Ayahuasca is an Amazonian plant mixture capable of inducing altered states of consciousness. Ayahuasca is used primarily as a medicine and as a shamanic means of communication, typically in a ceremonial session under the guidance of an experienced drinker. Here is a guide to Ayahuasca with some helpful information for those who would like to try it.
Who Should Take It
Anyone can take Ayahuasca but most people who go on the journey have experienced some type of trauma in their lives, or they have a self-destructive negative pattern of behavior in their life that they are trying to get rid of. It’s very common to see people with addiction to drugs and alcohol seeking treatment. Another group of people you are likely to find at a treatment center are individuals who have encountered painful trauma in their lives. This trauma has left an imprint on their daily lives and resurfaces in some way. Ayahuasca has also been used to treat anxiety and stress. People who fall victim to anxiety and daily stress have reported that Ayahuasca was a major benefit in their ability to overcome stress and anxiety.
It’s also common to find people who don’t have any issues, nothing they are trying to sort out but just simply want to have a spiritual experience. Many people go on the journey hoping to connect directly with the source and experience the unseen world in a profound way. This was one of the reasons I decided to take it when I traveled to Peru.
What is it like to be on Ayahuasca
Everyone has their own experience. It is very personalized to you. Your mind and life experiences will play a role in your experience. Your experience is filtered through your perception of reality and consciousness as it relates to the events of your own life and experiences.
It’s also possible that you may not experience anything. I have had an Ayahuasca encounter where I did not experience anything in my mind, I wasn’t taken on a journey, I just sat there all night frustrated that I couldn’t go to sleep because the Ayahuasca was giving me so much of a body high it was impossible to not stay still.
The biggest mistake one can make going into an Ayahuasca ceremony is to expect a certain type of experience. Going in with a particular agenda and experience you want to force happen is a bad idea. There is a strong chance you will be disappointed. Don’t sit in the driver’s seat with Ayahuasca. You must take a back seat as a passenger and let it take you for a ride. Don’t even tell the driver (Ayahuasca) where you want to go. Just get in, and let it take you where it wants to take you. It might let you off down the street, or it might take you on a serious road trip, it all depends.
As for the ceremony, many Shamans will do the ceremony in their own unique way. My Shaman was pretty hardcore and had me out in the rain forrest by myself after the intake. Some Ayahuasca retreats will keep you in a nice cozy cabin, so it all depends on what you want. If you want a rugged hardcore experience you can check out Orlando, My Shaman. If you want something less depending there are plenty of other good Shamans that can facilitate that.
Avoid taking pharmaceutical drugs and over the counter medicines. Interactions with these drugs can be potentially life threatening. Do not take any meds that include MAOI, SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), antihypertensives (high blood pressure medicine), appetite suppressants, medicine for asthma or bronchitis, cold fever or allergy medicine, central nervous system depressants, anti psychotics, anti depressants, or alcohol. Also avoid herbs such as St. John’s Wort, Kava, Ginseng, Ephedra, Yohimbe, and Sinicuichi.
Women doing ceremonies alone should take care to research the Shaman doing their ceremony. Ask around and try to connect with other people who have done a ceremony with their Shaman. There have been cases of some Shamans sexually harassing woman. Don’t let this deter you from taking Ayahuasca, and understand that there are a few bad apples that make the vast majority of good ones look bad. This is far less likely to happen if a woman is not traveling alone and is accompanied by a male.
The dark side of Ayahuasca can also be encountered. We must also respect that Ayahuasca is a powerful force. People must allow themselves to be vulnerable in order for it to effectively work. While you are in this vulnerability it’s possible for one to be manipulated by negative entities. Ayahuasca is uplifting in all its glory but one cannot ignore the fact that some people have had direct experience of the dark force of Ayahuasca. These dark experiences can leave life altering memories.
Where To Take It
You can take Ayahuasca anywhere, however it is not legal everywhere. The most popular places people go to take Ayahuasca are the Peruvian rainforests. Brazil and Columbia are also popular locations people have traveled to take the medicine. You don’t have to travel to South America to take it, as many people have had wonderful experiences in their local regions.
How Much Does It Cost
Ayahuasca ceremonies range in price. It depends on the Shaman doing the ceremony. Some nonprofit healing centers will do it for free on a case by case basis depending on your condition. As of this date, the average price of a 7-day ceremony can range between $1000 to $2000. You may still encounter prices far more than this, as there are more luxurious Ayahuasca retreats popping up as this is becoming more commercialized to Westerners.
What To Bring
If you do decide to travel to South America for a more cultural experience of Ayahuasca, always bring an open mind, organic natural bug repellant, a lot of American 1 and 5 dollar bills. (I’ll let you figure out why when you travel to Peru, Brazil, or Columbia). Bring a light long sleeve shirt incase it gets cold at night. I would advice hiking boots and rain boots depending on how wet the terrain you are traveling to is. A good heavy duty rain jacket if you are traveling to the Amazon. A flashlight with extra batteries to see at night. And lastly, a healthy tolerance for bugs.
For more information on Ayahuasca, you can check out this YouTube video I made about my experience with the sacred plant.