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Mushrooms vs. Ayahuasca - Are They Really so Different?

Updated: Aug 25, 2021

I am honestly not sure how well this post will be received, there are a lot of feelings and beliefs about these plants that I tend to shake up within people… and not in a bad way!

My “formal” training and background lies with Ayahuasca. Drinking that Medicine was my first psychedelic/Plant Medicine experience and so that’s where I began. After that experience, I had the opportunity to volunteer at an Aya Church for quite some time with very large groups of people, facilitated privately in dozens of ceremonies with smaller groups, facilitated alongside a Shipibo Maestro over the course of a few months and was even shown how to brew and serve the Medicine. Then I started working one-on-one in the Medicine with people who felt called to sit with it and me. I did that until a few months ago, on a day that I received the message to stop.

One day when I was preparing to again work with the brew, I got the message:

“I don’t want to come through this way anymore” she tells me, “I want to come through the Mushrooms”.

I immediately reached out to the clients that I had scheduled for the upcoming month. At this point, I was actively working with both Ayahuasca and Mushrooms, so each client was working with a different plant depending on what was calling to them. All of my people who were signed up for Ayahuasca work responded to me news with some variation of: “I trust this process. If you are suggesting we work with Mushrooms instead of Ayahuasca, I will trust that guidance.”

So one by one each client who sat with me over the next two months and remarked about the Ceremony not being Mushrooms.

“I have taken Mushrooms at least 100 times before, this was not Mushrooms, this was Ayahuasca”, said one client.

There was a lot of letting go that had to happen on my end over this transition. I had a hard ego attachment to Ayahuasca and all the “glory” or “prestige” that comes with saying I work with it. Mushrooms seemed so much less glamorous. In unpacking that, I also began to realize there is a LOT of people out there serving up that Medicine that should not be and now I understand why.

So from a Shamanic perspective, here is what I have gathered about this situation.

  1. Ayahuasca is not “Mother Ayahuasca”, it is the name of a plant combination or brew. I have met the two spirits that are combined to make Ayahuasca. They are not really what we think of as “Mother Ayahuasca” and this perplexed me for a long time. The vine is Feminine, but not in the same way as the spirit I have met in so many ceremonies. Chacruna is in fact a peculiar little gender-neutral being that has little to no feminine qualities at all. He does, however, help open a doorway for you to meet the “Mother”.

  2. Mushrooms are an alternate doorway. Who you meet on the other side of that doorway depends on several factors, but I am coming to see that who you have as a Shaman guiding you will greatly impact that outcome, as well as what your own abilities and what your spiritual posse looks like.

  3. People who sit with me constantly tell me they are experiencing an Ayahuasca Ceremony because they are meeting the Divine Mother, Gaia, Divine Feminine, etc. that I bring into the space after they have walked through the Mushroom doorway. Someone can take less than one gram of mushrooms in my Ceremony space and be transported into the jungle and be among the jaguars while being worked on by a woman covered in vines. Does that sound like any Mushroom experience you’ve ever had? More info on these psilocybin ceremonies here.

  4. The “traditional” brew of Ayahuasca has some serious energetic baggage and that is sometimes a collective energy that gets tapped into during ceremony. This brew is widely abused today, has been served in a very controlled manner (which makes it laced with toxic masculine energy) and is used in many cultures where women are not even acknowledged as Shamans or allowed into the healing spaces. It is my theory that this is why it attracts dark shamans and toxic masculine types, why it isn’t handled well physically by many people and why it tends to be “hard” or violent in nature. It isn’t uncommon to hear stories about women getting raped in ceremony or coerced by a male “Facilitator” in the days that follow (this happens all the time and you can read about one example of that here). I get a lot of messages about bringing this Medicine out of the dark and into the light or about how it is so tightly controlled by the people serving it that she is not able to come forth in her full glory as a result.

  5. Tradition means limitation. The only thing constant is change, right? Then we have to assess why we are clinging to this idea of the traditional Ayahuasca journey or that there is only one way to meet the Divine Feminine/Mother/Gaia. There isn’t just one way. This is a new time, a new energy wants to come through and a new paradigm has come into play. It’s time for us to listen!

I am curious to hear, have you worked with either Plant Medicine? If you have worked with both, what were your experiences like and were they similar?

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