Plant use and shamanic dietas in contemporary Ayahuasca shamanism in Peru.
Ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic plant mixture used in a ceremonial context throughout Western Amazonia and its use has expanded globally in recent decades. As part of this expansion, ayahuasca has become popular among Westerners who travel to the Peruvian Amazon in increasing numbers to experience its reportedly healing and transformative effects. In and around Iquitos, Peru, shamanism is reinvented as local shamanic practices converge with Western ideas of spirituality and healing and create a hybrid and highly dynamic practice, which I call shamanic tourism. I use this term because the experience often involves the participation to a shamanic dieta, which involves fasting and the ingestion of non-hallucinogenic plants. In addition, it is a common practice in this context to use a variety of plants for bodily and energetic cleansing in the form of purges and ritual baths. Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork in and around the area of Iquitos, Peru, the epicenter of shamanic tourism, this paper will focus on some of the plants that curanderos and ayahuasqueros use in the area alongside ayahuasca and the ways these are perceived by healers and participants. I will show that the use of plants in this manner is intricately connected with Amazonian conceptions of the body.