A Weekend With Ayahuasca


I spent last weekend on the East coast of the UK working with Mother Ayahuasca. The retreat was my 5th weekend over the previous 5-6 years working with the medicine. Having started writing short-form blogs last March, this is the first time I’ve taken Aya, and I felt I’d put a few words together.

It isn’t my intention here to share what happens at the average Ayahuasca ceremony. Words do not do it justice anyway, so that would be a waste of time. I intend to help me clarify the experience in my mind, which may assist others in their own (perceived) development.


“From experience, I came to learn that ayahuasca bestows upon the user knowledge about a variety of topics, not only consciousness and perception, but also leads one to realise that what we perceive is an illusion.” – Pablo Amaringo


The Ayahuasca ‘Scene’

I’m wary that Ayahuasca has become ‘cool’ recently, and ‘the movement’ could be seen as a bit of a fad that has crept its way over to the west. Those ideas will be from people who have not participated in the sacred ceremony. If Ayahuasca has called, there is nothing ‘cool’ or a ‘fad’ at all.

However, I am aware of this modern stigma, particularly in the US, with Ayahuasca becoming popular in places like Silicon Valley. Young techie entrepreneurs flocking to the Amazon because micro-dosing and psychedelics are the hot new topic. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing per se, but like anything that a crowd jumps on, it’s important and respectful to recognise the sacredness of its heritage.

If someone takes Ayahuasca for recreational purposes, they’ll be in for a rude awakening. She deserves the utmost respect.




The individuals running the Ayahuasca ceremony I attended are very experienced. The ‘leader’ of the retreat has been guided by the Huni Kuin (Brazilian tribe) for many years. He’s been working with the medicine for over a decade.

This retreat was for two nights from Friday evening and leaving Sunday midday. The retreat ‘staff’ ran it impeccably from the minute we got there.

We drank the medicine as the night drew in, which was about 9 pm. Within half an hour of drinking, you begin noticing some of the effects of Ayahuasca. The ego construct begins to lose control which is unsettling, particularly to people who haven’t experienced it before.

Many people begin purging (being sick or needing the toilet) quite early on, but it affects people differently.

After 45 minutes to an hour, the effects of the medicine are usually getting pretty intense. The sense of control that you have within the mind/body is unshackled. The more you try and control the experience, the more intense it becomes.

Paradoxically it’s surrender – giving oneself over to the spirit of Ayahuasca (regardless of the experience), that gives the most valuable experience.



Rapè is shamanic snuff. I work with Rapè (pronounced hapè) regularly in everyday life, but this was the first time I’d took Rapè while doing Ayahuasca.

You blow tobacco, amongst the ashes of other Amazonian plants, up each nostril. It gives a very grounding sensation and helps to focus and sharpen the mind. I also use it as a healing tool if I feel a little under the weather or energetically drained.

At this retreat, after about 1 hour 30 mins, Rapè is offered to the participants. The retreat leader explained that if you feel ‘stuck’, then Rapè is the tool to overcome the hurdle. I can speak from experience here that this is true. Within 5 minutes of taking it, I began ‘purging’.

If you’d be interested in working with Rapè, take a look at this site which I can highly recommend.




The Music

“Ayahuasca is driven by sound, by song, by whistling. And its ability to transform sound, including vocal sound, into the visual spectrum indicates that some kind of information processing membrane or boundary is being overcome by the pharmacology of this stuff. And things normally experienced as acoustically experienced becomes visibly beheld, and it’s quite spectacular.” – Terence Mckenna

Icaros are shamanic songs that are considered to be from ‘the spiritual realms’. The power that they have is unquestionable.

At the retreat, the leader had trained with the Huni Kuin tribe in Brazil for several years, so I presume the Icaros were from that lineage. The work and dedication he has seemingly put into his craft are honourable.

I’ve been to a couple of retreats with electronic music in the past, but live music is something else. There is no comparison between the energy of purposeful live music and electronic ‘psychedelic’ music.

Having come back into ‘the real world’, I have managed to find a couple of songs online sung by the team at the retreat. You can find them here. 



Sananga is a powerful eye medicine. This retreat was the first time I’d used it.

It’s very intense but only lasts 10-15 minutes. At this retreat, Sanaga was used at the end of each night and was very grounding. It brings you back into the room and the body, livening the senses again after having an energetic purge over the last 4-5 hours.

Sananga is very painful. There is only a single drop go into the corner of each eye. You then blink a couple of times, and the medicine kicks in. The eyes feel like they’re full of grit, and it’s a struggle to keep them open.

Once again, surrendering to the medicine, remaining calm and breathing into the experience makes Sananga more manageable.

Thankfully, the experience doesn’t take long, and you feel alive and grounded when the pain subsides.




A Teacher Of The Highest Order

There are millions of so-called coaches, therapists and ‘healers’ from all over the world. Yet, we have never had so many ‘mental health’ issues. Something isn’t working.

Nature has the answers and cures to every problem. The imbalance from living in disharmony with the laws of nature causes the initial problems.

Ayahuasca ‘feels’ like mother Earth. It’s not something that can be expressed, but if you’ve experienced the medicine, you’ll understand what I’m saying.

What if Ayahuasca is a mechanism for nature to work its way through sections of humanity to realign itself back to natural law? This isn’t therapy in its known sense. It is natures way of realigning (healing) people with their soul.


Back To Reality

It’s nearly impossible to live ‘in that space’ when you return to everyday living. Accessing other layers of consciousness opens up the psyche to different realities, so trying to live as you did before immediately after the ceremony is difficult. Many people have difficulty adjusting back.

I’ve been made aware of numerous people who have quit their jobs, left their families to seek pastures new, or have just completely changed their lifestyles. I understand it. One sitting with Ayahuasca recontextualises life and brings forth a sense of authenticity.

It often teaches where you’re out of alignment. Of course, that is up to the individual to take action on these realisations. This seems radical to many.

When I got back from the weekend retreat, I immediately cancelled two property deals I was doing with a new business partner because I didn’t want to enter another business relationship. It was nothing personal, just something that I don’t need according to my highest ideals. This can be a painful process when integrating back into everyday reality.


Would I Suggest Ayahuasca?

Not at all. There is no need for anybody else’s suggestion. People are naturally moved when called.

Avoid falling into the trap of buying into the hype. You’ll know if you’re ready to go or not.


“Ayahuasca is a symbiotic ally of the human species.” – Dennis McKenna





  1. User Avatar
    A J
    July 26, 2021 / 9:24 pm

    Alex, you continue to inspire me on my journey of looking deeper and deeper into me, thank you.

    • User Avatar
      Alex Hickman
      July 27, 2021 / 5:16 am

      Thank you Angella. ‘We’re just walking each other home’.

  2. Anjo
    July 26, 2021 / 9:28 pm

    Ayahuasca keeps popping up in my life. No experience, interested but a bit afraid and with one big question: I have type 1 diabetes. I can’t smoke cannabis because it makes my blood sugar go down to dangerously low levels. Would that be the same with ayahuasca? No idea. But I’m going to find it out because ayahuasca really intrigues me….

    • User Avatar
      Alex Hickman
      July 27, 2021 / 5:37 am

      Hi Anjo. I’ve got no idea regarding type 1 diabetes so best to do a lot of research into it. I’ve never heard of any issues though.

      • Rob Shaw
        December 17, 2021 / 6:24 pm

        This is a really outside chance, but I suffer from debilitating anxiety and depression I’m also an active alcoholic, my wife is also suffering with secondary bone cancer.
        I really feel I am at my lowest eb and anything that will get me to a level where I can look after and provide for my wife and children will make me the person I want to be.
        Please please please please if there is any treatment or information available I would be eternally grateful
        Many thanks Rob

  3. Aaron
    July 28, 2021 / 1:03 pm

    Hi Alex
    Thanks for the Alex thanks for the reports you have a lovely approach to the awakening subject.
    Can you let me know which retreat you used.
    You can email me if you don’t want to put the answer on your page.
    Many thanks Aaron.

    • User Avatar
      Alex Hickman
      August 4, 2021 / 9:57 am

      Hi Aaron

      Send me a direct email and I’ll sort it out.