Plant – Ayahuasca vine and Chacruna plant
Delivery Method – Liquid Brew
Active Chemicals – Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and an MAO inhibitor
I discovered Ayahuasca randomly while listening to a Joe Rogan Experience podcast where he was discussing DMT with Aubrey Marcus. Their enthusiasm for the plant medicine led me to research it more thoroughly, and as I did, I found testimonials and science supporting the idea that it could be used as a treatment (or even a cure) for depression, and could open people up to new realms of perception. I’ll add a glossary at the bottom of the blog for anyone interested but if it is your first time with the plant medicine it might be a good idea to read DMT the Spirit Molecule by Dr. Rick Strassman and listen to the various podcasts. In one of my random research bursts I stumbled onto a Reddit post where someone described DMT as a way to “glimpse the source code of consciousness” which was really all I needed to be enthralled. So I packed up for a two week journey to Peru’s sacred valley bound for a retreat center specializing in an eclectic mix of modern medicine and ancient plant remedies.
Before I recount my personal experience with Ayahuasca I wanted to add a quick disclaimer. The story below is merely a subjective account of what happened on my personal spirit quest and it should be noted that if you intend to imbibe Ayahuasca, it is best to not read individual accounts of someone else’s experience. It is widely known that having a preconceived notion of what to expect can influence your own experience subconsciously. Every master worth his or her salt will tell you that you should not have any expectations, but let the medicine work in you however it needs to. They say that the ayahuasca will give you what you need, not necessarily what you want.
I also recognize that what you will read below might sound crazy. I consider myself to be a very logical and reasonable person, so if I hadn’t lived it, it would have seemed crazy to me too.
My Ayahuasca Experience
The following paragraphs are pulled from my journal which I wrote in the hours directly after the experience ended.
We all sat in a grass hut staring at our small cups of thick black sludge. The moment of truth had arrived after fasting, and going through a volcanic water cleanse over the last few days. I drink. It is not pleasant at all and I struggle to keep it down. It is a sickly combination of sour, and salty which is also thick, and mine had chunks of the vine in it. I recognize that the consumption is part of the ordeal, and the ordeal is part of the healing, so that helps to keep things in perspective. About twenty minutes or so later I can’t hold it anymore and I lean forward and vomit into the bucket provided. This is also part of the ordeal portion of the experience, and I can attest to the fact that as bad as Ayahuasca is on the way down, it’s worse coming up. But I feel a bit better after I purge and the world begins to take on the familiar feeling of being “not quite real” that is characteristic of almost all psychoactive experiences. One of our caretakers lights a small fire in the center of the hut, the door is shut, and we are off.
Unlike many other hallucinogenic experiences I have had which gradually build to a peak, DMT was more like a cliff you are pushed from. When I close my eyes I am enveloped by thick prismatic color. It is impossibly vibrant, more so than any color I had previously seen. It wraps around my head and I leave the physical world behind completely. Eyes of all shapes and sizes move their eyeballs to simultaneously peer at me with a disinterested but somehow “put upon” look that suggests a feeling of “What are you doing here?”. Black panthers and other creatures with deep red eyes lunge maliciously at me from out of the color. They come to within centimeters of my face. It is terrifying. I toss and turn but with only a cursory understanding that there is and “I” at all. Pure agony. I have never been this scared and the feeling approaches madness. I fight to come back to reality but when I open my eyes the world is made up nothing but symmetrical grid lines. EVERYTHING is comprised of these grid lines, and I have the distinct feeling that the world is being generated as it is subjectively experienced, similar to how video game worlds being rendered on the fly.
I am vaguely aware that our caretakers are in the hut with us. I can hear them whispering but I don’t know if the whispers are coming from them or from my visions. They are the unintelligible whispers of lunatics. I know the caretakers are benevolent, and they float formless around the room making sure the physical participants are OK. One of them is speaking to the participant next to me and she has taken the visual form of a gorilla caring for her young. She comes to me and asks “Are you here?” I reply “no” and she asks if I am having a vision. I say “yes” and she replies, “Oh, that’s OK then……just go……you’ll be back”. I am launched into the vision realm once again. The visions vary greatly and come in rapid succession and most are forgotten briefly after they arrive.
Our maestro sings the icaros in the pitch black hut. They are ancient songs which are intended to protect us from evil spirits and calm the mind. Each new sound conjures new colors and forms. The master’s laughing face comes to me in a vision and I see that he is guiding the visions like a snake charmer.
Every time I lift my head to drink some water the visions reset. In one I am visited by a humanoid form which plunges some large and cylindrical machine into my stomach. Something black is removed and replaced by a ball of light. It is not scary but instead comforting, because I am informed by a telepathic voice that they work for HER. I know who SHE is without being told. She is mother earth.
I am still generally uncomfortable and scared. My body continues to throw my blankets off and toss and turn. I decide that this is what it must feel like to die. Eventually I grow exhausted and decide to really just let go and allow myself to die, because resistance is futile anyway. When I finally do let go, it happens. Suddenly like touching a brush to a canvas, the entire world goes vibrant crystalline blue. A tremendous feeling of comfort and peace washes over me unlike anything I have ever felt. I now lay on my back, perfectly still and at peace. Through the top of the hut I can feel the mountains surrounding the sacred valley. These mountain spirits have been worshiped by the Incan and Peruvian people for an extraordinarily long time. SHE shows me that they too have power. The spirit of the mountain comes through the top of the hut and enters my body. My body grows to the size of the mountains and can look down on everything. The feeling of power is incredible.
In that moment she comes to me visually. Mother Ayahuasca, Pachamama, Mother Earth, or whatever you want to call her, but she is here. She comes to me in the form of a woman wearing traditional East Indian dress. She is beautiful and kind, and I feel that she is extraordinarily powerful. She is a trickster as well, and wishes to show me things in her land of magic. She snaps her fingers and I descend once again into the color void, but this time it is amazing, fascinating, and above all peaceful. She laughs and says “Do you see what I can do?!”
There is no more fear now. She tells me that part is over, and from here on there is only love. I am so happy and grateful to have been shown this world that tears of happiness are streaming down my face. I seem to know intuitively that Ayahuasca embodies the spirit of all women. The feminine power of the universe. Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Sister. She tells me that she is our protector and we are all her children.
She tells me wordlessly that at the most powerful force at the center of all life, is love. Love is not just a feeling but a real power that keeps us safe from the darkness. I am told to bring back home a single message:
Keep honest love at the center.
After the Experience
It’s too early to say how this experience will affect life for me in the long term, but in the near term I am much more at peace. Meditation is easier than it has ever been, I’m far less easily aggravated, and I interact with people from a place of acceptance and love instead of that of competition and derision. Basically I’m trying to be more of a bridge between people instead of a wedge, and Ayahuasca has helped in that regard tremendously.
People seem to have core places from which they react to others. Fear is the dominant core reaction point for many in the West, often poorly hidden behind superficial personality traits. The Ayahuasca spirits (if they are such a thing) seem to want me/us to understand that the core can be replaced with honest, genuine love which can dramatically enhance life for every encountered human being and subsequently, the planet. My interpretation of the concept of honest love, is a real compassion for others views, opinions, and “self”, knowing that you love them because of their true nature, not their actions. They are you, and they are the universe.
Another wondrous side affect of the reintegration process appears to be a drastically reduced fear of death. Before the experience, as I would drift off to sleep I would often encounter moments of real fear as my logical and tired mind attempted to grapple with the idea of nonexistence. DMT brought the “I” (ego) to the brink of death during my experience and it was only after I let it go that the true beauty of the journey was unlocked. There is an applicable quote from the fictional Fight Club character Tyler Derden who suggested that “It’s only when we’ve lost everything that we are free to do anything.”
I suppose it is theoretically possible that whatever I glimpsed in my brief ayahuasca journey was the afterlife, or another dimension, or another planet, because I personally consider it to have been an extremely “external” witnessing of events, not something taking place purely inside my brain’s wetware. Who knows.
This journey has been one of the most challenging and rewarding trips of my life. I see now how Ayahuasca really can change the world and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who is struggling to find their place in this crazy universe.
Some Ayahuasca Information