Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca Part 13

Now I’m going to go ahead and skip all the way to the ceremony for this part because it’s a long one. And at this point I’m sure you have an idea of how my day went:

Fruit, hammock, breakfast, hammock, lunch, hammock, nap, ceremony.

Wow time really flew eh.

As night fell we gathered in the ceremony house once again for our third experience of the retreat. It would be myself, AJ, J Balvin and (if I remember correctly) Michelle Pfeiffer participating in this ceremony. We took our seats on the same mattresses as before and one by one walked up to the bartender to pour us that shot to take us over the edge. The candle went out, the Shaman began singing and we were off once more.

The visions kicked in quickly and intensely as they had before. But instead of a happy, loving vibe, this trip began in a much darker place. Laying on my mattress with my eyes closed I saw a cloud of black smoke fill the maloca almost completely, hovering just above the eyes of everyone on the mats. The smoke slowly began to take the shape of a giant spider with the head above where the Shaman were seated and it’s bulbous back above our heads (and far too close I might add). Then the texture of the spider’s back began to form into millions of tiny demon masks. But not like typical red and black devil faces. The masks were wild colours, lots of silvers/whites, and the features were all distorted and spinning in all directions or changing places instantly.

This was not okay.

Something I had been doing in order to keep myself grounded was to lay with my left foot off the bed and if things got too intense I would tap my heel on the ground to be like “oh good, still here.” I tapped my heel and opened my eyes for a second. No spider. All good. When I closed my eyes again it was still quite present in my vision however. I remembered the Shaman saying never to worry about what we saw, everything had a purpose (except those lucky cats apparently) and that the maloca was cleansed of evil spirits. But seeing this mayhem happening an inch from my nose was tripping me out a little so I sort of “looked” to the Shaman with my heart or my mind’s eye, or whatever you want to call it, for reassurance and I received it in a bright orange pulsing light in the distance. So I stuck around and eventually this nightmare was over.

My trip was far from finished though.

Everything went dark and a double swinging door appeared before me. My mattress changed into a mine cart and I heard a voice say “please keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times” which forced me to physically pull my heel off the ground and onto the mattress. As I did this a track shot out in front of me and I was off on an amusement park train ride like one of the mine cart stages in Donkey Kong. I was whipping around left and right and going up and down hills. It was quite the thrill ride. Then another set of double doors would open up before me and I would be shown a memory from my past. Once the memory finished playing in my mind, the track would appear again and we’d be off. This happened several times and unfortunately I couldn’t remember the memories I had been shown after the ceremony had finished.

Save for one.

The doors opened again and I was transported back to when I was two years old. I was watching myself on my lawn at my grandma’s house and I remember thinking, “holy fucking shit, that’s me, that’s my grandma, that’s our house, I remember all of this.” So here’s two year old me rolling around like a fucking dummy, doing somersaults or something and in my little baby brain I was going “daddy daddy, look what I’m doing, isn’t this amazing,” but not using those words, more like expressing that exact feeling with my heart.

Here’s a little something you may not know about me. I’ve never met my father. And apparently this was when I realized this as a baby.

So it was at this moment that little baby Shawn went, “oh…I’m supposed to impress this person…but they’re not there…so why would I try hard at anything then if I can never impress the person I need to.”

And from that point on I became an underachiever. My inability to accept praise/love from others also stemmed from this moment. When people would offer their love and support I would reject it because I wasn’t looking for theirs…I was looking for his.

So I was all like, “well fuck, doesn’t that conveniently explain so much about me.” Then a final set of double doors appeared and my cart was off once more.

Now, when I had spoken with the Shaman about my intentions for coming here, he had mentioned that my problems would be easy to remedy. What I failed to mention before was that he also said that the reason I was feeling lost or depressed or whatever the feeling was that convinced me that this adventure was necessary, was that I lacked direction in my life. I lacked passion and purpose.

Thankfully, my ride wasn’t over yet.

As it reached the end of the track it just sort of dissolved and I walked up onto a gigantic stage. It was tall and made of wood with a big tapestry over the top which made it look like a puppet show.  As I approached the front of the stage I heard an eruption of applause and began clapping myself (actually physically clapping in the real world) and I even said (out loud), “well done everyone, we did it! Goodnight.”

I can’t explain how I knew, it was like it was always there. But in that moment standing on that stage I realized my purpose in life was to entertain people.

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Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca Part 12

I slept soundly after the ceremony and awoke to the simple pleasures of fruit and tea once more.

The jungle was beginning to kick my ass however.

Being that I am a sensitive little ginger with delicate, fair skin who often experiences breakouts from exposure to Canadian pollen and Ontario temperatures, the flora and ungodly humidity I had put myself in was beginning to take a toll on my body in the form of one serious heat rash. Pair that with the mosquito bites (as it turns out my skeeter defeater only works when you spray it on yourself) and you get yourself one seriously uncomfortable state of being.

If I were ever to torture someone I would tie them up and release a single mosquito to continuously buzz past their ears. That sound may be the single most annoying thing in the world and maybe I’m the only jackass that does this but having to constantly slap your own head and neck trying to kill the little assholes isn’t fun either. Bats jumped to my top 3 favourite animals after humans and dogs because they are mosquitos natural predators.

This day was exciting for a couple of reasons. The first being that we had no ceremony in the evening which means we would be eating dinner. That’s right folks, dinner. What a time to be alive.

The second reason was that a small village of Peruvians came to the retreat with handcrafted goodies for us to buy. Now, I’m not one for crafts/decorations/art to be perfectly honest and I was beginning to feel bad as they all looked at me expectedly. I was beginning to get discouraged and felt I should just buy anything at this point because they had travelled all this way.

And then I saw it. It was beautiful. Practical. Functional.

Blessings be upon the woman who made the straw fans. She showed me proper hand placement and away I went, wafting wonderful waves of cool air upon my battered being. It was revitalizing and because of its crosshatched design it doubled as a mosquito murder device.

I paid this woman whatever she asked which was probably too much but I can’t remember. All I knew was that besides my passport and wallet, this fan was now my most valuable piece of property on this trip.

Again, not a lot happened during the day but during dinner I must have said something to the effect of “this is the craziest fucking shit I’ve ever done,” because Michelle Pfeiffer said something that I immediately wrote into my journal and has stuck with me ever since:

“You left your country to fly across the world to a country you’ve never been to, where nobody really speaks your language, met with a man who you don’t know who took you on a boat ride 2 hours down the Amazon river to the middle of the jungle to drink a plant medicine with other people you don’t know and know nothing about. That takes balls.”

And balls I would need because the ceremony on the following night would give me the revelation I had journeyed all this way to receive.

Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca Part 11

The next morning I woke up to another plate of fruit and a jar of tea which, having not eaten since about 3pm the previous day, I promptly scarfed down. Breakfast couldn’t come soon enough at this point.

Another one of the facilitators arrived this day – a beautiful, young Peruvian girl who we’ll call Rica. Rica was an aspiring musician/singer (probably still is as of this writing) and I was excited to hear her music. She would not be facilitating tonight however. Instead, she and the owner would also be participating in an Ayahuasca ceremony with us.

Aside from lunch, nothing of note really happened during the day so allow me to skip to the goods.

Night time fell and the staff retrieved us from our houses. Myself and the other guests took our spots as we had the night before with the owner to my right and Rica completing the half moon. The Shaman told us we would be taking a full dose tonight as he could tell we were all handling the medicine well. One by one we walked up and took our shots. It got harder and harder to drink these things every single time. In fact, the only thing that might hold me back from doing Ayahuasca in the future would be that taste.

After we had all taken our medicine, the Shaman blew out the candle and the ceremony began. As he began singing his icaros things got intense real quick.

I’m going to try and describe some of these visions as best I can but to be perfectly honest, it’s impossible to explain some of the things you see because you’ve never seen them before (if that makes sense). It would be like trying to describe the colour red to a blind person. But here goes nothin’.

Incredible bursts of light and bright colours appeared before me. Shades of gold and silver that were indescribably luminescent began popping like fireworks. It was like being inside of a kaleidoscope. I saw pure energy which was made up of interlocking shapes (I’m losing some of you here aren’t I? Don’t worry, it gets weirder).

Flying through this tunnel of colours and shapes at rapid speed, gigantic bright neon billboards began popping up on either side of me. I got the instinct that I was being distracted from something and tried to focus on what was in front of me but to no avail. The billboards were too flashy. Suddenly there were thousands (I mean, probably, who was counting?) of lucky cats – those cats with the 1 paw up you see in sushi restaurants – flying past me.

Now, they say that everybody that takes Ayahuasca gets visited during their experience by a female spirit who they call Mother Aya. You either see her or hear her but she makes sure to check in on everyone. It was at this point I heard a female voice in my head or heart or wherever the fuck it was coming from and all it kept saying was “You’re okay.”

“You’re okay.”

“You’re okay. Bad things may have happened to you, but you’re a good person. You’re okay.”

Over and over again until it really sunk in. I was a person who had a big problem with negative self-talk and low self-worth etc. So to hear this reassuring voice continue to remind me that I was “okay” was possibly the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard. So naturally, I began weeping like Jason Momoa just proposed to me. For realises, in front of everyone else in the maloca, crying hysterically at this revelation that maybe I wasn’t a total piece of shit. As this happened I was filled with this feeling of love and appreciation for everything in my life – the people, the experiences I had etc. It was (and still is) the best feeling I’ve ever experienced.

After this I envisioned myself laying on a surgery table and having countless micro sized, alien doctors running along my skin trying to locate something. I was laying back with my left arm above my head on the mattress and I began to feel a tremor in my left wrist as if they had found something. As my wrist continued to spasm I could feel the little fellas beginning to expel some sort of dark energy from my body through my fingertips.

The Shaman lit the candle and the ceremony was technically over. The effects of the medicine were still quite active in my body however, so I remained laying on my mattress with my eyes closed. I began to hear a very beautiful song and a girl singing and thought I was tripping out still. Turned out to just be Rica sitting up on her mattress, playing her guitar.

Regardless, it was a lovely melody and a perfect way to end the most beautiful night of my life.

Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca Part 10

As the sun set below the canopy of the jungle, one of the staff (there were several men and women from a village nearby that worked at the retreat doing…literally everything to keep this place running) came to bring me to the ceremony house. I grabbed a blanket, a waterbottle, my headlamp and my balls and followed the man to the maloca.

I was the last one to arrive because I was out in the boonies. Looking around the room there were mattresses laying in a semi-circle propped up slightly at the top. Next to each mattress was a little bucket in case we had to vomit. In the centre of the room was a single lit candle that illuminated the entire ceremony house (cool design). The outside of the room had a bench that wrapped all the way around. Seated across from us were the two Shaman and our facilitator Michelle Pfeiffer. In front of them was a table set with candles, a few gourds of liquid and a pack a darts cuz tobacco, like Ayahuasca, is a master plant used to ward off any evil spirits that may enter the ceremony house. To their right was a door that led to a bathroom where many of us would be spending a great deal of time.

The others had taken their places next to each other on the far side of the room and so I took the next available spot straight across from the Shaman. The second Shaman, (we’ll call him Horacio), blew Florida water (which I swear I misheard a million times and definitely thought it couldn’t be called Florida water but a quick Google search and, here we are, it’s Florida water) onto all of us as another method of cleansing us before the ceremony.

The Shaman told us that he would only be giving us a half-3quarter dose for our first time because he wanted to allow the medicine to acclimate to our bodies. I wasn’t about to argue with the doctor about my dosage. One by one, starting with the Shaman’, we walked up to the table to receive our dose. (Oh yeah, the Shaman take it too so they can be on the same level as us in order to guide us through the experience.

Now, I don’t think I made it clear just how fucking disgusting this shit tastes. Like, I have nothing to compare it to. It follows the Buckley’s formula x100, tastes awful but boy does it work. It’s like sour manure. That’s the best way I can describe it. I can honestly still taste it in the back of my throat sometimes. The memory is embedded in my mind and it still causes me to gag. So didn’t I pick the worst possible seat as I had to watch every other person take their shot and almost puke and make gagging sounds and shit before I got my turn.

After taking the medicine I sat back down on the mattress with my legs crossed as well as my non flexible self could cross them. The Shaman blew out the candle and I closed my eyes in the pitch dark. Outside the ceremony house it started raining (it did this a lot in the rainforest). The Shaman then began singing a special song called an icaro (YouTube Icaros, it’s wild stuff). Just as he began singing there was a loud clap of thunder (I can’t make this shit up…well I could but I swear this happened).

As the Shaman sang his icaros, my visions started. They were very light, I saw waves and coloured lines and stuff like that, similar to a mushroom trip if anyone reading this has ever experienced one of those. The lines seemed to move with the music as the Shaman sang and started to form cylinders. I lifted one of my arms and (eyes still closed) could see it in my vision and started trying to maneuvre it through the cylinders like the second stage of Star Fox 64 when you’re in the asteroid field and you have to fly through those colourful star things to get to the secret stages. After this I saw a large tree forming out of the ground and many vines branching outward from the trunk. Along the vines were thousands and thousands of eyes, half shut, staring at me. They all had deep coloured eyeliner, lots of reds, greens and purples. It was hauntingly beautiful.

It was about this time the second Shaman began singing. Now the first guy will sing to the entire group. After that, the second Shaman comes and sits in front of each individual and sings directly to them, but loudly enough that everyone else can hear as well. As he began singing to AJ I believe (eyes still shut) I began feeling an awful cramping in my gut. I decided I’d better rush over to the bathroom before the Shaman got to me because I didn’t want to miss my solo.

I very gradually rose from my mattress, took my headlamp and – because Ayahuasca disorients the fuck out of you – stumbled towards the bathroom.

*GRAPHIC LANGUAGE AND IMAGERY*

I sat down in the stall and was sweating BUCKETS at this point. I was still having visions and I could “see” a snake coiling around in my bowels. That’s not a euphemism, like an actual snake. But for some reason I just couldn’t go. I suddenly had this epiphany that whatever this “snake” was, represented the problem that I had to deal with and, given that this was my first ceremony, I was not yet ready to tackle this issue.

I went back to my mat and lied down to enjoy the rest of the experience. The cramping began to subside thankfully and the rest of the night was very relaxed.

Now, time doesn’t really exist during the experience. The ceremony begins around 8pm, then you go on a journey, then it’s over and you come back to reality. So when the Shaman lit the candle to light up the maloca again, I was unsure of just how long that took. Apparently about 3.5 hours which sort of blew my mind because it felt like it flew by.

AJ left quickly after the ceremony so J Balvin and I sat up discussing our experiences. Both were quite chill with not a lot of wild visions which I was happy to hear. I was also happy that I could now return to my house because now that my visions were over I was quite confident that there wasn’t an actual snake inside me but whatever it was I would like to go remove it in the privacy of my own crib.

With a lot of help, one of the staff guided me back to my hut and the first night of Ayahuasca came to an end.

 

Part 9 Here:

Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca Part 9

The next morning I woke up and didn’t know what time it was and couldn’t care less. It was the first time I had woken up without an alarm in probably months and it felt amazing. I didn’t check my phone for emails or texts or to see what everyone posted on instagram since I had fallen asleep. I just…got up. What a concept.

I looked at the little table that sat outside my front door and there was a plate of fresh fruit and a mason jar full of tea waiting for me. Half excited and half thinking (I need to consume this before the baddies in the woods smell this and get it first) I quickly grabbed it and brought it into the crib. The fruit was insane. So fresh and juicy and they served it every single morning. Watermelons, strawberries, bananas, plantains and a bunch I’m not completely sure I ever found out the names of. The tea was also quite good. And I’m not much (at all) of a tea drinker but I downed every glass of that stuff.

After chilling out for a bit I made my trek to the main area in time for breakfast to be served. We all gathered in the dining area and Martine joined us as well, hanging out just outside the mesh netting. He then began furiously masturbating for us. Apparently monkeys get morning wood as well (they’re just like little people!) I thought that little monkey was gonna rip his little monkey off.

After the food and the show were over we sat in the waiting area to meet the Shaman who would be guiding us on our spiritual journeys. Apparently we had already met as the man who had been driving our boat and helping us with our luggage approached and introduced himself as the Shaman. Not exactly what I had pictured in my head. Definitely expected more of a headdress than a Toronto Police hat but hey, the guy had kept me alive for a 2 hour boat trip through the jungle, why not a 3-4 hour trip through my own head. Alongside him was an older man who was also a Shaman but would be acting as a backup Shaman? Or something? I wasn’t really sure at this point but the second guy just kinda smiled and laughed a lot and didn’t say much. Dude seemed really peaceful.

After a brief meeting we all got up one by one to meet with the Shaman(plural) and Michelle Pfeiffer (who also acted as a wonderful translator) to discuss what our intentions were with taking Ayahuasca.

AJ went first and discussed how throughout her career she had seen some of the worst sides of humanity and was feeling super depressed because of it.

J Balvin spoke about a heroin addiction that he had no other idea on how to kick.

Then it was my turn.

I didn’t mention in previous posts my reasons for being here. There were two things about myself that I wanted to change and was curious what the root causes were

  • I could not accept compliments, praise, or love well. I would often get mad at people for being nice to me.
  • I had a huge problem with self-sabotage. Every time I got close to success in career, relationships, personal development etc, I would just kind of get in my own way.

But after hearing about the others intentions mine just seemed silly and I expressed this to the Shaman. He told me that my problem was mine and that I should not compare my problems to others. He also said that it was indeed a small problem for now but would eventually become a big issue as I got older. He also assured me that it would be an easy problem for us to work through together.

After lunch and being cleansed (the Shaman poured buckets of cold herbal water on us which was super refreshing and smelled amazing) we were told to spend the day relaxing and reflecting on our intentions.

As the sun set the staff would be retrieving us from our huts for our first Ayahuasca ceremony.

Part 10 Here:

Part 8 Here:

Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca Part 8

After getting myself as comfortable with my surroundings as I could, I began my long journey back to the main building. Along the path there were these tall, orange ant hills rising out of the ground. At least, I was pretty sure they were ant hills. I didn’t see any ants around and I prayed I never would.

I’m gonna be completely honest here and say that I have little recollection of most of the timeline of some of the events during these 12 days as most of it was spent laying in a hammock for hours, reading and trying to convince Martine to quit ear-fucking the girls so I’ll try and get to the juicy parts.

Anyway, I made it back to the main building and (if I remember correctly and I probably don’t) food was just about to be served. We sat down in the dining area and the staff served lunch. Now I had previously mentioned all the restrictions to an Ayahuasca diet that seemed like a nightmare to someone like me who simply couldn’t imagine life without coffee, salt, fatty foods and meth amphetamines.

Thankfully, the culinary artisans of the jungle had their 10,000 hours of practice with nothing but healthy ingredients and the menu was off the fucking chain. Mostly chicken and fish with rice or quinoa (straight up I have no love for quinoa. It doesn’t matter how its served. I don’t care if it’s a superfood. The texture is too weird and I just…no) salads and fruits I’ve never even heard of. It was possibly the best food I’ve ever eaten.

Or it could have just felt that way because on nights we had ceremonies our last meal was at like 2pm.

Either way, we ate and it was bomb.

We spent the rest of the evening hanging out and getting to know each other a little better. The sun set before we knew it and we all decided to retire. The trek back to my hut was terrifying but thankfully a good friend of mine had bought me a headlamp so I could at least see what was about to tear my throat out as it lunged at me from the darkness.

As usual, I made it out of another certain death sentence unscathed and returned to my house. I took a shower (probably. I took a lot of them cuz it was so dang humid) and hopped into bed and drifted off to sleep…

…or I would have if it wasn’t for the sounds everywhere. God damn the jungle never shuts the fuck up. It is open 24/7. Bugs and frogs and jungle cats and anacondas and the Iron Sheik and that alligator from Lake Placid and Starscream from Transformers (probably) all 20 feet from my head waiting to murder me in my sleep. Thankfully I had my thin meshing to protect me from at least the mosquitos (who, it turned out, were the only ones that actually ended up trying to cause me any harm.)

Eventually I got to sleep. Which was great, because tomorrow I would be doing Ayahuasca.

Part 9 Here:

Part 7 Here:

Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca Part 7

The driver of the boat hopped out and helped us remove our bags. I noticed he was wearing a hat that said “Toronto Police” on it. What a small world I thought as I followed the rest of the squad up the hill towards the retreat.

We were happily greeted along the path by a very interesting character named Martine. He approached me and grabbed me by the arm and wrapped his limbs around me. I lifted him clear off the ground and he escaped onto the wooden railing of the stairway. He then noticed the woman in the summer dress and decided her hair was too lovely not to play with and pounced at her head.

Martine gave her a shock, but being a Woolly monkey and all, was easy enough to keep at bay. One of the male staff whistled at Martine and made a gesture, causing him to scurry off, just far enough ahead to make sure we were still following. That little guy didn’t leave our sides for the entire trip and I’ll never forget him.

We made our way to the main building. A kitchen and laundry area on the main floor, the second floor featured a large meeting area furnished with couches and hammocks (oh the hammocks, universe bless those hammocks). Adjacent to this room was an enclosed area with a large table used as the dining area. There was a small library and a bathroom in here as well.

The owner arrived and led us to our individual huts where we would be spending the next 12 days. We passed a large hut with a high ceiling that he explained was called the maloca. This is where the ceremonies would be held on nights we were taking Ayahuasca.

Now. The huts.

Sundress woman (im gonna need names for these folks…lets go with AJ) was about a minute away from the maloca along with woman and the cat(catwoman…umm…Michelle Pfeiffer). We walked another minute or so to where the Owner (…Owner is fine I guess) and the male guest (we’ll call him J Balvin) were housed. Then Owner led me to my hut. About a five to seven minute walk through the jungle.

Unable to outrun a jaguar for five minutes, I was pretty convinced my hut would end up being my tomb. Nevertheless, I checked the place out. Pretty badass set up for a hut in the middle of the rainforest. The outside of the house was fashioned with netting to keep out any unwanted guests. I had my own hammock in the main room and a bed with even tighter meshing in case my dumbass forgot to close my front door allowing mosquitos inside (which was pretty much a certainty). I stepped into the bathroom and my jaw dropped. I had a personal, flushing toilet and my own shower with above average water pressure.

This was a big fucking deal for me. Indoor plumbing. In the middle of the jungle. And even though I’m bald I can appreciate solid shower water pressure. I was stoked that if I had to use the bathroom I wouldn’t end up with bug bites on my ass or a snake swallowing my dick and given the humidity I was exposed to, a cold shower would be so god damn refreshing.

Things were looking up.

Part 8 Here:

Part 6 Here: