The Ayahuasca Diaries: "The Oneness" & The Icaro Symphony.

Amongst the wood and leaf structures we called "bungalows" (where we slept) was the ceremonial hut. It was a circular structure, also made of wood and leaves. Instead of solid walls, there was a green netting, to keep the bugs out but the sounds of the jungle present.

Inside, against one whole area of the structure, was a wall coming about seven feet up. Behind it were six individual toilet stalls behind privacy curtains, two showers, and two sinks. The space had running water. Cold running water.

In the main area, around the outer edge of the inside, were crafted rocking chairs with a pillow and blanket. In the middle were body-length mats, each with a pillow and blanket. We were given a choice as to how we wanted to rest during the ceremony. The majority of people went with rocking chairs.

In front of each chair or mat was a shallow plastic bucket (for vomiting), a tin cup with a bit of water (for rising your mouth only - no drinking water), and a roll of toilet paper (for wiping your mouth if you vomited).

The hut was very high inside, and how it was constructed was very transparent...


This is the ceiling of the hut. It was very solid, and fun to look at. Beams of wood crossing. I found it balanced and directional. "Up." As in lifting your energy upward.

I decided to choose a rocking chair for my first "aya" experience. 



(The one on the left was where I sat.)

"If I need to vomit or get to the bathroom quickly, being in a relaxed sitting position would make it much easier," I reasoned.

I picked the rocking chair closest to the bathroom area for convenience. I wasn't going into this experience deluding myself by thinking I wouldn't have any tough "purges." I had researched the aya experience as much as I could before leaving to Peru.

I was as prepared as I could be to surrender to whatever my body needed to experience. And that included discomfort.

We all filtered in at our own pace, with the expectation be that we're ready to start at 6:30pm... Just as the Sun was setting. In the center of one side of rocking chairs were the seats for the two lead shamans, the apprentice shamans, and the shamanic guides. They would be taking the ayahuasca with us during the ceremony.

Four assistants from the retreat were stationed in chairs on either sides of the bathroom wall area. They would not be taking any aya. There role in the ceremony was to change and rinse out the vomit buckets, escort people to the bathroom or shower if they needed it, "rinse" people's heads with water if needed during the ceremony to help soothe them, etc. The gentlemen who at next to me, "Texas Rancher", dubbed them the "angels." They definitely proved to be just that during the week.

The ceremony began with the Maestro shaman (who spoke no English) whistling an icaro (medicine song) into the large bottle of ayahuasca. The purpose of this was to set the intention for the ceremony, and to put in place protections and shields from any negative energy entering the space and latching onto us. The only negative energy that should be present is that which you are purging from yourself.

As the Maestro whistled the song, I closed my eyes and envisioned a bright white light surrounding me. Like a bubble. I pushed this bubble-field out to include my entire rocking chair. I told the light, "Open me to healing. Help whatever needs to come out - good or bad - come out this evening. Keep me relaxed."

When the Maestro had finished the icaro, he poured a good amount of the aya into a separate bottle. He handed the bottle to the other lead shaman, Malcolm. One by one, we each went up to either Malcolm or the Maestro to receive our aya.

When it was my turn, one of the apprentice shamans asked me who I wanted to drink with that evening. I chose Malcolm, as he was closest and because a lot of people seemed to be wanting to drink with the Maestro.

I walked up to where Malcolm was sitting, and kneeled down next to the lit kerosene lamps.

"This is your first time, yes?" he asked.

I confirmed. This meant I would only be receiving an eighth of the already small tin cup he used for serving the aya. After he poured the small shot of muddy brownness, he whistled an icaro into the cup. This was done for each person. The icaro is intended for each person's energy and journey that evening. Everyone's is different, and the icaro that is chosen is based on what the shaman feels you need.

I closed my eyes and listened, while manifesting that it be a gentle experience.

"Please let it be calm and gentle. And please don't let me vomit on anyone or crap my pants."

Malcolm finished whistling and sealed the icaro with a "wooshing" blow into the cup. He handed it to me.

"Thank you," I said. And I tilted my head back and poured it down my throat.

The after taste reminded me of a strong tobacco-y shot of Nespresso I had tried once a few months perviously. It wasn't horrible. But it did make my throat react with a gagging reflex.

"Enjoy," said Malcolm.

I thanked him again and walked back to my rocking chair. I sat down and just focused on swallowing. I saw people taking their water cups and immediately rinsing their mouths.

"That doesn't make any sense," I thought. "Sure, it makes you gag. But why would you not want to relax into the taste and allow every last drop of the ayahuasca to absorb into your body?"

I kept my eyes open to watch as everyone else went up to receive their aya. I brought my left leg up with me on the rocking chair, and used my right toes to push me back and forth. My body began to relax into the chair.

Texas Rancher sat in his chair, not moving. The shamanic guide sitting next to him vomited into her bucket.

"Sometimes you react to it right away," she croaked with a smile. She rinsed her mouth out, and one of the Angels came and gave her a new bucket.

Others in the room began to reflex into their buckets as well. A little vomit came out for some, for others it was just a reflex.

The shamans finished serving everyone. The lamps were blown out. And there was human silence all around in the darkness.

Some coughing was heard. Shuffling of feet and gentle red light from head lamps, as people walked to the bathroom. More reflexive vomiting. Then the shamans began their icaros. A gentle drumming, like a heart beat, could be heard under their icaros.

To this point, my eyes were still open and I was simply rocking back and forth in my chair. Texas Rancher remained stoic and statue-like next to me. About 30 minutes had passed since I had taken the aya.

I felt my mouth open and a large yawn come out of me. That's when I saw everything in front of me suddenly look like it was behind a large black web. I closed my eyes...

(Here's where the journey begins, people.)

In time to the symphony of various icaros being whistled and sung to the drumming, shapes began to stretch out from the black web's opening. Pink... Yellow... Green... They didn't have any identifiable characteristics, other than begin geometric in nature. They flowed and stretched, and I felt my body begin to melt into my surroundings.  
My body was tingling. I put my left foot back on the ground, and allowed it to rock me with the right foot.
"This will help ground you in this journey," I heard inside me.

I smiled. And a large yawn escaped me. My elbows were resting on the arms of the chair. 
My fingertips stretched out to touch the energy I saw behind my eyelids. 
The web was now gone. And it looked like a colorful, gentle sky. Light provided visual access to the colors... Which were soft sunset-oranges, yellow and red... And then green, blue and purple graced around me. 
I continued to feel myself melt into this energy. I didn't have a body in this "space." I knew my physical body existed. I was well aware that I was in a hut in the jungle, rocking myself. 
But the icaro symphony provided me access to a different space. A space that was very sentient. 
Inner knowledge, is how I would describe it. And here are the thoughts that came from this knowledge:
  • You operate from good intentions. 
  • You don't allow anger to exist in you. 
  • When you feel it, you let it go easily. 
  • You have been holding yourself back for a very long time. This is because when doubt enters your mind, it takes you a while to work through it. Let go of doubt.
  • You consistently push positive energy and loving energy out to those around you. It's why people appreciate your presence.
  • You are present for people. 
  • You need to remember that it is needed for you to retreat to solitude in order to recharge. You can only be present and doing your part if you are rested.
That's when I heard a loud thump. It sounded like a tree had fallen! I opened my eyes and saw Malcolm, an apprentice shaman and one of the assistants go over to a rocking chair across the room from me. Someone was laying face down on the ground. The red lights and the aya allowed me to see the energy of who was whom, but it looked as though everyone's body was a seamless mass without clothes. Their skin and clothes all looked uniform. 
The person lying down was an Australian bloke. He was in his early twenties, and loved heavy metal music. They turned him over, and dead-man carried him around the wall to the shower. 
(Side note: The following day, when I caught up with the Australian bloke and asked him what happened, he smiled...  

"It was so cool! I felt myself turn into a star! And that's when I guess I stood up and fell forward. Then I went to the rings of Saturn, and they were made up of these colorful dancing Ewok-like creatures! It was amazing!" he said, complete with a scar on his forehead and bridge of his nose, where he had fallen. 

Just shows you how different each person's aya experience can be!
Someone - one of the assistants - came by and put a wet cloth over my face. I laughed and said, "Thank you. But I don't need that. But thank you."
I closed my eyes and continued to melt back into the icaro symphony.  
  • You bring so much light around you. Everyone has this ability, but you are able to more easily let go of dark energy and feelings.
  • Your purpose is to be an example of continuous light and positive energy.
  • You are an antenna. You are well aware of the energy and feelings of others around you. You are very sensitive to it, but are versed in letting it mostly not attach to you.
  • You did have immense difficulty not letting another's energy of stress and fear affect you in your partnership. You also have had some difficulty not letting it affect you in the workplace. But you have done exactly what was needed in order to learn to shield yourself better.
  • Your mission is to continue to be an antenna. Continue to receive the feelings and states of others, but in response push out positive light and love. 
  • Shield yourself from allowing negative energy from others to attach to you. You won't let it seep in.
  • Your mother is your soul mate. She is who you learned how to instinctively sense energy, and push out positive energy in response. She is more gentle in nature at pushing out this energy. You are more forceful with your responses. Both are good.
  • Your mother is a very powerful protector. As are you.
  • Everything is perfect balanced.
  • You are energy. Everyone is energy.
  • Your body is not needed. It is just a vehicle in the space to allow you to interact with others not aware of what they are.
  • Your body is not your own. Your divinity is you. And you are a part of everything.
  • You are energy that pushes against other energy, and bounces back. Energy dancing and intertwined.
  • It doesn't matter what happens to your human body. You can let go of how you look. Learn to let go of feelings that make you feel hurt and sad. These things will be felt in reaction. But allow them to pass through.
  • You are grateful by nature. You need to be more confident when saying "thank you." You tend to "overdo" the "thank you's." It can overwhelm others. It makes them uncomfortable.
  • You are very powerful.
  • Be in a constant state of empathy. You are very good at this already.
  • There is no "I". You are a part of everything.
  • You are neither alive nor dead.
  • You are apart of the oneness. You are connected.
The icaro symphony came to a decrescendo, and then ceased. Throughout the ceremony, it had moved in waves of sound, amongst the purging of others around me. We sat in the darkness for a few minutes, with the sounds of the crickets and birds outside the hut bringing us to awareness. People were laughing. A guy from Honolulu yelled out "YES! YES!" and laughed. We laughed with him. My laughter had a "bubbling echo" sound. 
I realized I had been smiling and rocking the entire time. Three hours had passed.

One of the apprentice shamans re-lit the lamps. Malcolm thanked the Maestro shaman and assistants. We all clapped.

Texas Rancher, who was quiet the entire time, said, "That was a piece of heaven and back!"

I smiled and said, "Yes." Neither of us had purged physically, beyond a few yawns. One of the apprentice shamans came up and asked how it went - as we were quiet the whole time.

"You energetically purged, rather than physically purged. That is good," he assured us.

I learned later that some people are disappointed when they don't have the physical purges. They think they're not getting anything out of themselves. And in some cases, it's what pushes them to want to take larger doses of ayahuasca. But a little goes a long way, when combined with the icaro symphony.

Some were going to sleep in the ceremony hut. I decided to walk back to my bungalow for rest. It was about 11pm at this point.

When I stepped outside, the stars were gorgeous. They sparkled so beautifully.


I was still feeling some gentle buzzing from the aya. I got lost on the bricked pathway trying to find my bungalow. I had to go back to the ceremonial hut and ask one of the shamanic guides to help me.

"My internal compass is momentarily broken," I laughed.

It turns out my bungalow was about 10 feet from the doorway to the ceremony hut. I laughed at myself with forgiveness.

I went into my cubicle in the bungalow, laid down, and fell fast asleep. I didn't move for almost 10 hours. I woke up at 9:30am the next morning. Everyone else in the bungalow had long been up and had breakfast.

I felt very rested and peaceful. Grateful.