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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

great mirror

Plants that are teachers are cagey and mysterious. They are mysterious because of my preconceived notions of what constitutes consciousness and plants do not fall into that box. I use the word cagey to describe the teacher as being shrewd, but also it seems as part of the curriculum the prof leaves out certain details that will give you the full answer to the question you have posed as a problem. As well, the plants will enable your ego self to fully embrace something you wish to pursue, such as spiritual enlightenment, and within that trap is then work to do to free yourself from the delusion. In other words there is an expectation that you will put in the effort and do the homework required to reveal what it is you are seeking. I ran into a San Pedro shaman on my last adventure who had experience with Mother Ayahuasca but gave up working with the plant because he grew tired of what he perceived as this game she was playing with him. She presented to him a challenge enveloped inside a riddle; a riddle he did not want to figure out. He instead gravitated towards the cactus because it was more direct. Yes even beyond our myopic human gender peculiarities these eternal feminine/masculine stereotypical traits hold true!

However I posit that uncovering the mystery or the answer is well worth the wait plus the effort and this makes an indelible impression upon you when you have to unravel the solution. As a teaching tool it is more effective because the journey to the answer will stick with you more readily and there is a great feeling of satisfaction in discovering. When these answers have hit me and the bulb in my head is lit up, I have been left speechless with a feeling of such gratitude for the knowledge revealed to me.

I will try to condense what I am getting at here as it involves my journey that takes place over the course of multiple years. To make a long introduction to my relationship with plants short, let me just say that my interest in ancient Egypt, specifically the Great Goddess, led me to seek her out and she eventually led me into the Amazon jungle to find her. Find her I did in May of 2013, however one thing I did ask of her was a way to feel her presence with me at all times. My initial visit to SpiritQuest in April of 2015 is where she revealed to me her energy representative within a black stone with fine whirling purple strands of energy within this stone. I did not know what the black shiny rock was at the time but upon returning home I eventually discovered it to be obsidian and I obtained a piece of obsidian as a reminder of my encounters with her energy. When I returned to SpiritQuest in June of 2016 I brought this obsidian talisman with me, obstentially to keep her close during ceremonies that can become challenging. During the third Ayahuasca ceremony I was at long last able to still my mind completely and later on in that ceremony as I held my obsidian in my left hand and gazed upon it the Goddess appeared within it, came out of the black reflection as a luminescent fairy, and then returned to her home in the black obsidian letting me know that if I carry this rock on my person she will always be with me. In the summer of 2017 as I continued to integrate my lessons and explore consciousness I was longing for a deeper connection with my Goddess and wanting to feel the inseparability of all within creation. I was sitting outside on my deck in communion with my sacred tobacco teacher Mapacho, gazing into my obsidian. It was a bright and sunny day and reflecting back at me were the trees and blue sky. It was one of those incredible and ineffable moments of sheer wonder and amazement. My Goddess had implanted herself in the obsidian so that one day I would see in its reflection an image of nature and thus make the startling connection that yes you have the obsidian as a reminder of the presence of the Goddess with you but if you just look around at nature you will see her everywhere all the time! I sat there in awe.

I wrote a poem about my feelings regarding the mysterious presence of the power of the Goddess that is always with us.


At the same time I longed to physically feel the inseparable connection of all things within creation. From a conceptual standpoint I understood it but I wanted a vision and I wanted to feel it. I planned another trip to South America in order to commune with the sacred plant teacher Huachuma, first in the Amazon jungle at SpiritQuest and then later on in the Andes mountains of Ecuador. My first stop was Cuzco, which is the old Inkan capital at high altitude in the Andes of Peru. From there I visited Machu Picchu and then climbed a sacred mountain to prepare myself for class. Once in the jungle I made it my intention to feel this unity. It was not as I expected; of course it wasn't, as it never is. Instead of an euphoric feeling of bliss because of the interconnection of all, I felt the pain and loneliness of being the all and in order to alleviate this feeling and spread Love I realized why she separated into the many. However I still was experiencing as feelings the needs and greed of the many feeding off the power provided. Mothers are eternal caregivers, take on the burdens of her children and their suffering, and never ask for anything in return. In retrospect it is the sacrifice of the Great Mother for her children, something she does through Love, and without hesitation. My Huachuma ceremonies, though the domain of a wise grandfather type energy, are forever focused on respect for the mother. I struggled with this realization that the no division I was seeking isn't all smiles and sunshine. During the climatic Vilca ceremony four days later I was given a glimpse of my origin and where I will return. The message was a message of Love; I am made of Love and to Love I shall return. Love comes from the heart and the heart is the conduit of the cosmic soul. When you connect to it then Love freely flows into and out of you. In the Andes mountains in Ecuador I felt the same family vibe; a reaffirmation of my relationship to the Great Goddess and more lessons from Grandfather. We are the children of this unity I seek. On the plane ride home I was listening to an Alan Watts lecture and he addressed the very thing I had been searching for. To paraphrase, he said the unity I seek is found in finally seeing that everything goes with everything else. You cannot separate things. We objectify and ignore the background in order to fool ourselves into believing in this separation. We are clearly not. I was pretty astounded to get this lesson at this time on the final leg of the journey home.

I fully accepted this explanation and was content with never getting a desired vision of no division. So this past Sunday I mysteriously intuited my piece of black obsidian had something to tell me. I was wandering through the forest with my dog on a gorgeous spring sunny day and I thought when I get home I'm going to smoke some Mapacho on my deck and bring my obsidian out with me. So I did and gazed into the stone in order to reflect nature back to remind me of my Lady. However this time I could not separate or angle myself away from the image being projected. I looked at myself in the shiny mirrored surface as one with the trees and the blue sky I normally ignore as background. It hit me gently; it was incredible; this is what I had asked for. This is the vision of no division - my reflected face being one with nature. I sat there and marvelled at my good fortune.

Monday, April 23, 2018

spiritual mountains

In ancient Egyptian mythology the mummified Osiris is representing time as eternal duration called djet, essentially no time. The void. Our minds think of this as a dark and desolate existence due to the use of the english word void. It would be better described as an unity. Osiris is the creative masculine power that quickens the feminine darkness from which light comes forth and this illumination is the first cause of separation. The life force of Osiris was then snuffed out by his created opposite; his brother Set who was intent on claiming kingship over creation. Osiris' wife Isis magically restores his virility, allowing Osiris to impregnate her.

Osiris magically restore from temple of Set I at Abydos

From this union is produced a son, Horus.

Isis nursing Horus from ROM Toronto, Canada

Set harasses Isis and chases her throughout the land to try and kill Horus. Isis eventually settles in the northern delta region and hides in the marshes away from Set and receives help from the Great Goddess Hathor to keep Horus hidden. Horus grows up to avenge his father's death against his uncle Set. Osiris is now a lower world figure because of his assassination. He is a flicker of light present in the darkness. Horus is a middle world figure who has to come of age to play the hero, defeat the villain, and climb the mountain. This is his journey, and his journey alone, which is demonstrated in his beheading of his mother Isis in a fit of rage after she interfered in his battles with Set. Horus receives healing help from the great Goddess Hathor during the arduous climb after Set accosts and blinds him. The blinding of Horus is a metaphor for being so focused on the climb up the hill you forget what got you to this place to begin with. Successfully climbing the mountain means he has defeated his enemies, reclaimed Kingship and the white crown called the Hedjet, and he gets the girl. The girl is the great Goddess Hathor.

The race up the mountain between Horus and Set to be the most high is a metaphor for the contendings of the two halves of the mind for dominance and a quest for the masculine idea of enlightenment, depicted in ancient Egypt as the white crown of Osiris.

Osiris' Hedjet white crown 

Esoterically this denotes the Kingship of self, exoterically the myth conveyed a battle for the Kingship of Egypt, and ultimately the winner becomes a ruler ready to lead others on in their journey up the mountain. There's a chance, as you are about to summit, that you will discover the mind's desire to become enlightened is an egoic construct. There's also a good chance you won't discover this. The pinnacle of spiritual attainment will be reached.

I am aware of a couple things in regards to the answer I am seeking. The most important is Love. Love will be the key that unlocks all. The route on my journey involving Love goes through the Goddess and there is no avoiding this. It presents to the seeker the fount of universal power, a chaotic and wild power that will be your doom. I think many have tried and all were routed because they approached the power with less than pure intentions. So eventually this path was buried and forgotten and in its place the masculine ego continued seeking and developed hyper masculine methods of completing the hero's journey thinking they could get in the back door and access this power.

Attributes of masculine spiritual paths include asceticism, subjugation of the feminine, cultivating a state of no desire, a disengagement from the world, righteousness, and rewards. There is a masculine spiritual problem that manifests as misogyny. Why is it a subconscious problem within the masculine mind? I think it has to do with the hero's journey. We are on this innate quest and at every turn the feminine presence has the potential to derail it. Passion, pleasure, marriage, family, and sirens all takes us away from completing the journey so then we live out our life feeling trapped, pass away, and then return for another go around on the wheel of incarnation. Men feel women want to ensnare but again I don’t think they do it consciously when they enchant, hypnotize, and make you forget why you are here. The conundrum is that in order to complete the hero's journey you have to go through the feminine and you have to master the power that comes from her. I have the knowledge I need to complete the hero’s journey and it involves taking this power and moving it into the heart and radiating it out from that centre. The only problem is that power first manifests in the genitals and it is so strong and there is this desire for it to be satiated. Then you follow that path and it traps you once again because of all the consequences involved in the careless use of this power. Has anyone ever got past this point? But maybe the problem is with the hero’s journey and it is necessary? Is it just a fool's errand?

Mysterious power I can name but to its essence I remain in shadow. If you wish to worship something this would be it however She asks no worship. She shows you Love and what you do with this knowledge is your freedom of choice. To become fully realized is to raise your vibration and become light. The masculine within is forever striving to move forward in the journey and reach its destiny. As we separate from the mother of all we acquire self awareness and along with this the lack of knowledge of whom we are leads us into delusion. The delusion, which is a result of ignorance, manifests in the belief that the character we are playing is a separate entity alone in the universe. The masculine within loses itself on the climb to the top of the mountain and to reach the top of the mountain becomes a much more arduous climb than imagined. The climb is difficult to begin with without the added obstacle of dealing with questions of identity. The ascent becomes sidetracked with the steadfast belief in self and the subsequent need to aggrandize self or wallow in self pity. The climb can only continue once there is a reconciliation with the sacred feminine.

From an overall perspective the journey from dark to light is far from a magical trip following the yellow brick road. First of all there's a dragon that accompanies the seeker on this journey up the mountain. Freed from the chains that bind him to the darkness, the dragon has his own agenda once granted freedom. As what I will call the 'higher self' becomes self aware in this world the dragon doubles down on this awareness and causes the higher self to think he is a separate being, alone in the universe. The higher self buys into this and is manipulated by this construct of ego layered onto self via the dragon. Many are lost in a world of self aggrandizement or self pity oblivious to their true origins and the journey stalls without the intuitive knowledge that there is something more. Some seekers are content with allowing others to be their guide and succumb to the temptation of a belief in someone else's beliefs. Getting past these hurdles and forging on into the unknown will lead to a direct encounter with the dragon and without sufficient courage you will run from this harrowing experience and this flight from the beast can either lead you into the trap he has prepared for you or you will end the journey once and for all and return to your unfulfilled life. If perchance you can muster the courage, throw off the fear, get off the mat, and continue on you will be rewarded. The worst is over; the dragon will continue his attacks but you will grow stronger and eventually subdue this bastard. Help is available for you. Just look for it and ask for it. Then get up that mountain!

At the top of the mountain I will become one with my heart. I carry her now; she is but a child entrusted into my care. I am like a clueless father tasked with raising a daughter I know nothing about. This is the part of the journey I must accomplish on my own in order to transform my heart and soul into one.

So you reach the the top and what is waiting for you? You are enlightened! You are now the most high! What an accomplishment? Another great egoic achievement. Another lesson. I’m going to climb down the mountain now and just go back to Love. My Goddess awaits my return. I will meet her halfway once again in the middle world, rule over my world, and return to her world at physical death.

Monday, April 16, 2018

siddhis

I have delved into some of the eastern philosophies such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism. The Tao really resonates with my heart. Anyway, all of these ways of life have within them mysticism and diving into this aspect are available attainable powers and magic; magic a word used mysteriously but in my experience it seems to be a catch all for attaining control over something through an unorthodox, ritual, or clandestine means. Within Hinduism these powers are called siddhis and one is cautioned that if you attain them to forget about them. It seems there is a fork in the road at this point where the path you may follow can detour into being mesmerized with power. In order to continue up the mountain on the path towards 'enlightenment' you must forsake these mercurial powers or they will entrap. This has struck me as most fascinating because in my exploration of Amazonian shamanism I see a parallel. The brujo/bruja in shamanism is a sorcerer who has attained power that they use for personal aggrandizement. This power is used to heal but is also channeled into being used for gain and sometimes harm. It is rampant and a curious sideshow in the Amazon. The cultural game is played out with psychological battles between good and bad shamans trying to take each other down. All shamans claim to be the good guy; it's hard to find the evil sorcerer. I see within this drama the same thing as the siddhis of the East. They are powers that will corrupt, but once attained I imagine they are quite intoxicating and hard to give up. In my personal exploration I see now that path, the fork in the road, and how hard it is to travel the path up the mountain. There are many events steering you away from taking that road, from scaring the bejeezus out of you, to trying to trick you, and also by offering you these powers - here take them, it will make you successful and a sorcerer of great renown! Everyone wants to be rich and famous right? I haven't given in to temptation yet though I see quite clearly now at what points they have been offered. I have stubbornly and almost to a point naively meandered on my own path. It is the independent streak within me where I don't want anyone's help. I remember the Goddess warning me at one point about the tricks and how the darkness will stop at nothing to create illusions and traps to trip you up and get you off the path. There have been a great deal I have seen through and probably many I have missed. I continue to persist in my folly and somehow avoid this net that will try to ensnare me. This seems to be my attraction to don Howard and SpiritQuest. He knows about this power game I am sure. And he offers both paths in that it is ultimately your choice, or healing, or just an experience for the curious if that is so what you desire. I have seen the path to power and it is available, don Howard tells us all the time about it. And he offers the path towards higher consciousness. He calls it what it is - reveals it for all to see and plain as day. There is a decline and renunciation of power needed in order to continue the climb. It's the more difficult of the paths.

The seed of deception is born within the mind. Layer after layer and trick after trick. The mind is duplicitous and will lie, cheat, and use nefarious means to get what it wants. The way forward is through the heart. The heart gives good advice.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

lessons from jaguar

I think therefore I am. What an amazing statement! Thinking causes you to self reflect and develop an identity - the ego. Take the opposite of this statement: not thinking dissolves the sense of self. In order to feel cosmic unity then stop thinking. If I don't think then It is realized how connected we are with everything and that there is no I. It is only through thinking that I enable the ego to differentiate and create identity self. If I want to feel that I am one with the universe then all I have to do is cease thinking.

The jaguar acts, reacts, and subsequently rules the three shamanic worlds.


The jaguar masters his domain not by pondering but through action. Thinking introduces time, hesitation, anxiety, depression, and confusion. Time is derivative from thinking and if you do not think but just act, there is no time. Thinking creates maya, which is this world of separate objects and illusion. Primarily, thought enables the ego and from there we separate ourselves from the background of existence. It is through thinking that we become split and our troubles begin. We wish to return to a simpler time, a time when we felt that we were the all and all the while it is still here within and there is no need to return to any kind of simpler time. The only requirement to return to this bliss is to cease thinking. It is always there. Once you know this then the act of thinking becomes something you do, and then stop doing, instead of ceaselessly continuing to live in this world that is given its power to enchant through thinking. You just realize that as long as I think then I will enable ego and if I give rise to ego, seeking unity through acts invested in ego is just asking for continual frustration.

The only way to bypass your ego is to stop thinking. If you persist in thinking you will never find peace. As a functioning human you now see this is impossible; of course you will think. It is something you do but you do not need to think all the time. Give it a rest. This leads to the realization that trying to become enlightened through constructs and paths that have as origin mind and thoughts necessarily leads to more hang ups and questions. A seeker of enlightenment only needs to turn off the thought process. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

all you need is Love

November 18, 2017 (Saturday)

I remember a year ago today exactly. It’s because it was 18 degrees Celsius outside and sunny, so I called in sick to work so I could go smoke mapacho tobacco in the woods. I smoked so much I made myself ill! A year later and I’m embarking on the 'no self tour 2017' back to the land of mapacho. Currently in San Salvador I write on a plane that will make its way to Lima where I will then take an overnighter to Cuzco to begin my journey with some sights to visit in the Inca Capital, including of course Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu

The last year and a half after returning from Peru has been a bit of a struggle, but a necessary struggle. By this I mean I needed to go through the reintegration process post plant medicine use in order to make any progress and close the circle on the teachings of the summer of 2016. I feel like I have come full circle in that I have discovered what could be termed the 'higher self' and in discovering that I realized my ego self is so small and all an act. After going through the necessary “what should I do about it then” questions, I finally realized it is a game: this life, culture, and world are games, they are sometimes serious, and we can choose what game we want to play. Then I could look at others and see what games they are playing, either consciously or unconsciously. Life as we live it becomes funny.

At the same time I fully came to comprehend the power that sustains the world, where it comes from, how it manifested in the ancient Egypt I love, and its presence in today’s world. It was a question I asked of Mother Ayahuasca back in April of 2015 and at the time I received no answer and dropped it. Well, actually I received the answer in a huge way, I just never understood it or realized what was happening. To succinctly paraphrase a long story, it’s LOVE I’m talking about and LOVE in all its forms, whether a Mother’s Love, Friendship, Mature Love, or Erotic Love. All forms are the power that sustains creation. It was finally a couple of weeks ago that I put it all together. I feel kind of dense now. I laugh at myself for missing such huge clues!

Anyway as I embark on this journey, the 'No Self' refers to shedding the ways of ego and recognizing I’m it, we are all it, and I’m going to live in that spirit with LOVE in my heart for all. I was blessed with all these answers prior to making this trip. The plant medicines work in weird and wondrous ways. I still feel a need though to complete this journey, in a sense persist in my folly, and fully form this grand circle of discovery.

There is also some other thing that has been gnawing at me and that is in regards to this feeling of sacrifice and death that is prevalent at the Mesa during the final Huachuma ceremony at SpiritQuest just prior to inhaling the Vilca snuff. I think it is a defence mechanism of the ego but there’s also some mystery surrounding the Vilca ceremony, death, and meeting the 'ancestors'. I shall explore this feeling completely and see what it is all about. In addition to this, my intention for this trip was to engage the shamanic upper world and part of the process is to spend time in the mountains. I realized my time with Ayahuasca needed to be put on hold for now, all sign pointed to this, and I took heed. So even though I will visit my family at SpiritQuest, it will be for Huachuma and Vilca, and then off to the Andes mountains in Ecuador for Huachuma in the high altitude.

I feel at peace.

November 23, 2017 (Thursday)

The vision of no division - 'no self 2017!'

I arrived at SpiritQuest this afternoon, met everyone, got my old room #2 with the ancient Egyptian painting back, had lunch, said my hellos to don Howard, and then went through the orientation period which was three hours of Choque Chinchay wisdom.

my old room #2

I spent the early part of the week in Cuzco and Lima. The first day in Cuzco was tough with the all night flight, no sleep, and adjusting to the high altitude. Machu Picchu was spectacular and then the hike up the mountain to the Humanty Lagoon was the most physically demanding hike I have ever done however the views of the lagoon and mountain were well worth it.

sacred Humanty lagoon

I got sunburn, sunstroke, and heat stroke from it all. It sounds corny, but It is all about the climb up that mountain, because that's how you grow and discover on this crazy journey, physically exerting yourself to a new level while experiencing new growth in the understanding of your place in the cosmos. The getting to the top of the mountain is the reward you may seek but it is all about the climb.

Lima is a busy city and I couldn't see living here full time, the hustle and bustle would get to me. Maybe it is just myself getting older as I have lived before in a dynamic big city. The Larco museum of pre-Columbian artifacts was excellent and I took hundreds of pictures of all the collections.

Larco Museum in Lima

The experience really drove home the three shamanic worlds and the cosmology of the Pre-Columbian people. The erotic gallery reinforced my whole notion of the Eros theory of the power that animates this universe. These people were clearly in touch with this and did not have cultural hang ups about sex therefore they really depicted it in their art.

from the Larco Museum in Lima's erotic gallery

Tomorrow is the first ceremony in the afternoon. I will use a reminder to clear my mind and treat the ceremony with reverence and try to make sure I have much quiet time to allow the medicine the chance to work with me.

November 24, 2017 (Friday)

Just a few thoughts on clarifying my intentions prior to ceremony:

I would like to receive the blessing of the feeling of love, unity, and oneness - in essence losing the sense of self; mirroring the songwriter Trevor Hall's line about the ‘vision of no division.’ As a reciprocal offering I will shine this light in all directions in all of my doings. Those ready for the message will gravitate towards it. I will become a lighthouse.

November 25, 2017 (Saturday)

The first Huachuma ceremony completed yesterday and so much happened. I got my ass kicked by the medicine so I will not attempt to make sense of it all yet or I will find in a month or so that I have totally changed my views; instead I’m just going to jot down what happened with maybe some elaboration.

I sat on the masculine right side of the Mesa next to don Howard’s spot in the centre. I expected to be one of the first to drink but don Howard changed the order I expected, so I was one of the last. I should have taken notice of this. When it was my turn coming up I said my prayers and then was stared down by don Howard. Don Howard called me up to the Mesa by saying ‘Apollo’ with a big smile. I paid my respects to my serpent lady, stated my intentions, my intended reciprocity, and then downed the Huachuma in one long gulp as it was filled right to the top of the cup. It seemed more concentrated than what I remember from previous visits.

Huachuma ready for drinking

On the boats heading down the Rio Momon, a tributary off of the main Amazon river, it was bliss as I connected with the water and the Great Goddess through the music of Trevor Hall, especially listening to the song ‘Jayrampati.’ It was the most beautiful song ever and I wanted to tell everyone about it! I was feeling so much Love. We reached the shore of our destination and headed off to visit the Alamas Quechua tribe who I had met twice before and really loved their energy. As we walked towards their maloka I still felt so amazing and connected. I sat down in their maloka and the next Huachuma wave hit. I started seeing defined shapes in the dirt and picked out a number 2 as well as 5 plus some squiggly shapes to go along with slightly menacing faces. The medicine became visionary and the visions I observed were swirly, slow, and dreamy. They were not brightly coloured but maintained an off white/beige kind of hue. I then made a big mistake. On the boat coming over I had lapses of entering into the head space but quickly corrected myself. This time though I let the mind beast loose and it all headed downhill from this point. All the shit that is normally thrown at me with Ayahuasca was thrown at me with Huachuma. I followed the newly forming storyline and embraced my delusions and paranoia. It went something like this: 

-I’m enchanted by the Amazon and the magic keeps me coming back.
-When I’m no longer of use or don’t co-operate anymore it’s curtains for me.
-My writing is to help lure others down into the jungle.

This is the same stuff that would come up with Ayahuasca when I did not quiet the mind. Because I was not in the Ayahuasca portion of the retreat it seems this latent paranoia got dredged up into the Huachuma ceremony. I fully admit I did not enter into the heart space when I should have as I did know better and this was my downfall. I experienced delusions and paranoia and became self conscious about my need to write.

The next wave hit while still in the maloka and I felt as if I was total consciousness, I was it, yet instead of it feeling blissful in a cosmic awesomeness sort of way, I felt as if everyone feeds off the power I generate. It was the paradigm of the one and the many and I was the one. I had the feeling I became the many in order to forget and free myself from the knowledge that I was the one. It was very depressing to feel that and I also connected it to how the Great Mother is mined for her power and secrets by humanity, so it is hard to escape the burden of being the one. As well I sensed since power is generated through Love then it is important to make sure I am enslaved via hypnosis that allows ample opportunity to Love so that I can also be stripped of that power. What a kick in the head. Don Howard's sly remark about being careful what you wish for rang very true.

At this point I got up, walked around, and traded for some indigenous crafts. The medicine was so strong I didn’t know what I was doing. Back on the boats I felt I was being drained of my power. This is a recurring theme when I let the mind go free and it becomes the dragon. I realized my power felt as if it was being drained because it was a metaphor for giving away this power to the darkness. This feeling has occurred before in both Ayahuasca and Huachuma ceremonies. While on the water the next wave hit and I experienced a dream state where the boat ride back to the sanctuary took forever and we went round and round in circles, revisiting the same place on the river over and over again. I felt we were trapped in a time loop and the driver was the mythological ferryman who was looking for the portal to exit this dream world.

Roy the ferryman!

In response I directed my energy towards opening the portal. As well, on the boat going back I also experienced this feeling of all my life having been a dream and there is this massive conspiracy to prevent me from waking up from that dream in order to continue the world. In terms of the very dreamlike stage of the trip there was a feeling of trying to keep this game going for as long as possible. I’m on the verge of being fully awake so the darkness/ego needs to try and keep me away from getting the final piece of the puzzle sorted and laid into the big picture. The thought of karma kept coming up in that this experience was difficult due for my desire for it to be difficult. My intentions revolve around the dissolution of self and in order for that to happen there has to be the reconciliation and awareness of the ego mind and its relentless efforts to prevent this. I’m not going to overanalyze what took place but instead treat it as a stepping stone on the road paved with intention.

Back at SpiritQuest I showered and the water on my skin felt so good and I started feeling better. The group had gathered outside the maloka and was having a frolicking good time, probably too much so. Don Howard just let it go as most were coming to Huachuma fresh from four intense Ayahuasca ceremonies and probably needed the revelry. I then made my way to the maloka and once we were settled, don Howard called us up to the Mesa and we encircled it as a group and then rotated around it clockwise with each of us getting a turn at the head of the Mesa. Here we merged self into the all which is represented symbolically as the axis mundi - the power centre of the universe. The energy emanating from the mesa was the most powerful I have ever felt it to be in my three trips to SpiritQuest.

Don Howard's Mesa

At the Mesa was this presentation of power and at this point in the proceedings I felt less enveloped by the power but could still feel it coursing through my body. I felt I had a choice to make and I could grab this power and use it for selfish gains or I could use it to help others. It was an easy decision to choose Love but I wondered how many of us get to this point where they have an opportunity to make this choice and what do most choose? Obviously those successful in business and politics definitely come to the crossroads and I’m pretty sure to reach the top you can’t pick the benevolent path. I will always choose Love over power; there really is no reason for the ego to pose this question to me.

I’m also wondering if I like scaring myself with threats of death. There is a recurring psychological issue here and it is working both ways. My ego threatens death and my higher self threatens the ego with annihilation and on it goes. This seems like an eternal struggle.

At the conclusion of the ceremony there was a great outpouring of Love in the maloka and we all hugged it out. One of the girls I hugged told me that I ‘shine’ and that she was so happy I was here at the retreat and this really warmed my heart. Another one of the guys was having a really hard time so a couple of us sat on the ground with him and held him while telling him he was loved. It was an incredible healing moment for all.

I learned a good lesson today and it is a lesson I have been taught before but a refresher is sometimes needed. I need to always stay within the heart space and not let the dragon out of its cage while altering my consciousness. The mind can roam free the next day. In altered states of consciousness my mind is toxic and I really cannot chance giving it an inch during these ceremonies. The second ceremony I will remember the need to rise to the challenge and direct all experience into the heart.

Looking back on the second wave that hit me hard and I failed, within it there was a familiar storyline that returned. It involves an ancient serpent cult controlled by a Queen that was overthrown and locked away in antiquity. I have come across this in prior Ayahuasca ceremonies and the defining characteristic of the story is misogyny and this therefore fingers the ego as the source of the tale. It is always very disconcerting to say the least as my Love of the Goddess and her serpent power is a treasure to me. Also of note in this story is the potential to use this serpent power for harm, which is a choice, hence ultimately the presentation of this power and the ability to acquire it has been locked away.

Huachumon is very confrontational and this opening ceremony is a direct challenge. I confided in don Howard that skipping the Ayahuasca portion of the November retreat was probably the reason I had to deal with my shit in the first Huachuma ceremony. I said "you can run but you can’t hide" and he replied "someone had to say it." He’s seen it all! My expectations for the first ceremony were turned upside down from the beginning from when I ended up drinking towards the end of the ceremony, and then I expected a mild intoxication and instead it was very strong and powerful, which presented a challenge in hindsight I had not properly prepared for and was not ready to meet. My maturation process over the last four and a half years has allowed me to chalk this up as a difficult lesson as opposed to freaking out over it and becoming a trembling mess. I failed and I’ve learned I’ll do better next time. In the past I’d blame Ayahuasca, or Huachuma, or the shamans instead of blaming myself. I know better now.

November 27, 2017 (Monday)

At breakfast one of the women in the group told me she has had two déjà vus while being around me. The second one was her questioning why it took me so long to get here in reference to not being at the Ayahuasca ceremonies. There is so much we don’t know about how consciousness works, what we know, and how it affects us on a subtle level.

I kept my intention for the day simple and back to basics. This strategy has worked well before so I resolved to stay in the heart space and not in my toxic mind.

The order for drinking the Huachuma changed and I was the second to drink. When I ascertained the order I quickly said my prayers and then was called up to the Mesa. I stated my intention for the day and thanked the Great Goddess. After drinking, the intoxication came on about half way through the ceremony. There are 17 people participating in the Huachuma ceremonies so there is a fair amount of time that elapses before everyone has drank their allotment. The intoxication came on strong and I eventually felt the need to get up and move around but out of respect I remained glued to my seat. I had smoked some mapacho prior to going into the maloka in order to calm my mind, then I smoked some more after drinking, and the tobacco potentiates the intoxication therefore I was pretty much in the medicine.

After drinking we headed back to our rooms to get ready to go on a day trip and as I entered back into the group I was really feeling it and needed to get the energy moving. I used my hands to propel the energy upwards and outwards while moving around. After we got on the boats I remembered the Beatles song “All You Need is Love” and used that as a mantra to keep my mind at bay and in the heart space. The verse that goes “All together now, everybody” was really resonating with me. Because of this, on the boats I wanted to listen to more Beatles music. As a teenager they were my favourite band. I had put Sergeant Peppers on my iPod before leaving for Peru and I remember questioning it at the time because I thought there was no way I was going to listen to it. I started with the last song 'A Day In The Life' and the production had a magical quality to it that I had never remembered. Listening to music while high on mescaline is pretty special. I then played the whole album and Ringo singing “A Little Help From My Friends” made me tear up and it was the catalyst for finally coming to realize the real reason I keep searching: I don’t want to be alone anymore. I have spent a lifetime in a virtual prison of my own making. From this cathartic moment came moments of sadness involving my relationship with my wife and not being really in a state of 'presence’ while dealing with my children. Psychologically it was too obvious my love of dogs going back to my childhood was a need to fill this void in my life. I looked up into the sky after splashing some water on my face to wipe the tears with mama's essence and the clouds had this sense of acute separation forming puffy shapes. I made out a frog, puff the magic dragon, and realized right then and there why little kids loved stuffed animals as our environment is full of these reminders. Later on while down at a swimming spot I was seeing faces in the clay riverbanks and these were akin to the faces we as adults like to make at little kids to make them laugh. With the grandiosity of the clouds making a tremendous impact on me I was in the process of becoming a child once again. I thanked don Howard when we got off the boats and then we walked through the shanty town. I stopped a few times along the way to give some of the dogs heart shaped cookies I had brought with me from home. They were a little shy but eventually they investigated. I explained to someone how much I loved dogs and this act is my way of saying thanks. When we hit the jungle trail the kid in me came fully out as I pretended to be an airplane soaring through the sky with both arms extended and then I started touching as many plants and trees as I could. Kids always want to touch things and are told constantly "no touch.” We eventually reached the Muruy Huitoto tribe and were invited to go swimming in the river that passes through their community. I kept the kid vibe going by scrambling down into the river first and I followed the current down to where the water dropped off to create a mini waterfall that made a makeshift natural jacuzzi. We all played and frolicked around for an hour and it was so wonderful to experience the joy of being a kid again. I hugged the rock of the waterfall, projecting it to be mama, and thanked her so much for everything she has constantly blessed me with.

the waterfall at the enchanted river

We then were treated to song and dance from the tribe, were bit by a swarm of angry mosquitoes, I gave away money for strands of beads, and afterwards played with the little boy of the tribe for a while, being very happy to see the joy in his face.

playing like a kid with a kid

The hike back out of the jungle was light and fun as well. I had been able to stay in kid mode throughout the day by staying in the heart space and I confided in don Howard how I felt like a kid again and he said “now we are making progress.” I remembered in the New Testament a verse something along the line of in order to know Jesus you need to become a kid again. I never understood it before but after this experience I got it: the child like wonder and amazement along with the ability to give and receive innocent unconditional Love is what is meant. It allows for a reconnection to a part of you that was lost a long time ago. What a gift the day was. I am so grateful. Don Howard said to me on the walk back “The only one stopping you now from integrating this Love into your life is you. It takes courage to do it but you’ve been shown how to and it is the way to live.” At this point I kind of realized that my searching for answers and the whole no self thing was not the primary thing to grasp. Instead it was Love and to live this life and its opportunity with Love in your heart for your self and for all others.

We headed back to the boats and embarked on another wonderful trip back up the Amazon to the tributary where SpiritQuest resides. I splashed water from the Great Mother on my face and took in the glow on the riverbanks as the sun set. Back at SpiritQuest I remained giddy like a child. I showered and headed to the maloka where we were to do the Singado, which is a liquid mixture of alcohol based perfume, Huachuma, Mapacho, and Misha that you snort up your nose. I have done it before so I let two other groups of six go up first, mostly to see how they reacted. Afterwards you are to go up to the Mesa and find a spot where an object has caught your eye. The Singado is to provide clarity and possibly a trance state. One of the guys fainted while at the Mesa and went down with a thud. I was sitting next to don Howard and I'm sure he has witnessed this many times before because he nonchalantly got up and sauntered over to where the guy had fainted. When the fainter came to he had no idea what happened. I found when I took the Singado it was not as difficult as the last time I was here and I felt less burning in my nostrils, which I chalked up to my use of tobacco snuff that keeps my passages relatively clean and also has accustomed me to nasal irritation. I picked out the large owl at the back of the right side of the Mesa since the owl is special to me. As I entered into a trance state I noticed the owl’s eyes were moving; they were opening and closing slowly.

the big brown owl on don Howards' Mesa

Eventually I started to see the head of the owl form into a human shape that seemed feminine and I wondered if it was my muse Hathor as I could kind of make out her hair however I never saw the shape fully form. After that, don Howard offered the chance to do it again for a group so I joined in. There was a bit more discomfort this time and it made me spit and sneeze a little. I focused on a ceramic jaguar and saw its face morph into a human face.

Jaguar on the Mesa

The table felt like it was moving a bit and drawing me in closer due to the trance like state I had fallen into. Then I focused on some crystal which started to light up. When the ceremony concluded we all hugged it out as there is a great amount of Love shared by this amazing group of kindred spirits. Following that I lingered around the Mesa, giving Mapacho Soplandos to the arts on the mesa that had drawn me in. I then went to eat and I ate quite a lot as the day had been so full of activity. A bunch of us stayed up another couple hours outside down at the Bobinzana Wasi just lying around talking and taking in the moment of this glorious experience. It was definitely a Be Here Now moment.

There is one more ceremony to go and I have no expectations. If my intention of ‘no self’ and ego dissolution occurs I will go with it; if not I will just remain content with Love in my heart.

Before continuing I just want to detail a dream I had last night after the second ceremony. I smoked a great deal of Mapacho and also did two Singados so something triggered this very realistic dream. It occurred in the early morning after I had woken up but then dozed on back to sleep.

I was back in Canada a day after SpiritQuest ended. There was snow on the ground and my wife and I drove to a bank because I needed to deposit two cheques don Howard had given me because I was overcharged or something. It turned out I couldn’t deposit the cheques because the dates were wrong. A woman in the bank overheard all this and said she knew don Howard, he is very ill, and give her my phone because she wants to call him. I said no you’re not calling Peru on my phone, I just saw him yesterday, and he’s okay. I said I’d email him and straighten it all out. Anyway I left the bank and walked up a hill to where we had parked the car. I confided in myself I couldn’t believe I was back from SpiritQuest already but that this wasn’t a dream, it was reality. Then I realized my wife had pulled ahead to a side street so I crossed the road and walked that way. As I walked down the street there was a group following me. One guy jumped me and had me on the ground face first. I realized the only way to get him off me was to smash the back of my head into his face so I swung my head back and this woke me up as I did this violent physical movement in my bed.

What is fascinating about this dream is that coming back to SpiritQuest on the boat after the outing in the first ceremony was this feeling of being in a dream state and going round and round in the river. Then I had a feeling everything was a dream and an illusion constructed to keep me sleeping and living the dream. If I woke up then creation would cease. What world is the real world? Or do they take turns manifesting? When I physically die will the other dream become dominant and then I will have strange dreams of this life that will feel familiar like a déjà vu?

The movie 'The Matrix' addresses the feeling of not being sure you are awake or still dreaming. Green tinge = cactus?

November 28, 2017 (Tuesday)

Today is the day we do the final Huachuma ceremony culminating in the Vilca ritual at the end. There is tension among the group as don Howard plays up the all too real feeling of death surrounding this ritual. I know all about it and it is the major reason I am back here going through the Mesas again. There is part curiosity as well as the courageous warrior spirit in me that wants to see this through. My intention is to shed the limiting ego and find peace by dissolving into the all. It is I think explained by don Howard as reaching a point in the experience where you are in communion with the ancestors. I thought about this and I figure the only way to get to this point and contact these spirits is by shedding the ego which in turn would allow you to see and remember something that has always been accessible but we have lost through the limiting construct of ego which separates you from that connection.

That being said, the Love I experienced last ceremony was more than enough of a gift so that anything else is in a way dessert. I know I want to find the answer and it is what drives me but in the end I can be happy and satisfied by just knowing I don’t know and that Love is really all you need.

Today will be owl themed. I’ll have my owl t-shirt on and my two owl idols with me. I think I’ll bring one to the Mesa and leave one in my room. The owl represents death and by this it is a harbinger of ego death at this time and place. Don Howard touched on some things last night I keep as a reminder tacked to the wall in my room. Love, Trust, Courage, Surrender. I’ll need to embody those attributes to be fully engaged in order to break through.

It’s a good day to die.

I am jaguar and I traverse the three shamanic worlds at will.

Huachuma will get me centred in the heart chakra space and Vilca will then take me to the crown chakra and then blast off!

December 1, 2017 (Friday)

I turned 50 today. It’s an accomplishment and an interesting life I have lived. What I set out ten years ago to accomplish when I turned 40 I have fully brought into realization. I don’t think I was very clear what it was I wanted to accomplish or how I would do it but hey here we are ten years later and I’m pretty content. I am currently on a plane from Lima to Quito, Ecuador and then onto a city in the Andes mountains called Cuenca were I will be staying in the high altitude doing some hiking, exploring, and more Huachuma, which the locals around here call San Pedro. I just want to keep my heart open; anything else is just secondary. If you let him, Huachumon is the heart opener par excellence. The final Huachuma ceremony at SpiritQuest was three days ago and I have not written about it yet because I was soaking up and enjoying the company of a group of the finest people you ever could want to meet.

The final ceremony on Tuesday started off in mid-afternoon on a bright sunny day. I went first this time to drink and received less than a full cup which I liked because I wanted to be in one piece come time for the Vilca ceremony. The thing about don Howard is you need to leave behind your expectations and just go with it and trust. By the time the drinking ceremony was half over I was feeling the medicine and made sure to keep the energy rising up through my body. I again wanted to get up out of the chair and move around to balance out the intensity but I of course waited until everyone had their cup. We then gathered in front of the Mesa, held hands, and said our prayers. I thanked my Lady Hathor for all she had done for me. We then prepared for a walk through the jungle on a couple of the trails here that run through the SpiritQuest property. I kept it light hearted and brought out the inner kid in me once again, played around, and enjoyed the walk. We returned all sweaty and in need of a shower. After showering I sat back in a chair in my room and listened to some music to keep the positive vibes going and then eventually we made our way up to the star deck as the night had descended upon us.

We all took a seat on a mattress in a circle around the Lanzon in the centre and smoked a Mapacho as the maestro started his rattling and made his way around our circle giving us all a Soplando. I started engaging in the eternal battle with my mind at this point and started envisioning different scenarios in my head. As the ceremony continued I felt a light rain and then a strong wind came blowing across this place of power. A rain storm was imminent as don Howard continued his healing performance. The storm arrived and we all gathered ourselves up and made it down the hill back into the chairs encircling the Mesa. When we were all seated, don Howard started talking about Love. I quickly took this opportunity to lock my dragon mind back in its cage and enjoined my heart with the Mesa. Don Howard talked of Love, of Power, of Life, and of Death in preparation of us taking the ultimate sacrament of Vilca that if we were ready had the keys to give us a glimpse of the hereafter if we have the courage to accept death and see beyond the veil. He reminded us that courage to accept death does not come from the mind but that it is a product of the heart. Don Howard does not take this final ceremony lightly but instead throws many curves at you to make sure you are prepared to take the Vilca. This amazing group of people were all ready and willing to see the ceremony through to its final conclusion and we went by descending room order so I was one of the last to go up to the Mesa and inhale the powder. I greeted don Howard and then he instructed me on how to do the inhalation through each nostril using the bone of an ancient human finger from the great Chavin temple.

finger bone inhaler

I did my right nostril first and inhaled a decent amount. The left nostril I did not do well and gave it another shot, a shot so successful I gagged as some of the powder went down my throat. Realizing how well I did that I quickly did a mulligan on my right and re-fired that one with great success.

Vilca bowl with smiling jaguar

I gathered my things and flashlight and headed on the long walk across the bridge to eternity to my room.

the bridge to eternity

About half way across my legs got heavy and weak as the intoxication started to take hold. As I got into my room I methodically put my ear plugs in, my sleeping mask around my forehead, looked at my position in relation to my bed, put the mask over my eyes, turned the flashlight off, and laid down on my stomach on the bed with my head tilted to the right on my pillow.

I was immediately engulfed with strobing and hypnotic visions and a far off whooshing sound. My breathing was fast and uncontrolled while my lips trembled hard pressed to the pillow. I knew this didn’t feel ‘right' as it was a summation of all the dark, hypnotic, pulsing, and crazy energy I have encountered before on my medicine journeys. It was a direct challenge to see if I could summon the courage to stay the course and remain invested in the path available by entering into the heart space. I started to get a little fearful because I didn’t know how far this was going to take me. The intensity kept being turned up and everything got stronger. It was so alien and so very weird. I thought this must be the cosmic joke - here I am looking for answers and Love and instead I find fear and loathing. This went on for a long time, I’m not sure how long as it is impossible to gauge time while under the influence, but my resolve wavered between just sticking it out and enduring the strangeness of it all while also entertaining thoughts of standing up and tapping out of this sensory overload. I chose to ride out the storm as the bed began to spin to further add to the chaos in motion while at the same time a new noise coming from the distance spatially overloaded my senses. I steeled my resolve and lost any fear I had of this alien construct. A large contraption of some sort then threatened to crush my immobile corpse as it folded up over me in a deliberate way, much like in the old TV serials where the villain devises a slow moving style of execution for the hero. At this point I had pretty much resigned myself to my fate however I was able to steer my vessel on through and past the tempest. To my surprise the seas became calm before the life could be snuffed out of me. Everything hypnotic stopped, there was a moment of silence, the ascension into this realm of Love and Light was gradual, and it felt mechanical like the movement of an elevator. I could hear mechanical sounds that were congruent with the operation of this celestial lift. When I reached my destination it was dark and and I could visually make out what appeared to be pipes and shafts in the warehouse like room I now found myself in. Soon after, beings of light started to appear and they would present themselves to me and express Love through this incredibly beautiful and colourful lighting up of their whole being. The shape of these beings was geometrical, maybe diamond like, though I do not want to box them into a defined shape. They moved with an effortless grace as one would dance with expertise once mastering movement without the constraints of gravity. This Vilca vision of exquisite and luminous beings made of Love and shining an ineffable iridescence, well a decent and simple description of them comes from the title of a Pink Floyd song "Shine On You Crazy Diamond." There is a verse in that song that makes me wonder about songwriter Roger Waters' mystical experience: 

"Remember when you were young and you shone like the sun?"

To describe the way the generated light came forth from these diamond like shapes, so far the best analogy I have come up with is an audible term which is trill. From dictionary.com I grabbed these two definitions of trill that fit the behaviour I witnessed, with the difference being instead of sound it was the light they exuded expressing this behaviour:
  • to resound vibrantly, or with a rapid succession of sounds, as the voice, song, or laughter.
  • to utter or make a sound or succession of sounds resembling such singing, as a bird, frog, grasshopper, or person laughing.
They were playing the musical scale but visually, and they expressed themselves through this behaviour. It would also be analogous to Tantric descriptions of Kundalini energy that rises through the Chakras within the energetic body that changes colour upon ascension and descension. My attempts to convert this experience into language is clumsy but hopefully this gives some sort of idea into what it is I saw in this most awesome place. I grasped what they were showing me:

I am Light and to Love I will return.

I understood these beings to be made of Love and to be projecting Love. I realized that it is mine and everyone’s inheritance to become one of these eternal beings of Love. Within all is this Love and all that matters is to cultivate this Love. Grow it as much as you can and shine! The room went dark and they encouraged me to do this as well so I lit up the room with Love. The whole scene seemed brief as compared to the torture I went through to get here, but even so I was overwhelmed with gratefulness and felt so blessed. I resolved to Love as much as possible so I too will shine my Love everywhere as Love without a doubt is the answer I was seeking. It is the power that animates creation and it is how we will return home. Soon after I felt the experience fall away and I was back to a baseline of consciousness.

After lying in bed for a few minutes savouring the moment I needed to pee so I got up and walked towards the bathroom. As I approached, I suddenly felt ill and then hurried to the toilet to vomit. I chalked it up to motion sickness. I felt much better and decided to return to the maloka where I sat and contemplated my experience until dinner was ready around 11pm. The time had flown by and I had to believe my perception of the passage of time was all out of whack. My Vilca experience, to make everything add up, must have been close to an hour and a half. As we headed towards the dining maloka I waited for my brother in arms, Parker, to catch up. I had previously shared four Ayahuasca journeys with him in April of 2015 and had kept in touch. When he got up beside me, we looked at each other and smiled. He had finally got unstuck and got to that place as well. We went on, opened up, and discussed our plant medicine journeys, sharing commonalities of weird alien hypnotic shapes, insects, and all the WTFs we had witnessed in our time with the plants. We both agreed this final Vilca ceremony felt like a graduation of sorts and for the most part my time with plant medicines does seem over. I know I say that everytime but in prior trips I knew deep down I hadn't reached closure. There is always more to discover and I'm well aware of that, however what I have to a point of obsession been seeking I have found. Right now I don't see a good reason to continue on this medicine path in the short term. Instead I see my open heart being unleashed upon the world. My goal is to practice radical, unconditional Love. That is the path and the way forward. 

The next day I hung around the group and just soaked in as much Love and time with them as possible. Don Howard convened a sharing circle in the mid-afternoon where we all shared where we were as the retreat came to an end. I thanked everyone for welcoming Ross and I mid way through the two retreats with open arms and I talked about learning to be a kid and play again, as well as how special the Love is we shared. Everyone had been touched by the plants, don Howard, and the closeness of the group. A few of us were temporarily overcome by emotion, for example one person admitted he had never told anyone in his life he loved them and now in a group of us that were strangers two weeks ago he said he loved each and every one of us. That is the power of the plant medicines and the power of Love.

Don Howard gave a long talk on this very thing. He was in his element as grandfather, wiseman, and teacher. It's his path of service and he shines at it. I can't see him ever giving it up, though his health is failing him. He will be doing this until his dying day. To conclude his address to the group, don Howard mentioned some lyrics from a Beatles song 'The End' which concludes their last studio album Abbey Road. The words are: "And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make," which is a very profound observation and even though I have heard that song hundreds of times I never contemplated that line until now.


As a teenager I was hung up more on just having sex with someone as opposed to seeing the meaning. It all connects back to don Howard telling me during the second Mesada the only one stopping you now from experiencing this Love is you. Don Howard knows I like the Beatles and he looked at me after and said "Abbey Road is probably their best album" to which I said "Sargeant Peppers is pretty good.”

The Beatles' Abbey Road

We departed the next day; some of us to return home and others to keep exploring. I met up with a bunch from SpiritQuest, who had long layovers in Lima, for dinner. We shared one last meal and then said our goodbyes with an aching heart. My next adventure lay in the Andes mountains in Ecuador, so off I go.

As I sit in airport departure lounges I have been trying to come to terms with the intimidating, pulsing, strobing, and hypnotic realms I have entered into during my voyages into states of altered consciousness through Ayahuasca, Huachuma, and Vilca. I think I'm trying to figure out what they represent and what is the meaning behind the overloading of my senses and perception. The Shipibo tribe have interesting patterns in their artwork that might mimic this great demonstration and presentation of powerful energy.

Shipibo-Conibo artwork

Maybe I am wary of it because of a lack of understanding? Along with all that to ponder in my integration is a recurring delusion I sometimes enter into where I face death because I have dared enter into the realms accessed through plant medicines. It is ego delusion and a scare tactic to prevent further exploration. It is mind based and it has happened enough that I know about the toxicity of letting the dragon loose while under the influence. After this particular delusion the next part of the story can involve the denigration of the sacred feminine and the serpent. The tale usually crafts a story about how the Great Goddess was locked up for a reason and I shouldn't let her out of the castle she is imprisoned in. I was wondering today if this relates to serpent power which is inherently from the feminine. The dragon now controls this power and enriches himself off of it but as the sacred feminine is all about Love I have theorized that this power is free and available to all. Free energy really, and I have felt and cultivated this power so I think there is some truth in this delusionary tale because the realization of this power is metaphorically visualized as rescuing the sacred feminine and letting her out of her imprisonment in the castle. I've had Ayahuasca visions of a castle made of gold that imprisons the Goddess, while surrounding this castle are men lustful for her power. There is a tie in I think involving the Goddess' story that comes from the heart and then there is the dragon's side of it from the mind that is also a recurring theme in my forays into altered states.

December 6, 2017 (Wednesday)

I'm currently writing in my journal in a hotel in Cuenca, Ecuador. I spent four days in Santa Isabel in the Andes mountains at a San Pedro retreat at the home of an American ex-pat Steve and his partner Sammy plus a couple dogs named Sqiggles and Sadie. It was an hour and fifteen minute car ride from the Cuenca airport. So that's the scene setter for this pretty surreal adventure. This place was somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

somewhere in the middle of nowhere

There was satellite Internet which was pretty much the only connection to the matrix in this location. There had been an earthquake in the region a few weeks back and it had knocked the water tower off its supports and thus it crashed down to the bottom of a steep incline in this mountainous region. During my stay there was no running water and they had no idea when water service would resume. This just added to the whole David Lynch surreal vibe. When I arrived Friday evening they were just closing a ceremony with three people so I hung around talking to everyone afterwards. The conversation was dominated by the topic of Bitcoin. In the medicine circles I travel I hear a lot of talk about Bitcoin. At SpiritQuest one evening there was a group conversation about it and another guy and myself were trying to get a handle on it but there were no clear answers to be had. I have previously been very interested in economics so I am well versed in fiat currencies and manipulation of the money supply so I have a leg up on most but I was still puzzled by crypto currencies and how they function. I went to bed and researched Bitcoin before going to sleep. It seems a highly speculative means of storing monetary value. It is decentralized and not really backed by anything except for providing a service of exchange that is exempt from the greedy hands of middlemen and bankers (or do I repeat myself?!). The next day, Saturday, the two of us still at the place and Steve went to town. We went to lunch and the other guy with us, PJ, finally explained crypto currency in a way where I got it. He explained the same decentralized concept could be used for example in a robotic taxi service. The taxi makes money to pay for its gas and maintenance, has no owner, and is basically self sustaining. Its revenue stream is not concerned about profit or being beholden to a bank that would finance a fleet of these robotic people movers. From this you can project this model onto just about everything. It gets everyone off the grid, the system that's fucking the world over. This explanation stuck with me.

I was going to start drinking San Pedro on the Sunday and do it back to back on the Monday. I drank just after 10am Sunday morning. Steve opens the ceremony with an invocation and prayer after smudging all in the circle with sage.

smudging with sage

We all then are given an opportunity to discuss where we are in our journeys and then it becomes time to drink. I was given a full juice glass of chilled San Pedro which I downed rather easily. The taste was as I have come to expect and then I washed it down with some water. We then all stated our intentions for the day. I intended to remain in the heart space and continue to open my heart. Steve and Sammy pledged to help and be there for me and PJ said he will try to stay out of my way. He was leaving later that afternoon so he was just hanging out for half a day. 

San Pedro cactus

After about a half hour I started to feel it come on and the medicine was very strong, I could feel that this is probably one of the strongest doses I have ever drank and thankfully I'm experienced enough to handle the power. At the top of the hill under a mango tree Steve set up a mattress and chair for when I wanted to sit or lie down. For the time being I was content to pace around the yard as the intoxication enveloped me. My heart was central to the experience as I slipped deeper into the medicine. I revisited how important my beautiful family is to me and had a longing to just be home now. I don't want to live exclusively in my head anymore and I'm tired of being alone. Grandfather then gave me a lesson on time. Time is my greatest resource and the most valuable thing I have to give and share. People I love, admire, and respect just want the gift of time, especially personal time. I know I'm guilty of showing up but not being present in life situations and just wanting to retreat back into my own headspace. I know I must change this behaviour with the ones I Love. I know I'm at the age and have the wisdom to teach others about this and the importance of being there, present, and holding space for others. In the past I would use money and wealth just so I did not have to be present. You know as a parent you buy your kid a toy or sit them in front of a TV or computer so that you did not have to spend quality time with them. The medicine then segued from this lesson into what I'm going to call the duhumanizing aspect of what it termed 'sucking Satan's cock.' It's a great label for the world system we all partake of that robs us of our humanity. We struggle against it and try to make up for this abomination through acts of charity and giving but even those acts are still tied into the whole 'sucking Satan's cock' thing, which from now on I'm going to abbreviate as SSC, as Grandfather was pretty blunt and repetitive about this. What we do is step on others in order to accumulate wealth and prestige. For every act that enriches us that is not done through unconditional Love is an act that has the necessary corollary of causing hardship and misery to others. We know this deep down and we try to make up for it through charity but our acts of charity or corporate acts of giving always have strings attached to them. We act within the world system and seek tax credits and recognition of our 'selfless' acts while at the same time seducing those who are less fortunate to join in the same soulless lives we live for validation of our emptiness. That's very blunt but it's the truth. I don't want to denigrate giving but I know what can be the outcome of building schools for tribes that are living off their land. The end game of my giving is confiscation of their land by corporations who then enslave their children and force them into their factories in order to survive. The best thing I can give to these people is a hug, a token cultural exchange, and leave them alone. This clarity from the medicine led to this ultimate riddle that the well intentioned sacred masculine power is forever trying to solve. This riddle is how do I improve the world without making it worse? Every time we try to make things better, and we are extremely resourceful at this, we fuck something up or make others suffer. The allure of power and greed seduces the man pretty much every time. This is bugging the hell out of us and contributing to our collective insanity. We know we can figure out how to get everyone to the place of bliss and eliminate suffering but it seems that as long as we all remain SSC it isn't going to happen. As this realization hit me the sacred feminine smiled at me and told me the answer. She tells me this all the time but I don't really listen or put it into practice. She said the answer to the riddle is to put into practice unconditional Love. Give, give, give and expect nothing in return. Do not leverage your giving, don't meddle, don't print off a certificate extolling your magnanimous gifts, and don't write if off and let Satan's cock know what you're doing. 

Being ensconced in a masculine body I like to analyze everything. I want to know what Love is. I want it; I want to dissect it and figure it out. If that's the answer I want to take it apart and learn its secrets. The sacred feminine knows better and won't let me in on that answer to this question that solves the riddle. She knows better than to trust men after allowing them in on the secret of nuclear power. I want it but I can't have it. I'm presented with a choice: I can accept Love and solve the riddle or I can continue to try and figure out what Love is and prolong suffering. I'm hard wired to keep searching. Can't I just be content with what I have found and live accordingly?

At this point I realized the importance of decentralization and crypto currencies. The potential hit me like a ton of bricks. PJ and his ilk were on to something huge that could ultimately solve this riddle of how to alleviate suffering without promulgating concurrent suffering and the continued reliance upon SSC. By slowly disconnecting from the hubs that promulgate Satan's network, humanity will eventually find an autonomous and free way of living independent of the world system that manifests greed, domination, power, control, wars, and huge amounts of human suffering. There's the two paths towards freedom. Accept unconditional Love and for those stubborn men that cannot there's a path of trying to solve the great riddle by introducing a means to bypass the centralized construct I have labelled Satan's cock.

As I'm writing this I just had a déjà vu of sitting in a hotel room writing this!

I then asked the question to Grandfather about the process of disentangling from SSC by doing this decentralization a little bit at a time. I had a mental glimpse of how embedded the world system is ingrained into everything: massive amounts of hubs connected into this power construct, a matrix of huge proportions, so tangled up that I became a pit of despair in trying to grasp the task ahead of untangling the mess as I know for each success there will be parallel growths of centralization by usurping the technology created at the behest of man's inherent greed. The highly speculative nature of market driven crypto currency is Satan's way of laughing at our attempt to disengage from his power. My plant medicine lessons kicked in and I realized a prudent means of operating is to first embrace unconditional Love and then create technologies that free us from SSC and promote community.

So then I tried to figure out what or who exactly is this mysterious Satan? The medicine let me ponder and flounder for a bit before being direct with me. You are Satan. The potential is in all of us and we manifest him through our actions that for example are greedy and lust after power. You give it a name and project it as a force in the world because you are loathe to admit the scoundrel is you. Okay very blunt. I see that clearly now.

Steve checked in on me and I said I was good. Some serious shit was going on but I could handle it. The San Pedro was exceedingly strong and relentless for its power came on in waves, engulfing me, and then easing up so I could regroup. I had been through enough plant medicine ceremonies so that now I could handle it. I felt nauseous the whole time but did not vomit. The whole experience is not at all pleasant. There's no kick or pleasurable high to experience except of course Love, which is the ultimate high. It is kind of like how Love really is; it is work to get to that stage and takes dealing with a great deal of unpleasantries. There's no chance of addiction to this medicine because it is not at all pleasant. If you seek a stern teacher and knowledge of the fundamentals of the universe then this is the stuff. I really think addiction stems from the improper use, lack of respect, and reverance for things that we enter into a relationship with, but this is probably a discussion for a different time.

I felt like I needed to lie down so I did on the mattress under the mango tree.


The two dogs joined me and I looked up towards the house and saw Steve in the balcony. He looked like a cross between Buddha and the love guru. He has a southern drawl so I thought well he is the Elvis Buddha. During this time I started hearing this rooster crowing next door and it gave me a peculiar thought about needing to 'wake up' to all that is around me and in my subconscious. At that point I heard PJ starting to play his sacred shamanic drum. He is an accomplished musician and his ability to play a simple drum is something I have never heard before or thought possible. It was the most heavenly sound and rhythm coming from PJ and his drum; it was indescribably amazing. My medicine journey then shifted into a marriage ceremony that conjoined myself as the sacred masculine with my Goddess as the sacred feminine with PJ providing the soundtrack for this sacred ceremony. There was a heightened feeling of Love and pleasure delighting in each other and our senses.

A note here about plant medicines and ego dissolution. The alkaloid mescaline within San Pedro is very strong and Steve's brew is crafted to take advantage of all the cactus offers. It is the elixir that disengages you from the world's master frequency that hypnotizes and attaches you to its outreaching tentacles through the manipulation of your ego and sense of self. As the effects of San Pedro come on you realize that it is counteracting this hypnosis you have grown accustomed to and like a roller coaster this change in vibration makes you feel ill. The slow dissolution of ego in successive waves can be disconcerting as the ego will flag it and warn of something trying to drug or seduce you through magic and hypnosis; it is a very dangerous time and game for your psyche, as you want to believe the delusions and paranoia your dissolving ego is planting within your mind. Without experience this is extremely difficult to navigate. I ran from it the first time it happened and then learned to take it slowly and prepare for it while at don Howard's sanctuary. I can do it now but it is still unpleasant to experience the thoughts a dissolving ego plants in your head.

I'm in a safe place and I was wondering around the property when I noticed in the yard next door a cow.

cow over in next yard

I was convinced the cow was the ancient Egyptian Hesat cow which is the manifestation of my Goddess Hathor. It was white and beautiful; I knew I was at the right place and everything would be fine.

Ancient Egyptian Hesat cow

This put my mind at ease as I know these synchronicities are not accidental. She was there for a reason and the reason was to support me. As the medicine starts to wear off the ego starts to return and you have to go through the whole concurrent delusions and paranoia of ego again. I stayed within my heart and navigated the storm. I laid in a hammock with a blanket and rested until Sammy served a nice vegetarian chilli. I was worn out from the day and went to bed soon after Steve closed the ceremony and I discussed my findings of the riddle, of Love, and of the sacred feminine and masculine. I hardly slept as I felt the medicine coursing through me until 3am. I became homesick and longed to come home. I told Steve earlier I was going to drink on back to back days and he said I could start earlier tomorrow then.

I drank the next morning, Monday, just after 9am. Same full glass of San Pedro and I was on my way to another full day of lessons from the master plant teacher. I successfully cleared my mind of all thoughts as the intoxication took hold. I was a blank slate and I remained this way for a bit until I felt really nauseous. At this point I started pining to return home to see my family as I felt a sense of closure with the plant medicines and travelling. The sickness in my stomach got worse and I drank some water to try and force myself to puke which eventually worked and I vomited up at the top of the hill. That act was not going to spare me as San Pedro had other plans for me today. As I started to feel woozy from the effects of the cactus I noticed something about how it affects me. I know from talking to others it heightens their senses, they see things in nature with incredible clarity, they notice this light that radiates off of all living things, and there is a great connection with nature and Mother Earth. I get some of that but this time it dawned on me what really happens is this clarity of universal principles, what makes the world go around, and the clarity I see in the functioning of nature is a bridge or even a metaphor to an even greater reveal of the knowledge of everything I have set out seeking in order to find those answers. As my ego started dissolving away, I started to become emotional and agitated with what my ego had perpetrated upon life. I was ready for its delusion so I navigated this part of the experience pretty well this time. Getting free from ego allows for a reclaiming of your humanity and with this it is seen what has been robbed from you. Your long buried self wants to Love again and form deep connections with others. These inherent qualities lying deep within humanity come alive when the reliance on ego is shelved. I firmly grasped the power of San Pedro and mescaline as the medicine that can free you temporarily from ego in order to reclaim the Love for all nature and humanity that has been stolen. Ego wants to SSC and remain attached to the world system while in contrast experiencing its diminution allows for a disconnection from the matrix and with this you see clearly the divide and separation in humanity and how selfishness and greed rule the world. I spent some time contemplating all this and I felt that it should be late afternoon because so much was going on in terms of teachings and knowledge. I looked at the time and not much had passed at all. I experienced a weird feeling of dread because I thought I was going to be trapped in a world of slow moving time and I wouldn't be able to return home ever. It is Monday after all and I have known for a while Monday's are not good days for me and probably is the day of the week I will die. I wondered what the end game of being trapped in time is? Fortunately I caught myself before the trap closed shut as ego was playing one last delusional trick on me to try and derail Grandfather's upcoming lesson on the nature of time. Finally the lesson clicked. San Pedro is raising my vibration and as we increase our frequency we ascend the chakra scale towards the pure white light. As you approach the light, time slows down and in a sense you will become eternal. This was the first part of the unveiling of some serious knowledge. From this understanding I was then taught the knowledge that the underpinnings of all creation are based on vibration, frequency, resonance, and harmony. Mother Ayahuasca had originally touched upon all being vibration the first time I ever drank a plant medicine and now San Pedro was going to further the syllabus. It was demonstrated that you can lower temporarily your frequency signature through the use of sound and employing mantras. When your frequency matches another's you are in harmony and this resonance allows you to become one with the other that is expressing the same oscillation. First it was explained how this is the reason why people are attracted to each other. The example given is when two people fall in Love as It is not necessarily rational but neither can fight it because they are locked together in harmony. Once I understood this, the lesson was extrapolated into ancient technologies and I was shown how the pyramids were built. Once you find the frequency of the stone you wish to move then you alter the frequencies of your workers to match and it allows for easy manipulation of megaton stones as the stone and the builder have become one. The assembling of these grand monuments then became a matter of showcasing design skills as the construction became an execution of plans by manipulating frequency through sound to achieve resonance. While being taught this I kind of thought I already might know this. It just became a case of remembering what I already knew. I became elated with this teaching that was being flooded into my thought processes like a flower opening up to the rising sun. I knew that this knowledge being revealed to me involved homework on my part to verify it as well as delving into mantra that can alter my vibrational signature. This renewed my spirit and I was so enjoying the day with Grandfather. My home sickness abated and I felt in great spirits to finish my odyssey. San Pedro then went on to explain to me how a master frequency or sync pulse is the one we all attach to and creates what we think is reality. It is the hypnotic pulse of who we like to call Satan or the world system/order. To get out of the matrix stop locking to this pulse, create your own, or practice altering your frequency so you don't get attached and stuck in this master world oscillation. Slow time down by raising your good vibrations and leave Satan's morass behind. Be the master of your own world and create your own vibration which will cause people to follow you instead of the common world vibration, which in mythology is the pied piper playing a tune. I felt so many good vibrations at this point that as the final wave of the plant medicine subsided and the ego construct returned, I navigated the stormy seas with unusual calm. I had a chuckle thinking I had just spent 27 of the past 33 hours in a mescaline haze in some dude's backyard. It was twilight now as I felt my journey ending for the day. I told Sammy I could eat supper whenever it was ready and she served supper soon after. Steve closed the ceremony and we went outside on to the patio to enjoy the night. I brought out some chocolate to share and savour the night with and Sammy and I listened to music for about four more hours, just taking in the beauty way that San Pedro had so graciously given to us.

I knew I would not be drinking anymore plant medicines after this back to back experience. Ego dissolution and disconnection from the matrix takes a toll. I told Steve I would be taking the day off and heading into Cuenca to do some hiking for the rest of the week. I asked him for some capsules of San Pedro to microdose with while hiking in Cajas National Park, which will be tomorrow. I could have stayed for more ceremonies but Grandfather gave me so much knowledge to unpack, lessons to absorb, and writing of the experience to get down on paper that I knew I did not need more. Everything I have set out on the path of seeking to find I have found. Knowledge of how existence works, knowledge of Love, and how it is the universal elixir are the answers I have obsessively searched for and discovered. The journeys with the plant medicine teachers are over but the integration of the lessons and the flower is just beginning to bloom. The beauty and fruits of this endeavour are what's to come. As the sacred divine masculine I am all of consciousness and my true unattached self seeks Love and connection with all sentient beings. The sacred divine feminine within shows me this Love when I allow her out of the castle she is imprisoned within. She is the mother of all, the virgin, comprised of Love and to Love I shall return, a child of this mother radiating ineffable Love that flows within and without of my very core. The closeness and Love I have felt this trip feels like I am in a cult of Love. 

After this last ceremony, combined with the other four on this trip, I think I have clarity on commonalities I experience when entering into altered states of consciousness. This is my attempt to put into words what happens during my explorations of the plant medicines Ayahuasca and Huachuma:

Plant medicines have deep layers to their teachings. When they open your heart you get a glimpse of what a wonderful world this is and to maintain it as such then Love is the answer. If you go deeper the medicine starts to dissolve your sense of self and this is very difficult as the ego fights back. This is the tough part of the experience and I have continually struggled with it. There is now an expectation of ego dissolution but it isn't easier and the paranoia and delusion it causes are very taxing, much like weathering a horrendous storm on the open seas. Once the storm abates and the vessel hasn't been scuttled, the ship is then in unchartered waters. The advanced lessons then start from the master plant teachers at this stage. This is why I have done plant medicines multiple times and endured the attacks promulgated by the dissolving ego. I go into each ceremony with trepidation, with the hope the seas will remain calm, and I will not have to do battle with aspects of the self. The Huachuma intoxication proceeds in a different order than Ayahuasca, well at least in my experience, starting with an open heart and much Love, ego dissolution, and trying to remain in the heart space, and then if successful the coming of the plant teacher. After this, as the effects wane, is the voyage home to baseline consciousness which may entail the ego coming back online with its pent up rage to navigate through once again, and then finally back to Love for all if you survive the voyage. The Love vibration lasts into the physical return to your home and the subsequent integration periods which for me lasts a very long time. The challenge is to keep Love going and I have experienced this enough to know it is the only way to live. I have found with Ayahuasca it is a different voyage into an altered state of consciousness. The ego dissolution hits first as the medicine gradually takes hold. The course of the ceremony is decided within this first round. If the ego gets the upper hand from the get go then the night turns into a grand delusional theatre replete with weirdness, aliens, threats of death, and an appearance of Satan. I got stuck on this part for a number of ceremonies until I finally learned how to steer my ship past this rocky shore. Like Huachuma, to withstand the storm leads to the plant teacher and the invaluable lessons. Unlike Huachuma, I find once I encounter the Goddess I stay in this state and Love envelops my being and I do not experience a coming down and need to reconcile ego consciousness; instead a state of bliss ensues over the coming days.

December 7, 2017 (Thursday)

Today I went for a hike in el Cajas National Park just outside of Cuenca, Ecuador.

the beauty of el Cajas

The elevation in the part of the Andes Mountains I hiked was between 12,000 and 14,000 feet. I really enjoyed it and it is kind of the close of this chapter where I made it my intention to scale the proverbial mountain. My true love has been the jungle and I felt it necessary to make an effort to be in the 'Upper World' on this particular journey. I microdosed San Pedro this morning while hiking and the effects were mild. I did not perturb my ego but instead it made nature come to life. It was a very sunny day so the sunshine reflecting off the leaves and trees radiated a heavenly shine, something that San Pedro is famous for. As well, I could really notice all the insects buzzing around. I know that I should be able to enter this state now by just being present in nature and observing. It has been a huge lesson this trip - get out of the head and be present with the things you Love, whether that is family, friends, or nature.

The 'no self 2017' tour comes to an end tomorrow. I'm going to do a tour of some Inca ruins in the region and then I start the trek home in the evening with the result being I should be back home Saturday afternoon. I've changed over these three epic weeks. Those who say you can't change overnight have never used plant medicines however to be fair you have to work at it once you know it's time to change. That's what I'm going to practice the moment I walk in the front door of my house. The path ahead is to leave my heart open and practice radical, unconditional LOVE. I've seen who we truly are, what we desire when we subdue the ego, and what is our destiny. It all revolves around Love. Love is the only way forward.

December 10, 2017 (Sunday)

The conclusion of the 'no self 2017' tour occurred on the last leg of this trip while flying from San Salvador to Toronto. Part of my intention on what I envisioned as the final leg of my ten year obsession of seeking the unknown was to receive a vision of no division, well not necessarily a vision but a clear understanding of the inseparable unity of all. During my direct experiences with the plant medicines there were constant affirmations of Love being the pre-eminent driving force that sustains all of creation and that comes from the Great Mother. However throughout this seeking I have always been aware of some kind of separation, whether that was due to ego or even when bypassing the ego I still felt like an autonomous being constituted via the expression of Love and then in turn expressed through my ability to Love. While on the airplane listening to my teacher Alan Watts, something he has explained a few times did finally sink in. To try and clumsily paraphrase what I finally understood goes something like this: in order to grasp the feeling or vision of oneness you have to look at it through the lens of the separation you find yourself in. If you look closely at what delineates you from other objects you will find there really is no separation, only boundaries that language, culture, measurement, and your own self have instituted. Everything goes with everything else. I can arbitrarily decide the boundaries of my body however this body can't exist without the earth's environment and this ecosystem needs the sun and the sun needs the 'empty' space provided in order to exist. (I enclose 'empty' in quotes because it is in essence the substance on which all perceived objects come forth.) In other words, if you look at the whole you soon discover the interdependence of everything. Viewed from this perspective this gives the elusive vision of no division. It is only through mental gymnastics and the exhortation of ego that we convince ourselves of our separation and an outgrowth of this illusion is to then separate into distinct objects everything in the universe. The ego provides contrast, language validates this delineation through names and nouns, and culture enforces these differences. Strip away your attachment to convention and through this negation you shall find the unity you seek.

After spending three weeks methodically traversing the three shamanic worlds: water, earth, and air in body and spirit, my cup is full. However, as the wisest man I have ever met (some of us know him as don Howard) says “It’s not all in the cup,” I fully know it is time to give back to the plants that have blessed me so much, taught Love, and made my cup runneth over.

Plants are consciously aware. There is an instructive relationship between humans (all animals really) and the plant kingdom that parallels the eastern conception of yin and yang - yin is the passive feminine and yang the active masculine that gets its power from the feminine. Pure white light is the ultimate expression of the coming forth of this power from the yin to the yang. The light is dependent upon the darkness and however seductive it is to pedestalize the glorious light it is important to remember just whom is its mother. A microcosm of this grand relationship is our own human relationship to plants. We cannot exist without plants. The ecosystem disappears and we simply lose access to food and oxygen. Plants can exist without us and hierarchically speaking are one of the backbones of our existence. Do you see it? The light cannot exist without the dark. We perceive the polar opposites of darkness and light as independent states but it is not so, the light and the dark are relationally interdependent and this state is encapsulated by a passive motherly state, the womb which is the yin/dark pole, that is the substance behind the active yang/light. The active is subordinate to the passive. Projecting this universal construct upon the relationship between plants and animals it is easy to grasp the plant kingdom as being the passive life giving yin and the animal kingdom as the active striving yang. Going further with this idea and applying it to the universe it is yin, the Great Mother, that lies behind all of creation. She is the first principle from which He came forth. She is totality containing within the striving masculine. He is the potential and subsequent coming forth of totality and the interplay of these two eternal energies waxes and wains in an eternal cycle of coming and going.

Leaving behind western constructs of who and what constitutes intelligence it becomes clear that given the opportunity the plants teach. The exact method they go about imparting wisdom can be debated but much like we are aware of the healing virtues of plants it is undeniable that if I ingest a medicinal dose of certain plants it will lead to an encounter with a teacher and the curriculum will be tailored to the intention I formulated. It could be said this is a form of self hypnosis, except that the knowledge gleaned has been above and beyond my level of understanding. I will leave the answer to this question up to personal experience because what I am ultimately getting at here is that I have spent ten years on a path of discovery with the last four and a half intimately connected with the master plant teachers of South America and the questions of existence I have wondered about; what powers all of this; and questions of why am I the way I am have been answered. I have metaphorically connected it to climbing a mountain and upon reaching the top of the mountain a very curious thing happened. The final lesson the plants taught me was all this knowledge I obsessively sought doesn't matter in the grand scheme; all that matters is Love. We are all ultimately beings that come from a fount of Love, we are made of Love, and in the end it is our ability to Love that will define us. To put it bluntly, the dullest of the dullards who has an open heart and freely offers Love is infinitely more wiser than the brainiest Einstein among us who remains closed off from connecting with others. There are infinite paths that lead to this Love and none are the dogmatic correct way. To get there the path you choose to travel must have heart but if it doesn't and you fall down, She will be there to forgive, forget, and help you back up.

A few months later

The mystery of the teacher plants has in recent days lent some clarity to my understanding of what is going on. The plants teach I previously heard and in my direct experience with these teachers I received many lessons, visitations from ethereal beings, and many mystical happenings. Afterwards the lessons would continue for months with many understandings and epiphanies the result as I processed the direct experiences. Through all of this I would continuously hear and read about the plant teachers but I couldn't really grasp it completely in what exactly what was meant. I mean there was no giant tree or creeping vine in my visions conducting a continuing education class. I'm a pretty smart guy but sometimes I just don't get it; I have trouble seeing the forest because the trees get in the way. Tangibly I was being taught by a Goddess and her various manifestations as well as being guided on the path by this elephant headed dude that were accessed by ingesting plants but in my western intellectual box that's where my relationship with plants stopped. However I knew through the Andean ideal of ayni (reciprocity) I had to make good on a promise with these plants - especially Ayahuasca, Huachuma, the sacred Vilca, and Bobinzana, and I made it my intention to repay this cosmic debt by expressing my gratitude and thanks to these teachers. I started that process and curiously I then finally understood what exactly is meant by a plant teacher. This is how it finally got through to me: when I am not feeling well I often reach for a pill in my medicine cabinet that can be plant based. As well, pharmaceutical companies are continuously researching plants, especially the exotic Amazonian species, in order to discover, learn, and extract their special abilities to heal many of the maladies that affect the human race. These are the well known healing virtues of plants and we ingest, vaporize, smoke, or apply as a salve in order to access these virtues that plants offer to us unconditionally. Not only does a plant offer us healing but at the same time it gives it to us freely and through this giving of unconditional Love the plants are teaching us something so special at the same time. From the grasping of how plants heal I was then able to understand how plants teach. The grace that comes from the healing they bestow is the same process as the wisdom they bring to the student who comes before them with an open heart and intention to learn from the masters. When a plant teacher is ingested the wisdom and knowledge received is in the same way how a medicine plant works. The energy potentiated from the ingestion of the plant starts to work on you and instead of medicinally energizing and bringing healing to your maladies the plant's energy changes your consciousness so you get a different perspective and then become open to new ways of thinking. Within a ceremony you may receive the gift of a vision, an intellectual download, a conversation with an entity, a loving embrace, or perhaps an ass kicking that undoubtably is pointing towards new knowledge and understanding or it could be that there is homework involved and the experience becomes a mystery or riddle to be solved.

At the same time I was grasping what exactly is a plant teacher I was also trying to come to terms with this lesson I was taught about loving unconditionally. I can't understand why it is so difficult to Love unconditionally; it should be easy, especially if you have had experiences of what bliss, joy, and warmth in your heart this Love can engender. Trust me you want to be in the place of Love. Then I realized the sacrifice plants make to us and how they offer healing and wisdom and ask for nothing in return. They are of service and freely give up their life in order to help others on this planet we all call home. What an example of unconditional Love staring me right in the face.

The path I have been traversing, specifically the plant medicine path, has heart. It has been difficult, however the desire to continue has remained though at times I wanted very much to run away from it. In fact I have literally ran from it deep in ceremony! Previously, I had made the trip into the Amazon jungle three times to 'do the work' and experienced the twin graces of wisdom and healing from the plant teachers and those who are in service to them. As much as I felt I did not need to immerse myself directly in the paradigm of shamanism anymore I knew there was unfinished business before I could definitively close the chapter on this stage in my path. Paying attention to the teachings involves homework, which is called the integration period, and this is open ended learning and instruction that continues on after you return to the mundane world. Ceremony is difficult at times but rewarding if you have the strength and courage to persevere in the face of direct challenges that at times are overwhelming. Your strengths and weaknesses are laid bare. There's no hiding. Our peculiar human game of masking those parts of us we wish to remain hidden have no currency once a relationship with a plant teacher is established. The integration is as equally challenging, though perhaps not as in your face as ceremony can be. I have written things down as much as possible and that includes my intentions from the time I was a novice about five years ago until now. It is uncanny to look back at what I asked for and my intentions in regards to entering into this strange world. Even when I have been too dense or frazzled to see it, all along what I desired to learn and feel have been revealed to me as requested. I am so humbled. I could never fully repay for these unselfish gifts but it is important that I try and make good on my promises. I returned to Peru in November of 2017 to find closure on this chapter in my life as I turned 50. I sensed this particular path coming to its natural end and from there new paths opening up to which I could freely choose which one to take. Metaphorically I knew I was near the top of the mountain on my intellectual and spiritual climb. I was seeking knowledge of who I am and longed to experience unity. From an intellectual standpoint I understood it and off I went in search of gaining an understanding from a metaphysical level. I planned my trip around physically immersing myself in the mountains with a visit to see the wizard, don Howard, in between. Plans never really go fully according to plan. I believed the ultimate source of knowledge would be an undeniable feeling of unity with the whole cosmos; my teachers in the end revealed that doesn't matter; all that matters is Love. It is through Love I will find everything I am searching for.

The overarching lesson in my face from the moment I arrived back at SpiritQuest was Love. A fellow newcomer to the second week of the retreat, Ross, and I were greeted and hugged at the dock by the people who had been at the Sanctuary for just over a week for the Ayahuasca portion of the retreat. The vibe continued with this special group through the week I was there. Upon reflection I can clearly see it was an invitation and a reminder that Love is really all that matters.

I embarked on this voyage fully confident in the knowledge I had acquired over the course of my ten year obsession of seeking answers to life’s biggest questions. I had intellectually grasped it and my intention for this journey was to experience what I innately knew in a visionary sense. Within two days of being at SpiritQuest the plants schooled me. It is truly the school of hard knocks. Of course I wasn’t aware at the time what had transpired; it’s hard to and that’s what the integration period and walks in the pristine woods reflecting on the journey are for. My knowledge, though satisfying an inner desire to know, means squat. Compared to a simpleton with an open heart and a cup overflowing with Love, knowledge of the highest order is miniscule. It’s all about Love and if you can Love unconditionally then that’s all you need to know.

Enlightenment is the feeling of unconditional Love for all and a profound state of Bliss radiating from the heart congruent with the realization that who I call you is just me experiencing myself as you.

Everything comes back to Love.

So back to the start of this blog post. I said I had discovered my 'higher self'. In the end I discovered that was just my ego as well on a grand adventure to become enlightened. The bugger had just moved up a level. To close this tome, I am going to borrow some Freudian psychological concepts to explain this understanding of self:

I am desire, I am Love, I am my feelings, passions, dislikes, likes. Psychologically it is termed the ID. My sense of self, identity, the suppression and control of my base needs and desires is mediated through EGO. Ego is formed by interaction with others and culture who want you to fit into society's box. From this develops the SUPEREGO which judges, rewards, punishes, and controls the ego like a puppet. And it can be malicious. The ego is kept in line via shame and rewards meanwhile the id is buried, though feelings always surface. I was confused because I thought my impulses were causing havoc but here's the thing: I was trying to break free of the puppet master by getting rid of my ego so when I did that the Superego just made the goal of a higher self the next egoic achievement. You see this outcome in many others. They want to become ultra spiritual but it is still just the ego now moved up to a higher place. The Goddess at one point had told me there are many layers to the deception and when I did the whole spiritual trip in the end she just laughed at me and said it is all about Love. Nothing else matters. So conceptually shedding the ego and superego reveals who you are as far as I can tell. There's no higher self and no lower self. Just me, warts and all. I want pleasure, I want Love, I'll act and react when challenged. I will accept. That's all.