Learn how ayahuasca shamanism is transforming in today’s globalizing world. Gain wisdom for how to responsibly engage in cross-cultural healing retreats in the Amazon rainforest.


Taught by renowned anthropologist Daniela Peluso, Ph.D, this course bridges profound levels of understanding between Amazonian shamanism and realities of economics and sexuality in ayahuasca tourism. 

In this short yet powerful course, you’ll learn about:

  • Indigenous Amazonian shamanic realities and spiritual ontologies
  • Ayahuasca economies, including indigenous systems of reciprocity and global systems of market capitalism.
  • International tourism and its impact on indigenous communities in the Amazon
  • Gender and sexuality in shamanism and the occurrence of shaman-participant seduction within ayahuasca tourist retreats.




“This is a timely course on both Amazonian shamanism and ayahuasca, documenting the historical changes and offering an analysis of the misunderstandings regarding gender relations between indigenous shamans and the non-indigenous participants in ayahuasca tourism.” 


Jean Langdon, Ph.D, Author of the book: Portals of Power: Shamanism in South America



Drawing upon 30 years of working with indigenous communities in the Amazon jungle, Daniela Peluso offers us important insights about the changing world of Amazonian shamanism. She begins her course by teaching us how indigenous people were severely misunderstood and misrepresented by Western society in the past.

Shamanism among cultures in the Amazon is based on complex understandings that are radically different to Western conceptions of minds, bodies and spirituality. Dr. Peluso teaches us about the nature of these shamanic realities, including the role of human and nonhuman shapeshifting for healing.

The second part of the short course illuminates the intersection of different ayahuasca economies and tourism in the changing landscape of ayahuasca shamanism. 

The course then teaches us important knowledge about the role of gender and sexuality within types of Amazonian cosmology and shamanism. This sets the foundation for an overview of the controversial topic of shaman-participant seduction in ayahuasca retreats. 

By undertaking a critical and balanced approach to the topic of ayahuasca tourism, Dr. Peluso presents essential reflections about the ethics and responsibilities of everyone involved in the global expansion of ayahuasca shamanism. 

Course curriculum

  • 01
    Introduction
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    • Teacher and Course Introduction (1:22)
  • 02
    Ayahuasca and Indigenous Peoples
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    • Classic and Contemporary views of Amazonia (4:37)
    • Shamanism Among Indigenous Amazonian peoples (9:29)
    • Ayahuasca and Amazonians (1:41)
    • Case Study: The Ese Eja (9:56)
    • Indigenous Ontologies: Predator, Prey and Ally Perspectives (9:32)
    • Multiple Realities and Becoming Human (10:01)
  • 03
    Ayahuasca Entrepreneurism
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    • Colonial Histories and Contemporary Perceptions (9:02)
    • Different Ayahuasca Economies (10:19)
    • Foundations of Ayahuasca Tourism in Madre de Dios and in General (7:28)
    • Ayahuasca Tourism and The Environmental Service Economy (10:28)
    • Ayahuasca Cosmopolitanism (8:50)
    • Non-local NGOs and Discriminatory Authority (4:55)
    • The Ambivalence of Ayahuasca Cosmo-Capitalism (9:11)
  • 04
    The Increased Occurrence of Shaman-Participant Seduction in Ayahuasca Ceremonies
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    • Ayahuasca International Tourism (10:31)
    • Sex, Seduction and Gendered Power Relations (13:33)
    • Shaman Participant Seduction (11:01)

Daniela Peluso

Meet Your Instructor

Daniela Peluso is a socio-cultural anthropologist who has been working in Lowland South America since the 1980s. She has researched various types of indigenous ayahuasca use and Amazonian shamanism in local and international contexts. She has worked closely with community initiatives and native federations in the Bolivian and Peruvian Amazon. Her research interests include health, gender, indigenous urbanization and land rights as well as entrepreneurial organizations and ventures. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in social anthropology at the University of Kent.
Daniela Peluso

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