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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index

Amazon Healer: The Life and Times of an Urban Shaman.

Dobkin de Rios, Marlene. (1992).
Bridport, Dorset: Prism.

ISBN: 1-85327-076-8

Description: paperback, viii + 180.

Contents: 10 chapters, glossary, bibliography, acknowledgment.

Excerpt(s): ... it may be wise at first to see how elements of Christianity in the form of folk Catholicism were incorporated successfully into Amazonian beliefs. After all, 83 per cent of don Hildeís clientele are practicing Christians and 17 per cent of them are Evangelic Protestants, influenced in the last thirty-five years by the presence of the Summer Institute of Linguistics and their active missionary programme in Peru.

Traditional beliefs concerning witchcraft are not foreign to the Old and New testaments of the Bible. the concept of duality, especially Satanic evil, is not stranger to the devout Christian. Missionaries in small rainforest hamlets are quite aggressive, even today, in putting fear of an angry God into the hearts of most communicants. As an example, one informant during my fieldwork in Iquitos told me, when I described my own ayahuasca experience, that I would never see the face of Jesus when I died if I continued such practices.

... In the Bible, ordinary people healed inspired by the gifts they believed emanated from Jesus. Spirit communication influenced men and women. trance phenomena were entered into freely; healers touched to cure. Dreams of visions and miraculous healing are scattered throughout the Bible. Matthew and Luke were charged to heal the sick, cast out devils and give freely of themselves. So, too, do many curanderos in the region, who often claim their healing talents come to them as gifts of God. They exorcise evil spirits and frequently charge little for their service. trance, induced by numerous plant psychedelics, was probably used by nomadic rainforest Indians from the earliest of times, and Christian scriptures are full of examples of trance behavior; for instance, Saulís journey to Damascus, Paulís trance in Jerusalem, or Danielís visions of two saints speaking to him. In 1 Corinthians, Jesus speaks of how the righteous can discern spirits ó congruent with Septrionic beliefs, as well as earlier animistic concepts originating in tribal periods.

Trance is very well know among many adult men in the Amazon, who seek out such personal experiences by means of drug plants, either out of curiosity or to heal themselves of a witchcraft-induced disorder. (pages 60-61)

Thus, despite the influence of several hundred years of Christianity, animistic beliefs continue to flourish side by side with Catholic doctrine. Even don Hilde considers himself to be especially graced by Christian spiritual protection, as the Virgin Mary appeared to him when he began his career as an ayahuasca healer. (pages 62-63)

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