In an unprecedented crackdown, the Spanish police have dismantled a neo-shamanic group responsible for distributing ayahuasca, a psychedelic brew, across various countries, including Malta. In this operation, the authorities arrested 18 individuals on suspicion of being involved in a network selling psychoactive substances such as ayahuasca, mescaline, and toad venom.
The distribution of ayahuasca, made from specific Amazonian vines and roots, gained global attention when it was reported that the brew had found its way into Malta. One Maltese man who attended a three-day spiritual retreat led by a Peruvian shaman confessed to spending €450 on the experience. It is worth noting that traditional shamans have long used ayahuasca, and even some modern neo-shamans are seeking “improvements in physical and mental health.” However, the use of such substances raises legal and ethical concerns throughout Europe.
After discovering advertisements promoting neo-shamanic rituals that promised better physical and mental well-being through ingesting psychoactive substances, Spanish authorities launched an extensive investigation. The probe led them to the group’s headquarters deep within the Colombian jungle, where they discovered resources and materials necessary to produce products like their ayahuasca mixture.
As part of the crackdown, 15 arrests were made in Madrid, while a raid in one of the houses revealed bags of pills, money, and other evidence. According to reports, the police confiscated over 60kg of ayahuasca, 1kg of mescaline, and €24,000 in various currencies.
What’s alarming about this particular network is the level of sophistication and professionalism it portrayed. The consumption of ayahuasca was often supervised by a medical doctor working for the organization alongside his partner, who posed as a medical graduate. Both individuals have been arrested since.
The appearance of professional supervision in such neo-shamanic gatherings raises far-reaching concerns about people willingly exposing themselves to dangerous psychedelic substances with potentially severe physical and psychological consequences. This case further highlights the need for increased vigilance and comprehensive regulation when dealing with such activities.
Neo-shamanism emerged as a modern spiritual movement emphasizing the individual’s direct connection with nature, spirits, and their ancestors. Practitioners usually seek guidance from traditional indigenous shamanic practices; however, they also incorporate aspects of psychology, ecology, and alternative health care.
For many neo-shamans, ingesting strong hallucinogenic drugs, like those containing ayahuasca or other powerful entheogens, can facilitate communication with the spirit world, leading to deep revelations and personal growth. While the use of such psychoactive substances has attracted many seekers on spiritual quests, ingesting them without proper guidance, context, and awareness can cause severe physical and mental harm.
In Europe, the legality surrounding the possession and use of ayahuasca varies greatly, with some countries allowing its religious use while others ban it outright. Authorities and lawmakers must evaluate current regulations and establish clear frameworks to curb illicit drug activities like the recently dismantled neo-shamanic network in Spain.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to dealing with the complex issues arising from neo-shamanism, particularly when it comes to activities involving ayahuasca and other potent psychoactive substances. However, a calculated approach incorporating education, awareness, investigation, and enforcement will be crucial in ensuring public safety and preventing illegal drug networks from operating under the guise of spirituality.
This police crackdown on the international neo-shamanic ayahuasca network sheds light on the darker side of the spiritual realm, where individuals searching for profound experiences are exposed to potentially dangerous substances. It underscores the need for increased vigilance, awareness, and regulation of these practices that often blur the line between spirituality and illicit substance abuse. Ultimately, it is up to society – governments, practitioners, and seekers – to navigate through this complicated landscape while prioritizing mental health and well-being.