Shazzle Dazzle did an immensely healing ayahuasca ceremony with Admmm’s mum and sis on Saturday. My shaman was outstanding, and we had the ecstatic pleasure of seeing Admmm fully restored and looking divine. Our pain has lessened to a degree where we are feeling only appreciation and awe at the love that surrounds us in all worlds. For the full story click RIGHT HERE!
Article by David Biello
Scientific American July 1st 2008
People who took magic mushrooms were still feeling the love more than a year later, and one might say they were on cloud nine about it, scientists report in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
“Most of the volunteers looked back on their experience up to 14 months later and rated it as the most, or one of the five most, personally meaningful and spiritually significant of their lives,” comparing it with the birth of a child or the death of a parent, says neuroscientist Roland Griffiths of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who led the research.
Griffiths gave 36 specially screened volunteers psilocybin, the active ingredient in so-called magic mushrooms. The compound is believed to affect perception and cognition by acting on the same receptors in the brain that respond to serotonin, a neurotransmitting chemical tied to mood.
Afterward, about two thirds of the group reported having a “full mystical experience,” characterized by a feeling of “oneness” with the universe. When Griffiths asked them how they were doing 14 months later, the same proportion gave the experience high marks for transcendental satisfaction, and credited it with increasing their well-being since then.
But some scientists noted that this psilocybin study was just the first trip on a long journey of understanding. “We don’t know how far we can generalize these results,” cautions neuroscientist Charles Schuster of Loyola University Chicago and a former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
To read the full story click HERE
The experience of Tania Ahsan – www.taniaahsan.com
I have only communed with Ayahuasca once and I don’t intend to again. The reason being is that I’m emetophobia (fear of throwing up).
I went to Shamanic healer Ross Heaven’s workshop in France because he told me that he had never thrown up on Ayahuasca and that it wasn’t a given. So I took the chance. I’m really glad that I did because, although it was a really tough experience for me, I feel I learnt more in that workshop than I had previously in months and months of spiritual work.
My first Ayahuasca ceremony was actually really lovely because I saw a warrior goddess in a battle scene and it resonated with me very much as the deity who has claimed me from birth is the goddess Kali and so it all sort of fit together. It was a scene like a moving stonework mural, almost like a cartoon. However, I remembered that Ross had said not to get too caught up in the pyrotechnics and that it was important to get the message from Ayahuasca rather than get off on having a trip. So I asked Ayahuasca to show me what I needed to know in a concrete way that I would understand. Almost immediately I felt intense sadness because the thought of Tony Benn came to me. Yes, that’s Tony Benn the politician. I realised that I thought his son, some sort of politician in Europe, is not even half the man that Tony Benn is and I wondered what would happen when Tony Benn died. Who would be able to articulate the leftist argument adequately? Initially I did wonder why I was in streams of tears over Tony Benn but then I realised that this was a great parallel to my own life. I could never live up to the legacy of my father, a very famous and accomplished Pakistani journalist and, while I hope the Divine gives my father a long and healthy life, I do wonder about what will happen when he dies. Will all that knowledge and poetry and skill die with him because I am not talented enough to carry on his line? It was a painful thought and I think Ayahuasca was telling me very strongly to forge my own path and not worry so much about legacies or following in the footsteps of my father, as that would be impossible anyway.
The second ceremony was the one that caused me most pain. I prayed to Ayahuasca at the start, in the same way as I had for the first ceremony, to ask that I be spared the throwing up. The first time round it worked fine and, much to my relief, I did not throw up. The second ceremony I spent mostly lying in the foetal position sucking my thumb. I remembered that my hand used to be slapped away from my mouth as a child because my cousin had got buckteeth by sucking her teeth all the while. It used to upset me a lot but Ayahuasca gave me permission to lie there all night sucking my thumb and it was very comforting. At the end of the ceremony when Ross said it was okay to get up and go back to our rooms, I felt a little smug. I felt like I was the chosen one because Ayahuasca had kindly agreed to save me from the throwing up. I got up and staggered back to bed. Within a second of lying down I realised, in a blind panic that I was going to throw up. I ran to get my boots on and made it out to the garden before I retched. It was only water that came up because of the fast that we keep when doing Ayahuasca but nevertheless it was terrifying for me.
In the past whenever I throw up, my mother comforts me by giving me a list of all of humanity who have thrown up in the past. When you hear the litany of everyone from pregnant women to Nelson Mandela having thrown up at least once in their lives, you realise that it is somewhat pompous to think that you are above the human condition and that it is normal and you have to accept it. It calms me down. But my mother wasn’t there at the workshop and so I panicked. I sat on a bench in the garden, rocking back and forth, too scared to go to bed in case I wanted to throw up again and too scared to stand in case that also made me sick again. Eventually I saw Howard Charing, one of the co-facilitator’s of the workshop, in the garden and went up to him to ask if there was something I could take to avoid the throwing up aspect. He was confused by my predicament and told me that throwing up was part of the process of releasing and healing. I don’t think he got the phobia aspect of it all. I was inconsolable by this stage and managed to get out that ‘people understand fear of spiders or snakes but they don’t get fear of throwing up because it’s part of the human condition. It’s such a lonely phobia.’ I supposed that pretty much summed up what my whole problem in life has been; one of loneliness and a sense that nobody really understands me or has even been close enough to make an attempt at it.
It seems strange but this notion formed the crux of my Ayahuasca experience and was probably the most valuable aspect of it. Once I accepted that nobody could step inside my skin and experience what I experience – be it fear, loneliness or happier emotions like joy – then I became more able to take responsibility for all my emotions. They were mine and nobody else’s. Also there was no magic pill to make my fears go away and while that was scary, it also showed me that I am capable of sitting with my fear till it subsides. I purposely avoided getting too serious in relationships because I was scared that we’d end up getting married and having children and that would mean morning sickness. I would have given up having a child because of my phobia but after the Ayahuasca experience I believe I would now be able to have a child.
I still wouldn’t do it again, despite the things that I have learned, because I am still very scared of throwing up and would only purposely put myself in that position for something dramatic like conception. The great thing is though that I no longer see myself as a coward for having this fear. We all have raw parts of us that we don’t want to touch or have touched but Ayahuasca lays those parts of us open and, while it is scary and painful at the time, the airing of those parts often means that we can finally heal.
High in the Andean mountains
The vista of Cusco below,
Above the stars twinkling blue, white and gold,
Mama Quilla* in half-light,
Besides the Temple to the Moon,
How fitting for Wawa Quilla,
Child of the moon,
In a hexagonal temple to the Madre* Ayahuasca
Seven souls came together
To journey to other dimensions,
To look into their being,
To seek answers,
To know the connection to the Cosmos, Pachamama*,
It began with a pago to Pachamama,
An offering of the sacred coca,
An offering to Pachamama,
An offering to the Apus,
An offering to Viracocha*,
A connection to the Andean spirits.
Then the medicine began to dance
In vivid colours.
Purple, blue, green.
Shapes, designs of another dimension, another
Colours, shapes, and designs to anchor your
connection to ALL.
Why am I here again?
You are here to connect.
You are here to be activated.
You are here to know this place.
You watch and laugh.
Your heart filled with joy.
You know this place and feel the energy.
The answer comes, fleeting and quickly
You are on the right path.
You know! Why ask?
The purge is strong and forceful!
Cleansing and purifying.
Now the bodywork begins.
It comes on strong and in waves.
Sensations to numerous to describe.
To different for words of this world.
Tingling, pains, hot, cold,
Pulses of energy that shake and vibrate the
Sensations in your auric field.
Same sensations you have had all week.
I recognise this. What is happening?
Yes, you have been going through this, but we are
completing it more quickly.
Your vibration must be increased for what lies
Time to move further beyond the physical.
The only way to deal with what lies ahead.
Thoughts, to survive the change or to finally go
Just a feeling of total and complete bliss.
Knowing once more that all is well.
To talk to Mama Quilla and the Star People.
Stars blue and intense.
Radiating their message of love and connection.
Letting me know I am not alone.
Yes, there is home.
Connecting the energy of the Cosmos to Pachamama,
Pachamama to the Cosmos.
Feeling the two come together in my crystal heart.
Feelings of intense LOVE!
How can one person be so very, very blessed?
How can one person feel such intense love for all?
A whole life of blessings!
The body is about to burst with feelings.
A sense that my whole life has had the purpose of
Sharing love and calm with all who crossed my
A sense that this was all I was supposed to do
A sense that maybe my work is almost done.
A feeling of completeness, job well done.
How can one person be so very blessed?
The icaros strong, uplifting
Beautiful rays of colourful energy spiralling up
and connecting all to the ONE.
Icaros* of the Shipibo.
The Shipibo of the Amazon.
The Shipibo guardians of the medicine.
The language of the medicine.
The language of the elements; fire, water, earth,
The language of the Creator.
The language of the connection to ALL.
The song fades.
A deep sleep comes.
*Mama Quilla =Grandmother Moon
*Madre Ayahuasca = Mother Ayahuasca
*Pachamama = Mother Earth
*Viracocha = Supreme God of the Andes
*Icaros = Songs sung during the Ayahuasca
Ayahuasca Experience | Kira Salak
For centuries, Amazonian shamans have used Ayahuasca as a window into the soul…they claim it can cure any illness. The author, Kira Salak, joins in this ancient ritual and finds the worlds within more terrifying—and enlightening—than ever imagined.
“I will never forget what it was like. The overwhelming misery. The certainty of never-ending suffering. No one to help you, no way to escape. Everywhere I looked: darkness so thick that the idea of light seemed inconceivable. Suddenly, I swirled down a tunnel of fire, wailing figures calling out to me in agony, begging me to save them. Others tried to terrorize me. “You will never leave here,” they said. “Never. Never.” I found myself laughing at them. “I’m not scared of you,” I said. But the darkness became even thicker; the emotional charge of suffering nearly unbearable. I felt as if I would burst from heartbreak—everywhere, I felt the agony of humankind, its tragedies, its hatreds, its sorrows. I reached the bottom of the tunnel and saw three thrones in a black chamber. Three shadowy figures sat in the chairs; in the middle was what I took to be the devil himself.
“The darkness will never end,” he said. “It will never end. You can never escape this place.”
“I can,” I replied.
All at once, I willed myself to rise. I sailed up through the tunnel of fire, higher and higher until I broke through to a white light. All darkness immediately vanished. My body felt light, at peace. I floated among a beautiful spread of colors and patterns. Slowly my ayahuasca vision faded. I returned to my body, to where I lay in the hut, insects calling from the jungle.
“Welcome back,” the shaman said.
The next morning, I discovered the impossible: The severe depression that had ruled my life since childhood had miraculously vanished. Giant blue butterflies flutter clumsily past our canoe. Parrots flee higher into treetops. The deeper we go into the Amazon jungle, the more I realize I can’t turn back. It has been a year since my last visit, and I’m here again in Peru traveling down the Río Aucayacu for more shamanistic healing. The truth is, I’m petrified to do it a second time around. But with shamanism—and with the drinking of ayahuasca in particular—I’ve learned that, for me, the worse the experience, the better the payoff. There is only one requirement for this work: You must be brave. You’ll be learning how to save yourself.”
To read Kira Salak’s full experience – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, there are 4 pages in total but WELL WORTH THE READ – click HERE
Posted By Ina Woolcott
From the Telegraph, by Chris Moss
Last Updated: 10:18AM BST 24 Sep 2008
Bruce Parry talks about Amazon, his new BBC series, where he experiences the shocking challenges facing the region today – and of the surreal experience of taking psychotropic drugs with indigenous tribes….
The episodes are themed to cover the Amazon region’s key challenges: cocaine; oil exploitation; indigenous people dying of epidemics; sustainable development; the gold rush; logging, cattle-ranching, land-grabbing, and slavery.
Parry is well known for his emotive style of presenting, which he puts down to his “stringent” upbringing (public school, armed forces) and limited linguistic abilities (“If I don’t show what I am feeling people won’t open up and I can’t communicate with anyone”). He is engagingly confessional in person, too. “There’s a lot of guilt in all this,” he admits. “I had to reduce my own ego to make this series. I was aware that I’m part of the problem. I’ve got an iPhone, I’m a consumer, I’m flying around making this series, and there is a lot of hypocrisy in all this.”
He appears to use his television work as a kind of therapy. His immersion-style of broadcasting involves a lot of discomfort and derring-do, and, during the making of the new series, he twice tried the notorious psychotropic drug ayahuasca. “It was the most extraordinary thing,” he says. “While I was living with a tribal group on the Ecuadorean border making a film about social problems as a result of oil exploitation, they offered to do it with me.
“I didn’t get a vision the first time as it wasn’t very strong. So I did it a second time in Iquitos [Peru], with a modern-day shaman; there’s a whole ‘ayahuasca tourism’ thing going on in Peru. The setting is the key, and I was lucky as I did it in a natural place, and had people near me who knew what they were doing.”
This time he got his vision. “I watched the ayahuasca plant beating the s*** out of my ego. The plant is trying to show me stuff and my ego is not letting it. And I’m at the side shouting ‘Shut up, ego!’ It wasn’t exactly a vision. As soon as I started to get the visuals, I was sick and so I took more of the drug, and then my ego came back, and I got sick again; the lesson was that the ego is ugly. I was told: you’ve been around a bit, you think you know a lot but you know f**** all. It was cathartic.”
He gives warning against popularising these types of extreme tourism. “I had read a lot before I did it and I knew the neurochemistry. It shouldn’t be glorified because there are lots of charlatans doing it, too – there are stories of rape and you have to realise you are entering into a state where you lose yourself.”
For the full interview click HERE
Posted By Ina Woolcott
Taken from an article entitled “LSD May Shed Hippie Image With Swiss Study of Medical Benefits” from London Bloomberg News
…Rick Doblin is trying to shake the drug’s hippie image and reclaim its use as a medicine. Doblin, who leads a group sponsoring the first study of LSD as a therapy in 36 years, says the new Swiss research may show the drug helps ease anxiety and pain in patients suffering from illnesses such as cancer and multiple sclerosis.
The research is a homecoming for LSD, which was created in 1938 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, who died this week at the age of 102. The hallucinogen was banned in the 1960s…
“LSD is not a drug for the counter-culture,” said Doblin, of MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies). “We’re trying to take it out of politics and bring it back into mainstream science.”
Approval for the Swiss study, led by Peter Gasser, a psychiatrist in the canton of Solothurn, followed more than two years of deliberations, including reviews by the country’s ethics body and medical regulators.
In the Swiss study of 12 patients, 8 of the 12 patients will be given 200 milligrams of LSD and 4 a 20-milligram dose, during two psychotherapy sessions 2-4 weeks apart. Patients will get 6-8 more psychotherapy sessions without LSD during the trials, which will last about 18 months. Researchers will assess the patients’ anxiety and pain levels as well as their quality of life.
“For some patients who are under the supervision of trained psychotherapists, LSD can be helpful,” Doblin said. “We’re not trying to say that kids can do LSD at parties.”
“The research that was started in the 1950s was never finished, so we need to look again at LSD without prejudice and purely as scientists,” Sessa said. “We need to adopt a dispassionate and evidence-based approach. There’s no room for Timothy Learys.”
The Swiss People’s Party, which has criticized health office policies such as providing drug addicts with heroin on prescription, is looking for ways to block the study, spokesman Alain Hauert said in an e-mail.
My god, wake up people! The huge potential of LSD to heal people on a mental and spiritual level is staggering. But then I guess big pharma doesn’t want to miss out on the huge profits from selling antidepressant etc. The side effects of antidepressants are so in your face im amazed they haven’t been banned.
In fact, if you have a loved one on antidepressants, you have to know what signs to look out for in case they cause more problems.
It was only because of LSD being abused that it got made illegal, how many people abuse pain killers, antidepressants, alcohol etc today. And they aren’t illegal! Profits are all that matter to some!
Read the full article here
Maps official website: MAPS.org
Related reading Albert Hofmann, Father of LSD, Dead
Submitted by Ayahuasca Healing
It can be a real dilemma for parents who have benefited greatly from plant medicines to know how to communicate about these experiences with their children. My 20-year-old daughter Chloe and I had the chance to participate in a ten-day experiential Ayahuasca Healing Seminar in the Brazilian Amazon this summer. This was my third seminar in this location. I went on a solo pilgrimage to the first seminar in July 2000, and my wife and I returned for the second one six months later. I returned this time because Chloe asked me if I would take her. The first two seminars were jointly led by Silvia Polivoy and Luis Eduardo Luna. This seminar, in July 2003, was led by Silvia alone.
Silvia is an Argentinean woman who is a licensed clinical psychologist practicing in Buenos Aires. She also has extensive shamanic training using various plant medicines. She first started giving ayahuasca to groups in Peru in 1997, and soon thereafter began her search for an appropriate place to hold a seminar in Brazil, where ayahuasca ceremonies are legal. Silvia found the perfect pousada, or inn, two hours outside of Manuas, Brazil. She was looking for a beautiful and comfortable place in the jungle, which was not too primitive. She felt that the ayahuasca experience could be difficult at times and depriving people of creature comforts in addition seemed like too much hardship for participants. The pousada is very comfortable with safe water, electricity, air conditioning, a swimming pool and hot showers. Sleeping accommodations are simple but ad- equate cabin rooms with beds. Most rooms are doubles but some singles are available. Food is served buffet style and is quite good, even without salt. (A special diet of bland food without salt is followed during the seminar, along with a request for sexual abstinence.) The staff is extremely friendly and supportive of the participants. In fact, several of them participated in at least one ayahuasca session along with us.
The focus of Silvia’s seminars is on healing, inner exploration, and personal growth. This was important to me in deciding to bring my daughter. I wanted her experience to be about something sacred, not just a “psychedelic trip,” and I hoped that she would receive the deep insights that sometimes come during an ayahuasca journey. The seminar consists of four ayahuasca journeys, a time for group sharing the day after each journey, wonderful excursions into nature, art workshops, as well as talks by guest speakers. Future seminars will possibly include yoga, massage, and optional private sessions with Silvia for those participants who want to go deeper. All activities are completely voluntary.
Chloe and I ended a 17-hour flight from northern California and arrived in Manuas, a city located where the Rio Negro and the Rio Solimois flow together to form the Amazon. We had two days to familiarize ourselves with the new surroundings and get over the time difference before the start of the seminar. I wanted to show Chloe the market on the river in Manaus, which is modeled after the old Les Halles in Paris, and the decaying colonial architecture of the city. Two days later all fifteen partici- pants and the seminar staff left for the two-hour trip into the jungle. We traveled by bus, ferry, and motorized canoe to our destination.
As I stepped onto the pousada dock I felt a quiver of inner familiarity rush through me. So many changes had happened to me there, so many miracles of personal transformation. It felt so right to bring my daughter to experience the magic of ayahuasca healing. Although I felt some nervousness and fear about the upcoming journeys, I realized how much I had learned and how much my behavior had actually changed because of ayahuasca. From my prior experiences with her as group facilitator, I trusted Silvia completely to take care of my daughter and myself if necessary. The anxiety I felt was more like healthy respect for such a powerful plant teacher, one who I could not deceive and who always showed me the truth. The leader of the seminar sets the tone for the entire event, and Silvia is the perfect facilitator. She has impeccable integrity which is vital for the person “holding the space” for a ceremony. One can sense her experience and skill in dealing with participants’ vulnerabilities and the occasional crisis that might arise. There is no ego involvement in her work; she is committed to the therapeutic and spiritual aspects of the plant medicine. She is also ultimately practical and takes care of all business at the seminar so that the participants are free of outside concerns and can fully explore their inner worlds.
There are few rules during the sessions, but they are important and Silvia makes sure they are followed. No one is allowed to leave the building where the sessions take place. Each participant has his or her own mattress and is expected to stay alone for the duration of the session, except of course if help is needed. Interaction among the participants during the session is not permitted. Excessive noise is gently discouraged. The ayahuasca session is clearly a time for an inward journey and it is suggested that participants keep their eyes closed even though the room is very dark. The session is not in any sense a party or a place to have a good time; it is a time to be with oneself and learn from the plants. Silvia’s choices of recorded music and sometimes just the sounds of the jungle provide an important background for the sessions.
What is the ayahuasca experience like? Each person has his or her own flavour of experience, therefore I can only accurately write about my own. I often feel an intelli- gent female presence acting as a life teacher. I have no vision of a form for this intelligence – perhaps it is part of my own unconscious or really some spirit being. Whatever it is, it seems to know everything about me and lovingly acts as a kind of divine therapist – not so much by talking to me as by giving me actual experiences that point out ways that I can live my life more skilfully and actually change my behaviour to solve specific problems. One such experience during this summer’s seminar had to do with my relationship with Chloe. For the first two days of our trip to South America, things were somewhat tense between us. Although Chloe and I have a good relationship, being with a family member for 24 hours a day can be challenging. During the first ayahuasca journey, I understood clearly what this tension was about. I had an experience of what it feels like to be the object of someone else’s attempt to control me, and it did not feel very good. I realized that on some kind of psychic level I was in the habit of trying to control my daughter. This wasn’t a malevolent control, I wanted to protect her and shape her environment – which was very appropriate when she was a small child and totally inappropriate now at age 20. I promised myself at that moment that I would stop trying to control Chloe and trust her with her own life. I shared this insight with her after the session and she acknowledged that she felt my attempt to control her and welcomed my promise to stop. I felt free of this unconscious need to control her life and our relationship took a healthy leap forward. This is an example of how ayahuasca works as a therapist for me. It doesn’t just talk to me, it provides an experience that brings great insight. I have found that experience, rather than just words, is a powerful incentive for change. My ayahuasca journeys are much more than practical lessons leading to insights and changes in behaviour. The more I work with this medicine, the more experiences I have of the divine. Poets have for centuries tried to describe this in words, and religions preach about having faith in God or some divine energy. There is nothing like an actual experience of divine presence to wake me up to the fact that I am not in control of very much that happens to me. I have been struggling with a compulsion to control things for my entire 58 years. During an ayahuasca journey it became clear to me that this need to control comes from a lack of faith in the cosmic plan. It comes from fear and the desire for self-protection from huge forces that are beyond my control. During one of my journeys I actually started laughing when I saw the futility of attempting to control my environment and my circumstances. After one session I realized what I often do in life: I build huge sand dikes on a beach hoping to keep the tide back. What a waste of energy! After experiences like these, it is much easier to short circuit my tendency to control, by recognizing this destructive pattern when it begins.
The plant teacher “spoke” to me during a journey after I asked about how to handle fear. She said that the antidote to fear was faith and trust in the cosmic drama taking place around me. Having faith does not come easily for me. How- ever, if I can see this cosmic drama taking place, it is so much easier to trust in the flow of the great river of the cosmos. It is absolutely clear that there is no other alternative. Another very important teaching I received from the plant concerned an addiction I have to thinking. I have been plagued by over-thinking most of my life, but until this recent journey I never framed it as an “addiction to thinking.” The ayahuasca presence “spoke” to me about this addiction and suggested tactics to use to deal with it. I was given the experience of how over-thinking feels, how debilitating it is, and that its first symptom is worry. By simply labelling worry as a symptom of an addiction that I want to be rid of, I have been able to make progress in not falling into what is essentially a bad habit. Silvia’s seminar provided the perfect environment to introduce my daughter to something that has been so important to me. Experiencing ayahuasca together in a safe, supportive and legal setting was a very special and unforgettable experience for both of us. I feel that the seminar was a tremendous success for father and daughter. I would recommend these Ayahuasca Healing Seminars to anyone seriously committed to self-exploration and inner transformation.
My dad gave me a trip into my consciousness as a twentieth birthday present. He had already attended Ayahuasca Healing Seminars in the Brazilian Amazon two times, and he decided to share the experience with me. He felt that it would be a unique and valuable opportunity for us. While some people are disturbed or confused by the idea of parents giving their children mind-altering substances, I have never doubted the correctness of the choice my dad made to introduce me to his most praised teacher. Throughout my life, my parents have been open and honest about their therapeutic use of entheogens. They have initiated conversations with me about consciousness exploration, and have always been available for questions and feedback. I had their stories and advice in mind as I began my own experimentation, and I maintained respect and reverence for drugs. Consciousness-expanding substances have provided them with guidance, humility, wisdom, and bliss, and I understand that those were the things my dad wanted to share with me when he offered me the opportunity to attend the Ayahuasca Healing Seminar with him.
While we have shared stories of our individual experiences with each other, until last July I had not entered a psychedelic mind state with either of my parents. My dad and I were both excited and a little nervous moving closer to the mysteries of the jungle and ayahuasca. When we arrived at the seminar, my nervousness turned into curiosity and excitement. The location, about an hour and half outside of Manaus on the banks of the Rio Ariau, is mind-blowing on its own. The pousada where we stayed was simple and comfortable with double occupancy rooms and private bathrooms. Along with the facilitator and speakers, the fifteen seminar participants ate a salt-free, wholesome shaman’s diet together in a dining room overlooking the river and the awesome jungle. We were there for ten days and drank ayahuasca every other night in a womblike cosmic spaceship made of palm leaves and native woods (that during the rest of the year doubles as a game room). The days after the ceremonies were spent resting, creating artwork, and sharing our journeys with one another. On the other days we explored the jungle with a warm, intelligent native guide and could attend presentations given by the various guest speakers. Throughout the seminar there was a lot of communication among the participants that forged a strong bond between us, and allowed me to really develop my interpretation of the completely overwhelming ayahuasca experience. For me, the seminar was a transcendent mingling of historic, contemporary, and futuristic worlds. It created a context in which an ancient medicine could be used by non-indigenous people in a way that was not separate or alien from our lives in the current world. The nature of the sacrament induces a feeling of unification with the human experience across the ages, and the power of the jungle reminded me of geologic time and the newness of the human species. The basic themes of the seminar – healing, growth, connection with divinity, and self-discovery – as well as the ceremonial atmosphere we created, respectfully connected us with the ancient use of the plant. Building on this traditional basis, the discussions we had as a group, the structure of the ceremony, and the lectures and activities provided were decidedly modern. We discussed astrophysics, the Internet, relativity theory, drug policy in the United States, shamanism, the Mayan calendar, extraterrestrial life, time travel, our inner children, our psychological struggles, our experiences of joy, and more.
Drinking ayahuasca in this fusion of past, present, and futuristic planes of reality, near my twentieth birthday and along with my dad, felt like a rite of passage. Rituals to acknowledge the beginnings and endings of stages in life are markedly absent from modern North American culture, and I didn’t even realize the value of such a ritual until I was given the opportunity to experience one that was so appropriate for my own frame of reference. It was not religious or dogmatic and was not even described as a rite of passage. It was individualistic, yet connected with the earth and with spiritual healing traditions. I didn’t drink ayahuasca to acknowledge my passage from childhood to adulthood, rather the ayahuasca showed me the significance of this passage. It let me in on some secrets of the universe that as a child I could not have fully understood. With the help of ayahuasca, I observed the transfer of roles that is taking place in my father’s life and in my own. Once I was a helpless infant, relying completely on my parents. Now we live independently, and in the future my dad will return to an infantile state and I, fully grown, will care for him. This is intellectually obvious, but with ayahuasca I did not simply know it, I experienced it. I felt myself in all of the stages of life, and connected the process to the comforting cyclical nature of everything. After the first session I interacted with my father as though we both fulfilled parent and child roles. The experience established us as two sovereign individuals, separate spiritual peers. It became easier to get along because I understood where he was coming from more deeply, and was able to interact with more honesty and less attachment.
Each night built upon the last, allowing me to really explore some of the basic messages the ayahuasca was sending me. Something that is unique about ayahuasca is its seeming intelligence. I have experimented with other entheogenic drugs and never felt such a distinct intelligent presence that was apart from my mind and was using the entheogen as a sort of cosmic translator. With ayahuasca there is almost a dialogue. It did not simply throw information and feelings at me, but gave me what I needed and what I was ready for. One of the most intense and memorable moments of the seminar was the morning after the second session when I returned to the room that my dad and I shared. I woke up in the ceremony room and dilated my pupils to let in the light of the Amazonian sunrise. I felt clear-headed and as though I had 360-degree vision into both the spiritual and physical worlds. I got up and felt life vibrating through my body as I shakily walked out onto the mosaic steps toward our room. I felt a little dizzy and very light as my consciousness completed its return into my body.
The night before I had thrown up within an hour of drinking the brew – following about forty seconds of falling through a multidimensional fractal world that was the most overpowering psychedelic experience I have had. After throwing up so early (the other nights I threw up at least a few hours after drinking the brew), I felt the ayahuasca much more subtly for the rest of the session. I had few optical visions and did not journey anywhere physical, but instead was right there, in the circular ceremony building with only mosquito netting separating me from the jungle. I felt incredibly connected with the group and with Mother Earth, and was cradled by something that felt like God.
When I walked into our room in the morning, my dad got up from his bed and without taking the blinders off of his eyes he hugged me. After hugging and expressing our love for each other we lay down in our beds and recounted our experiences. I found it important to share with my dad in the early mornings at the very ends of our journeys. Communicating helped to organize and make sense of the knowledge that had been given to me; painting, being with the rainforest, and doing yoga helped me to retain the non-intellectual elements of the experience.
Both my dad and I mentioned an overwhelming feeling of unity among the group the previous night. Very few people had thrown up, and there were no sounds of pain or struggle; the session had started off with one participant singing and joyfully chattering. My dad looked at me with clear, sparkling eyes and said, “I feel like there’s no more to learn.” I laughed. “I know, it’s just love.” And I felt certain of that. He smiled and said, “I felt like I was going to explode with love for you. It was actually painful.” We discussed a mutual encounter with what appeared to be the ultimate source, something that we could incorporate into our lives as unquestionable truth. The ayahuasca had chosen to saturate our group in divine universal love. I think that part of what enabled my dad and me to access this source was our familial love and fondness for each other. We are good friends and enjoy one another, and we have one of the most primal love relationships in nature. This natural love was magnified by the fusion of very positive energies in our group, and energized by the facilitator, Silvia Polivoy, and guest instructor Pablo Amaringo, a Peruvian ex-shaman and artist.
Drinking ayahuasca was like getting glasses after years of not knowing that my vision wasn’t complete. The spiritual and psychic expansion that took place in the jungle was not just a glimpse or a temporary revelation, but a clear message from the divine. Truth is love, and if I trust the truth it will help me float above myself to a place where the right direction is everywhere. I don’t think that using ayahuasca is the only way that I could have accessed this knowledge, but I don’t know if I would have had the faith and discipline to find it through other means. I feel as though I have been initiated into some universal covenant of transparent reality and cosmic understanding. Since returning from my ayahuasca journeys I have not felt any overwhelming distress. I have been sad, and struggled through difficult situations, and felt fear and anger and frustration, but have been able to look through those mental functions and experience the calm oneness of love. Along with the fundamen- tal message of love, the ayahuasca shared with me many more personal, practical insights. I chose to open myself to them, to trust my dad, the universe, and myself. And, I now consciously choose to apply what I have been shown in every moment. I feel incredibly grateful to my mom and dad. They both broke away from dogmatic religious backgrounds seeking personal spiritual truth, and they have the love, trust, and respect for me as an adult to share one of the most valuable spiritual tools they have found.
I don’t think of ayahuasca itself, the Ayahuasca Healing Seminar, or any entheogenic experience as a miracle cure or ultimate spiritual practice. Ayahuasca is a tool, and the Ayahuasca Healing Seminar a safe and guided opportunity to learn how to use that tool to its full potential. To live in a mindful, honest way is a choice, and many tools exist that can help us do this with less fear and more love. Entheogens are unique in that they temporarily quiet the mind and highlight the higher levels of consciousness that are difficult to access in our daily lives. I hope that my words will encourage parents and children to open their minds to the healing potential of these incredible plants. Every young person will encounter drugs, and parents have the opportunity to shape the nature of that encounter to help their children experience some of their benefits, while learning respect and humility for their remarkable power.
More information on retreats with Silvia Polivoy and Zoe Seven
MAPS Bulletin volume xiv number 1 summer 2004
As part of MAPS’ effort to spark discussion on more balanced and effective drug education, we are publishing this story of a father and daughter’s ayahuasca experience. For more on psychedelics as rites of passage, go to www.maps.org/ritesofpassage and see the next special issue of the MAPS Bulletin on the theme of “kids and psychedelics.”
As a seer, I get random visions. Even as a young child, I had the ability of receiving dejavus, interacting with spirits, and communicating with plants. These past couple of years, I have started on my spiritual journey and now know how to understand the visions and manage them appropriately.
Recently, I have been getting visions of tools to make for myself and my friends. Last month, I made a staff out of a Birch tree that contains the power of a strong, wise feminine spirit. Then, later that month, I came across a thick and short oak branch on a frozen lake. Again, I got a strong impulse to pull it out and make something out of it. I didn’t know why (as is usually the case), but I listened. I brought it home and make a gorgeous rod decorated with a quartz crystal, a leather handle, onyx, magma, and a few Ogham runes. The spirit within this ‘rod’ was very, very strong. I have this to a friend of mine who is wise in the ways of other-worldly communication and telepathy.
Does anyone else have this happen to them? If so, what do you make?