Many people are looking to work with natural shamanic medicines, which is why we thought we would put together some information for you to help guide you in choosing where and with whom you’d like to work. This is just a guide as all practitioners have their own unique way of working, you have to decide what feel right for you.
1. ARNALDO AND NANCY’S WORK WITH AYAHUASCA
Shamans and their practices act as the bridge between you and other worlds, and levels of consciousness, so that you can re-access your wholeness and heal. When you fully trust and surrender to the process, deep and profound changes can take place for you.
Between them, they share knowledge of the Andean and Amazonian Medicine lineages, and these rites and rituals underpin how they guide ceremonies.
In our opinion, it is paramount that these Sacred Plants are treated with respect and imbibed in a ceremonial setting, with humility, love and gratitude. Each plant has its own consciousness, powerful spirit and wisdom. Each works in its own way with its own voice and energy that can heal you in different ways, on all levels – spiritual, emotional, physical and energetic.
Originally used by native people of The Amazon, Ayahuasca ceremonies have been used for thousands of years to bring about healing, wisdom, rites of passage and even visions of the future.
Ayahuasca is traditionally drunk and is sometimes called a brew or tea. The medicine is composed of the Ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis Caapi) and Chacruna Leaves (Psychotria Viridis). Together, they have a magical, symbiotic relationship whereby one contains Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and one contains what is known as Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), without which the DMT would not be able to take effect.
The Medicine has a strong energy and goes by many names including La Medicina, Mother, yage, maestra, and my least favourite, Aya. Most people experience a strong, ‘female’ energy when working with ‘her’. The conscious intelligence of this plant can take you deep into yourself, your emotions, your experiences and areas that need healing, I like to call this process reconnection with the true self.
A ceremony usually lasts around 5-6 hours, but can be longer, and is guided by a shaman with songs, rituals and prayers. The aim is to realign your mind, body, spirit, energy and heart, allowing you to become free of any spiritual, emotional or physical sickness or shackles that hold you back.
There is research available showing that working properly with Ayahuasca can really help people overcome some issues and mental health problems including depression, PTSD, Anxiety, Trauma, low self-image and more. This is because the Medicine is a technology, an intelligence that can take you deep into your unconscious, as well as out to the farthest reaches of consciousness. She can show you what is hidden so that you can reconnect to yourself in ways you wouldn’t have imagined.
The shaman’s job is really to guide and protect you on your journey in ceremony, they are the channel by which the plants can operate, but you meet Ayahuasca yourself and you work with her directly. She can show you the way, but it is up to you to surrender and follow her. It is up to you to take action and integrate your insights and new understandings into your everyday life after and between ceremonies.
“Arnaldo and I have deep reverence for these Plant teachers, and we promote respectful and sustainable use of plant and animal medicines.”
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3. AYAHUASCA RETREATS – A GUIDE
A retreat is still a deeply profound experience, the main difference being that you are not in the home of Ayahuasca or where the traditions were born. This makes a difference to how the experience is managed by the facilitators. There can be difference in the length of time you prepare, how much time you spend with the Medicine, the food diet and your post food diet. Read on to find out more.
Ayahuasca retreats are usually 1 – 3 nights of drinking the Medcine. Preparation is often advised, which we will go through here.
It would benefit you greatly to have clean a system as possible to participate safely and get as much out of the experience as you can, so please pay attention to the following:
- 2 weeks prior – no vaccinations
- 2 weeks prior – no medications or marijuana at all
- 1-3 days prior – no alcohol to Tyramine
- Day of ceremony – (including above) do not eat after 2pm and no additional natural medicines
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4. AN IDEA OF WHAT TO EXPECT ON RETREAT
ALL PRACTITIONERS HAVE THEIR OWN UNIQUE WAY OF WORKING, THIS IS JUST A GUIDE
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5. PRE-RETREAT PREPARATION
You need as clean a system as possible to participate safely and have the best experience as you can.
You can expect to be asked or advised to prepare your mind and body for a retreat, but it is not always the case and can vary greatly. This is because it depends on the plants you are working with and how they have been prepared. Some foods and substances can have an effect of blocking the medicine, or in some cases even carry potential risks.
AN EXAMPLE OF PRE-RETREAT ADVICE (2-4 WEEKS BEFORE)
AN EXAMPLE OF PRE-RETREAT ADVICE (1-3 DAYS BEFORE)
Be very gentle with yourself. Be mindful of what you’re consuming, from tv and social media to being around toxic people. Cut back on things that make you feel bad and try to be as still as possible, meditating and journalling are ideal practices at this time. Spend time considering why you want to work with Ayahuasca and what you hope to gain from the experience.
- Cut back on salt and sugar
- Cut back on being busy
- Stop alcohol
- Stop caffeine
- Stop drugs
- Stop processed foods
- Stop red meat (including pork)
- Stop sex (including masturbation)
- Stop foods containing Tyramine (there are many)
ON THE DAY OF CEREMONY
- Have your last meal at least 5 hour before the ceremony
- Be as still, calm and relaxed as possible
- Keep away from social media, phones, emails etc. as much as possible
A BIT ABOUT PURGING
Some people have fear around bodily functions and purging in ceremony, which is understandable as often people imagine a ceremony to feel like a public space. Nancy used to have the same fear. Also, some people love to tell wild stories of their experiences, often making things sound much worse and dramatic than they are.
However, the truth is that everyone purges differently. Nancy didn’t throw up in ceremonies for many years, her purges were more yawning and crying. Some people use the bathroom more, or even laugh.
Purging is actually a very good indication that you are healing, especially when you vomit. It is worth bearing in mind that this is a physical manifestation of your pain, trauma, fear, whatever it is, leaving your system and energy field – no longer yours and never to be seen again. We can thank what we see in our sick bucket for the purpose it once served. Our incredible bodies created something in physical, from negative energy, that we now no longer need.
Ayahuasca ceremonies usually take place in the dark, the facilitators are usually singing and playing music throughout, and most people will be focussed on their own process. What I’m saying is, no one notices if you vomit. Also, a purge is usually quick and not the same feeling as bing ill, which is what people usually imagine.
ETIQUETTE FOR PARTICIPANTS DURING A CEREMONY
- To stay in the ceremony space unless going to the bathroom
- No touching or talking
- No singing (unless asked)
- Respect for all participants and facilitators
- Focus on your own internal process without disturbing others or causing drama
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It’s important to take some time to integrate your experience afterwards. It’s likely that you will be feeling very open-hearted and maybe even energised; that you will have made space inside yourself by clearing out your internal ‘baggage’. Therefore it is advised to be mindful of what you fill that space with. You can consider whether you want your life to go back to how it was before, or if some things need to change. So take some time for yourself to work things out. Eat well, sleep well, try a digital detox, stay hydrated and maybe try some new things that help you feel good and balanced.
- Reintroduce (if you want to) caffeine, salt, sugar etc. to your diet slowly.
- Avoid Tyramine, red meat, sexual activity, alcohol, drugs and cannabis for 1-3 days after.