I had a close call on the second night of the ayahuasca ceremony.
I saw my teenage self melting into particles and eventually disappearing altogether. I pulled off my sleep mask and saw the people around me shape-shifting into shadows. I thought I was dying, or perhaps losing my grip on reality.
Suddenly, Kat, my guide, appeared and began singing to me. I couldn’t make out the words, but the cadence was soothing. After a minute or two, the dread washed away and I settled back into a peaceful half-sleep.
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The 12 of us — nine women and three men — taking ayahuasca in a private home in San Diego were led by two trained guides: Kat and her partner, whom I’ll call Sarah since she requested anonymity due to legal concerns. Together they have more than 20 years of experience working with psychedelics, including ayahuasca, a plant concoction that contains the natural hallucinogen known as DMT.