Guest post by French Canadian Gaetane Gariepy
I just came back from a 2 week workshop at the Temple of the Way of Light. A safe environment to experience Ayahuasca, called the “vine of the souls”. When mixed with hallucinogetic plants like chacruna, the brew has psychedelic effects,visions,affects human consciousness,inhance psychological introspections called insights .With no psychoactive ingredients, ayahuasca is a powerful purgative.
The first time I was introduced to ayahuasca was during my spiritual search:entheogen:plants that bring you closer to the Divine, will take you to Spirit. Well, that got my attention:a “sacred plant.”The more I read about it, the more convinced I was to experience it. Recently,a diagnosis of breast cancer threw me in a fransy to prepare for the final curtain.I am afraid of dying in my present state of mind which is full of bitterness, resentment, aversion for my fellow human beings, unhappy about my life in general, afraid to bring this dark stuff with me in the eternity. My inner cup is full, time to empty it and let some lightness of being IN.Time to free my soul of the negatives I accumulated during 60 years of living. Rehearse dying, meet Spirit world, prepare mind and soul for when this body will drop me,that is the plan.So, Iquitos I fly. Since I just turned 60, there is a fine birthday gift. let’s meet ayahuasca and its visions.
I booked into the Hummingbird center after a visit to the place and before I give my money to the owner.Had a conversation with the Tracie. She seems a fine woman,speaks english,got a backgroud in counselling with drug & alcohol abusers.explained to her,(and later to the “team”,) the purpose of being there: vision quest, prepare for dying, empty the cup. YES, they will help me to reach my goal.The curandero says he knows how to work with me and has never failed his commitment. A Unicorn from the pagean mythology.OK. 14 days, 6 ceremonies of ayahasca, $1,600.
First ceremony: I will have a small dose of the brew, see how I react to it. totally fine with me, since I am a bit apprehensive.I watch, all eyes open, how the process unfolds. There are 2 bottles on the curandero’s desk: a 2.5L and a 500ml.Curandero serves the brew from the big bottle to the 15-17 guests in the ceremony. He serves himself last: takes he brew from the small bottle… hum…Lights go out. darkness,silence. Later, the medecine man starts signing icaros, calling for protection and healing.Beautiful voice.I am all present, inviting ayahuasca in my body. Yes, she is slowly coming in, I feel more and more heavy in the body and my brain slows down to a point of stupor. No tought is showing up. Heavy more and more, all there is for me to do is to breathe, because if I stop breathing… God knows what will happen. Then, a guy, gringo, starts playing the guitar and signing a song!!!! plain english song!!! never read about that!!!new type of icaros? then, the pucking, for what seems to me, fom all of us. Wow, no fun there!!!part of healing is purging our toxins and sorrows of life.First experience summary: pucking and no vision: I am greatful.Ayahuasca has been kind to me; she had a human experience and I had a ayahuasca experience.Nice meeting you.I felt totallly exhausted by the end of the ceremony.
Next day: group meeting:we share the events of the previous night. I am all ears:Nobody mentioned having visions. hum…my turn to share. Medecine man tells me I have a lot of dark energy in me and around me. he took my soul to a fall near by to cleanse it. What a generous curandero.Thank you for your hard work on me.
Second ceremony:bigger dose of ayahuasca: brew from big bottle for the guests,small bottle for a staff member…(what? Paul is not drinking our brew?) and for the curandero… hum…lights out.silence.Icaros. I notice how the curandero gives energy to the group,moving,dancing,chanting for 4 hours. What a dedicated man he is.guitar and songs kick in,I enjoy all sounds as if coming from heaven. My heart is about to burst from the beauty of it all. I am in bliss in spite of ayahuasca taking me to this heaviness of the entire body.Am I turning into a stone? Pucking in, pucking out. My stomac is in fire: “why is it so painful in the body”? – “A lot of shit” says ayahasca, “not only in the body but also in the mind.” “You are doomed if you do not transform this dark energy” – “How can I transform it? I have accumulated this crapp for so many years and in so many forms: not feeling lovable, unworthy of my parent’s love,disappointments, betrayls(spellings?) from lovers,stuffing in childhood abuses,stuffing anger at my parents and brothers for being nasty to this little girl who could not say a word to defend herself and speak up AND angry at me for not having stood up for myself” – With LOVE answers a voice in my head.”Wait a minute here. I have NO LOVE in my heart. You know very well what happened to my heart when I was 5 year old, you know how I came to close it in order to survive and keep living in this family.How it kept closed down with men who came into my life.So love, how I am going to get it?” -“Breathe LIGHT into you heart. Flush the darkness out. Breathe in light and breathe out the dark,” says ayahuasca. So there I am for the rest of the ceremony: breathe IN, breathe OUT. Curandero works hard on me, a lot of time icaro-ing in front of me, good lord, this guy is so generous and caring. 4 hours later, I am exhausted barely able to make it to my room. No vision and some profound conversations with ayahuasca.
Following day,group meeting: again nobody mentions of their vision… hum… I might be pluged up with darkness, therefore no light,therefore no vision; but them,the whole group? After the meeting I start asking around,don’t you have hallucinations?
Third session: I requested full dose of ahyahuasca. more or less of the same, pucking, deep heaviness in the body, stupor in the mind, conversations with ayahasca, insights.No vision.
The following day, I am getting a bit concerned about the “no vision thing” since I came to Peru on the vision quest, breaking throught the veil of this reality to glimpse into the Spirit world.I share my hum… observations…with the owner, the manager and the curandero: you know… the 2 different bottles? could it be a weak brew and a stronger brew ?I am half way through my 6 ceremonies and I am getting a bit concerned. I dared asking if I could take the brew from the small bottle. That did open a can of worms….
How come the curandero does not prepare the brew himself for our group? I am told the brew we drink if prepared by RON,a gringo-turned-into-shaman and his brew is very good. I resist the medecine.that is all there is to it.
Make this story short, I finished my stay there, skipped the last dose (the 6th one) since I know by now I will keep pucking anf shitting, great purging,with no vision in sight. I decided to spare my stomach from more excruciating pain.
However I will not return home without doing my best to pursue my vision quest and meet the invisible entities.
On a respit day at the Dawn of the Amazon cafe, I strike a conversation with a woman who is an exchange programm worker at the Temple of the Way of the Light. She spoke highly of this center and yes, she gets vision, plenty of them. OK.Life is good, there is a cancellation and I get in. 12 days in the jungle, 7 ceremonies, $1,800. Having learned a great lesson from the Hummingbird center, I pay half of it up front and the rest… in few days… after my 1st ceremony there…Half an hour by boat, one hour walk in the mud and here is the center. We are received by 5 curanderas who give us a flower bath.(By the way, we had flower baths every day) then a introduction meeting. There will be 5 curanderas ans 3 curanderos working with the group during all 7 ceremonies…Being the elder and having a previous experience in a similar center, I do not mind at all asking questions in front of the whole group. so.”All together at the same time? yes mam. a bit of cacophony? yes mam. Which one prepares the brew? The brew comes from blablabla, We have a very quality brew here. I shared my previous experience with a so-so brew and asked if I could get my money back if, after the 1st session, I am not pleased with the brew. Yes mam.. I am reassured by honesty and straight forwardness.
1st session:brew distribution. since I have 5 drinks of ayahuasca under my belly, so to speak,I have full dose of the brew. Light out, silence, the icaros start. Cannot say it brought joy into my ears and bliss into the heart. cacophony to the max.How am I going to stand 4 hours of that???? Heaviness sets in, big time,pucking in,excruciating pain in the belly and stomach,man… not again!!!
curandera #1 sits in front of me.Little mama. so soft. love, pure love. These medecine people, what a bunch of dedicated beings.I suddently find myself in front of a loving mother who signs a bedtime song for a little girl.me. tears into my eyes. I am loved. My heart breaks open. I am loved by the Divine Mother and by a little peruvian humain being-curandera. I want to take this song with me to eternity.I am ready to die, right now, with mama signing a love song to me. This is a first in my 60 years of life.Ayahuasca has few tricks under her sleeve!!!What a gift! NO VISION
2nd session: Not going to let this body being dragged into the heaviness of body and mind. I will focus. And I did focus. Male curandero, gets in front of me with his poweful voice and I just want to put my fingers into my ears so invasive it feels to me… go away! Focus on the mind, tune him out! Here goes a memory of my father…how we enjoyed each other when I was a little thing he would carry on his shoulders or rock on his chair at the end of the day. How I miss that fahter! How come it turned so sour between us? While curandero signs,papa talks to me in my head:”I am so sorry for all the hurts I caused you; I have not been a good father to you and to all my kids. I did not know the damages I caused you,I am so sorry.Again, my heart cracked open. I love my father; he did not know better, him too has been abused ans not loved. “I am sorry too papa, it could have been so pleasant to enjoy each other company.” And here I am to my biggest surprise,forgiving this mean man and wanting to reconcile with him. Then I see a little girl and an old one holding hands, standing in the front of a big sailing boat,signing to their father. I ask the boat where is “she” taking these my 2 “me”?-“safe to the other shore”.-“why would you do that?”-because I care for them. This is my mission in life: to take all of you safe to the other shore” . Then, the teenage girl, the young adult, the Gaetanes of different ages with their sorrows and disapointments appeared one by one behind the little and the old one, secure, looking straight ahead, knowing they will reach safely the other shore. Wow, ayahuasca, thank you for this great journey of healing the heart. Thank you curandero for icaro-ing for me. Profound forgivenes has happened this evening.No vision.
Next day, time for group sharing. Hallucinations up to the wazoo from the big majority of the group. some funny, some scary. Well at least, the brew is potent! I went to talk to the facilitator and talked more openly about my frustration with the brew at the Hummingbird center. I learned that Ron’s brew has its own reputation there: they don’t even consider using his brew as a back up plan(if ever they do not have enough of their own supply for some reason.) There is not enough DMT in it. There you have it. Simple.
If a brew does not contain enough hallucinogetic plants like DMT, you find a group of clients that does not have hallucinations. Why is that? My good guess is simple too… one curandero and 2 staffs (owner and manager)could not manage 15-18 people experiencing hallucinations, some scary with acting out of fear, screaming. Easier to keep the group “under” and make a weak brew. And why not put honey, butter and bread on the table,tasty food with a bit of salt in it.So that too will keep the group “under” It is documented that these little items should not be part of the diet because by their own nature, it keeps the mind gounded.
So, my dear readers, as would say Jane Austen,why do I take the time and energy to share my experience with you? In all fairness for the ones just like me, who takes a plane to Iquitos, take a lot of money from their saving account, use their precious vacation time in order to experience ayahuasca mixed with DMT,I would like to inform them of my findings and what I have learned in the process out of compassion for my fellow brothers and sisters,
I would say that, when you search on the internet for a center that offers ayahuasca workshops, to look for the section “testimony” and if there is none…it speak for itself. If all possible, do not pay the full amount up front, see how the workshop unfold. Ask about the quality of the brew: what is the mix with ayahuasca.
It is as if you order a rhum and coke from a particular bar. Well, you taste it: a lot of coke a pinch of rhum. You go back to the waiter and notice your drink is quite weak. waiter would tell you it is rhum and coke. True enough, it is not a lie. but not exactly, not even close to the stander recipy. Would you ask for you money back? return the drink and ask for a decent one? Perhaps you would tell your friends NOT to go there as the drink is not whorted the money, especially if you paid top dollars for it? and you would likely not return to this particular bar.. or would you?
Dear readers,I feel at peace with sharing my inner journey with you; yes Ayahuasca is a healer plant, will give you visions and insights, will clean you inside out.I am at peace with sharing this little piece of information about the two centers I stayed at, hoping you will make a informed decision to where to find the serious ayahuasca centers. I am pleased I supported financially the Temple of the Way of Light, since part of it goes to their mission in helping the community in education, sanitary projects, defending and protecting the indigenous’ rights againts oil companies that bully and transgress their human rights. They have a great mission; I wish them prosperity and long life.
Now,do I give up on my vision quest since I never experienced hallicunation during 12 dinkings of the sacred plant? Of course no. I went for an exit interview with the master shaman and asked him about the reasons for the no vision. Yes, I have darkness still in the heart and stomach areas. I would need more time with ayahuasca, more icaros and curanderos healings.I cleared a lot of negativity but not all. Now, do I ask myself,what is the purpose of 2 weeks workshop if it not enough time to free your “self” from the accumulation of sorrows and frustrations of a life time? Is 2 week program an introduction to inner healing and we need to come back for more the next vacation time?
Granted I was the elder of both groups I attended to; most of the crowd was in the mid twenty to mid thirty. Less wounds to heal? Less stuff accumulated? Is it the “new cool experience to get” for the westerners, a new tourist trap?I do not have answer to that. I know that my inner healing journey is far from being over, that ayahuasca is a tool to work on cleansing your psychi at a deep level. There are other sacred teacher plants that are less brutal on the body: peyote,San Pedro which is mescaline,LSD, magic mushrooms.I will pay them a visit. My vision quest is unfolding till this body drops me. So much to do and so little time.Next step? a long term stay at a yoga and meditation center. The final plan is for my soul to feel free, pure, empty cup, when she flies into eternity with no fear.
Ayahuasca In My Blood
Guest post by French Canadian Gaetane Gariepy
Disclaimer; The opinions expressed in this unedited article, Ayahuasca In My Blood, on this site may or may not reflect the opinions of Bill Grimes, the Captain’s Blog, or Dawn on the Amazon. As with all controversies, we look forward to your comments or articles expressing differing opinions. Thank you.