The Gift of Suffering: Why Ayahuasca Goes Dark


Drink the Mother of all Medicines long enough, and eventually, you will go to hell. And not just any hell: Your own customized version that is divinely made to facilitate your breakdown. And your breakthrough.

While these dark nights of the soul are the stuff of nightmares, they are also sublimely orchestrated for your expansion and eventual happiness.

But if someone tells you during one of these episodes into darkness that it’s the best thing that’s ever happened, you may want to (legitimately) ring their necks. They are real. They’re very, very real. But they are also not what they seem.

The thing you can trust the most about the darkness is that it will lie to you. It will lie to you a lot. And you deserve to know the reflection of truth that those lies are projecting.

The biggest lie the darkness tells us is that we will never escape it if we go there. It’s a convincing story, I know. But if that were true, no one would have ever emerged from the depths of their darkness to tell a survivor’s tale. There wouldn’t be any hero stories.

Look at any myth, any allegory, any real-life portrayal of rebound and redemption. We don’t find out who we are unless we hit our legitimate rock bottom.

The darkness doesn’t hold us hostage. The darkness is what frees us.

Ayahuasca knows this, and so much more. She is stronger than we are, so when she knows it’s time to Go There, we thankfully have little choice but to follow her. My advice: Don’t fight. Remember that fear is lying when it tells you you’ll never come back.

Remember, instead, that this is the way to unlock your ultimate potential. That this is the path to becoming a Superhero. You know you are one, right? Every Clark Kent is a Superman. Ayahuasca is one incredible way to find out how true that is.


Learn the difference between Spirit and Soul


Why Suffering is a Gift

Have you ever heard a Superhero or myth story that didn’t involve the hero getting deeply entrenched in suffering? There’s a reason for that.

Suffering is the very tool the universe uses to wake us up.

If there’s one question I hear more than any other in my coaching practice, it’s “Why do we have to suffer?”


Suffering is the asshole villain that penetrates our blissful connectivity and seemingly rips to shreds our tether to divinity. It’s wholly consuming, heart-wrenchingly painful, and it knows no boundaries. Children suffer madly, animals are maimed and tortured (including by each other), and every last adult has their own dance with this demon.

Please know I am not here to diminish this intensity, to in any way belittle the space of deep suffering. I have been so intimate with this energy, I have attempted to take my own life. I have suffered to the point of insanity.

And I couldn’t be more grateful, now that I understand why. I bow to the wisdom of the darkness.

So is suffering necessary? Hell yes it is. It is, until it isn’t. The ubiquitous presence of this energy is our first clue that it’s unavoidable.

Now, how you relate to suffering is going to completely depend on your relationship to the universe. To God, to source, to whatever you identify as the stuff that created you. If you have no connection to that energy, or if you believe it to be the humanistic God in the sky that judges and punishes, suffering may very well make you crazy. It will feel like an infinite chasm through which no one can escape.

But if you’re blessed enough to start to understand the energy of trust, you have the opportunity to know the deeper purpose of these outer edges of consciousness.

To put this simply, answer this question from your heart:

Do you believe the universe aims to torture and punish us, or support and love us?

If your answer is torture and punishment, suffering is not done working you over. You haven’t reached that place of glimmering light. And that’s OK, because the mercy of this process holds space for us all to take all the lifetimes we need to get there.

You know the expression: Everything will be OK in the end. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end. I invite you to stay observant as life pushes through you. When the darkness entangles with your soul and asks you to spiral into nothingness, say yes with your whole heart. Ask it questions. Show interest and awareness. Stop running and resisting and go there.

All the answers you seek are seeking you too.

The Fear That Suffering Leads to Nothingness


I hear this a lot too – the manic worry that if we succumb to that swirling back hole of limitless torture, we will enter the void and cease to exist. That we will becoming nothingness.

You know what’s on the other side of nothingness?


Duality is amazing. The very thing we resist the most is actually the key to our salvation.

If you’ve already started cracking this code, then you have turned a corner with the energy of darkness, and you are well on your way to holding space for pain without falling prey to the seduction of suffering.

And that right there is a very, very big deal.

If you’re called to drink Ayahuasca, whether you’re conscious of it or not, you are called to know your darkness. And she will eventually show you; out of love, respect, and trust that you can handle it.

Why a Dark Night is Ayahuasca’s Way of Saying “I Love You”

Ayahuasca knows how to craft the exact experience that will scare the bejeezus out of you. Not because she’s a cruel torturer who gains pleasure out of watching others suffer, but because she knows what’s on the other side of our pain. She loves us enough to take us there.

Here’s another uber common question: Why do we have to go through our darkness to know the light? Could Ayahuasca be mistaken – maybe it’s wholly unnecessary to go to hell? Why can’t we skip right to heaven?

Photo by Nithah & Michael Stöcklin

Photo by Nithah & Michael Stöcklin

Lovers, we live in duality. We dance inside the truth of every contrast. We are masculine and feminine. We are separate and unified. We are angels and devils. So if you want to know what heaven feels like, you first have to know the underbelly of consciousness. You have to stew in that space and make it your zip code. Once you’re empowered and formed by that unbelievable force, you earn your space in blissfulness.

Mother Yage burns in the fires of truth, and if you dare to drink her, she will reveal this with all the force she can muster (which is, ahem, an impressive force indeed). These are the sordid tales that drip all over the internet, revealing the power of the medicine to manifest our biggest fears.

But what many don’t discuss is the why. Why does she go there? And why on earth does anyone drink this stuff if hell is a possible destination?

First, it’s important to understand that Ayahausca didn’t make the rules in our reality, she has zero objections to giving us the deep experience of truth. She makes no apology for being real about the duality we inhabit. If you drink her, you are asking for truth. Just know she will give it to you, as fiercely as she needs to.

If you didn’t know what cold felt like, could you identify hot? If you didn’t know what apathy felt like, would you know if you fell in love?

This is why suffering is a Godsend. Learning this is in part why you came here as a soul, and why you are drawn to drink the medicine and gain her insight.

Every time she swoops you into the swirling centrifuge of terror, she is showing her limitless love. Because the moment you say yes to that energy is the moment your suffering can finally start to transform into an experience, not an attachment to hell.

Heaven is not a destination, it’s a state of mind. The same is true for hell. But we don’t learn this by reading books or hearing lectures, we learn by watching how our mind creates those experiences. Ayahuasca is amazing at mirroring this ability we hold in a very tangible way. She will show you how powerful you are, but it starts by seeing the way we create our own state of hell. Remember, the only way out is through.

There are no shortcuts. There is no avoiding darkness and suffering if you want true illumination. So go there. With your whole heart, dive in to the lion’s mouth. Trust Mother Aya to have your back if you need it. But you don’t. You are a Superhero.

Knowing your darkness will turn your potential into reality. You deserve that. The planet deserves that.

So. . .what’s stopping you? Tell it to me. Let’s remove those blockages.

Author Bio

Tina “Kat” Courtney, AKA The Afterlife Coach, has worked with Ayahuasca, Huachuma, and other sacred medicines for 12 years. She's trained with several maestros and has 8 trips to the jungle under her belt to-date. Nowadays, Kat (medicine name Oshgu Mishy), is a vocal advocate for the medicine, and for the proper integration of all peak experiences that life and death have to offer. Kat is an Ayahuasca Coach, a psychedelics guide and counselor, and lover of death and shadow. Why? Because she always roots for the underdog - and she knows that's when the truth lives.