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.
“To recognize one’s own insanity is, of course, the arising of sanity, the beginning of healing and transcendence.”
— Eckhart Tolle
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.
“If there is a single definition of healing, it is to enter with mercy and awareness those pains, mental and physical, from which we have withdrawn in judgment and dismay.”
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 schizophrenia, 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.
As the interest in Ayahuasca has risen tremendously, more and more Ayahuasca vine and chacruna leaves have been harvested from the Jungle. Overharvesting these sacred plants for the benefit of profit has become a real issue. Pachamama Temple aims for sustainable plant cultivation and harvesting in cooperation with the Maijuna tribe. This tribe, also known as the Orejón, are an endangered and marginalized indigenous group. Today, there are only 400 individuals left living in four villages in a large area between the Napo and Putumayo Rivers. Pachamama Temple has reached out to the Maijuna to help our project with their vast knowledge of cultivating the medicine plants. The intact nature and biological diversity of Maijuna ancestral lands is a testament to their environmental stewardship and the sustainability of their traditional resource use and management strategies. We are very proud of our mutually beneficial relationship with these very knowledgeable people.
Learning Through Experience
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 good way. You can read about our approach to Ayahuasca Ceremony, including the brewing process and dietary preparation, on our Ayahuasca Retreats page. We invite you to step out of your comfort zone and into a transformational and life changing experience.