What is ayahuasca

"I'm in the office: I'm not coming back!"

There is also a scene in Berlin. On many weekends, so-called “retreats” take place in the city or in the surrounding area.

In Berlin, psychedelics are normal in certain circles, especially among creative people; a lot of them have already tried ayahuasca. I myself no longer offer ceremonies in Germany.

Because ayahuasca is not allowed in this country.

The active ingredient DMT is not allowed; the Narcotics Act says nothing about ayahuasca itself. I also don't know anyone who was legally prosecuted for this. Many also advertise their retreats relatively openly, and as far as I know, no one has ever turned up to stop that.

Ayahuasca, like all psychoactive drugs, can cause psychosis in people at risk.

I've seen people freak out about mushrooms, LSD of course, and marijuana too. With ayahuasca, I have never seen anyone develop such substance-induced psychosis. And I've drank it myself more than 500 times and led several thousand ceremonies.

Friends have just attended an ayahuasca ceremony in Colombia. They said that two participants had kicked away for hours, rolled on the floor and screamed. They later learned that a young Englishman had died at an earlier shaman's ceremony.

The lethal dose of ayahuasca is ten times higher than that of alcohol. You can definitely drink five liters of ayahuasca without it becoming dangerous. But real ayahuasca is difficult to find, which makes it expensive. Stretching it is cheaper. Tobacco can kill.

How did you get into that?

I studied physics and chemistry and while still studying I founded a multimedia agency with friends. I was an IT expert, our clients were, for example, Mercedes and Schweppes. Headhunters brought me from there to a consulting firm. After a few more positions - including at the British Parliament - I ended up with J.P. Morgan. When I quit, I was a vice president there ...

... and why did you give up this successful career?

Back then, almost ten years ago, I was super successful, actually happy too, married and everything. But subliminally I sensed that something was wrong. I couldn't name it. Then I got this invitation to an ayahuasca weekend in Cambridge. I was living in London then, so I went. After that I saw everything crystal clear. On Monday I went to the office, gave my secretary my things and said: I'm not coming back!

Was your trip so formative?

My life then passed me by: work. Eat. Go partying. Work. Go to New York for a weekend. Work hard, play hard. But basically nothing happened. I realized: I was stuck in the hamster wheel.

This insight doesn't sound so revolutionary now.

Most of the time you know the answers to your questions. We know what is right and what is wrong for us, but we rarely act on it. It has to do with the fact that there is a difference between mental and emotional understanding. Mentally, we usually get the hang of things quickly. In order to get to an emotional insight, we have to change the perspective. Psychedelics help with this. They give us the opportunity to see things from a distance and at the same time in detail. For example, I always knew that serving others makes me happier than serving myself. And banking is not about helping the community, but helping yourself. Of course, my new life had already been announced before Ayahuasca. I had just started doing ceremonies with colleagues and friends again.

During your time at J.P. Morgan also worked as a spiritual advisor?

I did psycholysis with colleagues, something like psychotherapy with psychedelics.

In 2015, 29 alternative practitioners poisoned themselves in a failed psycholysis experiment and had to be strapped to their beds in a Hamburg hospital.

It depends on the dose - and on the substance. Incidentally, ten years ago psycholysis was legal in Switzerland, and in view of the huge successes in the USA, research is currently being carried out into whether psychoactive substances for therapy should be legalized again. A simple conversation with my colleagues was often enough back then, emotions arose and they talked about trauma. Many have spoken about how their money is blood money that others have to suffer in order to earn more. Most of them have had an essential experience, I think. But many of them were unable to act. They had just bought two million pound homes or started families in London.

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