Experience is such a subjective thing, however to broadly generalise the sessions are set at different levels because people have different things for healing and also hav edifferent life experince levels coming into the ceremonies. I have divided them broadly into three levels. This doesn’t mean you won;t have a level 3 experience if you choose a level 1 ceremony or only experience a level 1 session when it was a level 3 session. Many factors come into play in what you experience. However as a guide for the general group experience I use these three levels to guide you in what kind of session to expect.
level 1 Kava/ Cannabis
level 2 Ecstacy(MDMA)/ mescaline
level 3 DMT/LSD
Psychotropic entheogens affect our brain by making it operate in way that is very diffrent to normal. Many people describe the experience like being pulled apart and then put back together again. That is what we aim to take advatange of in these ceremonies. Being ‘pulled apart’ can be fun or scary for people. Those who find it fun often take chemical versions of these substance for ‘recreaction’. The focus here is in the putting back togather again. The aim is to be put back together in a healed or more ‘integrated’ way. This way deep and real healing can occur.
When South American shamans make ayahuasca there are various recipes to the brew. However there is one plant that is common to all brews, that is the ayahuasca vine itself, and where the we the common name comes from.
You might think that the ayahuasca vine is the stuff with the hallucinogenic drugs in it. You would be mistaken. What ayahuasca contains is something we call a MAOI. A what?? A Mono Amine Oxidase Inhibitor. This is a substance that inhibits the breakdown of various brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters in the brain.
When our brain cells communicate to each other they normally do this with chemicals called neurotransmitters. After they have sent the signal they then breakdown the chemicals so that the signal does not keeping getting sent.
If we take an MAOI then those neurotransmitters get broken down much slower and the message is changed.
The other thing that most ayahuasca brews also have is a DMT (dimethylt tryptamine) containing plant. DMT is a neurotransmitter in our brain and has been found to be present in all living things. So by all increasing the level of DMT in our body plus by inhibiting it’s breakdown is how ayahuasca is able to affect the human brain. It’s need to parts to work.
In my opinion and experience it is the maoi that really does most of the therapeutic work in the ceremonies. Every brew used in the healing ceremonies, whether is it kava, or “Aotea-husca” will have a some kind of MAOI in it.
You have to be careful when taking an MAOI as they can interact with other bodily functions. The good news is that the herbal MAOIs I use are ‘reversable’ which means that they are much safer and unlikely to cause side effects. However you will still be instructed on dietary restrictions before the ceremony and people on certain pharmaceuticals will not be permitted to participate.
Brief List of potential Plant Species in brew (genus only)