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(Note: Don’t place your bucket where people may accidentally kick it over in the night.) 8. Of course what to wear for ceremony is a highly personal decision, and there are no hard rules. I mean, when I think of the profundity of what I might experience, it seems like a copout to not “dress for occasion.” I wear white Shipibo clothing with beautiful embroidery because of the pleasure it gives me wearing it and for the statement it makes via which I honor the whole experience.

I’ve seen people wearing everything from full-on Shipibo costumes to jeans and Metallica T-shirts. At a minimum I’d lean toward wearing white, light, breathable loose cotton shirt and pants.

(Now you see why not a lot of young people in South America are apprentice shamans…) Anyway, I practiced abstinence and had powerful visions my first time. I imagine one of the most neglected areas of preparation among people traveling from busy industrial society to ayahuasca retreat centres is the simple act of paying attention, by which I mean noticing () your mood, what’s around you, nature, and so on. You don’t have to think of it in those terms, if you don’t care to.

Note that I only sip the water as needed, and the tea is more for the latest part of the ceremony when the medicine is dissipating. I also bring a small flashlight with a fresh battery the end of which I cover with transparent red tape (so I don’t blind my fellow seekers in the dark).I was fortunate because my trip with Pulse Tours gave me four days hanging out and trekking in the Amazon to really s-l-o-w d-o-w-n and absorb that unrushed living-with-nature vibe. Anyway, I was instructed to take a flower bath (or what I prefer to call a “flower shower” for the alliteration) before ceremony in which I sponged water over myself filled with flower petals.I’d flown into Iquitos a day early, too, so I’d had more time to shift gears. I believe the moment you decide to participate in ayahuasca ceremony the medicine starts working on you. This is to make oneself more appealing to the plant energies. (Some practitioners simply spray some floral water on you that smells a bit like the stuff they use in old-fashioned men’s barber shops.) 5. I don’t smoke and personally hate the smell of cigarettes, but tobacco is a sacred plant in shamanic practice so you need to get used to it.Sometimes I’ve seen the smoke delivered like a smudge, waved over a person with a large feather.In Peru, participants were allowed to smoke mapachos during ceremony, which on one level I didn’t mind except for the light in my eyes when they lit up, which was almost blinding (your eyes become highly light sensitive on the medicine) and some people seemed to light up out of a sense of boredom and restlessness, which annoyed me (since I was breathing their smoke).