Changa: The Evolution of Ayahuasca
This article is the introductory page of the Changa web site found at www.changaevolution.blogspot.com
It has been well over 53 years since Ayahuasca's (also known as cipó, caapi, hoasca, vegetal, daime, oni, yajé, natem, mama, Shori, and aya affectionately by westerners) introduction to western entheogen enthusiasts, and in that time Ayahuasca has evolved. What began as a synergistic plant combo known as Ayahuasca among specific cultures of the Amazon rain forest, has evolved to become something never seen before in the history of entheogens. Ayahuasca has transformed and become something new, radically different from what it once was. The sacred medicine that has historically provided incredible transformations in those who drink it has itself transformed. It has become Changa.
Changa is quite possibly one of the most amazing innovations in the technology of the sacred in our lifetime. The smoking blend is a combination of banisteriopsis caapi leaves (commonly known as the ayahuasca vine) and a natural extract of DMT. Ayahuasca itself is a tea of B. Caapi vine sections boiled down with perhaps other medicinal or psychoactive admixtures and a DMT, or 5meo-DMT-containing admixture plant, often Psychotria Viridis or Chacruna. Since the advent of western exploration of what has been called the ayahuasca effect or the ayahuasca complex, many new botanicals have been utilized and added to make a powerful brew that creates the ayahuasca effect. The ayahuasca effect is simply the inhibition of enzymes in the body that normally degrade ingested DMT, allowing the DMT to pass though the body altering consciousness without being destroyed by the body's enzymes.
Through the hard and potentially dangerous work of back yard shamans and amature ethnobotanists, many plants have been discovered that have the alkaloids necessary to produce the ayahausca effect. Synthesized laboratory grade chemicals have also been used to produce this effect, creating what some have called pharmahuasca, and what some purists call an abomination. Nevertheless, entheogen researchers have found that the plants and chemicals needed to produce ayahuasca are far reaching and can be found in many plants around the world.
One of the plants that has been discovered to have tryptamines suitable for creating the ayahausca effect is of the Acacia species. Acacia species that have good sums of DMT alkaloids in them are endemic to Australia, which is where Ayahuasca has "mutated" so to speak, evolving into what has been called Changa today. The production of DMT from natural sources has become quite simple, and due to the glory of kitchen chemistry quite a "green" process, no longer dependant upon ecologically harmful chemicals. According to Australian sources however, the availability of plants and chemicals needed to bring about the ayahuasca effect was slim. This was due to a ban on the importation of harmala containing plants in Australia. Any dried or harvested harmala containing plants in Australia carry the same offense as possession of heroin; magically however, live plants were legal and soon cuttings of plants and rooted plants where being bought sold and traded for personal consumption. This was a stark contrast to elsewhere on the globe where B. Caapi was easily bought and sold from online vendors in dry large quantities just ready for the brewing. Harmala containing plants thus being illegal, harvested and dried provided an interesting challenge to Australians, who like many entheogen enthusiasts found in their travels to South America the mind blowing and healing ayahuasca tea. For those that discovered the amazing medicine and spiritual path of ayahuasca, these people began to see how the vine interweaves with their authentic needs for meaning, health and well being. For some working with ayahausca became a necessity, but not an easily accessible one.
Before the ban of these dried plants and their live importation as well as the chemicals harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine in Australia, some of the plants had made it over the sea and were being grown discretely by private parties with a vested interest in these plants of power. Sadly though, there was not enough Caapi vine to go around for all who needed this medicine, and seeing how DMT was easily available, some thing had to be done... necessity, so they say, is the mother of invention.
The story of Changa's discovery is clouded and a bit mysterious due to the legal ramifications of Changain Oz. Australians had been trying to keep this under their hats for some time. So the story goes... Someone in Australia discovered that if one infused the leaves of B. Caapi with DMT naturaly extracted from Acacia trees, that it could be smoked to form a totally new and undiscovered way of creating the ayahuasca effect. People had been taking Harmala alkaloids from Syrian Rue and B. Caapi with their DMT sessions in various forms for a very long time, but this was different... This was dramatically different.
Eventually Changa became known in other parts of the world, and its herbal blends started to adapt to the plants available locally or legally through botanical vendors. Now that the word is out, entheogenic explorers and back yard shamans are developing ways of relating to this sacred medicine. What is being formed is completely unique to its own dynamic of being smoked, but still very much influenced from what has been learned from Vegetalismo and Curenderismo practices in South America. A new form of shamanry is being practiced and learned from practicing with these plant teachers. A new entheogenic healing modality, new rituals, new ways of relating to ceremonial structure and the role of the healer as well are beginning to shift and transform -- each adapting to the authentic needs of those working with this medicine.
The qualities of the tea are much different than the qualities of the Changa smoking blend, as is drinking or sublingual administration of harmala alkaloids prior to smoking DMT. The tea is drunk and enzymes begin to be inhibited in the stomach, then the effect spreads throughout the body. Changa -- who's route of administration is smoking -- works very differently. The pyrolyzed smoking blend is inhaled, adsorbing into the lungs and going directly to the brain. In the brain the alkaliods inhibit enzymes directly, adding the unique effects of harmala alkaliods to the synergistic effects of the tryptamine harmala pharmacological relationship. The effects are faster, clearer headed, and more centering according to Changaleros (those who practice the way of smoke), with less to no nausea unless one is working with it to physically purge. The purge from Changa is more or less a matter of personal intention than physical reaction.
According to cosmologist Brain Swimme, the entire universe is evolving; solar systems, planets, single cell organisms, plants, animals, cultures, spiritual practices, technologies, all systems evolve and move towards a deepening of complexity -- and plant-human relational systems are no different. Could it be that the plant-human relationship of the complex plant, chemical, neurophysiological relationship we have come to know as ayahausca has evolved as well?
The Evolution of Ayahuasca
1. A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form. See Synonyms at development.
a. The process of developing.
b. Gradual development.
When people speak of ayahuasca, they are not generally speaking of the vine B. Caapi. They are generally speaking of the synergistic complex of two or more plants that has come to be known as ayahuasca. On the one hand a step in ayahuasca's evolution was its moving out of the rainforest. Researchers like Johnathan Ott helped us to see that there were many plants that brought about this "ayahuasca effect." This next step out of the jungle was called the ayahausca analog -- plants with similar chemicals being worked with to produce the "ayahausca effect," which some say is the inner voice phenomenon that seems to be particular to this entheogenic synergy.
Some researchers pointed out that this same effect could be created with lab chemicals or even some pharmaceuticals currently used as antidepressants. The next step was in working past the oral route of administration combining the smoking of tryptamines with the smoking of beta-carbolines, which have been found to be many times more potent and effective with fewer side effects smoked. This has become the next development, the next evolutionary step for the synergistic shamanic technology and "entity" we have come to know as ayahuasca. As I mentioned earlier, ayahuasca is not just the vine. Though it is the vine's name, many people when referring to ayahausca are referring to the shamanic technology that is ayahausca as well as the synergy of plants and chemicals that combine to form what some have perceived as a powerful and unique being in and of itself. This being is a unique synergistic hybridization of human and plant relationships who most view as a feminine being that can be of great help to you in healing, learning and personal growth.
Ayahuasca is ayahuasca to us because of our relationship to it and how we relate to it. The way of relating to ayahuasca has evolved, it has changed, it has developed into something new and unique in its own right. It has evolved into Changa. Here though I would like to make a note on the notion that evolution includes the value judgement "better." Many people would look at an organism and see its perfection as it is. As this organism evolved, would anyone look at what it evolved from and say "Oh this organism is so much better than what it evolved from!"? Probably not. So how would the word "better" apply here in regard to ayahuasca's transformation from tea to smoke? Honestly better is certainly a value judgement based on personal bias, however there could be debates and agreements on the notion that ayahuasca's evolution into Changa in Australia was a better option than brewing tea and running out of Caapi vine because it was in limited amounts and no new vine was allowed via importation. To the people who developed Changa, this was a "better" option. This better option also allowed them to explore both Caapi and DMT space in ways that had never really been done before, allowing for adaptation and innovation, and thus diversity. The increase in complexity as well as the increase in diversity is often looked at in science as "better," or let's say a more effective strategy for survival, growth and development.
The question remains however in terms of qualitative value judgements indicated by the statement that ayahausca has evolved. Is Changa better then ayahausca? That may be a matter of personal opinion and preference... however perhaps not, it is possible that Changa maybe the most effective and adaptive strategy for working with local and or locally grown admixture plants around the world, thus limiting the need for exportation/importation of plants from the Amazon.
Changa could possibly be, if one looks at the concept of psychointigrator plants, a way for local plants, or plants grown locally to aid in human synergistic relationships with place just as these plants have done for the peoples of the amazon. Time will tell...
We are one . . .
Artwork by the author, used by permission.Tweet