Dissertation Title:

Dreaming with the Forest: A Study on Ayahuasca and Indigenous Engagement with the Sacred


Lisa Diem Khanh Boinnard

Date, Time & Place:

April 28, 2024 at 1:00 pm


The focus of this study is to contribute to the Western understanding of ayahuasca, a plant medicine of the Amazonian Basin, by focusing on the oral teachings of a Peruvian vegetalista, an Indigenous medicine person. This study contextualizes ayahuasca as a cultural artifact that reflects and reproduces the cultural-historical context in which it appears, not as a timeless or constant Indigenous medicine and experience (Cushman, 1995). Within an Indigenous philosophical framework that prioritizes relationality, reciprocity, and respect, this research will be guided by a paradigm that is akin to hermeneutics and embodied phenomenology by applying storytelling as method. The study embraces the Indigenous tradition of storytelling to encode historic experiential happenings and recognizes storytelling as a legitimate research method (Abram, 1996/2017, Deloria, 1999; Duran & Firehammer, 2015; Meyer, 2014; Wilson, 2008). This work directly addresses psychology’s embrace of psychedelics – sacred medicines – without recognition of knowledges from Indigenous medicine peoples, and presents the possibility of a paradigm shift from the margins. Ayahuasca and other sacred medicines and their teachings have relevance beyond psychological trauma and symptoms and are pertinent to changing the tides of our current global crises towards sustainability and greater harmony.

  • Program/Track/Year: Clinical Psychology with Emphasis in Depth Psychology, A, 2016
  • Chair: Dr. Eduardo Duran 
  • Reader: Dr. Mary Watkins
  • External Reader: Dr. Joseph Stone
  • Keywords: Ayahuasca, Indigenous Oral Teachings, Oral Teachings, Psychedelics, Sacred medicines, Storytelling, Shamanism