(This story was written around 2006, soon after my first Ayahuasca ceremony. At the time, very few Westerners knew of this plant teacher and I was among the first to bring the medicine and Ayahuasqueros (the shamans who navigate the spirit world through this plant teacher) to the US.
As I am reading this again for the first time in so many years, I sit crying tears of joy. I am reminded that the medicine predicted so many things in my future that are now happening. I remember what an incredible healing tool it was for me and how it gave me the jump start needed to truly begin my own work as a healer and animal advocate.)
I first read about Ayahuasca about fifteen years before ever coming into contact with it. I was so fascinated with its potential healing powers and the access to the spirit realm that it was claimed to give, that I decided then and there that one day I too would experience this sacred plant teacher.
Ayahuasca, a psychotropic plant from the Amazon, which has been used for eons by shamans, is called “medicine” because it is used for the healing of one’s soul. A shaman I met once said, “Ayahuasca can restore us to the health that we want so that we can be free to fully live.” Ayahuasca is not addictive and even in Peru today it is being used in special clinics to help treat drug and alcohol addictions.
Little did I know, when I first learned of it, that this ancient medicine would change my life forever and lead me toward my soul’s true path. I did know, however, that it would be a very powerful experience and that I was not going to go looking for it but instead to let it come to me when my spirit was ready for it.
The opportunity came in the summer of 2006 when my best friend invited me out to San Francisco for a ceremony. Together we had read about Ayahuasca years before so I was excited to share my first experience with her. The shaman was a curandero from Colombia, South America.
For about two months before the ceremony, I took time to focus on what my intention for working with the medicine was. I knew that this was important to receive its the full benefits. I understood that the medicine could teach you in many ways and at times it will force you to visit your deepest fears to work through them, or to relive past experiences to work through the trauma that had not been dealt with.
My intention was to better understand what my life purpose was and to have a closer connection with Spirit and Mother Earth.
That first night of ceremony I had many beautiful visions and realizations. I visited the cosmos and other dimensions. I remember seeing the shaman dancing around the fire and I could not take my eyes off of him. His work mesmerized me and I could relate to him somehow. I felt like it was a thousand years ago and I was watching him work magic. I knew I had been a part of the same ritual in some life long ago.
When the night was done, I knew that I had much more to learn. I did a second night of ceremony and it was one of the most enlightening experiences of my life.
I met Mother Earth that night. I fell in love with the universe and I was blessed with so much love. Love like I had never experienced before or even knew existed.
It was almost dawn, hours after the others in our circle had finished journeying when suddenly the medicine began to work in me. It started when at one point I felt stuck like I needed to get something out of me that was stunting my growth. It felt like something very negative but I felt I could not get it out alone. The Ayahuascero came over to me and began to rub Agua de Florida on my forehead, over the third eye, and on the area above my heart. At first, there was a very hot burning sensation and I kept asking him to cool me with the water. The sweet flowery smell of it was very soothing and then I began to cry deeply. I felt myself releasing years of pent-up emotion through my tears and then with my laughter. Then I felt my third eye open up and a golden light, like of the sun, began pouring into me. Finally, my heart blossomed, like a lotus flower, and generous amounts of love streamed into my being from the heavens. It was the most beautiful feeling I could ever remember having. I knew the healing was a blessing that occurred only because I was so open to it, and that my soul had wished for that connection with spirit for a very long time.
That night the mother vine Ayahuasca spoke directly to me. She told me that my soul’s true path is the ability to heal and that soon I would use it to help humanity in its spiritual evolution. She said that the artwork that I do and my work with rehabilitating wild animals would be the catalyst for this in years to come. From there she also gave me many messages to give to my loved ones, including the shaman, things I could not have known about them otherwise. They all welcomed these messages and agreed that they were much-needed advice and encouragement. Whenever I have journeyed with this medicine in ceremony, I can hear the gentle voice of the Mother guiding me, encouraging me on how to continue on my souls' true path.
After several minutes I became more aware of the world around me, outside of my own experience, and I realized that I had been so filled with emotion that everyone in the circle was looking at me. The shaman decided that after such a release I needed grounding and he had me get into the cattle tank that had been filled with water for our afternoon swims. I was very reluctant, being so uncomfortable with the cold, but he reminded me of our talk earlier when I spoke with him about wanting to be free of my fear of the cold. I remember feeling everyone sending their support to me as I finally lowered myself into the chilly water and began to relax into the feeling of being in the cold. Even the birds seemed to congratulate me by singing to me across the forest. And I sang back. (I heard one bird that I have never heard before and would only hear again when I began visiting Guatemala. I believe it was a premonition.) I relaxed and said out loud, “It feels like embryonic fluid, like being in the womb….only I don’t remember it being so cold in there.” And everyone laughed.
Once my cleansing was over Maestro Alberto told me that it was time for me to go get dressed, that the ceremony was over and everyone was waiting to eat. I got out of the tub and hobbled over to the yurt to put on dry clothes. I felt like a cavewoman, crouched over as if I could not straighten my back. It was as though I had gone through a rebirth and was getting into balance with my new being. I knew I had just been healed more than I had through years of therapy.
I had so many epiphanies in that one experience that it is impossible to detail them all here now. But after that night I began to notice many subtle changes in myself: more self-confidence, better communication and the ability to express emotion more, among other things. Since then, I have not feared the cold like I used to either. Madre Ayahuasca has truly been a blessing to me and I will forever be grateful to this sacred plant medicine for her healing and leading on my path as a healer.