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.
I 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.