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The Raven's Wing - An Entheogenic Conundrum

The Raven's Wing - An Entheogenic ConundrumbyPaul Bunting

Recently, one of my friends who happens to be female decided to take her spiritual hungering to the next level. After many years in question and fruitless search, Raven (not her real name) learned about something called ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is typically a mixture of various entheogenic plants native to the Amazon Rain Forest area. Ayahuasca (and other entheogenic plants) have a long history of use amongst tribes from the regions it’s ingredients can be found. Ayahuasca has been said to cleanse the body and purge the soul of impurities while sharing elaborate insight and wisdom into the multi-dimensional space in which we occupy.

Despite ayahuasca’s illegal status in the United States and many other countries, that does not prevent modern day seekers from traveling to areas of the world where ayahuasca can be richly experienced. There is a town in Peru called Iquitos where plenty of foreigners (Americans and abroad) have decided to communicate with native people who have a tradition of ayahuasca and persuade them to share the vine of death (ayahuasca is sometimes called that) with foreign spiritual seekers who are willing to travel many miles so they too can enjoy drinking ayahuasca in the jungle.

When Raven learned about ayahuasca, there was no stopping her. She was going to travel to Iquitos and finally become open to purging her body and cleansing her soul on a level beyond what was available to her before. Being the brave woman she is, solo travel was no problemo for her. There are many ayahuasca “retreats” in Iquitos to choose from. Some offer short stays, others welcome weary seekers for extended stays and just about all of them have a curriculum.

Raven wanted spiritual enlightenment and was told ayahuasca has it. Business in America is about finding a need in “the market” - and fulfilling it. The retreat she chose seemed wonderful! Stay nine days, drink ayahuasca five times, purge and move forward with lenses on your senses. Like many other ayahuasca retreats, the one Raven attended had a special diet which included more than just food restrictions. There was also a “NO SEX” clause as well. Being as how she related to her sexual energy was one of the areas Raven sought healing, the no sex part shouldn’t have presented a problem, despite Raven openly talking about her voracious appetite for sex.

Luckily, getting to the retreat was a breeze. They did everything they said they were going to do in terms of transportation. The retreat was run by an American guy who decided ayahuasca was his life’s calling after drinking it himself. In order to keep the experience as authentic as possible, an indigenous (native) family from the area served as the camp’s Shaman. There was another foreigner (not native of Peru) who had taken a fondness to ayahuasca and studied with the Shaman to one day be able to administer ayahuasca himself, as a shaman.

Ok...So before this story goes on - based on what you’ve read so far, (the dots waiting to be connected) what do you think could happen?

The first couple days seemed to go pretty smooth for Raven. She was determined to prove to herself that she could be in control of the experience by asking for only love and light, using various vocal techniques, during ceremony. Don Wing, the Shaman’s apprentice seemed to take notice of Raven too. They shared a lot about themselves with each other as the ayahuasca was wearing off and there was time for sharing. Don Wing felt so comfortable with Raven that even tickling her wasn’t off limits during the second ayahuasca ceremony.

Don Wing seemed to be projecting a tremendous mental focus Raven’s way, as she seemed to be somehow deeply entrenched in his psyche. This only intensified in ceremony. Somehow, Don Wing, also a massage therapist traded services with Raven and the diet was broken. The ayahuasca diet that is - and the way it was broken wasn’t because Raven was having salt, which is a no-no in the camp that was soon to be no longer her home. Raven broke her ayahuasca diet because of sexual relations.

As fate would have it, word traveled around camp fast and soon Raven was facing a predicament. The camp leader called Raven aside after ceremony #3 to confront and interrogate her about the intimate time she shared with Don Wing. With nothing but truth on her side, Raven confided her misgivings. She was then ask to leave the camp. That’s right, Raven was on the outskirts of the Amazon Jungle, a couple hours away from Iquitos 5 more days away from her flight home - and she was ask to leave. Somehow, so was Don Wing - at least for a couple days so he could accompany her to Iquitos just to make sure nothing bad would happen to Raven there.

So the question could be ask: WAS RAVEN RAPED BY DON WING, OR WAS IT REAL LOVE?

Now that the story is over, it's time for a bit of reflection about HOW MEDICINE IS PRACTICED IN MODERN TIMES. Had this been the first time I had ever heard a story like this, I might be tempted to kind of blame Raven for being seductive - as that is the power card she plays most in various life situations. However, and most unfortunately, this is not the first time I have heard a story like Raven’s with different women and different Shamans. In fact, I’ve heard enough stories involving non-indigenous Shamans who share medicine (typically shared by Indigenous Tribes) and sexual encounters with women who are there for spiritual purposes to re-think the process of how medicine is administered in the modern day.

First and foremost, my thoughts about Don Wing and any other Shaman who practices medicine for that matter are pretty simple. If you have not been able to reach the point of neutrality, even in the presence of intense sexuality, you are not ready to be a Shaman. Entheogenic Medicine is no joke. If you don’t respect it, it can be deeply damaging. If it’s abused, the results are even worse - confusion is created in the wake of something that can be so beautiful and clarifying.

Although I think Don Wing and any other Shaman who has not been able to simply “keep in in his pants” when medicine and female spiritual seekers are involved, simply should not be allowed anywhere near medicine as long as they are acting as a Shaman. I mean, really -- if the camp someone is drinking ayahuasca at has a no-sex policy (a lot of them do, it’s part of respecting the plant and yourself during the process) then certainly that same camp would be sending mixed messages at very best if they employ Shamanic assistants who become the procuring cause of sexual relationship with those told not to be engaging in sexual activity, right?

I know this can be complicated - even confusing for some of us. If you’ve experienced medicine you may have additional insight as well. Yes, medicine, at times, can become sensual. However, just because you are feeling sensual, does that give someone the right to (energetically and physically) impose their will on you while under the influence of entheogenic medicine? I think not. I think that type of behavior can take a serious spiritual seeker away from the healing they need most.

I can’t help but wonder what type of healing Raven could have experienced if Don Wing had simply had his feelings and felt them personally, without imposing on Raven in her time of need (for healing). Additionally, I can’t help but wonder if the format in which ayahuasca is commonly practiced in the modern world has become obsolete? A few hundred years ago ayahuasca was shared between tribal members as somewhat of an Oracle. Now, strangers from all over the globe can come together and share a powerful entheogenic experience without knowing anything about each other or the Shamans serving them ayahuasca. To me, as long as the current format is used, stories like Raven’s with Don Wing will continue to happen. Please - if you’re thinking of taking a medicinal and healing ayahuasca journey, think about a broader picture first - then decide.


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