My experience with Ayahuasca and Amazonian medicinal plants

We Are the Amazon

My reasons for try Ayahuasca

It had been a year since i was living in the jungle and I had heard many opinions regarding the Amazon BREW, all positive, and my interest did not stop growing. I had tried it in the Mancora beach, north of Peru, and did not notice the expected effect as usual in most cases who try it for the first time. So I decided that my ideal time had come.

My motives to try it were many, from my readings of Josep Maria Fericgla, Carlos Castañeda and Cesar Calvo, to my fascination with the world of entheogens, its impact on our State of consciousness and, of course, and first and foremost, that experience could represent something very important in my life. But did not want to do it, as do the majority of people who had known: see visions as if it were the main objective. Was not looking for the recreativa-ludica function since I believe it is totally wrong: the Ayahuasca is much more than that and the objective must be a function psycho-integrative to understand and find to be looking for a practical outcome in life. I wanted to go to the jungle into a camp without electricity or phone signal, in strict compliance with the recommendations of the shaman and at the same time try Amazon medicinal plants. He longed to cleanse my body and spirit, meditate in an appropriate place days needed to do so, not as a fun but as a learning in all its aspects, felt the nature of the jungle and the cultivation of the mind.

As many already know, Ayahuasca is a drink obtained from the cooking of two plants, usually called ayahuasca vine (Banisteropsis caapi) and leaves that contain DIMETHYLTRYPTAMINE (DMT), as it can be the Psychotria viridis, Psychotria carthagenensis, Mimosa tenuiflora or the Diplopterys cabrerana among others, since there are plenty of recipes that mix different plants.

 

Vine of Ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi)

Why is it called Ayahuasca?

The name most used in the West for the drink is Ayahuasca, derived from the quechua Word and meaning something like «liana which takes the place of the dead». On the other hand, between the Ashaninkas of Peru mix is called Kamarampi, which comes from the verb Kamarank, which means vomiting. In Colombia it is called yage. Amazonian Indians have used it for vomiting and cleaned intestines to be a purgative drink, also use it as a means to view the essential reality, that reality not yet materialized and that is where are the causes that will later be reflected in the events of ordinary life.

What is special about Ayahuasca and why is it so accepted in the West?

What is so special about the Ayahuasca and why does it have so much acceptance in the West? This drink opens the doors of consciousness to access the unconscious, which leads to a view of the internal state of the person in many cases, people come them to light emotional memories of childhood and life. This state of altered consciousness helps to treat many disorders post-traumatic stress, depression, emotional problems, criminal behaviour and drug addiction.

For a decade the Ayahuasca is filling a gap in our society to come people with different motivations, whether looking for spirituality, a medicine or an experience.

An example of how efficient Ayahuasca can be is the recovery made by veterans with depression and post-traumatic stress . For these people this is a very hard therapy since they have to revive getting shot, colleagues who they lost in the war and the horrors of witnessing their deaths. But it is also a very effective therapy because thanks to the plant they can expel all those bad memories. The same goes for people suffering from disorders and psychological trauma.

The Ayahuasca lets you connect with the ineffable that we carry all inside and that we have forgotten completely, the intangible part of us and apply it to our daily lives. Remove your unconscious to the fore and is an excellent tool to find oneself.

All of this has raised the interest of doctors, anthropologists, pharmacists and psychologists to understand its operation.

Another essential point that had fascinated me were the stories explained by locals on Amazonian medicinal plants and their unquestionable remedies to all kinds of diseases. Already did not remember the last time that he had consumed any medicinal plant and wanted to change perspective and go into another completely different vision to which I had been educated. Me considerably concerned the fact that West mostly only take medications that have gone through an industrial process forgetting completely about natural remedies so useful that our ancestors took. I wanted to see and try firsthand medicinal plants and their effects because mother nature is our authentic pharmacy. Being in the place with more flora of the world which is the Amazon and the stories that locals had told my desire to experience it were huge.

I knew a shaman named Don Lucho that was serious, faithful, responsible and professional. I was lucky to coincide with him on the cruise where I worked for the Amazon River. saw him do many Ayahuasca ceremonies for some Russian clients. Unfortunately, there are currently few shamans who sit and wish to cultivate other people’s minds without thinking only in the monetary aspect. And even worse, there are people who are dedicated only to deceive tourists putting their physical integrity at risk.

I was abled to contact him, I explained my goal and he advised me to spend around nine or ten days to get the full physical and spiritual. Given the trust that was placed on him i did not hesitate a second to accept the proposal.

The next day I picked up my stuff at the hotel where I staying in Iquitos and got me on a boat to his village direction. The boat was filled with locals and was lucky that it was about to set sail. For these latitudes, until the boat is not completely full does not begin to sail,if you are in a hurry or not, schedules are non-existent.

My arrival at the shamanic camp 

After one hour sailing upstream on the Amazon River arrived at the village. I disembarked and quickly grabbed a motorcar – motorcycle three wheel with roof where in the back can sit up to three people-. The guy who was driving perfectly knew where I had to go when i indicated it the name of the camp. After 20 minutes I came to camp shamanic entering the jungle, on dirt roads, and getting away from the hustle and bustle of the town. Fortunately it had not rained last night because otherwise these roads are clouded and the course is quite difficult.

Upon arriving I met Don Lucho, I greeted him affectionately and took me to my room. It was a small log cabin, basic and rustic. Had the minimum and indispensable for my stay, a bed with a wafer-thin mattress, mosquito-net – essential in the jungle – a table and a Chair. That was all, and of course there was no lamp since there was no electricity and the phone was a useless device. Telephone and Internet signal was nonexistent, perfect to disconnect. Just what I was looking for.

 

 

I walked through the camp to know it as it was going to be my home for the next few days. Then I saw other Western people in the camp. I introduced myself to them, there was a young Australian man and a Canadian couple. The Australian boy was sitting on a bench without a shirt and when he saw me, he showed relief and happiness despite not knowing me.

It is true that when you ride alone in countries completely different to yours you appreciate see other people, and more so when you go to take Ayahuasca. He Spoke to me in a poor Spanish and I replied in English since i knew that our conversation would not go very far in the language of Cervantes. Like the majority of people who come to the jungle to take Ayahuasca, he wished to see visions but without having much knowledge of the true objective of the drink and its operation in our body.

I went to the kitchen and I saw that everything was cooking with firewood, as if time had stopped and new technologies failed in this part of the world. I loved it because, as I explained earlier, that was one of my goals: return to our origins and forget about technologies and western customs.

 

 

After a while the food was ready and had lunch, local boiled rice, omnipresent in Latin America dishes, and fish on the grill. It was a light and easy lunch to digest.

By the afternoon i should accommodate myself in the camp and just relax, thinking about what I was searching for in the taking of Ayahuasca and get carried away by the incredible landscape and atmosphere in the Amazon rainforest.

The first take of Ayahuasca

In the evening we did our first take of Ayahuasca. We are entering the Longhouse (central cabana) and we sat around the shaman in a circle. The drink had been stored in two plastic bottles, he was located in a Chair and in the front he had a small altar where I could observe several containers, utensils and tools. We sat in the chairs that had been enabled and all us should have a bottle of water, paper to clean the lips and Chin from vomiting, because it is a purgative, and a bowl to vomit in. I admit that I was nervous, we were the Australian guy, the Canadian couple and I. The shaman began with an introduction of the Ayahuasca and explaining among other things that it is not hallucinogenic but visionary because it does not produce delirious changes in the perception of reality, connects us with our unconscious and the most spiritual part.

 

Ayahuasca in a plastic bottle

He gave us a wooden glass for each one, the size of a shot glass. Filled the Cup with the thick brown liquid of Ayahuasca and asked me if I wanted more. I replied it was enough to start. I took it and its flavor was very bitter and immediately gave me gagging.

The shaman began singing icaros (shamanic chants) and began the ceremony. It lasted approximately two hours and nothing more, apart from the vomit i did not see anything else,no visions,no general malaise at all or any other effect. Once out of the maloca the Australian guy asked me what i had felt and I told him that nothing in particular. He told me that he had experienced the same and seemed disgusted by this.

The next morning the Australian guy spoke with the shaman because he had felt nothing, and as he had little money left he was only going to stay one more night if the chaman could ensure him that he will see visions. Obviously the shaman told him he could not guarantee him what he asked for. The guy left Immediately, a serious mistake committed by many people due to their lack of understanding regarding the Ayahuasca. Like any other Entheogen, these plants do not work as most of our conventional medicines. Its effect is related to the pharmacological and psychological sensitivity of each individual and the context, not in the quantity of grams of active ingredient by chyle from the patient’s weight. They also don´t resemble recreational drugs which are flooded in our society where the effects are identical to virtually everyone. I have always recommended to distrust a “shaman” who ensures visions and that guarantees you the “ride” of your life. In that case you have probably added some hallucinogenic component to Ayahuasca or simply non-Ayahuasca.

To be continued…Part II