Noyarao – 4th Ceremony


So, first of all, I should apologize for not keeping this up as consistently as I mean to. Life’s been busy, but I aim to finish my entries on this dieta before the 25th of this month, which is when I’m scheduled to begin my next diet. Anyway, let’s get to it.

In the aftermath of the third ceremony, I wasn’t so sure that I could handle a fourth. If it was going to be anything like what I’d experienced in number three (or worse), I just didn’t have it in me. There were a number of times that I seriously considered backing out or at least taking a ceremony off to recuperate. In the final analysis, I think I ended up going because I felt like I had something to prove. Maybe part of it was that I wanted to know how much I could really take. Maybe I needed to demonstrate my commitment afresh to Ayahuasca first and foremost, to myself and to my maestro. Maybe I felt like I needed to hurt; I recognized that the pain I was experiencing was a necessary part of peeling back the layers of shit that I’d dumped on myself during my time in the States. Likely, it was a combination of all of the above factors. Regardless of what exactly it was that propelled me out the door that night, I remember riding to the maloka in a state of resignation. Whatever was about to happen, would.

I can recall the big parts. I remember mentally making a final plea to Ayayhuasca to be merciful. And then I drank from that little skull cup that Miky uses, which always makes me chuckle. This was probably the first time I’d ever felt actual fear prior to drinking. The third ceremony damn near killed me, and even as I poured the putrid medicine down my throat, I wasn’t convinced that a fourth was a good idea. But, y’know…too late.

DSC00718I was on my back again, as I had been for the previous three ceremonies. Just laying there, dreading. And then – I don’t remember the feeling of how it happened or when exactly – something changed. Miky recalls me suddenly popping up. I don’t remember doing it, but I found myself upright, sitting and watching. All of the sudden, the fog cleared out and I could think and I could see and I could endure it without resorting to a fetal position. It began to feel all at once like I recognized where I was again. I was standing in the same spot, on the same road that I had been walking before leaving the jungle the last time. And I was able, once again, to continue walking. And I smiled, and I recall kind of lowering my head and shaking it in disbelief. To be completely lost, alone and confused, and then without warning to recover your orientation and find yourself in a friendly place, in a place you know and remember well; to find that you never really left…all the hopelessness and fear began to drop away. I knew I had an incredible amount of work in front of me, but that’s what I wanted. I desperately wanted to continue. And to know that the door hadn’t been permanently closed was such an overwhelming relief that I felt, and still feel when I think of it, an indescribable kind of gratitude. The medicine, Miky always says, is a grace. And as I continue along this often-times surreal and unpredictable path, I’m discovering that there’s a profound depth to that word, “grace”, that I’m only beginning to understand. I’m discovering that about a lot of concepts, actually, which prior to my experience with the medicine I had only understood superficially.

A man had accompanied us to this ceremony. He was a middle-aged Peruvian, and from what I remember of what Miky told me, he’d been experiencing inexplicable medical problems that Western doctors could find no cause for. Over the course of his many attempts to get help from allopathic doctors, he became slowly convinced that the problems he was experiencing were due to brujeria, and that the root of his suffering was spiritual rather than purely physical.

I don’t know if I’ve ever discussed brujeria here, but for those who don’t know, it’s black magic. Ayahuasca can be used for a number of different things, both to cure and to harm or kill. Miky, his teacher Benji and several of the Mahua family, they’re “curanderos”, or “people who cure”. The ones who make use of the spirit world to amass power or to exact revenge, etc… are referred to as “brujos”. Stephan Beyer, in his book Singing to the Plants, describes brujos as men without discipline, who’ve given into their basest impulses and darkest desires. When a brujo puts some little piece of evil into a person, a curandero is enlisted to remove it, and when the curandero removes the brujeria, he has to spiritually confront the brujo that put it there. The stories you hear from various people about this particular aspect of Ayahuasca work can be somewhat intimidating, especially when you’re first starting out. But, as Miky always makes a point of saying, brujeria isn’t deserving of any more attention than is necessary. That’s what they want. So let’s leave it at that.

Anyway, I remember Miky crawling over to this little, afflicted man and begin singing. Suddenly I started seeing a red, pulsing light, particularly when Miky would repeat certain phrases that seemed to call to the poison itself. I couldn’t see clearly, but it was interesting to witness. Talking it over later with a friend of mine, he said that he was able to see the brujo that had implanted the sickness originally, but I wasn’t able to see that. Just a light that appeared to respond the icaro being sung, and a redness that was first on or in the man himself and then outside of him, around him and in front of Miky somehow. I assumed the redness to be the brujeria, but after a number of other experiences with light of this color, I’m not so sure. More on that later.

The ceremony finished and I finally felt what I remembered feeling so many times with Ayahuasca: lighter. The weight of whatever I was (and am) carrying had been decreased, and I felt like I could breathe the clean air again.

What I took from all of this was, as I said earlier, a feeling of deep gratitude and relief, and a renewed awareness of this ocean of compassion that exists out there, which so often feels just beyond my reach, and that Ayahuasca can give access to. The love felt really good. But I’ll come back to that in another post.

Noyarao – 2nd and 3rd Ceremonies


I’ll discuss the aftermath of the first ceremony, briefly touch on the second, and then we’ll move right into the third. I realized that I didn’t include much of a description of the Noyarao dieta or what it entails in my last post. If you’re interested in learning more about it, I covered it in one of my earliest posts, here.

DSC00726I finished the previous ceremony feeling lost, uncertain and kind of hopeless. I had returned to the jungle hoping for some sort of direction, hoping to get back on the right track, to fix my head. The first ceremony of my Noyarao dieta did nothing but intensify my confusion. The one thing I held onto, somewhere around the base of my brain, was that I needed to keep showing up. All those voices in my head had to not matter. I thought I remembered Miky talking about the necessity of simply showing up and being willing to do the work the last time I was here, back in 2013. So that idea became a life preserver, and I clung to it pretty desperately, despite everything my mind was throwing at me. I really didn’t know what else to do.

The morning after our ceremony, it was decided that a small group of us would participate in making the medicine that we’d all drink the next time around. I was excited at the prospect of learning how to prepare the Ayahuasca, but also extremely worn out from the night before. We all tried to get some decent sleep that night in the maloka, since we knew we had some work ahead of us. I’m not sure if the others were very successful, but I most definitely was not.

DSC00727So, after returning to the hotel at about 7:30 am, a small group of us all trudged off to hack up vines and pluck leaves for what turned out to be about four hours. If you decided to read the Noyarao dieta description, you’ll recall that one of the unique features of this type of dieta is that there are very few dietary proscriptions, but you’re not permitted to drink water until noon on the day following your ceremony. Now, the jungle is hot. It rarely drops below 80, day or night. It feels hotter still when you’re hammering rock-hard vines into pulp as the sun eats up every last inch of shade surrounding you. By the time 12 rolled around, most of us had our “fuck it” faces on. Meanwhile, of course, the battle-hardened Peruvian we were working alongside of was merrily banging away with his hammer, a half-smile on his face throughout, and making rapid progress on his pile. I felt pretty dehydrated and physically spent by noon, so I caught a moto-taxi back to my place and slept for several hours.

Later that night I briefly relieved one of my fellow dieteros, who had been watching the enormous pots of Ayahuasca boil for hours. He needed to go home, grab some dinner and rest a bit before coming back to continue his watch over the medicine until what ended up being about 3 am. The next morning I stopped by just as the cooking process came to an end, and helped to pour the liquid into three white, one-liter bottles. We shared a moto-taxi to Miky’s place, dropped off the medicine, and then we both went back to our homes to rest up in preparation for the next evening.


We met at the hotel again before the second ceremony, and took the 40-minute ride out to the maloka. I walked into the ceremonial space and pulled my mat into position feeling trepidatious about what was going to happen next. I had shown up. Hopefully that would be rewarded in some way.

After the first ceremony, I’d hatched a little escape plan in the back of my mind: if my experiences didn’t improve, if I couldn’t perceive any tangible good being done after a certain point, I’d just give up and get the hell out of the jungle somehow. But I’d wait a little while before I threw in the towel.

So I drank a full cup again. I figured if I was there, I’d take as much as I thought I could stand. No sense fucking around with smaller doses and potentially dragging this out. That’s was my logic at the time. It’s not an accurate reflection of how the medicine works, but somehow I talked myself into believing that if I drank more, I might be able to clean out all of the shit I’d crammed into my body during my sojourn in the States a little faster.

Well, we sat in the dark after we’d all taken the medicine, after the candle was snuffed. It seemed to take a while for the effects to set in. I remember lying down on my mat as the mareacion took hold. I felt the familiar weakness, and my thoughts and emotions started to be directed towards things that I didn’t necessarily want them to be directed towards, as usual.

DSC00719It was another night of writhing and shaking. Physically, very much the same as the first ceremony. Feeling ill, feeling unable to move, feeling debilitated. I recall having to shit several times throughout the night, feebly stumbling to the bathroom to sit and wait it out. I remember sitting on the toilet and ranting angrily to myself in a state of deep mareacion (Ayahuasca drunkeness). There was a lot of cursing.

A number of things came up during the second ceremony that I wasn’t expecting. I’d not only poisoned my body during my time in the States, I’d made quite a bit of progress in poisoning my mind. And my inner state was ugly. I had been dealing with fear, degrees of loneliness and isolation, jealousies and anger of various kinds. As I mentioned in my post about the first ceremony, I’d given place to depression, and I had chosen to give up as a way of avoiding dealing honestly with any of my emotions.

What felt like quite a lot of this came up and out via several violent purges throughout the night.

I honestly don’t remember much more about the second ceremony. I think I slept, though I can’t be sure. We returned to the hotel around 7 the next morning.

The third ceremony is the real story here. At least for me. And if you’re eagerly awaiting that positive transformation, the turnaround, stories of psychedelic beauty and the healing denizens of the spirit world, you’re going to be disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, there was quite a bit of healing to be had. But Ayahuasca took the gloves off. It hit me like an avalanche, and that night constituted some of the worst, most miserably excruciating and seemingly interminable hours of my life.

I drank a full cup again. This time, the effects set in comparatively quickly, and I’m pretty sure I was fully under by the time Miky started singing.

I was flat on the floor, my face pressed firmly against the mat within what must’ve been minutes. I didn’t get up for the duration, except to dizzily grope and stumble towards the bathroom. There were no miraculous revelations, no consoling visions. Very few visions of any kind, in fact. The only thing I remember with any clarity is seeing, with my eyes closed, undulating serpents of white light that emanated out from Miky’s direction as he sang to me, and with each new wave of snakes the nausea increased.

There was no respite. The intensity of the experience seemed to grow exponentially, uncontrollably with each passing moment. I remember mentally crying out for it to stop, feeling completely paralyzed and powerless to move with the exception of the seizures that racked my body every few seconds or so. Shaking and spasming involuntarily, I could barely claw my way to my bucket and raise my head the few inches necessary to avoid vomiting all over myself.

Within what turned out to be an hour and a half of the onset of the medicine, I was certain that the ceremony had been going strong for at least 7 hours, and that it had to be wrapping up momentarily. It turned out, of course, that I had about 6 more hours to go. There were moments throughout the night in which I began to honestly entertain the idea that this hell would never end, and that I’d be trapped in some kind of purgatorial (pun intended) limbo between my bucket and the bathroom for eternity.

I was sweating profusely throughout, despite it being relatively temperate in the maloka, and my nose was running like a faucet, presumably thanks to all of the cocaine that I used in the States. The vomiting turned to dry heaving, and I’d simply wretch and quake, bringing up little bits of bile and a whole lot of phlegm as the medicine scoured the bottom of my stomach for any remaining contents.

DSC00722As the nausea more or less tapered off, I was forced to make more frequent trips outside to the bathroom. I’d lift myself up (which took what felt like a Herculean effort at the time) and out of the hut and sit, doubled over on the toilet until whatever needed to get out was expelled. Then I’d drunkenly make my way back inside and lie down on the mat, only to realize that I needed to make another run to the shitter. At this point I was completely physically exhausted, dehydrated, empty and pissed off.

It was probably around my fifth or sixth trip to the bathroom that I started mentally cursing everything and everyone. Fuck Ayahuasca, fuck Miky, fuck these people sitting next to me, fuck their songs, fuck the jungle, fuck this maloka, fuck Peru, fuck every living thing on this fucked fucking planet. Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.

And, more than anything else, FUCK ME. I’d done this to myself, and now I had to get through it. I can’t tell you how many times while sitting in the bathroom, my eyes wide and darting like a lunatic, I hissed at myself: “You’re a fucking idiot.”

A side note: I’ve occasionally wondered whether or not the borderline masochistic process of Ayahuasca cleansing appeals more strongly to those of us with self-destructive personalities. Come for the hell, stay for the heaven. That kind of thing.

Anyway, I ended the ceremony angry. I was pissed off at everything I saw. I was pissed off at me, and I had taken just about all that I felt like I could take. I didn’t know if I’d come back to drink for a fourth time.

Stick with me. It gets better.

Return to the Jungle


I don’t really know where to begin.

I’m back in the jungle, finally, after nearly two very long, very aimless years in the States. My time there was not spent wisely. I worked a tedious, retail job for some time until I was fired. I drank progressively more and more, and I used various drugs. In the end, I had purposefully cultivated a mindset of general indifference. Feeling indifferent is easier than feeling hopeless.

I became scattered, abandoned things I had once felt passionately about. The days were monotonous, and I pursued nothing of value. I couldn’t focus, I watched too much television. I lost my enthusiasm and generally fell into a depressive state that, I know, has not yet fully dissipated.

Without getting into the details, circumstances seemed to conspire to force me back here. And that statement carries little positive connotation. I had nowhere else to go.

Of course, I’d wanted to come back ever since I left. But whereas upon my arrival in the US my goal felt clear and firm and unshakable, by the time I was in a position to purchase a return ticket, everything had gotten a bit hazy. And that’s the word that best describes what life had become for me: hazy. No clear destination, no clear path. A lot of stumbling.

So I boarded the plane, I flew to Florida. I boarded the second plane and flew to Lima. I spent the night in the airport and in the morning boarded the final flight to the jungle. All the while feeling as though I was in some sort of dream-state. Like I was watching myself going through the motions. But I didn’t experience the excitement like I always had before. I felt numb, disconnected, not present.

I should mention that throughout my sojourn in the States, I don’t think I ever succeeded in completely silencing that small voice within me that knew where I needed to be. But I sufficiently dampened the sound, and I was able to ignore it.

Alright, you get the picture. Things felt dark.

Hotel GavilanesSo I arrived in Pucallpa and was shown to my room, similar to the one I stayed in last time. Orange walls instead of hospital green, but more or less identical. I reached out to Papa Miky immediately, and he invited me to come visit with him at his house, very near the small hotel where he used to live. It was good to see him, and we spoke for a while about what had changed during my absence and what my plans were. Robert and Jurrien, two friends from past diets, stopped by and we all sat around chatting on the back porch for some time.

Miky informed me that I could open my diet on the 30th of May. Robert had been in diet since April, and Jurrien, as he told me later, felt like he’d been in diet since birth.

So, for simplicity’s sake, let’s jump to the 30th.

We met outside the Hotel Gavilanes, as always. During my time away, Miky had a maloka built on a friend’s property about 30 km outside of the city. We were driven there in a proper truck (luxury!) by another friend of Miky’s who, I think, is somehow associated with the hotel.

It’s a beautiful piece of property that Miky built on. The maloka itself is surrounded by a man-made lake that the owner stocked with 70,000 fish. At night the sky is often cloudless and clear and the Milky Way pours, glowing, from one end of the horizon to the other.

I approached the first ceremony with…well, “trepidation” is a good word. Fear, uncertainty, anxiety, and resignation are others. The only thing I felt fairly sure of was that Ayahuasca would not be gentle with me.

Noyarao Dieta – First Ceremony

The malokaThere were four of us that first night. The maloka can hold 20, so we all had plenty of space. Miky set up his mat in the middle of the room, as usual. After we got situated, one of the dieteros extinguished the lanterns that ringed the hut, until all the light that was left emanated from a single candle in front of Miky.

Papa began by purifying the space with mapacho (rustic, jungle tobacco) smoke, and then he whistled an icaro to the medicine in the bottle. After that, he called each of us up to drink. I was last. He gave me a knowing look and a little laugh, and asked how much I wanted. I took a full cup.

I’ll say again, for the record: the taste of Ayahuasca is so utterly repulsive that when you drink it, even once, you tend to have a nauseatingly visceral reaction to the very thought of the medicine for some time afterwards. There were several times in California that I had to suppress a gag reflex while reading descriptions of various ceremonies. Getting it down, as I’ve said before, is an act of pure will. I always exhale, and throw the medicine back in one gulp. Doing otherwise would be impossible for me.

I walked back to my mat and I sat in the darkness waiting for the effects to set in. It took quite a long while. As I sat there in silence, I took note of how discombobulated my thoughts were, how chaotic and disordered. I tried to focus, but I couldn’t. I’d really done myself in. I took comfort in knowing, despite feeling unprepared for what was about to happen, that Aya would do what was necessary. There was a an implicit threat in that word “necessary,” of course, but for some reason it shored me up.

I don’t remember how it started. It crept up on me. There were some patterns behind the eyes, I think. But the real visions slipped in subtly, and all of the sudden I was lost.

The medicine was incredibly strong. Prior to this experience, I had never been absolutely certain that I was dealing with external entities and not aspects of my own subconscious. But the realm I was carried into that first night left me with no doubt about the reality of the spiritual world in which I was immersed. And it was not a pleasant reality.

What I remember most vividly was the spider. It was there, hanging around the periphery, large and black and fat. I didn’t pay much attention, but it slowly asserted itself more and more forcefully, and suddenly I very clearly recognized its presence, and that it was a negative entity, a bad spirit.

Now, there’s some confusion here for me. I was aware of Ayahuasca, and I was aware of another spirit that was very clearly angry, taunting, antagonistic, evil. Two voices, and two separate personas. But there were certain points at which the voices and the personas overlapped, and it was difficult for me to discern between the two.

I felt as though I stood in a kind of spiritual courtroom, condemned. I was reprimanded again and again for not taking the path seriously. For allowing the drugs in, the alcohol, the various and detrimental energetic influences. This, I think, was Ayahuasca. She was very upset with me. The voice was screaming. She seemed hurt, offended. Pissed off and frighteningly so. I had made a commitment, a promise, and I had not kept it. A terrifying and humbling experience, to be sure, but one that I felt was just and deserved.

But there was something else, as well. Something that went further than merely chastising me for my foolish choices, something that wanted to hurt me, to make me feel pain, to bring me low and beat me down. Crippling thoughts:

This is not your path.

Even the medicine can’t help you.

You don’t belong here.

You don’t belong anywhere.

You’re not up to this.

Don’t kid yourself.

You can’t make up the time you lost.

It was the absence of love. Something like love withheld. Hatred, yes. But more like a disparaging tolerance, like ridicule, like mockery. It felt torturous, and I felt incapable of getting past it.

Meanwhile, my body was being racked by occasional spasms and uncontrollable shaking. I was coughing and hacking things up into my bucket. And there was no catharsis. I couldn’t even convince myself that any good was being done. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of hopelessness and inferiority.

Miky sat in front of me for a long time, singing and cleaning me up. He began to call out the bad spirit, and eventually sucked it out of me through the top of my head. I remember feeling grateful that he was there and working, but embarrassed, too. This was work he had to do because I’d acted irresponsibly.

Once he’d dealt with the spirit and cleaned me up a bit, he opened my diet. I was more or less incapacitated, and completely unaware of what he was doing. Suddenly he stopped singing and told me that my diet was officially open. I remember barely managing a half-hearted thumbs-up and muttering something like “great.” Somewhere along the line I had vomited, and I remember dry-heaving for quite a while.

The shaking and the spasms continued, and I more or less lay quaking on the mat for the duration. I was profusely apologizing to Ayahuasca throughout the latter half of the ceremony, mentally begging her to make it stop. Finally, of course, the effects of the medicine subsided and the last of the shakes petered out.

When I had enough energy, I stood up with a cigarette in hand and walked outside to be alone. I needed air. I needed silence. I breathed in deeply, and looked out over the jungle that surrounded us. The early morning fog was resting along the tops of the trees. It was a beautiful sight, and part of me knew that, but I wasn’t in any kind of mood to appreciate it.

I remember standing there smoking, kicking myself, reeling from the night, confused and generally wondering what the fuck I was doing.

The next morning, Miky asked me if I’d had a rough ceremony.

I still felt exhausted. “Yeah,” I said.

“Don’t worry,” he said, “it gets worse.”

I’ll leave it there for now.

Bits and Pieces


I’ve been in California for the last two months or so, visiting family and friends. I left Peru knowing that financial difficulties might prevent me from returning for longer than I’d like.

California, along with the rest of the United States, is possessed by a madness that’s difficult to isolate and describe to those who haven’t experienced it. It’s a general sickness, a lack of understanding, an unknowing. There’s a word used by those who walk the medicine path to describe a state of mental confusion, of internal chaos or disorder. The word is “cruzado,” which means “crossed.” The longer anyone stays here, the more pervasive the state becomes, I think.

Despite that, I’ve given quite a bit of thought to some of my experiences with Ayahuasca over the last few months. And I wanted to record some of what I’ve been able to figure out. This might interest some of you, this might not. It’s going to be a bit of a ramble, and probably less coherent than previous posts. More of a personal journal entry than anything else. I don’t have it all worked out, yet. I probably never will. But I wanted to share some of the ideas that I’ve been playing with over the last couple of months.

In my last post, I mentioned that I’d had some misgivings about the nature of Ayahuasca herself. I had asked her many times about her nature, her personality, what she wants from us. I couldn’t bring myself to simply believe (as Miky does) that Ayahuasca is a kind of divine grace, a medicinal plant placed here solely for our benefit, without expecting some toll from us in return.

When I asked her about herself for the first time, in a ceremony that took place inside the house of a maestra (female shaman) in Yarina, I received only incessantly shifting images. As the visions took me, I’d attempt to clear my head and start again. And when I did, she would transform into multitudinous forms before my eyes, and the more I attempted to pin her down, the more frenetic the pace of the transformations. I viewed this with extreme skepticism at the time, assuming it to be some kind of attempt at distraction (or, worse, a deception) on the part of Ayahuasca herself.

However, after having months to digest this, I’ve come to realize that she was, in fact, answering my question(s) directly. Nature itself can’t be pinned down to one form, or one type of creation. It is constantly undergoing change. Change is the only permanence within the natural world. This has been famously summed up by the dictum of Heraclitus: “A man cannot step in the same river twice.” I think that in showing me a constant transformation of form, Ayahuasca was communicating to me her inward essence – she is the spirit of Nature itself. Constantly changing and yet forever the same. My attempt to grab a hold of one aspect of her and to call that, definitively, “Ayahuasca” was born of a Cartesian, discursive mindset that’s bent on categorizing and classifying – today the hallmark of Western thought.

There’s an irrationality at work here. Which is why the medicine path is experiential and, in some sense, insusceptible to communication. (The irony of blogging about it…I know.) I think that over the last few months, I’ve gotten quite comfortable with the idea of irrationality, and I just want to outline my train of thought, briefly. Bear with me.

I’ve been reading quite a bit about quantum mechanics, a field which becomes more perplexing the more one knows about it. Niels Bohr once remarked that “Those who are not shocked when they first come across quantum theory cannot possibly have understood it.” The quantum world is a sea of particles, appearing instantaneously and apparently at random, and disappearing just as quickly. Constant change, much as I’d experienced in my attempted interrogation of Ayahuasca. There is very little, if any, discernible order to it, and yet it makes up our day-to-day world of trees, toothpaste and bobble-head dolls, all of which seem to obey a set of fundamental, mechanistic laws. The quantum world and that of the mundane don’t appear to bear any relation to one another, and this dichotomy has resulted in a kind of cognitive dissonance that’s permeated science since the first half of the 20th century. On the one hand, we live in a tangible, physical world of cause and effect, one that’s rational and generally well understood. On the other, the smallest components which we’ve been able to detect of said world  are seemingly completely void of physicality and reason. Theoretical physicist Richard Feynman cautioned his students:

I am going to tell you what nature behaves like. If you will simply admit that maybe she does behave like this, you will find her a delightful, entrancing thing. Do not keep saying to yourself, if you can possibly avoid it, ‘but how can it be like that?’ because you will get ‘down the drain,’ into a blind alley from which nobody has yet escaped. Nobody knows how it can be like that.

I think quantum mechanics represents, finally, the end of the classical, mechanistic view of the universe. Examining that world requires, I believe, a kind of filtering process that screens out the worst of Western, dialectical materialism. It is irrational (or, perhaps better, suprarational), and forces us to suspend our notions of sense, order, logic, and maybe even individuality. Suddenly we’re confronted with a an obstacle, in the face of which any amount of calculating intellect is helpless.

Obviously it’s been hard for the scientific community at large to digest that, which has resulted in the cognitive dissonance I mentioned previously. One foot on the land of set, physical laws, and the other in the sea of the chaos which appears to underlie it all.

Anyway. One thing that’s become clear over the last few decades of research into the quantum world, is that no single particle has any meaning on its own. It only becomes meaningful in its relationship to the countless particles surrounding it. But the nature of these relationships is entirely unclear, and in some instances, completely counterintuitive. The observer effect, nonlocality, coherence, etc… are all testament to this.

Which got me thinking about the nature of relationships (in all forms), irrationality and Ayahuasca. Relationship, even within the hard and fast world of classical geometry, seems a product of irrationality. The irrational numbers (numbers with decimal expansions that have no end, such as phi or pi) govern, for instance, the relationship of a circle’s circumference to its diameter (c=dπ, with pi traditionally shortened to 3.14 for the sake of practicality), and a square to its diagonal. Taking the last example, let’s quickly calculate the diameter of a square with a side length of 5. The formula is d=s√ 2 (diagonal equals side length multiplied by the square root of 2). So, the diagonal of a square with the side length of 5 is:

7.07106 78118 65475 24400 84436 21048 49039 28483 59376 88474 03658 83398 68995 36623 92310 53519 42519 37671 63820 78636 75069 23115 45614 85124 62418 02792 53686 06322 06074 85499 67915 70661 13329 63752 79637 78999 75250 57639 10302 85735 05477 99858 02985 13726 72984 31007 36425 87093 20444 59930 47761 64615 24215 43571 60725 41988 13018 13997 62570 39948 43626 69827 31659 04414 82031 03076 29176 19752 73728 75143 87998 08649 17787 61016 87659 28505 67718 73017 04249 42358 01934 49985 34950 24075 15272 01389 51582 27123 91153 42464 68459 31079 02892 31555 79833 43565 06507 80928 44936 18617 64425 46324 30624 74885 77109 16710 21428 43030 07341 23603 85717 92743 70778 28534 83882 68601 13242 72350 79294 00810 37923 74613 28613 00104 27922 33260 72919 94469 72185 46329 59001 55694 12323 40785 41315 05029 74293 52001 59324 01710 97448 63914 53205 22536 31844 06568 69927 62805 86610 20122 54561 38501 13470 56378 68136 40247 86905 44837 52009 18493 41842 25362 89968 23645 30381 49847 06902 37827 41186 44985 90163 40123 72103 14634 56242 95260 90502 22992 10752 95560 12472 06708 64265 73905 29018 01685 53865 45914 34657 35508 55558 41958 29086 34447 09879 35829 10760 64114 75924 42360 44847 31693 14457 81441 38297 63175 70271 13382 66198 47308 75564 58012 04357 75506 75752 27690 64378 00263 15734 00856 37013 26984 73512 01502 58747 65943 14628 15692 59408 17390 00784 68458 84409 26189 34202 61439 18814 69460 71503 27934 78434 29822 97577 75082 23622 54918 44801 84436 61557 19470 77883 25520 44195 71461 69056 60302 62168 14742 65852 49578 85878 11427 48707 19499 59401 08812 15482 60328 21059 13658 36312 87697 97358 62796 73186 19316 13074 13713 11104 33557 79197 99963 26058 81263 49458 77049 40796 74320 04172 85425 90736 11590 71020 35213 25452 82661 66699 21822 89328 984… and on.

The number continues forever, without repeating. The irrational hiding within the rational, or (if you want to get a little more metaphysical about it), the eternal hiding within the finite. Much as the irrational quantum world has been discovered hiding within the world of everyday experience. (I find this a much more convincing argument for the existence of God than philosophical ontology, by the way.)

Relationship, then, is mathematically irrational. In the time of Pythagoras, this was such a shocking notion that Hipassus, the Pythagorean credited with the discovery of irrational numbers, was said to have been drowned at sea, a victim of the gods, who were incensed by his indiscretion in revealing his findings.

So what does all of this have to do with Ayahuasca? Well, Miky likes to talk about the medicine in two ways. In describing it’s character, he calls it a grace. Grace, necessarily, is a break with the usual back-and-forth of cause and effect. Cause: you rob a bank. Effect: you go to jail. Grace: you’re pardoned. It’s something unearned, undeserved, and as it’s motivated ultimately (or ideally) by love, it ain’t rational (as anyone who’s ever experienced love can tell you). There’s more that could be said here, but it’s not necessary.

In describing the purpose of the medicine path, Miky always states that the point of Ayahuasca is to put us in right relationship with the world around us. People, nature, etc…

Relationship, grace, the revelation of Ayahuasca as the spirit of nature, constantly changing and yet ever the same, oneness within multiplicity and vice versa, the eternal within the finite, chaos within order… All of this speaks to irrationality, something that absolutely transcends the ratiocinative functions of our cerebral cortex.

Maybe it’s because all of this is, finally, motivated by love. Not necessarily in the sloppy, emotional sense (though that obviously has its place), but in the sense of affinity. Two or more things coming together, in relationship, and moving toward union.  And it seems right that oneness (in anything other than a relative sense) can never be grasped by our poor brains, as our brains derive knowledge only from comparison, and operate exclusively in the realm of duality. Part of why I value experience more than intellect.

These are just words. I don’t expect them to mean as much to a reader as the ideas mean to me. This is all self-evident to some, I’m sure. And I realize that the above is somewhat disjointed. But so am I.

All of this is to say that somehow during the time I’ve spent in the “madding crowd” I’ve become more comfortable with, more appreciative of the grace that is Ayahuasca, and far more aware of my need to walk this path as far as it will take me. I need the medicine like air. Like breathing. Here’s to hoping that I can get back soon.

Meantime, I’m floating down the river. Trying to hear those fucking birds.

Travelin’ Solo – 7.11.13


So it’s been a while since my last entry. But last night was pretty intense, and deeply interesting to me on a personal level, so I thought I’d share. This may be longer than usual.

mebucketYesterday evening marked the second time I’ve drunk Ayahuasca alone. The first occasion was about a week and a half ago. That experience wasn’t particularly eventful, and left me kind of cold, so I was hesitant to do it again. Both times I played a recording of a dieta ceremony in Paoyan. It’s a strange experience, sitting in a room, listening to the icaros pumping out of my computer speakers, and being completely alone. I didn’t much care for it. There are no blessings, as there are no maestros present. And as I’m not in this to simply trip, I wasn’t sure whether or not it was worthwhile to give it another go. As it turns out, I’m glad I did.

I took the Ayahuasca bottle out of the fridge around 8pm, and drank an hour later. During my first solo experience, I drank a relatively small dose, as I was unsure of where it would all lead. But, perhaps because I was overly cautious with the medicine, I didn’t purge. No vomiting, no shitting, nothing. It’s a difficult thing to describe to those who haven’t experienced it, but purging is easily my favorite part of the Ayahuasca ordeal. There’s something profoundly satisfying, refreshing, cleansing about emptying your stomach into a bucket. It’s not like throwing up when you’re sick. There are some similarities, obviously, but you’re expelling more than food and bile. It’s profoundly healing, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I’m not sure that there are words to communicate this effectively.

So, in an effort to guarantee a purge, I went in the opposite direction and took a very large dose last night. It may have been the largest dose I’ve taken so far. About half of a mug. I barely got it down, and had to fight the gag reflex for a few minutes after my last gulp.

I killed the lights, lit a mapacho and said a quiet prayer for guidance, clarity and safety. It’s become part of my ritual. I sat there for what felt like quite a while, listening to dogs barking outside and the occasional revving of a motorcycle engine. Neighbors came and went, and I waited. I started to get impatient, but I stopped myself. As the time passed, I watched the end of my mapacho, burning in the darkness. I always know when the medicine is starting to take hold, because the glowing tip of whatever I happen to be smoking begins to leave trails of light behind it as I turn my head from side to side.

When this commenced and a dizziness set in, I took it as a sign to play the recording. I began rocking back and forth to the sound of the icaros. I often feel, in ceremony,  like some kind of snake being charmed by the songs, moving involuntarily to the sound of the music. This went on for a while, and vague images began to take shape. Scenes of houses in the country, a nuclear explosion that ripped apart a small town, some natural imagery. Then it started up in earnest. I’ll try to describe all of this as I saw it, but chronology is a tricky thing when it comes to Ayahuasca.

Ayahuasca-GoddessI was reprimanded, to begin with. For the last few ceremonies, I’ve been incessantly asking Ayahuasca about herself. Questions like:

“What are you?”

“Why are you helping us?”

“What are you getting out of this?”

Miky refers to the medicine as a grace. I’m still suspicious. I feel like there must be a trade-off for the knowledge we receive during our sojourn in the spirit world. And I’m fine with some kind of metaphysical quid pro quo, but I want to know the price she’s asking before I pay it.

Most times I’ve received (at best) vague responses, or simply silence. This time, however, she had an answer. Of sorts. She told me it was arrogant, wrongheaded and stupid of me to think that I could wrap my head around what she is, and what she’s been for uncounted millenia. She showed me how small, and relatively inconsequential I am as a human being compared to the myriad forms of existence out there. She put me in my place. I felt dwarfed. It seemed like I was standing in the shadow of some enormous, cosmic entity.

So I decided it was best this time around to just shut up and listen to what she had to say.

  • shipiboTextilesFabric of the Universe: The first thing I experienced was, as in ceremonies past, a vision of the traditional Shipibo textile design being overlayed on everything around me. My eyes were open, and as I looked about the room, I realized that the walls, the chair, the dresser, the ceiling, all were made up of the strange, geometrical patterns so often found embroidered on clothes and tapestries sold in this area of Peru. The designs got smaller, shrank down to the point that they were barely visible. It was then that I realized (or was told – I can’t remember) that somehow this pattern constitutes the underlying fabric of the material universe as we know it.  Many myths speak of a web of matter that’s spun together by some deity or another, which binds everything, and out of which the physical world was created. The Alchemists might call this the Prima Materia. Plato speaks of geometrical archetypes (the Platonic solids) that constitute the root of everything we witness on a day-to-day basis. And philosophers throughout the ages have all maintained that number, shape and symmetry are the only things that truly matter, and that they function as a kind of divine language, speaking to us of the things of God. Sacred geometry. All these thoughts flew through my mind as I watched the shimmering, Shipibo design slowly fade out of view.
  • dnaDNA: Suddenly I found myself standing next to some kind of large transparent tube, through which a variety of long, green serpents were rapidly moving. The tube emptied out into what felt like outer space. I vaguely remember seeing clusters of galaxies, spiraling out and glowing with incredible intensity, yellow and white. As I watched, the serpents combined, and gradually merged with one another into the classic double helix form. And suddenly they were no longer snakes, but vast amounts of coiled strands of DNA. I was told to keep watching, and suddenly the DNA blossomed, expanded into a shape that I can’t even describe, but which was vastly more complex than our own genetic material. I felt as though the double helix was multiplied by 6 or 7, and the individual coils were beautifully connected, and radiated outward, mimicking the galactic spirals in the distance. It was as though I was being shown the biological makeup of a being incredibly more advanced than myself. I thought of Francis Crick, the discoverer of the double helix form of DNA, and his theory of directed panspermia, which postulates that at some time in the distant past an unknown culture sent out pieces of its genetic material across the universe, in an attempt to guarantee the survival of their species. Crick, incidentally, first saw the double helix while under the influence of LSD. I was in complete awe. And then it was gone.
  • edenThe Garden of Eden: Still surrounded by the breathtaking expanses of the universe, some gigantic hand pulled a canopy over me and created a brand new environment. It was entirely crystalline, and composed of enormous trees that towered above my head, with some kind of unidentifiable fruit hanging down, just out of reach. The whole scene glittered like a diamond. The trees, in ordered rows, felt like they were constructed out of enormous, precious stones that refracted the light from an unseen source. Throughout most creation myths worldwide, you’ll find an island, the place where everything initially came into being. The Japanese refer to the jewel trees of paradise, and it’s found in the epic of Gilgamesh (described as the garden of the sun), the Bible, Indian religious epics, and on, and on… In the past, on numerous occasions, I’ve referred to Ayahuasca as “tangible mythology.” Experiences like this one are why.
  • yggThe Bridge: Here’s where I lose the chronology. At some point, I was laying on my back, staring up at the ceiling and listening to the icaros. I think I’ve mentioned before that my hands occasionally seem to take on a life of their own during the ceremony.  They started moving, dancing almost, looking serpentine, and kind of slithering this way and that. I stared at my right hand (painfully aware that I was the embodiment of the stereotypical “tripper” at this point), and it started to disintegrate. I saw pieces of it just kind of fly away. It reminded me of how fleeting the physical truly is, and how foolish and short-sighted I can be when I’m caught up in it. Anyway, as my hand continued to dance there in front of me, it began to beckon to a corner of the ceiling. My eyes were open throughout all of this. Suddenly, from that corner, a hole seemed to open up, and light came through and connected with my head. Following the light, a golden-yellow bridge (that’s inexact, but it’s the best way I can describe it) extended out and appeared to connect with the area immediately above my eyes. It felt like the light was carrying information of some kind, and that it was inserted directly into my brain, or my consciousness…something. There were vague shadows of figures at the far end of the bridge, that I could only barely make out. They seemed to be motioning to me. I was reminded of the Bifrost rainbow bridge from Norse mythology, connecting the world of the gods to the world of men. When whatever was happening was accomplished, the bridge retracted and the light receded and the portal closed. I don’t know what information was deposited in my head, but I was left with a strong suspicion that an enormous serpent had given birth to the world. Interestingly, Miky informed me this morning that according to Shipibo cosmology, a giant Anaconda is responsible for dreaming the world into existence. Still not sure what to do with that, exactly.
  • em_spectrumLight: At one point, I was laying on my side, and was bothered by the little green light flickering on my computer. I tried to cover it up, and then I thought I’d ask Ayahuasca a question. I’d been thinking about the electromagnetic spectrum a bit, sound and light waves, so I asked her to tell me something about the nature of light. To show me how it works. She’s been fairly generous in answering my questions of late (those not pertaining to her), and last night was no exception. Soon after I’d asked the question, she showed me light, radiating out from a central source in an arc. It was made clear to me that all light is part of a circle, or a circuit, a closed loop. We see an infinitesimally small portion of it, and assume it to be linear. But (so says Ayahuasca) it’s not. I don’t know what that means exactly. I need to think about it. Toward the end of the ceremony, threads of light from outside of the room made their way through my curtains. I reached out and plucked them like guitar strings. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around that.
  • ouroboros-1-1The Circle and Duality: Following the lesson on light, I was placed in the center of a giant circle, which itself was situated in some kind of nebulous, red-tinted version of outer space. I focused on the point of the circle directly ahead of me, and suddenly, my eyes divided, each moving around the side of my head in opposite directions, tracing the limits of the circle surrounding me. This was an odd physical sensation. As my eyes met in the back of my head, they joined together and came up and over, following the medial longitudinal fissure of the brain that divides it into two hemispheres. They followed that path until coming to rest just between my eyebrows, where I felt a very interesting, activating sensation. I know any mention of a “third eye” sounds all too New Agey, but this is an honest record of what I experienced last night, and it has to be included. The lesson here was that in some sense, the observer creates duality. Without our perception, it wouldn’t exist. And yet that begs the question: why are we made to perceive in a dualistic fashion? It might be a chicken and egg situation. What I feel comfortable saying is that there is a relationship between the circle (which is always the symbol used in myth and philosophy to describe the undivided whole that preceded manifested existence) and duality. It’s a general statement, I know. I have yet to figure this particular vision out completely. It may just be something felt, something that’s beyond communication. I thought of the Ouroboros serpent, devouring its own tail.

There were a few other things, as well, but they don’t really need to be discussed. I had to wipe a lot of fuzziness off of myself during the ceremony. I would look at my hands and arms, and they appeared distorted, like I was viewing them through cataracts. When I wiped my hand along the parts of myself that were blurred, the gunk that was responsible for the distortion was removed, and I could see my limbs clearly again. It’s happened before, and it’s very strange.

At some point in the middle of the visions I recorded above, I vomited. Hard. The bucket got its fill.

That’s it for today.

10 Days in Paoyan – Part Nine, General Observations


I’ve been home for about 10 days now. It’s given me some time to digest the experience that I’ve reported over the last eight posts, and to let the knowledge that was imparted to me during the dieta settle a bit. I’ll keep this brief.

As I typed up the journal entries that I wrote over the course of the 10 days spent in Paoyan, I realized that some of them don’t exactly reflect my current outlook. Part three, for instance, was a gushing, emotional and personal recognition of a universal love that I’d chosen to ignore up until that point. And as I transcribed part eight last night, I was reminded of the intense flood of happiness and joy that washed over me following the close of the final ceremony.

As much as I value those revelatory experiences, I have been shown many times since returning that it’s necessary to temper my words somewhat, and to tailor my actions to my audience, to a certain extent. This is not to say that I believe we should smother the kindness or love or gratitude that we feel toward other people, or that we should don whichever mask is most appropriate depending upon our present company. But in thinking on the reactions of others, and how our words can have such a profound effect, I do believe that to function in this world we have a responsibility to channel that ever-present, universal love into the most constructive methods of building relationships that we possibly can. Different tools for different jobs. If we become so swept away by cosmic truths that we alienate others, what good are we?

Miky likes to talk about Ayahuasca as a medicine that can put us in right relationship with every living thing on the planet. He said the other night that it’s a good idea not to become “too spiritual” and also to avoid sliding away in the opposite direction. Walk the middle path. I tend to agree with that. Part of what appeals to me about Ayahuasca is that it starts from the gutter, and works up. There’s no pretense, no show, no smiley glad hands (to borrow a phrase). In fact, it’s mainly burping, coughing, farting, vomiting and shitting, with occasional bouts of feverish shaking thrown in for good measure. And yet, juxtaposed with all of that are sublime, spiritual revelations and personal insights that far outstrip the results of any conventional, therapeutic method or organized religious system that I’m aware of. Blissful heights and the bowels of hell. And that’s life. And any valid spiritual path, in my opinion, should recognize those two extremes, and embrace them both as necessary components of the human experience.

There’s a great Tom Waits song that begins “I like my town / With a little drop of poison”. And that’s probably my approach to spirituality these days, too. Without the poison, you’re ignoring a huge part of day-to-day existence.

I guess what this boils down to is honesty. I think we have to take frank and unflinching stock of the ugliness within ourselves, some of which we’ve sought out and some of which has been forced upon us, before we can hope to rid ourselves of it. And even when the healing process is nearing something like completion, the knowledge that our own past afflictions afforded us should never be discarded, or held at arm’s length, but utilized to provide help to others that want it. The world’s got no need for more breathlessly indignant prophets screeching about repentance. I think what we need now are real doctors, real saints, working quietly.

If that’s a bit muddled, it’s because I’m still processing. It’s a blog.

I also want to comment that the men and women who participated in this dieta couldn’t have been better. It’s rare, I think, to find even one person in the course of your life who really wants to cut the shit and get down to brass tacks. To skip the chit chat and focus on what’s important. And here were ten, gathered together in a little hut in the middle of the jungle, freely sharing experiences and observations. Really incredible.

The lessons that I learned during this first dieta in Paoyan will stay with me. I still feel that wellspring of love deep within me, and that’s still new, and somewhat difficult to properly direct at times. But it feels more useful now, less sloppy and wide-eyed. And that’s good.

I don’t want to over analyze this, so I’ll stop here. But before I do, one last thing: experiential knowledge is fantastically more rewarding than anything I’ve ever read in a book. I’d recommend it. It’s a trip.

10 Days in Paoyan – Part Eight


April 26th

Two things happened last night, at the final ceremony of the dieta, the Arcana ceremony. First, as you’d expect from the name, we received our Arcana, and closed our diets. Second, as perhaps I should’ve expected from the Nourayou dieta, I vomited, wretched, shook and heaved harder than I can remember in my life.

As the time to drink approached, my throat began to swell up again, and I asked Miky about it. He seemed to think that it was brought on by overexertion in the jungle during the hike the day before. Gilberto seemed unconcerned, and so we got ready to drink.

The dose was less this time, a little more than half of that of the previous two nights. Miky said this was because Arcana ceremonies are about, well, the Arcana, whereas the previous ceremonies were focused on healing. Not that healing doesn’t take place in the Arcana, it’s just not the central point. So I was expecting a less intense, less trying experience than those of the preceding nights. How foolish.

Just before the Arcana was to be administered by Gilberto, I started to wretch. I took my bucket with me as we gathered around the Maestro, and he began to sing to us. As he sang, my stomach turned, and I adjusted my position a little so that if and when I threw up, it wouldn’t be too close to the others. Gilberto blessed us, making the rounds from dietero to dietero, slowly. Luckily, he’d started with the person immediately to my left, otherwise I don’t think I would’ve been able to make it.

Following the blessing, I feebly scooted back to my mat (mercifully close by), and upon reaching it, in a near prone position, puked my guts out. But this was only the beginning. Some of the vomit made it past my inflamed throat, but some did not. And the solid material that my body so desperately wanted to expel didn’t even have a chance. Once the heaving abated for a moment, I collapsed onto my mat, shivering from the cold, shaking from the purge, and unable to move.

The physical exertion of vomiting, I find, can bring about intense visual phenomena. As I lay there, my eyes moving about the room, patterns started to appear and to overlay physical reality. Then the heaving started again. I forced myself up with one arm, and kind of propped my head directly over my bucket, waiting for the release. My stomach rejected the sickness inside of it, and I felt the surge of thick liquid as it traveled up my esophagus and made it’s way toward my mouth. But as it worked its way higher and higher up my throat, the passageway constricted, and the best I could do was spit out little droplets of the putrid sludge. The rest was forced back down, into my stomach, which in turn caused further heaving. This back and forth continued for some time. I don’t know how long, exactly, but it was a good while, maybe four hours or so.

It resulted in a good deal of pain, both in my stomach, which wanted to rid itself of the refuse, and in my throat, which simply wouldn’t let it happen. Due, I think, to the physical intensity of the experience, the patterns that I mentioned earlier became incredibly vibrant and intense. The only way I can think to communicate what I was seeing is to say that it was as if radiant, neon threads of orange, green, red had actually been sewn into the fabric of reality itself. And they had been arranged in designs that I was familiar with from the various Shipibo textiles I’d seen. I wrote previously that in one of the ceremonies of this dieta, I saw orange, glowing beads draped around Papa Miky. During this experience, as I looked around at everyone present, both the dieteros and the maestros were covered, practically wrapped, in the same beaded, orange necklaces.

Visions of spirals, concentric circles radiating outwards like ripples in a pond, shimmering eyes, and other images danced around me as I lay on my mat, completely fatigued and mentally begging for it all to stop. I’d never reached that point before. That was new. I’d never actually wanted it to stop. But there I was, thinking “Christ, how long can this last?”

Finally, toward the end of the ceremony, I started to become a bit concerned. Most people, including Miky, had stretched out on their mats to fall asleep for the last few hours of the early morning, and I was still wretching. So I tapped Miky on the leg, and he crawled over. I remember squeaking out something like “This stuff can’t get past my throat.”

He told me to drink some water, which I did, slowly. I don’t remember exactly what he did after that. He may have awakened Gilberto, or someone, because suddenly the icaros started up again. I know he sang, I remember that. And as he did, the contractions in my stomach increased, and in turn my will to force that shit out of me intensified, and I decided to put my remaining energy into bringing it up.

It didn’t work. I seized and gagged and dry heaved and coughed, but finally after many attempts, I had to collapse back onto my mat. I was spent, and just praying for everything to end, praying for a chance to sleep. I remember Miky crawled over, and I started to sit up, but he told me to just stay on the mat. He pulled out a bottle of Agua Florida and began to whistle an icaro into it. I was motionless, trying not to disturb my stomach, which had gone quiet for the time being. When Miky finished, he gave me the bottle, and told me to drink just a little bit of the perfumed liquid inside. I remember him telling me that it was strong, and to only have a small amount. I put it to my lips and tilted my head back. Boy, he wasn’t lying. It burnt a bit going down, but it felt pleasant to taste something other than dried saliva, regurgitated Ayahuasca, and the smallest bits of whatever we’d had for lunch.

I put my head back on the rolled up shirt I was using for a pillow, and waited. As time passed, maybe an hour or so, the need to vomit decreased, and I began to gag less frequently. Finally, thankfully, it stopped. And I sat up.

If anyone tells you that Ayahuasca is just a recreational drug, and simply another form of escapism, feel free to give them my contact information.

Here now, in my opinion, is the weirdest part of this whole experience. Despite the fact that last night was probably the most trying ceremony I’ve ever been through, and despite the fact that it felt relentlessly, physically racking, I awakened this morning with the lightest and most pervasive joy I’ve felt in a very long time. It’s that love I’ve been writing about. It started this morning, and has continued up until now. I feel like I have a limitless reserve of patience, compassion, understanding, happiness, and again…love. I’m actually forcing myself to keep a lid on it, but I can’t quite seem to wipe this stupid grin off my face. I’m not used to this.

Additionally, when I woke up this morning my throat was completely clear, with absolutely no signs or symptoms of what I experienced last night.

As I write this, we’re crammed inside the cargo hold of an old, rusted ship on our way back to Yarina. We’ll be traveling like this for about 15 hours. And yet, I’m intensely happy. And more than that, I feel overwhelmed by gratitude toward everyone that I experienced this with, toward Ayahuasca herself, and toward God. I’m sure this will fade, slowly, but these kinds of moments are incredibly rare. For now I’m just enjoying the ride.

Alright, that’s all for today.

10 Days in Paoyan – Part Seven


DSC00465April 25th

We took a jungle hike yesterday, to see the various trees and plants we’ve all been dieting, or that we might in the future. When we returned, I started to experience severe pain in my throat, and it began to swell up and was sore to the touch. I don’t know why exactly. But as I knew that Miky was going to give most of us a full cup that evening (“the warrior’s dose”) I became a bit concerned about physically getting the medicine down (to say nothing of its return journey).

When he came around, I took it in two swallows again, and on the second I had to really work to suppress my gag reflex. Several people began to vomit before the icaros began, but it didn’t kick in for me until about an hour into the ceremony.

I was lying on my mat, in my usual fetal position, and I realized fairly quickly that I needed to vomit, and that it was coming. I sat up. By this time I’d begun to talk with Ayahuasca, and she encouraged me to purge, to make the effort to get it out. I agreed (like I had a choice), but I asked her to take out whatever was causing the swelling at the same time. She said she would, so I sat up and eventually it came flooding out of my mouth. It hurt my throat, but not as much as I’d expected. After shaking a bit, I collapsed back onto my mat. It was freezing, and my teeth chattered as I worked to stretch my little poncho over my body in an effort to warm up.

I asked Ayahuasca if she’d gotten the sickness along with everything else in my stomach. It’s a very strange experience, talking to a plant in your body. She said that some of it had come out, but that I’ll deal with it in ceremony again tomorrow night. After that I should be fine. She said I could purge further if I wanted to remove it completely, but I couldn’t move, and that was okay.

Of course, I took this all with a grain of salt, and decided on a “wait and see” approach. If some of whatever was causing the swelling had actually been expelled, I could expect fewer symptoms and less pain come morning. If it was all just my imagination, then my throat would likely be the same, or worse, by sunrise.

I awakened this morning and the symptoms had decreased. As the day has progressed, they’ve decreased further. Draw your own conclusions.

I want to quickly jot this down, as it’s on my mind. In our lives, as we chase after the love and favor of another person, we’ve (I’ve) got to remember that at the end there is just one love, one beauty, that’s reflected in all of us, more or less strongly. We’re like men dying of thirst surrounded all the time by oceans of the purest water. I’ve been blind to this, in some sense willfully, for a long while.

DSC00466To continue with the ceremony: there was a point when my mind wandered, and I felt delirious, and I decided to try to call out to spirits, to see if they’d come, to see if they’d interact with me in a more tangible sense than I’d hitherto experienced. There are numerous kinds of spirit interactions in the world of Ayahuasca. Some I’ve read about, some I’ve heard about from others. In some cases, ayahuasqueros and long-time drinkers will even intermingle, marry and start a family with these beings. When I called to them, I immediately saw a figure, very far off and looking native, standing on at the water’s edge of a large river with his hand raised. But the person was obscured by an enormous cloud of insects, swarming between him and myself. Insects, as I’ve written previously, have so far symbolized the sickness inside of me, and have indicated my need to purge. The message was immediately clear: this kind of interaction will come, but in a long time, after more ceremonies and more cleaning than I cared to contemplate at that moment.

I thought about the Ayahuasca in my vomit bucket. I stared down into it and saw what looked like a hundred eyes looking up at me. It looked as though things were swimming around inside of it, as well. I wondered how it worked; how did this plant take from us all of the negativity, the accumulated shit of a lifetime? And a thought came, that was half mine, and half Ayahuasca’s, if that makes sense. This medicine absorbs the sickness in the same way that the Agua Florida absorbs the icaros. It takes it into itself, and is imprinted by all of our afflictions, and then forces us to reject it, carrying all of our sadness and turmoil and struggle outside of our bodies. The phrase “takes upon himself the sins of the world” came to mind. Afterwards, I asked Papa Miky about it, as I felt that it may have constituted more imagination than insight. He agreed and confirmed the validity of the thought, however.

Other things transpired during the ceremony, but there’s only one more realization that I’d like to mention. At one point, it felt like Ayahuasca was being quite playful with me, and it brought me a good deal of joy. Suddenly she said, “Let’s write a story together!” I laughed out loud and said no – I wanted to continue working. A little while later, she brought it up again. I remember that I smiled, and agreed. She asked me what we should write, and I drew a complete blank. I told her that I had no idea what to write, or even how to write in that state. I could barely formulate coherent sentences. All of the sudden we were at a large blackboard, and her hand guided mine, and I seemed to be tracing out cursive letters like I used to in elementary school. I didn’t know what to make of all of this, and I found it generally amusing, until all at once the intention was made clear. Ayahuasca was connecting me to my writing, reminding me of how much I enjoy it, why I started to begin with, the reasons that I should continue.

As these thoughts and memories came flooding back, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude toward Ayahuasca and God, and I saw clearly (in series of flashing scenes) that throughout my life, God has, either himself (I use the words “God” and “himself” for simplicity’s sake, but think of the concept however you please) or via others, always been willing to raise me up from the very bottom, as a child, and to teach me all that I require, starting from nothing. It struck me. Infinite patience, infinite love, always present.

10 Days in Paoyan – Part Six


DSC00499April 23rd

The ceremony last night kicked my ass.

When Miky came around, he gave me quite a large dose of the medicine, a full cup. I can usually get it all back in one quick shot. But this was too much, so I drank half, and then drained the rest. I didn’t dare think about it, as I knew that if I were to really consider the taste, the texture, the smell, I wouldn’t be able to keep it down. I’ve found that the thought of drinking is actually much worse than the experience itself. Usually.

I entered this ceremony in a very positive state of mind. I was open to whatever I was about to experience, and I think this facilitated Ayahuasca’s work. I was intent on only one thing, really, and that was to concentrate and watch, as Miky often encourages us to do. The visions came and went, and I let them, and didn’t attempt to analyze. I remember a few things.

There was a scene of a kind of corridor, suspended in the midst of a nebulous, red and purple space. The colors remind me, upon reflection, of the pictures I’ve seen from the Hubble. But the corridor was made up of men and women, human bodies, suspended, and their limbs were hanging down. One of the men fell out of his position, and he collided with the legs of the others as he kind of floated down and away, like he was in some sort of zero gravity environment.

That passed, and I continued to experience other visions and began to converse with Ayahuasca. Suddenly, it seemed like the Q&A portion of the ceremony, and for some reason, I asked “What does Ayahuasca know?” Immediately I felt the inadequacy and futility of my query. And there was laughter, and she said “What a Western question.” And then I saw her, for the first time. She was a beautiful woman, dark, with thick bands of color across her face, and she had this knowing smile. Her face came out of the darkness, and I saw it for just a moment, and then it was obscured by the shadows again. She looked amused, and understanding, and gently admonishing. Amazing.

There was another instance (I have absolutely no idea of the chronology of these visions, by the way, as time is impossible to reckon during the ceremony) when a black serpent appeared, looking menacing. I reminded myself of Miky’s statement. Concentrate and watch. And I wasn’t frightened, and I opened myself to whatever it was. And it looked at me for a moment, and then it lunged, and I saw its mouth open and its fangs extend, and I was bitten, but felt no pain. It seemed to smile as it slunk back into the darkness, and it was replaced by a kind of white smoke that took the shape of a human skull. It was clearly death. And at that point, I became afraid. And my thoughts started to run away and I began contemplating what this all meant. Was it a warning? A threat? A spiritual attack? Did it poison me somehow? But the words that I’d made my mantra for the ceremony came back: “concentrate and watch.” So I let my fear and questions go, and just tried to watch. And the visions progressed.

DSC00448There were two, maybe three times as well that I recognized the presence of Chiricsanango. I didn’t see the spirit, but it was associated with a physical symptom that I’ve never experienced in ceremony and that felt somehow foreign to Ayahuasca. This was an intense rush of blood to the head and incredible dizziness, the same that I’d felt after drinking the plant both times. I was surprised, and hesitated to trust my identification of this presence with Chiric, as I thought it would take longer to experience. But by the third time it happened, I was convinced and no longer doubted.

At some point during all of this I started vomiting. I vomited hard. I could feel the remnants of the fish and rice we had for lunch swim back up my throat and kind of explode into the bowl in front of me. My belly emptied – I remember knowing when it was completely drained. But I wasn’t done. I heaved and strained, finding little bits of Ayahuasca hidden away in the deep recesses of me. I vomited from my toenails. I pushed the bucket away, now at least half full, and stretched out on my mat. I began to think, for some reason, about vomiting particular experiences. I knew I wasn’t finished purging. I thought about my ex, my family, myself, nothing resonated. Then the depressive thoughts began to return, but I caught myself before I really started to entertain them.

And then it hit me: there is a part of myself that is in love with my sadness, my sickness, and that part is what’s preventing me from letting go of all the negative shit inside. That’s what I wanted to vomit. And the moment I realized this, a little creature appeared in front of me, looking like a cross between a gopher and a rat. I knew immediately that it was that part of me personified. There were others, too, as the night progressed, that I identified with jealousy, vanity, etc… but they weren’t the problem. It all came down to that little fucker who wouldn’t let anything go, that loved and protected the rest of my sins.

So I started chasing him throughout my body. I wanted to catch him, and I wanted to throw him up, to expel him from me completely. He mocked me, and taunted me as I did my best to lay hold of him. I attempted to vomit, with limited success, throughout the rest of the ceremony. I wretched until I was bringing up bile, and it burnt my throat and mouth. But I couldn’t catch him. He’d told me I wouldn’t. (But I fucking will.)

Later in the ceremony I realized that this thing I’d been chasing was just a manifestation that Ayahuasca had utilized in order to make it easier for me to remove that aspect of myself. It wasn’t a separate entity, it was just another part of me. The vision was necessary, however, and it helped me to identify what I need to rid myself of.

One more thing I’ll record: I’ve said before that I’ve been shown in numerous ways that I need love. More accurately, I need to learn to accept the love that’s always present. And there was a point in ceremony when I thought on this, and expected to feel that dearth of affection that I’ve experienced up until this point. But I couldn’t find that emptiness, that lack. I searched myself, but it wasn’t there. I was very surprised. Even now, as I write this, though I know I’m still searching for it, it’s not so palpable a want as it was before. This is just one example of many that I could recount of Ayahuasca’s healing ability which I’ve experienced in my short time spent drinking.

Tomorrow’s ceremony will be powerful. It is the 4th and last before the Arcana ceremony, and I expect that the healing will be deep and intense.

10 Days in Paoyan – Part Five


April 22nd

This will be short.

Last night I became Papa Miky’s student, or apprentice. He prefers “student,” I think because it’s less formal. I’d been thinking about it for quite some time, particularly in the last few days, as I mentioned previously. But I needed some days to process it, to evaluate whether or not I could really make the commitment. Finally, I realized that I could say without equivocation or doubt that this is the most important work I’ve ever done in my life.

Since I was a child, I’ve searched (with various degrees of success) for truth, for God. I wouldn’t have guessed that I’d find it in the Peruvian jungle. But maybe I should’ve. Of course, it’s not the place, and it’s not the people. As I wrote previously, I’m realizing that the truth, the presence of God, is within, and no matter how long you run, and no matter where you may travel, it’s only when you look inside, without reservation, no matter the ugliness, that you’ll get closer to the goal. So maybe in some sense it’s not even Ayahuasca. She’s just got the key that fits the lock.

DSC00470So what does this mean? Well, if I said I knew what to expect, I’d be lying. I’ve got a general idea. It will require a lot of work, an overwhelming amount of learning (and patience, I know), over a period of at least 10 years. I’ll be 40 before this part of my path is completed. It feels a long way off. And it’s never really finished.

Miky has said, many times, that you can’t rush this process. This morning we were talking about the work, and he repeated that the key to all of this is concentration. But he stated also that this is not an active concentration of the mind – rather, it’s a concentration of the soul. This ties into the idea of the observer in eastern meditation. You cannot control your thoughts, but you can recognize that your thoughts aren’t you. You quietly watch as one idea after another enters and passes through. This watcher is the real you, the part removed from the drudgery of mundane existence, and all of the peaks and valleys associated with it.

This connects to a lesson that’s been impressed upon me repeatedly during ceremonies: BE HERE, NOW. The present moment, which may well be beyond cerebral comprehension, as it’s a point of synthesis, beyond the duality of past and future. I need this in ceremony, and I need it in my daily life.

I’m very much looking forward to tonight’s ceremony. I’m going to make an effort to concentrate. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Last night I drank Chiricsanango for the second and final time in this dieta. I know I dreamt, but I can’t remember much of anything about the dreams. I think they were kind of rapid fire, one after another without ceasing. Papa Miky gave me a larger dose this time, and my extremities were almost completely numb, along with my face and lips. Two doses is all that is necessary to accept the spirit of Chiricsanango into your body, and now, according to Miky, I will eventually experience that spirit in ceremony, though that may not happen for some time.

One last thing. When I asked Miky to teach me, and he agreed, we talked for a while. We were sitting in the hammocks discussing what I might be able to generally expect.

He laughed and said “You’re fucked now!”

I said “Yeah, I hope so.”