Azarius experiences: my second ayahuasca ceremony

In the series ‘Azarius experiences', one of the indomitable Azarius employees shares his or her experience with a psychoactive substance or product related to psychonaut or stoner culture. In today's episode, ayahuasca, part two:

“My first ayahuasca experience was not very special. Because many claim their first experience wasn’t too intense, I decide to take another chance.

It’s six months later and this time the tipi is exchanged for a beautiful log cabin with a fireplace in the center. There is a toilet unit as well. In comparison with the first time, conditions appear to be a lot better. Only right now it’s winter and quite cold.

Are you going to trip from ayahuasca?

A few hours after arrival we are waiting on our sleeping mats in the cabin till the shaman calls us forward. The guy next to me seems pretty nervous. Suddenly he looks at me and says: "This is my first time ayahuasca. Normally I only use coke. I once used LSD, but it was horrible. I do not like to trip at all. By the way, you're not going to trip from ayahuasca, are you?"

The guy clearly isn't kidding and I don’t know what to say. The honest answer: "Ayahuasca will make you trip incredibly hard, even harder than LSD," seems foolish. Fortunately, at that moment the shaman calls me. Quickly, I walk forward and take the ayahuasca. If I sit back on my mat, the guy next to me walks to the front, totally unaware of what he's going to throw himself into. Shaking my head, I watch him go.

Fresh air

When everyone had their share, the shaman tells us: "The idea is to let go of everything. Me and my assistant will take care of you." I suspect the guy besides me takes this very literally. About forty five minutes after ingestion, he starts yelling, from out of the blue: "HELP, HELP, I can’t let go!!! Help, help my ego. MY EGO!" Meanwhile, he is waving his arms and legs in the air, half on top of my mattress. So, more or less, I'm chased outside.

Outside, I take a deep breath. Slowly the trip starts to work. I don't know what to do. It's freezing cold, but I don’t want to go back to the hut. At a distance of fifty yards I still hear the boy shrieking with fear. Unfortunately, I don’t realize the ayahuasca is slowly breaking my contact with reality. In this state I decide to walk into the forest on my own - while it’s in the middle of winter, around midnight and freezing - and to lie down there on the ground.

Death and rebirth

In the freezing cold, all alone, a journey begins that takes me into the deep, dark and black places of our existence. Many times I experience to die, to rise again afterwards in a dark world. I’m undergoing the so-called cycles of death and rebirth. This is a relatively well-known phenomenon that one can undergo while tripping. The only problem is that in real life I’m actually freezing to death.

How long I’ve been lying there, I don’t know. However, suddenly there’s a voice that soft but compellingly says to me: "You MUST stand up now, or else it goes wrong." Something in me carries out what I've been told and I walk towards the hut on autopilot.

When letting go fails

It's hours later, but the guy is still screaming and keeps on uttering the same sentence: "HELP, HELP, I can’t let go, my ego, my ego. Help!!!" The shaman and his assistant devote all their attention to him. All kinds of rituals are introduced to help him let go, but the only thing the guy can do is wait for the ayahuasca to stop working.

Totally numbed with cold I sit by the fire. After a while, my trip stops and I remember I’ve been outside for a long time. The guy finally stops screaming.

Two days later I have bronchitis. After a few weeks I hear more often people go out in the cold to lie down on the ground. In some cases this resulted in severe hypothermia. In retrospect I realise I had a narrow escape.

When I was in the woods, nobody was watching me - in contrast to what was promised. And I totally didn’t feel how cold I was. If there wouldn’t have been something in me saying I had to go back to the cabin, it may as well have ended badly. I found this experience in no way worth ninety euros!"



Note from Azarius: Not every ayahuasca ceremony is the same. These rituals are organized by various groups, shamans and other supervisors, so the quality of supervision can vary. Are you curious about ayahuasca, but want to avoid situations as described above? Prepare well. Only go to a ceremony that you’ve heard good stories about and go with someone you trust.