12) What is Ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca is a vine that naturally grows in parts of South America, used by shamans in ceremony. It is the name of the vine but is also commonly referred to as the name of many different brews or teas the shamans mix because the fundamental ingredient is ayahuasca.

On its own, ayahuasca is a strong purgative that also produces visionary states due to a family of chemicals called the Harmala Alkaloids which cause the purging, but also are an inhibitor of the Monomine Oxidase enzyme in the stomach, in charge of breaking down compounds such as histamine, adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, melatonin, etc. It also breaks down any Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) taken orally, which is a naturally occurring compound, allowing lucid dreaming to occur.

A number of other plants can potentially be part of the recipe for the brew. Chacruna is often added as a helper plant to increase intensity of the visions because it also contains DMT and Mapacho Tobacco, containing nicotine and Harmala Alkaloids. Specific plants are added at the shaman’s discretion to treat specific conditions.

“Mother Aya” is a divine comforting presence, possessing selfless and loving traits, an energy of the vine often referred to as the “Madre.” Her maternal spirit inspires human consciousness and wellbeing, especially during ceremony.

The Usual Suspects, Tactics (identified by Edward Snowden) 11 karmic spaces (identified by Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati), and Major Accomplices of the oracle, identify the energetic weaknesses and the advice or “medicine” to strengthen the energy.

These horizontal ink drawings were inspired by visions from my ayahuasca ceremonies in the jungle near Iquitos. I journaled my experiences while acclimatizing at Yoga Timalambo, now the Andean Spirit Lodge (where the condors fly) in preparation for the climb up to Machu Picchu.