Ayahuasca is one of the most powerful and most illegal hallucinogens in the world. It contains DMT. But, for as long as anyone can remember, it’s been used by people who have wanted to know more about the universe.

These people have traditionally been involved with shamanic tribes of the Amazon Rainforest, but in recent years, more and more people have had access to Ayahuasca through ceremonies lead by shamans in countries near the South American Equator.

Ayahuasca (also called Iowaska, Yagé, Vine of the Dead, La Madrecita, El Abuelo, etc.) is not a party drug. In fact, it can be absolutely terrifying…Ayahuasca has a reputation for spewing up the taker’s darkest fears in front of visuals of multi-dimensional cosmic weirdness and forcing them to confront every dark thought they’ve ever had. But it also has a potential for intense healing.

In this episode, producer Lauren Stelling visits her old boss Cherub, who was facing a lot of grief after her best friend’s daughter, Zippy, was killed in a freak accident of nature.

Cherub was seeking alternatives to the common American treatments for grief, so, she flew away from her home in Washington State, down to a tropical rain forest where shamans guided her on a week-long Ayahuasca journey to find healing from her grief.

The episode was produced by Lauren Stelling. She’s a photographer living and working in Seattle, Washington. Check out her beautiful photographs.

Big thanks to Choque Chinchay Journeys, who provided the recordings of icaros for this episode.

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  • Modranicht
  • Iowaska
  • Vine Of Souls

I’ve been to a lot of weird shows.  However, one that sticks out in my mind for being stranger than most was seeing Iowaska during their (only?) tour of the United States back around 2001 or 2002.  My friend Allison was really into them so I saw them at all three of their Bay Area dates one of which was at some type of highly peculiar Pagan grindcore show at the Burnt Ramen.  The things that I distinctly remember were: people were peeing in the middle of the floor early on (like before anybody had even played),  the first band featured people with a lot of face tattoos that were encouraging members of the audience to drink from a mysterious wine skin that they were referring to as “the flask of fertility”, and at some point in the night there was fire dancing and trash can drumming.  In addition to all this,  Iowaska played their super psychedelic, space rock, punk set and sounded pretty good.  I found out years later that when they played down in LA, they stayed with some friends of mine and just sat around all day and did a ton of speed (which might explain why I never heard about the band again).  Anyways, this track, “Mondranicht” opens up their (to my knowledge) only record and gives you a good feel for just how far out and psychedelic their sound was.  Also, try to picture this music being played by four people with the longest dreadlocks you’ve ever seen (seriously, their bass player was probably 6'4" and his dreads hit the backs of his thighs).