Ayahuasca ceremonies are held in our maloca, a traditional, round ceremonial hut. The ayahuasquero first prepares the space, clearing bad energies with mapacho smoke and flower perfumes. They then prepare the ayahuasca, singing icaros into it asking the medicine for healings, good visions and a positive experience for all. Participants are then called up one at a time and served a dose determined by the shaman. After all participants are served, the lights are extinquished and the ceremony continues in darkness. The ayahuasquero will shortly begin singing icaros, calling in spirits and controlling the energy in the maloca. This singing will continue off and on throughout the ceremony, which is interspersed with periods of silence. During the ceremony they may approach and work directly on certain individuals, according the healings required and what arrises in that particular ceremony.
The ayahuasca experience varies considerably among individuals. Most commonly the effect will begin within 35-50 minutes. Some people go into it within 10 or 15 minutes, and others may wait over an hour before the effect begins. The onset time may also vary from night to night for the same person. Typically people begin seeing lights, colors, and moving geometrical shapes. After a short time this may transform into other forms of visions. There is no predicting what a person will see, and each ceremony experience will be different. On a given night, one never knows what they are going to get, even if they have drank hundreds of times in the past.
People frequently feel energy moving around in their bodies. Common visions are of other-worldly plants, or insects and reptiles. Many people report seeing aliens, or angels. Some will see spirits unlike anything they could have possibly imagined. Extreme emotions are common, especially while purging. Sometimes one will feel intense fear, which is a foundation for much of the suffering in our lives. If these strong emotions arise, allow them to flow, to be released from your emotional body. A good general rule is to trust the medicine and not resist what it brings you. The ceremony is a very safe environment to release energies and emotions that may have been stuck in us for a long time.
Some nights one will not have visions, but instead will get many insights into themselves and their lives. One of the greatest benefits of drinking ayahuasca is that it shows us what is inside of us. If one continues drinking ayahuasca, they will get to know themselves very, very well.
It is important to remember that ayahuasca is medicine. While one may have incredible visions and the experience can be very enjoyable, it is about healing - not entertainment.
There are many personal accounts of the ayahuasca experience available on the internet, and most books on the subject include several accounts of both the author and others. These can be an informative introduction to what is possible, but it is unlikely your journeys will be similar to those you read about. Ayahuasca is a deeply personal experience. It is said that ayahuasca brings you what you need to heal on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. After reading about the experiences of others, it is normal to want some of what you read, yet it is best to set aside expectations and be open to what the medicine brings for your own personal healing and transformation.
And remember, the next time you drink - it will be different.