Ayahuasca is like Truth...
It can be bitter as hell, but it is liberating.
It purges, it empties, and allows for rebirth.
It is both messenger and healing message for your soul and body. The ayahuasca vision quest can bring the truth-seeker to his/her subconscious map of habits, preconceptions, judgments and fears; in other words, it can bring one to one’s true self. It has the power to bring us in contact with, to examine and change, our own programming, our own codes of self.
Decoding the Self:
Who are we? What are we doing here, at this time, and on this planet? Why am I sick? Why am I healthy? How can I recover from my chronic depression? To what degree, and in what way should I interact with another person? What aspects of my family relationship are healthy and flowing and what is unhealthy and stagnant? These and many other questions about one’s existence on earth can come up and be dealt with when one communes with the sacred plant.
Ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi) is also known as yage, natem, the vine of the soul, the vine of the dead, and the vine of the spirits.
The plant is a vine that grows in the Amazon jungle, a plant that spirals its way up into the trees; it wraps itself around its host tree like a serpent would. The vine is both a healer and a giver of Knowledge; an experience with this sacred plant is about personal empowerment of some kind.
At times, during a session, you can see fantastic, amusing and colorful pictures dance in front of your closed eyes, but these visions have a deep spiritual meaning for you if you can and want to feel them. Some have confused the visions several of us have after taking this medicine with psychedelic pictures. To label the medicinal plant “psychedelic” is to only see one superficial aspect. Ayahuasca, unlike psychedelics and psychotropics, is about inducing consciousness into our bodies, our veins, our cells, our inner knowledge, and our lives. The visions can bring us to an understanding that is loving and conscious about Self, about the Life Force or God, and about our immediate environment.
Many shamans and healers see ayahuasca as the most powerful medicinal plant, providing a master cleanse to the seeker of an alternative and holistic healing. Healing with this sacred plant is a process of unfolding self-awareness, and awareness of the world around us. The shamanic plant can give us an opportunity to die, without really dying; it is known as a Symbolic Death. The medicine literally cleanses our bodies, souls, and hearts from their past burdens. If used with the right intentions, it can be a true experience of the death of the skeletons in our closet.
A native woman of the Amazon would often tell us that a few sessions with ayahuasca replace 10 to 20 years in a Buddhist monastery. While no two people have the same experiences, it can in fact work that fast, and that personally. It gets you out of your head, and allows you to be fully present in the now; you get out of your mind and into your body to feel timeless and universal all at once.
This sacred plant can enhance and amplify the five traditional senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch, and a sixth sense as well. The medicinal vine has a strong connection to the animal kingdom; you might feel as though your hearing is one of a bird, or your sense of smell of a bear, or that you have an eagle’s sight.
The sixth sense is an internal sense, a sense that is stimulated from within the body. On an ayahuasca journey you are more than conscious dreaming, you are both into your inner visions/your own world, and the earth/the cosmos. Often, the sacred medicine can bring about a state of clairvoyance in the dark, in which you can sense the energy and spirits of plants, corners of the earth, trees, moon, sky and winds: Nature, in short. This awareness is also known as the shamanic state of consciousness, since shamanism is the most ancient spiritual healing that draws its power from Nature.
In shamanism, the Life Force or God is Nature.
Ayahuasca brews contain the DMT molecule that is also produced by the human body. Not all ayahuascas are created equal, however; depending on the location, type, cooking time, who has prepared it, the energy and synergy of the preparers and consumers, and where it is consumed, you can have vastly different experiences. In most of the visionary brews I consumed, the ayahuasca vine was mixed with chacruna (Psychotria viridis) leaves, a plant containing DMT. The vine by itself is powerful enough to not only cleanse you physically, but also to bring you understandings; however, with the addition of the DMT molecule, the visions can be quite enhanced in all aspects, and last all night.
In shamanic healing, sitting on any natural corner of this planet, and communing with Nature, with Life and with the earth’s energy field, is like going to church. When one enters into a healthy relationship with the sacred plants, it is like receiving Communion, to use a Christian metaphor.
Is it a drug?
Some people consider ayahuasca and other medicinal plants as drugs because they have the ability to alter your consciousness. I would only note that all aspects of life, and everything that we experience, alter our consciousness in some way, from what we eat, whom we live with, where we live, how we spend our free time, etc. Our moods, our bodies, our hopes and dreams are all affected by the most mundane detail of our lives.
Although everything in life does indeed affect our consciousness, I find it important to ask how something affects you. Is its effect on you life-giving? Is it healing in its “psychic alteration” of your mind and conscious flow? Or does it shut you down so you don’t feel anything like many anti-depressants do? It is interesting to note that for the Shuar, the indigenous tribe of the Ecuadorian Amazon with whom I spent quite some time, there is no word for hallucinogenic. For them, ayahuasca unveils, reveals and lays bare, but does not alter in any way. I liken it to walking down a corridor in a house with several doors that are closed. Should you choose to open one of these closed doors, you will immediately be exposed to something totally new: whatever was hidden behind the closed door. But your opening the door in no way created the contents of the room; they were always there, just waiting to be discovered. So it is with ayahuasca; it allows us and helps us to open our inner doors, to see inside of ourselves, just as we are, with all our defects and imperfections, but also with all our qualities and good features.
A few friends of mine who take antidepressants tell me that they do not care about their family and work when they are floating in their la-la-land; they are not grounded on earth or in their life. So I leave it to you to decide what is more dangerous: should one seek to connect with the inner self, as unpleasant as that sometimes may be, or should one try to run away?
Speaking about drugs, it is not recommended to mix prescribed medication or recreational drugs before and during the ayahuasca journey as you will not get to experience the true potential of the healing vine. Some who take these sorts of drugs beforehand just fall asleep or stay stoned; they are neither present nor open for the passage of the medicine through their bodies. Quite recently, a seriously ill Belgian acquaintance of mine asked me to accompany him on his ayahuasca journey. When he got to my place, he decided to take his chemotherapy-related pills right before drinking ayahuasca, and he fell asleep almost immediately and stayed asleep during the entire ceremony.
Then there is the taste issue. I have yet to meet anyone who looks forward to drinking ayahuasca. The ungodly taste in and of itself is a guarantee that addiction to the plant is just not possible. No Amazonian peoples I met liked the taste of the vine brew, even though its consumption had become thoroughly integrated into their life. One shaman told me that the taste is the first part of the challenge; afterwards comes the physical purge, and finally the visions and understandings. I did however meet two boys, a one-year old from the Shuar tribe, and a 4 year-old in Brazil (his father was part of the Uniao Do Vegetal, a spiritual group whose ritual revolves around the ayahuasca tea) who both drank ayahuasca in front of me, during the day, without the context of a ceremony, as if they were drinking syrup! Their mothers were drinking ayahuasca from the time they were pregnant, and so the taste, and the plant, were almost part of their DNA.
In short, ayahuasca is not addictive. The healing vine is both a master cleanse for the body, and the molecule DMT is neither physically addicting, nor likely to cause psychological dependence.
The only danger one faces is meeting with one’s own inner demons, and that is why an ayahuasca experience must be taken seriously. Should you choose to participate in a ceremony, I strongly recommend that you do so in the company of someone else who is already experienced and in whom you have absolute confidence.
If your first intention is healing, the medicinal plant will guide you where you need to go for self-healing. Ayahuasca is like a spiritual master or a master of consciousness who gives Knowledge to the conscious traveller in proportion to what the seeker has invested energetically. I, for instance, have had fairly plain experiences when I approached the plant and the ceremony out of habit, without affirming my healing intention for myself, without respecting and honouring the plant, but only taking it for granted. Routine---any routine---becomes lifeless at some point.
Why is DMT considered a drug in some states and countries?
Without getting into a political conversation about just how much space you want to give the government in your personal life and freedom, as this is your choice, I should like to share what the author Graham Hancock writes in the “War on Consciousness”: “At the deepest level, our consciousness is what we are-to the extent that if we are not sovereign over our own consciousness then we cannot in any meaningful sense be sovereign over anything else either.”
He continues that by “handing over the keys to our consciousness to the state”, we are accepting that the state gets to decide for us what we may or may not experience with our consciousness, “this most precious, sapient, unique, individual part of ourselves.”
The Vine of the Soul:
To embrace ayahuasca with a healing intention is to return to the Divinity inside of you. Depending on where you are in your healing process, you may at first encounter monsters that will feel and be scary, at least for part of the journey. Sometimes these demons are our own problems and denials that we have been ignoring which are now taking on a physical, visible form. And sometimes there are negative spirits, who roam about the ethers. If you were to meet such an entity, you simply need to be clear in your expressed intention to be left alone, and that you are not open to their energy. The few times I have dealt with negative spirits on ayahuasca, I invoked what is called the universal law of free will to push them back; such spirits bothering us are in direct violation of God’s gift of free will. It worked smoothly.
Human beings all have a birthright to free will, which means free choice.
Some people who have taken ayahuasca have channeled ancient divinities or semi-gods. What I personally find most interesting is not the ability to channel an ancient Egyptian or an Aztec deity, but rather the opportunity to connect with the Great One, the Source of Life and Truth. Listening to a Mayan deity’s forecast for 2012 pales in comparison, for to channel the Source of Life is to feel our own Self, evolving towards Love, the Real Light.
It is sometimes possible to avoid surgical operations even for serious medical conditions when treating with ayahuasca, since the plant can heal us energetically and consciously. Anaesthesia is not necessary; all we may need is a willingness to heal.
Pablo Amaringo, a known healer in his day, and a famous painter of visions, had healed his heart condition in one night on ayahuasca. He told me during an interview that he had gone to a shaman when he 19 years old after having exhausted the possibilities of conventional medicine which had given him 6 months to live because of a serious heart problem. In one ayahuasca ceremony, he was able to see his heart inside his body, and to take out the illness with his focused intention, and energetically pull out the tumor in his heart.
During a ceremony I attended, the Shuar shaman started healing a patient who had cancer in his left eye; by the second ceremony, the man was healed. After having been hit by a pick-up truck as I crossed the street, shamanic healing and healing with plants were the paths I chose to heal from my accident, and to regenerate my torn knee ligament without a surgical operation. I am not the only one; more and more people are turning to this sacred medicinal plant to heal a terminal health condition or a body illness, as well as depression, nervous breakdowns, or drug addictions.
It is important to remember, however, that in the words of a Brazilian healer, while ayahuasca is for everyone, not everyone is ready for ayahuasca. If it is for you, you will be called to it; if you respond with an open heart and a firm intent to heal yourself, you will be greatly rewarded.
It is with this sacred plant that you see and realize that You are the Divine, and the Divine is You. Two entities come into One, in balance.