Rio Branco, the capital of the state of Acre in Brazil, is set to host the up-and-coming 2016 World Ayahuasca Conference, which will be held at the University of Rio Branco from October 17 to 22, 2016, two years after the first conference occurred in Ibiza, Spain. This event will bring together more than 100 speakers from around the world, including experts and pioneers in everything from ethnobotany and anthropology to human rights and law.
The Aya Conference website expresses the importance of the setting: “This special location will offer people attending the event the opportunity to experience one of the world’s ayahuasca epicenters—an ideal place to honor the diversity of ayahuasca culture and practices. With the rapid globalization of ayahuasca use, dialogue about cultural recognition and the protection of traditional practices worldwide is now more important than ever.”
The conference has been organized by a non-governmental organization ICEERS, the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research, and Service and is supported by institutions, such as the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), that are well known within the psychedelic research community. As ayahuasaca use grows, the conference aims to create a platform for ayahuasca movement leaders to engage in dialogue that positively effects how the world tolerates, perceives, and utilizes this powerful medicine.
Ayahuasca is a visionary medicine that has seen thousands of years of safe use among tribes of the Amazon, where it continues to serve a fundamental cultural and religious function. In Western cultures, the brew has experienced a mixed reception. Research has demonstrated ayahuasca’s potential to treat an array of mental disorders such as depression and PTSD.
The conference will include Western and indigenous experts from all over the world, including ethnobotanists, human rights activists, medical practitioners, anthropologists, psychologists, legal professionals, shamans, and healers. There will be academic panels on biomedicine, psychology, public health, and social sciences as well as community-oriented presentations on ayahuasca safety, medicine use outside of the Amazon, religious freedom, ceremony, and more.
ICEERS founder and Executive Director Ben De Leonen stated, “The goal of the conference is to add momentum to the struggle for the recognition of ayahuasca and its ritual practices as a cultural heritage to be protected, not exploited, and more specifically, to honor traditional cultures and the tremendous legacy they have contributed to humanity. As more and more people from around the world participate in ayahuasca ceremonies for healing, self-exploration, and personal development, it is necessary to address the challenges that arise.”
Tackling every aspect of the cultural, medicinal, legal, and economic fronts of the brew’s use and impact on the planetary community, the second World Ayahuasca Conference is set to be a groundbreaking and progressive ayahuasca event.
Besides attending the conference, participants may want to take hot air balloon trips over the majestic forests and rivers of the Amazon, where ayahuasca use was born, or stay for the Yawa Festival, a celebration of indigenous peoples of the Yawanawa Jungle. Set for October 25 to 30, the festival will feature mariri dancing, song sharing, storytelling, and Uni and Hume (liana and snuff/tobacco) rituals with Yawanawa shamans. For more information click here.