Roughly 24 hours ago I began my first ayahuasca ceremony. And it was indeed a ceremony, much more than merely drinking some ayahuasca. It simply was the most amazing night of my life. I'm going to attempt some descriptions but make no promises of anything making sense.
Setting the stage: Eight people lying in a circle in a quiet secluded house in upstate NY. One-by-one the shaman talks to each of us in private, giving us a gemstone (mine was citrine, which blew my mind because I recently ordered a citrine necklace) and asking if there was anything we wanted healed, had expectations for etc. I was surprisingly not nervous at all and had no expectations. I was ready for whatever I needed to happen. I was told to focus on the oneness, let the plant come into me, think of love and gratitude. Sweet, I thought, I can do that.
Back in the main room, each person kneels before the shaman and drinks a small cup of ayahuasca, then we sat quietly in the dark till it took effect. I had heard so much about how awful it tasted that I actually thought it tasted kind of good as I was prepared to be gagging. It tasted very earthy and organic. Like dirt and ash in a liquid. Yeah, I know sounds gross but somehow it didn't hit me that way. Over the next 30 minutes or so most of the circle laid down. I wasn't feeling much at all, only very slight sensations through my head and seeing shadows spread over the room. Some folks were almost immediately dry heaving and getting sick. At the 40 minute mark the shaman asked if anyone felt they needed to drink some more. I said yes, and that is when the fun kicked in.
I really have no sense of time from here on in, but pretty quickly laying down on my sleeping bag with my eyes closed I got sensations of vines or tentacles crawling down my throat and spreading throughout my body. It reminded me of a cheesy horror movie but it felt incredibly comforting and soothing. Then like a light switch was turned on I had images of tapestries/graphics, sort of a maze-like design, filling my head.
The ceremony had the shaman singing these amazing songs, icaros, that propelled me into other dimensions. I was sometimes aware of the room and other times on other planes of reality it seemed. And it was all with a tremendous amount of fun and joy. As the singing continued I could sometimes see streams of colors - the thoughts of the shaman - picking the next word to the song. I'd see the word come to vibrant life than leave a trail as others took it in. It was like emotional calligraphy in 3D. Then things turned into sort of a Technicolor, realer-than-3D version of the movie Avatar. The shaman's voice became the plants voice, the earth's voice, nature's voice. I was having spasms with my hands, shoulders, and feet. I was full of so much love and happiness I was going to burst and couldn't stay still.
You know the feeling after a Novocaine injection at the dentist, when for a few hours after the appointment half your mouth doesn't work? My whole body was like that. Feeling my limbs flop and my hands shake as fast as they could was so much fun. I was laughing hysterically in my head and smiling all night long. Sometimes my laughter would come out but because my tongue and lips weren't working well it would be guttural grunts and snorts that would then send me into absolute hysterics. That went on for hours and hours. I soared all over the place. Sometimes I was aware of the room, then of being connected to the two dogs roaming around the room, and jumping out my skin what a cat brushed against me. But it was a rapturous never-ending moment of joy and love that I simply couldn't contain. I was smashing my hands together like a seal trying to clap when I really liked things I heard or saw. The most repetitive thought I had was, I can't believe how much joy I feel. Life is so fucking AWESOME!!
After what I'm told was three hours the shaman said the ceremony is now over. I thought, are you kidding me? I'm zooming through a couple dozen dimensions here and when I do open my eyes I see a red and blue grid work on everything. Like I'm seeing the wire-frame version of life or everything was covered in graph paper. I kept going in and out of the room, taking on the mind of the dog, feeling the absolute in the moment joy that dogs seem to have in everything they do. I could sometimes here people laughing at my laughing, which made me laugh more. In the morning they told me sometimes the timing of my laughs into their conversations was amazing. I flopped and spasmed and slammed my hands against my chest while having occasional outbursts of laughter for many more hours. I'd sometimes hear Lori's voice and connect with her and feel so much love, it was just amazing. I have no idea how much longer anything lasted but everyone else was drumming and singing so that every time I thought I was coming in for a landing - a drum beat would resonate to my core and just fill full of bliss again - launching more snorting and laughing and flopping around on the floor. Eventually everyone around my seemed to fall asleep as I continued my magic carpet ride. It didn't feel finished until dawn.
It honestly was the most amazing experience I've ever had. I felt more fun, joy, happiness and love than I ever knew was possible. I'm told each ayahuasca experience is different, so since this was so perfect I'm feeling pretty content to leave it at one. Lori liked most parts of her experience, but did get sick initially.
Update: 7/26/11Forgot to mention that one of the participants had a harmonium (which I'd never seen nor heard of before). She brought it out while everyone else was done but I was still zooming along so I didn't see it till the morning, (actually I wasn't even sure it was real or had only been music in my head). Cause, man, that music was as much of a drug as any substance. In my mind it was some giant circus calliope designed by Dr. Seuss. Then other times I was sure some Irish folk band was singing and dancing around me. I was positive people were looking down on me at one point, but the next day Lori said no such thing happened. The music and drumming resonated so deeply in my body and soul, it kept fueling me each time I thought the experience was winding down and I'd just drift off to sleep - the music kicked in, or perhaps I only noticed it again, and off I went into one of the dozens of dimensions I was bouncing around.
Some people have asked how I've felt since. Sunday I was spent. Barely there. Walking in the morning felt like walking on the moon. I was exhausted and dehydrated, somehow starving but not hungry enough to eat. Finally had a meal around 3pm.
I slept soundly and deeply Sunday night. Recall a few vivid flashes of what seemed like some ancient language from the night. I went for a five minute car ride and that was amazing. Every single sight and sound totally distracted me. I wanted to stop and meet every person I drove by. I don't know how Lori drove us home on Sunday, I couldn't have done it. Even today some sounds I hear stop me in my tracks because they seem to be coming from inside of me, not outside. Also some simple, automatic things like using the phone startle and confuse me, it is as if everything is brand new again. Even watching TV on Monday was wild - everything I watched was "the best show ever!"