Traditional Ayahuasca Use

Reposted from 2013

Ayahuasca was traditionally used only by well trained shaman or healers.  Patients would not need to drink the medicine, yet the healer would drink, enter into a state of heightened extrasensory awareness, see more deeply what was going on through vision, and be able to work energetically in ceremony or with other plant medicines outside of ceremony.

The medicine used with purpose by a well prepared individual grants vision.  Yet today people of all intent come to drink the medicine to receive a visionary experience, sometimes without even preparing for a single day, without following dietary guidelines that are very clear for anyone who works with the medicine.

Traditionally a shaman preparing to be in the capacity to work with the medicine may diet in periods of 6 months – 1 year or more, eating only fish and yuca or other bland clean foods.  S/he diet intensively with strong plants and purgatives to prepare and clean out the physical organism.  They do not have any sexual relations during this time of training and are usually completely secluded.  Doña Otilia says that tremendous sacrifice is required to be able to do this work to help others.    Imagine this degree of preparation in comparison to today’s Ayahuasca tourism.

We witness people come and go, seeking visionary experiences.  Doña Otilia is very clear as to her purpose, whether or not the people know it, they are coming to heal.  She always says, “In the city everyone is healthy, but in the jungle we see everyone is a sick person.  You can hide the truth from me, but you cannot lie to the medicine.”  And in ceremony a person finds themselves just as they are – without preparation the experience is challenging.

This is why we clearly offer preparation suggestions for jungle work (and also suggestions for an ayahuasca ceremony) for anyone who wishes to truly work with this incredible medicine.  The in depth preparation guide includes everything from physical diet to spiritual intentions.  The suggested preparation time begins with a 40 day minimum before attending your first ceremony.  The longer the preparation period the better prepared you will be, and the shorter the period the more you will have to do physical cleansing before you can enter more deeply into the medicine work.

The diet is considered the root of the medicine.  It allows the physical body to be most receptive to the medicine, and facilitates the openness for the medicine to deeply penetrate the more subtle psycho physical levels of our being.  The diet also provides a very important form of discipline, creating inner strength and resilience necessary to work with the medicine.  Spiritually dieting is a form of sacrifice or offering that is part of preparing to learn from this medicine.

The medicine is not a quick fix solution to our problems.  It teaches us how to live with respect and in harmony with the laws of nature.  Ayni (from the Andean tradition) is the law of reciprocity, and one must give in order to receive – in that order.  One must first make sacrifice and create the space to receive.  The medicine demonstrates this principal again and again, and we’ve found the best way to prepare is to make changes in your life in order for the new to enter in.

The medicine path is a life long path.  Do not expect your first ceremony to be full of colorful revelations.  My first ceremony was a dense confusion, which left me asking the healer out loud “why am I here?”.  Yet with correct perspective, preparation, and utmost respect, your first ceremony can be the entrance into a world of magic, and the first step on a path of health, happiness, and wholeness.