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Black Smoke
Healing and Ayahuasca Shamanism in the Amazon
Rating :
Author(s) :
Margaret De Wys
Pages :
Pub Date :
Edition(s) at Erowid :
2014(pb,1st ed,f)
Publisher :
Inner Traditions
Previously published under the name Black Smoke: A Woman's Journey of Healing, Wild Love, and Transformation in the Amazon
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."
-- John Perkins, New York Times bestselling author of Shapeshifting, Spirit of the Shuar, and Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Margaret De Wys is a composer and sound installation artist whose musical works have premiered with dance groups and orchestras across the country and been performed at venues including the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum. Since her initial experience with ayahuasca, she has traveled extensively and worked closely with many traditional healers throughout the world. Currently working with Joćo de Deus in Brazil, where they see more than 1,200 people a day, she also takes groups to the Amazon in Ecuador to work with Carlos, the shaman who healed her of breast cancer. The author of Ecstatic Healing, she lives in upstate New York.