Memory palaces, psychedelic experiences, and shamanism

I was recently reading a description someone gave of a psychedelic experience they had with an indigenous tribe in South America. They gave the guy a drink and he went into a crazy trip that reminded me of the imaginativeness/absurdity of a memory palace journey (or a really imaginative movie like Spirited Away). He said that he went on to learn non-drug induced ways of having these experiences from various shaman’s around the world.

I’ve never taken a psychedelic drug or had a psychedelic experience but having done memory palaces and done some more vivid meditative work in them I’m kind of interested in having a non-drug induced psychedelic experience.

Has anyone tried this?

I also wonder what, if any, relationship memory palaces and psychedelic experiences had in distant past. Both techniques are no doubt very old and precede the written history.

If it helps, the drink was probably ayahuasca. It is DMT plus something else, made into a drink, it causes you to lose physical control and hallucinate vividly, and is fairly popular (I know plenty of people who tried it although I wouldn’t myself).

I can’t otherwise answer your question, except that both ayahuasca/psychedelics and memory palaces involve making vivid links between surprising or unrelated topics. However the provenance and intention of these links is entirely different.

Yeah, I think that was the drug.

Right. Which makes me ponder what kind of brain activation and chemistry they have in common.

I’m really curious about this avenue of inquiry myself. I’ve limited experience with psychedlics, but what I have experienced doesnt mesh well with my experiences with memory palaces.

What bugs me about this question is how would you know what the limits of your imagination are and what such an experience feels like if you haven’t pushed those limits through psychodelics first. It’s like the thought experiment of the scientist who knows everything about the red color (the parallel being studying with shamans), but lives in a grey world and has never actually seen it. Would he/she recognize the red color when it appears? (It’s a video on TED-Ed, check it out!)

… I’m kind of stuck on that question myself. What keeps me from trying, though, is the fear of losing touch with reality.

Anyway, great topic. Do you have more information/sources on what he found by exploring with shamans?