This entry is part 3 of 7 in the series Drugs and Spirituality
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Last Updated on October 6, 2022

English: Terence Kemp McKenna

Terence McKenna

Increasing numbers of people are turning to ayahuasca for spiritual insight, healing, experiences of non-ordinary reality, and more. Some even consider ayahuasca as the basis of their spiritual path. But is ayahuasca all good? Learning about ayahuasca online, in videos and documentaries, through books, and through the promotional materials of people offering ayahuasca ceremonies one rarely, if ever, sees mention of the many potential issues and down-falls of ayahuasca usage and ceremonies. I’ve had numerous people ask me for my opinion on Aya in recent years, and the feedback I receive is that I share a deeper, broader, and more helpful perspective than what they had heard previously.

English: photo of stuart wilde

Stuart Wilde

Popular New Age teacher Stuart Wilde[1]Stuart (now deceased), following his many years of “disappearance” (after which he re-emerged and published God’s Gladiators in … Continue reading helped bring ayahuasca ceremony to the forefront of public attention in recent years. With the advent of his excellent book Supernatural, popular alternative archaeology researcher and author Graham Hancock has also increased awareness of ayahuasca. Perhaps the first person to originally turn a lot of Westerners on to ayahuasca (and one of its chemical components, DMT) in a significant way was the late Terence McKenna. I am familiar with the work of each of these three new-thought leaders—all of whom I admire for their contribution to the world—, and yet I’ve seen very little (if anything) from them about the potentially dark side of ayahuasca[2]Update (January 2015): I have since become aware that Graham Hancock has in fact shared openly about what I understand he also perceives to be a … Continue reading. Perhaps that means it doesn’t have one. Perhaps that means ayahuasca is all Light and Enlightening? I don’t mind being the one to say it is not. In this article I intend to help you understand why, and what to watch out for if you decide to venture into the medicine space of this sacred vine.

English: Shot on SONY HVR-A1E

Graham Hancock

Before I go on I wish to make it clear I am not against the use of ayahuasca or any other genuine and traditional entheogenic plant for that matter. They all have their place in the Great Perfection of Life. The key is whether or not we know and appreciate how to approach the place in the right way, at the right time, and in the right frame-of-mind. Also, once in that place, do we know how to safely perceive what is unfolding? Do we know and appreciate the challenges these medicines may present us with? Both the light and the dark. Both are a challenge. So I am writing this article simply as a voice of reason to the bigger picture of what can happen to a person through partaking in ayahuasca. There is information abound on the Internet about the “positive” spin on ayahuasca, so I do not intend to focus on that. But not because I don’t feel it has potentially positive aspects to it. On the contrary, it as many.


The number one issue I see with people who have used ayahuasca—and numerous other mind-altering substances—is the infiltration of entities in their luminous energy field. In my experience I have met very few people who have used ayahuasca who don’t have entities attached to and/or influencing their luminous body. [3]What follows was updated in Feb 2015 for greater clarification >>I am not implying ayahuasca usage was the sole source, primary source, or even a source, of these entities. As mentioned below, a great many people are (usually unknowingly) contending with the effects of psychic intrusion and attachments even if they’ve never used psychoactive plants. However, it’s worth pointing out, there are a noteworthy number of situations where I have been aware that a significant degree of the psychic intrusion the people I have met[4]This includes the clients and students of people I am close to were experiencing was directly linked to their use of ayahuasca.

I will add that my partner for five years was a practitioner of shamanic energy medicine, and a woman with rather amazing spiritual sight—in my experience second only to my primary shamanic/spiritual teacher from Colombia, whose “sight” is so astounding it would be a complex matter to try and explain or elaborate on in this article. In her extensive and successful healing practice, and during our global travels, she would often identify people who had taken ayahuasca simply through observation of their luminous body. She would also quickly and accurately identify people who smoked cannabis in the same way. Typically, what she would first pick up on was the entities these people were linked to. With a little questioning, it would be confirmed they had used ayahuasca. Again, this does not logically mean or imply everyone who takes ayahuasca ends up with entities. My friend would see the entities, and track their source. Other common sources were sorcery, trauma, family ties, alcohol, etc.. Although, having said this, I should point out entity intrusion is not the only element playing into the “dark side” of ayahuasca. I will also add that the situation of entities is even more of an issue when it comes to people I have met (a great many) who habitually smoke cannabis. In my experience, and that of numerous seers (including the aforementioned) I have had the fortune of studying and living with, it’s a major entity attractor (not to mention a common cause of spiritual delusion). But I’ve written about that already and wish to stay focused on ayahuasca in this article[5]<< End of 02/2015 modifications to the text.

It’s an unfortunate fact that our “Western” cultures have lost the knowledge of entities and spiritual forces acting upon Man. I suspect Christianity had a big part to play in the loss of this knowledge. Orthodox Christianity somewhat summed up all forms of entities and inorganic beings into one super bad guy called “Satan” or “Lucifer”. In much the same way the many pagan and pre-Christian deities and Gods were conglomerated into one super good guy called “God”. It would be like removing all knowledge (including historical knowledge) of the many human cultures on Earth and lumping them all into one culture called Culture-X. What a loss of richness, understanding, and diversity such an act would represent. This is very much what has happened with our appreciation of entities, inorganic beings, and the vast array of other forces and phenomena.

Why is this important? Simply put, the vast majority of people I meet are affected by entities. In Ancient Hawaiian Huna (as I learnt it, which came from an old and rare lineage as opposed to the Huna that is popular today) these entities are call Malu. Malu basically translates to “life-taking spirits”. These are spirits or entities that devalue life, depreciate life, take from life. If you go into relationship with a Malu (whether you know it or not—usually not) it will have this effect on you also. It will detract from the flow and expression of Life within you, in your relationships, and in your world. Modern psychology might argue that these Malu are simply aspects of our own psyche. That’s possible, although it fails to adequately explain a few important things. But either way, they are detrimental to our well-being, and they have a very real impact on people.

One important aspect of Malu or entities is that once removed from a person’s field, very tangible changes are often experienced by that person, and by the people who know them. Remove an angry Malu and the host will often cease having anger issues. Remove a Malu with a propensity for alcohol, and the host is suddenly “cured” of their long-standing alcohol addiction. I could cite hundreds of real-life examples I have witnessed, but that will do for now. I trust it gives you a general picture of what we’re dealing with.

What I have found is that when people get “out-of-it” (to use a term commonly applied to someone who has taken drugs) the luminous body has, to an extent, been vacated by your spirit. That vacancy creates a vacuum of sorts. This “space” was intended to be occupied by sentient consciousness. If your sentient consciousness has checked out, something else is likely to check in. The problem is that this uninvited guest is likely to hang around even after your return.

A lack of awareness around entities and the ways in which they relate with and affect Man is one aspect of what makes drinking ayahuasca a potentially detrimental experience. It’s one aspect of what lurks in ayahuasca’s shadow. My previous partner (an exceptionally talented Shamanic Energy Healer, as mentioned above) has worked on significant numbers of clients who are dealing with the negative after-affects of their ayahuasca journeys. The #1 issue they face is entities in their luminous energy system. The consequences of such intrusions range widely. Insomnia, paranoia, emotional outburst, mood swings, depression, physical illness, suicidal thoughts and attempts, and more.

The entities a person carries can affect the people they are close to. Recently a dear student and friend of mine entered into a relationship with a man who takes ayahuasca as part of his spiritual path (through the Sante Diame Church). Before I met this fellow my Beloved and I were shown he had numerous shadows playing out within his persona, and a number of drug related entities affecting him on various levels. I only have to inwardly connect with this student and I see how entities are now affecting her as a consequence of her relationship. Simply put, she has been subtly hi-jacked. The photos I have seen of her since she started dating this man also indicate to me she has entities affecting her. Needless to say, since being with this man, her connection to my partner took a dramatic turn where it diminished to one of no contact, through a chain of events unconsciously instigated by her partner. Of course, over time things will all work out, but in the mean time I can only step back and let events unfold. This is one example, of many I could go into where entities get the better of people directly and indirectly through ayahuasca.

Perhaps the biggest challenge with entities or Malu is most people are unaware of them. When we are not conscious of Self as the inner Witness in consciousness, we identify with the objects of our perception, with the phenomenal world. Within the human psyche this is the phenomena of thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Entities can affect us on all those levels. Left to their own devices long enough, they can also affect us physically. Most of the people I’ve met who have come out of an ayahuasca ceremony with one or more newly acquired entities in their field are not at all aware of what they have picked up. At the most they may feel a little “off” but they put that down to being an aspect of their healing or adjustment process because of the “amazing ceremony” they just went through. In reality they have a hitch-hiker soon to become parasite.

Demonic forces


When I was in Northern Peru for 7 weeks, and working with ayahuasca, I met an interesting elderly man. He had spent many years travelling around South America documenting the use of ayahuasca. From what I recall he was making a documentary. It so happens this man is a seer. Although his background was in business, he happened to have clairvoyant sight. During a conversation with him he made the comment that he had met very few Ayahuasqueros who did not work with demons or demonic forces. He made this comment because he was pleased to say that the Ayahuasquero leading our ayahuasca ceremonies (in which this man joined in a couple of times) wasn’t working with demonic forces. He said this was rare, and something to be respected.

Why would an Ayahuasquero work with demonic forces? As far as I can imagine, it is for more power. If being able to heal gives you power and status in a society—just as being an MD gives people power and status in our society—there is always the temptation to use any means to increase one’s healing capacities. Just as many of our Western doctors fail to see the error in over-utilising pharmaceutical and invasive medical procedures, at the cost of ignoring natural alternatives, because it gives them a perceived level of power. The same thing can happen with traditional doctors, such as Ayahuasqueros. The difference is that now we are dealing with events and circumstance in other dimensions.

Needless to say, if demonic forces are an aspect of what the Ayahuasquero utilises to work with the medicine space brought into perception by the use of ayahuasca, there are going to be negative consequences. I’ll leave it at that. For now.

Implants, Psychic Darts, Packages, and Intrusive Energies

This is a big subject. I will only touch on it briefly. I’ll start with a story.

Those of us who are conscious in the metaphysical realms are able to learn how to engage in psychic warfare. The common name for this is Black Magic or Sorcery. One tool available to the sorcerer is the psychic dart or psychic poison arrows. These darts can be utilised to carry mal-intent, or to carry toxic energy into the target’s luminous energy field.

Another tool is the psychic package. I don’t know what it is officially called, but “psychic package” will do for now. I met another fellow in Northern Peru. He  came to work with the Ayahuasquero I was working with there. He was a friend of the man I mentioned who was making the documentary on ayahuasca. They came together. This younger fellow, called Benjamin, had an interesting story. We’ll call the older man Juan to make this easier to follow. Ben was from a Catholic Christian background. He was having various troubles in his life. Odd and negative things would randomly happen to him.  Juan, who is a seer, told Ben he was under psychic attack and being influenced by dark energies in the form of magic packages. Benjamin didn’t believe any of this and ignored Juan. But after some time Ben had experienced so many strange negative occurrences in his world he was willing to listen to Juan.

Juan told Ben to visit a Shaman in Lima (where they all lived) to remove the negative energies. The healer entered into a ceremony with Ben, and what Ben recounts is that 8 bundles fell out of the space around his body. Now it’s possible this healer had rigged the room in some way, in order to create the illusion these packages manifested from the air, and fell to the floor. But as far as Ben (who was highly sceptical about such things) could ascertain, right before his eyes they fell out from the space around his body. He opened one—and took photos, which I saw—and it had various items in it. Herbs, a little effigy of a man, some small stones, etc. The healer told Ben a sorcerer had placed these in his field. After this event Ben became interested in learning more about the traditional medicine practices of his country, and that’s what eventually led him to where we met.

Two-faced Ayahuasqueros

Whilst in Cuzco for a few weeks, I met a German woman who lived in Old Cuzco. She trained as a traditional psychotherapist in Germany. She also trained with the Q’ero people in the remote regions of the Andes. One of the reasons she was living in Cuzco was to help “Westerners” who were “damaged” or deranged by their ayahuasca experiences. She told me about “two-faced Shamans”. She said that many of the ayahuasca shamans are two-faced, meaning they have the face of the beneficent healer on the one side, and the face of malevolence on the other side.

She told me about a few of the many tactics they employ for their own gain. One was that of a dart of intent. She said it is not at all uncommon for many of the Ayahuasqueros to place a dart into the luminous body of someone they are leading in ceremony. The dart is placed with the intent to influence that person to go back to their home country and tell many people about the Ayahuasquero, even to organise groups to come and work with the Ayahuasquero. The Ayahuasquero does this for his own benefit, to get more paying “clients”. She told me many other stories about the shadow side of the ayahuasca trade in Peru. She said that of the hundreds of Ayahuasquero she has come into contact with, the vast majority are two-faced. That statement certainly seems to parallel Juan’s comment that most of the Ayahuasquero he has worked with in ceremony employ the assistance of demonic beings. I suspect the motivation for such things goes hand-in-hand.

The German doctor had many stories about people who were rather messed up, confused, deranged, and mentally unstable as a result of their work with ayahuasca. It reminded me of a girl from New York who stayed a few nights at the place where I was staying in the jungle. She did ceremony on two nights (days 1 and 3). After the 1st ceremony I could “see” she was rather disturbed. She did not, however, want to talk about it. After the ceremony on day 3 she was such a mess she ended her trip early and went immediately back to New York. She wouldn’t even talk with people. What I “saw” is that she discovered something grave about her past that deeply shocked her or brought the trauma to the surface. But she then had no way to deal with it.

Something else the German doctor said is that a key reason she returned to Peru was to help people have a more integrative experience of ayahuasca. She commented that the mind of the tradition Peruvian is very different from that of a European or “Western” person. For this reason she felt many of them were not equipped to handle the kind of experiences that may come up for a “Westerner”, and for this reason a person can end up leaving in a worse state than what they arrived in.

To Conclude

I have only briefly touched on each of the above subjects, hardly doing any of them justice. But I trust this is enough food for thought that people interested in exploring ayahuasca can at least be mindful of the bigger picture of what they might be getting themselves into. I could add that much of what I have written here about ayahuasca applies in more or less a similar way to other mind-altering substances, to what the main-stream paradigm refers to as drugs. Cannabis, DMT, LSD, Ecstasy, and alcohol. To name a few.

It is possible to go on a cosmic journey with ayahuasca in a clean way, but that’s not as common—or guaranteed—as many of those interested in ayahuasca might assume. Not as far as I can tell. From my perspective, a great many westerners simply don’t have the necessary skills of perception and inter-dimensional expertise to really navigate the spiritual realms cleanly and lucidly. Add to that the possibility many (perhaps the majority of) indigenous shamans don’t necessarily have the the moral foundation for them to do it cleanly either. These two things combined makes it all rather tricky territory to enter into and deal with. Just the other day I met a therapist from California who partook in two ayahuasca ceremonies whilst in Panama. He felt he got something from it—something worthwhile and positive—but he also picked up a significant amount of funk (to put it simply). Entities and dense energy. He could feel the impact of these entities, but wasn’t clear whether he was just tired, or emotionally out-of-sorts, or what.

I know ayahuasca can have some very positive benefits for people, most especially people who don’t otherwise have a deep spiritual experience of their own true nature. If a person does have that degree of self-realisation, ayahuasca would be of little use to them. For me it was a curiosity, something I’d been intrigued to experience for about 15 years before I eventually found myself in the jungles of Peru. Pretty much every time I drank ayahuasca during that jungle visit I ended up in the same “inner space”, which I am familiar with through spiritual practice and self-realisation. The Absolute Void from which all Forms of Life emerge and pass away. Be they physical forms, thought-forms, psychic forms, visions, etc..

I had the very visceral recognition everything—absolutely every-thing—is created through conceptualisation (for lack of a better word) in what might be loosely referred to as a vast cosmic mind. Every idea, belief, -ism, perception, experience, concept, etc., originates from the potent void of That Mind. It’s all dreamed up—so to speak—and the only Reality truly and ultimately worth knowing is the Knower. The Dreamer of the Dream. So what Mother Ayahuasca showed me was what I had previously seen, but it was now confirmed in a very powerful and all consuming way. “Jonathan” literally ceased to exist. He who sat at the Shaman’s feet and drank a very thick potent brew of vile tasty syrup vanished. That line of history was gone. What remained was just the witness, the Knower, the Dreamer… surrounded by complete darkness, with nothing around. Not a sinister shadowy kind of darkness, but a very potent and alive kind of darkness. What I might liken to the darkness inside a cosmic womb.

So from my own experience with ayahuasca, I walked away with that confirmation, and with some first hand experience of the world of ayahuasca, the culture from which it was born, a cross-section of people involved with it, etcetera. I feel that was, from a worldly perspective, the more important aspect of why I was drawn to work with ayahuasca. So that I could share with people certain perspectives on it, garnered from first-hand experience.

Post Script

A few days after writing the above article, I read this: American found dead after taking ayahuasca — it touches on the physical safety issues that may come into play during ayahuasca usage.

Public Reaction

(added in January 2015) This article is by far the most popular on my website. It has received the most comments by a long shot, and has resulted in my receiving a significant number of emails. The views expressed in those comments and emails have been very contrasting. If you feel moved to email me in order to defend your personal opinions on Ayahuasca, I ask you to please kindly refrain from doing so. Please feel free to post a comment instead, and please be aware I may choose not to invest energy in responding to your opinions. I simply have too many other things to focus on. If this is a topic of interest to you—whether you agree with my views, or not—I also ask that you please take the time to read Part Two and Part Three of this series on Ayahuasca.

A few readers have shared this article with me. If you’re interested in this topic, please read it. Here’s another I recommend from the same author.

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