Experiential journalist Rak Razam interviews Steve Beyer, author of the recent compendium Singing to the Plants: A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon. Beyer tells of his beginnings as a wilderness survival enthusiast that led him into the world of Amazonian shamanism, and sorcery, the dark side of the shamanic world.
Beyer explores the ideas of healing and harming and the relationship between the two: the magic phlegm for protection, the mariri, virotes and magic darts, attack sorcery, and the dangers the West faces by absorbing a "shamanism lite" for its spiritual practice.
Beyer posits that the plants and the spirits in them can be used for dark and light. And while ayahuasca can reveal an infinite landscape within, are we putting too much emphasis on the interface instead of ourselves? As Westerners quest solely for visions and transformation with plants like ayahuasca - what Beyer calls the "pink neon buffalo" syndrome, are we focusing too narrowly on a tragic cosmovision?
Originally aired on: Jul 22, 2010