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The AYAHUASCA READER is a four-part celebration of a sacred plant which grows in the Amazon rainforest and which, throughout the rainforest history, has been instrumental in allowing medicine men (and others) to leave their bodies behind and travel with their souls. Their experiences and the invaluable information they return with are so impressive that many anthropologists have felt the inclination to question them about these "trips” and the mythologies of their ancestors regarding them. Hence, part one of the AYAHUASCA READER consists of information divulged in such interviews. Part two consists of essays by (or about) the scientists themselves upon experiencing Ayahuasca in ceremonial settings. Part three discusses the use of Ayahuasca as a present day religious sacrament, and finally, in part four, well known celebrities from the literary world discuss their experience of Ayahuasca.All of this renders the AYAHUASCA READER the most comprehensive collection ever written on the subject, with essays translated from nearly a dozen languages. The many contributors include FranÃ§oise Barbira Freedman, Wade Davis, Philippe Descola, Allen Ginsberg, Jean Langdon, Peter Matthiessen, Dennis McKenna, W.S.Merwin, Richard Spruce, Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff, Mario Vargas Llosa, and more. As the myths within confirm, Ayahuasca has been a means "of reconnecting with the invisible layers of the cosmos” for millennia. Not surprisingly, the myths make for very fascinating reading in and of themselves, and certainly no study of world mythology is complete with them. The additional scientific, religious and literary points of view, then, are all wonderful bonuses.There is a lot at work here: As if the various stories from these disparate groups were not enough, there are depictions of the artwork of the indigenous peoples, photographs of a few of the Ayahuasca practitioners (including Ginsberg), a copy of a Brazilian watercolor depicting Ayahuasca, a copy of an oil painting depicting visions induced by the plant, and much more. From the religion section there are hymns a plenty, and from the literary section, as much eloquent prose and spirited poetry as a reader is likely to find in any literary anthology.