My first date with my new best friend: Ayahuasca

I was expecting little from this amazonian ancestral medicine, and then I found a new girl friend. The best one you can have.

A few days ago I left my home at dawn. I had a date. A date with the Unknown. A meeting with an ancestral medicine coming from amazonian indians. The everyday-better-known Ayahuasca brew.

Lately this brew has become popular between western people, and there are many groups of ‘tourists’ who fly every once in a while to the Peruvian amazon rainforest to attend to Ayahuasca retreats, in order to have a unique, chilling experience.

But this amazonian brew is anything but a recreational drug. It’s not LSD. It’s not magic mushrooms that make you laugh in fun. It is something old, very old, and sacred. Actually, the root of the name is Aya-Waska, that states for “The Vine of the Soul”. It goes deep into your soul in order to heal your wounds.

Artistic rendition of ‘mother Ayahuasca’

The experience

The Ayahuasca experience consists not only about to drink alone in the darkness of your room a special brew that contains a few psychoactive compounds. It’s a ceremony, conducted by a shaman that takes care of the group and supports the experience with music from his drum and chanting. To keep the good vibrations between the participants in this ceremony is crucial to avoid bad trips that could be terrifying for someone, and no one wants the ceremony to go wrong. So to keep a ‘high spirit’ attitude and confidence is a must in this kind of experiences.

Before the ceremony, you must prepare your body, mind, heart and soul. It’s up to you how to do it, because everyone is unique. When it comes to your body, you may keep a careful diet days before the intake. Some food and drinks are forbidden: cheese, coffee, alcohol, salt, pork, chocolate… chiefly products that could excite your brain, raise up your blood pressure or fill your bowel with greasy remains.

My recommendation would be: eat healthy and energetic up to the day before the ceremony. Then, the same day just some fruit or juices. You may not want to drink the sacred brew with your stomach full of stuff. But you will need to be strong in order to support the experience physically, so your brain does not run out of power supply to drive the psychic trip. I think this is a very important point.

After some simple prayers, you are required to take a first shot of Ayahuasca from the shaman. The taste is nasty: some sort of coffee with licorice and… mud. It wasn’t the nastiest drink I took in my life, personally. But certainly it’s not a pleasant flavor.

The mixture I took was actually made of two sacred plants from the Amazon: the Yagé (Banisteriopsis Caapi), a root bark, and leaves of Chacruna (Psychotria Viridis). The first contains a psychoactive compound, Harmala or Harmaline, two powerul IMAOs, that allow the other plant (chacruna) psychoactive principle, DMT to reach your brain, and that is responsible of the bright hallucinations in the beginning of the trip.

The trip

After drinking the first sip of Ayahuasca, I laid down in the floor of the forest, and closed my eyes. It’s recommended not to throw up even though you feel nausea. Personally, I felt easy to keep the medicine inside of me, in spite of the nasty taste.

After 20 minutes or so, I started to see Closed Eyes Visuals (CEV). They were not so bright (because the ceremony was during the day). I could see endless fractal, iterated and caleidoscopic figures of Buddha and Virgin Mary. Faces that looked like colorful masks, very similar to the paintings of Alex Grey. Nothing overwhelming, though. I could still open my eyes and see reality as it is, the rest of people, the forest, etc. When closing my eyes again, the complex geometrical patterns where still there, flowing. Nothing disturbing, just a nice show.

After one hour, I was called to take a second sip of Ayahuasca. It took me a while to stand up because of the dizziness and nausea, but I could withstand it without much difficulty.

I’ve seen these kind of faces several times in front of me, kind of asking me “What are you doing here? Do you want to enter?”

Right after the second sip, the fractal faces fade out. So I could relax and enjoy the chants coming from the shaman, that were really beautiful. Then, the second part of the trip began. It is something like having twenty sessions of psychotherapy in twenty minutes.

I would compare the sacred plant of Ayahuasca to your best (female) friend. This female treatment is common to everyone who experienced with this amazonian medicina. She could be a mother, a grandmother… in my case, She was like an old friend that takes you out for a walk and take some drinks while she tells you the unconfortable truths about your questions.

It is kind of interesting, because during this phase of the trip, you ask for what is driving you crazy in your daily life, your mood or your persona, and the plant replies instantly and automatically with simple, clear answers, that may not be related directly to that situation, but could refer to your entire life or existence.

In any case, these answers come as short sentences. Zero confusion. Nevertheless, if you don’t agree with her, She just uses images or short movies as metaphors or visual poems, in order to make her statement perfectly clear. It is an amazing state of clairvoyance. You get instant responses. Of course, the Ayahuasca loves you and cares about you (and everyone) but this doesn’t mean that you get the answer that pleases you, or the one you’d like to hear. She also never gets mad with you. She just shows you what IT IS. Then, it’s up to you whether to accept it or not.

It reminds me to a Math teacher that enunciates a theorem but leave the demonstration as your homework.

During this stage of the trip, that lasted about 2 hours or so, you get both personal and transpersonal messages. You become more aware about the importance of preserving the environment, for instance. In the meanwhile, the plant gets into your body and “corrects” some issues you may have. In my case, She helped me align my spine and taught me how to chew correctly. In a way, she acts like a mix of a mother and a nurse, while telling you the truth about the issues that annoy your daily life from a spiritual perspective, so she is also your psychotherapist and counselor. All at the same time.

The Ayahuasca experience it’s like a Math teacher that only enunciates theorems and it leaves their demonstration for you, as a homework.

But the great amount of thoughts running in your mind while on nausea and dizziness left me exhausted physically, as I fasted the day before, so I gently asked the plant to not going on with the experience. We would meet another day to keep our relationship alive, but it was enough for today.

She agreed, but before the farewell, she did something. She took my left hand and put it over my chest. I could feel a nice warmth inside my heart, and I could really feel it beating. Not just hear it but feel it. She told me: “Listen, listen… it is your heart, beating!”. The she transformed herself into a kind of wasp inside my chest. I saw her flying around a fruit that looked like an open pomegranate. The she said “This is your heart, do you want to look inside?”

Another artistic rendition of what mother Ayahuasca may feel and look.

I refused to do it. I was exhausted. I thanked mother Ayahuasca for the help, and said goodbye to her. She agreed to again, and then morphed into a some kind of sketch similar to a colorful Starbucks’ logo and hid into the soil again, as a flower…

Right after that, I threw up everything in a fast, violent way. The medicine was out and returned to the earth, and I was going down, thirsty and hungry, but safe and fully conscious. The trip was over.

The rest of the ceremony I just laid down listening to the beautiful chants, feeling love and gratitude. I couldn’t keep from seeing animal figures in every detail on the trunk of the trees. The feeling was great. I just learnt, not by being told, but my means of being shown with the Truth. When you listen, you can know. But when you see, you learn.

Summary

I would recommend this healing experience to anyone that live their lives focused in their self-knowledge of spiritual growth. Be careful if you had a painful childhood, because most probably the plant will take you back to those key moments in order to teach you something important. So you can end up in bitter tears if taken back to those moments.

There are some kind of “permament” changes in your body, mind (and soul?) after the Ayahuasca experience. Now I feel stronger, I sleep better, I no longer have neck aches (the plant was shaking my head during the ceremony), I chew the food in a healthier way… Also, now I find difficult to judge people. Instead, I focus on what they do wrong instead of what they are supposed to BE. I discovered why I am how I am and why I act like I do. It is not easy, but it is worth the trip.

Ayahuasca is a powerful medicine for those who dare take it. Now it’s up to me to keep the commitment with the sacred plant and heal myself with my own effort. So, if we meet again in the future, that little funny wasp could fly into my heart to expose its secrets.

Remember: this is not teenage fun. If you want to see some nice colorful lights, try something else. This is the vine of the soul. From my point of view, this experience would be the opposite of spending your day shopping at the mall. Opposite values, may be.

Be happy. We all are loved in our deepest essence.