The most often questions we receive are: Will I have visions? How much should I drink, should I ask for more or not?
For us Ayahuasca is a medicine, not a drug or just a psychedelic. Ayahuasca works as every natural medicine does: it requires will, patience and dedication.
Visions are a part of the teachings. To be able to understand them the way they are meant by plant spirits, you need to go through the cleansing process. Be aware that you can’t force visions by drinking more. If way into the ceremony you don’t feel anything, are not even a bit sick or drunk – then ask for more. Otherwise you may drink second time if you feel ready to do more work, which might finish your cleansing and then go to the teachings with visions. It all depends on your intention or why you came to meet plant spirits. You may even ask for visions, but be prepared to do other work if necessary. Mother Ayahuasca is a strong spirit and she certainly has her own plan for you. If she thinks the cleansing is needed first, this is what you’ll get – weather you like it or not. The teaching part would come when you are ready. It is as simple as that.
And as we’ll try to explain, ayahuasca is not just drinking and having lovely visions – there is so much more to it than that. Ayahuasca includes also visions in one form or another, if you’ll try doing it the right way, you’ll get everything. Healing is a complete process of cleansing, followed by teaching how to live your life differently, with more peace, being more happy and balanced within yourself and with the world around you. Mostly this would involve being much more open to the nature and to humanity. You may not grow spiritually without healing and may not heal without growing spiritually. As for people looking for psychedelic experiences: you are looking for teachings and therefore also for cleansing – if you’d like to understand your visions properly, you can’t have only a part of the package.
Cleansing is being done on many levels. We are using this term to refer to entire dieta process, not just ceremonies. Cleansing is a part of the ceremony, but also part of the entire dieta process. This is why natural medicine is more effective than the pills – if you follow the proper way of using it. On physical level, it will clean your body of toxins, making your circulation better, making your immune system stronger. During the healing on this level, you’d feel sick, weak, have pains in certain parts of your body, sweat, diarrhea, get some rashes on your skin etc. This is how the body cleans itself.
On energy level (emotions, spirit, mental) it would clean the blocks that you carry with you from this (the beliefs of your culture, religion, your family, friends etc.) and past lives, which sometimes may also be connected to the physical illness. Cleaning of this part is sometimes stronger and harder to go through than the physical cleansing. You’d be forced to face your fears, your weaknesses, your doubts, sadness, anger, resentments, envy, jealousy… You’d release those things through crying, screaming, laughing, becoming even more sad or angry to just everything and everybody. A part of the healing process is facing those things (sometimes medicine would even intensify them, forcing you to deal with them) before you are able to release them. Sometimes this would result as ‘bad ceremony’, full of darkness. It’s better to suffer for few hours then to carry this stuff with you for the rest of your life. Cleansing process is not done on one ceremony unless you are already ready to release stuff. Sometimes you’d need to work for weeks on certain issues. Oftentimes you’d peel certain problem layer by layer as peeling the onion over longer time. This is because the problem is very deep and would be too much for a person to release it quickly.
There is one more issue about releasing blockades. When they leave a person, they would try and strike back – not to everyone, but to the healer. It may be compared to poking at a sleeping dog with your hand. You’d poke, and poke, and get content, comfortably snoring dog to wake up. First thing it would do is to bite your hand. This is one of the reasons why healers need to know how to protect themselves, need to be strong enough, to know how to support people during their healing process (to know what is going on when they get angry or emotional during the cleansing part of it).
After cleansing part has been done, is when the teaching may begin. Blocks are preventing us from understanding things as they are. That goes for our lives and everything that we do in this material world, but also for other realms and beings you may get to know during altered states of consciousness. Teaching may come in form of thoughts in your head, hearing voices, seeing visions. This questions about visions during ayahuasca ceremonies are somewhat absurd. We are all different and we perceive things differently. Some people would simply ‘feel’ things, others would ‘hear’ them, yet others might ‘see’ them. Sometimes it is all mixed in a single message. The beautiful thing about natural medicine is that it works with each person individually, which makes sense. We all have different problems, different talents, different past experiences, we are on different points on our spiritual path. So comparing ayahuasca experiences doesn’t make any sense. Trying to compete who’s getting the most profound and beautiful visions is absurd. The most important is the path we are walking. There will always be somebody before us, and always somebody behind.
Counting how many times one drinks as some (spiritual or other kind of) achievement is therefore even more absurd. We sometimes receive questions why we don’t offer ceremoneis every night. Our experience is that vast majority of people couldn’t even support drinking two nights in a row. Besides if you enter a healing process then by drinking night after night you don’t gain, but loose. A chance to finish the process that started during the ceremony will be lost and you won’t have time to integrate what you’ve learned. When you are in dieta process, the plants that you diet with will support your work. It is similar to drinking a purgative. You need to drink also water with lemon to help the purgative do its work and give your body more strength.
One of the very basic laws of this Universe is: you need to give in order to receive. This goes also for healing process. In order to be able to receive more health (light, love, peace), you need to let go of what is making you sick through the cleansing process.
Your input for the work with medicine is very simple, but it requires will and patience. One of the inputs is the dieta process. This doesn’t mean only to abstain from eating certain food. It also includes drinking other medicine plants that support your process, asking them for help, and to follow other rules set by plant spirits. At the beginning curandero would guide you through this process, explaining you the rules. After you open enough, you might receive messages directly from plant spirits, they’ll become your guides, teachers, healers, allays. What we see most often is that people would fail with first rule: abstaining from certain food. If you’d like to get results (cleaning and visions), you need to make an effort and not eat salt and sugar, hot spices, fat, alcohol, dairy products and red meat or having sex for a week or two. By respecting rules, you not only clean and heal your body, but are also showing the plant spirit that you mean serious work.
It is also important to do this work somewhere in peace, with little distractions (no TV or radio, no work, no internet) and with minimum contact with other people. In this way, you will be able to go deeper to the process. During the process, you’d become more open to the energies of other people and isolation is needed to avoid connecting with them and absorbing their energy (preferably in the jungle where the plants you are working with are growing). Namely, this would mean going back to doing the cleansing process all over again.
Our experience is that this is another part that people have difficulties to understand. They think they’ll help and support other person, which they do – noble but unnecessary act – by absorbing their problems and dealing with them themselves. But that is not the aim. Everyone needs to go through their own process and learn, or they’ll keep coming back to it later on. Curanderos are being trained many years to do that work and they know how to protect themselves.
All of the above would be summarized in dieta process, which may have many levels regarding food restrictions and isolation. Different curanderos work with different dieta rules. Even for the same person, the dieta process may differ depending on their intentions and the rules set by plant spirits he/she is dieting with.
After you spend some time dieting you’d begin to understand that plant spirits are doing the healing work. As Ayahuasca needs a tree to grow, she needs curanderos to be able to reach and help people. Same goes for other plant spirits. They are able to reach from the world of spirits to this material world with help of well trained curanderos. This is why it is said that curanderos may reach to both worlds; and this is why the training is so important; and this is why the rituals are so important; and this is why they’d give you so many tests during your study; and this is why cooking and drinking on your own is not the same; and this is why icaros are different when sang directly by a curandero during the healing comparing to recording or music from your radio. To get there is a long process, where you need to do your part of the work.
In past few years, Percy has created this retreat in the jungle. Everything he does here is a part of his visions – temple above the stream, a place for flower baths, even plants and trees have their specific place and space. All this would create a peaceful, safe and healing environment. Safety and comfort are his first concerns, being either on physical or spiritual level (both are huge tasks in this country as you learn spending more time here). Safety is also one of the reasons why he prepares all his medicine himself. Not only ayahuasca. There is so much more in all the natural medicine than just the plants being added and cooked following certain procedure. The preparation process is as important as are the intentions and the energy of the person preparing and handling it – another part of this work that a western mind have a lot of difficulties grasping.