The following blog was posted by author Robert Tindall at www.roamingthemind.com.
A Quest to Heal HIV with Ayahuasca Shamanism
During the years that my wife, Susana Bustos, and I have spent studying and training in the Peruvian tradition of vegetalismo, we have come to appreciate the paradoxes that indigenous medicine comes wrapped in for Westerners. Among them is the distinction between curing and healing of disease. The thrust of modern Western medicine is to either manage disease within, or excise it from, the body, and disease is usually considered cured when symptoms abate. In indigenous styles of medicine, which give equal importance to curing as the West, healing may require searching out the hidden origin of the disease in the body/mind. In this healing quest, a cure may be found, and may not. The valence of the disease, however, will change. In such cases, it is the entire self that is engaged in unraveling a disease’s enigma, and the body is the laboratory wherein the cure can be found. As a consequence, such healing is often idiosyncratic, because each body’s laboratory is unique.
Paradoxically for Western medicine, if disease is cured shamanically, the medications used (which in vegetalismo is a complex synergy of plants, the shaman’s icaros – or sacred songs – and the ecology of the healing locale itself), will often elude scientific researchers in search of a “silver bullet