Have you ever wanted to know what ayahuasca is like? True story, you'll never know until you try it. And you shouldn't try it until you're ready to confront some serious emotions.
This is my story of my second ayahuasca ceremony. This experience happened on March 15th at 8pm, and the story was written the next morning.
If you missed my first ayahuasca story, check it out!
I fucking love all of you!
This is From the Ashes, Episode 2: To Hell and Back
My name is Becca and today I will be reading an experience that I had taking Ayahuasca with a group of 10 people at a farm in southern Chile. I wrote this the day after my second Ayahuasca ceremony, and the story you’re about to hear is completely true.
Before I begin, I have two really important disclaimers. And. Just so that you know, these disclaimers are exactly the same as those in episode 1.
Here we go anyway.
Disclaimer #1: Ayahuasca is not a recreational drug.
In this episode, I discuss the very real effects of ayahuasca – an ancient plant-based medicine from Peru. I cannot stress to you enough that ayahuasca is not a recreational drug. It’s not something that you do if you’re looking for a fun high. I can tell you from experience that this particular medicine should definitely be done with an experienced shaman, and only when you’re really ready to confront serious emotions in your life.
I did Ayahuasca in a group of 10, and the actions of other people are described in this episode. What you’re hearing is not an objective judgment of these people, but rather how my brain interpreted the actions of these people while I was on ayahuasca. My sober judgment and my ayahuasca judgment of these folks are not the same, and nor should yours be.
With those disclaimers out of the way, let’s go ahead and get started.
From the Ashes, Episode 2: To Hell and Back
The first night I took Ayahuasca, the Shaman warned us that even if you’ve taken ayahuasca once, you can never predict the outcome. Ayahuasca is always a surprise.
In preparation for my second ayahuasca ceremony, I have to be honest in saying that I didn’t take those words to heart. In preparation for day 2, I basically did the same thing as before, just bigger. I wrote in the morning to completely clear myself of the previous ayahuasca experience, I fasted, and I harvested blackberries and sang at the top of my lungs. Although this time, I harvested for the whole community, not just myself. I thought of it as an offering to Abuelita, and as penance for harvesting only for me the experience before.
As per setting an intention, I came dressed for battle. I was wearing what the brother of my heart called my nature warrior outfit. A pair of camouflage pants gifted to me by my predecessor of scheduling, my gray base layer with hood and thumb holes, a green wool jumper I bought at a local farmer’s market, and two socks that say, “Be Fearless.” Because there was no more I could conjure in terms of need for healing, I opened myself to the possibility that I would unlock what needed to be done to heal the earth.
Fuck was I wrong. Tonight would not be about beauty or joy. Tonight, I would go to hell.
I could tell something was different about the energy this night. My spot from the previous night had been taken before I got there, and so I moved one spot to the left – right next to the fire. For the previous session, the fire had been inside a rocket stove, but I remember wanting it to be outside. So the day before, I hauled wood for 90 minutes and then set up stones so that the fire would be visible. I was so happy that I was going to be next to my hard work during the ceremony. I thought it was a good omen.
It wasn’t. This spot would become the inferno that lit the backdrop of hell.
I also knew the energy was strange because of the Shaman. The Shaman was tired, he was yawning, and he told us he had to wake up early for a presentation. His preamble was short and to the point and it didn’t feel as sacred as the experience before. After taking the Ayahuasca, he vomited what felt like right after taking the dose. He was silent for the entire beginning of the ceremony, minus the sound of emptying his guts into a pail.
As I lay on my back, waiting for the large dose he had given me to kick in, I remember the visual changes starting to occur. At first, it was just visual and body, and I thought to myself, “You know, I did a fucking lot of healing last time, maybe today I just get to feel high and get to enjoy the ride.”
Never underestimate Abuelita. She will punish you for your hubris.
I watched the reflection of the firelight on the roof, felt the heat of the fire, and all of a sudden everything went dark. The roof looked haunting and dead. I remember vividly understanding that there were dark spirits with us this night.
And that’s when it began. As the light from the fire was replenishing itself, atonal keening filled the air. Not beautiful. Not melodic. But screeching, high pitched, painful.
And then the false prophet began to speak. Babbles of psuedo-spiritual garbage washing over my ears, accompanied by the screeching melody of the wailer. It was the worst song I had ever heard.
And I prayed for them to stop. Hoped that it would end quickly and that they would retreat back into themselves so that I could enjoy the high in peace.
It didn’t stop. High pitch wailing. Psuedo-spirtual trash. High pitched wailing. Pseudo-spiritual trash.
I turned on my side toward the fire, my vision hazy, seemingly looking through a cloud shaped like a sleeping fox and I whispered softly to myself, “I am in hell.”
I cowered in my sleeping bag, eyes wide open, and it felt like the world was closing in on me. I distinctly remember thinking of the movie “What dreams may come.” I was caught in that hellscape, trapped in my own personal hell. Wondering if I could endure the wailing and the spiritual ephemera long enough to keep from descending forever into the pits of this madness.
The Wailer kept wailing. The False Prophet kept regurgitating. People were literally vomiting. I was in hell.
And then, as I felt the madness almost take hold forever, my sweet boy appeared. In his green jumper and his shorts. He said no words. He just flashed his radiant smile that always extends all the way to his eyes. He held his hand out to me, and I followed. He saved me from hell, and I was able to let go.
While the wailing continued, the word vomit of pseudo-spiritualism continued, it all became far away. I lay there on my side, and felt my body slowly become one with the earth.
I could feel myself decomposing into the ground, the earth covering me, the cycles of life continuing, and I was just still. While the world continued around me. I no longer mattered. I was gone.
And then. I came back, and I was no longer on my own journey, but connected to the healing of others.
I wasn’t with me. I was with them.
My favorite was the Force.
The force is what woke me from my death and brought me back to the land of the living. She was powerful, she was radiant, she was unapologetic, and she was wearing my shirt. She knew how to fucking heal the earth, she knew how to fucking heal herself, she knew her name. She would not be silenced, she would not be cowed, and I was with her in all her radiant fucking power.
Behind me, was the Commentator. He vacillated between disbelief of the grandmother, and being with the Force. She would shout her battle cry of righteous indignation, and the Commentator would back her up for a moment before asking himself what the fuck we were on. I fucking loved the Commentator. He made me laugh all night. I must have shouted my love for him 20 times throughout the night because it was true.
Then there was the soul singer. Deep, resonant cries. Something primal. I listened to her song, and sent love to her. I didn’t get her name right when I whispered my Te Amos, but I loved her deeply for her song. For a time, I joined her, but the pitch of her voice was too high for me match. As the force shouted over the din, the soul singer inspired me to add a low, calm hum to the bottom. At least for a time.
The Force continued, the same cycles of resistance. The same words of healing over and over again, she knew her voice! This refrain had been happening for a time and from the forest came the voice of the silent one. “And your voice is fucking monotonous!” I loved the force and I didn’t want to her stop, but I loved the silent one in that moment, and I shouted to him, “I fucking love you, man!” I did. I loved them both.
The force continued to cry out her power, and there were those in the crowd who tried to get her to come to peace. To eschew her violence. She stood strong and it was at this point that I sat up and looked around. Because of my death, my eyes were both lucid and high as fuck all at the same time.
The Force was being held, being tended to, and she looked to me and said, “Don’t Hide Becca!”
I responded by saying, ‘I’m not hiding, I’m basking in your power!!” She went back to her endless cycles of telling the world how powerful she was, and they kept trying to get her to come to peace and I couldn’t stand them. “Let her be angry!!” I shouted. And I meant it. There is healing in Anger just as there is in non-violence. They are equals, and I was angry at those who would wish to silence her. To calm her. She had a right to her anger, and the voice of men trying to silence her was something I could not stand by silently. “Let her be angry!” I said.
At this point I was in a strange dual state. In the hands of Abuelita, inside myself, but also connected deeply to the Force, and to the Commentator. I rode the waves of their journey, laughing with them, loving them, hoping for their healing, and hoping for their liberation.
At some point, the False Prophet told me that he loved me. I told him to shut the fuck up because I didn’t know him. Inside, deep down, it was because I knew the False Prophet didn’t yet really know himself. How could I love someone who didn’t know themselves? Despite him being the soundtrack to my personal hell earlier, and despite telling him to shut the fuck up, I even loved the False Prophet that night. I knew that he hadn’t really found himself, and covered that with a large mask. We are all healing. We all deserve love.
As I started to come down, the Shaman gifted me with a blessing. The False Prophet sang along, challenging me to block him out so I could bask in the Shaman’s gift. The Shaman sang to me, blew tobacco smoke on my head, hands, and chest, and sent me on my way. He would later put the last of the wood I had collected onto the fire, and I knew that my journey with Ayahuasca would end when this fire burned out.
I had died and been reborn, it was time to start living again.
All right, you made it!
Thanks so much for making it all the way to the end of Episode 2 of From the Ashes.
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The whole point of me doing this isn’t just to tell my story, but to connect to others who have stories of what it’s like to leave their lives behind and transition into something new.
Thanks again for listening, I fucking LOVE all of you.