Psychologist and writer
SHAMANISM, AN INTERNATIONAL FREEWAY
FOR A NEW CULTIST USE OF DRUGS
For over three years I have been investigating for a book I am writing which should be published shortly, on the drift of hallucinatory shamanism. Shamanism, which is known as the oldest form of religion observed since times immemorial, has made a return in force in popular esoteric circles in the West.
This ancestral knowledge of ancient peoples has had a favourable echo for those who thirst for spiritual values or for a certain form of the sacred. After reading books or having attended conferences, a number of people are seduced by these practices. But their gullibility can be abused by charlatans who attract searchers with pseudo-practices of shamanism which are not always inoffensive, especially when they are conjugated with a drug. Their leaders are often well known by the MIVILUDES, and by victims' associations several of which belong to the FECRIS network.
The more appreciated shamanic traditions are those which use drugs in their rituals. Particularly popular is the Amazonian tradition with its powerful hallucinatory drug, the ayahuasca, the effects of which are similar to those of L.S.D. Other sacred drugs are also concerned by this racket. Just behind the ayahuasca today, one finds the rising power of the iboga, the African L.S.D., used in the Bwiti's tradition.
Before these perversions, the use of the ayahuasca was limited to the restricted circle of
Behind its natural facade, the sacred drink of
the Indians of Amazonia is highly hallucinatory. Its
effects are close to those of L.S.D, the psychoactive drug of reference. The
Amazonians call it the "Liana of Death". This is experiencing new
The ayahuasca makes it possible for charlatans, gurus of individual health care and well-being, alternative medicine and psychotherapy to trade in destabilising behavioural techniques. These techniques are creating an increasing number of victims. All cults hide behind masks and Amazonian pseudo-shamanism is no exception to the rule. I will tell you the story of my personal experience in one of these cultist hallucinatory micro-groups to illustrate the mechanisms of seduction used by the leaders of shamanic micro-groups to recruit candidates and how they are able to make people believe that the Amazonian drug is harmless,
Within the framework of my investigation, I had
infiltrated one of these very closed circles and
accepted the Amazonian drug. On the second occasion - instead of the expected
shamanic journey - I had a "Bad Trip" provoked by the drug's powerful
effects. I should make it clear that I was the victim only of the drug and not
of the cultist influence as unfortunately may have occurred to others. It was a
kind of industrial accident which happened to a writer who had gone too far in
her investigation. I do not recommend that anyone should try to repeat such an
experiment as it is extremely difficult to escape the pressure of a
hallucinatory group's rituals. I only fell partially into the trap tended by two
leaders of a micro-group similar, alas, to many others that exist in
The victims of this pseudo-shamanic nebula undergo a double submission - chemical and cultist - as highlighted by the pharmacologist, Dr. Gilbert Pépin, Cultist undue influence leads to the psychological de-structuring which falls under the French About-Picard law.
The idea of writing on the perversion of shamanism occurred to me after a series of discussions with a doctor friend of mine. Profile of the 1968 revolutionary, now and then smoking a joint, he was always in research of new alternative medical methods or of a new psychotherapy to solve his existential difficulties. As time went on, I saw this brilliant personality change. That made me curious.
Enthusiastic, he told me of his experience
under ayahuasca, a drink originating in
It rapidly became clear that this friend had been duped into believing a sham. Indeed, he had fallen victim of the double submission - chemical and cultist, mentioned earlier, and he had not detected it. The idea of writing a book on the subject to denounce these perversions attracted me more and more. I had never taken the ayahuasca, or any other drug. I quickly realised in the course of my investigation on the ground, that Amazonian shamanism was cheapened by a new age syncretism which denatured the original tradition of the Amazonian shamans.
With the complicity of this doctor, I was
introduced undercover into this very select circle. We both registered for a
conference on shamanism where the participants illegally take ayahuasca. It was organised by an Argentinean, teacher of kundalini yoga and his fried, a masseur using sensitive
techniques who was a priest of the orthodox patriarchate of the apostolic
I took part in two sessions, at one month's interval between January 2002 and February 2002. We were fifteen participants. Once on board, my attention was attracted by three people that I learned later were a mother with her two children, a young woman and her brother in their twenties. They were there to follow a strange kind of family therapy with “The Plant” to free themselves of the influence of an alcoholic father.
Once embarked on the barge for the night, I followed the preliminaries of kundalini yoga, a group healing session slightly disconnected from reality, a sort of game which was fun if one looked at it with a critical eye but that the followers took very seriously, under mental constraint and regular intake of ayahuasca, provided by the two leaders. When the stage of intake of the sacred drink had been reached, distributed by the two rogues in a new age folklore context of tobacco fumes and pseudo-Indians chanting, I tried to wriggle out of my turn. But I was cornered, under the pressure of the group, to drink the Amazonian brew. The new age “dealers” had it all taped so that it was impossible to escape.
On that weekend, at the time of my first intake, all went well for me: I did not feel any effect of the drug; my thoughts were clear without colour visions. Only my imagination and emotions were more acute. I took this opportunity to observe the group. I saw sick participants bringing up, bent over in anguish and pain. Both gurus were present accompanying the participants, the majority of whom were patients of their medical practice. The pseudo-shamanic ritual was complementary to further individual work in yoga and holistic therapy.
Between the two sessions on the barge, a month passed. In retrospective, I realise that drug had created a craving which I had refused to admit. I feverishly waited for the next session on the barge, attributing my impatience to my research for my book.
But when I took the drug a second time always in the same new age syncretism, I felt a sudden harsh pain in the head. I shouted "Help" and the only thing I remember before falling into a coma for an indeterminate time, is that I was insulted and asked to keep quiet so as not to trouble the others' experience. When I returned to consciousness, I experienced feelings worthy of a Stephen King book. Nobody came to my assistance. Neither one of the two leaders, nor my doctor friend prostrated by the effect of the drug, nor any other passenger even looked at me. I learned later that many of them had thought that I was dead and that the two dealers had given instructions not to take any notice.
It took me several weeks to get over this bad trip. I went through transient psychiatric de-compensation treated as an out-patient. In incredible circumstances, I managed to get rid of the two leaders and my doctor friend who, to stop me from testifying against them, had formed an alliance against me and tried to convince me that I had gone on shamanic trip in hell.
This group which I had infiltrated may be
considered as a typical group of all those which propose the ayahuasca in
The consumption of ayahuasca
in groups in
All the leaders of pseudo-shamanism have common features and I have drawn up their "Profile".
For these men of influence, the debate does not seem to pivot around the drug or the practises with which it is associated but the ultimate objective which is that of individual and religious freedom.
The pseudo-shamanism leader is either a:
– Medical doctor
– Holistic therapist (New Age)
– If he is a doctor or a pharmacist, he knows about new Amazonian shamanic medicine through Doctors without Frontiers, Barefoot doctors, Pharmacists without Frontiers.
If he is a
psychotherapist or holistic therapist, he knows Amazonian shamanism by
participating in private psychotherapy training programmes or by visits to
– He calls himself as shaman or apprentice-shaman practising modern shamanism or neo-shamanism.
– His ideology is that of the transpersonal movement, that of New Religious Movements (Esalen and New Age).
– He is the author of scientific counter-culture articles on hallucinatory substances, or of books on popular esoterics.
– He gives conferences in esoteric bookshops, in private training institutes on the training of psychotherapists.
– He mainly recruits his correspondents within the New Religious Movements nebula, holistic medicine, humanistic psychology, which are porous between themselves.
– He proposes a new concept of care by holistic medicine: personal technique of care based on modified states of conscience by Amazonian or African natural plants and humanistic therapies or psychosomatic therapy.
– He proposes to develop a new spiritual way based on shamanism and modified states of conscience, syncretism of psychedelic neo-shamanism
– He is often an ex-addicted of hard drugs
– He does not consider that hallucinatory drugs are similar to drugs traded by narcotic traffickers.
– He was initiated by Peruvian, African or North American Indian Shamans. Or belonging to other traditions close to voodoo.
He organises initiation
He has created a
therapy community or a residential centre in
– He has close relationships with the cult leaders.
– He may have been charged for incitement to drug consumption
– Or because of the About-Picard Law
– He has been pinpointed by contradictory articles in the media
Psycho-spiritual tourism is organised between
The most important residential centre is that
of T…, a centre that treats drug addiction managed by a French doctor, once a
member of Doctors without Frontiers and an ex-drug addict himself. This centre
of natural medicine hides behind the official mask of a therapeutic community,
a method of treating drug addicts which no longer exists in
All over the world, therapeutic communities
exist as a method of treatment for drug addicts. Their modus operandi is
inspired by the Anglo-Saxon model of Synanon and Daytop. A short reminder of the story of Synanon or of its founder Chuck Dederich
who introduced coercive methods which caused Synanon
to drift into cultism. The Italian therapeutic community model which
includes the spiritual aspect is most appreciated in
Anyone can visit the Internet site of the TC of T…where the programme of treating drug addicts is developed in Peru using ayahuasca and other Amazonian toxic plants and psychotherapeutic techniques, of which some are known for their potential as psycho-cultist tools (like holotropic breathing invented by Stanislav Grof, leader of the transpersonal movement).
I am concerned about the effectiveness and the danger of a programme which treats drug addiction by administrating another drug at the moment of detoxification, the ayahuasca a kind of L.S.D and other highly toxic plants as datura which deteriorate conscience, and accompany this treatment by psychotherapeutic techniques which provoke modified states of conscience?
This care programme for drug addicts is
contested by the official scientific community. But it is cautioned by gurus of
alternate medicine. This approval is far from the criteria defined by WHO with
regard to traditional medicine and primary education care in countries
medically under-equipped. This includes the medicine practised by the ayahuasqueros officially reintroduced in
The Director of T. comes to
T... proposes training courses for adolescents whether drug addicts or not, to taste the sprit of the plant
and pseudo-shamanic rituals; there are also conferences for non-addicted adults of psycho-spiritual development.
This kind of centre must be financially profitable because the ex-business partner of this doctor, a Spaniard, opened another such centre even more specialised in psycho-spiritual development. Its programme is very Science-fiction sometimes they speak of organising meetings with humanity's oldest ancestors like certain plants there, or animals who have come from other planets such as snakes and dragons.
When I boarded the barge, my two leaders were
organising journeys to
In these dark files of shamanism, all is axed on the manipulation of concepts: ecology, anthropology, psychology, alternate medicine and science.
The pharmacology of ayahuasca is prone to playing around with scientific concepts. The leaders omit to compare ayahuasca to L.S.D, a forbidden narcotic. If they admit that ayahuasca contains DMT, a forbidden but less known narcotic which was consumed for its entertainment value at the time of the psychedelic revolution, they insist on the serotoninergic action of ayahuasca observed in an anti-depressive series of medicines. According to them ayahuasca is not toxic and does not create dependence. In short, a multi-usage medicine which heals everything, even cancer… but what of the psychiatric side effects?
However, the characteristic and side effects of ayahuasca are partly those of L.S.D. With a pharmacological component and unknown side effects stressed by Dr. Gilbert Pépin.
According to charlatans of shamanism, there are very few victims. And when they exist, they are generally exceptions due to failures to follow recommendations on the use of ayahuasca. Not those registered by associations of victims or by doctors but due to attacks by malignant spirits, sorcery, and magic. Their point of view is of a para-psychological nature and pseudo-scientific.
If the charlatans deny the dangers of ayahuasca, it would seem that they are reconsidering the question with regard to iboga (drug and rites associated), estimated to be more dangerous than the Amazonian drug.
The result desired by the intake of ayahuasca is the opening of the conscience through a
modified state which is thought to be comparable to a shamanic trance. It must
at all costs stimulate with a hallucinatory drugcalled
entheogene, a zone of the brain that Vilayanur Ramachandran of the
Scientific literature speaks highly of ayahuasca. Surprising reality, but when one looks more
closely one realises that this has been written from psychedelic research
tolerated on the other side of the
Only two European experts implicated in non psychedelic research, to be precise, expose the dangers of ayahuasca: Gilbert Pépin, a French pharmacologist, expert attached to the courts, and the Swiss toxicologist, Laurent Rivier.
There is a enormous
variation on the level of the classification of the ayahuasca
The leaders benefit from the gap in European law to recruit followers as fast as they can, organising amateur training courses in those countries where the hallucinatory drug "x" is not illegal. In the meantime the list of victims increases all the time.
In spring of 2005, the French medical
authorities (the ASSAPS) strengthened the prohibition of ayahuasca
The saga of the Santo daïme
European court cases where one consumes the daïme
(another name for ayahuasca) as a sacrament,
illustrates the ambiguity of the legal gap in
If Santo daïme is
Santo daïme has
In these two countries or the European Union,
the daïmists were accused of possessing, transporting
and consuming illicit drugs. In
I was present at the two phases of the French
court proceedings, taking place in the
One of the defence lawyers in the French case, in favour of decriminalization of what is known as "soft" drugs, invented the following term which explains the prestige of this profession. He called the daïme: cider of the tropics. One may presume that he had never taken the famous daïme and that he never had a bad trip! It should be added that another of the defence lawyers had already defended certain cult representatives who were in trouble with the law.
In 2005, the Santo daïme
saga continued: in
However, after the French judgement, a tolerance of ayahuasca
consumption, within its religious context, was granted in
The future will tell if Italian justice will
align itself on this international religious tolerance or whether the cultist
character of Santo daïme will be proven in
I will conclude with very fresh news, obtained here a few minutes ago from the
Chairwoman of a victim's association from the South-West of France. An ethno
medical congress was held in
Among the participants there were young people, 18 year-olds, probably the public of rave parties where indications show an increase in drug consumption as it was in the 70s, if nothing is done to stop the phenomenon these young people will in the long run be interested by the seductive mask of shamanism, sponsored by the dealers of the 3rd millennium,
There is a risk that the use of ayahuasca will rapidly become banal. That's what happened with ecstasy, twenty years back. The press spoke greatly of this drug for its very new age qualities of opening the conscience and of empathy. It is today a curse which devastates rave parties.
Thank you for your attention.
Manuscript „The Ayahuasca Connection"
Draft The Dark dossiers of shamanism
 Metabolite Transporter (DMT)