Monday, March 30, 2020

heaven or hell

Huachuma is a gift of divine grace. To go further into this statement is to say that when you learn to work with the medicine then you realize that to receive the gift is to approach life heart forward. I did listen to the plants and they taught me about heaven and hell in relationship to being in the heart and being in the head. Huachuma means removal of the head and when you lead with the heart then the beauty in the world is front and centre. The relationships you cultivate with other sentient beings and the natural world becomes charged and in some instances ecstatic. The grace comes from realizing this and harmonizing your energy field with another's energy field whether that is human, animal, plant, or mineral. The transactional exchange from this joining opens up a whole new world for you to explore. We make our world and there is magic. There is so much more to this life than what we normally perceive. The harmonization of energy fields is extraordinary to experience; beyond anything I ever imagined.

In addition to learning how to work with the medicine in the heart space comes the epiphany. It is the channeling of the supernatural which has happened enough now that I feel and recognize when it comes. I realize that to write about this may lead to raised eyebrows and others wondering who do I think I am, if not flat out wondering if I’m crazy. I’ll accept that but I’d be disingenuous if I did not write about these peculiar experiences I have while altering my consciousness. Huachuma envelops me and alters my frequency to such an extent I vibrate into a consciousness that goes beyond the ordinary confines of this reality. If it was a one off occurrence I’d question the whole trip and chalk it up to an experience that was different that I’d like to do again but am not sure I could. With Huachuma I know I can get into this state with a few prerequisites that involve a large enough dose and a particular set and setting.

This particular trip to Peru was a whole new consistent and elevated experience while drinking Huachuma. In total I participated in six ceremonies: two in the jungle based at SpiritQuest and then four in the Andes mountains around the towns of Chavín and Huaraz. My work on acceptance of myself during the four Ayahuasca ceremonies preceding were the most important events leading up to my experience with Huachuma this time around. The acceptance of the light and the dark all as me and me alone allowed me to throw off the chains of culture and any shame or misgivings I had towards my passions and desires that animate my existence. To not send them away repeatedly allowed me to explore them, to be honest, and play with them. Instead of suppressing them and then having them transform into bursts of pent up and uncontrollable energy that is the norm for myself and the world condition, I saw that the key to a healthy relationship with your dark side is to acknowledge, express, and release the energy before it transforms into an uncontrollable darkness and rage. Stomping upon desire ferments it and it comes back stronger. Ignoring it maximizes its potency and when the lid on the pot blows it is uncontrollable.

This blog post will cover my time in the jungle at SpiritQuest drinking Huachuma. I’m going to be honest about what I experienced so with that in mind approach this with an open mind before passing judgment on my sanity and depravity.

Day 11, Sunday February 23rd

The first Huachuma mesada is today, led by don Howard’s daughter Selva. I go into it leaving all expectations behind and my main intention is to explore the mental reality of creation and its relationship to dreams. My contention is that we are living in the dream of a higher being that is exploring their psyche through the universe they have dreamt into existence and this dream world is an extension of the cosmic dreamer attempting to self-reflect. Similarly we dream in order to look into our psyche. I’m going to explore this through the power within Huachuma to take me into the aspects of the dreaming mind with the aid of my ally Mapacho.

The Huachuma mesadas here at SpiritQuest are the best kept secret on planet earth. Experiencing the power of Huachuma once again leaves me in awe and perplexed at how something so heart opening that brings on continued exclamations of “this is the best day of my life” has not gone viral.

The sheer mastery of the mesa and command today of the water mesada by Selva was the stuff of legend. Parker told me she was extraordinary but I think he undersold her. This stunningly beautiful goddess in the don Howard tradition of the Mesada Norte stares you down in preparation for your turn to drink the medicine with a searing gaze that is backed by the power of 10,000 suns. The mastery of the rhythms of the Huachuma bells and feathers is next level as your consciousness alters. I felt so light as to start levitating at the head of the mesa prior to drinking the cup.

Before heading up to the mesa Selva reminded me to get out of my head and into my heart as she correctly intuited I hadn’t quieted the mind sufficiently. It had been almost two and a half years since I drank Huachuma and the taste was a great deal better than I remember it; a little syrupy but I had no problem downing the full cup. Within a half hour the effects came on strong and I knew it was going to be a powerful day working with the medicine. We headed out on the boats to visit a local tribe and I sang my heart out on the boat, fully embracing the heart opening aspects of Huachuma and the energy engulfed me as we arrived at the home of the Alamas tribe. The walk to their maloca got the energy fully moving and it continued as a group of us continued along a path through the local town. We stopped for some contraband, a man on a bike selling frozen fruit you eat like a popsicle, which was a piece of heaven for us that had been on a strict Ayahuasca dieta for over a week now.

Not wanting to litter and also share my bounty, I gave away half the popsicle to a young tribal boy along the path as our small group laughed and enjoyed each others' company during this time of social interaction that had been amplified by the synergistic qualities of Huachuma. As we arrived back in their maloca, the energy came on in full force as I ceased moving about and just felt the presence of Huachumita. I closed my eyes and felt the creeping tendrils of various vines and plants encase me. I have felt this before and now with experience I knew first off to recognize this when it comes and embrace this sacred epiphany of the coming god and my transformation into being a conduit for this energy. My body was heating up and I felt an electrical warmth pulsing within that terminated at my extremities. Arcing energy I could feel emanating from my finger tips.

Based upon my sum total of experiences, I finally connected all the dots. This is the god called Dionysos coming on from my depths enveloping me and I am becoming him. I confirmed this by starting to see representations of the god in patterns of the dirt which were unmistakably the liberator. I felt the need to let go of who I think I am and just accept who I am and once I did this a feeling of liberation washed over me. I sat down and felt the pure energy just totally engulf me. It grew stronger around my heart and started to flutter and buzz like I have felt once before when I had visions of serpents and this incredible and glorious light the second time I had ever drank Huachuma and at the time I was freaked out by it. This time I fully recognized it as a more sustained and pronounced kundalini energy being sourced from my heart chakra. I held out my hand for this woman beside me to touch and hold and she felt it surging and was so taken aback by this she point blank asked me if I was god. Ha ha I said you now know my secret! It was all so strange because I had felt the coming of the god Dionysos just a few moments before. The energy continued to course through me and I got up and walked around the centre of the maloca with her to try and dissipate some of the energy. I ended up sitting down between Parker and a staff member Augusta who has amazing Pachamama energy in order to try and ground myself. I walked around some more until I found Selva and I held out my hand for her so she could feel my energy and she smiled at me as her energy was in alignment with mine. She looked into my eyes and said “You look so good right now.”

Something strong and powerful was going on letting me know there is a next level to this medicine which is otherworldly that I was confirming in this first ceremony and was now something I could channel whenever I drink Huachuma. I envisioned refining this energy into a pure and controllable amount that defined the majestic and graceful sweeping movements of the butterfly. That is perfection come alive.

The boat ride back to SpiritQuest was a leisurely cruise that added to the whole living a lifetime in a day vibe.

Back at the sanctuary a shower felt so good and gave me a reprieve from the coursing serpent energy. We went up to the Star Deck and I immediately found don Howard in the night time sky as the brightest object in the heavens. The last time I saw him in November of 2017 I told him as I departed that the next time I see him it will be as the brightest shining object in the sky. As prophesied it all happened at that very moment. So surreal. I had a good ten minute talk with him. He is ecstatic not having a body and so proud of his daughter and Parker. I told him to save some of his wisdom and guidance for when I join him in the heavens. I remembered him saying at one time in reference to his deteriorating condition, “where do you think I’m going brother?” The answer was shockingly simple. The stars were electric, the Pleiades that house the smiling jaguar were 3D extruded, and I felt don Howard had cleared out a patch of sky to give us a celestial show. Selva and Parker then put on a performance for everyone around the Lanzon that was another tour de force in this magical evening. The mastery of sound and smoke was breathtaking and I felt my consciousness lifted up once again. We returned to the maloca and gathered around the mesa taking turns at the head of the mesa. Trance music was playing and I was deep into it. I was first up at the head of the axis mundi and felt the power of the mesa and projected that power. I entered beast mode and just emanated this freedom to be me. Fuck I’m so powerful! As I moved around the mesa I got into the rhythms of the music being played and stayed in my heart having a glorious time. We then retired to the dining maloca at 10pm for a feast. What a ceremony! We talked until 1am and then Parker and I went back to the Huachuma maloca to further de-energize and soak up as much of the experience as possible. Parker asked me about the experience and I explained it was mind blowing. The energy was off the charts the whole day and Selva is truly the Queen of the Jungle! She’s been doing this how long? I ended up in bed around 2am but didn’t sleep at all; instead I just let the energy flow and dissipate. It was truly an ineffable experience and just the first in a memorable sequence of Huachuma lifetimes in a day.

The energy the whole day and night was so tangibly present and becoming a conduit for it actually leads into my intention of exploring the energy that powers creation through mentation. I hardly had a thought in my head the whole day and was just in the body and heart with this ridiculous energy the whole time. This energy had sexual overtones but wasn’t overt at this time. I know there’s an element of lust that makes up this energy that powers all and I’m constantly aware of the sexual nature of existence especially in the jungle setting where it is pretty much in your face all the time as you can’t miss the continuous cycle of creation and destruction ever present on an accelerated basis as compared to my normal environment which is very seasonal. There was something present in the energy that felt like home. I understood it to be me but just on an attenuated scale that was potentiated by the medicine in combination with factors such as set and setting. I felt so liberated to finally express who I truly am after a lifetime of holding it in and I felt I no longer had to hide behind a persona I had crafted to avert the gaze of society. I felt this freedom to just embrace myself and live a life in accordance to my true self.

The couple of times I did enter into my mind I quickly came out of it and any delusions did not get far. That seems to be a pattern with Huachuma where if I think then it leads to delusion. The key is to be present and drink in all that is here now. It goes back to the meaning of the word Huachuma as removal of the head. From this insight I started receiving answers to questions I had posed seeking knowledge and guidance. The way to stay high and in a state of bliss is to lead with the heart and be yourself. Every time you enter into the head, start thinking, and let culture dictate who you are then you come down. As a corollary to this being in the heart space allows you to realize heaven on earth. Thinking, analyzing, projecting, and spinning thoughts in the mind will take you to hell. It’s all your choice.

Huachuma has been described as living a lifetime in a day or as the longest shortest day of your life. The lessons and moments of unfathomable bliss do indeed favour those assessments. It occurred to me that writing about the experience is akin to writing an autobiography. Not only that but it is a template for the rest of the story of your life. Huachuma gives you a taste of how you want to write the autobiography from here on in. It’s a priceless gift and like I said a gift of divine grace.

Day 12, Monday February 24th

I’m starting to reflect on this journey as I hit the halfway point of my sojourn. The message that is getting through to me the most is if you want to be happy then be yourself. I have realized that to be liberated is to throw off the shackles of culture and conformity and just be true to who you are. Expectations of role and function crush your soul and essence. Why do I have to be what somebody else or society wants me to be?

Another message has been about the mind. My mind has always been my go to and consequently my master. I have always listened to and trusted my mind and it leads me down the path of conformity and success. That’s not what I want though. I want to be happy and just naturally high. I realized finally that I feel awkward and self-conscious when I engage the mind. To find liberation from this nonsense is to live through the heart and not dwell so much in the mind. Turn the mind into a trusted servant but not the conductor of the human experience. To be in bliss is to not think.

The path to this realization is difficult because we believe that the answers will be delivered by the mind and its engagement with other minds. How preposterous is that? You are going to use your mind to find liberation from your mind? Seriously, that is never going to happen. I’m telling you if you want to live in bliss become a simpleton. Leave your mind at work and live happily at home in your heart.

Ram Dass tells a story about his guru Maharaji who kept a journal and wrote two pages in it everyday. When Maharaji passed away a trusted confidant was given his journal and Ram Dass asked to see it. Written everyday were two pages of “ram, ram, ram, ram, ram…” and so on. As well Ram Dass would relate that Maharaji would sit with his blanket and his counting beads just mumbling to himself, “ram, ram, ram, ram, ram…” all day long. I figured this was devotional. Maharaji was in a perpetual state of bliss and just naturally high. How’d he do it? He assigned his mind a never-ending task. The mind loves tasks and can’t refuse the challenge. So off to work the mind went and Maharaji, no longer a servant to that mind, lived in his heart in a perpetual state of bliss.

Day 13, Tuesday February 25th

Setting intentions today is to become a simpleton. Removal of the head and to live from the heart space is paramount. Also I intend to soak up the beauty of the jungle and to absorb its rhythms. There’s no need to think but to show gratitude. As always my offering is to be of service and help others find the liberation they seek.

To fully explain the experience of this blessed day I’d need to bottle it up and just share it because it is pure feelings and not words.

We started the ceremony at high noon and my intuition suggested I’d be one of the first to drink instead of the last. And so it was; score one for my gut feelings. The god came on strong and I knew I’d be in for another wild ride. I was well into the medicine at the conclusion of the the opening ceremony. I went back to my room for a brief period and jotted a few things down which in their raw form are pretty revealing of what I was feeling.

“I don’t think it matters anymore what day it is.”
“The ceremony: smouldering!”
“Here comes Dionysos."
“Live in the head, it’s hell.”
“Live in the heart, it’s heaven.”

On the boats heading off to the main Amazon river to visit the Murui Huitoto tribe I was so into the medicine and as high as the clouds. I was flooded with two sayings that summed up my bliss of forgetting who I was and how I was expected to act:

“Kill yourself in order to live.”
“The pious can go to hell.”

My intention revolved around learning now to stay in that high and loving state all the time. I sure got that answer and more all laid out for me. When I drank in the beauty of nature, of friendship, of the awareness of the wonderful world around me I was drunk in that state of bliss. When I engaged the mind at all it was clear that was the hell world. My thoughts went dark, I came down, I worried about the future, I wondered if I had the strength to complete this journey and so on. It was very unsettling. It was clear that it was a choice whether to live in hell or heaven and not even all that difficult a choice. Hey you! Give your mind a rest. The old “Be Here Now” choice; just live in awareness without spinning any thoughts or ideas.

The boat ride did not disappoint but then again when has it ever?

What a privilege to be able to partake of this experience and to do this multiple times. How does humanity not know about this? Why do we live lives of strife and separation when this is available? To open your heart and have this love and connection for everything is it. To feel, I mean really feel. This experience of life doesn’t get any better than this moment. How could you disparage and trivialize this experience? This is what, as feeling human beings, it is all about. Don’t you want to be flooded with love and feel what it's like to live in that state? The scenery was popping and I could see the face of the god everywhere in the trees. I put on my headphones and started listening to my Huachuma playlist. I had previously left off on a track called ‘Warrior’ by Anilah. Immediately I heard the line “Reasoning lets go” and I was reminded of don Howard being fond of saying there are no coincidences. In order to see the beauty, unity, and feel the love yes reasoning has to let go! I so love this world and this experience with Huachumita! We hit the open water of the massive Amazon river and the clouds came alive. The face of Dionysos formed in the clouds and then a part of the song belted out the line, “Warriors live gracefully” as eagles soared above in the sky, majestically gliding about as if part of a celestial army. We passed by some oil wells and I felt sorry for those dedicated to money and greed and thus entrapped in the hell world. I then saw a cloud in the shape of a bull as the god and so I flashed a bull’s sign with my two outer fingers representing the horns of the bull.

The idea of play came and just living for the moment formed with the idea that “you have to kill yourself in order to live” denoting that the persona you created has to go and you have to be true to your real self in order to be happy and live. This tied in with my Ayahuasca journeys where it was repeatedly revealed to me that my obfuscated dark side and desires are an essential part of the real me. Then I had the realization that those stuck in the predicament of creating a pious persona on some kind of a spiritual mission are really in a self-created righteous and judgmental hell and I came up with the line, “the pious can go to hell” which I thought was pretty funny. The god has enveloped me and he taught me about liberation, following your passions, living in the heart space, and loving all. I realized that all the world that lives in the mind created hell would be aghast at this advice and would call this hedonism and demonic. However it is the path to happiness and heaven on earth.

Feel the ecstasy. Give yourself up to wild abandon. Find connection with others instead of reasons to stay isolated.

The walk through the streets of the Amazonian town we had docked at and on through the jungle became the lesson today of living in the head space to which I struggled with for a while but it was a worthwhile lesson because it amped up how living mind first is fucking hell. It brings you crashing down from your high and I wanted to tell everyone to stop thinking so much; get out of the self-imposed hell world and through this you will always find your way back home and bliss. I knew Huachumita was as strong as ever because I started noticing shapes coming alive in the sidewalks and then figures forming in the dirt.

We reached the Murui Huitoto’s enchanted stream and within no time a bunch of us were in the water enjoying its cooling caress. It was a return to the Garden of Eden as I floated on my back and looked up into the trees and sky and saw a beautiful sight while many butterflies came within view, riding the wind almost on cue to celebrate that I had found the key to heaven.

The heat and intensity of the medicine was taken down by the coolness of the water however I still felt the waves of its powerful energy engulf me. Let me try to explain this energy: I’d close my eyes and intense waves of pleasure and lust would take me over and my feelings were inundated with extreme passion. Serpents filled my inner visions, lighting up in different colours as the rising kundalini serpent power penetrated all my chakras. This particular red colour filled my vision; it was a red I’d seen in Ayahuasca visions that was related to the sexual energy of the Goddess. This red was pulsing and I felt it within my whole body; thankful for being in the water so that I could experience it without melting down. It was like the energy pulsing within me had found a match and this created a harmonization I experienced as pure lust. I have been taken aback before by this energy not knowing what to think of it. This time however I just went with it and enjoyed the sensations. It’s all part of the process of acceptance and realizing this power I have within and it confirmed what I had suspected for a long time. At one point while just experiencing this raw energy I believed I could go underwater and not have to breathe for a while because the energy in my blood was so strong.

We had a cultural exchange with the tribe and then headed back to the boats.

The boat ride was pretty special as I comforted a woman having a tough time with the medicine as I remembered and fulfilled my promise to be of service. Later when the stars came out in the clear sky they were majestic and legendary in their grandeur. Two things that always wow me without fail in the Huachuma ecstasy are music and the night time sky. Back at the maloca, Selva prepared a three stage singado: for medicine, love, and protection which involves insufflation of a liquid preparation of Huachuma, Mapacho, Misha, and perfume which is always a tough ceremony, especially for first timers. Everyone got through the three rounds of it which was mighty impressive and something I’d never seen before. We then gathered around the mesa and blew into different pututus while taking turns at the axis mundi with a belt of stones representing unconditional love to light up the seven chakras.

We all blew our hearts out into those musical shells in support of a long life for the person at the head of the mesa. It was a ceremony that once again forged us all into such a tightly knit group. We feasted once again and then went up to the Star Deck to stargaze well late into the night. The spectacular display of stars were so clear and present in the sky while the planets were all ringed like Saturn. I soaked up as much of the energy as I could.

This ceremony felt like the culmination of tantric teachings where I learned when you get into the heart space and harmonize with all the energies in creation you feel a special connection and this is expressed in the passion and lust that all coalesces at one time. It felt like I was making love to nature.

We as thinking human beings vacillate between heaven and hell which I learned is a choice and what Huachuma does as a teacher is it amplifies the state you choose and it continually presents it to you. If you live within your head it is going to take you to hell by increasing negative thoughts, paranoia, and suspicion. All the crap that is going on in the world is going to be accentuated until you either freak out over It or maybe at some point you will realize it’s nuts to think this way and thus learn to not engage the mind as the first go to when you are presented with something that is troubling or something you have to move past.  In addition you are challenged with not immediately going to the worst case scenario or thinking of motives for why you are in a particular situation. The other choice you have is to live within your heart and see the beauty in the world, the beauty in other people, and how we are all connected through this thread of love even though we bury it and don’t see it. All this instead of living these lives of separation which fosters and cultivates this us versus them attitude. When you approach things from the heart you create heaven on earth and it’s the greatest gift that Huachuma gives to those who can navigate and choose to live within the heart. The power of Huachuma as a teacher is the choice always remains yours; it doesn’t force any state upon you. You are not going to drink Huachuma and immediately get there; it’s something that you get hit with over and over again. At times it can be like a gentle feather or at other times it is the school of hard knocks where you are constantly tested. Before you catch onto the method it is difficult and you wonder why you are going through this when you have seen the beauty and you have seen the hell world and you are constantly alternating between the two. If you do it enough times eventually you see it and realize oh yeah it’s me; it’s not the plant medicine. The plant medicine is not taking me to hell; I’m taking myself to hell. So once you get to that stage it’s like aha I figured it out. I find it’s still instructive to engage the mind in Huachuma just so you can see how preposterous it is and then when you move past the block it’s like alright I have to get back to leading with my heart. You look up at the sky, the trees, and realize fuck this is so beautiful! In other people you see the love in and from them and the love you want to give to them and it’s such a gift of divine grace. To get there it takes work however in the end it is all worth it.

My time in the jungle with Huachuma came to an end however off to the Andes mountains I was to go for four more ceremonies with three people from my time at SpiritQuest: Parker, Cain, and Kylie. Having experienced once again the power of Huachuma I was eager to continue my exploration of the energy I had freed through internal acceptance and external expression. The jungle medicine journeys had taught me about acceptance of self and embracing what comes when I potentiate the energy that lies within along with instructing me on finding and staying in that state of bliss I sought, all with the simple admonition to stay within the heart. The message was simple and straightforward but the lessons hit with the weight of a heavy feather wielded by an annoying sibling intent on driving you to distraction. It worked.

Being of eternal service, Huachuma ultimately provides the template for living your life. 

Monday, March 23, 2020

plumbing the depths

Off to Peru I went a journeying once again in body, mind, and spirit. This post has the potential to be quite lengthy so I’m going to break down the exposé of my travels into parts as I spent close to two weeks at the SpiritQuest Sanctuary and then went off into the Andes mountains in Peru in the Chavín/Huaraz area for just over a week. I’m still obviously processing and integrating these latest lessons from the venerable plant teachers but I have enough insight already to write something somewhat coherent and the fuel for my writing should be plentiful as to last me for a quite a while. There’s always more as don Howard was quite fond of saying and as per usual he hits the nail on the head. My cup is full of more lessons and the number one take away from my Ayahuasca journeys this time around was a reconciliation with my dark side. This was a seven year alchemical process in the making from the period of just my plant medicine use and honestly has been a lifelong struggle that finally I could accept and then sit in ceremony and laugh at. I mean what’s the big deal and why this constant running from it? I call this first entry of my experiences plumbing the depths because that is where Mother Ayahuasca took me: deep down to the darkest regions and said here it is. It’s all you so make your peace.

I was stuck on thinking I can't have both. By both is meant the light and the dark of self. It's taken this long but I think I have a good handle on what is meant by the shadow or dark side. It's the side I keep hidden from everyone else but need to eventually express the energy that builds up. I keep it in the dark because it is not socially or culturally accepted so I have to keep it under wraps. It's nothing criminal or evil but psychologically I have to bury it or put it in a cage. It's kind of preposterous when you think about it and is obviously doing more harm than good. In order to continue on the path of healing of the world I have chosen and what burns within I keep thinking I have to let my dark side go as it seeks pleasure which I have set up as being in conflict with my light side. This goes on and on and never works. The discipline I seek can only be achieved by balance. We choose the split. In other words I am free to bring the dark into the light if I have courage or just want to stop the charade. A case in point is taking psychoactive substances that we hide from some people in our lives. Then it becomes veiled and dark however there is nothing wrong with it despite the objections of the judgmental and society at large. Thus bringing it out into the open is bringing it into the light which can be incredibly healing.

Ayahuasca is like a wild horse. You first get on for a ride and it is a crazy and out of control gallop sometimes on the path and at other times it veers off into the woods, all the while you try and coax the horse back on to the trail however that only succeeds when the horse decides it wants to go back on the path we ultimately have laid out. That path is the path of expectations. Subsequently we try to tame the wild horse just like we try to tame Ayahuasca. Eventually we succeed; the experience of riding the horse or participating in an Ayahuasca ceremony is still something we want to do however deep down we long to return to those first few times we got up on the horse. The answer is to let go of the reins and let that horse be free. Women don’t like to be tamed and neither does Ayahuasca!

I will use my journal as a guide and write this post in a format where I will date each of the entries as I originally wrote them. I have taken liberties to edit my raw writings as I have learned through insight and progression what some of the meanings actually pertain to. It strikes a certain chord in reference to don Howard saying that to have just one ceremony is a form of malpractice. By going through a cycle of work that entails four ceremonies gives context and clarity to the preceding ceremonies. As a one off, the first ceremony had a way different meaning as opposed to the time I sat in the third ceremony and laughed at myself. It evolved and I will reflect that in my writing.

Day 1, Thursday February 13th

A huge part of what I offer the plant teachers in return for their wisdom and guidance is to be of service and help others. Today is a travel day and I planned to arrive in Lima late Thursday night before heading off to SpiritQuest Sanctuary on the Friday morning. As it turns out it was a lesson in patience and to just go with the flow as I missed my connecting flight to Lima as the weather and a late plane delayed my flight an hour and a half from Toronto to Montreal. Turns out another member of the group going to the retreat missed the same flight and I somehow found and recognized him. We connected and got to know one another and I helped him re-book flights. I also gave him an orientation on the basics at SpiritQuest while we spent the next day and a half finding our way to the place. Since I am a veteran of these sojourns to Peru I was able to navigate and re-book the flights with relative ease which took a big burden off my new found friend’s mind. I also anticipated the lack of sleep, two days in airports, and little food would actually allow my mind to simply rest while in the first ceremony, thus not having to do the usual battle to quiet the mind.

Before moving on I should discuss my intentions for making the trip down to Peru this year. Primarily I knew when in ceremony I needed to listen to the plants; I mean the Ayahuasca portion of the retreat is called 'Listening to the Plants' however at times I have been guilty of going off into my own world and thoughts much to my detriment. I decided to latch on to the acronym STFU for the trip as a reminder. In times of conflict at least I could revert back to it and always shut the fuck up. I’m always seeking knowledge and that is one of the biggest reasons I always return and to that extent the plants give freely and never disappoint. At times I am so grateful for all they have offered that to repay them I feel will take a monumental effort though I believe the secret to the repayment is to actively endeavour to do so. It is when you continually take without giving back that the whole divine flow of reciprocity is compromised and you reveal yourself as someone who doesn’t keep their word and causes imbalance in the world. Imbalances cause the split and leads to the suffering. To that end I never want to be one of those that compounds ceremony upon ceremony without giving back. I want to reciprocate and embody the concept of para el bien de todos - for the good of all. In addition I wanted to explore next level mental and dream aspects of creation. I have scratched the surface of this and am pretty sure the world is made up of the mental energy of a dreaming source; mimicking the worlds we dream up at night when we sleep but on a crazy cosmic scale. Self-discipline has also been on my mind for a while and I want to delve into that. I know it is a choice I have to make in whether I want to flame out or pursue what my heart is calling out for and wants. As an adjunct to that I need to explore the desires within that rise up to the surface. I’ve made my peace with them but I still seek some kind of resolution and something that will point me towards living a more integrated life that has eluded me so far in my 52 years. Lastly I remember something that don Howard talked to me about way back in the fall of 2017 when on Huachuma my heart was wide open and I knew love was the answer to everything. He told me it is the only way to live though you needed courage to bring that love out into the open. I seek that courage.

As always I promise to give back to the plants by being of service to them and to the great mother. I need to step it way up and I will. Overall as I said it is for the good of all. We are going to change the paradigm of the world; one soul at a time.

Plant teachers and the experience with them is not at all fun. It is forging steel, which is hard work. It is the refinement of all that is you into a greater whole, while simultaneously throwing out the bullshit and getting you to move on from self-limiting beliefs.

Day 3, Saturday February 15th

We arrived early in the morning for breakfast and Parker gifted me with a beautiful painting of an Ayahuasca scene by the Shipibo tribe. It was such a thoughtful gesture from such a great man who I have the utmost respect for. I talked with the group for most of the day though I really needed a nap. As per usual, it is a great mix of like minded souls who blend well and will become a cohesive group in no time. We headed down to the Ayahuasca kitchen after breakfast for the Mapacho ceremony which is used to help bring calm to an anxious group as well as formulating your intentions for the upcoming ceremonies.

I got an hour of sleep in before heading to the maloca for 8:45pm as the ceremony was to start at 9pm. I surprisingly felt a great deal of apprehension foreshadowing what was to come. I sat on the right side of the maloca in the inner circle, just like my first time at SpiritQuest in April of 2015 and was the second last to drink the brew.

Parker had mentioned in orientation that we would be drinking cascabel Ayahuasca which was a stronger, cascading, and serpent like brew. The shaman don Rober brews batches of cielo Ayahuasca, which is a lighter and heavenly/sky type and the stronger cascabel which apparently is a deeper dive. No kidding!

Don Rober reminded us all that we are protected and any demons we conjure in our visions come from within. It was timely knowledge that resonates with all I have learned as I tended early on in my journeys to look eternally for answers and to project my darkness onto forces I imagined were outside of my own sphere. Drinking the cup was tough as the sum total of sixteen previous ceremonies lay within the depths of that chalice and it was a tough swallow. I felt nauseous as I downed the last drop. I made it back to my mattress without incident and let the sickness subside, wondering if this is a new block I have developed where I can’t drink like I used to? As the shamans built an arkana around the maloca a familiar unease returned. I quieted the mind and went into observation mode, readying my ship to sail through and past this rocky shoreline. Prior to the final candle being extinguished a drone sound started getting louder and visions were hinted at. After Parker blew out the final candle, the visions came on right away. Strange pulsing images came at me much like in previous ceremonies when the masculine darkness comes into my view. I thought well I’m back at SpiritQuest and once again the darkness has returned trying to steal the show and reclaim mastery over me. This scene then translated into the familiar highway I traverse at high speeds as I had the wherewithal to put my consciousness into my heart. The medicine was so strong I felt the need to vomit this early in the ceremony. Paranoia and mistrust flooded and challenged me directly at this point as I wondered why am I back here again drinking Ayahuasca and I realized I was trapped in this thought pattern because of the difficult spot the darkness puts you in and how it is so uncomfortable and unsettling. I know damn well why the darkness is back. I invited it in. My thoughts once again tried to tie the darkness in with SpiritQuest and the whole Ayahuasca scene. Meanwhile I careened through obstacles on the highway, determined to make it to the top of this drive up a cliff. Lights flashed at me: yellow, red, and blue. These signals first reminding and cautioning me to slow down before I crash, then imploring me to stop lest I destroy myself. Finally the blue lights of the cop cars were of no use as I just sped up to pass and outmanoeuvre them. Nothing is going to stop me as I made a date for my imminent implosion.

I then went down into the depths, as far as I had ever reached before. The darkness was present and I realized Mother Ayahuasca is the only one who can get you a ticket into this realm in order to see what you are up against. Mama is the undisputed champion who reigns supreme over all in the depths of your soul. My advice is to trust her always. When I reached the bottom, she showed me a back room with a toilet which was representing the ultimate deep. She said here you are and it doesn’t get any lower than this shitter in hell. Is that what you want? I heard heavy breathing coming from the toilet so I went over and lifted up the top to the tank. It revealed a demon serpent creature who was concealing himself on the underside of the top piece I had lifted up. At this point I had a choice I could make in processing this strange development. I could project my darkness onto something external; exclaiming I had found the source to all my fucked up desires and therefore dissociate from this part of me or I could accept that this serpent was every bit a part of me as anything else. Not wanting to own up to it, I chose the former.

Knowledge and integration pays off well if you have patience. What I have been blaming externally has been undeniably shown as internal, with big assists from don Rober and Mother Ayahuasca. The answers will and do come and at this point in my self-reflection they sometimes come like a bullet intra-ceremony as opposed to a month later while integrating at home. I soon fully realized this repeated darkness was me, I've been the one all along trying to get me to run away from digging deeper, and that at times trying to find what I perceived as an external core of the darkness was like peeling an onion looking for a pit. The thought of an Onion King of the depths struck me as being apropos.

The narrative changed and I became a witness to all the behaviours that are and have been the product of the serpent in the depths. I was warned once again that this will lead to feelings of incredible and crushing shame, guilt, and a loss of everything I hold near and dear to me. It spoke to a struggle for dominance and mastery over this construct I call self. Who is to rule? Does the serpent in the depths call the shots which will lead to social isolation and becoming an outcast or do I continue to allow culture to dictate behaviour which leads to non-fulfillment and a nagging feeling of unhappiness? This question in retrospect was much larger than I was anticipating and the whole three weeks I spent with plant medicines continually brought this up and challenged me with this dilemma. An answer was not expected; the goal was to get me to think about it. What would it be like to be happy? What price would you pay to find internal peace? What is it that you are really looking for? What does your heart long for? What has it always longed for since you were a child and could feel it?

The visions continued to show me of my predilection for a descent into darkness and warned me about succumbing and all it would entail. This is not new as I'm constantly controlled by these thoughts of my dual nature and wanting to be a good boy. I’ve taken action before on this front and banished the serpent back to the depths, purified myself, only to once again relapse. It never sticks; I guess I like continual frustration. I’m reminded of the definition of insanity where you do the same thing over and over while expecting each time a different result. I call it practice! Fuck I’m out of control again. How did I manage to rein in this duplicity for four months leading up to my journey back to SpiritQuest? Being able to have resolute self-discipline when needed is quite the skill however the lid on this pot could blow at any time I fully realized. I took solace in the fact that the world is out of control and playing to the tune of their own heart of darkness by embracing greed and mistrust. Selfishness, recklessness, hedonism, and exploitation of the land and others to gain power and fulfill lusts is the name of the world game. Heck this is seen played out in politics and why the aberrant behaviour of the powered elite is periodically exposed in a despicable me grand reveal. Clinton, Prince Andrew, Weinstein, and Epstein. Wow. The greatest game player of them all is Trump. He wears it on his sleeve and is untouchable.

Like trying to taste your own tongue, the knowledge of self is unattainable without devising a method to reflect thy self out into creation and by this method trying then to understand that construct. The desires of the lower self become our reflected psychic id. The true self becomes the powerless and neurotic ego while the wise higher self becomes the controlling superego. These mirrored constructs of who we deep down really are seem subject to psychic distortion to capitalize on inherent desires, lusts, and wants which can then be used to control every human being that self-reflects. There is no getting away from this as we all want to know the self. I mean fundamentally that is why we created this playground. We want to know self and self can’t be an object of its own knowledge so we devise ways to fool the self into dissociated behaviours that then allow us to peer into our own eyes.

Accepting responsibility, after recognizing it as all me, is huge. It once again shone a light on SpiritQuest as the pre-eminent place to transform consciousness of the individual for the better one at a time which will enact a fundamental shift in the collective consciousness of the world. I felt deep love and gratitude towards Parker for keeping things running down here in the jungle and for being so supportive of myself. A legend among legends.

Day 5, Monday February 17th

After a day to recover from the first ceremony we shared our first experience with the group in a sharing circle after breakfast. I teared up a bit listening to others’ stories. One person in particular had an encounter with their parents who had passed away a few years prior and found closure through that meeting.

In terms of the second Ayahuasca ceremony I felt less anxious but was concerned about drinking the brew and not vomiting right away. I was called up to the altar and drank a full cup down and immediately felt it wanting to come back up. I sat down on my mattress and tried not to think about it and just let the sickness pass. Once again the effects came on quickly, not waiting for any icaros, and I witnessed my vision getting stuttery and an audible buzz was once again in the room. I closed my eyes and entered into a heart shaped tunnel to which I inwardly smiled as I knew what was to come. The tunnel’s road was overlaid by a sensuous red grid and as I made my way through the tunnel, heart emojis floated on up as I passed them by. I came to a stop in front of the Goddess and she asked me how I wanted her to appear. She then proceeded to change her face, hair, and outfit until I was happy. Following this she got up and left so I followed after her. We were in a house with different rooms and in my vision the camera’s perspective was panning through the areas of the house and I then saw on monitors placed throughout the building television shows from my youth. These were all distracting me from chasing the Goddess. As I caught up with her she seemed miffed I couldn’t keep my full attention on her and thus she said goodbye. I then felt a purge coming on and I violently expunged into my vomit bucket which was followed by several gut wrenching attempts to expel every last drop of the contents of my stomach. This went on for a long time to the point of exhaustion and desperately I wanted it to stop. The visions were over for the night and it was all just sickness coming on in waves; cascabel Ayahuasca living up to its name and reputation in a way I hadn’t imagined. I thought the first ceremony had excessive purging considering last year was pretty tame but this night was even worse. I needed to go to the washroom but the shamans were at the start of their extended play first icaro and I didn’t want to yell “bano” while they were singing. I tried to flag down a helper to no avail who had dropped off the girl next to me from her bano break but she did not see me waving my arms. I started worrying I was going to shit myself however I managed to trance out to the shaman song which went on and on. When it came to an end I was in a stupor and forgot I had to even go until finally I realized they weren’t singing and I summoned help. I stumbled to my feet after a failed attempt and I realized I was as intoxicated as I have ever been. The poor helper had to put up with my clumsiness, hold me up, and guide me to my room. As I was on the toilet once again the sickness returned and I had to vomit. In a moment of dexterity I was able to reach the sink with my mouth and perform both expelling acts at once, celebrating a little over what I had accomplished. I had originally forgotten my water bottle in the room much to my dismay when I first vomited so I grabbed it and rinsed out my mouth before shutting out the washroom lights and attempting to leave my room to head back to the maloca. I only succeeded in disorientating myself to the point where I couldn’t find the door out of my room. I retraced my steps and got the washroom light back on and then figured out the straight path to the door where the helper was still waiting for me, probably wondering what I was doing, while laughing inside at this fucked up gringo. Anyways he got me back into the maloca and I slumped down onto my mattress. I spent the rest of the night intermittently retching into my vomit bucket. The show ended and I fell asleep in the maloca until 5am when a worker came in to clean up which woke me so I went back to my room.

I have now had two intense purging ceremonies to which I hope that is it for the internal cleansing. My intention for this ceremony involved gathering knowledge and getting further clarity on the dream aspect of this universe. While I was in the washroom on my bano break the Ayahuasca medicine was so unbelievably strong with the energy swirling about everywhere. It was the strongest I had ever witnessed the force and I was sweating and shaking in its presence. Perhaps I was being shown that yes the universe is fundamentally made up of this powerful energy which is a byproduct of consciousness. One thing I learned for sure is the strength of the brew doesn’t necessarily equate to visions; nor the duration of said visions in ceremony. If that was so I’d still be in the visionary state. This is a valuable lesson because I can dial the intake of the brew down to half a cup and just focus on working with Ayahuasca.

The next morning I contemplated a couple of the lessons from the ceremony which were related. I pondered the TV images that were distracting me during my pursuit of the Goddess. It underscored the need to be present while in the visionary state; well that and in my life in general. I probably do not get distracted anymore than the average person but even that is too much. As Ram Dass exhorts, “Be Here Now” which is pretty simple and doable advice and I couldn’t even do it during an Ayahuasca vision. I mean why did I bother to make the trip if I can’t be present and especially because the vision put me in the presence of the Great Goddess? I hope she can laugh at what a failure I am sometimes. The good thing is I also learn from these failures so in a way it all works out. I don’t blame her for saying goodbye and leaving though; it seemed like the most instructive course of action. Related to this is a new thing I keep doing while the visions are taking place. I actually start journaling in my head, have a running commentary going on, while the visions unfold. I’m spinning them and breaking them down on the fly. This obviously has to stop and I need to just observe and get back to the STFU ideal. The mind is always trying to establish dominance and become the master when it needs to be checked and put in the servant role.

Day 6, Tuesday February 18th

Tonight was the Bobinsana ceremony which comes at the midway point of our week with Ayahuasca and is generally a perfect time for a ceremonial reprieve from the hardships of Ayahuasca. This ceremony was the best one yet of the four I have participated in while at SpiritQuest. There was so much joy and laughter in the room after we got over the initial anxiety of drinking another cup of plant medicine. The sugar cane alcohol lifted our spirits and the Bobinsana opened our hearts. I sang along to the icaros while providing part of the rhythm section by pounding out the beat with my feet. After the ceremony we hugged it out with those awesome kind of hugs that are full on body to body. It felt so good to make such a connection with others who can both give and receive. Over just a short span of time we were all bonded as one SpiritQuest family. It always gives me such optimism towards humankind and our ability to let our guard down, check our differences at the door, and just embrace how much we are alike and our collective need for love and sharing.

Day 7, Wednesday February 19th

We will call this ceremony 'The lesson of half a cup.' I was much more in control this ceremony and able to work within the Ayahuasca space; remembering to STFU, to love, surrender, and have courage. The familiar buzzing sound returned at the onset of the intoxication and I noticed the visions weren’t as strong as usual but they were still plenty powerful. This time as the visionary activity commenced I descended down into multiple deep and dark tunnels as I was to plumb the depths of self once again. As I headed for a deep dive into the self I witnessed some heart imagery lit up with a blue light along the path which put to ease any fears I may have had about entering once again into this realm. This blue light then morphed into a butterfly that flapped its wings very fast before opening up and revealing another passage way. I followed this new trail as blue hearts and blue jaguars filled my vision. I arrived at a palace and saw the Goddess further along one of the corridors behind a veil of beaded curtains. They parted into an almond shaped opening which was in the shape of a vagina. I entered into this opening and went down through another tunnel. I caught up shortly to the Goddess and she was in the form of the ancient Egyptian Goddess Hathor that I know and love and from which I first discovered her. Her face then proceeded to cycle through pretty much every girl I ever had a crush on reminding me once again of the divine feminine energy that is within all women. I was present the whole time and managed to stay in the visionary state unimpeded by using the mantra “ram” and just repeating it over and over. It works by distracting your mind by filling it up with the constant mindless noise of “ram” leaving it no room to think other thoughts. It’s quite ingenious! I chased her through the castle and caught up to her at a door that led to the master bedroom. She then transformed into a jaguar and came towards me, reminding me of when she did that during my night with Peyote. I immediately roared back at her and we instantly became one jaguar. The door then opened revealing a matrimonial bed and then the vision ended.

The experience moved on to the telepathic that was mostly non-visionary. We collectively examined my true self and I realized as the divine masculine I was pretty basic. I love music. I have passions and lusts. I crave love and I enjoy intellectual pursuits. The fearlessness and courage I cultivated in this lifetime is a major harbinger of my masculinity and virility. I’m a warrior and a jaguar. I will best all through cunning while they pursue physical dominance. I’m attracted to unsolvable riddles thinking only I can figure them out. Some aspects of self I was not proud of but was encouraged to accept because it is all me. I wanted to examine my true self so we were not going to cherry pick only the parts I approve of. It was hammered home that my dark side is also my true self and that demon I conjured seven years ago the second time I ever drank Ayahuasca was me as well. I realized this path I have travelled has been so difficult because on the path if you keep at it will unmask the true self as encompassing your obfuscated dark side. The dark wants to remain in the dark and will resist all attempts at self-reflection while flooding you with fear and paranoia when you try to peer in. This unmasking will end the play, stop the drama, and take away from the whole experience of the game of life because the conflict and hidden desires of the deep darkness keeps it fresh and exciting. If there is no reason to act the part anymore because you have revealed all, then the game becomes lifeless and you get depressed over your situation as you have solved the riddle of you and are unable to integrate this discovery. You lose the reason to go on and get up in the morning and just play out the string, dispassionate to life. Alternatively if the game unmasks your true self before you unmask the game then you are ridiculed by those still playing the game which leads to being an outcast and downright suicidal. It feels like a way to one up the self in a race to figure out the self. The culture game unmasks you as a fraud if you don’t find the answer because you never figured out the self and who you really are. So we look externally to help us out of the mess. I guess most of us just reach the end of our life living a lie in order to not have to face this strange question of who am I? I guess I have reached the point where I can live an authentic life true to myself while eschewing the expectations of culture to play the game or alternatively I can retreat back into a shell and just try to fit in to the collective neuroticism and pathology. Fuck it; I am a warrior and will lead head up and heart forward towards my calling. The darkness reappearing in ceremony I now knew was a way to throw you off the path and keep you away from the knowledge of your true self and its relationship to your dark side. To continue to play the game is to remain ignorant of this fundamental construct. Well we all know I can’t do that. I am a seeker despite cost and though I was threatened with death if I kept up this inveterate seeking I still continued on. Scare me, threaten me, concoct ridiculous stories to send me away, send me to church for answers, say you’ll crash my plane, cause me to commit suicide, whatever. I always came back to look deeper into my depths. I had to know. The plants honoured their part of the bargain and said here it is; this is what you were looking for. So what now? First off I’m going to embrace myself and just accept who I am. I love myself. The key is love and I have known that for a while. If I don’t want to take the path to depression and my ultimate demise I have got to fully embrace and express this love. This became so clear by the time my three weeks wandering around Peru came to an end. I’m ripe for falling madly in love with life and just want to jump in off the cliff into that cosmic ocean of bliss and trust in its power.

My night continued on with many more lessons. I had a vision of a high school yearbook where the faces of people I know all became monkey clowns and then revealed the underlying human in a cyclic manner. This was obviously speaking to the characters we all play in life when behind it all is really just this joker of a monkey. We are loathe to give up our character though as losing your identity can be catastrophic. I thought of the master shaman and how one of such high regard like don Rober is called a 'banco Ayahuasquero.' I equated it to us humans who play our parts so well we have attained 'banco ego' and at the same time one small misstep can bring on the destruction of the ego which I termed 'Jenga ego' after the game Jenga which involves stacking blocks upon other blocks successfully while avoiding the whole construct coming crashing down on itself. I thought back to my time on this path to when I wanted to get rid of my ego and wondered why I wanted to do that? That was the one thing holding this being called Paul all together. I realized I was denying and externalizing my dark side while pursuing my higher self and enlightenment so therefore I figured by discarding the ego I’d get there. Retrospectively it was all a game of ego enlightenment. I wouldn’t have attained anything except declaring the character I had created enlightened while wearing its white robe and crown of glorious light. Hey look at me I’ve be-knighted my avatar. Crown me! Pretty funny. Let’s all have a good laugh!

It is through remembrance you become enlightened. You remember who you really are. In other words you have been enlightened all along but through playing this funny game with yourself you have both forgotten it and then thought there was some quest you need to go on in order to attain this crowning achievement of your spiritual bonafides. The only enlightenment ever to quest for and attain is based upon taking this lifetime construct you have crafted and crowning it. It’s all part of this interesting game we all play. Plant medicines potentiate not only introspection and catharsis but also this ability to stand back from yourself and have a good laugh at the absurdity of it all.

I once again looked back on my journey and how I sidestepped and navigated the pitfalls and obstacles on the path. I went down into the depths and brought back my hidden true self. It seemed so obvious and I wondered how I had managed to avoid admitting to myself that this darkness was of course me. Where is Parker V. Sherry, Master of the Obvious, to point this out? Hey I was the one who developed this transient ego in order to deflect the gaze of all, including myself, who wished to penetrate this construct of self right down to my very soul. I gave much needed love to my ego as it is my masterpiece that can be destroyed in an instance if I mess up. It is my lifelong construction project and it is the part of me I can imbue with integrity, character, impeccability, and reciprocity. Put love into that character as well. These are choices I can enable that elevate my ego. In a way my true self operates on a set of ethics and my ego adapts these into values based on cultural influences. Seems like an equitable scheme. My ego is a special case for study as I am naturally antagonistic towards cultural trends. I have no predilection towards opulence, fast cars, or Hollywood ideals. I built my ego upon the foundation of my true self, taking in the higher and lower self, all the while hiding the seedy parts that Ayahuasca likes to continually point out.

What I think I ultimately took out of this Q and A experience was now that I have unmasked and realized the nature and totality of my true self there can be a reconciliation. I know what my true self desires and I will fulfill it in a non-destructive and sane manner. The first Ayahuasca ceremony did warn me of my destructive tendencies. My ego I understood now as my porous rock which balances my polarities and this keeps me acceptable in polite society which allows me to remain employed. The ego mediates between Apollo and Dionysos and knows the divine actor Dionysos has passions to be fulfilled as well as a need to be both clown and actor, to be the joker, big man, and overall to just act the part while moving the stage play along because that’s what this whole universe is fundamentally about. Without the story there is no life.

I also finally received the answer to this strange dream I had quite a while ago of don Howard pouring Huachuma over my naked body in the maloca. I realized that the symbolism of the naked body was referring to my true self and while clothed it is your ego. The dream was depicting Huachuma and plant medicines as being able to reveal your inner true self and what makes you essentially tick.

The eight days and four Ayahuasca ceremonies at SpiritQuest put you through the proverbial wringer. Ayahuasca is a washing machine. I like the analogy as it refers to an action that takes wet clothes and wrings them out so that the water is removed prior to putting them through the spin cycle. Anyway after this ceremony I realized why I love drinking Ayahuasca. Just a ceremony prior I had declared I was done with Ayahuasca. I like to project my judgment values onto Ayahuasca and call her fickle and unpredictable. I looked into the mirror when I got up the next morning and finally realized hey it’s been me all along! I’m the unpredictable one. Sorry ma’am, I’ll try to approach this from a state of higher consciousness next time. I should have learned that by now.

Day 8, Thursday February 20th

I walked into the maloca for the fourth ceremony and was greeted with hugs from everyone. It was such a wonderful gesture and I felt so energized by the outpouring of love from the group. The Ayahuasca beverage had fermented and tasted much different this night. It was the fermented pickle juice taste I remembered from before and that brand I actually don’t mind and have an easier time drinking it. I went into the ceremony content after last night and felt my Ayahuasca cup was full for this cycle of work. As it turns out my intuition was correct as I had no visuals or insights for quite a long time until I started getting some visuals that were random and short-lived. At about this time I started noticing I could visualize my thoughts into visions so I imagined a Christmas scene where everyone was inside a house enjoying the season around the tree and a fire. I peeked in through the window wanting to play the role of a peeping tom and the scene changed into an orgy with people living out their desires and carnal passions. It was an accurate reflection of my thoughts where one moment I can be sentimental and the next full of lust. Such is my innermost self. My vision then did a 180 degree shift and I felt the pain, sadness, and devastation of Kobe Bryant’s wife who had lost her husband and daughter so cruelly snapped away from her. It was such a crippling and unbearable pain. Ecstasy and tragedy all played out on the grand stage we call life. If it is experience we seek then we will have to face it all.

As the ceremony ended I laid down on my back only to see the Goddess above me in a bird cage with an owl headdress, motioning to me to sit up because she wanted to instruct me some more. After some initial hesitation, I sat up and then left my body, floating up to meet her. The cage opened and we embraced; once again becoming one. It was a fitting way to end the cycle of work and this latest chapter in my non-stop seeking. I remembered back to the sixth time I drank Ayahuasca when she asked me to release her from bondage by doing battle with her husband and exposing him for who he is as he is the one who keeps her imprisoned. By doing this work I found out her husband was the me who kept hidden and caged my feelings, my passions, and ultimately this Goddess of Love. In our society becoming a man means burying our perceived weaknesses. When I did the work and brought all this up from the depths, I reconciled with the self I had buried. I had to free myself before I could free her. This act released the Goddess from her cage.

It’s kind of amazing that I was looking for myself all along and once I discovered and accepted that my dark side was also me everything fell into place. There were no tantalizing visions nor lessons this last ceremony because I had all I needed. The last ceremony was really just about confirmation of all I had been feeling and intuiting for so long now. As I lay there in the maloca the energy just started pulsing through me as I felt closure.

I started processing and integrating all I had learned from Ayahuasca pretty much immediately. First and foremost was a message to stop scapegoating the ego as some external bad actor that I can blame all my problems on. My failure to integrate all of me, both dark and light, good and bad, is the cause of why I have never found happiness and keep searching for this something I don’t have while satiating my needs with trivialities and behaviours that are pleasurable in the short terms but toxic in the long term. I contemplated the voice in my head, the superego, that conflates itself with the ego in order to cause confusion. I realized it is the one that is encouraging me to judge others behaviour and now that I know this is all a game and we keep up pretences and a facade in order to continue playing, I have to be extra wary of my sarcastic side and tendency to dismiss others. I took a look at the world at large and its politics. I compared it to a virus that is out to subjugate and use you and vowed to not get trapped by these vampiric entities. Live free or die. The wild animal came to mind who guards their freedom and has survival always as its number one concern. Sometimes it must kill to live and I should take that advice to heart. Not in a physical sense but in a way where not everything can be dealt with in a kind manner; sometimes you need to stand up and slay your enemies.

I thought of Dionysos the liberator and how it is through accessing your dark side and accepting it you enable a freedom from the constricting gaze and expectations of culture which in turn allows you to indulge the passions. I fully understood why he is called the liberator. The freedom comes from acceptance and not putting up with the pretence that you can scapegoat your lusts anymore and send them away in a pursuit of some holier than thou ideal. The spiritual journey is both light and dark. It is a reconciliation of the denial of the darkness within. To embrace that part of you in order to become whole once again and not live divided. Enlightenment is not white robes and purity but a recognition of our duality and using the heart and love to transcend the suffering we lay on others because of our insecurities. It is inclusive for all and honouring both the light and the dark within us all.

I was tasked with facing up to the truth because that’s what I asked for. I knew it all along but sidestepped it and denied that the demon is me. I had faced the demon but didn’t want to admit it is me so I looked around externally for a way to assign darkness, jealousy, insecurity, judgment, and even hatred of others to something that was inherently not myself and that I could eventually banish and transcend. I have to own it and realize it is me and it will always be a part of me. Being of service and being loving is a choice we can make to not allow the demon within to hit centre stage.

Parker reminded us in closing of the Prodigal Son story in the Bible the next day and how important it is to go out and experience the world and all that calls out to us even though it puts us in with swine and the lowest of the low. Timely advice as some of us leave paradise soon and head back to the rat race. The story also references the son who stays with his father, symbolizing the intellect that rationalizes existence and therefore doesn’t experience life. It is through living and loving that we discover all of what makes us in the end the total human package.