Ayahuasca ceremony: what it is, how it takes place and the risks to consider

Ayahuasca is a potion that has become famous in recent decades because it is mysterious. This substance is attributed to the ability to remember and confront our most traumatic past, overcoming it in a plane of consciousness difficult to reach by conventional means.

Ayahuasca ceremonies are growing in popularity, although the celebration is a legal issue.. A shaman administers this drug, to which therapeutic properties are attributed, to his visitors, performing a ritual typical of the ancestral cultures of America.

Today we are going to study a little how the ayahuasca ceremonies take place, the phenomena that occur in their development and also some risks related to their realization.

    What are ayahuasca ceremonies?

    The ayahuasca ceremony is the name given to an ancestral practice of the original peoples of the Amazon. It’s about a ritual practiced by healers and shamans of indigenous pre-Hispanic cultures and is considered part of the traditional medicine of these peoples. Those who practice it say it serves to heal the body, mind and soul, even helping people with mental disorders and contributing to the development of consciousness in its practitioners.

    Originally, the consumption of ayahuasca among Native American peoples was part of various rituals practiced to ask the gods to satisfy the needs and desires of their believers. Ayahuasca was present in rituals in honor of the gods, rituals of passage to adulthood, to go to war or to go hunting.. Also, and closely related to what is used today, this substance was consumed in rituals to cure illnesses which, according to the beliefs of the natives of the Amazon and other regions of America, were the product of curses. , black magic, envy and envy. revenge.

    In today’s ayahuasca ceremonies, according to its proponents, it is possible to experience a non-ordinary state of consciousness that allows us to connect with our inner wisdom and experience a process of self-healing and knowing. self. She experiences an intense catharsis, physical and mental purges that allow her to release emotional, psychological and spiritual blockages.

      What is ayahuasca?

      Ayahuasca is a potion that is made from the decoction of a liana that grows in the jungle, the ayahuasca plant (Banisteriopsis caapi), as well as the leaves of another plant, the xacruna (Diplopterys cabrerana). The result is a potion with powerful psychoactive effects and which, for those who consume it and advocate its use, has healing powers. Drinking causes alterations in perception and cognition or, in the opinion of those who take it, opens doors that the mind had closed as a self-defense mechanism.

      The shamans in charge of the ayahuasca ceremonies leave from the idea that, throughout our lives, we accumulate various traumas and conflicts. Far from solving them rationally and efficiently, our conscious part hides them as if they never existed. Thus, problems do not cause conscious pain, but continue to affect us in some way until we are resolved. They continue here, unknowingly conditioning many aspects of our lives, our relationships with others and with ourselves.

      Consuming ayahuasca would bring these conflicts to the surface, usually through sharp visions. This would cause the hidden memories to stop silently blocking us, and by being aware of them, we could actively and effectively resolve them.

      For example, imagine that when you were a kid hiking, you fell and injured yourself. It was a traumatic experience for a small child, which was hidden somewhere in your subconscious. Ayahuasca users would say that in this particular case, taking it could clearly show you that memory, and now that your mind is adult and mature, you are able to put it back in its place. This childhood trauma would be judged by our adult thinkingsince it was not so and that would be the explanation of why today you do not like nature or heights at all.

      However, what often happens is that the memory that emerges is not so simple. After drinking ayahuasca, there are intense episodes of all kinds of memories, experiences, sensations and emotions that help us see what is causing our problems in life, what is not working in our partner or if we were victims of some kind of abuse in our early childhood.

      It is not a drug for pleasure or pleasant taste. There are unpleasant sensations in ayahuasca ceremonies, because the journey with them is often not pleasant at all. However, those who use it say it is a very powerful tool to reconnect with oneself, to get rid of those repressed emotions, thoughts and memories that keep us from being happy and to know a plan of existence. which cannot be accessed from the earth plane.

        How is the ceremony?

        Each shaman has his own method. However, in most ayahuasca ceremonies we can see a number of common steps which, according to their practitioners, facilitate introspection and the release of traumas and memories rooted in the depths of their minds.

        As many people as you wish can participate in these ceremonies, but it is best to do so in small groups. There are shamans who do the sessions with seven people and others up to 25. It all depends on their experience and ability to handle any issues that arise while visitors manifest the effects of ayahuasca.

        The ritual usually takes place indoors, ideal for any inconvenience. These spaces should be enabled so that they are pleasant, clean and spacious. In the room there are musical instruments, pieces of ayahuasca liana and any tool the shaman deems necessary to perform the ceremony. Participants should wear comfortable clothing, usually provided by the shaman or retreat attendants in charge of ayahuasca ceremonies.

        Each participant will be placed on a mattress, mat or rug, seated in a lotus position and awaiting the start of the ritual. It is essential to give each participant a roll of toilet paper and a plastic bucket or basin, as many things can be expelled from the human body after ingesting ayahuasca.

        1. Beginning of the ceremony

        The shaman is placed in the middle of the room and prepares for the beginning of the ritual, not without first explaining in a very concrete way what is going to happen.. Participants should know from the start that they are preparing for a very emotionally intense situation in which they will let go of a lot. It’s both literal and figurative, because with stirring, it’s not just the emotions that are released.

        The Aiahuasca plant has very intense effects on the human body. Shamans attribute purifying powers to it, and it is not uncommon, then, to take it, for the body to be purged: excessive sweating, tearing, excessive urination and excretion, and vomiting, many vomitings. It is mainly for this reason that a bucket is placed next to each participantso they can release whatever they need without getting too dirty.

        The effects of ayahuasca make people see clearly what they are expelling, their traumas or blockages, which are cleared away and left with vomiting and tears. Maybe one sees in his vomit the metaphorical brick that represents his repression, another that his tears represent all the suffering they silenced during years of abuse. This step is unpleasant, but shamans assure that relief comes immediately.

        Before the start of the ceremony, shamans recommend that no one be frightened if the journey gets out of control. It’s a bit rare, although it’s still a possibility. The good expert shamans of Ayahuasca ceremonies have, or at least provide, tools to refocus those who are too bad. However, they also warn that in order to feel better than ever, you must first have a very uncomfortable time with everyone facing their fears. You have to let the medicine act, which is never easy or comfortable.

          2. Harmal and the God Molecule

          Interestingly, the first thing taken during the ayahuasca ceremony is not this potion, but a bit of another drink made from the harmal or alharma plant (Peganum harmala). It’s drunk because acts as an inhibitor of an enzyme in the human body that blocks dimethyltryptamine (DMT), the component of ayahuasca that causes hallucinations and that many call “the molecule of God”.

          The shaman gives each participant a little of this harmal drink. In principle, this potion has no physical effect, apart from making the DMT of the ayahuasca work. It doesn’t taste good. Some say it serves to relax a bit before reaching the intense part of the ceremony. This potion takes about ten minutes to work., being this amount of time the necessary thing to begin the actual ceremony.

            3. First mother of ayahuasca

            What the shamans do from then on is turn off the lights and light the candles. With the bottle of ayahuasca in hand, the shaman he lights a cigar made from a tobacco plant and blows smoke into the neck of the bottle. He stands up and says prayers looking at the four cardinal points. The prayers are very varied, according to the culture of the shaman and the religious current which follows. The theme can be about the spirits of mother nature, fire and water, the protection of the golden hummingbird or the power of the jaguar.

            It is normal that when the effects of the drug begin, at about thirty minutes, each participant rests on their mat and engages in introspection. As the participants curl up in their blankets and try to feel safe, at this point the shaman leading the ceremony begins to sing Icarus, sacred compositions with a highly repetitive rhythm that constantly allude to ayahuasca and to other sacred and medicinal plants of the Amazon. . Animals, spirits and the healing power of the ritual are also mentioned. They help you relax.

            Corn relaxation is interrupted by the effects of powerful ayahuasca. This is when the first vomiting, cold sweats and an extreme need to go to the toilet begin. Participants need to get their guts out a lot, so it’s time to use the bucket. This is normal in the context of the ayahuasca ceremony and the shaman on watch will not stop with his chanting as the participants purge themselves both physically and spiritually.

              4. Second take of ayahuasca

              After an hour, it’s time to take the ayahuasca a second time. After this second dam the shaman can play instruments to generate a greater atmosphere of solemnity and self-reflection for the participants. There can be all kinds of emotions: fear, anxiety, sadness, euphoria… The images that cross the minds of ayahuasca users come in all kinds of shapes and contents.

              The experiences throughout the ayahuasca session can be very diverse. Feeling like you’re a character in a video game, reminiscing about a discussion with your late husband, remembering how you fell off your bike when you were 5, reliving the abuse of a school teacher…all of this to a degree more or less realism, striking colors, almost supernatural experiences.

              After all these emotional experiences, comes the calm and the end of the ceremony. The effects after this episode are usually mild, no more severe than a common hangover. Indeed, the degree of lucidity and physical and emotional well-being of the participants is so high that they usually talk about what they experienced during the ceremony. The ritual is concluded when the participants are all quiet with themselves.

              Ayahuasca is not for everyone

              While the experiences of many ayahuasca users seem to be positive, serving them to come to terms with a part of themselves and helping them overcome issues from the past that they did not even remember, it should not be forgotten that is a drug. As natural as it is, consumption is no more recommendable than going to psychotherapy and opting for real psychological treatments.

              But for now its consumption cannot be recommended given its real risks, which go beyond the apparent therapeutic powers. Ayahuasca is not for everyone. It is known to cause severe and irreversible psychotic symptoms, mainly in people with a history of psychopathology like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

              Taking ayahuasca is incompatible with taking psychotropic drugs, such as antidepressants and anxiolytics, and not recommended in combination with pharmaceutical drugs.

              This recommendation does not mean that ayahuasca has no real therapeutic effects, but there is not yet enough scientific information to make it a sure therapeutic benefit. His research is promising because, as with the cannabis plant, if it succeeds in extracting its therapeutic active principles, it will be used to manufacture useful drugs to combat mental disorders and psychological problems such as depression, anxiety and Dependencies.

              Bibliographic references

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              • Davis, AK, Clifton, JM, Weaver, EG, Hurwitz, ES, Johnson, MW and Griffiths, RR (2020). Investigation of encounter experiences with entities caused by inhaled N,N-dimethyltryptamine: phenomenology, interpretation, and lasting effects. Journal of Psychopharmacology. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881120916143
              • Dean, J., Liu, T., Huff, S. et al (2019). Biosynthesis and extracellular concentrations of N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in mammalian brain. Sci Rep 9, 9333. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-45812-w
              • Nichols DE (2018). N,N-dimethyltryptamine and the pineal gland: a fact that stands out from the myth. Journal of Psychopharmacology (Oxford, England), 32(1), 30–36. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881117736919
              • Ayahuasca Defense Platform (sf) Home. Plant for the Defense of Ayahuasca. Retrieved from: http://www.plantaforma.org/
              • Frecska, E., Bokor, P. & Winkelman, M. (2016). The therapeutic potential of ayahuasca: possible effects against various diseases of civilization. Front Pharmacol, 7:35 a.m.
              • Timmermann, C., Roseman, L., Williams, L., Erritzoe, D., Martial, C., Cassol, H., Laureys, S., Nutt, D. & Carhart-Harris, R. (2018). DMT models the near-death experience. Before. Psychology, 9.

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