Tobacco and Ayahuasca Ceremonies
The plant ceremony is a form in which participants are able to experience the power and healing properties of the sacred plants. It is important before deciding to join that you do your research and understand what it is you are getting yourself into. If not, you could be in for a surprise! These strong medicinal plants have been used for a very long time. The exact origins of them are still being debated and perhaps will never be known. But their origins go back many many generations, perhaps and probably long before history as we know it began to take shape. The ceremony was an integral part in the lives of indigenous peoples around the world. It wasn't isolated to just certain parts of the world but was truly a world-wide phenomena. The ceremony was a chance for people to join together and to experience something that was quite out of the boundaries of their normal day-to-day lives. It also acted as a sort of test for the human will. In many cultures this was performed when a boy or girl 'came of age.' It was an initiation ceremony where the young person was able to test themselves and see the strength that lay dormant in them. And for everyone, working with these plants was a chance to experience realms of our consciousness, realms of reality that for most of us, lay dormant in most of our waking lives. And it is important to remember that what we experience when working with these plants is indeed reality. It is our experience. And it may be so different and fantastic from our normal state that we may be in disbelief. But much in the same way that our eyes can only see but a small part of the spectrum of light, there is much to this universe that, in our normal state of consciousness, we can overlook.
These plants offer us a chance to join together and to experience what they have to offer. These plants are medicine. They can help us to heal on both a physical and mental level. And whats more these plants are life. And in this way they share their life with ours; there is a bonding of plant and man, of energies, of consciousness, or of spirit as it is often referred to in native languages. This may seem a bit hard to grasp for us at first, but once we begin to work with these plants, we need not debate or get lost in ideas, the experience of the plants gives us a knowing that is perhaps irreversible. How the actual mechanisms work when we partake with these plants is just beginning to be studied in our modern age. And while it is surely of benefit, the intricacy, complexity, and ultimately knowing of how and why is perhaps beyond our intellectual power. It may reside in that space of the Great Mystery, that from which we come. And working with these plants has the potential to bring us closer to that, that which we are, our truest self, that which always has been, always is, always will be.
Inquire into what these plants are. Do your research. And if you decide to partake, come in with an open heart and mind. Approach the work with respect, humility, and honor, and in that way you will receive back from the plants what you have put in. The ceremony is no easy feat. It very well may test your strength, your endurance, your patience, your courage, and many of your beliefs. And this is part of the challenge and the experience of the ceremony. It tests our will. It opens us up to question everything we have come to believe. And as we let go, the answers we had been looking for become clear. The traumas that we had been holding onto begin to soften. The fear that we had is examined. And the essence of who we are is brought to light.
No two ceremonies will be the same. And no ceremony will be the same for two different people. Certainly each ceremony will challenge you physically. All of these plants tend to induce a big purge. This is most often in the form of vomiting, but could also be defecation, sweating, shaking, crying, laughing, heat, chills, or any number of other ways the body releases. It is very common to feel discomfort in the body. This will come and it will go. Learning to accept and allow it to be will greatly aid in the process. Our mind may also begin to travel, to places of fear, of joy, of the past, of other worlds perhaps. And, as people in control, this can be very confronting. The experience can seem overwhelming. But truly it is not. And if we can be at peace knowing that it is ok, then this will help tremendously. Some of the best advice I received before my first ceremony I still give to others today. It is that these plants always give us exactly what we need, and that they never give us more than we can handle. So remember that if things get tough, that the plant is indeed giving you exactly what you need in this moment, and that whatever that is, it is within your power to handle it. And perhaps handle isn't the correct word. It implies control. Perhaps a better concept is to allow it to be, to release into the experience and simply to observe it, knowing that everything is as it should be.
Ceremonies are generally held at night. Usually the ceremony will commence around eight o'clock. The space will be cleared (smudged) and all participants will come together in a common area, sitting in a circle amongst each other. I will begin by doing a bit of work with my pipe. One by one each participant will come and drink a cup of the medicine. Depending on the number of people this could take between a few minutes and an hour. Once everyone had taken their medicine, usually I will commence by working more with my pipe, using an oración or prayer, and begin singing. After a time has passed, usually around a half of an hour or whenever I feel participants are ready, each will come forth one by one. If working with tobacco, each will then partake in singuiado, or the taking of liquid tobacco through the nose. Then I will sing and usually use my chacapa (rattle) on each person. After everyone has completed this, they will be able to relax and go into their own experience. I will continue to work with the pipe and sing. The actual length of the ceremony can vary widely in time, mainly depending on how many participants there are. The ceremonies can range in size of two people to up to ten. Everyone is encouraged to spend the night in the space. The space is where the work is happening. And even if we feel like we are ok at some point and can get up and leave, it is in our best interest to stay. The effect of the plants can come in waves, and therefore it is best to stay in the space for the night. In the morning everyone in the group can share their experience if they like, or I will be available in private to speak as well. Once day comes, participants can return home when they please.
If you are interested in participating, please subscribe at the bottom of the page with your email so that you will know when and where upcoming ceremonies will be held.
Here are some tips and guidelines to follow in preparation for the ceremony:
•It is very important to follow dietary and lifestyle restrictions before participating in ceremony. For at least one day before ceremony and preferably a week, one must follow a dieta, or diet. The following should be observed:
•No eating of: meat (especially pork), alcohol, spice, ice or iced foods, salt, sugar, fats, processed foods (packaged, canned, smoked, cured), ferments, dairy. Basically the diet should just consist of vegetables and perhaps a bit of fruit.
•No sex (including masturbation)
•No drugs of any sort at least one week before! This is very important. Taking drugs can have a very negative impact on the experience. Our bodies become very sensitive during ceremony and if drugs are in the system it could cause very severe side affects. Prescription drugs should also be avoided. If you are unable to go off your prescription medication for a week beforehand please inform me beforehand.
•Try and go inward as much as you can. This can include staying away from computers and cell phones, no gossip or chit chat, being alone as much as possible, being in nature, meditating, etc. The more centered we are coming in the more we will gain from the experience
•Wear comfortable clothes that you don't mind getting dirty. Its is good to dress in layers and the body can alternate between states of heat and cold during ceremony
•Bring a bucket to purge into
•Bring at least one big bottle of drinking water
•Bring a blanket and pillow
•Bring tissues or a roll of toilet paper
•One mapacho (pure tobacco cigar) will be given to each participant. You can bring your own tobacco if you would like to smoke more, but please make sure it is pure tobacco. No commercial cigarettes will be permitted. Also don't forget matches or a lighter.
•Please don't wear any perfumes or colognes as the sense of smell can become quite heightened during ceremony and others may be sensitive to it.
Tobacco and Ayahuasca Retreats
Temple of the Way of Light
One of the original retreats in the Amazon near Iquitos, Peru. The Temple of the Way of Light offers 12-day and 21-day long Ayahuasca retreats and 7-day tobacco and plant dietas. The Temple works with ayahuasca in the Shipibo tradition and tobacco in the tabaquero tradition. The Temple is unique in that every ceremony is run by five curanderos who all give you personal attention. The Temple also looks to give back to the Shipibo community through their NGO, the Chaikuni Institute. The Temple has comfortable surrounding and runs ceremonies with tradition in mind. Highly recommended for both beginners and those looking for deeper work.