Published on February 19, 2014
A Floresta dos Unicórnios (Unicorn Institute) The unicorn, a symbol of unity between science and mystical tradition, reason and intuition, was inspiration for the birth of the Unicorn Forest Institute (FLOU). As a non-profit organization, FLOU Institute exists to create an integral core of knowledge, experience and technology; stimulating relationships – 'convivência' – and the design of healthy communities compatible and in harmony with nature.
A Floresta dos Unicórnios The Institute develops educational projects, courses, workshops and immersion opportunities with the objective of propagating biocentric learning experiences focused on creating a culture of peace and sustainable living. The institute’s activities occur at three different venues. One of these locations, where the indigenous healing ceremonies take place – FLOU Granja – also functions as a conservation area and receives and rehabilitates wildlife, through a project licensed by IBAMA, (a government structure responsible for the environment and resource management) originating from the illegal traffic of such animals.
The Healing Ceremonies at FLOU Institute Since 2007, FLOU has been supporting and disseminating the wisdom and practices of the forest people. Recognizing the importance of honoring the diverse expressions of the aboriginal ethnic groups, and in helping preserve Brasil’s rich medicinal and cultural legacy, the institute opened its doors to holding workshops, cultural events, healing ceremonies and other celebrations that support maintaining indigenous wisdom and practices.
The Healing Ceremonies at FLOU Our ceremonies happen at our dedicated oca, “Yube Shube”, baptized by the Kaxinawá/Huni Kuin natives, as Home of the Anaconda Spirit. The anaconda is responsible for bringing the sacred teachings of the ayahuasca to the Huni Kuin.
WHAT ARE PARTICIPANTS LOOKING FOR AT OUR CEREMONIES? The participants who come to our rituals are usually looking to: • Explore their consciousness in search of self-awareness and a greater understanding of other realities that co-exist but that we rarely are able to access in our mundane reality – with the objective of bringing harmony and integral health into one’s life. • Identify and recognize traumas, limitations, as well as behavior patterns that are recurrent and addictive and that bring toxicity into our organism. Find solutions to all kinds of personal problems and put into place changes. • Improve their physical health. • Treat complex spiritual situations or questions (past lives, obsessions, constellations) • Bring vitality, enchantment, new perspectives and purpose to one’s life. • Experience healing at a collective level. • Access millennial wisdom found in native practices and in the energies inhabiting nature.
THE HEALING CEREMONIES AT FLOU The ceremonies are always conducted by native representatives of different traditions and permeated with their sacred chants and dances; this allow us to open channels with the spiritual fields and knowledge available in nature and the universe as a whole.
The Healing Ceremonies at FLOU Rescuing the ancestral culture, forest medicines and healing practices, contributes not only to celebrating cultural diversity, but is an opportunity to strengthen a spiritual path woven together with a culture of peace and a sustainable development paradigm.
Sustainability at Unicorn Forest Sustainability is not just a field of interest, but a space at the intersection of intuitive understanding, be it scientific, technological, or psychological, and begs sociocultural, political, economical, historical, anthropological consideration, as well as education and health. We trust that if we cultivate the coming together of knowledge allied to an ethical care for all life, this will help us effect the change we need to make in society.
Allying Sustainability and Spirituality Our economic, political and social structure has not been able to solve complex human and community problems. An innate lack of understanding of the interdependency of all life, has borne into us individualistic and materialistic behavior. As complex beings, we possess distinct experiences not only at a biological level, but also sociologically, psychologically, and spiritually. A complete lack of attention to our deepest dimensions has taken us towards systemic dis-ease.
Allying Sustainability and Spirituality FLOU Institute is founded on exercising spirituality that is socially and environmentally engaged. We believe that building towards a planetary citizenship happens through the creation of a universal code of ethics, based on the birth of a collective consciousness, and solidarity between individuals who are creative, free, open to knowing, to love and friendship, and deeply related to the biosphere and the mysteries of life.
Allying Sustainability and Spirituality This spirituality reveals itself concretely in our day-to-day activity, as a qualitative energy to our presence, and translates into actions of fraternity, sympathy, kindness, care and love. This feeling nourishes us with a sense of wholeness, light, peace, and gratitude.
Shamanic Medicine and Empowerment Plants The use of plants that expand the horizons of our consciousness has been part of the human experience for millennia. Meanwhile, contemporary western society only recently has realized the importance these plants have had in shaping the history of cultures all over the world.
Shamanic Medicine and Empowerment Plants The empowement plants (as they are commonly referred in Brazil) are of great importance, as they have been aiding in the discoveries of new treatments that have been at times more efficient and less invasive than what the traditional western medicine model has to offer. According to Richard Schultz, western psychiatry has not advanced as rapidly as other areas of medicine, in part for not having at its disposal the adequate tools to deal with such a a complex entity as the organ that is the brain. Psychoactive plants could help expand psychiatry’s comprehension of our inner workings.
Shamanic Medicine and Empowerment Plants Western science and medicine has received its legacy from the Scientific Revolution, which has lead us to put almost complete focus and to lend importance to rational thought and the material aspects of reality. Western medicine aims to treat only the physical and psychological dimensions of the patient, without the capacity of understanding systemically the manifestation of the disease. Many Eastern and worldwide native traditions work by treating the patient with the aid of sacred plants, taking into consideration the subtle energetic fields. The soul is an embraced aspect of the healing process and never divorced from the body.
Shamanic Medicine and Empowerment Plants These plants connect us to ancient sources of healing used by our ancestors, who understood disease as a lack of balance and harmony in the totality of the human being, which should always be in constant connection, dialogue and transformation within the web of life.
MYTHS AND AYAHUASCA: THE SPIRITUAL LANGUAGE OF IMAGES Shamans have the natural capacity to travel into the depths of the human condition, accessing the world of images, symbols and archetypes. The world of images is more profound and closer to translating spiritual knowledge and experience, than verbal language, which is limited by the aspects of duality and rationality. Not just by chance, this wisdom of the mysteries of life has survived millennia as transmitted through myths - stories which embrace the metaphorical universe.
MYTHS AND AYAHUASCA: THE SPIRITUAL LANGUAGE OF IMAGES According to Joseph Campbell, myths are clues to spiritual potential in human life. It isn’t enough to have only a rational, material understanding of life to transform crystalized unhealthy patterns in one’s life. To untie or loosen knots from the root cause, it is necessary to dive into more profound processes. This can be done with the help of empowerment plants, like ayahuasca, which communicate with us through the world of images and archetypes.
AYAHUASCA Is a millenial vegetable drink, resulted from the decoction of two plants endemic of the Amazon: the liana Mariri, Jagube, Pajézinho (Banisteriopsis Caapi) and the leaves of a bush from the coffee family, known as Chacrona, Rainha (Psichotria Viridis). Kaxinawá drawing by Zezinho Yawabane It is utilized as a sacred instrument to connect to the spiritual world by over 70 different ethnic native groups in Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, and the Peruvian Andes.
AYAHUASCA Referred to by many natives as the “vine of the soul”, “abuela” (grandmother), and “teacher plant”, the term most commonly used derives from Quéchua (Inca): Aya: soul. Huasca: rope or liana. The Kaxinawa referred to the plant as “Uni”.
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION Ayahuasca is composed of, among other substances, harmala alkaloids (harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine) from the Banisteriopsis Caapi, which functions as a weak serotonin reuptake inhibitor and a selective and reversible inhibitor of MAO(monoamine oxidase) an enzyme found in the digestive tract, liver and nervous system. This inhibition allows the DMT found in the leaves of the Psychotria Viridis to diffuse past the membranes in the stomach and small intestine unmetabolized to activate receptor sites in the brain. Both plants are responsible for a metabolic change similar to that achieved in profound meditative states, or during deep sleep. Its pharmacological action is linked to the production of endogenous substances released by our own organisms, and there have been no documented physical or neurological damages caused by the consumption of ayahuasca.
POSSIBLE PHYSICAL REACTIONS DURING THE CEREMONY Ayahuasca is a purging medicine. For a deeper cleansing to occur (physical, psychological, emotional or spiritual), the healing process may provoke nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or slight amplification of blood pressure and cardiac rhythm. Participants may also feel intense cold, or body tremors. Tremors and shaking are due to a re-awakening of the body's vital processes, as well as emotional and psychological discharges, necessary to allow the body to re-establish natural harmonic rhythms. These reactions are all indications of a purification process and help facilitate the journey of self-awareness. Studies conducted in the mid 80’s and again in the 90’s by CONFEN, now CONAD (National Anti-Drugs Council) indicate that the continuous ingestion of ayahuasca does not generate physical or psychological dependence/addiction, does not compromise the social behavior or productivity of individuals, nor harm their mental performance.
Impacts of Ayahuasca Ayahuasca works with energetic, physical, psychological and spiritual aspects of the human condition, inducing amplified states of consciousness, giving us access to the more subtle mechanisms at work in the universe. The majority of participants consider her a vehicle that facilitates a deep state of introspection, meditation, interior cleansing, and self-awareness, and in many cases a beautiful path to spiritual awakening.
USES OF AYAHUASCA Ayahuasca often takes us to parts of our memory linked to the interior life of the body (genetic and hereditary) as well as the exterior, or social life of the person and their connection to the world in the past, present, and future.
USES DA AYAHUASCA There has been an increased interest in the use of ayahuasca in the treatment of various chemical addictions to alcohol and drugs, physical diseases and other pathologies. Today, Brasil and other South American countries harbor venues working with addiction treatment, even in more complex cases as addiction to crack, cocaine, and methamphetamines. Scientists in various countries are broadening their research to include an enhanced understanding of the workings of ayahuasca and other entheogens (substances that help manifest our divine self) for the treatment of depression and psychological unbalance. In Brasil, ayahuasca is being studied and researched by neuroscientists at UNIFESP (Federal University of São Paulo). We have also seen an increased use of ayahuasca in therapeutic circles conducted by psychiatrists and psychologists.
BENEFITS OF THE HEALING CEREMONIES At the closing of the healing ceremonies at FLOU Institute, the participants frequently show states of vitality, renewal, serenity, lightness and bliss. Many feel they have opened energetic channels, eliminiating blockages and re-organizing the organism in an integral manner.
BENEFITS OF THE HEALING CEREMONIES Many comment on the overcoming of life problems and challenges, or a deeper comprehension of traumas and an enhanced resilience for problem solving. This happens often due to the increased capacity in “seeing” many different points of view and possible realities regarding any one situation, as well as through nourishing our empathic and compassionate states. The ceremony also brings clarity and courage to help people in severing connections to old patterns and facilitating a transition to new horizons/life patterns.
BENEFITS OF THE HEALING CEREMONIES Participants demonstrate greater sensitivity, presence, solidarity and healthy detachment (letting go of old habits), provided by experiences with sacredness, and a profound re-evaluation of life. This state of fulfillment tends to produce significant changes in the ways we perceive and act in the world.
PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE SPIRITUAL PATH Every spiritual path demands continuous effort, dedication and discipline as we are constantly challenged to evolve and develop. Working with ayahuasca is no different, and thus demands first and foremost our full engagement of intent, trust and preparation before we merit its profound teachings.
PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE SPIRITUAL PATH Once we have entered the ceremonial process, we expand our consciousness and broaden our capacity to see. We leave differently than when we entered and cannot go back to the original form. A clearer and expanded consciousness demands a much greater responsibility in the world, as well as a more coherent lifestyle based on an ethical code that cares for life as a whole. This often means leaving our comfort zone to redirect our path, so that we can enjoy greater health, happiness, freedom and purpose.
PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE SPIRITUAL PATH Ayahuasca can be a very effective and profound guide in healing, but will not resolve all of our ailments on her own, and will not substitute the share of work corresponding to each participant. In the western mindset we are accustomed to delegate our health issues to doctors and medication, the solutions to our economic problems and poverty to economists, and our spiritual ascension and healing to gurus. We often believe that we do not possess the strengths, or capacity to heal, act, and transform our reality. It is only when we empower ourselves and become active participants in the process of healing that we will be genuinely free and capable of making effective and long-lasting changes in our lives.
PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE SPIRITUAL PATH From our perspective, we must connect beyond the subtle levels of energy during the healing ceremony, and remember that part of the spiritual path (and perhaps one of its greatest teachings) is to establish coherence between what we believe, speak and act. The true spiritual path materializes itself through our behavior and habits, and in the quality and care we nourish in all our relations.
Ayahuasca in Brazilian Politics SENAD – The National Antidrug Administration is a branch of the Brazilian government that outlines national politics in reference to drugs. They define narcotic substances with the ends of penal pursuit and represent Brasil alongside the international community in regards to the prevention, traffic, consumption and repression of illicit drugs. After a series of multidisciplinary teams from this organization researched and tested ayahuasca at three different moments (starting in mid 80’s), the team drafted the decision to allow the religious use of ayahuasca in rituals through the presence of these elements: 1) re-expression of an ancestral religion of aboriginal origin practiced prior to the formation of our current judeo-christian culture; 2) a lack of abuse or harm to mental and physical health resulting from its religious use; 3) it contributes to the affirmation of a Brazilian cultural identity, especially that of the Amazon.
Online Resources •http://plantandoconsciencia.wordpress.com • http://www.xamanismo.com.br/Capa/WebHome • http://www.madreayahuasca.com • http://www.ayahuascawasi.com • http://www.ayahuasca-info.com/pt/introduction VIDEOS: FLOU Healing Ceremonies: http://youtu.be/rL5nZjS7QxU Ayahuasca in Bolivia: http://youtu.be/xMvKYNrbHUo Statement by Gilberto Gil: http://youtu.be/d7MXwSl8KhI Doc: Sacred Vine: http://youtu.be/N13cUTpc-kc Doc. DMT – The Spirit Molecule: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4FaDMak-TQ Doc. Time For Change: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fw8CP3Ply0M
Remember Ayahuasca is only one of many vehicles available for supporting the discovery of our inner consciousness. It is fundamental that prospective participants exercise due diligence in researching and reflecting on whether they are called to be involved in a ritual healing. FLOU is here to support you!
WWW.FLORESTADOSUNICORNIOS.COM.BR Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/florestados.unicornios
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