Ayahuasca

At the 2017 Psychedelic Science Conference in Oakland, I heard more than a few attendees speaking in grim tones about the depletion of ayahuasca in the Amazon. In the Ayahuasca Community Forum, some suggested that the plant was on the verge of extinction due to overharvesting. One woman announced that concern for the preservation of…

Ceremony As Shitshow

A few weeks ago I sat through perhaps the most outrageous ayahuasca ceremony I’ve ever attended, a chaotic display of anarchy that was a true shitshow. Yes, chaos is a fundamental attribute of ayahuasca, and sometimes pure chaos is exhilarating. And my own experience that night was okay, even beautiful at times. But what I…

When Ayahuasca Triggers Trauma

Ryan was a meditator, experienced with ayahuasca, so it surprised him (not in a good way) when a disturbing ceremony revealed the world as hollow and grotesquely meaningless. In the aftermath, he felt dissociated and numb. It took him the better part of a year to recover, and he was still wondering what had happened…

Owning The Dark Side

I am not a fearmonger saying that ayahuasca is something dangerous to be avoided. Whether you as an individual should work with it, or not, I can’t say. I believe that ayahuasca has tremendous value as a transformational agent, for both individuals and the collective. As a therapist working with integration, I witness firsthand the…

Ayahuasca Obfuscada

Work with Amazonian plantas maestras or teacher plants is almost always enlightening, but the process can be confusing, too. The language of plants is not exactly straightforward or clear-cut. They speak to us in non-verbal ways, through images and sensations that can be vague, diffuse, difficult to understand. Plant teachers move at a different pace…

Knowing When It’s Enough, Part II

In ceremony a few years ago I received a most disagreeable vision of everyone in the circle lying back on their mats like giant infants, crying out “Give me more! Give me more!” The message couldn’t have been any clearer than if we’d appeared in diapers: immaturity, greedy appetite combined with shallow capacity—it was a…

Ayahuasca: Knowing When It’s Enough

It’s one thing to know when you’re called to start working with ayahuasca. It’s an entirely different matter to know when to stop. When is it time to take a break, or […]

Synchronicity: Magic, and Shadow

You think of a long-lost friend, and she gets in touch that very night. Glancing at the clock over the course of a few days, you continually get repeating […]

It may seem farfetched to suggest that ayahuasca can work like a somatically based trauma therapist, but I’ve noted intriguing parallels between ayahuasca experiences and the process I’ve witnessed with trauma healing methods like EMDR and Somatic Experiencing. In this article, I’ll offer some empirical observations on how ayahuasca works with trauma, drawing on my…

Are Spirits Real?

Sooner or later, everyone working with ayahuasca has to come to terms with this issue. Who, or what, are those beings we’re seeing in ceremony? What do ayahuasqueros mean when they talk about spirits; the spirit of ayahuasca, for example, or los genios of the plants? What does Santo Daime mean when it speaks of…

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