Inca psyche and ethnobotany: Modulation of the mind by plants among the Incas

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Inca psyche and ethnobotany: Modulation of the mind by plants among the Incas

Inca psyche and ethnobotany: Modulation of the mind by plants among the Incas by Jan Elferink
English | 21 Apr 2016 | ASIN: B01ENC94JS | 430 Pages | AZW3 | 552.45 KB

Through the ages, people have tried to control their mind or that of others. That also applies to the Incas who represented the dominant culture in South America at the time of the conquest. This book deals with the use of plants among the Incas for changing the mind to fulfill several purposes. These purposes were the improvement of one’s mental condition, the use of alcoholic beverages for social or religious purposes, the application of coca in Inca religion and the consumption of hallucinogens for magic-religious purposes such as divination. The use of plants is embedded in an overview of that part of Inca culture that was associated with these applications. The book starts with a few general chapters with the scope, the sources (mainly Spanish chroniclers or Indians who had learned Spanish after the conquest) and a few general aspects of Inca society such as the importance of plants for the Incas. The Incas believed that some psychoactive plants, such as coca and hallucinogens, could be used to get contact with supernatural forces to get things done which could not be performed by other ways. Divination, which played a highly important role in Inca society, is an example where the diviner used hallucinogens to get information from supernatural forces. For that reason, a separated section is dedicated to Inca divination. The Incas were deeply interested in spiritual matters and the powers of the human mind. They were convinced that these powers could be modulated by certain plants and in their view plants played a major role in their cosmos where all objects could possess spiritual power. The close association between plants, magic and religion among the Incas is clearly illustrated by the use of the huacanqui amulet in love affairs, and of sanco made from maize as a communion and a spiritual medicine. The spiritual power of plants could be applied to heal mental diseases, often in combination with magic-religious ceremonies. Psychoactive substances as the alcoholic beverage chicha and coca were widely used for social contacts but especially in religion. The review and discussion of these subjects makes the book of interest for people who are interested in mental diseases and their treatment, for people who are interested in the use of mind-altering plants (ethnobotany) and the use of psychoactive beverages among the pre-Columbian civilizations.