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A Thread in The Vine: The Deep Ecology of Contemporaray Ayahuasca Discourse

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This thesis uses the philosophy of deep ecology as a theoretical framework to explore ecospiritual themes as a key feature of increasing discourse around the ayahuasca phenomenon. The broad objective of the research is to use contemporary ayahuasca discourse to reveal the way cross-cultural seekers engage with and discuss shamanic practices that inform a postmodern ecosophical ontology and deep ecological praxis. Three convergent discourses inform this research; the transcultural ayahuasca phenomenon, nature-based spiritualities of the New Age and the philosophy of deep ecology. Threading through these discourses are ecological and spiritual themes that capture a web of meanings for contextualising the transcultural emergence of ayahuasca
spirituality. A key paradigmatic shift suggested by contemporary ayahuasca discourse is a shift in human consciousness toward a non-dualistic ontology regarding humanity’s place in nature. An ecocultural studies approach provides theoretical support for interpreting how the elements of this paradigmatic shift are discussed, understood and practiced. As the internet functions as a superlative site for discursive formations of ayahuasca, a thematic content analysis of selected discussion forums within the website was conducted using a multiparadigmatic, deductive and inductive approach. Naess and Sessions’ (1984) eight platform principles of deep ecology were used as a framework to deductively locate textual articulations of the philosophy. Further inductive analysis revealed not only embedded deep ecological themes but also articulations of an ecocentric praxis arising from experiences of unitary consciousness and plant sentience. The deep ecology articulated in contemporary ayahuasca discourse further raised an explicit challenge to hegemonic anthropocentricism through expressions of an expanded sense of self that accentuates the countercultural bearings of entheogenic informed ecospirituality.

Baker, J., & Coco, D. A. A Thread in the Vine: The Deep Ecology of Contemporary Ayahuasca Discourse.

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