The Jaguar That Roams the Mind

Title: The Jaguar that Roams the Mind: An Amazonian Plant Spirit Odyssey
Publisher: Inner Traditions
Author: Robert Tindall
Pages: 296pp
Price: $18.95 / $13.99

The Jaguar that Roams the Mind was an incredibly mind opening reading experience.  I’ve always been against drugs and tobacco.  Robert Tindall’s experience with substance abuse and incarceration reinforced my strong stance against illegal substances.  However, the ayahuasca sessions weren’t mainly done simply because someone was bored or wanted to get inebriated.  They were meant to transition into a whole other spiritual level and find answers within themselves.  

Robert and Susana did just that.  Susana worked in a drug abuse prevention program and participated in ayahuasca sessions.  It shows that she can determine the difference between abuse and discovery.  They both wanted to purge themselves of their past demons and start anew and fresh.  

Throughout the book Robert explains all the lessons he has learned from shamans and the sessions.  Ayahuasca helped him get a better relationship with his father because it allowed him to see from his point of view during the trial he had earlier in his life.  It allowed him to get messages from deities and even talk to spirits to help him find his way.  

I do believe Tindall speaks to everyone on some level.  People fascinated with history can possibly relate to his travels through Europe and Africa to relive the journey of Stephen de Cloyes.  Philosophers can appreciate the many creation and after-life stories the different people Robert meets talks about.  Writers can admire the efforts Robert took to acquire and actually experience the things he writes about.  And, of course, those interested in shamanism as well as those intrigued by spiritual journeys to gain insight and healing, will find this book and Robert’s account of his experiences an amazing read.

The Jaguar is also another thing that caught my attention.  It almost mirrors that of the Major Arcana Tarot card Strength, in that the Jaguar needs to be released from Robert’s otherwise calm composure.  

The Strength card in a Tarot deck is all about releasing latent and dormant animal passions and instincts.  Sometimes it will suggest that one does not let their animal instincts control them but at the same time, they cannot deny them altogether.  In this sense, both the Jaguar and the Strength card suggest that one needs to have a balance of both in their life and the Jaguar in the book is a reminder of that, if nothing else.

When someone opens the door for us we prefer to climb through the window.  Why?  Why does a lion prefer catching their prey instead of being feed?  It’s the same thing.  We don’t want to be given everything; we want the thrill of getting things ourselves.  Lessons are learned through experience.  

We climb through the window because it’s no fun to walk through a door already open.  If the door was bolted shut and displayed sign that stated to keep out, we would all be finding a way to get that door open.  

We lose our will and passion for life if everything were easy.  Challenges are what teach us lessons, they are what broadens our minds, they are what pushes us, and drives us forward.

Robert would never have encountered countless wonderful experiences with his divine self, with new friends, interesting people, or even the love of his life if he was just handed the vine.  He wouldn’t have mended the relationship with his father, he wouldn’t have gained insight on different cultures and people, and he wouldn’t have changed.

[Ashley Dioses is a writer of dark poetry and fiction from southern California.  Her debut collection of dark traditional poetry, Diary of a Sorceress, was released in 2017 from Hippocampus Press.  Her second poetry collection of early works, The Withering, is forthcoming from Gehenna and Hinnom Books this autumn.  Her poetry has appeared in Weird Fiction Review, Skelos, Weirdbook, Black Wings VI: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, and others.  She is an Active member in the HWA and a member of the SFPA.]