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Ayahuasca- the “Vine of Death”, some call it. A traditional spiritual medicine from the Amazonian rainforest used in ceremonies. It is a dark brownish brew with a consistency of cough syrup, that is made out of a vine called “Banisteriopsis caapi”. It is brewed with leaves containing DMT.
DMT is a chemical in our bodies that is released while dreaming, during childbirth and also during death. If you smoke pure DMT, you’ll get a high and warp into different dimensions – disconnected from your body and mind. It lasts for about 10-15 Minutes and feels like an eternity. Ayahuasca is more gentle on the other hand. It kicks in slowly and can last for 4-10 hours.
The plant is said to clean your body from anything toxic, physically, mentally and spiritually. A lot of people vomit when taking it and feel like they would die, before psychological insights happen to take place.
It is required to maintain a special diet a week before: no meat, no diary, no alcohol, no bread and no processed foods. Light meals the day you take Ayahuasca are also recommended. Some people say 3 days in advance are enough- others swear on dieting for more than a few weeks. It can’t be too bad to cut out the bad stuff longer right?
For me it was especially hard not to drink. I’ve spent my weekends at home reflecting on my life and meditating a lot before the ceremony started and felt like I needed it. A week before the ceremony I got really sick. I felt like my body was already detoxing on its own. No food stayed in my stomach and I couldn’t eat- I just wasn’t hungry. I’ve actually lost 5 kilos so far and no clothes seem to fit anymore.
I took Ayahuasca for around 13$ in the north of São Paulo, close to GRU airport. A friend picked me up and we drove up there by car. The area was dodgy as hell. People were burning stuff on the streets, gangs were lingering around corners and I felt like this was going to be interesting.
We arrived at a little house in the middle of Sao Paulo’s underground and were greeted by the sweetest person I’ve ever met: My Shaman for the evening: A big happy guy with tattoos on his arms, an undercut and black hair tied together. He invited us back into his home, where we entered the area we were to take our medicine. It was a very small room with a tiny oven in the back. There were a lot of drums on the walls and pictures of Hare Krishna. It reminded me of Hawaii. There were matraces and a lot of pillows on the floor. I introduced myself to the other four Brazilians that also took part in the ceremony and we started to talk.
The Shaman explained the procedure and started playing music. We were handed a shot glass each and he said his prayers. Ayahuasca doesn’t taste as bad as I had expected. It was very sweet with a small hint of bitterness. It was how my trip was going to be like.
I sat down comfortably and cuddled myself in the blanket I had brought. The music was amazing. I felt the music- it was inside me. The speakers were quite far away though I felt like this music came straight out of myself. In the music I heard mother Ayahuasca talk to me “You are part of me. I am you. I will take care of you.” This was nice. I felt like a baby being embraced in love. I closed my eyes and my subconscious mind started to reveal itself. It is actually quite nice in there I figured. It was a mild start for me: Happy places started to grow around me. Basically around me. They were not just in front of my closed my eyes- they kind of emerged all around me. I was inside my thoughts. And it was a fairy tale wonderland, hahaha. Green meadows, a lot of animals, flying popsicles, plants that grew all around me, small cubes with letters and numbers on.
I was a baby.
I thought, well, I can take some more hardcore stuff. I don’t need to be pampered that way, but nothing negative came up. The music changed into patterns that warped around me … there were white friendly snakes all around me and a HUGE ladybug was marching over me. I was the ladybug.
I was everything. Cards were flying around me, colours evolved and I was in the middle of a fairy tale: my brain. I liked it.
I opened my eyes: all gone. But I could see the patterns of the music warping around the room. The walls got bigger and smaller. The Shaman asked me if I wanted another shot of Ayahuasca and I said yes. This time is tasted really bitter and my mouth dried up. I tried to drink some coconut water but I had multiple hands. I was so slow with opening the bottle, but finally managed to drink. I could feel the cold water running down my throat. People were vomitig around me. Everyone. The sound of purging formed into a big green plant that was growing around me. I felt the pain around me and asked myself why I didn’t vomit. I asked the plant “Do I have to vomit? Do you want me to?” and I felt the plant moving inside me, cleaning my stomach making its way though my colon. “No”. I was fine. No vomiting for me. I didn’t feel that there was anything negative that needed to be released today.
I closed my eyes again and I was cold. Wind came in from outside and I lay on my arms to get warmer. My arms merged into my body and the floor. I was one with my surrounding. I touched the leg of my friend and I was one with him. I asked Ayuasca if it could be a bit warmer and at this moment my friend shared his banket with me. I had everything I needed and I cuddled up in warmth. My heart needed love, I felt. I needed love and Ayahuasca made me feel safe like a baby.
I want to vomit, I want to take more, I want to feel death. I want to see what it feels like to die and I want to lose all of my consciousness- crazy me was demanding. But I was too weak. I was too weak for this and I was just held. I was held like a baby. “I am you- you are me. I take care of you”.
I opened my eyes. A cat was lying on my legs. I was part of the cat. I could feel its heartbeat and it loved me. My friend talked to me and smiled. His face was moving in patterns and I did not listen to a thing he said. I closed my eyes again. I wanted to sleep. I was weak.
I heard people talk about me in Portuguese. They talked about how brave I am to live in a country on my own without family. To take two dosages of Ayahuasca. To enjoy the experience.
I don’t know. baby me didn’t really feel the bravery.
I sat up straight- disappointed I hadn’t experienced death. Disappointed I hadn’t gotten answers to my questions. Disappointed that it was so humble.
WHAT I LEARNED FROM IT
My friend drove me back home and I called my parents. They were excited to know how my experience had been. It was my mom’s birthday and she put the phone on the side to greet some neighbours that had brought her presents. I heard them talk. I wasn’t there. I cried. I cried so so much it did not end. I was homesick. I missed my family. And my friends. I missed home.
I talked to two friends on the phone and told them about my experience and then realised what it had taught me:
I had known everything all along. All the questions I had were there before. I feel lonely sometimes, because I miss my friends and family. As much as I love to travel, I have to admit that a part of me misses to have a home. Somewhere I belong. Having my besties around.
Ayahuasca also showed me that my mind is beautiful. At some point I started drawing my world and everything came to live. I saw that my subconscious mind is a place of joy and happiness – nothing I need to worry about. I am good the way I am.
Ayahuasca is said to give you what you need. I guess I don’t need much at the moment apart from my friends and family. And they are here.
I’ll definitely do it again with a higher dosage in a few months. But for now everything is alright.
UPDATE AFTER A WEEK
The plant is said to work for a week to 10 days after. And yes. I got more insight as the days passed. I meditated every day. I listened to spiritual podcasts, just because I felt that this was what I need to hear now.
I stopped eating meat. I’m not sure for how long I will do this (don’t want to put any pressure on myself) but at the moment I am vegan. And it feels good.
I’ve been having more energy during the day and I do sports regularly. I lost more weight and I like my body. I look good at the moment! I like myself hahaha 🙂
I am happy.