Ayahuasca is powerful…
Powerful enough to induce visions that interact with your mind, emotions, spiritual well-being, life experiences, attitudes toward life, and your entire being.
It’s a multi-faceted catalyst that transforms you through deep self-reflection, profound insights, gradual/drastic healing, and strengthened spiritual connection with mystical and spiritual creatures.
To many, an ayahuasca ceremony is like a religious ritual. And the sole goal is to see visions – that’s like God talking to you.
Without visions, what’s the point, right?
That’s far from true. The plant medicine works in complex ways, and vivid visions are one of the many ways it shows itself.
(By the way, scientifically, visions are nothing but visual hallucinations caused by the chemicals interacting with your brain—your neurotransmitters. You can experience other types.)
And ayahuasca visuals are not a given. Some users have them; others just don’t (or can’t).
Several factors could inhibit you from experiencing visions. Or Mother Ayahuasca may choose to speak to you through another dimension.
So, if visual manifestations were absent on your last trip, it doesn’t mean the ceremony was unsuccessful. Iowaska can still alter the course of your life, by talking to you in another way(s).
What Are Ayahuasca Visions?
In case you’re new to the brew, a little recap:
Ayahuasca is a spirit vine popular among indigenous South American tribes. The medicinal tea comes from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine (its bark) and the Psychotria viridis plant (its leaves).
For centuries, different Amazonian groups have been using it to heal the old and young, by effectively communicating with the spirit world.
From physical purging and emotional release to mental emancipation, these native tribes gave it varying self-explanatory names as a testament to its power.
But when we come under scientific analysis, ayahuasca owes its praises to DMT (dimethyltryptamine)(1)https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-dmt.
This psychoactive compound interacts with the brain’s serotonin receptors, altering the mind (perception and cognition). This altered state can cause intense visual effects, referred to as ayahuasca visions.
These hallucinations are individualistic, i.e., they vary between individuals.
They’re also subjective. This means one’s life experiences, attitudes, habits, feelings, and intentions can influence them.
These visions are not limited to only moving images. Other sensory perceptions—tactile, auditory, and emotional—also happen.
Fun Fact: For people who see visions, you can see them whether you close or open your eyes. Closed-eye visions are more intense, while opening your eyes makes them much, much milder. It only animates the real world.
In fact, opening your eyes is one of the best ways to calm down during a bad trip.
What Do Ayahuasca Visions Look Like?
Mama Aya can show you a wide range of visuals. And to reiterate, these visions vary from person to person.
For instance, mythical creatures come in varieties, so while I’m tripping with a sexy elf, you might be hanging out with a dragon.
Okay, let’s get to the different categories of symbolic visions one can see.
Under the influence of this psychedelic brew, some people see complex patterns. These geometrical shapes can be fluid and colorful.
You may see yourself immersed in the geometrical world, or it may appear on the surface of your visual field.
These shapes are often symbolic, but they can be meaningless. (Not precisely useless because they’re part of the ayahuasca journey, but they hold no message or memory for you).
Anyway, geometric visions could depict transformation (e.g., a circular or spiral pattern can represent rebirth – the collapse of old habits, beliefs, behaviors, attitudes, values, and patterns, and the building of new structures).
They could also be transcendental, showing a shift from your physical environment to a supernatural realm.
Again, through ayahuasca, geometrical patterns can typify the interconnectedness of realms. They act as an entrance through which you can access or glimpse different existential worlds.
Natural elements characterize many ayahuasca visions. These include living entities in the natural world.
Think animals, the ecosystem, the landscape, the sky, etc.
In ayahuasca visions, nature is highly symbolic and can be construed as a whole range of concepts.
Not only does it signify healing, but it also shows a relationship with the physical world. For example, lush greenery can create a sense of freshness, balance, growth, and successful harvest.
An element of nature can also represent your personal experiences and emotions or have a spiritual undertone.
For instance, a vision of roots can mean stability and strength. While vines could imply healing or profound insights.
Nature also has mythological representations. A prime example is seeing a flying bird – it could mean you’re being set free.
And in the end, ayahuasca opens one’s eyes to see the beauty of nature. It stimulates you to be more committed to the war to protect our natural environment.
Vivid, vibrant colors often fill my ayahuasca hallucinations. These shades are usually brighter and purer compared to real life, plus the transition from hue to hue is crazy.
Among the colors ayahuasca trippers perceive are rich greens, brilliant yellows, sweet purples, and calming blues.
Ayahuasca users often encounter spiritual or mythical entities. These folks come as spirits, angels, ancestors, and deities.
Some have reportedly seen aliens in their visions – even alien spaceships and planets.
These beings often act as guides, offering travelers lessons and a deeper understanding of their behaviors and beliefs. They seem so familiar that one feels relaxed in their presence.
My theory: Mama Aya, as well as your ancestors and loved ones, can transform into a mystical mentor.
You may also connect with external or unknown spirits wandering the universe – even aliens (those evolved beyond our spiritual fields… if they exist).
Fun Fact: These creatures can be as friendly/helpful or confrontational/terrifying as imaginable.
You MUST check out my last piece on how to navigate bad trips, including negative spirits and disturbing creatures.
I’ll repeat this – your first or hundredth ayahuasca trip can be the most uncomfortable moment in your life. But there’s no such thing as a bad trip; you can always learn from them.
Check out the guide – it’s detailed, in-depth, and dissects multiple talking points.
In an ayahuasca vision, animals play significant roles as spirit guides and protectors.
They act as allies, offering support as you journey. But each animal has an energy or quality it embodies.
In shamanic mythology, snakes depict wisdom. A jaguar implies transformation and strength, while a deer symbolizes grace.
These animals give insight into your personality, character, experiences, and overall existence. They can also tell you how to be better – to actualize your ideal self.
These visions of Mama Aya remain a hot topic among first-time/casual drinkers and longtime enthusiasts, as it’s quite rare.
The feminine entity can appear in a living form or as a warm presence. It’s an integral part of the whole experience for many, so those who haven’t seen or felt Mother Ayahuasca often feel their journey is incomplete.
Well, that’s NOT true. You don’t have to see or feel anything for your ayahuasca journey to begin, end, or be meaningful.
In fact, the point of today’s guide is to show you that you can learn, heal, and grow without seeing a single ayahuasca vision.
Again, these visuals are highly subjective and based on individual experiences. The intensity, duration, clarity, and aftereffects of these hallucinations differ for people who see them.
Also, several factors can help you experience visuals during an ayahuasca ceremony. (We’ll talk about them soon enough.)
This is one of my favorite things to see on a trip.
From drifting in space without a spacesuit to seeing a fast-forward film of the universe or a cosmic object (like a planet, star, black hole, or solar system) forming.
It’s quite the spectacle. But if you can’t explore the cosmos (or see any visuals at all), don’t worry. You’re not unlucky – just unique.
Why Do Some People Have Ayahuasca Visions?
Now, to look at why you may be unable to see an ayahuasca vision, we have to first talk about the several factors that can help you experience visuals during an ayahuasca ceremony.
If you’ve done all of them (and, like John Cena, Mama Aya is still saying, “You can’t see me”), here’s the truth: ayahuasca understands that no two humans are the same.
So, only some people who drink the medicinal brew will have visions. Some will have them occasionally or if certain conditions are met. Others never will (because of spiritual or scientific reasons).
Whichever group you belong, these pointers can spark ideas to make your ayahuasca trips more memorable and meaningful:
Intention and Submission
Ayahuasca wants to know who seeks it and why. So, those who approach it with an open, welcoming mindset are more likely to have visions.
Let go of your ego and control, surrendering to wherever the spirits take you. Don’t be afraid – no matter who or what you see, feel, or think.
Also, having a clear intention without rigid expectations paves the way for visionary effects.
Those who surrender and trust the process create a facilitative environment for transformative visions to thrive, so try it next time.
The Setting of the Ceremony
People connect to ayahuasca better when they’re in a conducive environment. Those whose ceremony occurs in a comfortable, safe, secure, and calm atmosphere will likely see psychedelic visuals.
Similarly, people who travel under the guidance of an experienced shaman have a higher chance of seeing things.
But don’t get it twisted – it’s better to trip with an amateur trip sitter you trust (a friend, family member, or partner) than a revered shaman you don’t trust (always follow your gut feeling).
I was reading an article about ayahuasca first-timers thinking expensive retreat centers and shamans offer better services. But in actuality, a trusted friend is enough to sit with you.
The only downside is the ritualistic nature of the whole thing – from singing icaros to nature sounds, to establishing group and individual intentions, to helping you prepare for trips and interpret your insights.
The presence of a supportive community also gives you a sense of safety and trust, making visions easier to attain.
Therapists are another alternative, so weigh your options or try out different guides and settings to see which fits perfectly.
Ayahuasca contains DMT – a psychoactive compound capable of producing visionary effects. This substance can completely alter your conscious state when consumed frequently or in high doses.
If taken in extra-small doses, visions may be absent but you’ll likely notice other sensory experiences.
In short, the intensity of an ayahuasca drink can activate or deactivate visual hallucinations.
It’s not just how it was brewed – the percentage of DMT in the concoction. How frequently you drink it also plays a huge role.
But that’s not your ticket to go overboard. Hard to OD on DMT or ayahuasca, but a dosage (how much and how often) too high can literally kill you.
Moderation is key if you want to have visions. Not too little. Not too much.
Ayahuasca is known to unearth deep-seated experiences affecting a person’s mental health.
That’s why users with repressed psychological issues will often have visions. These visions help them understand their traumatic experiences, process their feelings and emotions, and find steps to move forward as a better person.
The best advice I can give you here is to set your intentions based on your personal experiences.
Ask yourself, “In this ayahuasca session, which traumas, emotional blockages, bad habits, mental health issues, etc., do I want to deal with?”
Sensitivity to the Plants
Some people respond better to ayahuasca (or its constituting chemicals).
For instance, if we break one of the plants into its constituents. One of the chemicals, DMT, interacts faster with some bodies and brains than others.
There isn’t much you can do here. Love what you were given regardless, you lucky human.
Cultural and Spiritual Connection
Those who deeply resonate with ayahuasca rituals and cultural practices often have visions. People who believe in the plant and its potency are more likely to have visual manifestations.
Read more about ayahuasca and its culture.
- Beyond the Psychoactive Effects of Ayahuasca: Cultural and Pharmacological Relevance of Its Emetic and Purging Properties
- Cultural Context and the Beneficial Applications of Ayahuasca
- Ayahuasca – Wikipedia
- Ayahuasca: Shamanism Shared Across Cultures
- The Colonization of the Ayahuasca Experience
- The Ayahuasca ritual: Peruvian national cultural heritage and its possible integration into the primary health system
- The Power of Social Attribution: Perspectives on the Healing Efficacy of Ayahuasca
- Ayahuasca Calling: Sacredness and the Emergence of Shamanic Vocations in Denmark and Peru
Why Does Drinking Ayahuasca Have No Visual Effects on Some People?
For visual effects to happen, alkaloids produced by ayahuasca must block the monoamine oxidase (MAO) in your gastrointestinal tract. This makes DMT indigestible, so it goes into the bloodstream and ends up in the brain.
But if you drink ayahuasca for the first time, the reverse may be the case. The MAO in your GI tract may not be blocked, causing some DMT to break down in your digestive system instead of going to your brain.
However, subsequent consumption of the psychedelic brew will make your serotonin receptors sensitive to DMT.
Certain foods and drugs can reduce the potency of ayahuasca and make visions unattainable. Some can even lead to hazards—including imminent death—if they interact with the brew.
You’ll be well-advised to strictly follow a dieta created by a reputable shaman before you join an ayahuasca ceremony.
Most diets exclude sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. Citrus and fatty foods are also prohibited. Even psychiatric medications and recreational drugs are not advised.
The drugs part is much more sensitive because mixing ayahuasca with SSRIs (or any serotonin-inducing medicine) can lead to serotonin syndrome (AKA death). These include Zoloft, Prozac, Wellbutrin, Effexor, and other antidepressants.
Other drugs to avoid before drinking ayahuasca include antihistamines, antipsychotics, and other MAO inhibitors.
The Plant’s Maturity
Mature ayahuasca plants have higher DMT levels than younger ones. So, if you’re drinking ayahuasca made from young plants, you might miss out on visual hallucinations.
You can either drink more the next time or find somewhere with a better brew.
Your Mental State
The state of your mind before and during the ceremony will determine the possibility of visual imagery. If you’re distracted or doubtful, you may not experience visions.
Don’t forget to enter each session with openness and humility – clear all doubts and enjoy the ride.
Aside from that, I always tell people that ayahuasca is best served with a positive mind. I know – most individuals interested in the brew are depressed, traumatized, and have all this garbage.
But ayahuasca—being an extreme dramatization of your own mind—can lead to some horrifying experiences if you’re down in the dumps.
Taking a week or two off ahead of your trip is better. Use that time to make yourself happier and healthier. Do anything that makes you happy and frees your mind from the shackles of poor mental health.
While we’re on the subject of poor mental health, what about mental conditions?
Can a familial or personal history of mental illness (like schizophrenia or psychosis) prevent you from seeing visions or make your visuals even weirder than a typical ayahuasca trip?
Yes, to both. At least, that’s my theory.
In reality, if you’ve been diagnosed with any manic or psychotic disorder, it’s best to skip ayahuasca altogether. Its interaction with neurotransmitters can tip the scale, leading to a temporary or permanent break from reality.
The Preparation and Admission Process
Ayahuasca preparation and admission is an age-old tradition passed down from generation to generation in the Amazon.
Shamans prepare the brew and administer the right dose during ceremonies, With the drink accompanied by chants, hums, whistlings, and songs (icaros).
Users who prepare and drink the mixture at home may reduce the concentration of the brew. You may not know the correct dose (or dosage) to administer.
All these could affect your ability to have visual hallucinations.
Incompatibility With Ayahuasca
Some people are not receptive to the hallucinatory properties of ayahuasca. It could be from body chemistry or some other spiritual/scientific factor.
So, even if you take mega doses and do this and that, you may never experience visions.
If that’s your case, I have something special for you after this next subsection.
Is There Any Way to Force Ayahuasca Visions?
Not really. For example, if your chemistry isn’t compatible with ayahuasca’s, only CRISPR can change that.
But if you CAN have visual hallucinations and wish to have the best ones, you should be ready to follow some guidelines to increase the chances of your visions being intense and life-changing.
So, there’s no way to force it, but you can nudge it:
Journey with an Experienced Shaman or Reliable Retreat Center
Not every shaman, guide, therapist, trip sitter, or retreat center has what it takes to follow safe practices and ensure a participant’s well-being.
So, always research and read plenty of reviews of your top choices. You can also seek recommendations from friends or family who have tripped before.
Know Your Physiological History by Undergoing Medical Screening
Ayahuasca contains substances that may interact with certain medicines and medical conditions. And since the dose for intense visual effects is relatively high, you may end up doing more harm than good.
Hence, ensure your doctor certifies that you’re fit to take ayahuasca before participating in a ceremony. Don’t hide your medical history or the medications you’re taking from your facilitator.
Some drugs might not be life-threatening but can block the neural pathway ayahuasca takes to trigger visuals.
Also, a medical condition (like a mental disorder) can make visualization harder to achieve.
Obey the dietary rules
I’ve said this before. Those who want to experience life-changing (or just awesome) visions must observe the “dieta.”
The dieta tells you which foods, substances, and activities to avoid before, during, and after the ceremony. This helps prepare your mind and body, ensuring the tea’s potency.
Mental and emotional readiness
Ayahuasca is not for the faint-hearted. You have to be mentally and emotionally prepared to experience intense visual effects.
Prepare yourself by being receptive, submissive, and intentional about the process.
You can practice mantra-based or mindful meditation before your sessions. That’ll teach you how to stay calm mentally and emotionally.
Again, ayahuasca visions can be possible if your setting is safe and conducive.
Your perception of safety plays a huge role in your overall ayahuasca journey.
The environment should have one or more trained guides to support you through the journey. Purging. Having a terrifying trip. Feeling like you’re about to lose your mind.
You, the facilitators, and your fellow participants should have mutual trust and connection. But your trips can be solo or in group – just make sure you feel safe and comfortable.
How to Have Meaningful Ayahuasca Experiences Without a Vision
If, despite all that, you still can’t see visions on your ayahuasca trips, I told you I have something special for you.
First, don’t feel bad if you haven’t (or can’t) see visual hallucinations. Visions are not the only roadmap to having a meaningful psychedelic experience.
Ayahuasca operates on multiple levels and dimensions. And they’re all profound and transformative.
The ancient drink can still help you access, process, and understand your emotions without any vision.
It can bring all deep-seated trauma and hurt to the surface, giving room for emotional release, cathartic healing, and behavioral growth.
On a non-visual ayahuasca journey, you may find yourself feeling light-hearted and calm as you take a trip down memory lane. The plant can help you connect the dots more clearly and meaningfully.
And even if you end up crying, it’s the tears of a child who has found home again.
Ayahuasca encourages self-reflection and introspection, with or without visions.
It makes you hyper-aware… of your thoughts, behaviors, experiences, emotions, spiritual well-being – everything.
And as you reflect, process, and meditate on these parts of your existence, you gain insights and have a more positive outlook on life. You look at yourself, the people, and the world differently.
And you may not see it, but ayahuasca connects you to the realm of the spirits. You may feel a sense of transformation and transcendence that unites you with the universe, gaining clarity about your life and human existence.
Healing of the mind, soul, and body is one of the most meaningful ways to use ayahuasca, and non-visual trips enable this – just more subtly. Ayahuasca teaches you lessons you can apply to your daily life to transform your reality and achieve your ideal self.
The shared experiences, support, and guidance from your facilitators and fellow participants during your ceremony can strengthen you and help you find meaning in each trip (even when it’s unclear or seems nonexistent).
Joining a support group will help you untangle any confusion and solve any problem. Even if you plan to trip alone (experienced users can trip solo, but I advise newcomers not to), it’s best to join a sort of ayahuasca support group.
Final Thoughts: Having Meaningful Non-Visual Ayahuasca Experiences
Not having a vision doesn’t mean you cannot have a transformative ayahuasca journey.
Many people don’t have visual manifestations but enjoy other facets of the psychedelic medicine.
So, yes, you can learn, understand, heal, and grow with or without ayahuasca hallucinations.
Your focus should be to have a wholesome experience, exploring the potential of ayahuasca in bettering your life.
Remember, every person’s journey is unique, so embrace yours as it is. Embrace it with the utmost pride.