Tag Archives: ayahuasca

Naysha: Uses of tobacco in shamanism

The image of tobacco nowadays had been severely damaged thanks to the industry of commercial cigarettes and the ego of the business man.

I remember a beautiful experience that was shared with me after an Ayahuasca ceremony. A guy from England told me that the tobacco spirit had talked with him:
– I saw a beautiful black woman crying. She introduced herself as the female energy of the tobacco spirit. She told him that she was so sad for what people are doing with her. “They are putting poison in my leaves and then people believe that I am making them sick. You must tell them this. The traditional way of using my power must be known and people should know the difference between a cigarette and the tobacco itself.”

Why is tobacco used in Ayahuasca ceremonies?

Tobacco is known to be a very powerful spirit which is used for protection, cleaning and also as a vehicle to give energy.

1. For protection it is used to open and create a safe ceremonial area before ceremonies. The shaman uses it to bless the four directions – north, south, west and east – and to call the spirits that will guard the ceremony. Spirits love tobacco; it’s like chocolate to women. When closing the ceremony some shamans like to go to each participant and give them protection against other energies that can disturb the person after the ceremony is closed. When the shaman closes the ceremony again he or she thanks the spirits for the journey by using tobacco.

2. For cleaning. If the space where the ceremony is being held has a kind of heavy or stuck energy the shaman will detect it and blow tobacco smoke to clean it, and it is the same with people. If a person feels that the energies that s/he is seeing during the ceremony are not of a good vibration the shaman can blow tobacco smoke around the aura of the person.

Tobacco also helps with vomiting. If you are struggling to vomit during Ayahuasca, smoking a mapacho will fix the problem. A mapacho is a natural cigarette made from dry tobacco leafs without any additives. It is what the shamans in the Amazon always use.

3. As a vehicle to give energy. When a person feels weakened during the ceremony or is struggling too much with the purge process, then the shaman can transfer a part of his or her energy in the mapacho smoke. This action is known like “ikarar”.

Some shamans like to give tobacco purges before the Ayahuasca ceremony because it helps with cleansing and purifying the energy. It is also good for activating the third eye.

What is a tobacco purge?

The night before one leaves a couple mapachos without the paper in glass of water. Next morning you will drink the water and after a couple of minutes you will vomit. Don’t try to do this if you don’t know how many mapachos you need, because if your tobacco purge preparation isn’t strong enough you won’t be able to vomit and you will just end up intoxicating yourself. Never cook tobacco from mapachos because it’s already a hot plant and if you boil it you are just making a poison. Some shamans likes to cook the Ayahuasca with mapachos and in my experience it just creates distractions for the body. My liver hurts most of the time and it’s an ugly experience. I don’t know why these shamans do it? In my opinion it is pure stupidity. If you want to meet the tobacco spirit it would be better to cook the Ayahuasca with a fresh leaf of tobacco.

The tobacco diet is an important diet for the shamans that need protection for the work they are doing. It’s a hard diet and its follow the same diets rules but you only drink the tobacco/mapacho juice for 3 days.

Can mapachos create addiction?

No, in my experience it does the absolute opposite. Before my training and diets I used to smoke a lot of store bought cigarettes, like 2 or 3 boxes per day. Then somebody invited me to smoke a mapacho and as soon I smoked it I just couldn’t smoke ordinary cigarettes anymore because I immediately react to the poison in the cigarette. I can feel all the chemicals inside the cigarette and it is disgusting. When I moved to Sweden I didn’t even notice that I was not smoking because it’s not possible to find mapachos in regulars stores in Sweden. After having smoked mapachos I didn’t have any problems even not smoking mapachos. After almost two years away of Peru the cigarette smells still make me feel sick.

Naysha Silva Romero

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10 questions about drugs

1. Which is the most common rape drug?

2. Which drug is associated with the most violence?

3. Which drug kills most people?

4. What kind of drugs are responsible for the most overdose deaths?

5. Name two drugs that have never killed anyone.

6. Name two drugs that have no or very little addictive properties.

7. Name two drugs that break addiction.

8. Name two drugs that are used to cure depression, trauma and abuse.

9. Which drugs are legal?

10. Which drugs are the most illegal?

 

You’ll find the correct answers below the picture.

Photo: Drug questions by Ano Lobb on Flickr.
Photo: Drug questions by Ano Lobb on Flickr

 

There are obviously legal, country and time specific variations to these answers, but this is the general picture.

1. Which is the most common rape drug?
Alcohol is the most common rape drug. Many think that they need to be wary of people who want to spike their drinks with other drugs, but in the overwhelming majority of cases it is the alcoholic drink itself that is the rape drug. Victims and offenders are often drunk and even when there are other drugs in the mix, alcohol is almost always the main drug.

2. Which drug is associated with the most violence?
Alcohol is involved in most cases of violence. 70 to 90 percent of all violence (wars excluded) is directly linked to alcohol. This is as true for domestic violence as it is for violent encounters between strangers. There are a few other drugs (mainly ego enhancing and consciousness decreasing drugs) that are also associated with violence, but even in cases when other drugs are present alcohol is usually the main drug.

This diagram gives you a hint at how many deaths are attributed to different drugs in the UK 2011. It is however misleading since the tobacco part of the diagram only shows England, while the other circles include all of the UK. In other words, the tobacco circle should be far much bigger than it is in this picture.
This diagram shows you how many deaths were attributed to different drugs in the UK 2011. The very large circle represent deaths due to tobacco and the next biggest one is alcohol. In third place we find opiates and opiate substitutes, which are mostly found in legal medications. In fourth place are legal anti-depressants and in fifth are legal benzodiazepines. In other words, all the big killer drugs except for heroin are legal.

3. Which drug kills most people?
Tobacco is by far the most lethal drug. Tobacco kills more people than all other legal and illegal drugs combined. Alcohol is the second most deadly drug and in third place we find prescription medications. Science is having a hard time putting these in relation to each other, but estimates are that tobacco takes somewhere between two and fifteen times as many lives as alcohol.

4. What kind of drugs are responsible for the most overdose deaths?
Pharmaceutical drugs/prescription medicines are the most commonly overdosed with a deadly outcome. One reason is of course the availability but another very important reason is that medications often are highly toxic.

5. Name two drugs that have never killed anyone.
LSD, cannabis and magic mushrooms are a few non-lethal drugs, but there are certainly more. The doses needed to die from them are simply so ridiculously high that it is physically impossible to consume such quantities of cannabis or mushrooms. In the case of LSD it is probably possible to take that much, but you would need to take thousands of doses and as far as I know that still hasn’t happened. It is of course possible to die in an accident or such while on these drugs, but even so these are not drugs that typically make users accident prone. Science rather suggests that people using these drugs are usually more careful and considerate.

6. Name two drugs that have no or very little addictive properties.

Photo: Hícuri by Mierdamian Rondana on Flickr
Photo: Hícuri by Mierdamian Rondana on Flickr

Psychedelics generally have strong anti-addictive properties and are therefore fantastic for breaking addiction. Some such drugs are LSD, magic mushrooms (psilocybin), San Pedro/Peyote (mescaline), Ayahuasca, DMT, Iboga (ibogaine) and Salvia Divinorum. Another thing that several of the psychedelics have in common is that the user’s tolerance towards them increases rapidly, so even if a user would want to use it several days in a row it would quickly become meaningless to do so because the effects would vanish.

7. Name two drugs that break addiction.
LSD, magic mushrooms and Iboga are all well known in the treatment of addicts, but psychedelics of all kinds can be helpful. Before being made illegal LSD was among other things used to cure alcoholism. AA co-founder Bill Wilson was an advocate of using it specifically to treat cynical alcoholics by giving them a spiritual experience. Ironically LSD had a higher success rate of curing alcoholics than AA or any other program has ever had.

8. Name two drugs that are used to cure depression, trauma and abuse.
Again, psychedelics are fantastic tools for curing depression, trauma and abuse, especially LSD, magic mushrooms, Ayahuasca and San Pedro/Peyote. They make the user more aware of his/her situation and give insights and experiences that help the user deal with past trauma. Within a spiritual context the plants are especially helpful since they actually speak to the user in a way that an isolated substance cannot do.

Western chemical based medicine often uses medications such as anti-depressants but these medicines most often only put a lid on things and sedate the person. These medicines are also highly addictive and toxic, which makes them very dangerous in comparison.

9. Which drugs are legal?
Alcohol and tobacco are legal, although you need to be of a certain age to buy them. Prescription medications are legal as long as you have a prescription.

10. Which drugs are the most illegal?

Contrary to what many think today's drug laws are not based on science but on politics. For example, did you know that the push to make cannabis illegal was mostly based on racism?
Contrary to what many think today’s drug laws are not based on science but on politics. For example, did you know that the push to make cannabis illegal was greatly based on racism?

Class A drugs are defined as drugs that are especially harmful, have a high abuse potential and that have no medical value. Among these you will find heroin, crack, cocaine, cannabis, LSD, magic mushrooms and mescaline. Which class a drug is placed in is however a political decision, not a scientific one. From a strictly scientific point of view this classification is utterly absurd. Heroin and crack would definitely fall within the definition of a class A drug, but so would the legal drugs alcohol and tobacco since they obviously are extremely addictive, harmful and lack all medical value. The psychedelics and cannabis on the other hand are proven to have huge medical value and do very little harm, so they would be stricken if the list was based on science. It appears however that drug policies are among the least scientifically based policies today.

Main photo: fififififiesta! by Adriano Agulló on Flickr

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Naysha: A Guide to Diets

What is a diet and what is the purpose?

Diets are part of the triangular base of shamanism. For shamans who use master plants to heal the diets is the most important part. Through the diets the shamans get their knowledge and healing powers. If we compare it with university studies we can say that the diets are the different courses that one takes.

When you do a diet you make an ally for life, according to the shaman Jungle Svonni. These allies help out in the shamans work in the ceremonies. The shaman works with the energy of plants that s/he has dieted and not with her/his own power. In that way they can keep their energy strong and in balance. Otherwise each ceremony would weaken the shaman, but instead it is the opposite. More diets, more energy and better work.

When you do a diet you create a contract with the spirit of what you will diet. Note that some shamans specialize in using one or more specific plants, which they have dieted for long periods of time or in succession. We do not always connect or feel a connection with the spirit of what we are dieting. As in normal life we are more compatible with some people than with others, and it is the same with the plant spirits. We are compatible with certain plant spirits but not with all. With time you will recognize which plant spirits connects with you better.

In his article Withdrawals or allowances Dr. Rosa Giove tells us that:

“Diets are temporary retreats in the mountains, usually ten days in isolation, with ritualized ingestion of so-called ‘plant teachers’ under a certain diet and very strict physical and psychological management.

A space in contact with nature, dedicated to the physical and energetic purification, to remove substances that block sensitivity is thus created. This favours the production dream, remembrance of past situations and not metabolized deep introspection; in short, the encounter with the ‘inner teacher.’

We opened an inner door that allows us to contact our being deep, but at the same time makes us vulnerable. By Therefore, energy measures are stringent protection for both ‘dietador’ m person doing the diet, and the person who treats you.”

Kinds of diets

In my experience there are two types of diets:

Learning Diets. All diets are about learning, but the degree of learning depends on the effort we put into each diet and the connection you get with the spirit of what we are dieting. The more restrictions you have in your diet, the more benefits you will get from it.

Healing Diets. All diets are for healing, but there are specific diets to cure specific diseases or problems. A person who performs a healing diet can vary the level of restrictions depending on the severity of the illness. The restrictions will depend on what the shaman recommends, but the basic rules do not change. The only thing that varies in this case is the food and that depends on the body. A person who is old or physically very weak may have a little more to eat, but always without SALT.

What to diet

You can basically diet everything, because everything that comes from our mother earth has a spirit. So it depends on what you want to achieve with the diet. Do you want to learn, cleanse or heal?

Photo: perfectly imperfect by Bùi Linh Ngân on Flickr
Photo: perfectly imperfect by Bùi Linh Ngân on Flickr

In the end you will achieve all, but to what degree will also depend on your intention and your needs. For example a person that wants to heal a specific disease such as diabetes will just do a healing diet for the diabetes. The plant spirit won’t be teaching much, but will be working with the body and the energy during the entire diet.

Usually you look at the characteristics of what you will go to diet. In the Amazon the shaman’s training consists in doing plant diets and that is what is offered in the Amazonian shamanic market. Therefore, knowing the characteristic of the plant is recommended before starting a diet. A shaman knows the plant by investigating it through diets, by working with the spirit in ceremonies or by dreams where it is shown how to use every part of the plant.

A common way to investigate a plant in addition to the diet is to cook a leaf, stem or root with Ayahuasca. The Ayahuasca will make the contact with the spirit more visual. When you start a diet you will drink it as a tea or eat a specific part of the plant, such as the bark, root, leaves or flowers. Each part has a different energy, a different function and purpose.

Diet rules

If you look at the meaning of the word diet, one understands that it refers to the “restriction of something”. What are these restrictions in a shamans diet?

Alcohol
Alcohol consumption, for obvious reasons, is not allowed while one performs a diet.

Sex
Sex or masturbation is not allowed for simple reasons. At the moment of orgasm you release your energies or you catch energies from your partner. When we are on diet we want the energy that is contained in the plant or crystal that we are dieting to become a part of us. If we have an orgasm we will lose the energy that we have accumulated.

Place
When one is on a diet it is recommended to stay away from the city, because our body is in an open state, which helps us to be receptive to the energies. Therefore the place will influence the outcome of our diet. You must be isolated or surrounded by those who are helping you with the diet, like the shaman or other people on diets. How isolated you need to be also depends on the plant that you are dieting. Some plant spirits can be more demanding than others, just like people.

Food
This point is very important because nowadays, especially in the city of Iquitos, various centers have no idea of the importance and the reasons behind the food that should be served during a diet. When you are on diet, you want to create the least amount of distractions in your body so that the spirit of the plant can work on you. The food should generally contain little nutrition or energy. It is usually recommended to eat rice and lentils once a day, since everything you eat will compete with the spirit of the plant that you are dieting. For example, if you eat a carrot, the carrot has lots of “personality”, which will compete with the plant spirit that you are dieting. This does not mean that you cannot eat a carrot. You can, but the benefits from your diet will decrease. If you eat vegetables in your diet your learning might decrease by 40 percent.

Chilis by Adam Baker on Flickr.
Chilis by Adam Baker on Flickr.

Chili
In Peru the shaman will normally close a diet or post diet with chili, since it cuts energies. Chili also has a hot energy, which can give you a headache while on diet. The only exception to this case is when one is dieting chili, but that is a very special diet and not very common due to its degree of difficulty. Then it is usually consumed as powder up the nose and it is mainly for protection.

Salt
Salt is one of the most powerful sources of energy for our body. Therefore it is a big interference for plant or crystal. Since we don’t want the energies to compete, salt is generally used to end the diet. It is a signal to the body that the diet is over. When you stop eating salt before starting a diet you are also opening your body to energies around you. It’s important that you eat salt before ceremonies or your body will feel weak. Also nowadays we are eating far too much salt. The amount of salt that we need is only 2 grams a day. It is also good to keep in mind that salt sometimes comes with additives such as Fluoride, which is a poison.

Touching
As I mentioned, when you’re on a diet, you are in a receptive mode, or one might say that your WIFI is switched on. Therefore it is important that the diet is done in a secluded place in nature, not only because of the importance of creating a safe place and being in contact with nature, but also not to expose yourself to other people’s energies. It is highly recommend not to have any physical contact with people. Remember that our skin can absorb everything, not only creams or water, but also energy. Handshakes and hugs are not allowed during a diet. The only contact you may have is with the shaman. Usually the shaman asks the patient to hold his/her hands as if to receive something and then blows smoke for healing, cleaning or to provide energy.

Electronics
You should not use any electronic apparatus during a diet, so forgot about your laptop or your mobile. The signals that electronics emit are not good for you during a diet. They can make you feel sick or give you headaches. Using your cell phone to communicate with the rest out the world while you are on a diet is not good, especially if you receive bad news. You need peace, not problems.

Note
Every shaman has their own specific rules about diets. These are kind of general rules. Some shamans are stricter and won’t even allow people to read books, but I think that is to exaggerate. You won’t be with your diet energy 24 hours a day, so you can have moments when you distract the mind. Just make sure that you read something nice.

If you have taken the decision to start a diet, you must finish. You have made a promise to yourself and might very well get sick if you don’t keep it. I will talk more about that in another post.

How to start a diet

Before giving a diet the shaman will first do an Ayahuasca ceremony with the person for the following reasons:

  1. To clean the energies and the body of the person who will do the diet. Obstacles are removed to be able to work with the spirit of the plant.
  2. Ajo Sacha
    Ajo Sacha

    To identify the plant that the person will diet. In the ceremony the shaman calls the spirits of different plants to see which is best suited to the diet that the person will start. The most common diet for those starting shamanic training is Ajo Sacha. It is a very popular plant because of its effectiveness to clean energy.

  3. The shaman also sets the time the person must do their diet. Diets generally have an average minimum duration of 3 days, which are usually fastings (just with water). 7, 10 and 15 days are the normal times of diets, but if you want to specialize in the use of a plant then diets are longer or repeated several times. It could be 30 days, three months or a year. After you have done several diets you will feel in advance how long to make your diets.
  4. The diet starts early in the morning the day after the ceremony by drinking tea or eating bark, roots, flowers or leaves of the plant that the shaman saw during the Ayahuasca ceremony. You will drink this tea for the first 3 days of the diet. You can also drink it throughout the diet, but it depends on the shaman and whether the diet is for learning or healing. In diets for learning it is enough to drink the tea the first 3 days. For healing diets the tea plant is taken during all the diet.

It is important to mention that diets usually are performed by taking one plant at a time. No two plants are mixed in a diet unless it is for healing the body or to heal a disease. In some Ayahuasca centres there are diets with up to 100 plants in one diet, but that is outright crazy. The only thing you get from these diets is CONFUSION. As we mentioned before, plants are not compatible with all energies. Also some plants are not compatible with each other, either for chemical or energetic reasons. Please, if someone offers you such diets – run!

Crystal diets

The crystal diets follow the same rules as the plant diets. This is how you prepare for a crystal diet:

  1. Clean your crystal. You can use fire or leave it over night in a glass of water touching the earth.
  2. Next day put the crystal in a glass of fresh water and leave it there all day and night. If you don´t have a plant ceremony to cleanse before you start your diet, then you try to water fast all that day. Drink plenty of water.
  3. The next day you drink the water from the glass. To continue dieting you pour fresh water into the glass with the crystal, leave it over night and drink it next day. You do so for as long as you want to diet it.

Remember that before you start the diet you must tell yourself and the crystal energy how long you want to diet it – 3 ,5,7 days – and then you must do it. During the diet you eat once a day, usually rice and lentils without salt and not too much. Just one portion.

NOTE: Before you do a crystal or stone diet, check if the stone or crystal has any kind of toxic metal in it. You will find plenty of information about it through Google.

How to close a diet

A diet ends at mid day. If you decide to do a 3 day diet, for example, then you close the diet around middle day on the third day.

You cut an onion and mix it with lemon juice and salt. If you don’t like onions you can use garlic. You make a salad with the onions, lemon juice and salt and then eat it .This will send a signal to your body that the diet is over.
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Some shamans likes to close the diet with chilli. I don’t like to close my diet like that because chilli is too strong for the spirit. For me it is too hot.

Post diet

The post diet helps the spirit of what you were dieting to root firmly in your energy field. If you think in terms of making a new friend the post diet will help you make the relation stronger.

So how does it work?

You will continue to follow certain rules for a period of time. The post diet starts as soon as you have ended your diet.

aya diet 2 by Paul Hessell on Flickr
Photo: aya diet 2 by Paul Hessell on Flickr

In the post diet you can eat normally again, but you must avoid pork, chilli, refined sugar, lactose and alcohol. You must also avoid sex and masturbation, in order to help the energy of what you were dieting to grow roots. You don’t want to celebrate having finished your diet by having sex and drinking alcohol. Remember that your body and spirit just went through a very powerful and special experience.

How long should the post diet last?

Normally you can choose the number of days but remember that the longer your post diet is, the more benefits you will get from it. So for example if you were dieting for 15 days, then you should post diet for at least 7 days.

I normally end my post diet by eating chilli but that isn’t a rule. At the moment you eat pork, have sex or drink alcohol your post diet is over.

Now you can begin to appreciate how hard the shamanic training is. I have been dieting almost one and a half year, doing diets of different lengths and resting 3 days in between.

If you start different diets with only a few days between them, then you can have one post diet for them. For example if you do 7 days, then you rest 3 days, and start another 7 days diet , your post diet when you finish the second diet will be enough to cover the first diet also.

Love and gratitude

Naysha Silva Romero

Photo: BUTTERFLY by whologwhy on Flickr

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Naysha: Sacred plants and exorcism

During my shamanic training it was never easy to take the next step and it was never easy to overcome a fear. A shaman with fears is not good, especially in the moments when bravery is needed. At the same time that higher light energies exist, there are also dark energies. Dark energies are not God or the spirit creation. Dark energies are a human creation.

When we came to this experience as humans we forgot our divinity and got lost in pleasures. Our souls went down different paths because of our free will. We learnt to hate, to steal, to lie, and more. These feelings, actions and thoughts also are energies; low frequencies of energies. But also inside this dark energy there exist levels of consciousness. Some souls decide not to return to the light after death. They continue living the emotions that they could not let go of, such as hate and resentment. This is not about hell or heaven. For me that does not exist.

I believe that what many religions describe as “hell”, and people with near death or other kind of supernatural experiences describes as hell, is an intermediate state between the human and spirit world. A state in between, a shadow state we can call it. You cannot pass to the light until your decide that light is your origin and you cannot return as human. These spirits are still attached to the human world. But also when we are spirits, we have a choice. We always have a choice. They will see the light when they understand that only light is possible, and that the light is where they come from.

For me this intermediate dimension that we have created with our bad feelings and attachments is the shadow state which can explain things like witchcraft. Witchcraft is not Gods creation. Witchcraft was created in Africa, were researchers’ claim the first humans came from, so we can assume that witchcraft and humans came together. Exactly when and how? No idea, but I believe that at some point in our story there was a really dark moment and it was from this dark time the shadow spirits could communicate with the shamans in the ceremonies. Remember that plant medicines OPEN spaces, not only for different dimensions inside yourself, but also in reality. So these shamans got in contact with these shadow spirits and before that the shamans did not know of those kinds of energies, so some shamans learnt from those spirits. The shadow spirits understood very well the tricks of the human ego and some shamans felt really great with all this new information. And since then dark spirits also come to ceremonies and can again enter the human dimension and continue spreading hate and other bad feelings.

It’s very easy to learn witchcraft. Learning how to heal is what is difficult. Witchcraft is a sad reality and I will take time on this subject for another article.

Ok, until this point we are clear that these shadow states are what we can call the demon state. Every bad feeling, every bad thought, like “I want to kill myself” creates a demon, a low energy vibration around you. This is what we see as ugly visions during plant ceremonies. It’s our own creation. And every bad feeling, thought or reinforcement to this kind of thought, “I want to kill myself” for example, will feed the energy. That’s why there are different levels of consciousness to the low frequencies. Some of them have personalities like you and me. Yes, I have seen them. My first experience with exorcism in ceremonies started in my third year, when I was helping a shaman during ceremonies. I was watching his back , especially during exorcisms.

In my experience there are three kinds of “demons”.

  1. The ones that have a mission, like wanting to stop you from finding your mission. Normally the people experience these kinds of demons. They are born with these energies, they feel depressed almost all their lives and they describe something like “I really want to feel, but I cannot. It’s like I have a block in my heart that does not allow me to feel. I want to feel love. I know my family love me, but I want to feel it. I know I love them, but I cannot feel them. What’s wrong with me?”
    These energies usually have a very clear mission. When they manage to disconnect people from their hearts they disconnect them from their life path as well. Life becomes a sad reality for these people.
  2. The ones that came by accident, for example through playing with a Ouija board. Some of these games are not so innocent and really work. Sometimes people get in touch with energies that were passing by and they call them to our human dimension through portals like the Ouija board, and because these energies don’t have a particular mission, they manifest more intensely. Then it can be like in movies with exorcism, because these energies are not supposed to be here. They don’t have a purpose.
  3. The ones that come by trauma. Sometimes during our spiritual experience as humans we experience very traumatic situations that OPEN US, such as the death of someone very close. When you are open and vulnerable energies that are around you can attach. Normally these are not very strong energies, but they can create discomfort like the sensation of being disconnected.

People with the first and second group of demons are difficult to work with using plants. They normally do not feel anything; they cannot see. They are disconnected, so then it is good to work with diets. A shaman will recognize the demon energy inside of the person, normally through a plant ceremony and sometimes before that. We can smell these entities. I have personal experience from a very difficult exorcism where I could literally feel the evil in my skin. It was awful, but I am still here. That’s why, dear readers, working with plants is not a funny hobby. It’s serious work.

What shamans do when people with these kinds of entities come to ceremonies?

First is to check in a ceremony to be 100 % sure that there is an entity.

Second is to evaluate the power of the entities. Some are easier to take out than others.

Third. Normally all people with entities should go to diets to clean energies. This makes the demons energy weaker and weaker, so they will show up during the ceremony. Normally they will try to hide from the shamans, if they can.

Fourth. After the diet there is a ceremony, normally with special Ayahuasca or San Pedro cooked with an extra plant, like Toe, Ajosacha or Pinon Colorado. There are different sorts and it always depends on the level of energy that we are dealing with. In cases of San Pedro shamans cactus with four lines are the favorites for exorcism. During the ceremony the demon is expelled with help of the shaman’s icaros. These ceremonies are not violent like in movies, but there is always a risk, so the shaman will have support from another shaman to do the exorcism.

After the exorcism people normally do not remember much, but they suddenly feel much much better. Finally they can get in touch with their hearts and some, if not all, can finally get in touch with the visions of Ayahuasca.

My personal experience with demons and dark energies is not to fight them. When you deal with these energies , what you do is to increase your light. When your light is strong there is no space for darkness. Nature does not support these dark energies. They are tired of them, so nature is a big ally. When the shaman has taken out this kind of energy, then the nature spirits take care of the rest. Once I saw a Roman army coming from the forest to take an entity with them. I look at them and asked “What are you going to do with him (the demon)?” They just said “Do not feel sorry for him. He does not feel for you. Do not worry. We have been looking for him for a long time.” And then they disappeared with the screaming entity.

Love and gratitude
Naysha Silva

Photo: Cuckoo by andrea floris on Flickr

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Naysha: My shamanic training

Some people have been interested in my shamanic training, so I will write a little about it. I have being dieting in the shamanic tradition for one year and a half year and I have trained for three years drinking Ayahuasca four times a week in the deep jungle of Iquitos. But the training never ends.

Before coming to Europe and before cooking my Ayahuasca I did diets alone in the mountains of the high jungle of my town Tarapoto, drinking Ayahuasca every night for 15 days to prepare myself. My teachers were two indigenous shamans; a Witoto man named Luis and his wife, a Yahuar woman. When you train as a shaman much of the knowledge is not talked about. It is up to the student to find the right questions and then the answers come.

My teachers were mostly silent and most of what I learnt was by observing and in our communication during ceremonies, where I could see and understand and then ask my teacher if my understanding was correct. The knowledge that you understand from the inside never leaves you. When you understand and you are able to explain it in your own words, then you have mastered the subject. All the information I share comes from the knowledge I got during my training and has been confirmed by my teachers.

During this time I also understood that the process of understanding is what transforms the student into a teacher. The process of waking the teacher inside of you takes time and the first part of the training to become a shaman is about self exploration and self destruction (we experience many small deaths during this process). Then we are reborn. We clean our lives before the training, our families heritages and our past life karmas.

After that you are ready to learn how to heal and help others, because you had done it with yourself. Because you had understood pain and mastered love, compassion and humbleness. Then you can help others.

Everyone has a calling to become a shaman, but few are ready to do the work.

But everything about my path with Ayahuasca started long before I found my teachers, which you can read about in my earlier article Ayahuasca brought me home.

Love and gratitude
Naysha Silva Romero

Photo: Naysha Silva by Jaško Jan

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First experience with Ololiuhqui (LSA seeds)

This is my third trip report with seeds containing LSA. This time I used Ololiuhqui (Rivea Corymbosa) seeds, which are much smaller than the Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds I used for my last report. I tried them together with my partner. Her report comes after mine here.

Read my previous reports here:
Notes from my first journey on Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds
First LSA trip with a client

● ● ●

ololiuqui-rivea-corymbosa-packI wasn’t really up for it, but it was the only time I could fit into my schedule right then, so when my partner asked I agreed anyway. We used 20 seeds each, ground them up a little and made tea of them, which we drank on an empty stomach.

01:00   The seeds come on very slowly. At the one hour mark I lay down to meditate. As before I ask the spirit of the seeds to show itself, but it doesn’t. I do however get a watery feeling. Something to do with water.

It feels as if the dose is to weak. I seem to be in the limbo zone – effected, but still far to normal to be able to work with the effect. Quite an unpleasant feeling. After 15 minutes of meditation I lose interest.

01:15   I do some drumming. After a while I am called back to meditate.

01:30-02:20   Sleepish effects. Nothing more substantial. It might be working with me, but if it is it is so subtle that I can’t even feel it while meditating.

03:10   We go outside and have a walk around the village. My partner seems to be having some quite interesting effects with spirit contacts, but I am left in the uncomfortable limbo. It is easy for us to communicate with each other.

05:00   We go home and I eat to come down from the unpleasant effect.

13:00   I wake up well rested and happy.

● ● ●

Lessons learnt

I made a couple of errors that are easy to recognize:
∙ I wasn’t up for it. I should not do ceremonies when I am not in the right mind set.
∙ We didn’t have the equipment to grind the seeds properly, which I believe made for a much lesser effect.

After having talked to a guide who is experienced in using seeds containing LSA I am re-evaluating how I approach the plant spirit. When it comes to psychedelic mushrooms, San Pedro and Ayahuasca they have all been very communicative with me and have shown themselves to me. I go into the meditation expecting the same of the seeds, but they seem to be hiding from me. I have two thoughts about this:
∙ The seeds might have a more occult energy to them, which the guide I have talked to confirms. I cannot say about the Ololiuhqui seeds, but it seems to be the case with the Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds. Being of a different energy than I consider myself to work in, they might be hiding for that reason.
∙ In the future I will let go of how I have successfully approached other teacher plants and only be open to what it wants to show me, instead of asking it to show itself to me.

I try to stay clear of expectations by not reading too much about the seeds before I try them, but after this unsatisfying and uncomfortable trip I felt compelled to read up a bit more specifically on the Ololiuhqui seeds. To me they seemed worthless, but when I take to Erowid I find reasons to go back for a second look.

Statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe by Rennett Stowe on Flickr.
Statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe by Rennett Stowe on Flickr.

In a bulletin by the late Albert Hofmann I find it described that the Ololiuhqui seeds are seen as a small green snake and are held as sacred together with psychedelic mushrooms and San Pedro, both of which I have great respect for. It is further described that they are still used in shamanic practice by several tribes in Mexico, but although I have looked around a great deal I am unable to locate any shamans on the internet that work with them.

In the bulletin Hofmann also describes that the seeds are used to work with the Virgin Mary and that they are used to heal the sick and wounded with her grace. This wouldn’t have sparked my interest if it hadn’t been for an experience I had a few weeks earlier with Ayahuasca. There I had a wonderful experience of the Virgin Mary where I just rested in her grace for a couple of hours. That experience left me a little surprised, since I have never before been in contact with the Virgin Mary and didn’t go looking for it.

After having read Hofmanns bulletin I very much look forward to revisiting the Ololiuhqui to see if I can find the connection to grace and perhaps also the healing of the Virgin Mary.

En kold novembermorgenby Christian Theede Christiansen on Flickr.
En kold novembermorgenby Christian Theede Christiansen on Flickr.

My partner’s experience

My partner and I crush 20 seeds each and let them soak in cold water. We open a hallowed room and invite the substance to work with us. I feel the energy immediately when I drink the water, it’s mysterious and heavy.

I ask the substance to show itself to me, after asking many times I see a spiral. After half an hour we are going to meditate, and just before I lay down I hear a voice in my head who says that I’m pregnant.

I reject it and try to focus on communicating with the substance. It becomes very empty and silent, until someone contacts me. It is a spirit who tells me that he’s named Owen and that he lives in my womb.

I: How can I be pregnant? I use protection.

Digital Natives Blud, when I get out, we goin' Nando's, innit via Tom Bennett by Duncan Hull on Flickr.
Digital Natives Blud, when I get out, we goin’ Nando’s, innit via Tom Bennett by Duncan Hull on Flickr.

He: *laughs*. Yes, it doesn’t always matter. Sometimes things are meant to be, and then it just happens. I am here of different reasons. I know you long for children, but it is not right for you right now. I and In* want you to know that we will come to you in the future, and that we love you. Do not rush, you know when it’s right.

I: Do you know In?

He: Yes, we know each other. We hang out a lot.

I: What should I do with you then? I don’t want to, and am not supposed to have children at this time.

He: You do not always get pregnant in order to have children. You’re pregnant right now because you’re supposed to learn something from it.

I: But what should I learn? I don’t want this right now, it feels like I’m going to have a hard time.

He: You’ll see what you learn. It’s mostly because I need you now. Before I come to you as a human I have to know/go through some stuff. I need to feel that someone is taking care of me, I need you to do that by taking care of yourself. Treat yourself well, you know how to, and I will learn from it. I am good at taking care of others but not myself. We will take care of each other. I will teach you and you will learn.

I: Okay. Will I need an abortion?

He: You may get an abortion. You may have a miscarriage. I might just disappear.

I: If you are an embryo inside my womb, you can’t just disappear?

He: I certainly can!

I: How?

He: Just as the body adapts so that a woman can get pregnant even though she should not ovulate, so can embryos dissolve and be flushed out by, for example, vaginal discharge.

I: Oh, how do you know that?

He: Because I know that.

I: Who shall be your father?

He: Daniel.

I: So if I have children with someone else it will not be you and In?

He: No, then we do something else. But we want to have the experience of having you and Daniel as parents. The universe wants it. I might come before In does.

I: Why?

He: Because she still needs to learn things as a spirit. She is so messy now.

I: I have been told that she comes first.

He: Things change.

I: Why did it change?

He: Because it did. The only thing that is constant is change. Now go out and write this down and we’ll talk again later. I love you.

After that conversation me and my partner took a walk, but I did not think I got much out of the trip after that. I found it difficult to communicate with the substance, and my body felt restless, probably because the dose was far too low. However, I am very pleased with my experience. I look forward to working with LSA again. I have a feeling that it will be more instructive and stimulating at higher doses.

* IN is a spirit I’ve met before.

Photo: …..silentRime (table of the word) by Windiepink on Flickr

Thanks to Azarius for sponsoring me with the seeds:
Azarius bannerYou can also visit Azarius new Swedish website here.

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Naysha: San Pedro, part 3 – Seven interesting facts about San Pedro

1. It’s a really good medicine for treating gastritis, and organ inflammations in general.

2. It’s good for fertilizing other plants.

3. The cactus grows more with sunlight than water, which it almost doesn’t need at all.

San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi) by zug55 on Flickr
San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi) by zug55 on Flickr

4. The flower is very beautiful and likes to bloom during the night.

5. The ceremonies are much better if you have been doing a couple of Ayahuasca ceremonies before, because your energy will be cleaner and you will be able to process your Ayahuasca experience better. You will also feel much more comfortable in the San Pedro energy. While Ayahuasca is a very strong female energy, like a mother that loves you but also corrects you, the San Pedro is more like a grandfather who will teach you with patience, laughing and loving you.

6. If you are planning to visit Peru, go to the archaeological site of Chavin. There you can find one of the oldest San Pedro cactuses still growing. Some people call it the father of San Pedro.

7. San Pedro cactus with 4 lines are very difficult to find. It is like trying to find a four-leaf clover.

Naysha Silva Romero

Main photo: Psychedelic Butterfly Dreams @ Ness Creek Music Festival (Assignment 5.4)by Kyla Duhamel on Flickr

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Psychedelics, plant teachers or whatever you want to call them

First of all it is important to point out that all words are made up. People have had a good think and come up with a word which in some cases has caught on. But understand this – they are all make-believe. Even the most precise of words with the clearest of definitions is made up by someone.

The meaning of a word is determined by the consensus people find around it. Some words have very precise meanings, such as the word centimetre. Other words have a general consensus, but can still be open to interpretation at some point, such as the word chair or forest. Yet other words are the cause of constant quarrel. What is art? Define love. Describe ego.

When it comes to words describing experiences and plants or substances with psychedelic properties there are many different words, but little actual consensus, in part because we are still in the process of trying to agree on them. There is often no exact right or wrong, but as with most things there are plenty of people with strong opinions on the subject. But just so that we are clear about this – those opinions are made up about words that are made up. In the end it is all make-believe.

Since there is still little consensus on these words it is important to ask the person using them what they mean by them, because what the words mean to them might be very different from what they mean to you. And if you are getting worked up about what they mean to you only to find out much later that they mean something totally different to them… well, it’s a whole lot of arguing about absolutely nothing.

It is also important to understand that the words and definitions we use are a reflection of what we need them for. A scientist needs very well-defined words, so the wording is very precise. This often leads to the words being quite complicated, because in the scientific world it is not a problem if a word is complicated, as long as it is well-defined.

I am not a scientist. My goal is not to be precise, but rather to be understandable. In order to help people I need them to understand what I am saying, which they won’t do if I use a scientific jargon. I need words that people at least have a clue about, and then we can take it from there.

So let’s talk about some of the words that are floating around out there.

Plants and substances

This is a distinction where there is much consensus, but which still causes confusion, especially for people who do not work with such things. A plant is something you will find growing in nature. It can be a cactus like the San Pedro or a vine like the Banisteriopsis caapi, which is used in the brew Ayahuasca. The psilocybin mushroom is by a biologist’s definition not a plant but a fungi, but for the sake of making this understandable I group it with the plants, because it is something that grows in nature.

A substance on the other hand is an isolated molecule or combination of molecules. It is something that a person has isolated, extracted or produced. Mescaline is a substance which one can get from San Pedro, DMT is a substance which can be found in Ayahuasca and psilocybin is a substance which can be found in certain mushrooms.

It is important, at least from a shamanic perspective, not to confuse these with each other. Eating a San Pedro cactus is not the same as eating mescaline. The San Pedro is a plant and as a plant it has a spirit connected to it. Or to put it in other words, it is alive and is able to communicate with us. Mescaline might give some similar effects, but there is no spirit there to communicate with.

Let’s take one of my favourite substances as an example. Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a substance in the meaning that it is an isolated molecule which does not have a spirit attached to it, in the shamanic sense of things. It is a very powerful medicine to work with and many of the effects might seem similar to mushrooms or cacti, but when working with it one is not doing so with the help of a spirit which is attached to the substance.

While all this is perfectly clear for people who work with such things, it is often very confusing for people who for example make and enforce laws. They often name a substance and confuse it for the plant, or the other way around. In a shamanic setting it is a world of difference and it is well understood that a plant cannot be reduced to a certain substance contained within it, because it will be missing the spirit.

What are these plants/fungi being called?

Madarchen hud by Nic Dafis on Flickr
Madarchen hud by Nic Dafis on Flickr.

When writing this I asked people for the words they use for such plants. One person simply replied Teacher. Short and to the point. This is a common perception and while it might be figuratively speaking for some, most who say it mean it literally. They see the plant as a spirit separate from themselves who teaches them things, and this is an understanding which has been around for thousands of years in the cultural settings in which such plants have been used. It is a term that not only conveys what the spirit does, but it is also a word which shows respect.

In that cultural setting it would be disrespectful to confuse for example the San Pedro cactus with the word mescaline. It would be disrespectful in the same manner as if you called your university professor Book. Your professor is as little a Book as San Pedro is Mescaline.

A similarly respectful and common expression is Master plant. It says with all clarity that this is no silly little spirit, but a spirit worth listening to carefully. It is also common to call the plants by what help they give, such as Medicine plant or Visionary plant. They are medicine. They give vision.

A few people called them Spirit helper or Spirit guide. It still conveys the sense of there being another intelligence, but for me those terms carry a different meaning that are not connected to a plant.

Sht my Dad paints by Ryan on Flickr
Sht my Dad paints by Ryan on Flickr

Other words that try to capture the essence of these plants and substances

The fact that we are dealing with both plants and substances which have similar properties does confuse the situation. While the plant spirits have been known in shamanic use for many millennia they are still quite new to us in the modern world. These things haven’t really been known to us for more than a century, and to a broader public only half that time.

One thing that we are very good at in this modern world is playing with words, so it comes as no surprise that there is a wealth of different words trying to describe these plants, substances and experiences. Some are quite good while others are awful. Many are catchy and accessible, while others confuse things even more. Here come some of the ones that I like better:

Psychedelics

The best thing about the word psychedelic is that it is well-known. People at least have a vague idea what it is, and even though the ideas might be off, it is a starting ground.

The term means “mind revealing” and is derived from the Greek psyche (soul, mind) and delein (to manifest). It was coined by the British psychiatrist Humphry Osmond in 1957. At the time he and Aldous Huxley were discussing what to call these wonderful plants and substances. Huxley sent Osmond a rhyme with the word he preferred: “To make this trivial world sublime, take half a gram of phanerothyme” (thymos meaning ‘spiritedness’ in Greek.) Osmond wrote back “To fathom Hell or soar angelic, just take a pinch of psychedelic.

I wanted to share that story with you to show the playfulness and ingenuity that bright minds have put into making these words up.

Personally I think it is a word which is very suitable and it can be used for plants and substances alike. They are truly soul and mind revealing. They put us in direct contact with our inner workings, with or without the help of a spirit.

It is also a word that is easy to connect with other words, such as psychedelic mushroom, psychedelic medicine or psychedelic therapy. In that way it is good for communicating, which suites me.

I have heard several negative remarks about the word. A shaman friend of mine dismisses the word because it somehow doesn’t take the plants spirit into account. It reduces the plant to a mere substance, is the argument. I do not agree. There is nothing inherent in the word which says that it refers to a substance or which excludes a spirit. Those restrictions are not in the word itself, but in the critics own head.

Hallucinogens

Psychedelicological III by Derrick Tyson on Flickr
Psychedelicological III by Derrick Tyson on Flickr

This is another word which I like, but which is often (mis)understood in ways that narrow it down to something it doesn’t inherently need to be. The word hallucination was coined by Sir Thomas Browne in 1646 from the Latin alucinari meaning “to wander in the mind”.

That word goes well together with the notion that a hallucination is a visual projection of what is going on in the mind, which many such experiences obviously are. But many visual effects on such plants and substances are not projections of what is going on in our mind, which leaves many feeling that the word is incorrect. Many visual effects are universal and people report similar geometrical patterns, energy trails and other visual experiences that seem to emanate outside themselves.

I find that the anthropologist Jeremy Narby explains this wonderfully in his book The Cosmic Serpent where he studies shamans of the Amazon and compares their knowledge to Western scientific knowledge. There he makes a difference between inner and outer hallucinations. Inner hallucinations are projections of what is going on in our own mind, while outer hallucinations are things that are really there, but which are normally hidden from us. These outer hallucinations can be things like auras, spirits, energetic patterns and the fabric of existence. It is all there even when we don’t see it and what the plants and substances do is open us up to being able to see.

If the word hallucination or hallucinogen is used to only mean “projections of your own mind” it is not a suitable word to describe these plants and substances, since it leads us to believe that what we are experiencing only originates from within. If the word is used to mean inner AND outer hallucinations, then I find it to be very accurate. The visual effects are projections of what is going on inside AND they also reveal other realities to us.

Entheogens

The word entheogen was coined in 1979 by a group of ethnobotanists who wanted to capture the spiritual aspect of the experience. This also comes from Greek and is made up of entheos (full of god, inspired) and genesthai (to come into being). An entheogen is a plant or substance which wakes the God within, which inspires us, especially in a spiritual way.

I like this word because it captures the spiritual aspect in a way that the other words don’t. These plants and substances are to a very high degree being used in spiritual settings and with spiritual intentions, so it is fitting to have a word which highlights this.

I once channelled information from the spirit world about how dangerous drugs are. After having a list of different plants and substances I noticed that some were obviously missing. There was no mention of mushrooms, LSD or DMT. When I asked why the answer was very clear. “Many people have completely misunderstood these plants and substances. They are not drugs. They are keys to speak to the Gods.”

I couldn’t agree more. That is the most common view among people who work with such plants and substances in a serious manner, and that is also why no amount of legislation can ever stop people from using them. It is simply ridiculous to think that people will obey laws that try to stop them from speaking to God or themselves.

Substances of essence

This is not an expression I have heard being used, but when I asked for words someone wrote this. I think it is a wonderful expression, because it shows that respect can be directed towards a substance too. While I have heard several in spiritual settings dismiss substances and molecules, they are also truly miraculous and hold as much healing power as many plants. I find such dismissal to be disrespectful and lacking in knowledge in the same way that others disrespect the plant spirits out of lack of knowledge.

A couple of words I think are really bad

Dr. Mom by Bart Everson on Flickr.
Dr. Mom by Bart Everson on Flickr.

Drugs/dope. No one who has the slightest knowledge on the subject would use such words about plants or substances with psychedelic properties. When you hear someone using these words it is a red flag clearly stating “I have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about”. Unfortunately drug laws are often written and upheld by people who haven’t a clue.

Phanerothyme. I’m just using this as an example among many similar words. It translates into “producing visable feelings”. The person who created this might have put a lot of thought into it and the meaning might be quite true, but trying to communicate it is horrible. It is bulky, hard to pronounce, hard to combine with other words and nobody has the slightest idea what it means. It might work with a scientific intention, but in everyday communication I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole.

In conclusion

There are a lot of good words out there and there are a few bad ones too. Use the good ones and let the bad ones die. But perhaps more importantly, there are good and bad interpretations of the words.

If you meet someone who uses the words in a way that you don’t think you agree with, don’t take for granted that you don’t agree with one another. Simply ask them what they mean and have a friendly talk about your different choices in words. In many cases we get tangled up in trying to say that something is right and something else is wrong. When we do so we are missing the crucial point – it is all made up. Our language is make-believe. We often confuse the use of different vocabulary with being of different opinions.

Another point that I see in all this is that although there are several very good words out there, these plants, substances and experiences are so diverse and complex that they are hard to capture in a single word. Any way you choose to describe them you will automatically be missing other crucial points. The plant is a teacher, but is that all it is? Yes, these plants and substances help us sort out our inner workings, but is that all they do? Yes, they cause inner and outer hallucinations, but is that what it is all about?

I don’t think that the solution to all this is to make up yet more words, trying to capture that which cannot be captured. I think a good lesson is to simply understand that language itself is a limitation.

Main photo: A bumble bee hovering over a lavendar bloom by Steve Slater on Flickr

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A guide to safely working with visionary plants, psychedelic medicines and life in general

Before you even think about it

Why am I doing this?

Before you consider working with visionary plants or other psychedelic medicines it is helpful to ask yourself why you want to do so. Your purpose for using a plant or substance is very important for the outcome and you will want to create an environment for your experience that matches your purpose.

I have identified four reasons for using substances, but there are certainly many more.

Recreational use
Many use plants or substances simply to have fun and explore. They take it at a party or for an adventure with friends. The altered states that psychedelics provide are often very pleasant and uplifting, and at the same time often feel very meaningful. Some plants and substances fit well in a social context, while others do not.

Medicinal use
Visionary plants and psychedelics are powerful tools for healing emotionally and mentally, but sometimes also physically. They often bring clarity to the situation and give tools, which is a starting point for working with one’s self-healing. It is also common for them to lower mental barriers or defences you might have towards dealing with a situation. This makes them powerful tools for deep therapeutic work where breakthrough experiences are common, but working in that way takes courage, safety and it is advisable to have an experienced person by your side.

Spiritual use
Visionary plants have been used in spiritual practice for many thousands of years and all over the globe. The plants themselves have spirits that communicate with us and are often respectfully referred to as teachers. Working from a spiritual understanding opens up possibilities to such things as being in contact with the spirit world, receiving messages from the other side or other entities, extracting intruding entities, working with past life issues, and so on. Here it is equally important to have courage, work in a safe environment and to have an experienced person by your side. For someone who works with visionary plants and psychedelics at this level there is often no strict division between medicinal use and spiritual use, since the spiritual work has healing effects.

AbUse
Abuse is important to be aware about, but it is uncommon that people abuse visionary plants or certain psychedelics. They are well renowned for being anti-addictive and often break abusive cycles, which make them excellent for treating and even curing addiction.

Am I ready?

Meditating by Take Back Your Health on Flickr.
Meditating by Take Back Your Health on Flickr.

Why are you considering visionary plants or psychedelic medicines? Many who consciously seek such paths feel stuck in one way or another. They come looking for healing and insight and a way to get unstuck. In some cases people are so intrigued by the medicine that they forget to ask themselves if they actually need it. They can often do more good for themselves by simple means of working out, eating healthier, taking up a meditation practice, doing yoga, making other life style choices and such.

Visionary plants and psychedelics are very powerful tools for working with personal and spiritual development and should be treated with respect. They should not be confused with drugs. To work with visionary plants or psychedelics you need to be mentally prepared to meet whatever comes up. If you know that you are not prepared to see and work through that which you have stored away sub-consciously, you should definitely not use these tools.

If you on the other hand are committed to healing and growing and want to gain access to knowledge so that you can help yourself, then visionary plants and psychedelics might be the closest thing to a miracle that you can find.

Medical background

There might be medical reasons for you not to use certain plants or substances. Check reliable sources for what might be relevant to you. Your shaman, guide or therapist should be able to help you out. In countries where such medicines are legal it might also be good also to ask your medical doctor.

It is not uncommon to be asked to hold a diet or do other lifestyle changes before or after working with visionary plants and psychedelics. If you do a one day fast before it is mainly to prepare your body and make the effect more powerful, but if you are asked to do a longer diet the diet is often also part of your healing.

It should be noted that the most popular visionary plants and psychedelic medicines are physically very safe to work with. Practically nobody dies from them. The potential risks are rather at the mental level, where people who are not willing to change can have very challenging and even terrifying experiences. The problem in that case is not the medicine, but the person’s unwillingness to work with what comes up. Such risks are greatly reduced when working under guidance with a therapeutic or spiritual intention.

There is a general caution when it comes to people who suffer from severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia. The fear is that the plants or substances might trigger the person to become even more sick. There are however other ways of understanding those illnesses. If the illness for example actually is a parasitic energy attached to the person, then visionary plants can be ideal to work with under the guidance of a shaman or such.

Preparation

Intention

81078079The clearer your intention, the easier it will often be for you to find answers, simply because it will focus you in that direction. Some intentions are very precise, such as finding the answer to a specific question. Other intentions can be very broad, but still not vague. Saying “Give me what I need and the strength to handle it” for example.

The mere fact that you are setting a conscious intention sends out the signal that you are open for receiving and working with yourself, which will make it easier to receive and work with yourself. Not setting an intention sends out an unconscious garbled signal possibly inviting things that you are not ready to work with.

I do however have the feeling that the plants consciously don’t give me what I want, but what I need. If my intention is in line with what is best for me, then the answers will be very clear. If my intentions are off, then they won’t be answered. If that happens it is important to be open to listen for what is really best for me.

Promise to yourself

One part to the intention and mental preparation that I find most helpful is to consciously and solemnly promise yourself to deal with whatever comes up. However challenging, hard or nasty it is, you will be courageous, face it and work through it. Having promised yourself to do so, you will be less likely to try to avoid unpleasant challenges, and meeting them head on you will surely solve them.

Set & setting

The concept of set and setting is a great tool for understanding some of the basic steps that lead you to have a certain experience.

Set, as in mindset
Where are you mentally and emotionally right now? What is going on inside you? What is going on in your life? Your experience will in one way or another reflect what is going on with you and what you need in life right now. To be safe you should be in a mindset where you are prepared and capable to handle the challenges you face.

Someone who is unstable and unwilling to face themselves and make changes in their life should not take visionary plants or psychedelics. If one for example uncovers disturbing hidden memories and then tries to suppress them again, there is a risk of re-traumatizing oneself. The same mechanism that can make it a miracle plant or substance for some, can make it a hellish nightmare for others. When we use visionary plants and psychedelics we often delve into the subconscious and find new things to bring to the conscious level. From the conscious level we can then begin working with it in order to heal and grow. One needs to be ready to take that ride.

Setting
Is simply the surroundings. Who are you with? Where are you? Do you feel safe? My best experiences have been by myself, with one other person or with a small group of friends that I like and feel safe with. It has always been understood that we take care of each other if anything happens. And above all, they have taken place in nature.

In your mind, place yourself in different places and with different people and feel the vibe of them and how well that reflects what you want to accomplish. A garden. A national park. In a cabin by a lake. In an art studio. At a rave party. In a pub. In a hospital. In a car. On a boat. In a ceremony. With a shaman. With friends. With bullies. With drunks. With your parents. In a messy dorm room. On a tropical beach. In a hut in the rainforest.

There are so many variations and some of them are obviously bad. Make yours good. Reports of bad trips almost always begin with the person not knowing about or ignoring to create the right set and setting.

Navigating the psychedelic experience

Go with the flow

Winter Walk by jimmy brown on Flickr.
Winter Walk by jimmy brown on Flickr.

The very best way to meet that which is challenging or even frightening is by accepting and diving right into it. Meet your fears head on by accepting and working through that which scares you. When you do so you will eventually resolve whatever is bothering you and come out on the other side, wiser and free of it. As long as you try to avoid whatever it is you will still in some way be trapped by it. Distracting yourself won’t solve your problem, but only add stress to it.

Unfortunately many are so used to avoiding discomfort that it seems counter-intuitive to face what is troubling you. Instead of meeting the discomfort it is common now-a-days to put a lid on things, distract ourselves or even sedate ourselves. That attitude can be very harmful when we work with plants or psychedelics, since they work in the opposite direction by raising our awareness and pointing us to the real issue.

While there are those who warn people to get in contact with their subconscious, that is the whole point of the exercise with visionary plants and psychedelics. So when you are faced by something, however awful it might seem, your best response is to accept it and go with the flow. Work through it and come out on the other side.

Acceptance is an important step

The first step in working with change is to bring awareness to the situation. We need to become aware that change is needed, but to be able to change we also need to accept how things are right now. It doesn’t mean that we need to approve of how things are, be ok with them, or anything like it. It just means that you need to accept the current situation as it really is in order to change it. Otherwise your actions will at best be misdirected, and at worst harmful for your growth.

Being aware and having accepted what is leads you on to be able to work with your change. The actual change might be quick like turning on a switch, or it might take much hard work. When you have worked through it all it is important also to acknowledge it by being grateful. Those who forget to be grateful often forget what they have to be grateful for.

Although the emphasis here was on acceptance, these four steps together form a very simple, yet powerful method of personal development.

  1. Awareness
  2. Acceptance
  3. Change
  4. Thankfulness

One major aspect of plant teachers and psychedelics is to help us in that process. They help us bring awareness and often also show us how we need to change, but for the healing and growing to take place we need to accept how things are and put in the necessary work to change ourselves.

Changing the variables of setting

When you feel bad during a journey it can be because you actually have something that you need to deal with. In that case, accept it and dive right in. There are however times when people feel bad without being able to locate why. When the discomfort isn’t caused by something internal, it is caused by something external. When it is external simple changes in your environment can very quickly make you feel better. You can for example try this:

  • change your body position
  • look at your bodily needs. Do you need to go to the bathroom, drink something or are you hot/cold?
  • change the music, turn it off/on
  • change the lighting
  • change what you’re doing
  • change rooms or go outside/inside
  • change company

Any one of these variables and many more like them can affect your wellbeing without you even noticing it. By deliberately changing them you can figure out where the problem lies. The setting you have chosen has its own map of possibilities that can be changed to change the way you feel, for good and bad.

Change is the only constant

Nothing lasts forever. The effects of the plant or substance that you have taken will eventually fade away. Whatever you are experiencing right now will soon be no more than a memory. This can be comforting to remember when things are especially challenging. If someone is having a hard time and needs comforting, remind them that this too will pass.

Emergency landing

You should plan your journey so that this information is never needed, but if you really need to land from the experience you should eat. We raise our vibration when we work with visionary plants and psychedelics, so by eating we lower ourselves again. Food is earth and helps you find roots, but it can be quite a challenge to eat in that state since even a watermelon might taste like soil. Eating to land is a safe and natural way of landing, but it takes time and you will still feel some effects. It is also possible to cut the energy of some plants with lemon or chilli. I would definitely not recommend alcohol or other drugs or medicines to come down.

Calling the police/ambulance

A few people get the knee-jerk reaction to call the police if things get scary. In most cases it is a really bad idea to ask help from the police, since they really have no idea what they are dealing with. Their training does not include how to take care of tripping people and that insensitivity can be quite disrupting or even traumatizing. But of course, if there is a real emergency where the police or ambulance is needed – call them.

A spiritual perspective

The well known Mexican mushroom shaman Maria Sabina.
The well known Mexican mushroom shaman Maria Sabina.

The traditions that have worked with these visionary plants for many millennia are spiritual. They take into account such things as other realities, spirits, intrusive energies and past lives. The plants themselves are entities that can be communicated with and they are often honourably referred to as teachers. The plant teachers are naturally occurring and among others include San Pedro, Peyote, psilocybin mushrooms and Ayahuasca. These all have powerful entities connected to them who often heal and teach us things.

Chemical substances such as LSD do not have entities attached to them. LSD can give many of the same effects by unleashing the persons own potential, but without the support of a plant entity, what comes out of it is left up to the person who has taken the substance.

These traditions also work with the understanding that people have an energetic body where blockages can lead to physical illness later on.

Respecting the substance and yourself

If one understands that the plants are actually powerful entities who help us work with ourselves, it goes without saying that one should meet them in a respectful manner. In traditional settings that is reflected in the ceremony, but respectful should not be confused with tradition or ceremony. Being respectful means being of good intention, willing to better yourself and treating the plant as the teacher and helper that it is. Respectful is making the effort to integrate the insights you have gained. Respect can be seen in how we prepare ourselves for meeting the plant, in what setting we choose, what clothes we wear and how we treat and help those we journey with.

There are certainly many ways of being disrespectful, but some of the more common are using the plant as a drug, using it with bad intentions and mixing it with other plants or substances. If you want to mix the plant with something else, then first ask its permission.

Navigating alternative realities

Visionary plants and psychedelics open doors to realities that are often hidden to us. To put it plainly – there are such things as spirits, angels and demons. Many sicknesses, especially mental ones, are actually caused by parasitic energies.

Some people have a natural instinct on to how to handle other realities, while others can feel very lost and vulnerable. If you have no knowledge of how to navigate such realities it is good to have a guide who does.

As so often it is really only fear itself that you have to worry about. If you feel that you need protection, then you should absolutely call it in. If you feel that you don’t need protection, then most likely you are fine without it.

Integrate the experience, live the insight

Plants and substances are tools that will show you what you are doing wrong and what you need to do in order to get un-stuck, heal and so on. They will usually not heal you, but will rather leave that work for you to do. What you do following the ceremony is therefore of utmost importance. To heal you need to properly integrate and live the insights that you have found. As long as you do so you are still on your way.

If you on the other hand go back home and don’t bother taking care of the insights you have gained, then you will quickly find yourself in the same misery again. It might even be worse, because you have become conscious about what you should do. In that case you stagnate and stand still. A person who comes back for the same answers over and over is probably not genuinely interested in evolving, but is rather seeking thrills. If you come back for the same answers you will soon find that the plants get fed up with you, in the same way that any therapist would if you kept coming back with the exact same issue. If they do get angry with you, your journeys will rapidly become increasingly uncomfortable.

Some people are very able to work with themselves after the experience, while others need the support of others. When doing such journeying with friends one has a support group in each other, but if one takes help of a shaman or therapist for the experience it isn’t always obvious where you can get the support you need afterwards.

To make positive changes in your life you need to focus on integration. If it is all about the experience and not about the integration, you will find yourself going nowhere.

How all of this applies to life in general

If you take a step back and exclude all plants and substances from this text you will notice that most of what I have written is applicable to life in general. Let me take a few examples.

Setting
Depressed people often unconsciously program themselves to be miserable. Everything around them is carefully rigged to keep their mood down. They are in a setting which is poison to them. If they applied the same technique of changing variables in their surroundings they could often solve their situation without medication. But instead of changing the music, changing clothes, relationships or jobs, many people medicate themselves. By doing so they are in many cases actually sedating themselves in order to continue functioning in an environment that is harmful to them.

Go with the flow
Our society is obsessed with avoiding the uncomfortable, at the cost of never actually solving it. Instead of facing the discomfort we sedate or distract ourselves from problems. If people in general were given the tools and courage to face their pain, sorrow, shame, anxiety and whatever else is bothering them, we would see far more healing at the mental and emotional level than doctors, therapist, shamans and medications can ever hope to give us.

Integration is the key
People are full of bright ideas and answers, but they are all quite pointless if you do not let them live. Insights that aren’t translated into action are only insights in theory. For them to have importance in your life you must do something with them.

A last note

b0397bda0b639548ff44316fb4e1f456Much of this text deals with the issue of challenging experiences with visionary plants and psychedelics, but I need to add that most of my experiences with psychedelic medicine have been joyful, marvellous, beautiful and eye-opening. There is so much love and wonder and I function so much better because of my experiences. So even if I believe in being prepared for challenges, leave the door wide open for your journey to be something totally other than challenging, because most of the time it will be.

Main picture: part of the painting Person Planet by Alex Grey

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Naysha: Different kinds of Ayahuasca

1. Ayahuasca as a vine (physical aspect)

Scientific classification: According to botanists they had found approximately 20 types of Ayahuasca vine.

Shamanic classification: This classification is different from shaman to shaman, tribe to tribe and from tradition to tradition. Some maestros name the vine according to the colour of the flowers, other according to the colour of the vine when they scrape it.

2. Ayahuasca as its psychoactive effect

● The Harakmbut natives differentiate between 22 types of Ayahuasca that they use in ceremony.

● In the north of Peru the vine is defined as: tigre-ayahuasca, rayo-ayahuasca, cielo-ayahuasca, boa-ayahuasca, but they do not agree at all about the characteristics and effects.

The most popular classification for Ayahuasca seems to be:

1. According to the type fo vine

YELLOW AYAHUASCA or MASTER AYAHUASCA is a soft preparation, without a lot of purge and visions. It’s very good for first timers. The visions are soft and the taste is not so strong.

PINK AYAHUASCA or SKY AYAHUASCA is much stronger than the Yellow Ayahuasca and is good for people with a little bit more experience. It is very good for cleansing and healing. It is also known as RED Ayahuasca and is the most popular Ayahuasca.

WHITE AYAHUASCA works mainly in the sexual energy center.

BLACK AYAHUASCA has a big potential for healing and energetic protection. It is not very visual though. Most of the visions are covered by a dense black cloak. It is strong and does a lot of cleansing work. Visions are short but intense.

2. According to the mix

Here we can find differents kinds of Ayahuasca that target a problem more specifically. In the mix a third or fourth plant can be added. This is usually done at the end of the Ayahuasca preparation and which parts of the plant – bark, leaves or roots – will depend on what the shaman wants from the Ayahuasca, energetically speaking.

Ayahuasca + Chakruna+ Tabacco: This Ayahuasca is not one of my favourites. It can be demanding, especially if you have a delicate liver, but it depends on if it is Mapacho or the tobacco leafs from the plant. If it is a Mapacho the mix is very hot for the liver and can create physical distraction. Tabacco is a very powerful plant and spirit and is used for protection and cleaning. I am working on an article about this plant. There are Tabacco shamans in the Amazon.

Ayahuasca + Chakruna + Bobimsana: This is my favorite Ayahuasca mix because the Bombisana plant has the ability to open the heart and get in touch with all the magic inside and outside of us. It is very strong visually and the mareacion (MAREACION is the common word to describe the state one can find in Ayahuasca ceremonies) comes in waves, is strong and then disappears, then is strong again and then disappear. It does so approximately 3 times.

Ayahuasca + Chakruna + Toe: This mix has a very bad reputation, but mostly because people do not know much about Toe. This mix is one of the most powerful mixes, and it is a very visual Ayahuasca, like crystal water. The shaman must know how many Toe to put in this mix, because Toe has a very strong spirit and can be mortal. Toe is in my opinion more powerful than Ayahuasca. Therefore one must be very respectful, do several diets and train to work with this spirit. It is one of my favourite Ayahuasca and I never had any problems with this mix, but I had proper guidance and the shaman I worked with knew a lot about Toe.

Once more: guidance is very important in every Ayahuasca ceremony. There is a lot more to know about this sacred tea.

– Love and gratitude –

Naysha Silva Romero

* For details on classification I used the book: Shamanismo y plantas de poder. Piki EDITORIAL. The translation is mine and I have also added my own knowledge.

Photo: Ayahuasca Vine by Paul Hessell on Flickr

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