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All the Yage?

9 December 2013

Sorry, but business has kept me from posting (much as I need to, about the oil law “reforms” and Lopez Obrador, among other important events here.

In the meantime, a reminder that Allen Ginsburg (“The Yage Letters”) and William S. Burroughs (“Queer”) were not entirely making shit up:

If You Haven’t Heard Of DMT Yet, You Might Soon (Huffington Post)

Drug researchers have found evidence that a hallucinogenic compound used in shamanic rituals in the Amazon is growing in popularity. Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), the active ingredient in ayahuasca, a plant-based mixture, can also be used by itself, often by smoking it.

Ayahuasca brew, a combination of two plants that grow in South America, has long been known to the readers of Beat literature as yage. “I was a vomiting snake,” early adopter Allen Ginsberg wrote of one ayahuasca journey. “I vomited with eyes closed and sensed myself a Serpent of Being … covered with Aureole of spiky snakeheads miniatured radiant & many colored around my hands & throat — my throat bulging like the Beast of Creation, like the Beast of Death.”

Such psychedelic tourism grew so quickly that ayahuasca journeys are now offered in Latin American countries that have no native tradition of using the brew. Tommy Thomas, a farmer who lives in Costa Rica, also spoke about the trend for the 2009 burroughs-ginsberg-copybook. A real estate developer from Washington, D.C., Thomas moved to the country more two decades ago hoping to earn a living growing hallucinogenic plants. The market turned out to be less lucrative than he’d imagined. Thomas now grows mostly traditional crops, dedicating only a small portion of his farm to mind expansion, on a four-acre plot he calls an “ethnobotanical garden.” He said that he first noticed the ayahuasca trend take a major upswing in 2005. The local version of the ceremony involves flying in a Peruvian, Ecuadorian, or Brazilian shaman, because their Costa Rican counterparts never used ayahuasca.

It kind of pisses them off,” Thomas said of the native Costa Ricans, “but it’s good money.” Indeed, the retreats, mostly organized by Americans, can cost thousands of dollars per head.

Well… yeah.  Kind of like the way Mexico’s traditional people are pissed off at foreigners who expect shamans to provide peyote or magic mushrooms, in return for cultural appropriation, exploitation and a “free market” that gets a lot of them killed.

The western rage for vicarious experiences and the shameless sense of self-entitlement of the wealthy whenever a “new” indigenous plant product becomes a media sensation is destructive. It”s not just “drugs”… think of the negative effect the food faddies and hipsters demand for quinoa has had on Andean diets.

NOne of us should be shocked when foreign demand leads to local growers being coerced into an illegal international market with the profits accruing to those rich foreigners at the expense of traditional agriculture and human lives.After all, we did it.

One Comment leave one →
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