Vine of the Soul
Ayahuasca, which is also called the vine of the soul, is an ancient plant medicine that has been used for many centuries by the indigenous people of the Upper Amazon. The Ayahuasca brew is made from two different plants, the Ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and the leafs of the chacruna plant (Psychotria viridis).
Combined they make a powerful entheogen that offers the drinker access to different realms of consciousness that are not normally perceptible. Affectionately known as Mother Ayahuasca, this medicine has a very distinct female energy. Her sacred gift to us is the key to the realm of the spirits and direct access to our higher self.
History of Ayahuasca
How the Amazonian Shamans discovered Ayahuasca is a mystery to western science. The chance that of all the thousands of species of plants to be found in the Amazon, somehow the vine of the Ayahuasca and the leaves of the Chacruna both found their way into the same brew, would statistically be nothing short of a miracle. The Shipibo shamans tell us that the secret of Ayahuasca was given to their ancestors by the spirit of the sacred Mapacho Tobacco plant (Nicotiana rustica), which is considered by them to be one of the great master plant teachers.
Connection to the Shipibo People
The Shipibo tribe is one of the few indigenous people of the amazon who have managed to stay connected to their own culture, language and vast knowledge of medicinal plants in this fast changing world. Their culture has a very strong relationship with the Ayahuasca brew and their shamans are considered to be the most highly skilled and powerful Ayahuasca healers in the Peruvian Amazon. Traditionally the use of Ayahuasca was limited to the healers who used the medicine as a diagnostic tool when giving consultation. This practice played a central role in the well-being of individuals, and their community as a whole, by dealing with illness, resolving conflicts and getting direct access to advice from the spirits and their ancestors.
For the last 20 years western interest in the Shipibo healers and the Ayahuasca brew has been growing exponentially. For many of us who are living in materialistic Western societies today, there is a growing realization that we are missing something in our lives. Our scientific paradigm places so much emphasis on rational thinking and evidence based scientific “proof“, which has resulted in the complete demystification of our world. Some say we acquired knowledge, others might say that we lost a meaningful part of what it means to be human. We at Pachamama Temple think both of these statements are true and think that the integration of these two paradigms is essential for the human race to move forward. We believe that this can be achieved on a personal level by combining the healing powers of the Ayahuasca brew and the knowledge of traditional Shamanism with the insights into the human psyche gained by modern Psychology.
“Trauma is personal. It does not disappear if it is not validated. When it is ignored or invalidated, the silent screams continue, internally heard only by the one held captive. When someone enters the pain and hears the screams, true healing can begin.”
― Danielle Bernock
Healing with Ayahuasca
For centuries, the indigenous tribes of the Amazon have used Ayahuasca as a powerful tool for physical, emotional, and spiritual healing and awakening. We all go through painful experiences in life. Losing loved ones, physical trauma, abuse, loneliness and disappointment are all a part of the human experience. These experiences are a part of who we are. Dealing with the challenges that life throws at us can be very difficult at times and often we are not able to fully integrate them. We cover these hurtful experiences with a heavy blanket and try to forget about them. They disappear into our subconscious mind where they live in the shadow and keep having a negative influence on our well-being.
Healing with Ayahuasca is about acknowledging your pain. The Ayahuasca experience enables you to make a direct connection with the deepest parts of your sub-conscious mind, establishing a profound connection with your inner realms and higher self. It allows you to free yourself from the influences of all the accumulated trauma that is still lurking in the darkness. Working with Ayahuasca can require a lot of courage to face your fear, but the reward, setting out on the path of becoming whole again, is more than worth it.
“Let the darkness find you if it must. Throw off the quick and tempting escapes and seek help only from those who would teach you to grow, feed your soul and embrace your heart.”
― Jennifer DeLucy
The Science Behind Ayahuasca
The psychoactive ingredient in the Ayahuasca brew is called DMT, short for Dimethyltryptamine. DMT is a naturally occurring compound in almost every living organism, including human beings, and is produced within our pineal gland. The function of DMT in the human body is not clear to modern western science, though it seems that DMT is connected to experiences such as near death experiences and lucid dreaming.
In drinking the traditional Ayahuasca brew the DMT is derived from the leaves of the Chacruna plant. However DMT itself is not orally active because it is metabolized by the stomach enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO). That is where the Ayahuasca vine comes in. It contains MAO inhibitors in the form of harmine compounds, which prevent the DMT from being metabolized and allow it to get into the bloodstream and cross the blood-brain barrier.
“He who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior.”
With the growing demand for healing through Ayahuasca and many new places serving the Medicine emerging, we have witnessed Shipibo Maestros often being misused and misrepresented by some Ayahuasca retreats. They usually live in subhuman conditions and have to travel deep to the jungle in order to work. They are separated from their families for months, however, their lives are not presented as such. We have decided to make a difference and not turn a blind eye on the lives of people who dare to heal our deepest traumas. Shipibo people are struggling and often exploited by only profit motivated individuals. This is something that the West should not turn a blind eye to. As Ayahuasca consumers, it is our responsibility to make sure that the retreat that serves our cup of Ayahuasca, gives back to its land and people, without whom, none of the healing would be possible. Pachamama Temple was founded on vision of balance and sustainability. Our temple provides a safe home and pleasant working environment for 15 members of local Shipibo community whose families depend on Pachamama and see it as their home. We are a non profit Ayahuasca temple and all the funds acquired from our Guests’ bookings go back to the local community. Our Maestros all share equal parts of the land on which the temple was built and they are the ones running the temple, with the organisational help of a few Westerners. With the generous support from our faithful Guests, we have built a new home for Mama Rosa, as well as for her oldest son Feliciano. We bought them land just outside of Pachamama and from living in subhuman conditions in the past with family being spread all over the country, they now live in presentable homes and the whole family has reunited under the roof of Pachamama. Our latest project, SOI KANO Shipibo school provides free education for 30 Shipibo children and it’s programme aims to preserve the knowledge, wisdom and tradition of Shipibo people, as well as teach them English and Science to prepare the children for the world outside Peru. We have recently also introduced classes to Shipibo adults who would like to learn English. Our Maestros have all the support they need and are involved in all temple matters. We also cooperate closely with the local community and try to support them in anyway we can and always keep a good relationship. Pachamama vision goes beyond individual healing. We want to heal the West-Indigenous relationship which has been severely damaged throughout the history. We sincerely believe that only by seeing each other as brothers and joining our forces together, we can create a meaningful change in this world. True healing is never a one way street, it is a domino effect of giving and receiving.
“A person must constantly work to develop their self to the fullest embodiment of a human being though their acts of love, compassion, and dutiful work.”
― Kilroy J. Oldster
Learning Through Experience
Words cannot give much credit to the vast wisdom of Ayahuasca. The best way to learn about Mother Ayahuasca is through a direct experience of working with her. Pachamama Temple exists to share this Medicine with all people who are interested in meeting this masterful teacher in a respectful way. In Pachamama, our approach to healing is to expand the experience beyond only serving the plant medicine. We understand that you put trust of your innermost journey with us, and are eager to know more about the culture and environment that gave birth to Ayahuasca healing millennia ago. We have thus designed our retreat program to share with you as much of that ancient knowledge as possible. We offer you lessons on Shipibo history, culture, language and icaros structure, as well as time for direct questions and answers with our Maestros. We haven’t stopped there, our very location and structure of the retreat is organised in the way that you can have a first-hand experience in Shipibo way of life as it is. From traditional barbecue prepared by our shamans themselves, to interaction with their children and families. Our Shipibo school Soi Kano is located on the temple grounds and our weekend lessons give you a chance to witness our work and take part in cultural exchange yourself. Our kids and teachers are overflowing with love and curiosity and are always ready to exchange bits of their world and knowledge with you. We encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and dive into a transformational and life changing experience.
“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”