Personal Story: Ayahuasca Helped Me Shed The Distorted Conditioning Society Places On Men

Photo by Monika Gniot.


by John C.

on March 6, 2015

On a muggy Monday evening the Shipibo Shaman arrived at our Amazon riverside abode with a fresh batch of potent jungle brew, concocted by his family herbalist. He ceremonially sang and blew wild jungle tobacco smoke, called mapacho, into his ribbed plastic bottle full of the pungent, murky brown medicine. He then served each member of our small group a shot glass of the dank brew and blew out the candles as the raw sounds of the jungle night enveloped our stilted and bug-screened wood house. Within thirty minutes the medicine hit my entire body and psyche more rapidly and intensely than I had ever experienced it before. Wow. Full on multicolor fractal visuals streamed through my inner ocular panorama as the powerful presence of Ayahuascsa engaged my soma and ignited my neurons. I wanted to get out of my body. But there was no way out.

When the shaman began his first icaro (ritual song), my stomach jerked and twisted. I burst up off my foam pad and ran jaggedly outside, planted my knees and and palms on the wood planked deck and vomited into the dark jungle night. Aya began excavating layer upon layer of inner falseness and distortion with an unrelenting vigor. She insisted on pulling up every drop of shadowy masculine conditioning implanted within me. Clear images of my inner defenses and hidden compensatory strategies arose across my internal holographic landscape like scattered lighting in the night sky. With every gasping surge of electric vomit, ever-deepening ego encrustations were exposed and expelled: My self-distraction, self-deception, persistent adolescent identity and narcissism — all of the core defenses that I had built up just to survive my childhood, that were then reinforced by a corrupt society. I saw visions of the lineages of broken men coming across from Europe to the new world and felt how my way as a man has been impacted by their suffering and haste. I could see how restlessly and violently Europeans had trampled across the Americas, disregarding and destroying the humanity and life along their pathway.

Swirling in the raw depths of this purgative psychedelic whirlpool, at moments, I was uncertain how I could go on living. I felt defeated by the depth of suffering within and its interwoven connection with humanity’s own bitter confusion. As I lay languidly on my side on the wood deck in the jungle night, listening to the shaman sing his icaros from indoors, a young Peruvian man in the ceremony, named Miguel, came out to blow purifying mapacho smoke on me. I couldn’t sit all the way up to receive the cleansing so Miguel leaned over me to administer the sacred wild tobacco. I appreciated Miguel’s grounded kindness and care. After he went back inside, I lurched forward on all fours like a jungle feline gasping out mistakenly swallowed poisons. With each surge of vomit more of the entrenched layers of false self that I had built up to survive came gushing out like a waterfall in reverse. Aya purged every drop of bitter bile from my intestine. There was no escape. There was little mercy. It was as if Aya said, “Enough! I’m going to take all that isn’t really you out of you, now. It’s time to be the man who you truly are.”

After the volcano of guttural expulsion subsided, the clear embodied revelation arose that Aya was initiating me — savagely yet elegantly ushering me through her supra-dimensional birth canal and delivering the indigenous rites of passage into manhood that I never fully experienced. I shuttered amidst the riveting expansion as Aya awakened the dormant, genetically encoded potential for initiation stored within my cells. As this spontaneous process unfolded, a grounded light and vulnerable solidity filled me.

Throughout the night, the shaman knew what was happening to me: I was purging the conditioning and negativity of my life. In the morning he said to me “Liberación!” and told me I could now have true peace and happiness in my life and relations.

I had delved into various forms of inner work that tap into these layers before, and partially excavated them. Tonight was different. It was a meta-experience. (One of a few or so in a lifetime.) Aya extracted the negativity, pulled it out from its ancient roots so thoroughly that I doubt it can ever grow back again.

Within the landscape of this explosive journey, I observed how American and Canadian men are mostly very lost, carrying the trauma and atrocities of their ancestors in their unconscious and bodies. So much is repressed, yet adversely present in their mindset and behaviors: Rage, defenses, addictions, dominance, racism, fear and competition. I could see how traumatized humanity is, and how we shield ourselves from our wounds with elaborate defenses and strategies. I experienced visions that highlighted the flaws and unfairness of corporate capitalism. I also perceived how unhealed soul wounds can fester into cancer and other diseases.

Ayahuasca is a great Gaian dredger of unconscious sludge. She functions with a precision and intelligence that embodies the searing vitality and the life-giving-and-taking ways of the jungle. She is the antithesis and an antidote for the desensitized, destructive, dominating and fearful masculine that is causing so much harm on the planet. She purges untruth and toxins from you and then radiates light through your body and heart. She exposes the depths of both the personal and collective unconscious. She transforms you on a cellular level. She brings forth your true self to shine.

As dawn broke, the shaman asked how I was and I said calmly: “Soy un hombre differente.”

I humbly pray that this opening unfolds and integrates with as much grace and ease as possible.