The Temple
My second day at Sachamama in the Amazon was my first Ayahuasca ceremony.  I didn't know quite what to expect, only that there might be hallucinations (which I have never experienced before), and also vomiting and a dire need to go to the bathroom.  But I also knew that this was an age-old tradition within the Shamanistic path to learn and explore on a Spiritual level.

I had a little bit of a warm up, since I was able to listen in on the experiences of the previous ceremony from the American group that was there.  One woman wasn't able to be there, because she was still
recovering from the ceremony the day before, which apparently hit her hard.  I heard tales telling of spider webs, jaguars (a particularly good sign), lights, and some that had no visions at all.  Some experienced quite a bit of pain, and one man in particular apparently was a "moaning cow" the entire ceremony.

Everyone kept on asking me if I was ready, and how was I supposed to know?  But I was as ready as I could be, without knowing what to expect.

We did a light fast that day, eating fruit for breakfast, and a noodle soup at lunch, and then nothing after.  We relaxed most of the day, and one
woman instructed me that she usually rested up before the ceremony, which was set to happen at 8.

As darkness descended, around 6pm, I made my way back to my room to do some meditation, to ask my spirit guides to take care of me, and do what I could to be in the most positive, clean space possible.  I definately didn't want to have a bad experience.  I was anxious to get started, and sat outside in the rain, connecting with the forest around me, and saw little lights dancing in the trees above me.  I thought I had already started hallucinating!  But, I found out later that it was the fireflies.  I took it as a welcome omen.

I made my way back to the cabin, calm and peaceful.  Some of the other women asked me if I was ready, and then helped me realize that I was not.  I needed to get dressed in white, take my flashlight and water, and toilet paper, and a hankerchief "because you don't know where your nose ends and the snot begins".  I was also told to make sure everything was readily accessible, because you wouldn't be able to fiddle around with much.  I didn't understand that then, but boy I figured that out later.

We made our way to the temple, which was a dirt floor, a roof, a table at one end with shamanic stuff, and benches on all four sides.  Don Francisco, the Shaman, indicated where I was to sit.  I marked where the nearest exit was, and also was instructed when I threw up, to turn around and lean over the bench to the outside.  We sat in silence, boys on one side, girls on the other, as the preparation began.

Don Francisco blew smoke on all the instruments and ayahuasca, and then came around to each one of us, blowing smoke on our chakras to purify us.  Later he came around and put Florida Water (a oily floral water) on our heads.  One by one he called each of us, as he poured our doses of Ayahuasca in a coconut shell cup.  The first guy who went (the "moaning cow") took his dose and immediately started gagging.  I began to prepare myself that this would taste like slug snot or horses shit or god knows what.

Eventually it came around to me, and I held the cup in my hand, thinking what my question was that I wished to have answered.  I chugged it back, and found it wasn't that foul at all, tasted a bit like coffee and cigarettes.  I returned to my seat, wondering how long it would take before it started to take effect, and how long until I started throwing up.

Once everyone was served, the candles were blown out, and we sat in the darkness in silence.  It was probably a good half hour before  anything started happening to me, and I listened to the men already
effected.  One, Mario, a Peruvian guest, began violently throwing up, and whimpering, and it certainly sounded like he was NOT doing good.  At some point, other people had to go over to try to help him. I also found out later that he thought he had a knife in his hand, and was "stabbing" himself all over his torso.  Yikes.

I sat in the darkness, ready, waiting.  The shaman began singing the icaros, songs which help you through your visions, different songs for different things.  This icaros would accompany us through the night, with short pauses between them.

And then it began, and it was almost kind of funny to me, that the beginning was just a picture of the stereotyped 70s LSD pictures.  There was a kaliedoscope of colors in front of my eyes, and nausea
churning away in my stomach.  My brain seemed like it was melting away, like it wasn't that I was just going to hallucinate, but my whole sense of self was going to be shoved to the side. 

I turned around to position myself over the bench to purge, and thought, what the hell have I done?  I started freaking out, it wasn't just painful for throwing up, the scary part was I could tell I was losing control of my consciousness, and I really didn't like that.  I wanted to stop, but I knew that I was going to be like this for hours.  I told myself
there was NO WAY I was doing this again.

I began throwing up, and when I say throwing up, you are probably thinking about what it is like when you have the stomach flu.  Oh no, that is pretty pleasant compared.  This felt like something was reaching
inside of you, and pulling every internal organ out through your mouth.  And then some.  In front of me, in my visions, I could see the figure of a man, reaching out his arms to help me throw up.  Then, I
felt churning in my belly, and thought maybe I needed to go to the bathroom. 

I stumbled around, because your body feels like it encased in cement, and it takes a herculean effort to move, but you know you NEED to move.  Around me, as I stumbled out of the temple, was a group of people (in my vision) and I wanted to reach out to grab on to one
of them to help me.  I was in such pain, so miserable, and all these damn colors in front of me made it quite hard to see.  I found my way to a tree, and grabbed onto it, hoping I could draw some strength from it.  No such luck.  Then I remembered how many people had mentioned lying down on the ground in their pain, so I thought I'd give it a try.  I could barely hold myself up anyway.  So down I went.

Oh boy, did that feel good.  I mean, it felt great.  I suddenly felt so much better, and thought it would be just fine if I stayed there.  And then I felt this biting on my chin, and another biting on my cheek.
And then I thought, maybe this isn't the best idea.  I really didn't want to move, but figured that lying on the ground in the darkness of the Amazon might not be the safest thing.  After lecturing myself that I had
to keep myself safe, I dragged myself up and made my way back to my seat, deciding that I didn't need to go to the bathroom after all.

No sooner had I gotten back then I needed to purge again.  I tried to see it as energy purifying like others had told me.  How purging is seen is to be cleaning your energy, and now, looking back, I do agree, though at the time I just thought it was something they said to make it okay that you had to vomit.  The people that seemed to have the most crap in their lives were also the one who vomited the most. In any case, at the time, that didn't matter a whit to me.  I began talking to someone, my guide, or the plant, I'm not sure.  I told them just to take what they wanted I just wanted to rest.  I hung onto the back of the bench, as everything seemed to melt beneath me, and I listened to the chorus of others vomiting with me. 

I just wanted to rest, I gave up.  I surrendered, completely.  And you know what?  That actually worked. Once I stopped fighting, and just decided to go along for the ride, everything became much easier.  I curled up on the padded bench, finally done with the vomiting (I finally told "them" that I didn't have any more to give, and I guess they decided to listen to me).

Then the visions really began, and so did the talking. While most people kept pretty quiet (except for a few moaners and Kevin, who we'll get to later), I talked and talked and talked, though quietly.  Big shock with me, huh, that I can't shut up! 

There was a man that I was talking with, my boyfriend/lover or something.  He kept telling me that he loved me, and I kept telling him that I loved him, and the love really was pouring out of me.  I told him
yes, I was his woman, and we were going to get married, and have kids.  But I told him, not now, we aren't going to have kids now.  We flirted with each other, and I said he was a flirt, and I was a flirt
(later, I wondered if anyone, especially the 2 sober people, wondered about me babbling on about flirting), and that sex was for people who loved each other.  And then he began to transform me.  He turned me into a bird, into a serpent, he put me on top of the mountains, and told me I was a queen.  I was inside the belly of a whale, curled up between two of the ribs.  Everything happened so quickly.  Then I was
everything, I was the world.  I knew everything, and I knew nothing.  Lastly, he showed me white birds, doves, and two swans on a lake, and then looking up, he was there, with 2 huge white wings.  And all this
time, love was pouring out of me.

Then, I finally realized that I didn't need to keep giving him all this love and energy, focusing so much of my attention on him, that it wasn't getting me anywhere.  I realized I didn't need to do that, that I could just be myself, and I didn't need to get wrapped up in this guy.  So, I turned all my love to myself, and to everyone around me, and he stepped out of my experiences.

My visions began to calm down, though I still was learning things on a spiritual level.  What it felt like was that if you have your body, mind, and soul, the mind being the "I", the ego, and that part is pushed away, and your body is pretty out of it, so it is just the soul part of your body.  My soul was so blissful, happy, full of love for everyone.  I knew that I was complete, that I didn't need anything else, and that I knew everything I needed to know, and didn't have anything to conquer.  I knew that I could do anything I wanted, become everything I wanted, that everything was open to me.  I was everyone's mother,
and daughter, and sister, and wife.  I can't say it enough, I just felt so much love.  I imagine that it is similar to when people have near death experiences, and say they felt such tremendous joy and love.  It was beautiful, and I kept saying that "its beautiful, everything is beautiful, thank you so much, thank you for everything".

I became aware of the others around me.  Karen, the girl sitting next to me, had been moaning, and the leader of the group (who himself was a shaman), had to come over and take care of her.  I wanted to help her, but knew that he could help her more than I could.  So, eventually she laid across our laps, and I felt like he and I were her parents.

Kevin, one of the other members of the group, drew quite a bit of attention.  He apparently had his pants around his ankles, and was calling out for help, because nothing was coming out.  "Why isn't anything coming out?  I don't understand!"  And he kept asking
if he could be excused "May I be excused please?".  So, I told him, sure, you could be excused.  But he kept asking, so I said "why do you need to be excused", or "no".  He didn't really pay any attention.  And then again "can somebody help me please?"  I could see/know that it was important not to help him, because he needed to figure out that he
was strong enough to help himself.  In my mind's eye, I saw him on a cliff in a barren wilderness surrounded by mountains, so scared, and just a little boy.  I realized he needed to accept that he was a little boy,
and then realize that there wasn't anything to be afraid of, that really he was surrounded by beauty.

And then the Shaman came over and asked me how I was (and I was impressed I could speak Spanish in this state), and I beamed at him, and told him that I was wonderful, that I was clean.  I felt so clean and
pure.  He gave me a hug, and then, just like that, I was completely sober.  For my first time, that was pretty amazing, because by that point the only other people who were clear headed were the ones that had been doing it for 15 years or more.

After a bit more time, the ceremony concluded, at around 2 in the morning, and I helped get everyone home. 

The next day, when we discussed our visions, the Shaman told me that the plants (that made up the brew) liked me, and saw me as a daughter.  And that he saw that there were many doors before me, with windows over them, and I had to look through the windows, and
figure out which door I was supposed to go through.

He also said that I was supposed to "diet the plants" which he said was good, since I was a bit gordita.

Not that again.

A path in the Amazon

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