Upcoming Evolver Online Event - October 2012


Host: Jeremy Narby

A shamanic brew from the deepest Amazon rainforest is now transforming the lives of people around the world, challenging Western notions about healing, art, religion, and the intelligence of nature.


5 Sessions, October 9th through November 6th

Not long ago, the vine of the soul, ayahuasca, was virtually unknown outside the Amazon region. Today it attracts the attention of legions of Western seekers drawn to the prospect of deep wisdom available through indigenous shamanic practices that involve the use of psychedelic plants. Ayahuasca is revered by ancient tribal societies as a potent teacher capable of healing the body, expanding the mind, and strengthening community.


  • What can modern people can learn from indigenous cultures about the use of ayahuasca as part of a healing practice?
  • What can be learned directly from the spirit vine -- which can be a powerful and tricky teacher -- and how can we incorporate these lessons into our daily lives?
  • In what ways do indigenous people benefit from the Western interest in shamanism, and what new cultural bridges are being built through the spread of indigenous spiritual practices?


The renowned anthropologist Jeremy Narby has explored these questions for over two decades. In his much-admired books, including The Cosmic Serpent and Shamans Through Time, Jeremy has shared his wisdom and insights. Last winter, Jeremy hosted his first Evolver Intensives course, Awakening the Cosmic Serpent: Shamanism and Plant Teachers in this Transformative Time, which offered a rare opportunity to explore the nuances of plant medicine with some of the world's leading visionary thinkers on the subject.


As participants in that course will attest, Jeremy is a remarkable teacher. If you missed that course, here is your chance to take part in a special online event, watching the live video stream and asking your questions directly to inspirational pioneers. If you were there, you won't want to miss the continued exploration of topics charted in the first course, as Jeremy leads in-depth discussions with 5 exciting new guests: Steve Beyer, Benny Shanon, Kenneth Tupper, Susana Bustos, and Martina Hoffmann. You don't need to have participated in the first course to fully appreciate this one.


This course gives you the tools you need to integrate the shamanic knowledge offered by ayahuasca into your life, so you can fully embrace the change called for by this time of global transformation.



  • Learn how plant teachers teach their own secrets, such as how to sing to them and how use them
  • Explore how well shamans actually cure sickness
  • Discuss the predatory and ambiguous nature of ayahuasca shamanism
  • Learn the categories of visions that people have
  • Discover whether drinkers of the brew gain access to specific factual information
  • Review the influence of ayahuasca on contemporary visionary art
  • Explore ayahuasca’s recent transnational expansion, and why it remained obscure for most Euroamericans until the last part of the 20th century?


This course takes place on 5 Sundays, between October 9 and November 6 and you can participate from your laptop anywhere in the world with a broadband connection. If you can watch a YouTube video, you can take part in this course.


Each seminar is devoted to one-on-one conversations between Jeremy and a featured guest, followed by a Q & A session in which you can take part. This will be a live, dynamic experience in which you become part of a community of students sharing real time with some of the most inspiring visionaries of our era.

Steve Beyer
Sunday, October 9, 2:00 p.m. EST, 11 AM LA, 7:00PM, London

Steve Beyer has a law degree and doctorates in both religion and psychology. He has published 3 books on Buddhism and Tibetan language and religion. Steve has been a university professor, trial lawyer, wilderness guide, peacemaker and community builder. He studied plant medicine in North America and in the Upper Amazon.

His recent book Singing to the Plants demonstrates encyclopedic knowledge about Amazonian plant medicine and covers many important aspects of ayahuasca shamanism. About the book, Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., said, "A classic volume that provides its readers with an unsurpassed understanding of the healing power of shamanism, its use of spiritual rituals and visionary plants such as ayahuasca, and both its light and its dark sides, its sophistication and its humor."

In this session, you will:

  • Learn how shamans receive songs -- icaros -- from plants, and what purposes they use these songs for
  • Explore the importance of diet and other preparations leading up to the ayahuasca ceremony, including sexual abstinence, social isolation and time alone in nature
  • Consider whether spirits encountered through ayahuasca are metaphoric or real, and examine the appropriateness of this dichotomy in the shamanic realm
  • Discuss why so few women shamans lead ayahuasca ceremonies
  • Learn the dangers which shamans expose themselves to
Benny Shanon
Sunday, October 16, 2:00 p.m. EST, 11 AM, LA, 7:00PM, London

Benny Shanon has revolutionized the understanding of human consciousness. His book, The Antipodes of the Mind: Charting the Phenomenology of the Ayahuasca Experience, is one of the most important books on altered states of consciousness, along with William James’s Varieties of Religious Experience and Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception. Shanon brings philosophical and scientific rigor combined with intrepid open-mindedness to an area where many still fear to tread. In his decade-long inquiry, he demonstrates that the human mind has provinces that academic psychology has yet to explore, for which he provides a cartography. Like Darwin on the voyage of the Beagle, Shanon first and foremost collects and categorizes data. He only theorizes once this hard work is done. 

Shanon’s great innovation has been to travel into the deep waters of subjectivity and altered states of consciousness with an unfailing commitment to the scientific method. This is a difficult balancing act, and thanks to the strength of his philosophical and psychological training, he has succeeded. In so doing, he has set a course for others to follow. Inner space is one of the last great frontiers of science, and Benny Shanon is an important pioneer.

In this session, you will:

  • Consider how the drinking of ayahuasca introduces you to experiences that challenge the entire Western world view
  • Discover how ayahuasca introduces you to states of consciousness outside those recognized by academic psychology, states that are transpersonal and non-individuated
  • Learn about the importance of ritual when using ayahuasca
  • Explore how encounters with the brew can subvert rigid atheistic beliefs
  • Learn how to be on guard against the mystification of the plant medicine experience
Kenneth Tupper
Sunday, October 23, 2:00 p.m. EST, 11 AM LA, 7:00PM London

Kenneth Tupper recently published a Ph. D. dissertation in Educational Studies on “Ayahuasca, Entheogenic Education and Public Policy.” He is currently doing research in the field of drug education and policy and is particularly interested in how policy makers should respond to re-emerging evidence of the therapeutic and other benefits of psychedelics or entheogens.

When interviewed for the film Vine of the Soul: Encounters with Ayahuasca, Tupper had this to say: "I think the big difference between the use of ayahuasca today and the use of other substances in the 1960's, is a very strong understanding of the importance of ritual and the ceremonial element in fostering a therapeutic or a spiritual experience."

In this session, you will:

  • Hear evidence of the healing powers of ayahuasca
  • Review recent research suggesting that ayahuasca drinking induces a lasting decline of symptoms in certain chronic illnesses
  • Discuss how the brew is an exemplar of traditional indigenous knowledge, an entheogenic practice that is a powerful means not only of healing and learning, but also of reliably fostering wonder and awe
  • Compare psychedelic therapy to shamanic entheogenic ceremonies
  • Learn how ancient ayahuasca actually is
Susana Bustos
Sunday, October 30, 2:00 p.m. EST, 11 AM LA, 7:00PM London

Susana Bustos worked for ten years as a psychologist in Chile before conducting doctoral studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She focused on the study of Amazonian vegetalismo, particularly the use of songs -- icaros -- during plant healing ceremonies. Susan participated in numerous ceremonies and conducted extensive interviews with healers and their clients about the magic melodies of Amazonian shamanism, and produced a doctoral dissertation entitled: “The Healing Power of the Icaros: A Phenomenological Study of Ayahuasca Experiences.”

Bustos is also a certified Holotropic Breathwork facilitator. She worked as a therapist and clinical supervisor at Takiwasi in the Peruvian jungle, a center for the treatment of drug addiction integrating indigenous and Western medicine. Presently, she is synthesizing her experience into a model on how to integrate experiences in expanded states of consciousness into ordinary life.

In this session, you will:

  • Explore the impact that icaros have on ayahuasca visions
  • Discover how singing can facilitate therapeutic states of consciousness
  • Learn why live singing is the best option for generating therapeutic states of consciousness in ayahuasca ceremonies
  • Discover why icaros are the main tool of the healer during ayahuasca ceremonies, and how these songs act as tools
  • Discuss whether healers learn icaros from their visions or from their mentor, and explore why it is said that songs learned from plants are reputed to be the strongest
Martina Hoffmann
Sunday, November 6, 2:00 p.m. EST, 11 AM LA, 7:00PM London

Martina Hoffmann works as a painter and sculptress and is a major contemporary visionary artist. Her paintings offer a detailed view into her inner landscapes - imagery inspired by meditation, shamanic journeys and dreams, with the sacred feminine as a central theme. Her work has been exhibited and collected worldwide. For 30 years, until his recent passing, she was the life partner of the visionary painter Robert Venosa.

About her work, Martina says, "The visionary artist makes visible the more subtle and intuitive states of our existence and creates maps and symbols reflecting consciousness. My work is an attempt to show spirit as the universal force which unifies us beyond the confines of cultural and religious differences. By accepting the interdependency of all life and our universal interconnectedness we have a chance to heal and transform the planet's general state of woundedness. In using art as a tool for transformation, we have the opportunity to create a reality as beautiful, healthy and strong as our imagination permits."

In this session, you will:

  • Hear about Martina's first experience with ayahuasca, and how it influenced her work
  • Consider if paintings can heal, and if so, how
  • Explore whether visionary artists create the symbols they paint, or if they relay them
  • Discuss with Martina the artistic advantages -- and disadvantages -- of life partnering with another visionary painter
  • Hear Martina's advice for people who wish to paint or draw their visions

Jeremy Narby is an anthropologist and activist who has worked for 25 years as Amazonian projects director for the Swiss non-profit "Nouvelle Planète," backing projects for the self-determination of Amazonian indigenous peoples that involve land rights, primary education, village health, botanical knowledge, fish farms, tree nurseries, and other local initiatives.· Jeremy has also written several books that explore Amazonian systems of knowledge, aka shamanism, and their possible interface with science, including The Cosmic Serpent and Intelligence in Nature, and he is co-editor of the anthology Shamans Through Time with Francis Huxley.


By participating in this online course, you will receive:

  • Five 90-minute live video seminars with Jeremy and his featured guests
  • 30 minutes of question and answer time in each seminar
  • Participation in a private online community with other students
  • Unlimited online access to videos of all seminars
  • PDF articles about course topics from Jeremy and each of the guests

We hope you join us for this unique opportunity to discover the rich wisdom of the vine of the souls.  



Listen to the interview with Jeremy Narby with Evolver from April 2011: