One of the unique attractions that Peru has to offer.
It is nearly impossible to travel in Peru without hearing about or meeting someone who had done an Ayahuasca ceremony. For some, it’s a novel new experience that’s just another of an array of travel adventures. For others, it’s a life altering encounter that will forever shape their concepts of self and their place in the world.
But before we can get into how to experience an Ayahuasca ceremony, we should first look at what one actually is.
What is ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca is a drink that is usually prepared and taken as a thick brown tea that is made from the leaves of the shrub Psychotria viridis and pieces of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine. The active molecule of Psychotria viridis is DMT, a psychedelic that can facilitate hallucinations. Banisteriopsis caapi is used to make the substance more bioavailable.
Ayahuasca was originally used for spiritual purposes by various tribes of the Amazon, and the traditional still lives on there in small communities today. Recently, ayahuasca has been experiencing a resurgence in popularity due to foreign travelers coming into Peru who want to try it for themselves.
Ayahuasca being prepared.
How to prepare for an ayahuasca ceremony
To get the most out of an ayahuasca ceremony it is recommended to carry out a preparation procedure, which includes a pre-diet. In order for the substances to work properly you need to clear out all of the toxins in your system. This means cutting out sugary, salty, and otherwise processed foods that contain a lot of additives, meat, alcohol, caffeine, sex, and all drugs for 2-4 weeks before the ceremony. The object is to completely purify yourself so that there will be nothing obstructing your experience.
What is an ayahuasca ceremony like
An ayahuasca ceremony isn’t something for the impatience or those looking to sneak a quick experience into a daily itinerary that’s booked full of other activities. No, it is for those who are dedicated enough to really want to go through the entire ceremony, which is truly a process that isn’t common in our high-pace, digital-centric world.
A proper ayahuasca ceremony typically takes at night in a large hut that doesn’t have any walls known as a maloca and is presided over by a shaman. There is a mattress and bucket (you’ll find out why later0 for each participant and each ceremony lasts for roughly 4-7 hours. There is singing, massage with medicinal plants, and time for self-reflection.
Ayahuasca usually takes 20 to 60 minutes before it starts working and each experience can last up to an hour. In the ceremony, tobacco is viewed as a purifying substance, and smoking cigarettes is encouraged as it helps facilitate the activation of DMT. The taste of ayahuasca has been described as being like tamarind, earthy, and woody.
After about 30 minutes, the shaman will start singing songs called icaros. Participants are free to take more ayahuasca throughout the ceremony.
When on ayahuasca, some people report out of body experiences, feelings of pure euphoria and enlightenment, and hallucinations from taking ayahuasca, while others report anxiety, fear, and paranoia. Some users describe it as having your mind dismantled and then rebuilt. Ayahuasca is a very versatile substance, and one experience of it can contain all of the above elements. However, whatever your experience, the shaman can help guide you through all of the twists and turns.
One thing that is considered normal in an ayahuasca is for participants to vomit or have diarrhea. They call this purging, and say this is all a part of getting the bad stuff out of your system. Proponents say that ayahuasca helps your body get rid of chemicals and other toxins that you have built up in your body over the years.
Everyone who takes ayahuasca can have a different experience and even the same person can have different types of trips each time they take it.
Proponents say that ayahuasca ceremonies not only cleanse your body of impurities and provide you will a deeper view of the world but can also be cures for many physical, mental, and addiction related illnesses.
How to experience an ayahuasca ceremony
Ayahuasca ceremonies are becoming more popular throughout Peru and there are now providers who can assist you on your journey. The safest and surest route is to book an ayahuasca tour. There are now entire retreats dedicated providing visitors with enriching ayahuasca experiences, such as Moyano Ayahuasca Seminar “Inception” located near Tingo Maria.
This center offers ayahuasca retreats from three days to three weeks, where participants are able to have repeated experiences of the ceremony, attend seminars, and bask in the beautiful natural surroundings that contain wildlife and fascinating local cultures.
Getting there is easy: just take a direct flight to Tingo Maria from Lima.
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