Peru declares Ayahuasca part of cultural heritage
Good news in Peru, with the following announcement..
Peru declares ayahuasca part of cultural heritage
The Government of Peru declared the traditional knowledge and the use of Ayahuasca practiced by the indigenous communities of the Amazon forest to be national cultural patrimony. Ayahuasca is more commonly known in Brazil as Santo Daime. The decision of the peruvian Government, signed by the Director of the National Institute of Culture, Javier Ugaz Villacorta, was published on the Saturday edition of the country’s official daily newspaper, El Peruano.
This is a very welcome decision by the Peruvian legislature, as it makes it less likely that those treating illness using Ayahuasca will be charged for practicing medicine without a license, and will confer more legitimacy upon Ayahuasca as a medicine in other legislatures throughout the world. It also has relevance for the struggle of indigenous peoples to retain the usage of other traditional medicines without persecution. The traditional use of coca, legal only in Peru and Bolivia, is under threat from the international law making bodies, a subject which I will be soon addressing in this space. This decision as well as recent actions by Peruvian politicians may well bring recognition of these issues to the attention of the broader international community.
Particularly of interest is the distinction between traditional and touristic use, an issue of need for discussion with the rise of "Ayahuasca tourism", which is certainly obvious in Cusco, where I am currently living.
Peru’s Government states that the effects produced by Ayahuasca have been extensively investigated due to their complexity and are different from the ones usually produced by hallucinogens. Part of that difference consists on the ritual of consumption, that leads to several effects, however always within a culturally limited margin, and with religious, therapeutical and cultural purposes" says Javier Villacorta.
According to the Peruvian Government, "the practice of Ayahuasca ritual sessions and their ancestral use in the traditional rituals, guaranteeing cultural continuity, is tied to the therapeutical virtues.
There is a need for protection of the traditional use and the sacred aspect of the Ayahuasca ritual, differentiating it from the Occidental use, which is out of context, consumerist and with commercial purposes" allerts the statement of the National Institute of Culture.
As I say, the issue of Ayahausca tourism is a pressing one, and I have personally frequently attended to the needs of "occidentals" here and in Australia, who have partaken of Ayahuasca in circumstances less than ideal, or where the intentions of the facilitator have been unfocussed or actively malicious.
One aspect of the announcement, however, which is of concern for me personally is the use of the word "patrimony". For me it seems quite at odds with legislations pertaining to a plant regularly referred to as La Madre or La Abuela (mother or grandmother). Whilst I enter ceremonies with the utmost respect for the traditions of those who hold them, I believe that Ayahuasca has clearly moved beyond a construct of indigenous, jungle usage, and that the manner in which new cultures of Ayahuasca usage develop should not be limited by the limited world views of a particular patriarchy. I feel that Ayahuasca herself will determine how and when these new modes of working unfold, but any attempts to control the usage of Sacred Medicines should be diligently examined by all who care for the freedom and evolution of human consciousness.