Whats is Ayahuasca?


(Banisteriopsis caapi - Psychotria viridis)

Ayahuasca is an ancient brew used in South America as part of the traditional native medicine. It has been used as medicine since thousands of years ago by the people of the Amazon and in the Andean civilizations it was part of medicinal practices and it was a tool for psychological development and spiritual evolution.

Ayahuasca is a word from Runasimi (Quechua) language or Royal Inka language, the literal translation of this word is: "Rope of Death", but it has an spiritual meaning and we might translate it as "A way to the other world". Its use has always been linked to an initiation and symbolic process of death and rebirth. The mythical content of the Ayahuasca ceremony refers to a journey into the soul, through the dark world of the collective unconsciousness full of archetypal images. The ceremony is an experience near to death, a process of spiritual renewal and restitution of lost energy.

The history of the Inca civilization tells that after the arrival of the Spaniards and the respective process of invasion, there was a war that lasted almost 50 years. The last cultural resistance was led by Manco Inka. At the end of the war it is believed that the Inca warriors went into the forest and since then the use of ayahuasca was limited for a long time to Amazonian world, where the potion had already been used for thousands of years by various ethnic groups existing in this region.

AyahuascaThe use of ayahuasca in the rest of the world remained almost unknown for centuries until the Amazon region began to be colonized by western people; it was the time of rubber searchers and then the gold and oil miners, so they began to establish villages of settlers who had knowledge of the medicine of the native population.

During the 20th century, the use of the Ayahuaska has been adopted in a variety of cultural assimilations and therefore, in new ways of consuming it.

The Occidental culture had its first encounters with Ayahuasca half way through the 19th century, thanks to the Ecuadorian Manuel Villavicencio and the British Richard Spruce and it is by the mid 20th century that the beverage´s main alkaloids were isolated and it is only recently, after the 60´s, that Occidentals started to use the ayahuasca as a tool for the exploration of consciousness. Since then, its use is ever broader and even is the object of several scientific studies. Psychiatrists have experimented with Ayahuasca in a variety of treatments, such as in therapy for the rehabilitation of drug addicts, for example.

In the 21st century the Sapan Inka Project has decided to use the Ayahuasca medicine in a way in accordance to our age, in an in
tercultural way, using knowledges from the traditional medicine of the
Amazon and from the Andean cul
ture and incorporating Western therapeutic knowledges  and practices as transpersonal and Jungian psychology and Eastern energetic techniques like reiki and chi kung. The aim of the process of healing a
nd cleaning with Ayahuasca medicine is to achieve a bio-energy unblock, i.e. to clean blockages for vital energy flowing throughout the body. Ayahuasca ceremony is a process of psycho-spiritual healing. The therapy aims to integrate different levels of being and to enable an exploration of the unconsciousness contents and to try to get assimilation and integration into the consciousness. Ayahuasca ceremony is considered an introduction to the process of self-knowledge and psychological and spiritual development.  

The food used for preparation in the ancestral use of Ayahuasca medicine is very important, this allow the body to prepare itself energetically, and prevent potential interactions that could be dangerous in a therapeutic process with teacher plants. Within the traditional use of Ayahuasca medicine there is a very important tool for healers known by the mestizo healers as "Icaros" or songs of healing; using these songs the healer is able to go into harmony and to navigate into the state of consciousness achieved by the use of this medicine. The songs allow to the healer to have a perception of the energetic condition of their patients and to make diagnoses and treatments. The icaros are used as a map in the non-ordinary state of consciousness induced by Ayahuasca, and allow guiding to the persons who are participating in the ritual.

chacruna leavesThe cooking of ayahuasca potion is made since a long time ago essentially using two plants: the Ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and Chacruna (Psychotria viridis). According to current scientific research, altered states of consciousness produced by ingesting the ayahuasca brew are produced by the interaction of two substances in the plants used to make Ayahuasca potion: one is the harmaline which is in the vine, and dimethyltryptamine (DMT) which is in the chakruna. There are detailed references by different scientists from different areas in the book of Jonathan Ott: Pharmacoteon. Ana-huasca (ayahuasca analogue) has been obtained by biochemical research, it is a mixture of different plants which, on the one hand, contain harmaline, and secondly, DMT, although it is important to note that it is not enough to drink the solution obtained by mixing these plants to achieve therapeutic results, it is necessary to use an appropriate technique or dynamic to use these plants; in this sense,  the practice of Ayahuasca rituals or ceremonies is an important ingredient  in therapeutic work.

There are many states of consciousness that can be experienced during a process with Ayahuasca medicine. The effects of the plant can be perceived at different levels and in different ways. Bio-energetic blockages can prevent to experience the effects of the plant. Sometimes it is experienced in the physical body and sometimes it is a psycho emotional experience. The plant is used to unblock and to clean at different levels. Sometimes it is possible to live a numinous experience having connection with archetypal and mythical contents; it means an access to primordial images that have a relationship with the oldest, general and deepest thoughts of humanity, which belong to the luminous or dark world of the spirit. The content of these images shows a resemblance to the experiences narrated by saints and mystics from different times and cultures in their visionary raptures. Frequently the experience gives an access to contents of the collective unconsciousness, and the objective of the therapy is to assimilate and integrate these contents to the consciousness.

According to Carl Gustav Jung´s definition, the collective unconscious mind or Collective Spiritual Consciousness is the powerful spiritual heirloom of humanity´s development that is born again and again in each individual´s cerebral structure. Appreciating the unconscious psyche and valuing it to the point of judging it as worthy of being a source of knowledge, is definitely not as illusory as the Occidental rationalism pretends it to be, as it tends to suppose that all knowledge comes from outside. But today, we know for sure that the unconscious mind possesses contents that, if we could make them conscious, would represent an immense increase in knowledge. If we consider that the ancient cultures and even the most primitive among them used dreams and visions as sources of knowledge, we then understand why the ancient conception attributed Superior and even Divine Knowledge to the Soul. In fact, the unconscious mind disposes of subliminal perceptions whose range and extension reach wonders. In their primitive state, dreams and visions, within the adequate recognition of that state of fact, are contemplated as sources of important information. Since the remotest times, powerful cultures arose on that psychological basis, like the Indian (from India) and Chinese which philosophically and practically elaborated the path of inner knowledge, down to its most minor details. This is why the Ayahuasca, as it has the power of giving access to these dominating faculties of the collective unconscious mind, can be considered as a most important tool for self-knowledge and as an option for humanity´s spiritual development. 

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