Working with Ayahuasca
The initial work is focused on cleansing and purifying your physical body to prepare you for the next stages. One quite reasonable expectation is that you will nearly always go through strong purges (hence another name often given to ayahuasca in Peru – La Purga), with considerable vomiting and/or diarrhoea. You can also purge through any bodily function - sneezing, yawning, crying, laughing, stretching, nose running, etc. Some people have unrealistically high expectations of their first ceremonies: to see breathtaking visions at an early stage should not be the only focus. If you see no visions in your first ceremonies, this is not unusual. Your persistence, patience and determination will lead you to the more visionary states after you have carried out the necessary physical and emotional healing.
You may then move to more profound emotional and psychological work: clearing your mind and body of negative energies that have built up over the years, often seeing various emotional traumas and crises in a different light, and from a different angle. You will often gain more understanding of the reasons why you have been through the various phases (or issues) in your life, both good and bad. Many people discover a greater sense of purpose and destiny in their life through working with ayahuasca.
You may also see a proliferation of colours, lights, geometric patterns, animals, etc. These are actually somewhat peripheral to the work: the more profound healing is taking place on deeper levels, and in your own mind you will gain insights, reflections and understandings about yourself, the world and the universe around you.
That said, it is impossible to outline exactly what will happen to you on your own personal inner journeys. Everyone is different and will go through their own deeply personal experiences. No ceremony is ever the same as another, and even the most experienced voyager cannot predict what direction their visions will take, although there often seems to be a sense of a “course” (in the educational sense!) being followed, when one looks back over a series of ceremonies. (Shanon, 2002)
The medicine often reveals aspects of your self, reflections of your childhood, mistakes you have made, ways you could have made better choices, sometimes profound knowledge about your place in the universe, information and connection with the plant and animal kingdoms, and perhaps even revealing life in other dimensions and galaxies. After considerable work, the spirits of the plants - the ibo in Shipibo - or sometimes ancient shamans in their spirit-form – will reveal themselves to you, and, depending on your intent and level of commitment, may want to work with you to help others. Please note this level will not normally be achieved on a workshop. These levels of learning in the world of ayahuasca are the province of more intensive apprenticeships.
It is important to not set your expectations too high. Working with ayahusca is very complicated, and each and every ceremony will be very different. The medicine will work with you in ways you could never have dreamed of, but will never respond to demands. Sometimes, when you are in the process of cleansing and purifying your emotions, your mood can become low. We recommend that you surrender to whatever comes through within your healing process; the medicine is essentially working with a universal intellegence that often surpases our minds ability to comprehend.
It is also very important to understand what the healers' roles are. Quite simply, they are people from the Peruvian Amazon who carry out a role as doctors working with traditional medicine. Some guests will attend a workshop with an expectation that the healers are spiritual gurus which they are not. Although they straddle different worlds, and possess the knowledge and wisdom of plant spirits and medicines, they are still normal people yet act as conduits for the plant spirits to transmit healing energies. Although to Westerners their work may seem highly unusual, is a widely accepted and respected role within the culture of Amazonian rainforest peoples.
They enjoy what they do, and are very happy to be working with you in the workshops. Their motivation is to heal and teach, transmitting knowledge wherever possible. They are all kind, warm and compassionate people – but please do not expect to obtain the answers akin to self-realized and enlightened spiritual masters - that is not their role!
The plants may be able to lead you to your own metaphysical conclusions: they can certainly help you transform spiritually and reach better physical health. But the results are ultimately down to you, and your intent.