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The Psychotropic Mind

The Psychotropic Mind

The World according to Ayahuasca, Iboga, and Shamanism

Conversations on shamanism and mind-altering plants by filmmaker Jan Kounen, anthropologist Jeremy Narby, and writer/filmmaker Vincent Ravalec

• Explores how ayahuasca and iboga are tools for communicating with other life-forms

• Offers insights into the role this indigenous knowledge can play in solving the current problems facing the world

In the Amazon, shamans do not talk in terms of hallucinogens but of tools for communicating with other life-forms. Ayahuasca, for example, is first and foremost a means of breaking down the barrier that separates humans from other species, allowing us to communicate with them. The introduction of plant-centered shamanism into the Western world in the 1970s was literally the meeting of two entirely different paradigms. In The Psychotropic Mind, three of the individuals who have been at the forefront of embracing other ways of knowing look at the ramifications of the introduction into our Western culture of these shamanic practices and the psychotropic substances that support them.

With rare sincerity and depth, noted anthropologist Jeremy Narby, filmmaker Jan Kounen, and writer/filmmaker Vincent Ravalec explore the questions of sacred plants, initiations, hallucinogens, and altered states of consciousness, looking at both the benefits and dangers that await those who seek to travel this path. Focusing specifically on ayahuasca and iboga, psychotropic substances with which the authors are intimately familiar, they examine how we can best learn the other ways of perceiving the world found in indigenous cultures, and how this knowledge offers immense benefits and likely solutions to some of the modern world’s most pressing problems.
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  • Park Street Press | 
  • 192 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781594773129 | 
  • November 2009
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Read an Excerpt


Ayahuasca and Iboga

Question: What are the basic warnings for someone who is determined to try ayahuasca for themselves?

Vincent: It’s complicated . . .

Jeremy: The first warning is to say that it is like going off to sea by yourself--and you do not know how to sail. So you must be prepared before leaving port alone on your sailboat. In my opinion, it’s worth the trouble of spending the most time possible in the library; or, if you do not like to read, speaking with people who have had this experience and learning as much as possible.

Jan:... see more

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About the Authors

Jeremy Narby

Jeremy Narby is an anthropologist best known for his books The Cosmic Serpent and Intelligence in Nature.


Jan Kounen

Filmmaker Jan Kounen has created a number of films and documentaries, including the celebrated Blueberry, released in the United States as Renegades.


Vincent Ravalec

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




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