Working with Ayahuasca

 Working With Ayahuasca

Healing is a participatory process, with the most important role of this process being your role.  Working with plant spirit medicines like Ayahuasca can lead one into a lifelong journey of deep personal transformation, and a closer connection to the you your authentic Self.  Striving towards realization of one’s “spiritual self” is part of the medicine. However, working with the medicine requires focused intention. It is essential to set out your intention clearly, and to approach the work with commitment, determination and respect. The medicine will test you like no other experiences you have had. You will need personal integrity and courage, as Ayahuasca will cast light on the darker sides of your personality that you must confront and integrate into the self for total healing.  Your deepest fears may be revealed in the process and with it, an exorcising of darker energies that have resided in your body, spirit, and soul.

The Shamanic Quest by Pablo Amaringo


The initial work is focused on cleansing and purifying your physical body to prepare you for the next stages of healing work. You will nearly always go through a some kind of purging (hence the name given to Ayahuasca ” la Purga”) – with possible vomiting and/or diarrhea. Some people may have unrealistically high expectations of their first ceremonies. To see breathtaking visions at an early stage are rare, although each person is different. If you see no visions in your first ceremonies, this is not unusual. Your persistence, patience and determination will lead you to the more visionary states after you have carried out considerably essential physical and emotional healing. You may then move to more profound emotional and psychological work: clearing your mind and body of negative energy that has built up over the years, often seeing various emotional traumas and crises in a different light, and from a different angle. You will often gain more understanding of the reasons why you have been through the various phases (or issues) in your life, both good and bad. Many people discover a greater sense of purpose and destiny in their life through working with Ayahuasca.

Dimas Paredes Armas
Yakumama, the World Serpent by Dimas Paredes Armas

A Visionary Journey

During ceremony, you may witness brilliant lights, colours and revolving psychometric designs such as is famously portrayed in Shipibo Conibo quene design work. Sometimes you may encounter animals such as snakes or crocodiles and insects. It is a commonly held belief that to see serpents or dragon-like beings in a vision is an encounter with the mother of Ayahuasca itself Sachamama and marks the initiation of your visionary journey with the medicine. However, there are many interpretations of Ayahuasca symbols and experiences. The more profound healing work is taking place on deeper levels and in your own mind you will gain insights and about the world and universe around you. Sometimes you may experience disturbing images. Remember that you are in command of your experience and you have the power to send these images away, if you choose. Concentration on your intention during ceremony is a must.  Over a longer duration of time and dedicated work with the medicine, your visions will likely become stronger as the spirits of the plant begin to communicate with you and reveal profound knowledge to you about your place in the universe, the plant and animal kingdoms, and perhaps even revealing life in other dimensions and galaxies.

Ayahuasca is a formidable teacher and whatever your experience, there is an important lesson worthy to reflect on.  Even if you “see” nothing, you may still experience powerful feelings and sensory phenomena such as a sharpened sense of hearing or smell—or perhaps you feel more emotional or open than you might usually feel towards others. Many have found Ayahuasca to provide a deep “heart opening” experience.  Every ceremony will be different and likely unexpected.  If you need a deep emotional cleansing, Ayahuasca will facilitate this for you. If dark, unhelpful energies need to be vacated from your body, Ayahuasca can help with this also.


Of course, not all Ayahuasca experiences are the same, and it is possible to have very different experiences from one ceremony to the other. While one person maybe experiencing a dramatic purge, you may not feel very much at all.  It is rare that the medicine can accomplish everything in a single ceremony. Your experience may be entirely different during the next ceremony, depending on the work you need to do.  It is important to come without expectations and understand that your experience is unique: yours and yours alone.  What is most common are experiences of cleansing and purging of toxins and repressed emotions buried deep inside the body.  It is not unusual to witness a regression back to a troubling situation or source of a trauma in childhood. To relive the experience is to gain new understanding and insights that may allow a final resolution or sense of closure. Many believe that Ayahuasca opens a portal to other realms enabling spirits to cross over to communicate with us. Dream-like scenes where personal messages from spirits are conveyed to us often occur in an Ayahuasca journey,  instigating a re-evaluation of our life and a deeper understanding of why we are here, and what our purpose is. Overall, many who experience Ayahuasca report some sort of spiritual revelation that is beyond words but in the end irrevocably results in a  feeling of profound connection to the world and universe. We may begin to feel that on some deep level many of our questions have been answered.

Whatever unfolds, have faith that the medicine is leading you on a journey that can only end in a heightened sense of being, a renewed connection to life and the world, and a heart full and free to accomplish whatever you set your mind to. If this seems optimistic, it is! You must be optimistic when approaching the medicine and sure of your inner strength.  A positive intention towards your own journey and healing process that will greatly contribute to your healing work.

Setting Intentions

One of the ways you can truly maximize your experience working with the medicine is through setting intentions. Declaring a positive affirmation or intention can guide you through what can sometimes be a confusing experience. Energy follows intention. The clearer your intention, the more powerful the results and the deeper the healing. If you do not have an intention while working with the medicines, you can leave your self open to undesirable entities or energies. You can be taken to dark places and shown things that you do not need to see. Your fears can take control of your process.  Even if your only intention is to simply find greater clarity about your life purpose, you must ask Ayahuasca for that. If you are having trouble discerning your intentions, pay attention to your dreams or journal during the day. See what patterns emerge for you and what questions.


A Shipibo Conibo woman with psychometric facial designs taken from Ayahuasca visions.



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