Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Book Review: Ayahuasca Medicine; The Shamanic World of Amazonian Sacred Plant Healing by Alan Shoemaker

This book review first appeared in New Dawn Magazine issue 164, September/October 2017. © Brett Lothian.

Book Review:
Ayahuasca Medicine: The Shamanic World of Amazonian Sacred Plant Healing.
By Alan Shoemaker

Ayahuasca Medicine is one of the most grounded, honest and real ayahuasca books you will ever come across. Being part biographical, part instruction manual for the spiritual seeker, the author Alan Shoemaker takes us on a personal journey through his experiences with various shaman in the Andean San Pedro and Amazonian ayahuasca traditions, long before it was fashionable. Being one of the first “gringos” to popularize the use of entheogens and curanderismo as a legitimate and miraculous healing method, the current resurgence of traditional healing methodologies and sacred power plant use owes a great deal to Alan Shoemaker, a true legend in the field.

The authors writing style is straight forward, easy to follow and thankfully without the fluffy nonsense that so often pervades all too many books on this type of subject matter. With his self-deprecating and humble look into his experiences and life on the medicine path, the reader is given a true taste of what it takes to be a real shaman or curandero. Showing us all sides of what has become a tourist industry in South America, the author does not shy away from the very real dangers for those seeking the shamanic path, holistic healing and the great importance of finding the right teachers. 

Mr Shoemaker lays bare his personal insights, doubts and revelations along his over twenty year journey of working with various healers, ayahuasqueros, and curanderos in the Andes and Amazon regions of South America. Sharing truly miraculous tales of healing as well as bravely sharing his failures and tribulations, the author hides nothing behind the modern façade of the shaman. Refreshingly explaining the reality that even shaman are fallible, human and not necessarily the perfect holy men (or women) they are often portrayed to be.

Importantly the author explains the difference of working with the whole sacred power plants as opposed to merely the extracted active ingredients, describing how using the whole plant maintains the transcendent spirit and balance of these plants in the experience, instead of turning them into just another drug. His reverence and obvious respect for the traditional knowledge and sacred power plants, without being sanctimonious, comes shining through as an example more people in the entheogen community should take note of.

Describing the various ways, intricacies and aspects of South American sacred power plant healing, as well as the things to avoid, Mr Shoemaker has laid out a path for all those interested in this subject to follow, that will no doubt help many of us avoid the pitfalls and dangers that lurk in the now all too commercialized industry, the mystical realm of the shaman and their dark counterpart the brujo. The appendixes and glossary to Ayahuasca Medicine are particularly helpful for those who are unfamiliar with the medicine and the terminology used within.

As someone who has researched and worked with these sacred power plants for a long period of time I found this book to be by far one the best, most honest and helpful books ever published on ayahuasca and the South American healing tradition. Mr Shoemaker deserves credit not only for his work in bringing ayahuasca healing to the greater world, but for his courage in doing so in a down to earth fashion that is accessible to all. Mr Shoemakers story is a must read for anyone looking to follow the medicine path, receive healing from the curanderos, sacred power plants and experience the divine within us all. I highly recommend this book, it is truly a much needed breath of fresh air in the modern world of ayahuasca.

*P.S.~ Since writing this review of the outstanding Ayahuasca Medicine for New Dawn Magazine, I have been in contact with Mr Shoemaker who has been very friendly, open and generous with his time, for which I am very grateful. In the coming months New Dawn Magazine will be featuring an extensive interview that I have done with Mr Shoemaker and his close friends Mark Thornberry and Terry Miller, covering various aspects of Ayahuasca Medicine, San Pedro, Shamanism and a whole lot more. Once the interview is out of print I will be posting it here to this blog, so stay tuned! 

Mr Shoemaker is the founder and manager of the Ayahuasca Medicine House in Iquitos, Peru, where you can personally experience the miraculous healing medicines of the Amazon and Andes, such as Ayahuasca, San Pedro and Sapo (to name a few) yourself, all under the guidance of true, experienced curanderos in a safe and welcoming environment. Due to Ayahuasca now becoming a tourist industry in South America and self proclaimed "sham-an" offering ceremonies all around the world, finding true healers/curanderos has become a very difficult task for those who are interested in these sacred medicines, with Mr Shoemaker and the Ayahuasca Medicine House, you're guaranteed the real thing. I highly recommend them.

Mr Shoemaker is also the founder and host of the annual International Amazonian Shamanism Conference which is also held in Iquitos, Peru. For more information on the Ayahuasca Medicine House, the annual International Amazonian Shamanism Conference, and where you can purchase the Ayahuasca Medicine book, please follow the links provided below.

The Ayahuasca Medicine House

The International Amazonian Shamanism Conference

Ayahuasca Medicine: The Shamanic World of Amazonian Sacred Plant Healing

Mr Alan Shoemaker on facebook

By Brett Lothian

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