B.C. ayahuasca researcher Sebastian Woodroffe lynched in Peru following murder of Indigenous shaman

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      Update (April 24): Peruvian police have arrested two individuals in relation to the death of B.C.'s Sebastian Woodroffe. 

      Comox Valley resident Sebastian Woodroffe's death in Peru has left a friend on Vancouver Island bewildered and shocked.

      Woodroffe, 41, was lynched by Indigenous people in the eastern part of the country after they concluded that he shot and killed an elderly and respected shaman, Olivia Arvelo Lomas.

      He was in the area researching ayahuasca, which is a traditional spiritual medicine brewed from plants in the Amazon rain forest.

      Woodroffe's friend, Yarrow Willard, told CBC News that "there is no way" he would have killed the Indigenous healer.

      CBC News has reported that police now say there is another suspect and it's possible that Woodroffe was not the killer.

      Watch the CBC National report on the death of Sebastian Woodroffe.

      Woodroffe set up a fundraising page on Indiegogo saying he was travelling to Peru to learn plant medicine for use in addictions counselling.

      He raised $2,261 from 31 backers. 

      In 2010, the Straight published an article by travel writer Kate Gubarev, who visited an ayahuasca healing centre in Peru.

      "The drink’s bitter, viscous taste and texture make you gag, and resulting effects can include vomiting and hallucinations," she wrote. "Since ayahuasca was studied by legendary botanist Richard Schultes about 60 years ago, thousands of westerners have tried it in an attempt to alleviate everything from alcoholism to depression. It is also used as a tool for self-discovery and self-awareness." 

      Last year, Vancouver physician Gabor Maté told the Straight that he tried ayahuasca as part of an investigation into its potential to help heal those in the throes of addiction.

      “It put me in touch with a deep love that I both wanted and had been running away from all my life,” Maté said. “I saw how deeply beneath the usual conscious mind the plant could help you penetrate into yourself.”