Steve Hupp – Kentucky Ayahuasca and Shamanism in the United States

December 11, 2018
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In this episode, Joe interviews Steve Hupp, the Host of Kentucky Ayahuasca, a new series on Viceland. Topics include Steve’s background and how he wants to impact the American Ayahuasca scene through his work.

3 Key Points:

  1. Kentucky Ayahuasca is a docu-series on Viceland about Shaman, Steve Hupp as he works with people seeking healing from severe emotional and physical issues.
  2. Steve comes from an unusual background of career criminal and bank robber, and because of his time in prison with a Peruvian Shaman, has decided to bring the tradition to the United States.
  3. Steve is careful not to mock what shamanism is by creating ceremony in the States. He wants facilitation to be done as safely as possible and is simply trying to help people through Ayahuasca ceremony.

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Show Notes

About Steve

  • He was a career criminal who robbed banks
    • It landed him in prison and put him into the same cell of a Peruvian shaman who had overstayed his visa and was probably doing some facilitating in the States
    • His name was Guadalupe and Steve called him Loopy because of the things he was talking about
    • But here and there Guadalupe would say something that would resonate with Steve days and weeks later that just made sense


  • He spent 4 years in prison
    • He got into the federal system because he had beaten the state system so the federal system picked up the case
    • Steve pleaded guilty and made a deal with them to give them their money back
    • He also agreed not to sue the police for opening fire on him
    • He was one of the first bank robbers released on a bond

Religion and Spirituality

  • Up to that point he was an Atheist
    • He decided that something else was keeping him alive for something because of what he survived during the police chase
  • Steve says he’s seen how religious law worked by seeing gangs turn into congregations
  • He says he is no longer an Atheist after having experience with Ayahuasca
  • He had an epiphany that “anything is possible” and he decided he wanted to bring this to everyone
  • He started to have coincidences that led him to facilitation


  • Steve isn’t trying to defraud what Shamanism is, but he is trying to tailor it to the American way of life
    • He says the Shaman in the jungle has a different context than an American does
  • Joe mentions that people get upset about how the word ‘shaman’ is used
    • Steve says ‘shaman’ comes from the Siberian word, ‘saman’, which means “to know” but has been branded by anthropologists
    • He also says shamanism is the oldest world religion
  • Joe brings up that so many people suggest doing Ayahuasca in the Amazon because that’s where the spirit of the plant is, but he also mentions that the same type of biodiversity exists in Kentucky too


  • Steve says they face reverse-racism because they can’t work with native tribes because they are white, but he’s just looking to bring everyone together
  • “If we don’t start helping our little blue sphere heal, it’s all we’ve got” – Steve
  • He said he had more fear transitioning into Ayahuasca facilitation than any bank he’s robbed because he had to put his name on it
  • His intent is not to build a cult, he believes we are at the dawn of a new world and we are all in this together

Helping Addiction with Ayahuasca

  • Steve says he believes there are no addicts, just unbalanced humans
    • Joe says he read recently that the term “addict” keeps people in their problems
    • When he helps people who are addicted to drugs, and they drink Ayahuasca, they realize the drug is not the problem, but the guilt and the shame about using the drug is the problem

Plant Teacher

  • Steve believes we are intergalactic children
  • We could use our technology and knowledge to better us rather than being so distracted by the ‘lines in the sand’
    • He says we could feed everyone on the planet with land the size of Texas
  • What Ayahuasca is trying to teach us is to be kind to each other and we have that choice everyday
  • We need to get past this barbaric attitude of domination
  • “I know I’ve got grandchildren that I may never see, but I’ve got to try to leave them a world better than the one I’ve found” – Steve
    • If we were to teach our kids to teach our grandkids something, we wouldn’t be handing them millions of dollars in national debt
    • Its a non-violent change
    • “What if we collectively manifested accountability in our government?” – Steve

Law Enforcement

  • Steve believes law enforcement shouldn’t be able to have more power than soldiers at war
    • Soldiers in Iraq can’t fire unless they have been fired upon

Shaman University

  • No one has ever done this before, Steve wants to put together a structure to make sure this operation is done ethically
    • He wants to lay the foundation for people to participate in Ayahuasca ceremony safely
    • He says anybody can brew Ayahuasca, but doing it safely and properly is key
  • Joe encourages viewers to check out the series on Viceland
  • Steve also encourages listeners who want to do Ayahuasca abroad to do tons of research before attending to make sure there are proper facilitators, ethical procedures and quality emergency response techniques and resources


Kentucky Ayahusca on Viceland

Check out our online course, “Introduction to Psychedelics”

About Steve

Steve Hupp had spent time in the Military. He was lost in materialism, drug abuse, alcoholism and pride that led him on a 5 year bank robbing spree that ended with him in Federal Prison, where he met his first Shaman, a cellmate. Now he is an Ayahuasca Shaman performing psychedelic healing ceremonies in Kentucky. Steve has worked with Ayahuasca for 15 years, trained by a Shaman from South America on how to work with Ayahuasca. He has spent much of that time working alone and experiencing many visions and entities that called him to found Aya Quest.