the ayahuasca 1986: 154, my translation). This blowing of smoke, according to Gebhart Sayer, among Shipibo Conibo practitioners, i 1986: 212, my translation). While pipes are certainly used in ritual contexts, the Shipibo Conibo likewise make use of cigars, which five centimeters 1987: 99), though the smoking of these may be as much for recreational as ritual purposes ( 1987: 100). Like Runa tobacco smokers, the Shipibo Conibo also blow smoke to drive away approaching storm clouds. This cultural phenomenon, as Wilbert notes, is widespread throughout South America and the Caribbean ( 1987: 199). In the shamanic healing ceremonies throughout much of Amazonia the blowing of smoke goes hand in hand with the sucking of pathogenic objects. To understand tobacco smo ke in the mestizo shamanism near and around Iquitos, it is necessary to understand the way in which phlegm, smoke, and spirit darts are mutually implicative. Smoking tobacco and drinking ayahuasca causes magical phlegm, also known as yachay or mariri, to g row and develop (Beyer 2009: 82). Magical phlegm, among indigenous and mestizo groups of the Peruvian and Ecuadorian lowlands, is understood to hold spirit darts, those power objects that are both the medium, and necessary for the cure, of sorcerous attack. mapacho
114 magically introduced (1972: 72). Beyer, in describing a place, rubs it to loosen the affliction from the flesh 22), a loosening which rem is grown and maintained, is where the shaman stores the spirit darts that are his or her weapons and tools. T ceremonies but are also those same darts with which the shaman may cast harm at enemies. The darts live in the phlegm, and feed off of tobacco smoke and juice and, to an extent, ayahuasca. Beyer elaborates on this, suggesting that throughout the Upper nic power is conceptualized as a physical substance often a sticky saliva or phlegm like substance that is stored within the shaman's body, usually in the 81). Not only d Beyer 2009: 123), and in many ways that plant which builds and maintains relationships between the shaman and the spirit s. Luna, citing don Emilio with whom he worked and studied vegetalismo Sin el Tabaco no se puede usar ningun vegetal (without tobacco no 159). This is mirrored by doa Mara with whom Beyer worked, when she indi cates that, given the pronounced place of power that the breath that without tobacco, there wou ld be no powerful breath (Beyer 2009: 181). Beyer
115 Beyer 2009: 267), all of which paints a picture of tobacco as the most central plant in mestizo shamanism, and of shamanism in this region more broadly. Tobacco establishes and maintains relationships between humans and the spirit world, opening spaces and making possible exchange between persons of these worlds Datura Datura thrusts one into a world radically different than the waking, daily one of human life. Datura is potentially deadly, dangerously toxic and requiring specific knowledge of the plant to determine proper dosage, as this can vary depending on which parts of the plant are made use of, what it will be mixed with, how long it is left to soak or extract into water, and many other factors. The genus Datura is found in large part throughout Mexico, Central America, and the southwest of the United States, while the biologically distinct but very similar both morphologically and chemically genus Brugmansia is found thro ughout South America (Schultes et al. 2001: 41). Both Datura and Brugmansia species contain tropane alkaloids like Schultes et al. 2001:141). As Schultes et al. note, the behavior of the Brugmansia species, and its dissemination, indica 2001: manipulation by man as a cultigen, it has undergone numerous atrophied forms which 1992: 48). Indeed, the Brugmansia species in particular is tho unknown in the et al. 2001: 37). Considering the history of cultivation and the close association of the plant with human activity, it is worth noting that the plant is used sparingly a
116 1992: 56). Goodman, echoing the sentiments of Reichel Dolmatoff and Wilbert as n oted previously, suggests that many indigenous peoples of Latin America who ma k e use of this plant are well aware of its toxicity, and are specialists in manipulating particular desired effects from the plant human interaction ( 1993: 21). As he notes, where the power of its effects are deemed ritually necessary, it is made use of, but Goodman 1993: 21). I t is my contention that Brugmansia species in this region are made use of particularly for the acquisition of power and knowledge that require the transport of a shaman or seeker wholly into another world of experience. Unlike tobacco, which may ritually open spaces between worlds and facil itate the establishment and maintenance of relationships between human and other than human beings, Datura effects a kind of transportation into other worlds. This transportation, per the regularly reported phenomenological effects, does not leave the sham an or seeker sensate to the waking, daily world of human life for the time of the experience. A s such the plant does not facilitate translation between human and other than human worlds in the same way that ayahuasca can be said to do. Rather, these plant Wanduj Among the Runa, particularly of the Napo, Puyo, and Pastaza regions, Brugmansia sauveolens is known as wanduj (Whitten 2008: 3), and is directly bound up with the experience of travelling in unai space (Whitten 2005). Traveling in this world is necessary to meet Amasanga, the
117 who controls the realm of the forest, and the weather which is understood to arise from it, and y of the 3). As t 5 s of lone, questing Runa on Datura induced journeys, when he is known as Wanduj supai Whitten 2008: 46). It is the questing nature of the Runa use of wanduj that is most central to understandi ng it in terms of wanduj and the spi rit person of Amasanga facilitate the se journeys into other worlds where power and knowledge are sought This use is notable because, as Whitten suggests, though many indigenous groups throughout South America make use of ayahuasca, the use of Datura is fa r more common to Andean, Mesoamerican, and North American indigenous groups, than it is to Amazonian peoples ( 2008: 68). T hough both mestizo shamans of Iquitos and Shipibo Conibo shamans of the Ucayali River do make use of to or Brugmansia spp. it does no t have the same degree of cultural elaboration to be found among the Runa, and it is far more often used in conjunction with ayahuasca, than it is taken alone. Despite the cultural complex surrounding the use of wanduj among the Runa, the reasons people c hoose to make use of the plant tend to be highly individual, and the infusion tends t o be drunk while alone (Whitten 2008: second person is present, companionship is precautionary: there is no guiding helper who is of this w 2008: 72). Intercessors and guides in the world revealed by wanduj are supai 86). T he trip into these other worlds is one in which the seeker 5 In contradistinction to Jurijuri, who is a transformation of Amasanga, but of other people, and unknown places in the forest.
118 is transporte d to a realm 2008: 82). Such a journey, while potentially making power and knowledge available to the seeker, is not without risks. T he spirits thems strong man, but no one has the power to live in the unai ( 2008: 87). However, should the seeker emerge from the world of unai the human world and the relationships that constitute it tend to become quite radically rearranged. As Whitten suggests, after taking Datura the person emerging from this other world may gains from the journey into the Datura world is profound enough to reshape the understandings and social relationships that orient life. This is, in a sense, because all 153). Where ayahuasca facilitates th e knowledge of particular spirits and the building of specific relationships to spirits both in and beyond the realm of wanduj Datura brings knowledge of everything, all at once ( Whitten 1976: 153; see also Whitten 2005). For with wanduj the seeker become of 100). The seeker ceases to participate in the human world during the duration of the experience, an d as such his or her perspective may shift radically from daily awareness.
119 To Cosmological elaboration of Brugmansia species is sparser among the mestizo shamans of Iquitos and the Shipibo Conibo of the Ucayali. While these groups most certainly make use of to it does not have the same degree of cultural import as ayahuasca or tobacco. I but it is far more common for it to be added, in some small measure, to the ayahuasca brew as an admixture, to modify the effects of the beverage (Luna 1984a: 130). Indeed, Luna notes that often no more than tw o leaves of the plant are added d 1984a: 130). Tournon states that the Shipibo consider to to be a plant by which ritual specialists acquire strength and power (2002:393). Karsten et al. echo this indicating that among many Shipibo groups, certain purp rituals and the like ( 1964: 205). Interestingly, both Luna of mestizo healers and Crdenas Timoteo of Shipibo Conibo shamans suggest that to is regularly used to divine for otherw ise unavailable information either the cause of some sorcery with a virote dart (Luna 1984a: 130), or to locate a lost or stolen object, and to identify the culpable party (Crdenas Timoteo 1989: 76). These are not uncommon activities for shamans in this r egion 6 making it difficult to determine if these uses of Datura are specific to the psychoactive in a cultural sense, or belong rather to shamanic activity in the region more generally Of other reports of Datura use among the mestizo shamans of Iquitos a nd the Shipibo Conibo shamans of the Ucayali River, it can be difficult to 6 Cf. Highpine ( 2012: 10 11) for ayahuasca being used in similar divinatory ways
120 disentangle its uses from those of ayahuasca rituals. I t tends to be made use of in these contexts, very often in order to add fuerza to the brew, though whether this added force mo difies the actual practices and beliefs of the ayahuasca rituals for these groups is more difficult to ascertain. Regardless, there is the broad sense that to is powerful, t 2009: 272). Where ayahuasca presents plants and spirits as potential allies, among mestizo and Shipibo Conibo shamans, the Datura spirits are routinely terrifying, and its power stems as much from what it requires of the seeker as from wha t it gives in return (Beyer 2009: 272). Ayahuasca Of all the striking visions and otherworldly experiences that are credited to the ayahuasca brew, one of the most remarkable aspects of the altered states it produces is the clarity, the lucidity, that those who ingest it are said to retain. Beyer notes that no decrease in alertness, no inability t 232). Schultes and with a wide variety of other plant admixtures modifying the chemistry of the lack of interference 1992: 82). This potential for maintaining lucidity, a sense of presence, clarity of thought, and bodily control is dramatically different than the states experienced in Datura intoxication. As described above, those who ingest Datura lose all sense of the waking, human world. With ayahuasca the human world is still readily available to the ritual practitioner even
121 during experiences of a wide variety of places and beings. I suggest that it is precisely this the healing focus of the ayahuasca shamanic complex, and simultaneously that plant cultural groups, and the cosmological historical role of mediation that shamans in particu lar, both have played and in many ways continue to play in this region. According to Tournon, the first identifiable reference to the ayahuasca brew in historical literature was by Veigl, who noted that it was a vine growing even into the tallest trees, of which indigenous groups tended to make a bitter p reparation from the juice (2002: 51). Other authors suggest Villavicencio as the first to have recorded the vine and brew, in his 1858 volume on the geography of Ecuador (Mazzatenta 2003: 243; Reichel Dolmato ff 1975: 30). Certainly Villavicencio was the first European to record personal experience with the brew, noting features that would go on to prove very common in the literature on ayahuasca subsequently: voyages through the air, picturesque landscapes, mag Dolmatoff 1975: 30). South America that th e Banisteriopsis caapi vine was botanically identified as being part of the Malpighiaceae family, where he encountered it among the Tukano living along the Vaupes River (Mazzatenta 2003: 243). Though Spruce published his work on this vine in 1874, the paper remained somewhat obscure for a time, leading to a period of confusion about the vine and its chemistry (Reichel Dolmatoff 1975: 28). In 1923 Fisher
122 Cardenas performed the work to determine the chemical composition of the vine, the vine granted (Mazzatenta 2003: 243). This chemical was later discovered to be harmine, which had previously been isolated from Peganum harmala or Syrian rue. The vine did not find its way t o the wider Euro American imaginary until the publishing of Ginsberg and Burroughs The Yage Letters in 1963. E ven with this and the subsequent work done by Dobkin de Rios (1972) and Luna (1986), compared to other psychoactive plants and substances part of popular discourse during these years, ayahuasca rem ained relatively unknown (Beyer 2012 c: is probably fair to say that the popular interest in ayahuasca that began in the mid c: 2). This is in reference to the volume Ayahuasca Visions which consists of many dozens of paintings done by the ayahuasquero Pablo Amaringo. Amaringo worked in conjunction with Luis Luna to produce the volume, where Luna a cted as the anthropological understandings of the unique artistic material. This volume opened the way to an extraordinary degree of popularization of the vine brew in the Euro Americ an imaginary, c: 2). Though much of this popularized rhetoric often focuses on ayahuasca as a medicine, as a plant that heals 7 it is worth bearing in mind, a s Beyer notes, that ayahuasca provides information i n diagnosis and understanding, but it does not heal directly ( 2012c: 3). 7 Cf. the forums, newsletters, and experience lis tings on sites such as erowid.org,
123 A myth of the Desana recorded by Reichel needed a means of communicati on; it was for that reason that the Sun Father was 2011: 134). Calavia Saz suggests that this Desana world. He is distant enough to get into contact with other spirits, yet without abandoning 2011: 134 135). And it is communication, perhaps most clearly, which stands out as that feature of ayahuasca use in this region. Of those cultural featur and power move between and among different ethnic groups, both indigenous and mestizo (Calavia Saz 2011: 140). Indeed, Calavia Sa z suggests that it may be possible to understand the communication between ethnic or cultural worlds and the communication between human and other than human worlds that ayahuasca facilitates as possible because ayahuasca manifests in these situations and contexts as a kind of alloscope 2011: 141). It is this facilitation of communication between worlds that makes ayahuasca so striking in historical and ritual terms. The ritual complex that has e volved around its use 2011: 143), so much as it is a shared, open, and dynamic c omplex of practices and beliefs in continuous dialogue with one another, across both ethnic and geographic boundaries. The Vine of the Soul the language spoken by the Runa from aya soul, and huasca vine. I t is a contention
124 intriguing in understanding ayahuasca use among the Runa, perhaps especially the Napo Runa with whom she has worked most extensively. S other arguing that it is 2012: 11). W ithin the region outlined for this investigation, many plants, psychoactive and o therwise, are thought to teach, but ayahuasca is r elatively unique in that it teaches of other plants ( 2012: 11). A ccording to much ethnography in the region of both Runa ritual specialists and the vegetalistas of Iquitos, ayahuasca is credited with the discovery of plant medicines for the significant majo rity of illnesses ( 2012: 19). Though ayahuasca is not thought to heal directly, the communication with the world of plant spirits enables shamans to discover remedies and forge alliances with spirits in order to combat illness. In the Napo Runa world of ay 2012: N.d.a: 1). To the Runa way of thinking, perhaps especially of the Napo Runa with whom both Swanson understa nd one another without aid ( Swanson N.d.a: 1). According to Swanson, for ns raise this curtain that veiled communication open
125 personal world hidden behind the other plant and animal species as well as b ehind the rivers and mountains. [ N.d.a: 1] Indeed, Whitten notes of the openings and gaps between the worlds, that both dreams world of the sp e suggests that whi le both worlds exist, the p lanes upon which they exist do not always, or perhaps even regularly, intersect ( Whitten 2008: 12). However, during ayahuasca visions and in dreams, Whitten 2008: 12). Thus, while yachaj they can communicate with the supai 41), this world is, and must remain, hidden, set apart from the waking world of human daily life, as this is N.d.a: 3). This is so because should e into a single s Swanson N.d.a:3). Ayahuasca does not overcome a barrier between worlds that serves no purpose but restraining humans and other than hu man beings from one another, but rather mediates a vital frontier of difference at work to defend from a kind of destructive intimacy. The ayahuasca vine, and the brew made from it, is able to mediate these barriers because it shares a soul in ki nd with bo th humans and plants. A s Whitten notes, the (1976 : 40). Interestingly, according to Whitten, the place of prominence given to Datura among certain Runa groups suggests th of
126 ( 1976: 153). Though ayahuasca is, in this case, understood as one of the Datura spirits, it has the unique capacity t o allow for mediation between the ritual participant and other plant spirits, and finally even spirits beyond the Datura realm more broadly ( 1976: 153). Even the souls of the deceased, according to Kohn, can be seen with ayahuasca (1992 : 42), and insofar as aya Ayahuasca in Vegetalismo According to Gow, who was himself following Taussig (1987), it is possible to c and ritual transformation (1994: larly beginning, for they are the only category of people in Amazonian imagery whose origin Gow 1994: 104). It is, for Gow, precisely the position of mestizos as economic and ethnic designation of p ( 1994: 104). Whether this analysis is wholly accurate, the point is one worth highlighting the socio historical situation of mestizos, and even their geo graphical cultural context as ribereos positions this group of people to be mediators between cultural worlds. Insofar as the ritual use of ayahuasca is inextricably bound up with a similar kind of
127 mediation between worlds, ayahuasca shamanism has a dist inct resonance with th is social, historical, and geographic situation. It is among the mestizo shamans of Iquitos that a significant shift in the use of ayahuasca occurs, from the perspective of who is included in drinking the brew. F or both the Runa and Shipibo Conibo, adults attending a healing ceremony are often permitted to drink ayahuasca, but it is significantly more common for the shaman alone to drink ayahuasca as part of the ritual process in determining the healing action to be taken. 8 Though the shaman most certainly continues to drink ayahuasca in mestizo day Mestizo healing with the vine has undergone some major t 47), in that it has become common for whole groups of people, even those who d o not know one another, to gather and drink ayahuasca in this context ( Dobkin de Rios 1972: 68). The role of purging in mestizo uses of the vine is also distinct from Runa ritual use. According to Highpine, among the Napo 12:27) when drinking ayahuasca. She suggests that while this form of ritual practice can be cleansing as Beyer notes, in both a phy sical and spiritual sense (2009: 209) purging as part of the intended ritual experience in mestizo shamanism seems to be distinct from Napo Runa uses of the brew. Whatever the origin of the practice, today ayahuasca is commonly referred to in La purga misma te ensea ( Luna 1984b: 140). Indeed, even the term mareacin aya huasca ingestion, derives from marearse, to feel sick, dizzy, nauseous, 8 Cf. Highpine (2012:26 27) for this among the Napo Runa, and Crdenas Timoteo (1989:200) for this among the Shipibo Conibo
128 Beyer 2009: 209). Remarkably, it i s with positive connotation that one Beyer 2009: 209). Though shamans and habitual drinkers of ayahuasca do ultimately dev elop tolerance to the emetic effects, many of the admixture plants and chemicals perhaps especially including the DMT of the Psychotria viridis or chacruna bush do not seem to be subject to the same tolerance over time ( Beyer 2009: 209 212). If, as Dob elf as a 134), then it remains to be seen just where ayahuasca factors in diagnostic and revelato s pecial diets, rituals, orations, particular spells, T hese diets often include medicinal herbs and plants, and rituals often involve the sucking of Dobkin de Rios 1972: 129), which finds for mestizo shamans, 1) it is necessary to determine if the illness is of natural or sorcery must be discovered; 3) the motives for sending sorcery tend to be located a t the interstices of familial, financial, and emotional conflicts; 4) ayahuasca can be used to consult spirit doctors to determine what action should be taken; and 5) finally, if the illness has been caused by a virote or spirit dart, ayahuasca may be used for autoscopy, or looking into the body of the patient, to see what would otherwis e remain
129 invisible (Luna 1986: 122). To learn to use ayahuasca in these ways, Luna suggests, is different than simply drinking the brew to cure oneself, or to see visions. It is a serious matter to apply oneself to learnin g medicine from the brew (1984a: 127). The effort to learn medicine, of ayahuasca as well as other doctores is a long and committed process, depending both on the will of the healer and the relationship he or she is capable of building with the plant Luna 1984a: 127) The Nishi Oni of the Shipibo Conibo Ayahuasca, medicine, enrapture me fully! Help me by opening your beautiful world to I from a Shipibo Conibo ayahuasca healing song, recorded in Schultes et al. 2001:126] In an account of Shipibo healing practices recorded by Grandidier, a young Frenchman wr iting in 1861, there is, strikingly, no mention whatsoever of ayahuasca. The rite is described as one in which songs are sung to plants, animals, and birds to cure the patient; strange healer; and plants or powders are applied to the body, or places on the body are s ucked to bring relief (Tournon 2002: 80). Though many of the features of this kind of shamanic healing remain in practice today, it is worth noting that no mention of ayahuasca occurs, n or any other psychoactive plant for that matter. This is not to say the report is wholly accurate, or that mention was not simply elided in this particular report, but if it is accurate, then it begins to chart a timeline that has other points worth noting Karsten et al. nearly so important a role for the Ucayali tribes as it does for the Shuar of the region ( 1964: 204). This same sentiment is echoed in 1982 by Roe, who suggests that this was
130 still, as of his fie ldwork, in many ways the case. T he Shipibo knew of and did make use of ayahuasca, but that it had a lower cultural prominence than it did for other nearby indigenous groups ( Roe 1982: 123). Indeed, even among many contemporary Shipibo 2011: 44). This history is noteworthy, in particular, because Shipibo Conibo shamans have become, both in the Euro American imaginary and in much mestizo discourse, virtually synonymous with ayahuasca, noted for having a reputation as the most powerful ayahuasqueros (Fotiou 2010: 29). If, as has been demonstrated in the previous ch apter, the spread of ayahuasca shamanism up the Ucayali River from the mestizo shamans of Iquitos has, historically, been the source of the integration of ayahuasca into the shamanic traditions of the Shipibo Conibo, then it is important to bear this in mi nd when considering the discourse surrounding its use in the ethnography. Though ayahuasca has come to be an extremely widely noted aspect of Shipibo Conibo culture, this may in many ways prove to be a relatively recent and strategic adaptation W hile no l ess authentic as a cultural expression, ayahuasca use among the Shipibo Conibo may have a much more recent history than is often assumed. Nish i Oni 1989: 192, my translation). The effort to heal is said to entail entry into the spirit world, in order to speak with the spirits of the palos those tall imposing trees of cultural significance to the Shipibo Conibo in order to discover the origin of illness or suffering for a patient (Crdenas Timoteo 1989: 199).
131 This is because ayahuasca among the Shipibo Conibo, as among the mestizo shamans of Iquitos, is not co nsidered he plants, the trees, and the spirits effect healing, not the ayahuasca itself, despite its central role as a mediator between the shaman and these other than human beings (Crdenas Timoteo 1989: 199 200). It is the unique phenomenolo gy of ayahuasca, however, that a llows it to play such a role. B oth Crdenas Timoteo ( 1989: 202) and Roe ( 1982: 124) note of their work with the Shipibo Conibo that the remarkable lucidity that shamans evidence in their experiences with ayahuasca makes it pos sible for them to be in contact with both the spirit world and the human world of the patient simultaneously. Without a presence in both worlds simultaneously the shaman would not be able to make use of ayahuasca as part of a process of ritual healing. If the shaman is unable to enter the spirit world, no spirits can be contacted for aid, but should the shaman eclipse his human connection entirely and slip too far into the world of the spirits, the power of these beings cannot be brought to bear on the pati ent. According to Gebhart Sayer, this mediation between worlds on the part of the sees in ayahuasca visions (198 6: into diverse aesthetic notions: geometric patterns, melodies/rhythms and fragrances vel for the patient (Gebhart Sayer 1986: 190, my translation). Over time the shamans not designs in ritual space, where healing song designs are potentially available i n the rapid
132 flux of information experienced during the ayahuasca ritual (Gebhart Sayer 1986: 196). Though not an ethnographic example which can lead to identical analysis, the closely related Pano speaking Cashinahua of Peru make use of kene designs in ayah uasca healing. Their use of designs presents a comparison specifically worth drawing by way of opening onto a notion of designs as a point of mediation between worlds. These kene patterns can be both painted onto objects and people, or woven into cloth, an d ( 2009: 200). It is not the kene themselves, however, that are the alterity being e kene Lagrou 2009: 194), b Lagrou 2009: 198). This is to say that kene designs do not merely su ggest, point to, or remind of the yuxibu spirits, but rather they make possible the transformations of perception and cognition necessary to engage with these others ( Lagrou 2009: 198). While these designs among the Shipibo Conibo do not fit neatly into an identical ethnographic mold for interpretation, the recognition that the aesthetic component of the ayahuasca experience and its expression through song, weaving, pottery, and the like i s an important one, especially as it implies an integration of shamani c mediation with other worlds into daily lives and material culture. Arvalo world whose doors have been opened by ayahuasca ( 1986: 156, my translation). Apprentices make trips to learn o often during a period of training and dieting which can last six months or more ( Arvalo
133 1986: 157, my translation). Facilitated by ayahuasca, Shipibo direct contact with the village (Illius 1994: 186, my translation). This is because, through frequent use of ayahuasca, cure infirmities ( Illius 1994:190, my translation) This set of relationships, as Illius notes, 1994: 190 my translation ). I suggest th is is because it is the engagement with multiple worlds made possible by ayahuasca worlds which can be interacted with simultaneously that makes ayahuasca particularly suited to its applications in healing for the cultural groups in this region. The ps ychoactive brew made from the vine and a number of admixture plants is not understood to be effective for healing illnesses on its own. While certain spiritually and even somatically effective for some kinds of release or relief, as Beyer ( 2012a ) notes, purging is ubiquitous in this part of the Amazon, and ayahuasca is by no means the sole plant made use of to this end. The effects of ayahuasca may teach a shaman of other plants, other remedies, other cures, or may make available d irect visionary evidence of illnesses such as sorcery, spirit dart, or in the case of the Shipibo Conibo body. But all of these are predicated on the notion that ayahuasca allows the ritual specialist to move bet ween worlds, or at least to act on both at once, without abandoning presence in either. To Be between Worlds Ayahuasca shamans of this region share in an open and dynamic complex of practices and beliefs, one that does not have clear boundaries or wholly e ssential
134 elements, but nevertheless shares significant resonances between practitioners from distinct cultural groups. Movement between worlds is a feature of this complex more broadly not just between spirit and human worlds, but in a process of constan tly engaging with, translating, borrowing, utilizing, and re interpreting features of other cultures and other ways of knowing. Beyer notes that mestizo shamans make use of U pper Amazon, folk Catholicism, popular plant lore, traditional Hispanic medical e of internal incoherence (2009: 281). Arvalo has been quoted r Beyer 2009: 281). If the mestizo is a cultural category that mediates between the poles of wh ite and indigenous, and the ribereo one which mediates between the forest and the city ( Beyer 2009: 307), then it is perfectly interethnic network of social relations. Shamans seek to gain power from a variety of Beyer 2009: 283). Just as ayahuasca shamanism has transformed and transmuted folk Catholicism to its own ends, it is doing much the same with New Age terms and concepts as they find their way into the rainforest w ith ayahuasca tourists ( Beyer 2009: 341). In a tradition that makes ready use of spiritual radios and extraterrestrial doctors, this should not seem implausible or inconsistent ( Beyer 2009: 339), and should strike a careful observer as a practice that bears no small trace of active political techno science and neoliberal extractivist economics and the attendant colonialist
135 imaginaries that come with these and transform them into sources of healing and power is a profoundly political act. If, as Luna suggests, the shaman is one who (1986: 35), then as these boundaries become ever more uncertain and prone to both collapse and extraord inary elaboration under pressures of globalization and its simultaneous exploitations/exclusions of indigenous peoples, it must be expected that the transcending of these boundaries and movements between worlds will reach to ever newer and unexpected horiz ons.
136 CHAPTER 5 OF BODIES AND HEALING Song and Smoke The ceremony begins with whistling, soft if unexpected, a breathy sound that reminds as much of the tobacco smoke it carries along as it does of song. It is a low sound, penetrating only because of the stillness of the space, a silbando that whispers a memory with each note of the breath behind it, and t he tiny, almost absent echo from the cup, filled as it is with the brown brew of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine. The echo carries a half haunting sound i n the dark, a dark now broken by the red glow of a mapacho cigarette, just as subtly as the whistle breaks the silence Where to Begin What I want to do in this chapter is ask the perhaps obvious question: what do shamans who work within this particular a yahuasca ritual complex do By this I not only mean to ask questions of particular ritual practices, but also who comes to these shamans, and for what reasons. While certainly most if not all shamanic systems in Amazonia involve healing practices, many als o involve other ritual elements related to warfare, hunting, local politics, quasi priestly activities associated with periodic ritual activities, and other both and pra engagements with both human and other than human worlds (Highpine 2012:27 28, Brabec de Mori 2011:28, and Calavia Saz 2011:132, 136) The complex of beli is d istinct from these, in that it i s almost entirely oriented toward healing. 1 That is not to suggest that ayahuas ca, in all indigenous cultural groups and in all places in Amazonia is used in ways similar to the complex outlined here Rather, in the region 1 Thou gh to be clear, healing in this context is distinctly bound up with sorcery, envy, and reprisal.
137 outlined for this investigation, and given the historical conditions that have been part of the s pread of this ritual complex throughout this region, ayahuasca shamanism oriented toward the ends of ritual healing to the virtual exclusion of other elements. T his orientation toward h ealing draws the relationship to the body in ayahuasca shamanism into a more immediat e focus. I would like to suggest that people, regardless of cultural context, look for the help of a healing specialist whether bio medical, psychological, spiritual, etc. to find ways of coping with the vulnerabilities of suffering. What must be recogn ized, in this region of Amazonia as elsewhere, is that the sources of suffering are multiple, and any particular event of suffering may well be overdetermined by a constellation of these forces. However, the site of suffering, where it is experienced, and where it is susceptible to ameli oration, is the body. I propose, following Beyer (2009:44), that the sucking and vomiting of pathogenic darts; the blowing and fumigation of smoke; the massaging and palpating of the abdomen, throat, legs, arms, chests, and bodies of patients; the auditory pulse of a leaf rattle and the swish and crack of it on heads and shoulders; the scents of powerful perfumes; and the bitter tastes of herbal brews not to mention the biochemical and spiritual actions of the plants all act as modes of healing the body itself A n ayahuasca shaman may not be able to rewrite the whole history of colonization and political economic exploitation which act as the particular frameworks in the production of many indigenous and mestiz o subjectiv ities of this region. W hat they are able to do however, is work on the body as the site of articulation with these historical, political, and economic pressures in such a way as to rearrange the lived effects of these to provide for the alleviation b y degree if never in full, of suffering.
138 In undertaking an analysis of the ayahuasca ritual complex in terms of shamanic action in this region of the Amazon, I suggest that while important, it is easy for the psycho spiritual experience of the shaman to ov erwhelm an analysis of ritual healing, especially as this experience intersects with trance states and the ingestion of psychoactive materials to the exclusion of an analysis of the body of the patient These altered states and their impact on the body of the ritual practitioner are certainly important and will be engaged with in this chapter, but what is no less important, and often overlooked, is the suffering body of the patient him or herself its constitution or production, and its somatic historical agency In the significant majority of cases, especially within a more indige nous context, the patient does not drink ayahuasca. In the more usual case, the patient does not experience or undergo an alteration of consciousness, so regularly discussed in t erms of shamanism. It is here that I depart from Winkelman's ( 2000 ) orientation insofar as that work tends to discuss alterations of shamanic consciousness in terms of how these alterations can have biophysical effects. For this chapter, I a m less concerned with whether or how shamanic consciousness alters the biophysical or neurochemical reality of the shaman than I am with how this produces healing for the suffering body of the patient Of Suffering and Healing There are two bodies that I wish to take into account when look ing at shamanic healing in terms of the ayahuasca shamanism in this region: the body of the shaman and the body of the patient. I propose, following Kleinman, Das and Lock ( 1997 ), among others the idea of the patient a body whose event of suffering has been potentially overdetermined by a constellation of spiritual, physical, historical, economic, and both micro and macro political forces. The suffering body, in
139 its modes of experiencing illne ss, in its moments of manifesting suffering, has specific historical and political import, that can be understood in particular ethnomedical or cultural in the broadest sense terms. Framing the patient as a body that suffers in the context of a healing ritual can potentially imply rhetoric prone to the same critiques that one might level against the agenc y denying frames of victimhood 2 It is not my intention to deny human agency either historically or affectively within the space of the experience of s uffering. Rather, I would suggest instead that suffering is, in effect, virtually a given of human experience. W hile all cultural elaboration of suffering both in discourse and bodies is variable both geographically and temporally the fact of suffering as an acknowledgement that things are not as they ought to be, or as we would hope for them to be human reality (Kleinman et al. 1992:1 ). To this end, then, the fact and experience of suffering does not degrade the notion of a gency, nor does it situate the sufferer as impotent the healer, as will be explored further on suffers too, and in many ways can only effect healing to the degree that suffering is a common experience between them. Within Taussig's notions of healing an d colonial history ( 1980; 1987 ) there is extensive elaboration of this idea that suffering is produced not simply by somatic pathologies but by the very character of systemic and structural racism, oppression, exploitation, and violence. I contend that muc h of his insight into the nature of what he describes as in Colombia among indigenous people of Putumayo has marked resonance for the ayahuasca complex of the region under discussion here. Taussig elaborates the idea that the power associate d with shamans is in many ways a reflection of the process of colonial 2 Cf. Good (2008:10)
140 reflected back on itself and out in to the wider imaginary (1980; 1987) Coupled with this is the notion that many of the illnesses as they are lived and experienced in the li ves of the rural poor are in fact ironic reflections of these same power dynamics in a socio cultural sense. This is a powerful insight and critique, though I follow Kleinman ( 1992:189 190) 3 in pointing out that as much as biomedical rationalizations of il lness can strip suffering of its densely human experience, so too can descriptions of structural or systemic ally unjust power dynamics playing themselves out in human lives lead to a sense in which the corporeal and lived phenomena of suffering are abstrac ted away from the site of individual bodies. It is crucial that the necessary historical contextualization and political critique bound up with suffering does not, in the gravitational pull of its own analytical weight, strip from the human body the experi ence and expression of suffering The suffering body is constituted by the same forces that produce the event of suffering. The body, as such, is disciplined, constituted, oriented, composed, produced, and molded by forces physical, economic, micro and macro political, historical, ecological, spiritual etc. that ultimately also produce suffering. The body is constituted by, and finds its modes of action within, these forces and their arrangement. Thus, beyond some critical tipping point t he point a t which quotidian suffering becomes illness, pathology, soul loss, etc. it is not possible for the body to free itself from that suffering through ordinary means. The forces it would use to do so are the same ones producing the suffe ring. To my mind, sha mans cannot stop these forces, either they can no t will them away. The ayahuasca shaman may not have some absolute power 3 Cf. Beyer (2009:150) for a related analysis.
141 over an exploitative economic system, a racist socio political system, or a colonial history o f oppression and exclusion. But, I argue what an ayahuasca shaman may have the capacity to do is to transform the orientation of particular productive patterns, disciplining forces, in a way that does no t just resituate the suffering body in relationship to these forces, but resituates the forc es of production of that body. This opens up the agency of the somatic and historical body to be able to play once again in both the between objects, but also in a potentially ludic sense 4 with these forces, in such a way tha t they no longer produce, for that body, the same degree or type of suffering. Both the body's orientation to these productive forces and the body's agency in terms of ordering these forces is re arranged and re oriented to alleviate suffering. The Transf ormational Body Of the oral literature of the Shipibo Conibo, Crdenas Timoteo suggests that constant elaboration in daily life ( 1989: 113, my translation). This same sense of transformation can be found in Runa thinking of the kallari timpu or the world before which is in many are both the plant or animal persons as they were before ceasing to be human, but also already bear traits of the plants or animals that they would in the pre sent world, become 5 4 Cf. Taussig (1987:444, 461) on laughter, mockery, and play in ritual space 5 Cf. Swanson for the transformation of plant persons and the relationships of seduction/attraction between these and contemporary Napo
142 Through plant ps ychoactives like ayahuasca and Datura these worlds spirit worlds, are able to be accessed, and the other than human persons who reside there may be contacted, engaged with, and brought i nto social relationships. As Whitten suggests of the Runa yachaj this contacti ng of other than human worlds, and the mediatio n between worlds of all kinds, is the position of the shaman in many cultures throughout this region and beyond through much of A mazonia more broadly ( 2008:61 ). What becomes apparent through readings of comparative ethnographic material of this region is that mediation between worlds implies, necessarily, the transformation of the mediator in a process of becoming toward both poles of the mediation. In Reichel jaguar complex found in much of South American shamanism ( 1975 ), the shaman becomes toward the jaguar and the jaguar people as a multiplicity, in order to be able to take on this transformatio nal power. But at the same moment the shaman must maintain a becoming toward the human, working to never abandon the humanity that links him or her to the social world of his human kin. The ability to transform into a jaguar implies, reciprocally, the nece ssity of transforming once again into a human. A Note on Theory I take as my theoretical orientation toward bodies work by Csordas ( 1988 ), Scheper Hughes and Lock ( 1987 ), Strathern ( 1996 ), and Vsquez ( 2011 ) among others I am interested in beginning from an immediate and experiential phenomenology of healing practices of the shamanisms of this region, to understand r o und of cultur setting this theoretical orientation as a goal, I mu st admit an inevitable failure at least of a sort T he ethnographic material here is comparative, and does not consist of a detailed analysis
143 of a particular ceremony or particular bodies such that this text refers, in a sense, only to other texts. The c ontradiction of a textual comparative approach that works to ward an engagement with embodiment must be at least acknowledged, and though I have spent time in ritual spaces very similar to those described here, I have not done so within the confines of an I RB approved research program. As such my personal experience can act only as a guide to my thinking, a shaping of the embodied experiences that I have myself witnessed or undergone, as they seem to resonate with the comparative material here. However, I do believe that an orientation toward embodiment can prov e key, despite the drawbacks of this particular implementation, as it allows space for insisting indeterminate 1988: 38). I highlight the body as bot h transformational and suffering, attempting to recognize the way in which both bodies and their suffering are produced by the self same forces, and to suggest that agency in healing may be restored through radical processes of montage and bricolage via th e transformational powers of the shamanic healing ritual. This orientation situate s my arguments well within a field that would fare poorly should it be enclosed by a framework insisting on any one, univocal perspective, be that perspective religious, ant hropological, historical, political economic, discursive, or biomedical. In order to open the practices and discourses that are at play within a ritual healing space to multiple perspectives, I follow Scheper Hughes and Lock especially as they note that : It is sometimes during the experience of sickness, as in moments of deep trance or sexual transport, that mind and body, self and other become one. Analyses of these events offer a key to understanding the mindful body, as well as the self, social body, and body politic. [Scheper Hughes and Lock 1987:29]
144 It is the sense in which the body is mindful, is social, and is political, all at once, that most informs he body is 1996: 178). It is implausible to discuss transformational bodies in the anthropology of South American s hamanic traditions without invoking Amerindian Perspectivism to some degree. My interest in this chapter is not to give an overview of this theoretical model there are many other better sources for this, not the least of which would be Viveiros de Cast 2002, 2004a, 2004b ). Nor is it my intention to level a critique of the theory this has, too, been done effectively by both Ramos (2012) and Turner (2009). Rather, I am interested in two aspects in particular of this theory, for the sake of comparing where it opens up a more robust understanding of the ethnographic material under discussion, and for where it fails to cleanly intersect with the same. The ethnographic material for the Runa shamans near and around the Napo River, for the mestiz o shamans near and around Iquitos, and for the Shipibo Conibo shamans of the Ucayali River suggests that, when speaking of other than human persons, plant spirits feature just as prominently as animal spirits. It is my suggestion that the emphasis on an Perspectivism 6 does not always neatly intersect with shamanic understandings of other than human worlds in this region though this does not suggest that it finds no purchase whatsoever That is not, in and of itself, too damning a cri tique, as it is relatively simple to find ethnographic details that are unsuited to any more generalized theory. Here however, I follow Wright (2009) by noting that if, for these 6 Cf. Viveiros de Castro ( 2002:309 )
145 groups, the progra mmatic statement of Amerindian p erspectivism is that animal is the extra human prototype of the O Viveiros de Castro 2002: 310) in terms of contemplating and contextualizing alterity then this does not extend clearly to all of the plant human relationships co mmonly found in the ethnography. It may be t prey to b e found in Amerindian p erspectivism would benefit from re consideration in terms of other non human relationships for this region. If the predatory perspectives of different species are those that ar range the boundaries of alterity, then plant human relationships that are not bound up with predation complexes do not present a particula It is less that predation, as nce in an analysis of human applicability in all cases 7 It is not my intention here to present an alternative model for understanding alterity in the cultural r egion of this thesis, but rather to ask whether or not alterity is the most suitable concept for understanding all human and other than human relationships. For many Napo Runa ritual specialists, relationships with plants rely on a fundamental and shared h umanity, a humanity that exists if perhaps hidden or latent, as a residue of Swanson N.d.e; Swanson 2009:63 ). This This does, in a sense, agree w ith the Amerindian perspectivist 7 It is important to note however that certain plants and trees in the emic discourse of each of these
146 2002: 309), but such a statement must be extended beyond animals to plants, rivers, mo untains, and the like in turn. With this in mind it is possible to highlight that aspect of Amerindian p erspectivism that I believe bears most readily on a discussion of bodies in the shamanic systems of this region of Amazonia transformational bodies, and bodies as clothing. Viveiros de Castro notes that: metamorphosis spirits, the dead and shamans who assume animal form, beasts that turn into other beasts, humans that are inadvertently turned into animals pro posed by Amazonian ontologies. [Viveiros de Castro 2002:308] Here, again, it is be cause of that which is shared between humans, animals, and spirits that these can transform one into the other, moving between bodies, taking them on or 2002: 318), then the transformational body of the shaman must be understood not as simply metaphoric, but 2002: 318), though as T. suggests (2009), I am not wholly convinced that these are not simply alternative perspectives on the same thing. Viveiros de Castro himself in fact p resents something similar 2002: 318) I find this statement compelling though I would be interested in considering it without the quotation marks. To take ser iously the transformations implied by much of the ethnography of the re gion engaged with in this investigation I propose that it may be less important to try to
147 determine at spirit persons may simply present different bodies in different worlds, including the world clothes that the shaman may put on or take off in ritual spaces implies transformation by way of moving between worlds mo re than it calls into question the corporeality of any given body. The Body as Swarm It is, in a sense, possible to conceive of shamans within this cultural region as human, nor fully spirit, but in some way s compose d of spirits. Notable in this case is not that personhood is constructed out of artifacts as described by many authors in Santos The Occult Life of Things (2009), 8 but rather that the multiplicity of selves and perceptual orientations or subjecti vities that a shaman may lay claim to ultimately inhabit him or her. 9 As Beyer pathogenic objects in a shaman's phlegm to be autonomous, alive, spirits, sometimes with their o 2009: 98). Harner, in his work with the Shuar, has noted that shamans are known to ingest magical darts, or tsentsak which are said to be spirit helpers of the shaman, used to both cure illness as well as to cause it ( 1990: Different types of tsentsak cause, and are used to cure, different kinds of degrees of illness. The greater variety of these power Harner 19 90: 17). What is notable in this interaction between a shaman and his or her darts, 8 Though this is a fascinating work 9 Cf. Fausto (2008), Viveiros de Castro (2004a).
148 however, is that these darts have both ordinary and non ordinary aspect s and that these darts are simultaneously objects and spirits, and possessed of their own perspective s, intentions, and inclinations ( Harner 1990: 17). In fact, the process of mastering the pull of these darts as they outside of the intentions of the shaman, desire to cause harm, is one of the major projects of be coming a shaman among the Shuar In this c ase, these spirits are simultaneously beings or persons with whom the shaman body. The shaman in this sense is a multiple being, possessed both of and by the alternate p erspectives and intentionalities contained within him or her. While Whitten likewise states that these projectiles are housed in the shungu throat 2008: 60), he also notes the phenomenon of the bancu ( banco ) among th e Puyo Runa ( 2008: 71), though this title and its associated beliefs are ubiquitous throughout the entire region. In effect, according to Whitten, it is possible for a human shaman to become, in a sense, possessed by the spirits, and even spirit shamans ( 20 08: 71). Banco powerful, and very dangerous (Whitten 2008: 71). The songs, chants, and actions become those of the spirits, and the shamans from the spirit world. T he human shaman becomes a conduit Whitten 2008: 78). This r intentionality into the body of the shaman, such that the spirit darts as helpers with their own wills, the shaman him or herself, and
149 body is highlighted by i ts posture, in that s itting is a ritually important act for the Runa As per Whitten's analysis of sitting/being standing/appearing among the Runa ( 2008:77 79 ), the banco is, as the seat of the spirits, present in a powerful way unmoveable, firm, grounde d, certain one world, simultaneously The seated banco in an ayahuasca ceremony can be contrasted to the roaming madness that overtakes one with Datura use, in order to highlight the manner in which the immediate presence of the banco states, physically, in a culturally resonant idiom for Runa observers, the multiple body of this ritual specialist in more than one world. The person of the shaman becomes a kind of multi plicity, more an aggregation of spirits, persons, wills, intentions, and forces than 10 that has a kind of resonance with the ways in which the patient him or herself is composed of force s in kind economic, historical, political, biophysical, and spiritual all of which exert distinct and often contradictory pressures on the body of the patie nt. 11 This suggests that it is through montage or bricolage that healing might be effected, as th e swarm of the shaman intersects with the multiple body of the patient Corporeality Smoke and Breath Where, then, does the transformational body of the shaman make contact with the suffering body of the patient? Through what practices is this transforma tional capacity brought to bear on corporeal reality in ritual space? Though there are a significant number of ritual healing practices, both common for many forms of 10 parik the ritual snuff of shamans among the Baniwa. 11 See the previous chapter for an elaboration on how Runa bodies are formed through continuous integration of and interaction with plants, stones, and the earth of the local ecology.
150 Amazonian healing shamanism and those particular to the ayahuasca shamanism of this regio n, here I am interested in focusing on one in particular: the use of tobacco smoke as a form of powerful breath. According to Beyer, who in turn was referring to materializes 2009: 107). I take this to be particularly important, because it is here that the transformational and retaining an ephemeral and quasi phantasmal nature. Of samai or po werful breath, Whitten not es that for samai carries with it something of shungu and something of the invisible (to humans when awake) 2008: 60). Breath, alone, is considered to be powerfu l, a carrier of shungu where the phlegm resides, but when materialized and made visible through tobacco smoke, it becomes something more powerful still. Beyer relates both icaros the act of blowing which can both cure and k ill; and unite in the magical mouth of the 2009: 82). Where darts from the phlegm are blown at enemies, so too is tobacco smoke blown over a patient the intent, while different for each ritual practice, nevertheless draws from the common ground of breath as a potent ritual substance. The phlegm that is the source of derived wisdom. It is matte r, knowledge, and power, all in one. It represents the materialization of wisdom in 1980: 240). And if the phlegm holds power, it is more than just a kind of reservoir. T he phlegm, as the physical substance of shamanic power ( Beyer 2009: 81), has a history of its own. Novices acquire their power from older shamans, who transmit
151 this phlegm from their mouths into the mouths and chests of the initiate (Taussig 1980: 239 240; Arvalo 1986: 158; Crdenas Timoteo 1989: 208), which suggests that this power ha s a kind of lineage, a history of the transfer of power from one shaman to another. This is, in fact, made explicit by Langdon ( 1981:106 ), who suggests that shamans of the Sibundoy Valley traveled to lowland Ecuador to receive just this shungu power of dar ts and phlegm from Canelos Quichua sha mans, just as did the Shuar shamans with whom Harner worked ( 1972:119 123 ). Gaining or increasing power for these groups is a matter of receiving phlegm from more powerful shamans, suggesting that this phlegm is not an a historical spiritual essence, but rather a substance with a geographic and political history The Suffering Body Bearing afflictions of the body, of the spirit, and of the social network and working through their distressing consequences are the shared existential lot of those whose life is lived at the edge of resistance in local worlds. To this dark side of experience we give the name suffering with all its moral and somatic resonances. Suffering, then, is the result of processes of resistance (routin ized or catastrophic) to the lived flow of experience. Suffering itself is both an existential universal of human conditions and a form of practical and, therefore, novel experience that undergoes great cultural elaboration in distinct leinman 1992:174] Social Suffering 12 All suffering is, in a sense, social or bound up with the social; and there is therefore suffering that is specifically experienced through, and produced by, social structures and forces. It is because of the social natu re of suffering its interconnection that it is available to be alleviated in ritual space. Purely private suffering, if it c ould be said to exist, would be unreachable from the 12 I borrow the term from the volume by Kleinman, Das, and Lock (1997) of the same name.
152 outside, by specialist or otherwise. Su ffering must be expressed, and thereby shared, to make it subject to any ritual act, shamanic, psychoanalytic, or biomedical. It is for this reason, I suggest, that a common refrain is found in the analyses of healing that takes place in many shamanic ritu als that, as Crdenas Timoteo suggests of Shipibo ultimate causes of the (1989:265, my translation). These causes are often social, or even cosmopolitical, in nature (Crdenas Timoteo 1989: 266). Not only are the causes of suffering social, but so too are the acts taken to alleviate it. As Kohn notes of Runa ritual healing, the members of the extende that insofar as the suffering of one family member affects all the rest, so too must healing effect some positive outcom e in a bodily or individual sense as well as for the family or community more generally. T his is because the problems, the causes of suffering, that 1980: 219). Economic and political forces that cause suffering are never individual, but always experienced and expressed throughout a whole social field. 1980: 257). However, more central to contemporary livelihoods is doubt that the capitalist economy both suffering, and
153 illness (Taussig 1980: 257). As Dobkin de Rios notes of Iquitos, and Beln in particular, the political economic structures are syst emically racist and classist, where, as she states, like wall of hostility, as class lines crystallized around obvious markers of identification such as skin 1972: 56 57). While f orest and riverine indigenous and mestizo people face hopelessness, despair, and fata Dobkin de Rios 1972: 57) which bring about other forms of social n these spaces, what Kleinman descri (1992: 172), desire becomes bound up with envy, which is itself virtually always implicated in sorcery. Pusanga is the only kind of love that endures, according to Dobkin de Rios, creating a bond that cannot be thrown over amidst the vicissitudes of economic struggle or domestic strife ( 1972:62). In these poverty bound worlds the presence or absence of a lover is as much or more a question of economic survival a s it is romantic entanglement. Here i t is important to understand desire, and the ritual acts that are driven from it, in a broader c ontext throughout this region. D esire shapes interactions even between humans and non humans (Swanson 2009 ), and seduction plays a pronounced role in the ideology of domination and manipulation. In deed, Beyer suggests that seduction has a historical component, in that the process of colonization throughout parts of Amazonia make 2009: 295). He st
154 on the one hand, manufactured go Beyer 2009:295). Seduction and desire are bound up with manipulation, dominance, and sorcery in ways that imply that the attempt to constra in and modify the behavior of others through ritual means must be understood as part of the same envy and sorcery as social circuitry complex (Taussig 1987: 438) that has been so commonly described in the ethnographic literature. It is in these local moral worlds in the multitude of daily and lived realities of economic need, sexual desire, and the ritual acts taken to engage with these that the modes of et al. 1992: 1). Sorcery and Violence As Dobkin de Rios note s of the mestizo communities in Iquitos with whom she tating that the concern exactly why he, and not someone else, is afflict may be well understood in its material, micro political, economic, or biomedical details, including by those suffering from the sorcerous act itself. The need, as with the collapse of the Azande granaries of Evans Pritchard ( 1976:22 ), is to look to the complex web of relationships that situate and constitute people, in order to determine that which gives rise to the particular outcomes experienced by individuals, as these re lationships act as conduits for the flows of envy, witchcraft, and sorcery. As Heckenberger states of Xinguano communities in Brazil, targeted by some evil force, usually witchcr 2004b: 188). S ocial notions of reciprocity and egalitarianism, and an understanding of events perhaps especially unfortunate events as the outcome of intentional acts taken by other persons help to open out on
155 ways of understanding where and how life. However, as Taussig notes: To assert, following Evans coincidence, is true. But what this illustration also brings out is how stupendously such a formula tion flattens our understanding of what their lives are about and what their invocation of sorcery does to what their lives are about. The clarity of the formula is misleading, and powerfully misleading at that [Taussig 1987:464] It is not enough to simpl y understand sorcery and the suffering that it inflicts on nor even as a system of enforced egalitarianism, gro unded in a sense of a 13 In order to understand where sorcery becomes a question of social suffering, it is necessary to look at violence. Looking closely at violence and taking seriously the idea that it has specific, culturally sanctioned, meanings is an anthropological tas k that must be balanced by both the need to engage with even extreme cultural difference, and the need to avoid representing particular cultural practices in ways which will have negative political or economic effects on the lives of real people. The effor t to sidestep addressing violence and its multiple meanings can be bound up with colonialist attitudes to cultural difference, as an attempt to deny or efface what does not offer itself readily for analysis (Whitehead and Wright 2004: 1). However, given lon g histories of dehumanizing portrayals of indigenous Latin Americans, there is also always a pressing need to turn a critical eye to any representations that tend toward sensationalism. Witchcraft and sorcery as forms of violence are authentic and legitima te parts of cosmological, social, and political realities. Though many modes of sorcery do disrupt and even actively work 13 Cf. Beyer (2009:137)
156 against conviviality and sociality, sorcery cannot be reduced to being in all cases the performance of socially destructive acts. Viol c 9), and thereby play s as much of a role in making sociability possible as acts of conviviality. As Stewart and Strathern warn, it is necessary not to underplay the centrality of t 2004: 29). The social and economic effects of rumor and gossip can be just as devastating as physically damaging assault, at least over the long term. C (2004: 29), for beyond economic, social, and political violence that words may quite readily bring about, the violence of sorcery tends to move along paths already opened by go ssip and rumor. The socially vulnerable, who are generally marginalized through this kind of talk, often prove to be the target of sorcery accusations (Santos Granero 2004: 275). This suggests that the mechanisms of sorcery are often arranged around existin g political articulations of social life, working outward from the sorcerer to politically vulnerable targets, but also through accusation back inward from the social unit toward particular individuals. However, as Whitehead suggests, what makes sorcery in these cases most troubling is t 16), or actions that can be explained simply as a social mode of constraining behavior. The difficulty is that 16) with these modes of assault sorcery. This is reminiscent of the same problem to which Lvi Strauss sought an answer ).
157 Sorcery is linked to the dynamics of social suffering where they intersect in violence V iolence as an entry point into cultural analysis resonates throughout much of Whitehead work. This work is concerned with what he describes as and ritua ls semiotics but how those signs are performatively used through time (Whitehead 2002:2). His purpose in this form of cultural performan express Whitehead 2004: 68). The reasoning behind such a series of investigations ranges from an absence produced by a common anthropological aversion to such topics (Whitehead 2004: 6), to the light it can shine on the production of violence in state societies (Whitehead and Wright 2004: 16). The project can be understood as validated on its own terms, however, by attempting to place within culture what is often seen as outside of, or an irruption into, the social. In an interesting harmonic with work on conviviality in indigenous Amazonia (Overing and Passes 2002 ), the centrality of affect has a marked place in the study of violence. Overing and Passes describe fiercen are resonant with what Whitehead describes 2004: per petrator 2004:62) as the social space that ultimately defines and situates the intra cultural definitions of violence, noting that not all violence is necessarily beholden to the particular emotional state of vehemence. The pertinence of affect
158 to do justice to the gradation in vio link in understanding violence in terms of its broader implications for suffering in an extended social network. Living well together is not something simply given by particular modes of social organization it is the outcome of effort, struggle, and the active performance of sociable behavior. It is a task that readily calls to mind t he image of Sisyphus, conviviality as an unceasing struggle toward harmony, one that can never be wholly achieved, but cannot be abandoned (Santos Granero 2002: 284). For many indigenous and mestizo cultural groups throughout Amazonia, this is a process tha t must be Passes 2002: xi xii). The paradox of the struggle toward this kind of inti mate and informal conviviality is that the fecundity of social life is often predicated on the hostile, 6). Violence, including occult violence, has in some cases a producti ve capacity toward the generati on and maintenance of society, and this productive or at least boundary making ( Whitehead and Wright 200 4 : 16). Indeed, Taussig sugges : 21), generating ruptures where the conflict between the use value and exchange value of production, in Marxist terms, insinuates itself into social life. These ruptures, c oming full circle, make the constant struggle to live well together ever more problematic, more prone to discord, breaking along socio cultural lines in terms of sorcery and sorcery accusation.
159 Historical Sorcery Though an appeal to a lapse in reciprocity is too general to explain sorcery in particular situations, it does provide a background against which to understand specific social actions. Envy, however, has more depth to it than this. Buchillet suggests that among the Desana, both envy and illness are 2004: 120). While such a notion can be described in cosmological terms, it is, at the same time, a statement of historical experience. Tau ssig suggests an image of sorcery as an evil wind history of the conquest itself acquires the role of the sorcerer (19 87: 373). In this conception, the historical space of colonial violence itself becomes a 87: 372), generating of its own accord a permeating miasma of sorcerous malevolence. Envy and sorcery must be understood as more deeply distributed into the ground of social life, olence that gives space to the norms of sociability (Heckenberger 2004 b: 179 180). investigated as a means to understand the ways in which history may manifest in individual lives as suffering (Good et al. 2008:5). I suggest that historical grief may be another lens by which to understand this same concept of historical sorcery. In both systems, regardless of the particular nomenclatures, it is a colonial history of exploitation, exclusion, and oppression that acts on the lives of contemporary bodies to cause suffering. History is productive of subjectivities in that history is always a question of power, at micro
160 subjectivities of contemporary indigenous human beings while generating, in the same moment, suffering. As Das et al. suggest: As stories are layered upon other stories, the categories of history and myth collapse into each other. Thus spaces become imbued with these mythic qualities, narrations not only representing violence but also reproducing it. [Das et al 2001:7] et al. 2001:7), such that the suffering experienced by a given body may be a lived echo, present and shocking, of historical trauma. In or der to understand historical trauma in Runa terms, however, it is necessary to consider the way in which history is understood and experienced by Runa people. visible everywhere Uzendoski suggests likewise of Ecuadorian Runa, particularly of the Napo River, that both time and space ar e bound up with cycles of growth, death, and rebirth, and that allpa et al. 2012:14). The past is something that, like plant growth, blossoms into the present, which in th e passage of time becomes again the ground of the future, which finally is the same allpa as the past (Uzendoski et al. 2012:15). The present continuously arises from and descends back into the earth, the space of both the past and the future as temporal h orizons oriented not to a linear sense of chronological permanence, but rather to a sense of organic growth bound up with the lives of plants and the ecological system that situates Runa lives in a sense of place. Uzendoski states that for Napo Runa person s
161 and with, and return to this same earth in continuous cycles. Histo ry is not other than history, Uzendoski states that: through the community of people, through histo ry, through individual lives, into the myriad forms and beings of the landscape and the ancestors [Uzendoski 2005:201] This identification of the body, history, and landscape draws more sharply into focus, then, when contemporary resistance to economic po licies takes place. During 2001 a series of indigenous uprisings occurred in Ecuador, situated around the broad resistance to the dollarization of the Ecuadorian economy. The figure of Jumandy, an ancestral hero who led an indigenous assault on the Spanis h in 1578 (Uzendoski 2005:147), was invoked as a symbol of indigenous identity and historical around the small city of Tena. The citizens of the city who participated in the peaceful resistance, the overwhelming majority of whom were Runa, were attacked by money wit h white men on it was not money for them. They stated that dollars simply spent to o quickly, and that they did not provide sound economic material upon which people could build lives (Uzendoski 2005:147 148). The echo of the historical trauma of which Juma less terrible, resonance in the violence of 2001. It is only in context with the
162 understanding of history as literally within and of the earth, the living place itself, and of Runa bo dies and subjectivities as formed from this same earth, that the figure of Jumandy can be understood as an ancestor who was and still is present. The resistance he represents does not just have a metaphoric and historic parallel to more recent events, but is in some ways bound up in the same earth, with the same bodies, who have grown, lived, died, and been reborn from the same allpa Historical trauma is expressed and experienced in the body a body that shares an identity with the allpa from which it is sustained, with the earth that is the past and historical sorcery, or at least one that is potentially incomplete. The performance of healing in colonial and neoco lonial spaces of exclusion and marginalization must also the colonizier by th performed for the benefit of both white and urban mestizos who seek out indigenous is a quasi ps in the discourse of suffering. According to Taussig: the power of the ritual its elf then proceeds to do its work and play through splintering and decompressing structures and cracking open meanings. In the most crucial sense, savagery has not been tamed and therein lies the 1987:441]
163 analysis, for all the ethnocentric and racist ideologies that the patient colonizer may bring to bear, it is not the patient who doubts the reality of the magical world and its to provide magical power to blunt the evils of ineq wield (1987:446). Here there is a second troubling reading of historical sorcery not just th e malevolence left by the history of colonial exploitation and violence, but also the power can be understood as brought about and manifested by way of continuing political economic inequalities and i njustices, a healing magic that, while perhaps often effective, rises ephemeral, like mist, as much from racism and exclusion as it does from indigenous tradition. Brabec de Mori notes that many Shipibo Conibo people resist the kene design covered cushmas to facilitate the mystic vision of ancient healing (2011:44). Such resistance is not unique to the Shipibo Conibo, as Taussig suggests that Putumayo shamans into which they are pressed (1987:444). Indeed, he they, time and again in ritual
164 The Space of Encounter in Ritual Healing The hum, or whistle, of the two tones is the sound analog of swinging from side to side; each brings the Runa world and mythic time space into the same cosmic dimension with known history and the spirit domains. With ancient and contemporary now one, and with a unity of history and 'now,' don Rodrigo has taken the steps necessary to establish a force field around himself and his Amazonian water turtle seat of power; he again begins to sing. [Whitten 2008:78] Song and the Suffering of the Shaman Ritual begins with song and smoke both manifestations of powerful breath, a materialization of power moving across the b oundaries of one world and into another. As Whitten notes, for the bancu though all in attendance see the physical form of the are coming from the spirit, and he is now th performance of spiritual power (2008:78 79). But this capacity for identification with the spirits does not come easily. Songs are no t granted without the suffering of sincerity made manifest through actions of the ritual specialist over long months and years to acquire particular relationships with plants, trees, stones, animals, rivers, and landscapes. Isolation, fasting, the performa nce of dietas extreme forms of initiation, and other such trials are common throughout much of Amazonia, and this region as well, to build relationships with other than human persons, whether the spirits of plants or geographies. Degrees of power, or dept hs of relationship, are obtained by more or less radical procedures. Among the Shipibo Conibo, those practitioners working to become unaya a form of healing shaman who makes use of plants and some limited number of spirit helpers, must only avoid certain forms of communal labor or festival. His or her social duties in these are not forgiven, however, and the cost in social capital is not
165 necessarily small (Crdenas Timoteo 1989:184). More drastically though, to become a mueraya similar to the Runa bancu a seat of the spirits and one through whom the spirits may act more or less directly on the world one must remain isolated for months at a time, often more than a few times over the period of years, solitary in the deep forest, alone and without contact all the time ingesting vast quantities of psychoactive materials (Crdenas Timoteo 1989:184). These isolations are not limited to human contact, but also isolation from normal patterns even of sustenance along with periods of isolation of whatever deg ree, go periods of fasting, eating very little, and dieting. Dieting in this region is a concept distinct from its connotations in other traditions it does not imply simply eating less, but abandoning entire types of culturally meaningful foods (peppers, salt, chicha or manioc beer, most meats but a few small fish). The body of the dieter begins to transform during isolation, becoming thinner, less substantive in a corporeal sense. 14 Tobacco water and ayahuasca are often drunk in large doses, but along wit h these more powerful plant teachers, individual plants with whom a shaman would make cold extracts, and the plant is meditated on for days or weeks on end, to come to know he mind, in order to establish communication with supernatural forces, especially with the ivo of the 14 Cf. Crdenas Timoteo (1989:184 188), Beyer (2009:56, 94), Luna (1984b:145) for more thorough treatments of dietas in the shamanic traditions of this region.
166 Ucayali, in the Bajo Urubamba region and share a number of cultural fe atures with the Shipibo Conibo. Piro shamans are drawn to their occupation due to compassion: either the death of a child, or the fear of the death of a child, emotionally plagues the shaman such that the he or she, through a transformation of his or her o wn sense of sorrow, chooses to work to prevent others from experiencing the same emotional state. As Gow the suffering of the shaman and the compassion this evokes his or her desire to transform that suffering that makes intercession between the patient and other worlds possible at all, acting as a shared ground between bodies. But it is not just between worlds that the shaman moves the healer must continuously walk. The act of healing is never done only for the benefit Taussig suggests that to become a healer in this region of Am azonia is not just to take on an altruistic social role, but produces a need felt in the body of shamans, he states In long isolations, the weeks or months of dieta to know a pl ant, to build a e interpenetration of this music as it moves between ethereal spheres and irreverent laughter that the spirits are brought to the spaces of human bodies and woes. As Taussig notes of the yag spirits singing
167 (1987:461). For how else to bring the gods to earth but in song that whispers and dives with the movement of spirits in the room, rid ing on smoke and cracking with the schacapa rattle, then laughing at profanity and a coarse joke, shaking away the unexpected weight and density of visions and spirits clinging to the flesh, laughter coming like rainwater fresh to wash it away and bring ba ck a life that is somewhere between terrified and grateful. It is here and like this that the spirits come through songs to work on the human body, a ritual space opened to sing powers out from the trees and plants and rivers and earth into the flesh and m inds of suffering bodies, laughter making these forces so far from human suddenly familiar, the same, us, enough that they breath, and the song is his action on the worl spirits communicating back in the song as the s haman sings to them, the same music in whistles and falsetto notes that descend in unexpected and haunting trails down the scale becoming more akin to a path between the shaman and the spirit than an action that either of them perform alone. 15 If the song is a path, then the semiotics are also sounds in the air, the affective sense that shapes the whole range of sensory perception in an ayahuasca ceremony. 16 15 See Lagrou (2009) on kene designs, and songs that are designs in kind, among the Cashinahua as paths to the s pirits. 16 It is important to be clear here that the songs referenced in this section are icaros or songs particularly related to ayahuasca shamanism and healing, and not other ritual songs made use of by many indigenous groups in the Amazon. Ritual songs throughout Amazonia are often densely meaningful and highly metaphoric, working on multiple levels at once, and should not be confused with the particular analysis of song and its relationship to meaning given here.
168 a bstraction from conceptual meaning is a key feature of mestizo shamanic silbando breathy and almost discourse and creating space new worlds and ne w possibilities might emerge, un burdened by the heaviness of transporting univocal meaning as such across the boundary between realms of human and spirit. Indeed, many icaros are sung in languages not known to the patients, and often may be composed of sounds that are similar to indigenous languages of cultural groups external to that of the singing shaman, but are not, on analysis, fully composed words or sentences but rather phonemes and the like that mimic these. These languages sung within the ritual space are spirit languages, populating a song with what, following Csordas, I would suggest is language, if not semiotically stable language, for the singer. As he notes: we are not to treat glossolalia only as a gesture, for we must grant its phenomenological reality as language for its users. I would argue, with Merleau Ponty, that all language has this gestural or existential meaning and that glossolalia by its f ormal characteristic of eliminating the semantic level of linguistic structure highlights precisely the existential reality of intelligent bodies inhabiting a meaningful world. [Csordas 1988:25] Icaros are not glossolalia, but the consistently reported fea ture of their sometimes quasi or meta linguistic character, 17 not always being populated with words, though with utterances that are near to words, or that may be words unknown to many of the listeners, suggests that like glossolalia of charismatic Catholi cs, these songs may well 17 Cf. Brabec de Mori (2011:36) on the co mmon use of Quechua and other languages among Yine mdicos but not the use of the mother tongue. See also Beyer (2009:74 76) on icaros
169 bypass the burdens of singular or univocal to register as manifestations of transformational power, vibrating in the air, hung thick with mapacho smoke. Because (1997:160) approached by the task of the translator, the power of the song goes beyond human worlds. There is no t one single, quantifiable meaning t hat would survive between worlds of radical disjunction such as these. Rather it is the possibility, as or perhaps here, with an icaro to cause something of the spirit world and its often radically distinct perspectives to ring harmonically in the body of the sufferer. Ritual Acts and Acts of Healing How does a shaman, with ragged gasps of breath coming between wracking sounds of vomit and gagging coughs, suck the chest? But perhaps more immediately, how did this become a virote dart in the first place? This raises a question of s hungu and virotes. 18 Why is the will, the heart throat chest of the shaman, this core of power/knowle dge substance in the body, so intimately bound up with the same phlegm and spirit darts as the ground of sorcery? The oft cited hold broadly true, but so broadly that it ans wers little. I propose that it is because the recirculating samai breath (Uzendoski 2005:33) of the mountains and rivers 19 in fact rises from an earth in which colonial history has been 18 Cf. Tournon (1991), Dobkin de Rios (1972:77 78), Beyer (2009:81 88), and Luna (1986:120) for extensive analyses and descriptions of sorcery, spirit darts and their place in the etiology of illness throughout this region. 19 Cf. Uzendoski (2012:33) for samai interconnectedness with the landscape.
170 buried. And this grave, like all graves can become a womb, where something covered sorcery. The burial site of colonial history is the same spatio temporal future past horizon of the allpa from which bodies emer ge. Or in terms with which this chapter began, the same forces which produce the very subjectivities of indigenous and mestizo persons in this region are those that in combination exert inescapable pressures upon one another in an always overdetermined eve nt of suffering. As Taussig notes: No doubt inequality, envy, and fear of magical retaliation date from the remote past. But there is also no doubt that the capitalist economy both creates new forms and intensifies the socioeconomic conflicts among the pe asantry. [Taussig 1980:257] And if sorcery is born of the same ground where power and knowledge rise as the breath of the earth, then that breath will inevitably carry, in some form, the capacity for the projection of violence and suffering, there present samai A history of colonial violence, economic inequality, political exclusion, extractivist development, and the inevitable periodic failure in the struggle toward conviviality condenses into the thorn of a chonta palm. Such a dart is blown along the winds of powerful breath into the hearts, minds, bodies corporeal, social, and politic 20 of an But here I perhaps tread too closely to K structural and systemic terms (1992:189 190), making an inevitability out of a contested experience of suffering and violence. This experience does not give itself over to such an analysis without again pre senting as resistance the carnality of bodies and the intractable stubbornness of corporeal persons. The somatic historical agencies of 20 Cf. Scheper Hughes and Lock (1987:29)
171 bodies and persons, and the experience of suffering of which these are the site, cannot be reduced simply to a nexus of historical, economic, and political forces of subjectivity production, nor can they escape constitution by the same. Healing, then, must take place on and in the body, the materialized site of both the expression of structural forces and the simultaneous agentive resistance of, and play with, these. Songs and smoke and the shaking pulse of the leaf rattle the huairashina panga (Oberem 1958:79), or wind making leaf each in their way open and purify both bodies and ritual space. As Whitten suggests, the supai waira of the forest, the spirits of events and places (2 008:70). The spirits aid the shaman, in and darts that lodge in bodies (Oberem 1958:78). And while it is the spirits and the ayahuasca which may allow the shaman t o find these pathogenic objects, it is the body that heals the body body does the work, and there is not any real effort involved. The healer intends to heal, so his aycha or flesh, sends ou flesh heals the flesh, and where the dart is found, it can be sucked from the patient and 58:79, my translation). Of course darts are not always deposited benignly in a stump or sto ne and returned to the earth. T hey may be taken into the body of the shaman as weaponry or defense, or perhaps and more often be blown back in retaliation to the source from which they came (Beyer 2009:86). For if
172 sorcery may rise like mist from a putrefying colonial history in the earth, its form as a violent object blown in darts and spirit arrows does not so easily return to become fecund decay, but is rather l ikely to circulate as disease and illness through networks of sociality that bind humans and other than humans together into relational arrangements that are prone to envy, gossip, and the giving and taking of offense. There is a Kofan legend that depicts God vomiting, shitting, and crying out in terror, gripped in the throes of an ayahuasca ritual experience, the vine itself the unknown product of his own left hand (Taussig 1987:467). In reference to this Taussig suggests that the insights of ayahuasca ri tual space do not pretend to a transcendental be they divine or political, spiritual or historical visions by a Shipibo Conibo shaman, a complex geometry that is as much sound and song as it is spirit, is blown and se aled with tobacco smoke, into the body of a person, becoming part of that person (Illius 1994:194). In kind with bringing the gods to earth, so too do the sung designs of the Shipibo Conibo transform spiritual power to a human space of sound and smoke and breath, blown, with a soplando of tobacco smoke by the shaman over the head of a patient (Arvalo 1986:154), to permeate the body with spirit song designs until they remain permanent (Gebhart Sayer 1986:193). Indeed, it is a sense of synesthesia, as Beyer notes, that draws experience of the spirit world across senses, describing icaros
173 fully in fact that illness c making spirit corporeal through song and breath and design and smoke, not only does power move across the boundaries of worlds, but these same spiritual powers and concomitant political historical powers are, as Taussig suggests, made subject to The palpating of bodies, the massage and sucking and blowing of smoke, the sweeping and fanning with the leaf rattle (Tournon 1991) all work to heal the body, both as corporeal flesh, and as the social body and body politic with which it i s inextricably bound up, or simply identical. Of Montage and the Body To know more about what is within, the shaman must increasingly know more about what is without. The shaman becomes a paradigm builder. He continuously reproduces cultural knowledge, con tinuously maintains the distance between our culture and other culture, and continuously transcends the boundaries that he enforces by traversing th e distances he builds. [Whitten 2008:64] It is this transcending of boundaries from which the shaman draws p ower necessary to reorient forces, to transform situations, to open up again the agency of the human body, to liberate the suffering body from a static and immobile place, to set it back in motion, to let it work its ow n generative capacities on the strate gic reintegration of these productive forces. To my mind it is less that the power to heal derives wholly from the world of the spirits, than it is that the transformational potential made available to the shaman can be located in the act of crossing bound aries between worlds as such. To cross a boundary is to admit of a way of being that is, at least potentially, not structured by the same forces, not bound by the same absolutes, as any given world, at
174 that it is the very possibility of moving between worlds that makes available this transformational potential to refigure and reorient the forces that simultaneously produce bodies and suffering in kind. Healing does not take place by bringing together an ideal unification, an enraptured sense in which pain and uncertainty are opiated and finally answered. It is not to a perfect future, and thereby a renunciation of all that has brought about the event of suffering, that healing practice pretends Rather, it is in the polyphonic and polysemic overdetermination of context, a recognition not of the negate ability of suffering but more in its transformability by way of image, sound, song, and touch that together create a shifting and unanswerable sense of the holographic or phantasmic cum flesh, where healing occurs between bodies, both of the shaman, the patient, and the humans or other than humans present in ritual space. Montage (Taussig 1987:435) proves necessary as a mode of healing because of t he overdet ermined nature of suffering. 21 It is necessary to utilize images, references, concepts, and sensations from the domains of different constitutive forces political economic, historical, socio cultural, biophysical, ecological, cosmological, spiritual in order to access the orientation of those force s in, on, or through the suffering body. The body is indexical for all of these other forces as it establishes a referential position by or through which they are known and expressed. B ecause they ha ve an impa ct on the body because the body is affected by the arrangement and interplay of these forces t he body is inextricably part of the same. That is to say that the body is political, the 21 Though here bricolage (Lvi Strauss 1966), paradigm manipulation (Whitten 2005), and world making (Overing 1990) all suggest similar models for drawing diverse elements of multiple worlds together to, in particular moments and for specific ends, reorient perspectives and situations.
175 body is economic, the body is historical, the body is material, the b ody is spiritual, the body is ecological. These forces have no field that is not the body, nothing else upon which they could act. I am not reductively arguing that there is no sui generis of the mind, the social, the spiritual, what have you. I am rather arguing that the site of intersection, the site of contact in the most literal sense for each of these forces is the body itself the body as flesh, in a raw sense of carnality. That is why it is the body that must be healed, why it is the body that is th e site of suffering. All pain including emotional pain, is felt in the body. Pain and suffering collapse the boundaries between internal and external states, between mind, body, or spirit, such that whatever utility might be found in recognizing aspects o f t hese as poles of experience in particular c ultural or historical contexts that are inextricably bound up with discourse, their fundamental and underlying connection, their sameness, is affirmed in the experience of suffering. This is why spirit darts ar e sucked out as vile bits of blood, puss, and thorn. This is why soul loss causes the body to be heavy, lethargic, and dispirited. The site of the body does nothing to reductively suggest that soul loss or spi rit darts are only psycho cultural somatic expr essions and not phenomena at the same moment What a recognition of the body as the site of suffering and contact between these other forces does is make intelligible why healing, in the shamanic sense, must cover so broad a range o f between symptoms from seemingly different strata of experience. As Strathern notes, w hatever the context, however, one feature seems to reappear, and that is that healing involves a reframing of experience as well as signs, of sounds as well as meanings, of words that sometimes but not
176 cacophony of perfumes, tobacco smoke, whispering, whistling, blowing, singing, 23) where spirit visions and the songs they give to the shaman and are simultaneously transformed by can rearrange the relationships of a perso n to an envious neighbor, or the relationships of a patient to history. If, as Taussig suggests, the problems that patients so too must the means of healing be able to act on these same forces. grounds of interpretation, but b (1992:191). This approach has of it that necessary multiple nature of montage. Because if healing is a space of mediation, where a specialist operates between worlds, then the act of healing cannot strive after an illusory wholeness, but rather must seek, as of tinie images and sounds and smells and physical contact can echo bits of worlds from mythic time to political history, from social idioms of envy and poverty to eschatological orac iones whispered to Catholic saints and become pieced together, making them all er in
177 laughter, of spirit power dazzling in curling wisps of smoke that healing breaks out, unexpected (Taussig 1987:441). Like the first soft whistle breaking the sil ence, the red glow of a cigarette the only light interrupting the dark, so too does healing, unexpected, break into the ritual space performed between transformational and suffering bodies.
178 CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION Power drawn through the position of mediation between worlds, and the application of that power in healing, are the two most central features of ayahuasca shamanism in the geographic region bounded by the Napo River, the Ucayali River, and the city of Iquitos. Plants, in particular, play a profound r ole in this ritual complex, acting with ritual agency as mediators themselves, between persons of sometimes strikingly distinct worlds, both cultural and spiritual. The brew of the ayahuasca vine, particularly those brews making use of other plants as admi xtures and additives, is unique in this region for its particular capacity to allow a ritual practitioner to maintain a presence in multiple worlds at the same time an assertion that has both discursive and phenomenological ground in the experience of ri tual specialists. Analyzing the position of the ayahuasca brew in conjunction with the related ritual uses of tobacco and Datura for the Runa, the Shipibo Conibo, and the mestizo shamans of this region, suggests a range of mediation based on a degree of co ntact, translation, and transportation across the boundaries of different worlds. The predecessors and the current peoples themselves of the Runa, the Shipibo Conibo, and the mestizo groups of this region have acted as, and continue to act as, brokers and mediators between European and indigenous worlds, between the highlands and the lowlands, and between urban and forest spaces. This mediatory role in historical and geographic terms has distinct in both n noted of ayahuasca experiences, especially of ritual specialists who are highly knowledgeable of the brew. It is not incidental that the rivers those spaces of movement, mediation, translation, transport, and contact par excellence have such geograph ic, historic, and ritual
179 significance in this region. The world of the water is a place of access to power and knowledge but always with the ambivalent sense in which these are never wholly benign, and may well bring un looked for and unwanted effects. Th is is true as much of the songs of the yacuruna as it is of the trade goods of the missionaries. Within this region and throughout much of Amazonia more broadly there is a long and remarkable history of indigenous exchange, moving inter regionally across great distances along the rivers, and intra regionally between geographically near groups. Though these networks were inarguably subject to collapse after roughly 1550 on through the beginnings of the rubber economy in the 1880s, new routes and connections were regularly re established, as indigenous groups continually adapted and re constituted communication and exchange Indeed, it may well be that exchange, and specialization in the production of particular goods, may have played as distinct a role in sh aping collective identities in pre contact Amazonia as kinship, language, and even ritual systems. These ongoing processes of exchange were not limited to material products, but carried ritual and religious beliefs and practices up and down the rivers, and into the forest, such that ritual innovations and sources of power were able to reach remote areas prior to and during, later periods entailing the destructive effects of European contact, missionization, and rubber slavery This is not to argue that nov el developments and adaptations to ritual practice were not provoked by these more devastating historical forces, but rather to suggest that apprentice shamans were very likely to have been traveling to remote distances to learn of techniques, plants, spir its, and songs prior to and despite European impacts. The scattering, mixing, and decimating of indigenous populations that occurred during missionization and the
180 violence of the rubber economy did lead to an increase in an exchange of ideas between people s who would otherwise likely never have interacted. But these were not the only means by which ritual knowledge could or did spread throughout this region. Indigenous exchange networks that existed at the time of European contact were able to, in some ways absorb the new metal goods and other trade items made available through the missions. Though the demand for these items was significant, it was not out of keeping with a history of indigenous groups importing from other groups objects that they did not h ave access to the resources to fabricate, could not make as well, or simply could trade to acquire with less effort. Because the predecessors to the Runa and the Shipibo Conibo had already been actively engaged in long distance trading, especially acting a s brokers between the Andean and Amazonian indigenous groups, at the time of European contact, these peoples became those who would, in kind, mediate between Europeans and more remote indigenous populations. This, of course, made them more vulnerable to th e initial ravages of disease, slavery, and violence brought by the whites, but over the course of time, they also developed a greater knowledge of how the white world functioned, and how to interact with them. This knowledge would, during the rubber boom, ultimately save lives compared to less contacted indigenous groups, though of course not leaving the Runa and Shipibo Conibo exempted from that violence. For the Runa in particular, because of the cultural capital gained through this mediatory position bet ween cultural worlds, other, smaller groups began and continue to acculturate to Quichua speaker cultural patterns. This cultural capital also meant that Runa ritual specialists were, and likewise continue to be, looked to as powerful sources of knowle dge, or yachay The origin of the ritual complex
181 of ayahuasca shamanism, and the forms of ritual practice associated with it, began among the Napo Runa shamans, and was able to be disseminated so widely in part because of just this cultural capital develop ed through a geographic and historical position as brokers and mediators. It is, then, perhaps understandable that moving between worlds, and mediating between spirit persons and humans, is a prominent feature of ayahuasca shamanism in this region. By focu sing on indigenous exchange networks and historic brokerage roles of indigenous groups in this region, it is my hope to supplement or broaden the insights first expounded by Gow on the origins of ayahuasca shamanism (1994). Gow, based on what he acknowledg es is potentially tenuous evidence, suggests that ayahuasca shamanism is a historically recent phenomenon, developed out of the cultural mixing of the mission camps, and then spread during the rubber boom. His work is an attempt to re contextualize within specific histories the development and dispersal of the ritual complex of ayahuasca shamanism, and is a very necessary corrective to often uncritical references to contemporary ritual practices as part of unbroken, ancient indigenous traditions. However, b y situating the origin of this form of shamanism in the mission reducciones and suggesting that its dispersal was in large part due to the forced mobilization of the rubber economy, his argument does not take into account the history of the brew, its assoc iation with Quichua speaking culture, and the alternative modes of research that has come after his work to open up this more nuanced account was not available at the time and the majority of it has been heavily informed by his work on the subject, the broad tenets of which are still quite applicable.
182 This research throws new light on the ways in which ayahuasca shamanism has incorporated novel elements as it moved and de veloped. In the Napo River region where the ritual complex began, there has been little to no incorporation of Catholic liturgical elements. The shamanic traditions that gave rise to the ritual complex, while dynamically adapting to local changes and consi derations, have not routinely taken on the additional elements that have developed in and around Iquitos. Even the use of DMT bearing P. viridis leaves has not become such a profound aspect of the use of the vine brew in the Napo region, despite the overwh elming centrality of these visions to much of the literature focused on the shamanisms of Iquitos. The vegetalistas of Iquitos have incorporated Catholic cosmological elements, the DMT bearing admixture plants, s ideas from Buddhism and Hinduism, and New Age concepts into their ritual beliefs and practices with the brew. This, too, makes sense and here, Gow is quite correct as the mestizo shamans of Iquitos are mediators now between urban and white spaces and forest and indigenous spaces in Peru. This mediation, still central to the ayahuasca shamanic complex wherever it is practiced, adapts dynamically to the geographic, historical, political, and discursive contexts within which it is located. It is not surp rising then that these elements travel up the Ucayali River, toward the Shipibo Conibo and the Piro with whom Gow worked most directly and find their way into the ritual practices of ayahuasca shamans working there. These practices adapt, as Shipibo Co nibo (and Cashinahua, and even Piro) notions of visual designs and patterns, often woven into clothing or painted on pottery, intersect with the ritual understandings of ayahuasca use, changing modes of discourse about the brew.
183 A multitude of plants are m ade use of, both ritually and medicinally, throughout this region by both indigenous and mestizo specialists. Three plants, however, stand out as the most central ritual plants in emic discourse: tobacco, ayahuasca, and Datura. Given the historical situati on of the Runa, the Shipibo Conibo, and the mestizo shamans through which to view these plants. Tobacco, throughout the Americas from North to South, plays a pronounced ritual role in establishing and maintaining contact and relationship with the spirit world. In this region, as in others, tobacco smoke is understood to be the very materialization of powerful breath, an ephemeral yet visible trace of ritual power and spir itual substance. Tobacco smoke makes relationship with spirit persons possible, however more profoundly other plants may move one across or into other worlds. Datura, on the other hand, makes possible the movement into another world most radically and comp letely, setting one on a path to power or knowledge that requires the utmost effort and will. Faltering in that world means death in this one. Datura, perhaps most especially in Runa discourse, sends one wholly elsewhere, to meet with spirit persons of gre at power and knowledge, but who are likewise very dangerous. Such quests are not unde rtaken lightly. And i t is ayahuasca then, that translate s and facilitate s interaction between worlds Ritual practitioners note the pronounced lucidity of ayahuasca visio ns, the ability to engage fully with the spirit world, while simultaneously remaining cognizant and capable in this one. This capacity to translate between the worlds, without necessarily losing sight or connection with either, makes ayahuasca particularly suited to healing practice. The power of the spirit world, the power drawn from eclipsing boundaries in both directions, is made available in the
184 healing space of ritual to the body of the patient, through the mediation of the specialist. Ethnographic and phenomenological evidence from among the Runa, the Shipibo Conibo, and the mestizo shamans in and around Iquitos while containing any number of cultural variances and distinct understandings all suggest that mediation, in terms of contact, transport, and translation, is a viable way to understand the ritual uses and effects of these plants. Despite the often contrived images in much popular literature, shamanism in Latin America and worldwide has never been uniquely oriented toward healing as such. Intercession with masters of animals for the release of game, with divine beings away all of these are aspects of different shamanisms. Divining the locatio n of a lost object is not any less common, in many shamanic systems, than searching for a lost soul. This is to say nothing of sorcery and the causation of disease, misfortune, and the like, all of which are bound up with the same spiritual forces as shama nism. Not all, or even most, shamans are sorcerers, but misfortune and malevolence follow like the inescapable shadow beneath the footfalls of healing, well being, and convivial livelihood, and work through the same spiritual powers as the rest. This is im portant to note because the ayahuasca shamanic ritual complex does, in effect, take healing as its particular orientation. Healing, in this sense, grapples directly with sorcery, though, and because many treatments of illness involve sending it back to its source, the circulating spiritual violence makes it difficult to find an ayahuasca shaman who is not also, in some sense, engaged in sorcery. Whatever the case, the orientation of ayahuasca shamanism to healing makes the body, in particular, relevant to t he ritual practices and
185 beliefs of this complex. The sources of suffering are always multiple, and any event of suffering is likely to be overdetermined by pressures ranging from domestic to ecological, from spiritual to political. But it is the body that experiences suffering, and the body that can be healed it is the site where these other forces intersect. The body is the nexus in and through which subjectivity producing forces operate and, literally, manifest. It is for this reason that ayahuasca sham anic healing must transcend boundaries between worlds. It must be capable of drawing on imagery and discourse from political worlds, economic worlds, historical and even multi generational memories, as well as spiritual and ecological worlds in order to wo rk with these forces as they simultaneously produce and afflict the body. The multiplicity of a shaman who is made intersects with the multiple body of a patient in ritual spac e. Somatic agency is historical agency. The body is that in which and through which history unfolds, is lived, understood, remembered, recognized, resisted, and (re)interpreted. The body is history manifest. Changing the course of history means, quite li terally, changing the state, arrangement, control, and expression of bodies in particular times and places, both for and against the interests of those bodies themselves. And if the body is history, then health and illness speak as much of politics as they do of medicine. This study has been in large part occupied with historical, linguistic, and comparative ethnographic evidence in the phenomenon of ayahuasca shamanism. The thesis statement was argued and analyzed in terms of mediation and exchange, in ord er to contextualize ritual practice within its historical development But what is central to the actual ritual performance of ayahuasca shamanism is healing. In
186 ritual healing space, the questions are not those of how such practices came to be, but rather what it is they can do, what suffering can they relieve. And if the body is history, and suffering arises from the same forces that produce or constitute bodies and subjectivities, then healing is politics, alb is an apt metaphor for understanding colonialism and its impacts on indigenous lives, then we must ask, both of medicine and politics, how to work toward Crisis and prevention operate as two temporal ho rizons from which to appr oach healing A crisis modality attempts to rectify problems that have already manifested as pathologies and acute distress. Preventative medicine attempts to establish a way of living, particular behaviors and practices, that prevent the body from reachin g a pathological state in the first place. If the body is indexical to his toric, economic, and political forces, then what does mean in context with this insight? Can we speak of health without speaking of politics, economics, history, culture, co mmu nity, spirituality, and ecology ? These are the things that the body is made from, shaped by, expressed through and in. So when we speak of healing and health, we must look to these fields of influence just as much as any investigation of infections and pathogens. And so the question becomes, w ho is vulnerable? This echoes the rhetoric of sorcery: why does ill befall one person and not another? Was it intentional? Who did this, why was it possible for it to happen here, but not there? To speak of health w e must also ask these questions, but of repressive and exclusive political systems, exploitative and intrusive economic constructs colonial histories and neocolonial prejudices, petroleum pollu ted rivers and rainforest homes sold out from under families It is not enough to heal a body that has already manifested some illness or
187 distress, however necessary this might be. It is necessary to change the situations that bring about the disease in the first place, that give rise to suffering i n structural and s ystemic ways systems that in large measure determine who recei ves food, clothing, shelter, education and a say in how their lives and well beings are managed and traded on Healing at the political and economic level cannot remain in a crisis modality, responding only at the outbreak of violence and outrage, but must rather embrace the foresight of finally changing the systems that give rise to these kind of dangerous and destructive social manifestations. If the ritual healing encounter teaches us anyth ing, it is that while healing does manifest regularly in these spaces, in order to prevent the appearance of new disease and relapse to old, t he imbalances and disharmonies of these other forces must be altered directly In the preceding pages I have atte mpted to paint a more complete view of indigenous historical agency in terms of the development and elaboration of the ayahuasca ritual complex. Given the outmoded but still too often repeated in popular discourse to critically examine where, when, and how indigenous groups were actively engaged in creating their own histories, even amidst overwhelming and pernicious pressures. Not only are indigenous people currently active in shaping their own histories, but they always have been. I am not suggesting that this study reveals indigenous historical agency in ways that have not been demonstrated in other work, but rather that it has been my intention to put this agency in context with the ritual complex of ayahuasca shamanism in particular. Ayahuasca over the last two decades has found itself drawn into popular consciousness, from New Age spirituality to references made in
188 mainstream entertainment. This popularity has not, unfortun ately, necessarily brought with it clarity or critical reflection in many cases, and while much good work is being done to rectify this, more needs to be done. It has been my intention in this study to bring a contextualized awareness to both political his tory and ritual practice, in order to highlight indigenous agency in the development and elaboration of this ritual complex.
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204 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH James C. Taylor was born in up state New York in 1978, and graduated from Jacksonville University with degrees in both English and p hilosophy in 2000. His research is focused on the ritual use of plants i n the Peruvian and Ecuadorian Amazon, especially as these relate to healing. He is currently an M.A. student with the Center for Latin American Studie s at the University of Florida and a research associate with the Working Group on Plants and Religion at the University of Florida.