Hummingbird Center Logo

Varieties of Ayahuasca Experience

Ayahuasca is a very unpredictable medicine and one cannot anticipate what they will experience on any given night. People usually have very different kinds of experience from onE ceremony to the next. While most people know of the incredible visions ayahuasca can bring, journeys with no visionary component are common. This is not an indication the medicine is not working or not healing you. Visions are not necessarily an important part of the process and “vision seeking” can be a form of resistance and interfere with deeper healing. It is more useful and productive to pay attention to what is happening instead of lamenting or trying to create something that is not. The goal of this work is long term positive change. It is not about tripping or having a cool experience. What is important is that your life is better eight months to a year down the road for having done this work.

Journeys with ayahausca can generally be described as falling into one or more of the following categories: Visionary, Energetic, Insightful, Healing and "Just the purge".

Visionary Journeys

The visionary journey usually begins with a period of brightly colored geometric patterns. This is more of a DMT effect than the work of ayahuasca and will usually pass within 15 – 20 minutes. Each person’s visionary experience will be different. Try to let go of any expectation from reading the accounts of others as your experience is unlikely to be similar to those. There are some common themes and animals that appear. Scenes of the jungle, very large insects, snakes and jaguars and pumas, scenes of Egypt, indigenous people of the amazon, shaman from north American indian traditions, these are all commonly encountered with ayahuasca. It is also common to be taken into outer space, into the galaxy.

If the mariacion (effect of the medicine) is very strong one can be taken into other realities, other dimensions. It is possible to loose contact with this world and and be fully immersed in another realm. Some people love this experience and others may find it frightening. Know you are okay and it is just an experience. You won’t be harmed and you will come back. Put your attention on the singing, the icaros will act as an anchor line connecting back to this reality, back to the ceremony. What is more common are visions where we are not taken to another place. They can be very vivid and clear, yet we remain aware of our presence in the maloca and can easily focus on the ceremony or sounds of nature if we choose. It is possible to interact with the beings that appear while knowing it is a visionary experience. The visions may also be milder, more like watching a movie, seeing things pass before our inner eye. It is also possible visions are grey scale, colorless, or they may be so mild we just see shadows moving around without clearly seeing what they are.

Energetic Journeys

In this class of journey one will feel a large amount of energy moving through the body. People often say it felt like snakes or vines were moving through the body. One often senses the medicine scanning the body and cleansing specific locations. We can become very aware of the energy in the maloca, sometimes the energy of other people. The energy of nature may be felt very strongly and the sounds of the jungle at night seem to come alive and vibrate within. Lessons about our energetic natures may come and we can learn to work with and manage our own energy and carry these lessons into day to day life.

Insightful Journeys

These journeys are characterized by a deep inner reflection. Events of the past arise to ponder and examine them from new perspectives. We learn how these events impacted us in ways we had not seen before, how our own choices often led to the problems we face in life. We may learn how our actions and attitudes impacted others in our lives. Ayahuasca has a way of holding up a mirror and forcing us to look at ourselves in ways we cannot deny nor hide from. This can be uncomfortable when we are shown parts of ourselves we do not like, but it is an important part of the healing journey. It can also show us beautiful aspects we have not fully accepted. Our friends and family are usually very aware of these qualities that we have not yet acknowledged in ourselves, both the positive and the negative.

People around us are mirrors of ourselves. When we see something in another person that irritates or annoys us, we almost certainly have those same qualities and behavioral patterns. This is also true for the things we admire about others. Ayahuasca brings these hidden qualities to light, provides us with information. We then get to make more informed choices about how we want to show up in the world.

Healing Journeys

Healing journeys may include the visionary, energetic and insightful experiences. What stands out about this class of journey is it is very clear to the individual that healing is occurring. This can be physical, emotional, mental or spiritual. Deep purging will often occur. One may have the experience of being in surgery, literally on an operating table with spiritual beings around them working on the body. This is not a frightening experience. It is mostly a fascinating one as you may feel the positive changes as the spirits are healing you. People typically feel quite different the next day, lighter, as if a huge weight has been lifted from them. They feel more positive, more accepting and loving of themselves.

Just the Purge

This is definitely the least popular of the varieties of ayahuasca experience. In this one you drink the medicine, feel nauseous, perhaps heavy in the body and then throw up. Not much else happens. This usually happens the first one or two ceremonies. The first couple of ceremonies are primarily about cleansing and purifying the body. By the third ceremony the ayahuasca experience usually begins to open up, but it is possible this may persist for couple more. If the blocks continue a purge with tobacco can be very effective in clearing the energies that prevent ayahausca from working. Ayahuasca cannot move everything. There are energies that can completely block ayahuasca, that it just cannot shift or move through. Something else is needed, and tobacco is most effective at clearing them. We have also seen people’s ayahausca experience open in a big way after a San Pedro ceremony. San Pedro also has the ability to clear energies that ayahuasca cannot.

Accepting what comes

To get the most from this medicine it is best to come with an attitude of acceptance, surrender and willingness. Trust the medicine and allow it to do its work, not resisting the experience. We naturally resist things we find unpleasant, but the difficult times are when surrender is most import. We are powerful beings and have the ability to block the healing effect of this medicine. Resistance is the primary way we do that.

If you are drinking ayahuasca with a skilled ayahuasquero, a true healer, you can be assured that whatever you experience is for your good. That does not mean you will like it. This work can get very unpleasant, very difficult. The benefits are worth it. In your time with ayahuasca, surrender to the medicine trusting that whatever experience you are having is a necessary part of the process of healing. Persist and move forward in faith even if you feel not much change is happening. The medicine spirits really do know what is best for us and want to heal us. Our job is to allow them to. As is often said, ayahuasca brings you what you need, not what you want.

Broad Brush Strokes

These categories are very broad brush strokes intended to describe typical experiences that most people will have over the course of 3-6 ceremonies. Being informed of the range of possibilities allows us to more easily set aside expectations when a journey is not unfolding as we may have hoped and makes it easier to accept what does come, letting the medicine do its work. Our attitude is very important. Trust, surrender, accept and allow. This is how we get the most from our time with ayahuasca.