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Ayahuasca Experience: Jaw-Dropping Stories You Don't Hear

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Woman overlooking lake | profound ayahuasca experience
The Ayahuasca Experience

You’ve probably watched a few Netflix documentaries on Ayahuasca. Maybe you’ve heard about the experiences of a celebrity like Lindsay Lohan with this mind-expanding plant medicine or you’ve read the bestseller How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan. Or perhaps your previous experience with other psychedelic plants has piqued your interest in Ayahuasca. You’re not alone. From Los Angeles to New York, from San Francisco to New Zealand, countless people are jetting off to the Amazon jungle or to Peru’s Sacred valley for the opportunity to enter the ceremony room and drink this powerful brew.

If this sounds like you, you might have realized that an encounter experience with mother aya is not to be taken lightly. Ayahuasca experiences can vastly range depending on not only the individual, but the circumstances under which it is consumed [1]. This is, after all, a natural psychedelic drug that induces a powerful altered state of consciousness. 

Before we get into the personal ayahuasca experience stories of two of our team members here at Behold Retreats, we want to share some important information (especially if you’re at the start of your research journey) about this medicinal plant, originating from the Indigenous communities of South America.

What is Ayahuasca? 

Ayahuasca is a South American plant medicine consisting of a concentrated liquid which is made by brewing together the Banisteriopsis Caapi vine (b caapi, also referred to as the ayahuasca vine or sacred vine) and the leaves of the Psychotria Viridis shrub (p viridis or the Chacruna plant) [2]. These leaves contain the naturally occurring psychedelic substance DMT which is responsible for the well-known visionary effects that can occur in an ayahuasca session [3]. 

Ceremonial ayahuasca has long been used both socially and in a ritualistic setting as a spiritual medicine for deep healing and spiritual awakening amongst the Indigenous people of Latin America, especially in the region of the Amazon Basin [4]. 

Ayahuasca brews can vary depending on the shaman or medicine person serving the medicine, therefore, we highly recommend inquiring about the exact ingredients of the tea used in the ayahuasca ceremonies before consuming it to avoid any possible dangerous side effects of ayahuasca or contraindications [5]. 

Ayahuasca brew during ayahuasca ceremony | ayahuasca experience

What are the Benefits of Ayahuasca? 

Ayahuasca, amongst other natural psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin mushrooms (magic mushrooms), has been making major headway in the mental health field [6]. Psychedelic research from highly regarded institutions such as Harvard University show their enormous potential for treating mental illness, drug abuse and addiction [7]. Many studies show the positive effects of psychedelic treatments for recurrent depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) [8]. 

Ayahuasca users have reported an increase in quality of life, improvement of depressive symptoms, and enhanced spiritual connection [9]. They are less likely to continue with substance abuse and more likely to adopt healthy lifestyles, leading researchers to look into ayahuasca as a possible addiction treatment [10]. Those who have undergone an ayahuasca treatment often are able to address childhood trauma or other past traumatic events, so that the root cause of their depression, anxiety, or other issue can be healed. 

If you are interested in learning more about ayahuasca healing, we recommend that you read some of the work of Dennis Mckenna and Terence Mckenna, Roland Griffiths, Michael Pollan , Paul Stamets, and Robin Carhart-Harris.  There are also many publications on Google Scholar citing the use of psychoactive drugs for the treatment of anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns.

What are the Risks of using Ayahuasca? 

Generally, ayahuasca is safe - if you are being properly medically screened and you are working with a guide who is well experienced and educated. Danger can arise if a person is not screened as a suitable candidate for the medicine work. There are also many people claiming to be “shamans” who are taking advantage of the increase of ayahuasca use in the mainstream. Again, this can pose a very serious risk, from sexual assault, to lack of safety and ethical behavior, to the addition of harmful ingredients, and more [11]. 

There are also high risks for those with a background of psychosis themselves or in their family history, that can lead to persistent psychotic symptoms [12]. Certain medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants (SSRIs), are extremely dangerous to be used in combination with Ayahuasca and can lead to serotonin syndrome, for example [13]. 

Additionally, those who are not supported in the preparation and integration of an ayahuasca trip, especially those with mental health concerns, run the risk of not only having a bad experience, but of suffering in the aftermath too

Check out our article here for more in-depth information on this topic:  “Is an Ayahuasca Retreat Safe?” 
For information on how to choose a retreat center and what to look out for to stay safe, check out our comprehensive GUIDE

Where Can I Consume Ayahuasca? 

With international ayahuasca consumption and ayahuasca ceremonies on the rise, it is no surprise that a new term for this phenomenon, “ayahuasca tourism” has been coined. People from around the world are embarking on spiritual pilgrimages for their ayahuasca soul quest. 

Given that Ayahuasca originates from South America, you will be able to find legal and traditional ayahuasca retreat centers in the Amazon Rainforest, mainly Peru, Ecuador and Brazil, as well as in Central America in both Costa Rica and Mexico. Some people combine a trip to the sacred Machu Picchu in Peru with their ayahuasca ritual or ayahuasca ceremonies.

Given that Ayahuasca originates from South America, you will be able to find legal and traditional ayahuasca retreat centers in the Amazon Rainforest, mainly Peru, Ecuador and Brazil, as well as in Central America in both Costa Rica and Mexico. Some people combine a trip to the sacred Machu Picchu in Peru with their ayahuasca ritual or ayahuasca ceremonies.

If you are unable to travel to one of these destinations for your personal journey, you will also be able to find a retreat center in Portugal, where Ayahuasca is decriminalized.  Unfortunately, Ayahuasca is illegal in the United Kingdom, USA, Canada, and pretty much the rest of the world - so searching for “ayahuasca experience near me” might not give you the results you were hoping for.

In North America, you can still attend legal ayahuasca ceremonies at a Native American Church or a similar ayahuasca church such as Santo Daime, who have been granted an exemption to use ayahuasca as part of their religious ceremony. A few popular North American retreat centers are listed here in our blog post, but proceed with caution when looking for such a retreat center, as many illegally. 

Now, for the part you came here for. The up close and personal experience stories with Mama Aya. 


The Ayahuasca Experience: The Jaw-Dropping Stories You Don't Hear About

Sara’s Story: 

We all have our blindspots. We all tend to have a favourable bias towards ourselves. 

So here I am, a year ago, day in and out, reading about ayahuasca and other medicinal plants such as san pedro and the infamous magic mushroom, speaking to ayahuasca retreat participants about how important it is to prepare, to have no expectations, and to have full support after the plant medicine journey. And I did, and still do, sincerely believe all of these things to be true.

Everyone should follow these suggestions. Well, except me. 

I am somehow immune in my mind. No... how could it be?  I’ve done my mental and emotional work! I have had an outer body psychedelic experience of love and bliss with a powerful hallucinogenic drug. I spoke with a deity and asked her as many questions about the universe as I could, I experienced past lives… so my ayahuasca experience will be similar, of course. 


What a humbling moment in my life to meet mother ayahuasca. 

Don’t get me wrong, I did prepare in many ways and I was supported with my integration. But I neglected a very important detail. 

My intention for the ayahuasca ceremony was to understand how energy healing works. I began practicing energy work recently at the time and was curious to know more. 

So in my mind, I was expecting visuals of what energy looks like in the body, how I can see it move, where it’s blocked, how I can work with it. 


It is always recommended to set an intention, but also to let go and release expectations. She will show you what you need to see, and it might not make sense at first, but it is not something to analyze, just to be grateful for, to feel, and to integrate. 

And what did I do? I set expectations. 

I was also very much aware that ayahuasca is known to bring back traumatic events to relive in some way, shape, or form. To have a different perspective on it, to release it, to feel it. Whatever the individual needs.

I had a trauma I was well aware of, but naive me went in thinking that I had already dealt with and processed this wound. It was already healed. 

I also knew that surrender is a big theme with ayahuasca, and many people struggle to surrender and let go in the experience. The ego keeps them fighting. 

Again, I, Sara Verre, so already aware of my ego and thoughts, so experienced with meditation, could not possibly have any issues with surrendering the ego. 


You see, the ego is extraordinarily sneaky and a master manipulator. 

I spent 2 weeks preparing, cleaning up my diet, meditating with my intention, practicing emotional release techniques, and repeating affirmations, the whole bit. 

The day of the ayahuasca ceremony, I was nervous - but excited.  I was meeting three other women for the ceremony, two of whom I just became recent friends with. We arrived at the ceremonial space around 11 am. 

Our healer, Tanya, who works for Behold Retreats is a true medicine woman, shamanic, but relatable in a western sense having spent much of her life in Amsterdam working as a clinical psychotherapist. I bonded with her the moment I met her, I loved her humor, her rawness, and her ability to be both spiritual and practical. She was inspiring to me. When the opportunity came to experience an ayahuasca ceremony with her and these women, in a safe, empowering container, I was over the moon ecstatic. 

We began with a check in;  How will the next 24 hours look? What are our intentions? How do we feel? She opened the ceremonial space shortly after, we meditated together, sent intentional prayers asking for the support of the elements, the spirits, and our ancestors. 

We then began cleansing with rapeh. Well my goodness .. an unexpected blow to the brain with tobacco powder through a pipe. A sensation I have never felt in my life before. It felt like my brain was burning. After the pain subsided, which was truthfully not very long, I was in complete surrender, giggly, relaxed, and floating. 

We then received a paste, made of ayahuasca and bobinsana (a heart-opening master plant). To my surprise it actually wasn't so bad taste-wise, just a bit sticky on the teeth. We then had a small cup of ayahuasca tea. We laid down on our mats, threw on our eye masks, and enjoyed the music that Tanya began to play.

She began with drums, and throughout the 9 hour, yes NINE HOUR, journey, she played a variety of instruments, piano, rattles, drums, and sang (very beautifully I might add). The music was an integral part of the journey, each sound and vibration taking me into different worlds, ideas, dimensions, feelings. The music ignited something in the medicine, it was magical to look up and see her singing at the piano, a beautiful angel to guide us on this deep journey. 

Stepping it back a little again, after the first ayahuasca tea I didn’t feel so much for an hour. I was given a second cup and some help to relax into it. I could feel the medicine start to pull me in. I wanted to go with her. Something was stopping me. I breathed, I meditated, but the tension became more powerful. It was clear a fight was occurring and I didn’t have any say. 

I became so frustrated. Why was I not going into the journey?  What was this in between place that I was in? Was I going to be stuck here for the next 5 hours?? Does ayahuasca even work? Have I completely gone down the wrong path? Was I wrong? Am I losing my mind? Will I be stuck in this mindset forever?!

DEEP self-doubt began to surface here. Fear. Anxiety. I felt these emotions so deeply, in the very core of my being. I started to panic. How long has this been? Hours now? I sat up and begged our guide for help. She told me that this was my work, my process, and I had to go through it. 

I sat on my knees, wanting to pull my hair out. Crying and crying. I started to feel sick. Waves of nausea. Sticky, heavy, energy started flowing out of me, from my stomach to my throat and I began to gag. It felt like throwing up without actually throwing up. Energetic puke. Balls of negative energy just came out of me non-stop for what felt like hours. 

I layed back down as the effects effects of ayahuasca started to soften. I was covered in tears. And then, she took me. And I began to (maybe) understand why my ego fought for so long. It was trying to protect me from what I was about to experience. I also realized how stuck in my own head I have been, this need to analyze and control reality was very apparent.

It felt as if I went hyper speed through my mother's and father’s lives, from childhood to adulthood, experiencing their fears, their suffering, their triumphs, their learnings. I instantly had immense compassion for them. The journey continued moving into my father’s family. 

My uncle who had recently passed appeared to me with a bright light surrounding him, smiling. It was beautiful. But then the pain came. Immense emotional pain. It was his, I could feel it. There was some spiritual connection to my dad and to his childhood. Something traumatic in nature that I couldn’t understand, just felt. There was something he wanted to tell my dad but he couldn’t and never did. It wasn’t so clear. It might have been pain in the years leading up to his death, as he struggled with opioid addiction. 

I then felt a very dark, heavy, pain that I knew was not mine, and yet was inside me, or coming through me to be released. Ancestral pain.There is no way for me to properly understand this, but it felt as if all the traumas from the generation before me in my dad’s family line were coming through my body. I cried.. No, I sobbed hysterically, and continued to vomit air. 

I was angry. Why was this happening? WHAT the F**K was happening and why was I going through this? There can’t possibly be a need for this? This is not the type of mystical transformational experience I was expecting. (Key word: expecting)

I came out of that experience, listening to the voice of Tanya, and the sound of a light-hearted reggae song come on through the speakers. I looked up from my puke bucket; one of my fellow journeyers had just spent a couple hours throwing up real puke in the bathroom, another was in silence, one in tears. And Tanya continues to say  “wherever you are right now, take a moment to join me right now for a little dance.” 

I couldn't help but burst out laughing. Cry - laughing. But laughing, at the absurdity and intensity of this moment. A bit relieved. Together. 

I then floated into what I like to describe as a matrix of consciousness, or some sort of void that had both everything and nothing at the same time. FINALLY a break. And a cool one at that. It was like a vast black space filled with complex geometric patterns, and I was floating there in the emptiness - well, not as myself, I was no longer there, but as this part of the matrix. It felt a bit empty, but very calm. Peaceful. 

My thoughts started to come back in a looping pattern. I was trying to figure something out, and after swirling around in the space of nothingness, I came right back to the start of my initial thought. Over and over again. Which became so amusing I couldn’t help but laugh. Was this life? Do we just keep trying to figure things out to be reminded there’s no figuring anything out? 

I waved out of this space and came back into my body. I sat up, relieved that the journey was over. How long had it been? 7 hours? I sat there disoriented, noticing that some of the other women had moved around, and were coming back to this realm as well. 

But then, I felt a pull. A strong wave was pulling me back. AGAIN?? Come on. 

This time I was confronted with that trauma I mentioned earlier. When I was 18, I was drugged and raped. At the time of course, I had no idea what this really meant, how to process it, or what to do really. So when the bruises faded and the blood was gone, I pushed it away, like it never happened. If I didn’t feel it, how could it hurt me? I was stronger than that, happier than that. I love my life and I’m so grateful for it. So why would I dwell on this? 

Well here I was, 10 years later, seeing my 18 year old self -  hurt, wounded, crying. I felt her pain. I felt it so deeply I screamed out in desperation. Tanya came to me, rested her hand on my face, and she in that moment became my mother. My mother’s touch, her energy, her presence was there with me, holding me, keeping me safe. And I felt the power of my grandmother, and her mother, and support of my female ancestors helping me heal. I hugged my 18 year old self, who was still a child in many ways, and I held her tight and let her cry. 

I began to see some visions of a black panther, strong, independent and vibrant. She was showing me the way, giving me strength. I heard angelic spirit voices. 

I came back to reality. I felt like someone had thrown me into a live hurricane and was being found by rescuers under the rubble.  

How to process what just happened? Could I even speak? 

There was suddenly some light food out on a table. I slowly put a cracker in my mouth. Ahhhh earth. It felt good. Grounding. 

We all met in a circle. And our shaman takes out her talking “dick” stick, a coral rock she found in Bali, that looked exactly like a penis. When it got to my turn to share. I sat there with the dick in my hand, and couldn’t stop laughing. Nothing coherent was coming out of my mouth whatsoever. I managed to get the words “If I can just say one thing..,” and then gave up. 

Later, Tanya told me that I was the warrior of the group. Not that that made me feel any better about what happened, but it’s always nice to be seen isn’t it? 

In the days that followed I was a complete wreck if I'm being perfectly honest. I was crying all the time, I even managed to call my ex boyfriend in tears because he was one of the only people who knew about the abuse. I didn’t even tell him I had taken ayahuasca, I just told him that I relived the trauma. He was there for me, and told me it was probably about time that I felt it. I am eternally grateful for him that night. 

I continued working with Tanya to help integrate the experience. Nature, art, rituals, space, boundaries and softness. I also did vocal liberation and family constellation therapy with the ancestral trauma in mind. 

After my transformational experience, I still didn't understand why this needed to happen. I was frustrated and angry. 

It wasn’t until I slowly let go of what I wanted out of the experience and allowed whatever was present to be seen that I began to heal. I started to feel and understand that the emotions were stored in my body, manifesting as physical ailments, behaviours, limiting beliefs.  For example, unconscious feelings of being unsafe, detachment from emotions and relationships, feeling unworthy, creative blocks, are all linked to this trauma - and other experiences of course. I realized I had been suppressing and repressing most of my difficult emotions. 

A year later, I've become softer to my emotions. I allow them to come instead of repressing them, and I am gentle with myself. I still feel the trauma, but I let go more and more every time it resurfaces. I do not suppress, I allow and I release. I cry a bit if I need to and I give my inner child a big hug. I feel. 

Tanya mentioned to me the other day that she’s seen a big shift in me this last year. That I hold a softer space.  I am in touch with my feminine. And I feel it too. I feel lighter, less restless, and more safe. There is less fear of not being enough or doing enough, and a new found inner strength.  I feel that my root chakra and sacral chakras have released blocked energy. I feel more in a creative divine feminine flow and my relationships are thriving.

So back to energy healing. My intention. I really did get just what I needed, and wanted. Emotions and trauma are stored energetically in the body. And to heal, is to allow those emotions and traumas to be processed and released from the body instead of wasting energy trying to keep them down. This is energetic healing. 


Drew’s Story:

My first experience with Ayahuasca was truly one of the most profound and transformative experiences of my life. 

I had heard about Ayahuasca sporadically in my late teens. By my early twenties, I had sat with hallucinogenic drugs such as psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, and pure DMT (the active ingredient in Ayahuasca). All of these experiences had helped me to gain a deeper sense of self-awareness, come to terms with some of the traumatic events that I had gone through in my adolescence, primarily the death of my Father, and had given me and understanding that my potential was far greater than I could perceive given my lifestyle at the time. I was drinking consistently, neglecting my personal health and wellbeing, and generally selling myself short in terms of where I was investing the majority of my time and energy. 

Two weeks before my 21st birthday, I was in a bad snowboarding accident. I fractured my neck, and suffered a severe concussion, the result of which was an inability to work or practically interact with reality in a functional way for about 45 days. During this time, I dropped out of school, lost my job, and laid alone in my room with the shades drawn and fell into a miserable and rather existential depression.

What was I doing with my life? What was the point of existence if it led to this degree of suffering and misery? How would I ever “figure it out” and make something of myself? 

This is where my mind was when I ran across an ad on my Facebook feed for an Ayahuasca experience in Costa Rica.

Having had previous experiences with psychedelics, and knowing that I needed a massive shift in terms of my mindset and lifestyle, I decided to take a leap of faith and a month later, found myself arriving in Costa Rica. I was full of apprehension and excitement. I had never traveled out of the country before. I had never invested in my own development and healing. I had never gone on a pilgrimage, and this is exactly what I was doing. 

The medicine retreat experience I encountered was quite lovely. We spent a few days doing yoga, hanging out on the beach, and preparing for the Ayahuasca experience itself. I truly had no idea what to expect, and what I experienced was far beyond anything I could have imagined. 

The night of our first ayahuasca ceremony, the group gathered in the ceremonial temple space and sat in a circle to receive the medicine. One-by-one, we all made our way to the altar to receive the brew from our shamanic guide. After I drank the medicine, I returned to my space and began to contemplate what I was doing sitting on the ground in the jungle with a group of strangers drinking psychedelic tea. Admittedly, many doubts began to make their way into my head about if I was actually crazy for embarking on such personal journey. 

That first night, I spent the majority of my time in physical discomfort. I felt very nauseous, and had the sense that the room was spinning, and that I was falling into an endless pit of darkness. When I closed my eyes, the vertigo would get to the point where I felt like vomiting, at which point I would get up and go walk around the area outside of the temple hoping to find some relief.

After about an hour and a half, I explained what I was feeling to the shaman, who encouraged me to drink more medicine. I drank a second cup, and all the symptoms I was experiencing before intensified. At this point, I really began to doubt myself. It was obvious to me that practically speaking, I had not been showing up in my life in a way I respected or appreciated. I found myself feeling very angry with myself for the lack of attention I had been paying to the trajectory of my life, and resigned to a sense of hopelessness that allowed me to at least find peace with my physical discomfort. “At least this will be over soon, and I can get back to trying to figure things out when I’m home” was the general texture of the thoughts I was having at that point.

Eventually, the physical discomfort got to a point that if I laid down, I would feel as if the entire world was spinning uncontrollably, and this led me to needing to stand out by the fire. The shaman came out to ask me how I felt and I expressed that I was not feeling great. She asked me if I had purged yet, to which I replied in the negative. She told me to drink one more cup of medicine to get myself to purge, which I was highly resistant to, but I figured, what the hell, I’m already here and feeling miserable, it can’t get any worse, right?

The third cup of medicine worked like a charm. No sooner after I swallowed the final dose, it came right back up. I had to physically stop myself from puking all over the sacred altar and re-swallow what my body was trying to reject, until I was able to make my way out of the space and projectile vomit all over a tree. As soon as I had cleared the tea from my stomach, I began to feel a sense of normality take back over. I felt grounded. Everything stopped spinning. It was a bit anticlimactic, and left me feeling rather depressed and down. I spent some time sitting by the fire contemplating the 3-4 hour period that had just passed. At this point, I chalked the experience up to a doozie, and began to contemplate how I was going to move forward in my life.

During this contemplation, our shaman once again came over to ask me how I was feeling. I told her I felt pretty normal, and she asked me if I was willing to try something called rapé. I had never heard of rapé, and she explained to me that it was a ceremonial form of tobacco that would help me open my third eye and truly experience the magic I was looking for. I was all for it. Then she pulled out a giant curved horn and told me to place one end of it in my nose. This was an odd request, but I complied. 

She proceeded to blow an ashy powder so far into my nose I was sure it was going to come out of my ears. The physical sensation was quite overwhelming. It felt like my face was melting off, and the tears and snot that flowed out of me seemed only to confirm this feeling. After she blew the tobacco into my one nostril, she told me she needed to do the other one as well. I begrudgingly consented, and when she administered the second dose, everything began to change.

I began to perceive a vision of a giant golden dragon making its way towards me. As I closed my eyes, the dragon became as real as anything I had ever seen, and I realized that the transformational experience I had been searching for may have found me after all. I made the conscious decision to allow whatever was happening to happen, and over the course of the next many minutes, I felt my consensus reality slip away and be replaced with this shimmering golden dragon. I felt the urge to try and ride this magnificent creature, but realized that by doing so I would need to leave my body behind. Instantly, I got up out of my body and proceeded to climb atop the back of this giant golden dragon. It spread its wings, and together we flew away. 

At this point in the experience, I completely lost touch with any sense of my physical body. The dragon and I flew through one of the most beautiful valleys I had ever seen. We rose up through a spectacular mountain range, and ultimately made our way so high in the sky that the blue turned to black, and the Earth fell away beneath us. Once we had made our way into this black abyss, the dragon left me, suspended in darkness. alone. 

At this moment, I fell into a memory from my childhood. I was standing with my Father, and he was embracing me. I felt the texture of the memory as if it was actually happening at that moment. From here, I remember feeling my Father emerge into the memory with me, and together we were able to share a moment of reconnection that truly blasted my heart wide open. He told me that he was proud of me and the man I was becoming. He explained how painful it had been for him to leave the realm of the living knowing that his children were unprepared. He asked for my forgiveness, and together, we spent what felt like years simply embracing one another in love. 

The next thing I remember, I was waking up, tucked cozily into my space within the temple. There was soft music playing, it was dark, and I felt a supreme sense of peace that I had previously never encountered. The magic of Ayahuasca was apparent to me at this moment, and I was truly baffled when trying to understand what I had just been through. As soon as I came to, the shaman declared the end of the ceremony. That was night one.

Night two was a very different experience. As soon as I drank the medicine, I felt the effects of ayahuasca creep up and then take over. I perceived a bright green light in the center of the space, and I allowed myself to be pulled into this light. Once the light had overcome me, I found myself face-to-face with the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. 

She very politely introduced herself to me as Ayahuasca, the spirit of Mother Earth, grandmother to all of Life, and asked me if I had any questions to ask her. Boy, did I. We spent the better part of an hour going back and forth about the meaning of life, the purpose of existence, the nature of the human condition, and my own personal journey. I asked every question I had ever had, and she answered all of them thoroughly. 

Eventually, and embarrassingly, I actually ran out of questions to ask (not the best look when given the opportunity to have all your existential questions answered by what I could only describe as a deity). At this point, I went up to one of the shamans and asked him how I should proceed given that I had gotten all of my questions answered. He laughed, and told me that if I wanted to have more powerful visions, that I should drink more medicine. 

At this point, I wasn’t sure what to do. I had already received more than I could have possibly asked for, and in that, the concept of “more” didn’t fully register. Still, I heeded his advice, and proceeded to ask for another dose. Once I drank the medicine, I went back to my space and very slowly felt myself die. 

One breath at a time, my heart rate slowed, my breathing calmed, and then all of a sudden, I died. There was no fear associated with this death. Truthfully, there was no sensation associated with it at all other than a lightness and a sense of peace. I felt myself rise out of my body, this time with no control over the process, and from there I was pulled into the green orb of energy that I had originally perceived in the middle of the space. As soon as I merged with it, I found myself in Heaven, literally. I was encompassed by a thick and warm golden light, I felt as thought I was one with existence. At that moment, I understood exactly what people meant when they referred to “God”. 

As soon as this realization became clear, I was sucked out of this heavenly realm like a vacuum, and I was spit out into a Void of infinite proportions. Within this void, there was nothing. It was pure and utter emptiness, and it was me. I was nothing. What had previously existed as a sense of self, was now replaced by a sense of infinite blackness, and this is where I remained, infinitely. 

At some point, the awareness that this emptiness had not always been empty became present. I remembered the realm of golden light that I had come from, and as I did, a small pinprick of that light emerged at the core of this infinite blackness. I raced towards this infinitesimal speck of light, and as I did, it grew. The closer I got, the bigger the light grew, until eventually, I felt it pushing against the edge of the infinite darkness, enveloping what had moments ago been nothingness with pure Love. 

Once the light reached the limits of its expansion, the black hole of nothingness disintegrated, and then instantly re-emerged at the center of the light, and swallowed it whole in a single instant. As soon as nothingness had once again taken over the light, a small speck reappeared near the core of the void, and instantly filled it to totality. I fell back, feeling the space of a trillion miles open up between myself and this process of light enveloping darkness, just for the darkness to be enveloped by light, and watched with wonder as I perceived the totality of reality creating and destroying itself, over and over again, infinitely. 

At some point, I woke up back inside the ceremonial temple grinning ear to ear, fully at peace. I knew that I was forever changed, and simply allowed myself to bask in the sense of Love and wonder that had been left with. I understood myself in relation to all things on a level I knew I could never articulate or describe, and I have been grateful to Grandmother Ayahuasca ever since for the gifts she gave me in our first meeting. I could process this one experience for lifetimes and never get to the bottom of it. 

Get the most out of your ayahuasca experience, read more about ayahuasca here!

Feeling called to work with psychedelics in a safe, beautiful, therapeutic, and legal environment?

We would be honored to assist you in choosing the best retreat experience for YOU. Behold Retreats facilitates expertly held retreats with Ayahuasca, Psilocybin mushrooms, and 5-MeO-DMT (Bufo Alvarius). Reach out to us to set up a complimentary discovery call.  Aside from a free call, we can also offer you comprehensive psychedelic preparation and integration from our team of qualified therapists, coaches, and psychologists.



[1] Kjellgren, A., Eriksson, A., & Norlander, T. (2009). Experiences of encounters with ayahuasca—“the vine of the soul”. Journal of psychoactive drugs, 41(4), 309-315.

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[3] Brito-da-Costa, A. M., Dias-da-Silva, D., Gomes, N. G., Dinis-Oliveira, R. J., & Madureira-Carvalho, Á. (2020). Toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics of ayahuasca alkaloids N, N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine: clinical and forensic impact. Pharmaceuticals, 13(11), 334.

[4] Luna, L. E. (2011). Indigenous and mestizo use of ayahuasca: an overview. The ethnopharmacology of ayahuasca, 2, 01-21.

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[6] Labate, B. C., & Cavnar, C. (Eds.). (2014). The therapeutic use of ayahuasca.


[8] Carhart-Harris, R. L., & Goodwin, G. M. (2017). The therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs: past, present, and future. Neuropsychopharmacology, 42(11), 2105-2113.

[9] Hamill, J., Hallak, J., Dursun, S. M., & Baker, G. (2019). Ayahuasca: psychological and physiologic effects, pharmacology and potential uses in addiction and mental illness. Current neuropharmacology, 17(2), 108-128.

[10] Bouso, J. C., & Riba, J. (2014). Ayahuasca and the treatment of drug addiction. The therapeutic use of ayahuasca, 95-109.

[11] Peluso, D., Sinclair, E., Labate, B., & Cavnar, C. (2020). Reflections on crafting an ayahuasca community guide for the awareness of sexual abuse. Journal of Psychedelic Studies, 4(1), 24-33.

[12] Palma-Álvarez, R. F., Grau-López, L., Ros-Cucurull, E., Abad, A. C., Dualde, J., Robles-Martínez, M., & Roncero, C. (2021). Psychosis induced by abuse of ayahuasca: a case report. Revista Colombiana de Psiquiatría, 50(1), 43-46.

[13] Callaway, J. C., & Grob, C. S. (1998). Ayahuasca preparations and serotonin reuptake inhibitors: a potential combination for severe adverse interactions. Journal of psychoactive drugs, 30(4), 367-369.

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