Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca… what a very interesting tool. When I was a child I used to make “potions” and would dream of their properties, Ayahuasca is one of those dreams, realised. It has given me some of the most profound experiences of my life. I say this without hesitation. If you want to get to the ceremony’s scroll down to “Ceremony 1”.

Ayahuasca is different for everyone, and every time you consume it, you will have a different experience. I cannot understate this enough. Forget what you read on the Internet, including this post, if you try it, you will understand.

Before spending 1 week in the Peruvian Amazon, partaking in 3 ceremonies, I spent a week preparing my body, at least that’s what you’re supposed to do, I made efforts to change 3 days out. You are told to do ‘Dieta’, among other things, limiting the types of food you can eat and abstaining from sex.

You are told what I consider to be new age nonsense, cleaning your energies, connecting with plant life, all those ‘feel good’ ideas that are only backed up by good intentions. In my mind this can be very dangerous thinking leading to disastrous conclusions, especially when you are deep in the jungle, 3 hours at best to a hospital.

There is some truth in the food limitations, in that you should eat foods low in Tyramine, otherwise there is the potential for you to get a headache from higher blood pressure - I didn’t experience this. I think you could do changes to your diet 24-48 hours beforehand.

Sexual abstinence, I also practiced, but sometime between the first ceremony and second ceremony I reached my limit. I tapped out, and there seems to be no correlation, at least not with my small sampling - I suspect this is mostly cultural. What a man can do with a machete and solitary walk in the jungle.

We flew from Lima to Puerto Maldonado, the edge of civilisation, a remote town that borders the jungle. We spent one night there, buying supplies (rain boots, poncho, flashlight, towel, etc.) from the local market and getting acclimatised to the humidity. The next morning we were to hop on a small boat and travel up the river, the journey was roughly an hour and half upstream and another hour hiking through the thick, dense, jungle.

This jungle is literally TEEMING with life, at no point is it in silence. Thousands of insects, grasshoppers as big as my fist, monkeys, toucans and even a Jaguar. This jungle is so dense, you have at best a 30 meter visibility. In this jungle, the Machete is man’s best friend. The jungle is held together with vines and when strong winds or rain runs through it, it sounds like a tidal wave passing by, a wall of rushing sound. Just to be in the jungle, reconnected with nature and unplugged from computers is worth the trip.

The first morning we are asked to purge, it is supposed to ‘cleanse your body’ and make you more sensitive, they mentioned it was a leaf that’s apparently pleasant to the taste, but I was not familiar with plant nor the drug (and the dosage is ‘just half a leaf’ as if that is an accurate measurement!). IMO it’s not necessary. That and the fact somebody died from doing this on a tobacco version (nicotine overdose), really didn’t give many options besides to opt out.

Ceremony 1

The ceremony started at 8pm, 2 hours after it is already pitch dark (no electricity) - I’m nervous and excited. All ceremonies are performed in the Maloca, a special large hut, a healing space. The rule is not to approach the Maloca with your flashlight, so I fumble on the steps taking my shoes off, carrying my blanket, pillow, water, flashlight and notebook in hand.

As I enter I see on the far end, a candlelit shrine, around the edges are mats with buckets and tissues next to them, one for each participant. Those who have arrived are laying down or in a meditative pose, everyone is dressed in white. I find my spot and wait.

At 8pm the Shaman enters, Raina, she has a wonderful maternal feminine presence about her. The ceremony ensues, we gather in a circle and state our intentions for ‘working with the medicine’ tonight. Here you share your dominant thoughts, what you want to think about, what you want to ask your subconscious. My intentions were to better understand my relationships with loved ones, really dwell on some personal issues I’ve been holding onto for much too long as well as being more true to myself.

We are called one by one to present ourselves infront of the Shaman, she pours the Ayahuasca concoction into the ceremonial cup. You drink it and go back to your place in the Maloca. The dosage is half a cup for all of us (and rarely anyone goes full cup)

Drinking Ayahuasca, the texture is thick like syrup, the taste is bitter and sticky, you feel it going down your throat and moving down past your stomach. It is very unpleasant, and the taste lingers, we are told before-hand not to drink water, but we can swill and spit into our buckets.

After everyone has taken their first cup, the candlelight is subdued. You sit there waiting in silence, in darkness. I keep my thoughts on my intentions, my ex-lover, my mother, my father, my business partner, the people that they surround themselves with & the way I have been living my life.

Not 5 minutes pass and one person vomits into their bucket. I can tell who and I wonder how long it will be until it is my turn, I don’t look forward to it. Thankfully tonight, I won’t.

20 minutes pass, I start to feel nauseous, really nauseous - tonight this nausea is with me and it will persist the entire night. The chanting starts.

This chanting, is a blessing and a curse, a gift to be received and torturous water-boarding if you don’t accept it. It is designed to elicit this kind of response. Even today I both love and hate it. Tonight, I loathe it.

The chanting throws me back to my childhood, a vivid recollection of a time where I did not deal with large crowds or public well, the sensory stimulation is just by far too much. Many times my mother had to pull me out of such a situation, the one I recall was a school sports event surrounded by the masses all using their voices, all screaming incessantly, a sea of auditory information floods my brain, it desperately is trying to process it all but it is too much, more brain resources are used to compensate yet it is too much, what’s worse is none of these people were saying anything of value, they are just vomiting out their mouths, I know this but I cannot stop trying to process - this is the seed of my disdain for idle banter, of useless chitchat to fill the void. I grow contempt for my fellow humans wasteful communication. But it is my fault, my inability, my lack of wanting to shut them out, to stay connected to these fools.

These fools. The chant song changes.

Immediately I can no longer think like I normally do. I am terrified. What the fuck is happening I try to think, I try to think normally but it doesn’t work, my thoughts slur, much like a drunkard trying to speak. There’s a barrier, I am cut off from my higher mental faculties, I wonder if I am having a stroke?

After this question I am no longer even able to ask it again or come up with an intelligible answer. Then, I no longer notice the issue.

My brain is operating on another level now, on a simpler level. I am content, everything is simple. It’s like thinking with Duplo™ blocks instead of Lego Mindstorms™ (not that I could make this comparison at the time). I stay this way for longer than I can imagine. This would be my hell, but the direct perception of consciousness is a state of ignorance, they fail to see their hell and they are happy for it.

After too long I realise ‘This is how they must think.’ and all of a sudden a rush of thought barrels through floodgates, all the wonderful complexity, the intense puzzles, multitudes of concepts all perfectly interconnected return to me. A tear forms in my eyes for how grateful I am. How grateful I am to have these gifts, to be able to think like I do. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

I became what I imagine the average human thinks like. I became some of those who I love. Wow. What the fuck. This is not what I expected from Ayahuasca at all. This wasn’t how I expected to work through these intentions. It came from a completely different angle, a perspective I had never thought to try.

I see that people are not equal, not by a long shot. Their mental faculties are much less than mine (and mine less than others), their ability to feel, their ability to think, they are incapable. They cannot begin to understand how I think, or feel. I knew this already but there is a difference between knowing and walking the path.

I must make concessions for them and extend compassion to them, for they do not know what is good for them. Soft guidance at most times, strong in some.

We are asked if we would like a second cup, everyone takes it, except me, the thought of downing that liquid in a heightened state is too much. The second cup is only 14 cup.

I see those in power are herding people, farming them over generations, but, maybe in my naivete, they are doing it to wrong ends. I could do it better, I think to myself. The compulsion is strong. But I need a larger knowledge base, I need to learn more. I owe it to myself and to Society.

My thoughts return to baseline, I start to feel normal again, nausea returns but subdued, I focus in on the chants. Those chants, pounding at the gates of my ears. Penetrating my brain. I wish I could ask them to stop.

Be true to myself. Instant answers this time. “Cut through the bullshit” “In speech, be open, honest, and vulnerable” simultaneously I hear my voice in my head and see the writing vivid in my minds eye.

“Project myself onto the universe” - kind of new-agey, Impress myself on others more, make myself known instead of being silent. “Turn volume up in what I say” more evocative language, colourful as well as information rich.

The chanting is unbearable. Be true to myself, old me (??) would stay here, grit my teeth and bare it, maintain a lack of social conflict and increase conflicting entropy internally, something that will be outwardly expressed on others that don’t deserve it at a later date. I pick up my stuff and walk out. I go back to the treehouse. Amazing. A sense of relief and positive satisfaction, what an amazing first experience, not what I expected.

I get ready to goto bed. Just as I do I notice a light in the jungle, it’s the support - she asks for me to come back to complete the ceremony, I tell her I rather not and why, she explains both to ensure the well being of others and respect. This I already knew. I go back, she thanks me.

The rest of the night is torturous sensory overload, the nausea returns. I think to myself whether it would really matter if I were here or enjoying my time alone.

Finally the torture ends, I feel mild contempt for these people.

Ceremony 2

This ceremony was different, it made everything leading up to this point, worthwhile. It was by far one of the most profound experiences of my life. It obliterated my expectations.

This time I was given 34 a cup. This is about the same as 2 cups last night.

Tonight I experience no nausea.

Wow, I feel great, AMAZING. I can’t stop moving my limbs, later my friend tells me I am like a happy cockroach on it’s back twiddling his arms and legs in glee! I want to MOVE I want to move my body! I want to use my body, every appendage I have! So much energy! I want to run through the jungle! A whisper tells me that I’ll be more active in the future, to break away from sitting down all the time.

I close my eyes, My imagination starts to become vivid again, I view an alternate evolutionary timeline where humans evolved from plants, we’re a strange alien plant. I swallow and my imagination follows my saliva through my body, through a psychedelic plant-like intricate fungus/plant.

I open my thoughts like parcels, they go back to my ex-lover and my work. I need to put both of those roles secondary to my self development, I ponder, then I’m told. I imagine what my ex-lover is doing, I imagine her dating, sleeping with other guys. Before I feel emotion I see it, lingering in space, I inspect it with my minds eye. What is it?

It’s not jealously, she’s not my girl, not anymore, another emotion lingers next to it. The jealously label isn’t the first one, it’s not what I feel anyway, it’s more complex than that, the second I see is the label sadness, but it’s not that either, these terms are just far too simplistic. It’s that Duplo™ stuff again. Why am I using these terms for my emotions, these words are for children.

I don’t have any better labels/terms for emotions, that’s why. English doesn’t have a deep repertoire for emotions, is this why I discredit emotions and value logic? Partially at least. I let both wash over me, nameless emotions for now.

I’ll learn emotive words in all languages, that will let me reason about how I feel better. Symbols. Accurate symbols, maybe. I cannot categorise my emotions into English words, thats why I see little point in emotions expand emotional range by learning other languages emotive words. Yes. Disconnected from internet, unable to check. I miss the hive-mind.

Love, I see, it touches me as it lingers. I know this feeling, it’s fleeting, it doesn’t go away - it won’t go away, it leaves yes but it always comes back. It’s appears unconditional, why is it still here otherwise? It’s not how she feels, even if she does it’s not possible it’s the same.

That’s okay, I want her to make good decisions for her, I want everyone to make good decisions for themselves. Different direction now.

I should make my expectations clear with my requests, and have no expectations when request has been fulfilled by others. I blackbox my expectations, this can only lead to disappointment - why do I do that? No expectations isn’t just about happiness and non-attachment, it’s abit sustainability, durability, continuing in adversity - success. Re-adjust yes, but no expectations.

I grow people, I create environments for those who I can and see them adapt. They become stronger. This is something that gives me meaning in life. Like watching myself, a child, in a sandbox.

Time for another cup, this time I accept, and this time, no one else does. I feel great, still no nausea! The second time is more vile and putrid than the first, I instantly regret it as I go back. I am going to throw up I think to myself, I dry heave over my bucket but manage to stop it. I keep it down.

I notice my viewpoint as being very different than others, but I cherish their views also. What’s happening now?

I open my eyes, when did I close them? Did I open them? I see 20 vine-like tentacles arise from the ground, they have octopus-like suckers. They approach me, slowly, deliberately. They are taking me apart, piece by piece. I let go, I let them dismantle me. “No disassemble!” from the Short circuit movie I hear, I laugh internally, this laugh doesn’t come out of my mouth and is stretched out spatially like a line in time.

Those tentacles take polygon windows from my vision, glass I had been viewing the world through my entire life, completely unaware. I am nothing. The rainforest takes over my flesh and bone. Starting from my legs it rises up. Plants are taking over me, it’s okay, just let it happen, I think, let go, don’t fight it. If you resist Aya it gets worse, more intense.

It reaches my neck, oh god - this is too much, I am more plant than man. For a brief moment I am one with the rainforest, I am life. I am in the shape of myself but the rainforest is me. In the last moment of my transformation my consciousness is thrust out into nothingness - into a void. I watch as my former body - my favourite and only shell becomes a statue. I imagine in time it will disappear and become one with the earth.

Where am I? I am nowhere and everywhere, the question barely makes sense. All of a sudden my entire visual field is filled with what looks like a collage of peacock feathers, I try to turn but they are everywhere, they slowly swirl into each other becoming a fantastic display of moving colour, a glowing sense of euphoria sweeps over me.

I go into them and as I do my vision/world changes around me completely, at this point it becomes completely indescribable and I stay in this state for I have no idea how long, it feels like an hour. All of a sudden it’s too much. I am quickly re-assembled, I return back to my body, I walk outside, and I throw up in the jungle. It’s the most cathartic feeling I have ever felt.

I sit back down, in Awe of what has just transpired. I just can’t put into words, it feels like a lifetime of experience being downloaded into your brain in under a minute.

I feel great. I think to myself how consciousness is a terrible tool for actually understanding yourself. How in my day to day, I think what I want for myself is best, but really there are so many unconscious and unknown factors at play that I am not even aware of. It’s amazing anyone really functions to any degree of influence beyond a random number generator… maybe they don’t and it’s all an illusion. I’m sure it’s a bias of consciousness itself to justify itself.

I notice there is a parenting component to some of my relationships, a guiding component. I would like to have an active role in advising/guiding people, even if that act is a soft touch. I need to be better myself to be a mentor of any kind.

I reach baseline, the chanting I don’t process at all tonight, barely a thought is given to it, instead I let the sound vibrations just pass through me. I have an enjoyable night through to the end of the ceremony and towards sleep.

Ceremony 3

Tonight is the last ceremony, after last ceremony I had gotten everything I had been looking for, I feel more well rounded, I have learnt some valuable lessons. Maybe I am a better person? As I write this, I see I thought this at the time, now that some time has passed and the afterglow has worn off, sure I’m different definitely more well rounded, but I doubt I am a better person. Maybe subjectively worse :)

I have 1 cup, 34 full. This is all I’ll take tonight, I want a fun easy night. How wrong I was.

Tonight I felt a little nausea, nothing I couldn’t handle and it passes. I am enjoying the chanting tonight. I feel good.

My imagination starts to kick in, in my minds eye I am in a non-physical inter-dimensional temple, my only indications are alien like hieroglyphs on the walls, I only see this with my eyes closed, it’s faint. It’s a nice place to be, I just chill out here.

Be true to myself? I should get a snow bengal cat. I think to myself.

I’m in this temple and I put forward my intentions tonight, a portal opens up and shows me my life paths, a voice tells me I’ve learned all that I have from Aya and that I should just let it unfold.

The paths are diverging, based around a relationship, the path is dark and short, there’s a dark cloud over it, like looking at a path going into a dark forest. The other path, qualities of single and independence - rainbow coloured, vibrant and long, it’s unbounded and goes in any direction. It goes deeper into life and will lead to richer experiences.

I think about the darkness of the other path, the dark influences of people with wrong mentalities overseeing it, of sadness and awkwardness. My life governed by those stupider than me, especially those with negative dominant thoughts. My body is filled with disgust and contempt. It’s not easy. New families requires alot of boundaries & protection. Without those influences the path brightens stronger still. The path fills with love and at that moment…

I am still in the temple, my blood turns to gold, and a bright light radiates out through my skin, I feel a presence. Aya the spirit presents herself, her awesome feminine energy pregnates the room - she’s tall, everchanging, vision-shifting, I can’t look at her directly. She touches my chest and all my attachments in life dissipate. Before I was desperately trying to save and hold onto somethings. She leaves and the Maloca returns to it’s normality for me.

I know it’s my brain on drugs, but I can’t help to feel like spirits exist and I met one, and taking Ayahuasca is the demand required by this spirit. I have no delusions about this, but it’s very interesting compulsion.

I come back to baseline, I feel completely normal, great even. Everyone else is throwing up. I lay there, enjoying the music and relax. Tonights experience is over and I’ll be happy to leave tomorrow.

I notice I enjoyed the chanting, maybe I’m cured of sensory overload? NO!

Quickly, I hear/see something, not a whisper, and not words! The communication is clear! “Don’t use your brain while we fix it”, to which I immediately think “What?” (which is me using my brain). Like a bug zapper, a flash hits me. I am forced back onto the floor. There is that feminine energy again, the other side, the vindictive evil manipulative side. For sure this is Aya. Giving me a command that’s impossible to follow.

We’re nearly at the end of the ceremony and I am nearly comatose, I am laying there unable to move. I am called to present myself to the Shaman for my blessing. I told them I don’t think I can make it, but I try. I crawl across the Maloca, they laugh at me.

Now she is singing in my face - it’s too much, I am over stimulated, I break out in a cold sweat, I don’t finish the ritual they give me water, eventually I make it back to my spot. To weary and vegetable-like to care about being embarassed. After everyone has been blessed they ask how everyone is, I can barely respond beyond a groan. Where did this come from? I was totally fine, it’s already the end of the ceremony. I finish my water sip by sip. I manage to ask for someone to refill, the help does and I am eternally greatful.

This experience is not good, they continue chanting and contiuing the ceremony, just for me, I can’t receive the sound, it’s too much., I want to escape but I can’t move. I want the ceremony to finish so I can be in silence and work through this. Finally everyone leave. My friends wait outside, I can hear their laughter and conversation, I can turn now - maybe I can get up, nope. But this is progress.

After some time, I start vomiting loudly, later I learn I woke everyone up. Immediately I feel better, I can sit up. I tell the guys to head back and I’ll catch up.

The Shaman comes back to finish the ceremony with me, she gives me salt and the blessing. I smoke the special tobacco cigarette which leaves me feeling good. I say goodnight to her and rest a little.

Finally I am alone, I stand up! This is great! I am giggly and my body feels something like a squid with bones. I try to pickup my stuff but these noodle arms are useless. I grab my flash light and saunter off through the jungle, back to the treehouse. I call out to the guys and we have some friendly banter. I ask for some help getting my things.

As long as I stay up and moving I am good, I discover if I sit my situation deterioates. My friend asks for my company in the dark which I would love to do, we explore the jungle a little, have great conversation and goto the kitchen. Couldn’t ask for a better end to the evening.

Finally we get back to the treehouse, operating legs on the stairs is a challenge but fun.

The next day we start our journey back to civilisation.

Afterthoughts

What an unusual experience, and I feel it’s quite different from other psychedelics. It’s non-visual psychedelic properties are quite profound and totally not expected. I didn’t even adequately describe them.

Ingestible DMT, Ayahuasca is an incredibly powerful tool, I can see how you need to be careful of delusions & recheck thoughts against reality, even if convictions are strong.

After 8 years I finally got to have this experience and it went over and beyond my expectations. If I were to try it again I would probably like to contrast it in my own setting outside of cultural preconceptions and tradition.

I felt like I learned alot about myself, my relationships with people and have picked up some new, positive behaviours. It was certainly a good bonding experience with my friends there.

I couldn’t recommend it for everyone, especially those who are impressionable.

I can understand why they call it a “medicine” even though it’s not the same definition we use in our daily lives. Ayahuasca is a medicine for the mind.