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Used for thousands of years by indigenous tribes of the Amazon rain forest, the mystical brew ayahuasca is now becoming increasingly popular in the West. Psychologist Rachel Harris here shares her own healing experiences and draws on her original research (the largest study of ayahuasca use in North America) into the powerful medicine’s effects on depression, addiction, PTSD, and anxiety. In this wide-ranging and personal exploration, Harris details ayahuasca’s risks and benefits, helping readers clarify their intentions and giving psychotherapists a template for transformative care and healing.
“An excellent book on the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca; clearly written and well researched, it is an important addition to the literature on the subject.”— Jeremy Narby, PhD, author of The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge“Finally, finally, finally — an ayahuasca book I can recommend without reservation. Rachel Harris focuses not on the journey (giant snakes, dismemberment, insights, purging, etc.) but on what eventually matters far more: the ongoing and robust aftereffects in people ’s lives. Harris is a skilled psychotherapist and a serious ayahuasca user, and her credibility in both worlds makes her own story, interwoven with those of the many people she interviewed, informative and discerning.” — James Fadiman, PhD, microdose researcher and author of The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys“A fascinating and provocative compilation of riveting testimonies of individuals who experienced miraculous healing by drinking the psychedelic medicine ayahuasca. Inspired by her own amazing transformation, Harris was driven to research ayahuasca and document her findings. Readers will be inspired by the numerous accounts of how ayahuasca succeeded where Western medicine has failed many of the ailing people described here. . . . Though research on ayahuasca is still slim, the numerous life-changing revelations that Harris’s contributors describe will be illuminating for those curious about this mystical medicine.”— Publishers Weekly“Anyone considering visiting Grandmother Ayahuasca for the first time needs to read this book before making a decision. Harris is not an advocate, and her book is not a polemic; however, it seems clear that this plant medicine has the power to transform some people’s lives in ways that seem to be filled with the magic and mystery so sadly missing from our overly civilized world.”— Stanley Krippner, PhD, Alan Watts Professor of Psychology at Saybrook University, coauthor of Personal Mythology, and coeditor of Varieties of Anomalous Experience“Rachel Harris has produced a uniquely brave study of ayahuasca use and users, through the experiences of others and, most significantly, her own explorations. She never dodges the big questions (Who or what is the guiding intelligence experienced?) or comes up with static answers. Instead, she moves through the mysterious process of self-encounter, sharing a string of hard-won insights into how ayahuasca can work its magic to relieve human suffering.”— Diana Slattery, PhD, founding board member of Women’s Visionary Congress and author of Xenolinguistics: Psychedelics, Language, and the Evolution of Consciousness“In Harris we have a guide we can trust: someone who for years has actively immersed herself in a wide variety of ritual ayahuasca contexts; who has thought long and hard about the shadow side of taking ayahuasca; and who does not let the all-too-human aspects of the ayahuasca experience undermine her willingness to underscore the potentially life-changing therapeutic potential of this powerful substance. With humor, care, and (it must be said) wisdom, Harris invites us to join her as she walks, eyes wide open, into the enchanted and wondrously thought-provoking world of Grandmother Ayahuasca.”— G. William Barnard, professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University and author of Exploring Unseen Worlds: William James and the Philosophy of Mysticism“If you are interested in any aspect of psychedelics, I emphatically recommend Listening to Ayahuasca. Writing with a long history both as a participant in healing ceremonies and as a very skilled therapist, Harris shows a deep awareness of this long-revered plant medicine ’s potential in helping patients not only heal difficult psychological problems but also, with proper guidance, integrate the experience into fuller emotional and spiritual dimensions.”— George Douvris, author of Crossing Karma Zones“Rachel Harris delivers a refreshingly honest, balanced account of the complex literature concerning ayahuasca, discussing potential risks alongside purported benefits and allowing room for the sometimes extraordinary and mysterious experiences reported by initiates. At once accessible and well informed, this work represents a much-needed guidepost for health professionals who may encounter ayahuasca users in their practice, as well as for spiritual seekers with an interest in entheogens.”— Albert Garcia-Romeu, PhD, Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine“Rachel Harris brings . . . the perspective of an astute observer, the rigor of a scientist, the compassion of a therapist, and the insight that only a participant can offer. Anyone contemplating an ayahuasca experience, or who counsels such a person, would be well advised to first consult this profound and important book.”— Philip Goldberg, author of American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation — How Indian Spirituality Changed the West