Add OutKast's André 3000 to the ever-growing list of celebrities who've used the South American hallucinogen known as ayahausca. During a three-day retreat in Hawaii, the rapper says he "turned into a panther.
"I was doing like GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR – like, that kind of thing.... Yeah, it was just interesting because my mouth actually shaped like a panther."
What Is Ayahuasca?
Enthnobotanist Peter Gorman told CelebStoner in 2020:
"Ayahuasca is a traditional tool for divination used throughout much of the Amazon jungle, particularly in the Northwest regions. It's a brew made by combining ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) with chacruna (Psychotria viridis, a plant in the coffee family) or huambisa (Diplopterys cabrerena) infused with the smoke of regional black tobacco, in river water. It's known by a host of names - yajé and natem among them - depending on which indigenous group is talking about it.
"The Western world began a fascination with ayahuasca in the late 1980s, much of it due to the work of Terence McKenna and his brother Dennis. The central point of that fascination is Iquitos, Peru, which currently has several dozen lodges specializing in serving the medicine.
"Ayahuasca lets the user interact with the spirit world, allowing them to get in touch with dead relatives or ancients, and to connect with the spirits of plants to divine how to heal illnesses. It's also used by riveriños - people who live on the river - to divine who's bringing them bad luck with their crops or with love, who's giving them the evil eye and so forth."
Ayahuasca is ingested as a tea usually at a retreat in a group setting led by a shaman, Most people throw up and purge before going off on the trip. However, Peru is no longer the only place to try ayahuasca.
Celebs on Ayahuasca from A-Z
• Tori Amos: Her use dates back to the '80s. The singer recalls: "I was hanging around with some medicine women and they suggested I try it. I was very lucid but felt like I was walking around in Fantasia, having a conversation with myself.It isn’t like acid. It’s more emotional, more mental. But it can grab you by the balls and just shove you up against the wall. I’ve been in a room with a woman who was literally trying to bite her own arm off. And this lasted for 15 hours. I wasn’t scared — just scared that I’d make a fool of myself. The funny thing was, I kept laughing and laughing, rather than sitting in the corner being intense."
• André 3000: See above.
• Penn Badgely: The Gossip Girl star said in 2012: “I dropped into my heart, and I felt it in my blood and all of the discomfort and this mercurial nature of perceptual boundaries during these ceremonies seemed to melt away and all melt into one gleaming psychic arrow pointing towards my heart…And that was the simplest but, to this day, the most profound moment of my life.”
• Jim Belushi: In 2013, the Blues Brother started going to the Blue Morpho retreat in Iquitos: "I went down there three different times. I did about nine ceremonies." He went to another retreat in December: "I did ayahuasca. The next day I did San Pedro peyote. The next day, or that evening, we did iboga, which lasts about 40 hours. And then we did aya to close. And that was the cleanest, most beautiful journey I’ve ever been on. That was three days, four days, in Hollywood. A different shaman, a different practice."
• Miley Cyrus: In 2020, the Grammy-winning pop star commented: "Ayahuasca was definitely one of my favorite drugs I’ve ever done. When I did it, I asked everyone else in the room, 'Did your entire life just change? Are you a new person?' They all looked at me and said, 'No.' And they’re like, 'You’re so extreme. Of course you have to have the most extreme trip off all.' Actually, the shaman said people take ayahuasca three, four times, sometimes 30 times before they have the kind of trip I had. I saw the snakes right away, and the snakes come and grab you and take you to the Mama Aya, and she walks you through your whole trip, and it was pretty crazy. I loved it, though."
Paul Simon: "Ayahuasca has always been there. Nobody outside of the Amazon knew anything about it."
• Megan Fox: In 2022, the actress and her pop star boyfriend Machine Gun Kelly went to Costa Rica for a session: "This is a medicine that surpasses anything you can do with talk therapy or hypnotherapy or any of those things. It just goes straight into your soul and it takes you to the psychological prison that you hold yourself in and I was definitely there."
• Chelsea Handler: The comedian visited Iquitos in 2016 for her Netflix series Chelsea Does: "There was a lot of chanting and vomiting on camera for me, which of course I was very excited to do. It tasted pretty awful, but if you’re a girl trying to look tough in front of your camera crew, you handle it. I had all these beautiful imageries of my childhood and me and my sister laughing on a kayak, and all these beautiful things with me and my sister. So [my experience] was very much about opening my mind to loving my sister, and not being so hard on her.”
• Ricki Lake: In 2018, the former TV talk-show host told Andy Cohen about her ayahuasca experience: "I wouldn't say I love it. But it's a very, very powerful medicine that has been very beneficial in my life."
• Ben Lee: The Australian singer not only tried ayahuasca, he named his 2013 album after it: "I don't think drinking ayahuasca is going to immediately solve all your problems, but within the context I was exposed to it – with a teacher/shaman who I've continued to work with – it's taking me into a study of the systematic hunting down of our egos and our fantasies and almost like a samurai practice of trying to maintain awareness under incredibly adverse situations and noticing when we are asleep in those moments sensing the urgency and attempting to wake ourselves up again."
• Lindsay Lohan: The actress stated in 2015: "I did ayahuasca. It changed my life."
• Vic Mensa: Earlier this year at an On the Revel event in New York, the Chicago rapper revealed: "Beyond mushrooms, ayahuasca has been extremely beneficial for me. I started doing that in 2015-2016. I probably sat with ayahuasca for seven or eight ceremonies. It's crazy. It's like 20 years of therapy wrapped into one session. Ayahusaca and mushrooms and bufo, the toad secretion, are tools that I use for self-improvement."
Aaron Rodgers: "I felt like I was walking on air."
• Machine Gun Kelly: At the 2022 retreat with Fox: "The shaman said I had a big shadow of darkness, you need more. I did like four (cups)... It was one of the most important things that ever happened to me in my life. We were exorcizing some things things out of us we needed to get rid of. The plant was a medicine that really went inside you. You could feel it working inside your body. Even after you left it stayed there, so it was interesting."
• Prince Harry: Earlier this year the Duke of Sussex admitted he's been using mushrooms and ayahuasca: "I would never recommend people to do this recreationally, but doing it with the right people - if you're suffering from loss, grief or trauma - then these things have a way of working as a medicine. For me, they cleared the windshield - the misery of loss. They cleared away the idea I had in my head that I needed to cry to prove to my mother that I missed her when in fact all she wanted was for me to be happy."
• Chris Robinson: According to the Black Crowes' frontman: “I was very lucky eight or nine years ago to have an ayahuasca experience. Even though a lot of my belief systems had let me up to that day and believing in the esoteric realities of aggressive psychedelic and entheogen-driven experience, that was the literal opening up of all my minds and hearts, where my mind and heart and soul all coalesce of having at least the initial understanding of the interconnectedness of all living entities in the universe, really.”
• Aaron Rodgers: The All-Pro quarterback began using ayahuasca in 2019 when he went to Peru: "I really feel that set me on my course to be able to go back in to my job and have a different perspective on things and to be way more free at work as a leader, as a teammate, as a friend, as a lover. I really feel that experience paved the way for me to have the best season of my career."
After the football season ended in 2022, he traveled to Costa Rica for a three-day session: "The sun rose at 5:15. I sat there on my mat breathing in what felt like new oxygen in my lungs and enjoyed the beauty and the mystery of this life. The howler monkeys and their noises in the jungle and the sounds of life waking up. That's what I felt like happenned to me on the third day. I felt like I was walking on air when I went back up to the room."
• Susan Sarandon: In 2014, the Oscar-winning actress remarked: "I’ve done ayahuasca and I’ve done mushrooms and things like that. But I like those drugs in the outdoors – I’m not a city-tripper… I like doing it in the Grand Canyon, or in the woods. You want to be prepared and not have responsibilities. It does remind you of your space in the universe - your place in the universe - and reframe things for you. I think you can have some very profound experiences."
Sting: "It is direct access to the Godhead, whatever you think that is."
• Paul Simon: The Rock and Rock Hall of Famer wrote "Spirit Voices" in 1990 about ayahuasca ("I drank a cup of herbal brew/ The sweetness in the air/ Combined with the lightness in my head/ And I heard the jungle breathing in the bamboo"): "Ayahuasca has always been there. Nobody outside of the Amazon knew anything about it. And there are several main sets of healers that use ayahuasca. I wouldn't say that it heals – but I wouldn't say that it doesn't. It seems to work sometimes for some people, seemed to really not work for other people. I'm not a proponent and I'm not a detractor. I just wrote the song because this had been my experience."
• Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith: The embattled celebrity couple went to Peru in 2021. Will drank 12 cups: "We realized that it was a fantasy illusion that we could make each other happy. We agreed that she had to make herself happy and I had to make myself happy. Then we were going to present ourselves back to the relationship already happy – versus demanding that the other person fill our empty cup." Jada added: "Ayahuasca helped me. It gave me a new, intimate relationship with myself that I had never had before. The suicidal thoughts completely went away."
• Sting and Trudie Styler: In 2014, the British pop star told Daniel Pinchbeck: "About 20 years ago I was in Brazil and I met somebody in Copacabana. My wife Trudie and I got in the back of his car and were mysteriously led out of Rio through the favelas and into the jungle. It was a big church. They handed out this brew. We drank it. After about 40 minutes something's coursing through every cell in my body, like some intelligence searching everything. And I am wired to the entire cosmos. I look at a crack in the ground and inside that crack there's a flower growing. It's my brother. And I realized for the first time this was the only genuine religious experience I've ever had. It is community. It is direct access to the Godhead, whatever you think that is. There definitely is a higher intelligence at work in you during this experience."