Ayahuasca Visions: The Religious Iconography of a Peruvian Shaman, coauthored by Luis Eduardo Luna and Pablo Amaringo, available at your local new bookseller, and for order online, is an excellent book respectfully addressing the instruction available from ayahuasca, a brew of various psychoactive decoctions prepared with the Bannisteria caapi vine employed for divinatory and healing purposes by the native peoples of Amazonian Peru. Luis Eduardo Luna is one of the world's leading authorities on ayahuuasca and Pablo Amaringo, the shaman whose art is featured, is at least that much an expert. At least. This book is a jackpot of knowledge and imagery on the Amazon and shamanism. Including both Luna's text and full-page color plates of Pablo Amaringo's painted visions of angels, devils, serpents, jungle cats, mermaids, and aliens, this book has at least two levels. At least.
If you’re interested in a clear and objective overview of shamanic culture, Luna’s text is the answer. The introduction alone, unweakened by obscurities, will inform you better than most info sources encountered in an average (North) American day. Amaringo’s artwork, also featured in Graham Hancocks classic of underground mystic history, "Supernatural," is amazing and likely to provoke further inquiry into the pheniomenon of divining art of any kind from an "exterior" source, call it God, or the subconscious or simply inspiration (which literally means in-spirited-ness). Each painting has deep personal and universal meaning. Western seekers of insight, before writing off ayahuasca (also known as Yage) as something just for Amazon natives, may be heartened to learn that proto-Beat William S. Burroughs knew of and tracked down the plant in question as part of a psychospiritual experiment as far back as 1953. His experience is recounted in his The Yage Letters, co-authored with Allen Ginsberg. Burroughs was always ahead of his time, having researched the Mayan codices at least as early as the 1940s.
This book isn’t just for spiritual seekers. If you ever wanted to know what it "looks" like to take a real "trip" without ingesting any hallucinogenics, let alone getting down to South America for personal instruction, the visual imagery in this book provides that information by fixing it in representational form. Eduardo Luna's commentary conveys what these visions may mean in both a cultural and scientific context. Highly recommended for anyone thinking about learning more about the spirit with or without entheogens, also anyone genuinely curious about a culture and history barely known to Mass-Americans.