The following is an account from Annelise Schinzinger, who has worked with ayahuasca since 1977, and is a long time member of the Church União do Vegetal, a religious group founded in the Brazilian jungles and centered around the ceremonial use of Ayahuasca. Annelise holds a bachelors from UC Irvine in Portuguese and Spanish and has worked as a translator and interpreter for ethnobotanists and environmentalists.
“Many of the men in Mestre Gabriel’s (founder of the church) time were rubber tappers and acted in violent or overtly aggressive ways. One mestre told us that before he began drinking the tea, he proclaimed in a drunken dare that he would bite off his thumb, and showed us the stubble that now remains. Through the expanding awareness Hoasca (Brazilian for ‘ayahuasca’) provides, the people learn to tame their tempers, respect themselves and others more, and consequently lead more peaceful lives […] Communing with Hoasca is a journey of self-discovery. Hoasca incarnates Spirit in sentient experience, prompting some to refer to Hoasca as the religion of feeling. It is truly one of the best vehicles I know for openhearted sensitivity […] I have noticed an often-remarkable change in people’s attitudes and behavior prompted by the transformative power of the tea. When one drinks Hoasca and experiences an expanded state of consciousness, aspects of one’s psyche that are not in alignment are brought to one’s attention in a revelatory and often dramatic way. Once given the opportunity to see and experience the effects and repercussions of one’s attitudes and actions, the next step depends upon the desire and will to follow the guidance and integrate the lesson into one’s life. As an example, a boy I know was addicted to video games. That’s all he wanted to do. One day he asked his father, a mestre, if he could participate in a session. In the enlightened state he was taken on a nightmarish ride through the video games, seen from the inside out. After the challenging ride, he decided he’d had enough video games. Doing his school-work and playing outside became more meaningful […] I have seen people who have been addicted to nicotine, drugs, alcohol, and other vices drink Hoasca and quit immediately upon recognizing the extent of harm they were causing themselves and others. Hoasca has many ways of getting the message across, and it seems each way is tailor-made for the person and for that person’s problem […] Hoasca facilitates clarity through the revelation of our true nature–the God and Goddess within, including the shadow. We must delve into the dark realms, as well as the glorious, to really know who we are. Hoasca unmasks the dark areas of our psyche and facilitates awareness of the emotions, thoughts, and actions that impede attunement with the higher self. She flashes light to the paralyzed areas of our psyche and body for healing […] Hoasca is a good teacher: she not only opens us to what we need to know, but also teaches us how to open ourselves. Hoasca helps us to clear communication lines and access cellular memory. Expanded awareness is always present–it is simply a matter of tuning in. Life is a constant revelation of the power and brilliance of Creation. When our consciousness aligns with the creative force, and we act with integrity, clarity, and open heart, amazing things can happen. Opportunities abound in our daily lives, by centering our hearts and deepening our presence. By the gift of grace, and with conscious intent, veils can be lifted and portals opened, revealing mysteries right under the veneer.”