Imagine hiking nearly 8 thousand feet to a summit overlooking a breathtaking, foreign land. You might need to catch your breath for more than one reason. While the view at Machu Picchu would be incredible, a friend once described her experience as a child nearly falling over in pain from the elevation. She described how the local Peruvians cured her with mint leaves. Simply sucking on mint leaves took her nausea away.
For 500 years and probably more, Peruvians have relied on plants for medical relief, according to an article by Luis Luna. Amazonian Peruvians strongly value nature and the environment, and not quite in the sense of simply recycling their newspaper.
The main way Peruvians exemplify their relationship with the environment is through shamanism. According to Roma Morris in Woman as Shaman, shamans heal using the spiritual practice of dreams and altered states of consciousness. This unique way of honoring nature is best done by La Medicina or ayahuasca treatment.
Described by Medicine Hunter on Fox News, ayahuasca is a combination of plants found in the Amazon that have a hallucinogenic and vision-inducing agent – DMT. Substances containing DMT are illegal in the U.S. and most of Europe but it is usually rejected by the body, unless mixed with a certain bark found deep in the Amazon.
Morris’ interviews a Peruvian Shaman, Don Emelio, and explains that ayahuasca treatment, is vital for shamans to use to cure illness and take care of the community. Ayahuasca is translated to “vine of the soul” in Quechua, an indigenous language of Peru, according Kira Salak a National Geographic journalist who traveled into the Peruvian Amazon to experience this cornerstone of indigenous culture.
The spiritual belief of shamanism and many indigenous people in Peru, Salak described, is that ayahuasca treatment takes someone to a different level of the universe and the altered state opens up a person to reach new destinations that are reached in a multidimensional universe.
Salak describes her experience as terrifyingly eye-opening that left her completely painless. That is the goal of shamanism and ayahuasca treatments, that although the experience is extremely frightening, if you survive it you can conquer anything.
Cultures all around the world differ in the treatment of its people. A substance that is vital for spiritual survival in the Amazon, so much so it is name “the medicine” or “vine of the soul,” but is outlawed in U.S. American culture. Across the world values differ according to belief, tradition, cultures; the difference between cultures is what makes identity so unique.