But here goes.
I do not take posting this lightly. I write this with great respect and humility. It is not my intention to sensationalize here. Rather, I want you to hear about my experience and then decide for yourself.
I thought about avoiding it some more, but my heart wants to tell you about what is serving me and my heart wants you to experience this if you are called.
I also consulted one of the shamans and asked about my intention to blog about the medicine. He encouraged me to share openly but avoid sharing who, where, when due to confidentiality and certain illegal properties involved. Made sense to me.
For the past 2 years, I have participated in semi-regular plant medicine ceremonies. Most have been with shamans who carry the sacred grandmother medicine known as ayahuasca.
For three years prior to my first experience of ayahuasca I avoided it and judged those who used it.
A personal account
Over a year ago, I had the hardest night of my life on this medicine. I shat myself, threw up on myself and thought I was going insane. I was in a room with some friends and mostly strangers. I was crying out for help. I was dying. It felt like a psychotic break to the point where I lost all reference points and “me” totally disappeared.
I experienced deep terror that I don’t wish upon anyone. Fortunately for me, the inferno ended and I felt the deepest shame of my life that night. After many hours of hell, I came out the other side in bliss and ecstasy.
I crossed through a threshold that night that marked the true beginning of my ego death and spiritual emergence that is still going on today.
At this point, you might be wondering why I went back for more. But, for those of you who know me, you know that I am that devoted to uncovering the truth of reality. And, while I have experienced the dark night, I have also see the other side, of blissed out LOVE.
Should you desire great tranquility, prepare to sweat white beads. —Hakuin
The hero’s journey has always been my quest. I have been drawn toward raw, real, experiences all of my life. In the past, I have explored “pushing through” and this is requires a whole different approach—receiving and surrendering.
Ayahuasca = love?
In my opinion, ayahuasca is essentially truth serum made up of 100% love.
Not the kind of feel good love you might think of however.
Many of us think that love is synonymous with good feelings. But from where I stand, love = giving me the opportunity to see myself (ego and my essence) and my games clearly. Being loved in this way is showing me the utter rawness of reality with no filters or apologies.
Ayahuasca is not for everyone. In fact, I don’t recommend it unless you are very, very, very serious about waking up to the total truth of who you are.
If you are incredibly hungry for the truth and want to see the your own mind clearly, then it’s worth exploring under expert guidance.
If you participate more than once and welcome her into your life, she will show you more than you can ever imagine. Worlds beyond worlds. Painful and dark truths about yourself, cosmic love, past lives, your childhood, your future. If you work with her on a regular basis, you will potentially accelerate burning through your psychological blocks and other obstacles.
However, she comes at a very high price. Not monetarily. Your personality will suffer and you will see parts of yourself that literally make you vomit. Once she is in your system, there is no where to run or hide and you can’t get out of the experience until the medicine wears off, often 4-8 hours later.
If you resist her, you may feel nothing at all. Your unconscious might be too wiley and defended. Or she will amplify your resistance 100 times and make you feel how painful that is.
Everything you have ever avoided feeling will have to be faced. Everything you pushed down, stuffed. Everyone you have ever hurt, blamed, judged will be felt throughout your entire body.
If you come humbly with great reverence and ask and pray for deep healing, teaching and surrender, you will get what you ask for and then some.
I have never been so generously given to in all my life. Her love is unwavering and as big as all the cosmos combined.
Ayahuasca is a huge part of my spiritual path now. I am not a seeker looking for some one hit wonder that will take away my pain and show me a good time. Nor am I using this sacred medicine to avoid the day-to-day grind of the householder path I am on.
This is nothing like LSD, mushrooms, X, or even peyote. To compare them is simply inappropriate. To call it a drug is disrespect.
So what is it?
What is Ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca is spirit accessed by a South America sacred plant medicine made by shamans that takes days to prepare. They mix two different plants, a vine and a leaf. Once the two plants are combined, DMT ( N,N-dimethyltryptamine) becomes active which gives the hallucinogenic effects. How shamans first discovered this still debated, but it’s obvious to me they spoke to plants and the plants spoke back.
Many folks use the name “grandmother” for this sacred medicine, thus suggesting it has a feminine essence. Traditionally it is known as yagé. Some refer to ayahuasca as “the vine of death” because of the dying/rebirth process involved. Ayahuasca is considered a spirit that is called into the space by the actual brew and the shamans (see references and links below).
Ayahuasca is used traditionally as spiritual medicine to heal people, gain insight about the land, hunting information, and to receive guidance from the other side.
Ayahuasca as a brew is illegal in all states but two right now because DMT is a Schedule 1 drug. Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it is gaining momentum as a legitimate religious practice, specifically in the Santo Daime community.
Why is it becoming more popular now?
I have no idea, but here are some guesses.
Ayahuasca is gaining more and more credibility in the medical world as a legitimate treatment for addiction. More on that here. Also, just google “ayahuasca addiction treatment” and see what you find.
It is also gaining ground as a legitimate spiritual path for Westerners. Perhaps folks are tired of the guru’s human limitations. Perhaps with the growing consciousness movement and 2012 predictions, people are hungry for more immediate results and insights that address today’s challenges.
The clients I work with long for meaning and truths beyond books. People are in pain and have tried everything to relieve it or work through it and don’t see results. People are hungry for experiences that show them first hand what is really going on.
Some important words of caution
Ayahuasca used alone without working with your everyday relative reality has the potential of just being another spiritual bypass. While I cured my sugar addiction with this medicine, it is not a magic bullet for your pain or problems.
Used in conjunction with ongoing integration work, group work, therapy, bodywork and being in a supportive community can further the development that happens in a medicine ceremony.
If your ego development is highly fragmented or fragile, you may run the risk of getting “blown out” and might have a hard time integrating your experience.
For the serious student, ayahuasca is gaining momentum in the States as a legitimate form of healing. It comes with risks. Do your homework and find the right shaman with legitimate credentials and experience.
If you want to see the nature of reality as it really is, I recommend this experience more than once.
References and links
A great recent podcast I did on the subject. Ayahuasca & Relationships.
This Wikipedia link is quite extensive and helpful for a big educational overview:
This post was orginally on the National Geographic website, but is “no longer available.” Interesting. But I found it here:
This is a new movie out in 2010 that looks quite good.
This short vid is worth the watch.
Another interesting video:
And great photo gallery of making the medicine:
Feel free to share your links and personal accounts below!