Our Transformative Ayahuasca Experience in Peru

We have never been ones to gatekeep any of our secrets to success. Nor do we shy away from telling you about the life experiences that have made us the photographers, business owners, and human beings we are today. 

But in this post, we want to share something even more personal and vulnerable with you—an incredible and transformative Ayahuasca experience we had during our recent trip to Peru.

Vic and Lilly in Peru before their Ayahuasca experience

What is Ayahuasca?

For those of you who might not know, Ayahuasca is a powerful plant medicine traditionally used by indigenous people of the Amazon for spiritual healing and awakening. 

It’s a brew (similar to tea) made from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and the Psychotria viridis leaf, known for its intense, visionary experiences.

Ayahuasca ceremonies are usually led by shamans or experienced guides who help you navigate the journey.

Ayahuasca in its plant form. Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org
Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Ayahuasca isn’t just a hallucinogenic drink; it’s a profound tool for self-exploration and healing. The main ingredients work together to create powerful, often transformative experiences. People often report deep emotional and psychological insights, connecting with parts of themselves they never knew existed.

In the right setting, Ayahuasca can help you confront your deepest fears, traumas, and blockages, leading to significant personal breakthroughs. This was exactly what we hoped to experience.

The Magical Setting for our Ayahuasca Experience

After attending the Aftershoot Retreat photography workshop in Sacred Valley, Peru, we decided to extend our stay and try Ayahuasca for ourselves—something we had always been curious about.

Casa Galactica, the retreat center where Vic and Lilly had their Ayahuasca experience.

Our Ayahuasca journey took place at Casa Galactica, a beautiful retreat center nestled in the stunning mountains of Peru. 

The ceremony was hosted by a wonderful husband and wife duo, Jamie and Michael, who specialize in trauma-based healing. They created a safe and nurturing environment for our Ayahuasca ceremony in what they call the “galactic centre” on their property.

The setting was perfect: a big, open room with sloped ceilings and a peaceful ambiance. Four mats were set up in a rectangular shape, each person sitting in their own “corner” of a diamond pattern. 

We each had our own little “islands” with blankets, pillows, and enough space to feel comfortable. The room was dark, with just a small light and headlamps, minimizing visual distractions and allowing us to focus inward.

Before we started, our guide emphasized that all the answers we seek are already within us, and the experience would depend on our intent and state of mind. So with this mindset, we began our journey.

Naturally, with an Ayahuasca experience being so deeply personal, Vic and I had very different experiences. We’ll tell you about each of our experiences…

Vic’s Ayahuasca Experience

Initial Expectations and Immediate Release

I was incredibly intrigued and curious about how Ayahuasca would affect me. I wasn’t apprehensive, but more anxious to get started. Once the ceremony began and I drank the tea, it only took 20 minutes before I started to feel the effects. 

The thought of diving into the unknown was a little daunting, but as soon as the Ayahuasca kicked in, it felt like I was opening a door to hidden truths within myself.

The guides’ reassuring words kept echoing in my mind: the answers are within you.

The dark, serene environment was perfect for introspection. I felt like I could tune in and out of the guides’ chanting and guitar playing, almost like a DJ playing with the controls. Jamie sang icaros, traditional Amazonian chants, while her husband played the guitar, creating mesmerizing sounds that seemed to control the flow of energy in the room.

I experienced a lot of internal questioning and something I noticed right away was that I couldn’t bullshit myself at all.

Whenever I gave myself a dishonest answer, I felt immediate physical feedback, mainly in the form of discomfort in my stomach or suddenly feeling emotionally uneasy. Even the visual effects changed! It was like my body was telling me to just trust myself and be truthful. This only reassured me that I already had all the answers within me.

Visualizing Energy 

One of the most fascinating parts of my journey was in the first 20 minutes before the effects really kicked in. I was visualizing energy, seeing red dots, eyes staring or glimpses of faces, and patterns similar to those found in Incan textiles.

All of the visuals matched the singing frequency and changing intensity of the chanting. It was like the music and visuals were intertwined, guiding me through my inner landscape.

Prior to the ceremony, Lilly and I were walking around town and met with an artist whose paintings were inspired by Ayahuasca experiences. The artwork I saw in my mind was strikingly similar to what I had seen earlier in the day. It was as if I was connecting with a universal source of creativity and inspiration. I can’t describe it as anything other than feeling a sort of cosmic radiance. 

At one point I felt as though I was in a protective sphere looking out at the cosmos. It was like being in the womb and feeling the sort of connection a mother feels with her child. In a sense, I think I was connecting to my inner child or inner self in a nurturing way—by letting myself explore my own mind.

A Deeper Connection with Lilly

A profound moment for me was when Lilly, who initially seemed to struggle with the effects, took a larger dose. I could sense and physically see her fear, almost feeling her thoughts about whether I was judging her. 

I told her, “Lilly, you’re so brave” to which she responded, “Am I?” And at that moment her color turned dark, almost black, because she was feeling ashamed. Yet, as soon as she started to blush and let go of that insecurity, she absolutely radiated energy. It was magnificent to see her transform right in front of my eyes. 

This moment definitely brought us closer and strengthened our bond. The fact that I could see and feel what she was going through so vividly (but in such an introspective way) felt empowering and like our connection was being solidified in a way we hadn’t experienced before.

Lilly and Vic in Peru 2024

Lilly’s Ayahuasca Experience

Overcoming the Struggle to Let Go

Unlike Vic, it took a lot longer for the Ayahuasca tea to take effect on me. I almost fought or tried to control the effects at first. 

So, my initial experience didn’t feel like any kind of big revelation. I didn’t see anything or feel a rush of love like Vic did. In fact, it mostly felt dark, like I was searching for an answer that never arrived (maybe that was the answer).

Although I was feeling apprehensive, I was so determined to experience Ayahuasca as an artist, hoping to find new creative and spiritual realms within myself. So, after about an hour, I drank some more tea and ended up taking a larger dose than Vic did. 

That’s when it hit me. I started feeling the music in my body and seeing kaleidoscope faces looking at me like a Japanese cartoon.

It felt like I was opening a small door in a massive wall. I think my initial fear and anxiety held me back a bit and I didn’t see everything inside. But it was still a significant step! I believe when Vic peeked into the door, he was more intrigued than afraid. Maybe next time I’ll feel that way too.

The Visual and Emotional Journey

At first, when I was looking at Vic and seeing how he was fully immersed in his Ayahuasca experience, I felt like he was judging me for not feeling anything as quickly as he did. But after taking more Ayahuasca, it actually made me feel brave, and Vic’s acknowledgment of my bravery helped me relax completely. 

As soon as I realized I wasn’t being judged outwardly but inwardly (by myself instead of Vic or anyone else), it was like a switch flipped, and I could feel my energy become more radiant.

I saw vivid colors and patterns, similar to Mexican Oaxaca art. It’s interesting that Vic and I saw similar shapes and patterns, but things I saw more than he did were faces and eyes. Maybe this was due to my own self-reflection and judging myself at the beginning of the experience. 

The vibrant designs and colors made me feel like I was in a protective sphere, looking out at the cosmos. The whole visual journey felt deeply intertwined with the emotional and spiritual exploration within myself.

After nearly four hours, the ceremony was over and I was left with a glamorous feeling of curiosity that I left there that night in the Sacred Valley. Now, I feel like this is the beginning of a new journey for me.

Our Shared Experience

Throughout the ceremony, we found ourselves asking internal questions which led to intense emotional responses for both of us.

The music’s intensity would change, matching our internal states, guiding us through the experience. The guides’ chanting and music played a crucial role in guiding us through this new inner landscape that we had never really dove into with such abandon.

One of the most amazing parts was feeling a sort of cosmic radiance and protective energy. Vic could control the tone and intensity of the music by projecting energy, visualizing the vibrations as beautiful Peruvian patterns on textiles.

This Ayahuasca experience brought us closer together and opened us up to new truths. It helped us realize the importance of being vulnerable and letting go of perfectionism.

We learned that everything would be okay in the end, and the answers we seek are already within us.

What We Learned from Our Ayahuasca Experience

Vic and Lilly from Lilly Red Photography

If anything, this experience has reaffirmed how significant it is to submit, forgive, and be vulnerable when it comes to personal growth.

We felt the importance of being strong and open, attracting positive energy, and guiding others. The act of letting go, whether it was control or fear, was a powerful lesson.

Would we do it again? Absolutely. We feel as though this new experience was just the beginning of a next chapter in our lives. We’re trying to be more conscious of our place in the world and where we want our lives to go. 

It opened doors to deeper understanding and creativity, and we’re very excited to see where it takes us next!

One might say our Ayahuasca journey in Peru was a profound awakening. It allowed us to open doors within ourselves, find deeper meanings, and strengthen our bond. 

We hope our story inspires you to explore your own paths of self-discovery and healing. Thank you for reading our unique experiences with Ayahuasca. And remember, you already have the answers within you—Ayahuasca just helps you find them.