Ayahuasca ceremonies

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 and in South America as a whole. iIt’s been used for thousands of years and is still used today by many indigenous tribes.

Ayahuasca means “Vine of the Spirit” or “Vine of the Dead”. It is also known as Uni, Iowaska, Yagé, Caapi, Daime, Hoasca, Vegetal and Natema. Shamans claim that ayahuasca is a healing medicine and can be used for different purposes such as personal transformation, spiritual initiations, communication with the spiritual realms, dance and music rituals, religious rituals and magical practices.

In Brazil the law states that ayahuasca 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.

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 (monoamine oxidase), 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.

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

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.

Participants often report the presence of spiritual beings or spiritual healers that perform “surgeries” and remove blockages. Problems or blockages are often amplified so that the root cause of behavior 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.

In the retreat we will drink ayahuasca in the context of Santo Daime, which is a syncretic religion founded in the 1930s in the Brazilian Amazonian state of Acre by Raimundo Irineu Serra, known as Mestre Irineu. The work incorporates elements of Kardecist Spiritism, indigenous South American Shamanism, African animism and vegetalismo and Folk Catholicism.

Ceremonies are typically several hours long and are undertaken sitting in silent “concentration”, or sung collectively, dancing according to simple steps in geometrical formation.  Ayahuasca is referred to as “Daime” within the practice.  Daime contains several psychoactive compounds and is drunk as part of the ceremony.

Santo Daime churches promote a wholesome lifestyle in conformity with Irineu’s motto of “harmony, love, truth and justice”, as well as other key doctrinal values such as strength, humility, fraternity and purity of heart. The practice became a worldwide movement in the 1990s.