I had dealt with depression and anxiety for many years due to pursuing college degrees that I didn’t want. I had taken both depression and anxiety pills and had stopped my last dose of anxiety pills a year ago after graduating from college.
I had attended a life success retreat previously in the year, which helped me realize that my withdrawals from anxiety pills were destroying my ability to connect with others. I had replaced my lack of confidence with believing in myself, which stopped the cycle. However, a month later, I felt that some things were still not right.
I still had regret that I should have moved out of Hawaii and my parents’ house years ago. I felt that everything in my life would have been much better if I had left Hawaii and struck it out on my own. Also I would think from time to time of the people in my life that had wronged me and relive those bad memories. Something in my life was still not right and needed to be fixed.
I thought about going back into therapy, but remembered that I had been seeing psychologists and psychiatrists for years, and while they were able to deal with my symptoms, they were not able to solve my problems. A stronger cure was needed.
I had heard of Ayahuasca from some online articles and message boards. I watched Lisa Ling’s CNN documentary and Stepping Into The Fire. I also read some books and articles on Reset.me to learn more about this medicine. From people’s experiences and reasons for taking ayahuasca, I determined that this was the treatment I needed to finally exorcise my deeply rooted demons that had me cling to the past. Currently I felt I was stagnating at home and needed to leave to fulfill my destiny. This was the time to leave. I began to make plans…
It was late July. I had left my job as a civil engineer and was in Urubamba, Peru. By leaving my job, I was cutting ties to my current life and able to have the freedom to make any decision I wanted after the ayahuasca retreat. Iquitos may be the most popular area to take ayahuasca, but I decided to do my ceremony around the Cusco because I wanted to see Machu Picchu and spend more time in the sacred valley region. So here I was at [a] retreat at a lodge away from the city, ready to change my life and never be the same again.
The retreat was headed by [two] veteran ayahuasca takers who decided to start their own retreat. [There was also a] San Pedro shaman, [and an] ayahuasca shaman, [who] flew in from Iquitos to perform the ceremony with us in Urubamba. They were both accomplished and experienced shamans who had their lives in order. There were five of us engaging in the retreat, which was pretty low considering that the maximum capacity is twelve people and is usually always full.
We were a diverse crowd, with different goals such as: dealing with traumatic events, letting go of the past, spiritual enlightenment, or experiencing something new. Everyone had done their research, but had no idea what to expect. In addition to the ceremonies of San Pedro and ayahuasca, we got the chance to tour the ruins and markets of Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Agua Calientes, and the ruins of Machu Picchu. Below I will tell you of my experiences with the two medicines.
San Pedro Day 1: Love
San Pedro (containing mescaline) was done as our initiation to open ourselves up. We had cut the cactus the night before for our last ceremony, but [the San Pedro shaman] already had some prepared for today’s ceremony. Everyone was outside in nature. It was a hard cup to digest and I felt nauseous. I had to purge (vomit) a few times. Somehow the medicine wasn’t working.
I asked [the San Pedro shaman] to blow some smoke on me. I felt my breathing constricted. He had me lie down, put a pencil-like orange crystal on my chest, and [asked me to] take deep breaths while blowing smoke on me. I was told that I needed to relax and let the medicine in and that my anxiety was dulling the fire in my life. After a while I felt the medicine kick in slowly. It’s hard to explain, but San Pedro gives you what you need at the moment. I felt good. I felt loved. I was in love. I was being loved. It was going to be a great day.
I dozed in and out of sleep. I rolled around on my blanket trying to find a good position. Someone said my right foot was twitching a lot, like I was getting rid of some sort of trauma. I think it was because I didn’t love myself for most of my life because I decided to sell myself short; believed I wasn’t good enough and did not take the risks to fulfill my dreams. My dream was to write science fiction/fantasy novels, but I told myself I wouldn’t be able to make it and sold myself short to be an engineer to make a living. So today I felt the love I needed to be whole again. San Pedro is hard to explain, but it makes you feel good and in touch with the earth.
A day would pass before our first Ayahuasca ceremony.
Ayahuasca Night 1: Vengeance
My intentions of the night: let go of the past, overcome my fears and anxieties, and gain the strength to overcome my obstacles.
[The ayahuasca shaman] passed a small cup (a little bigger than a shot glass) around with a cup of ayahuasca in it to everyone. He gave a blessing and started singing his icaros. No smoke was involved in this ceremony.
Time passed after I drank from the cup. I closed my eyes and my mind faded into a trance. I saw weird geometric shapes and patterns moving throughout space and time. I convulsed and moved my head [from] side to side throughout the ceremony. This would happen every night and every time a song was sung. The visions would stop whenever I opened my eyes and would resume when I closed them to return to a trance. There was also a loud clicking sound in my head and I felt I was being sucked into a different dimension.
I soon vomited into my bucket, and when I closed my eyes, it was green poison coming out. I was lost in space and time again until a jaguar stood in front of me. He entered my body through my mouth and I felt his energy coursing through my body. My body was filled with energy and I immediately felt much stronger. I growled and bared my fangs. I took off in the jungle to hunt some prey and test out my new found skills. My prey never saw me coming and fell victim to my fangs. After that, I turned into a 13th century knight of the crusades. I rode a horse into battle and wielded a flail with a steel ball on the end. I quickly demolished my opponents on horseback as I rode through the battlefield.
My next vision involved a spaceship with a domed ecosystem. It was traveling throughout space looking for a new home. It landed in Austin, Texas. A seed was planted into the ground and a big tree grew out of it.
I didn’t share this vision the next day, but I was moving to San Antonio, Texas after my trip to Peru and would have rather went to Austin, so this vision gave me a sign to go there instead and see what happens. I think the medicine was trying to tell me I would have better luck going alone than playing it safe.
Before my blessing from the shaman, an anaconda appeared before me… During the blessing the anaconda entered my mouth and gave me his strength. I then went through a jungle as an anaconda and then transformed into a ranger with a bow, hunting my prey as a ranger and as an anaconda. After discovering my new found powers, I come across some people who have wronged me in the jungle. Quickly, I changed into an anaconda, dropped down from the trees, and killed one of them. They turned and faced their dead companion and in horror, start running. I grew my body five times larger and used it to block their paths to herd them. Going where I want them to go, I start picking them off one by one with my fangs, crushing their bodies. It felt satisfying.
Soon there was one person left. I hit him with my nose, knocking him down. He stood back up and started running again. I toyed with my prey for a while, watching the horror in his face as he stared into the eyes of a huge serpent. Finally I went for the kill, curling my body around him, crushing the bones in his body, and then biting his head off. He was no more.
[The ayahuasca shaman’s] song then ended and lifted me up on a high note. I felt myself ascending into heaven and meeting God. He said that I did well and I could kill my enemies again and again in my mind to give me peace if a thought of them came up. I could also see my heart in the distance in a giant egg-shaped chalice being purified by angels. My silver crusader armor turned into gold plate and my sword changed into a two handed flaming great sword.
I descended into the earth below to seek out more of my enemies. I would hack them into pieces with my sword, blow fire onto their remains like a dragon, and shoot a gust of wind to blow their remains away. As soon as I did this they would reappear, freshly regenerated, and I would kill them again and again until I had enough and move on to the next person. They would even reappear throughout my journey into a dungeon. The rest of the night was spent killing my enemies with my sword, a tank, and a battleship. This would happen over and over again until I got tired of it.
The next day at the sharing, [the ayahuasca shaman] said that I keep killing my enemies and they keep coming back because I put too much thought into the past and I’m not letting go of it. He also said that I need to accept what happened in the past and leave it behind. I feel that the ceremony for this night wasn’t meant to cure me, but to allow all of my built up anger to be let out and to show me that holding grudges was hurting me and others around me.
At a market on a later date, I saw a small statue of a condor on top of a puma, which was standing on a snake in a market. I asked [one of the retreat managers] about this because I saw all three animals in my vision that night, and two had even me their strength. It turns out that these three animals are native guardians to the Incan underworld, as I discovered when I was at Machu Picchu. Someday I would like the eagle to give me his strength too so I would feel complete, but I feel that I must earn it.
Ayahuasca Night 2: Forgiveness
Intentions: Accept and forgive what has happened in the past as well as forgive others. Build myself up to be a better person.
I took a full cup again. This night the medicine kicked in much faster. I could only see geometric shapes and colors at its strongest reach. Instead of setting my intentions at the beginning and leaving them like I did last night, I decided to say my intentions as the medicine was in effect as it could give me a more direct answer. I asked the medicine to forgive my choices in the past, as I was young and didn’t know any better.
I saw yellow and started convulsing to the side heavily. The medicine was doing its work. I did the same in forgiving others, as I didn’t stand up against them and they might have been in a bad place. The medicine again worked its healing powers and I could feel myself accepting forgiveness. I revisited many events and it worked its powers again and again. Then I asked to be a better person. The medicine suggested caring and compassion. It turned out that I already had the tools to be a better person, I just needed to use my knowledge I had already gained.
The next phase was the visions. I asked who I was in a previous life. The medicine suggested an Italian man. He was some sort of nobleman trader in the 13th or 14th century. He had a wife and two sons. I tried to link him to the crusades from last night’s vision, but couldn’t quite get there. He seemed to have lived a good life. I talked to him and he said my goal in life was to live well considering the challenges I had been through. I spent the rest of the night exploring the different decisions I had to make in my life and I realized that I knew what I wanted so I should pull the trigger and go for it.
The next morning I told the shaman of my forgiveness to others and myself. He said that I am making progress and the medicine is doing its work. I learned that I have to keep setting an intention to let the medicine do its work.
Ayahuasca Night 3: Final Purge
Intentions: Forgive more people. Who am I? Where should I go? What should I do right now?
Tonight I decided to drink half a cup so I wouldn’t purge as much. Big mistake; it took longer for the medicine to come into effect. I asked for another half. The medicine this time was smoother and gentle. I asked for forgiveness and ayahuasca gave it to me. I asked where I should go and it showed me a map of the U.S. from San Antonio, Austin, Houston, then Pittsburgh. But my heart was set on Austin for sure and I should just go there.
When I asked who am I, ayahuasca showed me my different hobbies and past achievements. Ayahuasca also showed me that I must remove a certain person out of my Facebook group and out of my life for good, as he is poison. I was having fun asking my questions, but I got violently ill all of a sudden and the visions stopped.
I felt like poison was trying to be released from my body. [The ayahuasca shaman] said I had to be patient and wait for ayahuasca to do its healing. After a while of purging I felt much better. The rest of the night went well and I was fine the next day.
The next day [the ayahuasca shaman] told me that ayahuasca doesn’t like it when you don’t commit to a certain dosage and adding more was a bad idea. He said I needed to be patient and let the medicine work its healing. That day I also removed that person from my Facebook group for good.
Ayahuasca Night 4: Joy
Intentions: Help me express my sexual energy with women; Give me the strength to be a stronger man; And, what should I do now?
For the last night of ceremony I decided to drink one cup. Good decision. The medicine did kick in fast. I first asked for help in expressing my sexual energy towards women. I overheard [one of the retreat managers] talking about asking for some sort of sexual energy on a previous day and felt like giving it a shot since I had nothing else to ask for.
I felt a fiery sensation and started convulsing. I also saw a naked woman jump on top of me. I remember banging my head against the wall loudly and [one of the retreat managers] telling me to stop it. I would endure this fire throughout the night. It was like getting an orgasm.
Next I asked for the strength to be a stronger man. Ayahuasca told me that through my book reading, life success retreat, and my actions, I was already one and all I had to do was make the right decisions at the right times. I just needed to believe in myself because I was already one. There was nothing left for me to ask. Ayahuasca then took me through a strange trip and wanted to show me the joy of life and living in the jungle. I felt good for the rest of the night.
[The ayahuasca shaman] had to leave early the next morning so he wasn’t there for sharing, but we were ok at this point. I shared my sexual experience with everyone and apparently everyone heard me banging my head against the maloka and had no idea what was going on until I shared my experience with them. Everyone thought it was pretty funny. I didn’t need any more explanations at this point and felt it was a good end to my ayahuasca ceremonies.
San Pedro Day 2: Reconnection
I remember [one of the retreat managers] telling me to use the crystals [the San Pedro shaman] had laid out on the ground. The crystals were supposed to transmit their energy to you while you were under the influence of San Pedro. I took this advice to heart and put the fiery crystal by my throat to help me to relax (I don’t remember all of the names).
The fiery crystal was a catalyst for getting the medicine working in my body. Next crystal (golden obsidian) I grabbed helped me see a future projection of where I wanted to be in life and that I was going to get it. It didn’t tell me how, but I held the crystal up to my third eye and I could see through space and time. A green crystal helped me to connect with my past life self. He told me to visit the northern coast of Italy north of Rome. The last white crystal I touched spent the last of my energy as I waved it around in circles and felt a healing sensation. After that I had enough of crystals for the day.
I walked around and laid down in the maloka, playing the drum from the night before. The rest of the day was spent resting and reflecting on all the events that had happened and brought me here for healing. I also thought about where I was going with my life and how I was going to relocate to a place I had never been to before. But for some reason, I knew everything was going to be ok and I would know how to handle it.
Overall, I had accomplished what I set out to do and more with the ayahuasca retreat… I had finally let go of all my past demons that were haunting me for most of my life. They were all small problems that I perceived as major ones. Now I can look back and see them as past memories and not reoccurring nightmares. My mind feels clear and I now go for what I want without being plagued by bad thoughts. Also I now have the strength and energy to overcome any obstacles in my way to fulfill my destiny. I feel much happier now that I am free.
Is ayahuasca for everyone? I would say research is in order if you are considering it. The medicine won’t work unless you surrender to it and allow it to heal you. Only take it when you know it’s time. Instead of removing layers like therapy does, ayahuasca is a laser that pierces through all the layers and heals your mind at the core. In the future I would definitely take ayahuasca again, but only when I feel the need to reset my mind and get guidance in life. It will call me again, when I need it. The eagle is waiting.
This story has been edited lightly for typos and clarity, and to remove the names of specific people and places.