DISCLAIMER: Ayahuasca contains DMT which is an illegal substance in many countries. So consider carefully before breaking the law, because it’s naughty and the law is something you should always respect. After all, it’s illegal to break the law! That said, it is legal in many countries, like Italy, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Costa Rica and in certain religious settings the United States. I had my experience in Spain, where it’s controlled and not unequivocally illegal.
There is a good reason Ayahuasca may be illegal in your country, even though it is an ancient old vine from the Amazon that is used world-wide as a means to connect with the deceased and seek help for various problems like anxiety, panic attacks, depression, addictions and numerous stress-related diseases. It’s nothing to take lightly and certainly not a recreational drug. It is plant medicine.
Whatever you do, I am not responsible if you decide to seek help from illegal substances.
Some or all names in this blog are changed for privacy.
(Read part 1 first)
First Night: Holy Nightmare Batman! It’s the Joker!
Remember the first time you had sex? All the fuss and talk about the experience may have led you to believe it’s going to be all fireworks and shooting stars of love and companionship, but the harsh truth is, it was a clumsy couple of minutes of confusion and awkwardness.
I knew my expectations are only an illusion as I was lying on my mattress ready to give in to the Medicine. I was briefed that the three ceremonies form a sort of a triangle, where each night represents one side to complete the journey to a whole. So that whatever would happen the first night would just be the beginning, and no great revelations are to be expected, though you can never be sure.
Life is about decisions. I had decided to be here and now and drink Ayahuasca. My ideal setting for these kinds of retreats would be nowhere near Spain, but preferably in South America, or far away from my culture and people I feel genetically related to.
Yet here I was, lying alongside people from all over the world, in a candle light ready to leave my mind and my body to the care of some old lady living inside a plant.
Ayahuasca is taken ceremonially, so there is always a certain procedure. First we formed a circle. Then the guides provided us Rape, which is a kind of tobacco taken nasally. Feels soothing, nothing to write home about. Then all participants told their intention for Mother Aya, or wish or a question. Many were hoping just to surrender and not guide their thoughts. My intention was to find out what it is that’s holding me back, because I’m a man of many words and few actions. I wanted to know what had made me the coward I am.
I found that a little unnecessary, since whatever I was saying out loud might have had nothing to do with what Mother Aya had in store for me. But I wanted to take part in the community and forget about my cynical self that would laugh about this kind of hippie bullshit of candles, drums and holding hands.
Half an hour went by, and people around me were vomiting, dancing on their mattresses and quietly sobbing. The usual stuff. I felt nothing. I asked for another shot. Time went by, this time slower than ever. Still nothing, though the music sounded louder now, but I figured my senses were only getting sharper.
And what did I do? I was giving a detailed commentary about my ceremony, taking notes of every possible feeling and action I was going through, not realising that in doing so I was not living in the moment and letting go. My critical mind was racing and I didn’t like that at all.
After four shots of this ancient miracle cure, I was starting to have doubts about it. I felt I was being duped by some snake-oil merchants, paying hundreds of euros just for sitting in a room, watching people having fun around me. I was constantly jabbing silently, telling what was happening to me like a voice-over, telling about the experience to my friends. I was trying to make something out of every feeling and movement, calling every yawn and itch as a sign of Aya kicking in.
This is incredibly hard for me. My mind was a maelstrom of anxiety, doubt, worry, a fast-forwarding highlight reel of nothing particular, high praise for mundanity. How on earth do I even begin to let go?
Reality was that nothing was happening to or for me. I felt hopeless, a failure who can’t even surrender to one of the strongest hallucinogens in the world, and just because I always need to be in charge. I have to make all the decisions, though my control-freakery is nowadays way better than, say, ten years ago. It still felt bad to be such a mess.
I started to cry about my fate as an incurable loser who is destined for an eternity as an outsider, a spectator in the spectacle of life everyone else is playing in: having fun. Then I laid down to ponder the sad life I had been given to live through. I dimmed the lights of my rational mind and called it a night.
Then something occurred. My lips started to go numb, my jaw was cramping, and my torso started to squirm like I was trying to hide a snake inside my shirt. My neck was twisting and stretching like someone was gently pushing my forehead.
After a moment I felt my mouth was fully open, like I could eat a whole apple without chewing. Someone, I felt was trying to pull my teeth, and told me that they are in the way. I was not in control anymore, but my hands were reaching for my gums and gently massaging the cheeks and forcing them into smile. I had seen the Joker a couple of days prior, and I saw myself as Joaquin Phoenix reluctantly putting on a smile when all he felt inside was pain and darkness.
As the Medicine was working I kept asking her questions and commenting on her movements. I was of course distracting the moment and not giving in, rather fighting to focus on everything and nothing in particular.
My head was resting on the pillow while my chest started to rise up, up and more, and when I had reached my physical limits, my diaphragm cracked open, turning into a glowing volcano and all the light was let through.
My mouth was still gaping, sucking all the air inside for eternity. My stomach was almost bursting with air. This must be how it feels to breath fresh air after dwelling 9 months in darkness, holding your breath. Every vein in my body had an overdose of oxygen, and when I was relieved all the tension in my body I realised the Medicine was working for me after all.
A triumph! I wasn’t hopeless after all! In fact, I was so euphoric I felt this instant relief of happiness rush through my body and started to giggle, and after holding it in I just cracked up laughing my ass off.
Feeling slightly embarrassed I tried again to hold it in, this time a little harder. But I was too much in the moment to feel ashamed. When I sat up, the invisible force gently guided me to stretch my back from side to side, slowly swinging like a snake dancing to a piper, releasing my everlasting pain in the lower back and sides. If anything, the Medicine was a gentle massage therapist focusing on my most painful areas: jaw, back and neck. The storages of my anger, anxiety, and sorrow. It was both as painful and as pleasant as ever.
When I was slowly coming to, the ceremony ended and I was puzzled, more than ever, of the messages and the answers I was given.
Am I the Joker? Man with forced feelings or no genuine feelings at all? What is it with my neck?
And what was I blocking with my teeth so adamantly that The Medicine had to work long hours pulling them out?
I had also seen vivid images of people who had guided me in my past, making me the person I had become, leading me here without me ever thanking them for their efforts. For instance I just remembered I had to send a message to a Taiwanese girl who supported me when I was going through hard-times on my travels. She gave me invaluable comfort and tips, that had lead me to my current love-relationship. World is full of benevolent people who I had been taken for granted. Shame on me!
I knew I had entered the realm of the subconscious and there was no turning back or else the uncovered secret would haunt me forever.
Go to part 3.