An experience with the ancient, medicinal psychedelic.

ayuasca-teaAyuasca: The Healing Vine

An experience with the ancient, medicinal psychedelic.

By Nichole Richards

 Part I of II Parts

I have to be honest. This article has been difficult to write. I have struggled to find words to adequately describe the blissful, intensity of an Ayuasca (pronounced i-o-waska) ceremony and the healing process it ignites. I could describe the Technicolor psychedelic geometric patterns racing across the sky or how I witnessed trees bowing to me at midnight. I could pinpoint each emotion or traumatic event in my life represented by cascading tears too numerous to count or describe the most perfect smile on the face of man who shook dust from the earth and embraced the sun in the throes of psychosis. Or maybe a woman’s whispering confession of being to heaven and hell in one night. It is challenging to explain something so transformative to one who has not experienced it for themselves. I implore you to proceed with an open mind as I attempt to explain my experience with the healing vine.

I first heard of ayuasca when I lived in Chicago in 2011. Escaping the rigidity of a depressing undergraduate experience, I was easing into an elevated form of “carefreeness” and metamorphosis initiated by the healing love of God, meditation, and a wonderful hippie roommate who practiced reiki and lit candles and incense. I found myself a member of a progressive community built on similar principles of the free-love, baby boomer generation from the 1960s and 70s. Of course, conversations on psychedelics, such as LSD, DMT, and mushrooms, would sometimes dominate conversations and, like most curious young adults, I dabbled.

their therapeutic capabilities in the promotion of deep mental and physical healing on the body and mind. They cause visual and auditory changes leading to revelations and a heightened state of consciousness. The experience is surreal. Although some users have consumed them for recreational purposes, substances, like ayuasca, have received increased popularity among millennials for its spiritual and emotional cleansing properties.

A brew made from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, ayuasca is a traditional spiritual medicine used in religious ceremonies among indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin, particularly in Peru. The first records of ayuasca usage go back as far as the 16th century when Christian missionaries observed indigenous peoples in South America under the influence of the substance, but the sacred brew has been used for thousands of years. Participants in ayuasca ceremonies report delving into their subconscious, extracting harmful memories, and dealing with unearthed trauma. People have claimed to be freed from anxiety, depression, addictions, and eating disorders. Even a prison in Brazil has begun giving inmates the brew as a part of their rehabilitation process. However, to get to a freer and more loving life, one must be prepared for the mental and physical challenges of a ceremony.

“It is intense,” said Chris Young, founder of Soul Quest Ayahuasca Church of Mother Earth in Orlando, FL. Established over three years ago, the Native American church touts itself as a “spiritual learning and healing center” aimed at protecting the practice of indigenous spiritual traditions, ceremonies, and other sacred practices.

I stumbled across the organization on Facebook where rave reviews and positive testimonies speak of life changing experiences, ego deaths, and unforgettable inner journeys. The weekend ceremonies at Soul Quest serve as an “in-between space” as more traditional ceremonies are conducted in South America and are quite costly. Travel to Peru can cost an upwards of $3,000 and traditional 5-7 day shamanic Ayahuasca retreats, which have sprung up throughout Peru to meet high demand, range between $60-$3,000.

Needless to say, an industry has developed around ayuasca, similar to the yoga boom of years past. And just like yoga, the face of these sacred practices has morphed from brown to white. The unfortunate reality is the higher the price the less attainable to most and only the privileged can partake. But who but Black and Brown people, particularly in America, are in need of the intense healing offered by ayuasca? The psychological beatings Black and Brown people have endured in this country and the historical trauma passed on from slavery, Jim Crow, poverty, thieving land treaties, Islamophobia, and border patrol make Black Americans, First Americans, Latinos, and other Brown peoples prime candidates for such an inner transformative journey. We are in desperate need of healing.

Thus, my trip to Orlando.

However, in my quest to understand how the sacrament can be beneficial in combating historical trauma manifested in the Black community in the form of poverty, unemployment, self-hate, mental illnesses, and disease, I received an immensely and unexpected individual experience that catapulted me beyond race and dealt with the colorless and genderless essence of the soul.




About Carma Henry 21599 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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