If you read my last post (Ayahuasca – The beginning), I may have left you in as much suspense and anticipation as I had been feeling the moment I left the shaman on that intense first meeting. Weirdly, back in January after the first meeting I was sick. Really sick. I rarely get sick, but the next day my body ached, my head ballooned and Adam road tripped to Mae Sai on his own. I was ill. All the way up to the day of the ceremony. I nearly cancelled. I should have cancelled. I didn’t cancel. I was ill, tired, and aching, but this was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss. I wanted to drink Ayahuasca.
I brought everything that had I had made strong associations with over the past few years. In particularly, my spoon. This was the scariest thing about the ceremony. I knew I had to surrender and let go, let my spoon go, but, my heart was holding on tight.
I was eager to ensure the butterflies flew in formation.
Me and Adam paid a visit to the market to buy fruits and flowers as offerings to the spirits (fluffy I know, but I was willing to try anything). Lilies I could not find, so I settled with a cheap bunch of bright yellow flowers and an assortment of fruit, including the smallest oranges EVER. We met at a guest house. It was weird. Situationally, it had a feeling of a tour or trek where tourists gathered to only be bundled in the back of a truck for an adventure out in the jungle of some kind. However, socially, people were inward. This was a going to be a solitary journey. This scared me.
We arrived at this amazing space. Crystals, statues, and paintings scattered the room. The medicine was being prepared, and the shrine built with the offerings.
The butterflies were swarming.
The sun fell, the night darkened. The shaman prepared us. He gave us all small crystals. These were our swords and I was a warrior of light. He described types of demons that we may encounter, some evil, some good, some that look evil, but are in fact good. At his point I was somewhat confused. However, one of the main messages was to surrender and accept. This is how the demons cannot harm you. They can eat away at your physical being, but your soul they cannot touch. Or at least this is how I understood it.
We mediated, we concentrated, we Aum’d. This was my first group Aum’in experience and weirdly, it had some energy I did not expect. I was feeling more prepared. I was feeling less anxious.
The butterflies were understanding.
Me and Adam were split. I was alone, but comfortable as I had gained a certain trust in the shaman whom I was near. I was one of the first to drink. The shaman performed a ritual everytime he passed the medicine. It was some kind of energy transference from himself to the glass containing the medicine. Once everyone had drunk, it was time to drink the second drink. It wasn’t the best tasting of drinks, however, we did have the chance to munch on some sweet tasty fruits after. As we finished drinking the medicine, the shaman visited each one of us one by one. Some for a few seconds, some for a few minutes. This was when I heard a few words that stayed with me for the rest of the ceremony.
“Courage, patience and trust”.
I sat. I laid. I meditated. The medicine started to take effect. A feeling that I can only compare to having tripped on mushrooms or LSD previously where reality gradually goes from normal to a little weird, but good. I was anxious. The medicine had hit the butterflies and they were swirling and swarming around every part of my gut.. While my gut was filled with this chaos, patterns and images involuntarily popped up on my minds movie screen. My mind was active, my body was alive. Patterns, fractals, colours, snakes serpents and eyes domoinated the screen. Pleasure, pain, guilt and lust infected my body.
I was uncomfortable. My eyes opened. The space was weird.
Time to try again. I would meditate, lay down, close my eyes and very quickly my eyes would open once more. I took comfort in the surreal world around me. The distorted reality was my security. The medicine took me on a journey into my heart, mind and soul, this was somewhere I wanted to escape. I procrastinated. I played with my crystal, I drunk water, I went to the toilet, I washed my hands, I went to the toilet… again.
I was ready.
Once more, I laid down. A decision come over me and I decided I wanted to meet death. I held my wrists out as if they were to be slit and I was to slowly fall into death. A slow and gradual pain began at my wrists as if they were being cut and I was voluntarily offering myself to be sacrificed. I wanted to experience death. I wanted to visit another realm beyond our reality. I wanted to know the unknown. I had something to say.
Something wasn’t right.
Anxiety started to infect my body once more as I thought about burning my spoon. This wasn’t how I was meant to feel. I wanted to be ready to let go. I wanted to burn my spoon and release it back into the universe with no bounds or cages. I wanted both to be free.
I had courage, but no trust and no patience.
I resisted and I did not surrender. Disappointment rose with the dawn and I felt I let myself down. I had high hopes and expectations to come out of the other side feeling better, feeling healed, clean and stronger. But all I had was tiredness and disappointed as the ceremony came to an end.
…. reflections to follow.
This blog so far has been pretty positive. However, in the midst of the positivity are depths of pain and sadness I never knew one could feel. Generally I would describe my thoughts, emotions and feelings the last eight months as being ‘positively sad’. I have been sad, but had hope that the dark night I am enduring will inevitably end with a beautiful dawning. Here’s an insight into one way I have tried breaking through these waves of pain.
So, on New Years day, we arrive at a table of four regular looking people unsure who was going to be the shaman to offer us Ayahuasca; a hallucinogenic drug widely known and used in South America’s Amazon for it’s healing properties. Which one offers this ceremony of deep cleansing? He doesn’t look like a shaman. She doesn’t look like a shaman. Weird. I guess, having never met a shaman, i’m not exactly sure of what I was looking for. But, this guy did not meet the image in my head. We started talking. Me and Adam become engrossed in him. We wanted to know about him, about the ceremony, about the medicine. Simultaneously, the shaman was focused on delving deep into the heart, mind and soul of myself and Adam.
Being fairly sceptical about fluffy’ness (although this scepticism is slowly fading), he started losing me when he was talking about a multiple number of dimensions and realms and demons and erm….
Yeah… my mind had wandered elsewhere. Somewhere. I don’t know.
Then, something turned. I let on briefly about the motivations behind me beginning this spiritual path I was undertaking and, once I had done that, he seemed to know my emotions, specifically the pain and hurt, inside and out. I began by describing my story, strangely unable to hold back the tears, the energy was different and the tears flowed, the breathing turned heavy, Adam held my hand but assertively told to let go, instead the shaman held it and squeezed it, the harder he squeezed the more intense the infection ran from my gut, through my veins, into my heart and out in floods of sadness. My breathing was heavy. My pain was intense. My hurt was real.
I regained control. I regained strength.
Little did I know the next thing he was going to say to me was going to bring my pain and hurt back in an instant. This time with intensity a million times stronger.
He called out my spoon. A tiny wooden spoon I wore around my neck.
The shaman’s words were, “Now, you can take off that thing from around you’re neck and we will burn it at the ceremony”. Hearing these words, knowing there was a possibility of losing my spoon broke me into pieces and I instantly clasped the spoon in my hand and held it tight. Raw emotion resonated through my body. I could feel the pain grip my heart and gut.
The pain held tight. The pain held strong. I was infected with sadness.
I was in an inner world of pure pain. My eyes gripped shut. My hand clasping the spoon. My breathing stopped. I would only breathe as he shouted at me. I stopped again, unable to complete a breath without being told. I could not feel the air, the seat I was sitting on. The restaurant had gone. The world around me disintegrated into nothingness. Time and space had faded.
I knew this all made sense. I had to begin to let go. I had to break free from this bound.
As I once again regained control and strength, he started on Adam. During this time, I was in my own world and not paying one tiny bit of attention to them. I reached around my neck and began untying my spoon. I looked at it. I ran the smooth spoon through my fingers. I kissed it. Then, then placed it in my pocket. Why? I’m not sure. Did I want to burn it? I don’t know. After the spoon was in my bag, I had two bracelets with strong associations bound to my wrists. A bracelet from Cambodia and a string from Doi Suthep temple that I got given on 25th October 2011. I couldn’t untie them. I struggled. I was frustrated. But somehow, this was making sense and I wanted. Seeing me struggle, the shaman offered me a knife. Once I agreed, he requested me to place my armon the table where he cuts one, he cuts two. My wrist was bare
I had surrendered.
I had committed to this ceremony that had begun before my eyes in this little tea shop. To ensure this was my commitment, he placed the spoon and bracelets into a bag and bound them with elastic bands. It was my responsibility. I was not to open it, touch it, or look at it. Not until the night of the Ayahuasca ceremony a few sleeps later.
Intense! And I haven’t even had any Ayahuasca yet.