Yagé is an infusion of two plants found in the Amazon jungle and is a cultural part of the Amazon Indian tribes.
Here is an article about my own experience of taking Yagé.
A Trip To Take Yagé
Many years ago a student of mine who was also a good friend told me about her experiences with Yagé, a hallucinogenic medicine used by the Amazon Indians to purge the body, both physically and mentally, and so when she invited me to take part in the ceremony with some other friends at the house of a shaman that was well known to her and her boyfriend I said yes. Her boyfriend had known the shaman (Indian Doctor) for many years and had taken Yagé with him many times. Yagé is made from the roots of a vine that grows in the Amazon jungle Ayahuasca Banisteriopsis Caapi", and a shrub called chacruna (Psychotria viridis), which contains the hallucinogenic drug dimethyltryptamine
I was told to eat light food and to avoid various things including milk and citric juices the day before going. They picked me up at around five o'clock and we drove about an hour and a half to Guarne a small town to the north east of Medellin. In all there were seven of us and we went in two cars. I was feeling quite nervous, as even though I had been told what to expect, it was something new and from what I had gathered from conversations with my friend about it, Yagé was also very powerful. I wasn't sure if my body and mind were prepared for what lay ahead. I had been told to expect to spend a lot of time at the beginning, vomiting and that this pleasant experience could very possibly be accompanied by diarrhoea. So as you can imagine there was a lot to look forward to.
I had felt nervous all day but now that the zero hour was approaching rapidly I felt even more nervous, however, I wasn't the only one. Apart from the Shaman, my friend and her boyfriend, none of the others had tried it before and there was a nervous atmosphere that settled over us as the shaman, now dressed like a North American red Indian with feathers and necklaces made of different seeds and shells, started to tell us a little about what to expect and what the Yagé was meant to do for us, which was basically to clean our body and soul.
After the brief chat, to which I didn't pay too much attention, as I preferred to try and concentrate my mind on the task ahead, it was time to drink the powerful potion. It looked dark in colour, though by this time it was nearly nine o'clock, the sun had gone down almost three hours ago and it was difficult to see exactly what colour it was. I didn't drink the small plastic cup full that we were served straight away, but pondered the idea for a minute or two, but then seeing that the other novices had downed their doses I decided to throw caution to the wind and follow their lead. It tasted quite sweet and appeared to be of a fairly thick consistency, a little reminiscent of molasses. The shaman and the other two hardened Yagé drinkers were going to take their dose later so that they could look after us during the first stage prior to us hopefully entering into a trance (the mental purging) once the physical purging had taken its course.
We all stood near the raging log fire that would be burning all night, near to the trees and fence that formed one of the boundaries of the garden, (which seemed to be the best place to throw-up) and near to the toilets that were not far from either at one end of the garden, toilet roll at the ready. It didn't take long before I started to feel something happening, we had been told to try and hold down the Yagé as long as possible to allow it to enter the blood stream which would in turn facilitate entry into the trance stage, however, after twenty minutes this advice was impossible to follow and I was the first to rush to the nearby fence to start the physical cleansing process. Everyone else followed me very soon after. The diarrhoea was not far behind and what became a routine of throwing-up over the fence was only interrupted by mad dashes to the nearby toilets.
This lasted for what seemed like an eternity, and I would assume that it was probably in the region of four hours, during which time the evening turned stranger and stranger. Not long after the first spate of throwing up I started to see beautiful coloured lights swirling around my head. They were beautiful pastel colours of red, blue, yellow and white and they accompanied me for the rest of the night and into the early hours of the morning, eventually making their departure at around seven or eight a.m.
Next I felt more and more as if I had drunk the entire contents of a litre bottle of whisky, neat and in less than one hour. I was staggering from the fence to the toilets and back to the fence, and after what turned out to me my final visit to the toilets I had to call my friend and her boyfriend to support me from either side and help me to the tent so that I could finally lie down and try to slowly enter the more pleasant trance stage of the evening. As I lurched toward the tent with my two companions I thought to myself that this must be what my mother, who suffered a stroke a few years ago and could no longer walk, must feel like. It was such-a strange and real feeling, and though I had very little control over my legs, my mind was extremely lucid and at no stage during the long night that lay ahead did I lose this incredible lucidity. Throughout the whole evening I always knew who I was, where I was and why I felt the way I did. Physically I felt absolutely terrible and I remember my friend asking me what I wanted to do, in reply to her question I said that I just wanted to feel better.
They lay me down on my mattress and took my shoes off for me, as I was incapable of performing such a difficult task. They proceeded to lay my blanket over me and I tried to settle down which at first was not at all easy as I still felt like throwing-up even though there was nothing left in my stomach, and also because my arms were shaking uncontrollably. I remember the shaman was playing some musical instrument and chanting what seemed to be strange Indian words, it was driving me mad and stopping me from concentrating on entering the trance stage and so I asked him to stop, he immediately moved away from me and gradually the shaking passed and I drifted into a strange and definitely more pleasant world than the one I had been in before, though still quite frightening, in which I felt directly connected to the whole universe. I have never felt my mind so alert and though some of the things I saw, such as the coloured lights, were hallucinations with no real meaning I had the strange and very real feeling that some of the other things that I felt and saw were messages from the consciousness of the universe that I had to listen to and take note of as a way of improving my life.
Other hallucinations that I experienced that had no obvious message were the faces of the other members of the group in the nearby trees and my friend's boyfriend floating horizontally two metres above the ground. I thought to myself, what is he doing that for, but when I looked back he was lying on the ground again, near to the fire. The lights continued to appear from time to time and any question that I subconsciously thought of was met with an answer within less than a second, it was very strange, and at the same time wonderful, it was as if I was in contact with some strange power that was there for my benefit.
A few times during the night, the control over my legs having improved, I got up and walked a little bit, either to stretch my legs or to stand by the fire for a while to soak up the heat. On one of these forays away from the tent I saw a huge gyroscope floating in the air above my head, it was spinning very fast and it started to talk to me. I didn't feel afraid or surprised and I listened intently as the gyroscope told me that he, she or it represented life and that as I could see life kept moving very fast. The gyroscope then told me it was time to start concentrating on action rather than thought, and that I should start working towards achieving the goals that I had been thinking about, because if not it would be too late as time was not going to stop and wait for me. The gyroscope then disappeared and I went and sat down on a tree trunk by the fire.
My friend was lying there already in her trance, she didn't sense my presence and in the light of the fire I could see that whatever she was visualising in her mind was troubling her, as her face looked stressed and worried. I sat there for a while watching the flames of the fire, and paying attention to the messages I kept receiving, all of which were relevant and pertinent to my life. Once I felt nice and warm again I went back to my mattress and lay there until it got light, any idea I had in my mind would be met with various answers and options almost immediately.
Somewhere between six and six-thirty a.m. I got up and walked over to the fire which was still blazing, the shaman and his son had been feeding it with wood throughout the night whenever necessary. I still felt strange, but now I had complete control of my legs. The shaman said he would carry out a cleansing ceremony for me and he invited me to sit on a chair near the fire. He asked me to strip to the waist and as I sat on the chair feeling a little cold, he proceeded to take mouthfuls of water from a bottle, that had been steeped in a variety of herbs and then spit the water all over my body whilst chanting in an Indian language and shaking a small bunch of dried herbs around me.
The cleansing ceremony over, I went off for a walk around the grounds still feeling a little strange but nothing like I had during the night. Everyone gradually emerged from the tent with various stories of what they had seen and thought. Of the five novices that had tried Yagé for the first time, three of us decided that we probably wouldn't try it again and two probably would. I was one of those that probably wouldn't. Around mid-morning we were offered bowls of chicken stock, I didn't want to risk eating anything just in case I felt like throwing up again. I felt spaced out for the rest of the day but this was a very pleasant feeling compared to what I had been through.
We departed in the early afternoon as those who were driving wanted to wait a little longer before getting behind the wheel, especially as they had taken the Yagé at a much later hour than us novices. On the way back my friend asked me what I thought of the experience, I replied that it was like a nightmare with a happy ending. During the following week I told my friend that during the night I had seen her looking very stressed and she told me that she had a vision in which she was saying goodbye to her parents and she wasn't exactly sure what it meant and was a little worried. A few weeks later her parents that had been living with her for some time announced that they had decided to start looking for their own place to live.
So does Yagé really do what I was told it did, that is clean the body and soul? Well it is a hard question to answer, I would say that it definitely cleaned my body, though so would a weekly or monthly fast, and this option is definitely more pleasant. Does it clean one's soul, who knows, it definitely provided me with an insight into which direction I should go in my life.
The shaman told us that many of his clients are psychiatrists who occasionally bring their patients to him as they see it as a beneficial part of their treatment.
Would I recommend anyone to take Yagé? I don't think so; however it would depend on the mental state of the person and whether they really understood that they were probably going to suffer. I am glad that I tried it and maybe, just maybe, if I was in the right frame of mind, I might try it again.
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