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 [...]

What to Bring to Ceremony

Along with bucket, blanket, red-light flashlight, and something white to leave on your mat so you can find it when you’re coming back from the bathroom in the dark:[…]

The first cup of ayahuasca I drank was dark brown, molasses-y and surprisingly sweet, about the viscosity of cough syrup. Bad taste? What are they talking about? I thought, a bit smugly. That was the first time. I did not yet know how each subsequent cup would become more difficult to down, tasting more and [...]

About Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca is a potent psychoactive brew made by cooking the ayahuasca vine (banisteriopsis caapi) with the leaf of the chacruna shrub (psychotria viridis) (sometimes other plants are used in the admixture.) It's been spreading with extraordinary rapidity from its indigenous home in the Amazon into global popular culture, becoming what a recent New Yorker article [...]

At a certain point following your return from an ayahuasca retreat, you may begin wondering how to maintain your relationship with the plant. In the peace of the jungle, everything may have seemed crystal-clear. Back at home, inertia and doubt can creep in. Old patterns may be pulling you back to behaviors not in your [...]

Shadow Chasing in the Amazon

Seven days into an ayahuasca retreat in the Peruvian Amazon, I am not liking—no, let’s tell it straight—hating the guy who sits across from me in the circle. Mike’s smugness, his closedness, his know-it-all vibe are driving me crazy. And I know, reluctantly but well enough, that the qualities I am triggered by are actually [...]

Aya & Depth Psychology

Depth psychology works explicitly with the unconscious—that within us which has been repressed, rejected, denied or ignored. Through dreams, images, fantasies, art, meaning and myth, it seeks to understand and unveil what has been hidden in the depths of the psyche. This is precisely the territory that ayahuasca works, as it unzips the unconscious with [...]

Ayahuasca & Meditation

I believe the single most important integration practice is some form of regular meditation. Working with ayahuasca can rattle the cage of who we think we are, dismantling our tidy self-definitions. While ultimately this leads to expansion and growth, the process can be disconcerting, generating feelings of fear, anxiety, and confusion. This is where meditation [...]

Ayahuasca & Shadow

Integration work means more than joining a sharing circle, starting a meditation practice, and maintaining a clean diet. Most essentially, it signals turning to face the shadow, all the forgotten, repressed, unseen and un-integrated psychic material we’ve left behind in the process of growing up and into the world. Shadow work deliberately evokes that which [...]