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.
If you missed it, you can read Part 1 here, part 2 here, and part 3 here.
Not interested in reading about the challenging yet rewarding hike to the top of Huchuy Qosqu? Skip ahead to "CEREMONY 3" below.
The day after the second ceremony we all got up early to “hike” to the top of the mountain behind the property. We were told that it was an easy hike, somewhere between 2-4 hours up and 1-2 hours down all on a trail. I packed 20 ounces of water, a few pieces of fruit, a sweater, and a rain jacket.
Within the first hour, the hike turned into a very challenging, step, and slippery off-trail climb. I was so afraid of falling and seriously injuring or killing myself and desperately wanted to turn around and go back to my room and rest.*
As we got further up, the altitude got thinner and I was finding it nearly impossible to catch my breath. We continued to climb and I could only take about 10-15 steps before needing a break. This process was slow and painful.
Time kept passing and we were still so far away. Melvin (a volunteer and dear brother) kept saying: “20 minutes away” and then another hour would pass. Two and a half hours later, we finally got up to a grassy area that was actually about 20 minutes from our final destination.
Once at the top, I was blown away by how far up we all were! We were sitting at 11,980 feet elevation. We started around 9,649 feet elevation, which means our group claimed 2,331 feet! (There's a trail you can take to the top which makes it a moderate climb, but our group kept taking "short cuts" that were off-trail and anything but "short.")
We all laid in the grass exhausted and ate some snacks. I wanted to just sit there and not explore the ruins so that I could reserve my energy, but the promise of a waterfall encouraged me to get up so that I could fill my water bottle which was completely empty.
The scenery was spectacular. I made my way to the waterfall and saw the most magical tree. I got my bare feet into the freezing cold “living water” and felt alive and rejuvenated.
It was starting to rain and we all needed to get down the mountain so that we could get some rest before the third ceremony which was taking place that night. I had no idea how I was going to get down the mountain or how I was going to make it through another ceremony.
The initial descent was surprisingly pretty easy. I no longer needed to stop every 10-15 steps to catch my breath. Instead, we were all zooming down pretty quickly through the grassy area. What took 30 minutes to get up now only took about 5 minutes to get down.
But the grass soon turned into rocky, slippery cliff edges. My footing was loose and my legs were like Jello. I slipped a lot and felt like a stumbling baby. At many points I had to scoot down on my butt. I didn't feel safe and I no longer had the strength to stand. People were slipping and falling all around me. I was so afraid that someone would fall on me and throw me down the mountain.
I just wanted it to be over. I was so upset with myself for going and putting myself at risk of such danger.
Once we all finally got close to the bottom, Leo (an incredible artist and human who lived at the center fulltime) was there to help AJ, Vanessa, and I back to the house. The moment we got back I chugged a glass of water and ate some soup. I was drained and needed sleep.
I got into bed and the mountain would not escape my mind. I laid in bed and talked with AJ, Vanessa, and Harry. We were all completely drained and not particularly excited to work with the medicine again.
AJ was nervous about the final ceremony (which was only an hour and a half away) and asked me if I was scared too. I told him that I was more afraid of the mountain. With the mountain, I had to summon the strength to climb, descend, and not injure myself. With the ceremony, I simply had to show up and sit on my mat.
*Note: As instructed by the retreat facilitators, everyone discontinued all supplements and medications prior to working with the sacred plant medicines. For me, this meant that I stopped taking both of my thyroid medications which I take for hypothyroidism. This may not have been very wise for me to do medically speaking (I didn't ask my functional medicine doctor about discontinuing my medication—I do NOT recommend anyone doing what I did) and it absolutely contributed to the exhaustion that I experienced while in Peru.
We all made our way to the temple and Carmen explained that the third ceremony is meant to close the work we had done with Mother Ayahuasca. She said that less medicine was needed—and that made me feel relieved!
I drank a small cup and sat down on my mat. The come up was uncomfortable and everything was taking longer than I had remembered. I just wanted it to all get on so that I could go to bed. These feelings made me feel anxious and I understood that it was important for me to be patient.
Patience was the biggest "new" lesson I was presented with.
Once I entered the altered space, I felt much more relaxed and Mother Ayahuasca came right out and asked me: "Do you know what you need to do?" I responded: "Yes, I'm to heal myself so that I may heal others." She told me that our work this time was complete and that I could sit back, relax, and enjoy the ceremony.
I tried to sing again as I had done in the previous ceremony, but I didn't have any energy left. I was full of gratitude for the lessons she had shown me, but I was also ready for sleep. I did not purge and I felt pretty good physically and emotionally when I went to bed.
The San Pedro ceremony was lead by two new Shamen—Marcela and David. It took place during the day outside as opposed to Ayahuasca which took place at night inside the temple. We all sat in a circle in a gazebo-type of structure and drank the medicine one at a time.
San Pedro is thick and slimy. When people pulled the cup away from their mouths after drinking, strings of goo stuck from cup to their lips. When I drank my cup, it didn't taste as bad as expected. It was more of a challenge due to the texture than the flavor.
After everyone drank their cup, we each went around the circle and called out our parents by name. We held our left shoulder, our feminine mother side, then our right shoulder, our masculine father side.
I don't remember exactly what I said, but it was something along the lines of how strong my mom is, how much she loves me, and how she served as both a mother and father in my life. I spoke about how Jack chose to not be in my life, how the absence of the masculine in my world really affected my early life, and how AJ has helped facilitate my healing around this role by loving me unconditionally and standing by me when most men would have left. I also spoke about how we have been trying to have a baby for over three years.
I spoke quite poetically and make half the circle cry. It was a beautiful moment that I deeply cherish—even if I can't remember exactly what was said. The feeling lives on.
I didn't have a deep psychedelic experience. I could have drunk more San Pedro, but I was just so excited to start living my life again that I didn't want to be lost in a full-blown altered state.
Love was a big theme of this ceremony. It was very much a celebration of love with all of my brothers and sisters. Groups of us piled up and cuddled with each other on blankets. It was a beautiful expression of love that I so deeply craved.
While laying on the hill of the property enjoying the views of the mountains and nature, I began to see that nature is on a different "clock" than humans are. People move fast through time and nature moves much slower. I also saw that there are different roles played out in nature.
For example, I saw giant men in the mountains. They are "the builders" and they are building this planet continuously. Their "time" is so much slower than ours that it looks as though they're standing still, but they're not.
There are also "the watchers." I saw these spirits in the trees. They almost looked like soldiers, but they were not fighting. They are simply on watch and observing.
I could sense that there are many more spirits filling other roles, but those were the two who presented themselves to me.
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In an attempt to not make these blog posts run too long, I will be sharing a recap of the entire experience in the weeks to come!
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!
Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are my opinions. My views are just that – my views. I'm not a doctor or your mama. I am not endorsing or condoning the use of any plant medicines by sharing my story. I spent years learning and studying various medicines, months researching an Ayahuasca retreat center, and did only what I thought was best for myself. Do you need to partake in these types of ceremonies to heal past traumas and grow spiritually? Of course not, and if anyone says you do they don't know what they're talking about. I chose to do this work because I felt the calling. If you feel the calling as well, please be responsible and do your homework. My experience was my own and is not a guarantee that you will experience anything like it.