Opinion: Psychedelic churches in US pushing boundaries of religion writes ABC USA

Growing numbers of people are flocking to U.S. churches that center their practice around a bitter psychedelic tea known as ayahuasca

HILDALE, Utah — The tea tasted bitter and earthy, but Lorenzo Gonzales drank it anyway. On that frigid night in remote Utah, he was hoping for a life-changing experience, which is how he found himself inside a tent with two dozen others waiting for the psychedelic brew known as ayahuasca to kick in.

Soon, the gentle sounds of a guitar were drowned out by people vomiting — a common downside of the drug. Some gagged; several threw up in buckets next to them.

Gonzales started howling, sobbing, laughing and repeatedly babbling “wah, wah” like a child. Facilitators from Hummingbird Church placed him face down on the grass, calming him momentarily before he started laughing and crawling on all fours.

“I seen these dark veins come up in this big red light, and then I seen this image of the devil,” Gonzales said later. He had quieted only when his wife, Flor, put her hand on his shoulder and prayed.

His journey to this small town along the Arizona-Utah border is part of a growing global trend of people turning to ayahuasca in search of spiritual enlightenment and an experience they say brings them closer to God than traditional religious services. Many hope the psychedelic tea will heal physical and mental afflictions after conventional medications and therapy failed. Their problems include eating disorders, depression, substance use disorders and PTSD.

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