For more than 20 years American-born Alan Shoemaker has apprenticed and worked with shamans in Ecuador and Peru, learning the traditional methods of ayahuasca preparation, the ceremonial rituals for its use, and how to commune with the healing spirit of this sacred plant as well as the spirit of the San Pedro cactus and other sacred plant allies. Now a recognized and practicing ayahuasquero, or ayahuasca shaman, in Peru, he offers an insider's account of the ayahuasca tradition and of its use for expanding consciousness and achieving healing through access to other dimensions of being. Shoemaker details his training and his own curandero practice using ayahuasca medicine, tobacco purges, psychedelic mushrooms, and other visionary plants. He discusses the different traditions of his two foremost teachers and mentors, Don Juan in the Peruvian Amazon, an ayahuasquero, and Valentin in Ecuador, a San Pedro shaman. He reveals the indispensable role played by icaros, the healing songs of the plant shaman, and offers firsthand accounts of miraculous healing resulting from ayahuasca's ability to reveal the cause of an illness, including how he healed his mother from liver cancer.
The author also addresses the rising popularity of Northerners traveling to the Amazon to seek healing and mind expansion through ayahuasca and shows how this fascination is triggered by humanity's reawakening need to connect to the universal life force.