At Ancient Awakening, we really are all about busting myths and misconceptions around sacred entheogenic plant medicines. We’ve been using them for a long time in our retreats now and we have seen some truly incredible examples of deep-psyche healing and transformation! Take Peter, for example. We’ll let him do the talking; read below about the transformational experience he had after attending one of our retreats:
“In 2009, I was backpacking in South America and was kidnapped in Peru. When I arrived home months later, I was a very different person. What followed was almost 8 years of self-medication with alcohol and various drugs against the effects of PTSD. I saw several counsellors and psychiatrists but I had become very dependent on alcohol. My marriage failed, my performance at work was suffering and I had almost become a hermit.
In early 2018 I found an ad for the Ancient Awakening retreats and I applied. Soon after, I had an interview with Kate and learned more about the plant medicines. I had heard of Ayahuasca while travelling in South America and it gave me some hope that it may help with my addiction problems. What happened at the retreat is not really something that words could ever do justice.
I sat with Ayahuasca on the first night of the retreat and the experience changed me as a human being. Not only did it completely dissolve my addiction to alcohol, it healed me on the deepest levels of my being. I have had plenty of “drug” experiences in my life. Ayahuasca is as far from a drug as the earth is from the sun. I experienced wisdom, love and healing on an indescribable scale. We also sat with Huachuma (San Pedro) and psilocybin mushrooms on that retreat, both of which were special days that brought their own healing. But for me, Ayahuasca was deeply transformative.
Coming out of the retreat, I stopped drinking habitually. Much to my surprise, a few months later I realised that I could actually have alcohol socially without drinking excessively or waking up the next day and wanting to continue drinking again. I only drink in social situations now and there are often months between drinks. I healed my relationship with my brother with whom I hadn’t spoken to for 10 years. Whilst we did not get back together, my wife is still my closest friend and we are both in a great place. My performance at work improved exponentially, but I have now decided to quit the position I held for 28 years to pursue things that make me truly happy inside. I have not suffered a single day of depression since the Ancient Awakening retreat. The world didn’t change, but I did, and for that I will be forever grateful”.
As Peter said, ‘Ayahuasca is as far from a drug as the Earth is from the Sun’. And this is exactly the understanding for which we seek to advocate. Many of these plants have a very long and extensive history of cultural use and healing applications throughout the Earth’s original populations. Every entheogenic plant medicine is exactly that – MEDICINE!
Recent studies carried out by the Beckley/Sant Pau Research Programme revealed that Ayahuasca use leads to an increase in several key neurological traits associated with mindfulness, such as ‘decentering’. What this means is the ability to observe one’s thoughts and feelings in an objective, non-judgmental way. This, in turn, has been shown to help sufferers of depression, anxiety, grief and PTSD to overcome their conditions.
This same research programme also discovered something extremely powerful. In its search for answers to ayahuasca’s potent therapeutic power, its studies revealed that certain compounds in the brew stimulate the birth of new neurons from stem cells in a petri dish. This opens the door to the possibility of using ayahuasca to regenerate damaged brain cells, potentially paving the way to groundbreaking new treatments for Alzheimer’s and dementia!
Despite the glaring evidence provided to the world by way of research programmes such as the above-mentioned, ayahuasca and other entheogens remain, for the most part, illegal all over the world. This is mainly due to the fact that they contain Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). But extensive studies on ayahuasca have been carried out by multidisciplinary groups in several countries and it has been shown that in reasonable doses in a careful context, it presents no negative cognitive, psychiatric or physical consequences (Callaway, 1994. Callaway et al, 1996. Callaway et al, 1998. Grob et al, 1996.). There has been minimal research into vaporized DMT, but there seems to be no sign that it is more physically dangerous than other methods of administration. There are no reported deaths from vaporizing DMT.
When we take into consideration the modern world of marketing and advertising, and the substances that are constantly marketed to us – painted in a fashionable and ‘desirable’ light – something begins to feel ‘not quite right’ to us. Why is it that substances that are proven to do way more harm to our human bodies than entheogenic plant medicines, such as commercial tobacco and alcohol, are sold to us in a way that makes them acceptable and, moreover, desirable?
LD50’s: what they tell us about legal drugs vs entheogens
One of the types of study that were developed to measure the overall toxicity of substances is the LD50, or ‘Lethal Dose, 50%’. This test was developed by British pharmacologist, J W Trevan, in 1927. What the test shows is dose of any substance tested required to kill half the number (50%) of test animals. Essentially, the test shows how much of a substance must be taken before it becomes deadly. It is measured by the unit quantity of the researched substance in comparison to the unit quantity of bodyweight of the animal (or human) being tested on. For example, a rat must be fed 50mg of nicotine per kilogram of bodyweight before it dies.
Every substance on Earth – water included – can be toxic, depending on how much we ingest. For this reason, it becomes even more relevant to compare the toxicity levels of legal drugs, such as commercial alcohol and tobacco, with the predominantly illegal entheogens of our world. It is widely demonstrated by LD50’s, and other types of toxicity test, that every single plant medicine we use at Ancient Awakening Retreats is significantly less toxic than both alcohol and the commercial tobacco that we may find in high street shops. And what’s more, the positive health and medicinal benefits of the plant medicines on the human body and psyche are MUCH higher than those of alcohol or processed tobacco. What’s quite shocking to consider here is that commercialised tobacco and alcohol are only TWO of a whole myriad of substances that are actively marketed and sold to us nowadays for regular consumption. There are MANY more toxic substances out there that people are buying on the daily without questioning just how harmful their consumption may be for our health.
This is one of the main reasons Kate created Ancient Awakening in the first place. To create a sacred, clean, healthy, invigorating and EMPOWERING SANCTUARY in which people can escape from the noisy toxicity of the modern world to reconnect to their deepest, most authentic selves. When we reconnect with our deepest, most authentic selves, we may live free from suffering. This truly can be your reality too.