The healing power of ayahuasca

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ugh, leave it to some jerkwad business types to ruin a good spirit walk.

At one point, I felt myself step into a leadership role that had almost been waiting there for me.


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Stop wanking in public, guy. it’s creepy.


Funny, in my vision I felt myself step into dog poo. Is that why I’m not a CEO?


“I could feel the paradigms as they synergized. It was so dynamic.”


While I’m not going to judge people for what they put into their body, and certainly believe that hallucinogens can certainly have therapeutic uses (though certainly not for me; my mind is broken in exactly the ways I want it to be, thank you very much), my gut feeling on this is:
a) that if this is a spiritual experience, it should be under the eye of a spiritual advisor, or
b) that if this is a therapeutic experience, it should be under the care of a licensed therapist.

I don’t think “life coaches” — excuse me, “executive coaches” — should be prescribing powerful hallucinogens, because I doubt they have the training to a) provide the information necessary to obtain informed consent, b) determine if someone has a medical condition or is on medication that could cause something to go horribly wrong, and c) intervene properly if something does go horribly wrong.

Again, nothing against people putting whatever they want inside their own body, but I think that if you’re counselling someone else to put this kind of substance in their body, you are assuming a higher duty of care than “executive coach.”


If this really helped people achieve personal enlightenment, I’d expect all of them to resign as CEOs and find something more meaningful to do with their lives.


I would include sweat lodges.


Via the immortal Howard Cruse:


In 1994 I was with a group of western trained medical caregivers who were working along with shamans providing care to a handful of villages about 100 miles up river from Iquitos. That was when I first heard about Ayahuasca. Some of the shamans were talking about Ayahuasca and the ways they had used it to help local people. A young local guy told about the time he had been out hunting for several days and coming home to find out his grandfather had died. His grandfather had raised him since his early boyhood, they were very close. His shaman provided him with an Ayahuasca ceremony so that he could meet with his grandfather and say goodbye. I listened to him very calmly describe meeting with his grandfather and sharing their thoughts, talking about their love for each other and saying their goodbyes. He presented his use of the medicine in such a matter-of-fact manner that it was hard not to believe him, hard for me not to think that this experience was real for the guy. And it crashed head-on with my practical mind. It made no sense to my reality. LSD had provided me with a lot of great hallucinations, I liked them, never met a hallucination I didn’t like. In 1994 ayahuasca wasn’t yet a tourist attraction and it wasn’t offered freely. One of the shamans said that if I was interested come work with them some more and see if I was still interested. I made 3 trips in 1995 working with the same medical group, going to the same villages and finding a comfort and attraction to the rivers and jungles and people. In 1996 I celebrated my 50th birthday with a ceremony to find a way to live in my 2nd set of 50 years. I went with the shaman and some other folks to gather the vine and the admixture. Watched as he pounded it to a pulp and cooked it down into a viscous black liquid. The next day was a day of ceremony, dance, work and fun. The shaman told us what we might expect, how our bodies would feel, our mind and spirit. He told us to let go of the reality we had known prior to the ceremony and that we would be able to go back to that sense of reality if we chose to afterward. I don’t know enough words or combination of words to describe that vile, foul taste. It was never gonna become a Kool-Ade flavor. I puked up everything I had ever eaten in my life…I saw some Twinkies go by from my 8th grade school lunch. And I entered the second part of my life. I saw another world, I was instructed about my relationships and responsibilities and opportunities. I surfed the Milky Way marveling at the worlds and my tiny little existence. And sometime the following day I drifted past my old world close enough to hop off and go about the second half of life. Life is good.


Taking a trip with someone in the hope everyone will have a better time is not like being a pastor, doctor etc. I remember being sought out when I was younger to trip with people just for the safety, enhancement, vibe… Formal spirituality and therapy exist outside that.

I did love the bit in Mad Men when Roger Sterling took acid and came back to the office and it was made plain to him by Joan that while his life may have been enhanced, he was still the same arsehole.

Personal enlightenment isn’t all that great.
Emotional intelligence isn’t necessarily a good thing, it’s what you do with it.

I treasure my insights and bonds from psychotropic trips, but in the world all that counts is what you do and what you say and how that impacts the world. How you feel to yourself is… Who else cares?


I am guessing that this is why they take a trip to South America rather than simply making and imbibing the stuff in Kalifornia. But that’s just a guess. For all I know, they might use it as an excuse for an exotic vacation.

I am adamant though that in any case, “duty of care” should be negotiated only by the participants. People need to do their own homework always, as it is ultimately their own decision how much to trust any council or presumed authority.

When I prepared and ingested the stuff solo, I certainly took all of the responsibility and risk upon myself.


I had a research job a few years ago that involved going through the Erowid archives and comparing hundreds of LSD trip reports to those from Salvia Divinorum.

This is probably not news to many of the mutants here, but:

  1. Heavy shamanic psychedelics are not party drugs. Even if you have something that you view in hindsight as a positive experience, it is unlikely to be “fun” at the time. And when they go bad, they go very, very bad.

  2. Set and setting are everything, and the heavier the chemistry, the more important this becomes. Don’t fuck around with psychedelics unless you’re in a good place with good people.

  3. Psychedelics can be a lot of fun, and are sometimes psychologicallly beneficial as well. But they won’t fix your life for you; that’s your job.


So if you’re rich, getting stoned is a business activity. If you’re poor, it is jail time.

Roger that.


Roger That!

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As much as I believe that hallucinogens can be an important part of spirituality, I agree completely. I’d love to add some unflattering things about the spirituality of people who can afford to drop 10K to get stoned but I think that might be offtopic.


I understand what you’re saying, but it’s easier said than done. The knowledge keepers, if you will – the curanderos/curanderas in the amazonian basin are most definitely neither. In other words, the people who actually know the stuff are neither spiritual nor therapeutic (unless you want to call an animist world view – which most ayahuasqueros have – inherently spiritual). The main body of their work is finding things, removing curses (and sometimes placing them), and healing physical maladies.

Most of the north-meets-south drama in ayahuasca comes from northern “seekers” mistaking the the ayahuasqueros for some kind of guru. They are not. And they’re not therapists. Hell, I know more than one who had no issue sleeping with their clients, which neither a spiritual advisor nor a medical professional would/should do.


I’m a bit surprised that they aren’t going to the hip, comfortable, and new retreat center in Costa Rica:

I mean I try to keep an open mind, but that place just gives me the creeps.