When I visited Ecuador in 2004, I stayed at a charming spa located two hours north of Quito. Big old bookcases stood in the corners of two sitting rooms, and a few large thick candles were held by wrought iron candle stands, and two large laughing Buddha statues were pure delight. Come to think of it, all the things in the two rooms were large and beautiful and inviting, and all spelled serenity. Most of the books in the old bookcases were left by travelers. I took one and brought it to a comfortable leather chair, sat back and began reading. It was about the ayahuasca plant, also called “the vine of the soul” and “the mother of the jungle” and “the teacher of teachers.” It grows in the Amazon jungle. The book was old and reading it was not easy, but I was enthralled with it.

Then a week after returning to the States I saw the words, “Mystical Healing in the Amazon” on a magazine cover. The December 2004 issue of Spirituality&Health magazine www.spiritualityhealth.com had a thoroughly-researched article about the ayahuasca vine written by Louise Danielle Palmer. She wrote that in Washington, DC she had attended a conference in indigenous healing traditions. It was there that she met Dr. Jacques Mabit, who left France in 1980 and worked for Doctors without Borders www.doctorswithoutborders.org in a small Peruvian village in the Andes. And it was there that he became acquainted with a very different way of healing people using ayahuasca and other plants. Eventually he opened a rehabilitation center in the town of Tarapoto in Peru for the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction.

Ayahuasca is an amazing healing plant as the writer of the article discovered when she traveled to Peru, spoke at length with Dr. Mabit, and took part in the ceremony at his center, Takiwasi www.takiwasi.com . She said, “Ayahuasca is most often mixed with the leaf of the chacruna plant and the tea is ingested only during ceremonies led by an ayahuasquero.” Those who have studied and used it have a deep reverence for its power to heal body and mind and connect one to the divine. Ms. Palmer said that for millennia the plant was used by tribes in the Amazon basin from Colombia, and Brazil to Peru and Suriname.

Ayahuasca and other healing plants are used by those who see things differently. I like to think of this special vine as one of Life’s beautiful gifts.

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