Ayahuasca (pronounced ai-uh-wa-skuh) is the commonly used name to describe a sacred Amazonian tea with psychoactive properties. The intended use of this hallucinogenic brew is for it to be taken at the start of age-old ayahuasca ceremonies designed to increase a person’s feeling of connection with life and the universe.
The effects can be felt from as little as 20 minutes to an hour after consuming it. Effects can last for up to 6 hours – but this will depend on the individual, how they’ve prepared for their ceremony, as well as how strong the brew is. Typical effects of ayahuasca include:
- Vivid and intense visions
- Amplified feelings/emotions
- An expanded capacity of consciousness
- Physical detoxification which can include nausea and sickness
- And, an altered sense of time and space
Where does ayahuasca come from?
The origins of ayahuasca for ceremonial consumption first spread amongst the indigenous tribes of the Amazon basin thousands of years ago.
People in Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, and Ecuador have used ayahuasca in tribal rituals, and religious and healing ceremonies, as a natural treatment for various physical and mental issues.
Traditionally, this spiritual medicine has been administered by shamans who host healing ‘retreats’ that claimed to be able to cure mental and physical illness whilst communicating with the spiritual world.
How is it made?
This visionary brew has a chemical nature of active ingredients that makes it unique! Whilst the exact mix of plants used in ayahuasca tea can vary from region to region, it always includes the ayahuasca vine (otherwise known as Banisteriopsis caapi). The ayahuasca vine inhibits the MAO, with the leaves of another plant that contains DMT (dimethyltryptamine). The most commonly used are Chakruna leaves (Psychotria viridis).
An ayahuasca brew should be prepared by an experienced shaman or facilitator (sometimes called an ayahuasquero). These are the only people who know how to brew the natural drink safely and with the right proportions. The brew is usually made in batches, and taken by a group of participants in a protected and guided environment – likely one chosen for its natural beauty and a place that is home to the plants which are brewed.
There is much scientific information available about these plants and their effects on the human body and mind.
What does the word Ayahuasca mean?
The word Ayahuasca originates from the Quechua language – spoken by indigenous people living in the Peruvian Andes. In Quechua ‘aya’ refers to spirit or soul, and ‘wasca’ is rope (or vine) – when translated together, the word Ayahuasca means “Vine of the Spirit” or “Vine of the Dead”.
In other parts of South America, ayahuasca is also known as Uni, Iowaska, Yagé, Caapi, Daime, Hoasca, Vegetal and Natema.
What are the medicinal properties of Ayahuasca?
Shamans claim that ayahuasca is a healing medicine and perform “ayahuasca healing” rituals. They say that “mother ayahuasca” or “la medicina” can be used for different purposes such as personal transformation, spiritual initiations, communication with the spiritual realms, dance and music rituals, for hunting (to locate prey), religious rituals and magical practices.
Ayahuasca moderately increases the heart rate and blood pressure and effects include great elation, amplification of emotions and/or illumination. Its purgative properties can cause vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, crying and other forms of release as it cleanses the body. The spiritual awakening and rebirth experienced by many has been described as gaining access to a higher dimension.
Visions tend to be intuitive and somatic – often there are no visions at all but simply auditory or insightful journeys. The vine carries the content of the message, the teaching, and the insight, whilst the leaf illuminates the content.
So what are the potential benefits of taking ayahuasca? Depending on the intention of the person, the setting, the culture, the energy and intention of the facilitator, people may:
- Receive spiritual teachings and insights
- Receive spontaneous spiritual healing
- Increase efficiency and concentration
- Expand consciousness
- Identify the totality of life
- Find the cause of depression
- Clear traumas and blockages to overcome PTSD
At Spirit Vine we host ceremonies focussed on using ayahuasca for spiritual development and to find the causes of blockages, from a range of different modalities.