As we all know there is a lot of information out there via books, internet, and documentaries regarding ayahuasca. Within that sea of information are stories of wonderful, almost instant healings from drinking ayahuasca. These healing stories tend to revolve around depression, anxiety, addictions and various emotional problems. This is great stuff and ayahuasca does heal….without question. There is a misinterpretation that can happen though. That misinterpretation is that ayahuasca is some sort of “magic bullet”, i.e. “all I need to do is drink this amazing plant medicine and it will fix me”. This misinterpretation makes sense as we from the west have been conditioned with western pharmaceuticals. Western pharmaceuticals seemingly work very fast in removing (maybe covering or masking are better terms) symptoms of illness such as pain, nausea, sneezing, coughing, itching, etc…. We come from a society that is used to “take a pill and feel better” i.e. instant gratification. It is often times ingrained in our psyche. This phenomenon is not our fault, we are constantly surrounded by these messages and we have first hand experience that supports this idea. Of course western medicine tends not to heal the core issue and/or causes more problems later on, but this is another subject that could fill a book. The point of this blog post is to focus on this “misinterpretation” as it relates to ayahuasca.
In our work with ayahuasca at La Familia Medicina, we have come to the following conclusion: There are three parts to ayahuasca vis a vis healing:
– The ayahuasca brew itself. The quality of the ingredients, the strength of the brew, and the medicinal plant admixtures. Note: We use cielo ayahuasca, chacruna, sanango (chiric or uchu depending on availability), tobacco and medicinal tree barks.
– The healing ability of the curandero(shaman). Not all shamans are equal. Some have more powerful medicine in their bodies than others. Some shamans are not even curanderos (healers), some are just ayahuasceros (shamans that can put on a ceremony, but have no real healing abilities).
The first two points are probably not surprising for most people as they are used to the ideas that the quality of medicine and the quality of doctors can affect the outcome in regards to healing. The last point may come as a surprise. The fact that the one drinking the ayahuasca has to do something beyond drinking the brew may be a completely new idea for many.
The family here has a saying, “if someone wants to be healed/cleaned of energies that are not serving them, they need to do their part”. What this means is that one needs to make a commitment to themselves to be healed, they need to accept that the energies in their body are present and that ayahuasca will clean those energies out. One needs to trust that the medicine is cleaning and healing and one needs to focus on these points while one is going through the process, especially during the difficult moments of the process. One needs to trust the Maestro (curandero/shaman) and one needs to listen to the Maestro as to what is going on and follow his/her instructions as to what to do in each part of the process. The process, especially if one has picked up a lot of negative energies, is not easy. However, if one makes the commitment to being healed, focusing on and trusting the medicine, trusts the Maestro and moves forward no matter what, the process works. Healing will come.
In fact the faster one “does their part” the faster the process of healing. Once the cleaning and healing are complete, this in turn allows one to experience the ecstatic states and visions that are described in many of the stories that are out there online etc… In contrast, the process slows if one resists the ayahuasca experience, does not trust ayahuasca, or expects the medicine and the Maestro to hand them healing on a silver platter. Ayahuasca is not a “spectator sport”.
For this context, as it relates to trusting ayahuasca, it might be helpful to know that ayahuasca is unconditional love. This is why she is often times called “Mother Ayahuasca” or “Grandmother Ayahuasca”. Remember that most mothers have unconditional love for their children, aaaand sometimes children do not react well to what mothers ask of their children even if it is in their best interest i.e. “no I am not buying you anymore candy”, “you are going to school today”, etc…. Luckily ayahuasca is the best mom ever. She has an amazing ability to know exactly what you need and what you can handle. The difficulties arise when the one drinking ayahuasca resists the idea of “not getting their candy” despite the fact ayahuasca is providing exactly what one needs in order to heal. If one comes into the ayahuasca process committed to cleansing/ healing, puts their trust in ayahuasca and the Maestro healing will happen.
In parting I want to relate a story about what an indigenous healer said about indigenous medicine vs. western medicine.
“White man’s medicine is easy to take (tastes ok) and you feel better right away. Then you feel terrible later. (i.e. it does not really heal)”
Indigenous medicine tastes terrible and you feel like shit at first. Then you feel great later. (i.e. it truly heals)”