The Myth of the Goddess Ayahuasca

There was once a village, deep within the lush jungle, where people struggled to survive, cultivating the earth during the dry season, fishing when the waters rose and scavenging the tropical forest. In the middle of the village there was a huge and ancient tree, and since times immemorial there was a taboo attached to this old grandfather tree, and no one was allowed neither to touch it and climb its majestic branches nor to eat its mysterious fruits.

There was an inquisitive rebellious and restless boy, however, who kept asking everybody why the prohibition existed but never got any answer other than admonitions to cease asking such preposterous questions since the taboo was so old that nobody remembered its origin.

Tree with forbidden fruit

The boy could not accept this mystery and one day, when nobody was watching, climbed to the top of the enormous tree and sampled its soft brown fruit. Immediately his heart opened wide, he felt a flow of pure love for the tree, the jungle with all the creatures in it and his fellow villagers. He looked down and saw everybody with a new eye, seeing for the first time their fears and anxieties as if they were his own and saw them as himself, understood their behavior and a spontaneous laughter burbled up his spine filling him with joy. He started singing and shouting, inviting everybody to climb the tree, assuring them there was no danger, wanting all his new loved ones to experience his ecstasy.

The villagers were reluctant at first, but soon enough the children, being less inhibited, started to climb and eat the fruit finding themselves immediately in a feeling of brotherhood and love, experiencing the exquisite sensation of love, happiness and oneness. The adults, seeing the elation in the faces above and hearing the playful songs of the children, overcame their reluctance and climbed up as well, joining the hugging, singing and the celebrations for the discovery of this amazing state of ecstatic adoration for all; they became children, pure and free to express their essence finding love and openness in every face.

Little time was lost before the ancient tree was full of joyous people, when with creaking sounds the tree started rising to the heavens, its millennial withered roots unearthed and dangling shedding soil and dust. A brilliant warm light encompassed its foliage drawing it to the sky as the last roots wriggled out of the earth, slowly liberating it from its bonds, allowing it to soar, when a heart breaking mother’s scream shattered the moment; a little boy had been forgotten behind and was now crying, looking at his mother and everybody else leaving him behind, jumping in vain trying to reach the roots that were already a few meters over the ground, gaining speed..

The desperate scream of the mother seeing her toddler’s pained and frightened eyes pierced the heart of the Goddess Ayahuasca and awoke her from her serenity; looking down from the heavens where she dwelt her grandmother soul took in the scene of the drama below, and, without hesitation, transformed into a thick rope like braided vine letting herself fall to the earth, one end grabbing a branch wrapped around it like a monkey’s tail, the other coiled in front of the desolate child. The child reached for the vine and was taken aloft as the living spaceship accelerated to the skies where beings of love and light reside when their souls mature, and was soon lifted by the villagers and taken to his mother’s arms, the magical fruit bringing the laughter to his face. The Goddess Ayahuasca, her purpose fulfilled, remained on earth as a sacred vine, to serve as ladder and pathway to the heavens for all laggardly beings left behind, making it her role to sacrifice her celestial position for the good of every child’s soul needing a helping hand to fly beyond its tethers and join the brilliant beings of love in the kingdom of light.

Ayahuasca, the vine of the dead or vine of souls

Ayahuasca, scientifically known as the Banisteriopsis spp. vine has been used in conjunction with other plants (usually containing DMT) such as the leaves of the chukruna or Psychotria viridis (the correct and traditional second ingredient) for thousands of years (at least since 2000 BC) by indigenous people of broader Amazonia to produce a brew for medicinal, healing and spiritual purposes. It was academically “discovered” by western science in the 1950’s by Harvard ethno botanist Richard Evans Schultes who found it employed for divinatory and healing purposes in Colombia, and was later found to be used throughout Amazonia.

It has and is being studied extensively for its extraordinary psychotherapeutic and spiritual qualities by many scientists, psychologists, medical psychiatrists, doctors, ethnologists and spiritual seekers and irrefutable evidence shows amazing results in curing drug, alcohol and other addictions, depression, obsessive behavior and other psychological or psychiatric problems but most importantly it is a catalyst for significant spiritual and emotional openings as well as an expansion of consciousness, compassion and love. It is consumed in a ceremonial manner, with a shaman or ayahuasquero assisting and guiding the ceremony while singing the Icaros, sacred ceremonial songs and invocations.

Preparation and effects

The Ayahuasca vine is crushed and macerated and then boiled for hours ceremoniously together with, usually the chukruna (other psychotropic plants are used as well or alternatively according to the region, culture and tradition) until it is reduced to a thick liquid the color of coca cola (and a horrible, vile taste!).

The vine is not by itself hallucinogenic or psychedelic, it is a powerful purgative that causes vomiting and/or diarrhea, performing a physical and mental cleansing and purification (in some cultures it is called La Purga or La Cura).

What follows is the interesting part… Ayahuasca has the amazing quality to give access to our hard drive – to all memories filed away throughout our lives that we are not conscious of and have no easy access, whether through the brain’s automatic function of keeping on top the memories that serve us so that we can search quickly and perform more efficiently (like Ram memory in a computer) or, more importantly, memories that have caused traumas and have been buried deep in order to protect us from fear and emotional pain.

This quality combined with the mind liberation from our everyday programming achieved with the hallucinogenic effects of the chukruna can offer what has been called “ten years of psychotherapy in one night”, giving the possibility of a direct communication and conversation with our subconscious, with total and unrestricted access to all our memories and events of our lives as well as our cellular memories, a totally clear and lucid mind and a spectacular visual journey that can heal deep wounds, liberate from addictions, give clarity and purpose and expand our consciousness.

One of the precious gifts that may be experienced is our death (which is the reason it is called the vine of the dead) and the understanding- the certainty- that there is a part of us that always was and always will be, a pure consciousness that cannot die, thus freeing us from the biggest fear of all, the fear of our own death. Other gifts may be the union with all creation, the Jesus or Buddha energy, unlimited love, being part of everything and everything…each experience is different, highly personal, unique and indescribable (you can see Alex Grey describing his at Youtube).

Even more importantly, combined with a firm and focused intention it can provide a bridge and direct access to our subconscious, allowing us to have direct discussions with parts of our own being that are normally not accessible. The Mythic Voyage has developed techniques to assist focus and intention and to aid this communication, helping to translate traditional practices for the contemporary mind.

Read more about intention & how Ayahuasca allows you to access memory banks here.

Dangers and precautions

There have been a number of reported incidents in the media about people dying from taking Ayahuasca. Pure Ayahuasca made correctly has no recorded dangers & natives have been drinking it for centuries without incident. Many factors will contribute to things going wrong as we believe is the case in the recent reporting. It is a danger for people to be given Ayahuasca & left alone, not knowing where the medicine has come from or what has been put in it & also previous medical conditions & medications mixed with Ayahuasca can cause serious problems. It is important to have all the information & be in a trusted safe environment. Our medicine is made only with the Chakruna vine & Ayahuasca & with many years of experience in ceremony we create a safe & secure environment for first timers & everyone who comes to TierraMitica.

Ayahuasca has been reported however to interact on some occasions with foods containing tyramine which is found mainly in aged cheeses, soy sauce, peanut butter and other fermented, aged, cured or pickled foods causing hypertension. Ayahuasca should be preceded (at least a couple of days before but the longer the better) by a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables or fasting to avoid any ill effects and to limit the discomfort of vomiting as well as no food except a light breakfast on the days of ceremony.

It should also not be consumed under any circumstances by anybody taking antidepressants, amphetamines, cough medicine, antihistamines or decongestants and any other drug use as well as by people with chronic hypertension, serious heart problems etc. More info can be found at Ayahuasca.com, Ayahuasca-info.com or many more sites on the subject. You can also google Terence McKenna, a well known researcher and advocate of the gifts and importance of the brew that has written a number of books on the subject.

The Shipibo and their Icaros

The Shipibo community consists of about 24,000 people living in over 110 village communities concentrated in the Pucallpa region and is situated to the north and south of the city of Pucallpa. Shipibo communities are mostly situated along the Río Ucayali and nearby oxbow lakes. The Río Ucayali connects with the Río Marañon to form the Río Amazonas (Amazon River), the longest and largest river in the world. The Shipibo people are primarily artisans, hunters, and fishermen and some practice slash-and-burn agriculture. Primary tools are machetes and spears.

Shipibo maestras

Shipibo at TierraMitica

Virtually none of the Shipibo villages have electricity. Contact with the contemporary world (including the government of Peru) – has been sporadic over the past three centuries and almost nonexistent before that. The Shipibo are noted for a rich and complex cosmology, which is tied directly to the art and artifacts they produce. They have been a constant target of Christian missionaries since initial contact in the late 17th Century.

Shipibo women make beadwork and textiles, but are probably best known for their pottery, decorated with maze-like red and black geometric patterns. Like all other indigenous populations in the Amazon basin, the Shipibo are threatened by severe pressure from outside influences such as oil speculation, logging, narcotics trafficking, urbanization and missionaries.

Despite over 300 years of contact with Europeans and Peruvians and the conversion of many Shipibo to Christianity by missionaries in the 1950’s and 60’s, the Shipibo tribe maintains a strong tribal identity retaining many of their prehistoric shamanic traditions and beliefs. Chief among their traditions is the Ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi) ceremony, arguably the most ancient, traditional and untainted by commercialization.

Shipibo cloths

Handmade Shipibo cloths

Ayahuasca is commonly depicted by Shipibo artisans, who are well-known for their intricate designs, on their pottery and colorful fabrics depicting their Ayahuasca-based cosmology. The geometric designs used by Shipibo artisans are quite unique. As might be expected, their pottery was initially very simple and used as containers to preserve food. With time, pottery and designs have become more and more complex. The sophisticated designs and geometric patterns of the ceramics are passed from one generation of artists to another. The pieces are extremely soft and light weight and their technique is all done manually without the use of pottery wheels. The art form of the Shipibo is little understood by the outside world. To the artists, it is not something that they are taught, rather they are inspired to create their distinctive patterns. The women, rather than the men in the village, are the artists. Commonly the women will work together to produce a single piece. Each of the women seems to be moved by the same artistic spirit and one woman can interrupt her work and then assign another woman in the village to complete a particular piece. When the artwork is finished, the resulting piece will look like it was made by a single artist. This really is communal art at its finest.

The Shipibo hold the Ayahuasca ceremony as art, so, although there are male Curanderos, it is the women that most often are chosen for the ancestral Icaros to be transmitted and they are the main performers at the ceremonies, transmitting through their magical ceremonial songs their nurturing feminine mother energy, their souls and hearts. There are many theories about the meaning of the unique intricate Shipibo geometric patterns. Some anthropologists consider it an ancient language form; others hypothesize that the patterns represent a mapping of the rivers of the Amazon. Some even believe the patterns represent the shapes of the Anaconda. While anthropologists may not be able to agree on the meaning, art lovers can appreciate the beautiful designs, the soft curves and the pristine yet original look. Part of their designs also comes from their mythology:
God created Bari, the Sun, and Use, the Moon, to always travel across the sky without ever meeting but Bari decided to speed up in order to kiss Use. From their passionate encounter the jungle dwellers were born when a flash of lightning split Use’s womb open and seven children descended to earth on a blazing staircase. These holy children discovered fire, invented arrows, taught men how to wisely use forest fruits and animals, and also how to make pottery. They spread throughout the rain forest and became the ancestors of all the existing Amazonian tribes. When their work was done they ascended to the skies and their father Bari, the Sun turned them into seven bright stars forming the constellation of “Huishmabu”.

This constellation and their mythology are also reproduced from ancestral memories in Shipibo pottery and lovely embroidered textiles. Their priorities are very different from ours. To them family and people come first, objects and products come next. Smiling in their huts, surrounded by their families, Shipibo women work very hard in the manufacturing of pottery and textiles, but they always find time to caress their children, to look after them, to gossip with other women and to laugh. Most of the Shipibo live South of Loreto and North of Madre de Dios, in the Ucayali region. They occupy 40% of the Lower Forest. In order to make rational use of the scarce arable lands, Shipibo do not dwell in huge settlements, but rather scatter themselves along river banks in groups of no more than 40 families. These groups keep in touch among themselves by travelling along the rivers and very few of them have access to the road. Each family group forms a native community, an organization which follows a co-operative trend. Shipibo democratically elect their traditional group heads as formal leaders. The various Shipibo communities relate among themselves on a horizontal basis and are extremely proud of their identity, showing always their support and solidarity to other Shipibo.

Ruben, Shipibo Maestro


TierraMitica is supported by the whole Shipibo healer community and our Maestras come from different communities deep in the jungle. Every few weeks, they return to their villages and families to take care of domestic affairs, renew themselves and rest. After every workshop or retreat they organise a small market, where they display and sell their handmade creations for those who want to take an original memento back home.
Our Shipibo Maestras are always accompanied by the amazing voice, energy and experience of Ruben, our master of ceremony, an incredible Curandero holding deep knowledge of the Plantas Maestras and the spirits of the forest.

Ayahuasca FAQs

More questions about Ayahuasca? Check out the Ayahuasca FAQ site, sponsored by TierraMitica, to find out the answers or to ask yours!