In this four-part blog series, I will be sharing my calling to work with sacred plant medicines, the intricate details of the ceremonies I sat in, and how life has been after working with Mother Ayahuasca. If you are new to this subject matter and want to learn more about Ayahuasca—this is not the blog for you. Instead, I would recommend researching the topic with an open mind and an open heart before diving in here.
- Selenite: helps assist with personal transformation and deliver clarity of mind.
- Smokey Quartz: protection from negativity and essential for spiritual work.
- Snowflake Obsidian: clears body, heart, mind, and spirit of toxins that can prevent the free flow of positive energies. It’s also associated with divine guides and guardian spirits, reminding us that they are watching over us with a protective embrace.
Everyone settled in on their mats which were lined around the perimeter of the room. Between retreat attendees and support staff, there were well over 20 people sitting in this ceremony. Carmen, our Shaman, and her brother, Santiago, began setting the space. The room was dark and lit by candles. Insense, sage, and other burning aromas filled the air. Santiago came around the room to each person and offered us rapé (pronounced “ha-peh”) which is a sacred tobacco snuff. We were told it would help open our third eye and assist us on our journey. I opted in. Santiago put the rapé in his pipe and blew it up my nose. I felt an intense energy course through my body which quickly faded into calm. Then one by one, Carmen called us up to drink.
"Leslie." My name was called, and I walked to the front of the room where Carmen was seated on a mat on the floor. I sat on the floor in front of her. We had a brief conversation, she poured my cup, and passed it to me. I looked down at my cup and briefly thought about how many times I had imagined what this very moment would be like over the years. I repeated my intention in my head, "to remember who I am," kissed my cup, then drank.
I returned to my mat and waited. Once everyone had taken a cup, the candles were blown out, and we sat in total darkness and complete silence for approximately 20 minutes. We were to hold the medicine in without purging during this time. Then, Carmen broke the silence by singing the first icaros. The room was instantly filled with the sound of people purging, and I'm not talking modest puking, I mean screaming the evil out of their stomach, crying, and howling. It was like rockets going off all over the place. I sat there quietly, practicing my breathwork, and I didn't feel the urge to purge.
More time passed, and singing and live music filled the room. People began laughing, crying, and purging even more. It became apparent to me that many were entering an altered state. I didn't feel a thing.
Carmen called out to the room and asked who wasn't feeling the medicine yet. I spoke up, and she called me to her. I kneeled before her once again, and she told me that I wasn't opening up. That I needed to surrender and call to my ancestors. I went back to my mat and did just that.
After 10-15 minutes, I started to feel the effects of the medicine. I could feel what felt like someone's hands on my face, playing and tugging on it, as if trying to form my face into weird expressions. Carmen called out and asked me if I wanted a second cup or if I was feeling the medicine. I told her I didn't need anymore, thinking I was about to take off, but shortly after that, the effects faded. I began to get anxious that the entire first ceremony was going to go by and I wasn't going to have an experience. I felt like I was doing it wrong.
So I decided to be proactive and starting asking Mother Ayahuasca a lot of questions. As soon as I started asking questions, I got very tired.
One of the first questions I asked was what was causing my infertility. I was shown the fabric of a hospital gown and the footrest from a wheelchair. I asked, "do I need surgery?" followed by, "if I have surgery will I be able to get pregnant?" I received no answer. I continued to ask a million questions and continued to receive no answers.
It's difficult to capture the true essence of what took place during this ceremony in writing, and it's nearly impossible to understand it in chronological order. (Because what is time?) So I'm going to share the highlights in random order as I could recall them in my journal the following day.
At one point when Carmen was singing, her voice turned into my mom's voice. I called to my mom and felt her with me. This was a very significant moment for me and one that I will cherish for a lifetime. I won't go into detail here, but I've shared bits and pieces of what's going on with my mom on Instagram here and here.
I mostly kept my eyes closed for the duration of the ceremony and had some limited closed-eye visuals. I saw spiral cone-like shapes that felt much like vines pulling up and around me.
A circuit board appeared on my right shoulder. It was white and had lights on it. It was plugged into me, and I could feel energy flowing in and out of it—as if content were being uploaded and downloaded to/from me.
I heard a large bird flying around the room. I didn't see the bird; I only heard its feathers ruffling as it flew. It sounded as if it were flying in a circle over all of us. I felt its wings hit the top of my head a couple of times. It was the most unbelievable feeling each time.
I can't recall if my eyes were open or closed, but I could see the room I was in and I saw these black arms lift out of the shadows. I thought to myself, "this must be Mother Ayahuasca." The arms reached towards me, and I felt the hands grab me on each shoulder. The arms slowly moved me side to side to the beat of the live music being performed in the room. Every time I felt tired and wanted to sleep, the arms would move me in a slow sway.
I saw some colors and rainbows in patterns, but as soon as I would acknowledge them and look at them, they would fade away.
I kept asking the Mother if I was failing and doing the ceremony "wrong." I asked for help. I was so tired. I tried to stay awake and not lay down. I so badly just wanted it to end and to go to bed.
I spent the whole next morning feeling severely depressed and sick. We were to all attend group share the next morning, and I had no clue how I was going to get from my room into the main house. I barely had enough strength to breathe, how was I going to stand up and walk? And how was I going to find the words to tell everyone—who I thought had beautiful, life-transforming experiences—how badly I had failed? ME. This self-proclaimed spiritually connected being on her path to enlightenment. I felt like such a fraud.
My soul sister Vanessa came to get me out of bed. I felt so low, but she gracefully shared her strength. "I don't know how to do this," I whispered to her, completely lost and broken. "One step at a time," she said.
With love and support, I miraculously made it to the main house. Everyone knew how depleted I felt and they all surrounded me with so much love. They helped me eat and shared their stories with me. To my surprise, many people had experiences similar to mine. Many people thought they had failed or done it wrong. After group share, I felt renewed. I understood that I had been too hard on myself, had way too many expectations, and didn't fully surrender control.
I spent the rest of the day sleeping and grounding myself. The next morning I felt so much better (physically and emotionally), but I was nervous and scared of feeling so sick again after ceremony 2 which was rapidly approaching that night. I chose to do some energy work with Selina, one of the gifted women running the retreat (more on that in part 3). Beyond the physical, I was very much looking forward to utilizing the tools I had collected from ceremony 1 and my work with Selina. I was ready to be patient and receive more than ask. And most importantly I was looking forward to growing my relationship with Mother Ayahuasca.
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In an attempt to not make these blog posts run too long, I will be sharing my experiences from energy work with Selina and ceremony 2 in "Adventures with Mother Ayahuasca Part 3" in the coming weeks.
Again, if you'd like to chat or have any questions about what I've shared so far, Instagram is the easiest and quickest way to communicate. If you'd like to stay anonymous, DM me!