What’s this all about the “Plant/Medicine/Teacher”, Ayahuasca?
In addition to Psilocybin, Mescaline and other medicinal psychedelics (iboga, ibogaine, 5-MeO-DMT, LSD, MDMA, and more), Ayahuasca is gaining prevalence in our global society as a tool for personal growth and healing.
Along the lines of Yoga, Meditation, and Psychotherapy –but expedited and concentrated–, the plant teacher can help you optimize your psychological performance and emotional control, explore and learn about your true self, confront major issues, and have personal breakthroughs.
More and more people are making treks to Amazonian Shamanic Retreats and Ceremonies, where Ayahuasca has been used by native tribes in and around Peru for countless centuries. Retreat centers offering shamanic healing or plant-medicine ceremonies are opening worldwide in places like Mexico, Portugal, Indonesia and India.
Ayahuasca (or Yagé), when used in a natural setting with preparation, a shamanic ceremony and a practiced facilitator, has healed addictions, past traumas, PTSD and more. After, many people feel they can more clearly make major life choices –such as a career or relationship changes– and feel a greater sense of interconnectedness and purpose.
How does it do this?
Ayahuasca is believed to act on the Pineal Gland, one of the only perfectly centered parts of the brain, responsible for many of the body’s rhythms and cycles, and believed to be the “third eye,” the center of spirituality and self-awareness for human beings.
Preparing for an Ayahuasca Ceremony
Be aware the medicine may induce a physical purge, ridding your body of toxins in the most direct ways possible.
Many recommend a Dieta (diet) to stick to beforehand, which may reduce unpleasantries. You may experience some physical purging regardless. Although unpleasant in the moment, it is said that the rougher the journey the more positive the outcome.
Ceremonies are sometimes 1 on 1 (facilitator and student, with Ayahuasca as the plant teacher), or performed in groups of up to 50 and a few assistants along with the facilitator. A ceremony typically lasts all night (up to 8 hours!).
What is the shaman or facilitator’s role?
“It is incorrect… to characterize the Ayahuasca experience as merely an oral DMT experience activated by a beta carboline MAO inhibitor. The holistic processes at work are far more complex and it is unquestionably the Ayahuasca vine which fuels the transformative power and profound teaching of the Ayahuasca experience.” – Choque Chinchay, SpiritQuest Sanctuary in Iquitos, Peru
Apart from slight differences in the plants used from region to region, the unique holistic process of each ceremony and shaman channel the teachings of the plant medicine. This varies from tradition to tradition: there are 7 major shamanic lineages and countless tribes which natively practice – each with their own style regarding plant choice, preparation, activity, and involvement during the ceremony.
A big part of being in a group with a facilitator is help with interpretation and support of the visualizations and realizations one gets during the trip. Some shamans have a laid back “let it happen” approach; others are active, asking questions and casting spells to draw out and deal with inner issues.
Most sing songs, known as icaros, to enhance the journey the medicine teacher takes you on. These is one of the most uniform practices in Ayahuasca ceremonies. They are said to increase the visualizations, raise spiritual energy, and leave one with a greater appreciation for music.
Ayahuasca in Society Today
Ayahuasca has inspired many artists such as Pablo Amaringo and Armand Daigle, and appears in many recent news articles like: What to expect during an Ayahuasca ceremony, NYMag on Ayahuasca as the new juice cleanse, and Maybe this plant medicine can cure cancer. There are even published reviews of the many cases of addiction and PTSD treatment with Ayahuasca on MAPS. You can see more in our own news section or consult this list of documentaries.
If you are looking for conferences and retreats, check out Entheoscience in Germany and Breaking Conventions in the UK, as well as Einat Freedom Yoga – Shamanic Yoga Retreat in Portugal, to name a few.
A deep cultural part of Amazonian tribal life for millennia, Ayahuasca is on its way to becoming a respected normal practice in our global society. Clearly, there is a bright future for her here on earth.