For more than forty years I have been fascinated by the sorts of anomalous human experiences that have been marginalized and pathologized by mainstream psychology -- meditation, hallucinations, lucid dreams, shamanic visions, out-of-body experiences, delusions, visualization, false awakenings, apparitions.
I lived for a year and a half in a Tibetan monastery in the Himalayas, and I have undertaken and helped to lead numerous four-day and four-night solo vision fasts in Death Valley, the Pecos Wilderness, and the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico. My published work has dealt with subjects from Tibetan Buddhist ritual meditation to ayahuasca shamanism in the Upper Amazon.
I have also studied wilderness survival among the indigenous peoples of North and South America, and studied sacred plant medicine with traditional herbalists in North America and curanderos in the Upper Amazon, where I studied the healing plants with doña María Tuesta Flores and received coronación by my maestro ayahuasquero don Roberto Acho Jurama.
I have Ph.D. degrees in religious studies and in psychology, and I have taught as an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, the University of California - Berkeley, and the Graduate Theological Union.
My current interests center on the indigenous ceremonial use of the sacred plants -- ayahuasca and other psychoactive and healing plants in the Amazon, peyote in ceremonies of the Native American Church, huachuma in Peruvian mesa rituals, and teonanácatl and other mushrooms and plants in Mesoamerican healing ceremonies -- and on the legal status, uses, effects, and therapeutic potential of naturally occurring and synthesized hallucinogens, empathogens, and entheogens.
I have served on the editorial board of the Journal of Shamanic Practice, and currently serve on the advisory board of the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research, and Service.
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originally published at Singing to the Plants