(A small disclaimer for all the devotees who say that reading and writing about it is pointless without having experienced it – I hear you. I haven’t experienced it, but I’m going to write about it anyway. I hope she takes it as a sign of my respect and reverence that I won’t agree to drink Ayahuasca until the time feels right for me.)
I promised to write about Ayahuasca quite some time ago, but just never got around to it. My only attempt here is to collect and offer some of the wonderful resources I’ve encountered, so you can investigate further, if you’re interested.
Ayahuasca (I believe literally translated as “vine of the soul”) is an entheogenic brew (often a combination of two plants with the active component DMT). It is used in traditional indigenous ceremonies and rituals, for spiritual healing, in the Amazon (primarily in Peru). It is one of many sacred medicinal substances used in a spiritual context, throughout the world and really since the dawn of time, to induce transcendental or mystical states. It happens to be all the rage these days among spiritual seekers. If you haven’t heard of it before, I encourage you to set aside any judgments you have (good or bad) about psychoactive substances, and just explore this incredibly interesting subject.
There’s a great documentary – aptly named “Ayahuasca: Vine of the Soul“. (It used to be on netflix, but seems not to be available anymore). And another one called DMT: The Spirit Molecule (this is available on youtube). Ayahausca also makes a brief, but crucial appearance in one of my favorite recent documentaries on plant medicines The Sacred Science.
This is an interview with Graham Hancock about the effects/experience of it. (Graham is an expert of sorts in this area, and has given lots and lots of talks about it). And here is an interesting TED talk about an Ayahuasca experience in the context of nature conservation. If you’re interested in DMT itself, Rick Strassman conducted a well known study on humans of the effects of DMT in a laboratory setting. He talks briefly about some of the incredible results here.
There seems to be overwhelming consensus that attending an Ayahuasca ceremony, or taking sufficient quantities of DMT, is a life altering spiritual/metaphysical experience. I believe that wholeheartedly. But I also believe that it is to be approached with reverence, when you are called to it from within. For me, that time has not arrived (yet). If you have personal experiences, and would like to share them, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.