Culture At Large

Ayahuasca and the high of Easter

Jes Kast

In the jungles of Peru lies a concoction of vines and other plants that has caught the curiosity of spiritual seekers across the globe. The mixture, known as ayahuasca, is a hallucinogen that is consumed by drinking a thick sludge. Traditionally shamans are present to accompany the seeker in their quest for healing and enlightenment, as the concoction produces not only visions but also severe vomiting.

Magazines such as Marie Claire and Men’s Journal have published articles on ayahuasca, which has increased tourism in Peru and can be found at a growing number of parties in the United States (even though it is illegal here). In a National Geographic video, a woman who ingested the sludge spoke about a psychedelic experience in which she met the child she was forced to abort when the woman was a 12-year-old girl.

In the stories about ayahuasca I heard common themes of wanting to stay connected to the dead, to find healing from traumatic experiences and to encounter “the universe.” To be human is to be spiritual. We all long for hope, healing and new awareness. In our spiritual quests we desire to be reunited with dead loved ones and to experience the power of God in our lives.

This is why Christ’s resurrection is incredible. Hope, healing and an awareness of new life is at the heart of the Christian story. The resurrection of Jesus meets us in our spiritual quests. We find Him asking us the same thing He asked Mary, “Who is it you are looking for?”

What a powerful question: who are you looking for?

What a powerful question: who are you looking for? Who are the loved ones that have gone before us that we long to be reconnected with? Perhaps we are wondering who we are and we are looking for answers about who we are becoming. The resurrection of Jesus reminds us that death does not have the last word. No matter the decay and heartache we have experienced in life - divorce, abuse, financial hardships, sexism, racism, death of a loved one, violence, etc. - in Jesus we see the power of resurrection. This power is one of new beginnings, healing and hope.

On Easter we read the story of brave Mary Magdalene, who goes to the tomb of Jesus on a spiritual quest, because it is so very human of us to embark on spiritual quests. She is like those who seek ayahuasca for new awareness, and she is like us. We are searching for the God we know in Jesus; we long for the resurrected life of Jesus’ presence in our lives today. And just like anyone who has a vision, after seeing Jesus she goes back to the other disciples and exclaims “I have seen the Lord!”

May we, like Mary, see the power of the resurrected Christ in our searching and our weeping. In our striving for healing, hope and new awareness, may we know that the power of resurrection need not come in an altered state brought on by the likes of ayahuasca. Rather, the power of the resurrection comes to us through the presence of Jesus in our daily lives over and over and over again. New life begins today.

Topics: Culture At Large, Theology & The Church, Christmas & Easter, News & Politics, Social Trends, World