There’s 3 phases of a process with plant medicine…

  1. The first phase is before the date, the preparation
  2. The second phase is what happens during a ceremony…
  3. The third phase is integration, what you do with what happened…

First of all, if the place that you’re going to only focuses on what they do with you when you’re there then I invite you to re-evaluate where you’re going.

You want a place that is going to support you preparing properly, answering your questions, ideally they want you to prepare at least 2/3 weeks or a month in advance – if not more.

A place that is going to extend an invitation for integration, at least a conversation or a different method or a system to help you integrate what you lived.

(There’s different medicine houses and different culture traditions) I speak from the way that Shamans here in Colombia from the Inga tradition do things.

During a ceremony the first thing that happens when people come into our land is a step of cleansing and purification which is done often through tobacco water, in the longer retreats you drink a few liters of warm tobacco water which induces very heavy vomiting and if not done carefully can be quite toxic for the body so it must be done under supervision.

This is to cleanse our bodies. Often we use bitter herbs and sweet herbs, there’s these little “capsules” made out of stone where a single person goes and sits down, inhaling the vapors from bitter herbs that have been cooking in a pot or on the fire.

It’s very nice! – it’s like a private sauna but with nice smells, you come out and shower yourself with sweet herbs, harmonizing the body, bitter herbs cleanse your system, your aura, your energies – the sweet ones harmonize.

This will allow you to go into ceremony in a clean way, it also allows for all the participants to kind of “let-loose” and release the excess baggage, the ecstatic they carry from the city, from their countries, from their work situations.

So that when we sit or when we enter the temple we’re all in a good note.

Way back, right before entering the temple; kopal, a different incense, smudging herbs or tree resins were used for a final cleansing of the system, this was before.

Now, in the temple during ceremony the first thing that will happen once you’re ready is the Shaman will conjure the medicine, there will be some chanting, some Icarus (Which means calling of the spirit), some mantras that are chanted to awaken the power of the plant within the brew.

Different chanting is used depending on the strength and the power that the Shaman wants the medicine to have, you will notice that sometimes the Icarus are longer and different – that’s how you know that it’s going to be a powerful or sometimes soft night.

Once this is done, in order, people stand up and walk up to the altar they then receive a cup of medicine, the Shaman will usually look at you and assess how much to give you, often for safety.

If it’s your first time you’ll be given a little bit so that he can assess how you react with the medicine – how the medicine reacts to you, and then if you need more throughout the night you can always come back up an hour later and ask for another cup.

Once you drink your cup, you go back into your spot and then you sit down, it takes approximately 20 minutes to an hour for it to start kicking in, it depends on how sensitive you are, if you’re very sensitive from the moment you drink it you may see that the quality of your consciousness and your energy shifts.

There’s people for whom the medicine becomes visible or evident in their system only once the trip becomes very strong and overwhelming, they’re having visions, which leads us to the next stage…

Ayahuasca is a brew of high energy and high consciousness and our body is usually low energy and lower consciousness than any others so the first thing that he has to do is raise our frequency to be able to show us the things that he has in store for us, to release lower frequencies we have to purge out the things that are keeping us dense, which is usually from food, emotions, things we have lived, things we have consumed through our mind, our ears, our eyes, our mouth.

For most people, it’s a process of purging, you start vomiting – how violently depends on how well or how poorly you prepared, as you’re purging sometimes you will see or have a vision in your bucket of what it is that you are releasing.

You may remember things from your childhood that you had forgotten, you may see the piece of chicken that you ate two days before ceremony because you thought it was not a big deal, the ice cream you had a week ago, you will start seeing things that do not serve your system.

Once your system is clean and your frequency can race without so much density, the lesson/teachin/mystical experience begins, this can last from 3 to 6 hours, depending on your intention, on the container, the group, the Shaman.

You will be taking a journey that is very personal and unique, also very different every time, through this journey you will have deeper clarity, he’ll let go around things that are weighting heavy on you, you will understand the nature of who you are, of reality, of the source of creation. You also understand the nature of that which weights heavy on you, which overwhelms you, the confusion, the grief, the sadness, the pain.

Ayahuasca is a very personal teacher and he will teach you in a way that you can understand and keep learning, during the ceremony the Shaman will start saying mantras or singing with the harmonica, they have a leaf rattle, they have a guitar and they will sing music that they deem appropriate.

It’s called medicine music, the music will move more energies. Sometimes you may be chilling, relaxed, thinking that your night already ended – then the Shaman starts singing and suddenly your trip begins again, you start having new visions, vomiting again, maybe you feel that you’re going crazy, losing your mind, the Shaman starts singing a song and everybody starts to calm down. It can be quite magical.

Usually the ceremony starts at midnight – ending at sunrise. The closer to sunrise usually the more that the Shaman and the musicians play louder, more songs of celebration, of forgiveness, of love, of joy.

Then in the morning there’s a closing of the circle/closing of the ceremony, which happens by taking your bucket (your best friend throughout the journey) with your vomit and releasing it, bringing it back into nature to a specific spot where you give thanks to nature for cleansing, then you clean your bucket and come back.

Usually people go to sleep, you can integrate, you can share, you can talk with the Shaman…

If it’s a retreat most people are very sleepy so it’s time to rest, and to prepare for the ceremonies from the next days – if it was a single ceremony which we don’t do but some places in some amazing houses do and accept people for just one night, then they’ll do a cleansing of the energies – a final closure, then you’re sent back home.

These are the steps of an Ayahuasca ceremony; there’s the preparation “dieta“, the during ceremonial process and finally integration.

During the ceremony there’s a period of cleansing and purification of your energies, then there’s a period where you drink Ayahuasca and you go through your own inner process of purging and learning – then there’s a part where there is music, celebration, healing, the music can sometimes be even more powerful than the medicine itself! – and finally you close down, you ground the energies, you come back to yourself, you get grounded once again, you release everything and anything that does not serve you and anything that is not yours.

And you can go on having learned, having lived your life ideally in the medicine house that you choose to work with, they’ll guide you around the next steps…

This is what you do after your ceremony, this is how you can integrate, this is how you can apply what you learned and if not, maybe find a different medicine house, a different Shaman or land that you want to work with!

If you feel the calling to sit with Ayahuasca, in a container held by Colombian shamans at a sacred temple in the middle of the mountain forests, please check: