Healing with Ayahuasca, The Sacred Vine: I

painting depicting shaman conducting ayahuasca healing ceremony
Painting depicting Shaman in an Ayahuasca healing ceremony

Margaret de Wys, US-based music composer, sound artist and author of the book Black Smoke, traversed through various boundaries and ventured on unknown paths to be cured of Breast cancer and it was her faith in indigenous way of Shamanic healing with the use of Ayahuasca, that gave her a new life.

What is Ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca is a Amazonian plant mixture prepared from a combination of plants and chemicals which varies in potency, depending on the maker. The brew is a traditional South American preparation most commonly combining the Banisteriopsis caapi vine (harmaline/harmine as MAOI) and Psychotria viridis leaves (DMT).

This drink is widely employed throughout Amazonian Perú, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, western Brazil, and is used mainly as a medicine for healing under the guidance of an experienced Shaman.

an old ayahuasca vine reaches for the canopy
The Sacred Ayahuasca Spirit Vine

There are many methods of preparing Ayahuasca, it varies as per the tribes, but the basic procedure would be the same. The bark or whole stem of the Ayahuasca vine is shredded, pounded or ground and soaked in water along with a suitable DMT carrier, such as Psychotria viridis leaves. The liquid is heated or boiled for half a day by the shaman, who will at various stages chant/sing and blow smoke over the brew. The result, a muddy, bitter-tasting liquid, which takes a person to a higher dimension, a different reality.

preparing ayahuasca brew
Shaman preparing Ayahuasca brew

The journey begins…

When Margaret was diagnosed with cancer in 1999 she was on the peak of her music career. The news of her sickness blew her off the lid putting her life and career in total disarray. Like any doctor would suggest she was asked to go for surgery, radiation, and hormone pills, fortunately, around that time she got an invitation to attend a Mayan ceremony in Guatemala in preparation for the planetary transition to take place in December, 2012. She decided to go not only with the intention of being part of this ceremony but also to find a traditional healer from the several Native American healers who would turn up for this event.

Spiritual healer Carlos conducting healing in the Amazon
Carlos, the healer and spiritual leader from Amazon, conducting healing

That’s where it all began…She was approached by Carlos, a Shuar uwishin (healer and spiritual leader) from the Amazon jungle. An excerpt from her book that describes her healing and life-changing experiences, quotes Carlos – “Your body is transparent, like a drinking glass. The ayahuasca and ‘doctor’ spirits have shown me where to heal you. Black smoke is trapped in your breast. I ‘see’ with my spiritual eyes. I can enter the veins and organs of the infirm.”

Terence McKenna, a modern philosopher, who’s main interest was psychedelics and their role in society, gives an interesting perspective on Shamans.

He said he could cure her. Mesmerized by his spiritual power and with the hope to get healed, she left her family behind in the US and followed Carlos into the jungles of Ecuador to experience a traditional way of healing. Giving her views on opting for alternative healing for Cancer, Margaret told Fractal Enlightenment, “When people learn they have a serious disease it can lead to looking at other healing modalities. That happened in my case. I was cured of breast cancer by a Shuar medicine man and bush doctor. I went to the Amazon in Ecuador to be treated by him.”

The Amazon jungle where ayahuasca is made
The Amazonian jungle where ayahuasca healing takes place

The Sacred Experience with Ayahuasca (also called Natem)

Margaret’s healing included arduous, intense purifications, difficult initiations, and drinking plant medicines. The setting was in the dense jungles inhabited by crocodiles, insects, butterflies and poisonous snakes; canopy of treetops soared high with vines draped around it, and no electricity or news. She stayed in a small community of Quechua and Shuar people in the jungle outside Puyo, where the first ceremony took place.

Ayahuasca gathering ceremonial hut
The long house where the Ayahuasca ceremonies are held

The locals were seated in a longhouse with open sides, thatched roof floor covered in dirt and the only light came from the fire burning in the center of the room. After consuming Ayahuasca brew, some of the locals began to vomit, a common occurrence in these ceremonies (shamans believe that its the physical manifestation of dark energy and toxins being purged from the body while some suggest its better not to vomit and hold the medicine in), others passed out.

The medicine slowly started to show effect on Margaret, as she felt a cold tingling sensation rise through her core, her pupils began to dilate, brain expanded flushing out images and sound, her hearing heightened to a level where she could hear a twig crack hundreds of yards away and she started to shake violently.

Carlos began his shamanic healing, swirling his fingertips and pressing hard in the fleshy parts where the black smoke laid. She cried in pain, while Carlos magnetized the black smoke (cancer), and it followed his motion as he drew it out of her body. She felt the disease being sucked out of her. Margaret described her experience, “My cells were alive, pulsing, beating the rhythm of the cosmos. Some were spontaneously regenerating, sending live signals to others beside them. The dark spots in my breast were black holes sucking energy into another sphere, one in which living things were doomed.”

Margaret continued with the healing ceremonies three times a week, describing each ritual as terrifying, holy and intense. Ayahuasca often induces visions/hallucinations in the taker and it can be monstrous, bizarre and mysterious. “Once, I was forced inside the mouth—the size of a garage door—of a giant anaconda. I passed through diamond-shaped portals, going deeper and deeper, where I was introduced to mysteries,” Margaret describing one of her visions, which of course, vary from person to person.

Does she get cured? The enlightening journey with Ayahuasca continues in the next part of “Healing with Ayahuasca, The Sacred Vine

Juan Carlos Taminchi

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