Shamanism, Racism & Cultural Appropriation in a Multicultural World

The worldwide expansion of sacred plant medicine ceremonies beyond their cultural boundaries has been coined a “global shamanic revival”. Increasing the numbers of Westerners traveling to the Amazon, Central America, and Africa to participate in tribal ceremonies, initiations, and festivals. This heightened interest in indigenous culture has fueled an indigenous cultural renaissance in the Amazon and elsewhere.

At the forefront of this “Global Shamanic Revival” are Western teachers of shamanism, facilitators of plant medicine ceremonies, and neoshamans. Western participants in these events don feathers and face paint, often applied by the indigenous themselves. Yet underneath this fascination with indigenous culture, the roots of racism, colonialism and cultural appropriation persist.

How can Western ceremony facilitators offer and be compensated for their services, without perpetuating colonialism?

How can Western practitioners of shamanism embrace the indigenous culture, without appropriating it?

How can those who walk the path of plant medicine shamanism do so in right relation to the people who are the cultural guardians of these medicine traditions?

In this live panel, 4 experts, discuss the changing landscape of shamanism, in an increasingly interconnected, multi-cultural world.

Meet the Panelists

Tony Moss
Tony is a visual and recording artist, event producer, and founder of I.AM.LIFE, a non-profit event production company focused on interconnectivity. His work is a synthesis of passions in art, spirituality & science, with emphasis on the evolution of human consciousness and potential. With his extensive experience in different ayahuasca communities around the world, Tony shares his thoughts about the globalization of ayahuasca and the dynamics of racial bias in ayahuasca shamanism.

Lola Medicine Keeper
Lola Medicine Keeper is a shamanic healer; offering ceremonies, rituals, and perspectives from her teachers in Peru and Mexico as well as her ancestral lineage from The Northern Tradition. For the last 8 years, she’s been honored to serve thousands of clients through ceremony, ritual, guidance, and community as they navigate the turbulent waters of waking up.

Michael Stone
Michael Stone is a shamanic practitioner, teacher, author, transformational coach and organizational development consultant. His award-winning radio show, KVMR’s Conversations, focuses on environmental, spiritual, and social justice issues. Michael is the host and producer of the Shift Network’s Shamanism global summit and is on the faculty of the Shift Network. He is currently passionate about how the emerging quantum worldview is generating a real revolution.

Carlos Tanner
Carlos Tanner has lived in the Amazon rainforest of Peru for over fourteen years. He currently works as the program director for the Ayahuasca Foundation, a non-profit organization he helped found in 2009. He organizes healing retreats and educational courses led by authentic indigenous curanderos to help people in need of healing or interested in learning the Shipibo ayahuasca healing tradition.

About Lorna Liana

Lorna Liana is a new media strategist and lifestyle business coach to visionary entrepreneurs. She travels the world while running her business as a digital nomad. Lorna's boutique agency provides “done for you” web design, development and online marketing services for social ventures, sustainable brands, transformational coaches and new paradigm thought leaders. She is also a personal development junkie, and 20 year practitioner of shamanism, with extensive training in Tibetan Bon Shamanism and the ayahuasca traditions of the Amazon Basin. A self-professed ayahuasca snob and perennial ayahuasca tourist, Lorna has been drinking ayahuasca since 2004. She's been in approximately 150 ayahuasca ceremonies (from terrible to fantastic), and tasted wide variety of ayahuasca brews (from awful to exquisite). Her ayahuasca experience spans 30+ different shamans and facilitators, 7 indigenous tribes, several Brazilian churches, and a host of neo-shamanic circles, in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Europe, the US, and Asia. Through this widely-varied background, she hopes to shed some perspective on the globalization of ayahuasca.

1 Comment

  1. Chris Robles on November 19, 2018 at 8:53 pm

    Interesting discussion, however, plants are plants, and like everything else in this universe, including ourselves, they are made of atoms made of energy. The way how these atoms end up arranged in molecules, and how some interact with some of our own molecules in our brain, are what cause the effects derived from these plants. Whether these effects cause us to see spirits, ancestors, gods, our own past, our own fears, the beauty of the universe or just give us an enjoyable psychedelic trip depends largely on our cultural background, be it that of an Amazonian tribesman, a Mexican native, an African cult member, a New Age psychonaut or a pleasure seeker…the plant is just a plant that has evolved for some reason to produce these alkaloids that affect our brains in a certain way. For a number of centuries or millennia, some cultures and people discovered, explored and appropriated these plants and incorporated them in their cosmology, traditions, medicine and ritual practices.

    This period of time of association with these plants may seem today as being a long time, but on the scale of modern human evolution, this association has been very short lived, and as Carlos Tanner pointed out, until relatively recently, all of humanity had a similar association with these type of plants. Therefore, the issue of cultural appropriation may not be the right approach, because who knows what the association between these plants and the humans of the future will be. Indigenous people have seen many of the plants to which they had been custodians for a period of time in history being taken away from them by outsiders, from cocoa and tobacco to rubber, without much reward for their centuries or millennia long stewardship of these plants.

    If outsiders want to now take advantage of these plants, use them for their own purpose, be it medicinal or spiritual, and gain materially from them, and if they want to do this in an ethical way, to make amends for the plunders of the past, then the issue to discuss should not be cultural appropriation, but rather bio-piracy.

    It seems that the main concern of the indigenous people is seeing something that was theirs for a very long time being taken away from them without reaping the appropriate rewards. If all these neo-shamans, owners of healing centres, pharmaceutical companies and so on were to not only respect the traditions associated with the plants, but mostly to make sure that those who have been stewards of these plants for a long time and passed on the knowledge of these plants to outsiders be rewarded appropriately and treated respectfully in doing so, I believe that the issues outlined in the letter at the beginning would be satisfactorily addressed.

Leave a Comment