Thursday, May 28, 2015

altered snakes of consciousness

My experience with plant medicines to this point in my life has been solely with Ayahuasca and originally I wasn't interested in exploring Huachuma. I had read that it was a more masculine type of energy and I didn't think I was ready to introduce anymore of this energy into my life as I resonated more with the feminine energy, however after being assured by don Howard of its complementary nature with Ayahausca I decided to explore its mysteries and teachings. Huachuma is from the Trichocereus pachanoi cactus that is specially prepared into an oral drink form. 

Trichocereus pachanoi cactus

The most familiar biochemical contained in this concoction is mescaline, however over thirty other alkaloids are present of which their combination can't be properly quantified so to classify the experience as purely a mescaline experience is incorrect. After completing the four Ayahuasca ceremonies here at SpiritQuest I felt in really good spirits and ready to experience Huachuma. The shaman don Howard leads these ceremonies of what he calls the "Chavin Renaissance Huachuma Mesada Initiation of the Three Shamanic Worlds." The pre Columbian roots of Peruvian culture is essentially from Chavin de Huantar and this experience has been designed to recapture the essence of consciousness expansion experienced by that civilization in the first and second millennium BC. More popular today in Peruvian healing ceremonies is a syncretic amalgamation of the original rites along with the influences of Catholicism that were forced upon the native population by the conquering Spanish. Because of this, the plant and ritual have adopted the name San Pedro named after the Christian Saint Peter who holds the keys to heaven. After experiencing Huachuma myself, I feel the name and comparison to San Pedro is inaccurate; it doesn't give you the keys to heaven rather it gives you the keys to your inner light. The mesada is a set of rites that are designed to lead you into the shamanic realms and the three shamanic worlds reference parallel mythology from the classical world that designates an underworld, our present world, and a world above. The program has been structured to lead us through the three worlds in a continuing journey of ascension so in other words we won't be in the jungle drinking San Pedro just to see what happens; there is obviously some careful planning and thought behind the experience that is to unfold.

Don Howard is a bit of an enigmatic figure, as all good shamans should be. I have noticed in my time here that he guides you to the place where you need to be but he doesn't do the work for you, or give you the easy answers, and neither is he judgmental of your actions and decisions. He is open to discussing anything and included in the discussions are little nuggets of wisdom and teachings that it is up to you as the student to take note of and try to understand. It is easy to just let them slip past your understanding and then after coming out of ceremony you will remember him saying something about a certain thing that may have happened. He will tell you that you must learn to let go and be willing to face your own death. When he says that you chuckle and then feel a tinge of anxiety when you realize he is being serious. He will offer up the wisdom that power is the easiest of the shamanic levels to obtain and that it seduces the majority of those that walk this path. He talks of a left hand path for healing and a right hand path for sorcery. He counsels you that the medicinal plants can be used in order to walk either path and that they don't favour either side which is in opposition to our perceived world of duality and choosing sides and thus hard to understand. The concept and respect of the right to choose your own destiny, free will to be exact, is always intact. I intently listened to what he had to say formally to the group throughout my experience here as well as the time he spends with us in informal conversation. For the most part I'm not one who usually opens up about a lot of things in my life or thinking but I felt with him and this group more relaxed and able to discuss these deeper topics. One thing I did not pay proper attention to is a clue in the voluminous literature you are provided with prior to the trip down to Peru. I spent a good deal of time reading up on Chavin culture and Huachuma; studied the artifacts and noticed the prevalence of jaguars and serpents in their art which I treated as symbolic and compared it to the more familiar imagery to my intellect of ancient Egypt. But in re-reading some of the literature in combination with what I experienced it seems clear I did not put enough emphasis on the description of the ceremonies. Here are the descriptions of the mesadas:

The three serpent mesas will engage the healing power and profoundly organic teachings of the great elemental mother spirits of the Amazon …
Huayramama … Air (Upper World)
Sachamama … Earth (Middle World)
Yacumama … Water (Lower World)

The three individual mesadas that we are to progress through are called serpent mesas. Turns out I should have paid more attention to the serpent part. I'm still trying to figure out what it all means but in the meantime I'll write of my experience and hopefully get more clarity on this experience as I go through this process. Once again I kept a journal of the experience and will use that as my guide.

Day 10, Wednesday April 22nd

We just finished the first ceremonial part of the Huachuma serpent mesada of the watery lower world that honours Yacumama. We gathered in the ceremonial maloca around the mesa, which is set up in a way where the left side is representative of the life giving creative energy of the feminine and the right side is the life taking destructive energy of the masculine. Both powers are needed in order to attain a balance which would be the centre of the mesa, in essence the axis mundi.

Huachuma mesa

Chairs are placed around the mesa with the women in the group sitting on the left and the men placed on the right to mirror the set up of the mesa however there are twelve men and five women participating so some men need to sit on the feminine side to balance this out. I volunteered as I've always been in touch with my feminine creative side so I wasn't hung up about it. The ritual part was excellent as don Howard stares you down with his eyes of fire before you go up to drink the macerated cactus juice. It is as if he is initiating you into the mesadas to which there is no going back once you drink. Don Howard, with his eyes lit up, then whispers your name inviting you up to the mesa. With both your hands placed on the two corners of the mesa in front of you, you look over the sacred objects on the tables before you and contemplate the lanzon directly ahead in your vision that is acting as the axis mundi representing the centre point of the world. You cannot help but feel a sense of awe and the mystery behind what you are about to enter into. The ego-mind takes over as you stand there so utterly alone wondering when it is the proper time to pick up the cup and drink. A moment of clarity then came over me and I just knew so I reached for the cup and drank down the contents of the ceremonial cup.

centre of the mesa

Though not as ghastly as the Ayahuasca beverage it is still a tough swallow; thankfully a glass of limonada is immediately provided in order to help you wash it down and balance out the volatile ph balance now swirling in your stomach. I'm currently back in my room gathering up some things as we are to go out on an excursion and visit an Amazonian tribe. Unlike the Ayahuasca intoxication, you can function somewhat normally while going through the stages of this intoxication. 

Day 11, Thursday April 23rd

After drinking the Huachuma yesterday afternoon and getting ready to go out on an outing I sat on some steps that lead down to where the high water had flooded part of the sanctuary. It was raining, fitting for the watery lower mesada, and this is when I first noticed the effects of this drink starting to take hold of me. The ripples made in the water by the drops of rain started to make a symphony of concentric circles that undulated in a way I had never noticed before. Looking further up the water way I noticed the drops of rain splashing on the water all causing magnificent explosions that I gathered in with childlike wonder and amazement. The world around me was coming alive! A tree I noticed took a form that was both intricate and purposeful, something I had never noticed before and in the fruits of this tree I could see the fine detail of it even being a good distance away. Time seemed to be slowing down and operating at a more leisurely pace as the falling of the rain looked to be running at a stepped and off speed slow movement. I surmised this is what a child new to the world and nature must see because as adults we lose the ability to see the world for how beautiful and wondrous it really is. We then went on a boat ride to visit a tribe called the Alamas. The rain had dissipated and I could see the mist rise up off the river clearly and it delighted my senses. Along the way we were navigating a narrow passage and a huge boat full of timber was coming the other way with no getting out of its way. Crash at low speed! It actually got scary when the other boat's unguarded propeller got airborne and waved around recklessly in the air to which we all took cover in case its trajectory caused it to swing towards us. This shot of adrenaline mixed in with the Huachuma I did not find comfortable however I settled down as we reached our destination. The Alamas were not as pushy with the selling tactics of their crafts as the other tribes but seemed polite and soft spoken which was a refreshing change. I sensed that perhaps my sitting on the left, feminine side of the mesa at the beginning of today's ceremony may have had an effect on my experience as I started to interact with the children in their maloca. I was teaching them to count in English, how to use my camera, and letting them listen to my iPod.

Don Howard commented at one point I looked like the pied piper with all these kids following me around. I successfully taught one boy how to navigate through the stored photos and then taught him how to take a photograph. I got him to walk around taking pictures of people which was quite amazing as my camera is not a simple point and shoot.

This reminded me of how my wife is with children and how they gravitate towards her. I've never had that and I thought about the effects of sitting on the creative feminine side once again during the initial ceremony. As we were leaving I also gave each kid a coin - something my grandma used to do for us grandkids whenever we visited. During this visit something happened that I now remember reading about but had forgotten. This drink also seems to be an aphrodisiac! It came on strong and I felt a great deal of sexual energy however afterwards asking around not everyone felt this but I could see it in the eyes and actions of some people. Perhaps that is why the Alamas have a bunch of personal fan crafts for sale here? The boat ride back to the sanctuary occurred as the sun was going down and the beauty of the sunset turned into splendor as the moon and stars came out. The stars were bejeweled wonders that glittered and pulsed and the constellations would move so subtly in the night sky. Oh it was so spectacular, as I remembered all the nights I have spent gazing at the stars and to see this was so awe inspiring. I have seen the planet Venus look this royal before in the nighttime sky but never all of the stellar objects like this in unison. Dazzling is a word for it. The Big Dipper and Orion were especially prominent and it occurred to me that the stories of old about the night sky with its warriors, hunters, maidens, and lovers were probably dreamt up while on some kind of mind manifesting substance. We got off the boat and walked up to our rooms and I thought it might be a good idea to turn in for the night as this fire was still raging inside me however we were to meet up in the mesa to conclude the ceremony. We all met in the maloca, surrounded the mesa, and placed our hands upon the tables in order to feel the energy that was emanating from it. Every few minutes we would take a few steps to the left with the idea that everyone will eventually get to the head of the mesa and line up with the axis mundi which gives a sense of the power in this ritual. I got the feeling that the power being generated was both from the objects on the table as well as us as I know I felt charged with power. When I got to the head of the mesa one of the women, Nikki, almost collapsed and had to be helped to a chair. This gave the ceremony and even more mysterious vibe and then later two of the men fainted with one going down hard. We chalked it up to a long day and being hungry but I swear it felt much more than that; it was just comforting to put some kind of rational spin on it. The mesa felt electric and when I closed my eyes at times I could literally feel it move and rock back and forth. Later we sat down to recover but for me the energy continued to return and pulse within my charged body. At about 10pm we headed off to eat and I still felt very connected to the Huachuma as the energy continued to ebb and flow within me. Don Howard said he went easy on us and to expect a harder time in our next ceremony. While I was resting after the maloca experience I had some visions of snakes enveloping me and my surroundings which in retrospect was a major clue foreshadowing what was to come.  The first mesada is based on the lower world, water, and birth so this seemed appropriate and didn't alarm me. The next mesada is based on the middle world, earth, where we are currently in our journey. I went to bed about midnight and I still felt the energy going through me for another few hours. 

This was a really enjoyable experience, especially after the last two Ayahuasca ceremonies. Perhaps it was because of the novelty and I'm excited for what the next ceremony will bring.

Day 12, Friday April 24th

We just completed the drinking of Huachuma to commence the second ceremony dedicated to Sachamama, the mother spirit of the earth. There seemed to be more in the cup and it definitely had a stronger taste. The guy next to me, Sam, had only a little in his cup and he started to wonder why that was. He is a psychologist so I'm sure he is going to overanalyze this! We are going on a hike in a short while and I expect the experience today to be markedly different compared to Wednesday's introduction to Huachuma.

Day 13, Saturday April 25th

Well that was a doozy! The first session really had no comparison to what transpired yesterday. This time I felt a little nauseous after about half an hour or so, much more so than before. We took a boat ride to a community where there was a trail you could go for a walk on. I started feeling this energy pulsing through my body terminating at my hands and feet as we arrived and climbed quite a ways up the stairs of this walkway. The pulsing of energy was a little uncomfortable and it just got stronger and stronger as we walked down the path. We walked for a few kilometres and I was starting to feel a little warm and sweaty. There was a reservoir of water along the way to splash water on oneself so a bunch of us did that and afterwards we joked that it was probably piss water. A little further up was a rest stop or at least a place where it seemed like a good place to take a break. The trees were alive and seemed to be waving to us and I was wondering if the locals knew that we were on something as we passed them by and motorcarro taxis kept whizzing by offering us a ride. It would have seemed like a cheat in this pilgrimage if I had accepted a lift to wherever we were going. I sat down on the ground at this resting place and all at once it hit me hard. There was a huge amount of energy flowing through me and sweat was profusely pouring off of me. The power was coming on in waves, the effects of Huachuma were seemingly reaching its peak, and I imagine I came across as being a little disoriented. I closed my eyes, everything started to light up in my vision, and I saw these two huge serpents upright in a back to back position. It did not feel evil or malicious, rather they were just there and they exuded this awesome feeling of power and energy and this energy was pulsing through my body like I have never felt before. It was a little alarming because I didn't know exactly what to make of this separate reality. The colour of the serpents were greenish yellow and not so coincidentally this colour combination is called serpentine. I also saw this magical light emanating from where I do not know in my vision of these two serpents that was the most intense and pure I had ever seen. The radiance was such that it did not obliterate everything around it as for instance an overexposed photograph would. Instead it was this unearthly light, the like I had never seen before. I felt like there was a connection to the hypnotic energy of the Ayahuasca sessions and I remembered this brilliance in the third ceremony when I was lifted up higher and higher until I had seen this light. It seemed undeniable to me that this was connected to the knowledge of what I was seeking to understand and what I have encountered with these plant medicines. Here it was manifesting as serpents and the light. People kept coming up to me asking me if I was alright as it must have looked that I was in some distress. I was alright but I was trying to understand all that was happening without freaking out or becoming immobilized with astonishment. I was touching others with my hand so they had an idea of the power that was pulsing throughout me and terminating at my extremities. I wish now that I would have been left alone to witness this vision in its entirety as instead I kept opening my eyes to be present with everyone else. The energy had enveloped me by now and my whole body was buzzing. I felt this huge electrical pulse in my heart but I did not fear it. I was feeling that the human potential contains within it this huge reservoir of power, so much so that the splitting of the atom and the release of its energy has no comparison to the power inherent in the human condition. We contain such power that dwarfs all which is present in the universe. As I write this account now, I wish that during these experiences I could reference my knowledge of mythology and esoteric realms because at the time it is impossible as you are just trying to hold it together and rationality seems a task you can't accomplish until later after you have left the environment and returned home to a calmed mind. In the moment I wasn't sure what was going on with this vision and whether I should trust it or not. At this point your ego-mind will kick in and try to figure out what is happening and in an act of self preservation try and steer you away from it. I was thinking now that these serpents are everywhere in the universe and can use the light of humans like a generator. I can now easily interpret this vision with all I know about the iconography of ancient Egypt and the prevalence of serpents in their mythology. I've seen that whole scene of the serpents and the light before so let me explain. In Egypt when you visit the ancient temples that are prevalent throughout the whole land you come across this reoccurring image of the winged sun disk and you find it the majority of time above the doorways that are entrances into temples.

entrance to temple at Edfu

The symbolism is that the doorway is a portal and this image affords protection and strength to the adherent making this journey into the sacred space of the temple, the temple representing a place you would enter in order to come into contact with the gods and at this point we can easily make the leap to see how an ancient temple is really a way of physically manifesting the altered state of consciousness. That's something you don't get taught in history class. Now the winged sun disk is called Horus of Behedet, there is a huge temple devoted to him at which is now the modern site of Edfu, and the image of this winged sun disk is one of an orb that is resembling the sun with wings being flanked on either side by these two serpents that are positioned back to back.

In ancient Egypt the light contained in the sun is Re, the physical disk is called the Aten, but this disk is referencing Horus leading me to believe this is light that is generated not from the sun but by some other means. The artists were trying to convey this divine celestial light and were referencing the light of the sun and applying that imagery to this light being generated by Horus who is representing the reborn soul. The two serpents are the sister goddesses that protect the light and have ever since Horus was a newborn, born from the union of Isis and Osiris. These sister goddesses in ancient Egypt are Isis and Nephthys and in serpent form are called Wadjet and Nekhebet.

Wadjet and Nekhebet

They also manifest as two feathers that surround this light in some of the crowns worn by the gods and pharaohs of ancient Egypt.

pharaoh Amenhotep III offering to Nekhebet
By Kairoinfo4u photographer:

So as you can now see this leads me to the conclusion that the two serpents I saw in the vision are these two goddesses. So what about this unworldly light in the vision? It dawned on me as I processed this whole scenario that the light in this scene is me. It will make more sense after I describe what happened in the third mesada and before I'm accused of deifying myself as a god I'll just point out that this light is the essence of all of humanity. We just need to realize the power and divinity within us and that we are the light. Anyways I eventually was able to get up and continue as the coursing energy had subsided for the moment and I felt giddy and strolled down the path hand and hand with Shadi and Nikki, who are sisters, which was really strange because the vision I had was of serpent sisters. The Huachuma kept coming at me in waves though and at times flooring me once again as we had turned around and started heading back to the boats. At one point I cycled out and had to sit down again; Shadi was trying to show me how to ground myself to dissipate my energy into the earth as she must have been feeling it as well. She was telling me to get my hands and feet on the ground and she was trying to take off my boots to help me. I had no idea what was happening and then she went off into the grass and did this herself. I then picked myself up, tried to regain my composure, and continued walking. Sam grabbed my backpack and tried to help me along while others were chuckling at how messed up I was. We started pouring water on our heads to try and cool off as I felt like there was electricity conducting throughout my body. I was trying to stay cool so I wouldn't have some kind of a meltdown. Along the path I could now see serpents rising up out of the pavement and I tried to point it out to someone but they probably thought I was delusional. At this point Sam curiously started showing me this Qigong snake pose that gathers energy into the palm of your hand. It was rather odd yet strangely fascinating that here I was seeing serpents everywhere and he's showing me how to turn my hand into a snake that is in a striking position. You draw back energy into the palm of your hand with your fingers spread apart, turn it to face you, and snap it into place. It then feels like a ball of captured energy you could then fire at something. I released it into the ground. We then stopped somewhere along the path and Sam was then showing me the energy in the sky. He said look at the trees and then in front of them. I did that and saw a huge aura surrounding them; it was energy I had noticed before with Ayahuasca. Following this, lightning strikes were seen in the sky followed by a rainbow which made the whole scene even more surrealistic. After that I helped Nikki get down the steps to the boat and somehow ended up sitting in the back of the boat in between these sisters again. It was like I was being guided in order to eventually figure out this vision I had of the sister serpents and the light. We got back to the sanctuary and I had a shower and while washing myself in the shower I looked down and in the water hitting the tiles were forming serpents everywhere. I didn't know what to make of it at the time; I think I had probably had enough for the evening however now I'm thinking that was cool! The experience had been so overwhelming and nothing I could have prepared for and this was after I thought I had a handle on things especially after being able to navigate the Ayahuasca experience, but I was once again in a position where I had ceded control. I headed to the ceremonial maloca afterwards content to just sit back in my chair as I was exhausted and just wanted to rest. A bunch of people went up to take the singado, which is a tobacco infusion you snort that is to bring you clarity. I didn't have the physical wherewithal to to participate in that as the Huachuma energy was still pulsating through my veins. I had to repeatedly ground myself on the floor and use that Qigong move to try and dissipate all the energy when it kept returning in waves. Eventually we went to get something to eat around 11pm and I was starving but couldn't physically eat much as chewing was an ordeal. I went to bed around midnight, couldn't sleep, which I was prepared for, and continued to feel the coursing of the energy until it ended around 4am. Fifteen hours of tripping! I was thinking I should pass on the final ceremony tomorrow because I don't want to experience fifteen hours of energy pulsing in my body again however it is a different theme for the mesada so different energies will presumably be in play. I'll probably participate especially now that my curiosity is peaked with this serpent energy. I'm not sure if I'll have the courage to snort the Vilca at the conclusion of tomorrow's ceremony though as the Huachuma seems more than enough without compounding it with something else I have never experienced.

Day 14, Sunday April 26th

Well this is the last of the ceremonies here at SpiritQuest today in this cycle of work and I'm in a good frame of mind. I need to figure this out today and get an idea of what this all means - basically a better understanding. The Ayahuasca and Huachuma have been speaking to me, and these themes seem to be constant, but I almost feel as if something is being hidden or held back. I know they contain power to heal and power to harm. I know it is serpent power and it is a power I would call the life force, Ka, based on my studies of ancient Egypt which I write about constantly in this blog space. The eastern traditions would call it Kundalini, or as I learned last ceremony in far eastern traditions it is known as Qi. I seem to get the feminine power as being healing, love, and wisdom and the masculine power on the opposite attraction to controlling power, greed, lust, and dominance. The healing staff iconic to medicine is the caduceus of the Greek deity Asclepius, the god of healing, that is entwined by a serpent and you also find the Greek god of wisdom Hermes, and the ancient Egyptian wisdom god Thoth, carrying a caduceus entwined by two serpents.

Thoth with caduceus featuring Nekhebet and Wadjet

I also sense that humans are unique vessels for this life force power in the universe and we have the capacity to use it to its greatest extent. So that's what I seem to understand but I'm still puzzled by many questions like where is this power ultimately from and what is its goal? What is humanity to do with this power and what can I do with it? And of course why the fuck am I here? And I mean that both in the sense of why am I here on earth and why am I here in Peru right now? So that's my intention for today's ceremony - to get answers! I feel like this path is deliberately made difficult with many obstacles to overcome. Fear is a big one and after that is conquered I think the mind can become a huge obstacle. My mind is my rock and my comfort blanket and I depend on it to keep me in an even state where I haven't slipped into panic or been consumed by darkness. But I also sense it can be an impediment when it tries to figure out and rationalize everything. I sense something big happening today as it was building last ceremony and my mind and ego wanted to put an end to it. This has been a seven year journey to this point for me and I know after today the exploration through plant medicines will have to stop for a while so in a way that is a reason to do this one last time today but I also feel it will stop because this is it - this will give me what I need to know for now so I can go home and figure it out. If I let it unfold today I will discover what it is I have been searching for. A little bit of courage, a warrior spirit, an explorer's heart, and the wisdom I have accumulated I need to put to use and gain clarity and understanding. It's a path not open to many and to get this far is an accomplishment in itself. Conversely I know some people stumble on to this and don't really have a clue of how huge this really is. Last ceremony I was peaking with that energy and only one other person seemed to be as well and I think that has meaning. I'm ready as I will ever be to do this and I have to do it. I had to come back to Peru because I knew there was so much more to this experience and to give up on it I could never forgive myself. I'd be kicking myself in my twilight years every day for not following through on this journey. I've completed that part I came back to Peru for, worked through the fear, and here I sit on another precipice. Not jumping now will lead to more obsession and an eventual need to return and revisit this madness again to get back to this same point. I'm ready now.

Day 15, Monday April 27th

Holy fuck I did it! That was a difficult challenge in that I had to deal with fear that was conjured up by my ego-mind that could have made me crumble but I stood my ground and learned so much about myself and really who I am. The shaman don Howard asked me if I could handle a full cup again as he said I was very sensitive to Huachuma. No kidding! I said I was now prepared because I knew what it was going to do. He said okay and told me to try and stay on my feet. This was an even stronger drink and everyone noticed right away the difference. Nausea hit everyone this time within the first half hour and a couple people puked. We got in the boats and headed off to the main Amazon river on an expedition to visit the Muruy Huitoto tribe. This third mesada was focused on the wind and sky, dedicated to Huayramama the elemental mother of the air and sure enough on the boat ride over I noticed how majestic the clouds were. They seemed to my eyes to have exaggerated separation and depth as they moved through the sky. I could see them each moving on their own plane in the circular bowl of our atmosphere. Usually you feel like you have to look up at the clouds in the sky but I felt like I was in the sky and the clouds were surrounding me. This deep feeling of love came over me at the sight of this beautiful experience. I felt that the answer, the ultimate answer to everything in life revolves around love. And the process to find this out is a difficult path that involves suffering and forever eludes most people though it seems so simple. I realized that you have to forgive yourself first, then you can start to forgive others, and this starts you down the path to find this ultimate expression of love. Until you let go and just forgive you will forever suffer. This was a love I'd never felt before and as I pondered it a quilted patch of rainbow formed in the sky thus giving me the connection between the rainbow and love. At the same time I was feeling this the woman sitting beside me on the boat, Mary, was going through some terrible nausea and said to me "why did we sign up for this?" The irony was not lost on me as here I was experiencing bliss and she felt terrible. I switched seats with her just in case she needed to hurl over the side of the boat. The feeling of love stayed with me as we navigated a tricky waterway on our way to meet the tribe we were to visit. After about twenty minutes with this tribe a new wave of intoxication hit and everything got dizzy and woozy as I felt my consciousness cycling between two states of being. I sat down and started taking pictures as a way to try and stay present and not slip off into some altered existence.

I noticed Nikki and Shadi both looking like they were in distress and crying. They both ended up on the ground in the middle of the maloca and it appeared to me that Shadi started to hyperventilate and her brother Sam came over to help her. This is when things got supernatural and hard to explain but I swear I saw this with my own eyes and it was such a jolt to my very existence that I knew it wasn't a hallucination. Sam started using his hand to direct this energy up from Shadi's pelvic region to her head and up and out through her mouth. I thought back to the Qigong lesson he had given me two days ago and I saw this energy, I could see it moving, and it was the greenish yellow force I had seen last time manifest as the two serpents. Sam and Shadi's face also started to extrude this greenish yellow colour. I couldn't believe I was witnessing this. Seriously I stood there awestruck thinking I was watching visual effects in real life. At that moment in time I questioned everything in my life that to that day I had accepted as real and now witnessing this I knew I could never view my existence at this present time the same ever again. I could not positively say anything in my existence up until now had been real; either our whole existence is one big hallucination or our reality is malleable. I started to pick up on this energy and I looked around and saw more energy manifesting all over the area. I had to go sit down and just contemplate before I lost any last remaining sense of what grounds me in this world and my ego-mind then went into hyper drive trying to explain what was going on. I closed my eyes and felt this energy and I felt how vital a force it was and how everyone feeds off of it. Some of the energy felt sexual, some of it sinister, and it was everywhere. I slipped off into some altered reality at this point and received a download of information about who I am and my relationship to the feminine divine. She is our mother, she is love, and she gives birth to the light. The major teaching was that I am light, we are all light, and that darkness will stop at nothing to try and enslave us. This world is partly an illusion created for the purpose of enslaving us and trying to find out the secret of what constitutes this light. All throughout history the darkness has tried everything to mine the secrets of the light. It has tortured it, and ritually killed it, but it keeps coming back. It has enslaved it, and almost extinguished it, but the darkness now knows that in order to exploit humanity's light it has to allow it to burn brightly so that's why you will always find pockets of the good manifesting in mankind. As time passed by effortlessly and unknowingly to me in this state I came to and noticed it was time to return to the boats and on the way back I gravitated back into the higher form of consciousness that seems to have a greater understanding of the whole. I had this feeling of my life force energy draining while on the boat ride back and this continued on for the rest of the evening and I'm not sure what to make of it or its meaning. I think it was because I was frantically going through the information I had received about the darkness being a vampiric force that preys on the massive energy and light generated by humanity in its pure form. I once again was focused on how they will stop at nothing to try and capture this light, relocate it, and mine the mother earth for her secrets but they haven't figured it out yet and they never will because it is love they are looking for. I thought about how they try to imprison this force but are careful not to diminish this light it puts forth anymore. The world is set up to control our light and methods of fear, addictions, vices, and hypnotic energies are ever present waiting for us to submit. The dark forces want us to sell our light, essentially our soul in exchange for temporary power, aggrandizement, and safe passage as the monetary system, of which we are forced to participate in and cannot escape, makes us pimp out our graces in order to physically survive. Cut off from the great mother, we are not aware of who we are and live in fear of expiration. At this point I realized the awesome power within me and my strength. I told the darkness that if it wants to continue to probe me for my secrets I will not tolerate hardships or threats to my family. I know the darkness will never figure out the light because it is based on love and they do not understand that. I compared it in my head to science seeking out a god particle that would underlie their conception of a solitary material universe, subject to the universal laws of physics, that is the only valid realm and never being able to find it. I remembered my pet name for the Goddess - Mary - and kept the thought of Mary and the light in my head so I would remember all this when I cycled back down into normal consciousness. It was dusk now as I manifested in and out of our consensus reality; the sunset was electric and the atmosphere for some reason felt like a celebration. The sky was lighting up with fireworks to my left and it felt like I was in a procession. I wondered if I was hallucinating this celebration of my realization that I am light? I thought about plant medicines and how they continually find a way back into our collective consciousness despite repeated efforts to suppress them as right now at this stage in our history they are rising up and spreading out from the Amazon. My ego-mind was fighting this the whole time trying to get me to see I shouldn't mess with these substances. I remember finding this whole trip to be tiring and as we approached the sanctuary the guy beside me on the boat, Dave, had been humming the OM sound in my ear and it was really annoying me; it felt like an insect trying to drill some ear worm into my brain and forever turned me off to that sound. When we rounded the bend and approached the dock Dave said "we're back" and at the exact same time I felt myself corkscrewing back into my body for good. It was surreal. I got out of the boat and noticed the stars in the sky lit up like jewels again. I went to my room and sat on the bed, closed my eyes, and felt the energy all around me again. It was uncomfortable so I went into the ceremonial maloca but felt uncomfortable in there as well so I went back outside and started pacing around the maloca. I was conflicted by the whole day and all I'd seen and experienced and it seemed obvious to me that I needed to just rest, not only my physical self but I needed to calm my thoughts. My ego-mind was taking over as exhaustion set in but I promised the Goddess I'd stay strong. Once back in the maloca don Howard was talking about how special this third mesada was and what was to come. He talked of accessing pure energy and I thought of how much I'd purified myself in the last couple of years. We then went up to the mesa and proceeded to rotate around once again and looking at others' faces I could see they were experiencing this power in some respect as well. Myself, instead of feeling strength, I was still feeling like the power was draining from me, which I attribute to my ego-mind trying to make sense of all this and the events that had taken place today. When we returned to our seats some went up to partake of the Vilca snuff and I kept feeling surges of energy then envelop me when people approached the mesa to do the snuff. I felt so spent and had no desire to ingest anything further this night as I know I just needed to calm down so I could regain my composure and then start the processing of this experience. When this last mesada ended at midnight we gathered to eat and I was speechless at this point with a desire to just be left alone to go through my thoughts. I still felt the energy within me cycling with this desire to let it dissipate so I could return to some sort of normal state. A bunch of us stayed in the dining maloca until 5am still full of this powerful energy. I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep so I had decided beforehand to stay up until sunrise, so I went back to my room to write for a bit. I knew my time in the jungle had come to an end at this point and felt the need for the first time to just go home. Parting is always such sweet sorrow as I felt so close and connected to this group of people I had shared these experiences with. It's funny that over such a short period of time, two and a half weeks, that you can establish such a relationship with people who share with you similar feelings of a desire to search for what is missing but doesn't it seem obvious that we become close because we are all connected and we don't have to live our lives so divisively and so full of fear and suspicion. To change the world we need to change the dominant paradigm of fear into its opposite which is love.

Looking back on what happened that day, I was able to experience myself for who I am untangled from consensus reality. The experience answered all my questions about why things have unfolded the way they have for me. I had this overwhelmingly strong realization that our existence here is just an illusion. The darkness will stop at nothing to try and figure out the nature of those that carry within them this light and so have created this world that entraps the potential of the light and uses it to power their material world. A good comparison is in the movie "The Matrix" where the machines harvest humans as energy while creating this illusion of a functioning world. By taking the red pill, aka a psychedelic, Neo then sees this for what it is and he can never go back to the comfort of unknowing ever again. I got this idea though that the light uses the darkness as a method of self realization and for trying to figure out its own nature. This whole setup is an illusion but an illusion the light actively takes part in - that's why you see so much beauty within it. It feels like a game and even though the darkness seems to be prevailing it can't relocate our light or learn of its power and it needs our light in order to recharge itself. From the standpoint of the light of this world you can see why the historical archetypes of this power that are offering light and love are ill treated, abused, scorned, and sacrificed though as the light it can never be extinguished so we have stories of the resurrection and this will always draw people towards this truth. From this realization I saw that with this knowledge I need to be an example of this love that comes through the light and remain resolved in that belief.

Day 16, Tuesday April 28th

I'm sitting on a plane that leaves Lima, Peru for Miami and I'm reflecting on this latest journey. I realize this is just the beginning and I'll be able to process and gain much more insights in the time to come especially when I return home and get out into nature with my dog. My time with the psychedelic experience for now has ended. Answers have been given, what I need to work on is somewhere within me, and I need to now make sense of this download and begin the integration process. My journeys with Ayahuasca and Huachuma are all connected and lead up to the revelations and answers I was seeking. My first time in which I drank Ayahuasca and immediately came into contact with my Goddess remains the most special. Because of these experiences I have become changed for the better and the person I am today. Whenever I doubt this or am questioned, ridiculed, or scorned for my decision to transgress societal taboos against altering your consciousness, like it's an unpardonable sin, I just have to point out the fruits of this experience and how it has profoundly changed me. I have conquered my fears, I am imbued with courage, I have gained mastery over myself and my thoughts, and I have shed behaviours and addictions I thought never could have been possible. I have discovered who I am. I have seen the darkness and I have seen the light. I'm not scared of dying and I know the ultimate nature of the world in which we live. This plant medicine journey has taken me methodically on a trip to discover all this, with my participation in using my intellect to understand what it was telling me a critical part of this ride. It became important to realize that these medicines are neither 'good' nor 'bad'. They don't pick sides and can be used by anyone wanting to obtain power to heal or gain wisdom as well as those wanting to use it to control others and for sorcery. It is the darkness that rules this world but ultimately it cannot function without the light. The darkness has tried systematically to operate without the light, to replicate it, to force it into submission, to ridicule it, to enslave it, to go to great lengths to learn its essence and secrets but despite of all this it never fully succeeds. The light and the dark are the polar opposites of the power that manifests as the life force of creation. Realization of itself is the goal of the light in the material realm and it is ultimately achieved through understanding what love really is. Once you understand love then it follows that you know you are the light.

These past sixteen days in the Amazon rainforest feel like an eternity has passed. It started out with gaining control over the fear that remained within me concerning this path I have been traveling. Once that hurdle was cleared I experienced a re-birth in the second Ayahuasca ceremony which then led to more lessons in the presence of the wisdom Goddess. My original meeting with her resulted in her giving me a cloak to protect me during this dangerous journey. Now she gave me the gift of a heart that was opened enabling it to eventually experience what love truly is. The third ceremony was a trip back in to the dark with another dose of fear served up. It did not vex me as before and I dismissed it. The fourth ceremony held lessons for me about control and suspicions that I need to address before I can continue on in my exploration of altered states. Moving on to Huachuma I was able to put into practice my newly opened heart by connecting with the children of the Alamas tribe we visited. It also gave me the sense of how beautiful creation really is. The second experience with Huachuma then went much deeper and started preparing me for the answers about the ultimate reality we live in. It was quite a shock but keeping an open mind prepared me well for the information and knowledge I was to receive. The omnipresence of this life force power was a direct message to pay attention because the answers were to be revealed. The last ceremony was just awesome as I was given the gift of true love, I was taught who I am, and it was revealed the eternal interplay between the light and the dark. Though this ceremony left me uncomfortable it was needed in order to reveal the truth of the reality we live in. I'm forever grateful for being given this clarity and knowledge and I will work towards using it wisely.

In conclusion I'd like to share that this has been a seven year obsession to get to this point. To explain it properly would result in something book length so I'm going to try and summarize. When I was forty I made a promise to myself to do my best to find the origins of beliefs. I didn't have a belief system but I felt there must be something to the human condition that constantly compels us to search out meaning. I had a fascination with religious beliefs when I was in my teens but I never followed up on it. All throughout my life I've always known that whatever I put my mind to I can figure out, so to work on this question I went. I became obsessed as I dropped all preconceived notions, approached everything with an open mind, and just acquired as much knowledge as possible. This was early 2008 and I soon developed this fascination and pull towards ancient Egypt. A year later I won this award at work that gave me a sum of money I could use on a creative exercise so at this point I grabbed my camera and headed off to Egypt with this gift. It was so incredible to see these ancient monuments in person in all their grandeur and majesty. It seemed obvious that a culture does not create these marvelous objects as an expression of faith but they must have experienced their gods, goddesses, and beliefs through some kind of access. I knew instinctively that their artwork and literature were describing a journey of the soul as opposed to the scholarly consensus that claims it is wishful speculation on the contents of the afterlife. Anyway I was content with believing that a great deal of their beliefs were based on cyclical phenomena in nature and the heavens however the fantastic descriptions of realms in their "funerary" literature still intrigued me.

Book of the Dead Spell 17

In 2011 my faithful canine companion passed away and I started reflecting on how the canine in ancient Egypt was the opener of the ways and what that means is they are the guide of the soul through the darkness of material incarnation and that if I'm to believe I will ever find the answers to my quest then I have to trust that I'll be led in the proper direction. It was soon after as Christmas approached, that I heard the song "We Three Kings" and the gifts they offered to the newborn saviour being gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It was like a light bulb went off in my head as I immediately knew these were all connected to the great Goddess of ancient Egypt. An epithet of the great ancient Egyptian goddess Hathor is "the gold" and I knew at the temple located at Deir el Bahri they depict on the walls an expedition to a land called Punt where they went in search of frankincense and myrrh to bring back to be used in the veneration of Hathor at this temple.

Myrrh from Punt

Sketching it all together in my head I had an idea that the birth of Christ is symbolic of the birth of the light and somehow the Goddess is involved in this. I spent 2012 researching the great goddesses of ancient Egypt and it became clear from references to intoxication and night time dancing that there were rituals designed to lead the aspirant into contact with her. From reading Mircea Eliade's books on shamanism I had a pretty good idea these rituals were shamanic in nature although none of the Egyptological books claimed this was so. So I started trying to figure out what psychoactive chemicals would lead me to the Goddess. I'd never been into the whole drug scene so I wasn't too sure or knowledgeable of where to begin but a chance conversation with an online friend from California who wrote his thesis on the use of psychoactive compounds to treat PTSD in soldiers led to him matter of factly saying I was looking for Ayahuasca. I said ayawhat? Anyway that led me down the rabbit hole and eventually to the Amazon where I did meet the Goddess I had been searching for plus much more I was really not expecting. From my standpoint now I can give this overview: I started earnestly seeking using my accumulated wisdom and knowledge to begin and then a canine pointed me in the direction of the Goddess. I found her, contacted her through Ayahuasca, she then instructed and protected me as best she could and then led me to the light through Huachuma. I realize now that we seekers are looking for the light, we are heading towards the light, we are seeking the elusive enlightenment… and then I realized I saw the light and it was in me, it was me. Enlightenment is elusive; you'll never attain it because you always were enlightened. You just never knew it.

The role of the shaman is the archetypical role of the psychopomp in classical beliefs. Find your guides and they will help you. The major psychopomps who have helped me are first Thoth, the god of wisdom in ancient Egypt, who started me on this path. Then came the canine spirits, Anubis and Ophois, who led me through the darkness to shamanism and the great Goddesses that I became familiar with in ancient Egypt - Hathor, Isis, Nephthys, Neith, Mut, and her many other manifestations. The shaman, this enigmatic figure with one foot in both worlds, then leads you into these foreign realms so that you actually contact these ethereal spirits. The shaman should guide you with no preconceptions or expectations as this journey has to be yours. The Goddess helps and guides you but you still have to do the work. You have to navigate the labyrinth, avoid the pitfalls, the trappings of power, and demons and once you do then the pathways open up for you. 

Am I finished now with plant medicines? I don't think so because I remain very intrigued. To this point I have had trouble being in the moment and retaining some semblance of rational thinking while in the head space that these entheogens bring you into. To my credit I have been able to remember and write everything I experienced down so I could process and figure it out later once I had calmed my mind. However now with my experience I want to be able to stay calm and rational within the moment and through this I believe I will be able to receive even more benefit and answers from these journeys into a separate reality. 

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