My Ayahuasca Experience (part 1)
Updated: Mar 15, 2020
The Journey Begins
When I was 15 years old, I read one of Isabel Allende's books, where she narrated her Ayahuasca experience in the Peruvian rainforests. I knew I was going to do it at some point in my life, without really understanding why. And I waited patiently for years.
Last year, I finally heard her call. She was calling me to do it in Quito, Ecuador, the place where I was born.
Incredible synchronicities led me to Nicolas, a shaman who held Ayahuasca retreats in the crater of a volcano in Quito. As soon as I said “yes” to drinking the medicine with him, he congratulated me, and then warned me:
"Francesca, every time someone makes the decision to go into a self-discovery journey, there are 2 energies that start acting out. One that wants you to move forward with the experience, and the other one that tries to stop you through fear. Be on alert. Your ego tries to hold on to uncertainty to make you feel fear. There's a part of you that knows you're going to heal, so there's this other part that will try to defend itself."
"Don't worry, that won't happen to me. When I make a decision like this, I always go through with it."
Well... the following morning I woke up with the flu.
Being sick that morning reminded me of how cold it would be up in a mountain, and how unprepared I was for that. As I was about to message Nicolas to tell him that I wasn't ready to do it there, I realized that what he had warned me about was actually happening. My ego was defending itself, and I had almost fallen for it.
In preparation for the ceremonies, I had to write my intentions for taking the medicine. I wrote down three. They had to do with healing and getting clarity around specific things in my life.
On the first day, we built the campsite in the crater, which was covered with beautiful lush greenery. We had a smoothie for lunch and rested. The less we had in our stomachs, the better.
There were 15 people in the group. Ecuadorians, Germans, Venezuelans, French, and Dutch. A beautiful mixed group of all ages and backgrounds.
The center for the ceremonies was a white 7 m tall teepee. It had a fire pit in the center, where the fire would be kept alive for the entire retreat. Around the fire, there were thick rectangle-shaped foams placed on the floor, so we could use them for seating or laying down. At the back of the teepee, there was a shrine and five chairs, for the shaman and the others who were there to support us.
Right outside of the main teepee, they had built 2 smaller teepees. Separated toilets for men and women.
At around 7:30 pm, we all started heading to the teepee. I was quite calm at that point. Which wasn’t what I would've expected.
Everyone took their seats and the shaman initiated the ceremony with blessings.
Before taking the medicine, he poured tobacco mixed with water on our hands, for us to snort. This would clean our airways and help us become grounded. Weird feeling. It burned the inside of my nose all the way up to the back of my brain and made me feel quite high.
He then told us that we needed to trust in what Grandmother Ayahuasca had in store for us. It was important that we surrendered to the experience. “It can be very hard. You will most probably need to throw up” … “diarrhea isn't uncommon”. Yes, I was ready for that.
A small glass of Ayahuasca started being poured. Nicolas was pouring a specific amount based on who he was serving it to. He then would bless the glass and offer it to each person saying "medicine for your body and soul". Each one would receive the glass, turn towards the fire, press it to their chest and bless it themselves asking for guidance - or at least this is what I thought they were doing.
Everyone sat quietly around the fire.
He went around the circle and it was finally my turn. Nervous, anxious, eager... I saw him pour a very small amount into the cup, and I was happy with that. He called my name, I stood up and went up to where he was seated. “Medicine for your body and soul", as he handed me the cup. I thanked him, turned to the fire, put the cup in front of me and asked Grandmother Ayahuasca to help me in my journey. "I trust in you and surrender fully". And in it went. No turning back!
I sat back down in my spot and waited for the medicine to kick in. Suddenly, people started running out of the teepee in desperate need to purge. You could hear how much they were releasing. It sounded so painful.
In the meantime, I was still very calm and nothing was happening to me. I closed my eyes to meditate for a bit, and then... I entered the abyss.
I went into the same crazy space I had first discovered in my DMT experience, 2 years before. The difference was that here I never forgot who I was.
This realm was filled with shapeshifting rainbow-colored sacred geometry. There wasn't a logical order to it. It felt as if little beings, like playful jokers, were taking me for a ride. There was this emptiness feel to it, very hard to describe. Silence echoed around me. All my DMT experience was coming back to me, which made me a bit anxious. It had taken me 1.5 years to overcome it.
I opened my eyes and went out of the teepee. It was dark, but the moon and the stars were shining brightly. I walked for a little, looked back at the teepee and saw the head of a wolf at the top of the tent, protecting it. I went back in to sit down again, and as I turned to the entrance of the teepee, I saw another beautiful regal wolf, sitting, guarding it. We were being protected by incredible creatures.
The effect of the first cup soon wore off, and I was back to normal again. Tired, I debated if I should ask for more or just leave it like that and go to sleep. Again, I had to fight with my ego and power through. Resistance was coming from fear.
So, I asked the shaman for more. He blessed the drink and handed it to me in the same way as before.
I went back to my spot, grabbed my notepad and pen and began writing my experience with the first dose. Bent over, on my knees with my back towards the fire, I only managed to write half of a small page when, suddenly, overpowering dizziness took over. My hands began losing their form and merging with one another.
In that moment, the wildest ride of my life was starting...