There’s a new church in Washington state where you can go to trip your brains out on the most psychedelic drug in the world. Located on over a hundred acres near the town of Elbe, the church is called Ayahuasca Healings, and for a fee of around $1500, you can go there, sit in a teepee and drink some mind-blowing tea brewed from vines of the Ayahuasca plant – hence the name of the church. The faithful just call it “yagé,” though.
In his classic article “Letter From A Master Addict To Dangerous Drugs,” published in the British Journal of Addiction in 1956, the famous American writer and notorious junkie William Burroughs, described the mind-blowing effects of yagé in some detail, based on his own experience of taking the drug.
Here’s what he wrote:
Yage intoxication is in some respects similar to intoxication with hashish. In both instances there is a shift of viewpoint, an extension of consciousness beyond ordinary experience. But Yage produces a deeper derangement of the senses with actual hallucinations. Blue flashes in front of the eyes is peculiar to Yage intoxication.
The hallucinating properties of Yage have led to its use by Medicine Men to potentiate their powers. They also use it as a cure-all in the treatment of various illnesses. Yage lowers the body temperature and consequently is of some use in the treatment of fever. It is a powerful antihelminthic, indicated for treatment of stomach or intestinal worms. Yage induces a state of conscious anaesthesia, and is used in rites where the initiates must undergo a painful ordeal like whipping with knotted vines, or exposure to the sting of ants.
The Medicine Men who use it continuously in the line of duty seem to enjoy normal health. Tolerance is soon acquired so that one can drink the extract without nausea or other ill effect. Among the Jivaro young men take Yage to contact the spirits of their ancestors and get a briefing for their future life. It is used during initiations to anaesthetize the initiates for painful ordeals. All Medicine Men use it in their practice to foretell the future, locate lost or stolen objects, name the perpetrator of a crime, to diagnose and treat illness.
Since the crude extract is such a powerful, hallucinating narcotic, perhaps even more spectacular results could be obtained with synthetic variations.