So, this is not ever anything I thought I would actually admit to doing. After all, I was raised Southern Baptist and there was never a drop of alcohol in the house... or cigarettes and definitely not a swear word spoken. Unless mom had had it... you better run now.
But seriously, to this day, I hardly ever drink. It's not in my DNA, but there was this one time when my life was literally falling apart everywhere I looked that I thought, "hey, maybe spirit medicine would help me here". I had just moved to Mexico from the US for reasons that beg to be told another time. Let's just say, things weren't exactly working. Except for my relationship, that was fantastic. So, in the spirit of shaking things up a bit and getting much needed perspective, someone we knew in Mexico said Ayahuasca was a sure fire way to get things moving in a new direction.
Being the giant risk taker I am, I Googled it for hours... "can you die from Ayahuasca?" "side effects of Ayahuasca", "ingredients of Ayahuasca", "how to keep from barfing when taking Ayahuasca". I did this until I exhausted myself. In the end, after consulting with my guides, I decided to do it.
We were told not to eat the day of the medicine because if we did we would increase our chance of throwing up. That was a tough one for me because I have low blood sugar. But for the sake of the experiment, I decided to do it. We showed up around 9am and got comfortable in a giant yurt on the beach. It was supposed to start at 10am. It didn't start until 2pm. Already starving.
After everyone arrived, the shaman started handing out doses of Ayahuasca. The woman was kind and her energy was very mother earth like and in case you are wondering what it tastes like, it's kind of like something someone hands you and says, "here, take this, it's good for you." Not terrible, not great.
The spirit medicine was handed out in three doses. You had to wait a while between each dose. If I recall it was a couple of hours. Everyone brought some blankets and sleeping bags to hang out on, but no one was allowed to talk to each other. Mind you there were about 20 people there trying to hold a vow of silence and we're bored. The only speaking being done was by the shaman and while she started speaking in English and Spanish, about 30 minutes in she ditched the English, so everything was in Spanish from there on out. Even though I wish I did, I don't speak Spanish, so that made it a little tough to know what to expect and it makes it really hard to pay attention.
In the mean time, everyone was waiting for something to happen, which started to occur after the second dose. By now, it was evening. Stuff started to get real. Some people were crying and screaming, some were throwing up, some were just lying there. After the second dose, I realized, this stuff doesn't effect me like everyone else. I'm pretty open to the other side so nothing I was experiencing was unusual or profound.
The extent of my experience was, I envisioned I was standing on the beach and a man with a long beard walked up with a large walking stick. I asked him if my kids were going to be ok. He just looked at me and said, "didn't we already answer that question for you?" And then he walked away. Thanks.
Past that, I think I saw some weird shapes and that was about it. I was mainly just starving.
We decided not to take a third dose, on the instruction of my guides. We weren't getting anything out of it. We were just observing what was going on around us, which was pretty crazy. Someone was walking around with a burning sage stick trying to clean up the energy that was flying around from everyone releasing it. Which, if you are wondering is kind of like getting a water gun from the Dollar Store to put out a 3 alarm fire.
After being amused by all of this for a while, it was now about 10pm, we were ready to go home. We felt fine but they wouldn't let us leave. We were "part of the collective energy" and us leaving would break it. Um, no. That's not how that works. I was very irritated by this point and didn't care about the no talking rule. Everyone was getting upset at us because were under our blankets making jokes, trying not to pass out from not eating. All I could think of was eating a hamburger. Literally, I was so hungry from not eating all day. I sincerely was not trying to be disrespectful, but it had reach the point of being so ridiculous that I was rebelling.
About two in the morning, they finally let us leave after we asked about six times. They decided that the collective energy was spent, I guess. I can't remember what I ate when I got home, but I know I had a full meal.
For about two weeks after the experience, I felt terrible. Because of the way they had conducted this ceremony, not really having any idea how to take care of the energy everyone was releasing, I had picked up tons of other people's junk. I was having nightmares, depressive episodes, traumatic flashes and weird physical symptoms. It was almost as bad as when I had my awakening 12 years before.
I wish I could say it was amazing and it truly shifted my life, but I'm just being honest. It didn't do anything but give me a bunch of stuff to process from other people. That in itself was actually a gift, as processing always is, but I wont be signing up for Ayahuasca again.
If you are thinking about doing this ceremony, do your research. Ask how they are conducting it and how they are managing the energy everyone is releasing. Ask who is making the medicine and their experience administering it. If you can, talk to people that have gone through it with that particular shaman or administrator. How did they feel during and after?
Preferably, a very small group is better for this sort of thing if you can find one. In a large group like the one I was in, you want it outside if possible and there needs to be a lot of sage burned intermittently, at least bowls of salt water (we were near the ocean), crystal healing bowls or Tibetan healing bowls being played is also a big plus. Crystals are good, but they have to be energetically clean when you start or you just have a bigger mess on your hands. Plenty of room to spread out is also needed (something we did not have).
In conclusion, I think it's pretty safe to try it if you are healthy. Use your own guidance. I have met people that have had profound breakthroughs using Ayahuasca and swear by it. It works really well if you feel like you have trouble clearing your energy or connecting to the spirit realms. It will bring up big things to let go of and process, so if you are just looking for a joy ride, this is not it. This can be a lot of work if you have been putting off dealing with something but facing that stuff and letting it go will always move you forward.
If it doesn't do anything for you, worst case, you will just want a hamburger when it's all over.