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Sending out Your Soul: An Entheogenic Forum Community Explored through Language

Sending out Your Soul: An Entheogenic Forum Community Explored through Language

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Published by Erin Miller Frias
A language analysis of a forum community centered on an entheogenic medicine called ayahuasca.
A language analysis of a forum community centered on an entheogenic medicine called ayahuasca.

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Published by: Erin Miller Frias on Mar 28, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/04/2013

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 University of Nevada, Reno
Sending out Your Soul:An Entheogenic Forum Community Explored through Language
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of:Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and the University of Nevada Honors Program
By: Erin E. FriasDr. Marybeth Eleanor Nevins, Thesis Advisor Dr. Louis Forline, Thesis Advisor May 2011
 
 
 
U
niversity of Nevada, RenoThe Honors Program
We recommend that the thesisprepared under our supervision by
Erin E. Frias
Entitled
Sending out Your Soul:An entheogenic forum community explored through language
Be accepted in partial fulfillment of therequirements for the degree of BACHELOR OF ARTS, ANTHROPOLOGY
X
M. Eleanor Nevins Ph.D.Thesis Advisor
 
X
L
ouis Forline Ph.D.Thesis Advisor
 
X
Tamara Valentine Ph.D.Director, Honors Program
 
 
i
Abstract
The purpose of this thesis is to examine the discourse of an online forum community centered onan entheogenic medicine called ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is an indigenous brew made out of twohallucinogenic plants used by shaman of the upper Amazon regions of South America to sendtheir souls to the supernatural world. The purpose of taking ayahuasca is to receive guidance andknowledge from ancestral and plant spirits in order to heal mental and physical illnesses.Globalization and the World Wide Web have contributed to the spread of ayahuasca tomainstream society where spiritual discourse and alternative medicinal practices are re-contextualized to fit within the domain of contemporary ayahuasca use. I will analyze three waysthe ayahuasca.com forum community has re-contextualized ayahuasca through language. Thefirst discursive strategy is the use of alternative words in place of common words used bymainstream society to characterize psychedelic drugs and the people who use them. Theformation of the forum register creates a new meaning for ayahuasca and the experience thatdisassociates them from the discourse associated with recreational drug users; secondly, the useof spiritual discourse, which further separates the forum members from recreational drug users,in order to build a foundation that justifies their use of an illegal substance under the auspices of freedom of religion in the United States; thirdly, the discourse surrounding modern ailments,modern medicine and motivations for participating in an alternative form of healing areunderstood as the growing disenchantment of Western medicinal practices like long term drugtreatments that focus on symptoms rather than internal or psychological causes.
Keywords:
ayahuasca, alternative medicine, virtual community

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