My Ayahuasca journey
When I was little, I used to tell people I wanted to be an Indian when I was older. When I was big enough, I would build a boat, cross the ocean and live in the Amazon forest. I would learn to talk to the wild animals, know everything about plants, trees and flowers. I don't know where exactly this wish came from. Probably because of stories that fascinated me and the fact that my father is from Brazil.
Maybe it's no coincidence that later on I ended up in the wonderful world of plant medicine, where there is so much to discover. South America contains countless special plants that have been hidden for a long time in the dense forest. Now we live in a time where all this is becoming more and more known, even outside the original environment. Growing up in the Netherlands made sure that I soon heard about magic mushrooms that could give you a deep journey through your inner self. I knew from that moment on that this piece of Mother Nature had important lessons to offer. Tripping brought me a lot: fun with friends, personal development, a new perspective on things. Although you never get the answers to all your questions, some pieces of the puzzle fell into place because of the insights I got thanks to psychedelics. Determining the right dose and the right environment were my own choices. My feeling always told me that it was important to trip with people you trust and to choose an environment that is nice, comfortable and safe. When I first bought Magic Truffles, I followed the advice of the Smartshop salesman and tripped together with my best friend. It was a summer day and the grass was fresh and green, the sky was clear blue and the sun was a golden ball spinning in the sky.
Although the whole experience had something light and playful, I realized afterwards how much I had changed. It seemed as if a certain burden had fallen off my shoulders, although I couldn't put my finger on it exactly where that point was. Now this experience lies as a precious memory, a happy experience that I look back on with pleasure.
The role of the shaman
I had already heard about Ayahuasca, the mysterious drink from the Amazon, prepared with two plants and originally prepared by the indigenous people. Where not so long ago it was only used by a few westerners, nowadays an entire culture has developed around Ayahuasca, outside its original setting. Ayahuasca is a drink made from at least two plants: a DMT-containing plant (Psychotria viridis) and an MAO-inhibitor (Banisteriopsis caapi). This combination ensures that DMT, or dimethyltryptamine (one of the strongest psychedelic substances known on earth) becomes orally active and gives you a very powerful and long lasting experience. Ayahuasca eventually passed from the indigenous population of Brazil, among others, to European immigrants who started working with it. Its use dates back a very long time and bathes in mystery. The Amazon Indians say that the plants themselves told them how to prepare the drink. After all, according to them everything has a 'spirit' or soul. Both plants, rocks and animals can communicate with us. In the '20s the Ayahuasca use spread. For example, there was a rubber tapper in Brazil that 'as an outsider' came into contact with this special substance. This gave rise to different customs and rituals. There was always the importance of the ceremonial aspect. Prepairing the drink, being together and honoring the divine. The Brazilian religion of Santo Daime and União Do Vegetal set up their own church in which the use of Ayahuasca plays a central role.
Now it is also possible for people like you and me to get in touch with Ayahuasca. It is important to mention that Ayahuasca is forbidden by law in the Netherlands. Many westerners have already travelled to South America, to attend an Ayahuasca ceremony in for example Brazil or Peru. From famous Hollywood stars to writers, philosophers and Silicon Valley technicians... many have come out to work with this drink. The importance of a good accompaniment is central. This can often lead to unpleasant situations when not enough attention is paid to it. Where you can be in the good hands of a close friendship, in a trusted home while taking magic truffles, an Ayahuasca trip requires a shaman who will take care of everything. The responsibility of this person is great and it is an art and almost magical playing field in which the shaman moves.
The shaman who guided my travels seemed to change during the ceremony from a very old, wrinkled female to a young, little girl. Her voice lifted me up into the air and took me to places I had never been before.The tones of the songs she sang touched different strings and the sound flooded my heart with gratitude, sadness, wonder. The languages in which she sang, Spanish and Portuguese, seemed to penetrate very deeply into my being. I did not understand the words and yet I understood her message. When at some point her voice fell away and the silence and darkness fell over me, I felt my own enormous vulnerability. My heart was completely open.
The user also has a certain responsibility. There is the preparation, the period before the ceremony starts, the previous few weeks to months. How long you let this period of reflection, rest and purification last, is up to you. In any case, at least 3 days before and 3 days after the ceremony, you should not take any medication that contraindicates with an MAO-inhibitor. An MAO-inhibitor, or monoamine oxidase inhibitor, counteracts the breakdown of certain enzymes. For example, certain monoamines stay in your system longer, such as dopamine and serotonin. They play a crucial role in the regulation of various bodily functions. For example, blood pressure, your motor skills and mood. During my preparation I learned that it is vitally important to know what you can and cannot take when you are dealing with MAO inhibitors. This ranges from medication, antidepressants, drugs to certain nutrients. Eventually I stuck to a certain diet for a couple of weeks, which went even further than avoiding substances that can cause a dangerous reaction with MAO inhibitors. Sugar, fats, animal products and processed foods were also avoided. In this way my body could detoxify as much as possible, calm down and come into contact with Ayahuasca in a 'clear' state. I think I can say that it helped a lot. Completely detoxifying for example alcohol, drugs and other stimulants feels very good. In hindsight, this preparation process has also been part of the changes I was able to apply in my life afterwards to live healthier and more conscious.
Another part of the detoxification was the frog medicine Kambo. I hadn't heard about this before and it requires a blog of its own to explain in more detail what this experience has been like. However, I can already indicate here that Kambo is a very powerful tool to get rid of toxins and mental blockages. Kambo, like Ayahuasca, is a miracle of nature that the Amazon Indians have known about for a long time.
Integration of the lessons
A lot has happened during my travels. In hindsight I can say that the integration process has been the most important and perhaps even more difficult than the experience itself. Because it was difficult. A lot of things came up that I had hidden deep, or what I didn't know at all. So there is a question you can ask yourself when you think about participating in an Ayahuasca ceremony: Are you open to learning things about yourself that are not so pleasant? You can be quite confronted with your downside. The voice of the shaman made me feel safe enough to explore this darkness. The fears that surfaced have become part of something much bigger. I literally felt the enormous power, the pressure on my shoulders from the emotional pain of my ancestors. Ayahuasca litterally means 'pendulum plant of the soul'. You come to a fundamental level of your being. It continues to amaze me how these plants can show us so much, in so many different ways.
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