This is what happens when a young and inexperienced European shaman travels from Peru to Germany to lead an ayahuasca ceremony: the plant’s spirit doesn’t follow! It stays back home in Peru. Seriously, I am not kidding you…
And here is how it happened: the three traditional Peruvian jungle shamans were not allowed to leave Lima by the airport authorities. They were the ones meant to come and lead a European ayahuasca tour. In view of the situation, the foreign owners of the ayahuasca center that the Shipibo shamans belong to in Peru, then decide to suddenly name a young European apprentice the head shaman… instead of canceling the tour! Which would have of course been the right thing to do.
Anyhow, not knowing what a screw up this would be, I was looking forward to my first ayahuasca experience. Having learnt from a different Peruvian shamanic tradition, I am not experienced with working with this specific plant (which is typically used by the jungle shamans of Amazon). In my preparation work, I adhered to a strict diet but also connected with the spirit of ayahuasca. I wanted to get the feel of her spirit and learn from her directly before meeting her in ceremony.
I tracked that ayahuasca is a feminine spirit without any doubt. A very strong and wise feminine spirit. I afterwards read the accounts of ayahuasca being called a ‘mother’ or ‘grandmother’ by the indigenous people of the Amazon which confirmed to me its feminine properties. While she is protective of you, I found its capricious nature was nothing like motherly to me. I found her to be very demanding and over-encompassing, asking for a total devotion and obedience. Being a free and capricious spirit myself, I made a deal with her and then complied with her teachings before the ceremonies.
Once in the first ceremony, I found myself crammed with over 20 other people in a small room on the floor. Our young shaman leading his first ayahuasca ceremony bravely explained to us his experience: 3 months dieting with the plant… If ever you have one of the most common questions, ‘how to know who is a good shaman’, just look at the way the shaman prepares, opens and protects the sacred space. This is where my trust and confidence went down the drain… Yet, I still took ayahuasca; somewhat out of respect, somewhat out of curiosity, and mostly trusting I would be supported by my own shaman self. After the initial challenging swallow of the (concentrated) brew, I calmly waited for its chemical effects… I waited a long time. A veeeery long time. Forever. Aaaaand… nothing.
I asked her what happened, she said she never came. The spirit of the plant is tied to the spirit of the land. If you want to meet ayahuasca, you gotta travel to her wilderness jungle land. Or work with a shaman who knows her upside down and has enough experience, presence and power to bring her spirit into the ceremony.