Every time I plan to go down to the Amazon to partake in ceremony or even at the moment just before drinking the plant medicines I always ask myself "why am I doing this again?" and then at some point during one of the ceremonies I'll say to myself "don't do this again" but now I am returning for the third time to undergo this immersion. This in essence is a good insight into the nature of how this medicine works - it so upsets your ego! The ego is working feverishly to prevent the escalation of this process. Whenever it can get a foot in the door it starts talking to you to try and turn you against this path as much as possible. After ceremonies conclude and during the lengthy integration processes you discover how truly holistic and healing the medicine plants can be. So you then decide to go back. And the cycle repeats until finally you fucking clue into what the ego (you think he's your best friend) has been up to and you tell the ego I'm going back this time to cut your fucking head off.
Surrender and Trust the plant medicines. There's no use flying down to Peru if I can't do this. A successful cycle of work will involve mastery over the ego mind.
The plant medicines that are given to you at SpiritQuest are prescriptive. In other words, the dosage is important and given in an environment that is conducive to healing and discovery. Like any medicine, not enough will be ineffective and too much can either cause delirium of some sort or be ultimately poisonous. Looking back now at these recent ceremonies with Ayahuasca, five in total and three more with Huachuma, all were really about choice. What am I here for, am I seeking power, or do I truly want to serve? There was no mistake that though you can claim the power for yourself it was not yours to give and the acquisition of it entailed consequences. There was power for sorcery which seemed to be opposite the whole idea that plant medicines are to be used for healing. Then there was the actual use of the plants to heal but the danger of the practitioner succumbing to ego and aggrandizing self as the powerful healer instead of acknowledging the plants as the true healers. Finally there was just being a servant of the plants' abilities to heal. Next was a lesson about the ego mind's ability to spin a narrative that is misdirection and used to take you away from your path. Ayahuasca tends to amplify in one session what I would describe as everyday occurrences so that you get a feel for how they affect you cumulatively and what happens when you veer off down that road. I totally flunked this lesson and subsequently learned a great deal from that failure. There's no love and no compassion in these narratives that are of a devious implant within your psychic sphere, just accusations and division. They are recognizable for what they are if you just stop for a second and gather your wits about yourself. Projecting this behaviour into the 'real world' is really eye opening in that you can see how we allow the ego mind to constantly shape our worldview and perception of different actors within this sphere of influence. It leads to the us versus them mentality that is so prevalent in the world humans have created. The socio-political world is a total creation of the ego mind that has been carefully constructed, aided and abetted by the subtle craftiness of the ego mind working as a collective. Much like how we talk of a world soul there is also a world ego at large within our collective, you may even define it to a certain extent as culture. The influence of the ego is also very much at work within the relationships that define our individual lives. It was quite emotional and caused much sadness within when I fully came to the realization that my ego had influenced all the relationships I have had in my life. It has been at work the whole time bent on disruption or sabotage in a very devious manner by subtly influencing behaviours a little at a time. Through the amplification of the craftiness of ego by the plant medicines I have been able to see at long last how manipulated we all are. Conversely by being able to step back from the machinations of ego I realized its transient nature and how we choose to let it influence our lives, with the caveat most have lost control over that choice.
So for the record here is the story of my third foray into the jungle wilderness of the Amazon and concurrently the mysterious realms of the psyche.
Sunday June 12th - Travel Day
I'm currently on the first leg of the journey down to the Amazon once again. This flight left in the morning from Toronto to Panama and then onto Lima, where I will spend this first night before flying into Iquitos tomorrow and then off into the humid jungle. By monitoring flights for a while and being flexible on departure times I was able to get a good price on this flight but the best part is I do not have to enter the USA at all on any of these flights. In the year 2016 I find the American custom officials the most restrictive and harassing guards in the Americas. Last year on the way down they wanted to confiscate my bag of carrots because I didn't cut them thin enough and then on the way back I had to transfer planes in Miami and missed my connecting flight because they took forever unloading the luggage and then I was pulled aside and had my luggage searched and was asked questions they had no reason to be asking. So if possible I try to avoid that nonsense. My flight home from Lima is direct to Toronto which is pretty great.
I remember last year coming home with mixed feelings whether I was going to continue with plant medicines. They were challenging for sure but they also presented me with the need to take inventory of myself. A great deal of my struggles last year were of a two fold nature. I used my head instead of my heart way too much and that gets me into trouble. I also after much soul searching had to come to terms with the darkness I would experience. These great plant medicine teachers in a conspiratorial relationship with my heart had to get through to me by presenting the darkness over and over, like beating me over the head with a blunt instrument, and the lessons would be learned gradually during the post integration phase when I would finally pick up on the teachings. It's not like I wasn't aware of the need to use the heart space as we are told by the maestro don Howard constantly to get out of our head. But I'm so smart that I can use my smarts to figure it all out and succeed. Well I've learned you can only get so far with that attitude. Eventually it seems clear you must surrender to the wisdom of the soul which is only accessed by turning the key off on your thoughts and the ego mind. There has to be trust and surrender. I fully admit I'm not really good at either. I'll never escape the darkness unless I can do that. I've had glimpses of what it's like to live with love in your heart. I remember the first time I drank Ayahuasca and the Goddess welcomed me and she was so intoxicating and I commented on how I could envision men spending the rest of their days trying to recapture that moment and be in her presence once again. The fifth time I drank there was the pathetic scene I witnessed of those searching men trying to get in to see the Goddess in the castle and they could not, however I was let in and she opened my heart (she is my heart). Later on in my journey at SpritQuest I felt the ineffable cosmic love, a profound feeling of connectivity and bliss. I'm coming back to my jungle home in pursuit of that love; a love I wish to be the basis of which animates my life and leads to a path of service that will lead others to that love. I know I will not be able to get to that place ever again unless I trust and surrender. First I must sincerely apologize for my last time drinking Ayahuasca when I was struggling. I let the ego mind take over and prevent so much more valuable teachings to be denied, though in a way my behaviour has led to a realization of what I must change. I will remember to love, trust, and surrender and while staying within my open heart I will be able to see the ego mind for what it is, confront it, and master it.
In leading up to this week I've had tears of joy, good thoughts, and strong thoughts. I've felt very resolute and very clear on my intentions for doing this. Another big step is coming up but there's something that feels very different about this one.
Monday June 13th - Day 1
Well I'm here at SpiritQuest and settled in. All of us just went through the orientation and I realized don Howard is personifying the grandfather Huachuma spirit.
I become aware of my vacillation between the heart space and ego mind in this environment. The voice that is the ego mind has major trust issues and if I'm to progress on this path I have to overcome that. The trust issues present almost as non rational, like they are designed to prevent me from furthering the development of living with an open heart. The solution is to quiet the ego mind and I have to be conscious of that at all times. The jungle sounds can be quite soothing but also they can bring back memories of my past struggles due to the dominance of the ego mind. This experience is not going to be easy but my intent is clear and I know I can get through this. My ego mind is ready to play all the tricks it can muster up to derail this. It's non rational in its tricks though. I have to be at least smart enough to see through them.
The group here is about 25 people, about five or so of us have experience with Ayahuasca. I was quizzed on my experiences so I once again like last time tried not to candy coat them. I also reminded people that the experiences one has are deeply personal. Tomorrow we do a Mapacho ceremony after breakfast as a way to get everyone on the same page, meditating on their intentions for why they are here. During the afternoon before ceremony I need to meditate and review my accumulated notes on my intentions which are to Love, Trust, and Surrender to the Ayahuasca medicine. First though will be an apology to Mother Ayahuasca for some of my past behaviour. I'm not feeling angst or any kind of trepidation as tomorrow approaches. I do though in being completely honest feel a little unsure about being back here. That is a result of my trust issues and listening to the ego mind. I've spent the last year getting to the bottom of these feelings and in the last six months have gotten clarity on what is the root cause, so in a ways it feels like I'm writing an exam tomorrow. I'm not expecting a perfect grade but I feel like I have prepared well. It's time to see the results.
Tuesday June 14 - Day 2
It's about 6pm, ceremony is to begin at 9:30pm tonight. We had a beautiful Mapacho ceremony late morning where I felt connected to the jungle tobacco spirit. I once again felt deep respect towards don Howard which I think is part of the trust intention working within me already. After breakfast I had a wonderful conversation with him. He truly gives off this grandfather spirit vibe. Prior to that at breakfast I was able to open up to some people and share my success in subduing my addictions and fear through the use of Ayahuasca. It was gratifying to see people react the way they did.
We finished the Ayahuasca ceremony orientation just a short time ago. Don Howard lets people know that tonight's ceremony will be difficult for some. I picked a spot in the maloca to set up my mattress for the evening that I feel will be most advantageous to me, knowing what I know about thoughts and feelings affecting mind states and my trust issues. I had a few butterflies in the stomach related to anxiety but that's to be expected. It would be strange if I did not have that. I don't have fear and there's a strong purpose to why I am continuing on in this work; why I made plans to come here well in advance and then counted down the days while preparing myself as well as I could. I know I have things I need to work on and I plan to address them.
Don Howard has talked a great deal about reciprocity which is called 'ayni' in the indigenous Quechua language. What really sunk in was that in asking the medicine for healing there is something we can do in return. By gaining trust through surrendering to the medicine, the love that is lying in my heart ready to explode upon the world I can offer and that will be accomplished by being of service to the medicine plants for the greater good of all. By accessing the heart space, it will through the force of love, master the ego mind.
Wednesday June 15 - Day 3
The intention you set for ceremony has an uncanny way of coming to some kind of fruition. I knew I was coming back to SpiritQuest to write an exam based on the teachings I received last time concerning Love, Trust, and Surrender as well as the need to stay within the heart space, avoiding the trappings of the ego mind. The ceremony started at 9:30pm and I was the third last to drink so I took in all the newcomers to Ayahuasca taking their first drink. I felt a little apprehension, no fear, and my intuition wasn't flagging it as a rough ride. The brew didn't taste good that's for sure. I know it gets worse every time you drink in a cycle of work but usually the first draught is tolerable. I didn't get that this time as it was a tough swallow. Before drinking I gave don Howard a broad smile and then paused, saying my apologies to la Madre for my past behaviour, and then I promised to love, trust, and surrender to the medicine and the process. I didn't feel the effects of the medicine come on per se, instead this time when don Rober started singing the first icaro I closed my eyes and followed the lead of the melody which produced my visions. I saw outlines of buildings made up of luminous light and these buildings became more complete as the scene unfolded. As I looked up towards the sky I could see patches of light in the sky and I wanted to go there but I couldn't, prompting the scene to shift to a familiar darkness. I'd seen and felt this darkness before in a few ceremonies and it's funny that I always forget about this particular ominous darkness. It's very difficult to describe so I won't attempt to but it's why I have wondered at times what I'm doing back in Iquitos because it is a very malevolent energy that is devious when you allow its machinations in through the ego mind. The energy emanating from this construct was also very hypnotic. I have written a few times before about this hypnotic energy; it catches you off guard as you are ensconced in the ego mind at this point wondering why you are witnessing this darkness and it works in tandem with the ego to create a scenario of distrust of this process. It wants you to think of Ayahuasca as something to be avoided. This is when it becomes sink or swim time - the test has progressed to the difficult part. Curiously at lunch when I was talking to don Howard he had mentioned encountering hypnotic energy but then with enough experience and courage you can see through it and not accept the thoughts it is trying to implant in your psyche. It is then in ceremony decision time of what I'm going to follow here. Will it be my head or my heart? Deep down I know I will choose Love, it is the place I wish to spend my life in and through filtering my thoughts into the heart space I will be able to do this. I did not accept what this hypnotic and malevolent energy was trying to tell me; instead I insisted on following the path of love and trusting the teachings of don Howard and surrendering to the Ayahuasca medicine. The hypnotic energy in retrospect is present at forks in the road in this medicine journey. If you desire power for personal gain that was the road opening up once again to seduce you into following it. The hypnotic energy eventually subsided and I was then presented with a new scene that seemed to be presenting an arcade of sorts replete with video games and candy. It seemed to be portending distractions - distractions that at one time worked on me. I entered into this carnival of sorts and was given the opportunity to select any woman I pleased from a plethora of women, designed to delight the senses, that were offered to me. I politely declined saying that time of my life had come and gone, now my focus was on love and returning to that state and I was adamant about living with Love in my heart. At this point I realized what I had done. I had broken down this construct of ego mind, denied the power offered to me as well as other distractions known in popular culture as the seven deadly sins, and chose the path of the heart. I was pure in my intentions and my heart. You show how pure of heart you are by your actions. I was offered a great deal of power, it was an appeal to my ego mind to accept it and remain in the world of power, greed, and cynicism. I knew I had to get into my heart space. The power available does not appeal to me, I've felt that cosmic love and I want to get back to that. At that point I knew I was pure of heart. The second icaro was ending and I felt a purge coming on. It came on in short order filling two thirds of my bucket. During this purge I metaphorically expelled my ego mind from my psyche and it was an unattached floating entity in front of me. I was encouraged to reach out and grab the ego, crush it, and throw it into the vomit bucket. In doing so I felt the warrior spirit, I felt invigorated, and I was so exuberant concerning what I had just accomplished as I knew it was a major turning point. The expelling of ego was the metaphorical healing genius of the Goddess!
Why does the darkness return? It was because of the ego mind and the suffering it will cause us if we choose that path. I sat there in the moment calling the ego a fucker for causing all the shit it had stirred up over the years. At this point I was pretty much out of the intoxication as the third icaro started up. I was reflecting on this test being a way that the Great Goddess separates the true seeker from the weak. Power will seduce most, you can possibly fake your way through some of your vices but the offering of power and its intended greed will get you in the end if you are being disingenuous. What this process is doing is finding those who are pure of heart. Once I understood this I knew I had arrived at the destination I had been seeking. I felt I belonged and that I would live my life in service to the Great Goddess of Love. I recognized the sacrifices made by don Howard and don Rober in her service to try and find the true seeker among many who apply. At this point I saw the shamans become illuminated one by one. I felt then I was going to be prepared now to meet the Great Grandfather spirit of Huachuma whom I equate in ancient Egypt to Amun.
I spent the remainder of the ceremony listening to the icaros and basking in the glow of this amazing energy; feeling sleep was sporadic, I spent the night in the maloca. Love for so many things came over me, I felt such love for the shamans and much gratitude but most of all I LOVE THE GREAT GODDESS! I want to shout it from the rooftops. She is love.
After last night I can say that chasing my dreams, seeking the unknown, and persevering through very difficult challenges has been extremely rewarding. I felt like coming back here would entail something like writing an exam and seeing if I integrated the teachings and passed this latest challenge. The ceremony was difficult, very mysterious and tricky, and the only way to get through it successfully was to use the teachings that have been hammered home into my head and stay within the heart.
Being able to focus on the heart space and not get trapped in the ego mind allowed me to solve the mystery; the darkness was defeated. Suffice to say a big component of the test involved seeing how pure of heart you really are.
Friday June 17 - Day 5
The intention for last night's ceremony was to remain in the love state, to trust and surrender, as well as to get clarity on my relationship with the Goddess and how I can manifest that within my everyday life. The ceremony turned out to be very challenging; in retrospect I would say I failed the challenge but as I have learned from experience, failure teaches you many lessons that are unavailable to the star student. I definitely have a better constitution and frame of mind this year to deal with the darkness that keeps manifesting for me in my Ayahuasca ceremonies. Last year I would have just shut right down. I have to trust more this time and just let this run its course. In dealing with the ego and attempting to master it, it seems the ceremonies have to be dark ones and so it was again. The brew was definitely stronger and upon the start of the first icaro and the onset of the first visions I had to go to the bathroom. While in the bathroom the tiles started seeping a reddish blood colour and demonic faces would form in the patterns. It seemed at this point that yes I'd have to go through another dark ceremony. The challenge was something I should have been able to handle. After returning to the maloca the visions were once again projecting a familiar and sinister vibe that in the past has had me saying to myself to avoid the use of Ayahuasca. Using some semblance of trust I was able to have this revelation that there are parasitic entities that attach to the opening of the energy channels that the psychedelics enable. This was some kind of progress in my cognitive narrative because before I'd blame Ayahuasca and the shamans for the darkness. I have been told before by the Goddess the darkness is very clever and it has been stressed that it will stop at nothing to steal your light. Well in essence they feed off your light and I have literally felt this as the darkness is a leech and it's looking for an opening into your energetic field. Your fields are open during times of stress, sexual stimulation, intoxication, and other energetic stimulation - this also includes the psychedelic experience. I tried to reason in my head that these entities attach to your ego, take it over, inflate your ego, and then plague you as they're a cosmic cult of misogyny and hedonism present in the galaxy looking for human hosts. They are subject to depression as well as humans and are also able to feed off of other humans that are open channels. I chided these entities saying if they are so smart why haven't they learned to make a different power source or clone humans to use as energy sources such as depicted in the movie 'The Matrix'? Anyway after rationalizing that this was a necessary evil on the way to receiving teachings from la Madre I hoped they would leave me alone in ceremony three. I was not in the heart space but remained in my head thinking I could gain insights from this dark ceremony. I then entered into a dialogue with my own ego. I told it to cut out the carnival hypnosis and games to try and get me back under its spell and return to my former addictions because they aren't working and I've left that behind. I gave the ego mind a choice: I said that I know it is depressed and lonely because it has lost its control over me and its so called other ego friends attached to other humans are self absorbed pricks so they will just use you to get what they want. I said work with me as a united front. I have offered this truce before in consensus reality but it has never worked out; the ego mind would always want to become dominant so I'd have to kick him to the curb again. If my offer was not accepted we would have this uneasy truce where I'd try and figure out a way to expel this foreigner while he continued his lame attempts to hypnotize me. I then spent the rest of the ceremony enduring candy store visions and hypnotic strobings that seemed to be directed at hypnotizing me.
This all does seems kind of crazy. I have to trust it's part of Ayahuasca's teachings to enable me to terminate this dysfunctional ego relationship I'm in so I'm treating this as a learning experience. Since this theme is reoccurring I have to accept it for the experience it is. This ceremony seemed to go back to the Huachuma teachings of the darkness being very clever and will do anything to steal your light including concocting elaborate situations such as this. ed note: It is very easy to see now as I edit this that the ego mind crafted a multi layered scenario replete with galactic parasites that got the best of me in this ceremony however read on as I figured it out in short order!
Saturday June 18 - Day 6
I just woke up and had a bit of an epiphany regarding the events of ceremony two. I guess what in the past would take time to figure out I can shorten to a day or so in quiet contemplation. Anyway the idea I got upon reflection of ceremony two is that the narrative crafted under the intoxication was another construct of ego. The ego is under attack and the latest attempt to deflect the attack has evolved into misdirection. The thoughts that entered into my awareness that night were familiar and they were crafted into a narrative that was evolving. Instead of everything being negative, only select elements of the story became dark. The shamans retained their positive light and were doing the best they can. The darkness became parasitic and infected humankind through the ego. There is truth to that but the revelations concocted in this ceremony I have to conclude were a product of my ego mind due to how preposterous it was at points. That is usually the give away. The thing I learned was that how the ego mind deludes you was amplified in ceremony so I would see what it can do to you. I then extrapolated from that how it affects you subconsciously in a much more subtle way but it is spinning everything you take in. Then I realized how it has negatively affected all my relationships that are near and dear to me and that made me so sad.
There is definitely a huge element of trust in this work. In order to get results you have to stick it out for the cycle. Okay so another stepping stone on the path. Staying in my head for that ceremony was another direct lesson that I can't engage aspects of the mind while taking plant medicines. The conversation with the ego definitely gave me the sense of there being the distinct divide in what constitutes my wholeness. The ego is tricky and elusive and has more tricks than a clown but slowly and surely I'm making progress. It took a good sleep to process all this. In the past it would have closed me down and I would not have figured it out until I got home and then I would have subsequently beat myself up over not being able to recognize what happened at the time. It has been important this time to embrace the darkness. I have no fear of it anymore, instead I have a respect for it. It does provide for a wonderful teaching opportunity if you can sort out the trickery inherent in it. In this case it took a day, in the past it would have checkmated me and closed me down from further experience. I look forward to tonight's ceremony, another opportunity for self mastery.
Sunday June 19 - Day 7
I went into last night's ceremony with the intent to keep things simple. Of my last five ayahuasca ceremonies I have felt this darkness that comes on that I cannot get past. I liken it to video games where you reach a level that has your number and you cannot get past it and keep dying, never getting to rescue the princess. This darkness keeps getting the better of me and even though I think I do know how to get past it, when confronted with it I crumble or get involved in some sub plot unrelated to the quest! So for this ceremony back to basics - trust and still the mind.
The brew tasted really different, I actually didn't mind it, it tasted like pickle juice with a tang to it, maybe pickle juice fermenting or going bad, and it also had a spicy aftertaste. When the intoxication came on and the visionary experience started I was witnessing an artificial building block vibe that has characterized previous dark ceremonies. However it felt neutral, I couldn't get a sense either way. One way I know the session will be about the light is if I see a vision of the Goddess in some form. The ongoing moving visions that were unfolding first person perspective style panned to my right and came upon the Goddess seated in a chair. But it was kind of ridiculous as this was an effigy, a poor attempt to create a facsimile of her and it was very crude. There was like a wig on some kind of circular shape with a pillow for a body plus some makeup and lipstick on the face to try and make it believable but it was preposterous and I find when the darkness that is constructed by the ego mind attempts some things it just turns out to be so funny sometimes. So I was immediately warned the ego was up to more tricks. The scene became hypnotic and menacing like I have witnessed before and I started getting thoughts in my head about the experience that then started to expand into more ominous thoughts and threats. I realized at this point I needed to put the still the mind intention into practice. It was difficult to suppress the thoughts at first and keep my mind still however I could sense the thoughts were heading into crazy territory once again, so using that against the darkness I was able to still my mind and prevent the thoughts from expanding once implanted into my psyche and instead they eventually dissipated. Then in my vision a fully loaded gun discharged into my head, the purpose being to break my concentration but I remained steadfast against the onslaught and didn't allow any more thoughts to penetrate my mind stillness. What I would characterize these intrusions as is they are parasitic in nature. Carlos Castaneda in his books calls them "the flyers", inorganic parasites that try to enter through psychic channels and execute mind control over the subject. The Gnostic seers called these cosmic intruders "Archons" and they introduced into the host errors in thinking that would lead to falsehoods and delusion. I'd probably classify these thoughts as constructs of the ego mind and the way to defeat them in all cases is to still the mind. The emptiness will make them perish. In the previous ceremony I was characterizing them as galactic parasites that infect the ego mind but now I was starting to realize they are parasitic thoughts released into the mind by the ego; a disease propagated through humankind's ability to formulate abstract language that is used as a method of manipulation and control. As the first icaro ended I felt nauseous and I unleashed a heavy purge into my bucket and equated it to throwing up as much dark energy as I could possibly muster. When I was finished this kindly apparition of a grandmother figure in a pale blue dress helped me to clean up. I thanked her and opened up my heart towards her. I had a profound sense that this woman was the spirit of Ayahuasca, la Madre, manifested as the grandmother. Upon commencement of the next icaro the scene then shifted to what I could see as some kind of parade float, perhaps a celebration of what I had just accomplished. The float had chocolate cake, cupcakes, and other confectionaries and these were all pulsing to a beat. To my left I saw two girls offering me things. One girl was offering a bracelet much like the indigenous tribes offer to you when you visit them. I waved her away because she wanted money and I had none. I waved the other girl away too but then everyone either turned into a heart or pulsed like the beat of a heart. I realized she was offering love so I then freely accepted it. Then some dancing girls appeared with a woman who was in charge of them. I felt the eroticism of their show and as they came closer I was offered one of the women. I politely declined and was asked again being told that she can be yours. I said I will watch the show but not touch. The scene and the icaro ended. The darkness returned when the music returned, ostensibly as a test. I was able to still the mind and in my hand I held my piece of black obsidian that I had acquired last year after seeing a vision of the Goddess as purple whirling thin lines of energy within a shiny black object. I didn't know what it was at the time but upon returning home the word obsidian would pop into my head and it turns out that the shiny black object was obsidian. So I had brought it down to Peru with me as a talisman. I was looking at it in my hand when it became enveloped in a rainbow aura. I rotated it 90 degrees counter clockwise and the aura followed it and then the Goddess appeared in front of the obsidian as a luminescent fairy, she then entered into the obsidian and appeared as the classical hair of the goddess in the Hathor style.
Hathor and her hairstyle
From this icon formed her face with a huge smile on it and then back into the fairy. She reminded me how one of my intentions was to have a way of always having her present in my life so I retain a connection at all times. This is how it was going to happen and she said a part of her was now in the obsidian and so don't lose it! It's the most valuable rock in the world now. After this I looked up and there was a sort of rectangular carousel and I saw what looked to be a Hindu god forming. An elephant head appeared and I knew it was Ganesha.
I don't know much about Ganesha but he was very friendly and playful. I figured I'd unlocked him, the video game allusion again, and he was now part of my tribe. Then a caricature of a Hindi man, just his head, appeared and made the scene even more funny. I spent a moment marvelling that Ganesha was in my vision! Then to my right at this carnival scene a car on tracks drove up to me. I understood it to delineate a transition of scenes. The driver was very funny and playing the part well so I complimented him on his skills and asked if he was an actor. He said no, and I said he should pursue it. He thanked me and then I innately knew the scene needed to change so I said he should go. I looked away, paused, and looked back and he was still there though once again an inner knowing was clear this part of the vision was over and needed to come to an end. Finally he left, I waved, he did a jump and a click of his heels and departed. Then he stopped and tried to do more acting and be funny. I told him he had gone too far and wasn't funny anymore. He said Awwwwww and left. In the interlude between icaros, I marvelled once again at what had gone on so far in the evening. The Goddess asked if I wanted to work on anything else but I said I'm more than happy just enjoying the rest of the evening by listening to the shaman's songs. She said the medicine was strong tonight and there would be time to work on other things and that's how it was to be so off I was in visions again, this time of total whiteness. I thought oh not a hospital but it turned out to be a snow bank. The scene tilted up and I saw an apartment which made me very emotional because it meant the house had been sold as the kids had grown up and moved out and my dog Luna had probably passed away - it was the retirement years. The lesson having to do with the relentless marching on of time. The Goddess pointed out my children are 14 and 12 and time flies so to be as good a husband and father I could be. When I was ready after that we would discuss more about being of service as I had wanted to discover my path and how I can become more of service to the Goddess. Then there was this detour into the nature of a couple women I work with. They are sirens. It was an interesting foray into the psychology of the feminine half of the human race straight from the Goddess. The ultimate lesson being I should really appreciate my wife more.
The shamans then came around to perform the closing arkana. Afterwards I laid down on my side to rest and saw a large green boa coming towards me in a vision, not at all menacing, and it entered into me encircling my brain. It was a pleasant feeling and the snake then proceeded to slither down my left shoulder to my arm where it changed into a beautiful exotic indigenous woman. My left arm's now the embodiment of the Goddess. A bit later I saw a white snake with flakes of black and grey approach me. It communicated that it wanted inside me as well and I dutifully opened my mouth and swallowed it. I imagine it is now at the base of my spine, something to do with kundalini energy. The ceremony ended, I stayed for about half an hour to 2am and then went back to my room. As I lay on the bed I could feel the serpentine energy in me flowing and making ripples in the bed. What a night! I think I have gotten past this darkness block now. I don't know what's in store for the next two ceremonies but I can get past the darkness barrier now. Last year was fear and this year it is darkness. We do a Bobinzana ceremony tonight, a heart opening dream plant I have a good relationship with.
It has been interesting that in the first and third ceremonies this year I have had visions relating to women, eroticism, and their sexuality. My last time down here a year ago half of the ceremonies had these elements as well. It all goes back to the nature of reality being highly sexual and there is a tie in with the essential energy that animates creation. That energy is front and centre and highly charged in these ceremonies. It's building to some kind of a reveal.
Monday June 20 - Day 8
In the sharing circle of our experiences right now I realized how it is very difficult for my ego to get along with others who are on an ego trip. We all live within our egos to a degree and that doesn't seem to perturb mine. It's the overt ones I have a problem with. I need to develop strategies and perhaps learn from Ayahuasca on how to more effectively deal with this. It feels like a challenge has been issued to me. I also learned doing a web search that Ganesha removes obstacles and places obstacles in your way on your path. There seems to be a connection between the two here.
Tuesday June 21 - Day 9
Turns out I was to learn a lesson from Ayahuasca in ceremony on how to deal with others that I find fault with and want to judge. I learned we always have a choice and that love is a choice.
The visions when they came on were of the dark nature yet again. They got the best of me early and my thoughts gravitated towards not doing another ceremony, this should be my final one. The constant negativity was becoming tiresome and I realized it was coming from within and the failure to adopt a positive attitude I surmised was the reason for it. The visions do not frighten me but they play havoc on my mind, however I was able to right my ship as I know that by entering into the heart space is the antidote. I felt a lift in my conscious awareness as I worked to still my mind and end the darkness. I looked up and over in the direction of the shamans singing and I saw the light and the light was dancing in time to the rhythm of the icaro. It became clear that the shamans were conduits for all the energy, both light and dark, and that we have the choice in how we wish to perceive the energy. At this point I chose to see the goodness and that's now what was in my vision. Ayahuasca has this innate ability to greatly amplify this and it is then easy to see how subtly your outlook on life is altered, and how cumulatively that affects you day after day. If you allow negativity into your life continually it will work towards making you completely miserable. I felt a great love and appreciation for this lesson and to the person who was the catalyst for me learning this lesson. I was able to see all forms of energy, all the way down to our lowest form of energy, all enjoying the music. It was pretty special to see how we all love music. The rest of the night was all positive. I thought of the ancient Egyptian creatrix goddess Neith, as I was wearing a necklace with her symbol.
Neith the seamstress of creation
She appeared as a spider who was weaving a web - appropriate as she weaves creation into existence. After that I had a vision of laying down into a coffin very ancient Egyptian style, with my arms crossed and feeling like a pharaoh on his way to the afterlife. There was a tremendous amount of gold in my visions at this point. When the shamans came around to give everyone their closing arkana the erotic imagery returned in my visions. I was witnessing a woman writhing to the beat of the music in a highly sexual manner. I had this amazing revelation at this point about the light and how it enlightens the chakras. We open our hearts, our feminine side, and this lets the light get in. This spirit, the masculine white light, diffracts within our bodies creating the different colours of the chakras. The base is the lowest vibratory colour red. The energy is at this point animating life and is the male creative energy. When you cultivate this energy with love it then moves up the spinal cord enlivening all aspects of the self until the channel is fully opened and it is realized as pure white light through the crown chakra. This channel remains open and you are constantly enlightened, you are luminous with the spirit. It is the tradition of the transfiguration of Christ or in ancient Egypt the Akh which is a luminous stork, a combination of the concepts of the Ba and Ka, full of wisdom and light. This transforming light energy, kundalini, is also channeled for healing energy and sexual energy. Since most people are in the mind space of sex that's what the energy is mostly used for. You can cultivate it and transfer its power to the spiritual side. I felt it stirring within me deeply once again and that's when I saw the erotic imagery. I acknowledged the sexual side but chose to keep the power on my spiritual path. When the shaman came over and gave me a personal icaro I felt its power intensify and within this deep inner intense growl. These events combined with the serpents I saw last ceremony seems to portend some kind of kundalini power once again rising within. I also noticed, as the shamans made their way around the room, I was hearing this natural reverb in their singing voices. It was really cool because only some of the frequencies were being delayed. As well the wife of the shaman don Rober sings just a little behind him giving their harmony an extra special quality.
When the ceremony ended and the candle was lit I sought out the person who was the catalyst for the most valuable lesson I learned tonight and I gave him a big hug and let him know how much his example meant to me. It was all about choice and choosing to love. We have free will to decide if we are going to live in hell or heaven. If you go with the negative energy then it will multiply and you'll be miserable, or always chose light and love. The Ayahuasca amplifies what you feel when you make that choice and from experience you know to always choose light. This has really been a wonderful experience so far, kind of the school of hard knocks but very rewarding. We drink again tonight for the fifth and final time. I hope to combine all the lessons I have learned into one big celebration.
Wednesday June 22 - Day 10
Back in the fourth ceremony I felt nauseous for quite a while before I could purge. It's like it is a sign from the medicine that the cycle of work is ending and you should cease drinking the medicine when that starts to happens. The fifth ceremony last night was a remarkable culmination of lessons learned, the end of one journey, and a new beginning to another.
There was a Shipibo arts and crafts market that came to visit us in the day before the final ceremony Tuesday night. They have fantastic stuff. I bought a couple of paintings and a tapestry. The tapestry is of a jaguar head enveloped by two serpents which turned out to be foreshadowing the evening's events. One of the paintings has a green boa embedded in its rich colourful vision which caught my eye and the other is a painting in dragon's blood of a beautiful indigenous woman. The indigenous woman resembled the woman the boa turned into in ceremony three so I was attracted to that painting. The Shipibo woman who sold me the paintings has tremendous sex appeal. With my heightened serpent energy I could really feel it and it reinforced the notion that the way this kundalini energy seems to work is that you channel it for either spiritual work or life creating sexual energy. It's on fire in me and I had a feeling it would affect me in tonight's ceremony.
The ceremony started off with dark energy again, that's five out of five ceremonies all beginning with negative energy and it was hammering away at me. Part of what was beating me up was having felt the sexual energy towards the Shipibo woman and my negativity was feeding off that. After feeling pounded by the dark energy and retreating into a shell I all of a sudden gathered my wits about me and felt a sense of heightened consciousness envelop me and then I experienced a huge surge of serpent energy that was electrifying and I became strong once again. Outside the maloca the elemental energies were gathering in a huge thunderstorm and in my vision I saw a jaguar in the distance. It spotted me, turned towards me, and started coming towards me. As it came closer I could only see this giant jaguar head in front of me and then it let out a large roar. I was not afraid but instead I roared right back at the jaguar. I then became the jaguar. I AM JAGUAR! I then roared in all directions at all my enemies, all the dark energy, and they all scattered in fear and cowardliness. I felt very masculine and so fucking powerful. I have never felt that strong in all my life and it was such an incredible feeling. I felt an exalted feeling of accomplishment and completeness. Such a great state; I was feeling like an all powerful king. I basked in the powerful after glow and continued to roar. I thought about how I have completed this quest and became the jaguar, the ultimate king of his domain who has no fear. After the first icaro ended I was relaxing on my throne and what seemed like my spiritual family came to hug me. I had this sense I had been lost on an internal journey but now had finally returned. I hugged them all back. I felt so many have tried to steal my power but I have persevered and here I now sit having gained this power which I vowed to use for good and to be of service. I also thought of how ancient Egyptian pharaohs were granted this power and were to use it to serve the people, though their successes at not succumbing to its temptation probably are not favourable.
I once again felt the prolonged nausea, a sign this Ayahuasca work has run its course. When I purged I was exposing my backside and I had this primal reaction about a contender to my throne trying to mount me in a show of dominance while I was in this state. I finished puking and growled at all my enemies. Later on in the ceremony the goddess Hathor appeared in gold with multiple instances of her face filing up the rest of the room in my vision. I hugged her and thanked her for all she has done for me. This was such a powerful final ceremony. It was a culmination of the twelve Ayahuasca ceremonies I have now participated in and it all felt like an end to this particular phase of my journey. The quest is complete. I am jaguar.
I have this strong desire to go home now and connect with my family on a deeper level. I want to impart my wisdom to my son. He is a great kid and he deserves more from me. Same with my wife, she deserves more from me.
At the end of the ceremony I went back to my room and as I lay in bed I could hear some people outside in the rain. I felt the urge to join them so out I went into the pouring rain with just my swimming trunks on, feeling so strong and powerful with my hands reaching up to the heavens while the downpour cleansed me. It was a night I will never forget.
Thank you Mary. Thank you Ayahuasca. The end of a chapter and the beginning of another. I love you all.
Thursday June 23 - Day 11
I have touched on serpent energy quite a bit in this exposition so I feel I should try to explain it in greater detail. Serpent power is the life force energy that pulses through all living things. I have discovered it at work in three different areas of my worldly existence. In other words this is experiential and not just something I have read about. Reading about it gives you the curious connection between the serpent entwined rod of the Greek god of healing Asclepius and its adoption by the medical profession as its standard and then there is the Old Testament biblical story of Moses and his healing brazen serpent in Numbers chapter 21.
The rod of Asclepius
Moses' brazen serpent
In my own experience first off I can describe this power as white light that has entered into the body and diffracted into different levels of vibration. The base vibratory power settles at the bottom of the spine and is red in colour. It is the common oscillation of this power, the lowest form of vibration, and in eastern mysticism is the root chakra that is very materialistic. Serpent power at this point is experienced sexually as well as in expressions of violent behaviour such as rage and anger. As your spiritual awareness is raised, the vibrational intensity of this power increases and this is depicted in the ascending colour scale of the chakras until once again the light returns to its pure white state and exits out of the crown chakra. This can be thought of as enlightening all the chakras and at this point you can keep your 'channel' open and be constantly enlightened by the light. The three areas primarily affected by serpent power in my experience are sexual potency, health and vigour, and spiritual ascendency. When this power is channeled into each area it necessarily takes away from the other area. With Ayahuasca it is a requirement of most traditions that the drinker abstain from sexual behaviour a few weeks before drinking and a few weeks afterwards. If you are expressing this energy out through sexual behaviour then there will be less energy accessible for healing and spiritual work. As well, I have also experienced where the body's use of this power to heal itself of sickness can be curtailed by engaging in sexual behaviour and temporarily deplete the self of this power. There is then a need to rebuild up stores of this energy. I have also found spiritually I am more in tune with my 'higher self' when I abstain from sexual behaviour. It seems this serpent energy presents with a constant choice where we can use it for sexual energy or spiritual energy if it is not needed to heal. When under the influence of Ayahuasca this has been presented to me very clearly. My body was in a heightened state of vibratory ecstasy, I was feeling the love, and I felt this energy coursing into me and rising on up out of my body. At this point my visionary activity became inundated with sexual imagery, in particular writhing, sexually charged women. I understood this at this time to be the direct result of this serpent energy and that there is always a choice to channel this energy into the sexual or the spiritual. I chose the spiritual in this instance and it solidified my belief in this power and what it is used for. It was clear 99.999999 percent of the population channels it into the sexual. That is not a condemnation or judgment but rather an observation. Obviously reproduction is very necessary to continue the species!
Now the question that needs to be asked and answered is why do I call it serpent energy? The presentation of this power within ceremonies has been accompanied by visions of serpents or an association to the snake. The first stirring of the energy within ceremony was the final Ayahuasca ceremony a year ago where the Goddess appeared in her temple in Denderah in my vision. It was the ancient Egyptian goddess Hathor in her guise as the Goddess of Love dressed in a red corset and as she approached me and lay over top of my body I experienced the most erotic sensation that I have ever felt. Among many connections in the iconography of Hathor is a connection to the serpent Wadjet, representing the power of the rising serpent, and a subject of this book by the Egyptologist Alison Roberts.
The serpent power of Ancient Egypt
Following that ceremony, the first time I drank Huachuma a few days later it stirred within me this sexual energy once again - I commented that Huachuma was an aphrodisiac, aphrodisiac being an allusion to the Greek goddess Aphrodite who is equated with the Egyptian Hathor. That night when I laid in bed I closed my eyes and saw many writhing snakes in my vision. The next ceremony was when I saw the grand vision of the back to back green serpents surrounding a great pure white light. I understood the two serpents as goddesses that were protecting my spirit essence which was the light. I then kept seeing serpents in the pathway we were walking on and then later that evening as I showered I saw snakes forming in the water splashing on the tiles below. The presentation of the two huge serpents as green were related to the heart chakra. To top this all off was the third time I drank Huachuma when I witnessed the naked manifestation of the red (base) and green (heart) energy all around me. The presentation of the two colours were related to a shaman's ability to heal, to the pulsing sexual energy of the jungle, and then the energy manifested in the open heart being experienced by one of the women who was in the ceremony. There were no serpents in my visions at this time, instead this incredible energy was unveiling itself. This year it was in the third Ayahuasca ceremony that the serpent energy was really felt and my visions presented it as a huge green boa that turned into a beautiful indigenous woman inside me. I then had another snake enter me and rest at the bottom of my spine. This serpent energy enveloped me as I lay on my bed after this ceremony and I felt it rise up in ceremony four that enabled me to overcome the negative thoughts I was experiencing. At the conclusion of this ceremony as I mentioned I had visions of a sexually charged woman and felt a deep inner growl. This all came to a head in the final ceremony where the rising of the serpent energy exploding into the white light of pure spirit allowed for my transformation into the jaguar. The Shipibo tapestry of the jaguar head encircled by the serpent captures this awesome feeling all too well.
Malevolent entities know we can access this power, they lust after it, and want to take it from us. They have their mind tricks, their hypnosis, and their attempts to addict us to behaviours that leave us vulnerable and open to having our access to this available power stolen. Addictions, whether physical or mental, are very nefarious. They are not rational by any means and when and if you free yourself of them you see how the hold they had on you made no sense. At this point it is instructional to engage in the addictive behaviour again if possible to see how non sensical it was to engage in this behaviour in the first place. This makes you wary then of any activities that require behaviours that seem to be addictive and hypnotic.
Friday June 24 - Day 12
We said goodbye yesterday to about two thirds of the guests. On to the second part of the journey, Huachuma, my wise grandfather spirit. We just finished the ceremonial introduction - the ceremony don Howard conducts is second to none; it is so beautiful, and so powerful. The mapacho smoked immediately afterwards is heavenly. My heart is open wide. I have the jaguar spirit flowing through my body and soul.
Saturday June 25 - Day 13
We went out on the boats after drinking the Huachuma to visit the Alamas tribe. There was a sharp uptick in visual acuity and there was a oneness with nature felt. The tribe's kids were joyful to see us and we played with them for a while.
Alamas kids playing
I felt very warm but the intoxication was mild for the most part. The evening ceremony was good, the power of the mesa was felt. The second and third mesadas promise to be more revealing once the dosage and power of the medicine is increased. I did have an insight and admonishment to stop analyzing everything. I have to remain vigilant and not allow my head/mind into this process and just have an open heart ready to receive and progress with wisdom.
Monday June 27 - Day 15
I've been here at SpiritQuest now for two weeks. You start chomping at the bit to return home and start putting into practice what you have learned and have been shown. That combined with a little homesickness makes you realize your time in the jungle is coming to a close.
Yesterday's Huachuma ceremony was all about the Mother - Mother Earth known here as Sachamama and Pachamama. And that's what it was about! The Huachuma potion was very strong this time. We went out on the boats to visit the Muruy Huitoto tribe and I felt very content on the ride over. The visual acuity granted by Huachuma once again allowed me to see the separation of the clouds in the sky in great detail. Since the water is lower at this time of year, we took a route across the Amazon river to a town which we walked through on our way to the jungle trail to connect with the indigenous tribe. The people in the town lived in abject poverty and I likened the walk to a walk of shame. It is a stark reminder of how lucky I am to have been born in Canada and into the family I grew up with. It also makes one think of reincarnation and how if you are still attached to this world and do indeed reincarnate then there's a good chance that you will re-emerge into a hell hole. It also presented me once again the idea about choice. The people here seemed happy, had smiles on their faces which was because they had chosen to accept their circumstances and just be happy. We made our way into the jungle and trekked on to see the tribe we were visiting. When we got there I sat down and felt the power of Huachuma surging through me so I closed my eyes and let it flow. Everything lit up and it felt like I could see everything as luminous patterns of energy even though my eyes were shut. The plants especially radiated a luminous neon green and in conjunction with that I felt the presence of snakes in my visions. It was now test time as my ego mind wanted to steer me towards thinking it was some kind of nature cult here controlled by the great mother. I was able to harness these thoughts and bring them to a place of love. The main thing my heart was teaching me was okay it's a cult, a cult of love and caring. My ego mind was being called out for being a trickster once again by trying to spin this oneness with nature into something forbidden. As well I realized the ego mind is misogynist by natural inclination as everything taught by the great mother and nature inherently teaches unity and love which are ideals that greatly diminish the power of the ego mind. The thought I had about the ego being the ultimate attachment really rang true. We can give up everything but not that but if you want to give up all attachments then you eventually have to come to terms with giving up the ego mind and all its judgments and selfish behaviours. At this point I joined some others for a swim in a river that was bordering this sacred space in the jungle. The river was fast flowing and very refreshing and afterwards we were treated to some songs and dancing from the tribe as well as a cultural exchange. The chief of this tribe is a woman named 'Zoila of the Selva', translated as 'I am the jungle' from the Spanish.
Zoila of the Selva
She seemed to embody Mother Nature much like don Howard embodies Grandfather Huachuma. Zoila exuded this love of plants that showed in how she was so gentle in spirit. We hiked back to the boats as the sun started going down and on this journey I felt such a connection to the Earth Mother at this point and how she had created all this for her children. I realized how selfless mothers are for their offspring and how they will put up with so much just to provide for their children. I thought of my mother and all she had done for me and our family and I felt so much love and emotion I started to cry while hiking. I promised myself to call my mom as soon as I got home and tell her I love her. Later I was walking with a woman, Maria, who had grown children and has a longing to reconnect with her family as they had drifted apart. I felt her pain as she truly just wanted a relationship with her children again, empathy not being something that is familiar to me but I felt the anguish of mothers derived from the feeling of separation with their offspring. We got back to the boats as it was getting dark and it started to rain. As we were motoring across the Amazon lightning and thunder started to illuminate the night sky. It became spectacular as the portion of the sky hit by lightning lit up through the clouds in an amazing display, infinitely more beautiful than any fireworks display I had ever witnessed. It was as if Mother Nature was the ultimate artist punctuating her creation with a bang.
We arrived back at SpiritQuest and prepared for the evening ceremony. I still felt the strength of the medicine pulsing through my veins. I went back into the maloca and felt myself become disassociated from who I was. My identity as 'Paul' was revealed as a mask that could be taken off and put aside. I could then in theory create a new identity or choose to assume another personality. Staying out of my head allowed me to lose the ability and need to define myself. I felt we are issued identity cards and the like which are attached to a picture of us in order to enforce the concept of having an identity. In truth we are capable of discarding identities easily and assuming another. Our society clearly functions on fixed identities and behaviour to the contrary is cause to be incarcerated in a mental institution. Without a sense of being this 'Paul' I no longer had any history and couldn't pin anything on my true self, all I knew was that I was a quiet person, I loved animals, especially dogs, and I had some weaknesses that when found out could be exploited, the rest is accumulated baggage. Tonight we were to do the singado, which is a mixture of macerated tobacco, huachuma, and toé mixed with an alcohol based perfume. You take this liquid in up your nose using a shell. Your membranes absorb it and you are not to swallow it. As don Howard said… this is serious, they don't mess around here. So I was one of the first to volunteer and the first group of six of us took it at the same time. As soon as the first snort hit the back of my nose the searing pain started, there was a burning sensation and I struggled to get the rest up my other nostril. The burning and pain just got worse and the mucous poured out of my nostrils and I coughed a lot more up. This feeling lasted for a long time. More went up to do it and I had to chuckle as they didn't know what they were getting into even though they saw us do it. I couldn't have described how awful it was to them, it would be much worse than words could describe. After about fifteen minutes I felt better with a moment of clarity so I stood in front of the mesa and lined up the lanzon with the stele in the background. The depiction of rising energy was very clear and then the stone idol revealed itself. The 'god' morphed into a smiling jaguar (though I'd take smiling ram as an answer as well).
I thought of the primordial creative spirit Amun of ancient Egypt. Then a serpent I clearly could see forming out of a protrusion on the idol. I thought of the feminine Wereret Hekau of ancient Egypt and how this stone idol was representing the masculine and feminine principles coming together forming the 'god', a combination of the serpent and the jaguar which don Howard displays on a Shipibo tapestry in this maloca.
I kept thinking of how this is also represented at the archaeological site Jebel Barkal at the fourth cataract on the Nile in the Sudan. It was all too interesting. The burning in my nostrils lasted quite a while as well as the waves of power from Huachuma continued unabated throughout the night. I eventually went to bed and had a fitful sleep but at least when I got up my nostrils felt somewhat normal.
It was a very insightful ceremony that was made possible by being able to stay in the heart space as much as possible. In the past I would have let my ego mind take over at some point and steer me wrong. I look forward to tomorrow's final ceremony. I feel it will be a culmination of all that has come before me in these ceremonies. This could be it for a while.
Tuesday June 28 - Day 16
It's the morning of the last Huachuma ceremony that will encapsulate the grand finale in this cycle of work. The grand finale I'm referring to is the inhalation of the Vilca snuff at the conclusion of the evening. Vilca means sacred and I feel ready to receive what Vilca will reveal to me. My gut feeling is that in order to get the maximum benefit out of the experience you must have achieved some kind of mastery over the ego mind. In this current cycle of work I feel like I have accomplished that though currently I don't believe you can ever shed it completely. I can always sense its intrusion and desire to be the first filter that all experience and thoughts go through. However I can recognize that now right away and I have been able to shut that part down and redirect all experience into the heart space and still the mind. All five Ayahuasca ceremonies presented to me the challenge to subdue the ego mind. Failing to do so in ceremony two really emphasized the need to turn off the ego mind. It was a test I needed to fail as a wake up call and challenge so that I could progress and advance further upon this path. The choices we make, and the negativity or positivity we carry, greatly affect who we are and how we behave. I have been able through plant medicines to put this into action and see the outcomes of using the ego mind versus using the heart space. The choice here is pretty obvious. After the closing ceremony tonight I'm ready to go home and put this into practice in my daily life. It is so obvious that the last attachment we are loathe to give up is ego. We cling to that one with every ounce of strength we have left. We have totally invested our sense of self and self worth into that sucker. True freedom cannot be experienced until that one last cord is cut.
Wednesday June 29 - Day 17
Wow. I feel writing about yesterday's ceremony will cheapen it in a way as a large part of it is ineffable. The heightened feelings I was experiencing were off the charts. The ceremony started in the late afternoon. While at the meeting place after drinking the Huachuma I was visualizing the Goddess animating the cosmos as a ballerina and then as a butterfly. A large butterfly then curiously appeared which many saw. We made our way up to the star deck as the sun was setting; it is situated upon a hill and it has become clear to me that this mound is what the indigenous people of South America call a huaca - a place of elemental power. I laid on my back and looked up at the sky and I could see the clouds were literally breathing and forming many different shapes, a kaleidoscopic wonder. I felt very content and as the night sky took hold the clouds magically disappeared and the stars came out in all their glory. Don Howard eventually started a ceremony around the stone idol in the centre called the lanzon. Things got magical when he placed a red beam from a flashlight upon the top of the lanzon and then activated it with mapacho smoke. He was the wizard at this point, manipulating this power that shot up into the heavens with his bells, feather, and mapacho smoke. I was in awe of what he was doing. I connect it back to last time I was in Peru and I saw this red energy present when we were visiting an indigenous tribe and I saw the shaman don Rober exuding it. Instead of being alarmed this time at the supernatural novelty, I connected it to the ultimate presentation of power available to those initiated in the shamanic arts. This is the awesome power that you symbolically choose how to use. It can be used for greed, self aggrandizement, destructive purposes, and sorcery or it can be harnessed for creativity, healing, and spiritual awareness. It's the magical life force the ancient Egyptians called the Ka. It was mainly through trust and surrender that I was able to grasp this at this time because without that I would have become very unnerved at what was transpiring. We were invited up to smoke mapacho and send a prayer up to the heavens. I lit up some jungle tobacco and dedicated my prayers to all the ancient Egyptian goddesses, especially Hathor, Isis, and Nephthys. They are all versed in the power of this red life force, Isis is especially great of magic, and they know its destructive side as personified by the malevolent male power Set. I became quite deft at elevating the tobacco smoke way up into the sky and then seeming to control it with my left hand, eliciting some oohs and awes from the crowd. When my mapacho expired, I staggered back to my mat feeling spent and then felt a tremendous surge of energy envelop my body and I was buzzing with elemental energy like I had never had before with Huachuma. I rolled off my mat onto the stone platform of the sky deck and tried to ground myself into Mother Earth as much as possible. My whole body was shaking and spasming with this awesome energy lighting me up. I had my lips on the ground at one point just trying to dissipate some of the power into the earth. I lay prone for quite a bit until don Howard instructed us to head back down and get ready to go back to the maloca. At the pinnacle of the Huachuma experience now I barely could get my shoes back on and I barely could make it down the hill - I was so woozy and intoxicated at this point. I got down to my room and the light was on, I didn't remember leaving it on, and I knew it was a test to see if I could trust and not be suspicious. I entered my room and felt very uncomfortable and nauseous with my ego mind at this point wanting to take over and send me into delusional thoughts. I allowed some negativity in but maintained some semblance of composure as it became a battle of my will and what I would ultimately choose. I went outside and paced around for a bit, wondering how I was to do the Vilca when my body was buzzing like mad with this feeling of sickness having taken hold of me. I drank some water and then finally purged over the railing with the effect of the purge being the surging energy subsiding a bit and I think I was also vomiting up psychic remnants of suspicion and ego delusion. I changed clothes and headed off to the maloca where I was informed I should grab some of the things I would need to do the Vilca as they would put me in a room closer to the maloca. As I headed back across the bridge to my room this silhouetted figure appeared to come out of nowhere on approach, which startled me. As the figure got closer I saw it was a familiar face who then walked backed with me to my room. He talked to me of having no fear. It was very surreal, like he was an actor playing a part in my drama. At this point I had let go of any fear I had and as we got to the end of the bridge he grabbed my head; I thought oh here we go, this is the dramatic conclusion to the evening, and then he kissed the side of my head and let out a primal scream to which I followed suit. It felt like some kind of test that I just passed, it was a wonderful feeling of release from any negative energy still bedevilling me. It was something I very much needed as a sign that I had overcome; it's hard to explain but it was something that seemed to be all part of some dramatic play unfolding before me. I then headed back to the maloca and prepared for the Vilca. Speaking to an attentive group of fellow travellers, don Howard talked of courage and no fear and I felt physically and psychically strong but the nausea was returning. I still vowed to do the Vilca but I needed to purge the sickness once again. We were sent to our rooms with the vomit bucket to get them prepared for after we take Vilca as it can cause another round of purging. While setting up I noticed a book by Paulo Coelho on the night stand that was very interesting. I'm pretty wary of his writings, I think he tapped into power and uses it for gain, and this particular book also struck a nerve with me. It also challenged me again on the issue of trust. I thought about some veiled power that knows all your secrets, all your fears you need to overcome, and how your ego mind works to deceive you. There are trials and challenges put forth that you must overcome to prove yourself worthy with no fear and be pure of heart and intention. I then thought about what was to come and dry heaved into the purge bucket to rid myself of any negative energy still holding me back. I felt extremely motivated to finish this cycle of work and headed back to the maloca. Once there I felt the power of the mesa and a feeling of courage and strength washed over me and I had to step up to the head of the mesa and do the Vilca now as I didn't want to wait to stand around and watch others do it and get second thoughts. I stood at the ready, looked behind me at don Howard, who did not move, so I picked up the inhaler and the powder and snorted some up my left nostril. Everything went black for a second. I then did the same for the right nostril and everything went black again. At that point don Howard got up and said I was supposed to wait. Too late! So he asked if I got two good inhales up both my nostrils to which I said yes so he told me I should go to my room. I went back and put on my sleeping mask and inserted my ear plugs then lay back on the bed on my side. I felt the Vilca intoxication come on almost immediately but in a very gradual manner. I started breathing heavily, my vision filled with geometric shapes, and I felt a lightness and swaying of my body on the bed. Then the visions propelled me towards an entrance way and I broke through a vesica piscis shaped portal bordered by diamonds and some gem stones. At this time I felt my heavy breathing soften and a pull to separate from my body. I was feeling a sensation of being lifted and propelled upwards and a further detachment from my body. My intention for the Vilca experience was to explore the shamanic worlds and my first stop was a place where I understood souls were awaiting re-birth, a lineup for reincarnation back into the material world. The device propelling me upwards at this point, kind of like a hot air balloon, stopped and descended a bit into this world where the souls were waiting their turn. I let it be known quickly that I did not want to be re-born into this world again. After an uncomfortable pause (pesky attachments as luggage weighing me down?), I was lifted up to the middle world - our world. I saw don Howard hanging out there on a ledge and I waved and smiled at him as I passed by. It came to my attention that he was an avatar sent to earth to help free souls. I continued ascending to the place that is the upper world or heaven as we like to call it and saw the souls that reside there. There was a knowing metaphorical feeling about all of this. Directly above heaven was the place curanderos and curanderas go at death and also the place where they obtain the power to heal. These healers are sent to our world by the Great Mother in order to help heal in service to her. Anytime they are sent down there is a chance they won't wake up or return which makes it a perilous journey to undertake. Then I was told I have within me the power to heal and to go ahead and enter this place and claim my power, so I did. It was explained that the red life force energy I had witnessed I had an abundance of and that's why the Huachuma activated in me makes me vibrate so intensely. I understood this as having an abundance of serpent energy. To heal I was told to hold ceremony and use mapacho smoke to activate my healing power. I was cautioned to be of service, to not be in it for personal aggrandizement, and to always give credit to the Great Mother. At this point I felt the intoxication wearing off so I blew my nose, which was full of mucous from the inhalation of the snuff, and I cleaned up a bit. I laid back on the bed in amazement for a bit, a cumulative wow, and then headed back into the maloca. I sat there as the energy continued coursing through me and then we went to eat and I still felt it going through me. Sleep was sporadic.
Today is the last full day here. I look forward to leaving tomorrow and reconnecting with my family and starting the processing phase of this journey. I am truly done with plant medicines for a while now as I really need to put into practice all I have learned and the knowledge bequeathed to me. It's a time for action. More ceremonies at this point would be just doing them for the sake of doing them. I received teachings that I have to put into practice. I made a promise to the Goddess to do so before ever coming back. I feel at peace.
I have reflected somewhat on the power to heal. The power to heal in essence would mean the ability to be a healer and it is a process that takes time and hard work. I was shown I possess the power to heal but to truly develop this I'd have to devote myself to it. Part of learning this in the Amazon is to do 'dietas' with different plants to learn their power songs that heal. On average the dietas are about a month long per plant and involve isolation and abstinence - in other words to be of service on this level takes a great commitment. It was made clear by Ayahuasca that's not for me right now, I need to take care of my family. When the time comes I'll go do it. Upon further reflection it is even more clear the Amazon doesn't need another healer; it's humanity that needs a healer and not a physical healer but a healer of the heart. I expect this understanding to unfold more coherently over the coming months. The plant medicines constantly amaze me in how they conduct classes in continuing education in the months to follow after returning home from the one on one seminars with them.
The plant medicines will make you confront your demons and that is a very difficult thing to do and not run from. In terms of metaphysical speculations I always stress that it has to be experiential. I have gotten out of it certain beliefs but in no way do I want anyone to take my word for that, make up your own mind after you experience it. If you want to know then go seek out the answers yourself. The Ayahuasca ceremonies are definitely a progression and they build off of each other. That goes for the seven previous ceremonies I participated in so in a way it is continuing education. It also has this feeling of being sent home to work on things and coming back to write the exam. Same goes for Huachuma and these ceremonies connect with the Ayahuasca ceremonies. The pivotal moment of my time here was during the third Ayahuasca ceremony when the darkness was overwhelming me once again and I had this resolve and remembered all I had been taught. I quieted my mind. I became the observer and started snapping my fingers when my mind tried to latch on to a thought. I just observed the darkness and then it eventually dissipated. That's when I started feeling psychically strong and then the chocolate float appeared and a little girl offering me a heart. Then I saw Ganesha. At that point I became aware of my strength and power over all the dark forces. It all led to becoming the jaguar in the fifth ceremony. The jaguar is the symbol of the masculine wise warrior light spirit. I kept seeing it in don Howard. It's within me, supported by serpent heart based energy. When I mentioned earlier that I felt like Ayahuasca was preparing me after ceremony three to meet the masculine divine spirit it was a feeling that definitely foreshadowed the appearance of the jaguar in ceremony five. Upon reflection, the jaguar at that point symbolized the grandfather spirit I had been seeking and when I became the jaguar it confirmed what I had long intuited, that we possess within the divine, we are at essence the children of these two creative powers. When I now see the tapestry of the jaguar head surrounded by the serpent that is so iconic to my experience at SpiritQuest I knowingly think of this inner perceptive conception of the godhead, the union of the masculine and feminine. The spirit of the ancient civilization of Chavín de Huantar, the smiling jaguar surrounded by the serpents, elicits the same deep knowing within my soul.
In conclusion it is clear the time I spent at SpiritQuest this year was exactly how it was supposed to be. I'm not the same entity I was three years ago when a very naive version of me headed down to Peru for the first time. It's the end of the chapter of my life that sought out answers and wished to free myself of the darkness that plagued me. I am so strong now and am amazed in the changes within me over the course of the last three years. I am forever grateful for the knowledge and wisdom shown to me by the plant teachers with the help of the shamans. I fully realize I am not perfect and many challenges lie in wait on the road ahead. In some respects I would not be surprised if things get very difficult for me to integrate all I have learned into my everyday life. The ultimate attachment is ego and a deep respect to those who have had to overcome so much. When the ego is unmasked and called out for its behaviour, to the extent that though it may still play a part in your life you can easily step back and rectify its pernicious influence, what becomes the motivation or should I say what is my next challenge as I continue on this path? It is about Love and teaching others this path of liberation. Healing through Love.