What is Ayahuasca from the Amazonian Shamanic Perspective?

Ayahuasca is a brew traditionally made up from two ingredients, psychotropic leaves from the Chacruna, Toe (Brugmansia), or Haumbisa plant, and a vine called Banisteropsis Caapi. When brewed together for a few hours the Banisteropsis vine block the MAO inhibitors that are in our stomach so that the psychotropic leaves can release their DMT into our digestive system, taking us on a shamanic journey into deeper consciousness.

In the Amazon, Ayahuasca was traditionally a diagnostic medicine, taken by the shaman or 'curandero' to diagnose the person, and to see which plant medicine would be the best to cure the illness. That is why she is called the ‘Mother of all Medicines’, because she understands the properties of all the plants and communicates with the shaman, which one is the best medicine for which disease.

Here in the West we have misunderstood the term 'Mother of all Medicines', thinking she is the superior medicine, the ‘Mother,’ so to speak, and we have therefore appropriated her accordingly. We have placed this accolade on her, without the understanding that there are many powerful plant medicines in the Amazon, each one with their unique medicinal properties to help us become healthy.

In so doing we have become attached to the visions we receive and in some cases give our power away to her. In traditional ceremonies the visions were only a side effect of a ceremony and were not given much attention. The shaman was only interested in diagnosing the problem/illness and then choosing the relevant plant medicine. The Ayahuasca doesn’t need to be strong, as long as the patient purges, and the Ayahuasca can give an accurate diagnosis.

Psychedelic visions can create attachments that stop the medicine from doing its job, which is to purge you of all the conditioning, patterns, and darkness that is stopping you from shining bright. It also dilutes Ayahuasca’s power, as a diagnostic teacher, with our western obsession with hallucinogens, psychedelics and ‘getting high.’

Ayahuasca has spread around the world because the plants are as desperate as the rest of the living things that are sharing our planet with us. They are needing for us to wake up out of our hypnosis and realise the we are actually the guardians and stewards sharing this planet and we are just one species, out of many. This powerful plant medicine reconnects us back to nature, so that we can be part of the solution rather than remain part of the dis-ease. She is the diagnostic tool - but we must do the work to heal ourselves.