Ayahuasca (B. caapi, P. viridis, & D. cabrerana)
Citation: cwest. "One With the Vine, One With All: An Experience with Ayahuasca (B. caapi, P. viridis, & D. cabrerana) (exp92567)". Erowid.org. Jun 18, 2013. erowid.org/exp/92567
My journey started in the upper amazon, 50 miles from the nearest town with electricity. We got there by boat and when we finally got there my family all fell asleep in the hammocks. They were going to laze about until the dinner at the small native style resort was served. Then they would go sleep in their rooms and wake up early to hike the next day. I was awake and excited however as I was not here to sleep and hike. I was here to meet a shaman and have a life changing experience. As my family slept I talked to one of the guides I had talked to earlier about meeting the shaman. He was short, half native and half Brazilian, and he drove his boat up the amazon into Peru (and was allowed to because he was native and they were allowed to pass freely across borders, much like natives in North America) and had many encounters with shamans here. He said some the most beautiful and terrifying experiences he had ever had were with shamans, and their mind expansive brew known as ayahuasca. And that was why I could not sleep, had no time for rest, for I was mentally and physically preparing for the most intense human experience known.
The Discovery: I had first heard about ayahuasca when I was thirteen years old. I did not know much about it, other than it was like a drug, but it was not used recreationally. Around age 16 I started researching this brew and how it works. Ayahuasca is made by using plants found in the amazon with high amounts of dimethyltryptamine also known as DMT. DMT is found in every living organism and is a neurotransmitter in mammals, released during REM stage sleep and when an organism is dreaming. So how could drinking ayahuasca bring on dream like visions? The answer lies in the vine Banisteriopsis caapi
vine. The B. caapi
vine has harmala alkaloids. How the natives of the amazon figured out that using this sacred vine alongside certain plants with a high percent of DMT is unknown, but it has been passed down generation to generation for hundreds of years, with slight variations on recipes from region to region. I have refrained from eating processed, salty and fatty foods for the last month and have only drank water with no food for the past three days. I was ready for the rituals.
The Ritual: the guide and I traveled by canoe about 5 kilometers up river just before dark. We arrived at the shamans hut along the river, made of reeds and held on stilts made of tree trunks for the spring floods, just as the sun was setting beneath the trees. We were greeted by an old lady who couldnít have been more than eighty even though she looked like she had seen a thousand years of life in the amazon basin. She spoke slowly and with a faint smile to the guide, asking me questions like was I ready for this experience, had I prepared, what was my purpose for wanting to take this ritual and other questions involving my psyche and spiritual strengths. After maybe twenty minutes, in which only seven or so questions were asked, the shaman had decided that I was worthy and invited me and the guide inside. I was glad of this as I had heard of shamans turning down people before; both based on personality and perceived unreadiness for such a powerful journey. As I stooped my head to fit inside the doorway, my nose was immersed in a deep scent of boiling and cooking herbs. In the middle of the hut was a wood burning pit, and over top of a smoldering fire was a large cauldron of dark brown liquid. She called it Yage, pronounced jah hey, which was an equal parts mixture caapi, chacruna and chaliponga, the last two being tree species whose leaves contain high amounts of tryptamines, including DMT. After the shaman said some prayers she offered me a single small bowl of the liquid. I swallowed it back trying to touch it on my tongue as little as possible. It tasted bitter and green, with a hint of earth and something I canít explain; a chemical taste that is obscure yet familiar, like remembering a smell from my childhood.
The first hour was uncomfortable. I was coming up, a strange feeling like going up the hill on a roller coaster, but I never get to the peak and drop over the other side. All the while the shaman is singing and chanting and preparing a cigar out of Nicotiana rustica
, a type of sacred wild tobacco. As my nausea and coherence faded I could tell I was getting close to la purge or the purge, a stage where the user expels the potion and they start to have open eye visuals. As I got less and less stable, the shaman got closer, readying her cigar. Just as I feel I can hold the potion in my stomach anymore, she stops singing and chanting and blows one solid puff of smoke into my face and that is the last thing my physical eyes see. It is now time to embark on the experience of a lifetime.
The Experience: when the shaman released her magical smoke upon my face, my body returned the favor by expelling the potion onto the dirt floor, as is customary during the rituals and has been done countless times over hundreds of years. It was not like throwing up drunk, a sloppy release of poisons that sounds laborious and toxic, nor was it like throwing up sick, a reluctant series of dry heaves and feeling of misery. No this truly was a purge, with everything coming up in one heave, clean and painless, releasing a thousand pounds of chemical weight in my stomach, almost enjoyable if I had time to process the action. But the moment that I had purged, there was a ripping sound as the very fabric of reality had imploded into a black hole, pulling me in for a ride.
At first I saw nothing but colours and shapes by the thousands swirling and spinning geometrically. But as I settled into this out of body reality, this internal figment of mental actuality I started to see things. I saw a mitochondria, a tiny fraction of a cell, move for the first time. I saw as it split, and split again. I watched as this single tiny proto-organism split and evolved into bacteria, into molds, into cells. I watched as the cells grouped together, as they started to take shape. I watched this single inanimate cluster of molecules form life and evolve. I watched as every species that ever existed grow and evolve and go extinct. It took hours, years to see everything I saw yet it only took seconds, if that long.
I lived every life as it happened, in real time. I was a mouse, getting eaten by a snake, yet I could remember back when me and the snake had the same ancestors, had the same genetics, were the same species. I was the jaguar that ate the capybara, the capybara that ate the roots of the tree that I am. I am the enzymes inside a stomach. I am every seed that failed to germinate and create more of me. I am. I had this overpowering sense that every living thing is an extension of a single cell, much like humans are an extension of a single sperm and egg. It was indescribable but there was no sense of time whatsoever, similar to when you're in a dream, no sense of self, no morals or consequences. For we are all one large organism, and anything you do, you do to yourself. As I started to come down I became more and more aware of reality, and ready for the medicine to wear off.
In conclusion this was the most profound and life changing experience I have ever had. I learned that dimensions and linear measurement systems are irrelevant to a humans psyche once detached from reality, and how interconnected things on earth truly are, something I had had lots of thoughts about before, but never with such clarity and understanding. I can see how this chemical can teach much, and find it very interesting that it is produced in the body and is released during dreaming, and know that DMT and ayahuasca will still be relevant to science and society for many hundreds of years. I don't plan on doing ayahuasca again for at least a few years.
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