Ceremony 1 at Santuario Huistin August 2018 (Maestro Enrique)

Santuario Histin Retreat and it's thermic river.
Santuario Histin Retreat and it's thermic river.

The 4500 odd words below were mostly written in a week or two after my first Ayahuasca Experience in August 2018. I think it is a good read if you have not had your first Ayahuasca experience yet and you’d like a very detailed trip report or if you just like reading trip reports then this is a long one!

Before the ceremony:

I wondered if I had my intentions down well enough, succinct enough. I went over them in my mind.

From Lima it took an Uber, a plane, two tuk-tuks, a car, a boat and an hour hiking to get to our retreat – we managed it in about 18 hours including an overnight stop in a nearby town. We arrived on Monday 13 August 2018 at about 2 pm. We relaxed in hammocks till our rooms were ready.  I was nervous but excited by the travel and the feeling of anticipation. I wondered if I had my intentions down well enough, succinct enough. I went over them in my mind.

We didn’t eat after our arrival as the ceremony requires an empty stomach. I did yoga before the ceremony for half an hour before showering. Showering consisted of a wild garlic infused tub of water and a bowl used to scoop garlic water and pour it over you. Three bowls poured upon yourself facing east and the same number facing west was the custom.

Ceremony jitters:

It was a nice image but I knew that it had been planted in my head – based on a podcast I had heard of someone else’s experience.

After the shower Drew and I chatted to Ben and Rasmus (note 1) for about 20 mins before entering the Maloca – the ceremonial hall of the village where Ayahuasca ceremonies were held. I entered and Drew (note 2) was already present on a mattress to my left. Another woman (note 3) was there also. I took my place on a mattress in between them. There was also a Curandero (note 4) (aka Shaman or Maestro the word Curandero means ‘healer’ in Spanish I am told) in the room whom I had never met. He was Jiminez’s brother. Jiminez is the most powerful and lead Curandero here.

Nothing was said as I entered. I just took my place and waited. My back was tender. I felt stiff in my lower body and back. My back has had a lot of issues so it’s normal to have this for me, especially while sitting. I mention it now as it will become relevant later in these notes as it was one of my intentions to do what I could to heal this and its related numbness and lack of power in my left foot.

As I lay on the mattress I closed my eyes and anxiously ran over my intentions, again and again, clarifying them. Clearly, I was nervous. Like I was going to be so out of it I would forget them. I started to have visions already without any drugs at all. I could see swirling patterns behind my closed eyelids but I think I was forcing or imagining them, to be honest.

I imagined that Ayahuasca might show me who I was or I was related to in the past. In doing so I had images of a golden armored warrior on an elephant – he was Indian. It was a nice image but I knew that it had been planted in my head – based on a podcast I had heard of someone else’s experience.

Hallucinations: I finally figured it out

I do remember being told that I was a bit ‘silly’ by Mother Ayahuasca. That it was silly that I hadn’t been exposed to her before, that I didn’t understand how to speak to her.

The real hallucinations took hours to come after the initial drink. While waiting I moved my position around a lot. I started laying on my back but our guide (note 5) told me to sit up with my back against the wall which I could only manage for a while before my back got sore and I had to lye down again. During which I was anxious that the Ayahuasca hadn’t kicked in yet. Eventually, I fell asleep and when I awoke I was hallucinating.

My eyes were closed and while my entire vision was covered in hallucinations I remember two kinds. The first was a screen of patterns covering my whole vision made up of tiny triangles (for lack of a better word – some say ‘geometric patterns’) but these triangles made up larger patterns – the larger patterns I don’t recall as sometimes trying to focus on them would mean they would disappear. Such is the nature of the trip, I don’t remember everything. Later, at some point during the 5-day retreat, I remember reading that loss of events and order of events during the trip was normal while under DMT based hallucinogens.

The second hallucination was also seen at the same time as the first but over top of it. It was in the left half of my vision. There was something else in the right half too but I can’t remember what it was. I was too focused on the left half.

The left half was an oblong shape as I remember but the outer edges of it I can’t quite recall. In its center was a snake, cream in color, with brown broken stripes on its back. I saw it in profile. It was long and took up the whole panel. It’s length snaked upon itself taking up the whole space in the left half of my vision. It was quite an amazing thing to see. It wasn’t full of detail but more of an icon. It was impressive to me and I couldn’t take my attention away from it. When I focussed on it it would not disappear – a sign I was deeply tripping at this point. It was nice to admire it. Like a painting in a museum, I took it in.

I was told later by our guide that this represents the Ayahuasca vine itself and is symbolic. I remember asking at one point several questions of Mother Ayahuasca – things like ‘Who are you? Where do you come from? Who am I? Where do I come from? (I meant it in a cosmic sense  – I wanted her to give me some insight into what this life meant). I like to think that this was her presenting herself to me. Here I am – I am the Snake Vine. We were shown the actual vine itself in the wild at one point during the stay – it looks like a snakes body winding itself up against other trees which it attaches too.

When I opened my eyes the snake was still there. I sat up and admired it. I don’t remember how long I was admiring it but at some stage, I needed to piss so I got up and went. I figured I was tripping hard so I should go now. It was a mistake. When I came back I couldn’t get back into the trip.

Just before returning to the Maloca, our guide came out to check on me. He was in the ceremony as well and was very attentive to us – he looked after us. We had a quick conversation and remembering back now I was very much under the influence and could walk to the bathroom (which was on very very uneven stone steps) and have a conversation easily. He asked if we wanted more medicine. I said I think we want more. He said that I could ask the Maestro when we did.

My second cup:

On returning I waited a few minutes, maybe 10 – it’s hard to tell. I felt scared to get up at first because nobody else had asked for a second cup. But I wasn’t able to see the vision again so I thought that I should have more. I felt a sudden surge of confidence and I rose and walked toward the maestro and said, ‘Maestro, quiero uno Ayahuasca mas’ or in English ‘Master, I want one more Ayahuasca‘. He shone his light at the ground beneath him and pointed for me to sit. I walked over to him and sat. The maestro sat in the dark on one side of the Maloca by himself. While sitting in front of him I could not see his face. It is very dark in the Maloca, the only light is of those who need it to move around.

Generally, you stay on the mat but if you want to go to the bathroom you need the light to be able to make your way to the bathroom. If any of you ever do a ceremony then take a ‘red light’ with you as this disturbs other people less than white light. You can see light shining behind your closed eyelids and sometimes it takes you away from where you are in your hallucination.

After the second cup, I felt better than the first time. I knew what to expect. I actually threw up a little after the first cup. Not due to its taste but due to its volume. I’ve never been good at skulling drinks and this was no exception. In hindsight, this probably meant it was harder for me to hallucinate as the Ayahuasca could have been vomited up before it had a chance to have an effect.

His voice was filled with “Mate have I got some shit to tell you about.

Ayahuasca (The Medicine) is given to you in a liquid brew and I had skulled too much too fast. Other people were throwing up too but I threw up in a few minutes where others took an hour or more. Throwing up too soon is a sign you are just having issues with volume or taste. Throwing up an hour or so it means you are purging due to another reason. That reason is something to do with Mother Ayahuasca purging you of something you don’t need anymore – maybe a personality trait that is holding you back or an attitude or a paradigm that doesn’t serve you well in her opinion (note 6).

I went back to the mat and I only remember seeing some visions of Hummingbirds and Jaguars. I was later told by our guide that the hummingbirds are representative of the Curandero coming to you to check you out – to see what’s up with you. From here I have lost a lot of the specifics – two cups are considered a lot for most people and I had not only never taken Ayahuasca before but had never done any type of hallucinogen. So from here on in the notes may be out of order with respect to time. Pah for the course. With that said I do remember getting the answer to some of my intentions – which we’ll get into soon (note 7).

I have a memory of Drew asking our guide if I was alright. After a few minutes, I realized I should reply. Drew speaking took me out of wherever I was. I suddenly felt love for Drew and remember thinking, Drew is my friend, Drew looks after me. I love Drew. That’s why it took me so long to reply. I got up and said Drew, I’m alright mate … pause… How are you? He said he was good and the way he said it I knew he was also tripping and was experiencing something similar to me. His voice was filled with “Mate have I got some shit to tell you about. I waited a minute and felt gratitude for him being there. I said, I love you mate. He said I love you back and then we, well we just carried on tripping separately.

the sounds of the Icaros and the Shacapa were all around me in some sort of amazing surround sound. I went back to the mat.

The order of events is blurred for me as I mentioned. I think after this I was called to the Curandero for my personal treatment or Limpiases as it is called or ‘cleansing’ (note 8). I was helped to the Curandero by someone emerging out of the darkness. I was unsteady. I was high on Ayahuasca, it was dark and I was in a strange place. I also had bad balance due to my leg and back injuries which I mentioned earlier. My aid guided me to the Curandero and I sat in front of him. He beckoned me closer. He then did the limpiases.

He blew smoke on me from a Mapacho and shook the Shacapa which is a bunch of leaves on a branch. I was fully high by this stage and I remember trying to look at his face but it was too dark. During it, I wanted to raise my head but it was guided back down again by the Curandero. Not with his hands but with his voice, with the Icaros (note 9). I knew that I should not raise my head. I just needed to accept the direction from the Icaros. This became a theme.

It felt like it took a while to complete the Limpiases (maybe 5 minutes), the sounds of the Icaros and the Shacapa were all around me in some sort of amazing surround sound. I went back to the mat. I lay down and the next thing I remember was someone giving me a Mapacho – a cigarette made of tobacco leaves infused with the medicine I needed from Ayahuasca. It was lit for me and I started to smoke it. I lay down and smoked away.

Healing based on my intentions:

What happened next was healing. The Medicine was healing me and I entered into a ‘dialogue’ with it via the Curandero and the Icaros he was singing. Ayahuasca didn’t speak to me directly but it did through the Curandero’s Icaros. In my trip, I understood that the Curandero and the Icaros are Mother Ayahuasca speaking to you – although it took me time to understand this. Since writing this I have heard other description but this is as I felt it at the time.

Perhaps this is why the term gut feeling exists. Maybe under Ayahuasca we are accessing the data which we find hard to perceive via the gut.

I do remember being told that I was a bit ‘silly’ by Mother Ayahuasca. That it was silly that I hadn’t been exposed to her before, that I didn’t understand how to speak to her.

While grasping this new form of communication I also was focusing on my intentions. I was focussing on them in a cerebral way with the analytical part of my brain. During the trip, I learned that I shouldn’t be so cerebral all the time. That I should ‘go internal’ as I phrased it. Go internal, trust yourself, trust your gut feelings. Don’t think so much.

It has been said that DMT reduces the activity in certain parts of the brain. These parts of the brain reduce the kinds of data that we can perceive and limit them to the five main senses. While under DMT these parts of the brain become less active and we are able to perceive other kinds of data that are constantly around us but inconceivable in the normal ‘analytical/problem-solving mode’ we are in most of the time.

I have the feeling that the data which we are unable to perceive with our five main senses may, in fact, manifest itself in the gut – in these gut feelings that people speak of. While speaking to Ben he says that our guts (by this I mean the intestines and their bacteria) are the seat of the spirit. Perhaps this is why the term gut feeling exists. Maybe under Ayahuasca we are accessing the data which we find hard to perceive via the gut. Maybe that’s where our spirit resides. After all the data we are perceiving during an Ayahuasca trip is spiritual – I have encountered good spirits and I encountered bad spirits perhaps Demons (in my second trip) – but I’ll get to that in a later post.

When I went internal as I like to say, that is when the answers (to my intentions) came. I can’t quite remember the exact phrasing of my intention now when I write this but I remember the answer. On top of that its personal to me so I might not tell you even if I did remember. As I say the answers were in my head and ‘delivered’ their by Mother Ayahuasca. The answer came back something like ‘You know what’s good for you. Trust your gut. You’re right more than you give yourself credit for. Stop thinking so much and just do what feels right’.

Things start to get weird:

This is what you came for. Consume me and I will help you 

These answers came to me while I was still smoking my Mapacho. The trip was very intense at this point and I would forget to smoke it. Two times my hand moved as it was going out. I didn’t move it. Nobody touched me. It just twitched and it was obvious to me that along with the Icaros becoming more urgent that I was being to smoke more. So I did. Twice that happened. Ayahuasca moved my physical body. I smoked I would say a third and then at some point I was urged to eat it. Note: This isn’t ‘typical’ but I didn’t think much of it at the time.

I ate it because I was urged to by Mother Ayahuasca. I kept getting messages in my head. “Eat me and I will help you” and “This is what you came for. Consume me and I will help you”. These messages were sent to me several times. Every time I gaged on the tobacco or wanted to turn over to be sick I was urged to calm myself by Mother Ayahuasca and urged to breathe into my stomach. It worked, it stopped me from gagging so I could finish eating the Mapacho. It’s a slow process eating a Mapacho. I think it took me about an hour but as I say time is hard to measure during a two cup Ayahuasca trip.

After I finished the Mapacho I purged. I purged up whatever part of my personality that Ayahuasca needed me to purge to achieve my intention. My stomach wretched as I purged and all my abdominal muscles engaged or at least it felt so – it was intense wrenching is what I am trying to get across. Also, I had just eaten dried tobacco so I’m sure my stomach was rejecting it extra hard.

Post ceremony:

At some stage, the Icaros stopped and the trip was over. I don’t remember much but I remember feeling great. Feeling less stress in my back and low back specifically. I went outside. I was shirtless, as I had started the ceremony, but by now I was cold so I grabbed a blanket and put it around my shoulders. I was talking to our guide and Drew outside the Maloca. I had to kneel down as I felt weakened all of a sudden. Kneeling made me feel better.

I think I remember our guide asking if we were OK. I said yes. I felt weakened in my stomach – probs cos I just ate a fucking Mapacho but I could handle that. I felt good overall. I looked up at our guide and said, ‘I ate my Mapacho’ suddenly realizing that that was weird. He didn’t understand so I said it again. He understood this time and had a look of utter amazement on his face. He was shocked. He laughed and said I was crazy. I said I was told “Consume me and I will fix you. This is what you came for.” over and over again. That seemed to suffice for him.

I walked out further from the Malloka towards my hut. I lay on the grass and listened to Ben play guitar and I looked up at the stars. I could see them very clearly and there was a lot of them. Not much light pollution at the retreat. I felt at peace, calm. By this stage, it was about 1 am. I had been through 5 hours of Ayahuasca and had come out happy albeit slightly weakened. I stuck around for 2 or 3 songs and chatted to Ben. I told Ben I ate the Mapacho. He said “What?”. I told him again. He said, “What’s your name?” I said “Vinay”. He said, “You’re loco”. I laughed. He then told the Curandero and the other guys who were sitting on the bench next to us that I had ate it. They laughed. I realized then fully that is was weird to eat my Mapacho. I didn’t do it in the following ceremonies although I don’t regret it. I felt as if it was good for me, it was my medicine or as I later came to think of it, my test. I have the feeling that Ayahuasca was testing me. Was I here and ready to get my hands dirty or was I ‘pussyfooting around’ as my old Soccer coach used to say.

In saying that it’s hard to know sometimes if it is ‘you’ at work in the ceremony or mother Ayahuasca. I say that Mother Ayahuasca told me to do things and told me answers because that is how it felt to me but in truth, I don’t think you can be sure. Is Ayahuasca a thing that is being done to us or is it a thing that we are doing to ourselves? In truth, I think it is both. As Ben said the next day. “You know mate, you’re in their too. It’s not just Ayahuasca”.

My feeling on it now as I collate the notes which comprise this post (6 months after the ceremony) is that Mother Ayahuasca or the Ayahuasca Experience is sometimes merely pointing out things which I already knew but that I was dragging my heels on for whatever reason. Hence, sometimes I feel like it is ‘me’ in there giving myself advice and other times (more in ceremony number 2 which I am yet to write a post about) Ayahuasca is actually showing and telling me things I didn’t know or couldn’t figure out for myself.

After chatting with Ben I went to bed. I spoke to Drew through the wall that separated our rooms. I can’t remember what we talked about. Drew had also had a second cup that night. I think we spoke about that and how it came about. Drew wasn’t having much of a hallucination until I told him that he can go and get another cup if he likes. I was in the bathroom when I had mine so he didn’t realize he could do that.

I fell asleep and woke the next day still feeling the medicine in me. I felt relaxed, lethargic and my energy levels were not down in the sense that I was feeling bad with low energy but I was very happy to just relax in the hammocks literally all day. I was at peace I think. An extreme version of relaxed. I felt good:)

NOTES – Where I thought I could expand a little I have here:

Note 1: Ben and Rasmus: Ben was a young English man in his early thirties who was learning to be a Curandero. Rasmus was a friend of his who was looking for a better retreat after coming afoul of a dodgy Shaman.

Note 2: Drew is my friend who I came to the retreat with. I consider him one of the handful of people who I have been able to call a ‘best friend’ in my life.

Note 3: She was from Denmark and was a quiet, lovely and respectful woman who. I have her contact details and will stay in touch with these notes. I enjoyed talking to her about our ceremonies and think she was making progress with whatever her issues were. I never asked directly what her or anybody’s issues were specifically. We just talk about intentions generally and if they were met/helped by the ceremonies.

Note 4: The Curandero tonight was the brother of Jiminez. His name was Javier (not sure of spelling).

Note 5: Our guide was a very nice man indeed. I ‘met’ him over Facebook after a friend (who had done ayahuasca at the same retreat) of mine introduced us.

Note 6: Ayahuasca is talked about within the Ayahuasca community as being a female entity or spirit. She is a healing entity and as Ben said is the advisor of many other spirits who also reside within plants – she has a lot of wisdom. As a quick introduction to the world of Ayahuasca Mysticism, spirits or entities live inside of plants but can also live inside or ‘attach’ themselves to you and your spirit. There are good and bad spirits living in plants of varying degrees. Curanderos are experts (takes approximately 10 years to get this status) in knowing which plants to administer. Ayahuasca is one but there are others. I should note also that when I refer to Ayahuasca in this note I am switching between referring to it as an entity, a concoction, and a community so that may be confusing for people. Generally, the spirit is described as Mother Ayahuasca and the brew referred to as ‘The Medicine’. The medicine is a concoction of Ayahuasca (a vine that grows in the Amazon) and Chakruna (A leaved tree that also grows in the Amazon). Ayahuasca contains the healing spirit of Mother Ayahuasca and an MAOI (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor) which neutralizes the stomach’s natural ability to stop the hallucinogenic effects of ingested DMT. The Charkruna contains the DMT that when in the presence the MOAI allows a psychedelic experience. While DMT is contained in many plants it’s the combination with the MAOI inhibitor (which some say is the only plant in the Peruvian jungle with this property) in the Ayahuasca Vine which allows the Ayahuasca Brew its special abilities.


Note 7: It is very important to undertake The Medicine with the intention to fix, heal or clarify something within you. I was told this from day one of my research which was approximately two years before first taking it. The environment with which you take Ayahuasca is very important (The setting in ‘Set and Setting’). Taken in the wrong context the emphasis is not on healing, it is on something else. Commonly, partying, escaping reality etc. Before ceremony, you clarify your intentions and then while under the influence of The Medicine you focus on them. In this way, you control the experience and it becomes one of healing. While writing this note, after I have left the retreat, I remember that there were moments in the trip when I was just seeing pretty things but when I focussed on my intentions I received answers to them.

Note 8: A Limapiases is a personal treatment by the Curandero. You sit in front of him and he shakes a Shacapa around your head, blows tobacco smoke on you and sings Icaros to you. He is also preparing a Mapacho for you at this time – which you smoke at a later time in the ceremony – after the Limpiases.

Note 9: An Icaros is a song. It is sung by the Curandero and I think I read that the Icaros is the song of Mother Ayahuasca. For some reason, spirits are very musical. During this first trip it became apparent that AYahuasca can talk to you via Icaros. The answers don’t come to you as a voice. They just appear in your head. I understood that the Icaros was how Ayahuasca was communicating with you via the Curandero. I later learned that the Curandero is taught the Icaros by the plant itself and that many plants have a song associated with them that they learn during their training. I also learned that there are different kinds of Icaros.

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