For the last five decades, Don Howard Lawler has been practising shamanism, using his deep knowledge of plant medicines such as Ayahuasca and Huachuma (San Pedro) to heal people's depression, addictions, and to help reconnect them with their purpose and the world around them.
Jon's met Don Howard before. Eighteen months ago, he went to SpiritQuest Sanctuary, the shamanic healing centre Don Howard set up in the Peruvian Amazon, and drank Ayahuasca for the first time. The medicine turned his life upside down, but Don Howard was always there to guide the often immensely challenging process with wisdom and deep compassion.
As regular listeners know, Jon headed back to SpiritQuest for the second time to learn more, and this time he took a microphone with him.
Few people know more than Don Howard about the history, power and practices of plant medicines. With a background in biology and natural sciences, he forms a bridge between the worlds of shamanism and western science, although he's committed to 'shamanising the west', rather than 'westernising shamanism'. Whatever your perspective on psychoactive plants, there's plenty to get your teeth into in this episode.
Don Howard also shares his own personal, emotional journey to the plant medicines, from rural Kentucky to the Amazon Rainforest; seeking out Ayahuasca to heal a period of intense depression; and his mission to reconnect us with the rituals and practices – the technology – of our ancestors, whose knowledge of the plants far outstripped our own.
At Voices in the Dark, we're 'Learning How to Human'. Or, in Don Howard's words, 'In order to serve, first you have to become fit for service'.
What We Get Into: Ayahuasca, Peyote, Huachuma (San Pedro), and Vilca: What are they, and how to use them responsibly Why we must heal ourselves before we can help others Drugs vs. Medicines The roots of the depression 'epidemic' in the West 'Ayahuasca Tourism' How to use psychoactive substances for spiritual growth and creativity Integrating psychedelic experiences: where the real work begins Learn More: SpiritQuest Sanctuary's website Jon's personal Ayahuasca vlog series Jon's article on Ayahuasca and what he wished he'd known before drinking it the first time Aubrey Marcus's beautiful and inspiring documentary on Ayahuasca, filmed at SpiritQuest (free to stream) Be Silly. Be Kind. Be Weird.