Randy Chung Gonzales was leading an ordinary life in his hometown of Lamas, Peru, when his employer, anthropologist Frédérique Apffel-Marglin, asked him to accompany her to an ayahuasca ceremony led by a local shaman. There, to everyone's great surprise, Randy was initiated by discarnate entities, who instructed him and gave him healing powers. In this unique book, Randy tells his story to Frédérique, who offers cultural context and describes how she herself has been transformed from an academic anthropologist into an advocate for the sharing of indigenous wisdom and ecospirituality. Drawing on history, cultural studies and anthropology, Frédérique offers a penetrating analysis of Western science-based modernity, which has made the systematic eradication of shamanism a priority. Initiated by the Spirits argues powerfully that shamanic sacred plants can heal the epidemics of mental illness in Western societies, as well as the global ecological crisis. Randy's shamanic initiation serves as a beacon for new ways of conceiving of the human relationship to science, spirit and our planetary home.
Frédérique Apffel-Marglin, PhD. is Professor Emerita, Department of Anthropology at Smith College and has also taught at Harvard, Wellesley, and Wesleyan University. She founded the Sachamama Center for BioCultural Regeneration (SCBR) in the Peruvian High Amazon in 2009, which she directs. She has authored or edited fifteen books and published some 70 articles and book chapters. Her most recent book, co-edited with Stefano Varese, is Contemporary Voices from Anima Mundi: A Reappraisal (2020).
Randy Chung Gonzales is a self-trained architect and visual artist who was born and raised in Lamas, Peru. In June of 2016 he was initiated by disembodied spirits into shamanic knowledge and power, and since then he has been given powers by other indigenous spirits as well as the Virgin of Guadalupe. He receives regular teachings from a disembodied Ashaninka shaman, offers healing to others, and directs an ecological center in the forest called in English "The Place of the Sacred Mountain."