I made a series of before and after portraits while I was volunteering at a healing centre in Peru. It was as a way to create a small window looking into the transformations that I was lucky to witness in guests over the course of their stay at the centre. The concept was simple, a portrait before your first ceremony and another portrait after all of your ceremonies have finished. I’m happy to share this window with you and I’m grateful to each guest who trusted me with the task of documenting a portion of their journey as it appeared on the surface. This project is helping me to see that our faces tell endless stories about the experiences we’ve had in our lives, sometimes it’s just a matter of quieting our minds so we can listen.

Thank you J for working with me to document a part of your journey, and thank you for answering the below Q&A about your experiences.

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Your work, your lifestyle, anything that you’d like to share.

A: My home is Washington state USA, I love to be outside and to travel and experience new things and meet new people. I am a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, and currently work as a private military contractor.

Q: What made you decide to try Ayahuasca?

A: I decided to drink Ayahuasca back in 2011, but I would have told you otherwise then. I was profoundly interested in psychedelics ever since I took mushrooms in 2011, I had just scratched the surface of the true message. I heard the call since the first time I watched “DMT: The Spirit Molecule.” As I was watching they were talking about Ayahuasca and I looked at my friend and said “someday, when I am ready, I will drink Ayahuasca”.

Q: What were your main concerns about trying it?

A: My main concerns about drinking was mostly having a “bad trip” but that concern was only there in the back of my mind. Fully knowing there are no bad trips, just tough experiences. I also know you get the most out of those tough experiences. There was ultimately nothing to be concerned about and Ayahuasca gave me everything I needed to continue my journey.

Q: How did your expectations align with your actual experiences with Ayahuasca?

A: My expectations for Ayahuasca were pretty open, I thought I had an idea but I was wrong. I was so far off on what the feeling, message, and full experience of Ayahuasca was going to be. The best thing I did was go into the ceremonies open minded and grateful for everything that I felt and experienced, fully understanding that I would get what I needed and not necessarily what I wanted.

Q: What are your biggest take aways from this experience?

A: The biggest thing I have taken away from this is love yourself, do what makes you happy, and that there is no going back. Once you are awakened by mother Aya you can never go back to sleep.

Q: What would you say to anyone considering trying Ayahuasca for the first time?

A: Advice to give first timers. Go into it with an open heart, try not to have any expectations, and embrace the world that comes after. Don’t hold back, if you have heard the call do not ignore it. Have the courage to answer and to embrace the change that comes.

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