What follows is a report about the two-night Ayahuasca experience I had during an Inner Mastery retreat in Eindhoven, Netherlands.
I hope this will be helpful to anyone who’s interested in participating. But it’s also a way for me to recount some of the amazing things that happened. Things I want to keep in my memory for as long as possible. Because they changed my life (see night two).
If you’re psychologically stable and interested in spirituality and personal development, you may take the leap. You won’t regret it. But if you do, make sure it’s two nights minimum.
The preparation for the Ayahuasca ceremony
It was pouring rain when I stepped into the bus going from Brussels to Eindhoven. I didn’t really know what to expect and I was a bit apprehensive. But I also knew that uncovering mysteries of the mind required courage. And with this mindset, I crossed the invisible boundary between Belgium and the Netherlands. Then, after three hours, I’ve found myself in an Ayahuasca International retreat center on the outskirts of Eindhoven.
Everyone was already waiting when I arrived at around 8 PM. There were six people about to take the Ayahuasca, also known as Yagé, The Vine of the Dead, and the Mother Ayahuasca.
Things were happening fast. I registered myself, and we all went into a large room filled with mats, pillows, psychedelic paintings, buckets for vomiting and a sofa for the maestros of the ceremony. A nice setting overall.
There were three “sitters” who would undertake the ritual and help us to get to the other side of consciousness.
The explanations were simple – drink the thing, try to relax and meditate, puke in the bucket, and see what’s going to happen. A quote from Terence McKenna came to mind – “Close your eyes with a simple expectation that you might see something”. They said it was good that I lacked prior knowledge about the experience because this might be an unnecessary distraction.
At around 10 PM, it was time to take action. First, we received a blast of the tobacco snuff called Rapé up our nostrils. They said it would help to ground us in the experience and help us focus. It was burning, stinging, and involuntary tears streamed down my face.
Next up came a small cup of the Amazonian Brew, the mysterious Ayahuasca itself, the drug containing DMT – the most powerful hallucinogen known to humankind. The taste was bad but not as horrible as I expected. It was a brown goo and tasted like earth mixed with a bark of a tree with a slight note of anise in it.
I sat down, closed my eyes, and waited for things to start happening.
First night – the purification and feelings of disappointment
I patiently waited, sitting with my back against the wall. Resting on pillows, it was pleasant and relaxing.
They said I should start feeling something after about twenty minutes. But at least one hour passed and I didn’t feel any psychedelic effects. But something started happening in my stomach. As Ayahuasca spread through my body, I was overcome with dizziness and nausea.
The buckets were there for a good reason. After suffering for a good half an hour, I finally leaped on all fours and puked like a cat. After cleaning myself up, I took a “booster” (one more cup of the brew) and waited some more.
Next was diarrhea. And then more vomiting. The South Americans around the Amazonian Basin call it LA PURGA for a good reason.
After the second bucket episode, I started feeling a bit better. I felt like I relieved my body of a burden. But in my mind’s eye, I could only see tiny glimpses of geometric patterns and flashing colors.
I felt quite disappointed. Was this the experience I came here for? I thought that I would see richer visuals simply by smoking a good deal of cannabis.
But then something started happening. I saw things related to death. And I know it’s called “the vine of the dead” or “the vine of souls”, but this wasn’t at all what I expected. I wanted to see waterfalls, and the jungle, but not the dead.
And I could feel their presence. I saw bones, rotten flesh, teeth, burial grounds, and above all, multiple dark faces with flashy eyes, looking at me. Observing me. It was as if they were expecting my arrival and got together to check me out.
Yet it was all vague, and the visual experience wasn’t extreme. The shape of the trip was directed by the ethnic, instrumental music blasting from the speakers, as well as simple live music coming from drums and rustling leaves. I could hear Ikaros, the magical shamanic songs that changed the effect of the brew. I was able to see sound.
I stayed in this hazy, incense-filled atmosphere for around six hours. But I ended up confused, and slightly disappointed.
Was this all I could hope for? As I plunged into the second night, the answer turned out to be “hell no”.
Second night – The spiritual awakening
The second night was a bit cozier. There were only four visionaries left to take “the medicine of the forest”. Normally the retreats take up six or even ten nights. But this was a rainy Sunday and many people already left to live their normal lives.
The procedure was similar to the first night. But this time before imbibing the brew, we did a quick spiritual dance and took some of the Amazonian tobacco paste and spread it around our gums. The taste was bad, but it was still better than the tobacco snuff we took on the first night.
After this quick preparation, the lights were dimmed, the candles lit, and we gulped down the Brew. I sat down on the mat and tuned into the sounds of music, the rustle of the leaves, and the rain outside.
This time I didn’t feel nauseous. I figured that my organism was already used to the substance. After around twenty minutes I started seeing some minor visuals, like geometric patterns and colors. I kept my eyes closed and waited. From the noises around me, I deducted that a few participants were already tripping hard.
Some of them started making strange noises and get into emotional states. I, on the other hand, was feeling quite normal. After around one and a half hour, I took a small “booster” (another short of Aya) and slowly reclined on the mat.
After that, things finally started happening. I mean, one of the most important events of my life kind of things. The visuals became more intense, and the music more sonorous. I kept my eyes closed.
I could see “the dead” again. They convened in a ring that was somewhere above me. They looked similar to the typical aliens with big heads, big eyes, and grey skin. I saw them during my mushroom trip, so strangely enough, I wasn’t scared and not even so surprised. It felt like coming back to this strangely familiar realm. In my mind, I said, “I’m glad to see you again”.
They circled around me, but stayed mute and were just observing me.
I also saw a different type of “dead”, “ancestors”, “souls” or however you want to call them. They looked more like modern humans, except that their skin was really dark, the shape of their faces was quite rough, and their eyes were glowing white and red. They were not friendly, but not hostile either. It looked like they were testing me to see how would I react.
They served me some ugly stuff like death, corpses, and some sort of demonic realm that I can’t quite recall right now. But I stayed calm throughout, and gradually, the experience became more pleasant.
I’ve learned that mindfulness was the key to keeping positive in this precarious circumstance. The key was to just observe without judgment. Whatever came, there it was. Trying to change the experience didn’t work at all. And any involvement of the ego, especially trying to think about something mundane was rebuked right away.
I have to say that the practice of meditation helped me a lot. I remained calm.
And after these initial stages, I broke through to another realm. The house of the Goddess. The Mother Ayahuasca herself. That’s when the whole experience became purely feminine.
I saw the multitudes of beautiful feminine eyes, observing me. I saw Her as a snake that was looking straight at me. I also saw many other snakes and fish, swimming in a never-ending stream of water. When I looked in this huge eye, there was another eye behind it, and then another. And hundreds of smaller eyes floating around in the background.
It was impossible to get to the bottom of it. There was no closure. The present moment was the only thing I could hold on to.
But at one instant, I could almost see Her. The most beautiful, heavily ornamented figure started emerging. The vision started at the bottom of that figure, and then it went up and up and up, to infinity. It was the single most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I could feel the majesty of it all. It was like seeing a whole galaxy from up close. And my description here doesn’t communicate even 1% of what I actually saw. It was ineffable.
And then I saw Her as a shining angel, with beautiful white wings. Next, I saw the ceadeus – the staff with two snakes and wings. But not just one, but hundreds of them, creating an amazing, powerful, poignant, awesome pattern. And these eyes in the background. This just blew my mind. I never thought something like this would be bestowed upon me.
All the great art I saw in multiple museums of the world was nothing compared to this. One minute of this experience crushed all the terrestrial art by orders of magnitude. What I saw was impossible, and multidimensional. And it went on for hours and hours.
I saw a turning wheel that was bright and positive on one side, and dark and negative on the other. I understood that good and evil are two sides of the same coin. It’s the Yin and Yang, order and chaos. And that my job was to walk this thin line in between.
I saw the Eyes shimmering among lights, and splashing water, with Egyptian hieroglyphs in the background. I saw a huge, black jaguar biting off my head.
And strangely enough, this intelligence had a sense of humor. From time to time, it showed me some really funny scenes and it kind of “winked” at me. It was as if we had this strange pact, a kind of deal together.
Then one of the aliens took my form. He started transforming into me. It was as if we became one. It was something like an encounter with my own soul. And it showed me that it’s there, “inside me”, looking over me from the celestial realm. I felt that whatever happens, I will be fine because it protected me. And it was all part of some grand scheme I couldn’t even begin to understand.
Then I was transported from my body and saw the vastness of the cosmos for the very first time. How petty the terrestrial worries were compared to that! I could feel the infinite.
I also saw something like the white light at the end of the tunnel. And these eyes were pointing at it. They were nudging me to look into it. I couldn’t really breakthrough, or I don’t remember if I did. But it really felt like an intimation of life after death or some sort of transitional state of consciousness.
Once, when a psychedelic Ikaro (shamanic song) was blasting from the speaker, I started singing involuntarily. It was as if the song was controlling my body. I didn’t even know I could produce such a clear sound. It was a long, beautiful wail, and it felt amazing.
And then there was the overwhelming feeling of great love. Unending love. This is what I remember most from this experience. I felt the powerful love of the Mother Ayahuasca. I’ve never felt anything like this before. NEVER. If there ever was a paradise, this would be it. The glowing, powerful, unending, all-encompassing feeling of love, caring, and affection.
It was like I was in the womb of the Great Mother. Then I understood that everything is love. I saw Jesus, Buddha, Guru Nanak – and they were all nodding at me – showing me that this is my true state of being. Then I saw my family, my girlfriend, my friends, my enemies, and I loved all of them with a love so strong, so pure, that I started to cry.
As I started coming down, basking in the warm afterglow of the experience, my life already had changed. And I vowed to show myself in the presence of the Great Goddess sometime in the future. To remember my true essence.
In these final moments, all I could mutter was “thank you O’ Mother Ayahuasca”.