Ayahuasca Part 1 – Introduction
This is Part 1 of a 3 part series on my first ayahuasca experience. Part 2, in this link, covers my own personal journey to arrive at this point and Part 3 covers my hellish experience.
Ayahuasca is a vine found in the Amazon jungle known to have healing powers and has been used by native peoples for thousands of years to heal the mental, physical and spiritual. I have heard it referred to as the Vine Of Death or the Vine Of The Souls, I’ve also heard it called Snake Medicine, the point being a snake sheds its skin. In the Amazon jungle ayahuasca is not considered a drug. The shaman consider it medicine and either refer to it as Mother Ayahuasca or simply as the medicine. It has been described as being of the hallucinogenic family such as magic mushrooms or LSD/Acid although some shaman prefer to not compare these. People are normally asked have they previously tried acid and how were their experiences. I had tried acid, and had very paranoid dark trips. Of the selection of drugs I’ve used in my life (before getting sober, covered in Part 2), acid was the least enjoyable, so I made a decision to stay away from it.
I will take you to hell, but I will bring you back to the light.
The understanding with ayahuasca is that people are called to drink it, something you know in your gut that you have to do. The experience can be extremely traumatic, as I discuss further in this article, and of course my own experience in Part 3 which would describe as hellish, but this is not a recreational drug to be taken on a Saturday night with friends for a laugh. Many who take it for their own reasons feel that calling, they feel ready to receive whatever lesson Mother will impart. They usually feel blocked or stuck in some areas in their lives, addiction, depression, some unhappiness or confusion.
I discovered ayahuasca months ago after listening to one podcast, Tim Ferris of The Four Hour Work Week interviewed two doctors about its use in treating the likes of depression and addiction. I knew in my gut from that moment I was called to it, I barely knew what it was, but I was intrigued and knew there was something in it for me. Only in the days before my own experience did I conduct proper research listening to a number of interviews, watching documentaries and reading articles that grabbed me, and I quickly realised what I was getting into. Of course there are many light hearted experiences, people who saw geometric visuals, perhaps they received clarity on their lives, felt happiness and that was that. Positive light experiences. I didn’t pay too much attention to these. I felt apprehensive. I had not ingested any mind altering substance in over fifteen years and I was worried about being out of control, ego based fears of humiliating myself in front of others, of losing control. But also I had fears of what I might be presented with, any possible demons, to be confronted with who I really am, would I turn away in disgust? Would I have the strength in that possibly terrifying reality to look at this darkness within me? Would I crumble and be swallowed entirely by yet darker forces? In my research I veered more to the darker experiences to get an idea what I may face, and to prepare myself as much as possible for the worst. I have been meditating heavily of late and I knew instinctively that this was necessary, and would be a dark experience. In two separate interviews I watched people state with conviction they died in the jungle drinking the medicine, one changed his name on returning home. A spiritual death and birth, death of the ego, or freedom from psychological baggage was the most attractive pay-off.
In this interview Nic Gabriel, fresh out of the jungle and still raw, discusses a very dark and traumatic week in Peru. He drank ayahuasca three times and took peyote once, all in shamanic ceremonies of course. Before his first ceremony the shaman informed the group “I will take you to hell, but I will bring you back to the light.” When my night arrived, the first part of this statement was exactly my experience!
Many experiences I’ve come across often involved seeing snakes, and various animals, possibly alien craft, in some cases the visions are as real and convincing as real life as we know it, but in many there are some clues that the lucid mind can decipher that what is being seen is still part of the ayahuasca. Aubrey Marcus, who changed his name from Chris after his “death” in the Peruvian jungle, saw himself eaten alive by snakes and insects, they crawled into his stomach and neck, breaking through the flesh. He sat through it and managed to not panic. The medicine uncovers our deepest fears and presents them full force for us to deal with. Many people overcome their fear of death and have a greater understanding of life afterwards. Aubrey had a fascinating journey, from terrifying to invigorating, so the entire interview is worthy of a listen. In this section he discusses the nine different dimensions that may be accessible while using ayahuasca, from the snakes in the 6th to “large craft, or ships in the 7th”.
Also there are many cases where people use ayahuasca to overcome addiction, although there are other more suitable hallucinogens such as Ibogaine being used for serious addiction such as heroin use. But here Graham Hancock discusses his ayahuasca journey and how it helped him to completely stop smoking cannabis. Hancock had said that cannabis was using him, rather than he using cannabis, both his wife and himself had felt that his almost ceremonial use was intruding on their marriage so while drinking the medicine his intention was to seek to cut back his usage. However on returning home after the trip he found he had no tolerance any more for the herb and completely quit.
Vomiting is also very common, known as purging, where dark energies or spirits or toxins from the body can be purged through the mouth, or the back door. The whole experience can last from three to about five hours and largely the type of experience one has depends on their ability to surrender to the medicine. Pain and trauma may be presented, horrible memories and images, for the mind to fight the mind will not win. So those who can let go and allow the experience to unfold, enjoyable or otherwise, are said to have an easier time.
Ayahuasca – The Vine Of Death
The mystery schools of Egypt had an initiation ceremony where students wearing blindfolds would be dropped into underground pools of water in darkness. Somewhere deep under water at the bottom or side of the pool there would be a hatch that opened, taking them to another pool where they could swim to the surface and would have passed the test. By using their minds, the focus of the frontal lobe, they would hold the vision of the exit hatch and trust their higher self directed them to the exit. The understanding is we do not see with the eyes, we see with the spirit, but also what we place in the frontal lobe, also known as the throne of God, becomes reality. This sounds challenging enough until you hear that the pools contained a number of crocodiles. Mystery school initiations were life or death but these students would have already risen through the ranks and perhaps felt the calling to attempt to go further. Absolute focus and fearlessness was required. I had no pools of crocodiles before me, but I felt stuck, I had outgrown my reality and felt I had to face whatever demonic energy (see Part 3) was dragging me down. Sometimes progression to the next stage is life or death, or at least feels like it. I felt I was facing my own initiation, and hoped I had what it took to get to the other side in one piece.
Before I knew I would be drinking ayahuasca I knew I needed a death of sorts, I needed to be reborn. I’ll cover this in much more detail in Part 2. Live free or die, in my own quiet way, I was ready to die. Not a physical death, although I’m not sure that would have bothered me, I was giving up on life. I felt ready for whatever death faced me when I drank the medicine. This was not out of bravery, but more out of knowing I had run out of options. Although deep down I felt I had the strength to face whatever was thrown at me.
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