It’s a very weird thing, the anticipation leading up to an experience many refer to as the most intense of their life. Ayahuasca… I’ve been thinking about it as a distant possibility for so long, and now it’s here. Am I ready? My everyday thoughts and habits right now seem to say ‘No, maybe not.’ The trip is 2 weeks from now and I’m still an over-caffeinated screen junkie, caught up in the wheels of modern society. I feel like the medicine is going to be such a shock, like it will shove me head first into the introspection I haven’t been doing. It’s paradoxical, I’m going there for healing, to learn, but I’m beating myself up for not being mentally ‘there’ yet. Is it just too hard to live a mindful life as a North-American university student? I know I should be doing more meditation, should be more present instead of wasting away on the internet. Like most of my generation, I’m addicted to distraction. But I don’t want to fall into a victim mindset. I make my own decisions… why rationalize that it’s an inevitable result of my time and place to be mindless? To be, always, running away from being alone with myself. It’s easy to fall into, it’s so accessible with phones and computers and substances… But it’s still a choice, a matter of will. Or maybe, more than will, it’s about insight. A change of mindset, of paradigm. That’s what I’m hoping the ayahuasca can work into my brain. I’m eager to see if it will show me a new way of apprehending things, of going about daily life; a bigger picture, a sense of direction… so many questions, expectations, yet I don’t want to be dependent on the outcome. Whatever happens, I trust (or I’m trying to trust) will be for the best.
First real day in Peru after yesterday’s flights and series of Murphy’s law-type misadventures running around in Lima to get to our Airbnb. Today we met Luisa’s friend Sandro, a photographer who lives in town. We went for lunch and he helped me order ayahuasca-friendly food in Spanish. He told me about his own experience with the brew, saying it was horrible: pure darkness and evil visions, due to a bad guide according to him. When he looked up at the sky it looked like moving puzzle pieces, and his unhelpful shaman appeared as a hostile puma. But everyone’s experience is different; hearing others’ stories can’t really prepare me for my own, they are simply interesting. I think that the ceremony, if not ‘good’, will at least be something to learn from, something real and intense.
Today is the day before my (first? only?) ayahuasca experience. Whether there is a next one or next will depend on how this one goes… How it goes. I don’t know what to expect, from heaven to hell, despite all the research and soul-searching and conversations with people who’ve done it. I’m ready for absolutely anything, to go places in my mind I’ve never even conceptualized or thought existed. I’m open to whatever comes on the continuum from terror to ecstasy; open to some kind of death, since this is essentially a rebirth process. If I’m still holding on to anything – ego, habits, attachments, anxieties – I’ll be more than happy to leave them behind, to make some room. I’ve been trying to build mental strength but I am realizing it’s more about letting go. As long as I don’t lose my basic sense of humanity, I’ll be fine, the rest is up for the spirits to rearrange. Spirits, brain chemistry, whatever’s at works in this ritual. I think it’s basically nature. It’s where we come from, where we go back to. There’s nothing to fear. This is what we all ought to be exposed to as earth dwellers – nature in its purest form, in a dance with its psychic feminine personification.
Day of the ceremony. I’m well rested, well fed. It’s about 10am. I will drink the brew in the evening. I think my mind is in the right place.
C’est bizarre de penser en plusieurs langages. Je penses, en francais, en anglais et parfois, ces jours-cis, en espagnol. J’ai l’impression que ma personnalité change selon la langue; que l’interlocuteur dans ma tête est une différent personne pour chacune. Je me sens plus confortable, plus rassuré en français. Plus logique en anglais. En espagnol, c’est juste drôle. J’ai chaud, je suis nerveux et calme a la fois, ça ne semble pas encore vrai. Le moi de 17 ans qui lisait Castaneda au chalet, rêvant de quêtes chamaniques, n’en croirait pas ses yeux. Je suis ici, dans la jungle, et aujourd’hui je m’aventurerai là où je n’ai jamais été. Dans un monde profondément mystérieux, imprévisible, magique, peut-être dangereux. J’ai peur mais j’ai confiance. Et je suis reconnaissant d’avoir un ami ici avec moi, pour aider avec non seulement la langue (mon chaman parle seulement espagnol) mais avec mon état mental. Ça me garde sur terre de pouvoir lui parler, de ne pas être ici seul avec moi-même sans autre point de référence. J’ai hâte que l’anticipation soit terminée, hâte de finalement être au creux de l’action, d’être submergé. C’est difficile de vivre dans le moment quand on ne fait qu’attendre quelque chose de si puissant.
I hope to discover something about the world, about nature, about who I am and am not. Who knows if the person I’ve been up until now is even ‘me’, or just a mash of years of social conditioning, persona building, defense mechanisms, reactions, ego… I want to see clearly; to be freed of the narrow, self-oriented view of the world I feel I might have. There are honestly more things I’d like to lose from this experience than to gain. Lose my masks and armors, preconceptions and rigidities, petty addictions, unnecessary worries and fears. All I want is to be humbled into understanding life a little better.
I started to see episodes of Earth’s history from being a cosmic wasteland, to a primitive molecular playground for first lifeforms, to a garden of complex animal and plant life, to the first isolated tribes of our common ancestors. The message she gave me “The innocence of life, of civilization, has slowly gone away and now we are a disease upon all other life on this planet. We are already paying for this whether we agree with it or not… free yourself of the Disease.
Exhale – life works as an exhalation. Articulate, language is a formidable creative tool.
Mama Matrix Most Mysterious, Great Mother serpent goddess
Elves building in my brain – DNA connections, cells at work.
Remember, don’t forget, you are born from us, sprouted from the ground. Now you have life, live now and beautifully. When it’s time to rest you’ll be back to the worms. That will be beautiful too, in its time.
Sun-warrior on a dragon boat. Mask of a lion circled by multicolor feathers. Protect those you love with the warm unlimited energy I give you. There is no war worth fighting but the one against greed and disease, to restore our relationship with the living planet we inhabit.
There is darkness. Don’t take things too far. Remember your roots, where your kind comes from. There is no demons, no devil, only disease. Purge it, patiently. There will come a time to rest, indulge, give up. Not now. This will to death is a disease. Use the life, this gift, it’s free, use it for good. Rest when you need to.
Sounds of the jungle in my belly. Dogs barking, insects buzzing. Wolf and jaguar allies in the night.
Flash-lightning bolt across my brain through both ears in stereo, jolting.
Exhale the flow of a flower-river. Let shaman’s songs guide you on these rivers of that stem from the tree of life. We are on a dragon boat with everyone I love.
Go visit death, its knowledge, you are protected. Humbled before the great mother ancestors. Mourn them, rejoice in their memory. Everyone you know will die. Memory lives.
Your disease is a form of greed and it hurts people. The ones you love.
Skepticism now shattered as I realize ‘magic’ is real. It’s energetic play. It comes from nature. Rituals are just tools we’ve found to harness it. Technology is another kind of tool, a way to crack the code, but we took it too far.