The first time I heard of Ayahuasca was when I lived on a paradise beach island in Thailand for a couple of years. My neighbour would spend $2,000 a pop for an experience he believed was life changing and brought him close to God. Several others have mentioned the same thing.
One story stated that mother earth Gaia felt that we the human virus were destroying the planet and needed to awaken to our plunder before we destroy everything. Another story states that botanists were baffled how the Shamans of the Amazon jungle could possibly come up with the method how to prepare the substance, requiring plants from different parts of the jungle prepared in different ways. To which they simply replied, “The plants taught us”. Or I saw one documentary explaining how magic mushrooms are all interconnected like the nerves of a massive brain and influence us to awaken us for a love of nature.
The truth may be otherwise, in any case I was intrigued. Since I did not have a couple thousand dollars kicking around for such experimentations, it would have to wait. Now that I arrived to Brazil and was set to stay at a host in Itatiaia near a large national park, I asked him if he happened to know any tribe who could render it to me. Fortunately he did and off I was up to the mountains.
In advance he instructed me that I must not have sex, marijuana or alcohol for three days prior, and that I must first undergo an interview to determine whether I was worthy.
We arrived early evening and it turned out to be some kind of a monastery. Apparently a long time ago there was some farmer who was exploring parts of the Amazon, when he came across a tribe who introduced him to this substance. He received a vision of a Lady of the Moon who instructed him to eat only a certain root for an entire week, but without traditionally mixing salt into it to give it flavour, and to take Ayahuasca each day during the same period. His body became very strong and he received divination that he should start a church of Christ which would use the substance during their meditation trances.
During the interview process, he asked me how close I felt to God, to describe some experiences I’ve had with him, why I want to try Ayahuasca, if I felt trying it would bring me closer to God, if I ever had surgery and a host of other questions amounting to roughly half an hour.
The interview took place after about a dozen of us took part in singing prayers, to which two of them played on the guitar. The ritual took place the following evening, to which more than 30 had shown up, but with the addition of another guitar, flute and cello, with more singing.
At 7pm we took our first dosage, which I started to feel by around 8pm, at which we took our second dosage. After this it did not take long for it to take more noticeable effect, which I would compare to a herbal version of an acid trip I did not want to be on. I felt uncomfortable, and I never enjoyed sitting still in a chair meditating with my hands on my lap (I went to a ten day meditation camp in Thailand and simply find myself too restless and full of thoughts to endure such stagnation).
It was cold up in the mountains and I had wrapped my sleeping bag around my legs, but still I was uncomfortable and cold and could not find a pleasant position to sit in. Because of my constant movements, with my windbreaker rubbing against my sleeping bag, one person in the background kept coming up to me, whispering that I must remain very quiet and that I am disturbing the others who were meditating in silence.
In that past, many times I have heard that those taking Ayahuasca end up vomiting, as if the herbal mixture was cleansing the body of a lifetime of pollution, possibly spiritual cleansing. The substance generally made me feel mildly nauseous, and fortunately I’m a king burper. I felt a burp coming up and managed to make it sound like it was close to a vomit, while it actually felt a little close to becoming one. I looked at the person in the background and he gave me the goahead to go outside.
I walked a bit outside but throughout the whole ordeal I could only think of going back to my room to lie next to my wife and watch Game of Thrones with her until the feeling subsided. There was another person patrolling outside, as there was one standing guard at the entrance inside the church, but when I gestured to the guard outside that I wanted to go back to my room to sleep, he vehemently insisted that I must not.
The inside guard came outside with my sleeping bag and they suggested I could lie down to sleep on a small bed in an adjoining room. This was much more comfortable, I was thankful for it, and they regularly came into the room to check up on it and even started a small fire for me, to help keep me warm.
Later I was asked by the guard in the background to go back to my seat for the tail end of the ceremony, once the meditation period was over and only singing. I refused two more offers of the herb and joined the rest for another two hours while they stood and sang. The guard in the background kept checking up on me to make sure I was reading the English translation of what they were singing, which seemed like a lot of instructions to hold fast to our brothers and sisters, feel the power rising up within us, and go forth and spread the news.
This is when I remembered how my pregnant wife, who was back in the room and declined to take part in the ritual, commented that it seemed like a cult to her. There was a large double cross hanging on the wall, but when we asked why the two horizontal crosses, they said it has a lot of meaning but failed to explain a single one of them. The center table we sat around was in the shape of the Star of David. The women sat on one side of the room while the men on the other half.
In my baddish trip paranoia I started having thoughts about The Wicker Man, an old cult movie classic of a police sergeant who had been sent up north to a Scottish village to investigate the report of a missing girl, but who ended the movie as a sacrifice locked in a large wooden effigy set on fire.
I was also starting to worry for my wife and all sorts of thoughts started racing through my head, but eventually 11:30pm came around, they said a final prayer, we shook hands and I found my wife safely snuggled in bed.
The next day several had asked me how I felt about it, I was invited to lunch, they even offered us a ride to the bus station, but we already made plans to leave early to make the long walk to the next village.
I’ve tried acid a few times and enjoyed the visual show when sitting in a field of flowers, or mushrooms a few times while giggling for hours like little school girls. I guess I just wasnt in the mood for the intense feeling. It was more a body high and I did start to approach hallucinations. Perhaps if I could set my own environment I would have enjoyed it more and be more willing to take some more. Generally I don’t like to be told what to do, but overall I did not like the feeling in my physical body, nor the requirement to sit still.
Years later I heard of a story of one woman who had an absolutely horrible experience with it, but the Shaman convinced her that the plant was simply vomiting out a lifetime of alcohol abuse. She tried it again the next night, broke down crying and experienced ecstatic revelation. So I have not given up on it yet (note that I drink about twelve beers a day).
The people were very nice and I do not believe it is a cult, my imagination just likes to run wild, and I do not like to sit still, especially under such influence.
There is a lot to do in the area, such as horseback riding and waterfalls to explore. The accommodation is 50 Real per person per night, the actual Ayahuasca 35 Real (about ten bucks) per person. Because I expressed discontent with the experience, they did not charge me for the herb.
After all is said, I’d say the only life change I experienced was my impatience to drink my next beer. 🙂
If you’d like a more pleasant life changing experience, try one of our private boat tours through the crystal clear waters of the Philippines, 52 islands of white sand beaches and completely off the beaten path.