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Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D., is a Cuban-born psychologist and author who has studied the shamanic healing practices of the Amazon and Inca shamans for over 25 years. He is the founder of The Four Winds Society, which offers a two-year long program in energy medicine and leads trips to Peru.
Villoldo graduated in 1969 with a bachelor's degree in Inter-American Studies, followed by a master's in Psychology (1972), and a doctorate in psychology at the Humanistic Psychology Institute, now known as Saybrook University. His thesis advisor was Dr. Stanley Krippner), a consciousness researcher and a pioneer in the study of the paranormal phenomena, with whom he later co-authored Healing States: A Journey Into the World of Spiritual Healing and Shamanism. While on the faculty of San Francisco State University, Villoldo founded and directed the Biological Self Regulation Laboratory at San Francisco State University, where he investigated the effects of energy healing on blood and brain chemistry.
Villoldo cites a number of key Shaman mentors, who shared their Shamanic knowledge with him through his years in Peru and the Amazon:
There is a controversy between the form of participatory engagement of teachers like Alberto Villoldo and the more non-participatory anthrolopogical approach.
Since 1984 Villoldo has directed The Four Winds Society, which trains individuals in the practice of energy medicine and "soul retrieval." The school maintains an office in Park City, Utah, and teaches in New England, California, and Utah, and internationally in Canada, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, Ireland and Australia.
In 2006 he created the Munay-ki (9 Rites of Initiation). The Munay-ki are not indigenous rites, but Villoldo's modified version of traditional rites that have been stripped of their traditional Q'ero cultural forms in order to be more accessible to westerners. This was controversial within The Four Winds Society and caused the resignation of several principal teachers.
A prolific author, he draws on his experiences in South America and on his knowledge of shamanic and energy healing; among his most popular books are Dance of the Four Winds, and Shaman, Healer, Sage. He also founded "The Sanctuary Project", which provides support and shelter to indigenous Q'ero shamans who work for The Four Winds Society. He has coauthored a number of books with Erik Jendresen.
In 2011 Villoldo produced a documentary Amazonia: Healing With Sacred Plants which focuses on the sacred plants of the Peru's Amazon region. In the film he chronicles the work of the master shamans, and explains the process and theory behind the use of ayahuasca, the 'vine of the souls.' (Studio: True Mind, November 2011)
Alberto Villoldo appears in several documentaries, including: