Here are recommended books that will ravel and unravel what is known and unknown about ayahuasca in the English language.
Aya: A Shamanic Odyssey by Rak Razam.
An entertaining book, the result of an initial foray into the Amazon to cover the booming business of Ayahuasca tourism for Playboy Australia. The book helps answer the question, why do so many people from around the globe travel so far from their homes to experience ayahuasca in the Amazon? If you are planning on taking a trip to Peru and, specifically, the Iquitos area, this book–part travelogue–will blaze the trail trail about some of the experiences and characters you are bound to meet.
Singing to the Plants: A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon by Stephan V. Beyer
A scholarly account from someone, Stephan Beyer, who has spend much time in-field in the Amazon. If you are looking for a deep understanding of the Ayahuasca Shaman’s world, this book is the bridge that will serve to connect, as much as it is possible, indigenous traditions of the Amazon to the western mind. Provides context to the experiences you are sure to encounter on an ayahuasca journey. Comprehensive. Thick. Footnoted. If you had one homework assignment before heading to the Amazon to experience the ayahuasca brew, reading Singing to the Plants is it.
Ayhuasca in My Blood by Peter Gorman
Peter Gorman, a former High Times journalist among other things, has been involved with Ayahuasca for decades. It is an excellent companion to the book Aya: A Shamanic Odyssey because Peter recounts stories of the pre-Ayahuasca tourism boom that you currently encounter in the Amazon.
Don Agustin Rivas Vasquez lives a brief boat trip from Iquitos, Peru, in a town, or some would say village, called Tamshiyacu. If you’ve looked at the video page on this site, there are some shots of Don Agustin in the video about the Gringo Shaman of the Amaonzon, Ronald Wheelock. Don Agustin was Ron’s first teacher in the ways of ayahuasca. Before an accident which prevented him from working with his hands, Don Agustin gained fame as a sculptor who was well known in Peru and Europe; he had shows in Austria. Don Agustin created a musical instrument that he saw in an ayahuasca vision. Some ayahuasceros, around the Iquitos area, use this instrument in ceremony today. Anyhow, Don Agustin is a fascinating character and Amazon Magic is an engaging tale of how Don Agustin became a renown healer. As an aside: stay tuned on this site’s video page, we have over an hour of interviews with Don Agustin that will be edited and posted here shortly.
The Yage Letters by William S. Burroughs & Allen Ginsberg
The Yage Letters highlight the correspondence between Burroughs & Ginsberg–before they became Beatnik icons–as Burroughs saunters around South America seeking Yage, or ayahuasca. A quick read at 72 pages, but, due to ayahuasca’s latest popularity and the iconic figures writing in this book–The Yage Letters is now a collector’s item and can command some steep fees when you find it for sale online. Best bet: go searching through stacks at your nearest used bookstore or look for sellers on sites like Amazon.com selling less than perfect used copies at reasonable prices.
El Canto Del Tiempo/Ayahuasca Ikaros by Don Evangelino Murayay
Icaros, or as spelled here Ikaros, are songs sung during an ayahuasca ceremony. You can check the link out for a sample of the feel of icaros, you can do this without purchasing because on the amazon page linked to, you can play the beginning of all 12 icaros included on this .mp3 download; then again, if you want dive deeper, and, especially, if you are looking for songs that call the spirits–for your own ceremony, if and when, you prepare your ayahuasca on your own (NOT RECOMMENDED)–then is an excellent collection of icaros to utilize, immediate download to your computer. The CD can also be picked up here, ICAROS.
Ayahuasca Visions by Luis Eduardo Luna
Ayahuasca tends to inspire those with a creative bent. This book is filled with visuals inspired by, what else, the visions one encounters while participating in an ayahuasca ceremony. Moreover, the visions provide insight into the shamanic worldview.
Iboga: The Visionary Root of African Shamanism by Vincent Ravalec
Iboga, like ayahuasca, is a visionary plant with many reported healing properties that, it seems, ayahuasca also lays claim to; on the other hand, Iboga comes from the tropics of the African continent and has a tradition, culture and history far removed from ayahuasca. If you have experienced ayahuasca or are interested in a very different–yet in many ways similar–visionary plant, Iboga should be on your list for investigation. Iboga: The Visionary Root of African Shamanism serves as an excellent introduction to the traditional uses of this plant. Here is quick overview, from Warrior Poet, of the Ayahuasca vs. Ibogaine experience and difference, subjective, between the two master plants.