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Plant Teachers: Ayahuasca, Tobacco, and the Pursuit of Knowledge: Jeremy Narby on PYP 479

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Jeremy Narby is an anthropologist turned activist and author. As director of Swiss non-profit Nouvelle Planète, he advocates and fundraises to support Indigenous communities in the southern hemisphere. In Amazonia, for example, they help local communities gain title to their land, so that the World Bank and other “development” agencies, and multinational corporations cannot continue to exploit, degrade, and extract with impunity.

Jeremy's books are life changing. His first, The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge, makes the radical case that Westerners should not look down upon and dismiss Indigenous ways of seeing the world and nature as misguided or “cute,” but instead can learn a great deal by taking this knowledge seriously.

He points to the Ashininka (a Peruvian tribe) story that Europeans are white because they live underground in cities of great technological complexity, and emerge in Peru from time to time to steal women and children, to harvest their fat to run the machines in these cities. They're known as Pishtakos, or “white vampires.”

A fanciful tale, full of superstition?

Or a more or less completely accurate representation of how Europeans have behaved in South America for the last 500 years, killing, destroying, and extracting everything of value and leaving nothing of value in return?

Jeremy first encountered the Ashaninka in 1985, as an (in his words) arrogant young anthropologist, bringing all his materialistic, rationalistic, and agnostic baggage with him. Humoring the “primitives” and dutifully transcribing their childish beliefs. Until an encounter with the hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca brought him to his knees and open his mind to the notion that the Ashaninka knowledge system contained truths that Western science was only beginning to discover.

One of Jeremy's enduring interests is in the Indigenous approach to plants and animals. Rather than relegate these to “nature,” as in “everything that's not human,” the Ashininka, the Shawi, and other rainforest peoples see kinship with all life, a kinship that the developed world will have to adopt if we are to survive on this planet.

That kinship manifests in relations with certain powerful plants, the “teacher plants” as the shamans call them, that share knowledge of the entire web of life with the humans who drink them according to prescribed ritual.

Two of these, tobacco and ayahuasca, are of Amazonian origin.

In his latest book, Plant Teachers: Ayahuasca, Tobacco, and the Pursuit of Knowledge, Jeremy and his coauthor, Shawi elder Rafael Chanchari Pizuri, look at two different plant teachers from both the Indigenous and scientific perspectives.

It's a remarkable book. By juxtaposing tobacco with the famous hallucinogen ayahuasca, it shows tobacco in a whole new light. Anyone who smokes cigarettes or consumes other tobacco “products” will be challenged to alter their relationship with this “double-souled” plant, one that can bring medicine or malice in equal measure.

And by juxtaposing Indigenous and scientific tools and perspectives, the authors model a respectful, generative, and above all valuable mode of interaction, where both knowledge systems are given their due, and each respects the other, even where they diverge or even conflict.

If you care about the fate of humanity, of the earth, of the rainforest, of the First Peoples of the world, and of sentient life in general, you'll want to explore the writings of Jeremy Narby.

I'm so grateful he took the time to share his spirit and wisdom and humility and clarity with us today.


Plant Teachers: Ayahuasca, Tobacco, and the Pursuit of Knowledge, by Jeremy Narby and Rafael Chanchari Pizuri

The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge, by Jeremy Narby

The Falling Sky: Words of a Yanomami Shaman, by Davi Kopenawa and Bruce Albert

Nouvelle Planète non-profit organization

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1 comment on “Plant Teachers: Ayahuasca, Tobacco, and the Pursuit of Knowledge: Jeremy Narby on PYP 479

  1. Cody Yarber says:

    I’ve been working on a critical save the world mission for the last 3-years, and up to this point I’ve been a one man team, so I’m reaching out to you in hopes of getting some backup. This is literally the most important situation going on anywhere on planet earth, and I need your help to finish it up. Copied below is a brief summary of what’s going on, and below that is a link to my Google Drive document with more information. Thank you for your time.


    — The CIA have controlled the entire world for 80+ years, and for 100+ years before that the U.S. government controlled the world using upper class families and nitrous oxide.
    — Law enforcement across the country have been involved in warrantless investigation using CIA metaphysical tools for 40+ years, which is clearly a violation of the 4th amendment.
    — The CIA have been in control of important messenger molecules like LSD, and psilocybin, which is an ancient fungal mind that the CIA took control of and used for their purposes.
    — Christopher Wray and the FBI are involved in intellectual property theft from omniscient 5th dimension beings (future propulsion systems, cures for diseases, alternative energy sources, ect.)
    — The actions of the CIA, FBI, and State Police caused a large number of suicide and overdose deaths, which is what happened to all of the great artists and musicians who died so young.
    — The CIA have known everything about the human brain since the 1950’s because of LSD, and they’ve kept this information from the public to further their own purposes, so the entire world’s mental health suffered for 70+ years.
    — Christopher Wray and the FBI have been trying to steal a large amount of gold, which is the only reason Wray is employed by the FBI. The amount of gold they plan to steal is large enough to cause major problems in the wrong hands, but in the right hands it could change the balance of power in the world for the better.
    — When the CIA took control of the world, they also took control of the higher dimensions and the gods (5th dimension forms), which halted the evolution of species the entire time, and kept the eternal beings from being reincarnated as new people, so now they’re all stuck in the CIA system.

    Google Drive document with more information:

    Thank you again.


    Cody Yarber
    (276) 608-4914

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