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Urbi 'Jungle' Svonni's grandfather was one of the last practicing indigenous healers of the area where he grew up. Svonni's people are Sámi - an indigenous group based in the Arctic north of Sweden and Norway, the only indigenous people of Scandinavia recognized under the International Conventions of Indigenous Peoples.
While in his early 20's Jungle left his home in the north of Sweden and travelled widely while studying a variety of indigenous healing methods. He lived in the Amazonian region of Peru for six years where he apprenticed as a curandero, conducting traditional plant medicine ceremonies. Participants from all over the world reported extremely beneficial results - Stephanie Stewart, a psychiatrist from Los Angeles, reported that "I have not felt the shearing forces of depression since those 10 powerful days in the Amazon working with Jungle and with the plant medicine."
After returning home to Sweden, Svonni had his home raided by several fully armed customs agents and is now being prosecuted by Swedish authorities for having received less than a kilo of San Pedro cactus in the mail. This is despite the fact that San Pedro is a legal plant in both Sweden and the USA.
The case was initially thrown out of court by the judge on the basis that no crime had been committed. However, fearing a loss of face for having made such a serious accusation, the prosecutor has reopened the case in an effort to send Svonni to prison for years and set a precedent to ban this time-honored healing medicine. The prosecution's argument is that because the cactus was dried it can be classified as 'processed'.
Writing about the case, Svonni says:
"When Sweden occupied my homeland Sapmi, shamanism and everything related to this, even things as simply owning a drum was outlawed. "Witchcraft" was forbidden and punishable by death as recent as 1864 in Sweden.Today these two disciplines are once again starting to come together - and might once again be viewed as one and the same. Acupuncture for instance was not too long ago viewed as magic - without any real effects and not accepted in any way by western medicine. Today on the other hand acupuncture is widely accepted by western medicine and often used as a compliment to other more traditional modalities. Likewise, many of the drugs that are being pescribed today by western pharmacies have been synthesized from various plants. Indeginous people have always used plants to heal a variety of diseases and symptoms. These cures was being prescribed by medicine men or women, so called shamans. The shaman was also using his own inherent powers in conjunction with the healing properties of the plants. Big pharmaceutical companies have a huge economic interest in selling and patenting the substances found in these plants. The importance of the shaman has been stripped away, leaving a void which in turn has led to an increased interest in traditional shamanism. There is an obvious conflict betwwen what western medicine and pharmaceutical companies can offer as opposed to the shamaJn."
If you feel that people should have the right to access plant medicines and traditional healing methods, please support Jungle Svonni by signing this petition:
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You can also write a letter of support for Jungle that will be passed to the judge, email: urbisvonni [at] hotmail [dot] com