How I Became My Own Shaman: A Journey Into Ayahuasca


As I fumble for my plastic bucket in the deep dark night of the Peruvian jungle, it feels as if something else has taken control over my clumsy limbs. It’s my second ceremony with the ancient Amazonian sacred visionary plant medicine, ayahuasca, and things are starting to get interesting.

I knew the medicine was kicking in as I felt a small army of energetic spiders scattering throughout my being, searching for any pockets of negative energy I’d tucked away into my subconscious and cellular memory. But now it feels as if my insides are being stretched out in all directions by what I can only describe as an energetic serpent of cosmic proportions. The sensation is strange, yet it doesn’t hurt. I can feel the serpent gathering all my negative energy and bringing it up to surface.

A rising tide of nausea swells throughout my expanded body until she finally guides this gushing torrent of stagnant energy out through my mouth, which now feels as large as a galaxy. Our group has been fasting since lunch, yet I continue to purge, heaving out vomit and uncontrollable noises until the bucket is full. A facilitator comes to my aid whispering “Great job!” as she hands me a clean bucket.


Afterwards, I step out of the ceremonial hut to bask in the cool embrace of the jungle evening. I’m filled with exhilarating lightness and an abundance of rich, pure and vital energy, and realize that this is how “normal” is meant to feel.

My decision to visit the Nimea Kaya Healing Center in Peru was spontaneous, inspired by catching up with a friend who’d recently returned from a retreat. She’d changed somehow, now radiating an intangible glow and bringing amazing positive changes into her life. It became clear to me that my years of simply reading about Shamanism and entheogens wasn’t getting me very far, and that it was time to take a journey from my head to my heart. I heard the call, and booked my trip.

The Nimea Kaya Center offers ayahuasca ceremonies guided by shamans from neighboring Shipibo communities. The Shipibo culture believes that the ayahuasca medicine (an ingenious combination of two complementary plants) was taught to shamans directly by spirit as a gift for all humanity. During ritual ceremonies, shamans sings various icaros (sacred songs gifted from the spirit world) to hold a protected space and help participants navigate safely through their inner journeys.

It’s the third ceremony that changes my life forever. Tonight we have a very powerful shaman, and I ask him “telepathically” to investigate an energy block I’ve felt in my throat for years. After drinking the medicine I feel a concentration of energy in my heart and receive two teachings; “love is an anchor” and “vision comes through feeling.” As I feel the unconditional love intensifying in my heart, I suddenly experience an explosion of violet energy from my crown.

“Welcome to the visionary realm.”

Ayahuasca welcomes me as I also become aware of the shaman now sitting in front of me. As he sings an icaro into my throat I feel something being torn out and become instantly engulfed by intense, rainbow-electric currents of spiritual light. Concepts like kundalini, samadhi and initiation flash across my conscious mind as my body convulses in an ecstatic bliss, each cell permeated by this energetic lightning.

The visions that follow are overwhelming. I visit the shamanic realm and Akashic records, connect with Christ Consciousness, merge with the Shaman, see the icaros come to life, meet the spirit of the jungle and much, much more. These experiences shatter the parameters of my mind and spiral me into a dissolution of “self” as I feel my sanity sifting through my fingers like fine sand. I’m drenched in cold sweat as I encounter my deepest fear; losing control of my mind, identity and ego. After the ceremony ends and the shaman leaves (along with his icaros), my visions continue.

As others sleep beside me I descend into a dark night of the soul, feeling abandoned, terrified and lost in an endless limbo abyss, and as I approach the borders of annihilation, I remember four precious, life-saving words: “love is an anchor.” Focusing everything I have on unconditional love, I realize that now I have to become my own shaman. I suddenly understand that I already hold all the light, knowledge and wisdom I’ll ever need, and as I anchor myself in my heart, I sense my scattered pieces gradually returning. As the dawn finally breaks, I allow the morning birds sing me back together.

I am born again, transformed.

It’s only after I return home that I realize the work has only just begun. I’m disappointed to find all my everyday problems exactly where I left them, and humbly realize that drinking ayahuasca is just like going to school. I may possess new understanding and insights, but now it’s up to me to deal with my issues and consciously bring any positive changes I want into my life, and the world around me.

So, now you may be asking, “Is ayahuasca the right path for me?”

Maybe it’s enough for you to simply read this story and remember that you, too, already contain all the love, light and answers you’ll ever need.

Or, perhaps Mother Ayahuasca is already calling out to you.

Only you will know, as long as you’re willing to listen and trust.



Peter Uhlenbruch

Peter Uhlenbruch is a cultural entrepreneur who is passionate about spirituality, music and sustainability. He is founder of the Melodica Festival (a global network of artist-run festivals that build community through music), writes introspective indie-folk music under the banner Owls of the Swamp and works as a business analyst. You can read more about Pete’s journey with Ayahuasca on his personal blog.

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