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Black Smoke : Healing and Ayahuasca Shamanism in the Amazon
Inner Traditions

Black Smoke : Healing and Ayahuasca Shamanism in the Amazon

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Black Smoke
Author(s): Margaret De Wys

A diagnosis of cancer leads to healing and transformation in the Amazon jungle

• Explains in vivid detail De Wys’s experience of being healed from cancer through visionary ayahuasca rituals in Ecuador

• Describes her apprenticeship and relationship with the shaman who cured her

• Explores the ways this spiritual medicine can heal the emotional origins of disease now plaguing our modern technological culture

• Chosen as one of the “Top 10 Books of the New Edge” by Jonathan Talat Phillips on The Huffington Post

When composer and Bard College music professor Margaret De Wys learned she had breast cancer, the diagnosis shattered her comfortable life. Seized by fear, crushed by existential loneliness, she couldn’t respond when her loved ones reached out to her. To everyone’s concern, the illness propelled her away from her family and deep into the Amazon to work with Carlos, a charismatic Shuar shaman and master of medicina milenaria, an ancient mystical tradition with a highly sophisticated and precise technology of healing. In Black Smoke, De Wys writes of her amazing encounter with Carlos as he guided her into a world of potent visionary plants, harrowing initiations, ritual purification, and miraculous healings, including the complete disappearance of her cancer. It was, as Carlos called it, “the path of the warrior.”

Sharing a journey not only through cancer but also through self-transformation, De Wys provides an intimate inside look at the shamanic ceremonies of ayahuasca and the ways this spiritual medicine can heal the emotional origins of disease now plaguing our modern technological culture. Capturing her physical, emotional, and “holy voyage” through a world that differs vastly from our own in its perception of healing and wholeness, she offers a revealing chronicle of spiritual insight and a trenchant exploration of the limits of idealism. She not only provides a probing look at how our society can learn and benefit from indigenous wisdom but also weaves a cautionary tale about how potentially dangerous it is--on both sides--to try to cross those frontiers.

Black Smoke is a wonderful, beautifully written story . . . a true adventure told in a style that rivals the best of novels. This first-person account by an extraordinary woman of her inner and outer journey through darkness into light is a must read for anyone interested in healing.”
“This is unlike other books on ayahuasca in that it is not just a Westerner’s romanticized memory of a ‘wild time once had.’ The author offers us an honest appraisal of the impact on her, on her shaman/mentor, and on Western participants of the clash of cultures and ideologies that is usually also a part of the ‘ayahuasca experience’ for non-natives who drink the brew. Are the visions ‘real’? Can ayahuasca really heal a Westerner who is so ‘in his head’ that he wants to psychologize (and so disempower) every spiritual encounter he has? How does immersion in a rational, mind-and-money-orientated Western culture begin to affect the medicine man himself? And what happens when the American legal system becomes the judge of an age-old practice of rainforest healing? Margaret De Wys has written an interesting book that explores these questions, making it an adventure story that is more grown-up and real than other books on a similar subject.”
“De Wys has written an extraordinarily informative book about Carlos, a Shuar Ecuadorian shaman, who uses not only ayahuasca and tobacco but many other plants and practices for healing. His ways of teaching her illuminate the real complexity and rigor as well as the amazing successes of his own tradition’s training. In addition, De Wys’s personal story of healing, learning, and transformation is unsentimental, engrossing, and explores the confusions that arise when one mixes indigenous cultural values with Western materialism and medicine.”
“This book will thrill and support all readers traveling--or wishing to travel themselves--into the unknown and the mystery of the human spirit.”
Black Smoke is a profound, vibrant personal story of healing and transformation, both medical and spiritual. A clear, objective account of how immersion in ayahuasca shamanism cured De Wys’s breast cancer and transformed her into a healer. As we follow her path, we come to understand her calling and grow with her as she comes into her truest self--the most valuable gift an author can offer. I highly recommend you receive this gift, in De Wys’s beautiful, healing memoir.”
“In the end, Black Smoke’s greatest strength is the theme of liberation, which de Wys examines quite consistently through a number of devices.”

ISBN:  9781594774621