“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life”. Joseph Campbell
Sacred circles and ceremonial settings all over the world are set up very differently. The related culture and its traditions have great influence on the context and the approach of how these are structured. This results in a great variety of possibilities in which one can explore the inner worlds of her or his being. When it comes to the tendentially more post-traditional and Ayahuasca tourism-oriented settings of Native American Ayahuasca rituals, you will most likely encounter a setting where there is at least one shaman, who can be female or male, and a few facilitators whose job it is to assist people whenever they need help. The ritual normally takes place in complete darkness. During about the first hour, there is silence. After this sequence, the shamans start to whistle and sing various melodies and icaros which they have learned from different plant teachers during longterm diets. With these specific healing songs, they are conducting in an irresistibly way the experience of the participants without interrupting their inner processes directly. If someone is having a difficult time, but yet is not in an extremely dangerous place, they will plainly let it happen. This is where the «magic» takes place and profound healing can be experienced.
The human psyche is one of the most interesting things in life and is by far underestimated in its depth and potential.
When I personally first came to Peru, my main intention was clearly to learn more about myself as a whole being which means to learn more about my light and my shadows. Furthermore, I wanted to bring healing to the emotional, mental and spiritual wounds of various smaller and bigger traumas I felt at that time. Another intention was to learn more about the possibilities of plant medicines and Ayahuasca in particular to then eventually one day being able to help others with the gained knowledge. So there was also this phantasy in my mind of eventually becoming a shaman myself one day… A somewhat funny concept of a young enthusiastic and sometimes naive young man as I am. Long story short, I deeply respect all the people who are walking the path of a medicine woman or man with the required commitment. But it’s not what I’m supposed to pursue in this life time.
Nevertheless, after about a dozen of times drinking the medicine with intentions of personal healing, I had the chance to assist in a group. It felt like a very interesting opportunity to experience the ritual from another perspective and so I was thrilled to do so. Anyhow, I was also very nervous and I spoke with the shaman about my doubts about not being ready yet which might not be very constructive for the collective energy. He just told me that things are all going to be fine and I should not worry about anything.
As a facilitator, it’s recommendable to drink the medicine yourself too. The amount of medicine is less so that you’re able to be present and take action if necessary. Because you do not want to be busy with deep processes yourself. The reason why you should drink the medicine too is that you will be able to link to the energetic field more effective and therefore get a better sense of what’s going on in the room. When the ceremony was already ongoing and the medicine started to kick in, I immediately thought: Oh my gosh! How on earth can someone stay alert with this… The interesting part of this is that the more I wrapped my head around this, the more it was bothering me and keeping me away from staying present. Luckily, there were a few things going on in the group at an early stage and I had to come back into my body and be in motion which helped me big time. The focus was no longer on me, but on the collective energy field and sometimes on particular individuals.
Ayahuasca is probably the most developed technology known to humanity. The intelligence of it brings human minds to their very end of boundaries and beyond. It is this voice which speaks to you in whatever language your mother tongue is and reveals profound teachings.
During this night, there was this one guy who was going through a very deep and strange process. He completely lost control over his body and was literally thrown around by the medicine. Laying on his mattress, he was moving from the left to the right side and waving his hands around in a potentially dangerous way as he could perhaps harm someone else or himself. He then also started making weird sounds with his mouth and spitting around. The collective energy shifted in a very strange way and most of the people were noticeably irritated, myself included. The shaman gave me a signal to check after him which I first resisted doing as I didn’t feel to be in a stable enough state of mind myself. Eventually, I then went over to him where I first tried to get through to him by using words. But he did not respond and kept on waving his hands, smashing them on the floor and spitting around and on himself while moving around on his mattress. As this was not working, I then thought of trying to grab his hands to stop him from possibly harming somebody or himself. Again I felt great resistance because you normally should not directly touch somebody during ceremonies — the energy exchange is just enormously overwhelming and you can absorb things you don’t want to. As a consequence, I realized this great impuissance of not being to help this human being. That was a moment where a personal process was triggered and at the end of it, a realization I already got some time ago, got a more profound meaning to it. The most effective and efficient way of supporting an individual in such a situation is by focusing on being completely one with yourself and in your heart space to then send love and light towards this specific person. It’s even possible to then see with your eyes how the energetic field is changing and influencing the patterns of the room and the person’s personal field. When I think about it, I also believe it’s the only way of supporting someone without interrupting the process which obviously wants to be experienced.
Psychedelic substances have the power to completely break down the reality you were used to and to break deeply integrated believe systems which can either leave you liberated and in peace or in great discomfort and anxiety.
The following day, the shaman and I spent some time discussing what happened during the previous night. One of my biggest takeaways is clearly that there’s no perfect time to get started with this kind of work. It’s always like being thrown into the cold water. To me, this has some very beneficial aspects to it as you have to experience and learn in a very pragmatic way. Another big lesson was to see and get a better understanding of the responsibility and the potential power of a shaman within a ceremonial context. She or he creates this safe container for all the participants and navigates the collective organism through time and space and yet is not disturbing any individual process. It’s like these people have mastered the seemingly magic formula of time and space which is clearly not linear. A very delicate and difficult task which takes years of personal work and training to get there. I also learned that despite being in an active role during the ceremony, there are always big lessons along the way for you as a facilitator and even if you would try to, there is no chance to hide yourself behind a role within a ritual. In my opinion, that’s the beauty of Ayahuasca and what I truly like about her so much. The medicine is very straightforward and demands you facing whatever you have to. Yet, she is incredibly loving!
What if there is a mathematical model which is explaining time in highly if not exact accuracy. What if this modal can reconstruct and predict the mechanism of the novelty enhancing and conserving system called universe. Terence McKenna
After this first experience of assisting in a ceremony, I kept on assisting from time to time while also pursuing my own healing path with a variety of modalities such as practicing different styles of meditation, doing plant diets in isolation, drinking Ayahuasca and Huachuma as well as others. It was always interesting to observe how more intense the rituals were right after having assisted the night before. The essences of the ceremonies went deeper and deeper and the more I worked through my own shadows, the more I was able to be of greater help whenever somebody was demanding for. One of the most heart touching and affirming moments for myself was when I sat with a very well experienced woman who drank the medicine already a couple hundred times before. During this night, the medicine which was served was very strong and Ayahuasca completely deconstructed her. At some point, she felt the need of getting away from the group to have some personal space. So I accompanied her to the bathroom which was not far away from the Maloca. She wanted to lay down on the ground and so we did the two of us. It was clearly visible that she was having a rough time and thus I tried to focus on my intuition and what I’ve learned from my personal experiences. I can actually not tell you what I exactly made, but there was obviously something going on. After a while, she came more into the present moment where she was able to interact again. She suddenly said: You have a powerful and grounded energy which resonates interestingly very well with me. We then found out that her closest and most important plant teacher is Ayahuma which I dieted just a week before. The encounter with her and the connection we had enhanced through the Ayahuma plant was really beautiful to experience and gave me a lot of strength and confidence in the plants I worked with, but also myself.
In retrospective, I’m extremely honored to have had the chance and the trust of the shaman as well as of the people whom I sat in ceremony with, to experience the medicine work from the perspective of a facilitator which helped me very much in my personal healing experience and self-discovery. The lessons which were revealed to me are still showing their impact in my daily life today and allow myself to navigate with greater awareness and respect for my environment. THANK YOU UNIVERSE!
This article does not promote or recommend the use of illegal drugs. Many of the substances referenced to in the content are illegal in many countries. This article does not constitute medical advice. As always, please consult your doctor before taking any medicine.