If you can’t find the red tape, always turn your flashlight on under your shirt.

As the shamans often say, if you bring no intention to the ceremony, you may see a pretty light show and colors and not much else.

In truth, the first time I drank I felt it was worth the price of flying to Peru just for what I saw in the first 15 minutes.

There’s a school of thought that wearing white attracts light energy and bright spirits.

By extension, it may be that dark clothes attract dark energies.

That may sound bat-shit crazy (hey, a lot of this stuff sounds bat-shit crazy) but the medicine takes you to meet universal consciousness and the funny thing about “U. So (big surprise), when you make your decision, she starts communicating with you. But be reassured it’s not “your dad’s tobacco.” Instead, it’s mapacho tobacco that has a rich, sweet smell that’s quite unlike the chemically adulterated stuff in commercial cigarettes.

Tobacco is used to “seal the container” — meaning it’s blown in places around the (sacred meeting place) whether this is a purpose built round building or any kind of space adapted for the purpose. This is sometimes done by the shaman lighting a cigarette made from hand-rolled mapacho tobacco and inhaling it and blowing it on you (e.g., on your head/crown chakra and chest/heart chakra).

It’s common for newbies to be nervous before an ayahuasca ceremony. (You know, the type that allows the Kung Fu masters to break stacks of concrete blocks with a single hand chop.) In the Upper Amazon, Mother Ayahuasca is described as a jealous lover. If you’re seeking a super-duper big-ass experience, try being abstinent for, like, six weeks or longer, if you can manage. Remember, you’re not having a “drug experience” — this is a (something not emphasized enough in descriptions, I feel) and certain things are done that seem odd to a person raised in a non-shamanic culture. In the Amazon, this would be thought of in terms of guarding against evil spirits, dark energies, and so on.

Pity the fool who finds herself backpacking in Peru and decides to drink ayahuasca on a whim after a week of hamburgers and mohitos. Spicy food may not offend the gods so much as your butt and mouth if you vomit or get diarrhea… In Asia they call this preserving one’s — one’s life force — and it’s all about cultivating energy.

I can’t prove it, but I noticed in my last ceremony that the people wearing white clothing had gentler, positive experiences, but who knows?