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Travel Tip #320: Things to Consider When Invited to Act as a Shaman

As a seasoned traveler you may find yourself in a conversation comparing prior shamanisitic experiences when it is pointed out that there are in fact some medicinal plants growing a few feet from your chair.  Your enthusiasm may be misconstrued as confidence and then you could find yourself handed a half meter of echinopsis pachanoi and assigned the task of converting the plant into an elixir of the soul. Don't panic.  Keep in mind the following things and all will be well:

- Google is your friend.  More information on plant preparation than should be legally allowed is available with just a few keystrokes.

- Don't forget to look up the proper indigenous name for the plant (huachuma).  It will make you sound like you know what you're doing.

- When cooking the strange brew, bring a book.  A full twelve hours may be needed to fully separate the pulp from the alkaloids.  It's a good time to bite off a chunk of 1Q84's 1,317 pages.

- Think only positive thoughts while touching the cactus and cooking the brew because maybe all that metaphysical shit is real.

- Dress accordingly for the ceremony.  Go sock-less and maybe put your hair in a bun if it's long enough.  Anything that gives you the air of carefree chaperone to the spirit world.  If you have a hemp shirt, wear it.

- Pick a sacred space for the ceremony.  Try to avoid hilltops in direct sunlight.  You'd think they're a perfect combination of view and nature, but you'd be wrong.  Sunlight only amplifies nausea.

- Start by burning something.  Tobacco.  Palo Santo.  Whatever.  The sacred space won't cleanse itself.

- Encourage the group to make some music.  It will call the spirits to you and create vibrations through which inter-world communication can take place.  Also, it gives you something to kill the boredom while you wait the necessary two hours for the mescaline to kick in.  Drums, wooden flutes, maracas make simple but effective instruments.  Maybe don't try playing the flute if you can't get it to make concordant notes.

- Don't think about the taste.  Dear god, think about anything but the bitter taste.  And maybe add more lemon juice next time.

- Ignore the sounds of your fellow traveler's vomiting.  Be a good shaman and remind them that their body is just passing all its negative energy.  And breakfast.

- Oh, speaking of that, maybe don't have a big breakfast.  Avoid big egg-y things altogether.

- Probably not relevant for most would-be shamans, but for the record don't try to ride wild horses while under the influence.


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