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January 6, 2011

Is Ayahuasca a legitimate Spiritual Path?

How do “mindful” Western, spiritual folk relate to a magic tea from the Amazon that can cure illness and accelerate burning through your karma?

From time to time, I drink “the medicine.”

The medicine is ayahuasca, a traditional South American tea brewed up of two different plants then ingested for shamanic, healing, and spiritual purposes.

It ain’t for fun, nor is it a way to avoid your issues or psychology. Far from it.

However, some spiritual circles and communities might frown upon its use, arguing it’s trying to take an easy way out.  The lack of education around ayahuasca has people thinking it’s simply another hallucinogenic, new age, feel good, hipsterific experience.

From my own experience, it’s work—plain and simple. And, used in conjunction with your meditation, yoga, or other mindfulness-based practice, ayahuasca can change your life for the better.

When used properly and under the guidance of trained shamans, the experience is extraordinary and deeply healing. People say that one strong medicine ceremony is akin to years of therapy.

Ayahuasca is gaining momentum here in the U.S. More and more folks are drinking the medicine. More seekers are asking how to find it and people who are in genuine pain, want its guidance.  In two states it’s now legal to use ayahuasca for religious purposes.

Just yesterday on foxnews.com (of all places) there was a lengthy article on the subject. Check the Fox News piece out here. It’s even being touted as a legitimate treatment for addiction. Watch a short video of Dr. Gabor Mate on the subject here.

A lot of my clients and friends have been asking me about it and how to get involved. It has changed my life in such a profound way, I finally wrote about my experiences openly on my blog.

Is ayahuasca a legitimate spiritual path or just an amazing healing agent? I share my thoughts and personal experience below…

Let’s hear yours.

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I’ve been avoiding this post for some time, mostly because I have been unclear about how to talk about my experience publicly.

But here goes.

I do not take posting this lightly. I write this with great respect and humility. It is not my intention to sensationalize here. Rather, I want you to hear about my experience and then decide for yourself.

I thought about avoiding it some more, but my heart wants to tell you about what is serving me and my heart wants you to experience this if you are called.

I also consulted one of the shamans and asked about my intention to blog about the medicine. He encouraged me to share openly but avoid sharing who, where, when due to confidentiality and certain illegal properties involved. Made sense to me.

For the past 2 years, I have participated in semi-regular plant medicine ceremonies. Most have been with shamans who carry the sacred grandmother medicine known as ayahuasca.

For three years prior to my first experience of ayahuasca I avoided it and judged those who used it.

A personal account

Over a year ago, I had the hardest night of my life on this medicine. I shat myself, threw up on myself and thought I was going insane.  I was in a room with some friends and mostly strangers. I was crying out for help. I was dying. It felt like a psychotic break to the point where I lost all reference points and “me” totally disappeared.

I experienced deep terror that I don’t wish upon anyone. Fortunately for me, the inferno ended and I felt the deepest shame of my life that night. After many hours of hell, I came out the other side in bliss and ecstasy.

I crossed through a threshold that night that marked the true beginning of my ego death and spiritual emergence that is still going on today.

At this point, you might be wondering why I went back for more. But, for those of you who know me, you know that I am that devoted to uncovering the truth of reality.  And, while I have experienced the dark night, I have also see the other side, of blissed out LOVE.

Should you desire great tranquility, prepare to sweat white beads. —Hakuin

The hero’s journey has always been my quest. I have been drawn toward raw, real, experiences all of my life.  In the past, I have explored “pushing through” and this is requires a whole different approach—receiving and surrendering.

Ayahuasca = love?


In my opinion, ayahuasca is essentially truth serum made up of 100% love.

Not the kind of feel good love you might think of however.

Many of us think that love is synonymous with good feelings. But from where I stand, love = giving me the opportunity to see myself (ego and my essence) and my games clearly.  Being loved in this way is showing me the utter rawness of reality with no filters or apologies.

Ayahuasca is not for everyone. In fact, I don’t recommend it unless you are very, very, very serious about waking up to the total truth of who you are.

If you are incredibly hungry for the truth and want to see the your own mind clearly, then it’s worth exploring under expert guidance.

If you participate more than once and welcome her into your life, she will show you more than you can ever imagine. Worlds beyond worlds. Painful and dark truths about yourself, cosmic love, past lives, your childhood, your future. If you work with her on a regular basis, you will potentially accelerate burning through your psychological blocks and other obstacles.

However, she comes at a very high price. Not monetarily. Your personality will suffer and you will see parts of yourself that literally make you vomit. Once she is in your system, there is no where to run or hide and you can’t get out of the experience until the medicine wears off, often 4-8 hours later.

If you resist her, you may feel nothing at all. Your unconscious might be too wiley and defended. Or she will amplify your resistance 100 times and make you feel how painful that is.

Everything you have ever avoided feeling will have to be faced. Everything you pushed down, stuffed. Everyone you have ever hurt, blamed, judged will be felt throughout your entire body.

If you come humbly with great reverence and ask and pray for deep healing, teaching and surrender, you will get what you ask for and then some.

I have never been so generously given to in all my life. Her love is unwavering and as big as all the cosmos combined.

Ayahuasca is a huge part of my spiritual path now. I am not a seeker looking for some one hit wonder that will take away my pain and show me a good time. Nor am I using this sacred medicine to avoid the day-to-day grind of the householder path I am on.

This is nothing like LSD, mushrooms, X, or even peyote. To compare them is simply inappropriate. To call it a drug is disrespect.

So what is it?

What is Ayahuasca?


Ayahuasca is spirit accessed by a South America sacred plant medicine made by shamans that takes days to prepare. They mix two different plants, a vine and a leaf. Once the two plants are combined, DMT ( N,N-dimethyltryptamine) becomes active which gives the hallucinogenic effects. How shamans first discovered this still debated, but it’s obvious to me they spoke to plants and the plants spoke back.

Many folks use the name “grandmother” for this sacred medicine, thus suggesting it has a feminine essence. Traditionally it is known as yagé.  Some refer to ayahuasca as “the vine of death” because of the dying/rebirth process involved. Ayahuasca is considered a spirit that is called into the space by the actual brew and the shamans (see references and links below).

Ayahuasca is used traditionally as spiritual medicine to heal people, gain insight about the land, hunting information, and to receive guidance from the other side.

Ayahuasca as a brew is illegal in all states but two right now because DMT is a  Schedule 1 drug. Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it is gaining momentum as a legitimate religious practice, specifically in the Santo Daime community.

Why is it becoming more popular now?

Why now?

I have no idea, but here are some guesses.

Ayahuasca is gaining more and more credibility in the medical world as a legitimate treatment for addiction. More on that here. Also, just google “ayahuasca addiction treatment” and see what you find.

It is also gaining ground as a legitimate spiritual path for Westerners.  Perhaps folks are tired of the guru’s human limitations. Perhaps with the growing consciousness movement and 2012 predictions, people are hungry for more immediate results and insights that address today’s challenges.

The clients I work with long for meaning and truths beyond books. People are in pain and have tried everything to relieve it or work through it and don’t see results. People are hungry for experiences that show them first hand what is really going on.

Some important words of caution

Ayahuasca used alone without working with your everyday relative reality has the potential of just being another spiritual bypass.  While I cured my sugar addiction with this medicine, it is not a magic bullet for your pain or problems.

Used in conjunction with ongoing integration...read the rest here.

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Jayson Gaddis  |  Contribution: 10,510