This is the second of three dispatches from the 2016 World Ayahuasca Conference in Rio Branco, Brazil. The first one can be found here.
From Brooklyn to Australia, there’s a growing demand for ayahuasca, a tribal, hallucinogenic tea said to have both spiritual and curative properties. But, like any globalization fairy tale, the world’s embrace is threatening to suffocate the tradition at its source.
“The sacred art of Indians has been transformed into entertainment,” said Moises Pianko, a member of the Ashaninka tribe of northern Brazil.
The herbal tea, made by combining a rare vine and shrub found in the thick of the Amazon, has become the “it” drug for celebrities like Sting and Lindsay Lohan, who rave about its spiritual properties. But for the Amazonian tribes that have used ayahuasca for 5,000 years to communicate with God on matters ranging from politics to medicine, the trend is dangerous.
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