America is Getting a (Legal!) Ayahuasca Retreat
Now that marijuana tourism is well and truly active in states like Colorado and Washington, the opening of the nation's first legal Ayahuasca retreat, which happens next month in Washington state, seems somewhat, well, inevitable.
Ayahuasca is a plant that has been prized by indigenous Amazonian cultures for thousands of years. Known to bring about optic and auditory hallucinations, the drink made from the so-called "vine of death" or "yagé" is used primarily for healing and spiritual awakening. Celebrities like Sting, Lindsay Lohan, and Tori Amos have all spoken positively about the drug's power, according to the New York Times, but, until now, it had always been illegal in the U.S., and those who wished to partake had to do so covertly or head to Peru or Brazil.
Ayahuasca Healings has held retreats in Peru for years, aimed at travelers interested in exploring what the website describes as "a doorway to inner worlds that allows us access to higher states of consciousness and the experience of spiritual awakening." Now adventurers don't need to bring their passport when they explore those "inner worlds."
While the Ayahuasca plant isn't illegal in the United States, per se, its active ingredient, known as D.M.T., is banned as a Schedule I drug, the same category as heroin and ecstasy. The U.S. retreat is able to skirt the issue (so far) by establishing themselves as an "independent Native American Church" and using their Constitutionally protected right of the free exercise of religion to imbibe what they call "Mother Ayahuasca," according to Death and Taxes Magazine.
That means that for the first time, parties intent on participating in the spiritual applications of Ayahuasca can try it out, legally, by making a "suggested donation" of $1,497 to $1,997, and heading to the church, which is located about 90 minutes outside of Seattle. Check out the daily schedule of events, including four Ayahuasca ceremonies in four days plus time in a "Native Indian Sweat Lodge" to enhance the experience.
Before you book your ticket, Ayahuasca Healings' website warns that, "Ayahuasca isn't a 'magic pill' or drink that will just heal you," but is simply "a tool in your healing, in your growth, and evolution." If you're still curious, head here for more information.