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In this week's epic issue of Banter M

Journey Back to the Amazon - Ben Cohen writes about the complex emotions he is feeling before his upcoming trip to the Amazon in Peru to take part in 3 Huachuma ceremonies, a sacred plant medicine known for its extreme effects on human consciousness. 

Don't Get Happy - In 2004, Bob Cesca was on top of the world. He had a successful cartoon show on VH1 and the promise of a new season. However, he got complacent and it all disappeared leaving him to rebuild his career from scratch. In a stark warning to Democrats, Bob reminds them that getting happy about their prospects in 2016 could lead to a similar disaster. 

My Biological Clock is Ticking and I am Scared - At 36, New York City resident Jamie Frevele wants to have a baby, but is having the biggest problems finding someone to have one with.

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Excerpt from Ben's piece:

A Shaman prepares the Huachuma cactus

A Shaman prepares the Huachuma cactus

Early next week, I am heading back to the Amazon in Peru to take part in the second of my plant medicine journeys. Last year, I traveled to the jungle city of Pucallpa to take part in 4 Ayahuasca ceremonies over the space of 10 days -- a life altering experience I am still trying to come to terms with. This year, I am going back to do Huachuma (more commonly known as San Pedro) -- a sacred cactus medicine from the Andes that has profound effects on human consciousness, and will take part in 3 ceremonies over 7 days.

To the uninitiated, this sounds New Agey and potentially dangerous -- a fad that lost souls unable to cope with Western life turn to in desperate need of "meaning". And perhaps there is some truth to this -- at least on my part. However, for those familiar with visionary plant medicines (a term often used in indigenous cultures), they are no fad and require great deal of emotional and physical discipline to work with. My initiation into the world of Ayahuasca last year was without a doubt the most terrifying, profound, and ultimately beneficial experience of my entire life, and it has taken me many months to incorporate what happened to me into my daily existence. It has been extremely difficult trying to integrate a completely different world view and my newly 'awakened' senses into a culture so far removed from the jungles of Peru that it may as well be a different planet, but I feel I have made much progress and am far happier and settled in myself than I have ever been.

I have long struggled with the mechanics of Western society -- the obsession with work, financial success, competition and status. This did not come in the form of depression, but rather an ever present sensation that life should not be this way. Religion and spirituality offered little to me as my skeptical mind instinctively rejected anything that could not be experienced, touched or tested. But still, a nagging feeling persisted that something was not right -- that human life should not be relegated to a cog in an industrial capitalist society, and our lack of connection with our natural environment was leading us down a terrible path. 

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