Dose: 0.12 l
Bodyweight: 61 kg
Posted on May 29, 2009 in the Erowid Experience Vaults
I wish to say that prior to going to this “Serious Drinking Session” (as the shaman called it) I had never done drugs, nor had I ever heard of ayahuasca or studied it deeply, even after my friend Fred in Belgium wrote to me and advised of its possible procurement/use: I recall going to the ceremony with absolutely no expectations or information concerning this ‘medicine’. Intellectually I was a ‘virgin’ in relation to having an opinion or stance. I remember thinking/feeling that I didn’t really wish to read anything about it so that my experience would be ‘pure’ and that no prior information would be ‘programmed’ in my subconscious, etc. I very briefly read a little about it so far as what the shaman wrote to me in regards to preparation for the ceremony, i.e., diet, time, supplies, cost, the sacredness, etc.
Prior to this intro to Yaje I had written to my friend in Belgium and told him that I was at ‘The bottom of the Barrel’, etc. and needed some really big help; a shaman, seer, ancestral work, etc. I had first met Fred in Sacramento, California and he told me about a man he knew in Switzerland who did soul-ancestral work. Expecting to read a person’s name and email; when he wrote me back a reply, I read a one word reply “Ayahuasca”. It was then a close Dutch friend of mine ‘Alexander’ who helped me get in touch with the shaman.
Traveling for about 2 hours from Amsterdam, I arrived by train near the boarder between Holland and Belgium around 7PM; then was picked up by car fifteen minutes later, a few hours before sunset. We arrived at the setting: there were others also awaiting Yaje’s visit, about 20 people, both men and women, some had arrived from as far away as Russia and Egypt. The location was in the countryside, on the outskirts of a small city. The house was half horse stable and half living quarters, beautifully renovated by our incredible hosts: while the yurt-tent, approx. thirty feet across and eighteen feet tall at its center, was situated in the yard, about fifty yards away and partially surrounded by a forest, agricultural land and the only neighbors, a huge two-story stone farm house about 70 yards away.
The shaman and his assistant were tending to the setting up for the evening: the yurt was warm and could easily fit 30 people for a ceremony if needed. A large wood stove stood in the center with its steel exhaust pipe heading straight up and out the center of the yurt’s apex, while wood was stacked in a ‘C’ shape around it. We waited, talked and prepared ourselves over the next four to five hours: the ceremony started late, around ten or eleven o’clock. At this time it’s still very cold at night, frost begins to form on the ground around 3AM; it’s mid/late February, 2008.
We settled into our sleeping bags, while some sat and others meditated: the shaman explained a few general rules concerning the evening, i.e., where not to wonder about or the off-limit areas of the forest, main house, neighbors and farm structures, the shoes-off rule inside the tent, the option to also sit by the campfire, talking, respecting others space and sacred experience, etc. They began the handing out of plastic bags, in case you could not make it outside to the vomit-hole in time, and the passing around of the All-Purpose paper for cleaning the nose and mouth after the intake through the nostrils and sinuses of a specially prepared tobacco juice. People shuffled around, prepared their sleeping areas so to be able to easily find things in the dark and during the session. I kinda laugh now about the Shoes-off-rule, because after the intake of ayahuasca these laws last for about 40 minutes (including for the law-makers); excepting the boarder rules, that was interesting, that everyone stayed within a 50 foot radius of the yurt, or less. I sense now that something ‘else’ took this limitation-ring into policing; it definitely could not have been us.
The ceremony began with a cleansing ritual that involved the lighting of a sort of resin, similar to Frankincense and Myrrh: the person doing the ritual was not the Shaman, she or he was chosen by the shaman to do this task, which took about three to four minutes per person. While using a large feather, the holder of the incense pot would flap the smoke over the person’s head, chest, arms, torso, legs, etc., doing this upon their front and back side. This was a quiet process, with a ‘thank you’ from the ‘blessed’.
After this concluded for everyone, including the shaman, the ceremony began counter clockwise: the shaman would pour out a cup (a little gourd) of ayahuasca, say a ‘prayer’ (a one phrase chant) over it and give it slowly and intently to the person kneeling or sitting down next to him: afterward they would (and sometimes not) partake of a half glass of water so to wash down the after taste. The ayahuasca is a very bitter tasting substance. Metaphors cannot totally describe it; I’d say though, that underneath the obvious repulsion to the raw explosion that takes place across the tongue and throat, that it’s a very dense and complicated taste to ‘nail down’; the pus from one of Earth’s holy blisters.
After drinking this, the person would sit down and wait: it usually takes fifteen to twenty minutes for it to incubate its hatching. For some this starts with needing to vomit, many simply laid down, zipped up in their sleeping bags and stayed there the entire night, others wandered around close by outside, or stood by the campfire: elimination for many on the first night was heavy, vomiting mostly, though there is also strong defecation associated with its intake. Just behind the tent there was a very nice open-air ‘hut’ set up, with a toilet area inside; several candles were lit and mosquito netting surrounded the structure. Elimination through both the intaking mouth and outgoing bowels is a natural beginning for the body’s adjustments to the workings of ayahuasca: though for my second night I did not vomit, nor did I experience any diarrhea on either of the nights, though I did experience some slight ‘irregularities’ on the days after the two ceremonies, i.e., a heightened sense of smell, visions, restless sleep and awaking at night with many of the same emotions flowing through me as did during my ayahuasca journeys/teaching lessons. While my physical body was ‘tenderized’ by Yaje, the spirit or ‘my presence’ seemed to be very sober, almost ‘deceased’, though in a good way ‘un-possessed’.
My body is still readjusting; emotions, conscience and psychology; I’ve learned that much of what Yaje taught me is irreversible, period: so, the change that I felt was needed did ‘happen’, though the ‘nest of eggs’ hovers over my soul’s ‘tree’ for an undisclosed period of time; I look up and cannot tell how many eggs are in this ‘bowl’ and each one hatches at the will of ‘The Mother’ (IMO) and not normal time or (human) Nature. The two ceremonies and the accompanying events have forever changed me; this, I do not doubt or can change and they’re described as this ~
The First Ayahuasca Night
On that first night I drank a cup of ayahuasca (about 3-4 fluid oz.) and sat down, as the counter clockwise taking of turns continued. I sat still and simply waited; it seemed that nothing was occurring and I began to think that perhaps I needed another cup to deepen the saturation; I began wondering whether it was going to work. Slowly I noticed certain changes, particularly in that I began to yawn very deeply, a little afterward my throat began to contract, and then I knew it was time to step outside.
Once outside, I noticed the temperature change was intense; from very warm and nest like, to dead-blood-cold, damp and netherworld-ish: I stood awhile taking it all in, then I looked down at the ground and noticed that complex geometric shapes began to form themselves, laying out a three dimensional grid over the entire surface of the ground for as far as I could see: some shapes already on the ground, such as tree limbs, etc. played a part to some extent in that they changed into components of this geometric grid-expanse; but mostly these geometric shapes simply appeared, sometimes as complete designs interlocking with one another, to fragments which seemed to move, shift and meander into position with one another.
The shifting and overall aliveness of this biomorph, yet strictly geometric grid made me dizzy (car-sick); I closed my eyes and tilted my head upwards and looked at the sky, and then around, into the forest: this familiar picture of the ‘walls and ceiling’ helped to balance the floor, who had unpredictable intelligence and mood-touches. I also felt that it was a bit overwhelming, being an intelligence that seemed so alien that my human mind could not ‘frame it’; also the fact that it was alive and changing simply tossed out all logic or relate-able thoughts. No anchors allowed Here. It’s odd though, that this geometric grid work was confined to the ground; I did not see it in the sky nor anywhere above the ground surface. This ‘web’ hovered about 1.5 inches and was not ‘pasted’ to the surface of the earth like an etching. Later I would make a direct connection with its design scheme to Mayan and Aztec art; that the aesthetic of their art (IMO) is not idiosyncratic, it belongs to another dimension/world of being.
I began to stumble a bit, trying to find an appropriate place to vomit, my logical/concerned for the footpaths-mind began to drop and I simply found the nearest place alongside the boarder of a hill to expel and did so; I got to re-taste the ayahuasca mixed with who knows what. I will say that if there was stomach acid in that throw-up, the Yaje still stood above it in taste.
I went back inside the tent to my station (sleeping bag, suit case, water, etc.) and sat down to get warm: I then looked at my hands by the candlelight near the wood stove and noticed that they had become ‘digital’, pixel’d glowing green/jade made entirely of very tiny (stickpin head-sized) geometric symbols and shapes, possessing other colors too: maybe there was a general hue/wash superimposed over the multiple colors (?)
I entered a deep state of relaxed breathing and seemed to be in another land where I was standing, being surrounded by a certain type of three dimensional plant-animal-ish substance or organisms, like high tech (part robotic and fleshy) elongated maggots (or moth-larvae): I felt as though I were being offered to be ‘operated’ on and when I understood this, I surrendered and felt as though things within me were being moved around, re-adjusting, changing ever so slightly. I felt deep peace and inner warmth not associated with the sort that my skin ‘normally’ feels. The colors of these objects were like anodized metal (in the autumn hue range); absolutely beautiful and so subtle and graceful in an innocent way. I recall finding moth larvae while digging up my grandmother’s flower bed, how armored, though fragile inside (mushy) I knew they were; I’d always set them aside someplace safe and proceed tunneling. These ‘pods’ were about 18 inches in length and 4-5 inches thick at their middle-point, tapering down on one side to about two inches. The ‘world’ in which they existed was somewhat jungle like, not a human place, a kind of soul retreat.
I sat cross legged for a long time with my hands in different meditative positions, although I don’t meditate; it was as though the hands took these postures on their own based upon my emotional state or that which was happening in the experience beyond my feelings or present attention, i.e., it was as though things were occurring through me without my brain functions labeling them or ‘letting me know’.
It seemed necessary to have a static ‘something’, an anchor point to focus or dwell in, which were the frozen positions my hands and arms would finally rest with, in relation to the inner movements taking place and visuals: too, the atmosphere in the tent and outside noises were being kinetically woven into an emotional content I’d never experienced before. Laughter and painful yelling on its surface, with immediate emotional information from individual soul-conditions flowing through; ultra-sympathy, though I was in it: you could say that I was the pathology, patient and the sympathizer all at once. No separation: I was not the observer, I was part of this puzzle happening in real time, feeling the pieces snapped in place and its table top disintegrating underneath.
Sitting there I could sense the deep journey people were taking, while it suddenly dawned on me that it was my ‘part’ that night to radiate pure Love outwards and into their effort’s environments, i.e., their willingness to have initiated all this ‘medicinal suffering.’ I recall being and sensing that I was Complete Love, endless, unconditional and ‘An Omnipresent Totality in-love: Loveness… No doors: space and sense’. It was as if I’d embodied the very role of Love and was not human, nor any consciousness associated with the spirit/soul in/of any particular biological creation.
I also ‘understood’ or sensed that to be Love was some kind of answer to my ‘Wonderment about my Purpose’ that I’d brought to this ayahuasca ceremony. Sounds of extreme vomiting could be heard outside and people whispering to one another: the shaman and his assistant would go around and talk to various people to try and get them to stop talking so loudly, others could simply not be communicated with and were left to themselves as before. Several would utter something aloud and then go silent: it was an eerie, yet somewhat bashful atmosphere, each to his or her own ‘Sleeping bag Island’ or outdoors ‘Soul castle Siege’. For the most part, people were stationary and silent, wrapped up like a silk worm in a cocoon or an upside down bat. Some were half and half, meaning half themselves (a ‘human-consciousness’ present in their human incarnation-body) and half journeying. This is mainly the ‘state of mind’ I held throughout the night, for nearly seven to eight hours.
After awhile, still in the yurt, I felt that I needed more heat and desired to go outside to ‘collect it’ at the campfire site: I am not sure which ‘wish’ took me outdoors; I opened the tent door and stepped out. In the ayahuasca ‘time’ allot happens unpremeditated and by thoughtless intuition; there’s weird boundaries that arise, haunting juxtapositions that I simply had to surrender and witness, since there were no human records I could grasp them with. There were moments when something was happening ‘to me’, though not ‘with me’, so far as daily-mind is concerned.
I say, ‘I am not sure which ‘wish’’, because it may have been the first set of several sound episodes I heard the young Russian guy making near the fireside that brought me out of the tent, or both gut-reactions simultaneously: it seemed that no one was tending to him, it was cold, the fire had died way down and he was not covered well, while his boots were too close to the fire’s edge and smoking a little. He was slouching in such a way that he could fall off his chair: plus he was periodically spitting up saliva upon himself, like that of a newborn baby.
Later, I tended to him slowly and without words, wiping his mouth, touching the top of his head and massaging his neck a bit; assisted in sitting him up and tried to keep an eye on him. IMO, he was basically unconscious, spiritless, someplace else, while his body stayed behind as a sort of ‘radio-station’ as to what his soul was experiencing elsewhere’: soon my body’s energy would waver and my journey would continue, taking me away from the campfire.
It’s a strange aspect to recall, though, in an ayahuasca setting, everything is right and human morals take on a childlike vitality, a kind of trust that exists prior to having to remind myself to trust (innatenesses), where I can walk away from someone and the opposing feeling of ‘I should stay’ is simply not there: maybe it was because there was so much suffering in the air that nothing else could possibly go against my ‘virgin expectations’? The unknown had been subconsciously ‘taken for granted’ and everything was upside down in the logical world of time, my-little-island and linear thinking.
Putting on my shoes I hurried over to the campfire, I was freezing, I began building up the fire: then I again felt as though I needed to vomit, so I turned and went towards the forest. This is when my first deeply terrifying experience began. I looked out into the woods and understood immensely that ‘IT’ was not a forest, but rather a vision of my Inner-Graveyard. The whole ground was fresh ‘fleshy’, sweaty wet and alive like skin, as in the mood and look of a borderless collection of newly dug graves: I understood profoundly that this entire forest was ‘a perpetual birth place of death and lonesome emotions and pursuits, dark celebrations and damaging habits’. It was not ancient or deserted: the ground was like a giant epidermis turned inside out, slick with moisture, glistening in the moon light, mine, utterly mine and slightly breathing with me in its ‘belong-ed-ness’. I became deeply disturbed and darkly-ecstatically moved by this realization and went back to the fire: I understood that a very strict choice was being signaled to me, the lifestyle of this Graveyard or one of Love and that a ‘crossroads’ was being constructed right here and now: it had seemingly nothing to do with ‘timing’, only, that this crossroads seemed to have always been there, hidden, waiting.
I looked around and saw people moving about near the campfire; whoever was lit up by firelight I saw them in a flattened, digital dimension, made up of both solid flat shapes and fractured, puzzle like pieces: I had to close my eyes because this made me somewhat nauseous and too, it seemed to add an extra dimension of peripheral information that I sensed I didn’t need. I’d later describe this imagery as walking flat mirror-panels, flexible and frayed at their topmost edges; a three dimensional image inside the mirror, though nothing on its outside to have created its contents: when I stepped around the person, there was nothing on the other side of their ‘one-dimensional ‘third-dimension’’…
I went to the campfire (which was also flat in one instance) and began putting wood on it again, attending a bit to the young Russian who was in the throes of some sort of very difficult, deep journey, or possibly it had the beginnings of a spirit-possession release; at least this is what ‘itself’ seemed to reveal to the shaman later. To me, he seemed to be in a deep child-like state, drooling on himself, smiling and uttering broken words, like a baby trying to talk. He was slumped over in his chair; I sat next to him for awhile, and then later went back inside the tent.
Later, I’d watch as the shaman left the yurt and crossed the yard with a young Egyptian woman’s personal belongings; he was helping her so that she could be alone, in private, resting in the house with her lessons and ceremony: another participant would later do the same; it seemed that this was an option via personal/psychological emergencies only… The tent and its surrounding ‘circle of spirits’ was definitely a very difficult place to be (on both nights actually).
Once settling again inside the tent (it was about 1 or 2 AM now: guessing…) I heard various sounds coming from people’s sleeping bags, mainly cramping noises and especially those concerning one particular person; he vomited off and on for several hours in a very deeply and miserable way. He was simply too far down into his journey, so, moving him was not an option… As I mentioned, some people relocated to the house near early morning (around 4 or 5 AM), since they were not able to rest or experience the unfolding of their journey and lessons with the sounds of sporadic, profuse vomiting inside and outside the yurt, along with the spontaneous and often unstoppable stream of conscious conversations between two particular close Russian friends: some were also painfully-ecstatically moaning and others laughing time to time, while some simply lay still… So quiet in the midst of all this: that was surprising too.
For the most part though, not to give the wrong impression of the tent’s/ceremony’s condition, it was a well kept ‘Yaje Clinic’, smelling of incense and wood smoke, being kept clean and compassionate both nights, while the shaman and his helper were assisting and watching over people: it was only that one person (at his station) who could not be moved and who needed to be cleaned up in the morning that brought the first night its unexpected (by the veteran drinkers) addition; though I felt it was ‘normal’ for them, still, in the state of this dimension, it created a strange sort of dilemma, a salad of empathy, irritation, humor, disbelief, helplessness and empowerment because I knew that he was going to be a greater soul for it. The shaman organizing the event had twelve years experience and was very calm and orderly about the ceremony and keeping things private, sacred and safe. The level and moments of immediate group-consciousness was stunning at times.
During this first night’s experience (half way through it) I stood by the campfire and recall needing to take in large amounts of heat, as though the fire was some sort of ‘meal’. So, I began holding my outstretched hands towards the ground and moving them slightly up and down, making a pressing and releasing gesture or ‘massaging the air’ like bread dough, in an arms-wide-apart and curved downward motion. I also seemed to need to make these gestures ‘towards’ the fire as well, sometimes outstretching my arms and waving them slightly back and forth horizontally; as if to fan the flames. Now that I look back on this instance, the ‘fanning’ would have been only symbolic or one-with-the fire’s gesturing, because, physically I was not actually fanning the flames with my body, I was connected to the fire as a sort of ‘totem’ or ceremonial partner: in other words we became instantaneous dance partners, no thought, no meanings; total experiential being. I also sensed it as a kind of ‘medicine’ and foster-‘friend’ of sorts as I was ‘really’ neither here nor there (two places at once?).
Previously, while inside the tent, I recall having handed out water to those who needed it, people nearby and looking as though they wished or could make vocal contact without feeling disturbed. I tended a bit to the wood stove fire and sat next to people, keeping one another company for short periods. I remember seeing a young woman sitting in front of the stove with her head bent over and simply ‘there’, slumped and moaning a bit. Later, while I was near where she had been, people would come and sit next to me awhile and simply look at me and smile deeply; it was the single (both nights: though the first more than the second) most amazing communal and human experience I’d ever participated in (in) my entire life. There is a knowing from having journeyed and experienced the hidden constitutions of my soul, a knowing that is not writing or talking about it, a silence and an acceptance, a cosmic humiliation and courageous revelation all at once.
The We: to have endured the unstoppable lessons of ayahuasca (some call this sentient being “grandmother”) together, so personally and ‘quietly’, while suffering the body’s journey as well, being present and so fully, crystal conscious of the lessons being delivered, is beyond full description here. This seems to be a universal admission by nearly all who I nowadays read accounts from; though we try and get close. There was a sense of an ancient ‘soul/mankind predicament-environment’ made up of the night’s collective, human condition of each and everyone’s true conscience being shown some force, who knew everything about your soul up-to-that-point-in-time, an incredible level of participation and acceptance that each person had deeply acknowledged that he or she was indeed not in charge, that ego was being slowly burnt away for some, while others (to me it seemed) were like a book high upon a shelf that I couldn’t reach to open. (IMO) There was a condition-mood and atmosphere only had when a person surrenders some portion of their dark-self-lifestyle (those ‘secret-divination’s’ of ego’s private time while alone, among other ‘titles’ in me) and attempts to open up to communication and the experience in something rumored to be far greater than one’s own ‘teaching experience’: the surrender is like flood waters meeting a cliff side, once it’s ‘On’ and over, there’s no stopping the dive.
Sometime later, during my second or third time by the campfire, I’d witness what seemed to be an exorcism: I was inside the tent when I heard the young Russian I’d helped earlier, screaming loudly. I went out, put on my shoes and went quickly to the campfire where the shaman and his assistant were already stationed, waving/rattling a type of tobacco fan over him and administering in straight down stroking gestures, at the top and forefront of his head, a hollow crystal dagger containing a liquid of some sort, which afterward the shaman threw its contents into the fire: all along the shaman was saying a chant and after ten or fifteen minutes the young man calmed down and resumed his slouched, baby like state. His assistant asked people not to stare, to look into the fire, to give him privacy, etc.
A few hours later, the Russian said to his close friend, who came with him to the ceremony from Russia, that he’d visited or “was in hell”: I believe I recall him saying that he was ‘dead’ of had ‘died’. He didn’t speak of his experience with me, though we’d made a strong, intuitive connection, a deeper one than most of my first acquaintances there, once he was told that I’d helped clean him up during the night’s activities. This seemed to ‘break the ice.’
I also recall sitting near the campfire and watching the moon travel across the sky till sunrise, while having no sense of a Passing of Time; simply, of existing there, seeing and emotionally feeling people’s journeys, their broken and challenged ideas of themselves, of humanity, the external world, perceptions, connections, etc. I felt its essence and my oneness with the fire, the heat, my connectedness to the earth and elements: no ego, no personal opinions, simply myself and my nature (in) Nature, no name, no story, no life ahead of me, or of the past.
I visited the inside of the tent often and focused on radiating a loving energy there: at times I did this by placing my hands out in front of me and directing the intent specifically towards the one bald man who was experiencing so much vomiting and dry heaving throughout the evening/morning. It seemed that he remained in a sitting up position the entire time that night; I didn’t see him the next morning: some people leave before breakfast, having stayed only for the night (departing around 7 or 8AM): I found this amazing, to drive a car and get back on the Earth in such a focused way?! A note: the shaman and his assistant also drank ayahuasca (what portion, I do not know); after the second night’s episode the shaman told me that he could see the plant spirits working on me.
The next morning (not sleeping the entire first night), the remaining participants slowly drank coffee and tea, ate breakfast and sat talking in Dutch and reading, while others slept in the tent until late morning or lunchtime: some took showers, while others went away for the day and returned in the evening for the second ceremony.
On the beginning of our second day (Saturday; a few hours after lunchtime) I noticed that something (a mass of tension-energy) had surfaced in my body/muscles; some sort of ‘knotting’ in the area of my back that has traditionally been associated with my ‘solar plexus jolts-enigma’ throughout the past fourteen years: in the first 2 or 3 years, with enough strong jolts in that area, a certain ‘raw’ area would ‘open’ up on/in my back, just a little ways down from the middle of my shoulder blades: it’s still there, though the multitudes of jolts have subsided for the most part, dwindling down, 7 or 8 years ago, to about one or two a week: they come and go: though, in my third ceremony (about two weeks after these two), I experienced a full blown revisit to the old days in relation to this phenomenon.
I also sensed, somewhat strongly, that something was ‘waiting’ there, in that mass of tension; that something ‘different’, ‘extra’ and possibly ‘big’ was going to happen on this second night. I shared my physical and emotional feelings about this with the shaman and said that I felt that he might need to attend to me in some way this coming evening. That I wanted to be reassured that I’d have an eye out for this premonition. He put one hand on the front of this tense area (my sternum) and one on the back and replied that if I needed him to do some work in that area, that he would/could and to simply call for him.
We spent the day and evening talking, cutting firewood, reading, listening to music, eating and recovering from the previous night so to move into another. People exchanged personal stories of their experiences and lifestyles that had arrived to taking ayahuasca to guide and teach them certain ‘lessons’: one of the hosts (owners of the property where the yurt-tent was set up) said in a very soft and honest tone, “We are becoming more conscious.” People moved about in a very simple and personable way; quiet and only really spending energy where it was absolutely necessary.
That first night was/showed an eerie juxtaposition; in between the stability and warmth image of the yurt-tent and the sociability of our campfire was a space of yard about ten yards by ten yards where people simply stood, motionless in the partial darkness or stumbled about vomiting and stuttering phrases: some were clearly cold, though not moving towards the fire nor the warmth of the tent: (IMO) their spirits were somewhere else, it was as though something had them in a kind of embrace, the body was simply along for the ride (or asleep in the back seat), a kind of suspended puppet or doll, while the spirit seemed to be handled elsewhere.
An interesting coincidence ~ On the eve of this re-writing of the first ceremony so to send it to a friend who requested it, another acquaintance stopped by and inquired of ayahuasca; we talked and I gave them a book titled ‘The Ayahuasca Reader: The Sacred Vine of the Amazon.’ No matter what kind of day it’s been, every day is a good day that I can share in the spirit of this holy gift Ayahuasca.