Your experience will probably be very different than that of someone else’s. Ayahuasca experiences vary widely from person to person, and even the same person can have very different experiences in different Ceremonies, even with the same dosage! You may experience visions, clairvoyance, revelations, dissolution of emotional blocks, cleansing from negative energy and purging of toxins and parasites.
Each individual coming to Ayahuasca has different needs. Through the ages, Ayahuasca Ceremonies were conducted by a shaman in small groups or even with just one patient. This allowed the shaman to focus the healing properties of the medicine into what each individual needed, providing the best environment possible.
It is only in recent times with the rise of Ayahuasca tourism that commercially oriented centers run retreats with a dozen or more guests. While, we are not saying large group ceremonies cannot be beneficial (in fact, some people prefer the high energy of large group ceremonies!), we choose to offer Ceremonies for those looking for more personalized attention.
We limit the number of travelers in each session to groups of six or eight. This is the only way to ensure the quality of experience for each guest. We find that smaller groups are best at balancing the benefit of creating a powerful collective energy with the need for individualized attention.
The Ayahuasca Ceremonies at East West Lodge take place in our Ceremony Moloca (round-house) in the middle of the jungle. You and other guests will receive Ayahuasca only under the supervision and protection of a master shaman, who will take full responsibility for the session. The shaman will consciously use his developed healing and spiritual abilities for the benefit of you and the other travelers. There will also be at least one bilingual (English and Spanish) speaking facilitator present to help and assist you with anything needed during the session.
Our Ceremonies are done after sunset in our Ceremony Maloca and begin at around 7 p.m. or 8p.m. However, participants start trickling in to the Ceremony Moloca an hour before Ceremony so that they have time to reflect, meditate and prepare.
You will have a mat to lie down on, a chair to sit in, toilet paper and a bucket to puke in. You and your fellow travelers can sit or lie down in a circle along the inside perimeter of the Moloca. By this way, the shaman and facilitators can maintain a direct line of sight with you and everyone else.
Before the Ceremony begins, the shaman enters the Maloca and prepares his area, putting the container of Ayahuasca, drinking cup and other tools of the trade such as aromatic substances, incense, mapacho (sacred native tobacco from the jungle), water, shacapa (leaf rattle) and other musical instruments and symbolic items.
Before the official initiation of the Ceremony, the shaman and facilitators exercise the power of single minded conscious visualization and intention to cleanse and protect the space inside the Moloca. The shaman blesses the Medicine with mapacho smoke, sacred breathing and Icaros .
The shaman will begin the Ceremony by stating out loud the intention to bring healing and clairvoyance to all participants. The shaman will also call upon the spirit of Ayahuasca (Mother Ayahuasca) and other protective spirits.
Each guest will then in turn drink their individual dose of Ayahuasca, one at a time. One full shot size glass of Ayahuasca is considered a full dose. In deciding your initial dose, the shaman will ask your opinion, taking into account your experience and body size while also relying on his intuition. If it’s your first time, you might want to start with a half dose, allowing you to ease into the experience more gently. You an always top-up an hour or so later if you can handle more.
If you have taken Ayahuasca before and want a more powerful experience, you start off right away with a full dose or even a double dose. However, it is important to note that that dosages don’t always correspond to the strength of the experience, since set and setting play a big role in the Ayahuasca experience.
After everyone drinks, the shaman starts singing his Icaros (the sacred songs used to help guide Ceremonies) to help create the proper energy and maintain the atmosphere for the duration of the Ceremony. The shaman will continue singing his Icaros throughout most of the Ceremony, using different Icaros to orchestrate different energy states. Depending on the shaman, scented flower waters, mapacho smoke, and the shacapa (leaf rattle) and other instruments might be used during the Ceremony.
The shaman will give you individualized focused healing attention and guidance during the Ceremony. A few hours or so after taking Ayahuasca, you will be invited to talk with the shaman (with a facilitator acting as translator if needed). This is your chance to discuss your intentions and any problems or issues you are facing with the shaman and explain exactly what you hope to achieve with the Ayahuasca Ceremony. The shaman will integrate your specific needs and intentions into sing over you a personalized Icaros (healing song). He may also breathe mapacho tobacco smoke over you as a blessing.
Everyone’s safety is paramount at all times, especially during Ceremony. We ask that participants stay in the Maloca for the duration of the ceremony except for going to the bathroom. This is for your safety. The jungle can become a confusing and dangerous place at night if one wanders off under the influence of Ayahuasca, and our staff will be monitoring closely to make sure that does not happen.
During Ceremony, the Shaman will sing Icaros related to any issues that may have been raised by you or other guests earlier in the retreat, helping to call specific energies. At the end of the ceremony, you are welcome to talk with the Shaman and with other guests.
There is a Group Share the day after each Ceremony. We request that everyone be present and on time (although you can opt not to share). In Group Share, you will each have the chance to share and discuss your Ayahuasca experiences in more depth, both individually and as a group, with the facilitator present to help interpret the experience.
Please bring the following items with you to the Ceremony:
- Comfortable clothes.
- Flash light (dim red or blue light is best) as the Ceremony is performed in darkness and you will need a flashlight to get up to go to the toilet.
- A bottle of water.
- We provide toilet paper, puke buckets and bed sheets and blankets.
We ask everyone to please be considerate of others during the retreat, and especially in Ceremony. We ask that guests not talk with each other for the duration of the Ceremony so as not to disrupt other people’s concentration and their unique individual experience. Of course you are encouraged to call out to a facilitator for assistance if needed.
There are important safety and diet issues to be aware of and prepare for well in advance of your first Ayahuasca Ceremony. Ayahuasca is serious medicine that can bring physical and spiritual purification. However, you should not take Ayahuasca if you have certain medical conditions, such as heart problems or higher blood pressure. You should not mix medications with Ayahuasca. If you are taking any medications, consult with your doctor, and if advisable by your doctor, stop your medications at least one week before your Retreat. If you can’t stop your medications, you should wait until you can before coming to East West Lodge. Your safety and well being is our top concern.