Ayahuasca is a psychoactive brew consumed throughout the entire Amazon region. The term is a Quechua compound word meaning "Vine of the Soul.". Depending on the region and the context of use, the brew is also known by a variety of other names; the most well-.known are caapi, yage, natem, cipo, mariri, Daime, hoasca, and vegetal. In the region of Peru known as Loreto, it is often referred to as "La Purga"..
Typically, Ayahuasca induces powerful visions as well as hallucinations in all other perceptual modalities. Pronounced non-perceptual cognitive effects are also manifest. These include personal insights, intellectual ideations, affective reactions, and profound spiritual and mystical experiences.
Moreover, Ayahuasca introduces those who partake of it to what are experienced as other realities. Those who consume the brew may feel that they are gaining access to new sources of knowledge and that the mysteries and ultimate truths of the universe are being revealed to them. All this is often coupled with what drinkers describe as an encounter with the Divine.
In the vast region encompassing western Brazil and the eastern areas of Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia , as well as parts of the basin of the Orinoco, where Brazil and Venezuela meet, Ayahuasca has long been a key constituent of culture. Indeed, it appears that the indigenous peoples of this region have used the brew for millennia. In the past, Ayahuasaca was used in the making of all major decisions of a tribe, notably locating game for hunting and declaring war. It was also believed that the brew made it possible to see distant places and foretell the future. Even today, Ayahuasca is the basic instrument of shamans in the entire region. On the one hand, the brew is said to enable the shaman to see the inner constitution of his patients, and thus establish a diagnosis; on the other hand, it is said to bring the shaman in contact with wise beings and guiding entities that pass information to the shaman so that he knows how to perform the appropriate treatment. In addition, Ayahuasca is purported to allow the shaman to be in touch with the spirits, the beings of other worlds and the dead. For many, Ayahuasca is not merely a potion or a plant but also a being with special, unique qualities or even a deity.
Ayahuasca is only to be taken within the framework of a ceremony.