SpiritQuest is an educational program designed to introduce
people to the spiritual experiences of Peruvian shamans
and curanderos (healers) who live in the upper Amazonian area
of Peru near the city of Iquitos. A defining part of the SpiritQuest
experience is the opportunity to work with shamans who
use the consciousness expanding substances in ayahausca, an
hallucinogenic substance made from the vine of the plant Banisteriopsis
Caapi, which is boiled in water along with various
other plants. These plants contain different substances identified
as psychedelic drugs.
The SpiritQuest program was put together by a brother
sister team, Howard E. Lawler and Sanchi Reta Lawler. Howard
is a former museum curator trained in biology. Reta is a transpersonal
psychologist and student of Zen. Both have many
years of association which shamans in both South America and
Asia. The pair also heads El Tigre Journeys, a tourist company
that facilitates travel to Peru and arranges for small groups to
enter into the culture, meet the indigenous religious leaders,
and see the sights in a way that is sensitive to the ecology of the
region. Founded in 1997, El Tigre has been designed to help
enhance and restore the natural resources of eastern Peru
through various programs financially supported by tourism.
Howard Lawler also heads a nonprofit organization, the International
BioPark Foundation, as an environmental organization
dedicated to preserving the natural world and promoting
an understanding of humanity’s interdependent relationship
with the natural order. The foundation is working with El Tigre
on a number of projects including the development of a living
Museum of Western Amazonia along the banks of the Río
Momón outside Iquitos.
The SpiritQuest program is focused upon small groups
(limited to eight people) who travel to Peru to participate in
shamanic workshop retreats. The participants have in the
Lawlers experienced guides, but are assured of experiencing
shamanic initiations, including ceremonies with ayahuasca,
much as they have been performed prior to the arrival of Europeans
in the area. The Lawlers facilitate the preparation for the
journey and are present to assist people through the cleansing,
cathartic, and spiritually expansive moments that may go
through, some of which may be temporarily uncomfortable.
SpiritQuest (and the associated organization may be contacted
through the Lawlers offices Reta Lawler, P.O. Box 1704,
Boulder, CO 80306-1704 and Howard Lawler, Calle Loreto
#337, Iqiuitos, Peru. They may also be contacted through the
International BioPark Foundation website at http
www.biopark.org, which has subpages for both SpiritQuest and
El Tigre Journeys.
International BioPark Foundation. httpwww.biopark.org.
June 11, 2000.