Ayahuasca

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…

Here are some details I might have wanted to know before my first cup of ayahuasca five years ago. (Despite the not-knowing, it’s all worked out perfectly okay.) 1. It can change your life, big time. And for the better, which is why a lot of people are turning to it. But the scale and…

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:[…]

Sulfur with a Hint of Chocolate

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…

Family Secrets in Ayahuasca’s Light

Seven days into an ayahuasca retreat in the Peruvian Amazon, I’m 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 inside…

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…

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