If you are interested in spirituality, Ayahuasca is hard to miss. The psychedelic brew from the amazonian jungle is hitting the mainstream. Big Time. Perhaps you have heard about Graham Hancock, Joe Rogan and other contemporary spokesperson for the responsible use of Psychedelic Substances. Maybe you’ve taken a trip yourself, to heal & find clarity. Amazonian shamanism is indeed a very fascinating subject matter and those fortunate enough to have experienced a yagè trance under the guidance of a shipibo or shuar shaman know what i mean. Possibly for centuries, ayahuasca has been used for healing purposes, as well as for warfare. But: Can I use ayahuasca to see, experience and feel my own future?
Table of Contents
A little bit about Ayahuasca
First of all, let me give you a quick overview about ayahuasca. Alright, that isn’t really possible. You need to experience it firsthand, to know what we are dealing with. Still, let me try. Perhaps you could describe it as a strong motherly force contained in a plant brew which tastes severely disgusting and provokes Visions of grande magnitude. In my opinion, it really doesn’t make sense to get into pharmacological details. Explaining, how ayahuasca is the name of the banisteriopsis caapi vine, which contains potent maoi inhibitors (ß-carbolines). It also does not make sense to talk about chakruna (psychotria viridis) which often gets added into the mix. How it contains DMT, a substance illegal almost everywhere. This is about you and your relationship to the spirit world. There is no use to explaining its pharmacology. See, most people are trapped in the scientific paradigm. It is most definatly alluring: Everything is clear cut. Simple to understand. Provided you speak the language of science, of course. We need to understand, that there are weird things going on in this world. Inexplainable things, impossible to grasp with our „scientific goggles“ on. Trying to understand ayahuasca means to open yourself up for a deep relationship with the plant spirit. This can be a pretty hard thing to do. Some say, that it is even dangerous. Well, is it?
You are in good hands – don’t trust propaganda
If you are not on any sort of medication, if you are reasonably healthy (without major heart issues), if you drink ayahuasca under the guidance of a professional shaman or guide and if your ayahuasca brew doesn’t contain any nightshade alkaloids – participating in a ceremony is reasonably safe.
We live in a time in which mankind has drawn away from nature. Perhaps this is due to technological advancements. Maybe we just don’t practice communion with nature anymore. It does not surprise, that plants & rituals which bring us closer to our true nature are frowned upon. Made illegal. Ayahuasca is one piece of the puzzle, one tool, one relationship to have. It is quite normal to be afraid of these powerful plants, because they are capable of changing everything. For better or worse. This is about trust. Letting go of fear and accepting what is happening to you. Breaking free from all the negative propaganda against these spiritual plants and substances. With the 60s came a cultural revolution. But in the end, counter-revolutionary forces managed to brand these plant helpers as „evil“. This hasn’t been the first time this happened. Think about the persecution of so called „Witches“ in Europe. Knowledge about plants and their mystical properties has always been a cause for anxiety among the ruling elites. For good reasons! Ayahuasca can help to liberate people from illusion.
The important first step is to liberate yourself from false propaganda and fear:
For most healthy people, a guided ayahuasca session can be a deeply spiritual experience, capable of transforming ones life and resparking the flame of life which went out in so many of us.
!!ATTENTION!! Do NOT drink Ayahuasca if you are on any kind of medication. Check with your health supervisor first! The brew contains monooxidase Inhibitors (MAOI) which may lead to hypertensive crisis, serotonin syndrome etc if combined with certain drugs such as SSRI antidepressants. Some people believe that Tyrosine containing foods such as aged cheese might be a problem as well, but this has proven to not be the case. Still, a clean diet beforehand goes a long way!
The Use of Ayahuasca
ayahuascaIt is not known, for how long ayahuasca has been used in the amazonian rainforest. Some scholars believe, that the practice of drinking the bitter brew goes back for centuries, others date it only a hundred years back. It doesn’t really matter. Ayahuasca is a cultural heritage in Peru, which speaks of its exceptional status. There is a wealth of ritual practive revolving around the intake of ayahuasca. Several indigenous groups use ayahuasca in their shamanic practice. The most well known tribes are the shipibo (known for their intricate textile patterns) and the shuar (also known as Jivaro). If you are a shaman, you can be a curandero, a healing shaman – or a brujo – a bewitching shaman. This means, that ayahuasca is a more mundane tool as we might suspect. It enables the seer to gain access to the spirit world, in which he summons his spirit helpers to either heal – or hurt. Spiritual Warfare is very common among these peoples and treating someone who’s been hit by a invisible dart is not unusual.
The important thing is, that shamans assume a dual identity. They are both spirit and human. If you are a fan of the TV show „Buffy the Vampire Slayer“, you could say that a brujo is a human/demon hybrid, similiar to Vampires (as portrayed by Joss Whedon). Still, they are respected – out of fear, and because it can pay off to be allied with such a powerful being. To develop my allegory even further: It sort of makes sense for Buffy to keep in touch with that Vampire who runs the shady bar because he’s got access to information one could utilize. There an even better analogy at hand, but i won’t post any spoiler.
But let’s get back to the topic at hand…
Apart from the shamanic use of ayahuasca, several syncretistic religions have developed, such as the „unao de vegetal (UDV)“ or „Santo Daime“. The ladder is probably the most popular one, with churches in the US and Europe already. They call Ayahuasca „Daime“ and incorporate both christian and pan-african elements in their ritual practice and beliefs. Ayahuasca is their holy sacrament which is meant to be drunk during service. It is quite fascinating to witness a typical prayer session, which revolves around choreographed dancing and singing. This often goes on for hours on end.
You are NOT dreaming on Ayahuasca!
There is the popular misconception that DMT (Dimethyltryptamine), one of the common ingredients of ayahuasca brews has something to do with the dreamstate we experience at night. There is absolutely no evidence for that, and the experience is very, very different. Benny Shanon, a psychology professor at the University of Jerusalem has written a fascinating Book about the Phenomology of Ayahuasca (Antipodes of the Mind). In his work, he is aiming at establishing the fact, that the Ayahuasca Trance is a lot different from the dreamstate. He’s done cross-cultural studies and presents a whole catalogue of possible themes which often occur during the mareacio (Ayahuaca Trance). He concludes that dream content differs greatly! It is a truly fascinating read and a very comprehensive book. Written in a scholarly tone of course – but still relatively accessible. It’s also pretty expensive, so you might want to visit your local library if possible (That’s what i did!).
Ayahuasca & Divination
Now that you know a little bit more about the sacred vine, let me talk about using ayahuasca as a tool in your divinatory practice. If approached in the right way, the brew can act as a bridge between you and the spirit world, allowing yourself to take a closer look at the future, the present and past. The most striking effect of ayahuasca is its capability to speak in a sophisticated yet highly symbolic visual language. You will be able to see not only shapes, colors and artistic objects, but also experience Visions. By „Vision“ i do not mean mere fractal patterns & colors but witnessing a realistic scene with your own eyes. This scene can be an allegory, but sometimes you are able to mentally travel to another place. As if your spirit would leave your physical body. The Term „Out of Body Experience (oobe)“ or „Astral Travel“ comes to mind. Allow me to give you a couple of examples!
- Seeing the future
Many years back, i was drinking ayahuasca and started to drift into this small and completely white room. It was shaped like the inner space of a magnetic coil would look like. Quickly i discovered, that i wasn’t alone. I saw my grandmother reunite my dead grandpa. The embraced each other deeply. I knew, that she would follow him soon, and so it happened.
- Seeing the Present
Clairvoyance on Ayahuasca is not a strange thing to experience at all! I myself have traveled with my minds eye to places in the real world. I was even able to „do stuff“. I could fly into the homes of friends and heal them by sprinkling a glittering substance on them. That is at least my interpretation of what has happened. Peter Gorman, one of the pioneers of Ayahuasca Tourism, who has himself studied under a powerful shaman recollects a whole bunch of episodes in which he was able to travel with his astral body to places near and far. He could even confirm what he saw with his friends! If you are interested, i can highly recommend his amazing book „Ayahuasca in my blood“ it is truly awe-some. I can guarantee that you won’t be putting this book down until you are finished. But perhaps you’ll be like me, who tried to make it last, to savor every page of it.
- Seeing the past
Another great thing to do is to travel into the past. Well, i’m not sure if it really is time travel in the strictest sense. What Ayahuasca might allow you to do, is to replay certain scenes of your life and to look at them from several different angles. I myself have „replayed“ conversations and was able to see myself through the eyes of the other person involved. This has allowed me to take a closer look at how i act around people. If you are striving to discover yourself and become more empathic, this is simply amazing! I’m not too sure if it is „ethical“ to read your friends minds and emotions without their consent though.
Finding your Spirit Animal
Animism is the belief that every piece of matter is (to a certain degree) alive, has a spirit. This viewpoint is widespread among many traditional culture. In recent times, more and more people are starting to discover, that they do not agree with materialism, consumerism and this hollow, shallow culture we are living in. Discovering your Spirit Animal or Animal Totem is a great way to experience the interconnectedness of things. We are one with nature, wether or not we accept that! The idea that humans inherit or develop strong symbolic ties with the animal kingdom is becoming more and more popular. Ayahuasca can be the key to discovering your most intimate animal helper. For me, fish has played a major role in a couple of Visions. The most significant experience involved me swiming in the ocean, diving through the waves just to be transformed into a jeweled, sparkling fish. Oh the joy of jumping through the waters!
To be honest, i have not figured out wether or not the animals you see are actual spirit helpers or guides. In the Literature, there is a lot of talk about invisible animals who are able to facilitate healing. Among the shipibo, there are these beautiful kolibri which are attracted by song and fed by tobacco smoke. They help in casting protective energy layers and therefore assist the shaman in his work.
This might seem a bit offtopic, but a psychic is not just a cheap party toy! A Psychic is someone who heals. We all need two things in our lives: Love and Clarity. If we are unable to see, we get sick, because we merely stumble through our lifes. If we don’t recieve love, we feel detached and inhumane. The job of every diviner, be it a shaman or a psychic is to facilitate healing. In the amazonian rainforest, this is often done by ritual. The shaman sucks out negative energies and works on the energy body. The great thing about that is the fact that he can actually SEE what is disturbing the energy body of someone who seeks help. Of course, this is not medical advice, but there are reasons why more and more people are drawn to finding a legitimate shaman. A wise spiritual guide, able to see & heal them. Modern Medicine does not have a clue about most psychosomatic ailments. It makes sense to assume that a strong psychoactive brew such as Ayahuasca is capable of facilitating a much needed re-ordering of the inner domain. Ayahuasca is certainly no magic bullet. It can also be a quite uncomfortable experience, involving heavy nausea, diharrea and disturbing visions. But in the end, this isn’t something to be feared, but to be embraced. Sometimes, a dark experience is needed, to facilitate catharsis and a sense of getting reborn. Reborn into a new, more healthy body. See, we don’t really understand how the inmaterial aligns with the body. I can just tell you that certain plant helpers do have a way of connecting what is meant to be connected.
Alternatives to Ayahuasca
Ayahuasca certainly isn’t for everyone and a high degree of preparedness is suggested if you want to work with this mighty plant spirit. Because that’s what it is: A Spirit, not just a brew! There are many more plants and fungi which are able to produce similiar states of being, yet they all have their distinct advantages and disadvantages. You can’t really lump „magic mushrooms“ and ayahuasca together. LSD is yet another Story. And let’s not forget they ancient peyote cactus in his magnificence! What all these plants share is their illegality. Therefore, it can be risky to work with them at home. It really is a shame that the government regulates our consciousness, not only through media and propaganda, but also through the banning of psychoactive plants. Still, ingesting these magical beings should not be taken lightly. You need to prepare yourself! You would not climb a mountain in sandals, would you?
If you want to align yourself with nature, if you plan to pledge your allegiance to nature – start slow. Get to know the plant kingdom by ngesting more common and available species. This is how shamans learn and that is how you can learn too. Raw cacao for instance, has emapthogenic properties and can help you open up and heal your heart. Other great plants include lemon balm, a soothing female angel, who is there to comfort you – or the lovely passiflora. Also, the ayahuasca a vine alone is legal in most countries. Try 2-5g brewed as a regular tee. Banisteriopsis caapi leafs are actually very tasty, while the vine has a more earthy taste. Anyways, 2gs is way below the thresshold of serious psychoactive effects, but it can be enough to help get aquainted with the plant spirit.
Use the tea as a meditation aid. Ask this question: „Are you my Spirit Guide?“. If you get a clear „YES“, it might be a good idea to continue your ayahuasca research. Be aware, that continuous use of Caapi microdoses can have a cummulative effect. This can be dangerous if you are on any kind of medication, especially SSRIs anti-depressants.
Summary & Conclusion
In this article, i have given an introduction to the potent visionary masterplant „Ayahuasca“, its traditional and contemporary use. My focus was on the divinatory potential of the plant brew. I’ve shown examples on how one could harness the raw power of this incredible teacher for magical & healing purposes. That being said, one should not forget that ayahuasca is not for everyone. If you are on medication or are severely unstable, i would be VERY careful. Once you drink the potion, there is no turning back. Attending a ceremony under strict supervision is one way to minimize risk, even though all ingredients can be ordered online for a home ceremony. This is a topic for another post perhaps.
Until then, i wish you well,
Gramlyn, the open heart psychic
Picture Credit (all CC-BY-2.0):
rainforest healing center , modified by me
#2 psylocibe semilanceata by nicdafis , modified by me