Monday, 20 May 2013

Ayahuasca - my first experience: magic under the stars

Friday 26th April - Tuesday 30th April 2013 (4 nights)

"What you seek is seeking you.”  ~Rumi~

First night - Friday

It's taken me 2 years to go on this retreat, from first hearing about it from a wonderful man who communicated the beauty of his experience just enough for me to be intrigued and to allow that intrigue to carry me through the sense of inevitable trepidation.  I have joined many others in the huge privilege that is to drink the 'vine of souls', to find deep solace from Mother Ayahuasca.  And in doing it, I have finally joined my tribe and come home.  (I should add, it is likely that we drank Syrian Rue and not the traditional ayahuasca mixture.)

Something compelled me to do this retreat -- I understand why now. The first night I experienced a huge feeling of trepidation coupled with mild panic... what the hell had I been thinking? :)  One of the first people I spoke with said he had experienced an alien abduction on his first night (not an uncommon thing to happen on ingesting DMT, but still this was a bit alarming for both him and myself!  He was brave enough to go back for more on the next night and his experience was much better this time.)  

I drank the medicine, and as I lay down I thought 'oh shit, here we go!', as some 20 minutes later the visuals began to kick in.  At one point, I saw a demonic face peering at me through the large tent in which we were all 'dreaming awake', which initially made me recoil. And I just thought that underneath that scary looking image, there once was a human who allowed himself to become demonic through holding onto bitterness, hatred, etc. and I just showed this being, love.  And as I thought this, the face peeled back layers, showing a human being -- emotional pain clearly etched on his face. I remembered someone saying, 'whatever happens, show your experiences love'.  

The visuals were as trippy as I was expecting.  Dancing bugs, dragons, weird alien creatures, vivid colours.  There was one moment where I suddenly realised it was a bit like the moment in the film Contact, where Jodie Foster is in the machine waiting to go, and the walls change colour and she's off -- it felt a bit like that.  I felt normal reality start to dissolve and become overlaid by an entirely different reality. The music played throughout was wonderful, a mix of traditional icaros and deeply spiritual songs.  Just divine.

I felt blissful waves of gentle love at this point, but my ego was too distracting.  I felt I could go deeper, and so, when they asked if anyone wanted a second dose, I went up.  Part of me thought 'for the love of God, are you sure?!!' but part of me felt instinctively I needed to go deeper. 

After this second dose, my surroundings fully dissolved and we were all in the rainforest, one girl beside me transformed partly into a big cat, but the jungle loved us, it was pure love.  We were it and it was us -- really I felt that our being human was just a part of who we are.  I felt I was coming home.  At the same time, the fear of complete ego dissolution had sent me into mild panic - and I felt my body was going to dissolve into a thousand pieces if I didn't try to keep my ego involved by talking (the guy running the event had said, 'by the way, if anyone wants to die tonight, just die. It's only ego death anyway.' - But it was hard to let go.)  The helpers were amazing though.  One of them was stroking my hair, another holding my hand.  There was so much love in that tent that night.  One of them was grinning at my panic and said 'admit it, you're loving it, aren't you?!'  And I was, despite my concerns.  It was quite funny, the minute the medicine kicked in after my second dose and I purged, I was just lying there saying 'why did I do that... oh God?... WHY?!!' which made one of the people giggle.  And my panic meant I made a bit of a spectacle of myself, but the support and shared laughter was amazing -- I was so grateful to the people I was there with and the helpers for their support.  :)

Then I was back in the tent but the guy running the event was walking around in Native American headgear, and suddenly I saw him in what I felt to be a past life, I felt certain I knew him - it was the most extraordinary, sublime, moment.  I felt he had been a Native American and he was a leader somehow, a Shaman or Chief, perhaps. I kept feeling, and saying, 'I've come home'. This sense of overwhelming connectedness was simply a huge relief, and I felt overwhelmed with love, and I was crying.  And I felt so much love!  I felt that that the universe deeply loves us all unconditionally, that we are all connected, death doesn't matter because this is just a temporary experience, we are eternal beings, eternal sparks of divinity. Words seem like such crude tools in the face of such overwhelming beauty.

Later, when my ego was chattering away, I showed that love too, and I thanked it, thanked it for doing such a great job, it's perfect at what it does! I suddenly realised how rare it is for the ego to receive love. 

Later that night, at around midnight (time gets utterly warped after ingesting ayahuasca, four hours felt like about 10, but in the nicest possible way) I went outside to where one guy was busy keeping the wonderful bonfire alive.  I was sitting by the fire, recounting my experience with an amazing guy who also had links to Native Americans, looking up at the beautiful starlight night.  Really, I found everything I have ever wanted, in that one night.  I've been searching for God, for a connection to Mother Nature, for years.  I've been aching for it.  And that night, my call was answered, and I came home.

Second Night:  Saturday

So after this incredible experience, I was thinking 'what the heck more can I possibly need?' :) I felt it a bit greedy for me to stay and I had been thinking of going home on the second day.  But something compelled me to stay, I wasn't sure why.  The second night was a much more gentle experience, I asked Mother Ayahuasca if she could give me a gentle time of it, and she did.  I just enjoyed the visuals, and experienced waves of gentle bliss.  I'd also has a second dose on this night, but the experience was still not that intense.  Still, I felt there was more I needed to do.  I felt a bit vulnerable and unhealed still the following day. Other peoples shares were beautiful, too.  One guy got told he could download places he loved, that they were 'in his aura'.  One other guy said to us, 'hey, there is nothing to be afraid of people.  There is no real death, we're eternal beings'.  Later it felt like something was tweaking my thyroid (I've had an overactive thyroid for a while).  One of the helpers said later that angels were walking amongst us that night helping us to heal.

Third Night:  Sunday 

Again, I wasn't sure how I felt about staying for another night -- it crossed my mind, I dismissed it and I actually got to the train station and then realised I couldn't leave.  So I turned around and came back for a third night.  Instantly, I felt relief.  There was more I needed to do. Ultimately, this was not a decision I made.  I was called.  Beamed in by the Mothership. :)

This night I had what seemed a fairly decent sized dose, but I was still ‘half in’.  Comfortable, warm, safe, but aware of my ego. I was thinking of my parents and holding them and sending them love -- seeing their pain and feeling compassion towards them. (One thing that was quite interesting the next day was how all our experiences that night were to do with our parents - it was like a cool, psychic link that we all had.  That link was further demonstrated when anyone experienced difficulties as other people would send them love, and they would later say they could feel the love being sent - beautiful.)

The images I kept seeing were quite dark, dragons, demons etc.  But then a really fun thing happened.  The guy running the event put on a really light-hearted and fun song, and all of a sudden the scene changed, some cool chicks in luminious dresses started dancing to the music and a fire-breathing dragon joined in!  I was aware that my thoughts would change my trip and I tried to focus on love and send or give love to any dark images.  But then I started to think about thoughts of self-worth, inadequacy, all the things I’d failed at.  Then I got an answer: ‘failure is good, it keeps me humble, keeps me seeking God’.  

I asked the healing medicine how I could integrate what I learned, and I got told very firmly: ‘shed your skin!’.  I had accidentally left all my clothes on the coach upon arrival, and I thought this symbolic, I had to let go of my old identity, my various personas.  I felt very strongly that I came back for a reason, to help me ‘rebirth’, and to shed my old identity (or my old ways of seeing my identity).  I had also asked the medicine who I had been in this life, and I got 'medicine woman'.

Final Night:  Monday 29th April

“My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there.”  ~Rumi ~

Wow, where to start.  I'd written in my diary of this night that 'I came through the darkness. I lost myself in order to find myself.  And the people I was there with, the Universe, God, Mother Aya, all perfectly supported/orchestrated, this'. Blimey!  :)  But that was how it all felt.

The medicine kicked in fast and hard.  It laid me out pretty quickly and tasted much more bitter this night.  Someone later said to me that the guy running it knew all the various brews etc. and that it might well have been slightly different.  I was feeling a bit shaky and nauseous. As we began, it felt like something was going to go down this night.  I felt lots of energy pouring into me, and I also saw Native American Chiefs with us.  I felt like our ancestors were with us that night, giving us their support.  

But now, lying down, I felt fear.  My ego started to kick in, 'I should have left earlier, I was asking too much by staying, there was nothing more I'd needed'.  I thought the guy organizing it had also taken a drink (it turned out he hadn't -- but I suddenly felt quite vulnerable as the other helpers were also drinking the tea that night).  One other lovely lady was experiencing difficulties and the guys were hugely immersed, having dosed themselves crazy!  I suddenly thought 'I'm on my own'. Panic crept in. My trip became dark, everywhere I looked there were demonic creatures.

Then I felt that this fear was what I needed to work through, that I had to come through this on my own. I got the sense that 'you can do this, you can come through this.'  Also I realised I wasn't alone, I had the support of everyone in the room, and our ancestors, spirit guides.  I silently asked the ancestors for help.  Meanwhile, it felt like my brain was being unknit, as though I were on the brink of insanity and fear was dancing around the edges.  The music felt discordant, everything felt very strange that night. But I got the very firm sense of 'you will get through this; you can!'.  I suddenly remembered I had wanted to work through fear, that this is one of the intentions I had initially held when coming to the retreat.  And a book I'd been reading earlier had been about  how to transform fear.  I realised there are no accidents, that everything happens for a reason.  I focused on the breath, and love.  I remembered it's all love, so really if I were to die, it is only death of the physical vehicle, it doesn't matter. I crawled on my hands and knees to the toilet.  And then I got the sense I should  'stand tall'. That I could stand among my ancestors and take my place among them.  It was a beautiful feeling.  I walked back to the room.  At this point, I felt I wanted to purge, and reached for the bucket, but I got the sense I didn't actually need to purge, it was symbolic of my rebirthing.  

Then, things became utterly mental but in the nicest possible way.  One of the guys who had received quite a large dose, started giggling, and rolling about on the carpet, just saying 'I'm in so much bliss!'   And giggling uproariously.  And this set off another guy who had also found himself immersed in a serious dose of loving, divine, bliss.  They were both in peals of infectious laughter. At this point, I couldn't help but join in, and feel enormous gratitude for my experiences.  And now we were immersed in some crazy, impromptu, Ayahuasca healing, after-party.  We got up and danced (a wobbly dance, as we hadn't quite come back to planet Earth, yet). Then we went out to look at the stars and wow!  They weren't just dots on a flat canvas, they were alive, pulsing orbs of intelligent energy, joining in our celebration.  Two of us saw shooting stars at that point.  We had group hugs and shared so much love and gratitude.  I found everything I had ever wanted and I know where I can go to find home again. I am still processing what happened, as it was the most beautiful event of my life to date.  And I hope I can 'shed my skin!' and move forward in a way that mirrors what I feel inside, even just a little bit.  Will I go back?  I hope to.

In modern life, the human spirit can feel so demeaned by so much, such as with allowing a job title to determine our identity.  Job titles can serve to diminish our spirit -- at what point did we decide it's more important to talk about what you do for money than who you are as a human being?  We can feel crushed and trapped by this one simple title - it serves to reduce us to a tiny fragment of who we are!  This experience has driven home how you are not your job.  You are a beautiful spark of eternal divinity.  You are more powerful than you can possibly imagine.  You can find all the love you can ever need by going inside.  God is within all of us, and no being is excluded.  We are all star stuff, and we can make magic by focusing on love and gratitude and compassion.  These are the tools we need to instantly transform ourselves and the world. 

I'm reminded of a recent snippet of an email I received:


There is only love. And focusing on love is pretty transformative in itself.  Don't allow yourself to be dragged down by grief and despair, but lift others up to a place of joy with the light of your own spirit. And if you need help to do this, we have magical elixers such as ayahuasca to help us be all that we can be - to dream awake, to dance among the stars for a brief time. To go back home.  We are really not alone in this wild universe. 

“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?”  ~Rumi ~

--And a clip from one of my favourite films, Jodie Foster from Contact


  1. I wanted to experience the psychedelic effects that I had heard it could induce. It was surely nothing like my Ayahuasca Shaman experience but it was defiantly therapeutic. I felt untethered from the chaos of everyday life and normality.

  2. Hi Aston, thanks for your comment.

    The experience is entirely geared towards the individual and so it may be that no two experiences will be alike. This is what makes researching it so tricky as you never know what to expect. And what a beauitful description that you felt 'untethered from the chaos of everyday life and normality'. I will be interested to check your website out and find out more about your experience.