Its all over now, (except the crying) I’ve drank the most powerful psychotropic on the planet, and ironically I didn’t try to piece together how I arrived here until this final moment. I now realize I’m 15 hours away from civilization, a hospital, or anything remotely common, and I can do nothing to get what I ingested out. Like some scene in Fear and Loathing I think to myself, “What the hell, what the hell am I doing out here in the middle of the jungle… we need help…. we need help” How did I end up in an ancient ceremony surrounded by strangers in the middle of a jungle? A good question I suppose, but the answer is complicated.
I don’t understand anymore how I’ve traveled so far. I stopped thinking about how long the journey’s been. I tell strangers, I followed a dream. I tell friends I followed a vision. If I know someone well I may tell stories about my sleepwalking days or the hallucinations of sleep paralysis. Only recently have I started telling people that two years ago I saw a vision. This image was the last hint I had, and I knew it. What I saw I believed to be true. At first I had no idea what the vision meant, why I needed to get there, and what was in store. To me the ideal life is more interesting following mysticism and signals than a scripted existence. I knew I could be completely wrong recklessly seeking a future in a mirage, and worse yet there was a looming sense that my death was attached to the line…I sought anyway.
For three years on the road she conditioned me. For a year and a half I laid on her earth facing the stars while she prepared me. I questioned my friends for two years while she guided me. I drove and drove my motorcycle for nearly three years through her wind, rain, and snow across countries and oceans to strange and foreign lands, while she protected me.
I have been shot at, robbed, wrecked, frozen stiff, soaked, starved, melted on desert highways, nearly drowned, surrounded by coyotes 100’s of times, chased out in middle of night, and even faced off with a mountain lion and an alligator all in search of a vision.
Moments roll after moments until one night I’ve found myself in the middle of a jungle, 15 hours away from a world I understood with 16 others, then strangers, and two maestros. I sat cross-legged in heavy silence waiting my turn to drink the medicine in the complete humid darkness of an Amazonian night. The ceremony was taking place in a foreign Shipibo land whose tribe 50 years earlier would most likely killed me if I stood foot in their territory.
Had I put too much thought into what was about to take place, the moment would never begun. I’d never taken a psychotropic or hallucinogen in my life. I haven’t taken a drug or alcohol in 5 years, I barely can handle weed, and use of hallucinogens is not something I consider “fun”. Without any intention, disease to cure, or imminent problem to fix, I decided to spend 10 days in a dieta in the jungle, consuming Ayawaska along with drinking a particular plant to receive it’s spirit. I put myself and soul on the line for 10 days because, for better or for worse I felt a calling to the medicine, I wanted to do the work, and I knew when you are true to yourself and to others following your path is not always easy.
I was the last person to drink the first night. The maestro poured the thick blackish liquid into the wooden cup under the flash of his headlamp and handed it to me. I took the cup held it to my heart and then to my head. I said my prayer and without much thought I drank in one large gulp.
After a few moments of “what did I just get myself into” I lay on my back on the wooden floor and waited. I waited in the silence of the warm jungle night, listening intently trying to distract myself with the sounds of countless insects clapping back and forth somewhere out in the thick of things.
About 40 minutes afterwards, the maestros began to sing their Icaros. The maestro carried a tune with the soul of Robert Johnson and an accent of a Native American. The songs were powerful and strange. I felt no effects yet but a few people began to purge in their buckets. The melody began mixing up emotions inside me. As the feeling increased, I did my best to hold back my vomit. Eventually the melody overtook my body and I threw up. I wiped away my mouth and lifted my head and with my wide surprised opened eyes colorful moving patterns layered over everything and everyone. Like 2000 Space Odyssey I said something to the extent of “wow it’s full of stars.”
I gained composure and thought, “damn I feel at home somehow, yeah I can handle this, lets see where it goes.” No sooner had the thought of control entered my mind that strong visions of an indescribable kind took a hold of my body and me. Although the visions can’t be explained, the colors were electric metallic and vivid. All the objects were symmetrical, and spiraled and spawned off each other, and so did I. I spiraled far deep into the visions and I lost control with them. I began to witness my heart literally pump right before my eyes. For the moment I was calm, but my heart began to beat faster. Despite my calm the beating became faster and faster. What was a normal reaction to the medicine, under the influence and not knowing any better, felt like death. Seeing my heart bleed in front of my eyes I thought any moment it would burst. I couldn’t imagine my chest taking the pace any longer. There was nothing anyone could do to help. I accepted what I felt was my fate. I didn’t want to die in panic, and blessed by the grace of a decision to go quietly I felt at peace with the choice to go. I was happy giving myself to this benevolent energy. I laid down for what I thought would be the last time in my life.
I waited for my death that never came. I don’t remember when my heart slowed, but it finally did. And shortly after realizing I entered a sacred place so beautiful tears poured from my eyes, like some weeping woman at a wedding, I cried instant gratitude, immediate humility, pure happiness, (truth). The deeper I flowed into the depth the less words became useful. Concepts of rationality slowly lost meaning. She challenged many concepts and philosophies I held valid. I was seeing with experiential truth of how immense this thing we call world is. I figured what I was witnessing was pure Love. At least that’s all I could think of. All my mind would allow was Love. Relief poured over me, and for the first time I knew in truth, and in my heart, that darkness, evil, negativity, suffering, the knife of vengeance and all things I considered malevolently powerful couldn’t touch the pureness that surrounded me. Not only did I recognize that misery of darkness wasn’t nearly as powerful, but also that darkness doesn’t hold a candle to Love…not even a candle to the power of Love. I think the worlds greatest poet would find it hard to describe the space I was entering.
Fear did not exist in this realm. I pulled myself back to sitting from lying down. I reminded myself to breathe, which would have helped if I could feel my face. Then I remembered, “follow the icaros they are your lifeline.” And so I grabbed a hold of the chorus by the oar, climbed aboard the maestros voice, boarded the canoe and floated down the stream.
I had great conversations here as lessons revealed themselves. I accepted almost every challenge. As a reminder of earth, I held a rock to ground myself. Then mother Aya took the rock in my hand and showed me what my heart was…a tiny hard rock. She then gave me the greatest gift I’ve ever received. She took my rock of a heart and pried it open to the universe. She showed me what a heart is capable of. What I thought was my capacity had no actual limit. She took my immature scared rock and healed my fear of intimacy. My heart was redeemed from the shallows and placed into the world of Love. She revealed to me the deep seeded love my friends and family had for me. I watched in awe and only wished to show the depth of my gratitude in reciprocity. I wanted to cut my wrists and bleed for my loved ones, to show the appreciation for them. Then she went further and asked would I really like to know what Love is? After having most of my world rocked I couldn’t accept the gift. Something inside me knew I couldn’t return to a life of humanness that I’ve enjoyed afterwards. I allowed many lessons to enter, but under the state, I wasn’t ready for that one.
There was a point where words, time, and questions, even thought no longer had validity. Like a pure silence, I realized where I was going words and thought could no longer help me understand. Humbly I entered, and prayed that lessons, since incapable of being rationalized with words or thought, be hidden behind my heart, so that one-day they could shine when I needed them.
Because words reached their limit of description, day one of ten ends here. I cannot vindicate nor narrate anymore of the journey. What I experienced after wasn’t anything I can understand as a communication. The last word I remember forming before my early departure rolled stumbling off my tongue …. Looooovee.
I write the story because so many men and woman have lived and shared this story. It is not another travel story, or a story of adventure. Many men and woman will live this tale and tell this story again and again with greater success. This is a tale of a vision given to me, who was too weak to understand it in full. But since vision is true it will be true and strong for another as well. It is a tale to me of spirit, of oneness and of Love. What I received should have flourished from my pours like a million grains of gratitude pumping in my heart every moment. Instead I remain too unshaken to radically change my perception in this reality.
I have a ton of work to do. I am wiser now only because I know I understand so little. I am still a slave to flesh and blood reality we live in. I have troubled myself with the infinite for a long time. I am calmer about the realization of death, determined that service to others is most essential, indebted eternally to friends and family but unable to break the bridge of misery. I hope now only to be true dumb in Love. To allow the air that passes on my face, to the soil that mystifies the roots of my mind, keep my breath and help me understand the boundless simplicity I care to understand.
Since everyone’s experience with the medicine is so different I feel the Ayawaska experience is much like Borges infinite library. Somewhere within the infinite rows and infinite books there is an answer to the universe. What we are searching for is contained in the books. Some books you receive are personal, some are coded, some are gibberish, and some have pieces that fit for you at your time and place. Within this infinite library there are mirrors. The mirrors are placed for you to see the truth of yourself. It can be terrifying to face yourself inside the library, to gaze into the lies you’ve told yourself or have come to believe. There are some, the custodians, who can decipher these books and help others find the ones they need. Thanks, praise, and gratitude to the custodians who continue on the arduous task of upholding the tradition.
“The people were no longer wrapped in pattern but were pattern, patterns of energy, we were all connected as energy. I stepped outside and saw every constellation in the black and white sky. Where and when had we lost the real knowledge of the universe? Who are we killing this earth? A drop of water fell on my hand, I touched this tree and we felt empathy together.”