“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience”.
Teilhard de Chardin
Spirituality is central to life at Amoraleza. Our spiritual mission is to participate in the expansion of the heart and consciousness and all spiritual paths and practices are welcome. In our spiritual practice we use plant teachers to help reconnect with our true selves, each other and the Earth. Through the use of these sacred plants, such as Ayahuasca, we aim to create a sacred space where people can experience a deep connection with their soul and the Oneness of all life. Our spiritual approach is eclectic and in our ceremonies we include elements from many different traditions.
What are sacred plants?
Sacred plants, also known as teacher or power plants, are used for healing, to access the subconscious mind and connect with the spirit world. They have been used for ceremonial purposes by indigenous people for thousands of years and are found in many different cultures around the world. These plants have traditionally been used to heal body, mind and spirit. Sacred plants are here to help humanity evolve spiritually and some can induce visions, telepathically communicate strong messages important for our healing and soul growth and connect us with the Oneness of the universe. They are powerful teachers that can help us to see the truth of our being, show us the origin of our problems and help us release negativity, often through physical cleansing of the body.
What is Ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca is an an ancient medicine that has been used for thousands of years by the indigenous tribes of the Amazon region and in recent years has gained popularity in the West as a tool for healing, personal growth, and spiritual awakening. It is an entheogenic brew that has traditionally been used for healing of physical, psychological and spiritual ailments, the expansion of consciousness and connecting to the spirit world through visions. The word “Ayahuasca” comes from the Quechua language and means “vine of the dead”. It is also known as Yagé, Uni, Nixi Pae, Daime, Vegetal and many others, depending on the spiritual line.
There are many different recipes for the preparation of Ayahuasca, but the most common ingredients are the leaf of Psychotria viridis, also known as chacruna, and the Banisteriopsis caapi vine. These plants work together to create a strong psychedelic experience. The chacruna leaf contains dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which is a neurotransmitter naturally produced by the pineal gland and has strong visionary effects. The caapi vine, which is a source of beta-carbolines, contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) which blocks the DMT deactivation that usually occurs during digestion. The vine is cleaned and pulverized and cooked together with the leaves until the desired concentration is obtained.
Ayahuasca affects the central nervous system by stimulating the release of neurotransmitters and increases the neural activity in the brain’s visual cortex and the limbic system, which is the part of the brain that processes emotions and memories. This can facilitate deep emotional healing, with the release of painful memories and traumas. It can induce expanded states of consciousness or a dreamlike state, which can cause a change in the perception of reality and an altered state of thought and emotion. It is common to have spiritual insights, experience powerful visions, communicate with entities and have out-of-body and mystical experiences.
DMT interacts with serotonin receptors in the brain and therefore Ayahuasca can elevate mood and enhance emotional well-being. Outside of traditional settings, it is being successfully used to treat psychological disorders like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addictions. Ayahuasca is non-toxic and is not addictive.
What are the effects of Ayahuasca?
Most people begin to feel the effects of Ayahuasca between 30-60 minutes after ingestion and the effects usually last six hours. Each Ayahuasca experience is different and people react differently to the brew. The experience can be overwhelming and it is possible to feel euphoria and enlightenment while others may feel fear and paranoia. It is normal to have many different experiences during your journey and in the same night you may be taken to both the angelic realms and into the darkness.
The most common effects are sensory changes, such as visual and auditory hallucinations, increased sensitivity and an altered state of consciousness. It elevates heart rate and blood pressure. Although it is very common to cleanse through vomiting and diarrhea, it is not necessary to purge to receive the benefits of the ceremony and many people find deep healing in very pleasurable experiences.
How should I prepare for a ceremony?
The benefits of an Ayahuasca ceremony can be greatly enhanced with a good preparation. One of the best ways to prepare is to take some time before the retreat to relax and begin reconnecting with yourself. This can be done through yoga or meditation, listening to music, journaling, spending time in nature or disconnecting from social media. It is helpful to get adequate rest before a retreat, and stop alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and other stimulants.
Some traditions recommend following a special diet to prepare for a ceremony. At Amoraleza, we do not follow a strict shamanic diet, however we recommend that you prepare your body by eating a whole foods vegan diet, without too many spices, onions or garlic for at least 3 days before ceremony. It is also helpful to stay well hydrated.
Who should not use Ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca is not recommended for people with a history of certain psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and psychosis. It is also contra-indicated for people with high blood pressure, heart problems and epilepsy.
Ayahuasca can have extremely negative side effects if combined with certain pharmaceutical and recreational drugs, including some herbs. It can be dangerous when taken with any drug that acts on the serotonin system, such as anti-depressants or sedatives, especially those classified as Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) or Selective Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) as well as blood pressure medication, diet pills; asthma, cold and allergy medication (Actifed DM, Benadryl, Benylin, Chlor-Trimeton, Compoz, etc.), CNS depressants or anti-psychotics. Some of these medications need to be stopped several weeks in advance.
Ayahuasca should also be avoided if you have recently used cocaine, heroin, MDMA, amphetamines, barbiturates or other recreational drugs.
Please let us know if you have any medical or psychiatric condition and whether you are taking any drugs before registering for a retreat. We ask all participants to fill out a registration form and a disclaimer.
Anthropologist, Dr. Josep Fericgla states in his expert report that "the psychoactive substance of Ayahuasca is known to be DMT, dimetyltryptamine which in its pure or synthesized state is banned by the International Narcotics Controla Board (INCB), appearing in Schedule I of psychotropic substances subject to international control, in accordance with the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971 and published on the WHO Green List in May 2010.
The legal misunderstanding that currently plagues Ayahuasca comes from the plants that add DMT to the mixture. Since DMT is a widely available in nature (our brain, for example, produces a lot of it every day), the INCB has set a percentage for prohibition and control, well above the percentage in which it appears in its natural form.
Having said that, this UN agency, in its Article 284, clearly explains and names a series of herbs and herbal preparations, such as Ayahuasca, Iboga, Peyote and hallucinogenic mushrooms and others, "are not subject to the control of the Convention of 1971 nor of the Convention of 1988.”
As a result, and emphasizing the legal arguments, the INCB specifically states that plants with DMT, such as Ayahuasca, are not prohibited by international conventions, as they are not included in the annexes to the above-mentioned conventions. Therefore, having no specific legislation to the contrary, Ayahuasca is not a forbidden psychotropic substance in Spain. "1
1. Expert's Report: "Ayahuasca is legal in Spain", by Dr JM Fericgla (in Spanish)