“As the power of fear and hatred threatens to drive me back over the edge, I desperately try to focus on the positive. The harder I try, the faster my head vibrates, about to explode…Something suddenly cracks, followed by a rushing sound… I vomit again and again. The stench of death fills the air. Seconds later, the purest peace I’ve ever felt fills my body. I open my eyes and see the world for the first time, as it really is: pristine, beautiful and perfect…”

Thirty-year-old computer programmer Mark Flaherty’s world is turned upside down when he is diagnosed with an incurable illness, and a voice within insists the answer lies with ayahuasca—a sacred, visionary plant medicine.

Flaherty leaves his native England to live among the shamans of the Peruvian Amazon where he participates in hundreds of ayahuasca ceremonies. What he discovers about himself and the nature of existence is as shocking as it is inspiring.

This captivating true story of a man’s fight to heal himself demonstrates that anything really is possible and everything does happen for a reason.


“A painfully gorgeous journey into the depths of ayahuasca shamanism. ‘Shedding the Layers’ depicts the triumph of the warrior spirit in overcoming impossible odds, not just to reclaim one’s health, but the miracle of living.”
Jonathan Talat Phillips, author of “The Electric Jesus: The Healing Journey of a Contemporary Gnostic”, co-founder of Evolver.net & Reality Sandwich
“Mark’s healing journey is worth reading, and his spiritual realizations are worth knowing—for all of us. Shedding the Layers makes a valuable contribution to the literature on shamanic healing.”
Chris Kilham, The Medicine Hunter
“Flaherty reminds us that living from the heart is not just the only path worth taking, it’s the only real medicine.”
Adam Elenbaas, author of “Fishers of Men: The Gospel of an Ayahuasca Vision Quest,” and contributing editor at RealitySandwich.com
“This is a story of ultimate soul triumph: the twists and turns of the hero’s journey.”
Mags MacKean, author of “Meetings On The Edge”