I want to talk about a subject that is not often discussed on ayahuasca chat boards or in ayahuasca literature. This is the fact that for some people they will not feel the full effects of ayahuasca (have visions) during the first 1-3 ceremonies. The lack of internet coverage regarding this point makes some sense as it is more fun to write and talk about the amazing visions one had instead of talking about traveling 1/2 way around the world to throw up and have diarrhea sans “light show”. That said, it can happen and one’s expectations should be kept in check especially if one is planning to only do 1-2 ceremonies in order to “try ayahuasca”.
A funny example of this was when I ran into to two Ukrainian guys in a restaurant in Iquitos. They were complaining to a friend of mine how such and such shaman was “shit” and totally ripped them off. I listened to them further to find that the shaman they were drinking with had a decent reputation around Iquitos and that they had only drunk ayahuasca once with her. It was also worth noting that they were drinking beer and eating pork at the time, talked about finding weed and coke, and wanted to have another ceremony that night with a different shaman. My friend and I both did our best to explain that it is quite normal not to receive visions the first time one drinks ayahuasca and that it probably was not the fault of their shaman, they just needed to keep drinking…..and doing so while avoiding alcohol, drugs and pork. All of our efforts were ignored and I left them to their own devices- what could I do? In the end they seemed to be in Peru to get high and it also seemed that they were enjoying the emotional juice around “being ripped off by a shaman”.
In my personal experience, having run retreats for about four years now and with the guest count getting close to or passing the thousand mark, about 20% of the guests we have received do not receive full on visions during the first 1, 2, or 3 ceremonies. A much smaller percentage of guests take longer than 3 ceremonies to receive the big light show.
There is an even smaller percentage that do no receive visions, but definitely go deep with the medicine. I have had two cases of this, in each case they indicated that they are not “visual people” and had not received visions while taking LSD or mushrooms. Their experience was largely mental vs. visual.
Occasionally some people do not realize that they are feeling the effects. I believe that this may be some sort of internal resistance i.e. an attempt for one to maintain control of the situation. One time we had a young guest who during the first ceremony decided to take a second cup as he thought he was not quite feeling anything yet. He went up to the maestro to receive his second cup. Just as he took the cup in his hand he said, “Oh, I don’t want this”, and promptly fell flat on his butt, spilling his cup of ayahuasca everywhere. I rushed over to him to help and he kept saying, “I am fine, I am fine.” I giggled, “Yeah you are fine. You are really mariado (feeling the effects of ayahuasca).” Then helped him back to his seat. After ceremony he had many stories about his visions to share.
It is at this point that I want to define what “mariacion” (feeling the effects of ayahuasca) is. If one is “mariado” (feeling the effects) it can include some or all of the following:
– dizziness/impaired motor skills
– mental realizations
– a gentle sense of peace and well being
– visions- varying from gentle to quite strong
To circle back a bit, I want to talk about what is going on with those who require a few ceremonies before receiving the gift of a “light show”. Everyone who approaches ayahuasca is coming from a different energetic starting point. Some have more “gunk” to clean out than others. It is important to know that ayahuasca does not care about your visual “experience”. Ayahuasca’s main priorities are cleaning and healing and then teaching through visions. If a person has a significant amount of energetic gunk in their system, ayahuasca may need to use ALL of her own energy to clean out those energetic channels before she can provide visions. Therefore it is important to remember that the medicine is still working, it is just that there is too much “stuff” to clean/heal for the visions to come. This is why it is commonly recommended that one plan to drink ayahuasca at least three times. It is also part of the reason we only offer retreats with five ceremonies. We know this can happen.
In addition it has come to my attention recently that one of the reasons one is not receiving visions is again related to negative energies that have been acquired over one’s lifetime. It is possible that the energies that need to bee cleaned are so dark that ayahuasca knows that if the visions associated with the release/cleaning of said energies would create absolutely awful and dark visions such that the person experiencing the visions would probably associate such visions with ayahuasca and not drink again. This is ayahuasca doing the work that absolutely needs to be done and protecting the person drinking from an awful visual experience. Therefore, the lack of visions in this case is actually a gift from ayahuasca. (This update was added August 19, 2013 as it was recently received information)
It is important that one keeps in mind the reasons they are drinking ayahausca- cleaning, healing, and learning. If one is having a difficult time getting mariado (feeling the effects), just relax. The medicine is working. She knows what you need. Trust her and keep drinking.