How ayahuasca helped the Colombian military find four children lost in the jungle
Plus, MAPS Public Benefit Corporation goes...private?
Welcome to another edition of Sunday Brunch, our round-up of the week’s news in psychedelic and ecstatic ethics, integration and harm reduction. It’s just for paid subscribers, but as always we provide some free stuff too.
The most fascinating psychedelic story for me, this week, was the rescue of 4 indigenous Colombian children who were lost in the jungle for 40 days, after the plane they were in crashed and their mother died. The children, aged 13, 9, and 4 plus an 11-month-old baby, managed to survive through indigenous know-how. This from NPR:
They were well-prepared to forage because they were raised in the jungle, says Consuelo de Vengoechea, a Colombian anthropologist and linguist who, over the past 30 years, has studied the Huitoto culture and language — and, for part of that time, lived with the children's family near Araracuara, becoming close friends with their deceased mother.
While there, she says youngsters were constantly climbing trees, gathering edible fruit and taking part in Indigenous ceremonies in which they sang and celebrated the bounty of the jungle.
My girlfriend is indigenous Costa Rican, and - not to be woke about it (she is quite anti-woke!) her family genuinely are much closer to nature than me, in the sense of know-how about plants, trees, birds etc, plus just having a strong spiritual connection to the natural world. Her grandmother has eight dogs, all rescue, a cat, chickens, a wild parakeet and a tree with the most succuluent avocados in Costa Rica. In fact, my girlfriend’s uncle was the first guide in the Manuel Antonio national park, and Kattya used to assist him on tours when she was six. I am sure she would survive in the jungle for 40 days, unlike me. Her family also believe in ‘duendes’ - little forest gnomes who can lead people astray. The grandmother of the Colombian kids thinks they took so long to be found because a duende led them away from the army to protect them!
Anyway, the thing that caught my eye was the search and rescue party was a collaboration between the Colombian army and local indigenous people, and they said that yage, or ayahuasca, played a key role in the rescue. This from the Guardian:
It was perhaps telling that the first people to find the children were members of the Indigenous search team, who had been calling out in native languages. On the morning of the rescue they partook in a ritual with yagé (ayahuasca), a traditional jungle medicine with psychedelic properties.
“They were found by an Indigenous guardian who took yagé and with the support of the army’s technology,” said Luis Acosta, coordinator of the Guardia Indígena. “Those who take yagé see far beyond what we see. He becomes a doctor, a panther, a tiger a puma. He sees beyond because it’s a holistic medicine. He had the capacity to look.”
In fact, according to Colombian TV (watch this clip) the search team drank ayahuasca once, but still didn’t find the kids. So finally aafter 40 days they drank it again and, in the words of one of the search team ‘something amazing happened. We all said ‘this is the day we will find them’.’ And they did.
After the paywall, MAPS Public Benefit Corporation goes…private? I’ll be attending MAPS’ conference next week, and will share impressions in the Ecstatic Integration community chat for subscribers. If you’re coming and fancy meeting, let me know.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Ecstatic Integration to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.