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on 8 May 2017
I first picked up this book as I'm on my own journey with ayahuasca....and then realised I'd already seen the author Mark on a documentary about the jungle plant medicine. In that YouTube documentary I could tell that Mark still had more work to do and had no idea whether or not he had healed himself.....so I was extremely pleased to read about how his life developed after his extremely painful journey.

What a courageous man Mark Flaherty is. I almost spat out my cuppa tea when I read that he completed more than 200 ayahuasca ceremonies in Peru. Struggling through just one can easily be the most difficult thing you will ever face, and it takes a brave person to go through what he did.

It was heart warming to discover through Mark's words how he gradually changed from an introverted, extremely frightened, sick, hopeless man into an open, willing, fighting, brave guy who faced his fears and saw the reality of his emotional, mental and physical problems so that he could overcome them.

Mark is a great writer and I like his first person style in this book; it works well as he describes his (often terrifying) ayahuasca journeys, aswell as his intimate moments later in the book as he opens up his heart.

One of the best books I've read.
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on 15 December 2017
Loved this book. It was interesting, emotional and gave an insight into the experience of ayauasca. I have also booked an astrology reading with Mark.
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on 13 October 2015
Interesting read that will take you to another world. Scary and intriguing, I hope Mark writes a follow-up
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on 12 July 2012
I sat up late into the night reading this book, even though I knew the story of my friend, it was written in such a way that I had to know what happened next and what he discovered along the way. It is very well written, easy to read and yet deeply moving and inspiring. He doesn't make things sound mystical or glamourous or out of reach, he just explains his story, his healing journey. And what a journey it is, from feeling lost and depressed, to intense physical pain of severe ezcema and a desperation that led to suicidal thoughts,to a gradual piecing together of what led him to live his life they way he had been and to open up to what life could offer him.

What is most fascinating to me is the human tendency to search for an answer outside ourselves, that someone or something else can heal us. What this book shows in a simple yet profound way is that therapy,ayahuasca, anything is just a starting point/or supporting point: the change has to come from within. The courage he has in the face of extraordinary challenges is immense. Mark's description of the insights he comes to by the end of the book are compelling and inspiring. His writing has encouraged me to continue on my own bumpy journey.
I urge anyone who is interested in understanding more about being human and our struggles to exist to read this book. We all face different challenges in life, Mark's is a fascinating insight into how we can transform our pain and reach a deeper connectedness with others.
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on 16 March 2013
I wasn't at all sure about buying this book but it was cheap enough and appeared to offer a slightly different, more pragmatically personal persective on Aya usage than other Aya books I've read. And it did. I found the writing and insights to be clear and honest and the account of how Aya use helped the author deal with his emotional baggage, which in turn affected his physical health was quite touching. I've never taken Aya although as a historian of psychedelic culture (author of Albion Dreaming) I know quite a lot about 'psychedelic' drugs and their effects and uses and all too often books are too theoretical, too self consciously serious or just over the top drug addled nonsense. Shedding the Layers was none of these and is an intensely personal account of how drug use can (sometimes) open the individual to dramatic changes in all aspects of their lives. Not sure about the author's interest in astrology though ;-)

Go on, buy it and see what you think!
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on 9 October 2012
This is a very honest and moving account of a life marked by the pits of despair and torment, brought about by deeply entrenched illness, and the long arduous journey towards health, stability and wellbeing. The story is a remarkable one and a welcome addition to the burgeoning canvas of literature dealing with the remarkable healing properties of entheogens and shamanic practices. At times gripping, at others sad but also uplifting, one truly feels the pain and suffering of the author as he walks such a difficult healing path. It is informative and insightful into some of the magical possibilities of plants from the Amazon that are now opening up to the western world. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is considering inviting ayahuasca into their lives, and it gives a flavour of how difficult that path can be, but also how rewarding it can be. Well done Mark!
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on 25 October 2012
I had never heard of ayahuasca before reading this book, but thanks to the accessible narrative, exotic locations and vivid descriptions, I found myself catapulted into the strange world of Shamanic rituals and spiritual retreats. The author shows great attention to detail when recalling past events - which helps give the reader a real sense of being there.

This is one of my favourite books since Touching the Void. It felt similar too - as I found myself gripped by one man's struggle against adversity - on the edge of my seat, eagerly awaiting Mark's return to the Peruvian Amazon and the horrors that await him in the next ceremony.

A real page-turner, this book will keep you coming back for more.
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on 9 September 2012
Having been at school with Mark for seven years but not seen him really since, this was always going to be an interesting read for me, but I didn't realise how interesting! I read it all in one day (no mean feat with two children running around...)

I remember sitting in front of Mark in "Fazza's" maths class and him scratching a rash - amazing to see what this turned out to be...

The book is captivating and shows a truly human struggle to overcome immense personal difficulty - it is frank and honest (to an extreme) and really gets you involved in Mark's awful plight.

I'm not into the kind of medicines or beliefs that the book discusses but this doesn't matter - it is a book about human struggle more than an advocation of a medicinal or belief system, which will make it more accessible to the general public than many books in this area I would imagine.

I highly recommend reading this book - well written, engaging and emotional.

PS: Mark - if you read this, I just new when I saw the contents page that Piggy Walker would be mentioned somewhere!!
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on 13 July 2016
Amazing! I have read many, many books on Ayahuasca, mainly by authors that are anthropologists, psychologists or ethnobotanists that have been visiting the Amazon for the pst 50 years studying medicine plants. I have consciously stayed away from "Aya tourism" books. But this is not just some story about the experience of drinking Aya and working with shamans in Peru. It is a deeply personal story about a very difficult path to healing and written so brilliantly and eloquently, I could not put it down for a minute. If you are, like me, reluctant to read anyone's experience of drinking Aya because you do not want to taint your own experience in the Amazon or with your healing work, this is a safe book to read. Thoroughly enchanting and motivational on all levels. Brilliant, thank you Mark!

So I and was reluctant
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on 26 April 2015
I've been interested in the transformative effects of ayahuasca since I first heard about it nearly 2 months ago. I saw Mark in the documentary shot at Blue Morpho a while back and became interested in his story. I have great admiration for the journey he has been on and continues to live on a daily basis, and although I know that the effects of the medicine can be terrifying, Mark has inspired me to want to try ayahuasca for myself. I am interested to explore the nature of my own existence and I think that ayahuasca will reveal to me something quite profound that will stay with me for the rest of my life. An incredible read and one that I thoroughly recommend.
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