Published on April 19th, 2011 | by Mark Chesnut
Ayahuasca Journeying: Psychotropic Travel in Peru, Part 2
|The skies over Peru look different when you’re sipping a psychotropic drink.
In Part 1 of this feature, intrepid traveler Maureen Stanucci recounted her quest for Ayahuasca, a vine used in a pscyhotropic drink in Peru. Now, she shares her experience after she reaches the destination and sips the drink herself.
BY MAUREEN STANUCCI
Our destination was not so much a cave as an overhang of rock known as La Tumba de Las Águilas: The Tomb of The Eagles. We arranged ourselves in our sleeping bags under the overhang as the assistants built a fire. Here, we continued conversing over a multitude of subjects and smoked a number of cigarettes; tobacco is believed to be cleansing. Rum and Sprite was also passed around. All of this was intended to prepare us for what was to come. Amazingly, my [nearly] non-existent Spanish proved sufficient to understande and translate a rather metaphysical conversation for my friend.
Finally, the shaman felt that the spirit of the Ayahuasca had arrived and it was time for us to drink. After a cup each of the bitter mixture, we were bid to lie down in our bags and wait to feel the energy of the brew. The first thing we felt was extremely nauseous. One of the effects is to clear you out both energetically and physically. And the physical aspect of this can be a bit violent.
What followed throughout the night — and I have no idea of the timeframe — was a series of episodes where the energy of the plant would come up in a wave and then subside. In the beginning, this also meant vomiting, but that eventually began to taper off. Each person experiences something different. Many describe visions, or at least dreams that are brightly colored. I actually had no visions that I could remember.
In the beginning of the ceremony I had asked to find out what my animal guide was. For me, each time I felt the energy of the plant, I also felt the energy of the jaguar. The fascinating thing was that, although I felt like a big cat, at the same time I knew I was not. I knew exactly where I was and what I was doing. It was easy to see, therefore, how the plant could be used by shamans for their work as I definitely had the feeling I could direct the energy where I wanted it to go.
At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to just let go and roll with that energy. And then I realized, if I can’t give in to the energy of Ayahuasca in a cave in the hills above Sacsahuaman with a shaman, where can I? This was why I was here. For the rest of the night, then, the energy coming up found me growling and flexing my “claws.” I could still hear everything around me, as my friend asked, “Is that normal?” “Yeah, that’s normal.” Or when she turned to me, “Are you ok?” “Yeah, I’m fine. Grrrrrrrr.”
Finally, the energy of the plant subsided and we were able to sleep. Dawn rose to find me feeling incredibly cleansed — and not just from the vomiting. Colors were brighter to my eyes and I felt like all my energetic meridians had been cleared as well. In fact, I was quite anxious to go back to the hostel and just be alone with that feeling and give myself a chance to settle into this new body.
Now that I live here, I do plan on partaking in more ceremonies. But I feel very lucky to have had such an amazing experience the first time around. And, as for the cowboy, I’m happy to report he’s still one of my best friends in Peru.