Ayahuasca Insights: Ceremony in Australia

Medicine Path Ayahuasca Insights: Ceremony in Australia

My intentions: Still the mind. Open the heart. Surrender to the experience.
I offer: My willingness to let go, and my sincerity that I'm here to go deep & do the work.
I ask: Please kindly and gently show me whatever it is I need to see. 
My mantra: Breathe, relax, observe, let go.

Trust in the medicine. May whatever circumstances arise, serve the awakening of the heart and mind.


I was letting past memories fuel my feelings and emotions. I was afraid. I was fearful. Remembering my fourth Ayahuasca ceremony in Peru, the most terrifying, intense, frightening experience of my life.

It was akin to the entire essence of my being embodying a sinking vessel; a toxic deluge crashing on board; surrounded by a vast sea of pure poison. The waves upon the deck were relentless, with nothing to do but try and surrender to the situation and ride it out. I felt alone, helpless, beaten down, insignificant. I knew I had to succumb to the intensity, and expel the poison and toxicity to stay afloat.

But in the end, I made it out. Honestly, I was thankful to be alive, but of course, impermanence permeates all. Like the ebb and flow of a river; the calm and soothing shallows to the turbulent and tumultuous rapids. Everything is always changing, nothing forever static.

So, why was I afraid??

I was afraid of the next part of my journey. I was scared of having to dig deep and find the courage within to overcome such an intense challenge again. Yet I've done it before and I can do it again. My past has shown me time after time there is nothing that I cannot get through, in the present moment, the here and now, when I am forced through the flame. The ash and charcoal will brush off, giving rise to new green growth, bearing the seeds of new beginnings - rebirth.

As the great poet Maya Angelou once said, "courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage." 

And so it is that I find the courage within and cultivate it. I willingly take off my armour, step into the fire, and look into the piercing gaze of fear. Beyond fear. The path of fearlessness. And although the gleaming eyes of the demon penetrate to the depths of my soul, on the other side of that terrifying stare, exists that quality of life that I seek.

So, sit with fear. Befriend it. If fear is there, do not push it away. The pile under the rug will only become bigger and make it more likely to trip and fall. It cannot be escaped, so give fear your company. In the dark of the night, tame the beast. Morning will come. Ride upon the back of the mighty steed, towards the Great Eastern Sun.

Artwork: Alex Grey


A spherical, all encompassing dimension of continually morphing shapes, patterns, symbols and seemingly sentient beings laid out the framework of my visual field for the following four hours.

After gulping the vile tea, my heart began racing; the intensity ramping up until I blasted off into the medicine realm. The purging was extremely unpleasant. In repetitive cycles, my head tilted down to find my bucket, as I went through what felt like an exorcism of my soul. Swirls of chaotic, demonic patterns enveloped and engulfed the totality of my being. There was nothing to do but try and surrender.

Two Ayahuasquero's conducted ceremony, a man and a woman. The man's icaros dug deep into my core with a strong masculine flavour, but what caught me off guard was when he ceased his powerful songs, and the woman resumed with her tender, soothing, nurturing voice. It was as if I had no control over my body as it mimicked the movements of a cobra snake under the trance of an flute player.

Side by side it swayed, my head leading the way as my neck and body followed in fluid undulations. The sound of her voice a tantalising wisp of purple smoke; whirling its way from her vocal chords into my body, wrapping me in a spell. Her nourishing feminine energy coursed through me: a state of beautiful bliss.

The beginning of three insights came to me. Often I am judgemental, harsh and blunt towards my family. When I act like this, all I'm doing is creating distance, when really, what I wish to do is become more open and close the distance I've fabricated between them over the many years of my adolescent and adult life.

If I was to go through life in someone else's shoes and experience every single circumstance they had ever been through, I would be exactly like them too. I would inherit the same conditioning, hold their exact beliefs, have matching behaviours, and carry identical perspectives on life.

So be humble, be kind, be compassionate, and regarding this specifically, be understanding. Strive to serve people. My hedonistic pursuits from my past have done nothing to serve the greater good of humanity. Be altruistic in my approach. That should be my aim, to help people out whenever I can.

The plant medicines are exactly that. A medicine for deep healing. Don't get so caught up in the visionary aspect, as curious as I am about exploring the deepest chasms of the consciousness riddle. I visit this challenging dimension to receive insights and wisdom; to be able to employ real perceptual and behavioural changes in everyday life.

Unpleasant patterns like these persisted whenever my head found my purge bucket.
Artwork: Autechre2002


Perpetual cycles of resisting & surrendering, resisting, surrendering. There was a lesson for me to learn here: surrendering makes the experience much smoother. The intensity isn't going to change - would I rather my clinging mind slip into the equation and resist? Or bring attention back to my breath, lean in, and surrender?

La Medicina, La Madre, Mamacita, Mama Ayahuasca... She is certainly not interested in letting me off the hook lightly. On the contrary, muy fuerte. Very strong. Incredibly intense. Unfathomably challenging. When my mind was running rampant, trying to grasp onto what seemed like the last shred of my sanity, my thought patterns were cyclical.

"I am not doing this again. Too much, too intense, incredibly difficult to handle. So so so challenging, a real commitment to showing up and doing the work though." Over and over and over. I was laughing at myself for conjuring and repeating these same thoughts. There were times when I thought I was actually going mad; completely insane. 

My sinuses were congested from a Rapé Snuff ceremony earlier on that afternoon. The method of administration involves packing a "V'" shaped wooden apparatus with a blend of Amazonian tobacco powder, which was forcefully blown up each nostril. Clarity and heightened senses are known benefits, yet all I seemed to receive this time around was a blocked nose and the added difficulty of trying to focus on quality breathing while I journeyed through inter-dimensional worlds.

Traditional use of the Tobacco snuff.
Photo: shamanicsnuff.com

Furthermore, the burning liquid of Sananga eye drops, (for overall eye health and clarity of vision) and a 40 minute shamanic breathwork session, (which involves rapid hyper-oxygenation of the body) didn't seem to shift anything significant, but rather the entire process induced a heightened state of fear because of my inflamed and congested sinuses.

One of the greatest benefits in the moment, was psychological. Pushing beyond the fear of the unknown. The sacred path of the warrior. Superfluous challenges? Perhaps. One could say it's more about rising to meet the challenge, which is what's important.

The visual realm was quite different to the previous night. Once again, all encompassing. It's hard to describe what I really mean when I say the very essence of my being, were the visuals. It's as if my consciousness and all the space that surrounds me, as well as every single cell in my body - my head, my torso, my arms, my legs - all become the totality of the visionary experience.

Fractal patterning folded in on itself horizontally and vertically, while humanoid figures moved about and inspected me, tilting their heads curiously; their ambiguous faces seeming so close that I could reach out and touch them. The colours were much more scintillating than the previous ceremony's landscape, which in a sense seemed more flat; a matte-like colour scheme.

When I surrendered and leaned in, I could travel deeper into the visual dimension. I was looking into a fractal landscape composed of gears, and as I peered further into the horizon, I was momentarily hypnotised by the most beautifully-intricate, cogwheel-esque sparkling artefact.

It was deeply nestled right in there, up the very back, only allowing me to catch the slightest glimpse of it. I was completely enamoured by this enchantingly sacred and mysterious object, as if it were the most spell-bindingly magnificent thing I'd ever seen. 

A lot of the patterns I was observing reminded me of the amazingly detailed mosques found in the Middle East. 

I purged. A lot. Surprise surprise. My insides were wringing themselves out, making sure to expel every last bit of bile that they could. The intensity had dropped down a notch by the time the icaros ended and the musical instruments came out. Guitar, native american flute, djembe, hang drum, shakers, chakapas. The sounds that filled the pitch black room were captivating, seductive, magical.

Before the ceremony concluded, the female Ayahuasquero crept over to me and whispered softly, "Chris, I'm going to perform a ritual on you. Take off your hat." Inhaling her mapacho cigarette and exhaling the smoke all over my body, she rubbed some sort of liquid into my arms, hands & head, and drew crosses on my forehead and chest. 

An icaro was being sung to me as she grabbed my shirt and pressed me forcefully against the wall, ending with a pulling motion, as if she was ripping something out from my chest. I had no idea what the meaning of this personal ceremony was, but I was exhausted and felt somewhat relieved afterwards. I was to find out the meaning of this the next day, which was quite interesting indeed...

Without a doubt, a relentlessly mind-boggling ceremony. Why do I do this to myself, you might ask? I ponder the same question, and always have the same answer. Because I'm committed to the work of becoming a more loving, humble, open person. Years of therapy in just a few hours, an essential part of my path at this stage of my life. Being called to do the work is one thing, stepping up to actually do it, is another.


I had prepared myself for the imminent intensity that was about to unfold. Like 10,000 volts coursing through my body, I was ready to surrender and focus entirely on my breath. That doesn't mean that I wasn't feeling anxious and defeated, because I must admit, I was. Terribly so. My ego was fearful of surrendering to the unknown, and it's because of that fear that I know I have to step up to the plate, time and time again.

As the effects were taking hold, my friend R who was seated next to me, broke the silence with a whisper, calling for the female Ayahuasquero. It was so still in the room that you could have heard a pin drop. Quietly she crawled over.

"Why are you calling me?"
"I feel sick."
My first thought: “oh shit, I think she's freaking out.”

R murmured her concerns, asking if it was ever going to end. I whispered back the only word I could muster for reassurance: yes. The Ayahuasquero quickly interjected and stated, "Maybe not. You have to trust the medicine..."

I was well underway to being transported to another dimension at this stage, and it wasn't much longer until R was calling out for help again.
In my severely altered state, I tried to bring my awareness back into my body; to find the ability to speak and calm her down. 

"Try to relax, it's going to pass. Focus on your breath. Breathe into it and surrender. Breathe.. Breeaathe... Breeeaaattthe..." And with that final word which gently escaped my mouth as if it were my last ever breath, I held her hand in comfort as I slipped off to meet Mamacita.

I thought I'd gone deep before, but this was about to give new meaning to that term in this context. If I could have died by astonishment, I probably would have. The one frustrating thing about these types of experiences, and this one in particular, is that I was so deeply in it, and so attentive to my breath, that I was incapable of any sort of detailed memory retention afterwards; almost impossible to try and encapsulate or define accurately what I was actually experiencing.

What I did know, is that I was about to engage in Ayahuasca's equivalent of a medical operating theatre: undergoing brain surgery. Unlike the rapidly morphing, incomprehensible realms of the previous two ceremonies, this was completely different. The scenes were unfolding incredibly smoothly and organically, like there was a real sense of intelligence in what was emerging.

What I was experiencing seemed way too compelling to suggest that this was just my brain assimilating and processing random data which resulted in some kind of visual hallucination for me to witness. Everything was perfectly organized and contrived to exquisite perfection. I was in the deepest meditative state I'd ever encountered. My sense of self had merged with 'the other', and it didn't seem like I was Chris having an experience: I was purely the experience itself. Vibrant colours radiated, not dissimilar to some of Alex Grey's work, which is the closest representation I've come across of what was. 

Artwork: Alex Grey

Artwork: Alex Grey

As the journey blossomed further, I began to feel buzzing, fizzing and vibratory sensations all throughout my brain. It was being communicated to me that I was undergoing a manner of brain surgery. Mamacita was scrubbing inside my entire skull, rewiring neurological patterns & pathways. She moved down into my body and the electric fizzing sensations continued to radiate throughout. As intense as this was, the operation couldn't have been performed more lovingly, gently, or beautifully. 

Now of course I cannot validate this with any scientific evidence, but I do have the authority to state that this is unquestionably what it felt like, and the experience was certainly convincing enough for me to be open to the idea of this happening. And in a sense, this is 100% exactly what was happening to me, as I experienced this to the depth of my being. My massive smile emanated gratitude for the remainder of the night, and I couldn't stop uttering, "Thankyou, thankyou Mamacita. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou."

Forgiveness was a profound teaching and wisdom that came through. 

A worthy accompaniment to the insight of Understanding in the first ceremony. Forgiveness for myself, and forgiveness for others. No one is perfect, we are only human after all, and we all make mistakes. I need to continue to cultivate an internal space where I can give forgiveness to all. 

If only everyone could realize that someone else's actions - no matter how unpleasant or undesirable - stems from their own conditioning and their own inner demons, then we could all truly Understand each other on this level, and come from a place of Compassion and Forgiveness.

Regarding forgiveness for myself, this tied in with another download of wisdom I received regarding clarity and purpose. Whatever I do in life, I need to always try to react, or rather - respond, with the highest of virtues that I'm capable of. And I know that I'm not always going to be able to do this, despite striving to do so - due to sickness, or exhaustion, or horribly painstaking circumstances...

So I need to be able to forgive myself for falling off the path. It would be silly and detrimental to beat myself up over this. Reflect, Forgive, Learn & Move On. It seems to be that the highest of virtues is what anyone on the path of self-awareness should strive for. But then again, I cannot speak for others; only my own deepest authentic truths.

Strong. Gentle. Courageous. Loving. Kind. Vulnerable. Open. Compassionate. Understanding. Forgiving. Giving. Gratitude. Humility. Humour. Integrity. Discipline. Equanimous. Peaceful. Knowledgeable. Wise.

I must strive to continue becoming a beacon of light to allow others to grow on their own paths; let my growth and wisdom gained, be the catalyst to inspire others. Overall, this had been the most profoundly intense and magnificent ceremony on my medicine path so far.

I'm truly grateful to have established a deeper, more loving connection with the Spirit of the Vine.

Artwork: Miles Toland

SIDE NOTE: An explanation of the personal healing I received during the second ceremony.

Both Ayahuasqueros said they were quite sensitised to people's energy, after spending a combined total of over two decades working with the sacred medicine in the Amazon. Apparently they had 'scanned' me over since I had been to the Jungle several months prior, and had sensed that I was carrying something that wasn't mine; some sort of dark energy, or negative entity of some sort. The personal healing she performed on me was to release and remove it from my system.

Now I'm open minded, yet very sceptical about these kind of things. Going down this path involves questioning the very nature of reality and the entire framework of what consciousness actually is. It's where I start asking myself some very deep and esoteric philosophical questions, which I won't get into here.

But what IS very interesting regarding them picking up on this apparent dark entity, is that during my first ever ceremony in the Amazon, I recall opening my eyes ever so slightly during the middle of the experience, and saw someone exit the maloca door across from where I was seated. Faint moonlight was shining down, and in that moment I actually observed a black 'presence' quickly slink into the hut, and rapidly move directly towards me.

It seemed to merge with my consciousness/spirit/mind/body, and although I remember thinking how odd it was that that just happened, I didn't think too much of it afterwards, because, well, there were NUMEROUS unfamiliar and bizarre experiences occurring that I had never encountered before, and I didn't feel as if I was negatively impacted by this particular situation, which in the grand entirety of the night, was such a infinitesimal slice of time.

I've heard many stories and accounts of energies in the form of good/evil, light/dark, spirits/entities, and even I use this vocabulary to describe situations I come across in the visionary realm, but as far as believing anything 100% to the core of my being... well, let's just say that the universe and our perception of reality is highly subjective, and obviously much more mysterious than any of us can really begin to firmly grasp. 

All in all, an interesting tale to tell and story to ponder. The journey into the unknown goes on...

Artwork: Luis Tamani

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