Shipibo Maestro Estella Pangosa Sinacay, Peruvian Amazon. Photo by Tracey Eller / Cosmic Sister

CULTURAL PRESERVATION + EVOLUTION + EXCHANGE

“Cultural appropriation” is a sensitive issue that is partly about defending the rights of indigenous people, many of whom are impoverished and disenfranchised, while respectfully supporting them to champion the environment they depend on and steward. The Shipibo people, the indigenous Amazonian tribal people with whom I have the most experience, have held onto some of their art, language, and plant medicine traditions, thanks in part to the keen interest in ayahuasca journeying from the outside world. The Shipibo are from the Pucallpa region, but as interest in ayahuasca grew, many curanderas and curanderos, also called shamans, moved to the island city of Iquitos, in the Great Plains of the Amazon Basin, where most of the ayahuasca retreats have been built.

Amazonian tribal people survived the Spanish Inquisition and British colonization. During 150 years of conquest, the indigenous population went from around 9 million to 600,000. Today, the most devastating forces are powerful, corrupt extractive industries. Aggressive old-growth timber harvesting, cattle ranching, oil and gas extraction, and gold mining are contaminating rivers and soil, clear-cutting and burning for palm oil plantations is destroying the rainforest, and the people have been assaulted with a tsunami of pop-culture crap and processed consumer-packaged goods.

We support cultural preservation and cultural evolution through mutually respectful cultural exchange, which includes supporting he work of indigenous artists and medicine women. We are grateful to the talented indigenous Shipibo people who choose to share their wisdom with us and also appreciate reciprocal gifts of wisdom from our world. Ours is a beautiful, mutually beneficial, life-affirming friendship.

England Women’s Herbal Conference 30th Anniversary,
by Zoe Helene, August 2017
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Psymposia,
by Leia Friedman , May 2017
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Vice | Broadly,
by Gabby Bess, December 2016
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Coco Eco CULTURE,
by Zoe Helene, December 2015
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Reset.Me,
by Zoe Helene, September 2015
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Reset.Me,
by Zoe Helene, September 2015
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Endangered Species Coalition,
by Zoe Helene, September 2015
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Huffington Post STYLE, PULSE,
by Zoe Helene, February 2015
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Endangered Species Coalition, Conscious Living TV,
by Zoe Helene, September 2014
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Organic Spa Magazine, Conscious Living TV,
by Zoe Helene, September 2014
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Organic Spa Magazine STYLE,
by Zoe Helene, March 2014
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Organic Spa Magazine, Huffington Post,
by Zoe Helene, December 2013
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Huffington Post IMPACT,
by Zoe Helene, July 2013
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Organic Spa Magazine,
placed by Zoe Helene, October 2012
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Organic Spa Magazine STYLE,
by Zoe Helene, October 2012
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Huffington Post GREEN, Reality Sandwich,
by Zoe Helene, February 2012
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“The Plant Spirit Grant is a merit-based scholarship that helps outstanding women travel to the Peruvian Amazon to participate in authentic, traditional ayahuasca ceremonies with talented, trained, experienced indigenous healers (ayahuasceros, curanderas, shaman) who are keenly interested in sharing wisdom and bridging worlds.” - Zoe Helene

Shipibo Maestro Estella Pangosa Sinacay, Peruvian Amazon. Photo by Tracey Eller / Cosmic Sister