QUESTION: I did an ayahuasca ceremony this past October. It was extremely, extremely, extremely painful, but I feel it was extremely advantageous. I am thinking of doing it a second or third time - but stopping there. I experienced an expanded consciousness that I have never experienced before in my life. I have been studying shamanism since 2008, and I’m really glad I have - it’s answered 100 million questions I had burning in my soul. So, my question to you is: in your talks you say that ayahuasca is depleting of life force energy - wow, I never knew that - can you please expand on this? I found her to be so loving and so powerful (three times won’t really take away a heck of a lot of energy for me right?).

ANSWER: To hear you describe your experience with ayahuasca as painful warms my heart to no end. I have a hard time trusting people having a unity experience the first time off. In my experience, they have managed to bypass their garbage even with the presence of such a powerful teacher. After the pain, and when the unity experience is achieved, one has graduated from the University of Ayahuasca.

I do feel that anyone that is a seeker and has a strong enough ego/container can have many questions quelled by visiting the hallucinogenic phenomena. At the same time, I always caution against confusing the visiting of our true nature with actual residence there. Although the medicine herself is not addictive, the experience certainly can be given the level of pain we all endure in our state of forgetfulness and separation. I have and continue to witness this disturbing abuse of it.

Any food, drug, or medicine that shifts consciousness does so by using the energy of the body. That includes coffee, pot, cocaine, mushrooms, ayahuasca, or cigarettes. Unless one is dealing with a serious illness, doing an ayahuasca ceremony two or three times in one’s life is not detrimental.

One has to remember though that it is the bodymind’s energy that is used by the medicine to give access to the vision. That energy is finite and has to be respected, even though it can be nurtured through diet and meditation. One can prepare for the journey by resting before and after the ceremony as well as cleaning the diet a month before (as it should be done anyways) and eating a nourishing diet the month after.

On your last note (“I found her to be so loving”), I find this particular medicine to be a mirror of what lies inside. Alas, loving is a relative term. Sometimes the most loving act is a kiss on the cheek, and sometimes a boot up the ass. Whatever it takes to wake us up. Best of luck in your graduate studies at U.O.A.