The Who, What, How, Where, and Why Of Ayahuasca
Who’s Grand Idea Was Ayahuasca?
If you were to take the fruit of the Vitis vinifera, grind them up and place them in vats to ferment, you’d get a pleasant drink that would be enjoyed with red meats and cheeses. In this case, you’d be enjoying a glass of wine. If you were to harvest the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, dry them, and steep them in hot water, you’d find yourself enjoying a warm beverage, sometimes served with a little honey and lemon to soothe sore throats or iced for a nice, refreshing drink on a hot summer day. In this case, you’d be drinking black tea. Combine Banisteriopsis Cappi and Psychotria Viridis, boil it for almost a day, and you’d have stumbled into one of the most profound spiritual experiences of your life. Welcome to the world of ayahuasca.
This glorious combination of plants came together, some say, with some sort of spiritual divinity in the deep regions of the Amazon and parts of Central America. How the shamans of the past chose these two plants from the over 150,000 plant species of the Amazon to be combined into this consciousness-altering elixir is a mystery. Modern-day shamans are unable to answer the questions of its origin. The story goes that there are “plant spirits” who instruct and coach shamans of the powerful and healing powers of different plants present in the jungle. These powerful plants, which are approved by the “plant spirits,” are said to be the medicines of the jungle. This attitude towards plants causes some native tribes to deny the practices of western medicine and other non-plant, non-nature-based remedies. Whether we credit the plant spirits or human ingenuity and experimentation, or perhaps some combination of the two, Ayahuasca is here, the benefits of which all may enjoy.
What Does It Do?
Unlike consuming the fermented fruit of the Vitis vine, the combination of B. Cappi and P. Viridis work together to make an incredibly potent psychedelic brew. While the taste of ayahuasca isn’t exactly pleasant, the mind-altering experience is reason enough to drink deeply. The primary purpose of ayahuasca, for those seeking it out, is to have it create a pathway to the inner consciousness. Modern-day medicine has proven inadequate to resolve the emotional and psychological challenges many are facing, providing us with mostly temporary fixes. Even with ongoing and intense therapy, healing can remain elusive. Ayahuasca allows you to take a look at what’s going on beyond the physical realm and adventure into the inner workings of your consciousness—perhaps even your soul. What modern Western medicine calls hallucinations, shamans refer to as visions, and these visions can help you sort out what’s ailing you from the inside out.
The use of ethnomedicine has grown in popularity, especially amongst populations that have grown weary of a medical world focused on pushing pills and treating symptoms rather than root causes. In many native cultures, healing is a community effort, with all members of the community caring and converging to aid in self-discovery and growth. With very little risk for long term side effects—other than the moral and spiritual healing which is its purpose—ayahuasca beats out just about any pill treatment available at your local pharmacy. Ayahuasca can heal deep emotional wounds and treat conditions such as depression, PTSD, and addiction, often with only a few sessions. It can be a godsend for those who are tethered to a reality of a lifetime of pill management and the daily mental struggles now pervading the world of psychiatric treatment. For those with little faith in the prospect of being cured, ayahuasca provides real hope. Shamans look to the earth for healing, and in the case of ayahuasca, it hasn’t let them down. It opens a portal of deep understanding and allows you to communicate and come to terms with the things that are hurting and hindering you.
How does it work?
Ayahuasca is a powerful one-two punch of potent tea. The caapi vine is a strong MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor), which in layman’s terms acts as a powerful antidepressant. In the deep workings of the brain, cells talk to each other through neurotransmitters and work together to run smoothly. By inhibiting monoamine oxidase (which destroy neurotransmitters), the MAO inhibiting property of ayahuasca allows more of these neurotransmitters to remain in the brain, thus elevating mood through improved brain cell communication. Your brain becomes alive and buzzing with activity in areas that typically remain semi-dormant.
Pair the MAOI aspect of the caapi vine with the dimethyltryptamine (or DMT) present in P. Viridis, and you create the perfect combination of open mind and open spirit. DMT, sometimes called the spirit molecule, is completely natural and allows you to open doors into the unknown. Different from other DMT experiences, DMT in ayahuasca brews create a prolonged experience, sometimes lasting up to six hours. We could give you a whole bunch of pharmaceutical babble but it suffices to say that this prolonged experience is a result of the brain being wide open and accepting as a result of the MAO inhibiting property of the caapi vine. One plant opens the door to heightened awareness and the other takes your hand and walks you through. What’s incredible is that it’s 100% plant-based medicine, no labs or doctors are involved whatsoever.
Where can I go to receive this sort of treatment?
Right now, there are only two approved churches that can administer ayahuasca ceremonies in the United States. However, there is a growing industry around this ancient tradition, sprouting up in South America and parts of Mexico. These “spiritual vacations,” are all about internal healing and becoming one with yourself again. You must find a reputable location to have your journey because it isn’t a journey for the faint of heart. Ayahuasca sessions can be very intense, and in an altered state of mind, you need to make sure you’re absolutely comfortable. All ayahuasca experiences have an experienced shaman who administers the ayahuasca, and attendants to look after you as you take your journey. These attendants will help you to remain comfortable and safe until your return from the path of your ayahuasca journey.
Keep in mind, you can’t just show up as casually as you might to a bar. This is not an “I’m ready, bro, hit me with some of that brew” sort of situation. Many tribes encourage doing a cleansing diet leading up to ingesting your first ayahuasca drink. This cleansing diet is extremely important for your own safety because some foods and drinks can interact with the MAOI properties of the drink. Your body is a very biochemically sensitive being, and being as alkaline as possible going into the experience is beneficial to your overall journey. Vomiting is extremely common, however, the shamans don’t look at it as vile excreta. This process of purging is a sign your body is spiritually releasing the ego. This purge can also come in the form of tears, yawning, or heavy breathing. When this ego purge occurs, the attendants will be there to assist with buckets, tissues, and soft pillows to lay upon. Once you “release your ego,” you’re free to explore deeper into your own psyche. Some even report understanding and coming to terms with their own mortality.
Anarchapulco has its very own Shaman, Lila Vega who will be guiding a few ayahuasca ceremonies during the event (buy tickets here) and holding a post-retreat event. Dates and prices for the retreat to be announced soon! Click here for details on last year’s event!
Why do I need to experience ayahuasca?
Of course, you don’t need to do anything. As a free-thinking individual, you can make your own decision, but take a few things into consideration. If you’re feeling tightly wound and disconnected, wouldn’t it be nice to shrug off those binds and see what your inner self really wants? If you’re in the throes of a midlife crisis, wouldn’t it be nice to be removed from your ego and gain some larger perspective? If you’re struggling with addiction, wouldn’t it help you to explore your attachments to destructive crutches and truly heal? Ayahuasca encourages you to trust, believe, and be open with yourself in ways that may be foreign and unfamiliar to you.
All of these things and more can be answered if you’re willing to open the door to the portal that an ayahuasca ceremony opens for you. While you’re at it, open the door to the empowering portal that is Anarchapulco! Get your tickets to this must-attend event and get a chance to meet a few of the stellar people that have taken the ayahuasca journey themselves!
For a more intimate view of ayahuasca, check out Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teacher of Mankind by Graham Hancock. This book is a comprehensive body of data encompassing different forms of plant-based medicine and the powers of ayahuasca.
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