Inasmuch as man is mind, body and spirit, it really makes sense to tap, in balance, our spiritual side. The ancient civilizations such as those in Egypt, Greece, Rome–and the older ones, Atlantis and Lemuria–did just that. In those ancient settings, everyone was engaged in some sort of magic, from the high priests down to the lowly peons. And where one is deficient, he consults with those who are in the know.
It is said that the Philippines are the mountains of Lemuria, the lost continent contemporaneous with Atlantis. Which explains why magical places and practices abound in the country. Say, who hasn’t heard of Guiuan’s magicians? Or Sequijor’s or Capiz’s? Granted some are famous for the black arts, still and all, the resource is there for the tapping–that is, tapping for development.
For man does not live by bread alone. He doesn’t live just for the concrete jungle. His artistic and spiritual sides need to be “fertilized” as well. If we have cultural venues, we could sell shows, we could sell arts and crafts, we could sell herbal or holistic cures–which in turn create employment and development.
Of late we have been tapping the spirit vine, commonly called ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi, native to Peru) for its magnificent divining properties. Even dried and parted from the plant, any part exhibits intelligence. It is as if the plant is a sentient being, a spirit or a spirit collective personified. Yes, we do have magical plants in the Philippines and we believe we have an ayahuasca counterpart.
Ayahuasca is an infusion of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, often used along side with various plant admixtures (See Nicotiana rustica, Brugmansia, Psychotria viridis, Diplopteris, Mimosa hostilis, Alchornea floribunda, Cyprus sp.). Ayahuasca is used as a folk medicine and religious sacrament during healing ceremonies by Amazonian tribes. The use of the vine as a psychedelic sacrament is now becoming popular in the west and throughout the world. The word Ayahuasca (Pronounced a.ja.wa.ska) means Vine of Souls or Vine of the Dead for its ability to allow the shaman to enter sacred realms, to heal, to divine and to worship.
The practice of integrating Ayahuasca into religion for use as a spiritual catalyst during worship is a growing worldwide movement. The Santo Daime, founded in Brazil in the 1930s, is a spiritual practice that fuses South American Shamanism with Folk Catholicism. The Portuguese translation of the word Daime means “Give Me,” a phrase often found throughout the hymns sung during trabalhos. The word, trabalhos means “works” and refers to the ceremony in which the congregation consumes Daime as a group and sings hymns while dancing and shaking maracas often leading to a quiet state of individual reflection and concentration. The use of Ayahuasca and other plant teachers for visionary experiences as well as for healing purposes appears to be ancient. According to tradition, Banisteriopsis Caapi Vine, contains a sentient intelligence – with vast knowledge – which reveals guidance; the proper steps to follow in case of emotional or psychological problems, and even remedies that may be used for healing. Esphand (Peganum harmala) is often used as an Ayahuasca analouge.
Magnificent has been our divining experience with ayahuasca. Ask any question, and the ayahuasca answers even brutally. And take this: We asked the ayahuasca how Alfonso, our grandfather, looked like when he was alive. And here is the picture that ayahuasca drew.
And how would ayahuasca or ayahuasca-like plants contribute to spirituality and development? Well, for one thing, the ayahuasca does perfect art, in addition to the fact that its art has meaning and message. An art that you can wear as a cloth or tee shirt design–hence a source of livelihood. Second, the enlightenment that you get from ayahuasca makes you a productive and creative human being–a development with a capital D.