It’s not every day that ayahuasca shows up at your doorstep. It all started out as kind of a joke, really. We got an email from a Peruvian company, which shall remain nameless, which had read some stories on our site and wanted to pay for hyperlinked posts to drive sales of their mail order ayahuasca. “We sell ayahuasca kits for those who cannot attend a retreat,” the email said. “We always recommend people to go to a well established retreat center if they have the resource to. However, not all can or want to do that, so we offer them the kits to do themselves.” “Perhaps,” we replied. “But can we try it first?”
Sure enough, two months later (due to COVID-related shipping delays), I came home to a generic, bright yellow DHL envelope from Iquitos, Peru, tracking and all. Inside was a sealed silver packet, like what you might buy an electronic accessory in, with a label on the front that looked like it had been printed at-home, which said “Acai Berry.” Inside that packet: a deep maroon goo wrapped in…more plastic. I took a whiff and just about purged. “Yup, that’s the stuff,” I thought. (Who knows what’s really in it, but it sure smelled authentic.) The instructions had come via email about ten days prior:
- Boil 100 mL of water for every 30 grams of ayahuasca resin
- Add ayahuasca resin to hot water on low heat for 3-5 minutes
- Mix and stir until it’s completely dissolved
- Cool it down and it’s ready to drink
Wow! Almost as simple as the frozen meals from Trader Joe’s.
Inside a sealed silver packet was a deep maroon goo wrapped in…more plastic. I took a whiff and just about purged. “Yup, that’s the stuff,” I thought.
It came with some other instructions, too: Don’t take the ayahuasca if you’re on any of these medications as it can be fatal. Oh, and “Icaros are songs that shamans sing during ayahuasca ceremonies;” Here’s a YouTube link if you want to listen to some while you’re on it. (No, I’m not joking.) The whole thing is so unfathomable, it’s almost funny…but it also isn’t. At. All. Alongside mail order ayahuasca, we’ve also recently heard, at DoubleBlind, about virtual hapé ceremonies (where folks self-administer hapé—a tobacco-based, indigenous medicine that’s typically snorted and can cause purging) over Zoom.
If you or a loved one is thinking about taking plant medicines for the first time, check out our website for resources on how to reduce harm. And please, too, if you’re considering taking an indigenous plant medicine that you don’t have ancestral ties to, read up about sacred reciprocity. But for now, we’ll leave it at this: yes, this sort of thing happens. And no, it’s not okay. Take care of yourselves, community.