By Carlos Tanner from Ayahuasca Foundation
It was a gorgeous dark night in early March. I was with the students of the Ayahuasca Foundation’s Curandero Initiation Course, and it was the second half of the course, where each student takes a turn leading a ceremony, with the guidance of our teacher sitting next to us. This particular night it was my turn to put on the maestro’s ceremonial headdress and power necklace and lead the ceremony, using the tools and techniques we’d learned during the first four weeks of the six week course. I had also been dieting with the tree ayahuma and had finished a fifteen day diet with the powerful teacher plant and was then dieting with eucalyptus. For the previous month I had refrained from eating any salt, sugar, oil, or spicy food. Needless to say, I was ready and prepared to lead the ceremony.
After everyone had taken their cups and I drank mine, we sat in silence absorbing the beautiful energy of the Amazon Rainforest. We were at the Ayahuasca Foundation’s Jungle Camp, which is located deep within a National Reserve, so we were surrounded by thousands of acres of virgin rainforest. A symphony of insects and frogs provided the backdrop to what would be one of, if not the most profound experience of my life. Ten or fifteen minutes went by as I allowed the forest to sing to me and to fill me with calm and power. I said a prayer for protection and guidance, asking that God give me the strenght and wisdom to heal and to learn. Then I let the rhythm of the plants move through my breath as I dryly whistled to open the ceremony space for healing, a technique called soplaying. I whistled in this way, making no real tones, just the sound of my breath swooshing up and down in harmony with the jungle, for just a minute or so, inviting the spirits to speak through me.
My spiritual connection elevated and the voice of the plants began to come through my voice. In a high pitched tone I let my voice be guided without preconceived direction, continuing to deepen the connection to the spirits of the Rainforest. When I felt fully connected, I began my first icaro to welcome the participants to the ceremony and to welcome the spirit guides and indigenous ancestors to come to my aid. I had not had any visions yet, but I knew that other people in the circle were already feeling the effects of the brew, a term we call ‘mariado.’ I sang a group of five icaros to various spirits, saints, souls, and to Jesus Christ. I used my chacapa during these icaros to accompany my voice and add the shooshing rhythm to the energy of the ceremony space. Then I took a short pause. I was now feeling very mariado, but I still had not had any visions. I was concentrating so hard on connecting with the energy and my singing that my mind had not been focused on having visions. Now, in a few moments of silence, the visions began to come.
First, just a serious of moving patterns, fractal designs with natural shapes repeating in a flowing motion began to pour over me, covering everything I could see with soft colors of drifting light. The wooden floor of the maloca, the ceremonial cloth in the center of the circle, my hands and body, were all covered with these patterns of soft light, slowly meandering in a dance of movement and energy. I smiled because I felt fantastic, and I knew that the ceremony was going well. I sang another icaro and could hear in my voice the power of these patterns radiating through me. My power was increasing. My vibrational frequency was raising. I was in a very good place. My entire body began to gently vibrate as my mouth became a vehicle of spiritual expression, pouring out the song of the spiritual ancestors, plant teachers, and soul guides.
The patterns increased as I sang, brightening and moving more quickly. The designs became more intricate, now incorporating more specific images from nature, vines growing and sprouting leaves, flower buds opening in bloom, banana tree unrolling their new leaves, life expanding everywhere in a multiplying mosaic of mother nature moving through the ceremony, and flowing through me. I ended the icaro and lit a mapacho. I sat back for a minute to allow myself time to further my experience. At this point, my teacher began to sing, for he could tell that I was now fully mariado and he wanted to help me to learn more and to continue the ceremony for the others. He turned to face me and began to sing. I leaned back against the wooden railing of the maloca and let the visions envelop me. It was all bliss and I felt a power that I had never felt before.
As my teacher sang his heavenly icaro to me, I called to the spirit of ayahuma, asking that I meet him and learn from him. I instantly saw the unusual tree with its cannonball fruits and unique flowers. From behind the tree stepped out a man dressed in a white shirt and pants. He appeared to be my age, around 35 and had not particularly distinguishing features. He just looked like a normal Peruvian dressed in white. He approached me and sat down next to me. I looked over to my left so that I could see what he was doing. My eyes were open and I could clearly see that he was preparing a medicine for me in a small wooden bowl, most likely made from the shell of the ayahuma fruit. In the bowl poured a dark brown liquid, which I knew to be the liquid, or blood, of the ayahuma tree. It filled the bowl about half way. To this he then added the most unusual ingredients and unfortunately, I did not immediately understand what he was doing or I would have asked for more information. First, he picked up a piece of the colored patterns, what resembled a root of ginger only made of vibrant moving fractal designs, and he put it into the bowl. Then, he took another section of visionary material, only with a different set of patterns, and added it to the brew. He added five different vision pieces to the brew and then handed it to me. I physically put out my hands and received the bowl and brought it to my lips and drank it, moving my head back to finish the entire bowl. When I say physically I mean that I did not do this in a dream or a vision, I actually held the bowl in the same way I had held the cup ayahuasca and drank it to begin the ceremony. I even tasted it as it went down.
What happened next was simply amazing. I began to feel the effects of the ayahuma medicine. It was very strong and my visions became so incredibly intense it was as if there was a 10,000 watt bulb projecting a psychedelic light show throughout the entire forest. I could no longer see the maloca, the floor, or anyone else in the ceremony, even though my eyes were wide open. I could only see this intensely bright display of intricate designs. I looked to the left and to the right, up and down, and they were everywhere. I was no longer in the ceremony, I was floating in a dimension of light patterns constantly moving. It was infinite and seemed enormous, with the designs being some distance from me. Because they were so intricate, I wanted to get a better look at these designs, eager to learn more about this space, so I moved closer towards them and began to inspect them. There was so much going on that I doubt my mind could actually process it all, but I definitely remember looking at a group of flower buds form and then bloom and in the center of each bloom was the face of a cute little cherub, surrounded by flower petals encircling them. In unison they all smiled at me and said ‘hello!’
I was quite surprised and said, ‘you can talk?’ to this wall of patterns and light. I wasn’t speaking to the cherubs, but to the whole space, to the entire entity, and the entity replied, ‘yes.’
‘Do you have a name?’ I asked, conversing with my thoughts only, not making any audible sounds.
‘I am ayahuasca.’
‘Are you a male or a female?’ I asked.
‘I am neither male nor female. I simply am.’
I then went on a bit of a sloppy show of affection, love, and appreciation for everything ayahuasca had done for me and how committed I was to working with it and that I had set up a project to help others learn about it and that I wished for ayahuasca to spread throughout the world and the wisdom of the spirit to reignite the power that is available to us all to determine our own destinies and choose the paths our lives should take.
‘I will help you.’ was the response and at this time I entered into a state of ecstasy that is truly beyond words. I ceased to be the person I knew at the beginning of the ceremony. I ceased to be a person at all, or even a spirit. I ceased to be separate from anything else. I began to feel the entire universe. I was the totality of all there is. I was the sum of all the parts, undivided and whole, everything there is, I was. I was God. I felt the power of the universe, I felt the movement of the planets, the heat of the stars, the life of all beings lived in me. I wish I could put it into words but it would take every word in every language from every era of every world to even begin to describe it. I was, and there was nothing more I could be. I basked in it for what seemed an eternity, but may have only been a few seconds. I really have no idea, as the normal constructs for measuring anything did not exist at that moment.
Then, my teacher stopped singing his icaro and somehow I remembered that I was in an ayahuasca ceremony in the jungle. The visions of ayahuasca had faded without my noticing and I was aware of my being once again. I was still very mariado but I could once again see where I was and who I was and I let out a huge breath of overwhelmed realization. Wow. Luckily, my teacher continued to sing another icaro, this time moving into the center of the circle so that he could give healing energy and help the others connect to a higher power the way he had with me. I sat straight up without moving a muscle, just in awe of what had happened. I still had my eyes open, but I don’t think that my mind had begun to process the experience yet, only to recount that it had begun with the brew that the ayahuma spirit had prepared for me. I then realized that the pieces of visions that he had added were most definitely plant ingredients and I wished that I had asked specifically what they were. Perhaps it was a special recipe that I could follow.
I was certainly not disappointed in any way, however. I was still filled with a purity and bliss that was incomparable to anything I’d ever experienced in my life or in the over three hundred ceremonies I had participated in prior to that night. I was in heaven. I was me, but I was the universe. The universe was me. I was God. As I sat in perfect posture, having completely forgotten my physical composure, another being came up to me. A young man who I had seen before in other visions walked up to me and stood in front of me. My spirit stood up and faced him. He was smiling and I immediately recognized him. I wanted so badly to get down on my knees before him but I knew that he did not want me to do that. I apologized for having the intention to do so and explained that it was simply because I loved him so much. I knew him to be Jesus Christ. He smiled and put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘you’re doing good work.’
I hope by now you can see why this ceremony was the most profound experience of my life. I thanked him profusely and promised to continue to do the work I was doing. I cried tears of joy and felt a satisfaction that I wish for all beings on earth and in the universe to feel. I made a thousands realizations in a split second and learned more about the nature of reality in that single moment than in the last 35 years of my life. There was no better or worse, no higher or lower, no opposites and no similarities, yet there was good and bad, high and low, different and the same, and it was all me. And it is all you. And it is…
May we all realize our divine selves, our connection to each other in the realm of God, may we all do good work. I love you. Thank you ayahuasca. Thank you Ayahuma. Thank you Jesus Christ. Thank the Earth, the plants, the rivers and seas, the mountains, the clouds, the rain, all the children of God. Thank God, and thank you to my teacher, don Enrique.