So You Want to Be An Ayahuasca Shaman?

Let me guess…You drank ayahuasca, had a life-changing experience, and now you want to be an ayahuasca shaman… so that you too can wake people up. You develop a plan to bring back medicine from the jungle and / or bring people down to Peru. You tell everyone you meet about your earth-shattering ayahuasca experience, and suggest that they try it too. Even though you have little to no traditional shamanic training, you tell yourself that you are being called by ayahuasca to take a more active role in awakening humanity. But maybe, that’s not the plant medicine speaking. Maybe, it’s just your ego.

A dozen years ago, when I first drank ayahuasca, there wasn’t a lot of awareness around work with sacred plant ceremonies. Celebrities like Sting and Tori Amos had mentioned the medicine here and there (check out Tori’s epic live version of Strong Black Vine), and writers like Carlos Castaneda had made their shamanic mark within the construct of popular culture. Yet everyone and their yoga teachers were not drinking Ayahuasca inside a New York City loft each weekend, so the idea of becoming a shaman to anyone outside of indigenous cultures was a pretty out-there mission.

That didn’t stop me from diving in.

MUST READ: The Uncensored Guide to Preparing for Ayahuasca Ceremony

In my very first ceremony, I remember watching my Peruvian maestro with so much reverence and respect. The songs he sang were magical. I could feel their power without knowing a thing about what each word meant. The entire ritualistic nature of the ceremony felt so sacred and amazing. And when he did the doctoring, I was mesmerized.

I didn’t know what the hell he was doing, but I knew I wanted to do it too.

My mind, of course, had a lot to say in return. It seems to me that everyone either has a depressive or a grandiose ego. It’s the same energy (a lack of self-worth), but it just expresses itself differently. Mine is decidedly depressive and self-deprecating. So she emphatically questioned why a white girl from Montana who once attempted suicide and was making a video game about sexual conquests thought she could heal the darkest parts of humanity.

The truth was, I knew nothing about the process. But I was willing to learn.

And most importantly, I legitimately felt a calling. I felt it to my core.

This process, he told me, will ask everything of me. I had to be willing to sacrifice every last attachment, and move through every conceivable fear. Ayahuasca had to be more important than my husband, my stepson – my life. Because if she wasn’t, it would show, and all those things would be taken anyway.

Becoming a Shaman is Not Up to Us, It’s Up to the Plants

So I spent the next decade doing everything in my power to make this vision a reality. I spent months in the jungle. I worked with one teacher for 2 years, and then let him go knowing that wasn’t the lineage I was supposed to learn. He had taught me HIS way, not Ayahuasca’s way, and I kept being refined in my vision of what a shaman was.


I sat with many other facilitators until I was connected to yet another healer. We had a phone conversation. I didn’t like him, but my friend had sat with him and insisted I give it a go. By now I organized a large US-based community, and I wanted them to have access to the medicine. So I agreed to do a cycle.

Within the first 30 seconds of our first ceremony, the moment I heard him sing, I knew this was my Teacher.

After the ceremony, I told him of my wishes to apprentice. I wanted to learn his lineage, which was grounded in the Shipibo and Quechua-Lamista traditions. He laughed and called me a bimbo; said I didn’t have what it takes.

I didn’t question my calling. It wasn’t the first time a man wrongly labeled me as an airhead. He’d come around. I stood my ground.

Six months later, he called me to chat. We had been working together as organizer and shaman for several rounds, so I thought nothing of the phone call. But then he asked the question: “Do you want to apprentice on this path?”

Apparently the medicine had been saying my name to him. This man had dozens if not hundreds of people by then who wanted to work with him. But he was asking if I would like to join a very small collection of apprentices because She insisted.

Make no mistake; it’s the plants that call us. If they don’t agree with our calling to lead ceremony, it’s not going to happen. This is their show. So to have her blessing literally meant everything.

It also scared the holy hell out of me. And rightfully so.

Becoming a Shaman is the Ultimate Path of Sacrifice

I agreed to take on the task. I studied with this amazing teacher for many years. But before we shook hands and agreed to the most intense and spiritually intimate partnership, he shared some sage advice:

This process, he told me, will ask everything of me. I had to be willing to sacrifice every last attachment, and move through every conceivable fear. Ayahuasca had to be more important than my husband, my stepson – my life. Because if she wasn’t, it would show, and all those things would be taken anyway.

Being a shaman is not a job, it’s one’s whole life.

I knew this was true, but I couldn’t really know know. None of us can.

And these days, so many people want to know.

Is It Ayahuasca Calling? Or Is It Your Ego?

Everywhere I look, more and more brave souls are stepping up to a calling or an ego-centric desire to be a shaman.

How does one know the difference? Ask the plants. If it’s meant to be, a teacher will appear. It’s that simple.

But here’s where things get dicey; remember that Ayahuasca (and all the sacred plants) are rooted in the Now, not a future vision we might have for ourselves. In all actuality, most people called to lead ceremonies will not actually make it. And those that do will likely not carry the power of a vessel worthy of the label “shaman.” Not because we’re all a bunch of yahoos, but because this path requires a level of dedication, discipline, and full on mental strength that most of us just haven’t evolved enough as a soul to anchor in.

Make no mistake; it’s the plants that call us. If they don’t agree with our calling to lead ceremony, it’s not going to happen. This is their show. So to have her blessing literally meant everything.

So the plants, they call a lot of us. Not because we’re all meant to be shamans, but because we’re meant to dive in and try; to let this process alchemically evolve us while we are in turn of service to the planet.

Lest we forget that our lives are about the journeys, never the destinations.

You want to know if someone who is studying the process is headed for a huge downfall? Watch for attachments and identification. Watch for an obsession with being an image, but an inability to do all the work. Watch for the inclination to take credit for the healings.

You see, the idea of being a shaman is oh-so romantic. I’ve been in ceremonies where people cured cancer and diabetes and PTSD, where others worked through an entire lineage of pain and drama and came out the other side glowing. Who wouldn’t want to be the one leading that journey through hell to heaven? It’s miraculous and glorious and amazing and everything I – and many others – want our lives to represent.

It’s a noble cause and I honor everyone who has ever heeded the calling. But I do want to keep it real. I do want to speak the things that no one ever voiced to me.

MUST READ: Can Ayahuasca Heal Depression?

Things to Consider Before Becoming an Ayahuasca Shaman

Becoming a shaman involves going into your darkness…And it’s never what you think.
Devoting yourself to this path will take everything you’ve ever learned about yourself and the world and turn it inside out. At times, this will be exhilarating. But no matter how strong and wise and grounded and happy you are, you will find the space deep inside that holds the container of doubt, terror, and resistance. Or rather, Ayahuasca will find it. That’s part of her commitment to you; this darkness has to be dealt with or you will be unknowingly passing it on to others.


It will come when you least expect it, this intense journey through darkness. And you will likely have to return many times before you feel a familiarity, a groundedness in those energies.

If you don’t, you will either be an ineffective facilitator, a delusional ego, or a mess of repressed emotions. Probably all of the above.

You cannot work with these energies and not have a home inside the darkness. If you can truly, truly befriend that space, and work with it, then anything is possible. This has to be a truth in every cell of your being, not just something you intellectually espouse. We can all give lip service to how beautiful the darkness is. But visit your legitimate version of hell and then tell me how awesome it was.

As much as we all say we can handle that, that we WANT to handle that, we can’t possibly know what we’re asking for until we’re there. It manifests differently for all of us; that’s part of the glorious mystery. And for most, it takes a long, long time to get there.

How to Become An Ayahuasca Healer

Put in the time before you call yourself an ayahuasca healer.

Traditionally, an apprenticeship to becoming an ayahuasca healer takes at least 8-12 years; much like the path to being a Western doctor.

To all these well-meaning souls who have worked with the medicine for a hundred ceremonies or so over the course of a few years, and have now declared you are leading ceremonies – you are not a shaman. You may be someone who loves the medicine, you may be full of wisdom and compassion, but you do not learn to be a vessel for the most powerful energies by declaring it so.

And you absolutely do not learn to do this work by teaching yourself. As tempting as that may be, I have yet to meet anyone with a clear enough relationship with their ego that they can go it alone into the great unknown and be grounded enough to guide others. I’m sure it’s possible in that anything is possible, but it’s so unbelievably rare my advice is – give up that fantasy. This is life or death here; if you’ve been working with this medicine, you know the power she has. You know that a righteous ego can lead people to a very destructive, traumatic, and potentially deadly place. Just ask James Arthur Ray.

If you don’t know that, you have no business pouring this medicine.

Let me be very clear: Good intentions don’t save us. Your pure and loving heart is a foundational must-have to be a powerful vessel, but it doesn’t take the place of actual in-the-field training. And it doesn’t take the place of watching and learning from a Maestro.

So if you have the calling, it’s imperative you find a teacher to guide you. That’s one of the best ways we receive validation from the plants that this is our authentic path. You know the expression: When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

So the plants, they call a lot of us. Not because we’re all meant to be shamans, but because we’re meant to dive in and try; to let this process alchemically evolve us while we are in turn of service to the planet.

The level of humility required to do this work is also something I could never describe. That’s another reason why it’s crucial to be humble enough to learn from someone else. This is an ancient lineage you are stepping into; please have the reverence to trust someone who has been there, and who feels called to show you the way.

If the teacher doesn’t appear, it’s just not your time. It’s nothing personal, and it certainly doesn’t mean you’re not capable. It just means it’s not yet for the highest good that you take this on. And if you do so anyway, I promise you there will be repercussions. This is not a place where your mind can force an agenda. Any attempt to do so will eventually end in some really heavy shit. So just keep sitting, keep doing your work, keep checking in on your calling, and trust that the process will take you to the highest good for all.

When you do find your teacher, it will be one of the most intimate and bonded relationships you will ever know, even if you barely speak to each other. A good teacher will never tell you how to do a thing in the circle; he or she will only let you first follow their lead, and later on, deepen your relationship with the medicine so you can discover your special gifts.

It starts as a mimicry so that you can get grounded in an energetic pathway, and eventually, you’ll get to find your own voice. But first, you must be ready to do the work. And yee gawds is there a LOT of work.

Endless ceremonies. All in Master Plant Dietas that will also test every bit of your physical, mental, and emotional strength. Repeated experiences to fall deeper into humility. And all that sacrifice I mentioned before.

And that’s just year one.

MUST READ: Should You Drink Ayahuasca Alone?

What It’s Like to Be A Shaman

I can’t tell you how this will manifest for you, because what we need to go through in our hero’s journey is always very personal. I can promise you that you must spend years dieting on other master plants to hone your connection to spirit. I can promise you that you will go through dark nights of the soul so deep, death will feel like a sweet-scented gift.


I can also promise that if you stay committed to truth and not your own agenda, and that you do the work with an open heart, the immaculate connection to the love of the universe is just as impossible to describe. With great sacrifice comes great reward. But make no mistake, you have no idea how much you’ll have to sacrifice. We all do in order to Get There.

Once you do spend the 12 or so years as an apprentice and you find out who you are as a shaman, then the real work begins. Then you have to grapple with the temptations of power and greed, with the pedestals people give you after they’ve been healed, and with the incredible pull to trust your mind and not the medicine.

This is why a true shaman is a reluctant one. It’s one of the hardest jobs in the world, because if you’re doing it with your whole-heart, you’re almost invisible. A shaman is a vessel for divine energy and plant consciousness; the more he/she takes credit for the magic that transpires, the more that magic turns to darkness.

This is also why in traditional indigenous cultures, the medicine men and women live on the outskirts of the village. It’s dangerous to entangle with the personal stories of the people you serve. It makes it so much harder to maintain personal and participant safety when your identity is wrapped up in the story of the person you’re serving. So the really authentic healers stay compassionate yet disconnected from the intimate details of the people they work with.

It’s a damn lonely job because it’s never appropriate to talk about what you see inside those profound spiritual spaces. You help transmute the energy when appropriate, and love them through the darkness when it’s not. The strong ones do this in silence. The strong ones know it’s not their business to interfere, but to let the energies do the highest good for all.

Once you do spend the 12 or so years as an apprentice and you find out who you are as a shaman, then the real work begins. Then you have to grapple with the temptations of power and greed, with the pedestals people give you after they’ve been healed, and with the incredible pull to trust your mind and not the medicine.

Sometimes that means letting your people die. Just like Mother Nature does. And that is heartbreaking and yet beautiful. We all have to let go sometime.

Above all, you must keep your eye on yourself. Your relationship to your ego is the very dynamic that will protect or endanger you and everyone you sit with. Personal integrity is literally life or death.

Ask any seasoned curandero, and they will all tell you it’s impossible to know how hard the job will be. How devastatingly intense the energies work with you sometimes. How isolating and lonely it can be. How exhausting the responsibility of protection and integrity is.

Yet if you want to be a vessel for divinity, that’s the balance. And it’s a fair one. When you see the people in ceremony work through their suffering and reach breakthroughs into joy and light and better health, every ounce of sacrifice and exhaustion is forgotten.

It is indeed the greatest job in the world.

The Greatest Job Is the Hardest Job

The work of an ayahuasca shaman is never done, and if you don’t love it all with every cell of your being, you will eventually burn out. Or succumb to the marvelous magnetism of the darkness, which equates to destruction on some level. Sexual advances, money obsession, power lust – the list is long.


So long, in fact, that even those that earn the title often earn the loss of it too. We are human, after all.

But you know what? It’s OK regardless. It’s the experience that matters, not how the story ends. Everything you learn in these spaces is integral to playing big in your life, regardless what role you are called to play. The goal for each of us is not to be attached to an idea of who we are, but to simply be it. To be so soul-connected that even a monstrous, grandiose ego can let go of a vision when it doesn’t feel aligned with truth.

So if you have the calling, it’s imperative you find a teacher to guide you. That’s one of the best ways we receive validation from the plants that this is our authentic path. You know the expression: When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

If the plants are calling, answer. Stay dedicated to your truth no matter what. Find and root out attachments within your identity like it’s a garden you have to frequently weed. Always carry the intent to do good; to help yourself and humanity.

These are the final words of advice, but they are the biggest ones to carry with you:

Never ever forget that it’s the medicine that gives you power. Ceremonies are never the shaman’s show, they are the plant’s show. Forget that for a moment, and all hell can break loose. Stay in that alignment, and you can transmute the most heinous of illnesses and blockages and bring them to the light.

Being a shaman is a partnership with divinity. As such, it is subject to change in every moment. Stay connected to truth, and don’t forget to enjoy the ride.'

About Tina Kat Courtney

Tina “Kat” Courtney, The Afterlife Coach, has worked with Ayahuasca for almost a dozen years, with a decade as a shamanic apprentice. She works as an Ayahuasca Coach, guiding others through the integration and preparation process with all sacred plants and master plant dietas. She’s a transformational junkie with a major love of polarities, and she adores helping others love their darkness too.


  1.' Austin on February 13, 2018 at 10:14 pm

    Thank you very much for this post.
    This was exactly what I needed to hear. I my self have been feeling some sort of call to the jungle but I don’t know if its shamanism or just to continue with more ceremony work.
    Exactly a year ago I was addicted to heroin was near my end. And thats when I was fortunate enough to go to Mexico City in the mountains to do Ibogaine treatment. Followed by two months on a rehab where there was yoga, and ayahuasca ceremonies. The medicine was the most amazing thing that I “can’t ” explain that ever happened to me. The strength that I felt was overwhelming and when I walked and talked I felt as though I was ancient. I also went to Colombia to do a few more ceremonies in the Putumayo region and I felt more at home in that part of the world than anywhere in North America. Im living in San Diego now and Im working carpentry to save up enough money to move to Ecuador. I don’t know whats going to happen, and I don’t know if its to “become” anything at all. But I feel this strong pull to find out. So like you say Im going to continue asking the plants and we’ll see what happens. Anyways thank you for the honest post. Take care, Austin.

  2.' Kevin Smith on January 26, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    Thank you. You are an inspiration.much love.

  3.' Tom on February 16, 2019 at 6:21 am

    This article was a very strange read. Felt like listening to a narcissist lecture other people on not having an ego. The basic thrust seems to be:

    “the vast majority of people who feel called to work with Ayahuasca are driven by ego. *I* on the other hand am one of a special chosen few who has specifically been chosen by the plant to do the work. Unlike normal people my calling really was a calling and didn’t come from ego.”

    Perhaps you should heed your own advice on dealing with your own darkness before projecting it on other people.

    •' Nick on July 9, 2020 at 7:34 am

      Tom you’ve made a poor statement on intentions. What the author was informing us of is that people can have an egotistical need to help. It’s a selfish need, and that off that’s why you pursue shamanism you will fail. The need to help others has to be something that introduces its self to you, not something that you can force to happen. If the article was strange that could be because of you are looking into it from a very external and rational position. Where’s those who benefit from ayahuasca are those that understand you have to let go of rationality and allow belief to guide you and tell you what to do.

      •' Kat Courtney on July 13, 2020 at 1:44 pm

        Nick, thank you for the beautiful words of support. I wholly agree. So appreciate you <3

    •' Laurel on August 13, 2020 at 7:34 am

      Hi Tom,
      I can definitely see why you might get that out of this.

      Out of curiosity, have you ever had the blessing of partaking in ayahuasca? I call the first two concurrent uses an ego death, because they seem to strip away ones ego and force you in a very real, honest, way to look at yourself. The dark and the light. Without a shaman this could be a very difficult experience, but with a guide we are able to look at ourselves and accept the parts that we were unwilling to look at, work on, discuss, without being guarded, our fatal flaws are no longer fatal. We become more balanced.

      The more we work with Mother Aya, the more we are forced to confront our true selves and our connection with the world around us.

      It may be that many of us who are initially drawn to Ayahuasca are those who need the most healing themselves. However, I believe that Kat is trying not to say that she is special in the way of an ego trip, because if you read the number of years and hours she put into attempting to become a shaman before she was allowed on the path, that would squash anyone’s ego down to the size of a pea; but that you have to be truly dedicated to the PATH in order to be a successful shaman. If your focus is on the idea of “being a shaman” because you like the idea of YOU being a shaman, if it’s because you get excited picturing YOURSELF as a shaman, this isn’t your path. If you get excited picturing a small group of two or three in the woods with you, feeling the earth beneath you, picturing their faces as you guide them, what types of foods you would bring, which forest you would bring them to, what type of shelter you would stay in, would you build the shelter together, and more…. then this just may be your path. Your ego has no place when you are guiding others. They have intense needs under ayahuasca.

      It’s such an amazing, healing medicine that I understand why so many want to immediately share it with others. Most out of love, not ego.

    •' Rutger on January 5, 2021 at 12:26 pm

      Can’t help but to agree with Tom here. The impression she gave off was quite resentful and hypocrytical, which is odd because most people who have a lot of experience with psychedelics are loving and empathetic.

    •' Sai 😇💙🌏 on March 28, 2021 at 6:42 am

      @Tom i agree very angry and threatening words coming from a supposed healer, spiritual teacher or negatively spokenly and driven shaman. Very disappointing to hear….. she needs to check and change her way and approach for advising others. Seriously. Everyone else reading this i truly wish you all love light and blessings on your divine journeys, spiritual awakenings and your new found love and journey of healings and service to all our others/beloved souls and our dear Mama Gaia 💎🌱🌏🌱💎 Namaste and i love you all. We are one and God bless you 💋🙏🏻💖💕🌏🌈😊😇🌈🌏💎

  4.' Giselle S. on April 21, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Thank you so much for your post! 💗🙏

  5.' Mikael on October 22, 2019 at 5:40 am

    Thank you for the informative and interesting article Tina. This was a reality-check for me. I have been interested in the usage of medicinal plants and read quite a lot about it, though never tried it myself. I would love to help others become more open to life and these plant-experiences seem like a powerful form of therapy. Would doing an ayauasca session be a good place to start?

  6.' Kat Courtney on January 12, 2020 at 7:14 pm

    Hi Mikael! Yes, if you have any calling to work with plants for your own journey and to help others, Aya is the mother of all experiences. She is a perfect place to start 🙂

  7.' Kat Courtney on January 12, 2020 at 7:14 pm

    Thank you for reading Giselle!!!

  8.' Kat Courtney on March 31, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for your honest feedback. If you’d ask me, which it would have been kind to do, I would wholly admit that I deal with the relationship with my ego every single day in regards to this path. My point is – it’s dangerous to do this if the plants themselves have not created the invitation to this work. Even if that is the case, the humanness I (and everyone else) carries must be something we face and remain brutally honest about every single step of the way. I don’t see a lot of focus on shadow work from facilitators. That is the message I attempted to share 🙂

    Much love to you brother,


  9.' Kat Courtney on March 31, 2020 at 12:50 pm

    Hi Kevin,

    Much love to you too – truly appreciate the kind words 🙂

  10.' S.Angel on June 7, 2020 at 5:51 pm

    Thank you Kat for sharing your unique perspective from personal experience of a westerner. This was an interesting read. Your concise clarification that Shaman is not based in a space of ego, presented a lot of value to the minds of the curious. There are many points you expressed that resonated solid truth. The life of a Shaman is a way of life, it is very lonely for those accustomed to engaging the world. It’s the mother who calls… staying grounded to the earth, respecting flora & fauna and honoring the elementals is truly about embracing balance that there is absolute darkness and absolute light. To keep our holy trinity of mind, body, spirit along the path borders on sainthood.

    •' Kat Courtney on January 10, 2021 at 4:26 pm

      S. Angel, thank you from the bottom of my heart. What a beautiful share the rings of deep truth. I appreciate your camaraderie 🙂

      Blessings to you always,


  11.' Laurel on August 13, 2020 at 7:02 am

    Holy Hell Woman! I couldn’t even finish reading your post because of how much it resonated with me, and honestly shook me to the core, but I will momentarily go back and finish reading it.

    Yes, yes, and yes, it is Mother Aya who calls us and decides whether we are on the path or not. I was called out as a Shaman more than a year ago, and tried to deny it because I was scared of the power and responsibility it held. Having been a nurse and caregiver/healer since birth, I knew what that carried, and I have seen so many people abuse the title for profit, monetary or otherwise, that it put a sour taste in my mouth to even try and embrace it. It took me a while to think of myself as anything other than a guide. He talked to me at length about how many people I had guided through childbirth, how many through detox, mental health crisis, trauma, not just in my profession but how I was always guided to help and how I intuitively knew to. I told him it was because I was an empath. He asked if I felt the same connection with the plants surrounding me, the water. I said, well, yes. I had always been able to get strength and connection from them, to feel like I was communing. But I wasn’t ready.

    Ayahuasca stripped me of my ego and showed me my true self. I describe it to others as an ego death. I have seen the network of energy flow through the forest and Up through myself, connecting everyone and everything. I have been visited by Kali and on the brink of death ready to leave this plane with her, but not done with my work, so was guided back by the peacock, who is my constant symbol of rebirth.

    When I finally accepted my path as a Shaman this last summer, I was in a sacred forest with my fiancé. I had taken him there for a two day spiritual journey. We were on our first morning sunrise and I was standing in a place of power without realizing it when he asked me what I wanted him to do. At that moment, the dog who had been running around exploring the whole time stopped, sat, and waited for my command. The forest fell completely silent. Nothing moved. The breeze held. A bolt of energy came up and through me and swirled within me. And then I did something I NEVER do. I was at a loss for words. I was so overwhelmed. I had so many emotions going on at the same time. I was honored, scared, questioning if this was real, sure it was real, amazed, overwhelmed, joyful, terrified I would fail, glad, unsure what I was supposed to do. Then I finally managed to form words saying something about the fact that I was in a place of so much power, next to a ceremonial fire ring, and that I had been trying to deny my place, my path, but that I understood that I couldn’t. That I had to accept my fears as part of myself (and part of my love for others that would help me keep us safe) and keep going. And stop being afraid of the word “Shaman” as applied to myself. Mother Aya can be a pushy one when she wants something, and will send you the message louder and louder. My fiancé and I have an idea for a healing center in mind, and she’s a part of it, but not the focus of it.

    I would love to speak with you, if I ever could. Your words resonated so much with me. And maybe some day we could meet, if COVID ever allows us to travel again. Or depending how far a drive you are, I can always just isolate myself for 14 days;)

    Love & Light,

  12.' B on December 12, 2020 at 2:21 pm

    Hello Kat. Thank you for writing about your experience. As many thousands have gone to the Amazon to work with Aya I’m certain a significant amount pursue apprenticeship but there’s very few that share their accounts about it, probably for good reason. This is a bit of a long shot but I’d really appreciate some advice about this topic. I feel unsure if I’m being called to work with the plants as a student or healer or if I’m experiencing something else.
    For a little context: I am mestiza of South American origin, I have been a life long seeker in one way or another. Additionally I also have severe trauma from my personal life and in my family history (as many of us do). Due to the extensive trauma it obviously has created a lot of problems for myself, mental, physical, emotional etc. Eventually I turned to trying to heal these issues all of which is what drew me to working with Aya. It’s been very hard for me to access due to finances and the western domination/profiteering off the medicine. So it’s been slow, but I’ve managed to sit in a modest number of ceremonies (30). I have not experienced anything life shattering in my experiences, but profound nonetheless. I guess because of the depths of my illness, most of my experiences seem to be primarily purifying at the moment. I have no doubt of my desire and interest to keep working with Aya for personal healing.
    So now getting to my confusion if something more is happening. I guess to a degree, how atypical my experiences have been compared to people I sit with. I know you are not supposed to compare, but I have not met a single person who has had similar experiences to me. Another reason is that I’ve had a few ceremonies where the plants seem to be teaching me..not about myself but teaching me how to manage energy. For example I feel I have been starting to be taught/developing skills para soplar. I have been sitting with a (Shipibo) maestro individually, who does seem to consider me his student (which was a surprise to me). I’m not sure if there have been some cultural differences or miscommunications because from other people I talk to I get the impression usually your not a student until you’re way more experienced, something deliberately happens, and your explicitly told. I also understand there’s a difference between working with the plants “to heal” vs “to learn”. I think this was the biggest difference, he doesn’t seem to think there is a distinction with the plants in healing vs learning. But also pasajeros are his income, so I’m not totally sure what it means for him to say I’m his student. He has been starting to have me follow his icaros as well and show me some other things.
    I would say I’m extremely hesitant, I love the plants very much, and I have so much respect for maestr@s, but I know as you described here that it is a very very serious commitment. Of time, energy, possibly finances, of self. I have also seen people say that you should have “no doubt” and if you do it means you are not being called. Or a teacher will appear and if not, also a no go. I currently have a maestro I trust to sit with, but not sure if he counts as “that teacher meant to appear”, or someone I’d sit with very long term, or to apprentice with long term (for different reasons). Not sure if we’re the best fit and keeping my eyes open for maybe a better fit.
    Also I feel I am such a beginner with so much healing to do, how could this possibly be coming up now? But I also don’t know what to make of some of my ceremony experiences, including things that have happened outside of ceremony. I have sometimes felt like I was back in ceremony even though I was exceedingly sober, and much time has passed, and still experiencing some of the plant medicine. But I’ve thought maybe I’m overthinking things because this could just be part of a healing process. Or because I actually do have much closer ancestral ties and cultural ties than for most foreigners, maybe this accounts for the differences and affinity I have with the plants.
    I am in a place right now where my life is extremely stripped bare. I don’t have much resources, but I also have very few obligations. I feel I’m at an impasse ( maybe I don’t need to feel this way but I do). I am seriously considering moving to Peru or Ecuador (where I have family). But moving closer to have easier access to ceremonies for healing and moving to Amazon full time to work on healing or apprenticeship is very different. I have done some short dietas, and am looking to do some longer for a few months, but getting to a point of thinking of living in the Amazon for 1yr+ is a big commitment. It will make the difference, and be an almost definitive choice (in my circumstances) in being able to choose a “professional” life, family, and living a city life, or doing the opposite. A decision towards one or the other would significantly affect what I do now, as well as timing for when I move.
    I’m not totally opposed to what this path would mean, the change in life, the responsibilities, but it is a very big undertaking for someone who has mostly lived in urban environments. My hesitation is also not knowing if I have what it takes Internally, if I can really do what is being asked, and if I’m even being asked. If the plants really want me I won’t refuse or deny it, but I do feel I need to be VERY sure. I’ve been given a few compliments by people with significantly advanced ceremonial experiences/facilitators/ maestr@s to the effect of- that I do well/work hard/were surprised by my lack of experience, they think the plants care about me, and that they can see me in the Amazon long term/I should consider moving there. I appreciate the compliments and I guess it also makes me wonder if people are seeing something important even if I don’t see it yet. So if you have any advice as someone who has gone through this process and undoubtedly met many people with varying experiences along the way I’d love to hear it. If there’s anything I can do to make this more clear, or if I need to chill lol, I’d appreciate getting impartial advice so much. Thank you 🙏.

  13.' Lauren on April 4, 2021 at 1:12 am

    Thank you for posting this article. Yes, it seems that many people are interested in becoming shamans, but aren’t sure exactly what they’re getting into. It does make me very curious about the people who apprentice and drink say 200 times then realize it’s not for them. What then? I imagine they’re very lost.
    I’ve never wanted to be a healer yet after only 2 half cup ceremonies and 2 San Pedro ceremonies (1 sweat lodge with mild San Pedro) I later had a spiritual emergency and a dark night of the soul. It was beyond terrifying (I experienced so so many frightening psychological symptoms) and is apparently a shamanic initiation. That is not what I ever wanted or imagined. I am sooo much worse afterwards. I mostly just want to die. There are so many people who are worse afterwards. I’m curious how it’s healing when many people have poorer mental health afterwards some resulting in suicide and being rather non functional.

  14.' Kris on September 1, 2021 at 2:37 pm

    Thank you for the article and your candidness. I am a nurse who has always been drawn to herbology, natural and energetic medicine but something always held me back until my covid awakening. I have healed energetically and spiritually from much darkness and trauma, these past 18 months, both from this life, past and intergenerational. Presently, I finally feel like me again, balanced and strong, haven’t had to do significant healing on myself in a couple of months. I am very excited to be taking a plant spirit apprenticeship starting next month. For some reason, I feared aya greatly during my dark time and something told me not to heal that way. I did use psilocybin several times when I was strong enough to not go in with negative thoughts. Now that I feel stronger I wonder if an aya journey would be beneficial to help me on my path. I know my path is plant medicine, with my green thumb and love of all things plant and nature. I am currently contemplating my first dieta with dandelion. It calls to me, with its wonderful healing abilities and because it grows most of the year in the Pacific Northwest. Another plant which has been always in my thoughts, the past few months, is astralagus, but I feel I should grow it and it takes 2-4 years to harvest. I am also hoping to be accepted into a program for nurses to administer psilocybin to palliative care clients, if good wins this current battle and I can continue practicing. Do you think a small series of aya ceremonies would benefit me on my path? My path has been so blurred and made uncertain from current events. There is an ayahuascuro not too far from where I live. Thank you for any advice😊

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