The International Journal of Ecopsychology (IJE)

Article Title

A Yaqui Perspective on Plastic Shamanism


Across the southwestern US-Mexico border, from Tijuana to Mexicali, a plethora of businesses and persons offer consultations which fall into the categories of “healing,” “therapy,” or “herbal therapy,” that combine services such as dispensing tinctures and other plant materials, personal advice, spiritual guidance, and, rarely, trips into the desert for “peyote ceremonies.” The author is a descendant of Yaqui (Hiaki) people and has been exposed to the syncretic ministrations (Yaqui native and Catholic) of his extended family since birth. Within this multicultural context, the author has witnessed the commercial exploitation of the above-mentioned practices in order to satisfy a mostly white American desire to connect with some form of authentic indigenous wisdom. It is his view that commercialization of Yaqui “indigenous wisdom” has cheapened once private and meaningful rituals into the vulgar forms referred to as “plastic shamanism” to the point where neither its practitioners nor their “customers” are able to distinguish between once ontologically distinct categories.