When I got to the venue, I was a bit taken aback. It was an extraordinary Mediterranean style mansion in the arid hills two hours out of LA. There were two large prayer rooms inside that had huge religious murals of the last supper and Lady Guadalope. Grapevines out the back. A swimming pool. An artificial cave with a spa in it. 
 It was a pretty pimping joint for a bunch of nuns to attend.
 It was kind of fitting though, because Black Hole Eagle Infinite Gaze wasn’t your typical shaman. He didn’t dress in buckskin with beads and animal furs draped all around him. Now, he was more dressed like well… A successful European pimp. Don’t take that the wrong way — but with his white hat, white cotton shirt and stylish slacks, he cut quite a dapper figure for someone who would be soon guiding a bunch of people puking and shitting themselves in a circle.
 ‘Hello! My name is Bear! Welcome brother!’ A heavily tattooed young man said in an Eastern European accent, hugging me with my bags still in hand. I put my bags down and shook his hand.
 ‘Hello. How are you?’ I said.
 ‘Amazing brother! Amazing! Where did you come from, what is your story?’
 ‘I was a depressed comedian for a long time, then I drank ayahuasca and was told I was too self centred and that I needed to go do volunteer work in developing countries. Now I don’t know what I am, so I came here. How about you?’
 ‘I am from Siberia! I was an orphan and was put into a foster home, but my foster parents betrayed me and sexually abused me!’
 ‘My story sounds quite trite compared to yours now.’
 ‘It’s okay! Now I’m training to be a shaman!’
 ‘Well I guess when life gives you lemons…’
 I reserved a space for myself on the floor. We were doing the ceremony outside which was exciting, because I had only ever done it inside. Also Black Hole Eagle Infinite Gaze would be drinking with us. All the other ceremonies I had done, the shamans hadn’t drunk, so I knew we would be going deep tonight.
 I walked around meeting the other drinkers. It was a motley crew of new agers, rich Hollywood people who’s superficial lifestyle was eating them alive, ‘regular’ people disenfranchised with contemporary society, ex-addicts, people going through personal issues that they needed to resolve, trainee shamans and miscellaneous spiritual seekers. I wasn’t sure which category I fell into. All of them except for the rich Hollywood type I guessed. They were all really nice people though and mostly women, which I was glad about. I needed more feminine influence in my life after spending the past twelve years of my life in the sweaty, stinking balls of the male-dominated comedy world, bashing my head against squishy scrotum after squishy scrotum in a desperate bid to find a way out of the foetid stench.
 We were called to the circle and Black Hole Eagle Infinite Gaze gave his introductory talk. He told us that he was sick of people not feeling like they deserved good things. Like they thought they weren’t good enough to receive love and success and that it was all bullshit. He very animated and filled with passionate indignation. He then started ranting about how society had fucked us all by conditioning us through hurt to shut down and to no longer be sensitive to the world, but instead to be numb and armoured and how while this was a protective measure, ultimately we would all rot away on the inside, succumbing to compensatory destructive habits and behaviours. It was pretty spot on.
 ‘PURITY IS POWER!’ He yelled, continuing onto the next part of the lecture where he stressed the importance of diet to us. The reason why everyone was so sick and negative was in a great part due to all the chemicals in the processed food, the polluted air and fluoridated water. Our brains, specifically our pineal glands were the receivers of consciousness, and the clarity and purity of our signal was determined by how well we looked after our brains, which of course were a part of our body, therefore what we put into our bodies ultimately affected our consciousness. I had to agree with him there too. I had noticed a gradual clarity and sensitivity enter me after a couple weeks on the dieta, something I hadn’t felt since I had been travelling through the developing world where there was no processed food and all the produce was organic by default, because if you thought about it, growing things organically was actually just the normal way to do it.
 ‘We are going to go DEEP tonight! I can FEEL it!’ He said loudly with the conviction of a messiah.
 ‘TODAY IS GOING TO BE A TREMENDOUS SUCCESS, MARK MY WORDS!’ He shouted, his finger pointing to the sky. 
 His positivity went past the realm of insanity into total certainty. He reminded me of some kind of motivational speaker crossed with an Ayahuasquero, a unique combination I hadn’t seen before.
 I looked around at everyone’s loving gaze that fell upon him. There was a definite idolization of Black Hole Eagle Infinite Eyes, but he seemed unaffected by it. 
 It is said that the three enemies of a good shaman are money, power and sex, which seems ironic because these three enemies are exactly what society touts as the three most desirable objects to attain, indeed the whole point of life in certain civilisations.
 We gathered in a prayer circle and held hands. People say that Ayahuasca is a cult, and judging by this behavior and the fact that we were all wearing white, I’d probably say that they were right. Of course it was a fucking cult. A cult devoted to an ancient Amazonian plant spirit. And what was wrong with that? I’d rather worship a plant than an idea or a human invention. Plants seemed a lot more trustworthy. All they did was grow and make oxygen. They didn’t kill people because they believed in something else, or destroy the planet with plastics. Why not start a cult for them then? It seemed long overdue. 
 Besides every popular movement had once been a cult originally, back when it had first started out. The only difference between a cult and a movement was how many members it had. It was a popularity contest at heart. If you thought about it, way back when they first started, science and Christianity had once been cults too. Now they were much like an Indie band that had sold out to go mainstream, like back when the Black Eyed Peas were real, before they got Fergie and began recording the sounds of them eating pieces of their own shit. I wondered if old school Christians from ancient times were ever taken across time to attend amodern church service now, would they boo, hiss and yell ‘Sellout!’ and ‘What happened to the music man? Your new shit stinks!’ from the bleachers? 
 ‘Oh holy Father! Please protect this circle of wonderful people as we journey into another realm tonight! I call on you to protect us from harm! To guide us to the light! And to all the malevolent forces that wish to do us harm I hereby REBUKE you from coming anywhere near us! You have no place here, you cannot touch us because we walk with the LORD! AMEN!’
 ‘AMEN.’ We all said. Even though I wasn’t a Christian, I was a believer. I had to be. I didn’t want to get touched by any of the bad things. 
 We sat back down. It was time to communicate our intentions. I had made mine several weeks back, praying and concentrating on it while I was in the sauna at the local gym three or four times a week for maximum effect. Bikram prayer I called it. People’s intentions were mostly about healing themselves, which I thought it was a very American all-about-the-individual type approach. It was all part of what I called the ‘Me me me meme’ that had been like an errant virus running through the West for a long time. Heck I had been infected with it for a long time, but I had learnt from my experiences doing volunteer work and wiping the shit off hundreds of old Indian men’s buttholes in the Mother Teresa Home, that the self-healing process was not an independent process. It had to relate back to the greater good, or the venture would be bound to fail. One couldn’t heal oneself, because the whole problem was the self. It was this excessive self-focus that was at the heart of ruin in the West. And I knew it. Boy did I know it. I had spent so many years of my life wondering what was wrong with myself, before realizing that it was the fact that I was spending too much trying to work out what was wrong with myself, instead of reaching out and finding some meaning and purpose for life by working for a greater good within the community and the world at large. 
 It came time for my intention.
 ‘Madre please help me heal what needs to be healed, to purge what needs to be purged, so I can be a pure channel for divine energy, in the service of all other beings.’ I said slightly embarassed.
 It felt strange to say such a private thing in public, I guess because we are living in a scientific materialist society where all forms of scientifically unverifiable behavior and phenomenon are frowned upon because they challenge that worldview. No one likes their worldview to be challenged, because it makes them afraid that the world is unpredictable and uncertain, which ultimately, it is.
 Saying my intention in public in some way felt like I was coming out as being gay, but in a safe space, surrounded by other gay people who used words like ‘divine energy’ without the fear of being burnt at the stake or at least being yelled at constantly on facebook by people were annoyed by the idea that other people were free to think different things than them.
 Intentions are really important for guiding the experience as long as they allow room for Ayahuasca to do her work, as most of the time she knows better than you what exactly you need. The trick is to be concise but open. Intentions help really focus to the whole ritual, as without them they could otherwise very easily degenerate into some kind of much less-controlled shitstorm, leaving you open to entity attack.
 I settled onto my meditation stool and waited for it to hit me. Within about half an hour a lot of people around me were going under, I could tell by the weird ‘Ooh ooh ooh’ noises they were making like they were having sex with ghosts or something. An hour and a bit passed by and I still didn’t feel anything. I shrugged and lay down on my yoga mat, and a few minutes later, I heard a loud champagne cork ‘POP!’ which sounded like it was both inside and outside of me and I sat up thinking, ‘where the hell did that strange noise come from?’. It is often reported during high end Buddhist meditation experiences as well as DMT related episodes that a loud popping or crackling sound is heard. The theory is this is actually the sound of calcite crystals and DMT in the pineal gland becoming charged and active. The pineal gland is the anchor for the astral chord that is connected to the astral body and allows one to travel outside of themselves across vast distances non-physically.
 I can’t remember exactly what happened next or where I went, it all became a bit of a hyper-dimensional smear. All I remember is that I came to hearing Black Hole Eagle Infinite Eyes singing this crazy intense Shipibo icaro, which is a magical song that guides the visions and healings, and I suddenly remembered that death wasn’t real and that consciousness survived the death of the physical body. I know right? Whacky shit. The Tibetan Buddhists and Hindus were right. YOLO was a lie, a cheap marketing ploy to make you impulse buy shit you didn’t need, namely poor quality shirts and hats with ‘YOLO’ written on the front, made by the bleeding fingers of sweatshop children. I then got shown how reincarnation worked, and that in my future life I was going to be a woman. I wasn’t sure how to take this surprising information. All I could say was, ‘okay’. Then I got told that basically everyone had to live as every different kind of life form in order to purify their soul, because through manifesting as a range of many different kinds of beings, after a while they would be able to recognize what was the constant throughout all incarnations, and that constant was what your true soul was, and that constant was the same constant without and within all things. As an illustrative metaphor, I was shown the image of a raindrop falling from a cloud into the ocean and then evaporating back into a cloud and then back down again, over and over again, until there was no trace of impurities left and it had understood that there was no real difference between being gas or liquid, or in the sky or in the ocean, it was just different states of the same thing.
 I was then shown how the consciousness of the individual was like a bubble and the thin walls of the bubble was the ego. The air inside the bubble and outside the bubble was the same. One day the bubble would pop and the individual consciousness would become undifferentiated from it’s previous surroundings. The problem now was that everyone’s bubble walls were too thick and heavy, keeping them earthbound and unable to float freely upon the breeze, at least until they popped.
 All the while this profound transmission was happening, I was shaking uncontrollably like a palsied lunatic, moaning like a menstruating seal and drooling into a red bucket.
 I then somehow had the genetic memory of my mother’s herbalist father unlocked, who had died before I had been born, and I had a sudden access to a wealth of instinctual knowledge about herbs. I was told what tinctures I should make with what herbs and that I should start a business and sell them. It seemed like very concrete advice to be given while tripping balls but I decided to take heed. I was sick of working in a Poki bowl restaurant for not enough money anyway.
 I felt like all this knowledge I had been given was already inside of me but Ayahuasca was pulling it all together and showing it to me from a variety of different perspective.
 Then I spent what felt like an hour saying ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’ Over and over again until I felt this column of white light hit me through my crown and circulate through my body, gathering especially on my hands. I was informed that my energy was too focused on the top half of my body and that was why I was prone to indecision, sluggish will and riddled with ego and that I needed to redistribute my energy to the lower half of my body. I felt my lower base, sex and stomach ‘chakra’ (I hate that fucking word, but as a functional term I have to use it so eat shit) were neglected and as a result I was uncentred. I had done a ‘reiki’ attunement the previous month so began feeding energy into my stomach to heal it. It began to feel warm and sensitivity increased, like I hadn’t felt anything down there for a long time. I wondered if perhaps this explained why I had an uncontrollable eating problem all the time. I was just trying to feel something. Fill the hole that could never seem full. Then I began to do ‘reiki’ on my balls, where I realized I stored a lot of my fear, allowing the warm energy to flow into the area and melt the emotional blocks that had been there for so long I was no longer aware that they had been there in the first place. 
 I don’t know how long I lay there, cupping my sweaty balls in my sweaty hands, pouring sweaty reiki energy into while staring at the milky way above me, but it was some pretty profound ball cupping, probably the most profound ball-cupping I had ever encountered.
 Then a reggae song came on the stereo and without thinking I got up and started dancing.
 Death was apparently a lie, I was going to start a herbal medicine business and my balls needed regular reiki. 
 Yep, life was pretty damn amazing and a lot weirder than I had ever imagined it to be.

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