Each Friday, we’re republishing an article from the High Times archives. This week, the topic is yagé, otherwise known as ayahuasca. Originally featured in the “Vagabond” section of the August 1979 issue, the article was written by none other than celebrity physician and erstwhile High Times contributor Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D.
Excerpt from the August, 1979 issue of High Times/ Timothy PlowmanEvery Saturday in a remote region of south-western Colombia, sick people make their way to a hut in a jungle clearing. The hut is a two-to-three-hour walk over a rough trail from a little port town called Mayoyoque on the River Caquetá, a tributary of the Amazon. Some of the people are very sick with high fevers, infections and chronic diseases that have not responded to medical treatment. The goal of their pilgrimage is an Ingano Indian witch doctor named Luis Nutumbahoy. He is a yagero, a man skilled in the use of yagé (yah-HAY), the powerful psychedelic drink of the Amazon, and every Saturday he cooks up a batch of it to use in curing ceremonies.
I have been interested in yagé for years and have visited a number of yageros in the western Amazon. Last January, on the recommendation of a Colombian friend, I made the long and difficult trip to see don Luis and his ceremony.
To get there I flew from Bogotá to Florencia, capital of the Caquetá Territory, a large province of Colombia mostly consisting of steamy jungles and large rivers. In recent years, intense colonization has resulted in ugly clear-cutting of the jungle and the growth of rowdy frontier towns noted for their violence. At the moment, the Caquetá is officially considered a war zone because of guerrilla activity, principally of a group called the FARC, the Colombian Armed Revolutionary Forces. In my …
Author: High Times / High Times