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Why I Don’t Recommend Ayahuasca: An Exploration of Ego, Profit, and Black Magic

I know I have shared little publicly about my experiences with Ayahuasca in the early days, and that is mostly due to fear. However, after my experience in Peru, I feel compelled to share. I am not looking to convince anyone of anything, but rather to share from an authentic place about what I have seen and experienced. In this post, I will share my personal experience with both sitting in Ceremony and Facilitating. I will share the things I have seen around people who have drank Ayahuasca, as well as some teachings I received from a Maestro along the way.


Plant Medicine is a complex thing, despite how casually we throw it around here in the United States. I don’t pretend to know everything or understand the depths at which this Medicine is at play, but this perspective is one I will share.


I’ll start at the beginning.


Soul Quest


My first brush with Ayahuasca was at Soul Quest in Orlando. When I initially had this experience, I was shook but feel that I digested it relatively well. As time unfolded, however, I started to remember things and my integration pool blossomed into a full pile of darkness. There are for certain many beautiful things that came from my experience here, but not without a heavy cost. When I went into the Medicine space during my first Ceremony, there was no Shaman or Ayahuascero present for the 60 or so participants who drank the Medicine. There was only a handful of Facilitators and a man who ran the place who I would later find out at a legal history of predatory actions against women both in his distant past and current life.

As I descended into the Medicine Space, there was a swarm of volunteers present who panicked at my state. They stood around me watching and I could feel their anxiety at not knowing how to proceed. I still pray depths of gratitude for the woman who stepped up and helped me by initiating my relationship with tobacco (love you Ki!). This Ceremony was my initiation as a Shaman — the Medicine showed me how to pick up this massive container of people and Medicine. It told me this was who I was, I was being activated into the role. And then my psyche snapped, a necessary step to expand.


This wasn’t even the “bad” part of my experience with Soul Quest.


After my initiation, I began volunteering at this “retreat center”. I got to see and know the owners, who were not caring and open individuals. There was so much being driven by greed and self-preservation. By ego. I got to see the literal and figurative shadows around every corner (shadow people — and not the good kind). Then, once they began working with a “Shaman” from South America, this is when I reached a point of “oh f*ck no”. Every time I was volunteering on a day this man was working, I would be sitting in a Ceremony as a facilitator and the Medicine would scream loudly in my ear “get out! get out!”. I would find my way out of the circle only to find that this “Shaman” was making his way in to do his thing. I was being protected, but the same was not the case for the rest of the people there. Over time as I watched this man work, I watched him administer Medicine far too strong to people who had no idea what they were getting into. Compounding DMT on top of an already too-strong brew. I watched people be traumatized, nervous systems be ripped apart, and a general disregard for compassion and care. On a human level, this person was a misogynist and homophobic man. I find it interesting that he “serves” a feminine medicine when he has no regard for the feminine, only the desire to control it.


He now runs his own retreat center. I recently had a client who sat in Ceremony with him and I will talk about that later.


I also observed other volunteers honing some very concerning skills. One person shared with me that he could push his undesirable emotions and things that needed to be purged onto the person next to him and they would purge it for him. He was excited that he didn’t have to do it himself and his ego flared at the possibilities. This person came from an extremely traumatizing childhood and had found a way to bypass doing his own work by forcing others to do it for him. He remained a volunteer there for over a year and his story isn’t the only one that scares me.


The night I decided to part from Soul Quest, it was a night Ceremony and I was sitting at the edge of the property making sure no one ran out the side. This is common when you are serving people too much Medicine or Medicine that is too strong. They lose control and awareness of surroundings. This happens a lot when people don’t know what they’re doing OR they think you need to have your ass kicked to achieve healing. This is a toxic view of how the world works, and a dangerous one at that. Anyway, I am sitting there and I am sober. In this place, facilitators are not allowed to drink even a facilitator dose. I see these massive shadow figures all around the property on the outskirts of the Ceremony space. They are feeding off the group. They are not feeding off the darkness, they are feeding off of these people’s light.


That night I left during the Ceremony and knew I would never return. There are forces at play here that even feel uncomfortable to talk about because I feel a chill in my spine when I think about them. When I think about the things I saw and experienced for myself, many of which I won’t even go into deeply publicly. Despite denial to practice from the DEA, a literal death due to negligence and self-preservation, and obvious money laundering, this facility is somehow still open. And every time I have a client who has sat in Ceremony at Soul Quest, I know I need to be prepared for repair and clean up because it is almost always necessary.


Ceremony Participants who come from Ayahuasca


First I will say that what I mention here does not apply across the board, but at around 80%.

My job is to see the signs, to read the bones of the universe, and to paint a picture with them. I would say that the signs are clear about who is drawn to serve Ayahuasca.


There are two types of Ayahuasca people I see when I am talking about red flags. The first is the ones who want to serve. I receive many people who come to me expressing that they want to serve Ayahuasca. I notice that they pay to work with me because they want to see how I run my Ceremonies so they can copy my model. This also happened with some individuals involved in the legalization of mushrooms in Oregon. They completely bypass the Medicine space, often pretending that they haven’t, regardless of dosing. This is easily done with a strong ego and a lack of relationship with the plants. There is no connection to their heart space, a must for anyone looking to work in a healing role, nor do they complete any of the personal work the Medicine is asking them to do… And they never show up for integration/accountability. These are not the kind of people you want serving your Medicine.


The second type of person is the one who has sat with Ayahuasca and they want to go deeper with their spiritual work. Remember, this isn’t everyone, but it’s an alarmingly high number. These individuals often have energy systems that are completely shredded, traumatized, or filled with garbage they picked up in their Ayahuasca Ceremony. Sometimes I cannot even repair these things because they are so big or complex and I can see they will spend lifetimes healing from their Ayahuasca experience. I had one man who came from the “Shaman” I spoke about above, sitting with Ayahausca recently at his retreat center. This man carried the illness of a WHOLE GROUP of people from his Ceremony with this “Shaman”. The Medicine showed me that this “Shaman” removed illness from many people and planted that illness into the energy field of this man. That man then came to my Ceremony and it became my job to clear all the illnesses he brought in. If I hadn’t, it would have plagued his family for many generations. I saw cancer, blood disease, and joint disease, among many other things. I was physically ill processing those illnesses for almost three weeks around the Ceremony — I had never seen anything like it before.


The Medicine is a beautiful and powerful thing, but it is also an epically dangerous thing in the wrong hands. When you work with a Shaman or Facilitator who has an established spirit team and an open heart, nothing gets moved or displaced like what I describe here. It gets sent back to the cosmic pool of energy, unbirthed out of our dimension, or transmuted into something that is serving the collective in a different way. Working with a spirit team takes time, commitment, and devotion to the work. It requires an open heart and the spirit of collaboration. There can be no ego and control.


If you ever work with anyone who does not have these mindsets, you are going to have a healing experience via trauma instead of via love.


Lessons from the Maestro


At one point I did work with a Shipibo Shaman who I really liked. I basically received lessons over the course of several months about the history of Ayahuasca, how to work with it, plant dietas, etc. I personally had an ok experience sitting in Ceremony with him, but later heard tales from close friends of him and his predatory actions with them in the jungle. Sigh.


Anyway, this does not discount the knowledge he shared and those notes are something I still consult to this day because they have applied in many areas of my life. He is the one who taught me about the Apus and that I can work with a Plant Dieta without going to the jungle. He also shared with us that for every “White Magic Shaman” there is a “Black Magic Shaman” or Bruja. He shared that no one in the tribe even knows who the black magic practitioner is because if you sit in Ceremony with them, they steal any progress or insights you have discovered and take it for themselves. That they can take it from you and it’s like taking a part of your soul that you never get back. You will leave the Ceremony and not even be aware that it’s happened — having a part missing that takes god knows what to get back. Yikes! The only red flags you can potentially see are by looking at what is happening in their human life, what kind of work they are willing to do for money, how they treat people, their motives, the openness of their heart, etc.


However, if our perspective is skewed due to trauma unprocessed within ourselves, imagine how many of those things we may not even see clearly.


My History with Ayahuasca as a Shaman


While my initial experience and learning with Plant Medicine was with Ayahuasca, it became clear pretty quickly that it was not my Medicine to serve. I had one epic Ceremony where she showed me the Medicine of my voice, how to suck illness out of people’s bodies, and how to perform physical healings with my hands. Then I was sent on my way and told not to return/serve. I received many messages that this was not a good Medicine for the people of America. That our ancestral trauma was too great (too many splits and disconnects) and that Ayahuasca would inflict more trauma that would take generations to repair. That Ayahausca would be the “harder” and longer path to healing, it was not easy for us to integrate and that many of the people serving it were doing it from ego and control (patriarchy!). From this method of serving, more trauma is inevitable. It keeps us on the path of needing severe trauma in order to heal or come into our power. Much like an abusive relationship. The spirit of Ayahuasca asked me to work with her THROUGH the mushrooms, which is what I have been doing since I started Sacred Heart. It is the same level of healing with the same spirits, except it is easy to integrate, gentle, slower, and super deep in a grounded way. It’s not kick-your-ass Medicine and a lot of people struggle to accept that this is ok.. and amazing. It doesn’t have to be hard to heal and it can be filled with love and comfort. No one needs to be punished. No walls need to be kicked down.


When I sat in Ceremony in Peru this last January, which I wrote about in a recent blog, she emphasized this to me pretty loudly. “Go back to America and keep doing what you are doing. We are already working together and what you are doing is what you are supposed to be doing. This form of Ayahuasca is not the way for you and for the people of America”.


Sitting in this Ceremony in Peru was interesting because I expected it to be more profound since it was in Peru, a place where it has been worked with for many decades among indigenous people. What I found was the same disconnect and disappointment. The same trauma. While the place I sat with was safe on all the levels, it also didn’t come through clearly as the way Ayahuasca wanted to be served. The conductor and his team were actually wonderful people, but to me they felt very far removed from the Heart of the Medicine that I know and love.


To Recap


As you can see, the reasons why I don’t recommend Ayahuasca range from personal to professional experiences. The signs here suggest there is more harm than good being done in this space. Maybe this wasn’t always the case. Maybe you can’t personally identify with this perspective. Maybe all this trauma is necessary for us to wake up and make some changes collectively. Yet t I don’t feel this last one to be the case — this is an old mindset we need to let go of. That’s ok, it still needs to be talked about.


Additionally, the fact that I don’t recommend Ayahuasca is not entirely a blanket statement. Occasionally I do meet people who I feel are being called by Ayahuasca, or who need this Medicine in it’s original form. In this case, I have very specific facilitators with whom I refer them to. I have only ever met a small handful of people who the Medicine has expressed as people serving/carrying/making her with true integrity. They are not people you can find on a billboard because that is not how this Medicine wants to spread. They don’t charge very high prices for a single Ceremony or serve 50 people at a time because there is no greed involved. They are sweet, humble, and committed to the Plant Medicine work, which is genuinely a hard thing to find.




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