Can a psychotropic jungle potion cure the existential angst of the McMansion set?
In the U.S., ayahuasca remained for years a largely underground phenomenon that, like peyote and psilocybin mushrooms, attracted a following of academics, journalists, psychiatrists and other soul-searching intellectuals. Now, thanks in part to a 2006 Supreme Court ruling, ayahuasca (pronounced EYE-yah-WAH-skah) appears to be gaining in popularity. East Coast writers have generated interest among the intelligentsia, and online head shops are selling ingredients for making the ayahuasca brew. At the same time, some scientific studies suggest that ayahuasca has legitimate uses as an alternative psychotropic medicine that can abolish depression, cure addiction and improve brain function.
For ayahuasqueros such as Truenos and the eclectic mix of button-down professionals and New Age acolytes joining him on this night, the potion may be a conduit to higher consciousness. Who exactly are these psychotropic explorers? Truenos won’t reveal much about them, except to say that the owners of the home in which they are meeting are retirees (young ones, it appears) and that participants typically include doctors, lawyers, celebrities, New Age healers and academics. They’re working folks, he says. “People from all walks of life.”