Psychedelic Science 2023

Be Part of

        the Breakthrough

Presented by

Dismantling the Myth of “Mother Ayahuasca”


Dismantling the Myth of “Mother Ayahuasca”

Within Western circles the spirit of ayahuasca is referred to as “Mother Ayahuasca”, usually considered the benevolent healing spirit of the vine. Yet, this characterization of ayahuasca is a relatively recent phenomenon that has occurred through the commodification of ayahuasca as a purely healing substance and entity for the Western audience. Evidence from long-term research in Iquitos, Peru, the global epicenter of the commercial ayahuasca industry reveals that encounters with ‘Mother Ayahuasca’ within ceremonial spaces are rare. Perceptions of ayahuasca as a benevolent mother spirit are shaped and reinforced through socialization within touristic retreat settings and wider community contexts. The popularity of the figure of ‘Mother Ayahuasca’ among the western audience is associated with their spiritual, healing and ecological concerns including anti-religious tendencies and a widespread preference for earth based spiritual practice involving reverence for ‘Mother Earth’ and the ‘Divine Feminine’. The eco feminist and spiritual and counterculture movement ten to glorify “Mother Ayahuasca” and the feminine as a reaction against patriarchy. Yet, ayahuasqueros and apprentices largely view the ayahuasca spirit as capable of manifesting in male or female form, and furthermore, as being a shamanic ally within brujería (sorcery/witchcraft). As part of curandismo (healing) practices traditionally and to the present day, ayahuasca use involves contact with ‘dark’ and ‘light’. Yet the division between ‘dark’ and ‘light’ or brujería and medicina is not gendered within Amazonian ayahuasca shamanism. This presentation invites us to re-think our gender divisions and stereotypes and learn Amazonian perspectives that point to a more nuanced approach where male and female, and ‘dark’ and ‘light’ are dynamic, shifting dualities.

Share: Dismantling the Myth of “Mother Ayahuasca”


Already Registered?

If you already registered for the in-person portion of the Psychedelic Science 2023 conference, get immediate access to PS2023: The Virtual Trip by logging in with the email address you used when signing up for the conference. We’ll email you a login link—no password necessary!

Need to Register?

If you are not yet registered for Psychedelic Science 2023, you can sign up for PS2023: The Virtual Trip access by creating an account.