The Ayahuasca Diaries: Falling Back Into Conversation With The Self.

"Are you ready? Are you excited?"

I kept asking this of the new people around me at the retreat. There were 16 returning attendees, and 23 new people. Out of the people who were returners, I was the one who had been to Blue Morpho the least. For everyone else, this was at least their third visit back.

Shows you how much people benefit from this type of energy work and healing.

I went into the ceremony the same way I had before - with an open mind and open expectations.

"Papa Tua (the medicine spirit for ayahuasca)," I said, "Please give me what you think I need. But do so gently. Please don't let me vomit on myself, but safely make it into the bucket. And please don't let me crap my pants, but make it safely to the toilet."

"But really, Papa Tua... It would be super cool if I didn't have any physical purges at all. Okay? Thanks in advance."

To change up my experience from the last time I was at the retreat, I decided to sit on the side with all of the smokers this time. I grabbed a rocking chair near two a woman and two guys. All Americans. The woman didn't smoke either, but it was her first time taking ayahuasca, and she thought the smell of the tobacco would be nice. The two guys next to us were South American-based adventure guides, focused mostly on fly fishing excursions. They had both done ayahuasca a number of times.

The ceremony started with the singing of the icaro into the large bottle of ayahuasca. This was to set the intention for the ceremony. Then, one by one, we were called up to one of the three shamans guiding the ceremony (an Australian, an American - and the founder of the retreat center, and the Peruvian).

I chose to drink with Maestro Don Alberto, the Peruvian shaman. He spoke no English. The apprentice shaman - who I knew from my last retreat and adore - translated to the Maestro to serve me an 1/8 of the cup, and that my name was "Heather."

Don Alberto whistled the icaro he thought was best suited for me into my plastic cup filled with thick, grainy brown sludgy tea. Then he blew the final rush of air into it, signaling the brew was "sealed" for me.

"Gracias," I said. And I took my plastic cup back to my rocking chair, situated next to the hallway leading to the bathrooms.

Best to play it safe.

Like I said, I had open expectations for what the stuff was going to do to me this time. Just because I had no aggressive purging of vomiting or diarrhea last time didn't mean it would be the same this time around.

After everyone had received their plastic cup, the founding shaman raised his cup and said, "Salute!"

We echoed it back, and threw back the tea.


The familiar taste of sour espresso and tobacco lingered in the back of my throat. I breathed in deeply through my nose, and exhaled through my mouth. My left foot came off of the floor and rested on the chair. My right toes found a crook in the newly varnished hardwood floor of the ceremony house, and proceeded to rock me back and forth gently. I closed my eyes. I waited for the icaros to begin.

They started quietly and gently. With the shaking of the chacapa (leaf rattle) as a continuous base, a whistle began, followed by the worded icaro by Don Alberto. Soon the American shaman was singing, as was the apprentice. There were moments where they were on the same song, and moments where they branched into different songs all at once.

But like everything in the Universe, the combination was logical and worked.

It was 15 minutes into the songs that I was able to start to hear my inner self speaking. The energy of others, both in the hut and in my life far away, disappeared. My breathing became very gentle and felt easier than it ever had before in my life. I could see the geometric shapes produced by the sounds of the drums, rattles and icaros... But mostly I was drawn in by the internal voice, explaining my life to me.

"You're very good at purging on your own. You don't need the ayahuasca to help you purge. Between your yoga practice and your ability to process your emotions, you're able to use the plant medicine (ayahuasca) to go immediately into this space." 
"You do have a bit of energy from your ex-husband hanging onto you that is one-sided. You will need to purge that this week. It is the basis of the anxiety you have been feeling lately.  You need to accept that his version of 'friend' means he gets to reach out, but not vice versa. You knew things were one-sided in your marriage. You saw how you had to push to do the things you wanted to, but made it effortless for him to do the things he wanted to. Your friendship now will be the same. Accept it. You are stronger. You always have been. Don't be offended by it. It simply is that way. Neither way is right. Neither way is wrong." 
"What you're doing now won't be what you always do. You will always go where you are needed. You'll stay for as long as you are truly needed. Once you feel that you are not needed, you'll move on." 
"You should be writing your story. In whatever form that needs to take place... Fiction, auto-biography... Your story." 
"You're energy... Always project loving energy out of you every moment. Especially when you are with others. Hostile energy or negative energy serves no one. Even when it is being shoved at you. Do not return it."

The medicine allowed me to understand the connections and patterns of my life, and reaffirmed that each seeming misstep was something that brought me further. And that we are silly to think of failure as a punishment or disappointment.

After a few hours, the medicine started to ease off of me. I became more aware of the room again, in the darkness. I realized I should switch my feet rocking me. The woman next to me was no longer in her chair. I had no idea where she had gone.

One of the adventure guides leaned over a shallow bucket in front of his chair. He made a sound I had never heard a human being make before, ever. His voice was deep, and he was purging into the bucket. But he was struggling to get it all out. The sound of his voice was coming from deep in his stomach, and shook back and forth. I visualized a dark energy holding onto his stomach, esophagus, and throat for dear life.

"Whatever that is," I said in my head, "it clearly does not want to come out. It is holding on and attaching as much as it can."

Eventually he quieted down. But I sensed it had not all come out of him. It was still in there. And we would see it come out over the next few days.

"Thank you for the gentle experience, Papa Tua," I said.

I hadn't burped, and barely yawned the entire time.

The kerosene lamps were lit. The icaros had died down. The sound of the nocturnal jungle stirred me back into the presence of the room.

I got up and walked back to my bedroom.