Updated: Feb 11
Since arriving in Peru the idea of trying ayahuasca had gently pressed at me, but it wasn’t until I was passing through the ancient city of Cuzco that I felt nearly compelled to find a ceremony. Ayahuasca is an ancient plant medicine, originating in the Peruvian Amazon and spreading worldwide with mixed reviews as both the ultimate healer and a quick way to literally face your demons. It is traditionally partaken of during a ceremony after dark, guided by an experienced shaman. Given its hallucinogenic properties, it was obvious that I wanted to be extra careful (especially as an American girl) with whom I chose to partake with.
Courtesy of Mesa Mestana Mesada https://www.pinterest.com/TheSpiralRiver/mesa-mestana-mesada/)
After some convincing and a little research, I used a referral from a trusted friend and booked three ceremonies in the Sacred Valley. Everything was lining up serendipitously for me to go (cost, timing, transportation) which only convinced me further that this was the right thing to do. I had heard stories, both from friends and strangers, about the power of ayahuasca, but ultimately I was going in blindly. My decision was wholly based on my intuition, something that I had learned to hone and listen to quite well in the last year of my life.
Upon arrival at the shaman’s house, we spoke for 2 hours on the whys and hows of ayahuasca. He explained that the mind will want to reject the ayahuasca out of fear, and as a precaution of it being my first time, he would only give me a small dose. At the end he said, "Forget everything. Forget what you've read, what you've been told, and when you have visions, just enjoy it."
When the evening began, seven of us were sitting in a circle comfortably with our backs against the wall. A few people including the shaman smoked pipes of pure tobacco. He went through some ritual motions, some humming, breathing, before serving up the juice. Us first timers all got a swig. Everything about this situation should have spelled uncertainty, but I felt at peace, I felt safe. The drink was no cream soda, but it wasn’t exactly unpleasant either (to me), but no matter, the ceremony was under way at this point and we all just sat back, closed our eyes, and breathed.
I don’t know what I expected. Beyond the recreational marijuana usage, I had never ventured into this world of substances before. Would I be vomiting within seconds as so commonly occurs? The unknown didn’t scare me, but I was left wondering when it would kick in. After a few minutes of seemingly nothing, I had to keep telling myself: Patience. Patience. Patience.
I closed my eyes for a few minutes and when I opened them, the 3 people sitting across from me in what was now a moonlit room looked like...corpses? No, not zombies, and not dead; the closest thing I can compare it to was like seeing real-life dementors, like from “Harry Potter.” It was a small shock at first, but it simultaneously entertained me. I smiled. Not so scary. Okay maybe a little, but keep breathing Dot, you are fine. I closed my eyes and that’s when it started.
The visions started out really slow and subtle and were drawn out more and more with the shaman’s singing. Total blackness, and then the colors started creeping in: bright cobalt blues, neon greens, golden yellows, indiscernible shapes and designs, flowing in and out. All breathtakingly beautiful. If I opened my eyes the vision would instantly dissipate and I would be faced with my dementor friends. If I closed them again the swirling geometry would immediately resume. At the height of it all my head and hands felt like they weighed a trillion pounds; my hands actually seemed bound together, immovable. I kept them like that before thinking, “This is dumb. If I want to move my hands I can. I am strong.” So I did, if only to prove the point to myself. In that moment it was like demons from another dimension were laughing at me, because it had been some sort of joke and I had “passed the test.”
The shaman, impressed that I was having such clear visualizations on my first go explained that what I was seeing was a special code with special meaning. I slept that night without knowing the meaning of anything I saw, but content nonetheless.
Two days later I had my second dose in the same setting with the same people. I was a little disappointed when the shaman handed me a similar amount, but I swallowed my chagrin with the stuff. This shaman wasn’t about giving people a thrill ride with ayahuasca, and truly, I was grateful for that. He wants to teach us more than that, like how to control and learn about ourselves, our true nature, without putting us in a scary place.
I drank my share and almost immediately start seeing visions, this time free of anything remotely scary. It started out different this time. I saw eyes, lots of eyes, the most beautiful blue crystal eyes you've ever seen. They looked at me, alive, non-judging. Then I saw a serpent whisk by. Then the codes again, except this time they were more detailed, smaller, and more colorful.
"Confident Self Expression" courtesy of Tealswan.com
Partway through I started feeling stomach pain. Not nausea, no, more like knots, like a dull ache. I thought I would throw up but it was just bad enough not to. The shaman had me take two long drags of tobacco, which made my visions more intense, but nothing by way of vomiting. As the hours slid by, the pain with the visions subsided and I drifted off into slumber once again, unknowing of what any of it meant.
When I awoke the next morning, I was on the brink of tears, feeling extremely fragile and not at all my usual cheerful self. All day long I was somewhat dulled down, feeling the need to burst out in tears but not thinking it appropriate. To label it as “overwhelming” would be an overstatement, but it was exhausting.
48 hours later there I was again, sitting on that dusty floor and taking my third and final dose. It started out with the same giant blue eye staring at me for a few moments, then continued to the same geometry, codes, colors, except it was all more multi-dimensional. The geometry turned into DNA designs twisting and convulsing everywhere. There were so many snakes, a huge spider, birds, eagles, an octopus, like a moving slideshow of the most beautiful, non-threatening creatures imaginable. I was thoroughly enjoying the slides, so much so that I had a few outbursts of uncontrollable laughter; I was blissed out! I felt so comforted, so at home in my own body, like never before in my twenty-five years of life.
Towards the end the most amazing thing happened: it was like someone was pointing a laser beam directly into the center of my forehead. I could feel a light pulsating out carving a hole, and the hole was gradually opening wider and wider, like my cranium was quietly and literally expanding. Then I could feel my brain split in half, then very slowly, the whole thing zippered back up all on its own, wholly different. It was like I had brain surgery, and not only was I completely conscious and aware of it happening, but none of this was the slightest bit weird, scary, or traumatic. On the contrary I felt total peace, a new level of peace. As I reread this I am shaking my head because I know I am not doing the experience justice. At the same time, I know that what I saw, but more specifically, how I felt was so deeply personal.
You should know dear reader, that I am an avid writer. I’ve been writing down my thoughts and experiences for as long as I’ve had the ability to do so. One day after digesting all that ayahuasca had given me, the following passage flowed flawlessly from my hand, without break, into my journal:
On Meeting Aya:
So much to say, not enough words. My ayahuasca brain surgery went very well yesterday. I feel something has lifted, a burden, a stress. I can’t pin down exactly what it is, but food is suddenly just food and people are just people. Life is life and I am wholly enjoying it; the highs and the lows are equally blissful. It is all a giant equation and in the end, you create the final answer that only you can. How beautiful is that! No one gets to say whether what you do is “good” or “bad,” “useful” or a “waste.” Judgement is reserved solely for you, but even that is tainted. No, it is much better not to judge and just enjoy the flow of energy that continually takes up our time/space continuum.
Something has changed inside me. I no longer feel a pressing desire to define or explain the meaning of everything. I am content to learn what I can, decipher what I want, and forget the rest. Forget the bullshit belief systems. Life is pure energy, it is the movement of energy. From stagnancy to ferocity, the whole spectrum is all relative. Having this knowledge…brings me so many abundant gifts I hardly have room to understand them all, and then I remember I don’t need to. I remember I have all of existence to swallow this giant pill.
My takeaways from experiencing the ayahuasca plant a mere three times was enough to completely change my perspective of my time here on Earth. No matter the deeper meanings of what I saw, the insights I gained and the subsequent resetting of my brain were worth more than any tangible thing in this physical world. Thank you, lovely intuition, for once again leading me to exactly where I needed to be.
Written by: Dorothea Vasicek
About The Author
I have been an avid writer, be it for personal, study, or professional purposes, since I first learned how to spell. I am an artist at heart. I love to combine my interests of exploring the world unknown and writing it all down. Giving my stories a distict and contagious spin has earned me a following on my blog www.rawwanderlust.com. I've recently ventured onto other platforms such as Youtube and Instagram, where I strive to inspire others to live the life of their dreams by sharing my unique journey. In writing for CFS Through The Lens Magazine, I hope to share a more candid perspective of the cherished lessons I am learning along the way... I am Dorothea Vasicek, lets travel the world together!