The importance of the setting
The word ‘setting’ is used to describe the physical surroundings, including people, in which an experience induced by a psychedelic substance takes place. Setting is the most important factor, together with set (current state of mind) and dose, when it comes to making sure you will have a beneficial psychedelic experience. Close to 100% of all voluntary psychedelic experiences turn out to be in the range of not damaging to extremely positive. The small amount of psychedelic experiences that turn out to be damaging to fatal, have, as far as anyone has been able to research, almost always been caused by sloppiness with usually a multitude of the factors mentioned.
When someone drinks ayahuasca, the dose is typically very high, since this is necessary to achieve effects that are unique to ayahuasca. Most people who take ayahuasca have done research in advance, by reading and talking about it. They also have a clear idea of what their intentions really are, which is usually to overcome an obstacle in life caused by personal problems. This leaves setting as the most important factor when taking ayahuasca.
Together with iboga, ayahuasca is invariably the strongest psychedelic known to man, although the intensity of the experience is strongly influenced by the dose, as with all psychotropics. With most psychedelics, however, there’s a saturation point; an established dose that facilitates the strongest experience possible. For example, a normal dose of LSD is anywhere between 50 and 250 micrograms. A strong, overwhelming dose of LSD is anywhere between 100 and 500 mcg. For most people, taking more than 500 mcg. doesn’t add anything new to the experience, so 500 mcg. is their saturation dose. They could take 1500 mcg. and get the same intensity range as with 500 mcg.
What it means when saying ayahuasca and iboga are stronger than most other psychedelics, is that with a saturation dose of these plants it is possible, albeit not guaranteed, to reach states of conciousness that are more otherworldly, deeper, stranger, meaningful and healing than with a saturation dose of other psychedelics. Preparing for an ayahuasca experience is therefor a different ballgame, both in your mind as in the place where you plan to take the drink. For example, many people have visions of animals, beings, gods and other entities that communicate with them, and it usually seems more profound and real than everyday life. Experiencing ego-dissolvement is so common an effect, that taking ayahuasca is sometimes referred to as ‘little death’. Some people have experienced the same things or similar on LSD, mushrooms or other psychedelics, but it typically takes very high doses and very specific intentions or a specific background to reach this state on these agents.
In the case of ayahuasca, such amazing changes in the perception of reality are practically a given. Where you take it and who is there to take care of the situation is therefor of vital importance.