Track: Shamanism and Its Potential for Modern Man
Ayahuasca use in the new-age context
Over the last years, ayahuasca has come to represent the probably most widely-used substance in the context of the search for meaning and the mental health context on a global scale. This exponentially rising usage has so far mainly drawn on currents from the new-age movement, rather than on concepts from the scientific paradigm or from Judeo-Christian spiritual or religious traditions. Yet, some features of the new-age movement are in stark contrast to the traditional medicines paradigm, as well as to the indigenous groups this medicine originally stems from. We wish to highlight some of these contradictions, as well as the dangers and confusions they may hold.
Jacques Mabit earned his MD from the Université de Nantes (France) and specialized in Tropical and Natural Medicine. He worked as a physician in several countries in collaboration with organizations such as Medecins Sans Frontières. In 1986, his career and spiritual path led him to move permanently to Peru where he eventually became a naturalized citizen. Mabit has dedicated the last two decades of his life to studying the use of altered states of consciousness in Amazonian mestizo and indigenous healing rituals and integrating these studies into his work as a physician and psychotherapist. He is co-founder and director of the Takiwasi Center that has become an international exemplar for complementary treatment of drug abuse with the help of ayahuasca and many other emetic and psychoactive plants (“teacher-plants”) used traditionally in the context of Amazonian vegetalismo. In relation to this work he has founded the Consejo Interamericano Sobre la Espiritualidad Indígena (CISEI-Mexico) and the Red Internacional de Médicos Tradicionales Ayahuasqueros (RIMTAY-Peru); he also holds the title of Research Professor at the Facultad de Medicina de la Universidad Científica del Sur (Lima-Peru) and he has been named an Honorary Member of the College of Peruvian Psychologists.
Jacques Mabit seems to belong equally to ‘two worlds’: he lives in Peru, but frequently fundraises for Takiwasi in Europe (especially in France), regularly attends international conferences, and has published a number of articles2. Beyond his medical and psychotherapeutic work, he conducts ayahuasca ceremonies in the style of vegetalistas. The Takiwasi Center presents amalgam of techniques and traditions which challenge our conventional divisions between the fields of medicine, psychotherapy, and religion. The Center provides a unique structure within which international perspectives on the use of ayahuasca blend and react with a rigorous protocol of ritual consciousness alteration.