As a native plant of the Amazon basin, Ayahuasca is deeply rooted in the cultures of the many native peoples of that region. What might be surprising to us is that the context in which a lot of us westerners experience Ayhuasca is on the most part a fabrication to satisfy Western tastes.
As westerners, we love the mystique of the "Shaman". That word holds great power over us and we asume that the experience of the plant medicine can only be had under the guidance of a "Shaman". The danger in this is that we can easily fall into situations where we unnecessarily give our power away as we are seduced by the trappings and rituals of what are supposedly the "traditional" ways.
Yes there are Shamans that use Ayahuasca as a healing tool, but the way Ayahuasca is used by true indigenous people is that they simply share the medicine together as a group. There is no "ritual" or "shaman" acting as an intermediary, they simply connect in the sacred space that the medicine creates.
There is no doubt that there are westerners who have apprenticed with genuine Shamans and used Ayahuasca and other plant medicines in their learning process. Perhaps they have lived many months or years in the forest accompanying their teachers. As a result they may have arrived at a greater state of awareness and understanding. But is this a realistic option for those of us who cannot break away from our lives and families? Does the absence of a "Shaman" mean that we are not engaging and obtaining all the enormous benefits that Ayahuasca has to offer?
The magic of Ayahuasca lies in the absolute perfection and wisdom in which it engages with each individual WITHOUT the need of human intervention. In a way, all we can do is set the stage and humbly get out of the way so that the medicine can do her work. For this reason, we prefer to use the word "facilitator" or "Plant Medicine Guide" instead of "Shaman" to designate the person responsible for administering the ayahuasca and watching over participants.
So just as in the realm of music Jazz is no longer the "property" of American musicians, Ayahuasca has spread around the world and has no boundaries or home. So if you are looking to experience and benefit from the gifts that Ayahuasca has to offer, don't narrow your focus exclusively on the word "Shaman", but rather look for a facilitator and guide that is humble in their heart and has a genuine connection and reverence for the plant spirits.