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My First Ayahuasca Ceremony

It all started with a text.

My dear friend Mariana, the one who talked me into moving to Medellin, Colombia, said she was gonna take ayahuasca, a psychedelic drug known for its therapeutic effects, and asked if I wanted to join.

Without hesitation, I jumped at the opportunity.


It’s no secret that I have a deep love and respect for psychedelic drugs.

I attribute much of my personal transformation—FROM unconscious human being going through the motions of daily life totally confused TO conscious human being directing his own life with confidence and clarity—to the many mushroom trips I experienced while living in Las Vegas in 2012 over a nine month period.

Three to four times a month, I would venture out to Red Rock Canyon—sometimes with friends, but often by myself—with the goal of “figuring out my shit.”

I believe no one knows you better than you, therefore, I believe the best psychologist for you, is YOU!

Thing is, most people don’t understand how the brain works, how we function individually and socially as human beings, and what we really need to live fulfilling lives, so it makes it quite difficult for most to dive deep into themselves and squash out issues that lie at the root of their lives.

Psychedelics are the cheat code.

Given the right dose, the right mindset, and the right environment, psychedelics have an almost magical ability to help people dive deep and “figure out their shit” without having to drop a bundle of cash on a therapist or get a PhD in both neurology and psychology.

But interestingly enough, my psychedelic journey did not begin from such an open-minded place.

It began with fear.

From an early age, I was told that psychedelics would make me go crazy, cut myself, and more than likely, end my life by jumping off the roof of a very tall building.

I was even told that schizophrenia ran in my family, and that if I took psychedelics, it would trigger “my schizophrenia” and I’d go insane FOR-EV-ERRR!

So I stayed away from it, “Fuck that! I’m not going insane.”

But that stance didn’t last very long.

One drunken night when my buddy Vick and I were whipping my Honda S2000 back from Pearl Nightclub in Rochester, NY—my favorite place to grab drinks, dance, and pick up chicks when I was 20—we took a detour and ended up at a mutual friend’s house where she was throwing an after party for ten of our closest friends and dishing out psychedelic mushrooms like they were hors d’oeuvres.

I was drunk, so of course I threw caution to the wind, saying something like, “Fuck schizophrenia!” right before popping two caps and two stems into my mouth and washing them down with a big swig of my vodka soda.

What proceeded was one of the best nights of my life.

It began with Will Smith of Fresh Prince bursting into a bunch of pixels on the TV screen, and ended with most of our friends from the evening falling asleep intertwined on a king-size bed in orgy-like fashion.

I’ve never been much of a sound sleeper, and that particular night was no exception.

I laid there on the bed, mind churning as I watched the sunrise slowly peek through the skylight of my friend’s bedroom.

So I got up, left the house, and went for a walk, leaving Vick and the S2000 far behind.

It was one of the most euphoric adventures I’d ever been on.

I remember gazing up at the sun and feeling so much joy and appreciation for all the life around me.

The birds. The people headed to work. Just everything. I loved it all.

Four miles later, I had arrived home.

I got into bed, fell fast asleep, and woke up later that day feeling just as incredible.

Although I wouldn’t take mushrooms or any other psychedelic again for another 4 years, this was the beginning of my relationship with psychedelics.

Fast forward to the beginning of last week.

My friend Mariana asks me to take ayahuasca and I eagerly accept.

So what the hell is Ayahuasca anyway? And why did I want to take it so bad?


ayahuasca drink

As defined by

Ayahuasca is an Amazonian plant mixture that is capable of inducing altered states of consciousness, usually lasting between 4 to 8 hours after ingestion. Ranging from mildly stimulating to extremely visionary, ayahuasca is used primarily as a medicine and as a shamanic means of communication, typically in a ceremonial session under the guidance of an experienced drinker.

The main ingredient of this jungle tea is a vine, Banisteriopsis caapi, which like the tea itself is also called ayahuasca (which means ‘vine of the soul’ or ‘vine with a soul’). The secondary ingredient is either chacruna (Psychotria viridis) or chagropanga (Diplopterys cabrerana), plants that contain a relatively high amount of the psychedelic substance DMT…

…Psychonauts, i.e. people who practice responsible and conscious use of mind-altering substances, use ayahuasca to confront themselves with the richness of the mind, the infinity of the universe, and their deepest fears, so as to experience ecstasy resulting from facing and overcoming these fears.

One effect of ayahuasca is that it makes a lot of people vomit and many drinkers get diarrhea… as it purges the body through this physical effect, and purifies the mind through the meaningful psychological experiences or visions. You usually feel totally refreshed and reborn after a strong experience.”

Because ayahuasca is most commonly administered in the Amazonian regions of South America, it is often out of reach for most Westerners, making it one of the least accessible psychedelic drugs compared to, let’s say, mushrooms or LSD.

This is what I believe ayahuasca’s legendary status is partly attributed to.

This is exactly why—even after 20-30 psychedelic experiences—I was so eager to experience it.

And so I set out to do just that.

In order to be in the highest state of mind for the upcoming ayahuasca ceremony, Mariana “suggested” that I begin preparing immediately.

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Truth be told, I didn’t really follow her “suggestions.”

Although I abstained from sex (not by choice), alcohol, and meat, I smoked weed several times, masterbated “several” times, and smoked my e-cigarette religiously.


I had just finished a two month project that didn’t workout as well as planned, so I needed to shut my brain off for a while and relax, which mary jane does an excellent job of.

My megalomaniacal ambitions ain’t got no time for relaxin.

At any rate, the day had arrived. Not Wednesday like we had originally planned, but Friday instead.

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Since the ceremony would be taking place high up in the mountains, I was advised to dress warm and bring extra layers just in case.

The cost of the ceremony would be 60,000 colombian pesos …aka twenty bucks.

I had all my shit together, but of course, as I went to leave, I couldn’t find the key to my apartment.

Funny thing about my apartment door is that if it’s locked shut with you inside and you don’t got a key, unless you’re willing to base jump from twenty stories, you’re shit out of luck.

Huge fire code issue, but hey, welcome to Colombia!

Luckily, my roommate hadn’t left for work yet, so he let me out in time to catch my ride to the ceremony.

Since Mariana and I live in the same building, we caught a taxi together to her best friend, Jessica’s house.

From there, we took Jessica’s 1.5 liter go-kart looking car miles up the mountains of Medellin to pick up two more friends on the way to the ceremony.

With how steep many of the roads are, I’m always surprised these little 5-speed manual transmission cars make it without having to rebuild the engine and replace the clutch after every trip.

(Here’s a 30 second clip of the ride up. Incredible views!)

On the way up, a few pessimistic thoughts surfaced.

Besides my very first psychedelic experience at my friend’s house almost 10 years ago, I’ve never really enjoyed indoor experiences.

My favorite way to take psychedelics for therapeutic purposes is to go to the top of a mountain during daylight, preferably alone, put on Pretty Lights or other comparable non-lyrical electronic music, and gaze out at the world while my drug-induced mind uses its heightened awareness to process deeper aspects of my life and answer troubling questions I’ve purposely set out to solve.

I’m not quite sure how to explain it other than it seems like common-sense not to take psychedelics in small dark spaces.

Nevertheless, I wanted to keep an open mind, so I brushed off the pessimism and approached the experience from beginner’s mind.

Shortly after picking up our other two friends, we arrived at the “hut” where the ceremony would take place.

ayahuasca hut


The hut came with two bathrooms for people to take a piss in, poop in, or throw up in, at anytime, which we’ll get to shortly.

I tried taking a poop before the ceremony, but all I managed to do was take a lifeless pee.

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Here’s a picture of inside the hut, as well as Mariana checking her phone (of course).

It should be noted that I was the only idiot from our group who wore black jeans instead of an incredibly comfortable pair of sweatpants. As life presents few opportunities to do so, I’ll never forgive myself.



As you can see, we all had padded mats to lay on, as well as a stack of blankets to choose from so we could stay warm, as it was VERY cold where we were high up in the mountains.

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As Mariana and I settle in for our psychedelic adventure, I decide to snap some before-pics.

Mariana kurshot ayahuasca 1 Mariana kurshot ayahuasca 3


One of the Shaman’s helpers sparks the fire.



Out of respect for the ceremony and to not seem like a complete tourist, I decided to hold off on the pictures for the rest of the ceremony.

And sorry, unfortunately no picture of the Shaman. But if it makes you feel any better, he looked like any other Shaman you may have seen before, but replace leaves and feathers with jeans and a t-shirt.

He was dressed sort of like this guy, but didn’t look as decrepit and wasn’t wearing the feathers hat.


The Ceremony

Once everyone was settled, the Shaman explained what ayahuasca was, the purpose of it, and some other shit that I couldn’t understand at all because he only spoke spanish, and as of this post, I’ve got a ways to go before I’m fluent.

To his credit, he did ask Mariana to translate for me, which she did for all of two sentences and then stopped.

I still love her.

Later on, for the purposes of this post, I asked Mariana what he said, and apparently he said:

Ayahuasca is a powerful medicine that helps you deeply connect with yourself so you can see inside you. To see all the things you’ve done in your life. To see all the mistakes you’ve made. And a way to fix any problems. It’s a beautiful experience all about love and reconnecting with the father, which we can call God, and that it’s a connection of fire, water, air, and earth.”

The rest is lost to poor memories.

After the Shaman’s speech, he began picking people one by one to take ayahuasca.

It seemed to me that he chose all the men first, then the women.

I didn’t complain.

As each person went up to receive their ayahuasca drink, the Shaman would sing some sort of chant at the cup to “unlock its special powers,” have the participant repeat a prayer, and then hand the cup over where the participant would drink the thick greenish-black concoction in one big gulp.

Then he’d have you drink a little water, wipe your mouth with a napkin, and sit back down.

(Pic I stole off Google, but very similar.)


This is how it went for me as well, except, since I didn’t speak spanish, he had me say my own prayer instead of repeating his.

I acted like I was thinking about something really deep, then drank the concoction, passed up the water and napkin (because I’m a badass), and sat back down.

After everyone drank the ayahuasca and was back on their mats, nothing more was really said or done for the next hour.

As that hour passed, most began to lay down on their mats, and one began to throw up inside her throw up bag, which everyone received in the beginning.

At that point, I felt nothing.

I was beginning to grow concerned.

Is this shit ever gonna hit me? Or is this gonna be another one of those first-time dud experiences I’ve heard of before?”

I sat down next to the Shaman to ask him for more ayahuasca. He said a bunch of words I didn’t understand, but luckily, he said one word that I did understand… “despacio,” which means “slowly.”

Basically he was telling me to chill the fuck out.

So I nodded my head and sat back down next to the fire.

Right after he said that, I began to feel something.

My thoughts were speeding up and I was starting to see visuals.

I knew it was beginning to hit me, so I decided to lay down on my mat.

It was freezing cold and the ayahuasca setting in only made me feel colder.

I covered up with a blanket and put on my headphones to listen to my favorite music when I trip, Pretty Lights.

Almost as soon as I closed my eyes, I began seeing a lot of weird shit.

It’s hard to describe now, but initially it was somewhat demonic, which I can’t say I’ve experienced too many times on psychedelics.

One thing I remember seeing was a miniature joker bouncing his legs and arms up and down, as if he was doing some silly sideways dance.

I mean, it wasn’t scary enough to get me to call my Mom, but it’s not something I felt was necessary to connect with my deeper self.

At this point, I wasn’t too happy with my experience thus far.

From within my blanket, I could hear people throwing up in and outside the hut. The Shaman and his helpers were now drumming and singing away, which was interfering with the music coming from my ear buds (which I turned off). And I wasn’t reaching a higher state or connecting with any sentient beings that were ready to show me the way.

It felt the same to me as nearly every other time I had taken mushrooms in a small dark space, such as inside a friend’s apartment.

Around this time, Mariana asked me if I was feeling anything, and I said, “Sort of, but not really.”

So we both got up to get more ayahuasca and then laid back down.

I had to pee, so I got up and headed outdoors. But once I got outside, I suddenly felt like I wanted to puke everywhere.

I looked for an empty toilet, but the Shaman directed me towards the short fence where I began to vomit excessively into the brush.

With each explosion of vomit, I could see dark globs of greenish-black ooze pour out of my face and paint the plant life below. It was sort of interesting to watch.

After that glorious event, the Shaman handed me a napkin to wipe my mouth, then I took a pee and headed back in to escape under my blanket once again.

At this point, I was wishing it would all end. I kept thinking, “When is this gonna be over?!”

It had nothing to do with the vomiting. I already knew that was gonna be the case and was fully prepared for it.

But to be freezing cold, hear constant vomiting from others, feel like shit yourself, be forced to listen to loud music I didn’t enjoy which was overlaid with seemingly obnoxious chants, and after all that, get little to no insight in return?!

I didn’t think that was a fair trade-off.

At this point, I was convinced that an ayahuasca ceremony was nothing more than a mushroom or acid trip, accept with a lot of throwing up and traditional ceremony mumbo-jumbo, which I didn’t feel enhanced or added to my psychedelic experience at all.

Nevertheless, I wanted to make the best of my experience, so I tried to focus on questions that I had and wanted answered.

Since I’ve spent so many years looking within and working desperately to understand myself and resolve inner conflict, I didn’t focus too much on myself, but more so, my business.

I wanted to know why I wasn’t having the success I felt I deserved after putting in so much hard work.

And here’s where I found the experience to be beneficial.

Ayahuasca “told me” that I no longer needed to search outside myself for answers. That the answers were within me, and that I needed to guide my progression going forward.

I think this was a small part of the reason I experienced such a lackluster trip. It was almost as if ayahuasca was telling me I didn’t need it.

It was saying, “Guide yourself. You know what you need to do. Now just do it.”

I usually write a lot when I take psychedelics. In the past, I’ve written entire essays while tripping balls. But this time I kept it minimal:

People revolve around sources, like planets revolve around the sun.

Marketing, most of it, is shit.

No, marketing isn’t shit. Most marketers are shit.

They’re doing it wrong.

Because all they care about is money.

They miss the entire point of all of this.

It’s all about love.

Helping each other live better lives.

Everyone focuses on different ways to help people live better lives.

And with the whole, everything is complete.

Just help people.

Be kind.

Be funny.

Be helpful.

Do those things consistently, and you become the source.

[my definition of source] A dependable person or organization that helps others meet their needs.”

Over the last 6 months, I’ve spent hours upon hours trying to figure out how to best market and sell my online course, Ultimate Freedom Lifestyle.

After hiring a “professional” marketer to help me put together an automated marketing campaign, I left the experience feeling disgusted with myself.

For him, it was just a bunch of sequences and templates paired to a numbers game.

Fill in this template, put it in this order, and let’s try to make the numbers work so we can make some money.

It had nothing to do with helping people, or being creative, or doing something that was remarkable.

It was just about copying and repeating what most marketers do and praying for results.

Moments like these remind me of a quote by Mark Twain, “When you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.”

It sickens me just to think about it.

But moving forward, I know what I have to do, and ayahuasca helped me clear that up.

The trip began at 10am and it was now roughly 3 or 4pm, so I knew we were nearing the end.

A random guy who showed up to the ceremony later than others started talking to one of the Shaman’s helpers and decided to never stop.

In the beginning, the Shaman advised that no one talk to each other, as it can interrupt and disturb the individual’s experience, which I totally agree with.

When you’re on psychedelics, every sense is super heightened, and if you’re in a deep thought and someone starts talking to you or blabber mouthing in the background, it can totally fuck up your mental path.

It’s like trying to watch a movie while someone plays bongos three feet from your head.

What puzzled me the most was that the Shaman never told Motormouth to shut his trap.

At this point it was regardless, because most were ready to leave.

Soon everyone headed outside and began taking pictures with the Shaman.

As for me, I was still tripping pretty hard and could barely walk normal or talk clearly, but I was happy to head home and jump directly into bed.

I gave the Shaman the 60,000 colombian pesos, thanked him, and then headed to the car.

Right before getting to the car, I began frantically searching for my iPhone. I patted myself down, but felt nothing that resembled an $800 electronic device that lies at the epicenter of my life.

I walked back inside the hut, and on my way to my mat, I saw my headphones sprawled across the ground, and then lifted up a blanket which revealed my iPhone.

My life was complete again.

On the way home, we had to take a few rocky dirt roads. The car shook and jostled for miles, and with it, so did my stomach.

I felt this greenish-black ooze sitting at the bottom of my stomach. My body was telling me, “Dude, at some point this shit is gonna have to go, and it’s not coming out of your ass.”

I fought to hold it off until I got home, but no matter how much I tried to mentally focus on the idea that I was fine, I just wasn’t.

kurshot ayahuasca car ride home

Sitting in the back seat, I peeked my head over the front driver’s seat and calmly said to Jessica, “Love, would you mind pulling over please?”

Understanding exactly what I meant, Jessica quickly pulled over.

I got out, walked to a sewage drain, bent over, and began vomiting profusely. Afterwards, I got back in the car, wiped my mouth, and said, “We’re back in business!”

When I got home, my roommate and owner of the penthouse had arrived back from vacation and was having drinks with his buddy.

Gordon’s a pretty awesome dude who runs his own security business and travels the world non-stop with his super hot colombian girlfriend. By the time this blog post gets sent out, he’ll be in Thailand.

In the past, we’ve gone out, taken molly together, and danced the night away, so as soon I saw him, I knew it wouldn’t be an issue sharing with him that I was still tripping hard from an ayahuasca ceremony I just returned from and to please excuse me while I go pass out in my bed.

He just chuckled.

When I walked into my room, Gordon’s incredibly sexy girlfriend, Carolina, was standing there in her tight sexy spandex shorts with a low top on and her long jet black hair dangling passed her incredible ass.

All the clothes and belongings I own in this world fit in a single bag, so she stores her mountain of clothes in an armoire in my room.

Needless to say, I wasn’t bothered by her standing there, but regardless, I needed to rest and wasn’t gonna wait for her to finish gathering the clothes she wanted to pack for vacation.

So I stripped off all my clothes with her standing there, put on a pair of shorts, jumped into bed, and started watching Netflix.

As I noticed her peeking to watch me undress, my presence in the room didn’t seem to bother her either.

For the next 6 hours, I would lay in bed lifeless watching Netflix and intermittently give Carolina advice, like which of her clutches I liked best.

If only her boyfriend wasn’t Gordon…

The Wrap Up

So—what do I think of my ayahuasca experience?

Well, to be fair, I’ll preface this with the fact that it was my first experience, every Shaman offers a different experience, and I think the potion, although effective, was a bit weak.

But all in all, I think the experience was sound enough to offer a legit opinion, and in my opinion, ayahuasca is overkill.

I think it’s simply another means of reaching a psychedelic state.

But it’s not just another means. I feel it’s an unnecessary means of reaching a psychedelic state.

In other words…

A) I think the ceremony is unnecessary. Most of the stuff the Shaman was doing, like chanting and rapidly shaking a bouquet of leaves in your face, is nothing more than gospel and not necessary to reach a higher psychedelic state so you can solve issues in your life.

This text explains it…



B) LSD and Mushrooms offer a very similar psychedelic experience, minus the ceremony, throwing up, and feeling like shit. If a friend who had never taken psychedelics before asked me what he should take for his first experience, I would NEVER recommend ayahuasca. Definitely LSD or Mushrooms.

C) Being in a dark room, having to listen to music someone else chooses for you, and being surrounded by people you don’t know (or even do know), in my opinion, is not the best way to experience psychedelics.

I think the best way to experience psychedelics is primarily based on your own preferences, mixed with a few common guidelines.

Here’s how I look at it…

Psychedelics stimulate your brain and heighten all your senses. Essentially, they amplify your mind making you incredibly insightful, and allow you to deeply connect with yourself and the world around you.

Although this powerful tool can absolutely help you solve problems in your life and reveal who you truly are and what you need to do with your one life, if you experience psychedelics around the wrong people, in the wrong environment, and/or are frightened by unknown safety concerns due to lack of education, you can easily have a negative experience.

Most call this having a bad trip.

In an ayahuasca ceremony, few of these variables are in your control.

You don’t choose your environment. You don’t choose who you do it with. And you don’t choose what music you listen to.

Personally, if I’m doing psychedelics for the purpose of answering questions in my life, then I go alone to the top of a mountain where no one is and I can see for miles, put on happy upbeat non-vocal music, and just start thinking about shit that matters to me, while writing down any big insights I have.

(Writing can be very challenging if you’re a beginner, as your thoughts are usually racing and it’s tough to get anything down before your mind is lightyears past the initial insight you wanted to write down.)

Although I’ll do psychedelics with a handful of carefully selected friends (smart, positive, experienced people, that I have a deep connection with), I find it much more beneficial to do it alone. You’re diving into your brain to see what you can pull out, and having people around only increases the chances that they’ll disrupt a deep thought you’re having and cut the cord to possible insights you could achieve.

I like doing psychedelics on the top of a mountain, because I find something powerful about feeling on top of the world and being able to see for miles. It seems to liberate my brain and open me up to incredible insights, whereas doing psychedelics indoors has the opposite effect on me.

I think picking the right music is huge! Music is nothing but frequencies, and what you feel (and think about) will depend on the music you choose. I choose upbeat happy non-vocal music as my go-to. I find that vocals can mess with your train of thought, so non-vocal is best in my opinion.

And maybe most importantly, I always know I’m safe. Often what causes bad trips is the uncertainty of safety. I’ve done my research on psychedelics and experienced it many times, so I never fear that I’m going to go insane or do something crazy. You’d have to take over 250 doses of LSD to die from an overdose, which is almost impossible. And it’s not addictive, because if you try to take acid or mushrooms a few days in a row, it just stops working altogether and you feel nothing. It’s as if you literally took nothing.

At the end of the day, I think everyone should have their own experiences, make their own observations, and come to their own conclusions, but whether you’re a beginner or very experienced with psychedelics, I don’t think there’s any rush to take ayahuasca.

If you get the chance to do it, do it!

What I wouldn’t recommend, is paying thousands of dollars to fly to Peru to achieve a deep psychedelic experience you can get for ten bucks by buying a tab of acid and hiking up a nearby mountain.

Question of the day (answer in comments section below): Have you done ayahuasca? And if so, what was your experience like? Also, feel free to share any thoughts or questions you have! Much love!