What is Ayahuasca?

What is Ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca is the commonly used name to describe a sacred Amazonian tea made from a combination of Chakruna leaves and Ayahuasca vine, and has been used traditionally across the Amazon basin in South America including Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, and Ecuador continuously for thousands of years and is still used today by many indigenous tribes.

Ayahuasca means “Vine of the Spirit” or “Vine of the Dead”. In other parts of South America it is also known as Uni, Iowaska, Yagé, Caapi, Daime, Hoasca, Vegetal and Natema. It has also become well known amongst the more contemporary western populations and its use has been adapted into more modern cultural forms. This has led to a noticeable growth of  so called “ayahuasca resorts”.

The Healing Properties of Ayahuasca

ayahuasca preparation

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 in Brazil

Legally, yage or ayahuasca in Brazil can be used specifically for religious and spiritual purposes. Usually, the ceremony is supervised and mediated by an initiated spiritual leader (“shaman”) who understands intimately the spiritual dimensions of ayahuasca.

Note: The term “shaman” is often used to describe the spiritual mediator of ayahuasca ritual and these people would usually act as an intermediary between the human and the inter-dimensional spiritual realms. These days however, the term shamanism has been diluted to include ley practitioners, charlatans and dabblers who may or may not be initiated. Although being initiated does not guarantee the shaman has a real connection with the spiritual realm or is an ethical healer.


The mix of sacred plants used in the tea can vary from region to region. It usually includes a combination of Banisteriopsis Caapi, the ayahuasca vine that inhibits the MAO, with the leaves of another plant that contains DMT (dimethyltryptamine) such as Psychotria Viridies or Chakruna. There is much scientific information available about these plants and their effects on the human body and mind.

The Spirit Vine Retreat Center provides a safe space for those who choose to participate in the ayahuasca ceremonies during the retreats. Silvia Polivoy facilitates all the ceremonies here and it is our belief that the real teacher is the spirit of the plant. The ceremonies are held in our purpose built ceremony room and participants form a sacred circle that is maintained for the duration of ceremony.

Most people who ingest ayahuasca report that they experience a profound spiritual reality and this often includes communion with the spirit that is also known as ayahuasca. This spiritual entity displays wisdom and intelligence that teaches and guides people into having deep, spiritual insights about the nature of reality, the universe and our existence within the material world.

During an iowaska or ayahuasca ceremony, participants can experience a wide variety of effects that inspire physical, mental, emotional and spiritual revelations.

b. caapi ayahuasca vine

Because people usually carry deep emotional pain, unconscious blockages or strong ego identification into their journey which creates heavy “baggage”, the physical and mental purifications facilitate the transmutation into a less dense state. A cleansing or purifying effect can manifest as nausea, which can lead to purging or vomiting. The sensation of nausea that some people experience is usually linked to blockages or resistance, and once the body has purged, the mind and emotional blocks may clear, and deeper spiritual realities can then be revealed.

The spirit of ayahuasca or yage has a very strong presence and seems to open a doorway into an unfathomable and infinite reality that the human “thinking” mind is unable to easily comprehend. Visions and feelings amongst a sea of interspecies and inter-dimensional beings is commonly reported. Also, a ‘communion’ that is seemingly guided by the intent of the person, the intelligence of ayahuasca and the help of our spiritual guides can take place.

Participants often report the presence of spiritual beings, spiritual healers that perform “surgeries” removing blockages. Problems or blockages are often amplified so that the root cause of behaviour patterns are easier to unveil. As a result of all this, extra strength is gained due to the reconnection to our inner power or with the source, and a desire for a more authentic way of life that is more in accordance with a person’s true essence may come to the surface.

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Spirit Vine COVID-19 Update

Last Updated: 5th May 2021

In light of the global situation, we are establishing new guidelines to ensure that we provide the maximum amount of safety to all participants who attend the retreats.

We will be following the guidelines provided by the Brazilian government which you can find below, and adding any necessary precautions suitable for the retreats.

In the Itacare area, where we are located, there are very low number of COVID cases.

We will update this section when new information is available.
Content listed here is subject to change.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

Brazilian Government Recommendations for COVID-19

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water;
  • if water and soap are not available or when hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer may be used;
  • Maintain at least a 1-metre distance between yourself and others;
  • Wear a mask, that covers your nose, mouth and chin;
  • Practice respiratory hygiene;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
  • Be aware of the situation of your destination and follow the guidelines of local public health authorities;
  • Avoid spaces that are closed, crowded or involve close contact;
  • Monitor your health for COVID-19 symptoms and, if you feel unwell:
    – seek medical attention;
    – stay self-isolated as recommended by local health authorities.

Anyone who wants to enter in Brazil must present a negative Covid RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to boarding the flight or a negative Antigen test taken within 24 hours of boarding the flight. 

Travelers must also fill out an affidavit 24 hours before departure acknowledging the health measures that must be complied with during the period that they will remain in the country. You can find the affidavit here.

Prior to leaving Brazil, depending on the requirements of your destination country, you may be required to present an RT-PCR or Antigen test. If you need a PCR test we recommend you to budget the required time of 6 hours to take the test and get the results at Sao Paulo Guarulhos airport. Antigen test can be taken in the town of Itacare near our center before you go to the airport.

Please note that Itacare and Ilheus do not have RT-PCR testing centers.

Spirit Vine Guidelines for COVID-19

We are requiring all participants and staff to provide a valid Covid-19 test prior to entering the center. The Antigen test is only valid for 24 hours and PCR test is only valid for 72 hours. A valid negative test result must be sent by email prior to entering the center.