Having been blessed to have had the opportunity to participate in several Ayahuasca healing ceremonies, something deep within is now asking to be shared. The prospect of attempting to put words around this incredibly transformative process is daunting. So here goes, some thoughts in no particular order.
A little background. I would very loosely describe myself as a “Toltec initiate” in that for over a decade my spiritual practice has been based around the teachings of Don Miguel Ruiz and the Toltecs. There is no dogma – but this is the location of the centre that I consistently gravitate around. An attractor and an emanation.The centre of the compass. Home base. In the early 2000’s there was a short and profound apprenticeship with one of Miguel’s original apprentices and a life changing journey to Teotihuacan in Mexico.
One of the requirements of my particular Toltec path was an agreement not to make use of mind altering substances of any kind. Period. This worked well for me for a decade as it provided the opportunity to sort out what was my shit and what belonged to other “entities” – human and otherwise. The decision to attempt an Ayahuasca ceremony was not made lightly, but fitted well with my wider and growing awareness of, and interaction with, the plant beings. My mother had been an incredible lifelong plantswoman and her genetic imprinting around the plant realm was revealing itself in my life in both subtle and overt ways.
There are now many accounts of the Ayahuasca experience available to us. These can be very helpful in that they can give us a sense of whether or not we might choose to have the experience ourselves. These people have had profound and often life changing experiences and they are giving us a great gift in their sharing – but there is little point in attempting to extrapolate what our own experience will be like from researching theirs. My entree to the subject was the book “The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge” by the molecular biologist Jeremy Narby.
She (Madre, Mother, Ayahuasca) comes to each of us, in our living organic manifestations as individual and divine spiritual beings, and she guides us to that which our own individual spirit requires. For me this was and continues to be one of the most beautiful and miraculous aspects of Her. She comes to you freely and willingly – and you are seen – just the way you are – and she proceeds to provide just what is required. We probably won’t get what we expected, which is a good thing, as what we actually do get is often beyond our wildest dreams and imaginings. Her presence and her teaching is a growing and ongoing dream, an unfolding of of a beautiful flower. A real blessing.
Ayahuasca requires the commitment and involvement of the totality of our beings – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – it is not a spectator sport, nor is it as the saying goes, for “spiritual tourists”. Surrender is required. The more we are able to profoundly surrender, the more we are able to find ourselves being supported, nurtured, healed, in new and unexpected ways.
Mother, Madre, Ayahuasca is a very real being in her own right. She exists in a way that is fundamentally different from our normalised and rationalised experience of being, but which is also intimately connected to and entwined with human existence. She has great love for us and cares enormously for us. She knows us very intimately. I get the impression that the plant spirits have played a central and pivotal role in the development of human beings and humanness itself. For me she is a Planetary Goddess.
Ayahuasca is not a “drug”. She is a Divine and Sacred Spiritual Being. She is medicine for our bodies, our minds, our spirits, our souls. We do not “do” or “use” Ayahuasca – we do healing ceremony with Her. The medicine that we imbibe has two parts or two aspects. There is the vine that is Ayahuasca, and then there is the part that provides the psychedelic and fractal visions. This second aspect can be derived from one of a number of DMT bearing plants.
This plant will often be uniquely local to where the medicine is prepared. One of the magical properties of the Ayahuasca vine is that it inhibits the human digestive enzyme that normally breaks down the DMT molecule before it can work its psychedelic magic on us. By Her very presence She opens the doorways of perception within us. In just what way the visionary relationship between the Ayahuasca and DMT aspects of the medicine comes into form for the individual during the ceremony is a unique, mysterious and wondrous dance.
The degree of the psychedelic nature of the experience is not a meaningful measure or reflection of the efficacy of the medicine. The hunger for powerful psychedelic visions is very strong in our psychically starved Western minds – but it helps if this can be gently set aside so as to allow the beauty of what is being offered to take root.
In my experience there was initially a very definite and clear difference between the two aspects of the medicine – with the psychedelic being the “lesser” of them, which is to in no way diminish one or elevate either – they are true partners. This imbalance in the experience speaks to and casts a light upon an imbalance, a schism, that lay within my being, not the medicine’s. The Mother had work for me to do, and she continues to do so.
Having said that, during the most recent ceremony the two aspects truly integrated in the most stunning and incredible way. It would seem that the ceremonies leading up to that moment were laying the ground work, making the preparations within my being in mysterious ways that even now evade description. Enabling my human to have that moment. There is so much gratitude within me for that gift.
Preparation and clarity of intent seem to have a remarkable influence on the experience of the ceremony. Three days of liquid only diet prior to ceremony has worked for me – I don’t want to be running off to the loo during ceremony. The emptier the better! There is a phenomenon called the purge. The medicine is wonderful stuff but it can be challenging – the longer it can be held down the better (those of us who enjoy bitter over sweet can actually enjoy the medicine).
The purge is vomiting, but it is not something to fear as it is not anything like the normal vomiting that we may have experienced. The volume of what is swallowed seldom matches the volume of what comes up – it may be nothing at all, very little or very copious amounts. The body is eliminating whatever it is that needs to be eliminated. Sometimes we just absorb the entirety of the medicine with no purge – wow! Generally the post purge phase is when we may possibly go very deep, when we may dissolve completely to this world. It is a most incredible and miraculous thing.
There are now disturbing reports of shamanic abuse of ceremonial participants by brujos or black magicians and just outright charlatans misrepresenting themselves as shamans. Naive and unprepared spiritual tourists who just turn up on the off chance are sitting ducks and easy pickings. Even the seasoned spiritual adepts and travellers have to take great care.
The mixing of other mind altering substances with the medicine also takes place – the implications of this are very serious on many levels. Sexual assault by shamans, of female participants in particular, has occurred during ceremonies. This is a most egregious crime as we are in an incredibly open and vulnerable psychic, energetic and physical state during ceremony. If you are considering undertaking this path do your research very carefully. Talk to others who are experienced in the field. Find contacts who from their own experience can recommend safe venues.
Just because you are in a different country, in an exotic location with an indigenous shaman, does not mean you are in the presence of a true shaman or even a particularly good person. Western, intellectual, romantic, liberal notions and mindsets count for nothing. The thin veneer of our “superior” cultural conditioning is quickly and easily stripped away leaving us psychically exposed and utterly defenceless.
This journey is really about us reclaiming our power, our natural energy. An essential aspect of this reclamation is the reacquisition of powerful personal boundaries. We can only be harvested when we lack boundaries, and sadly we are living within a trans generational planetary assault upon our boundaries – on all levels; physical, psycho-cognitive, spiritual.
Our world is replete with abuse, but don’t let it put you off following your dreams, following the path of your healing, your flowering. This is exactly what fear is designed to do – to dissuade us from being exactly what we truly are – the most wonderful and glorious spiritual beings in human form.
The healing process is about us reclaiming our sovereignty and making choices about ourselves and for ourselves – not enabling someone else’s energetic and physical abuse or exploitation of us. This is about replacing fear with personal power – and a part of having personal power is having knowledge. We have beautiful minds so let’s use them to make ourselves safe. Make the mind an ally. Be smart, be canny. Be like a fox – check out the scene in advance before setting a paw in the circle. Have a crew, have a tribe, have support.
Ayahuasca has made it very apparent that she wishes to spread out into the world and She is thriving all over the planet. One does not need to travel to distant lands to have this experience. There are very good Western Ayahuasca shamans working within their own countries. Legitimate organisations are also working with indigenous shamans to create safe ceremonies and safe venues in countries that hold the traditional knowledge.
Doing your research is everything. Ask questions. Only fear prevents us from wanting to look stupid or possibly causing offence. If you ask good questions about personal safety and integrity and the recipient takes offence – they are not someone you want to do this with. Do be aware that legal issues may exist around the presence of Ayahuasca in your country. She is quite possibly more accessible than you think – She might be just around the corner, down the road, in a nearby town or city – who knows! How wonderful.
We share this beautiful world, this wonderful planet with an infinite number of other beings, and with the very Life Force itself. We are all, everyone of us, indigenous to this planet. We belong here. We are all birthed by the Planetary Goddess and we are her children, her brothers and sisters, her parents and her elders. We are woven into the warp and weft of the very ground of being – from which we come into form and expression.
The Mother, Madre, Ayahuasca is here to help us awaken from the dreaming of this current nightmare that we find ourselves within, to help us heal the wounds of the trauma, and to reveal the shadow of the ritual abuse that we have both enabled and suffered. We are much loved and there is much help for us here.
All we need do now is to quietly set about our healing work. If you feel alone know that you are not. If you believe that you have no allies this is untrue. If you feel unworthy or undeserving this is simply a judgement that can be set aside. I too have felt all of these things deeply, and I know that they are lies that I learned to tell myself. Now is the time to begin. Reach out.
We are much loved and there is much help for us here.
© 2017 Murray H.
Murray Hill is an artist and writer who produces work around spiritual themes. He is an initiate of the Toltec mystery school as taught by Don Miguel Ruiz. He is also a Seer in the Celtic tradition. In 2004 he experienced a life changing moment in the ancient Mexican Toltec capital of Teotihuacan, which brought a lifetime of spontaneous spiritual breakouts into coherent form.