On Revelations and Revolutions: Drinking Ayahuasca Among Palestinians Under Israeli Occupation

Leor Roseman, Nadeem Karkabi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ritualistic use of ayahuasca can induce a feeling of unity and harmony among group members. However, such depoliticized feelings can come in the service of a destructive political status quo in which Palestinians are marginalized. Through 31 in-depth interviews of Israelis and Palestinians who drink ayahuasca together, and through participatory observations, such rituals were examined. In this setting marginalization was structurally rooted by the group’s inability to recognize Palestinian national identity or admit the ongoing Israeli injustice toward Palestinians. Although the groups avoided politics, they still find their way into these rituals. This happened through occasional ayahuasca-induced revelatory events, in which individuals were confronted with a pressing truth related to the oppressive relations between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians. Three case studies of such revelatory events are described in this paper. Affected by emotions of pain, anger, and guilt, these participants developed resistance toward the hegemonic Israeli ritual structure. This was followed by an urge to deliver an emancipatory message to the rest of the group, usually through a song. Moreover, affected subjects developed a long-lasting fidelity to the truth attained at these events. In time, this fidelity led to the expansion of ayahuasca practices to other Palestinians and the politicization of the practice. The article draws on Badiou’s theory in Being and Event (1988) to analyze the relations between the Israeli ritual structure, the Palestinian revelatory event, and the emancipatory fidelity that followed. Badiou’s theory elucidates the egalitarian revolutionary potential, which is part of the sociopsychopharmacology of psychedelics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number718934
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
StatePublished - 27 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Antwan Saca and Natalie Ginsberg for their support in initiating this study and helping with data collection; Robin Carhart-Harris and Rick Doblin for their guidance; Chris Timmermann for constructive feedback; and Deborah Schwartz for editing the manuscript. LR would like to thank Moshe Tov Kreps and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) for their financial and intellectual support of this study.

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2021 Roseman and Karkabi.


  • Badiou’s Being and Event
  • DMT
  • Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • New Age
  • activism
  • prophecy
  • psychedelics
  • ritual

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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