Pictures of and stories about brewing ayahuasca

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Two brewing sessions, one in Ecuador, another in Peru.


These pictures show how ayahuasca is brewed by a shaman and his wife (who has the “good hands” for it, which her mother gave her – all such skills have a genealogy and bring people together in an eternal skill share and intermingling of techniques and ever-changing traditions) in Ecuador:

Click on the picture to see the show – where, if you click on the (I), the pix have some explanatory text.

This brew is made of ayahuasca and chalipanga – the name of which means something like “the companion leaf”, suggesting that the ayahuasca brew is foundational to the taxonomy of the Kichwa cosmovision. The Andi family do not use a lid at all. One Kichwa shaman consider it “the most important secret” (perhaps this can be translated to “widespread” or “commonly known”) that “using a lid when brewing puts a lid on your visions”. It boiled for three hours only – one and a half with the plants and one and a half without the plants, just reducing. The brew is very potent, but, as usual, concentration, place energies and intentions are crucial for the intensity. It resulted in approx. a litre and a half – or 20 doses.

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Here’s how it is brewed in San Francisco (Peru, near Pucallpa):

-Click on the picture to see the show – where, if you click on the (I), the pix have some explanatory text.

This brew is made of ayahuasca and chakruna, which is a lovely companion leaf – for me a kind and soft by comparison to the sometimes wild and weird chalipanga (not to pass, in any possible way, any value judgements, they are both great). The Inuma family do *not* remove the bark, yet the brew is not very bitter. They used a lid in the beginning to get it on the boil. It boiled for many hours – the whole process began at 6-7am and it was dark – perhaps after 7-8-9 pm – before the soup was ready. The result was about 2 litres and a bit – or about 30-40 doses. It is a very nice brew, which people, who are not used to ayahuasca, seem to call “delicious” or “not bad at all” when coming out of a fridge. For the experienced drinker the body memory of vile moments and the general impact and anticipations make it difficult to think of it as “delicious” – it is a bit more serious and magic, powerful, beneficial, medicinal are rather the terms that come to mind Smile

Neither brewing techniques involved a change of water – i.e. pouring the brew from the plants and pouring fresh water on them. But the Inuma family did add considerably more water to the pans during the brewing. Hence the much longer brewing time.

As you can see in the photos, the ayahuasca vine used in Ecuador is much thicker, but interestingly not that much older; just faster growing. Different kind. Both a few years old only, give and take.

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8 thoughts on “Pictures of and stories about brewing ayahuasca

    Mucho Bano said:
    Monday, April 28, 2008 at 22:58 (998)

    I have had the wounderful pleasure of joining with Ayahuasca five times in my three months in the jungles of Ecuador. It was the most beautiful and profound experience of my life. I will never look at the earth and evryday life the same again. It opend many new doors of reality of which I now can more truthfuly view myself and the earth.

    Daniel said:
    Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 22:46 (990)

    Wonderful article and beatiful pictures. It shows how the brewing is so traditional and artisanal, and always made with love and respect! Wonderful! Thanks for sharing. Blessings.

    colono responded:
    Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 22:59 (999)

    Most welcome!

    It is indeed meant to show how brewing is a holistic, energetic, and spiritual process – and this traditional approach stands in strong contrast to the western psychedelic scene, which embraces a scientific (reductionist) approach, where measurements in grams and ounces rule the process. That, essentially, misses the entire point in my opinion.

    david said:
    Monday, June 22, 2009 at 23:16 (011)

    Would they be offended if i brought my own stainless steel pot, as aluminium is reactive and toxic,i do understand thats all they might have ,but its about healing not loading up on alum

      colono responded:
      Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 10:28 (477)

      They would not be offended at all – and they would be very happy if you left the pot with them. They want proper pots, but can’t afford them.

    david said:
    Monday, June 29, 2009 at 09:21 (431)

    I will fit as many pots in my backpack as i can as gifts.Im looking at going to ecuador in August to recieve healing. Would you say it would be no problem just to go to tena from quito and from there go up the nopa river? Or do i need to organise a guide. I have contacted some retreats and had no reply ,but i would really just want to stay with a family and have traditional ceremony. Is it cool to just drop in, thanks for your help.

      colono responded:
      Monday, June 29, 2009 at 10:23 (474)

      The big question here is: do you speak Spanish?

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