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The Visionary Root of African Shamanism

Shows how African shamans have used ibogaine for hundreds of years to communicate with ancestral spirits

• Includes an interview with shaman Mallendi, initiation-master of the sacred root

• Shows that the iboga plant, and its derivative ibogaine, is an anti-addictive agent, especially for heroin

• Reveals how ibogaine has been suppressed by the DEA, the FDA, and Christian ministries

Iboga, spiritual ally of African shamans since antiquity, yields ibogaine, a powerful psychotropic substance. It is used mainly in Gabon and Cameroon in a secret, initiatory tradition called bwiti-nganza, in which physical and psychological illnesses can be rooted out and cured. Intense psychological conditioning that includes the rites of confession, contacting and honoring one’s ancestors, and construction of an in-depth psychological inventory are all part of the initiate’s encounter with this sacred root.

Like many visionary and initiatory plants, iboga is a key that gives access to other modes of being and consciousness. Despite its suppression by the FDA since the 1960s, and more recently by the DEA, researchers have shown that ibogaine provides a powerful adjunct to psychology due to its miraculous ability to break addictions--most notably to heroin. To the followers of the Bwiti religion, ibogaine is the indispensable means by which humans can truly communicate with the deepest reaches of their soul and with the spirits of their ancestors. This book details the traditions and techniques of iboga’s use by African shamans and the essential role it occupies in that community in order both to preserve this knowledge and to show how ibogaine may have an important role to play in our modern world.
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  • Park Street Press | 
  • 240 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781594771767 | 
  • October 2007
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Read an Excerpt

from the Introduction

Vincent Ravalec

How to explain the unexplainable?

Can the irrational be rationalized?

Do archaic traditions have points of relevance that can be absorbed into our modern cultures?

Does the globalization that exports fast food but also rites and knowledge from another era really generate anything other than negative aspects?

Can we put the skills of the past to work for a particular concept of what the man or woman of tomorrow might be?

Up to what point is it possible to find where conceptual systems as different as those of the traditions of the forest, the world of spirits,... see more

About the Authors

Vincent Ravalec

Vincent Ravalec is the screenwriter, producer, and director of numerous films as well as the author of many books in French.



Mallendi is a bwiti-nganza initiator and traditional healer in Gabon.


Agnès Paicheler

Agnès Paicheler is a social scientist researcher who lives and works in France.




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