Ceremony 5 at Santuario Huistin (Maestro Egne)

Ayahuasca Trip Report from Santuario Retreat, Pucallpa, Peru.
Ayahuasca Trip Report from Santuario Retreat, Pucallpa, Peru.

A description of my fifth ceremony at Santuario Ayahuasca Retreat nearby Pucallpa Peru where I helped another attendee who was struggling with the strength of the medicine, encountered the ‘red devil’ of my shadow/ego and was attacked by a dark spirit made of black gas. This one was full of excitement in hindsight!

I had my cup of Ayahuasca at 750pm – for some reason I took note of the exact time. Usually, I lie down but this time I sat up and contemplated my intention for this ceremony which was “show me love”.

Turns out Ayahuasca had other plans for my visions and lessons tonight. No love showing para mi!

About 15 minutes in my friend who was also in ceremony was struggling with the strength of the Medicine. She was finding it difficult to get up. I could tell she was in a bad way as Arturo, the diminutive apprentice to the Shaman, helped her up. It hit her so quickly that I wasn’t even hallucinating yet.


there were only 2 people in Ceremony and two shamans. A very intimate ceremony indeed. Santuario is often like this in my experience of around 3 weeks total being here. They don’t have scheduled retreats where everyone can only start at the same time but instead, people come when they want. They are always open for business. This means that often people can have very intimate ceremonies with only a few others. I really like this aspect.

On top of that Santuario is a really tranquil place where there are no apparent rules, no meeting times. You show up for meals when you please and more or less do as you like. The only enforced start time is ceremony but even this tends to vary between 730 and 8 pm. It’s my kinda place. The medicine is also strong and the healing benefits are legitimate! This place impresses through its effectiveness and the strength of medicine.

Speaking of the strength of Medicine. Back to my friend. I was particularly worried about her as she had taken a few Ibuprofen earlier that day – not the best idea while taking Ayahuasca. While I didn’t know of this particular drug being an issue you should refrain from taking any pharmaceuticals when you are nearing an Ayahuasca ceremony.

I wrote another article here explaining why some drugs can interact badly with Ayahuasca and pointing to some particular drugs to avoid. While ibuprofen isn’t on the list specifically try to avoid any pharmaceuticals.

Back to my friend, Arturo (the diminutive apprentice) was outside with my friend at this stage and popped his head back in to get the Shaman. The Shaman left the Maloca leaving me all by myself. Seen as I was the only one there I figured I’d get up and help too. Arturo was pretty tiny and found it difficult to lift my friend. She was having difficulty balancing in order to walk to the bathroom. I picked her up and took her to the bathroom twice. After 15 minutes or so of this and letting her get some fresh air the Shaman and I went back to ceremony and Arturo stayed to help her. They came back in a few minutes later after she was feeling better.

I was finding it difficult to get back into it. The ibuprofen and wondering if I would need to help again was playing on my mind. The Shaman was singing an Icaros by now and I heard him say in Spanish ‘concentrate’. A sign for me to sort my shit out and focus. I obliged and started to see the now normal lights and shapes against my closed eyelids as the Ayahuasca took hold, but I would have to wait a little longer for much to happen.
My friend was in a bad way. Not like before but she was being loud and moaning a lot. She was obviously going through something. The Shaman focussed his attention on her. It seemed as if he was singing just to her. The private treatment and the advantage of being in a small ceremony. Arturo was singing now. Holding the space as it were and I was hallucinating seeing small geometric patterns and shapes. Not the craziest visions I’ve had but my ceremony was just warming up.

Bad spirits ‘leaking’ into me (gulp!):

The Maestro (another word for Shaman) was singing to my friend for what seemed like a long time, maybe an hour. She was being very loud at first. Whatever the Maestro had found in her was being exorcized. She eventually became quiet but not before whatever was in her (a bad spirit I assume) tried to get into me!!

As she was being exorcized I began to believe that whatever was in her was trying to get into me. It was subtle at first but eventually, I understood what was going on as a dark ‘gas cloud’ began to be noticeable against the darkness of the Maloca. It was emanating from her. As time went on it became more insidious as it made me yawn. At first, one, which didn’t seem strange, but then 3-4 times in a row which was weird.

I understood that it was dying and as such, it wanted to get into me so it could live on. I had the feeling that it was not doing well in the face of the Icaros and it desperately needed a new home. Soon after the yawns, I felt a stronger onslaught from it. My left side of my upper arm, shoulder and chest started to feel hot and almost like a tension or pressure was acting on it. I understood this to mean it was another attack or attempt to get into me from the spirit.

At this point, I said “no” in my head and even physically motioned a pushing action with my arms as if I was pushing it away from me. I was a little worried, I started taking big deep breaths and saying (what now seems silly to write about) “I am strong, you won’t get into me”.

I did that several times and as I did so I felt my resistance to it grow and its strength decrease. I won, I thought, but I felt unsure about my victory. Had I vanquished it or did a little bit of it get into me? I couldn’t tell.

Eventually, my friend got quiet and I assumed the spirit was dead or ‘snapped up’ by the Maestro somehow. Slowly I went back to my ineffective intention and tried to focus on the Icaros to get back into the zone.


The Icaros are very important and while not sure I understand precisely how they work if you focus on them you can start to hallucinate strongly. I think if the Icaros as the voice of Ayahuasca. Even if that ain’t true (it’s just a feeling I have) it’s useful to think like that and rest assured that focussing on them is a good thing in an Ayahuasca ceremony.

A short time went by, I started to feel little popping sensations in my upper abdomen, just below my ribs in the center of my abdominals. They felt a little bit like small muscle spasms which I get from time to time. I don’t normally get them here though. I felt as if the Maestro was healing me.

I’m aware that Ayahuasca can often times focus a lot on the gut so when things are happening here I think that’s a sign of healing and eventual purging of bad spirits via pooping them out.

Did some of my friends’ bad spirit get into me after all? Was the Maestro on clean up duty? Was he mopping up whatever bad spirit has briefly got into me despite my fighting it? I had a feeling he was and it did.

Ego dissolution:

The popping and the healing went on for a while. How long I don’t know. Duration is hard to keep I find when on Ayahuasca. After however long this went on for, I was then shown my ego. It seemed to be under attack or that’s how it felt. It might be more accurate to say that it was being poked and prodded and investigated and I think this caused some mild anxiety. Hence the feeling of insecurity I felt and my feeling of being attacked.

Ayahuasca showed me how the aggressive side of my ego was developed. Yes, that’s right, I can be aggressive sometimes. Usually verbally but when I was younger physically too.

Ayahuasca showed me that I needed to be aggressive when I was a young child. In between having,

  • a Dad who could ‘go off’ randomly and with a lot of aggression (usually verbal and emotional but on a couple of occasions physical),
  • being the youngest of 4  ( I had to physically stand up for myself fairly regularly),
  • as well as growing up in a rough neighborhood (getting into fights at school)

these things added up to mean that I needed to be aggressive to get by in my childhood.

I think Ayahuasca wanted me to understand this such that I could let it go and in replacement of it insert more humility. I understood that while at one time I may have needed this aggressive side I now didn’t so much. Ayahuasca then proceeded to show me what this dark side of my ego was and also started to poke and prod at it such as to bring it to the fore.

I had a vision of my torso. Muscles tensed, vibrating a lot. It felt like my ego was enraged. My torso was changing colors, yellows, reds, greens and shaking violently. I started to feel anxiety. An anxiety I remember feeling at various times in my life. When someone made fun of me, when I was worried or scared by my Dad. It was a familiar feeling.

Next Ayahuasca antagonized my ego further. I think in an effort to further define it for me, so I knew what my ego being triggered felt like and could relate to all those times I had felt those similar feelings before. I became fierce. The aggressive part of my ego was on display. I was sitting up at this point and remember flexing my back muscles in preparation for a perceived conflict. I felt detached from it though. I could perceive it as something separate from me. I was at arm’s length from my enraged ego.

I think this is what people call ego dissolution. I remember feeling as if the Maestro was aware that the dark side of my ego was angry. He was slightly on edge or had taken notice at least. What if I couldn’t control it? Would they be in danger? He had to decide. Stranger things have happened in ceremony and more violent too. I’ve seen them.

Turned out the anger was fleeting. Ayahuasca was just poking and prodding me. I should be clear, I haven’t been in a fight for 15 years. so it’s not like I’m really that unpredictable. I suppose my reason for mentioning it was that I had a distinct feeling that the Maestro was aware of my anger even though it was pitch black and I wasn’t making a noise.

I started to visualize my ego as a small red, super angry and violent devil in a cage. He had spikes all over him. He was uncontrollable in a way and yet I felt as if he was also not in danger of becoming uncontrollable. A strange feeling. He was separate from me. I held him in his cage on my right side. He was a part of me. I felt familiar with him. I knew him. In hindsight, I feel a lot of love for that little guy. He got me through some tough times and was once super relevant for my life.

During this time I again had the feeling that I was being operated on. As if I was in the presence of something. I think that something was Mother Ayahuasca. I must have been lying down by this point as I felt her looming over me. Going to work on me.

Soon after I received my limpieis (cleansing) and was given my Mapacho (wild tobacco cigarette) which I would later smoke as part of the ceremony. The Maestro lit if for me and performed a few more ceremonial actions like blowing smoke from the Mapacho on me. My hand’s neck and head specifically.

This is usually when I purge but I was finding it difficult. I smoked my Mapacho, hunched over my ‘spew bowl’. Holding the smoke in as I thought that would make me purge more. No such luck. Eventually, I understood that I needed to eat some of the Mapacho – a ‘tradition’ that goes back to my first ceremony where I had 2 thirds of my Mapacho upon Ayahuasca’s instructions. You can read about that here if you like.

A Mapacho is like a giant cigarette. Not quite a cigar but maybe as thick as 2 or 3 regular cigarettes. As soon as I did eat a little of it, I threw up immediately 3-4  times. Success!

Now I write this I’m reminded that the feeling of anxiety I got during this ceremony was similar if not exactly the same as the paranoia I get when I smoke too much weed. Which in my case can’t very much at all. A couple of puffs will get me very stoned and very anxious most times. I wonder what weed is doing? Is it also separating my ego from the rest of me? Perhaps just not as gently as Ayahuasca might do?

Despite throwing up and feeling anxious at least with Ayahuasca you get the sense that she’s walking you through ego dissolution. A bit like walking around a museum, she’s taking you on a tour, showing you the way things work in your brain. Making sense of the things she’s showing you along the way. That’s how it felt to me anyhow. I feel like this was a relatively weak dose compared to my previous ceremonies and as such, I really could take the visions slowly and get a lot out of them.

That brings up an interesting point. More Ayahuasca and stronger doses aren’t necessarily better. Sometimes you gotta go slow to go fast. To take the time to understand what’s being shown to you instead of having a crazy ride. The weaker dose became a theme and the rest of my ceremonies got more and more mellow and slow.

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