Ayahuasca is an Amazonian medicinal plant brew from Peru. The thick brown tea is made with Caapi, a rainforest vine, and hallucinogenic plant leaves.

It’s a long night spent in deep connection to a higher intelligence and understanding of one’s true self. Ayahuasca ceremonies last all night, with a five-hour trip possible. While Ayahuasca is native to the Amazon, where retreats and ceremonies are legal, it is illegal in the United States, where the scene is still underground and secretive.

What to expect during an Ayahuasca ceremony.

If you’re considering such a journey, be prepared to meet the divine, the infinite, the mystery—whatever you want to call it. You must also accept that your brain cannot comprehend the divine/infinite/mystery. Your brain is finite, but the infinite is infinite.

The Shaman’s icaros are part of the ceremony. These songs enhance your mareación (Ayahuasca’s visionary effects). The icaros may also help you appreciate the power of music more fully.

Be aware that the divine/infinite/mystery may not share information that you like. In the film Vine of the Soul: Encounters with Ayahuasca, one user describes the horror she felt and how she thought she was going to die. But another participant said Ayahuasca opened her heart in ways she had never known.

Ayahuasca is always referred to as a female because users claim to hear a female voice during the ceremony. She (the plant) speaks directly to you and tells you what you need to work on.

The experience will be ineffable, beyond words, and putting it into words after the ceremony will be difficult if not impossible. “Ten years of therapy downloaded in a night,” is a common metaphor for a ceremony’s take-away. An Ayahuasca ceremony may also make you realize that everything you think you know is made up.

Returning participants should be aware that each time they encounter the divine/infinite/mystery is unique. Each experience is a drop in the ocean.

Toxins and impurities that you have crammed into your body over the years will be fleshed out by the plants if you do not follow the recommended dieta (diet). This is called purging, and it means exactly that. Expect to vomit a lot, but purge buckets will be provided. If your body is clean (including your subtle energy body), there will be nothing to purge.

Plant medicine may allow the subjective self to shed and merge with the infinite “other.” After a ceremonial night of purging, you may gain a new perspective on what was once mundane reality.