I have had many journeys with several medicines. This time, in the Peruvian mountains, it was ayahuasca took me on an almost unbearable journey of transformation. I was told the medicine would be strong, but I wasn't quite expecting the intensity of this experience.
I had simply asked 'to really feel.' I suspected that my depth of feeling could be more than it was, that past hurts had numbed me to some degree, no matter how sensitive I was day to day. My ego played its usual tricks in the beginning, somewhat convincingly trying to predict and resist the experience.
That didn't last long though. A while after it started to work, my purging began - for me it's often more of a physical loss of control, bone-chilling cold, streaming eyes, nose, huge unexpected jerks in my limbs, sighs and yawns...
The sadness emerged from within
I was suddenly overwhelmed by a sadness from deep within; it seemed to rise up from the pit of my stomach, and found its way out through my eyes. I didn't know where it was coming from exactly, but intuitively it seemed to be an accumulation of unprocessed events, recent and years-buried, combined with the pain of the Earth.
The crying is just another form of purging, but I was starting to get cramps and stabbing pains in my stomach with it, which became overwhelming.
Nobody will tell you ayahuasca is easy, and on this occasion I was reminded why. The visions flowed with an almost mind-melting intensity, helped along by the chacruna DMT, and I lost orientation of my physical self.
As I sat upright to try to alleviate the twisting in my stomach, my head fell back and my being seemed to shoot up out of my open mouth. I didn't know if I was upside down or inside out, but I was in a spinning vortex of tiny cubes, each spraying whirling colours of an other-wordly spectrum.
My body was not the only thing that felt alien
I forgot where 'I' was and it took a major effort to regain my orientation. Needing to leave the room, I attempted to stand, but my body was alien - my legs wouldn't do as I asked. One of the guys, Jordan, helped me outside into the night air, and we sat in silence as I gazed into the transmuting scene before me.
It resembled a kind of dark, digital art; a storm had started and the moonlight was veiled by sheets of rain. The black silhouettes of the plants loomed large, and I could hear alien sounds echoing, vortexes opening and closing, indescribable chatter.
Dark elements seemed to be vying for my attention and I realised that if I wanted to, I could succumb to fear. I felt infinitesimally small, as the medicine showed me again a fraction of the magnitude of creation, and how futile my questions about it were.
I was a dot in the ether, part of everything yet individuated, for now. Waves of this realization threatened to drown me, but the voice of ayahuasca said, not for the first time, “you have a choice’’.
I chose love, and potential fear of the dark unknown subsided. Then, every time I closed my eyes, snakes, butterflies, owls, panthers and Guacamayo spirits - all made of moving sacred geometry and innumerable colours - soared through my vision.
I had never been so overwhelmed
My eyes streamed and my head refused to stay lifted. I have never been so overwhelmed by this medicine; I felt it took over my whole being, twisting and knotting my stomach, tearing out unresolved emotional matter while my energy-self sat by and watched it unfold.
After some time, the door opened, grabbing my attention. It creaked, and I heard it as a word… ‘breathe!’. I realised that I wasn’t breathing and it was exacerbating my discomfort. That the door had opened and appeared to instruct me to breathe was ludicrous, amusing and symbolic all at the same time.
I burst out laughing and told it to Jordan. He told me he had said it. I insisted it had been the door, and we erupted into fits of giggles.
As I regained control of my physical self and vision, I made my way back inside. The physical discomfort was so strong and all of my muscles tensed with resistance. Then, suddenly I saw the ‘Pachamama’ spirit, a giant mirage of a goddess with a snake around her neck.
She swept her arm (which had then become a giant angelic wing) across my vision, and told me ‘you are fighting yourself.’ With that realization, my whole body released the tension and I felt total love and appreciation envelop me.
Spirits came to visit
Two friends of around my age (unrelated) had recently passed away, which had made me sad. I hadn’t been thinking about them at the time, but suddenly, they both appeared. They started to speak to me, explaining that nothing that seemed important really was. They were so full of love that it too was almost too much for me to bear.
Tears streamed down my face but I smiled throughout. One of them showed me his relationship with our mutual friend as a pure and unbreakable brotherhood, and I knew that I was to pass the sentiment on. The love that the two spirits emanated was so powerful and all consuming that I felt I had never received anything like it on the physical plane. I felt total gratitude for their presence.
This expanded into thoughts of others in my life, especially the family of beautiful people that I was fortunate enough to live with on the Peru retreat, most of who were in the room and sharing the experience. Again, I could not have been more grateful for them and the experiences we were sharing. They are so open, talented and caring, and we had an understanding that was automatic; it was a relief to have found them.
Telepathy was a big feature
My thoughts expanded further to the whole of humanity, and I recognised on a deep level that the ‘human family’ really is that. My love for the whole of humanity was all encompassing at that moment, and then I heard the word ‘multicolores’ in the icaro that Loyver, our shaman, was singing.
I realised that for around the third time that night I had telepathically picked up the meaning of his icaros, and it had pervaded my vision. Previously this had happened with animal spirits he was singing about, before I had consciously understood the meaning.
It had been clear to me that most of the others were feeling the medicine’s intensity in similar ways, but as it slowly calmed, so did Loyver’s soul-soothing singing, and a fire was started in the centre of the room to mark the close of the ceremony.
We all sat up in silence, watching the flames flickering as the sweet smell of burning Palo Santo wood washed over us. We slowly moved to sit around the fire talking, playing Tibetan bowls and singing. One of our team, Jonathan, talked about a song he wanted to play on his guitar, about Pachamama.
As he said this, the guitar, a foot away from him, emitted a chord seemingly of its own volition. All heads turned in surprise; nobody was anywhere near to the guitar! After looking around at each other, we all laughed in recognition.
This experience was extremely intense, but equally as healing, clarity-inducing and awe-inspiring. Today, the gratitude for my life and the wonder that I have for creation is as intense as the peak of the medicine experience.
For knowing what I know, seeing what I see and appreciating both the now and what is to come, in all its forms, is a gift greater than words could ever convey. For me, that is the meaning of love, and at this point I consistently extend that to myself, no judgment, just compassion and acceptance. For me, that is the meaning of healing.