Ayahuasca Will Make You Cry, Vomit, and Feel Amazing
September 22, 2014 3:23 PM   Subscribe

They say that one night of ayahuasca is like ten years seeing a psychiatrist.
posted by paleyellowwithorange (114 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'll pass.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 3:27 PM on September 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'll pass.

Hell, I'd give it a go.
posted by kbanas at 3:28 PM on September 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


Hell, I'd give it a go.

Me too. I can't afford the therapy.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:39 PM on September 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


I know someone who's spent ten years seeing a psychiatrist. That is exactly why I, too, will pass.
posted by clawsoon at 3:42 PM on September 22, 2014 [17 favorites]


Ayahuasca Meetup?
posted by sammyo at 3:43 PM on September 22, 2014 [29 favorites]


That's when it goes well. When it doesn't, it can mean requiring ten years of seeing a psychiatrist afterwards.

This Vice article is awfully thin. Erwoid on Ayahuasca has many more stories and links to resources.
posted by Nelson at 3:44 PM on September 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


Burroughs took it, and he was so well-adjusted afterwards.
posted by clvrmnky at 3:46 PM on September 22, 2014 [32 favorites]


It has the unique power to make anyone who takes it only talk about taking it for ten years too.
posted by The Whelk at 3:51 PM on September 22, 2014 [65 favorites]


aubrey marcus on joe rogan. He does his best to promote it as great shit but the whole time I'm thinking no way. It makes you vomit violently until your stomach is empty, and then some more dry heaving. Does that sound like a good idea to you?
posted by bukvich at 3:51 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


It makes you vomit violently until your stomach is empty, and then some more dry heaving. Does that sound like a good idea to you?

Depends on the payoff. Some of us struggle daily with much worse experiences than this.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 3:53 PM on September 22, 2014 [25 favorites]


MetaFilter: for the most part, I was in seven circles of plant-based hell.
posted by arcticseal at 3:54 PM on September 22, 2014


I would rather talk to a psychiatrist for ten years than vomit that much. I guess there are two kinds of people.

How much time on the couch do other drugs compare to?
posted by blnkfrnk at 3:54 PM on September 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Ehh. Fun, not revelatory.
posted by spaltavian at 3:55 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Here's where I drop a glib statement about a complex and nuanced subject to show how smart I am about psychotropic drugs, consciousness, and zeitgeist.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 4:04 PM on September 22, 2014 [42 favorites]


what would be really interesting would be to have some sort of comparison between all the psychedelic options, both natural and artificial. there's no real basis for comparison that I've seen. if one can enter the doors of perception without necessitating a vomit bucket and a change of undergarments that might be the better choice.
posted by TMezz at 4:09 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


GallonOfAlan: "I'll pass."

Fuckit, let's party.
posted by boo_radley at 4:11 PM on September 22, 2014




if one can enter the doors of perception without necessitating a vomit bucket and a change of undergarments

...the drawers of perception?
posted by Sing Or Swim at 4:22 PM on September 22, 2014 [47 favorites]


If one is truly seeking to enter the doors of perception, one can do so as well with Mescaline, Psilocybin, or LSD. If one is just looking for fun, there are even further options.

But if one has already taken a few adventures through the doors of perception and has decided to chart the whole land on the other side, I can guarantee you that ayahuasca will teach you a few new places.

Also, the question of how indigenous people learned to combine the two different (independently nonhallucinogenic and, frankly, disgusting) plants into the brew known as ayahuasca is intriguing. As I understand it, the general consensus is that the plants told them.
posted by 256 at 4:24 PM on September 22, 2014 [28 favorites]


I dunno as a younger man I procured some hallucinogenic cactus with a similar mix of alkaloids. I didn't take enough the first couple of times but in the third time I was really tripping balls (after the nausea etc wore off). There was nothing profound. It was cool listening to some Plaid and watching the fish tank, but the duration of the trip was uncomfortably long (ten hours or so of varying intensity) and I was really sick of it by the end. I certainly was hallucinating a lot particularly for the first four or five hours, but it didn't really change the way I think or anything.
posted by smoke at 4:27 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


They say that one minute reading Vice is like 10 years of vomiting and crying.
posted by jnnla at 4:35 PM on September 22, 2014 [38 favorites]


Usually Vice articles aren't nearly so superficial and overwrought; I usually leave them with a new appreciation for their writing, but not this time.
posted by jpolchlopek at 4:39 PM on September 22, 2014


bukvich: "aubrey marcus on joe rogan. He does his best to promote it as great shit but the whole time I'm thinking no way. It makes you vomit violently until your stomach is empty, and then some more dry heaving. Does that sound like a good idea to you?"

I dunno - does Rogan talk about Aya or pure DMT? I always am under the impression he's more about the crystal stuff.
posted by symbioid at 4:40 PM on September 22, 2014


blnkfrnk: "I would rather talk to a psychiatrist for ten years than vomit that much. I guess there are two kinds of people.

How much time on the couch do other drugs compare to?
"

Crystal Meth is 10 years violently clinging to the ceiling above the couch to escape the bugs.
posted by symbioid at 4:41 PM on September 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


Burroughs took it, and he was so well-adjusted afterwards.

Setting the well-adjusted stuff aside, I think he had good things to say about it. While he was definitely thumbs down on H and mushrooms.
posted by uraniumwilly at 4:46 PM on September 22, 2014


smoke: "I dunno as a younger man I procured some hallucinogenic cactus with a similar mix of alkaloids..."

Erm... May I ask what cactus you're referring to, because AFAIK, there's no Cactus that contains DMT, let alone tryptamines. I believe that the known cactii have phenethylamines. I don't think it would be fair to compare DMT/Psilocybin/LSD to Mescaline.
posted by symbioid at 4:46 PM on September 22, 2014


It makes you vomit violently until your stomach is empty, and then some more dry heaving. Does that sound like a good idea to you?

It doesn't sound like much fun but that doesn't mean it would be a bad idea. One of the most spectacularly awesome and memorable twelve-hour periods of my life began in very similar fashion, and while it was no fun getting through the launch, the rocket ride that followed was totally worth it.
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:48 PM on September 22, 2014


"It makes you vomit violently until your stomach is empty, and then some more dry heaving. Does that sound like a good idea to you?"

Sounds like 8 months of my pregnancy.

After the first five months it gets easier!

But no, seriously, if you barf enough, you start to get good at it and stop fighting it. It's probably not so bad once you learn how to vomit efficiently.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:49 PM on September 22, 2014 [15 favorites]


MetaFilter: It's probably not so bad once you learn how to vomit efficiently.
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:52 PM on September 22, 2014 [45 favorites]


I have done it. The nausea is not pleasant but does pass. Not everyone gets sick, but most people do.

The experience was interesting, a group with a guide, but no breakthroughs for me, sort of a mild trip in comparison to many other psychedelic experiences I've had. I had a few very significant experiences on LSD that were like ten years of therapy and no nausea, but existentially terrifying at the same time, and I wasn't expecting it. I've been told that the ayahuasca experience sometimes takes more than once or twice to happen in a significant way, but the price of admission (both $ and physically) didn't seem worth pursuing it any further at the time.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:56 PM on September 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I had the chance to do this in Peru and didn't because it sounded boring, and also something I'd never be able to talk about without sounding insufferable.

I stand by my decision.

Usually Vice articles aren't nearly so superficial and overwrought

No, they typically are, they're just careful to only cover topics their audience would have no prior experience with so it's not easily recognized.
posted by Sara C. at 4:57 PM on September 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think I'll just wait a few years. By 2020 all they'll (different "they" obviously) have to do is insert a couple wires into the right sections of the brain, and I'll be able to get the exact same experience, without all the vomiting.

Seriously, why eat raw eggs when you can have an omelette?
posted by happyroach at 4:57 PM on September 22, 2014


I really want to try this, especially while the legality in the US is still kinda dubious. Anyone in ABQ or Santa Fe know where to do this with relative safety?
posted by NoraReed at 4:58 PM on September 22, 2014


OH WAIT apparently taking this with SSRIs is super bad news nevermind
posted by NoraReed at 5:02 PM on September 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


Sounds like my usual depressive jag plus a stomach bug.
posted by fleacircus at 5:03 PM on September 22, 2014


I read Kira Sawak's article on MetaFilter, I think in 2007(?) and I thought at the time that if my depression ever got bad enough, I would go try that. Well, it did get bad enough, and in 2010 I did go, and it worked for me.

It didn't get rid of twenty years of habituations as a depressed person. They say "the work begins when you come home", and they are right. It took a lot of effort and it is still taking effort to improve my life, but this is something I want to do, and I don't have a screaming monster inside my head keeping me down any more.

Four years later my life isn't perfect but it's good, and that was never something I ever expected to have, a good life.

It was worth it, for me. YMMV but there's only one way to find out. And it may not work for everyone. The fear and pain is part of the process. Some people are unwilling to go through that. Getting rid of fifteen years of suicidal urges just isn't worth the loss of dignity that vomiting and diarrhea would imply, to them.

I'm being a bit flippant - to be brutally frank, I did it precisely because I had got to the point where I wanted to die, and I was tired of fighting that urge, so I did this instead. If it hadn't worked I could have just gone home and faked my suicide as a single-vehicle accident to avoid the embarrassment. But it did work. I am no longer depressed.

Do I "recommend it to others"? I've tried, and it hits this wall of cynical bullshit and fixation on the incredibly rare "failures" (ie, people who didn't do it properly, or had rare medical conditions that reacted badly to the ayahuasca, or succumbed to local diseases, or were taken advantage of by con artists pretending to be shamans, which is unique to ayahusaca and never happens with say doctors or lawyers).

So, fuck it - do it if you want, don't if you don't. If it means enough to you to do it, you'll do it. There's nothing I can do or say to convince you. I even paid for someone a couple years ago, someone I loved with all my heart, who struggled bravely with depression and other mental health problems, and in the end at the point of decision she just refused to drink it. Which I took months to get over - but I realise now that I had to learn that lesson, that you cannot help a person against their will. You cannot fish them out of the water; they will dive back in to drown. They must want to save themselves.

One of the best sayings I know about motivating others came from the context of evangelical religion, and it was specifically against evangelizing: "don't tell people you believe in God; show them." Outside of discussions like this, I rarely even bring it up. I just live a life that I love, help people where I can, make a decent amount of money, and not be depressed any more.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:03 PM on September 22, 2014 [167 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee: "But no, seriously, if you barf enough, you start to get good at it and stop fighting it. It's probably not so bad once you learn how to vomit efficiently."

hello resume filler
posted by boo_radley at 5:05 PM on September 22, 2014 [17 favorites]


Man, the contrast between the National Geographic article and the Vice article. I read the NatGeo one first, and the guy from the Vice article did not compare favorably. Poor Kira Salak was trying to work through some heavy shit and exorcise some (literal? metaphorical?) demons over the course of days with a nice shaman to help her out. Conor Creighton tripped balls and revisited his teenage angst. Creighton's experience definitely comes off looking real shallow, comparatively speaking. Salak definitely sold the merits of ayahuasca better.
posted by yasaman at 5:05 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah I'm in NM, Nora, and would be willing, but it's definitely contraindicated with SSRIs.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:06 PM on September 22, 2014


Krinklyfig: yes, and SSRIs are widely prescribed to people with depression despite that "studies show" (ah, the magic words of the empiricist) that they are basically placeboic.

Personally I just quit them cold turkey four days prior and zombie-marched myself through the flight and the intake. YMMV. May be best to bring a friend.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:19 PM on September 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Guess my family member needed 20 years of therapy, because he did it and they still are exactly the same.
posted by clearlydemon at 5:22 PM on September 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that going cold turkey off my meds would lead to me killing myself.
posted by NoraReed at 5:23 PM on September 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yeah, just what I want -- all the fun of the vertigo and brain zaps from white-knuckling it off Effexor cold turkey, PLUS crying and vomiting. I'll pass.
posted by virago at 5:31 PM on September 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


NoraReed, I can completely relate to that, and I got through it how I had gotten through the prior fifteen years on-and-off: to the question "Can we kill ourselves yet? Please?" the answer "No" didn't work as well as the answer "Tomorrow".

Look, I'm aware that I may be coming across here as callous and flippant. Those were my survival tactics during that time; I was callous and flippant towards my self-hating death-urge, because indulging or comforting the fucking thing encouraged it. The way to not commit suicide is not commit suicide, in my experience, and that is not a joke and not a tautology, it's a loop.

Again, do not take my words here as advising you to do it. If you genuinely feel you are more at risk by doing it than not, don't do it. If you can mitigate that risk by bringing a sitter, maybe that'll work. I don't know. It is incredibly tempting as humans to extrapolate out our experiences to others, because that is how we think. What I did was different to Kira's experience. My lost love's experience was different to mine. A friend I talked to about it went and did it and it worked for her, and I have no doubt it was very different for her as well; she went through some major challenges that I didn't, and didn't face challenges that I did. She says she's much happier for it, though. I don't disbelieve those who have had bad experiences either.. It's different for everyone.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:36 PM on September 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


As a Peruvian I feel it's my duty to tell you I know two people whose mental health was permanently fucked up with ayahuasca, as well as more than a few who were totally violated by unscrupulous "shamans".

A ton of tourists arrive to Peru thinking it will open their minds and change their lives, but I have never met one person whose life was positively impacted by ayahuasca. In fact, one of the people who totally lost their mind as a result of its use was a researcher friend who was trying to prove its usefulness as an alternative cure for mental illness.

Knowing what I know I would not touch it with a 10 foot pole.

Not to say it would not work on anyone, just saying the risk to me looks like it's just too high.
posted by Tarumba at 5:51 PM on September 22, 2014 [44 favorites]


I hope that one day, these experiences are available safely and without all the bullshit to those whom such things can help. Because they can. There are risks and they're not a good idea for everyone and they'll never be a pill on the same shelf as aspirin and breath freshener, but how many treatments we rely on is that true for?

(A quick plug for MAPS here, in case you haven't heard of them. I don't agree with everything they do, but enough that I send them money...)
posted by Devonian at 6:00 PM on September 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Ayahuasca Will Make You Cry, Vomit

wow, it really does sound like my psychiatrist
posted by threeants at 6:06 PM on September 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


I'll go, but only if the fifty story stone penis is guaranteed.

Unfortunately I take a some extremely well researched and clinically proven SSRIs, so I'm out.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:10 PM on September 22, 2014


Previously on Vice: I Tripped With Allah and Wrote a Book About It.
posted by NoMich at 6:11 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]



I'd be up to give this a go in the right situation and with the right person. From a quick scan of different sources it looks like it's not something you want to just mess around with. I'm on SSRIs as well so won't be happening any time soon or something I would seek out on purpose at this time of my life.
posted by Jalliah at 6:22 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'll go, but only if the fifty story stone penis is guaranteed.

I would prefer it to be genital-neutral; I would like to see a fifty story stone clitoris
posted by NoraReed at 6:27 PM on September 22, 2014 [6 favorites]



There's a documentary on American Netflix about this. Can't check to see if it's available in other regions. (I'm watching something on the US version right now so don't want to change it and check.)

Ayahuasca: Vine of the Soul
posted by Jalliah at 6:34 PM on September 22, 2014


This story really does sound very similar to many of the more intense trips I had with "regular" hallucinogens (especially the very pure MDMA we used to be able to get). I always had nausea and the shits at the beginning, transitioning into an exciting period of overblown sensations, turning inevitably into pain and negativity about the futility of life then finally an acquiescent acceptance of the horrible fantastically beautiful transience of it, and then I would feel pretty fucking good by the end. It seemed to give some perspective I was missing in my everyday self-absorption.
Anecdotally I think it helped my mentality immensely, but maybe that was just growing up through my early-to-mid-twenties. I was horribly depressed and anxious coming out of my teens, but really by my late 20s I was so much more at peace. To be honest, I probably became too complacent; I used to be driven to be creative when I was younger, and while I think creativity is as good as any endeavor for people I just can't give enough of a shit anymore.
Now in my late 40s, even though I'm relatively healthy I'm convinced tripping at this point would give me a fucking heart attack.
posted by Red Loop at 6:41 PM on September 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


This sounds a lot like what happened to me, a couple of friends, and a bag of peyote buttons that we collected on a hike in the Sonoran desert. For about 18 hours the Earth was my mother, the sky was my father--I could feel them calling to me--and I had to sit in a certain position to keep all my sweat from leaking out. There was much more, but time fades the sensations, which were intense; the visions were episodic, and very tactile. What struck me about this article was the similarity in emotional movement, from euphoric to terrifying. And the throwing up. Lots of throwing up, or trying to throw up. Strangers appeared, and told me secrets. Everything, as it turned out, was a metaphor, and when I came back to my self I had lost the key to the visions. I could still see them, but I couldn't put them into words. That sensation lasted until we made our way back to the truck and drove into Gila Bend for some breakfast. For weeks I clung to the idea that I'd learned something important, but I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was. One of my friends said he thought the experience was cumulative, and you had to keep going back there to get it straight.

Anyhow, for a person with a backlog of suppressed memories, some guy with a bag of drugs probably won't provide a valuable medical experience.

For another version of how to contact the Cosmic Muffin, read some of Carlos Casteneda's books. As I remember it (and I don't claim to have a clear vision of those days), he did his doctoral thesis on stuff like this, and came away with tentacles streaming from his abdomen. Like the author of this piece, he contacted a verifiable brujo to guide him through the experience.
posted by mule98J at 6:42 PM on September 22, 2014


Mind-expanding drug experiences are like masturbating to pornography: They give you the simulated sensation without the effort required to experience the real thing. You get the feeling of great and novel insight without the years of hard work required to actually achieve great and novel insight.

Not that there's anything wrong with that; I'd be the last person to condemn masturbation. Just recognize it for what it is.
posted by clawsoon at 6:58 PM on September 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


Usually Vice articles aren't nearly so superficial and overwrought; I usually leave them with a new appreciation for their writing, but not this time.

Am i the only one who approaches vice from the opposite side, like expecting it to be shitty in some way? because they were REALLY AMAZINGLY GOOD AT THAT for years. It's only recently that they've started to do really good work, and it's mostly video.

They actually sometimes publish stuff so shitty that another writer for them writes a rebuttal, essentially fighting the first writer. The whole "white people and hip hop" thing would be a good example of this.
posted by emptythought at 6:59 PM on September 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


clawsoon: "Mind-expanding drug experiences are like masturbating to pornography: They give you the simulated sensation without the effort required to experience the real thing. You get the feeling of great and novel insight without the years of hard work required to actually achieve great and novel insight."

I suppose to have that opinion you must have tried hallucinogens, but I have to say "speak for yourself".
posted by Red Loop at 7:19 PM on September 22, 2014 [13 favorites]


In 12 Step programs, they call this sort of story a "drunkalogue." It is derived from the word "monologue," but always has the implication of a harangue.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:34 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


For another version of how to contact the Cosmic Muffin, read some of Carlos Casteneda's books. As I remember it (and I don't claim to have a clear vision of those days), he did his doctoral thesis on stuff like this, and came away with tentacles streaming from his abdomen. Like the author of this piece, he contacted a verifiable brujo to guide him through the experience.

I enjoyed the Carlos Castaneda books (the first two or three I read, anyway), but learned later that the guy was a fraud. Even knowing this, the books are pretty fascinating, but should be considered works of fiction.
posted by zardoz at 7:48 PM on September 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Because every other magic pill in history has always worked out.
posted by meehawl at 7:53 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Red Loop I suppose to have that opinion you must have tried hallucinogens, but I have to say "speak for yourself".

Since when has knowing nothing whatsoever about something ever stopped anyone from condemning the thing, especially if it sounds like it ought to be bad somehow? Pssh. Humans would never do that.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:55 PM on September 22, 2014


I didn't see anyone point to the article linked at the end entitled Crappy Ayahuasca Can Kill You.
posted by user92371 at 8:28 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


In 12 Step programs, they call this sort of story a "drunkalogue." It is derived from the word "monologue," but always has the implication of a harangue.

LSD may work better than 12 step programs for treating alcoholism.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:35 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


As for this piece, and this sort of writing in general... i hate it.

But not for the reason a lot seem to so directly. More, i hate it for the same reason a lot of people hate spoiler-ridden reviews.

This type of stuff is way more fun/enlightening/interesting/eye opening/mind opening/fulfilling/a ton of other positive adjectives when you don't have all that much of an idea of what you want from it, and what it's going to give you beforehand.

Stuff like "it's going to make you feel something like this" or advisement on the negative side effects or "body load" is great. But's it's like, tell someone what to expect when climbing the mountain. Don't rant for hours about the view once you get there.

All the best experiences i've had with this sort of thing were when i approached it with an open mind basically being told "it's cool/interesting, it does something a bit like this" and then it hit me in the face like a brick and i was able to sort of explore/interpret it on my own because i wasn't trying to follow someone elses subjective roadmap of what they thought the experience was.



Also, i think that pieces like this are always a bit tone deaf. They seem insightful and worthwhile with all their proselytizing to the writer, but they don't realize that the message received isn't just "You should explore this!" it's also "And it should be something like this".

This leads to people treating it like some lets play of a video game on youtube or something. If they don't get all the coins and powerups the person who wrote their wonderment piece did, they think that they failed... and take more next time, or right then, or whatever. And maybe have a bad experience.

I don't know. I guess i'm saying i find this sort of thing a combination of trite and psychologically potentially dangerous. Think of that what you will, but that's how i feel. Knowing your audience and how they'll most likely take what you wrote is an important part of writing or really creating things. And writing something that can be very easily taken the wrong sort of way without even realizing or acknowledging it is a bit... ehh...
posted by emptythought at 8:39 PM on September 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


If you can mitigate that risk by bringing a sitter, maybe that'll work.

A sitter is the default. No one should drink ayahuasca for the first time without an experienced guide. This is powerful stuff we're talking about -- you'll need someone there who can be your anchor to familiar reality, bring you out a little if it gets too much, not to mention holding the bucket.

I tried it twice, once with an experienced shaman in Peru, the second time with a guide who was not as experienced as I'd assumed. Neither time was life-changing, I have to say, but the second session had some unpleasantly scary moments which the first did not, because I was basically on my own. It also had some very beautiful moments, but it put me off ayahuasca, quite possibly for good. I think there are much gentler ways of reaching similar places.
posted by zeri at 8:47 PM on September 22, 2014


No one should drink ayahuasca for the first time without an experienced guide.

I totally agree and would go so far as to say: if you are reading this and you are not a South American yourself, I advise that you do not do it unless you go to a well-established and well-regarded ayahuasca centre that caters to Westerners. There is a list and reviews here. This is NOT stuff you "order off the internet" and it is NOT something to be just done with a friend of a friend in someone's apartment on the weekend. This is serious business.

What I meant by "sitter" in the context of that discussion (yay MetaFilter unthreaded discussions!) was someone to help you through SSRI withdrawal and comedown on the way there. That is, to keep you on track to go through with it. Talk to you. Stop you killing yourself, although I would seriously expect that to be a very dramatic and unlikely possibility, and someone who is worried about killing themselves if they go off SSRIs is probably a poor candidate for ayahuasca and IMO should start with cognitive behavioural therapy and meditation. (Yes I am aware that this is hypocritical. I was probably lucky to get the great outcome I got, from where I started.)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:22 PM on September 22, 2014


Good lord please do not look to Metafilter and Vice articles for mental health advice.
posted by Nelson at 9:35 PM on September 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


This is a dumb article about a very complex topic. A statement like "one night of Ayahuasca is like ten years of seeing a psychiatrist" is so clearly, undeniably dumb and inane, meaningless on absolutely every single level, it shouldn't even be allowed to be written down. I'm far from anti-drug, though my own time of experimentation seems to be over for now, maybe for good (certainly as long as I'm in charge of the ferrying a child through to the thresholds of adulthood), and I generally believe that it would be saner, safer and more rational if everyone had the absolute right to alter their consciousnesses as they saw fit. But mostly I think stuff like Ayahuasca tourism just isn't very important. Maybe it transforms a particular individual's life: I don't doubt their stories and I recognize that in their subjective experience it might be one of the most important things that ever happened. But it's beyond obvious that between the composition of the concoction itself, the setting and circumstances under which it's taken, and the psyche of the individual taking it, you have an unimaginably variable set of conditions. Regardless you're talking about something available to a minority of individuals that any rational person should approach with profound caution and reservations. In the worst case scenario you could end up being this guy.

What would actually be important would be removing the absurd, unjustified restrictions and obstructions placed on appropriately researching psychedelic compounds.
posted by nanojath at 9:59 PM on September 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


Red Loop: I suppose to have that opinion you must have tried hallucinogens, but I have to say "speak for yourself".

I respectfully disagree. I've had many hallucinogenic insights described to me by enthusiastic friends, and the only thing that the insights have got going for them is the depth of feeling-of-insight that the drug induces. The actual insights are inevitably mundane; if there's any idea which is deeper or more meaningful than the stuff philosophers and prophets were making up 2500 years ago, I haven't heard it. (And most of that stuff was, I'm sorry to say, bullshit.)

I've heard more meaningful insight into the nature of the universe in a fifteen minute conversation with a run-of-the-mill microbiologist than I've heard in hours of "and then I suddenly understood the universe!" from my friends. And the microbiologist had the double wisdom to be doubtful of his discoveries. The wisdom of doubt is one which is, in my experience, rarely provided by hallucinogenics.

If you haven't said to yourself, "This insight might be wrong; how do I test it?", your insight is probably wrong, just like most of the insights that people have normally. If a drug is flooding you with a feeling of conviction and insight, that's double reason to doubt the quality of insight.

I accept that your experience may be different, though. I'd be glad to hear about an insight someone had under hallucinogenics which they were then able to confirm via different means once the drug had worn off. Based on some of the stories upthread, it sounds like personal revelations are the ones that have the greatest impact and last the longest after the drug has worn off, rather than the "OMG THE UNIVERSE" sort of "revelations" that I've been most often told about.
posted by clawsoon at 10:08 PM on September 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


The actual insights are inevitably mundane

But one could argue that the mundane is precisely where all the action is. As the mathematician/logician Alfred North Whitehead put it, "It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious." Drugs like ayahuasca and lsd can, I presume, allow one to experience the same sort of experience I've had while meditating, which can be broadly characterized as the state of nonduality. The nondual state is incompatible with testable hypothesis because it is inherently neither objective nor subjective. It's a thoroughly ineffable experience, (much like was said about the Matrix-- no one can really be told what nondualism is, they have to experience it for themselves) perhaps only verifiable phenomenologically.

Any way you slice it, it does appear academia and psychedelia typically do not mix; a famous case study being the dismissal of Timothy Leary and Ram Dass (Richard Alpert) from Harvard in the 60s due to their research into mushrooms/LSD.
posted by Perko at 11:26 PM on September 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


The actual insights are inevitably mundane

But one could argue that the mundane is precisely where all the action is.


Isn't there some buddhist koan about how when one realizes a fundamental truth, they end up laughing at how really simple and basic it is?

Anyway, I miss my years of easy access to LSD. I wouldn't do it as a party drug. I'd do it on the major solar holidays as a planned out trip experience, with art supplies, fiddle objects, movies, music, and all sorts of things picked out and readily available. I'd try to have some fellow travelers with me, as conversation can be important while doing that kind of thing.

I won't claim to have ever gained any deeply important information from the experiences. They felt important at the time, but the point, for me, wasn't the content of the experience, it was the lasting effect. It was like doing a CTRL-ALT-DEL reboot for my mental systems, and it left me feeling like I didn't have any unwanted background processes running, and I could approach life feeling clean and fresh and ready.

There's a researcher in the UK who has started up research into the therapeutic use of LSD for the first time in decades. MDMA is starting to be recognized as a greatly beneficial aid for certain therapies, especially for PTSD and similar conditions. Peyote/mescaline and psilocybin mushrooms have been used in various rites of passage for ages.

I have no doubt that there are benefits to ayahuasca, too. The thing is to know what you're getting into and be willing to do the work during and after.
posted by hippybear at 12:01 AM on September 23, 2014 [11 favorites]


OH WAIT apparently taking this with SSRIs is super bad news nevermind

I was gonna point out that unlike with MDMA, combining psychedelics with SSRIs really won't hurt you, just significantly blunt the effects. But I guess mixing an SSRI with the MAOI component (which is what makes DMT active orally) *can* cause serotonin syndrome. But hey - if you *take* an MAOI for depression you can eat some DMT extract and get the trip with way less vomiting.

I've only smoked DMT but let me tell you it is some serious shit for real.
posted by atoxyl at 12:28 AM on September 23, 2014


Many psychotropics/psychedelics are the equivalent of psychological laxatives.

Please, think about that phrase for a moment, especially the 'laxatives' part, and you'll get a very good sense of how that could both lead to very disturbing experiences, and be very, very useful and healing in the right circumstances.
Sometimes you really NEED a laxative.


If you don't think that is something you'd need. Or if you know you need it, but you're not ready to want it - you're probably right! Don't take any!

Psychedelics are not all the same, and some will drag you through your head more, and some through amusing pictures and an entertaining experience more. Set, setting, person, means that you may intend for one, and get the other.
Most people want the latter. They want entertainment. They want mad hallucinations.
I am very keen on discouraging people from taking psychedelics for reasons that will give them bad experiences. It usually starts with taking really large doses in strange settings (bars! Nightclubs! Festivals, when you're already sleep deprived?!) because low doses are boring, and then they get really annoyed if instead the stuff they don't want to think about starts coming up, and then - they fight it. They want to get off the bus.
You can't get off, you just have to wait til the end of the ride, and if that really freaks you out, again, don't take them.



What are the mundane insights I've had?

One weekend, I took one, and - I grieved. I cried, and cried, and cried. It would have looked terrible to anyone else, but, it was less terrible than that feeling of needing to grieve, and not being able to.
I was going through a situation where I knew, even if I did everything right, I had no way of making sure everything turned out ok. That I fundamentally did not have control over the situation.
And at the end of that day I was able to pick myself, and keep going, keep trying, but I'd let go of the idea that it would be my fault if I couldn't fix everything.
That's a pretty mundane realisation.
But, most realisations people have with a therapist are.


Or, how about the earlier time.
Where I realised I didn't just suck as a person, but that I was depressed.
Where I realised how the example of people with mental health issues who I'd been around as a child, had lead to some poor coping strategies on my part, but that it was ok, because I wasn't a child anymore, and I was going to look after me.
Where 'I' wrote myself a todo list of friends to tell, and that I was to make an appt with a Dr, and take antidepressants until I found one that worked, to see a therapist, and even wrote out the list of symptoms and behaviours to present to the Drs, including stuff I previously hadn't really been consciously aware of because I was unwell (If you'd asked me, I was fine, and as didn't know why I had tears running down my face periodically in private, therefore it didn't seem to be something I needed to bring up with anyone).

That's right, psychedelics got me onto western medication! (And, now I'm not. If I need them, they're there). I have another friend who was able to get off antidepressants, because, yeah, they basically got through the reasons they were beating themselves up, and let go of them. Probably quicker than therapy, but they'd only ever been offered meds, and no therapy. Bad system, that.


Therapists, when I landed a useful one, were great as a regular check-in, to work out strategies to cope better with life, and occasional insight into my situation, and outside perspective (I also have very healthy relationships with friends, who were more likely to provide that more valuably), but there is absolutely no question that the value of years of counsellors and therapy was only a 1/10th what those two experiences above were.
I mean, I'd love if I could combine the two. If I had someone to keep me on track, on the stuff that I'm scared of, that I want to understand about myself, that'd probably have a better success rate. They were generally all by myself, because I still had to feel safe enough to 'let it all out'.


Other times, well, hey. I just stared at pretty rainbows on the wall for a while. Or I stared at really amazing trees, and at least came away thinking the world is beautiful.
But, screw it, better than being drunk.
posted by Elysum at 12:44 AM on September 23, 2014 [23 favorites]


Also from vice: Crappy Ayahuasaca Shamans Can Kill You.
posted by ShawnStruck at 12:53 AM on September 23, 2014


symbioid: "smoke: "I dunno as a younger man I procured some hallucinogenic cactus with a similar mix of alkaloids..."

Erm... May I ask what cactus you're referring to, because AFAIK, there's no Cactus that contains DMT, let alone tryptamines. I believe that the known cactii have phenethylamines. I don't think it would be fair to compare DMT/Psilocybin/LSD to Mescaline.
"

Thanks a ton, captain buzzkill. hee hee
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 1:48 AM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think the article is trying to say we should all get into the hipster yoga scene in Berlin.

That's what I got from it.
posted by el io at 1:48 AM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Endless vomiting? I'll stick with DMT, thanks.
posted by metameat at 5:42 AM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I respectfully disagree. I've had many hallucinogenic insights described to me by enthusiastic friends, and the only thing that the insights have got going for them is the depth of feeling-of-insight that the drug induces. The actual insights are inevitably mundane;

Yes. One of the effects of hallucinogens in the illusion of profundity. Enjoying the experience without needing it to "mean something" is my recommendation. Before you go, make sure you're not with someone who's going to want to talk it to death!
posted by spaltavian at 5:47 AM on September 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Mind-expanding drug experiences are like masturbating to pornography: They give you the simulated sensation without the effort required to experience the real thing. You get the feeling of great and novel insight without the years of hard work required to actually achieve great and novel insight.

Not that there's anything wrong with that; I'd be the last person to condemn masturbation. Just recognize it for what it is.


I don't know if you meant to do this, but this is an unjustified and quite disrespectful dismissal of a huge number of indigenous spiritual practices from around the world.

There is more than one path. And there is definitely more paths than just your path.
posted by jammy at 5:59 AM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't know if you meant to do this, but this is an unjustified and quite disrespectful dismissal of a huge number of indigenous spiritual practices from around the world.

No, it isn't, and this is a particulary stupid hill to die on. To accept that indigenous practices actually give one spiritual insights is to believe in that religion. I don't think wine can turn into blood, either, and I'm not going to treat the claim differently because it's part of a religion.

Drug use as a religious practice is a ritual. One can respect the significane of a ritual to its adherents without accepting the claims of the ritual. I doubt you are mourning humanity's loss of precognition afforded to us by the Oracle of Delphi.
posted by spaltavian at 6:08 AM on September 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


Seriously, why eat raw eggs when you can have an omelette?

'Cos they taste better? And provide far superior nutrition? Like with most drugs, though, source is very important. Salmonella, while it also makes you vomit uncontrollably and gives you the runs, is not in any way fun. :)
posted by holist at 6:32 AM on September 23, 2014


spaltavian, I might give a more respectful example: I can experience the awe of partaking in mass in an ancient cathedral without believing that I've been in the presence of the Holy Spirit, or even that there's a God at all.
posted by clawsoon at 6:43 AM on September 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


spaltavian: To accept that indigenous practices actually give one spiritual insights is to believe in that religion.

That's just plain wrong. You may disagree with adherents of the religion about what exactly is happening in their rituals, you may reject a great deal of their dogma, while accepting that what they gain is spiritual insight.

Also, while we are inventorying our psychedelic experiences, I see no mention of Salvia divinorum. I have not had the pleasure of meeting DMT, but from what I read, there is a great deal of similarity between smoking DMT and Salvia. Another drug to be quite careful around.

I've had more than my fair share of LSD, psilocybin mushroom and salvia trips, I agree that they can be shallow, I agree that sometimes the overwhelming sense of revelation is all there is (and that in itself is a great deal of fun and a marvellous way to unwind), but the overall impact on my personality has been profound. More recently (and I may no longer even trip every year!), I'm less interested in the thrills and still see scope for further self-exploration, therapeutic work. I think for an ayahuasca trip (or any trip) to be a life-changing event, you need to be in some sense ripe for one. This can come about serendipitously (not common, in my experience), but it can also be prepared for and facilitated. I've seen people claim to have changed profoundly without much evidence of it, and I've seen people change profoundly. "Life's a wonderfully intricate and surprising thing, and worth it" - can't go much more banal than that, but a firm, secure knowledge of this fact is something I have repeatedly welcomed from tripping.
posted by holist at 7:41 AM on September 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: let me tell you it is some serious shit for real.
posted by sneebler at 8:08 AM on September 23, 2014


clawsoon,

I tend to think the realizations society needs tend to be fairly mundane. "We are all connected in an ecological system." How obvious is, "Gay people should be allowed to marry?" Padding them out with particular and ground-breaking insights is most certainly not the purview of psychedelics, which require a particular facility of language to describe in any meaningful way. You end the psychedelic experience with this sense of excitement and a desire to relate to others, for you have indeed experienced something that feels incredibly meaningful, but you are not William Blake.

The last of many psychedelic experiences was a long time ago, and after ensuing years I believe it was life-altering in a positive way overall, but in that mundane sense--in that some of my bedrock perceptions of what is real were shifted (well, more accurately, eliminated). There are things I used to think were real, such as the input of my eyes, ears, and touch, and most importantly, the self. I now perceive my consciousness and sense of being as a useful but ultimately illusory and rickety scaffolding, the timbers of which are opinions and memories I have accrued in my life. When the binds of said scaffolding are undone, what is left is that feeling of simultaneous interconnectedness and effacement of being, which is not altogether pleasant (in fact downright terrifying), but which underscores the systemic nature of things, the permeability of flesh and mind.

See, yeah, I can only resort to drivel when describing that kind of thing :). But as I look at our political landscape, I do wish more people relaxed their boundaries around what they feel is real and fundamental. But then isn't that everyone's sense of the political landscape--that everything would be great if other people were a little bit more like them? So yeah, no claims to profundity here.

That said I am always hesitant to recommend to others. Maybe 1/3 of my experiences was what I would consider positive and meaningful. Others were quite fun, but in an 'oh I did that' sense, and others were absolutely frightening--hours and hours of abject fear and loss of self, with that particular psychedelic time dilation making every minute excruciating.
posted by lemmsjid at 8:35 AM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


spaltavian: To accept that indigenous practices actually give one spiritual insights is to believe in that religion.

That's just plain wrong. You may disagree with adherents of the religion about what exactly is happening in their rituals, you may reject a great deal of their dogma, while accepting that what they gain is spiritual insight.


Nope. There's no insight to be had if you don't accept the spirituality to begin with: I would say they had an emotional experience. That's all well and good, but I'm under no obligation to call that insight.
posted by spaltavian at 8:53 AM on September 23, 2014


I agree that we need to separate the spiritual aspect and the scientific absent in this issue.

The beliefs of indigenous tribes are as deserving of critical thinking as anybody else's. My family is partly related to a couple of these tribes. I have lived with a few of them and I know them fairly well. As an atheist, I am ready to tell you that most of their beliefs are as ass-pully as any other religion, but because of their status as indigenous tribes, there is a lot of cultural relativism going on, and this eventually prevents indigenous people from making any progress (technologically, scientifically, etc.). Indigenous people are not cool mystical tokens of primitive humanity. They are normal people who can be wrong, believe BS and confuse correlation with causation, just like anyone else.

Ayahuasca is a potential treatment for mental illness in the same way any plant with an interesting active ingredient found in the rainforest could be a treatment for any illness. But it has not been properly studied. Other plants and mixtures of plants have been studied and are now widely consumed (or have been artificially recreated), but there is no scientific evidence on the effectiveness of Ayahuasca. We don't know what its neurological effects are, but I assure you the yakumama goddess has little to do with them, if they exist at all.

What I am saying is that the risk of using it is in the fact that it has not been properly studied, and people use it without knowledge of possible side effects or with the help of untrained guides. Just as you would have disastrous results from self medicating or taking seriously hardcore medication from any non-medical professional, the risks of playing with Ayahuasca are seriously high because we don't know it well. This is complicated by the fact that people treat it as an alternative medicine, mystical thing, rather than an actual possibility that needs to be studied by science. The whole spiritual part clouds the issue and is honestly a red herring. Until we separate both aspects we will not be able to know if it actually works or not.
posted by Tarumba at 8:56 AM on September 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


Not only has it not been properly studied, but the way the politics and business of studying drugs is organized the chances are very small that it ever will be properly studied in my lifetime. Which means it really is a recreational drug. (Not that there is anything wrong with that!)
posted by bukvich at 9:00 AM on September 23, 2014


Conflating the behavior of a bunch of gap year wannabes with Spiritual Practices Of Indigenous Peoples is, well, disingenuous is probably the most polite way of putting it.

I'm not sure if indigenous people in the Andes still take Ayahuasca, and if so under what circumstances. FWIW the vast majority of people in the places Ayahuasca is used are Catholic. While there are a lot of syncretic elements, as well as old Andean rituals that have been sustained over time unconnected to religion*, to claim that Ayahuasca must be respected as an important spiritual practice because handwavey indigenous something is a bit much. We're talking about white people looking for the next cool way to get high, not religion among indigenous peoples in the mountains of Peru.

*I'm pretty sure that the use of Ayahuasca is one of these, and it no longer has any direct religious component.
posted by Sara C. at 9:51 AM on September 23, 2014


spaltavian: But you posited an equivalence. Of course, you are free to believe that actually, there exists nothing at all that can be called "a spiritual insight" - but then it is not surprising that you never put anything in that category, it is a straightforward consequence of your belief.

That doesn't mean you need to believe in an entire religion around a particular practice in order to believe that the particular practice may be conducive to spiritual insight (if you otherwise believe in such things). It just doesn't follow.
posted by holist at 9:52 AM on September 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Sara C.: We may well be talking about white people looking for the next cool way to get high... we may also be talking about people considering the possibility of certain practices involving psychoactive drugs may be used for personal development or therapeutic work.
posted by holist at 9:54 AM on September 23, 2014


Man, I said as much in my first comment, but people should just shut up if they don't know what they're talking about.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 9:56 AM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah the old "silly shallow white people trope" mixed in with "they're mostly Catholic (because of white conquistadors, mind)" is a hefty amount of white navel gazing and yes let me guess, white people are too square to derive spiritual experiences from psychedelics too. Congratulations, we are too glib and white to experience insights unless we find the right mystery brown person untouched by Jesus.
posted by aydeejones at 10:02 AM on September 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also, this was about depression I thought but why not write off the stated intentions of depressed people, they probably won't care. And truly I don't think most people are looking for a magical brown person to fix them, but the smart ones do realize they need an experienced sitter or shaman or whatever they want to call it. I bet ruminating on the strangeness of syncretic religious elements in a Catholic dominated society would be an interesting way to pass some of the time. Human society is complicated like having a big multi racial family except with more murder to explain it all. That doesn't turn these entheogens into Coors Light volleyball party drugs just because white people are interested.
posted by aydeejones at 10:09 AM on September 23, 2014


>I see no mention of salvia divinorum

I've taken taken a whole raft of psychotropics/hallucinogens, including salvia, and it has routinely been my least favorite experience. With shrooms and LSD, in particular, hippybear's ctrl+alt+del metaphor rings very true to me. You take some time out, the world gets weird and wonderful (and sometimes a little frightening), but mostly you just spend time with yourself in a very raw way that precludes the kind of self-dissimulation that gets most of us through the day. At the end, you're refreshed in an emotional and psychological sense.

Salvia always felt like getting WAY TO HIGH for a while then feeling a bit fuzzy and out of it. YMMV, but to me shrooms and acid are like a long hike. Salvia is like a roller coaster. Additional drug metaphors available upon request.
posted by Panjandrum at 10:15 AM on September 23, 2014


Panjandrum have you ever done a drug trip with projectile vomit and explosive diarrhea and then after you recommended it to others?
posted by bukvich at 10:25 AM on September 23, 2014


Salvia, when smoked, was very much a 4-5-minute extreme rollercoaster for me, too. But it was followed by maybe a 20 minute to half hour of awed shell-shock, and then days, even weeks of the calm and self-contained and refreshed and happy "just been rebooted" feeling. On another note, I've been told by more than two people who tried ayahuasca that the vomiting was quite natural and distant and not the stressful/painful/unpleasant thing it usually is.
posted by holist at 10:38 AM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


FWIW Ayahuasca is more Amazonian than Andean and thus not nearly as influenced by Catholicism as the Quechua culture.

The point I was trying to make is that as long as Ayahuasca is categorized as a spiritual experience we will not have an answer for the question of its effects on depression. I did not mean to say white people can't benefit from it. I meant to say its use is totally disorganized and nebulous. There are no standards, no control, no rules. Some shamans will tell you to fast for a week, others don't. They also have different recipes for the preparation. I have never met a shaman with any sort of training in mental illness (and I have met a few). I have known of shamans who panicked and left the person alone when they needed help the most. And these were experienced, respected people. It is impossible to answer the question of the utility of ANYTHING in these conditions.

In fact, from what I have seen, tourists in Peru are usually so respectful and so trusting that it borders on naivety and they tend to think shamans are much better prepared than they actually are.
posted by Tarumba at 10:42 AM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


yes let me guess, white people are too square to derive spiritual experiences from psychedelics too.

If the white people taking ayahuasca recreationally ascribe personal spiritual or therapeutic experiences from it, that's great. I've taking hallucinogenics before and have had some really positive experiences, some of which have been in that realm for me.

But you can't really defend ayahuasca from any criticism whatsoever by casting said criticism as a criticism of indigenous religion.
posted by Sara C. at 10:44 AM on September 23, 2014


FWIW Ayahuasca is more Amazonian than Andean and thus not nearly as influenced by Catholicism as the Quechua culture.

Having actually traveled in the region, I mostly associate it with the Cusco backpacker scene, to be honest. I guess one could claim that the guides there aren't the authentic keepers of true ayahuasca lore, but come the fuck ON.

Pretty much any time you're a white person and some random stranger is offering you a spiritual experience in exchange for money, in a major tourist center, you should probably assume you're not getting the real deal, and the person's intentions are not purely altruistic.

Since virtually zero white people are actually living in the Amazon in indigenous communities, making strong ties with locals who would have legitimate reasons to initiate said white people into the local spiritual practices, idle speculation along those lines is beside the point.
posted by Sara C. at 10:50 AM on September 23, 2014


For anyone looking for more info on Richard Alpert/Ram Dass' journey from respected academic to lsd/psylocybin experiment to hindu mystic, This forward to his book Be Here Now is a hell of a story (just mind the first link's tendency to throw in little blurbs on freemason craziness).
posted by Perko at 10:57 AM on September 23, 2014


come the fuck ON.

Well, I was referring to the roots of the Ayahuasca ritual, and how it's not really influenced by Catholicism. I never said Ayahuasca is exclusively used in the Amazon or not in Cuzco.

I just don't think Catholicism has anything to do with this. The people who do Ayahuasca are pretty much condemned to eternal damnation in the eyes of the catholic church, so I assure you they are not catholic.
posted by Tarumba at 11:03 AM on September 23, 2014


...and I'm not saying white people need to get the "real deal" in the middle of the Amazon. I am saying the substance needs to be researched with controlled studies before making the claim that it replaces a psychiatrist.

I mean it's a dangerous and frankly ridiculous claim with absolutely no back up except a few anecdotes.
posted by Tarumba at 11:08 AM on September 23, 2014


I just don't think Catholicism has anything to do with this. The people who do Ayahuasca are pretty much condemned to eternal damnation in the eyes of the catholic church, so I assure you they are not catholic.

My point was that the "indigenous peoples" jammy and holist are appealing to are... Catholic. Ayahuasca is not a religious ritual, at least not in any way that makes it immune from criticism.
posted by Sara C. at 11:08 AM on September 23, 2014


Ayahuasca Meetup? [more]
favorited 26 times, recently by ......



Oh my, this is starting to make me nervous


All right, if everyone shows up a week from next thursday, we'll have a tarp and a whole bunch of 5 gallon buckets.
posted by sammyo at 11:12 AM on September 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


I know quite few people who are or were involved in one of the ayahuasca churches locally. They don't come off as particularly enlightened or insightful regardless of the number of ceremonies they have done.

I have noticed mood swings and a whole new level of 'psychic' drama with the other people in the group. A couple need/ed professional help and stays in the hospital. One is still being stalked by members of the 'church'.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 12:23 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Man, I said as much in my first comment, but people should just shut up if they don't know what they're talking about.

Who is qualified to speak here? Why? Why are you determining that? I'm not a stranger to ayahuasca. Do I get to have an opinion?

That doesn't mean you need to believe in an entire religion around a particular practice in order to believe that the particular practice may be conducive to spiritual insight

Of course you do. Thor's Hammer either shoots lightning and shit or it's just a piece of metal. There's no middle ground here unless you want to turn "spirtual" into some sort of mushy "life lesson". Spiritual insight would be insight into, you know, spirits and stuff.
posted by spaltavian at 12:52 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


So it works for him in the short run. Let me know how it's going 6 months from now.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:10 PM on September 23, 2014


Wow, Metafilter comments, good job making psychedelics boring.
posted by subbes at 7:04 PM on September 23, 2014 [7 favorites]


spaltavian: "There's no middle ground here"

Why on earth not? There usually is! :)

Spiritual insight would be insight into, you know, spirits and stuff.

There's nothing necessarily mushy about life lessons. And, you know, just 'cause you use words one way, don't mean others can't use them another way. This may seem like an insurmountable obstacle at first, but there is a technique for getting round it.
posted by holist at 9:46 PM on September 23, 2014


Man, the contrast between the National Geographic article and the Vice article. I read the NatGeo one first, and the guy from the Vice article did not compare favorably. Poor Kira Salak was trying to work through some heavy shit and exorcise some (literal? metaphorical?) demons over the course of days with a nice shaman to help her out. Conor Creighton tripped balls and revisited his teenage angst. Creighton's experience definitely comes off looking real shallow, comparatively speaking. Salak definitely sold the merits of ayahuasca better.

I finally had a chance to read the Salak piece this evening. Wow! That was *intense*.

But I'm glad I posted the Vice article, because the ensuing MeFi thread led me to the NatGeo article. :-)
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 3:05 AM on September 24, 2014


drug trip with projectile vomit and explosive diarrhea and hen after you recommended it to others?

Mescaline involved no small amount of guts puking, and I would absolutely recommend it. Like with any active substance though, I would expect anyone partaking to follow basic drug safety: right person, right time, right dose, right drug (route being moot and documentation... well). These are basic "rights" for everything from aspirin to ayahuasca. Those "rights" also include the right to refuse, if the puking and shitting aren't for you.
posted by Panjandrum at 7:19 AM on September 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


For another version of how to contact the Cosmic Muffin, read some of Carlos Casteneda's books. As I remember it (and I don't claim to have a clear vision of those days), he did his doctoral thesis on stuff like this, and came away with tentacles streaming from his abdomen. Like the author of this piece, he contacted a verifiable brujo to guide him through the experience.
As someone else previously noted, Castaneda has been comprehensively debunked. He has the credibility of L. Ron Hubbard.

And I say this as someone who, as a college kid, read and uncritically absorbed all of his work on the advice of a deeply respected uncle. Castaneda's work is fiction, and it would be a grievous mistake to base any course of action involving potential physical harm on his writings.
posted by scrump at 11:54 AM on September 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Thank you Panjandrum for answer.

In quest of reliable narration I think I found one decent document. From Peter Matthiessen The Cloud Forest:

Aside from the interview with Wayne Snell, the only noteworthy experience was in evening when Cesar and myself took a jungle potion prepared by an old Indian of the town. This bitter stuff, which in color alone resembles opaque apple cider, is called variously ayahuasca, which is Quechua for "dead man's vine," or soga de muerte, which is Spanish for "vine of death." It produces hallucinations of faraway music and arrested time, a sense of several simulltaneous worlds, which is quite remarkable; there is also the vague giddiness of being drunk, without the exhilaration. Toward the end a distinctly morbid state occurs, quite disagreeable.

Penguin 1996, p.262
posted by bukvich at 10:11 AM on September 25, 2014


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