It was recently announced that the first public and legal ayahuasca church in America will be opening soon. A spiritual retreat in Peru called ayahuasca Healings applied for church status in the United States — and surprisingly, they were approved. The location the group has chosen is a 160-acre plot of land in Elbe, Washington.
The group says the world is suffering from sickness and a lack of clarity, and that ayahuasca could help reverse the dangerous path humanity has been walking.
Ayahuasca is the psychoactive brew that has been ritualistically ingested by indigenous tribes since before recorded history. The ayahuasca brew is traditionally prepared using the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and Psychotria viridis leaves. Psychotria viridis contains N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in its leaves, while Banisteriopsis caapi contains beta-carbolines like harmine and harmaline. DMT has long been known to have powerful psychoactive properties that can create life-changing spiritual experiences.
In a recent interview, Church founder Trinity de Guzman told Vice’s Munchies that “ayahuasca is a sacred plant medicine that indigenous tribes have been working with for thousands of years. And they’ve used it as a tool for healing spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally.”
“But most importantly, it’s a tool to connect with the spirit realm. It’s an uncontrolled substance. But DMT, which can be extracted from the plants, is a controlled Schedule 1 drug by the DEA. Ayahuasca itself is not a scheduled drug, but it’s legal in a religious and spiritual setting. So, simply stated, ayahuasca is legal if your intentions are sincerely religious. And it’s legal under a church. You have to be a member of a church, which has that legal protection.”
Trinity went on to explain how his church would be different from traditional American churches:
“Other churches talk about God, and the person, like a pastor, talking to the room is the connection to God. But in the Native American churches, this is about connecting with God yourself and having a direct experience with the Creator.”
He also gave more details on how they can operate legally without any fear of raids from the police.
“Basically, we were working with the New Haven Native American Church, which is a branch of the Oklevueha Native American Church and has the authority and the ability to use sacraments like ayahuasca by virtue of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, designed to protect and preserve the tradition and cultural practices of American Indians,” he explained. “As a result, pertaining to us, the government cannot interfere with our Native American ceremonies, sacraments, or our plant teachers like peyote and ayahuasca.”
The United States Supreme Court has unanimously ruled in favor of the legal religious use of ayahuasca by the União do Vegetal, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed the Santo Daime Church’s freedom to use ayahuasca for religious purposes. However, ayahuasca’s principally active ingredient, DMT, remains a Schedule I controlled substance, carrying a steep prison sentence.
In the past, there has been a variety of other small and private ayahuasca churches in the U.S., but these were very difficult to find and get involved with. Ayahuasca Healings, on the other hand, will be entirely open to the public — and advertised freely.