It is a common belief in the Amazon that the doctor, mother and teacher Ayahuasca embodies the spirit of nature. It is told that in the western flow of the Amazon basin 700 different ways of cooking Ayahuasca can be found; therefore each of these villages have different ways of understanding her. This ancient knowledge is entangled to the collective conscience of these groups and it is also passed on by one generation to the next. According to researchers of the Amazon, the use of Ayahuasca is approximately 500 years old.

Shamanism and Ayahuasca are a disciplined way of obtaining health, power and personal growth. We need to know that Ayahuasca is not limited to work in one realm only, but in a magical world, in a dimension in which we receive the help from the spirits: a realm full of beauty and harmony. The only thing we need is a mind free of prejudice. This magical-religious dimension works from this point of view: that the irrational things are rational, and that the invisible things are visible.

How to cook Ayahuasca?

Every Amazon Shaman has his own way of cooking Ayahuasca. They usually say that it is her who tells them how to cook it, thanks to the visions they have during the sessions.

This is one way of preparing it:

Collect the Vine (Banisteriopsis Caapi) and the leaves of the bush called Chacruna (Psychotria Viridis). These two plants must be collected in a full moon date, early in the morning for a fasting person. 22 pounds of Ayahuasca are needed. Peel off the bark and then grind it so the vine gets softer, that way it will cook faster. 2 pounds of Chacruna are added; you could also add some leafs of Datura spp (known as Floripondio or Toé in the Amazon), coca leaves, or tobacco. Boil the substance using 50 liters of water. The process of cooking is enhanced by the Shamanic chants, known as Icaros in the Amazon, and tobacco smoke. Both of these procedures invocate the spirit of Ayahuasca and the spirits of nature and, as told by Shamans, Icaros add power to the beverage.

The 50 liters of water evaporate, leaving us 2 liters of Ayahuasca. The beverage must have a viscous contexture and a red-ocher color.

How to use Ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca is used as medicine, purifier and teacher. We call her Doctor because she heals, Teacher because she teaches and Mother because she guides. She grants Knowledge and Vision.

The Medicinal Properties of Ayahuasca are not only spiritual, but physical. Requirements need to be met in order to drink Ayahuasca; such as mental, physical, emotional and spiritual preparation. A proper diet is very important; fast for 24 hours before the ceremony, the stomach needs to be empty, for vomiting during a session is a common thing. Do not ingest liquor, drugs, spicy food, sexual abstention for seven days before the session is also required.

Ayahuasca will take you into her magical world. She will give you whatever it is she needs to give you, she will teach you whatever it is she needs to teach you, she will heal in you whatever it is she needs to heal in you. Ayahuasca is not about a mere chemical relation, but a deep magical one. In order to understand Ayahuasca we need to learn to feel her magical dimension by, as told by Shamans, using our hearts and not our heads. Every experience with Ayahuasca is different to others.

No one has ever died after drinking Ayahuasca, but caution is needed; we cannot allow  ourselves to be led astray by curiosity or the exaggerated virtues that some others grant to these shamanic arts, for every one of us will have a unique experience with Ayahuasca.

Joel Johuanchi