Ayahuasca - Vine Of The Soul in the Amazon
Ayahuasca, the highly psychoactive concoction brewed from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and other DMT-containing shrubbery, is producing a whole new wave of tourism to the Peruvian Amazon - a wave, it would seem, without a demographic. People of all ages and backgrounds are flocking to specialized centres deep in the jungle to investigate the supposed magical healing powers of the hallucinogenic brew.
What is Ayahuasca Used For and How Does It Work?
Searching for an apparent spiritual awakening, trying to appease mental scars left from traumatic events in the past, or even finding answers to the very existence of the universe, the healing properties and positive effects of ayahuasca as a tool for self-acceptance are widely reported by many of the thousands of brave adventurers who have tried the 'magic potion'.
The shamans who prepare the ayahuasca, a Quechua word meaning 'vine of the soul', claim it allows you to transcend into the spirit world, and confront the negative and often terrifying energies which have attached themselves to you at various stages in your life. These come in the form of vivid and often terrifying hallucinations, in a world where time is non-linear, and the horror can seem endless. The only way to break free is to confront the demons inside of you, and expel them from your body.
The upside to this often terrifying experience is self-acceptance, and a deeper understanding of one's place in the spirit world. Many users have reported instant reprieve from their woes; crippling depression, self-esteem issues, even drug addiction have been reportedly cured within days of the opening ceremony. DMT, or Dimethyltryptamine, the psychoactive ingredient of ayahuasca, is a Schedule I drug in the United States, meaning its psychological effects and properties have never been studied in great detail. Yet many people claim it to have been much more effective for them than any other drug or therapy that Western medicine has provided them.
Fasting and abstinence from sexual behaviour are things usually asked of the ayahuasca users in order to cleanse their bodies in preparation. Severe vomiting and diarrhoea often follow shortly after the foul tasting drink is consumed, which many master shamans claim is the expulsion of evil spirits that have attached themselves to your body. The powerful hallucinations begin abruptly, and last for a duration of four to five hours, which can be either a heavenly or a nightmarish experience for the person involved. With many ceremonies lasting a week or more, involving several nights of consumption, it can be a very mentally distressing process.
Whilst it is unlikely to be investigated seriously by Western medicine any time soon, it is very difficult to argue with the many thousands of people who claim that ayahuasca has cured them of their ailments, and sometimes even saved their lives. Whilst you may not like what awaits for you when you look inside your soul, it could, perhaps, be the thing that allows you peace, and a greater connection with the universe and all those around you.
To learn more about ayahuasca a good starting point would be the annual International Amazonian Shamanism Conference held in Iquitos each July. Visit vineofthesoul.org for more information.
*This post is purely meant as an informative piece, and Rainforest Cruises in no way encourages or endorses the use of ayahuasca.