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The Ayahuasca Ceremony: Experience, Benefits And What to Expect

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What Does Ayahuasca Taste Like?

Ayahuasca can taste different depending on how it’s brewed. Some people think ayahuasca is absolutely disgusting, and others compare it to nectar from the Gods.

Commonly reported taste descriptors include:

Similar to prune juice

Since the taste can often be bitter for people, some medicine practitioners may provide you with a small piece of banana to eat after your dose. Not only does banana help coat the taste, but it may also activate the medicine even more after the experience. To help mask the taste, you could also try washing ayahuasca down with clean organic coconut water.

Finally, it’s important to remember, that although you may feel put off by the taste of ayahuasca, just remember the experience of drinking it will only last seconds compared to the medicine’s impact, which could potentially last years.

What Are the Effects of Ayahuasca?

Sensory changes

During an ayahuasca journey, you may experience visual hallucinations, ranging from mild kaleidoscopic patterns, like LSD and psilocybin, to entire dream-like scenarios. However, it’s important to not get too focused on what the visions mean directly, but rather what feelings emerge from them.

You will also probably become more sensitive to sound, light, and touch, and may feel a physical heaviness in your body.

Another common sensory effect of ayahuasca is time distortion, in which hours seem to go much slower or faster than usual. In some instances, the concept of time could disappear entirely.

Mystical experiences

Some people report ayahuasca-induced mystical experiences characterized by a loss of ego, feelings of oneness or merging with ultimate reality, and connection to a divine source.

Although the idea of mystical experiences can sound scary, they are often deeply meaningful and can bring about a newfound sense of spirituality or appreciation for the wonders of life.

Researchers have even found a link between mystical experiences and mental health benefits from psychedelics.

Encountering the ayahuasca spirit

During your ayahuasca experience, it’s possible you may encounter the ayahuasca spirit.

The concept of “plant spirit,” a life-force intelligence present in plants, is a core shamanistic belief. However, the way in which these spirits appear to people during their experiences using plant medicines is highly subjective. Some people describe the spirit as an essence of themselves, others as a full-bodied spiritual being – often encompassing serpentine-like imagery – with which they’re able to communicate.

Because of ayahuasca’s nurturing and loving traits, many people, especially in the West, associate ayahuasca with a feminine spirit, such as the Mother or Grandmother Medicine.

However, feminine titles aren’t the case across all ayahuasca-using traditions. For example, within the Peruvian Shipibo tradition, ayahuasca is called Oni (meaning wisdom) and holds both masculine and feminine energies. In the Colombian Amazon, ayahuasca is called yage and is considered to be masculine, coming from a grandfather lineage.


Not everybody purges during an ayahuasca ceremony, but for many, nausea, vomiting, crying, shaking, drastic temperature swings, laughing, and diarrhea are common.

The notion of purging seems off-putting at first. However, while western cultures may view purging as “getting sick”, for shamanic traditions across the globe, purging is part of “getting well.”

In practice, the la purga, or what ayahuasca using traditions refer to as “the purge”, is an essential part of the medicine’s healing process, as it helps remove stuck energies, toxins and traumas from the body. The physical expulsion from purging can also provide a huge felt sense of release.

In 1heart’s Awakened Leader podcast, Third Wave Founder Paul F. Austin said, “With Aya specifically, I would say don’t let the idea of purging be a block… I’ve worked with Ayahuasca about 15 times now. I didn’t purge at all until my eighth or ninth Ayahuasca experience, and now every time I go in, it’s actually what I look most forward to because there is such a deep emotional release and psychosomatic release from that experience…”

Surfacing of trauma

During your experience, ayahuasca can bring difficult emotions and challenges to the surface. However, by facing your shadows and understanding how they’re impacting your life today, you can experience deep healing.

As such, ayahuasca guides generally advise you to surrender to rather than avoid any challenging material.

“We know about ego dissolution, we know about the mystical experience, but what [psychedelics] do time and time again is they allow us to accept what is and surrender into that. And whenever there’s a significant resistance, that usually means there’s an even greater reason to let go of the thing that we are attached to…” said Paul F. Austin.

For this reason, it’s also important you feel safe during an ayahuasca ceremony, as this will also allow you to feel comfortable going deeper into difficult experiences, increasing the chances for psychological material to be processed and resolved.

One analogy you can think of, when it comes to surrendering, is how differently buffaloes and cows respond to rainstorms in the wild. When cows see a storm coming, they run away, trying to avoid the rain. This, however, only leads to fear and exhaustion. In contrast, when buffaloes see the rain, they run into it, knowing their discomfort will only be momentary, before they reach the other side of the storm.

Likewise, the more we step into our traumas during ayahuasca ceremonies, the sooner we will arrive at the other side, basking in this medicine’s gifts.

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