Love. Unconditional, unadulterated, uninhibited love. The air was so thick with the stuff, between it and the smoke I could hardly breathe. My head was spinning, the colours around me were dancing and this beautiful feeling swelling deep inside my heart was counteracting the intense nausea. I’d broken through the pain with a deep, connected and pure love for the strangers, especially the women around me.
My experience with Yopo was nothing like what I expected it to be. What I expected was a wild out of body experience, but to be honest I was not expecting anything profound or perspective shaking.
What I got was an intense feeling of love for this planet and its inhabitants, but most surprisingly a deep appreciation and admiration of women and the female spirit.
I was invited to join a Yopo ritual days earlier at a peyote ceremony I attended. Yopo is the ground up powder of a seed from the Anadenanthera tree, native to Venezuela. The seed contains both 5-MeO-DMT and DMT, both powerful psychedelics. The latter is a common hormone found in the brain and believed to be involved with dreaming and near death experiences; it is also the active ingredient in Ayahuasca.
Unlike Ayahuasca, Yopo is snorted rather than ingested and the effects are quicker to come on but similarly quicker to fade away. The experience is quick, intense and physically demanding, almost everyone in the ceremony I attended vomited.
The ceremony started much like the peyote ceremony. There were prayers and lots of tobacco. A pipe was passed around the circle along with a tea, we breathed in the tobacco and drank deeply from the cup as the warm water soothed our empty stomachs (We had been fasting since the night before).
Afterwards, the shaman’s wife came around with a powdered tobacco which she blew up each nostril, immediately I was shot into alertness; my nostrils burning, my eyes weeping. Then came the raw tobacco. I could barely stomach it, the tea and the assault on my body from the nicotine was making my head go in circles and my empty stomach uneasy, though I had to keep going.
Finally it was time to take the Yopo. I stared into the bowl at the brown powder, breathed in deeply and snorted a large pile of the powder. I fell back, my nostrils on fire, immediately I started to see different coloured stars all around me. I closed my eyes but the stars were still there.
I waited in the darkness with stars in front of me swirling, as I opened my eyes the ground had a new texture, glowing hexagons tessellated around me and the others. My eyes settled on the fire. I watched it pulse and explode as it desperately clawed at the dwindling wood with a lust for life.
Next the nausea came on, I fought to keep what little remained in my stomach down, until the bowl came around for a second time, once again I inhaled another pile of powder. This shot me straight back into the stars, I could see them begin to form and morph into the face of some being but it was faint and fleeting.
I laid down, curled in a ball shivering and nauseous. I laid there for what seemed like forever until I felt a warmth come over my body. I recognised the texture of a blanket, then a hand touched my feet and tucked me in fully, a smile came across my face and tears began to slowly stream from my eyes.
The hand then began to stroke my back warming me and giving me strength. All of a sudden I was flung forward with an intense urge to vomit. It was excruciating. I had almost nothing to offer but my stomach lining, the gentle hand continued to soothe me resting protectively on my back.
After I was done I rose back to a sitting position, I could see my saviour, a beautiful Mexican women beaming at me with the prettiest most genuine smile I had ever seen, her hand still on my shoulder. She wiped my nose with the gentleness of a mother to her child and whispered “estas bien ahora” (you are all right now).
I put my arms around her, hugged her and thanked her; she kissed my neck and then my forehead and smiled at me as I smiled back. I was completely in love with her, not in a sexually desirous way, but a pure genuine love, a deep family love. It felt as if I would die for her and she for me and that all either of us wanted for each other was love and happiness, the connection was incredible.
I sat back with a new energy it felt as if this love alone was giving me strength to stand up; I looked around at all the women, watching the way they moved with gentleness and care. Then a lady began to sing and I fell into a trance, captivated by the beauty on the verge of tears.
I thought about all the women in my life, those I had loved, those I had hurt and those that meant the world to me. I was overcome with an appreciation for what these women had given me. For them just to have existed was enough to satisfy my souls yearning for beauty, I felt the female spirit crawl inside of me and warm me from the inside.
We all individually gave thanks to the medicine and each other as the ceremony came to a close. A comb was passed around the circle… indigenous cultures believe that Yopo rips your soul from your body and shoots it into the stars, when you come back down to earth, the comb is there to wipe the star dust from your hair.
In my confused state I had no idea what was going on so the woman beside me brushed my hair, it actually really felt as if dust was being flung from my scalp. She smiled at me once more and kissed me on the forehead the love again began to swell inside of me.
We made our way out of the tipi at dawn, the visions and the nausea was gone but the feeling of love especially towards women was still very much present.
Even now as I type this, days after, I am still full of the love and appreciation I felt. Yopo was an unexpectedly incredible and profound experience, it gave me a new respect and love for women in general and I am beyond thankful for that.
I would like to say that though I believe in the emotional, spiritual and physical benefits of these medicines, it is important to do your research and find someone who you trust. At the end of the day, though people talk of spirits and healing you are altering your consciousness and you are putting foreign substances into your body. Inexperienced people can take advantage of your naivety for financial gain. Problems happen when people mix substances, take way to much or take them in the wrong settings, this can be dangerous both mentally and physically so please do your research.
If you have any questions I am more than willing to answer as best I can in the comments below, or alternatively send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.” – Timothy Leary
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