Ayahuasca Ceremony, what to expect and how to prepare?
The brew is meant to be consumed as part of a highly sacred and secretive ceremony, led by one or several experienced curan- dero. Each patient must spend the preceding day preparing for this event, both in their diet and their mental and spiritual state. These rituals can involve anywhere from a single patient to a large group of twenty or more, depending on the circumstances, and are typically conducted at night inside of a simple enclosure known as a maloka. Each curandero employs their own unique elements
to the ceremonies they oversee, which can include group sharing and interaction, icaros (or spiritual songs), and individual visits.
However diverse the specific methods may be, a common aspect of these ceremonies is the use of the brew’s psychedelic effects, sometimes referred to as a spirit journey, to access a patient’s subconscious in a very direct and deliberate way. By working in this shared dream state, a skilled curandero is said to be able to reach his patients in a much deeper, more perceptive way, and the interaction can produce dramatic spiritual progress, sometimes in a single ceremony.
The ritual has been described as being jarring, overwhelming, and sometimes even terrifying, and likened to an induced near-death experience. This could explain the literal Quechuan translation of the word ayahuasca, which is “The Spirit Vine”, or “Vine of Death.” However, the experience is also known to have a firm, nurturing, feminine aura, which is why ayahuasca is widely referred to by the curanderos of South America as “Grandmother.”
Typically, hinários take place at night in a large, brightly-lit gathering space with a large hexagonally-arranged set of lines on the floor (after the six-pointed Star of David) to demarcate the ritual space. At the centre of this, in the middle of the room, sits an altar on which are placed a caravaca (a two-horizontal-armed cross), candles, flowers and photographs of the late Mestre Irineu and Padrinho Sebastiã.
Participants are situated in proximity to the altar table according to church hierarchy, with the ceremony leaders and musicians near the centre, ritual supervisors distributed at key places among the congregation, and guests towards the outer edges of the room. Notably, all male and female participants are required to be physically separated, with each gender group occupying their respective half of the ritual space. Full members of the church (known as fardados) wear uniforms of clean white shirts, neckties, and dress pants or skirts (called farda branca, or ―white uniforms), and visitors or guests must also wear white.
Along the side of the room is another altar, at which women and men form two separate lines to receive the Daime sacrament near the beginning and at other important points of the ritual, andthen return to their allocated spots in the room. The typical quantity served has been estimated by one ethnographer to be approximately 80 millilitres of liquid—although this amount may vary depending on experience, with newcomers receiving larger amounts than experienced drinkers, ―as they are believed to need more daime in order for it to have effect (Schmidt, 2007, p. 155). After the serving of the sacrament, it takes from 20-40 minutes for the visionary effects of the brew, the miração in Santo Daime‘s terminology, to begin to manifest. The word miração is derived from the Portuguese stems mirar (―look at‖ or ―contemplate‖) and ação (―action‖), and thus connotes the active, engaged and participatory nature of the experience (Polari de Alverga, 1996, para. 3). As Schmidt relates, ―[the miração] is commonly described as a vivid and intense experience, full of colour, light and beauty, a ̳place‘ where the normal sense of time and space is dissolved‖ (2007, p. 167); yet, she also notes that ―a miração is often a positive experience but it can be frightening as well (2007, p. 167). 16 However, experienced church members describe [miraçãos] as holistic experiences where the daime, sometimes very dramatically, demonstrates the linkage between everything in the world. The daime dissolves the individualized and conditioned self of everyday life. In audible, visionary, and sensory manner, the daime convinces people about their intimate connection to other beings, whether spirits, other humans, animals or plants. People who have had such experiences say that they completely transformed the way they relate to life, and especially to nature. They describe these [miração] experiences as important for their eagerness and desire to protect the natural environment.
The miração lasts for 3-4 hours, or even longer if additional Daime tea is drunk during the ceremony, which may last as long as 12 hours in some cases. For the duration, the congregation will sit or stand, or often dance for lengthy intervals, while at the same time singing hinos. The dance (or bailado) is a basic two-step shuffle on-the-spot, back and forth to rhythm of the hino, in which all participants move together in simply choreographed concert.
Fermented foods like soy sauce, fermented tofu, and sauerkraut
Nutritional supplements like protein powders
Chocolate (in large amounts)
Peanuts (in large amounts)
Other Foods to Avoid
Salt (i.e. canned and processed foods)
Refined sugar (i.e. sweets and junk food)
Antidepressants like SSRIs
Alpha- and beta-blockers