The alkaloid nicotine found in the tobacco plant is used as a pesticide against herbivores. The shamans of the Upper Amazon tell us plants love tobacco smoke and tobacco can be used as a reciprocal offering when harvesting medicinal plants. These shamans don't have a scientific practice as far as I can ascertain, yet they know plants love tobacco smoke and will readily accept tobacco as an offering. Furthermore, prior to an Ayahuasca ceremony a competent shaman will build an arkana (magical fortress) around the ceremonial circle using mapacho (jungle tobacco) smoke for protection and also give each participant a personal icaro arkana (an icaro is a magical song learned from doing rigorous dieting with the plant) and a mapacho soplando, which is the blowing of the smoke over the participant. I figured these were rituals all used to keep 'evil' spirits away. What is going on here? In the 'physical' realm, which correlates with the shamanic middle world, tobacco smoke repels insects that prey upon plants and from a 'spiritual' standpoint the mapacho smoke repulses the parasitic entities of the etheric worlds that try to attach to our 'double’, which is the energetic body. I can't footnote or reference this information because the spirit of tobacco taught me this and without experience with plant medicines this is admittedly difficult to fathom and accept. However if you can let go of western paradigms and prejudices, in conjunction with acceptance of what is experienced in a plant medicine ceremony, this becomes fully plausible.
A few weeks ago my intuition suggested my tobacco education was going to move on to the next level. I received such a feeling because I had developed some kind of plateau or tolerance and I was experiencing a pleasurable smoke instead of the head rush followed by a clearing of the mind and a state of bliss that would last for ten minutes or so when smoking mapacho in the evening. I am of the curious sort so there must have been an expectation that I'd start experimenting with different methods of administration. I've been reading the book 'Tobacco and Shamanism in South America'
which reads like a textbook documenting the different tribes and how they use the plant, especially in a shamanic context. This gave me ideas on tobacco's power and how its sacred use was approached. So I started experimenting with different methods of inhalation. At the start of the week as I basically intoxicated myself with nicotine at a greater level I noticed this peculiar sensation of arousal. At first it would be sexual and then move on to the rest of my senses. Previously I had found the smoke to be very relaxing and I would want to lie down afterwards which was perfect to do before bedtime. I had not found it sexually arousing though I had wondered why I would wake up every night with an erection, which I did curiously note. Anyway I did this for a few nights but I figured I could go further with it so one night I tried rapidly puffing and then pausing with the smoke in my mouth for a while then releasing it. This method caused an immediate stirring in my loins and then a lightness and body weakness and the familiar head rush. This all took me a bit by surprise because it was pretty intense and I forgot to turn off my mind so I was bouncing around different ideas and acting almost like I was drunk. After I reigned all that nonsense in I returned to the heart space and remembered something of great importance. When I have drank Ayahuasca it has at times felt very erotic and occasionally the visions have become sexually charged. I then remembered about serpent power and how I had been given its secret and knew it could be used positively for sexual, health related, or spiritual power as well as a potential for misuse. It all then added up. The mapacho upon onset stirs what the Hindus call the kundalini power and the base level of that energetic force presents upon onset physically as sexual stimulation. It's funny, I already knew that but it took me a few tries to connect the dots with the sacred use of tobacco. What I am also thankful for is this knowledge that I have a choice in how I wish to use the power. Without this understanding I'd have figured I'd discovered an aphrodisiac! What I experienced my last trip to the Amazon was using this power to make your consciousness rise and it's how I became a jaguar. In the eastern tradition you may envision it as the feminine shakti power rising up the spinal column lighting up all chakras of your ethereal body until you are a fully realized spiritual entity.
So now my late evenings will be spent channeling the stirring of this energy into raising my level of consciousness. This realization took nine months from the time I returned from Peru last year to start my latest integration. I remember the first time I went down it took about the exact same time to the point where I felt strong and in control once again after my severe beat down. I find what is called the integration period after a cycle of work with the master plant medicines utterly fascinating, a continuing education of sorts and sometimes the lessons are hard and failure is part of the curriculum. But it is so rewarding. My deepest respect to my teachers - spirit, human, plant, and animal. In terms of understanding serpent power in my own experience I can also describe this power as 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 which 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 the visions at this time to be the direct result of this serpent energy and 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.
I should also caution that by just smoking strong tobacco you are not going to achieve some epiphany of an available surging power within. I have spent ten years on this path of discovery and the last four years working with plant medicines and I am amazed at what I have discovered and I kind of feel it is a little bit accelerated due to my knowledge and understanding of ancient Egyptian mythology as well as an ability to make connections across different disciplines and cultures plus I have a treasured relationship with the Great Goddess. I also will warn that this wisdom is not easily accessible. There is a dragon on the path and other pitfalls that will steer you away from the unveiling. It's a challenge and I'm not sure many succeed on this journey. I experienced much failure but always got back up and eventually moved forwards. In a way I am hesitant of revealing this information however I do understand most will have no clue about what I am talking about and to get to a point where you know what I am talking about is a hard journey forward.
As an aside, an example of my continuing education with plant medicines is when a month ago I was in the woods smoking and I was pondering my direct experiences which I try to put an emphasis on. You can read and hear about others' experiences and thoughts but they remain just that so I think we should honour what we directly experience however accepted or not accepted by others. What I was pondering was my experience with the three worlds - lower, middle, and upper - which I experienced when I separated and floated away from my body after the inhalation of Vilca snuff. In each world I retained a sense of self though it was separate from the body. It's leading me to believe the self reflective consciousness that gives us a sense of some kind of autonomous self will remain upon bodily death and will remain as long as we remain in this dualistic cycle governed by the illusion of time, possibly to do more work or help others. It also helps clarify my experiencing of entities outside of a physical body. I was curious as to why we can sense these 'ghost' types when consciousness is perturbed if upon bodily death we return to the all and lose the sense of self. In essence we are each fundamentally the all which is of course what some major eastern teachings expound and this thinking entails all or nothing and no in between states upon bodily dissolution and liberation of consciousness but I am sensing there is self reflective consciousness in these in-between states and this explains why shamans will tell you these entities you meet are the ancestors and it personally explains my interactions with various spirits. And I believe it boils down to choice upon liberation from the body as long you haven't given away the ability to make that choice or have had some agent of a trickster convince you that you were part of some covenant or cult and have a debt to pay for your life. Where we are now is self reflective consciousness in a physical vehicle, the I Am paradigm, and if we choose we can fold back into the all and become part of the all once again but in the process lose the ability to know self without the mirror illusion construct we currently find ourself in.
Curious thing this serpent power is. It is erotically charged and being in a corporeal body that is a challenge difficult to master. Even in its latency the power must to a degree somehow influence the sex drive. I've always throughout my post pubescent life felt a rhythm to its coming and going, though I had no idea what it was, and at its peak found it uncontrollable, with a need to be satiated. I ceded control of it at some point to the darkness and along with that I started associating the sex drive with deviancy and attaching a negative connotation to it which corresponds with the prudish attitudes and mores of western civilization. The result of over thirty years struggle with this aspect of its power led finally to a mastery of its cycle and a period of celibacy in order to reclaim control. On the other hand, my journeys with plant medicines have tended to have an erotic aspect to them. My relationship with the Goddess is multi-faceted but the underlying aspect of it is an intense erotic attraction between us. With Ayahuasca she manifests as a beautiful seductive woman as well as charged whirling energy. My most recent experiences with the incredible plant medicines Ayahuasca and Huachuma revealed to me this power as serpent power and when I was struggling in these sacred ceremonies I discovered I could raise the level of my consciousness and become invincible by accessing this power. It is how I became the jaguar. I believe this is the power referred to by shamans as being able to access and then being human we succumb to temptation once discovered and start using it for personal gain. It has never been my intention nor my desire to enrich myself from the acquisition of this power. I am eternally grateful and thankful to the Great Goddess to ever allow my intentions to become selfish. I have been through enough to ever want to enter back into the quagmire of self aggrandizement and darkness.
I was walking in the woods yesterday with my dog when the antiquity of this power hit me. The biggest mystery of ancient Egypt - Osiris lying on a bier flanked by the two goddesses Isis and Nephthys and sporting a large erection.
The gross reading of this curious story reveals the two goddesses, Isis and Nephthys, searched Egypt for the scattered remains of Osiris who had been dismembered by his brother Set. When they reconstituted him and made him hale, Isis was able to procreate with him and become impregnated by his seed. This led to the birth of Horus and is the exoteric understanding of the myth. Underlying this understanding however, once you know, is the energy of the serpent. When this energy is stirred within, its onset is sexually charged. There is a stirring in your loins and as I have mentioned smoking mapacho activates this power and I am at the point when I basically intoxicate myself with the plant the power is centred at first in my genitals as arousal. From there I know I have to become heart centred and allow the power to rise. Looking at the Egyptian mystery there is the raising of the djed pillar, which is the raising up of Osiris with some kind of magical power.
raising the djed pillar
Osiris wears the white crown which is the expression of this power being fully realized in the crown chakra. It's becoming Osiris. The realization of this power is depicted as the twin serpent sisters who rouse this energy within Osiris who had been murdered by his brother. Osiris is the eternal light that has embedded itself within human consciousness and then is left for dead after being assaulted by the darkness represented by Set. The depiction in art of the power enveloping Osiris is revealing only some of its awesome power. The full effect is left for mystery and those who know.
Another curious artifact from ancient Egypt are the caducei carried by the wisdom god Thoth which each have a serpent entwined on them.
Thoth with his wisdom caducei
The two serpents are representing the sisters Wadjet and Nekhebet who are serpentine forms of Isis and Nephthys. This is curious and leads me to believe Thoth as the god of wisdom is given his wise power by the serpents. Furthermore the two staffs he carries could possibly be phallic in symbolism. I speculate this is the case because his Greek counterpart, Hermes, has curious monuments to him distributed throughout Greece as phallic objects called ‘Herms’. The upshot of all this is the attainment of wisdom is through serpent power which reveals itself at first as sexual power that causes erection in the male! This gives new meaning to the healing rod of Asclepius, which is serpent entwined, when you think about it.
rod of Asclepius
The power to heal is the same power which is the impetus behind erection. This all leads back to my understanding of the serpent power being able to be used for sexual potency, health and vigour, and spiritual ascendency as well as being misused for personal gain. There is a strong sense of virility attached to this power being that it causes arousal upon activation. I am also reminded of the ancient Egyptian Sed festival whereby the Pharaoh had to prove he still had the strength to rule over the land and maintain possession of the double crown. Wadjet and Nekhebet would watch over the renewal of the Pharaoh's power and the ceremony would conclude with the raising of the djed pillar. As well, preserved in the tomb of an official of Pharaoh Amenhotep's court is this curious deference to the Great Goddess of Egypt Hathor in her serpentine form as being the provider of the power Amenhotep uses to rule.
Over the dancers and musicians in the lower register is a powerful invocation to the starry snake goddess of the night, Hathor 'Gold', whom they call on to rise and be propitiated through the dances they perform in her honour. But they dance not only for this beneficent queen of the night, shining in her fiery brilliance, but also for Amenhotep who has great need of her power. In their chant to the goddess they implore her to take him to the east of the sky, to the place where at dawn, 'the doors of the sky open and a god goes forth pure'. And this is what they sing:
Make jubilation for Gold
and sweet pleasure for
The Lady of the Two Lands,
that she may cause
Nebmaatre [Amenhotep], given life,
to be enduring.
Come, rise. Come
that I may make
Jubilation at twilight for you
And music in the evening.
O Hathor, you are exalted
In the hair of Re, in the hair of Re,
For to you has been given
The sky, deep night and the stars…
Hathor Rising, The Power of the Goddess in Ancient Egypt, Alison Roberts, pages 26-27
Serpent power is the mystery of the mysteries. It is so mysterious that when you have your first realization of it you deny it and are culturally taken aback by its presence. Western baggage and a religious heritage that denigrates the sacred feminine and the serpent will do that to you. For myself, there were erotically charged Ayahuasca sessions but I sensed no connection to the serpent. When I re-examine my second ceremony a few years back when I was transported to this city of gold where there were all these men gathered outside the castle where the Goddess resided, I realize now the erotic power of the serpent was manifesting at that point. When I looked around in my vision I noticed this crazy erotic vibe and many masturbating men not being able to control themselves in the presence of this power. I ascended the stairs to the castle entrance and the doorman told me no one gets in to see the Goddess. I looked to my right and saw her at the window and then I was allowed in to see her and what followed was an interesting sexual rendezvous and conjoining of our hearts. Later on in that cycle of work during the final Ayahuasca ceremony 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 the aforementioned book by the Egyptologist Alison Roberts.
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 second Huachuma ceremony I participated in is when I had a grand vision of the two huge serpents surrounding a magical light. Others were asking me what I was feeling and I remember saying 'serpent power' to which they looked at me in astonishment. I was puzzled too! Later on that evening when I was showering I looked down and saw serpents forming in the water. The next ceremony I remember feeling so much sexual energy being in the jungle and this overwhelming feeling of life and death. 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. At this point this energy was a bit disconcerting; I'd connected with it but I didn't quite know what it was. My last trip to Peru the third Ayahuasca ceremony was very serpent charged as at the conclusion of the ceremony I had a vision of a large green boa entering into me and settling on my left arm after she had transformed into a beautiful indigenous woman. Then another smaller serpent entered into me through my mouth and settled at the base of my spine and later that night while resting on the bed this serpentine energy coursed through me in an undulating rhythm. Further ceremonies I used this power to dispel the darkness and make my consciousness rise. I felt this power stirring at the conclusion of the fourth ceremony which was very erotically charged, in essence this power manifesting as an erotic woman and looking back I can see now how this power has constantly presented itself to me in the form of erotically charged scenarios. In the final ceremony it fuelled my transformation into the jaguar after I was assaulted by the darkness. I know fear had to be conquered before I sensed this mystery. It’s a confluence of cultures I have sensed in ancient traditions familiar with the serpent - Amazonian, Egyptian, and Hindu - applied to my own experiential mode of discovery. I know fully now what the mystery is, what the power is, and I know I have lots within. My intentions are pure and this next chapter is just beginning.