"I went to Ayahausca and all I got was this lousy t-shirt..."
As the sun went down in the Sacred Valley, there was a lot of movement happening in the grounds of the retreat centre. Which meant that it wasn't far off ceremony time.
Bang on queue, there was a knock of the bedroom door. The nurses came in to do the pre-ceremony checks. The nurses were two of the loveliest people you could imagine. In fact, I can't say enough about all the people involved in the running of this retreat. Everyone shone with love and care. The whole vibe of the place was very loving and caring.
Once the checks were done it was time to go down to the ceremony room. We were told to take at least two litres of water with us and toilet roll. It had been known that some people lose complete control during the trip, bowel movements and everything! What was certain though for 99% of people - is that you would throw up. They call it 'purging' as it is a way of your body ridding itself of it's impurities, both spiritual, mental and physical.
We enter the room where we had our introductory chats earlier in the day - that seemed days ago now. There were 5 places laid out with mattresses, pillows, sleeping bags and most important of all, a sick bucket each haha... We sat down in no particular order, Jeremy went to the far left, I sat the one next to him and Sondrine (I think) sat next to me with Miquel sitting next to her further to the right.
The night couldn't have got off to a better start as Sondrine noticed a spider run by her sleeping bag. Not sure what type it was or whether it was poisonous as no sooner as she yelped slightly, than Miquel twatted it with his flip flop! Now if that wasn't a way to anger the spirits, I'm not sure what would be! Bloody hell - great start!
I was surprised at how many people were present in the ceremony. We had the two nurses who were always on hand, Bexy and 1 or 2 other coordinators and the Shaman himself. This was a different Shaman from the opening up ceremony. This lad was only 23, but had been conducting ceremonies for 7 years. That's 7 years of taking Ayahausca. Wow.
So once everyone who was involved in the ceremony had settled down, the ceremony began. They dimmed the lights and carried out the pre-ceremonial rituals which involved positive thinking, the Shaman blowing cigar smoke over each individual and the dowsing of earth and perfume on your head and body. Both of which were to protect you from evil spirits. I've never been able to source the perfume which was called Callinhia, but it was beautiful. In fact they used a number of them, another was the Aqua de Florida, which was also very beautiful and very relaxing.
Once the pre-rituals were finished, we were then told to close our eyes while the cups of Ayahausca were given out. So I'd read in Graham Hancock's book Supernatural about the make up of Ayahausca and the taste a texture. And to be honest, I was fucking dreading it!
So what exactly is Ayahausca? The brew itself is a boiled mixture of the Ayahuasca plant and the Chacruna plant. The Chacruna plant provides the psychoactive ingredients (Dimethyltriptomene, DMT) and the Ayahausca provides the means of temporarily turning off the enzymes in the human body which nullify the psychoactive process of the Chacruna. DMT is apparently created within the human body naturally but the enzymes within your gut turn off the effects. It is unknown where exactly DMT is created within the body, but many people believe it is within the Pineal Gland.
So, once we have the brew in hand, we're told that Bexy will give us the green light to swallow it together and to try and down it in a one'r. The Shaman also takes part as he is the conductor of the spiritual orchestra that we're about it witness... We will all try and hold the Ayahausca within our stomachs for 30 minutes before we're allowed to drink any water, which allows the psychoactive properties and controlling enzymes to be absorbed by the body...
We're given the green light to drink... Oh my god, the scent hit me first... Like a charred burnt wood. Then without too much thought I just downed it in one gulp. The taste was pretty horrendous, but I remember thinking that the viscosity wasn't as bad as I'd been led to believe. It was in fact quite fluid. Which made it go down a lot easier.
After everyone had finished, Bexy turned the lights off... Oh shit, reality had just kicked in.
The 30 minute period of channelling thoughts, controlling breathing seemed like an eternity. I could hear people around me purging even before they'd drank any water. It felt like a scene from family guy where one person threw up, which provoked someone else to throw up. But to be fair, I held strong. In fact, I felt confident at this stage and thought to myself "I went to Ayahausca and all I got was this lousy t-shirt"... I quickly followed up this thought with a "just kidding", as though I'd provoke a response from a disgruntled spirit...
Bexy, told is all that the 30 minutes were up. We now had to drink as much water as possible. I gulped down about 750ml quite easily and nothing was happening yet. One of the nurses encourage me to drink more. So I did. Then before I knew it I was purging like Lardass in Stand By Me... I purged about 4 times - each one seemed violent or aggressive. Like I was shouting more than hurling. What was very comforting was that the coordinators or the nurses were right over to you rubbing your back and saying everything was ok, all the while encouraging you to drink more water in their Spanish/English.
After the purge - the fun began...The Shaman, almost waiting like a race car at the start line burst into his shamanic chant. Everyone seemed to have completed their purge for now and all seemed to be quiet. Then I was catapulted into the ether.
Initial thoughts came to mind of my mum and dad and how I need to open up with them more and show them more love. Then I just took off into orbit. Like I was catapulted at a thousand miles an hour into hyper space.
The Shamans singing was like silk... But getting faster as the feeling got more intense. I felt the slow build up of a humming noise. I wondered if this was earths vibration? The feeling got more and more intense as did the vibrational hum which seemed to be the vehicle which was driving the experience. The Shamans singing was powerful. I remember saying to myself during the peak that I couldn't do anymore, but another voice inside me was saying to breathe, relax and go with the flow. Like a conflict between the rational and subconscious. With my eyes closed I saw wonderful never seen before collages of colours and shapes morphing into one another without a theme or reason. There was no recollection of time or space. No place for north south east or west as everything was just as one. The beauty of it all is so hard to describe in words. The nearest I've seen is an Alex Grey painting.
The coordinators came round to us all individually and asked if we were having visions or if we'd like another cup! I instantly said no thank you... No way could I handle anymore... Whenever I felt lost or uncertain in these visions, I held out for the shamans voice, it was almost like an anchor for safety. Like a mothers apron strings in many ways. And there was no doubt, the feeling I felt from his voice was very much like unconditional love or peace.
I remember I had to open my eyes once or twice due to my uncomfortable-ness with the intensity. I had never let myself open like this before and the lack of control was scary at times.
Jeremy lying next to me was having an intense time and I could hear him roaring like a beached walrus.
I've no idea of how long these visions lasted for. But during the 'coming down' phase, the Shaman approached each person individually to sing them a specific chant in the native tongue. I remember being excited that he was about to give me a song. No idea what the words were or what they meant, all I know is that the feelings they evoked were special. The feeling in my body was that of peace and love.
The end of the ceremony came on the judgement of the Shaman. Bexy announced the finish and everyone sat up, the lights were now on and all the participants looked like hell haha...
We were given the once over by the nurses again and we went back to our rooms. I wrote down my feelings as best as I could remember and Jeremy and I chatted about our own experiences. He cannot remember a thing about the walrus impressions haha...
My first Ayahausca ceremony was complete. I didn't know whether I'd enjoyed it or not. I quickly scribbled notes in my journal that I'd been given for Christmas, I had experienced something very powerful and it seemed at the time more powerful than I totally felt comfortable with, but I guess that was the idea, in order to progress and grow, you have to take steps into the uncomfortable.
Day 3 coming up...