Amazon Dreaming: Journey out of mind was first performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2005. It is based on an initiation ceremony in the Amazon with 'ayahuasqueros', the jungle shamans, who use a sacred plant, 'ayahuasca' or 'the vine of the dead' to facilitate an encounter with the experience of personal death.
The archetypal encounter with death is a thread running through most rituals of initiation. As a visionary experience it involves a shift in consciousness which may be induced - as in the Amazon - by psychotropic plants, or by facing extreme danger, or simply by an unwavering awareness of the dreamtime. 'Amazon dreaming' uses this unwavering awareness to evoke a group dreamfield in which the vision of the self before birth and after death can be glimpsed by the everyday personality. The performance presents this mythic encounter as poetic meditation.
The journey is often experienced as a literal separation from the physical body and entry into a totally different realm of being. The shaman energetically guides the process, using healing rituals and songs or 'icaros' inspired by the plant spirits and invites guidance also from the invisible world.
'Amazon dreaming' is a contemporary interpretation of the ayahuasquero's art, part ritual part theatre, and in part the spontaneously arising facilitation of sacred space itself. The art of the shaman/actor/magician is to surf the unseen energy, carrying the audience out of the labyrinth of everyday mind, beyond the invisible walls of time, to glimpse another reality. Ultimately for both actor and audience this is an exploration of the limitations and the vast potential of the human mind.
The show interweaves original recordings of shamans in the amazon singing songs of plant magic with the hypnotic night sounds of the forest itself, to carry the mind effortlessly into another world. A cathedral of space grows out of an endless note: the lowest string of a Stradivarius cello, rich with centuries of playing, is stretched through time, activating with its endless spectrum of harmonics the vibrations of the human energy field.
All healing happens in infinity. The shaman addresses himself to levels of reality unperceived by the ordinary mind to realign energy patterns in the global matrix. Everyone else is waiting for eternity, and the shamans are saying, 'How about tonight? Tonight is a good night to step outside of time.'
- Alberto Villoldo: 'Shaman, Healer, Sage'
Special thanks to Francesco Sammartini for his recordings of 'Icaros', www.ayahuasca-shamanism.co.uk
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