Since time immemorial, shamanic cultures have worked with psychotropic plants to explore the realms beyond ordinary reality. The use of peyote in northern Mexico, amanita mushrooms throughout the Arctic, and ayahuasca in the Amazon are just a few examples of this type of plant use. Ayahuasca can be translated as “the vine of death” or “the vine of souls” because shamanic practitioners ingesting the tea report experiences that have offered them insights about the nature of death and its relationship to life. Today, modern researchers in laboratories around the world, and most notably at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, are learning more about the world that psychotropic plants open to those facing death. Working with double bind studies with psilocybin mushrooms, they have demonstrated that these plants offer substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer. Reports from patients indicate their fear of death is greatly reduced after participating in these studies. What have they – and what have shamanic practitioners the world over – learned about the relationship between life and death from their experience with psychotropic plants? This talk will explore the answers to this question– and more!
This talk is a part of Reimagine End of Life, a week-long event exploring big questions about life and death, October 24 – November 03, 2019. Registration opens in August.