Psychedelic Therapy 5
Ayahuasca (DMT) medicine
[Ayahuasca] The Special Vine of the Soul Gathering
Ayahuasca: a word that’s getting more hits on Google search results for people who want to learn more about the sacred plant used in healing retreats. From a scientific outlook, ayahuasca is the Banisteriopsis Caapi plant from South America and originated in Peru. The medicine is used mainly as a tea to drink during ayahuasca ceremonies.
Ayahuasca holds Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a heavy-hitter compound, known for for producing psychedelic effects, including a spiritual connection, life or death experiences, and hallucinations. It’s hard to pinpoint what we’ll encounter when ayahuasca is in our system. Ten people in a retreat will experience different feelings, sensations, and visualizations. It’s not like a roller coaster ride at an amusement park where every rider travels the same path from start to finish.
In this ayahuasca jungle ceremony in Puerto Morelos, Mexico, we’ll join the vine of the soul gathering through my observations. Let’s do this!
I feel relief for making it to the ceremonial site in the jungle on this Friday night, six days before Thanksgiving 2023. My flight arrived at the Cancun airport two hours ago. I’m still a little frazzled from today’s travel logistics.
There are four women participants, three music healers, one indigenous singer healer, Lupita, and one facilitator, Edgar. He's usually the ayahuasca ceremony shaman, but instead, he will support the two shaman elders, Tata and his wife Nana, for this special event. They showed Edgar the ropes on how to be a plant medicine (peyote, magic mushrooms, and ayahuasca) shaman.
The 13 of us sit on the dusty jungle floor, circling the campfire in the middle. It’s not hot, it’s not cold, but there have been scattered showers this week. There’s a chance of rain, according to Edgar and his ceremony crew, along with today’s overcast. If it starts to pour on us during the gathering, we’ll have to squeeze ourselves into a jungle room the size of a kid's bedroom rather than remaining outside in the open jungle until sunrise.
Tata, the head shaman retired man, begins the ceremony by handing everyone a small wooden stick. The purpose: to walk up to the middle of the circle to the fire area, say a silent intention or prayer, and place our stick inside the fire pit, so it can enlarge and remain lit all night.
I walk up to the fire, pause, and stare at it. The three music healers play calming melodies on their shamanic instruments, while Tata sings strongly in Spanish. “Help me heal mentally and spiritually,” I say to myself, a few seconds before placing my wooden stick in the fire next to the other sticks.
Nana, one of the elder shamans and Tata’s wife comes to my seated area. I stand up and she serves me a teaspoon of ayahuasca as if I was her child. It’s commonly brewed in a tea, but in tonight’s ceremony, we’re eating black tar-looking medicine. Tata, the head shaman, says it prevents nausea and vomiting, the common side effects when drinking ayahuasca. The bitterness of the ayahuasca doesn’t taste bad either.
Tata says the medicine will kick in about 15 to 20 minutes. Now, if it doesn’t, we can get more medicine; there’s no limit. All we must do is walk to where Nana sits and say, “Nana, I want to open my heart,” so she can spoon-feed us a teaspoon of ayahuasca.
The three music healers continue to play comforting music with their shamanic instruments. Lupita, the singer healer, radiates passionate indigenous-style vocals, causing everyone to listen with all eyes on her. Good is an understatement to Lupita's vocals. I can only imagine how she sounds when the ayahuasca peaks in my system.
I feel chill, clear-minded, and open to whatever tonight has in store. The weather, whether it rains or stays dry, isn’t going to be detrimental to my experience.
Nana served me three teaspoons of ayahuasca in an hour, one teaspoon every 20 minutes. Other than relaxation, I don’t feel any compelling effects, spiritual awakening, or being floored, lying on the ground. From what I’ve read online, a typical effect when ayahuasca hits is to feel as if we’re stuck on the ground.
“There are some strong-minded individuals in this group. The medicine can take longer to work. Sometimes there’s resistance that we don’t realize. That’s okay. Just take more medicine. We can go all night,” says Tata in Spanish.
I think Tata was referring to me. I’m the only person who has ingested three teaspoons of medicine in one hour and who remains seated. The other participants are floored, lying on the ground as if they are taking a nap or sleeping.
Maybe ayahuasca isn’t for me, or I have a high tolerance. I’ve heard some stories about folks taking ayahuasca for the first time and not feeling anything. Still, I’m going to enjoy the live music and ceremony.
“We are now going to smoke Santa Maria,” says Tata.
“What’s that?” I say to myself.
“It’s marijuana,” says the woman next to me.
I smoke the joint a few times in three rounds.
“Boy, that weed is strong!” I say to myself.
I walk up to Nana to get my fourth dose of ayahuasca.
“When it hits you, it will hit you,” says Nana with a grandmother-like Spanish tone.
This teaspoon Nana’s about to serve me has a chunk of medicine. It’s more like a two-teaspoon serving.
I sit back on the ground in my seated area, sucking on the teaspoon of ayahuasca as if it’s candy. Jessica, the music healer across from me on the other side of the campfire, has a candle in front of her that’s shooting an orange laser beam at my forehead.
I feel a sudden unsettling physiological change in my chest, disrupting my default breathing patterns. I consumed a minimum of half a gallon of water today, but I feel like I’m dehydrating, making it somewhat hard for me to breathe. I want to raise my head to Edgar, the facilitator, and say, “I need water; I feel like I’m going to die!”
I pause for a few seconds, trying not to freak out. The group dynamic will shift drastically from high times to worry, or even panic, if I blurt out that I need help to Edgar.
Nausea surfaces inside of me. I quickly go to an all-fours position with my forehead on the ground and moan while the three music healers play shamanic music and Tata sings proudly.
“This is it,” I think to myself as if it’s time for me to leave this earth.
I feel like I’m going to die, so I close my eyes, still in an all-fours position with my forehead on the ground.
I open my eyes, smiling like a joker from the first Batman movie. The black blanket laid flat on the ground freezes and turns into a black three-dimensional (3D) voxel block with dark tan outlines, stretching downward. It’s as if I’m on top of a 3D voxel cliff and bottom is pitch black, and a long way down. The voxel block dimension reminds me of cool 3D graphics portrayed in Minecraft computer games.
I slowly go downward inside the voxel block, like I’m going down on an elevator. My wide smile radiates joy and victory, knowing I didn’t die and I’ll make it to see another day.
I return to a seated position with my legs crossed, listening to the shamanic music, watching the music healers dancing and singing harmoniously, some sitting, some standing. My upper body moves fluidly to the shamanic rhythm as my soul opens with love and happiness. The music and Lupita’s robust singing triggers my head to move left to right as I smile childishly.
The intensity of the instrumental sounds and singing forces me to position my head toward the ground and move it side to side with my eyes slightly closed. I look up to the sky, blowing deep bursts of air into the universe.
Bright and colorful fractal hallucinations as television static flickers to each beat of the shamanic drum. The TV static flickering transforms into light multi-colored sparkles.
The three music healers across from me, approximately 20 feet away, have one candle in front of them. Everything goes dark inside this black dimension with nothing in sight other than me. The three candles appear and begin to float, one in the center, one on the left, and one on the right. The two flames from the one on the left and right close in to the center candle and form one flame. The candle flame is shrinking as it goes farther ahead. Now, the flame looks like a pebble.
I return to an all-fours position and put my forehead on the ground. This new dimension is similar to the black 3D voxel block dimension, but this one has dark gray geometric squares. I slowly go down inside the voxel block tunnel, as if I’m going down on an elevator. I don’t feel that I’m heading toward the underworld. My soul is embracing the dark realm. There’s nothing to fear.
The four ayahuasca participants beside me, two to the left and two to the right, appear to be resting or sleeping, a usual ayahuasca effect during the plant medicine ceremony. 70-year-old Tata continues giving it gas by singing in Spanish like a Mexican opera man, Lupita’s vocals are of a goddess, and the music healers play smoothly.
I’ve had five or six ayahuasca teaspoon doses. That’s a high amount, according to what Tata mentioned earlier before we took the medicine that two teaspoons should be enough. My ego says, “Get more,” but my soul says, “You’ve had enough for tonight.” Besides, I’m cherishing the live music as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Get the full Ayahuasca (DMT) psychedelic experience by clicking the Book image below!