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1989 Ojai Foundation

Well, this a culmination of a dream of mine and sort of a departure of what you may be used to from
me. I think, inevitably, this weekend will be a little more personal, and maybe less cosmic, than some
have been because I sort of have to open my private life to you because what I'll be doing this weekend
is, basically, sharing a friend. Last year I was here with Riane Eisler but that was a marriage of
ideological convenience. Not that it wasn't sincere but we were drawn together, primarily, because our
ideas were in congruence. Nicole and I, on the other hand, were drawn together, primarily, because our
patterns of intoxication seemed to be in congruence.

We're going, this weekend to talk, inevitably, a lot about the Amazon, the crisis of conservation in the
warm tropics, vegetable medicine – Nicole is a world expert, she spent over 40 years in the Amazon
after a very complex and fertile time spent in the far East, before that. She's a story-teller, and
ethnographer, and a personality of great depth, warmth and uniqueness and it's a pleasure to appear
here with her. I first met Nicole in 1980 when I was part of an expedition to the Amazon that involved
Wade Davis, of The Serpent and the Rainbow fame, and my brother, Dennis and some other people
from the University of British Columbia. I had read Nicole's book: Witch Doctor's Apprentice. This
tells you something. This lady got in on it so early that shaman wasn't even a word, let alone a buzz-
word. The first edition of her book came out and I quickly discovered, in Iquitos, in 1980, that all roads
seemed to lead to Nicole. If you wanted something done, if you wanted to meet somebody, if you
wanted an obstacle cleared away with the Peruvian government or the University, Nicole was the
person to see. One of my weaknesses is for characters. And, I've collected them in all times and places.
My charm bracelet has such peculiar specimens as Ralph Abraham, Rupert Sheldrake, Nina Wise, Joan
Halifax, unique types. They threw the mold away before they made these people. And, Nicole fell into
that category. So, in line with that picture of our mutual love hell-raising, I have to tell you that we
stayed up much too late last night so we're mere shells that sit before you this evening. And some of
you, I understand, are mere shells. When I really feel like a mere shell, I feel like an old wasp's nest.
So, what I thought we would do this evening is – we want to meet each of you. Roy Tachman (?) is on
vacation this month so we have an intimate group. Otherwise we would have had a financially
successful group. So we trade one breakthrough for another.

What I would like to this evening, briefly, is go around the circle and just hear who you are and what
your interests are, and maybe a statement of your expectation or hope for the thing. Make it brief. One
cannot say often enough in these situations that lack of brevity is proof of psychosis. So, please bear
that in mind. 50 people are looking at you and wondering how balanced you are. This is an opportunity
to lead them astray. I'll slyly organize it so that we come around and then it will come to Nicole, last
before me. Then I will tie it all up if I can. So, why don't we do that just briefly? Before we start, let me
say: we will have 3 meetings tomorrow; 1 in the evening, the other 2 in the obvious slots and one
meeting on Sunday. All of these meetings will either be under the teaching tree, which is immediately
outside, or right here if the weather turns bad on us. Tomorrow night's meeting will be here. So, why
don't we just quickly go around the circle and introduce ourselves? Michael, why don't you start?

-Hi, I'm Michael. I spend my time living here at the Ojai Foundation and at Omega Institute in New
York. Terence's material and influences that he's been influenced by have been important to me as well.
I love science fiction and I love Tai Chi.

[they continue to introduce themselves]

The first thing I ought to say is: I never really thought too much about the out-of-the-ordinary
experiences we all have because they seem so natural. I've been with so many cultures now. I first went
to the Amazon region in 1948, as an expedition. That was not at all for the purpose of getting medicinal
plants, I wanted some excitement, I got it. The one thing about that was that I got hooked on the jungle.
It's the only thing I've every been really addicted to. I can't stay away too much; I get restless. It does
that to some people because it is an entity. It is not just a bunch of trees and rivers and mud and bugs.
To me and most of the people who live in it, it is a very definite personality and it has power. That is
why I have to keep going back. My first trip did it. I got into a tribe who'd never seen white skin before.
They didn't think much of it. They took my hand and then they said something and everybody broke up
just howling. I kept saying to my guide: “What'd they say Alfredo, what'd they say?” And Alfredo's
laughing he said “Ah, they couldn't say” they finally tried and tried (dried his hide?) and said, he says:
“that isn't white paint, it won't come off. She's really got skin like a fish and eyes fish felly's (?) and
she's hideous.” So there went my ideas of being the white queen of the jungle. After that, I learned that
these people were very different from I'd known in that you could really trust them anywhere.

I was with a group of Jivaros, they're the ones who cut off the heads of people that they kill in battle
and then shrink them. It's quite an easy matter. It's nothing particularly magical: they boil the head a
little bit then make a slit up the back and peel its skin off; delicate cutting around the cartilage and sow
it up again and fill it with hot rocks, smaller and smaller hot rocks, then finally sand and they sort of
model it and you get a nice shrunken head, called a tsansa. Well, some people suggested (???32:52) for
me. This was my first encounter with primitives except for, very briefly, in Laos – Indochina, as it was
then. They wanted everything I had, of course – safety pins were the greatest, the most popular. I had
forunitely, somehow gotten the idea of taking a lot of safety pins and, since women wear a dress that
goes a piece of cloth wrapped around a (???33:36) – rather sheik. And fastened here, usually, with a
thorn. Safety pins, combining the elegance of jewelry, with modern technology, were a great success.
They also rather sometimes wanted clothe, they weren't so sure, I'd taken a lot of gaudy stuff in. But,
mostly wear brown, stuff they weave out of native cotton – cotton grows all over the place – and then
dye brown and make into their clothes. But, I could leave everything I owned spread out – because
you're always getting wet in the jungle, getting rained on, I was on a raft for that one because we'd gone
through some rapids you can't take a canoe through. Everything, out to dry, I could go away all day and
they wouldn't touch a thing. They're very very honorable. In fact, honor is all they've got, you see
because they had any possessions in a short time would get mildewed or they'd get eaten by bugs or
just plain rot. So, you can't be anybody important by owning things, you had to be it – you had to be the
best hunter or the best warrior or whatever. It works out rather well, until our people come along and
teach them lots of other things.

But, that was the first trip and I learned to respect and admire these people very much, I had to keep
going back. I had been hearing about medicinal plants all the time I'd been in South America – which
by then was 3 years – that the Indians had wonderful remedies and I didn't believe a word of it! I'd had
a year and a half of medical school and these savages couldn't know anything that my professors didn't
know. That's what I thought. It took me 3 years – I seem to be a slow learner– before I could accept that
they did have some remarkable things, and only then because I fell on my machete and got a big gash
in this arm. I have a slight tendency to be a bleeder. I was out in the bush, not that far from the house,
and put on a tourniquet of a vine and came back. The interpreter, who was the administrator that this
was a property owned by the widow of a Peruvian, who happened to be a gal from Brooklyn. It was
way out in nowhere. The record for getting there by canoe, was 5 days. The borders of the property, one
range of mountains and a river over here. But, here I was bleeding all over the place and they brought
out a bottle with some tree sap in it and put some on but of course when you're bleeding like that
nothing will take, it doesn't stay there. So they said, “you have to drink some of this.” Well, I didn't
want to be rude so I drank it. It was the most, horrible, acrid taste, it made your mouth pucker. In about
3 to 4 minutes, the bleeding had quite stopped. And that was kind of interesting. So, I thought I had
plenty of penicilin, I didn't have to worry about infection. So, they told me putting this stuff on it would
stop any infection. I thought I'd see. I put a few pieces of adhesive across it, holding it together but I
could see in between because it'd got quite dry. There was never an infection. There was practically no
infammation. In the morning there was a neat scab, a very narrow one. It healed in a little less than half
the normal time, leaving only a very slight scar. So then, I had to do a little rethinking beside my nice
arrogant position of our superiority in medicine could do a little reviewing. And, from then on, I went
after medicinal plants and I found they had so much. And their psychedelics are just as important. As a
matter of fact, I think they are rather more than is generally realized, even tobacco. Chewing tobacco
and swallowing it, is very hard on the stomach but you will hallucinate. I don't recommend it though
because there are far pleasanter ways. And, they use those hallucinations so very routinely. I didn't
know what to do for my son, he was so sick, so I took ayahuasca – I mean sometimes they leave just
one person alone in the jungle – and I took any one of a dozen. And I saw XXX attack my son, that, or
something like that, is what happened to him. It is so much a part of the life that you stop thinking of
those things or the medicines as particularly remarkable. There you use them as you would use soap or
any ordinary thing but with greater respect.

It is a very definite need that is manifested to respect the things you use; especially the psychedelics. I
remember the first time I took home a piece of ayahuasca to plant in my garden, the shaman who gave
it to me – he was a very nice friend of mine who lived quite near Iquitos in Picuru Yacu, you've been up
there, haven't you? It's a little village mostly of mestizos who, being – well, most of them aren't too far
from being a tribe themselves – nouveau civilizé is very much like nouveau riche, they had a great
contempt for the poor and the poor in what we consider culture. So, the Indians there, they're about 8 of
them; Yaguas, Witoto and Bora mostly. They stuck together and they took their things to the market and
all that. And, I didn't realize when I first got aquanted with them that 3 of them were shamans. I didn't
know that until one day one of them came to my house. It was Venancio , who was quite old and blind.
It was very hard from him to get around. He had to cross a river and then get on a bus or walk from
Buena Vista, about 3 or 4 miles. He had a little boy guiding him and it was raining. So, I realized this
was not just a dropping-in to see a friend. And he sat down and he said, “you have to save me.” I said,
“what do you mean? What can I do?” He said, “they will arrest me for murder.” I said, “who did you
kill?” He said, “I haven't killed anybody, it's Belisario. You know I'm a witch.” I hadn't known it. He
said, “Belisario's a witch, too. And, he's off a trip somewhere.” He'd gone up the Tamshiyacu River and
Belisario had died. He'd gotten sick and died while he was there. And he said, “I know that they will
say that I put a spell on him and I sent a spirit dart at him and the police will come and get me and
arrest me for murder.” It was that matter-of-fact. So, I said, “oh, no they won't.” And, finally I had to
say “alright, I'll speak the general about it and I'll tell him you didn't do anything.” And then he was at
ease. But, it's that much a part of the ordinary texture of everyday life in a great part of the population
there. So, you get a little used to it and you sort of accept it as: “well, that's part of life.” I think it
would do us all rather a lot of good to consider the possibilities. What do you think?

[44 minutes]
Terence: Sounds good, Nicole. But, I'm not going to let you off the hook so easily – I want to bring a
little bit of this out: your name is really associated, in the public mind, with the contraceptives that are
very much a woman's secret.

Nicole: I remember someone told me that if I kept this up, I'd be called “Contraceptive Connie”

Terence: Contraceptive Connie [laughter]


Nicole: Not a title I [end of side A]

Madame Thelveeta replaced her tea cup upon its saucer with a sharp click. She turned then to Vicky
and took her ungloved hands in hers.

"Dear Vicky" spake she, "It is time that we spoke more frankly than perhaps we have ever dared."

She paused and cleared her throat, glancing for the strength to continue at the animatronic vagina
heaving slightly in the decor.

"I had thought it best to speak to you of these things myself. Rather than let it fall to the rough ways of
the world to inform you. For in fact Vicky, the ways of men and woman can never be the same since
the coming of the web. It entangles and invites us in the same unspeakable way that the untamed mind
beguiles and entices us."

She paused and composed herself, gazing into the middle distance.

"As you know the Telecommunications Decency Act of 1996, recently passed by the craven halfwits in
the American Congress, makes the mere mention of life's tenderer mysteries, let alone one's more
tender body parts, a crime. Yes, dear Vicky, braying neo-Fascist religious squirrels, on a crusade to save
us from ouselves, have sought to destroy freedom on the Internet and the First amendment right of free
speech all in one kamakazi orgy of Neantherthal recidivism."

Victoria's young eyes widened as she appreciated the import of her mentors words.