My Ibogaine experience took place in North Wales, United Kingdom on Sunday, September 22, 2013. It was administered by a friend of mine (who I will call “Joe” for this article) who has a lot of personal experience with this powerful medicine, and has taken it upon himself to administer it to those who wish to experience it for healing. I will note that he chooses not to work with addicts as a medical team is always needed to monitor the patients. My intentions for wanting to take Ibogaine were simple. I was curious as to where this substance would take me and what it would show me. I was interested in the headspace, the body sensations, the visions, its energy. I wanted to see how it compares and differs to the ayahuasca experience. I also intended to face some fears and anxieties and to hopefully be freed of them.
My ex and I arrived at the ceremony location around 6pm. Joe had set up a couple makeshift beds on the floor with pillows and blankets, and there was a fire lit in the cast-iron stove at the back of the room. The room was decorated with many random items from car-boot sales, including a handful of African style masks which hung on the walls. This was unintentional, but it fit the scene and set the mood really well. I made myself comfortable on the bed and began to relax my mind and prepare for the long ceremony ahead. Once I had relaxed and the sun had set, Joe started us off with a test dose to see how we would react to the medicine. He dosed us with 5 capsules; a mix of pure Iboga root bark, Ibogaine HCL, and an alkaloid extract. Over the next 4 to 5 hours, he gave us 4 more doses of each. I wont go into detail about dosage amounts as this article is not intended to provide any information on correct dosing. I do not recommend taking Iboga/Ibogaine unless under the supervision of someone highly experienced with it.
After about 45 minutes of the first test dose, I began to feel the effects. I felt my awareness shift to a higher state, and I could see traces and trails whenever I would move my eyes. Things began to look bright and shiny, and flickering lights appeared all around the room. The fire was especially beautiful. Joe played traditional Bwiti music from his iPod. It was by far some of the strangest music I’ve ever heard. It’s nothing like icaros from the Amazon. It was very twangy, repetitive, and a bit harsh. It had a very tribal feel to it. It definitely set the mood and gave the ceremony a more traditional/African feel. The vibe this medicine gave off was quite different from any psychedelic I’ve ever taken. A lot of people mention that ayahuasca has a very feminine spirit and vibe, where ibogaine is masculine. I certainly felt this, and if I had to give the whole experience a colour (since ayahuasca reminds me of green), ibogaine is blue.
Joe suggested I put my blindfold on so that I could have visions that were uninterrupted by the light of the fire or distracted by objects in the room. For a while, not much happened visually, but I could feel my body tingle and my awareness get higher and higher. I would occasionally remove my blindfold to see if there were any more changes in my vision. The traces and trails got stronger and I began to see some brightly coloured shapes and designs. When I put my blindfold back on, it was as if I could see right through it. I could see the room right in front of me. I could see the fire, and even saw Joe get up and move across the room. Again, I removed the blindfold to see if what I saw had actually happened. Joe hadn’t moved. I saw the image of the room for a while with my blindfold on, but it finally faded and the real visions started.
The quality of the visions started out dark and dull, but grew brighter with time and eventually it was as if I was watching the Discovery Channel in full blown HD. I can’t remember how far into the ceremony it was when I had my first vision, but I’m going to guess it was around the 3-4 hour mark. It was beautiful. Suddenly I found myself in an African village, lying in the middle of a dirt road. I was surrounded by a small group of men who joined hands in a circle around me. The men stepped backwards to extend their arms to the fullest, and then raised their hands above me to form the shape of a star. I was looking through the star at the bright blue sky, and could see that each man had a big white grin, and they were laughing. They were welcoming me to the village. This vision faded as another appeared. For a moment I could see an older African couple in colourful tribal clothing. They had an air of importance to them. I thought maybe it was a shaman and his wife, or a king and a queen. I felt as though they were welcoming me as well.
Then I was taken on a tour of the village. I came across men, women and children. They all seemed quite interested in me, and would come close to say hello or just to look at me. The village was quaint. The roads were dirt and the homes were made of straw. It was a poor place, but the people seemed very happy. After my tour on the ground, I was taken to the sky. I flew over the African savannahs and deserts, seeing many people and animals, and then I flew around the world, but not much detail was shown. I don’t remember a lot of the visions I had after this amazing world tour. There was a point where I became incredibly frightened of the whole experience, and I was unable to focus. I’m unsure of how long I stayed afraid. Time doesn’t really exist when you’re well into the medicine. I remember seeing my grandmother who passed away years ago. Her smiling head appeared out of the darkness, floated up to my face, kissed me on the forehead, and disappeared. It was amazing to see her and feel her presence. One of the last visions I remember is hearing my name being called out by a man whose voice I didn’t recognize. When I heard my name called out twice, I opened my eyes (not my physical eyes, but my “inner eyes”), and found myself sitting in a chair in the middle of a small theatre or lecture hall filled with people who were observing me. To this day I have no idea what that was all about or where I was.
I had to get up to use the bathroom more times than I can count. I don’t know if ibogaine is a diuretic, but it sure seemed that way! Walking on this medicine is the craziest feeling because in my head I felt straight. I didn’t feel like I was high or drunk or that I would lose control, but my body was the complete opposite. You definitely don’t want to move too fast on this stuff, or you’d end up on the floor. The medicine also made me puke…a lot…for hours. It was definitely one of the most difficult physical purges I’ve had. It emptied out my stomach, and then some, and then some more. It got to the point where I was just bringing up foam and dry heaving. It was absolutely horrible, and the nausea stayed even after everything was out.
The ceremony lasted over 24 hours. Generally you should allow yourself a few days to a week for the entire experience, but we left for home as soon as we felt sober enough (not recommended at all!). For about 5 days after the ceremony I continued to see traces in my vision. For the first day they were there constantly. In the following 4 days the traces appeared only for one hour after waking up in the morning, and again once it got dark at night. During the first night of sleep after the ceremony, I had my first lucid dream. It was an amazing experience, but I will save talking about it for another article.
I will be honest and say that I don’t feel like I got much out of this experience, spiritually. I did not have any new insights or realizations. What it did give me was an incredible journey which I will never forget, and a small connection to Africa. The specific fears and anxieties I wished to confront and abolish were not touched on during the ceremony, but I feel that I have gained a bit more confidence in myself from the experience in terms of dealing with fears and anxieties in general. Seeing my grandmother was the highlight of the night, and it helped me understand that there really is no such thing as death. If I could have done anything differently it would be to have a stronger intention and to focus more, though it was pretty difficult to focus on anything while being so sick for hours on end. If I ever have the opportunity to do it again, I would, and I would definitely be more prepared!