Personal Story: How Psychedelics Freed Me From Suffering


by Daniel Hugo Miceli

on July 23, 2015

To all whom have ever found themselves at the bottom of a well…

Planet Earth, our cosmic spaceship filled with natural wonders and marvels can often be viewed as a cruel place filled with terror, violence, anguish, sorrow and pain. In some parts of the world humans live in warfare, watching their fellow man die with the fear that they won’t see another day. Some humans live famished, living in poverty and not having access to what most Westerners have at our leisure; food and clean drinking water. No matter where you are in the world, life can be difficult to endure even through all of its moments of beauty. Though some of us go through what can be perceived as more suffering than others, each and every one of us is connected. Whether or not you are consciously aware of it, the suffering endured halfway across the world inadvertently affects you in your daily life.

Through the use of psychedelic medicines, particularly that of ayahuasca, I have begun to view my own suffering, and the suffering of humanity as a whole through the eyes of understanding; seeing it as a natural process in which one learns and grows, eventually attaining liberation, whether in this life or the next. It is important to learn to let go of our past and start viewing each of our most painful memories as learning lessons provided to us by the universe.

Most of our most painful memories begin in our childhood. I personally never felt that I was good enough. I was ridiculed and subjected to heavy criticism because I, like many others, did not conform to the societal norms of my peers. I did not follow the latest trends and appeared socially awkward. Through my teens my acne was so severe that students around me would tease me and call me “Rudolph.”

In high school I began abusing marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy to fill the emptiness that had so long been a part of me. I couldn’t feel love or compassion for others or myself, was emotionally detached from my surroundings, constantly feeling as if I was an observer of life instead of a participant. Around the time I began abusing substances, I was gifted an Ouija board by a friend, which is believed to allow one to communicate and channel spirits.

Obsession took hold of me which let to me playing with it alone in my room after school everyday. One day, while playing with a group of friends, one of them asked this entity we were communicating with to prove itself to be true. Within moments a mass of dark matter, energy that revealed itself and swam across the room, entered each of our perceptions. In time, I began to suffer from sleep paralysis, constantly feeling that there was a negative presence that had been with me. I discontinued using the board, but I could not shake off the sensation that I had let something sinister into my life.

There was a wart on my right thumb that appeared from the friction of writing. I began to self-mutilate myself with a nail clipper, constantly digging into my skin instead of simply looking up a way to rid myself of the wart peacefully. Something gnawed at the back of my mind, possessing me to keep on doing this. I was a masochist, finding this pain enjoyable and relieving in some sense.

This went on for months, and I knew within myself that there was something deeply wrong with this. It would grow back again and again, yet I would continue the self-mutilation, driven by my own self-hate and misery. Later, a friend of mine warned me to be careful as this could evolve into a form of cancer. Cancer. Once the word was in my frame of consciousness, it became a thought that nagged at me every waking moment of the day. I told myself the damage was done and was too far gone, that if there was the slightest chance for cancer to form and develop that it was surely inevitable. That thought plagued me every second of my life. Slowly, a soreness began to take over the arm in which I continuously mutilated my thumb. I expressed a slight concern to family and friends, but never conveyed the real degree or cause of my pain with honesty out of fear of being brand marked with cancer.

Most of my week was spent drinking alcohol; I was barely putting forth any attention or focus on my studies. I was having fun on a superficial level, but it was all a facade that no one could look past. At social gatherings I would often withdraw within myself and become paralyzed by anxiety.

I decided after much apprehension to visit a dermatologist, but again I was not honest about the degree of pain that I felt. The doctor gave my wart a brief glance and wrote it off as nothing. At the time my acne had made a return. The doctor preyed on my insecurities and I was prescribed a generic version of a heavy drug used to treat severe acne — the possible side-effects of which were its potential to lead to suicide, psychosis and severe depression.

Eventually, I would sleep in until four in the afternoon, and couldn’t muster up the energy or strength to make anything of my life. I began hearing voices and believed that a demonic entity was following me. I endured continuous night terrors, waking up in the middle of the night paralyzed, unable to scream out for help and would feel the presence of an intruder. At a routine visit with the dermatologist, I explained that I was feeling lethargic and depressed, my concerns were shrugged off, I was told it was the weather and without hesitation he wrote me another prescription.

The lymph node under my right arm started to swell and the pain spread throughout my entire arm, down to my rib cage. In time, the pain became so unbearable that it would consume my thoughts from the moment I woke up, to the moment I went to bed. The pigmentation under my right palm turned an ominous red and the lines through my palms began to change course, appearing rigged and jagged. My grades plummeted and before long I dropped out of school altogether. Promiscuity and heavy drug use took hold of me because the only moments in which I could not feel the pain were when I was under the influence or having sex. One night stands became an ordinary and common experience for me.

I was living paycheck to paycheck, spending all of my money on drugs and alcohol. Eventually I lost my job, could no longer afford to pay my rent and began sleeping on friends’ couches. Ketamine clawed its way into my life, as I was yearning to detach and separate from my own body. I was a prisoner inside of it; all I wanted was to escape. Through a very close encounter in the infamous “k-hole” I lost total control and felt that the breaches of death were closing in on me. Everyone around me turned into giant marionettes and I was convinced that my time was coming to an end. This experience put me into a state of shock, and from there I knew that something drastic had to be done if I wanted to heal.


I made an effort to get my life back in order and rekindle my relationships with my friends and family. I emancipated myself from substance abuse and eventually picked up three jobs. One fateful day, a customer came in to one of my places of employment and began to talk about how amazing Peru was. The moment he said the word “Peru” chills took over my entire body. I intuitively knew that the healing I was searching for was there.

That night, without a clue of what I was doing; I bought myself a one way ticket to Lima. In the strange way that these things happen, the topic of ‘shamanism’ began coming up left and right, filtering itself into my personal sphere. A family member, unaware like all those close to me of my ongoing pains and paranoias, confided to me a story of his uncle’s severe suffering from cancer. He was given three months left to live but stubbornly refused to believe his time was coming to an end and in his defiant strength visited a ‘witch doctor’ in South America, whose practices cured him completely of his fatal illness. That the story could be untrue was incomprehensible: I knew it was true, that the universe was talking to me at that moment, and that I was going to find the healing that I needed. Soon after I was told a story from a friend of the experience she’d had with Ayahuasca outside of Iquitos, Peru, in which she left her body and shot to the stars. I could hear the medicine of Ayahuasca calling me; she was letting me know that she would be my saving grace.

In the days leading up to my trip I took an eighth of psilocybin mushrooms alone in my backyard in order to mentally prepare myself for my trip to South America. I went on an intense and introspective journey that allowed me to reach the center of my emotional trauma. All I wanted was for someone to console me, to hold me, to love me — someone to understand what was happening to me.  A stream of tears began to fall shedding all of my sorrow. There was a deep sense of assurance throughout the entire experience. That everything was going to be alright as long as I surrendered and knew that something was taking care of me.

On September 7, 2013 I made my way to Lima. Everything felt so surreal to me, and it didn’t hit me that the time had come until the plane had taken off. From there I travelled to Iquitos, Peru, the world’s largest city not accessible by road and a sprawling jungle metropolis. It is one of the most accessible portals for those that want to go and drink ayahuasca.

Ayahuasca is a brew consisting of the ayahuasca vine, which acts as a purgative and contains a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). This allows for the ingestion of the DMT contained in the chacruna leaf. DMT is a naturally occurring compound that is released when we dream and at the time of death. Ayahuasca is an ancient medicine used throughout the Amazon and is said to be the cause of tremendous physical and spiritual healing.

One thing led to another and I was quickly introduced to a man who had learned the art of shamanism from the age of fourteen. He would refer to himself as a maestro, or teacher; the word shaman is not native to South America and is a general term coined in Siberia for people who work in ceremonial practices.

We went out to a jungle house deep in the Amazon to perform the ceremony. That night was undoubtedly the most pivotal, intense experience of my life. I was told by indigenous spirits that I would die young, that I was ready to die now. I fought these visions, clinging on to life and refusing to comply with fate’s dictations. Suddenly I saw my future pan out in front of me, and was told by Mother Ayahuasca that everything I was experiencing was a test to see how much I wanted to hold on to this life. That the secret to my healing was in envisioning myself healthy and radiant, traveling the world and giving all of my love back to humanity. That the key to healing was faith. The shaman looked into my spirit and my path during my limpieza, which is a cleansing given during the ceremony. He saw that I was leaving behind a series of traumatic events but that a bright and beautiful future was ahead of me. That I would one day work in social and humanitarian causes. The same spirits came back to hold and comfort me, letting me know that everything would be alright.

After my first ceremony, I was offered DMT that had been extracted from the chacruna leaves used in the ayahuasca brew. I had always been curious to try it, but was afraid because it is commonly referred to as “experiencing death.” Upon taking three puffs, I began to “break through” and was taken to another dimension. What was awaiting me had to have been some of the most terrifying, yet intriguing visualizations I had ever seen. There were these reptilian looking beings who were coming up to me and observing my body. One of them was a large lime green man with orbs dangling from his arms who gave me the feeling that he was some kind of doctor. Surrounding him were smaller reptilian beings that were a mix of yellow and red. They began to speak to me in a language that I could not understand and started to work on my body as if they were performing some kind of operation. Flowers were bursting open and spinning in circles and I was seeing bright and vivid colors that I had never imagined previously.

The word “cancer” began to repeat itself over and over and there was this overwhelming sensation that I was being forced to confront my reality. Suddenly these beings turned into amoeba, and I was looking at the inner workings of my own body; the world within myself. Everything dissipated and I was experiencing what many refer to as “the void.” I thought I had died, had no memory of smoking DMT and began to think of how my death would affect my loved ones. I was not ready to leave this world behind, not now. The visions began to melt away, I was back in the room with no recollection of who I was or what I was. I looked down at my hands in utter confusion. What is this body that I live in? What does it mean to be alive?

I mustered up the courage to tell the shaman who performed my first ceremony the truth about why I had come to South America, that I had come to heal from a sickness that had both physically and mentally consumed me. The first thing he asked me was if I loved myself. He told me that without self-love, one cannot heal. He began to work personally with me, fixing my diet and using his icaros to cure me.

Icaros are the songs that shamans sing during their ceremonies, which are taught to them by the spirits of the plants. We are light vibrational beings, therefore the vibrations emitted from icaros work to heal and cleanse you. He would collect various plants and cook them in a large pot, sitting me over it and covering me with a sheet. The vapor would penetrate my body and remove it of its impurities. With every passing ceremony and treatment I could feel my pain subsiding and it was no longer the only thing that I could think of.


An energetic healer who worked with holistic medicine found his way into my life. He performed a series of therapies on me in which he could read the physical traumas stored in my body like a book. He could see that I lived a life in which negative presences were waiting for me to die, that I had abused substances such as ecstasy and that at one point I was on the verge of taking my own life. The moment that I allowed myself to let go of my trauma, a lot of the pain that was still inside of me began to fade away. He helped open up my chakras, or energetic centers and from there I began to heal myself at an exponential rate.

I began a series of dietas; months dieting on various plant medicines from the Amazon while abstaining from certain foods such as red meat, pork, oil, salt, sugar, processed foods, spicy foods, sex and socialization. We would catch and cook fish from the river in the early mornings. Our food was locally sourced and prepared with love. Various plant medicines are used throughout the Amazon to cure specific physical ailments. They say that when one does these dietas, the spirits of the plants will work to teach, heal and protect you. This is also where many shamans learn their icaros. In time I could feel all of the toxins in my body expelling and was feeling more fortified and stronger than ever. For once in my life, I became the master of my own body.

During the first ceremony of my dieta, I was taken into the rooms of doctors diagnosing people with cancer, observing the level of detachment and coldness within this lucrative business made from our illnesses. My spirit honed in on a woman who was receiving her diagnosis in a state of shock, and I could see the deep sorrow in her eyes while she was being told that there was little chance that she would survive. Conventionally, most cancers are treated through chemo, which is an expensive therapy that causes more harm than it does good. It also does not get to the root of why the cancer appeared in the first place.

Negative thought patterns, energetic blockages, stored trauma and spiritual unease all have the potential to manifest physically in the body. Not only was Ayahuasca working to heal me, but she was also showing me how to heal from within myself. It dawned on me that we as humans have been tackling disease from the wrong angle and that it was time that Western medicine found a middle ground with natural medicine. It appeared to me that there was a greater purpose to all of my suffering. One day it would be a part of my life’s mission to lead people to ayahuasca and other powerful medicinal plants. The cure is there; it’s real. And after experiencing my own growth and witnessing the countless number of people that have come and healed from severe illnesses, when Western medicine told them that they were fated to die, my faith lies in the hands of Mother Nature.

Within deep meditation after the ceremony I had a vision of being in Africa. That my tribe was being taken away, chained together and embarked onto large ships, presumably to be put into slavery. Whether or not this was a vision from a previous life, or simply a human experience encoded in my DNA is unknown, but the pain felt just as real as any of the pain that I have felt in this life. This gave me a greater sense of humility, connection and compassion to the pain that humanity faces, instead of just focusing on my own.

I was curious to know exactly what ayahuasca was, so naturally the intention of getting to know the medicine was taken into ceremony. What was shown to me was that Ayahuasca is an intelligence birthed by the consciousness of nature and a conduit for the Earth to communicate with human beings. Ayahuasca is here to push the evolution of the human race forward by opening up our hearts to giving and receiving love. She is here to remind us that we are a part of nature, not separate from it and therefore is a key to the salvation of the human race.

I was taken back to a recurring dream of mine in which I was walking within a beautiful abandoned home with the sacred vines creeping up the stone. The walls had fallen down on one end and opened up to the ocean. In the midst of it was a magnificent tree of life surrounded by clear reflective water. Standing beside this tree was an indigenous woman with long braided hair looking out into the distance. Like a wise mother she was, the spirit of Ayahuasca was with me and guiding me. The medicine showed me my path; specific events that would transpire in my life. To my marriage, my travels, my life’s work and ultimately my death. I no longer feared transcending this world, seeing death as the most beautiful and liberating moment of all.

During a huachuma experience, the San Pedro cactus with the active ingredient mescaline, I became completely aligned to my higher vibrations; what many would call the ‘higher self.’ Earlier on in the day, the shaman who administered the San Pedro gave us all chicken to eat before the ceremony. For some reason this didn’t resonate with me, but I went ahead and did so anyway. During the beginning of the trip, I felt incredibly sick and nauseous and began to be filled with anxiety and fear. This feeling passed after a bit of purging, but there was still a residual feeling of discomfort.

While walking through the Amazon jungle, my head was magnetically pulled to the trunk of a tree. In that moment a flood of messages began to enter my body. The main insight received was that in order for my own suffering to cease, nothing that I consume shall suffer. To the food we eat, to the clothes that we wear, it is our responsibility as a human beings to know that all that we consume was sourced with good and pure intention. The reason that I began to feel this intense anxiety and fear in the first place was because the San Pedro heightened by senses and made me aware of exactly how the chicken negatively affected my body. It wasn’t that eating it was necessarily wrong, it was that I had absolutely no idea where the meat was sourced from. In order to achieve complete liberation from suffering, it is essential that we adhere to conscious consumption and eating. Without mindfulness, we are only perpetuating an endless cycle and are not making room for clean energy to flow into our lives.

A group of friends and myself who had all been working with the medicine for some time decided to hold an ayahuasca ceremony without the presence of a shaman. It was my first time returning to the house in which I partook in my first ceremony, and I had this sensation that a chapter of my life was coming to an end. After working with the medicine for the past year, I felt confident in my abilities of holding my own space. My intention for the ceremony was to come to a conclusion; for me to come to a close from everything that had transpired in the previous year while working with the medicine.

Each of us sang and played our drums in complete harmony and synchronization. We all knew each others’ songs as if we had all been a part of the same tribe all along. We became the masters of our darkness through the icaros, and we were all shown that darkness does not always coincide with malice — without it we wouldn’t have the understanding or appreciation to live and work with the Light.


At the end of the night, we all partook in a Yopo ceremony, which is a snuff created from the seed of the vilca tree. It contains bufotenine and 5-Meo-DMT. It is inhaled through a blow-pipe and is said to be the father of Ayahuasca. Upon first doing it, I felt the medicine hit the pit of my stomach and knew that I was in for a massive purge. I sat by the fire pit wondering why I had subjected myself to this and was incredibly nauseated. I kneeled over for what felt like an eternity and a flood of toxins began to pour out of me. I went inside of the jungle house to lay down and within moments of my head touching the mat I was transported to an otherworldly realm.

I became one with the unseen omnipresent force that runs through life and the creator of everything that ever was and ever will be. The reason that the trees bloom, that the world turns as it orbits the grand ball of fire in the sky. What many would call “God.” Yes, I use that word — a word so mistreated and misunderstood. But I choose to take that word back for what it was originally referring to. Back when mankind was connected to it all and not living in a world filled with delusions. When I came back to my senses, the words “thank you” were melodically echoing in my mind. I could feel the heartbeat of God, the pulse of this infinite universe and had immense gratitude for being alive. There was a sense of knowing; knowing that there’s a plan for us humans but without really understanding the motivation behind any of it. It just is, we just are, so just be.

The most interesting thing of all is that I now realize that before we begin this life, before we come into our physical bodies, we were well aware of the trials and tribulations that we will overcome in this lifetime. We are here to learn and grow, and each of us has a hand in co-creating our stories, our lives, and our destiny.

The Earth is in a state of rebirth. We as humans are being guided by forces beyond ourselves to help create a new reality for us all. A reality in which we are liberated from all of the suffering we have endured. We will be the epitome of universal-consciousness, God-consciousness. Awakened beings in union with the vibration of the universe; embodying pure love, bliss, compassion, and joy.

It seems hard to believe, but if you take a look at how fast we are evolving, how united we are becoming, you will begin to see that we are living in a very special, important and exciting time for humanity. To all of you that are searching for The Light, know that it is in your grasp. These medicines provide the key to opening the mind, allowing us to see the awe, wonder, synchronicity and serendipity of this all. Whether or not you open the floodgates to the unknown, to boundless knowledge and wisdom is entirely up to you.

This life, how beautiful, full of perfection and harmony.

One day, we will realize that: We. Are. Whole.

Much love,

Daniel Hugo Miceli