Numerous mystical and shamanic practices have been borrowed by the West in a quest for spirituality, or perhaps just a high. Ayahuasca (ayawacka) is one of these mysterious practices and is said to be the key to opening your mind and the door into your soul. Originating from the Amazon Basin, ayahuasca is used for purging and healing the spirit. With its hallucinogenic properties Miranda decided to try using ayahuasca to find answers to her questions. This is her testimony.
My curiosity and my desire to try ayahuasca grew over time. I had heard whispers about this strange ritual, and people who had done it from friends on the party scene for over a year. Then I began hearing about it from people I really liked and respected. At the time, I was feeling quite down, looking constantly for answers, psychologically digging. I wanted to face my fears and weaknesses. I felt blocked, like something is holding me back and I needed to release myself. I have always had good experiences with drugs, using them as a key to open my senses to handle old problems in new ways.
Ayahuasca is a natural substance made of leaves and roots and has been used in rituals by native tribes in the Amazon for thousands of years. The Shaman I met was an intelligent, educated person with a scientific background. He said that ayahuasca is a strong psychological drug that can help you unlock the key root problem within each person which often causes them to repeat destructive patterns of behaviour. He cited Freud’s theory that we all have a defining moment in our youth that our angst or ‘problem’ is based upon. It can be something as insignificant as your mother turning her back on you when you were very young, and this gives you a lifelong fear of rejection. As children we process this event and it becomes programmed into our psyche. As adults, if we can get back to that event, and discover the root, we can perhaps reflect and re-analyze it using our mature minds. Ayahuasca has the potential to transport you back to that moment.
My friend put me in contact with a shaman over facebook and I started to get ready for the the group ceremony. Before the ceremony you are encouraged to follow a specific diet. Basically similar to veganism, and without alcohol or caffeine, no salt or processed foods. Just light, fresh foods. However, there were people in my group who were really just there for fun and kicks and to get high. I took it all seriously.
You are also encouraged to abstain from sex to reduce outside influence. The ayahuasca ritual is about looking inside, alone, with no influence from others. They also recommend not reading the news for a week before and if you can, to meditate alone and empty your mind beforehand. Unfortunately, I have a full-time job and it was on a Friday so I basically went straight from my real world into the ritual with no time to empty my mind. I’m certain that if you follow these rules the rituals effects will be more powerful.
We were probably about 10-12 people. They were nice, hippies mostly, but I did not really want to connect with them. There were a few couples and people alone. Lots of them knew each other. We started with some kind of meditation that opened our chakras. I found it hard to sit still for a full hour. Then the lights went off and The Shaman walked around and gave us the medicine and then we all lay down in our corners.
I am quite experienced with hallucinogens, but to the shaman, who was caring and watchful, I seemed nervous – which I was. So the first dose he gave me was not very strong and perhaps my tolerance was too high. So I had to ask for more. I found it hard to really submerse myself, I was holding onto something within myself and I found the environment strange and not really the right setting for this kind of mental expansion…it was a grotty basement in Neukölln, Berlin. You could hear the water running through the pipes when someone in the house flushed the loo, so it was hard to ‘let go’. I was in there for 8 hours, and it felt like 2. I think I slept in that time, but I do remember two moments in particular:
First, I had the feeling the sleeping bag around me was my mother’s arms. I could not see her, but I could feel the sense of protection and warmth of her embracing me completely, totally. I was nervous, but I felt safe and at the same time somehow innocent and unable to take care of myself. I think perhaps this signified the moment of my birth.
At a later point I was hovering over myself looking at my own face. It was hard to focus but I was looking at myself. My face was worn and full of lines and creases, and my eyes were closed. I looked peaceful and it was possible that I was not longer alive. I think this was the moment of my death. I had this strong message coming through that everything was going to be OK, that I was OK and I will have a good life and nothing to worry about.
I cried quite a lot during the ceremony, but I was never scared. The ground was uncomfortable and I felt cold sometimes and lost. Sad, I felt sad for quite a long time. I said goodbye to a love and other things in my heart and I felt lonely, but it passed. I overcame the sadness and felt powerful, independent and loved by my family and the world around me. I imagine if you did not have personal strength and stability it could be scary and you could just lose yourself in the sadness.
I’d recommend the experience to people who are interested. Don’t think too much, just do it! Don’t expect too much or too little. Have no fear. Honestly, if you feel ready to do something like this then you are ready. If you are scared, then you are not ready – simple as that. Follow the diet, take it seriously, but be relaxed and see where you go...