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Trust me, when you’re under the medicine it helps to not have to feel around in the dark for things.Most venues will supply a bucket and some tissues in case you throw up; if you have to bring your own, a large empty yoghurt container with lid is a great idea.I was fortunate because my trip with Pulse Tours gave me four days hanging out and trekking in the Amazon to really s-l-o-w d-o-w-n and absorb that unrushed living-with-nature vibe. Anyway, I was instructed to take a flower bath (or what I prefer to call a “flower shower” for the alliteration) before ceremony in which I sponged water over myself filled with flower petals.I’d flown into Iquitos a day early, too, so I’d had more time to shift gears. I believe the moment you decide to participate in ayahuasca ceremony the medicine starts working on you. This is to make oneself more appealing to the plant energies. (Some practitioners simply spray some floral water on you that smells a bit like the stuff they use in old-fashioned men’s barber shops.) 5. I don’t smoke and personally hate the smell of cigarettes, but tobacco is a sacred plant in shamanic practice so you need to get used to it.I can’t prove it, but I noticed in my last ceremony that the people wearing white clothing had gentler, positive experiences, but who knows?I bring sandals or flip-flops because these tuck in nicely beside my mattress and are easy to put on or off in the dark.Anything more than that and I’m rolling around too much; anything less and I become sore from the hard floor.
I’ll never know what would have happened otherwise, but I imagine my experience could have been less. I don’t understand people who finish a work deadline, jump on a plane and drink ayahuasca the next day. Okay, so the big day has arrived and you’re in some ayahuasca retreat having eaten super-healthy vegan food for weeks and weeks, avoided alcohol and had no sex for what seems like forever. I quite like it, but then I like the Lord of the Rings movies, so finding out there really is a spirit world is quite cool in my books.
It’s common for newbies to be nervous before an ayahuasca ceremony. (You know, the type that allows the Kung Fu masters to break stacks of concrete blocks with a single hand chop.) In the Upper Amazon, Mother Ayahuasca is described as a jealous lover. If you’re seeking a super-duper big-ass experience, try being abstinent for, like, six weeks or longer, if you can manage. Remember, you’re not having a “drug experience” — this is a (something not emphasized enough in descriptions, I feel) and certain things are done that seem odd to a person raised in a non-shamanic culture. In the Amazon, this would be thought of in terms of guarding against evil spirits, dark energies, and so on.
Pity the fool who finds herself backpacking in Peru and decides to drink ayahuasca on a whim after a week of hamburgers and mohitos. Spicy food may not offend the gods so much as your butt and mouth if you vomit or get diarrhea… In Asia they call this preserving one’s — one’s life force — and it’s all about cultivating energy.
Of course this all became a moot point as people were overtaken with the medicine and fell into visions or writhed around their mattresses. You’ll be encouraged to “set an intention” for your ceremony.
But if you do smoke during ceremony, cover up the light as much as possible and smoke minimally. This can be perplexing to newbies, who may be there for a wide variety of reasons, including healing, curiosity or even thrill-seeking.