Just before I embarked on my Huachuma journey, someone with a very strong presence and calm about him attended a few of my yoga classes. It was a presence I immediately recognised, the calm I knew to be true of myself.
After one of the classes he offered me a job in the jungle, teaching yoga. Without a pause, I accepted, not knowing how I’ll be able to make it there as my contract here, hundreds of miles away, was until the same date as he needed me to start there. But I knew I need to go, and a few weeks later, one night bus, a flight from Lima and an hour on the boat from Iquitos, I made it to La Luna Del Amazonas.
For a week of teaching yoga, I would in return get food, accommodation and 5 ceremonies of Ayahuasca, the mother plant and possibly the most well known, most powerful of all the psychedelic medicine found in nature.
The combination of chacruna (Psychotria viridis) leaves, containing DMT and ayahuasca (banisteriopsis caapi) vine with MAO inhibitors which are responsible for activation of DMT within the brain, cooked together, have been in the culture of Amazonian tribes for ages, using the plant for connection with nature and the spirit world, for the ability to communicate with plants and for cleaning the body of any energy that is stuck.
In recent years, Ayahuasca gained fame as medicine for curing everything from illnesses in the body to heavy trauma and many books have been written on the subject, many people visited Amazonas and unfortunately as the awareness of its power grew, it unfortunately soon lead to the overwhelm and abuse through ‘ayahuasca tourism', meaning that most people do just for the sake of doing it (which for a while turned me off as I have a very strong opinion about social pressure).
But as we walked through a thick jungle towards La Luna, I firstly realized how remote it was. Secondly, how simple the place is; no WiFi, barely any reception; small huts, and only two shared bathrooms.
The food followed ayahuasca diet, being mostly oats in the morning, some fruits and then rice and lentils or beans and potatoes later on. No salt, no sugar, no meat. Nothing fancy. We were there to do the deep healing work and that required cleanliness and discipline.
On the first night, we received a small dose, yet the bitter liquid still made me feel quite a lot of sensation similar to the ones I get from a microdose of mushrooms; change in perception of sensation in the throat and hands, and some of the guests already experienced strong visions. When maestro (shaman) sang his Icaros, we drifted in and out of sleep, as usually happens with smaller introductory doses.
The second night the dose tripled. As I received over half a cup, I held it over my head and set my intention. ‘I feel a bit lost, I could use some guidance,' I thought. ‘And my mind often gets covered by a dark cloud, I would love to get rid of those heavy energies that are stuck in my body and responsible for that. I want to be light for others and a guide to a place of love.’
I lifted a cup over my head saying 'Salut Maestro,'
“Que Dios te bendiga” He replied. (may God protect you)
I laid down in meditative silence, listening to the sounds of the forest, and waited for the effects to come in. It didn’t take long for me to start feeling the energy of the medicine. I felt its power, almost intimidating, but gentle, motherly. As the first Icaros was whistled, my abdominal muscles tensed for a moment, I felt all the tension I’ve been holding on to for years as a form of dark, cement-like thickening in my stomach and my hips.
The tension became sharp pain, increasing until I wasn’t able to hold it any more. My body shook in waves, as if I was possessed, and as the vibrations became stronger and uncontrollable, the darkness started disappearing. I felt the release from deep within my core and my body started shining bright.
The visions of animals, mostly frogs and birds came to my awareness, and as the vines and snakes wrapped around my legs and hips, I felt unmatched sensations of ecstasy with every movement of my body.
Within my chest was a whole universe, the sun expanding beyond the body as the voice appeared, telling me to keep giving, keep sharing and teaching; ‘You are on the right path', the voice said and the tears of pure joy poured down my cheeks.
For hours, I kept twisting and turning my body in ecstasy, sometimes shaking when I felt any heaviness, as I cried and laughed at the same time, releasing everything that didn’t seem to belong.
I left the first ceremony kind of humbled by the power of the plant, it’s effect it has on the mind, and a bit afraid to do it again. Even with my experience being so positive, I knew that in the moment after you drink, you lose all the control, which was equally intriguing and intimidating.
And yet I came again to the next ceremony two days later. Receiving almost a full cup this time, I didn’t ask for guidance but purely cleansing of bad energies, as the last time, one of the messages I received from ayahuasca was that I’ll need a lot more purification.
As Icaros guided me into a soft trance, the visions of geometrical patterns appeared, full of colours and taking shapes of various animals.
But then, just a moment of doubt entered my mind as I became aware of my body in space. ‘Am I just getting high?’ I looked around the room and observed everyone going through their own journey. ‘Are we all just here getting high for no reason?’ I taught in complete paranoia, no longer trusting the shamans.
The vibrations within my body suddenly became unpleasant needles piercing my body as I fought losing control. I couldn’t bring myself to lift my body off the mat and leave the temple, breathing became hard and I became increasingly aware of that.
As Maestro’s song no longer lingered in the air, I was left with an empty feeling of blank space of my physical self.
Piercing needles and sharp pain, probably under the influence of the sounds from the woods, now filled the space of my immobile corpse with insects, and worms making their way through the flesh of what used to be the self. In my visions, I was at the end of the life cycle, in the moment where I was forgotten, gone, serving as a food to something I never appreciated.
It didn’t feel so much like the death of the body, but the death of Ego, of 'I' in all the ways that that persona was so carefully built through the material world. The need to keep the body beautiful, young, even alive was the sole cause of suffering and as I battled my demons, I found no choice but to surrender.
The minutes felt stretched into hours as I felt my corpse dissolving under the sharp teeth of anything that wanted to tear into my flesh. And as the Ego died, I didn’t feel the desire to escape the unpleasantness any longer. I thought I could pray for it to end, but in resignation, I felt no point in doing so. This was the reality that we will all eventually face; not just the death, merging again with nature in possibly unpleasant ways.
That night, I didn’t sleep. The ceremony was hard and left me feeling empty. And when I went to get breakfast in the morning, the effects were still there. Not just the inability to walk straight, but also the dark cloud of nihilistic, desireless state, still lingered over my mind.
I needed to talk to Shaman about it.
“Wow, buena conection,” he said, “when we are being eaten in the visions, it’s representing the medicine eating away bad energies.
But you should also understand that if you don’t build proper protection around yourself, bad energies can enter your body more easily.
Especially people like you, healers and maestros of yoga. When you teach you take on people’s energies which are sometimes not so good. Everyone carries them, maybe even as a case of trauma in their body. That’s why those rituals in ceremonies are in place. Use mapachos (tobacco) and agua florida, pray and meditate, before you work with people,” he advised.
Many times before, I noticed that even when everyone attending the class left with a massive smile, I needed to take a nap as my energy levels dropped or my mood changed, so I knew his words to be true.
I took his advice and before the afternoon’s yoga lesson, I spent half an hour in preparation. The cleansing smell of palo santo and a prayer made a clear difference in being able to protect myself from anything catching on and I left a yoga class with an even brighter smile as my students had.
The last night in La Luna was special. The staff members had a ceremony by themselves. Icaros was sung by anyone who was confident in their connection with the plant; one of the shamans from Austria (taught by tribes in Colombia) used a flute to accompany his song.
Of all the ceremonies, this was the most beautiful one for me. Being completely lucid and aware of the surroundings (and actually able to move around and walk this time) I felt the need to leave the maloka and go outside.
Still hearing the song coming from inside, I sat under the bright light of the moon, with my hands digging deep into the grass. The joy and gratitude shined from my heart and I wanted to express it to anything and everything.
My body felt empty and the separation between myself and nature seemed non-existent. As I touched the trees, I felt them loving me back the same way, unconditionally.
As I woke up, having spent the whole night drifting in and out of sleep in the maloka, the radiant smile on my face wouldn’t go away. Although we were leaving, and I had felt sad to go, I knew I’m ready. The messages I received, maybe some not yet fully understood or integrated, would be guiding for a long time after.
But more importantly, I feel that I am a much better person than I was before. I feel energetically cleansed, and even though my body is still a bit week from all the purging, my spirit is stronger. The mother plant will keep working through our bodies for a long time after.
This experience gave me a sense of completeness and showed me which direction my journey needs to stay on.
Lessons I can share are beyond the ones that I can express in words. And so is the connection with nature that is readily available to everyone at any moment. You need to find it for yourself, within the space of your heart, where the unconditional love for the universe and everything in it resides. The first time I ever drank Ayahuasca, months before Amazonas, she showed me that we don’t need the mind-expanding substances to find those states of love. They’ll never serve as shortcuts, they’ll purely show you where you can go, and what you can be, but you’ll still need to do the work yourself.
Even though this is a very personal report and the plant acts differently for everyone, I hope you are able to learn through my journey too.
As I keep sharing, I hope you stay on this road with me, we are all here to shine bright for each other and to enhance each other's experience. That’s all I strive for in my writing, in my teaching and through the way I live, love and share.
Written by Jakob Gricar, August 2019