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How do you know that Ayahuasca is a medicine?

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Rising Star
I am having trouble trusting Ayahuasca as a medicine.

During ceremony I consistently see heavy Shipibo-like patterns, and it feels really creepy (at least to me).
The space that I enter after drinking Ayahuasca, the space with the Shipibo patterns, feels like ancient alien technology.

Drinking Ayahuasca feels like communion with a very powerful alien.

So far, I cannot say I have received a "healing" during any of the ceremonies. All I receive are powerful visions that I somewhat "forget" once I return to my normal state of consciousness. Obviously, there is still a faint recollection of the visions; however, it is a fuzzy one at best.

My question to anybody who feels called to answer is: how do you know Ayahuasca is a medicine and that it has your best intention in mind?
I would say if you aren't already, try it in the comfort of your home. Buy the plants, make the stuff and take it where you are comfortable. You can either take it by yourself, or with a sitter around. Let the plants show what they're capable of without outside distractions/influences. Or listen to music with good headphones, if necessary. Maybe try taking a nice hot shower while on it (that does wonders for me). Overall, just try to guide yourself into a good headspace and not a weird one. Experiences can be good, fun, weird, scary, it's about how you're using it, what you're using it for, your set/setting, and of course the plants. If you haven't already, perhaps experiment around with the different plants available (B. Caapi or Syrian Rue, Acacia, Mimosa, Chaliponga or Chacruna), and see which plants suit you the best.
i had a similar experience with aya. some force showed me all the evil it is doing to humanity, how it supplies us with blunt tools, language for example. ever wondered why it is so difficult to communicate well with people? it should be that way. we are held small, because they use us as "food", mainly our negative emotions.

all live feeds off of each other, well, we are not the top of the food chain as it seems.
the "shaman" was doing business with them, he basically opened us up for them so they could feed on us. fun times.

i like your theory that aya is a communicatiin channel to some alien technology. i, too, have not had a "healing" experience. maybe that you get tricked into the illusion of healing - things that don't kill you make you stronger. but something is really fishy in hyperspace.
Trust in the medicine and it will grow with you. I did ayahuasca this weekend for the first time and I asked what it was about as a plant spirit and it said to me "You'll never figure me out, but I grow with you and evolve as your consciousness evolves". So many of us have expectations for certain experiences, wanting healing or wanting visions, but we need to trust that the ayahuasca is doing its work on us and that enables us to completely release all the toxins which its working through, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Allow the experience to take you where you need to go and use the power of intent to gain certain benefit, but drop the control and drop the expectations so that it can work on you without any resistance to its healing properties. You then begin to realise this isn't a drug, this is a medicine which works on you on a deep molecular level, completely realigning your mind, body, spirit with past, present and future.

Blessings MC
Traditionally, Ayahuasca is used as a purgative to rid the body of parasites, and other nasties. Also, when used in the context of a healing ceremony, a curandero uses it to diagnose illness, etc.

The idea of a patient drinking it to see visions, is a newer idea apparently. Even so, many find it healing when used in the right context.

Please note that whilst the visions can be beautiful, it isn't considered recreational, ie visions can vary from pleasant to very unpleasant, and many report negative experiences if they use plants other than the traditional Chakruna, and Caapi.
Some very good points have been made already. Ayahuasca will evolve & grow as you do & your experiences will reflect that.

Now what i have noticed is that ayahuasca is a purgative medicine not only on a physical level, but also on a psychological, emotional, & spiritual level as well. When I first started I did not trust the medicine & had no real intentions, no idea what to expect, & had a difficult time noticing the subtle nuances of the experiences on the psyche & framework of thought & behavior.

But, over time, i continue to learn, grow, & evolve my practice with continuous integration & reflection on current & past experiences & alot of change & epiphanies seem to appear in daily life even when aya has not been used for a long period of time.

It seems to me what is occurring is you are being shown your conditioning & the effect it has on the experience. Things seem frightening & as a conditioned response these are automatically considered negative. It seems maybe the medicine is trying to teach you trust through purging conditioning & psychological aversion to a fear of the unknown or `alien`.

Ayahuasca IMO seems to have a learning curve. It can be difficult at first to understand how to use it as a medicine & get a feel for the way things work, but eventually things begin to fall into place & it can have a multitude of very positive benefits on ones life in general.
whether by ayahuasca or otherwise,
to be 'healed' there's usually a specific intent of what is being healed...
whether a condition or ailment etc...otherise, what is one looking for?

and then there can also be some method or rationale of process to facilitate healing
(as is what a trained curandero does)

also, a bit like what ganesh said about visions,
the deeper or further one goes in some trained traditions (including the amazon),
visions are said to unimportant..good, bad or otherwise..one learns to ignore them..
OP, one might describe psychedelic substances as catalyzers of a particular mind state. The term used to reference such agents(medicine, entheogen, drug, sacrement, poison...) is subjective. The mind state/states engendered do indeed have a fair degree of cross personal objectivity such that the psychologic phenomenology experienced can be described and "learned" about.

I suggest spending a little time studying the mental contruct model of the psychedelic experience. Many references exist: "The Psychedelic Experience", Tim Leary, et al; "egodeath.com", Michael Hoffman website, are but two examples.

In short, with experience and a basic technical facility with a chosen substance, one can generally expect to, dose dependently, experience a "predictable" sequence of psychologic phenomena. Very roughly three phases can be appreciated(once trip is well established). Initially, depersonalization/ego-death/trans-personal thought free awareness/white light, may be experienced. Secondly, a phase where one vascillates twixt ego-death and deeply hallucinatory themes of a personal nature(heaven/hell/dying/entities/travels/profound insights...). Thirdly comes the phase of returning to consensus reality.

My brief description is woefully deficient, but details the mental construct phenomenology that can be very useful for navigating/integrating these powerfully transformative experiences if one will take a bit of effort to learn the model.

Remember, one man's poison is another's bliss medicine. Preconceptions re the "truth" or "meaning" of a particular psychedelic substance's effects are just that. Strive to create for yourself a mental lattice on which to project YOUR experiences. I suspect you'll discover that, ayahuasca/DMT/mescaline/psilocybin/salvia/LSD/etc, are but names for catalyzers of the mystic mind states that have informed humanity for millenia.

Safe travels!!

Ayahuasca can be many things. It is not automatically medicine, though it can excel at teaching you about medicine.

The traditional perspective is not that drinking Ayahuasca automatically heals you. The traditional perspective is that Ayahuasca can teach you how to heal or harm, and that the real power comes from the spirits that Ayahuasca can help you contact.

In most traditional settings only the shaman drinks actually - and then they sing to the sick people, and the songs or the plants they prescribe are the medicines - not the Ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is more like the operating room or the doctors office in which everything takes place. Many people dont drink in traditional settings because the traditional view is not that Ayahuasca is safe - but that you must protect yourself.

Even to put a more western spin on this... Try this example. If Ayahuasca brings forth what is within you - and you have some conflicting desires and behaviors, then you might bring out conflict from within yourself when you drink. This gives you an opportunity to solve that conflict or figure it out, but it also gives you an opportunity to grow the conflict further which can be damaging in some ways. All of this without ever bringing "spirits" into the mix - just your own conflict.

Now, if you also believe in spirits.... What if you are not only now dealing with your own inner conflicts but at the same time learning how to navigate a unknown world with helpful and harmful spirits in it. That is a lot on your plate. (if there are good and bad people, of course there are good and bad spirits too right?)

So Ayahuasca is not inherently medicine. It can harm just as easily as it can heal. If you want something that is more medicine-only I would suggest San Pedro.

If you want to bring out more medicine in Ayahuasca.... Try plant diets, or sit with a shaman, or put in a lot of time focused on asking about healing and hope for the best.

Ayahuasca has helped me heal in a number of ways, but I also sat a few dozen times with shamans before drinking on my own and by then already had a very focused personal spiritual practice to help me guide the ceremonies. You know it is medicine for you once it helps you heal yourself - but if you do not know how to direct the ceremony there is a chance that you are not really engaging the medicinal side of Ayahuasca. She has a dark side as well you know!
The distinction between medicine and poison (which are both subcategories of the group drugs) is fairly arbitrary, in the world of pharmacology.

You'll hear people say that 'the dose makes the medicine' or that 'in a high enough dose, all medicines become poisons.'

A medicine is a drug that improves your health, be it physically, psychologically, or spiritually. For some, Xanax is a great medicine, because it helps them with their anxiety and lead a functional life. For me, that same dose of Xanax is NOT a medicine, because I have a history of problems with tranquilizers. There is no inherent 'medicine-ness' in Xanax, it's all about the individual.

For some, Ayahuasca may be the greatest medicine of them all. For you, it might not be. It could even be a poison.

Nothing in biology is a binary - it's all a spectrum, usually in a fairly high number of dimensions.

Cactus, fungus, root, bark, seed, leaf, venom, extract, research chemical. Gloriously diverse, but not terribly relevant, sources.

It's the "alembic" NOT the "mother liquor" that fashions the experience.

Know your source, know your substance, know your dose, know YOURSELF.

travsha said:
...at the same time learning how to navigate a unknown world with helpful and harmful spirits in it.

When I first enter "the Ayahuasca realm", it has many Shipibo-like patterns within. It looks and feels *very* unfamiliar, and to be honest I find it creepy.

Travsha, are you suggesting that once I enter this "space", that I must then learn how to contact healing spirits in order to address specific problems/issues? Entering "the space" is insufficient in and of itself for healing?
Useful to appreciate psychedelics(including ayahuasca) as "tools" one uses for crafting/remodeling oneself. Experiencing personal mind states as, OTHER(spaces/spirits/entities), can be a helpful mental construct if recognized as emerging from self/Self or the Ground of Being, if you will.

Considering our genesis as beings of matter/energy, composed of, sweat from and fundamentally commingled with the entire universe/universes(LITERALLY), it's a reasonable assumption that ANY information/gnowledge available for healing(metaphysically, physically?) is already non-other.

Not to preclude the "existence" of non-self/other dimensional entities. For reasons of pragmatism and long term(decades/lifetime) well being, recognizing the relatively brief, intense bouts of schizophrenia engendered by psychedelics as expanders of your/The consciousness, might be healthy.

It's very easy to get lost, led astray or deluded, with or without the sacraments. Life long advocates of the entheogenic path, are often "red pill" poppers.

archaic_revival_ said:
travsha said:
...at the same time learning how to navigate a unknown world with helpful and harmful spirits in it.

When I first enter "the Ayahuasca realm", it has many Shipibo-like patterns within. It looks and feels *very* unfamiliar, and to be honest I find it creepy.

Travsha, are you suggesting that once I enter this "space", that I must then learn how to contact healing spirits in order to address specific problems/issues? Entering "the space" is insufficient in and of itself for healing?
Depends on the situation and what you are trying to heal and how much time you want to spend....

If you have something like depression.... You may find aid in just opening your mind to new perspectives which can be done with just Ayahuasca and intention. Without intention you might just be randomly wandering in your visions not really doing much... Would take longer then having someone help you through the process who has other spirit allies either way though.

For example, if you went to see a Ayahuasquero for healing depression they would have you drink Ayahuasca but they would also have you diet a plant like pinot blanco or yaro and they would sing songs to you each ceremony calling on those or similar plants to help you. Pinot blanco for example is a plant of pure light which is especially helpful for learning how to love yourself and for performing soul retrieval (soul retrieval is basically when repressed parts of yourself get blocked off from the rest of you, so they "retrieve" those lost parts by teaching you how to love them again). Yaro is a powerful plant for healing the heart as well - it can help you learn to be playful with yourself and helps heal innocence lost. So in this case you have Ayahuasca helping you but also the spirits of yaro or pinot blanco helping you and the shamans songs helping you.

If you wanted to do something similar on your own you could try dieting a plant, just praying for a spirit or a plant to help you, or you could put the plant directly in your Ayahuasca - plants like pinot blanco can be an admixture to your medicine to add a slightly different personality to the brew.

Now if you are talking about healing cancer or epilepsy (both things I have seen people I know heal at Ayahuasca centers). Well, I dont know anyone who healed those on their own. I know people who healed them with the help of Ayahuasqueros who also put them on a plant dieta and sang to them ect.... So I think experience is very helpful here. It might be like comparing the healthcare you give yourself at home compared to seeing an acupuncturist or naturopath. Working on yourself at home is a great start and in many cases might be enough, but for serious illness you are probably better off getting the help of a professional.

So to answer your question.... Entering the space is just entering the space. Entering the space with intention and prayers may be enough for some healing if you are patient enough to keep at it, and lucky enough for it to go well. Working with an experienced guide will increase your chances of healing greatly. The longest and hardest option would be learning how to be a healer yourself, developing a full spiritual practice, and healing yourself that way.
archaic_revival_, what kind of ayahuasca are you drinking, and in what environment?
From your experience, it seems to me like the brew you had was heavy on DMT. I think that having strong Caapi presence gives it the "healing touch". It's also important who made the brew, what were the ingredients, what was the intention etc.

As for me, I could definitely understand why it's referred to as "the medicine" after my first sessions. It's just different kind of healing that what we're used to with western medication, where healing is not consciously experienced....
i dont like the term " medicine"

it implies everyone who trips is sick or something.
lots of people trip and are perfectly healthy , mentally and physically.

rather than "medical", id prefer "educational and entertaining."

just cuz your too cool for school,
dosent mean your out on a sick day.
I guess I can see the cultural context of calling Aya or DMT "medicine", but it's only one context of many. Also, calling it "medicine" probably helps overcome negative cultural preconceptions about "drugs" or "hallucinogenics".

As for "healing", when I expected something from a drug, I always ended up disappointed. When I went in to explore, I had my mind blown open and my life improved. personally don't "trust" drugs, it just doesn't seem like a good idea for me.

Placing entheogen use in cultural context can probably help. Most of us aren't Shipibo shamans. We're westerners, the descendants of Athens, Rome, Christian Europe. We have our own (rather young) psychedelic culture. It might make sense to learn about it - read some Leary, Shulgin, McKenna...
Personal experience really. As a skeptic this is the only area i encourage "faith" of any sort. Take a fat dose and give in. Trust that it will clean you out and it will. Power of suggestion? Rationalize it any way your western mind chooses but it's some heavy duty stuff. I haven't partaken in over two and a half years. I vaped some cannabis last night and played a few of the songs my guide had recorded and had a flashback that left me bawling tears of release. This is a frequent occurrence for me and is only from ayahuasca. Granted I think having a good guide, ceremony, and music to connect to helps shape the experience as well as make it accessible in daily life.

I will admit though i did not start with this perception of ayahuasca. In fact my first trip was very traumatic. I lost my cool, started begging people to kill me, saying i needed to go to the hospital and that i had broke my brain. Eventually though it came full circle, slapped me with the realization that I was my own biggest bully, and in acknowledging that and forgiving myself the healing moved forward
Some really good points here.

Firsty I would say unless you are already quite experienced do it in a ceremonial setting with an experienced shaman or organiser. The space that is created within a ceremony provides a type of spiritual safety net which you definitely want.

I've done a few ceremonies now and I can say that INTENTION is probably the most important thing.

Amazonian tribes have been using these plants for the wrong intentions for years and it can be used in a negative way if that is your intention. I dont think it would have a benefit effect on your life if if you did but its everyones choice to make sure we set positive and powerful intentions when using these plant medicines.

I do not in any way consider this a "drug". The effects and benefits of these substances far out way that of any drug and dont even come close to a drug related effect. This is something on a much higher spiritual plane that has a direct correlation with life, death, birth, god and the universe.

I dont consider myself to have any health issues to be using a "medicine" so I also consider this a technology to enhance my life but regardless I still realise that this does "heal" me by allowing me to resolve deep deep subconscious memories and experiences I have that are so deeply repressed that I have no idea they are still part of me.

It allows me to literally rewire the neural pathways and synapses in my brain by removing negative beliefs and bad habits and completely change my behaviour for the positive.

Part of this is having zero expectation of the experience neither good nor bad and allowing the plant to do its work.

Last point I'll make. You can't rely on the medicine to fix you or enhance your life entirely.
You need to take responsibility for yourself.

Going through an ayahuasca ceremony is like going through a year's worth of semesters of academic life training.
Its up to you to take what you have learnt and apply it.
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