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Ayahuasca

Jaffa

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#1
Hello everyone - It has most certainly been a while!

I have had a quick search and while Ayahuasca has been mentioned many times on this forum I'm yet to find a thread which is dedicated to this absolutely amazing and life-changing psychedelic brew.

I first heard about it on the Joe Rogan podcast, hearing the experiences of Joe and Aubrey Marcus instantly resulted in me spending the afternoon Googling Ayahuasca and reading about DMT and the results that it has on the brain.

That evening I was ordering the bits that I needed to get brewing – they arrived on the following day and that evening I had brewed Ayahuasca! I waited until a friend was available to babysit me and then tried it.

Words can’t describe how much this experience has changed my life. The trip was absolutely incredible, some (most actually) is a vague memory, almost like trying to remember a dream and the more you think about it the more it slips away but there’s parts of the trip which are as clear remembering what I did an hour ago. As the Ayahuasca was taking hold I can remember the colours, so vibrant, bright and clear. Sounds became this sensual melody that made me want to close my eyes and drift off into a trance. Not long after that the room became unrecognizable, sounds and smells became disconnected from reality, I can only describe it as being like when your alarm goes off in the morning and your mind manages to introduce the noise of the alarm into your dream and you stay asleep for a while because of this – that is kind of what it was like, but better. I felt like my brain was being overloaded with Seratonin, I was a bit frightened at the experience of being removed from my meatwagon but I honestly felt like my consciousness had become more than simply a bunch of electronic impulses within a blodge of brain matter.

I don’t really remember much of the physical world after this, I purged around 20-30 minutes in to the experience but fell deeper into the wonderful world of Ayahuasca and a DMT brain fuck. I remember being in a swamp, the kind of swamp you see in fantasy movies. I remember meeting friends, some who I still speak to and others who I haven’t seen in years. I saw my grandparents who died years ago, I even saw my dog. The details of it all are vague now, I did document everything the day after and when I read it back the memories come back to me but a little more vague than the last time I read the documentation of my trip.

What an epic experience. If you haven’t done this before and you have trouble breaking down those mental barriers; GO AND DO AYAHUASCA (Very much illegal, these are my opinions and not the opinions of anybody else or this forum).

I’d love to hear about your experiences... Your recipe and ingredients but more importantly; how it felt, did you have a trip? What happened? Did it change your outlook on life?
 

Rook

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#2
I have no experience with psychedelics, but I am intrigued by them.

From what I read, many users described the Ayahuasca trip as a "rebirth", attaching heavy spiritual connotations to their experience.

It is known that many psychedelic substances have lasting effects on users, changing their lives for better or for worse.

Thus I have two questions regarding Ayahuasca:

Have you experienced a "spiritual awakening", as in, have you noticed any prominent positive effects after your trip?

Also, are there any negative side effects you have experienced?
 

Jaffa

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#3
I have no experience with psychedelics, but I am intrigued by them.

From what I read, many users described the Ayahuasca trip as a "rebirth", attaching heavy spiritual connotations to their experience.

It is known that many psychedelic substances have lasting effects on users, changing their lives for better or for worse.

Thus I have two questions regarding Ayahuasca:

Have you experienced a "spiritual awakening", as in, have you noticed any prominent positive effects after your trip?

Also, are there any negative side effects you have experienced?
I haven't had any noted changes to my life, though I generally feel like my outlook on life has improved and I don't feel the need to uber-analyse absolutely everything in my mind. Hakuna Matata etc etc.

I wouldn't call it a "spiritual awakening" but my perception of consciousness has changed considerably. Prior to Ayahuasca I was convinced that consciousness was nothing more than a concoction of the senses, now I don't believe that. Though we all know that the trips are simply volumes of DMT passing the blood-brain barrier, the experience was absolutely real to me. I know that I wasn't with my grandparents but to me, to my conscious being, the experience was real. It was the only time that I've really felt a separation between my body and..... 'soul' - though the idea of people having a soul is absolutely preposterous to me I can't think of any better way to put it.

So, to answer your question, not a spiritual awakening but definitely a change in my perception of life.

No lasting negative side effects. The taste of the brew is disgusting, it's an Alkaloid and doesn't sit well on the stomach. After throwing it up I felt wonderful.
 

Lot

Don't forget to bring a towel
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#4
I have not done Ayahuasca yet, but I plan on at some point this year. I might end up just extracting the DMT and smoking that. But this is definitely something I'm interested in.

Last night I had a pretty intense salvia divinorum trip. It was my first time breaking through. Words don't do what I went through justice. But I'll attempt to try. If I can get my friend to share the audio recording he took, I might share on here.
In case you think it off topic, I'll put my story in a spoiler.
I was sitting on a couch.
Took a large bong hit.
In about 10-15 seconds the room became a different room.

The music my friends had on for me began to disappear.
Then the hysterical laughing fit began. The lights that were left in the room began to start moving in one direction, and a new back story as to why I was at my friend's house took root in my mind.

I started pushing my legs out in front of me to stop from being pulled away by the movement in the room. Continued hysterical laughter. Temporarily lost control of motor functions.

My perception of time is completely off at this point. I start losing touch with the outside world after closing my eyes and seeing that all the moving light in the room were actually orange conveyor belts with pictures of traffic cones on little triangles that made up the belt.

I was mildly frightened, because I felt a slight pain as the conveyor belt started to poor into me. I calmed myself by opening my eyes. It made the conveyor belt disappear, but the moving lights were going over everything. I tried to tell my friends about what I saw in the other world, but it was hard to put into word the concepts I was seeing, and find a moment when I wasn't laughing.

I decided to close my eyes and go back in. This time I was ready for the conveyor belt to swallow me. As it flowed over me like a sheet, I felt euphoria all over my body. My nose started to run, and when I would snuff all the snot back up into my nose, I was sucking in the conveyor belt.

By this time I was floating in a mass of pure insanity. The orange turned into red, white, and blue. and formed into a clown's face. Generic, bald with red bozo hair, white face, big red nose, and fat red lips formed into a smile. My friend's laughter became his. (I look back now and see how scary it should have been, but I couldn't help but be happy.) The head started bouncing and crashed into my face.

This woke me out of the irrational pocket dimension that I had embraced. I was very awake by this point. Lights running around the room, my friend's laughing, me laughing and not knowing why. The laughter eventually took me back in and I have no memory of what happened for about 1:30 seconds. Just colors and incomprehensibility.

I smoked more a little bit later, but didn't break through. I just thought I was on a game show and I had to make all the different laugh noises I could to impress my friends.

The after effects were like being extremely high. The world was in high def. I ended up driving to a secluded area and just sat there looking at the how beautiful to world looked. The sun eventually rose and I drove home and tried to sleep as best I could.
(Just writing it out was very emotional.)

Thank you for starting this thread. I hope some other people can share their ayahuasca experiences. Maybe some of you lurkers could come out of the wood work.
 
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#5
Lot, that was a crazy story man. I would say that I personally identified with 80+% of the overall image you portray.

From what I've read, a lot of people caution against abusing it though... even by smoking it multiple times in a day. There's tell that a kind of disrespect towards mother divinorum like this will produce lingering effects* that trouble your mind for years to come. It's all up to you to be subjectively scientific but let me ask you: if you were to go into a so-called "haunted house" would you be scared of the supernatural?

*Not biological effects per se as I know nothing about this, however I'm talking about effects on your thoughts and attitudes; a psychological awareness of something more powerful than you - the unconscious mind.
 

nanook

a scream in a vortex
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#6
oh, Lot, so your previously mentioned trip was not a break through yet? that's probably the explanation for why you spoke about "joy". i began to think you are some sort of alien who gets off on the total alienation from being a human being, that salvia provides. to me, what you write sounds like level 3 and 4, you still appear to integrate the vision into your every day understanding of reality. the opposite became true for me, at level 5. the conveyor belt, the assembly line of ego, is the relatively absolute truth of consciousness, after all, it precedes the illusion/fabrication of human identity and earthly life. now i "can" (have no choice but to) relate all aspects of my human life back into this understanding of consciousness.
:kodama1:
 

nanook

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#7
yeah, all right, it's a thread about ayahuasca.
or chihuahuas if my spellchecker get's to have a say.

"chihuahua eats psychotropic viridian from capiz"

i haven't done it yet, but i have the ingredients ready and intend to do it soon.

i'm undecided about whether i should do it early or late in my waking period (aka "day"). should i be fresh or tired?

one thing that holds me back, maybe, is also how i'm unhappy about the location. i can only do it at home. and i know, this "home" is the most depressing place to me. it may give me a really hard time. even on salvia divinorum, the location made a huge difference. taking it here, the conveyor belt was always as scary as death. like dying in a forest, being eaten by wolves. taking it at my girl friends place, i was in a shambhala vision (a bright kingdom of mountains). it was still death though. ego death. emptiness. when i came back, my girl friend was also dead. i mean empty of self. to my eyes. that was difficult to explain. but the perception disappeared after a day.
 

Jaffa

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#8
I had no idea what Salvia was, Google has revealed all..

:storks: Why didn't I know about this stuff before? Though it would seem that some states in the US have already banned the substance. It won't be long before the rest of the world follows suite baaaa (in my best effort at mimicking a sheep), what?

Governments can fuck off. Who do they think they are? If I want to take some harmless mind-altering drugs in a responsible manner which harms absolutely nobody then who are they to try and tell me that I'm a criminal?!?!? Yet drunken slobs can legally kill their livers after drinking 12 pints of lager whilst having a fight with a doorman and consuming 20 Marlboro Carcinogen specials, all within the law; Who is the criminal? This bottom-feeding drunken scumbag or a responsible hard working man who is in a state of trance while trying to find himself after consuming Salvia/DMT?

I digress; Lot, a great report. I really must try Salvia. How long did the whole experience last for? I guess the difference with smoking Salvia is that you can stop smoking it whenever you feel like you’ve had enough. With Ayahuasca once ingested you’ve just got to cross your fingers and hope for the best.
 

Jaffa

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#9
yeah, all right, it's a thread about ayahuasca.
or chihuahuas if my spellchecker get's to have a say.

"chihuahua eats psychotropic viridian from capiz"

i haven't done it yet, but i have the ingredients ready and intend to do it soon.

i'm undecided about whether i should do it early or late in my waking period (aka "day"). should i be fresh or tired?

one thing that holds me back, maybe, is also how i'm unhappy about the location. i can only do it at home. and i know, this "home" is the most depressing place to me. it may give me a really hard time. even on salvia divinorum, the location made a huge difference. taking it here, the conveyor belt was always as scary as death. like dying in a forest, being eaten by wolves. taking it at my girl friends place, i was in a shambhala vision (a bright kingdom of mountains). it was still death though. ego death. emptiness. when i came back, my girl friend was also dead. i mean empty of self. to my eyes. that was difficult to explain. but the perception disappeared after a day.
Wherever you choose to do it just make sure it's a safe place - make sure that you're not going to end up jumping out of a bedroom window or falling off a balcony!

We drank the brew in my kitchen and then went outside (it was very mild). I had laid two sheets down on the grass, we lay... a clear night with all the stars on display. I am fully aware that this sounds like the opening scene of a homosexual erotic porn movie but I personally felt like it added to the experience. The wind on your face - the DMT made it feel like the wind just passed straight through me. The sounds and smells, be as close to nature as possible when you do it. Take your girlfriend and go for a drive somewhere?
 

Lot

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#10
I had no idea what Salvia was, Google has revealed all..

:storks: Why didn't I know about this stuff before? Though it would seem that some states in the US have already banned the substance. It won't be long before the rest of the world follows suite baaaa (in my best effort at mimicking a sheep), what?

Governments can fuck off. Who do they think they are? If I want to take some harmless mind-altering drugs in a responsible manner which harms absolutely nobody then who are they to try and tell me that I'm a criminal?!?!? Yet drunken slobs can legally kill their livers after drinking 12 pints of lager whilst having a fight with a doorman and consuming 20 Marlboro Carcinogen specials, all within the law; Who is the criminal? This bottom-feeding drunken scumbag or a responsible hard working man who is in a state of trance while trying to find himself after consuming Salvia/DMT?

I digress; Lot, a great report. I really must try Salvia. How long did the whole experience last for? I guess the difference with smoking Salvia is that you can stop smoking it whenever you feel like you’ve had enough. With Ayahuasca once ingested you’ve just got to cross your fingers and hope for the best.
I totally hear ya on that. I really don't care what the government tells me. I'll use what I want to use. Booze destroy so much.

I do have to say, with a nice bong rip of salvia, you pretty much have to do the same. It might be a nice funny trip, or you get sucked into a zipper world that steals all your memories, while telling you that you can never leave. Most people seem to have a negative trips. So just like dmt, it's not something to take as a party drug.

oh, Lot, so your previously mentioned trip was not a break through yet? that's probably the explanation for why you spoke about "joy". i began to think you are some sort of alien who gets off on the total alienation from being a human being, that salvia provides. to me, what you write sounds like level 3 and 4, you still appear to integrate the vision into your every day understanding of reality. the opposite became true for me, at level 5. the conveyor belt, the assembly line of ego, is the relatively absolute truth of consciousness, after all, it precedes the illusion/fabrication of human identity and earthly life. now i "can" (have no choice but to) relate all aspects of my human life back into this understanding of consciousness.
:kodama1:
I was ok with the ego death. It felt really freeing. Letting myself be consumed. I still kinda feels like that conveyor belt universe is with me. Just lingering around me, waiting for me to return. I had some brief flash backs today while stoned.

But the fear I had was only mild and short lived. As soon as the laughing took over, there was no choice but to let what was happening to take it's course. Perhaps it my passive/submissive nature that makes it easier for me.

After reading about the levels of salvia I'd have to say my trip was at 4, maybe even mildly level 5. I did have a 3 before bed, a couple days ago. That might be the most productive of the salvia states. The first two levels are nice, but better with cannabis mixed in. Very primal, yet my mind feels clear. I actually think cannabis and salvia do well when mixed.

(Maybe I should start a general psychedelics thread, for more discussion. I don't want to take away from the powerful experience of ayahuasca.)
 

Affinity

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#11
I digress; Lot, a great report. I really must try Salvia. How long did the whole experience last for? I guess the difference with smoking Salvia is that you can stop smoking it whenever you feel like you’ve had enough. With Ayahuasca once ingested you’ve just got to cross your fingers and hope for the best.
One bong rip of the real high potency stuff is all it took for me. By the time I set the bong down I was already in a full blown trip.
 

Affinity

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#12
Question for op. From experiences I read, most dmt trips either ended up with aliens or god. Was this the case for you?
 
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#13
Question for op. From experiences I read, most dmt trips either ended up with aliens or god. Was this the case for you?
I think the thing to ask is why trips may end up this way? Is it a subconscious thing from influences in our society or some 'divine' truth that can only be revealed during this DMT trip or after one reaches enlightenment maybe?
 

Jaffa

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#15
Question for op. From experiences I read, most dmt trips either ended up with aliens or god. Was this the case for you?
I recall walking through a swamp with an old friend who I no longer speak with. I remember him telling me that "we are the universe experiencing itself", which is something that we had spoken about previously.

We continued into the swamp and the closest thing to 'god' that I got to was when we came upon these huge gates that were covered in vines and moss. It wasn't the gates to heaven, not at all! I can't figure out if this is my brain filling in the gaps after the trip or if this is what I actually experienced but they looked exactly like the gates to Zul Gurub (ex world of warcraft players will know...).



I'd say it was much more spiritual than religious or paranormal.
 

nanook

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#16
can't tell how many lucid dreams i had, in which my hope for stumbling onto some sacred illuminated insight about "the source" provoked the manifestation of some sort of church or temple and when i tried to enter it, i woke up, with the clear sense that the dream was interrupted by the fact, that my mind had no clue what to project into this temple. 404, requested insight not found. heaven is not an object, that fit's behind bars or in a box. occasionally the temples were full of crazy random shit, though.
 

Jaffa

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#17
can't tell how many lucid dreams i had, in which my hope for stumbling onto some sacred illuminated insight about "the source" provoked the manifestation of some sort of church or temple and when i tried to enter it, i woke up, with the clear sense that the dream was interrupted by the fact, that my mind had no clue what to project into this temple. 404, requested insight not found. heaven is not an object, that fit's behind bars or in a box. occasionally the temples were full of crazy random shit, though.
Somebody needs to invent a video camera that we're able to take onto these trips with us.

Shame about the 404. It should have 301'ed to a page dedicated to Christopher Hitchens instead.

I'm going to film myself next time and try to make a mental effort to dictate what I'm seeing and how I feel. I don't know if this will work but it may help afterwards to remember more of the trip.
 

Puffy

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#18
I'm unsure how much of a difference it makes preparing ayahuasca by yourself, and would be interested to hear more. I've drank it three times now, but always in a ceremonial context with groups of people and led by a shaman. The music, singing, dancing in the grips of ecstacy, experiencing yourself as a common spirit amidst a group, all add distinct flavours to the experience.

Experientially, it's like encountering an entity that has complete omniscience & benevolence in relation to you, and is willing to enter into prolonged therapy, guiding you to what you need to hear and how you need to change to become more whole as a person. I become more aware of where the core wounds lie in me as a person, their source, and the multi-faceted ways in which they express themselves. They increasingly become felt as intense pain, sickness and nausea; then at the time you're ready to let go of what's plaguing you, you purge it, the nausea vanishes, and you feel in yourself the relief of what it is, or would be, for that wound to no longer be a part of you. As you purge, you become more and more of the likeness of the reality that unfolds in the experience, that I can only describe as unending.

It deepens in proportion to courage. It doesn't magically fix anything, you can only rid yourself of what you're willing to work through. If you resist or are not willing to work on something, the experience moves to why you're resisting, until you're ready to proceed. It is the perfection, and most effective form of, the art of therapy. Pain, its stimulation for growth, and that stimulation's movement towards restoration, is a process of individual development I can see regular encounters with this as more quickly accelerating. Or at least in terms of how I interact with it.

Since drinking, people continue to note how much more relaxed I am as a person (I hold a lot of body tension -- it's still there, but softened somewhat). I've been able to work on my fear of intimacy that paralysed me before and have become more intimate with someone dear to me. And while I was emotionless, or experienced it in a highly restricted way, my heart has started opening, and I'm regularly overcome by waves of polar extremes. Everything is felt more deeply and intensely. Jung would have a field-day with my dreams as they're becoming increasingly archetypal. :phear:

I've heavily resisted every experience out of recognition that what it keeps bringing me back to is a deep-seated trauma, and I intimate that to work through that has the possibility of bringing on a form of personal disintegration while it resolves itself. Remains to be seen, but I anticipate this series of posts might be somewhat prophetic and that a big personal transformation is on the horizon: [1][2][3]

A milestone anyway. It's great to feel like life is becoming more alive again. I've been internally stagnant for too long.
 

Pizzabeak

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#19
When you take ayahuasca the dream land becomes present over the normal, waking reality. Shamans are known for inducing ecstasy trance like states in order to get information and bring it back for integration, to help people.

Because of all the singing to the plants and other ceremonial aspects they say prepping it yourself can be dangerous and let bad spirits in. Anything goes. Because usually people drink it for healing so they require all the standard procedure. They let in bad spirits by how they live and need the proper ceremony to cleanse it all out. However, you can still enjoy a trip either way, knowing most people will pay no heed to that mode of thinking, being indoctrinated by western thought already, if that makes sense.

It says a lot about things. If you have a dream where you wake up seemingly prematurely because of unknown options on how to fill a scene you must question how conscious you and your choices really are. It always happens right before you wake up. Your mind just conjures the situation and times it enough so that you wake up at that moment; you were going to wake up anyway.

I haven't done aya but I did DMT. Sometimes (in the Amazon), ayahuasca is just Banisteriopsis caapi. But the huasca everyone knows and loves has chacruna. It's the light, what provides the heavy visuals. Seems better to have that in there instead of just harmala alkaloids but it depends on which region the drink is made.

I've encountered the omniscient benevolent entit(ies)y. But one day I'll fully type up my trip reports. But you see the same patterns. Aliens, God, who can fully differentiate between the two with something like this without the proper research? They may as well be both. It depends. I've seen and realized matrix like situations.

With the jungle potion it seems mainly jungle oriented with talking animals and the like especially with say Pablo Amaringo's trip paintings. With just smoking DMT there are still Mexican like visuals and Jewish sentiment.

LSD can cure alcoholism. Mushrooms can cure cluster headaches, depression, PTSD. Same with MDMA. Ibogaine can cure drug addiction. They do different things. DMT/ayahuasca has its promises but it does take work for integration. It's not "automatic". And the trouble with psychedelics is that they do cause some people to go crazy in public, see that aya session where the guy stabbed and killed the other dude in self defense: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2...lls-briton-ayahuasca-ceremony-peruvian-amazon

All things considered DMT just results in a prophetic like state. Perhaps it can treat this or that but mainly the appeal lies in pure amazement which may result in visions and breaking through, possibly with contact. It's psychedelic as fuck. Things (alcohol, LSD, shrooms, weed) pale in comparison.

Salvia was a newish drug, also made popular by the Wassons. It's from Mexico. From my experience, besides the laughing bouts which results in no visions, its boundary dissolving aspects can be similar to a mild DMT trip but overall they are different. But still, your vision slides into a 2-D realm and you can hear sounds with faint intimation of spirits. You must remember it is an actual plant but they just sell it in stores. I mention this because we are all familiar with the axiom that you won't find enlightenment at the end of a pipe. It will show you the way perhaps again and again but the only thing to do is live it, be more kind to your neighbor; etc. The golden rule, for example.

I'd be hyper interested in trying ayahuasca to see what it has to offer but I'd still maybe prefer smoking the DMT to it. I'll consider typing more about it if Lot ever makes that psychedelics thread. But overall it's an interesting thing.
Here's a pretty decent article on an ayahuasquero: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/16/ayahuasca-peter-gorman-amazon-drugs

The ayahuasca king: the man who gives jungle 'medicine' to lost souls


For years, Matthew Haddock was drifting on a tide of disillusionment. Like many Americans, Haddock, a practicing attorney in his late 40s, was hit hard by the 2008 recession – so hard it curdled the way he saw the world. People had become so obsessed with accumulating stuff, Haddock came to believe, that they had lost touch with what was important. This pervasive materialism, he thought, was a way of thinking that was “inevitably doomed”.
Desperate to reconnect with something meaningful, Haddock found himself turning to unexpected places. Though he was raised Southern Baptist, he now regularly sought refuge in the Book of the Hopi – a compendium of teachings drawn from 30 Hopi elders in northern Arizona. He researched paganism in Ireland, and spent nine months visiting the Kabbalah Centre in Dallas (he left because the staff “kept trying to sell him things”). Once, in Tennessee, he visited a man who’d built his house over a Native American burial ground: “The basement wall had fallen in, and I went and put my head against it. I thought: ‘I want to know what these people know.’ Because that’s what we lose.”
Haddock had “an unquenchable thirst” for meaning. And then, in 2015, he met a man called Peter Gorman through a friend in Texas.

The shelves surrounding Peter Gorman’s office are filled with artifacts from the Peruvian Amazon. Photograph: Brandon Thibodeaux for the Guardian At first glance Gorman comes across as a gruff family man who speaks with a salty growl. But he also happens to be an award-winning journalist, a seasoned explorer, and a raconteur with a singular résumé. He’s also the author of two remarkable books about hallucinogenic drugs (he calls them “medicines”) sourced from the Amazon forest: Ayahuasca in My Blood: 25 Years of Medicine Dreaming and Sapo in My Soul: The Matsés Frog Medicine.

Short supply of plant has led to uptake in commercial planting, use of dangerous alternatives and fears of deforestation


Since first visiting Peru in 1984, Gorman has become the American repository for a particularly unusual form of indigenous knowledge, which he shares with guests several times a year on his “Jungle Jaunts” – nine-day expeditions into the Amazon that have earned a following among people who seek to “clear up physical ailments, emotional problems, [or] solve mid-life crises”.
There are now dozens of tourist retreats scattered around the waterlogged town of Iquitos that promise healing with hallucinogens and “traditional” plant remedies. But Gorman, who carefully screens all his guests, pitches something a little more advanced: what he has called “absolute Amazon reality”.

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation,” Gorman told me when I asked what sort of people sign up for these adventures. “These people don’t want to be desperate. They want to do something extraordinary.”
I found myself growling and moving around on all fours. I felt as though animals were passing through me
At the beginning of 2016, Haddock flew to Iquitos to accompany Gorman into the Amazon. Following Gorman’s lead, he climbed aboard a small boat and floated for a dozen hours up the Río Ucayali. At the town of Genaro Herrera, he and other guests switched to dugout canoes, then drifted for another few hours up a smaller tributary. Eventually, they came to the rustic camp that Gorman maintains on the Río Aucayacu, surrounded by macaws, pink dolphins and fish that bite as you bathe in water the color of chocolate milk.
Haddock took off his shoes and ran around barefoot. “I fell in love with the jungle,” he told me longingly. He would stay there for several weeks, sequestered from society in a kind of prelapsarian Eden.
Gorman employs a curandero, or traditional healer, at his camp. At their own discretion, guests can engage in a regime of medicines administered by the shaman: ayahuasca, “vine of the little death”; Nu-nu, a fiery snuff blown forcefully into the nasal cavity using a long pipe; and sapo, a secretion from the Phyllomedusa bicolor tree frog that is introduced directly into the bloodstream through a small burn (the shaman jabs you with a burning stick, then swabs frog slime into the open wound).
These kinds of medicines have become famous for their strong psychotropic effects, inducing vivid, occasionally terrifying visions. But they also seem to provide a sensation of universal connection that people like Haddock find profoundly stirring. He told me his senses had been sharpened after receiving the drugs; he felt opened up, newly aware of what was actually around him. “It’s about getting the natural world back into you,” he said.
What happens in the jungle does not necessarily stay in the jungle, either. After returning home, Haddock kept in close contact with Gorman in Texas. During the rest of 2016, he took doses of medicine over 20 more times – including, he mentioned casually, sapo just a few hours before I called him for this interview.
Haddock’s experience in the Amazon left an indelible impression. “I find it more and more difficult to connect to things here,” he said. “Honestly, it’s almost ruining me for life in materialistic, capitalist, urbanized society.” This sentiment echoed something Gorman mentioned while explaining how he felt responsible for his guests long after the tours ended: “I expanded you with the medicine and now you don’t fit into your life any more.”

Photographs of tribesmen and women from the Peruvian Amazon taken by Peter Gorman during one of his expeditions. Photograph: Brandon Thibodeaux for the Guardian This past December, I flew to Texas to listen to Gorman’s stories at his modest house in Joshua, which is a town 20 miles outside Fort Worth better known for its contingent of KKK members than liberal-leaning medicine men.
By then I’d interviewed nearly a dozen of Gorman’s former guests, including a licensed therapist, a clinical psychologist, a man who was looking to “refresh” after divorce, and an Alberta schoolteacher who got more than she bargained for on a vacation with her father. Many of these former guests had described their jungle jaunts as transcendental, and almost all of them had described Gorman in roughly equivalent terms. He was “a whole lot of trouble”, but in a good way, “like Charles Bukowski”. He was “rough around the edge” and extremely direct. He was intimidating yet reassuring, “a walking paradox”, not unlike a classic figure from Buddhism: “The good spirit hidden inside the old beggar.”
I found Gorman sitting in his home office chain-smoking cigarettes. At 65 years old, he is grey-bearded and weather-beaten, and wore cargo shorts and a Cheshire Cat grin. He speaks with a booming, theatrical voice that somehow reminded me of a pirate – several of which, incidentally, he once encountered in the Amazon during a river expedition to gather plants (according to his book, he and his shipmate, a woman named Chepa, shouted them off while waving machetes; then he turned to her and confessed his love, and they got married a year later).
By way of introduction, Gorman pointed out some of his favorite objects around the office, including numerous journalism awards for his coverage in Fort Worth Weekly of the Keystone pipeline battle and fracking in Texas. He has twice been named Texas print journalist of the year by the Houston Press Club, proof of which hangs on his wall next to a framed letter from the American Museum of Natural History thanking him for three artifacts he donated and which are currently on display.
Many more are right here, on cluttered shelves kept for his own edification – Shipibo pottery, exotic bird feathers, a necklace made from ocelot teeth. Gorman gestured to a fearsome-looking poison dart. “I always tell the kids if somebody comes at night, take that down,” he said. “They won’t make it back to their car.”

Gorman hosts trips to the Peruvian Amazon with those seeking a life change. The trips often includes use of the hallucinogenic drug ayahuasca. Photograph: Brandon Thibodeaux for the Guardian Gorman was born in Queens into a family of actors and artists. He found his own calling as a writer, and traveled to South America in the early 1980s, hoping to earn money as a freelance foreign correspondent to pay his way. In the Amazon, which he wanted to see “before capitalism completely destroyed it”, he took ayahuasca decades before it became a trend drug among Brooklyn and Silicon Valley elites.
Gorman’s initial hallucinations involved astral travel with birds and conversations with snakes. He was skeptical of his experience, asking himself: “Was it possible that my ego had really dissolved enough – momentarily – to allow me to interplay with another form, or was my ego so distended that I could dream the vision up and convince myself it was true?” After further visits, he decided on the former.
Gorman’s Amazon guide, Moisés, introduced him to members of the remote Matsés tribe on the Peruvian-Brazilian border, who showed him even more exotic substances, such as sapo. Gorman had an extreme reaction when the frog secretion was swabbed on to his arm: “I found myself growling and moving around on all fours. I felt as though animals were passing through me, trying to express themselves through my body. It was a fantastic feeling, but a fleeting one.”

Every year, thousands of tourists head to the Peruvian Amazon to take the plant medicine ayahuasca. But what does the powerful drink actually do, and what do local shamans think of the rise in its popularity?


Gorman claims to be the first person ever to have written about “an animal product being put directly into a human bloodstream for medicinal purposes”. His writings on sapo caught the attention of Vittorio Erspamer, the famed Italian pharmacologist who discovered serotonin and was twice nominated for the Nobel prize. Erspamer gave some money to Gorman to return to the Amazon and collect a frog for his research. Erspamer’s initial studies of sapo “showed it to be a complex mix of proteins that were all bio-active”, Gorman later wrote, “which meant they interacted with the human body as though the body had produced them.”
Gorman began offering jungle expeditions in 1998, after he relocated from New York to Iquitos more permanently and struggled to make ends meet as proprietor of the town’s Cold Beer Blues Bar. (The bar, Gorman says, was popular among ex-pats and government operatives, who would get drunk and spill secrets to him even after he installed a sign announcing himself as a journalist.)
By then, Gorman’s personal visits to the Amazon had transformed his life; he used the jungle to guide his decision-making and regulate his mental states. He found the natural medicines revelatory, and he came to suspect that others might pay for the privilege of a similar awakening, though he also felt guilt about “the thought of exploiting ayahuasca for money”.
Eventually, he decided that “the medicine had been a wonderful teacher for me; why wouldn’t it be wonderful for other people?” Also, he needed to feed his family.
In 2013, Gorman was infected with four strains of flesh-eating bacteria, which immediately set about decimating his left leg. Gorman was hospitalized in Iquitos, and then again in Texas after it became clear that his life might be in danger. It took major skin grafts, months of antibiotics, and so much ibuprofen that Gorman imperiled his liver before the leg was saved.
I asked Gorman what had happened in the jungle to cause the infection – how, in a sense, his obsession had taken him so far that it began to consume him.
He said the easy answer was that his leg was already covered in cuts and mosquito bites, and that he’d walked through the market of a small village looking for a bathroom, slipped in black sludge, flown backwards off his feet, and landed in fish guts that had been baking in the sun for more than 24 hours. An infection took hold after he failed to disinfect the cuts properly back at camp.
The more difficult answer, however, was linked to the fact that curanderos in some of the places he visits see him with guests and assume he has money. (Gorman insists that he breaks even on trips, and sometimes runs at a loss after paying the staff.) A few of them have been resentful in the past, and, Gorman said, “hatred takes whatever form it needs”. Who made him need to pee so badly that day? Who made him trip into the fish guts? The word for this is brujería – willing bad things to happen to your enemies. A form of witchcraft.
Gorman knows how all this sounds. “If I start writing this stuff, you people are going to think I’m out of my fricking mind,” he said. But he doesn’t expect people to blindly take his word on anything. He only advocates open-mindedness, suggesting that the world is not as “solid” as we like to think.
If it is not immediately clear from this brief biographical sketch, Gorman is not your stereotypical New Age hippy-dippy guru. He does not wear a white smock or light scented candles. He told me a story about dropping the Eucharist as a child and then eating it off the ground, saying: “I like that attitude to the divine.” It is his irreverence that has endeared him to his guests.
Several of them were present when I arrived in Joshua, including a computer programmer from New York; a film-maker who was following Gorman for a documentary; and Haddock, who nodded at me in polite recognition. Occasionally, in between the jungle jaunts, Gorman will get a phone call from one of his guests asking for help. (Think of somebody calling a chiropractor to request a neck adjustment.) Then he will arrange a medicine ceremony at his own house and step into the role of substitute curandero. These evenings are only for friends – an exception was made for me so I could observe him working – and he refuses all payment.
Twenty minutes after our arrival, Gorman was marching past a broken treadmill around his backyard, speaking in tongues and spraying a mysterious liquid out of his mouth. The guests followed behind him, puffing tobacco smoke into a white cloud. They were constructing a protective wall for the ceremony.

In 2013, Gorman was infected with four strains of flesh-eating bacteria, which immediately set about decimating his left leg. Photograph: Brandon Thibodeaux for the Guardian This is not one of those articles where a journalist drinks ayahuasca and then experiences either almost nothing or a gradual life transformation that involves giving up alcohol and joining CrossFit.
I did not take any medicines while reporting this story. Partly this is because Gorman declined to offer, saying: “I don’t know you well enough.” Partly because psychotropic drugs are well-known for waterboarding you with your deepest fears, and less than 24 hours before I flew to Texas my father was diagnosed with cancer. There were certain horrors I was not quite ready to be confronted with.

Now Gorman was sitting in a rocking chair in the living room. Haddock and the other guests had crawled into sleeping bags scattered around the floor and couches, like children waiting to be told a ghost story.
“If you get scared, come sit with me,” Gorman advised the room. “Don’t allow yourself to be alone.” He said people should blow away any bad visions they might be besieged with – literally blow, as if they were blowing a fly from their eyes. Then he began to sing a song, a soft icaro, as he poked around a collection of plastic bottles by his side. After a short time, he made a signal for the first man to crawl forward: “Chocolate milk awaits.”
The ritual turned out to be the same for each person. They would shuffle up and sit at Gorman’s feet. Gorman would present them with a shot-sized glass of green sludge – the ayahuasca – and then several puffs of a nasal spray, followed by a lozenge to disguise the vile taste. Finally, he would spritz something fragrant over their head and body. “Just so she knows you want her to come on” – she being the spirit of ayahuasca – “put on some of that, because she loves that shit.”
Gorman drank last, and then picked up his shacapa – an Amazonian leaf rattle. As he shook the dried bundle, the sound, like wind rushing through palm trees, combined with words from his songs (“medicina”, “corazón”, “espíritu”, “selva”), created a simulacrum of the jungle in this suburban living room. Light crawled across the wall from passing traffic, but otherwise the effect was uncanny.
“I don’t even know what time it is,” Gorman mumbled after a few minutes.
“10.20,” offered the computer programmer.
“Burn that watch!” Gorman barked.
From my perspective, sitting on the outside of this communal trip, what happened over the following two hours was fascinating and deeply strange. A young woman ran past me to throw up, trailed by Gorman’s daughter, Madeleina, who was on standby as nurse. Haddock let out a strained cry, as though somebody had poked him sharply in a soft spot. Gorman’s singing became trapped temporarily inside an E-flat – eeeeeee – until his head lulled, then suddenly snapped back. Later, he would admit that he had drunk too much of the medicine, was “really out there”, and “wanted to scream”. But he stayed composed for the sake of his friends. “Go anywhere you like,” he told them in a strained voice. “Welcome the dreams.”
A line soon formed for the bathroom so people could purge, an inevitable messy part of taking ayahuasca (and part of its traditional value in the Amazon: it flushes parasites). As Haddock brushed past me, he asked: “Are you wondering why we put ourselves through this?”
Actually, I was thinking about something in Gorman’s book. “Imagine a dog whistle,” he writes. “You blow it, you hear nothing. Your cat hears nothing. Birds hear nothing. But a dog will yelp in pain at the sound. So while you couldn’t hear it, it was still there. Your hearing just didn’t have a broad enough band.”
To want to perceive reality beyond our limited “band”, suspecting it could offer some form of enlightenment about how the world truly works, seemed to me understandable enough. Because isn’t that also the aspiration of science – to expand our reach through the universe beyond the five senses? I wasn’t sure the medicine Gorman offered could genuinely expand human perception, but I believed these people were convinced it could, and I saw the serious comfort they took from their contact with him.
Before flying to Texas, one of the guests I’d spoken with was a young man named Devon Wright. Like Haddock, Wright, who lives in Hawaii, found himself going through “a life crisis”. He’d dropped out of school and was struggling on anti-depressants. “I needed to do something or die … I was looking for help, something outside of myself, in order to come back into myself.” He admits he “wasn’t thinking that clearly” at the time.
Wright made his own way to Iquitos when he was just 17 years old. Initially, he went to attend a shamanism conference. Then he met Gorman and returned for one of his jungle trips. What he found on the Río Aucayacu, Wright told me, was “who I am”. There was no irony in this statement. He meant what he said.
“Peter will sometimes use this analogy: we carry around this sack of potatoes on our back for a long time, and then every once in a while, if you do something like ayahuasca, it gives you an opportunity to unload.” Wright said he now took the medicine once or twice a year. “It allows me to let go and see what’s left.”
The morning after the ceremony, I woke up on Gorman’s floor with my toes numb from the cold. Dried shacapa leaves lay scattered around the rocking chair.
As I was preparing to head back to the airport, Gorman moved the chair to the middle of the room and turned on the television to a Rangers game. By the bright light of morning he was just an average guy, passing Sunday like thousands of other average guys in Texas. He thanked me for coming as though I’d just dropped by for a friendly barbecue and passed out on the couch.
But then he said something else: that he would sing for my father. I’d mentioned cancer the night before, because cancer was all I could really think about. Smiling, Gorman said he would include him in his songs to the spirits.
I am not what might be called a credulous person. But I would agree that the world is not as solid as we like to believe – complicated, multi-layered and mostly beyond my comprehension. So when Gorman emailed me later that day, asking my father’s name, I wrote back and told him it was Murray.
 

Pizzabeak

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#20
Somebody needs to invent a video camera that we're able to take onto these trips with us.

Shame about the 404. It should have 301'ed to a page dedicated to Christopher Hitchens instead.

I'm going to film myself next time and try to make a mental effort to dictate what I'm seeing and how I feel. I don't know if this will work but it may help afterwards to remember more of the trip.
If the phenomena are really 'out there' it may be possible to photograph them, using the latest developments in quantum computers and brain scan imaging technique. I was quite shocked to learn that, on the contrary, if it's all in the mind that wouldn't be possible. So that means the molecule must somehow allow access to other worlds temporarily, so the mystery is how and why those do what they do.

For example how is it that there is a thing that when consumed allows you to see what is usually invisible, or somewhere else while everything else remains intact. What is the nature of the other, then. It's not like when you drink H2O the same thing can necessarily happen. So in relation to everything else, it just does what it does. The usual answer is it activates serotonin receptors so everything could be due to feeling that way. Feeling of elation are usually attributed to it, not to underplay its complexity but it would appear to be self explanatory. It's different though, because when you take 5-hydroxytryptamine nothing much happens. 5-hydroxydimethyltryptamine is a little different with more central effects. In the body, though, the NTs play a different role compared to ingesting them exogenously.

Filming yourself can help a little bit, I know someone who had music playing while they did it and filmed themselves but they later deleted the clip. It could help a little I guess but the associations may still fade after a long time.

The important part is its a forced dream. You usually only dream at night when you sleep, but when you take those usual class of tryptamines it pulls you straight to the portal of dreamland. That's why it's so hard to remember, like a dream. But while it's going on it's clear and vivid, if you break through. If you don't it's easier to remember because it's just changes in visual acuity. Your body isn't forced into a sleep position and then summoned back when it's metabolized.

Our ancestors used to use it more before civilization. But it was hard to make it work prior to that. You see references to dreaming throughout the Bible. So they are related and it works so that dream function for prophetic purposes, but not all dreams.

There's a pretty good Rick Strassman talk online about his new book, let's see if I can find and post it. This topic is nearly done to death. It's just about perception.
 

Pizzabeak

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There's a chance the indigenous people were deliberately searching for a vomit inducing concoction when ayahuasca was found, or invented. Obviously retching is seen as a cleansing act. One has to come with the other in some shape or form. But if you look at the testimony as separate experiences DMT and ayahuasca aren't really similar, DMT is just one component of the ingredients. I would say cornucopia but sometimes there are only two apparently. If it's just a DMT trip mediated by a longer offset via the harmala alkaloids then how would it be so different. There is a Mexican feel to smoked DMT. It's all related to the jungle archetype. Perhaps there's an additional Mexican feel to just taking the MAO inhibitors as well? Well I can't really say for sure unfortunately. There's just a sampling of what the plants are like, where they are from. There's a Jewish mysticism feel to smoked DMT as well. It's an alien, wasteland feel, like what acid would be. But acid can be what a "DMT trip" would be like stretched out over twelve hours. It's subtle. They use the same patterns of visual distortion as DMT does at low levels that acid does at the beginning before it really kicks in.
Yes, I wouldn't doubt they are different though, from looking at some of the ayahuasca art, I guess. There's also a Mexican or tiki feel to salvia. It distorts the vision so it seems like other dimensions open up and there are auditory hallucinations as well so as to give some illusion one is in communion with the plant spirits. It can be a similar realm to what happens with DMT except the salvia vision is made of the stuff before your eyes, like the environment to an extent. But you fall into a sleep like state that was apparently described in the Bible as a prophetic one. It's what they saw. But shamans in the Amazon use it to visit and explore lucid dreams so they can bring back information. I wonder how often it works. People can also use it for cleansing. It can't be addictive or liable for abuse because of the vomit part.
There are also mushrooms that have DMT because the tryprophan and the fungi or pant life can't make anything else but the DMT. There isn't anything else available to in nature. So when you take it you are liable to also enter a brief sleep like state. If that happened in nature you could be eaten by a bear, tiger, or lion if you weren't safe. So it's dangerous and a bad idea. It's just pure nature. But you quickly recover so there's a chance that there are benefits to be had. That's the trouble with mushrooms. They can grow anywhere, they don't care, they just grow and you can eat them.
So it's the "sleep, then wake up" archetype that you find throughout all this. Some say it isn't worth it. But according to the Bible, it's in there. Maybe they were intoxicated on something or in deep meditation. The brain could have been a little different then, or the mind and level of consciousnesses. It could have been easier and more useful than it would otherwise have been today. It just isn't the same. There was a guy who took ayahuasca and stopped smoking weed because of it, so it has some overall influence in those kinds of things.
 
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