What is Ayahuasca?

Shamanic and scientific understanding of the Amazonian brew
The term "Ayahuasca" in the Quechua language refers to the "Vine of the Soul." Banisteriopsis caapi, also known as the Ayahuasca vine, is a plant that is used in the preparation of the Ayahuasca brew, along with plants such as Chacruna (for Peruvian Amazon), Chaliponga (for Ecuadorian Amazon), or Jurema (for Brazilian Amazon).

In western culture, the term "Ayahuasca" is commonly used to refer to the mixture of the Ayahuasca vine and a DMT-containing plant, while in the Amazon, it was primarily used to refer to the Ayahuasca vine alone.

To clarify the terminology, the Ayahuasca brew is a mixture of two plants: the Ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) containing B-Carbolins (MAOIs) and a other plant such as Chacruna, Chaliponga, or Jurema. On the other hand, the Ayahuasca tea is made solely from the Ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi).

Chacruna (Psychotria viridis) leaf and Ayahuasca (B.Caapi) vine
An Exploration of Curanderismo.

For thousands of years, the indigenous people of the Amazon jungle have passed down the knowledge of using sacred plants to support and care for the body, mind, and spirit. This tradition, known as Curanderismo, has been preserved in its pure and original form to the present day.

A Curandero is a trained practitioner who has undergone a rigorous process of isolation in the jungle, where they learn to work with plant-teachers to bring balance and harmony to their patients. Using a combination of plant-based diets and shamanic ceremonies, the Curandero serves as a protector, guide, and transmitter of energies for those seeking peace, health, and love.

The centerpiece of Curanderismo is the Ayahuasca ceremony, in which the participant drinks a sacred tea made from the Ayahuasca vine. This powerful plant-teacher has a profound impact on the human experience, affecting both the subconscious and physical realms.

On a mental and emotional level, Ayahuasca helps to relieve blocked energy and negative thought patterns, leading to greater clarity and peace of mind. It offers a rare opportunity to reflect on past experiences and beliefs, and to chart a new course for the future.

On a physical level, Ayahuasca acts as a powerful cleanser, ridding the body of toxins and parasites. The Shamans refer to Ayahuasca as the "Mother of all Plants," and believe that she offers guidance and support to those who seek her help in navigating life's challenges.

In this way, Curanderismo offers a holistic approach, embracing the interconnectedness of the body, mind, and spirit. With the guidance of a skilled Curandero, the Ayahuasca ceremony can be a transformative experience, leading to greater health, happiness, and fulfillment as many testimonials of participants confirm.
The Power of the Vine: Understanding the Ayahuasca Experience.

In the world of Plants of Power, the ayahuasca experience is deeply influenced by the external factors of set and setting. Intention, preparation, and structure play a critical role in shaping the content and outcome of any ayahuasca encounter, setting it apart from other mind altering agents. Adhering to the wisdom behind these time-tested principles is essential for minimizing risks and maximizing positive outcomes.

The Altered States of Consciousness:

Here you can explore specific features of the ayahuasca experience and its characteristics:

  1. Changes in Thinking: To varying degrees, altered states of consciousness can induce changes in concentration, attention, memory, and judgment, along with a possible reduction or expansion of reflective awareness.
  2. Altered Time Sense: The sense of time may become distorted, leading to feelings of timelessness or acceleration or deceleration of time.
  3. Fear of Loss of Control: Fear of losing reality or control may arise, leading to increased resistance to the experience and amplification of underlying anxiety. Positive cultural conditioning can lead to mystical and transcendent states.
  4. Changes in Emotional Expression: Intense emotional reactivity may occur, ranging from ecstasy to despair, along with a reduction in conscious control.
  5. Changes in Body Image: Alterations in body image are common, including the dissolution of boundaries between self and others and a temporary loss or change in the usual sense of reality. Depending on cultural beliefs and expectations, these experiences can range from frightening to mystical.
  6. Perceptual Alterations: Increased visual imagery, heightened perceptions, and visions may occur, influenced by cultural beliefs, group dynamics, and individual wish-fulfillment intentions. These experiences may reflect psychological fears, conflicts, or neurophysiological mechanisms that induce geometric patterns and alterations in light, color, and shape.
  7. Changes in Meaning or Significance: In altered states of consciousness, individuals may attach special meaning or significance to their experiences, ideas, or perceptions. These experiences may range from genuine wisdom to self-imposed delusion.
  8. Sense of the Ineffable: Due to the uniqueness of the subjective experience, individuals often have difficulty communicating their experience to those who have not had a similar encounter.
  9. Feelings of Rejuvenation: Many individuals report a new sense of hope, rejuvenation, and rebirth after an altered state of consciousness, which may be short-term or lead to sustained positive changes in mood and outlook.
  10. Hypersuggestibility: Individuals in altered states of consciousness are highly susceptible to verbal and nonverbal cues, making the role of the shaman or session facilitator critical in guiding the experience.

The Three Stages of the Ayahuasca Experience

Reports of ayahuasca effects vary greatly depending on cultural context, ranging from traditional Amazonian rituals to Euro-American psychonautic exploration. The Tukano tribe of the Colombian Amazon separates the ayahuasca experience into three stages:

  1. First stage: The first stage begins within minutes of ingestion, inducing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, a sense of "flying," and the perception of vivid, kaleidoscopic lights and patterns.
  2. Second stage: During the second stage, the Tukano experience a fading of brightly colored geometric patterns, with a deepening sense of flight and visions of three-dimensional mythological and "monstrous" animals.
  3. Third stage: In the third and final stage, visions deepen and become calmer.

In conclusion, the ayahuasca experience is a unique and powerful journey that can lead to significant personal growth and transformation. However, it is important to understand the critical role that intention, preparation, and structure play in shaping the outcome of the experience. By adhering to the wisdom of the shamanic model of altered states of consciousness, participants can minimize risks and maximize positive outcomes. Whether seeking spiritual enlightenment, personal healing, or simply a new perspective on life, the ayahuasca experience can offer a transformative journey of the mind, body, and spirit. As with any powerful tool, it should be approached with respect and reverence, and with a clear understanding of its effects and limitations.

The exact origin of the use of Ayahuasca among indigenous peoples of the Amazon remains unknown to this day. When anthropologists began to document the use of Ayahuasca in the 19th century, they found that only a few tribes mixed the Ayahuasca vine with Chacruna leaves, while the majority of the local people consumed an Ayahuasca tea made solely from the B.caapi vine for both physical healing and spiritual pursuits.

Despite the uncertainty of when indigenous peoples discovered the recipe for the Ayahuasca brew, recent research on mummies in northern Chile, dated to 10 B.C., suggests that the use of pure Ayahuasca vine as a sacred plant has been in practice for over 2,000 years. The fact that the mummies had access to Ayahuasca vine from the Amazon, despite the great distance, highlights the importance of this plant in indigenous medicine.

Recent scientific studies analyzing the mummies from northern Chile, dated as far back as 2000 years ago, have shown the presence of B-Carbolins, the main active compounds found in the Ayahuasca vine.

Indigenous tribes living deeper in the Amazon often prefer to participate in special ceremonies, such as the Purga Ayahuasca or Natemamu, where they consume large quantities of pure Ayahuasca vine tea over a period of several days, sometimes up to 60 liters. In contrast, the typical serving size of an Ayahuasca brew made with Chacruna is much smaller, usually around 40-50 ml.

Despite the lack of DMT-containing plants, the presence of B-Carbolins and the spiritual potency of the pure Ayahuasca vine make for a powerful and transformative experience. The strength of the experience can vary depending on factors such as the strain of Ayahuasca vine and its age.
The way from the Amazon (where Ayahuasca vine grows)
to Atacama desert
The word "Natem" is a term originating from the Shuar tribe in Ecuador. This particular name for Ayahuasca is important to mention as it perfectly describes the process that one undergoes during their journey with the Medicine.

Stages of Ayahuasca / Natem:

  1. Showing your life: Natem provides insight into one's life, including their past, present, and future.
  2. Separating the ego: During the journey, Natem separates one's ego and illusions about themselves, leading to a deeper understanding of themselves.
  3. Re-birth: Finally, Natem brings the participant back into their body with a renewed sense of self and a better understanding of their relationship with the world around them.

The process of Natem is not a quick fix, but a tool that can be used to achieve a better understanding of oneself and balance in life. It may take multiple ceremonies to fully experience the transformation, It is a journey that can lead to personal growth and self-discovery.
Inauguracion of Ayahuasca temple in Shuar Tribe
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