"Ayahuasca (aya-soul/dead, wasca-vine/rope) or Yage (ya-hey) are native Amazonian names for the jungle vine Banisteriopsis Caapi, and the medicinal tea prepared from it. The Ayahuasca tea is widely used throughout indigenous Amazonia to enable access to the visionary or mythological world that provides revelation, and healing." (From http://www.ayahuasca.com/drupal/ ).
There were about 20 people in attendance at the Ayahuasca Ceremony that took place in a private residence starting Saturday night. Some, like me, had never attended an Ayahuasca Ceremony before. Others had attended several times; one young woman who couldn't have been older than 20 said this was her 14th time.
We met with the Shaman, Steve, an American-born man who has had 15 years of training from indigenous healers in Peru. He prefers to be called a "medicine man", not a Shaman. He explained that the Spirit of the Ayahuasca plant is feminine in energy, and She is a powerful and intelligent Healer who knows what to do for each individual. She heals in body, mind, and Spirit. Our intentions of healing for ourselves are very important. My intentions were: to be open, allowing, and accepting of the experience and whatever healing Ayahuasca provided.
Steve explained to us that Ayahuasca can provide visions to us of a Spiritual nature, new awareness of our purpose in life, insight into our problems. Everyone's experience is different. Sometimes, after drinking the medicinal tea, we "purge" our emotional and mental pain by vomiting or diarrhea. I wasn't wanting to do either, and told the friend I came with that I'd go with the diarrhea if I had to, but no way was I going to vomit. Steven said that purging was usually gentle and not violent, and to relax and allow it to happen if it was to happen.
When it was my turn, I went up to the altar and placed a photo of my mother on it for blessing. My mother died of ovarian cancer 4 years ago; the anniversary of her death was this last Thursday, two days before the Ceremony, and I was feeling the pain of her loss. Steven asked me: "How far down the rabbit hole do you want to go? All the way?" then handed me a cup with the ayahuasca medicine tea in it. With some anxiety I took the medicine. It was thick and not too pleasant tasting. Then I laid down on my bedding and waited.
After everyone had their turn taking the medicine, Steve the medicine man started drumming. As soon as he did this my stomach started churning. I tried to relax. My heart was pounding. Then Steve, as if he knew I was in distress, came closer to me with his drum. The sound was deafening. The pain in my stomach grew extreme. I reached over to grab my bucket and vomited. I laid back down and tried to relax. My stomach calmed down after a while, but the rest of me grew extremely tense. My head hurt. My heart pounded. The muscles of my back were in knots. People all around me were blissing out. The friend that I came with was in another world. I kept having to get up to go to the bathroom to urinate, about every hour on the hour. I guess this was my body's way of trying to get rid of toxins.
At some point in the night I started crying. I asked my mother why she abandoned me. I felt like a little kid. I had an impulse to put my thumb in my mouth and suck on it but I didn't. I kept waiting for "visions" but none appeared. I remained tense all over. Occasionally I was able to get into listening to the drumming music and move and stretch my body a little bit. Some people were blissing out. There were sounds of the others vomiting on occasion; whenever they did I would think "oh, that poor person. How terrible". My hearing grew quite acute and noises were distracting and irritating to me. I wanted to yell "Shut up, you're too loud! the music's too loud!" People were going in and out of the bathroom, purging. I kept thinking "why am I here? this is so dumb! I feel like I'm at a frat party!" If it wasn't for the friend that I came with, I would have gotten up and left at least 4 times during the night.
I have no idea how long I laid on my bedding like this. I finally got up and sat behind some people that had formed a circle next to Steve the medicine man. "Groupies" I thought judgmentally, observing them. I didn't want anything to do with the Shaman. I didn't trust him. I felt harsh and critical of him and everything happening around me. I felt apart, separate from everyone. When a young woman asked me how I was doing, I said I was very tense and couldn't "get into it". She insisted I talk to the Shaman about it. I sat in front of him and told him I was very tense all over and couldn't relax. I told him point-blank I didn't trust him. It was hard to look him in the eye but I did. He asked me if I trusted him enough to let him touch me. After a second's hesitation, I told him I did. He rubbed my neck and back, easing the muscles. He told me to sit in his lap. I thought "what?!?" but I sat in his lap. He told me to put my head back on his shoulder and relax as much as I could. I did; he rocked me as if I was a little child, and crooned to me. Then he told me to take more medicine. I did, thanked him, and went back to laying on my bedding, waiting.
I figured I'd already purged and that would be that. I figured, maybe now I can relax and have a vision or something. The Shaman started beating on his drum again. Within 1/2 hour or so I was vomiting. I relaxed after that and started seeing strange things. My eyes were closed and I had a thick eye pillow over my eyes, but I could "see" my hands and arms in front of my face, almost as black silhouettes. I moved my hands and arms to the music. I saw what looked like a painting, with large water bubbles forming and receding on the canvas. The water bubbles were "alive". I saw this particular vision fleetingly three times. I saw what looked like wallpaper, with vertical stripes of various hues of orange; running up the wallpaper stripes were live tiny zebras. It was like a technicolor Disney movie.
Towards dawn, the drumming of the Shaman increased. It seemed like with every drum beat, my guts started to twist. I started vomiting again, this time uncontrollably. The pain in my gut was intense. I felt like I was vomiting out my guts. A woman came over and sat behind me and rubbed my belly as I retched. She told me she had done the same thing the first time she'd taken the medicine. My friend sat next to me and kept telling me "Thank you for being so brave. Thank you for doing the work. You are helping yourself, your children, your father, and your ancestors. Thank you for helping all of us." I didn't know what he was talking about. I just knew I was in pain and miserable. I started wailing. I made moaning noises. I said "Too many! Too many!" out loud, thinking "...have died" in my head. I don't know where that came from. My friend continued to sit next to me, reassuring me. After a while of this, the Shaman's assistant came over to me and told me I could stop purging whenever I wanted to. He gave me some water. I stopped retching, laid down, and immediately fell asleep.
Sometime in the morning, I woke up on and off, having strange dreams that I can not remember. When I was briefly awake, I listened to the circle of people gathered around the Shaman, sharing what their experiences of the night had been. I was too exhausted to get up and join them. I heard the Shaman mention my name, and he said something about how the group could "hear my pain" as I was purging. I fell asleep again.
When I finally got up, it was around 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning. I felt like I'd had the excrement knocked out of me. The next two hours, I sat and talked to people and heard their stories of their experiences. Some had blissed out. Some had had visions. One woman had had insights of a profound nature. Another woman, who was tense by nature, had relaxed. Several people told me that I had "done the work" for myself; one man said he was thankful to me for "doing the work of the group", and that because I did this, he didn't have to. He is someone I know from a spiritual community and someone I respect. My friend, who is a man of profound spiritual nature, kept telling me I was brave and he was proud of me for "doing the work". I couldn't get what these people meant. All I know is that I had a couple of nice visions, experienced a lot of abandonment and grief issues around my mother's death, and vomited my guts out. People were going up to the Shaman to speak with him and get insights into their experiences. I studiously avoided him. Just before my friend and I left, I did go up to the Shaman and thank him, shaking his hand. That's as close to him as I wanted to get. I don't know the full reasons why I avoided him, I just know I felt uncomfortable around him.
I got home early Sunday afternoon, took some electrolytes, and went to sleep for a few hours. I tried not to think too much about what had happened. Later that night, I asked:
"Hello, we-Guides, Great Mother! What is your 'take' on all that vomiting?
You know I wouldn't have gone if I'd known it was gonna be like THAT!
Did I do more than just puke the plant ayahuasca? Thanks for any insight.
P.S. Great Mother--you were right; I didn't much trust the Shaman, Steve, he seemed 'flaky' to me, not like Mandaza...I tried to surrender to the plant, 'open, allow, accept' but my considerable fear got in the way."
Great Mother answered me:
Dear One, it is I, your Great and Holy Mother. You did well, beyond your awareness, as usual. You still have a ways to go to cleanse your emotional residues--that is what came up, not just the plant.
Yes, your pain of loss and grief for your mother was a main issue--abandonment, anger, grief--it was well you picked her photo for the altar. Yes, the Shaman seemed 'flaky' but he has been well-trained. Of course he knew your issues--why did he rock you in his arms like a child? He knew you needed nurturing, the nurturing and acceptance and love you have not always received in this lifetime.
You have carried much pain--the pain of generations, as you soul-ally (my friend) said--you have touched upon 'the tip of the iceberg' as your pain runs very deep, Little dear one--not only the pain of this lifetime but of the lineage you are from, your son's pain, your past lives, and the life-times of the planet, my body Herself. Yes, there have been 'too many of my children killed'--not just my human ones but my plant and animal children as well.
(Visions of) water came up for you several times--it is as (African Shaman) Mandaza says--you carry 'rain spirits'. Water, in all its forms--fresh, salt, marsh--is your element from which you draw the most nurturing and strength, that is why Mandaza initiated you in the Sea--he knows intuitively She is your ally, your force.
When I laid down in bed Sunday night to sleep, with my eyes closed I could still "see" my arms and hands in front of my face, in dark silhouettes, as the night before. My field of vision seemed to be expanded, and blobby shapes of colors--mostly white and purple--played out before my eyes. I see these colored blob shapes quite often, but these looked larger, closer to my face, and were moving in and out of each other at an accelerated pace. This light show was quite relaxing. I fell asleep, and didn't remember my dreams when I woke up Monday morning.
Monday I was feeling rather mellow, still recovering from the weekend. Monday night I had a lot of dreams; I don't remember them, but Steve, the Shaman, was in them a lot, talking to me. Tuesday, well, that's a different thing entirely. I e-mailed a letter to two friends, one of which attended the Ayahuasca Ceremony with me. This is what I wrote:
"Yesterday I was pretty much mellow, recovering from the weekend and sleeping a lot. Today, well, here's some thoughts I've been having. Capitalized because I am MAD, IRRITATED, AND SAD. Nothing personal, please, just my reaction today. Is this normal?
Love, Liora Leah
I AM FEELING VERY IRRITATED AND TIRED.
I AM TIRED OF BEING SICK I AM TIRED OF BEING TIRED. I AM PISSED OFF ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED THIS WEEKEND. I WAS AT A FRIEND'S HOUSE THIS MORNING, WATERING HER PLANTS WHILE SHE'S AWAY, AND JUST BEING SO MAD AND FEELING SOMEHOW BETRAYED. I CAN'T TELL YOU HOW MANY YEARS I BARFED THROUGH LIFE, ALWAYS THE SICK ONE, AND THEN TO SPEND A NIGHT BARFING VIOLENTLY WHILE OTHERS BLISSED OUT JUST DIDN'T SEEM FAIR. I FELT LIKE A KID AGAIN, THE SICK ONE, HEAVING MY GUTS OUT. IT WAS EMBARRASSING. PEOPLE SAID I DID 'GOOD WORK' BUT ALL I FELT WAS SICK AND WANTING TO GO HOME. I'M MAD AT MY SPIRIT GUIDES AND GREAT MOTHER BECAUSE, WELL THEY DIDN'T TELL ME TO GO, THEY JUST SAID IT WOULD BE A WORTHWHILE EXPERIENCE AFTER I'D ALREADY MADE UP MY MIND TO GO. I FEEL LIKE I TOOK A STEP BACKWARDS. THE EXPERIENCE WITH MANDAZA WAS SO NICE. I OPENED UP AND FELT SPIRIT, AND THEN THIS!
THE SHAMAN THIS WEEKEND SAID WE HAVE A CHOICE BETWEEN TWO WORLDS--THE WORLD OF EGO OR THE WORLD OF LIGHT (SPIRIT). I FEEL MORE ENTRENCHED IN THE WORLD OF EGO NOW THAN I HAVE IN A VERY LONG TIME. I FEEL LIKE THIS IS A BACKLASH FROM WHAT HAPPENED THIS WEEKEND.
GREAT MOTHER TOLD ME AFTER WARDS THAT I CARRY A LOT OF PAIN--PAIN FOR MYSELF, FOR MY FAMILY, THE PAIN OF GENERATIONS, FOR MY PAST LIFE-SELVES, AND FOR THE PLANET. SHE SAID THE EMOTIONAL RESIDUE I BARFED UP WAS THE 'TIP OF THE ICEBERG' OF THE PAIN THAT I CARRY. I DO NOT WANT TO CARRY ALL OF THE PAIN! WHY ME? WHY ME? WHY ME? WHINE WHINE WHINE. I DON'T WANT THIS BURDEN. WHY DO I HAVE TO HAVE IT? WHY CAN'T I JUST BLISS OUT LIKE OTHERS? PEOPLE WERE THANKING ME FOR 'DOING THE WORK' FOR MYSELF AND FOR THEM. I'M NOT SURE I KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS. I JUST KNOW THAT I AM MAD AND VERY VERY VERY SAD ABOUT IT. THIS MORNING AFTER I WAS MAD AND TALKING OUT LOUD TO MYSELF, GOING AROUND WATERING THE PLANTS (ANYONE LISTENING IN WOULD HAVE THOUGHT I WAS A CRAZY WOMAN--MAYBE I AM) I STARTED CRYING AND CRYING. I DON'T KNOW IF THIS IS FURTHER RELEASE OR NOT. I'M SICK OF IT. I WANT TO BE DONE WITH PAIN AND SORROW. I DON'T WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH THIS 'WOUNDED HEALER'S PATH'. SORRY, BUT I THINK IT'S BULLS--T, FOR ME ANYWAY. WHY BE WOUNDED? WHY NOT BE HAPPY AND JOYFUL AND A HEALER, TOO? WHERE IS MY JOY? MY PEACE? MY CONTENTMENT? WHERE IS IT?
F---- IT IF I'M TO GO BACK AND BARF SOME MORE, OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN FOR SESSION AFTER SESSION. THERE'S GOTTA BE AN EASIER WAY TO GET RID OF PAIN WITHOUT ABUSING MY BODY. MY BODY HAS BEEN THROUGH ENOUGH ILLNESS AND PAIN IN IT'S LIFETIME, THANK YOU VERY MUCH, AND I FEEL IT HAS BEEN ABUSED. I WILL NOT KNOWINGLY ABUSE IT AGAIN. I FEEL SORRY FOR IT. IF I HAD KNOWN I'D GO THROUGH ALL OF THAT, I WOULDN'T HAVE GONE. I DON'T THINK WHATEVER I GOT OUT OF IT WAS WORTH IT AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED.
I DON'T NEED TO TAKE A PLANT BREW TO HAVE VISIONS. I DON'T NEED A PLANT BREW TO CONNECT WITH SPIRIT OR THE GREAT MOTHER. WHY SHOULD I TAKE A PLANT BREW TO GET RID OF EMOTIONAL PAIN? WHAT KIND OF SHAMAN CAN ONLY CONNECT WITH SPIRIT BY INGESTING 'MEDICINE'? IS HE TOO F---- UP OTHERWISE TO FEEL, HEAR, SEE SPIRIT?
SELF-ABUSE MAY BE SOMEONE ELSE'S SHTICK, BUT IT'S NOT FOR ME. BLECHHH!"
I was so irritable yesterday I couldn't stand myself. I snapped at my kids. I yelled at the neighbor. What's going on here? I blogged a lot of stuff on my other site (Mother Earth Heals) just to keep busy. When I finally wore myself out and put myself to bed at 2:00 am, I dreamed all night, repetitively, and then when I woke up this morning couldn't for the life of me remember what it was I dreamed about, except that the Shaman Steve was in the dreams, talking to me again. I have no idea what he was telling me.
Anyone else ever had an experience with Ayahuasca medicine? I'd dearly love to hear your experiences and insights. I was told the ayahuasca can stay in your system from one week up to a month. Maybe I'm still experiencing it.
Thanks for wading through this very long and rambling blog!
NEW! "Spiritual Art & Photography" Art work and photography inspired by Ayahuasca visioning.
"Powerful Healing Session" with African Shaman Mandaza Kandemwa http://curezone.com/blogs/m.asp?f=356&i=27
"Mother Earth: Creation Myths" http://curezone.com/blogs/m.asp?f=356&i=29
"Ayahuasca Speaks": http://curezone.com/blogs/m.asp?f=356&i=31