Deep Release — On Ayahuasca, Receptivity, and Shadow

Tristan Roberts
6 min readMay 3, 2019


I’ve been meaning to write a pithy article about why conservatives should get fucked. Not metaphorically, but in the sense that, intentionally receiving some of what they are so willing to dish out might add a layer of self-awareness and finesse that would perhaps otherwise be absent.

On a seemingly unrelated note, I participated in an Ayahuasca ceremony a couple weeks ago.

I was intrigued about the possibility of doing ‘shadow work’: of coming into contact with parts of myself that my ‘normal’ cognition doesn’t oft perceive, and perhaps reconciling if not integrating to create something more whole that what was.

Like most people contemplating Ayahuasca for the first time, though, I dreaded the possibility of psychedelic vomit and diarrhea. I’ve always thought I had a ‘weak stomach’: mushrooms don’t tend to stay down.

To avail myself, I fasted on juice for three days prior to the ceremony.

Once I got there, though, I was told that ‘purging’ from one end or the other was an inevitability after drinking the brew. We received a bit of tobacco powder mixed with other herbs, straight into the nose, at the start of the ceremony. We were told that if we needed to purge later, this would do the trick.

The first couple hours following the ceremony, I heard plenty of people retching as I sat by the fire while music played. I waited for my mouth to salivate and my stomach to tense up in queasy anticipation, yet nothing of the sort started.

I took the second cup. Another hour or two went by before I laid back on my sleeping bag. As I closed my eyes, I was treated to a vibrant visual splendor: mesmerizing patterns of iridescent, fractal complexity. I took the advice of a friend and did my best to ‘surrender’, releasing any resistance to the sensations and thoughts, avoiding the impulse to tense up and clutch my heart or stomach.

I felt insight begin to pour in, like catching up with an old friend, filling in the gaps of my own mental model, giving me clarity on my behavior and how to plan out the coming years.

At first, I thought I had ‘won’ — it seemed like I wasn’t going to be puking or shitting myself that night. Perhaps my prayer to the arch angels had paid off, like it did for that guy who converted taser energy into physical strength.

But there was something about ayhuasca that was quite different from a normal ‘drug’. It truly felt like a temporary symbiotic relationship formed between myself and the plant. Did this plant evolve to produce DMT to simply fuck up its would be predators? Or did it know something about “the Spirit Molecule” that transcends materialist explanations?

Eventually, though, the urge to purge did rear its head. I took my towel and wandered off to the edge of camp so that I could retch in peace. After a few minutes though, nothing was coming up, and one of the facillitators came and asked if I could use some help.

I continued kneeling into the ground, connecting my head to the earth, when he came back with the other facillator and a glass of water. She wanted to blow that tobacco powder up my nose, but a single sip of water was enough to get my insides heaving.

There was no pain attached to the process. The departure of the plant’s spirit from my own field seemed effortless; there wasn’t the sort of lingering malice that comes from, say, food poisoning.

Suddenly, I had an epiphany. My stomach wasn’t ‘weak’ from its desire to puke. It was actually being very strong and proactive — sensing potential threats, clamping down to prevent them from entering the intestines, and at times, heaving up the offending matter.

Throughout my yoga practice I have focused on identifying and releasing the tension in my muscles. Here was another side of me — the ‘shadow side’ — that was just in need of conscious, loving release. A side of me that had grown brittle from trying to protect myself; that needed acknowledgement and appreciation in order to finally relax, and shed its unwarranted tension.

They offered me a third cup of the brew, of course, but I felt like I had gone deep enough for that night — I had an intimate encounter with my ‘other side’, my GI tract which has nearly as many neurons as the brain. A couple bowls of crystallized DMT on herbs were passed around as a nightcap. We went through a purification process at the dawn, pounding out any remaining darkness with a drum, and then broke our fast with fruit and nuts. We left as different people from those that arrived the night before.

Most of the “downloads” I received during my time sprawled against the ground, enjoying the kaleidescope of colors as a higher dimensional pattern was condensed onto my mind’s viewing screen. Most of them can not easily be translated into English, as the effect of the molecule binding together my dopaminergic, seretonigeric, and adrenal systems had effects largely outside that narrow slice of cognition that forms our words and sentences.

But a few tangible pieces of advice did float to the surface of my awareness. “You must open your mouth to eat” … open your eyes to see” … “ and “open your heart to love/be loved” are the lines that stuck with me. At the time I feel these thoughts come across me, I felt the abstract level we usually process words in extend all the way down to the emotional and physical realites. I could sense how my aescetic beliefs have led to forgoing of food (energy/currency). How the narrow focus of my attention had left me blind to a wealth of information that was trying to make itself known, if I had only looked. How my desire to be loved was inhibiting my ability to love unconditionally, to be a constant spring of affection, that would surely fill in my bubble of consciousness with joy if I simply let it flow rather than scheme to make sure the love from others would always be flowing my way.

A lot of the benefit I received seemed to help me sequence my future. Letting go of my attachment to my home town; sensing that my family obligations are pretty low right now so it’s time to enjoy life rather than try to make Florida hospitable.

I respected the plant, and the three days of fasting really payed off. Being able to focus on interpretting what the substance is trying to communicate to you is key, although to be fair, it sounds like retching can be very cathartic under the influence of the brew.

Honestly, I’m not sure if my practice of ahimsa (non-harming) has paid off, allowing me a relatively harmonious experience with the plant (and my shadow side), or if I simply didn’t go deep enough to trudge up the real muck.

After integrating the plant’s wisdom, I don’t think I’m any stronger, but I do feel like I am fighting myself less... Clarity is about getting out of your own way. Pick up your tangle of fractals, shake the dust off of them, sort them in a neat stack, and be on your merrily integrated way.

Coincidentally enough, reducing one’s tendency to fight one’s ‘self’ is yet another reason one should try receiving rather than just slinging dick.

I had thought I had already developed an awareness of my internal muscles through the practice of bottoming, where the reflex to tense up must be overcome with mindful relaxation and expansion. If you want to be able to walk the next day, anyways.

Ayuasca showed me that I was missing out on awareness section of internal real estate — those muscles and neurons that, outside of puking, never seem to enter my awareness. While my yoga practice had me focusing on my spine, my GI tract was right next door, also needing some identification, release, and enhacement.

Whether taking ten meditates to sit in silence, or taking ten inches, mindful receptivity is the key to becoming more.

A full explanation, including biodynamics and metaphysics, of why ’straight’ men’ and ‘100% tops’ ought to get fucked will be coming shortly, so please follow if you haven’t already, so that this important information is able to be received fully.

-Tristan Roberts —



Tristan Roberts

Citizen scientist & decentralization enthusiast.