Answering Ayahuasca’s Call
I have always been interested in the power of entheogens, especially in terms of their therapeutic/personal growth potential. Having a background as a Counseling Psychologist facilitated a natural extension of this interest. I had read about ayahuasca and had watched numerous You Tube videos of testimonials from people who had taken ayahuasca. The more I read and watched the more my interest increased. I wanted to experience ayahuasca but was extremely doubtful that the opportunity would ever present itself. First of all, I had little travel experience abroad, limited financial resources, and didn’t like the idea making any out of the country trip alone. I essentially gave up on the idea. Months passed without giving the matter any further thought.
During this same time period, I had become associated with the Audaciouspirit, taking a few of their online classes and participating in the healing and meditation circles. As fortune would have it, Audaciouspirit, seemingly out of the blue, announced that they were organizing an ayahuasca pilgrimage to Peru and was soliciting interested pilgrims. I immediately got excited about the whole prospect. It was as though the Universe was saying, “OK sport, so you want to take ayahuasca? Here, we’ll make a way for it to happen “. More importantly, what added to this ‘unfolding’ that makes it even more amazing is that ordinarily I would never be able to afford or finance such a venture. It just so happen that a year or so prior, my mother had given me an amount of money for helping her after my father died. I had been sitting on the money with the intention of saving it for any financial emergencies that typically happen in the course of daily living. We all know about that, right? Well, it just seemed that the Universe anticipated my ayahuasca interest and was facilitating this whole process, even before I knew it was going to happen. I wanted to take ayahuasca. Now I had the money and the process that could make it happen.
Before sharing my experience with ayahuasca, I have to toot Audaciouspirt’s horn. Audaciouspirit did an outstanding job in making the arrangements for the trip. They set-up the air travel, hotel reservations, secured a guide to help the group navigate around Iquitos upon arrival and departure, and provided monthly in-services (workshops) as preparation for the pilgrimage that addressed setting intention and goals for the experience. They even provided little extras like name tags for our bags and neat journals to record our experiences, as well as packets of useful information about details concerning schedules, what to pack, hotels, restaurants, etc. Now, how thoughtful is that!! The workshops provided an opportunity to get familiar with the other pilgrims before actually meeting in person. That was nice. It was comforting and reassuring not to have to worry about details when facing unfamiliar emotional, psychological, and geographical territory. Audaciouspirit is commended on a job well done. My sense of gratitude and appreciation for Richard and Trish’s effort is beyond expression. Thanks guys.
First off, ayahuasca is not for the faint of heart. The two weeks in Peru participating in seven ayahuasca ceremonies was undoubtedly some of the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life. Ayahuasca is aptly referred to at the Temple as ‘medicine’… and that is first and foremost what ayahuasca is about. The medicine is used in conjunction with the maestras and maestros (female and male healers) and their ikaros (songs/chants). Apparently, the combination is a very powerful and ancient means of moving and rearranging energies in an individual. As this is happening, the physical response is to purge…and often from both ends. My initial and personal experience with ayahuasca is beyond description, particularly with regard to what happens on the mental and emotional level. As energy moved through my body, I would frequently have powerful and sometimes violent jerks and twitches, mostly in my forearms and hands, but often throughout my whole body as well. The sensation was scary but faded to being annoying as the effects of the medicine wore off. During one earlier ceremony, I felt a huge surge of energy slam me right in my navel/solar plexus area. It felt as though I’d been kicked in the stomach. The jolt was so violent I literally came off the matt I was lying on. During these experiences, I had no idea what was happening to me. My mind went wild trying to put it all together. I just knew for certain now that I had some chronic neuromuscular disorder and the ayahuasca had uncovered it. I then went from that thought to realizing in a subsequent ceremony that I was possessed by some ancient entity. I was host to this parasitic serpent like demon living inside me! There were several times during other ceremonies that I was sure I was about to draw my last breath, certain I was going to die in the jungle away from the people that I most loved. My family attachments and the thought of leaving them caused me to feel profound sadness and a helpless sense of resignation. Between these bazar machinations, the healers would make rounds to each individual and sing ikaros. More often than not, when they would sing ikaros at my turn, I’d start purging, sometimes retching when nothing was left to come out. When I reached that point, the purging would then start at the other end. The physical work involved in the purging was exhausting beyond description. I often thought,“ I just can’t do this shit anymore…it’s killing me.” But when the next ceremony rolled around, I’d courageously drag myself onto the proverbial altar once again. Despite the emotional and physical drain I was experiencing, some part deep inside me knew that something wonderful was happening. I couldn’t…and still can’t…verbalize or describe exactly what was changing with in me. Talking to other pilgrims and Temple staff between ceremonies was comforting and reassuring and helped me to understand in a rudimentary way the energetics of the healing process I was experiencing. Between ceremonies, despite literally going days without sleep, I usually felt great…like some weight was being lifted off of me. Interestingly, I hadn’t a clue what those degrees of heaviness were. I just knew I was feeling much lighter.
It’s been two weeks since my return from the rain forest in Peru. I can still feel that lightness. What is especially sweet about all this is that the lightness feels permanent. There seems to be less background static in my daily life. Particularly, the ‘free floating anxiety’ is not as pronounced. Relating to people seems easier and I feel a passion and peace that I didn’t have before. Dealing with the everyday world seems to have gotten just a little bit easier. The other day, after doing chest opening poses in a yoga class, I suddenly burst into tears. I have been doing yoga for years and this has never happened to me before. Yep, whatever this wonderful medicine has done, it is powerful and well worth the time, money and work to take it. For me, there is still much more work to be done. I understand I have only scratched the surface of the healing potential ayahuasca has to offer. I firmly believe, now that I look back on how all of this unfolded, that the ayahuasca had sent out a gentle call to me. I answered the call and the Universe provided the rest. If you feel ayahuasca’s call, by all means go for it. You have my blessings.
~ M.W. from Tennessee, Pilgrim 2014