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Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Volume 41, Number 2, June 2009

“Changes in Spirituality Among Ayahuasca Ceremony Novice Participants”
Stephen Trichter, Psy.D.; Jon Klimo, Ph.D. & Stanley Krippner, Ph.D.

Abstract

Ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic plant brew from the Amazon basin used as
part of healing ceremonies by the local indigenous people of the
region for centuries, is now being consumed by growing numbers of
people throughout the world. Anecdotal evidence and previous research
suggest that there are spiritual effects experienced among
participants who take part in ayahuasca ceremonies. The current study
examined whether novice participants spirituality was affected through
participation in an ayahuasca ceremony, and if so, how. A mixed-design
method was used, comparing those participating in an ayahuasca
ceremony to those who did not participate. This investigation used the
Peak Experience Profile, the Spiritual Well-being Scale, and the
Mysticism Scale as quantitative measures. Participant interviews and
written accounts of ceremony experiences were analyzed. Results showed
that neither the SWB score nor the M-Scale score increased
significantly after participating in an ayahuasca ceremony. However,
it was found that the higher the PEP score, the greater the positive
change in SWB and M-Scale scores. Qualitative data revealed common
spiritual themes in many of the participants interviews and written
accounts. Experiential differences were displayed within the ayahuasca
ceremony group, warranting continued investigation into, and
identification of, various confounding variables that prompt reported
changes in spirituality within some participants while not in others.

Keywords: ayahuasca, entheogen, mysticism, spirituality

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