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The Ayahuasca Experience – PART TWO: My Journey

ayahuasca experience
in this article
  • How did it start?
  • Would I Have to go to the Jungle?
  • The First Night
  • The First Dose
  • To Drink or Not to Drink?
  • The Aftermath Was Magical
  • Day Two - Not Quite as Enthusiastic
  • The Second Ceremony
  • Sticky Business
  • Conclusion

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Chemical Collective or any associated parties.

How did it start?

In this second of two articles dealing with Ayahuasca, I will discuss my personal experience with the substance, and what it taught me. Be sure to check out PART ONE first!

I have always had a curious inclination towards self-exploration and have often sought out new experiences. I first came across Ayahuasca watching Bruce Parry embark on one of his journeys into the jungle. The experience appeared challenging, marked by extensive purging. Nor did  Bruce seem to derive any benefits from it.

Nothing about it looked pleasant.

Yet, despite his experience, it sparked a curiosity within me that I couldn’t resist exploring.

I hold the belief that what is right for you will present itself, and there was something about this that drew me in. I turned to YouTube and immersed myself in everything I could find on the subject.

None of it seemed appealing initially, but the testimonials from individuals, post-experience, conveyed that despite the predominantly unpleasant nature of the journey, the aftermath yielded a profound self-awareness and a newfound sense of self-understanding.

Would I Have to go to the Jungle?

ayahuasca experience

Now residing in Spain, I noted that all the experiences I had witnessed had transpired in the Amazon jungle, and involved considerable expense. As a woman on my own, the prospect felt too daunting. I considered asking people I knew but could think of no one who would consider it a nice holiday. The proposition of:

Hey, fancy travelling into the jungle with me, taking some plant medication that induces vomiting and perhaps other bodily fluids?

proved to be a challenging sell. I turned to Google to explore the possibility of purchasing it online, as I, accustomed to embarking on my journeys into the unknown alone, considered it a viable option.

To my delight, I found that it was legal in Spain! I found a retreat called Amoraleza that offered the experience of a Santo Daime retreat a few hours’ drive from my home. I  sent them an email inquiring about their schedule, as I aimed to allocate a few weeks to prepare for the experience.

I received a reply stating:

Yes, we do have room for you on this coming Friday’s retreat.

It felt as if it were divinely orchestrated, leaving me with no choice but to say yes. I wasn’t taking any medication and adhered to a vegan diet, assuring that contraindications were not a concern.

The initial of the two ceremonies was scheduled to commence at 7 pm on Friday. The destination was a 5-hour drive to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Unfortunately, I got lost and had to be rescued by my very generous host! 

Once I arrived, though, it was beautiful. I was shown to my cabin but due to my dreadful sense of direction, I had little time to prepare.

The First Night

The itinerary specified that participants were required to wear white, so I changed and proceeded to the main area. A sizable dome tent was set up for the ceremony. Adjacent to it, an outdoor kitchen accommodated fellow travellers sitting and awaiting the event. I joined them and observed a noticeable sense of trepidation among the assembled group.

At the appointed time, we collectively entered the dome, discovering its vast expanse with a central firepit. Around the blazing fire, mattresses were arranged.  Instructions were given for ladies on one side and men on the other. Once we all found our places, we stood and formed a circle around the fire. The proceedings were explained to us; three doses would be administered throughout the evening, and we were encouraged to enhance our experiences with Rape and Sananga eye drops reputed to deepen perception. Each of us was provided with a bucket for potential vomiting, to be emptied by a young man if needed. As it turned out, he was very busy…

The First Dose

A thick syrupy substance in a small, ornate glass. Surprisingly, it was not as overwhelming as I had anticipated. The taste was peculiar – initially sweet but leaving an extremely bitter aftertaste. After consuming it, we returned to our beds and settled down. Music filled the air, featuring a blend of drumming and guitar, accompanied by soulful singing with lyrics focused on mother nature and the earth. It created a pleasant atmosphere. I lay down and patiently awaited the unfolding experience.

I tried to relax, yet found myself unusually alert and intensely present in the moment. I anticipated a departure from my physical body, a journey into the cosmos, but this wasn’t happening. After an indeterminate period, I began to feel the effects of the medicine, not in my mind but in my body. My stomach rumbled and gurgled, and it seemed as if I could sense my entire intestinal system simultaneously. A popping sensation emanated, traversing deeper and deeper, accompanied by a growing sense of nausea. Resisting the urge to vomit, as I wanted to retain the medicine within me, I began to feel very unwell.

To Drink or Not to Drink?

The host circulated with the second dose, but I declined, acutely aware of how close I was to vomiting and the likelihood that both the new dose and what had already been ingested would be expelled. I grappled with conflicting emotions; the desire for the experience clashed with the certainty of the physical consequences. Despite assurances that vomiting was an acceptable part of the journey, I opted against taking the second dose. Irritation crept in as I became increasingly bothered by the music, the potent scent of incense, the persistent offers of Rape and Sananga eye drops, and the disconcerting sounds of others purging. The entire experience began to feel overwhelming, far from the expected presence and peace.

The moment arrived for the third dose and this time I took it. Thankfully, the nausea had subsided somewhat, allowing me to swallow the mixture. I managed to retain it for a brief period, but then the purging commenced. The deep guttural sounds emanating from those around me indicated that I was not alone in this experience.

Disappointment grew within me as time passed, and the extraordinary out-of-body, universe-travelling experience I had envisioned remained elusive.

Although I had lost all sense of time, around 5 am, the ceremony ended, and we were invited to gather around the fire once again.

The Aftermath Was Magical

I felt disoriented and confused; it wasn’t the transformative experience I had anticipated. As we began to leave the tent, we were told there was soup available in the kitchen, but I wasn’t in a state to eat. Instead, I made my way back to my cabin in the woods. Once in the serene silence of my cabin, nestled in bed, I unexpectedly began to transcend my body, entering into an expansive, unknown space. This vast realm was devoid of all creation – just a disembodied version of myself and nothing else. It felt extraordinary, a state of total freedom where nothing from this or any other world existed. There was neither sight, sound, smell, nor sensation. I didn’t exist, yet I existed as everything. In that moment, I comprehended that nothing external to me existed; everything that ever was is, or has been was within me. This realisation nullified everything, as there was nothing to experience since I was everything.

Day Two - Not Quite as Enthusiastic

I awoke the next morning around 11 o’clock to a gentle knocking on my door. It was the kind young man who had assisted us the night before, and to my dismay, he was holding the glass from the previous night, still half full. He explained that I hadn’t finished it and that it belonged to me, insisting that I needed to drink the remainder. Though not thrilled with the idea, I followed his instructions and consumed the remaining potion. He advised me to get up, go out into nature, and enjoy the sunshine. I made my way to the centre and had a light breakfast of fruit and seeds.

Then I went for a walk around the vast land and reclined in a hammock. I was still nursing a sense of disappointment, feeling that the previous night hadn’t lived up to my expectations. Additionally, there was a sense of trepidation at the prospect of repeating the entire experience that night. I was informed that the brew for the evening would be different and likely stronger, which injected a bit of optimism into my outlook.

The Second Ceremony

We gathered and sat around, sharing our experiences from the previous night. The stories varied greatly, with some expressing love for the experience while others had an opposite sentiment. One man was notably disgruntled, and another declared he wouldn’t be taking any more as the effects had made him feel so unwell that he had been vomiting throughout the day. Despite these mixed responses, I remained determined to see it through and approached the evening wholeheartedly.

I had come with a purpose, and I didn’t want to squander the opportunity, leaving with a sense of having let myself down.

I must admit that when the first glass was handed to me, and I caught a whiff of the brew, my stomach recoiled. Despite the aversion, I drank it down and quickly followed it with a large gulp of water to mitigate the taste. The second experience felt somewhat easier to immerse myself in, perhaps because I now knew what to expect in terms of sounds, smells, and the overall atmosphere. However, the second brew did bring about different effects. While the impact on my body was similar, this time it also triggered a pressing need to use the toilet. Navigating this task proved challenging, as the toilet was a hole in the ground located a few hundred yards from the main tent.

It felt quite daunting to hover over a hole filled with waste and shitting like I had never shat before.

I returned to the tent and found myself drifting in and out of consciousness. I managed to drink the second dose and retain it for a while. It was certainly having a more pronounced effect than the first night. The sounds of the music, purging, and overpowering incense became overwhelming, and despite the instruction not to wander off, I felt the need to escape the dome for some clean air and silence. Recalling the hammock I had been in earlier, I left and made my way there, which was only about 100 yards from the tent. I could still hear the distant drum beats and faint singing, but I could also see the stars and feel the breeze. After a while, the young man approached me and informed me that I needed to return to the tent for the third dose. I was reluctant, to say the least. However, he emphasised that even if I didn’t want to take it, I should join the others as we had started the experience together and should finish it together.

It seemed like the entire experience was a horrible waste of time, and I didn’t want to go back into the tent with its loud and overwhelming atmosphere. However, as I started to walk back, something changed within me. I realised I was being somewhat childish and needed to pull myself together and face the situation.

I felt sorry for myself, but suddenly a wave of strength and determination swept over me.

I went back to my bed and took the third dose that was offered.

Sticky Business

We were all given a stick and told to put anything we didn’t want to take away with us into that stick and throw it into the fire. As I held the stick in my hand, I felt a profound surge of overwhelming sadness for the little girl within me who had been so excited to explore the universal planes and find peace. I heard her say:

Put me in the stick. You can go home without me. I will stay here in this place, in the mountains, in nature, and you can go and live the life that must be lived.

I clutched the stick tightly, reluctant to let her go. I loved her and saw her beautiful innocence and willingness to sacrifice herself for my well-being. She didn’t want to be a person anymore, to navigate life’s challenges. She longed to become smoke that settled over the mountains, free and wild. She explained that her enthusiasm to have this expansive experience had given me the courage to take this step. She had always known that she wouldn’t be returning home with me. It was best for both of us.

I cried like a baby; the love I felt for her was unlike any other. My grip on the stick made my knuckles white, but I knew she was right, and I had to let her go. I stood up, and looked down into the fire.

I threw her in and watched her burn.

Once she was reduced to nothing, I returned to bed, covered myself with a blanket, and sat on all fours like a wild beast. I felt like a mighty bear and began to move with the music. My shyness and inhibitions rose up and out of me, and I found myself dancing in this strange position—swaying, bucking, untethered, free! I felt a power within me that I had never experienced before. Certain that I was whole and part of something much bigger than myself.

The ceremony ended, and we all stood again, gathering around the fire. Holding hands, united in our shared experiences. Spontaneously, everyone began to hug each other. It was someone’s birthday, and as everyone sang from the heart, the atmosphere overflowed with love.

A pure loving and natural experience.

There was no separation, embarrassment, or reluctance from anyone. It felt as though we were one being in different forms. It was truly magical.

Conclusion

For me, Ayahuasca was a worthwhile experience, although not one I have actively sought to repeat. However, I wouldn’t rule it out if circumstances presented themselves.  It’s not something I would classify as pleasurable. Joint experiences are not for everyone.

Personally, if I were to do it again, I would prefer to have just one person present to facilitate, with silence and no distractions.

Being a loner by nature, my past explorations have mostly been solitary, and the chaotic, loud environment with others around me violently vomiting felt distracting and infringed on my ability to sink into the experience. 

Upon returning home, a sense of rejuvenation swept over me. It was as if the medicine had performed a profound cleanse, leaving my body feeling remarkably fresh and my mind considerably lighter.

The experience led me to a realisation – a part of me had chosen to stay behind in the serene embrace of the wild mountains.

I now comprehend that my journey into the depths of self-discovery allowed this delicate part of myself to break free from the constraints of human existence. As I embraced the newfound lightness, I recognized the beauty in letting go, allowing that child to live her days in the wilderness, forever free.

Debra Wilkinson | Community Blogger at Chemical Collective

Debra is one of our community bloggers here at Chemical Collective. If you’re interested in joining our blogging team and getting paid to write about subjects you’re passionate about, please reach out to David via email at: blog@chemical-collective.com

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Nigel
4 months ago

Debra smashing it out the park again! A beautifully written article.

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