I Would Not Do It Again
by khmerrouge
Citation:   khmerrouge. "I Would Not Do It Again: An Experience with Ayahuasca (exp112160)". Erowid.org. Jul 24, 2018. erowid.org/exp/112160

T+ 0:00
1 cup oral Ayahuasca (tea)
  T+ 24:00 0.5 cups oral Ayahuasca (tea)


Warning, Don't Believe the Hype

After having experienced a wonderful increase in overall quality of life by a couple of sessions of psycholytic therapy using mushrooms, mescaline, MDMA and some LSD, I became very interested in these fascinating compounds and went on many interesting trips with the above mentioned classics, as well as with so-called research chemicals, most of them alone, but several also in groups. Almost all trips were pleasurable and insightful, except one (see my experience report on bk-2C-B). With time I became curious about trying Ayahuasca as well, which has gotten a lot of media coverage during recent years and has mostly been depicted as having potentially very beneficial effects.

One year ago I received an invitation to a weekend retreat in central Europe. It was conducted by Spaniards, who had apparently spent more than a decade living with indigenous shamans in Ecuador and had learned their trade. This weekend did nothing for me, as I barely felt any effects, maybe some slight visuals, but otherwise not much. It was a very weak version of Ayahuasca, if it was Ayahuasca at all, and I was disappointed. On the train journey back home a fellow tripper gave me the number of another contact for Ayahuasca group ceremonies. I wrote them a short message and they said they’d notify me when something came up, which was the case a couple of months ago. I signed up for a 3 day stay, again in central Europe, which included 2 nightly sessions, conducted by 2 Colombian shamans, who they had flown in.

This time I got what I expected and unfortunately so much more! I had followed the advice on diet etc. before and was in a curiously expectant mood. In hindsight, the ceremonies didn’t in my opinion deserve the designation “ceremony” (I have partaken in many beautifully choreographed psychedelic rituals before). In the beginning at nightfall, the shamans would pray and “invoke the spirit” of Ayahuasca before pouring a drink for everyone. During the ceremony, they would sing, play the harmonica and fan incense onto the trippers, if needed. There was no intention round before the ceremony and no integration whatsoever afterwards.
There was no intention round before the ceremony and no integration whatsoever afterwards.
This is supposedly the “Colombian method” of going about these things.

The Ayahuasca ceremonies I witnessed cannot be compared to “usual” psychedelic rituals. Some participants (I for example) may be tripping extremely hard, so things can become quite chaotic and psychotic. Most participants lost it so completely that any intervention by a ceremony leader or helpers probably wouldn’t have been much help anyway. Certainly not during the peak of the experience.

The setting was a huge tipi in a mountainous area. It was full of people, far too many in my opinion (depending on the night 20 or over 30). There were no mats, everyone was sitting on camping chairs. No one had informed me that I was supposed to bring my own chair, nor how the seating arrangement was to be done, so I obtained a sitting space only after getting chased away from 2 other stools, which were someone else’s, and after finding an unused chair in a small hut adjacent to the tipi. This confusion was not a good beginning for me – it’s important to know your place and be comfortable! Thus I got somewhat nervous and didn’t feel reassured and very comfortable with the organisers, nor with the other participants, whom I had all never met before. Many of them knew each other and had already partaken in many Ayahuasca ceremonies, some of them dozens of times. However, I had been looking forward to the experience for many months and had travelled quite a distance for it, so I wasn’t thinking of backing down.

After night had fallen the shamans started the above mentioned chanting upon the jugs of Ayahuasca and poured it into a glass, which contained maybe 1 dL of the brew. One after one we all downed a small cup and waited. I was among the first ones who had to leave the tipi after roughly 30 - 40 minutes, because I felt very strong effects, which made me uncomfortable and agitated. I was also already hit with visuals. It was as if I was sitting inside a house of silver, black, white and grey colored playing cards which would rhythmically rotate around their long axles. Startled by the heavy and intense onset of the effects I fled outside onto a meadow and towards a wooden fence.

I slumped over the fence and severe retching started. I was loudly “dry heaving” without being able to vomit anything substantial. This lasted several minutes, I believe. It was at times very painful and I think that I pulled my diaphragm during the retching, because the area between my navel and the ribcage was hurting for days afterwards. After the painful retching and praying for it to stop I became so overwhelmed that I had to lie down, outside, on the gravel path that led to the cabin adjacent to the tipi. I was in severe distress and thought that I was going to die. I tried to hold on to the reality I’m familiar with, writhing on the gravel floor, moaning and wailing, making “farting noises” with my lips to keep in touch with “reality” (”this” world), calling out for someone to help me. One of the shamans came, fanned smoke over my body and spat Agua de Florida onto me, which was actually comforting for a couple of seconds. But I soon returned to a state of absolute fear and terror, and called for someone to hold my hand, which a kind fellow tripper did. However, he was soon chased away by the (European) organiser lady in charge, who told him to leave me alone and let me deal with it myself, which made me absolutely desperate. It was pure existential misery, a heavy delirium with a most severe thinking disorder. Thinking itself became impossible, because it became absurd.

It is impossible to describe, but somehow the “mechanics of thinking” were not applicable anymore. I was dissolving and contrary to previous experiences of ego-loss this was extremely distressing and discomforting, and I felt like I had become severely psychotic. To make matters worse many people around me were apparently in even worse states, as they were heavily retching and vomiting, screaming in pain or horror, howling, barking and roaring like animals, crying and wailing or chanting and yelling while agitatedly stumbling or rolling around the grass meadow. It seemed like a collective psychotic break and some people went downright berserk! Hearing the others in these states made me fear for my sanity and life even more. As I learned afterwards, one fellow tripper, who was also a first-timer, even fainted 6 or 7 times during his ordeal.

I felt the need to go to the toilet, but I was paralyzed and unable to get onto my feet. Luckily, I was able to hold it in and didn’t shit my pants. As soon as I was able to walk again I went to the toilet and relieved myself of what felt like litres of watery diarrhea. This felt good, as I imagined getting rid of unwanted ballast. After the first of what were to become several rounds of toilet sessions I felt better, and after a while I was able to join the rest of the group again inside the tipi. But not for long. Fellow trippers inside the tipi were sitting around the fire, singing sad songs and fiddling around on various instruments, while others were sobbing, begging for forgiveness etc. It was too much for me to handle and after only a few moments I hastily fled out of the tipi again, barely being able to hold my balance and walk. I again slumped down, this time onto the concrete terrace in front of the cabin, and remained there for the next 1 or 2 hours, unable to move, covered by blankets by some helpful fellow trippers, afraid and tormented and incredulous at what I had gotten myself into. After I was finally able to walk once again I fled to the sleeping quarters upstairs inside the cabin, without even reporting off with the organisers, which they had specifically asked to do if one chose to leave. I simply could not do it, I was too distressed and in fear. I tried to sleep, but could not and was oscillating “between light and darkness” in a dazed semi-sleep until the sun rose again.

The next day I was in shock, utterly shaken, confused and traumatized. I felt very uneasy, worried, anxious and in need of help.
The next day I was in shock, utterly shaken, confused and traumatized. I felt very uneasy, worried, anxious and in need of help.
I wandered around the mountain meadows, cried and prayed. I felt like an infant screaming for its parents. Simultaneously there were strong feelings of depression and guilt for having done something really unwise and stupid, a deep sense of regret. I was very concerned and was discussing with the organisers and the shamans if I should participate in the second night or not. In the end I decided to do it, but drink only half of one cup.

Even with half the dose, the nausea arrived as quickly and severely as before. This time I had a bottle of water with me to fill my stomach a little and I was able to vomit, albeit not as much as I let out the other end again with severe diarrhea. After vomiting I was again overwhelmed by the effects, and I had to lie down. The intensity was almost the same as the one on the first night, but its duration was slightly reduced. I chose the concrete floor of the terrace as my resting place again. There I was joined by fellow trippers, who sat next to me on a wooden bench and talked. I listened to their chats, which seemed utterly banal and idiotic to me. I felt like I was the family dog who lies at their feet and keeps them company. This cosy feeling was soon replaced by paranoia: I felt like I was a piece of captured prey, a tied up pig or something like that, and I was witnessing their discussion of what they could do with me, like cook me alive and eat me…

A fellow tripper sat close to me and kept yelling/singing/chanting for what seemed like a very long time in a most annoying way. I got enraged and screamed in frustration at the annoying chanting. I wanted peace and quiet! As this didn’t change anything in her behaviour I decided to reverse my reaction and instead be grateful for her beautiful singing, i.e. change my behaviour/attitude. Within minutes I didn’t mind it anymore and she luckily also stopped chanting soon. I started breathing deeply and consciously. I felt a strong love for my father. I was touching the stone floor, became stone myself and fell in love with the earth, the planet and everything that’s on it.

This time I also experienced visuals (or “pintas”, as the Colombian shamans call them). I saw vast colourful planes in “metallic pastel” hues, mostly turquoise and pink. They appeared in front of my eyes as if applied by large paint rollers. Sometimes they appeared to have little black dot-like eyes and there were figures emerging from the colored planes that were rhythmically “dancing”, ticking with the frequency of approximately the second-hand on a wristwatch. Perhaps McKenna’s mechanical elves? I called them “dancing bit-mice”. They looked like animations of early arcade video games, like the aliens in Space Invaders. The colors had a metallic, very cold feel to them. I also saw a neon-colored “digital grid” of the universe, a merciless, entirely soul-less, cold and machine-like universe without feeling of security, without any warmth or love. Later on, fine, delicate, somewhat organic figures emerged, like dragonflies or snakes and tiny dragons, mostly in lilac or bluish colors. Even later, static brownish planes with a rugged and wrinkled surface appeared (perhaps the texture of the bark of B. caapi itself?).

Within all my discomfort and fear, a mantra appeared (“I trust, I love”)
Within all my discomfort and fear, a mantra appeared (“I trust, I love”)
, and with its help I could focus better on the positive, on the “light” and was able to push away the darkness. I sat up and started smoking a cigar and I was joined by one of the shamans, who was fanning incense and played a monotonous song on his harmonica. We started singing and tapping along together and it was a comfortable, happy, trance-like state. After he finished I went back into the tipi and this time I was easily capable of staying there until the whole thing was officially declared over.

Toward sunrise we were all “cleansed” by the shamans, which incorporated being divided into groups of five and being treated to a perhaps 45 minute long small ceremony of being spat at with Agua de Florida, singing, praying and chanting and being wiped off with their fans that are made of twigs and leaves (I forgot their proper names).

I felt shaken to my core for the first 2 weeks after this experience, very destabilized, and had to call in sick for work for a day. My whole system was in “fight or flight”-mode, on “red alert”, very highly strung and stressed out, constantly checking if everything was ok again. I felt like my body didn’t stop at my normal boundaries, i.e. my skin, but several feet further out. I regretted having done this. I would almost compulsively masturbate at least twice a day, as this helped me get distracted from the discomfort I was feeling. Several times I went into the nearby woods where I live and would sit there for hours, actually hugging trees to “ground” myself again (I never thought I’d be a tree hugger someday…) and I repeatedly fell into trance-like states in which I produced growling, animal-like sounds, was coughing up mucus and spat it out. At times, I started chanting “native American-like” melodies. With the help of a local healer, with whom I arranged two sessions, I could release/transform some of the desperation, frustration and anger that were induced by the ceremony.

2 weeks after the event, my tinnitus, which I have had for 20 years and with which I have lived fine for many years, came back with a vengeance, with an increased intensity and with some additional frequencies, mostly in my left ear. I have no doubt that this is some form of post traumatic exacerbation of my tinnitus, and it has concerned me for several weeks now, even making the occasional use of benzodiazepines necessary to get some restful sleep during at least the occasional night. This sucks big time!!

It has been 1,5 months now, and things may be slowly getting better. I am emotionally stable, and the only thing bothering me very much 24/7 is the unpleasant souvenir of the exacerbated tinnitus. I think I will eventually be fine again, and that I will be able to have the same good quality of life as before. However, at this time I cannot see any benefit I could have gained from this experience. This was by far the worst, most unpleasant and uninsightful experiment I have engaged in by now. My overall quality of life has definitely decreased after drinking Ayahuasca in this particular composition, set and setting. I would not do it again, wouldn’t have done it if I had anticipated something like this, and I would advise interested persons against doing it, unless they really have nothing to lose…

Anyone who wishes to explore this so-called “medicine” is advised to utmost caution. Be very sure that you really want to do it, and do it in a comfortable, trusting setting, with people you know, trust, are comfortable with and who know what they’re doing! This is very powerful stuff and I can easily understand how this could push vulnerable individuals over the edge.

Exp Year: 2018ExpID: 112160
Gender: Male 
Age at time of experience: 43 
Published: Jul 24, 2018Views: 3,654
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Ayahuasca (8) : Guides / Sitters (39), Hangover / Days After (46), Post Trip Problems (8), Difficult Experiences (5), Group Ceremony (21)

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