Something I haven’t been talking about much but has been on my mind quite a lot over the past year. Plant based medicines. Specifically, ayahuasca, mushrooms, that sort of thing.
I’ve had some very interesting conversations with folks about how experiences with these plants have transformed their understanding of themselves, consciousness, etc. And after a friend of a friend of a friend hooked me up with an offer to join an ayahuasca ceremony in October, well…I decided it was worth a try.
You may have heard of ayahuasca at this point; it’s becoming increasingly big business in Latin America as cash-flush, stressed out millennials flock to Peru, Brazil, and Costa Rica for retreats ranging from $40 a night on up to $500. Ayahuasca (from the Peruvian Quechua word with the same pronunciation), is a noxious brew combining two Amazonian plants, Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis.
What’s interesting about the ayahuasca brew is that each plant is not as potent individually. Psychotria virdis does contain DMT but it’s not orally active. Banisteriopsis contains a MAO-inhibitor that allows orally ingested DMT to avoid being broken down by the stomach, giving you a rocket-fueled DMT experience.
I have to admit, I’ve been on the fence about the whole thing. My drug experiences have ranged from intriguing to disappointing but never spiritual. But so much of what I’m hearing about both DMT and aya seem to suggest the possibility for rapid transformation, or at least understanding of oneself on a deep, deep level, which leads to right action.
There’s a ton of reports, Youtube videos, TED talks, and random opinions out there, all of which should be taken with a heaping tablespoon of salt. Still, I particularly enjoyed this one as a grounded yet encouraging report.
People talk about it like a spiritual mother. “Mother ayahuasca,” “la abuela,” that sort of thing. I’m agnostic but open to the idea, and I’m hoping la abuela will show me some things that I’m either hiding from or simply don’t understand over the 4-day retreat.
10 years ago, my physical energy flowered during my first time at Vimutti Buddhist Monastery. But with it came a nightmare host of anxiety, depression, fear, and other elements that I’d never realized were there. While they’ve taught me compassion, letting go, empathy, and intelligence, I also recognize the need to move through these emotional patterns. My hope is that the ayahuasca retreat will help me see how to hold these patterns.
That happens next month. One of my friends reports witnessing puking, staining of pants, and other less than spiritual experiences. Or rather, extremely spiritual: purges are seen as cleansing of the body from negative energies. “La Abuela” is tough medicine!
Maybe I’ll get to take some pictures; I’d love to capture it from a documentary angle but I also want to be immersed in the experience…Sometimes using a camera can separate one from an experience. We’ll see if I’m allowed to photograph or not and whether I even want to. Maybe the jaguar gods are camera shy.