Why Ayahuasca Loves Las Vegas

 Art by Ari Roussimoff

Art by Ari Roussimoff

I know it’s audacious of me to speak on behalf of Grandmother Ayahuasca, but these are special times. I’ve worked with her enough I trust my connection to her blessing, and when I asked her if I could honor the most dynamic, misunderstood city in the world through her lens, I felt a deep, all-in cheer session. I heard her whisper, “Go there.”

Which scared the bejeezus out of me, as this is a daunting task.

I am taking on the challenge, however, because Las Vegas deserves it. This is a beautiful mess of a city right now. We are reeling and aching and broken from the recent mass shooting, and although I can’t do a bloody thing to take away that pain, I can use my voice to sing the praises of this metro and her tribe.

I’ve been in my love affair with this city for almost 12 years, and as far as I know, I hold the distinction of bringing the first official Ayahuasca circle to Las Vegas, almost 11 years ago. That, to me, is a BFD. I’ve sat in circle hundreds of times here. So I suppose that gives me as much a right as anyone to reflect why Aya is bat shit crazy for Sin City. Besides the obvious – like the rest of us, she loves the neon lights :)

How I Came to Bring Ayahuasca to the Desert

I found Ayahuasca in her jungle home back in early 2006. I was living in Los Angeles at the time; I had been there for over a dozen years. One of the first reflections she gave to me, with the subtly of a beheading, was that LA was no longer my home. I needed to give up my company, say goodbye to my friends, and move on.

She didn’t mention where I was headed. That perturbed me.

So because I didn’t know where the next home would be I resisted the very clear instructions. For the record, I don’t recommend ignoring her advice. This wasn’t the last time I would attempt to defy her, but I can assure you it’s fruitless. Aya always wins. Thank goodness, as she always knows best too.

Since I hemmed and hawed regarding the move, the universe had to take action. Within 6 weeks my business partner ousted me, and the company was ripped from my hands. Friends disappeared like drops of honey falling from a spoon – slowly, achingly, dripping out of my life. My old devoted lifestyle of weekend raving was no longer palatable. I tried my old cocktail of Molly mixed with Red Bull and vodka and seriously thought I was going to die that night. So I knew the clubbing days were over.

Everything in LA was ending. OK fine, I told her, where do you want me to be?

She spoke to me through HGTV. 

I woke up one morning, lost and horribly depressed. I flipped on my favorite distraction, “House Hunters,” and the nice couple was searching for an abode in Las Vegas.

I am not exaggerating when I say the television pulsed. The volume automatically cranked up. Ayahuasca was SCREAMINIG at me.

And it made perfect sense. My mom lived 80 miles outside of Vegas, and my Dad had died a few months back. Vegas wasn’t that far from LA, and it represented a whole new life; one that was close to my grieving Mom.


So I agreed. I would move to Vegas and buy a house.

But then Aya dropped the WTF bomb on me. As I made my plans, she kept telling me the most mysterious, ridiculous thing: I was to organize the first Ayahuasca circle in Las Vegas. She wanted to use me as her access to this most debauchery-filled, not-so-spiritual locale.

I figured I was receiving the message incorrectly. I didn’t give it much thought. Vegas was to be my new home, and that felt right to me. Surely the medicine was off her rocker about the rest.

The Early Days of the Vegas Circle

You want to know how crafty this medicine is? You probably already know, but this still blows my mind how masterfully she orchestrated our joint mission.

In a lightning-fast period, I somehow connected with the most incredible, light-filled, spiritually minded tribe in Vegas. If you think that’s an oxymoron, you haven’t experienced the real Las Vegas yet. We are not the indulgent, selfishly-fueled Strip. This city teems with unified, brilliant, awakened people. And Aya led me to them from the get-go.

Not only did she quickly lead me to the folks who were perfect for her, she also played matchmaker. I fell in love with and married the man leading the largest spiritual group at the time. This medicine doesn’t mess around.

And so that’s how it started. I did 2 talks at a couple of separate meet-up groups about Ayahuasca, and suddenly I had access to a large group of ready-to-dive-in journeyers.

Within weeks, I was connected to a Pacific Northwest based shaman. We did a test run together and decided to go all-in on a partnership and apprenticeship.

 The Ceremony Room in My Old House

The Ceremony Room in My Old House

Vegas had her Aya circle.

Now, because I was new to hosting, and Vegas herself is. . .a wee bit dynamic. . .the ceremonies in the early days were often chaotic. And by that I mean, full blown insanity. Psychotic breaks. Wildly intense purging. And gorgeous, heart-opening, life-altering experiences. You know, par for the course.

And it just kept evolving. For years and years and more years, we had the times of our lives.

Why Ayahuasca and Vegas are the Perfect Energy Pairs

 The Queen of the Jungle finding heaven in the desert?

Oh heck yes.

Need I remind you of Fear and Loathing? We know a thing or two about altered spaces here.

Las Vegas is a big, blazoned dichotomy. There’s the manic, egotistical, immensely seductive energy of the infamous Strip. On any given moment, millions of dollars, bodily fluids, and illegal substances change hands here without an eyelash bat. The energy of that street destroys lives every damn day. And yet it holds the seat of so many dreams, luxuries, and unforgettable adventures.

All across the rest of the city, Vegas is the epitome of suburbia. We are calm and sleepy, caring and fun, and ridiculously normal. And that aforementioned tribe I mentioned? They are full-on globe changers. Some are world-class performers, brilliant business minds, and tourism workers galore; but what they carry in their hearts is unlike anything I’ve experienced on a large scale. The people here make me proud to be part of humanity.

Aya LOVES Las Vegas. She loves the honesty and the audacity. She loves the embracing of darkness and debauchery. When you come to Sin City, you stop pretending you are anything other than human. The medicine, at her core, works to get us to crack open to our authenticity – and that includes our dark sides. ESPECIALLY our dark sides. If they remain in darkness, they rule us with those energies. When we dare to look, we become beings of love. Las Vegas dares us to really look at what is driving our inner world.

Why I No Longer Host and Pour in Vegas

It’s a really long and crazy story, but in the end I stopped running the Vegas circle after a decade filled with billions of miracles because I found my new role as messenger. So is the medicine still here? In that she is everywhere, you bet. But I am not at the helm – it wouldn’t be safe to write a blog post like this if I was.

So please don’t ask me where to sit, as I’m not the Vegas Ayahuasca tour guide anymore. But Vegas has the medicine. I mean, what doesn’t Vegas have?

My Final Ode to the City of Duality


I wrote this today because I deeply wanted to honor my home of almost 12 years. Sunday night’s shooting has triggered a crippling wave of suffering in this sacred desert, and my heart breaks with everyone who is now traumatized, full of terror, and lost in darkness.

But this desert – she’s a damn special place. The intensity of her energies burns off those sticky outer layers in turbo fashion; a lot like the medicine does. I trust this means we will heal and dust ourselves off and show the world what living looks like once again. New York, London, Paris, and many others have already shown us what grace looks like – we have great role models. We will still rise up with our special Vegas flair, but make no mistake, we are so fucking #VegasStrong, it’s staggering. I love this city so much. Never ever count us out.

And finally, thank you to Ayahuasca for your presence here. I know a lot of the people deeply impacted by the massacre have been blessed to sit with the medicine, and I’ve heard several people already state that is making all the difference in the world regarding how they are handling this tragedy.

If we all knew your space of healing, Mama, we would never have to deal with an aftermath like this. We’d be too busy loving on each other.

That is the world I dream of, so that is the world I am taking every possible step to create. So blessed to do this work with all of you.

To all those in Vegas, you are my angels and my friends. And to all of those praying for us and sending us love, we feel it. We love you. #OneTribe


About the Author

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 dedicated her life to the evolution of consciousness through the usage of plant medicines. Kat is a crisis coach, a spiritual mentor, and a loud and proud Las Vegas dweller.