AYA: a shamanic odyssey (2009)
from Icaro Publishing, April, 2009
“The vine has spread her tendrils across the world and a genuine archaic revival was underway. My bags were packed; South America beckoned, and the ancient mysteries of the rainforest awaited. I wanted in on it…”
When Rak Razam, an ‘experiential journalist’ for Australian Penthouse magazine sets out to document the booming business of Amazonian shamanism in the 21st century, he quickly finds himself caught up in a culture clash between the old world and the new. Braving a gringo trail of the soul, he uncovers a movement of ‘spiritual tourists’ coming from the West for a direct experience of the multi-dimensional reality shamanism connects one to.
Central to this is ayahuasca – the “vine of souls” – a legal South American hallucinogenic plant that has been used by Amazonian people for millennia to heal physical ailments and to cleanse and purify the spirit, connecting it to the web of life.
In researching the mystery of ayahuasca, Razam undergoes his own shamanic initiation, undergoing numerous tests and trials in the jungle and the psychic landscapes the vine reveals. On the way he encounters a motley crew of characters, from rogue scientists that conduct DMT-brain scans on jungle psychonauts; brujo-black magicians wielding their psychic darts; and dozens of indigenous and Western shamans that slowly unravel his cultured mind and reveal the magical landscape of the spirit world.
Razam lyrically documents his experiences with the vine and his burgeoning relationship with the plants, seeing the connections under the skin of things and the way the world threads together. He cleverly juxtaposes his story with the history of Amazonian shamanism and the current surge of Western interest, using advances in modern physics and consciousness research to provide a definitive overview of this fast-growing global subculture.
And the more he drinks this potent jungle medicine the deeper it leads him: from the wet jungles where the ayahuasca vine grows, to the middle of the Amazon, and on into the raging heart of consciousness itself. His journey culminates in the mountains of the Andes with an illuminating climb of Machu Picchu, where secrets of the ancient Incas are revealed to him and the true nature of the global resurgence in shamanism is brought to light.
Razam’s journalistic eye for detail captures a unique spiritual adventure that echoes the archetypal Western quest, propelling the reader on a cosmological travel memoir that is at turns beautiful, terrifying, mind-blowing and ultimately, cathartic. Part journalistic account, part travelogue adventure-memoir, AYA is ultimately a literary memoir and a love song to something intimately familiar to the human spirit.
AVAILABLE MAY 2009
The Ayahuasca Sessions:
conversations with Amazonian curanderos and Western shamans
(a companion volume to AYA: a shamanic odyssey)
from Icaro Publishing Coming in OCT, 2009
South America has seen booms before. First came the rubber tappers, stripping the jungle for the turn of the 19th century’s demand for production. Next came the oil boom, to fuel the 20th century’s insatiable need for growth. In the 21st century the jungle is giving the West something else it needs – ayahuasca, the ‘vine of the soul’, and the demand is rising worldwide.
Ayahuasca is a plant medicine that has been used by indigenous people for millennia to heal, cleanse and purify the spirit, connecting it to the web of life. The men and women who safeguard the knowledge of the vine and of the spirits are the curanderos and curanderas (from the Spanish ‘to heal’) – or as the West would call them, shamans. Their role has been that of healer, priest and traveler between worlds, acting as intermediaries between the spiritual dimension and this world on behalf of their patients. Yet the demands of the profession and the rise of Western materialism throughout South America have seen a fall in prestige – and customers – for the curanderos. The profession, usually hereditary, was in danger of extinction before an unprecedented wave of Westerners started coming in search of ayahuasca and the healing it could provide.
Over the last 15 years or so a new gringo trail, this one a journey of the soul, has been blossoming in the jungles of South America, often concentrated around the Peruvian jungle city of Iquitos. Seekers and thrillseekers alike have been coming from the West for a direct experience of the greater reality ayahuasca connects to.
Extracts from the interviews in this book have appeared in Australian Penthouse, High Times and Filmmaker magazine online. They are the result of two months traveling Peru talking and drinking ayahuasca with the native curanderos, the Western shamans and the seekers or ‘ayahuasqueros’ – those who drink ayahuasca, themselves. This book engages in dialogue the shamans and the tourists for an overview of this fast-growing global subculture, letting them speak in their own words their own experiences.
AVAILABLE OCT, 2009
The Journeybook: Travels on the Frontiers of Consciousness
published by Undergrowth Inc (2009) ISBN 978-0-9758071-2-5
edited by Rak Razam
Undergrowth #8: The Journeybook is an essential map of hyperspace for the contemporary psychonaut and the uninitiated alike. Travel through time and space and partake of mushrooms at Harvard, hemp in Nimbin, DMT in the Amazon and anti-depressents in the suburbs of the West, to name but a few of the experiences which await you. Dance at Dionysian festivals, meet alchemists in the laboratories of Switzerland, trippers in the corporate highrises of Brisvegas, and journey to the edge of the universe within our anthology’s pages…
The Journeybook is a collection of tales of altered states, essays, history and manifesto for psychedelic culture in the 21st century. It covers the modern usage of sacramental plants and offers insights into traditional and contemporary shamanism, as well as analysis of the current state of global psychedelic culture and its place in a sustainable future.
It features interviews with Terence McKenna (previously unpublished), Dennis McKenna, Daniel Pinchbeck, as well as articles by Rak Razam, Erik Davis, Graham St John, Tim Parish, Tim Boucher, Dave Cauldwell, Des Tramacchi, Brummbaer and others. An 20x 22 cm art book edition with over 250 pages, it is fully illustrated with over 50 pages of colour paintings, photography and digital graphics from the Undergrowth art collective, including new works by regular Undergrowth contributors Gerhard Hillmann, Oliver Dunlop, Izwoz, Ahimsa, Tim Parish, Rak Razam and others.
The Journeybook is an essential handbook for those interested in the subject of consciousness, spirituality and understanding the rich pharmacopia of thought that exists beyond the confines of mainstream cosmology.
Read on. Tune in. Discover.
(Undergrowth publishing, 2005)
The future has arrived, but there’s something distinctly wrong with it. Robots that were meant to abolish human labour and create a leisure future are creating mass unemployment because political systems aren’t evolving as fast as our technology. Virtual gaming economies are outstripping the GDP of some small nations, telecommunications breakthroughs have brought us porn on our video phones, and Smart-Mobs roam the urban jungles, manifesting the sublime and shaking consumers from their retail addictions.
Psyence Fiction is a collection of fourteen short stories by Rak Razam that capture the spirit of the decade and the psychedelic, hi-tech Ultraculture we live in. Illustrated by some of Australia’s best underground artists and photographers, the eBook is a glimpse at the brave nu world around us and the bold characters that struggle to survive it.
Click here to download. COMING SOON in OCT 2009 as a POD print book.
FREE NRG: Notes from the Edge of the Dancefloor (2001) edited by Graham St. John
An anthology of articles and essays by leading Australian counterculturalist writers, featuring the story: Directions To The Game: Barrelfull of Monkeys by Rak Razam, (5000 words), 2001, Common Ground Publishing.
“Finally, the electronica underground is getting the attention it deserves as a genuine and articulate cultural movement. Extending from the dance floor and into politics, economics, environmentalism and spirituality, the rave movement deserves the multi-dimensional analysis only possible in an anthology like FreeNRG.” – Douglas Rushkoff, author of Ecstasy Club, Cyberia, Playing the Future, Bull.