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Ayahuasca - The Divine Wine

© by Mark Sircus Ac., OMD
International Medical Veritas Association

Hoasca, which in the
Quechua Indian language
means "vine of the soul" or "vision vine."

A unanimous US Supreme Court ruled in February of 2006 that the US branch of a Brazilian church may use a psychedelic tea containing a controlled substance as part of its religious rituals. The ruling, the first decision on religious freedom under the court of Chief Justice John Roberts, was a strong signal the court will move decisively to keep the government from interfering in a church's religious practices even when the government invokes the Controlled Substances Act. [i] The administration and DEA officials were obviously not pleased having the Court frustrate their desires to control other people's use of mind altering substances.

Ayahuasca, a tea made from the Amazonian vine Banis' Caapi mixed with the viridis leaf, a shrub from the coffee family known by the Indians as the chacruna. It contains DMT (dimethyltryptamine), a hallucinogen banned as a Schedule I drug. DMT is a chemical compound thought to be the one that drives visions and dreams associated with the pineal gland, which is closely associated with the imaginative level of awareness. Unfortunately in today's toxic world our pineal glands are under attack by fluoride, excess calcium and mercury, so DMT levels are usually depleted. Ayahuasca acts as a nutritional supplement replacing that lost storehouse of DMT in the brain.

Members of the church, which has tens of thousands of adherents in Brazil, believe drinking the tea helps them comprehend God. It is used in ritual ceremonies lasting from four to six hours. Thousands of people that have taken Ayahuasca report how the visions they see from the vine seem to know everything about them and the sacred medicine seems to have their progress at heart showing each what is needed next; kind of a pure mirror of our mind, body and soul.

Stuart Wilde says that Ayahuasca "gives you the priceless access to "pure information." I say it is "pure information" because it is not tainted by another source like information coming from me, or another teacher, or a writer, a mystic etc; information that may be tainted by a person's agenda no matter how well meaning that person is. Pure information is tailored - made just for you. They are downloads from another world, another dimension. It is information personal to you and usually secret unless you care to share it with others."

Ayahuasca is a very potent plant medicine and is what many consider a spiritual teacher plant. Its effects are profound and mysterious, but are becoming more known and better documented in our times. It is used for many purposes, but in traditional societies it is used primarily in a healing mode for physical, psychological and spiritual healing.

The main function of Ayahuasca is to repair the body as well as the wounded human soul.

Ayahuasca, for most people, represents a mystery and a challenge. It is a totally natural substance, used for thousands of years[ii] and legal in Brazil and Peru but remains outside the realm of medical science and modern psychology. Because of its powerful psychic/spiritual effects, comparable with other 'drug' like substances like peyote, mescaline and organic mushrooms, it was illegal in the first world but the Supreme Court has changed this and now one can drink Ayahuasca in the United States if you can find a temple for it.

Almost all psychoactive substances have been specifically demonized and made illegal by our society. Worse, they have been summarily shoved into the same category as destructive substances, such as the abusive narcotics, with no proof they belong there. Consequently, we have been trained to think of them as "drugs" and attach all the negative things we've been taught about such drugs to them. In traditional cultures, however, such powerful mind-altering plant medicines are respected and used in a sacramental and carefully managed manner. They know that such energies must be used carefully and used for legitimate reasons - primarily to heal.

A few years ago I met a young gentleman from Rome and within a few moments I knew he was dying. He could not eat much of anything because the upper reaches of his intestines were blocked. I started an intensive therapy with him, which included mental, emotional and spiritual areas of concern. Within days I saw, because of the patients spiritual arrogance (he was a meditation teacher) that I needed heavy weapons to assist in affecting a cure. I suggested we travel 2,000 k into the interior, to the place where I am now building Sanctuary, to drink Ayahuasca. With the help of the divine wine two weeks later he left eating like a horse.

Unlike other 'drug' like substances there are no toxic side effects with Ayahuasca though it does purge the body sometimes through dramatic psycho-emotional experiences accompanied by vomiting. Even in such situations the effects reverse dramatically after one vomits. The day after one finds their intestines and interior emotional climate cleared with often positive new perspectives on life gained.

The recent success of the nutraceutical industry demonstrates that the public is interested in healing through botanical formulations. Yet the healing properties of the most powerful, ancient, and interesting botanicals have not been clinically studied by Western medicine and it is doubtful if they will be. Western medicine and science do not do well with mysteries nor do they enjoy or feel secure applying them.

What happens when you drink Ayahuasca is still a mystery to many people. The studies made into its history offer little insight into Ayahuasca's transformational properties. A person experiencing Ayahuasca sessions often show remarkable mental and psychic improvement, comparable only to that sought through intense psychotherapy. Ayahuasca has the power to facilitate significant changes in a very short period of time because Ayahuasca nurtures an essential acceptance and alignment with the simplicity of one's spiritual identity. The resulting change in our values and priorities transforms our presence, our abiding sense of self.

There is now evidence to suggest that an important ingredient in magic mushrooms is capable of assisting people suffering terminal cancer and a release from addictions and what scientists are saying about magic mushrooms could easily be applied to Ayahuasca. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in the US have found that psilocybin an important element in mushrooms is capable of instilling a deep feeling of spirituality, which may bring about healing, especially for those patients who have a huge psychological baggage weighing them down. The researchers administered magic mushrooms to 36 study participants who had never consumed any hallucinogenic drugs. All these participants were firmly rooted in their religious beliefs. The study found that nearly two-thirds of the subjects felt a unique spiritual experience, akin to the birth of a baby. Even two months after the consumption of the magic mushrooms, the subjects felt peaceful with a sense of well-being.

Every experience reveals patterns and degrees of understanding according to the depth of previous experiences and the participants' level of consciousness. Ayahuasca is not a substance that can be defined through a consistency of effect. Ayahuasca interacts with the psychological set of each individual (motivation, attitude, personality, mood, previous experiences) and the structure of the setting.

Ayahuasca seems to change in its effect on the brain also according to the outside influence of the setting, a synthesis of the surrounding environment and the presence of one's teacher, even more than the current emotional state of the participant. A person, who takes it alone, for example, will have a totally different experience than if taken with some one who can direct the energy created by the Ayahuasca, enhancing its effects and shaping the journeys into transformative experiences.

Only direct experience of Ayahuasca can yield significant information and knowledge about it. Totally subjective in nature, scientific methods, and thus western medicine, are not appropriate reference points for its understanding or use in healing. For sure it has the capacity to confront people with themselves and in this there is no equal when taken under optimum conditions.

Below is a link to one man's use of Ayahuasca, a cancer patient, and he wonderfully describes its use within the context of it being taken in a group.

> One Man's Journey with Cancer and Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca mirrors and reflects what a person brings to it and almost universally has a positive effect even if during its ingestion a person experiences emotional and mental purges that are sometimes (rarely) accompanied by vomiting. After vomiting and such purges people universally experience heightened experiences that can be remembered for a lifetime. There are churches and many groups in Brazil and in Peru, and several other places around the world that use Ayahuasca in ceremonial rituals as a stand-alone experience. This work has its place and is powerful all by itself. At Sanctuary's sister community 200 yards away Ayahuasca is grown and made and used in a very open way. I have used it with patients where something very strong is needed to move a person through their blocks. It is a great ally to have in healing work. It is also the optimal substances for doctors and healers to experience themselves for it confronts one with oneself. The learning and knowledge gained is always a help to people who are dedicated to helping others. Physician know thyself is taken to the level of direct experience with Ayahuasca. In general a return to nature is always helpful when we are sick and dying; it is part of our cure or comforts the soul when we have to depart from this earth.

   Mark Sircus Ac., OMD
     Director International Medical Veritas Association

[i] http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle-old/424/unanimousruling.shtml

[ii] The oldest known object related to the use of ayahuasca is a ceremonial cup, hewn out of stone, with engraved ornamentation, which was found in the Pastaza culture of the Ecuadorean Amazon from 500 B.C. to 50 A.D. It is deposited in the collection of the Ethnological Museum of the Central University (Quito, Ecuador). This indicates that ayahuasca potions were known and used at least 2,500 years ago. Its antiquity in the lower Amazon is likely much greater.