“The first time an Ashaninca man told me that he had learned the medicinal properties of plants by drinking a hallucinogenic brew, I thought he was joking. …But he was not smiling.”
The Cosmic Serpent is a fascinating exploration of the links between DNA and molecular biology by anthropologist Jeremy Narby. While doing fieldwork in the Amazon Pichis Valley, the Quirishari told him that their incredible knowledge of plants and biochemistry was given to them by the plants while under the influence of ayahuasca. Narby was sceptical at first, but then became increasingly drawn into a quest to understand how this was possible. The book recounts this quest as a compelling investigation that pushes him to the limits of rationality and forces him to question his scientific training.