Facing the Dragon: An Ayahuasca Experience (Part 3, Side 1: The Dream)
Orlando began the ceremony with a warning, “Some people can’t handle ayahuasca and panic. You have to have trust and confidence in me so that I may guide you. If you don’t, anything could happen.”
(This is Part 3 Side 1 of Facing the Dragon: An Ayahuasca Experience. If you want to know how I began this journey, click here to check out Part 1.)
Orlando lit a freshly rolled cigarette, but he doesn’t smoke. “The tobacco is used to cleanse the air,” he said, “and detract the bad spirits.” He blew smoke as though he was trying to get a bad taste out of his mouth. He spat the smoke out to the left, right and down his shirt. Then he spat smoke into both hands and rubbed them over his head from front to back, like hair gel. He blew smoke into the ayahuasca brew and a small hollowed coconut shell that we’d drink from. He called me up after he completed his preparations. I hoped he got all bad spirits.
I knelt in front of him as he sat on his mat. He said a few words which I can’t remember. My heart was pounding so loudly I couldn’t hear anything else. Orlando poured the dark thick concoction to the brim of the coconut shell. I took it from him with both hands, took a deep breath and gulped it down. It tasted sweet and metallic, like molasses paired with a 9 volt battery. I exhaled. No turning back now.
I went back to my mat and watched M take his sip and waited.
Orlando said to sit against the wall or lie down and keep our eyes closed. I relaxed in the stark darkness and closed my eyes.
I felt a burning sensation in my stomach. I imagined a battle between my stomach and the brew, and the brew winning. I felt weak. When I laid down, the burning sensation worked its way up to my chest. The burning stopped after a few moments and I became completely relaxed.
My body began sinking into the ground. I passed through my mat then the floor underneath, with very little resistance. Soon, I was submerged a few feet below the hut. I stopped sinking. My consciousness began expanding beyond my body. It extended from the soil to the roots of the trees that surrounded me. The cacophony of the jungle became louder. I was one with the all the creatures that stalked the night. I saw through the eyes of a cricket nesting on a tree leaf, completely at peace. Then I was a beetle. The one I squashed earlier that night in the shower. I was alive and at peace. Then, I heard cracking and broke under an enormous weight. I felt its pain and teared up in remorse.
Suddenly, I was back on the mat with my eyes shut. A little jostled, but prepared to carry on. I regained my meditative state. Orlando started chanting his icaros. The crickets creaking in the jungle became louder and faster. It was like there were high pitched helicopters all around me. Out of the corners of my eyes I can just see insect wings that rotated like propellers. I turned my head to the right and I saw the creatures. They were small, humanoid figures with wings on their backs. They fluttered about my face, weightless. “Ha…” I thought to myself, “…fairies.” There were two swaying left and right in tune with Orlando’s chanting. I moved my head trying to follow them, mesmerized. Then they transformed into the eyes of a snake. I remained transfixed by the display. The enormous snake’s head, a few feet away from my face, swayed from side-to-side along with Orlando’s icaros.
“Is this what you expected?” The question came out of nowhere. “Yes… pretty much,” I replied without thinking. The eyes of the snake transformed back into the fairy-like creatures, then back to eyes. “How about now,” the voice said. I replied again,“This is freaky… but… I’m cool with it.”
The fairy-like creatures emerged from the eyes of the serpent once more and moved to my left so that my head was now facing straight up. More of those fairies appeared, surrounding me. I saw bright lights in front of my face. The sounds of high pitched propellers and Orlando’s icaros were booming in my ears.
I saw an array of lights hovering about 10 feet above me. “A spaceship?” I thought. Then an invisible force made me arch my back. My mouth opened wide with my tongue curling up and back towards my throat. A beam of light came down from the spaceship and struck underneath my tongue. The light held for a few seconds then my body went limp. I felt the fairies slowly lift and spirit me away.
We traveled a long distance and stopped when Orlando stopped chanting. I was put on, what felt like, a hospital gurney. It was total silence. Then, I sensed beings all around me, but I couldn’t see any of them. They gloomed over my body in conference — apparently preparing to give me an examination. Then it began.
My body began moving on its own, compelled by an invisible force. My head turned to the left, pausing for a minute then it turned to the right. My mouth opened and my lips were pulled up as though my teeth and gums were being checked. I could’ve stopped it at any time by moving around or freaking out, but I didn’t want to. I was entranced by their attention and compelled to be obedient to their every command. I felt a sensation of pleasure as a reward for being cooperative. It was sickeningly sweet and I wanted more. I laid there, very calmly, and observed what was going on. I was examined as surely as if I were in a hospital.
When they were done Orlando began chanting again. The fairy-like creatures appeared and transported me to another location where I could be examined once more. This progression continued for what seemed like days.
I sensed there was a presence with me during my examinations — like a second consciousness observing the experience. I asked it, “What’s going on right now?” Without any hesitation, I got an answer, “Your body is being checked out to make sure that it’s okay.” “Does my body belong to me?” I asked. “No” was the response. “Does my body belong to you?” I challenged. “No. It belongs to us. We gave it to you,” it said. I found the tone condescending. Still, I wanted to make sure I was receiving the message correctly. Who are we and how could they give me my body? I voiced my objections, “I wasn’t given a 30 year-old body. I was a baby, at one point. I grew up and became who I am today. I did that. You didn’t give me anything.” With exaggerated patience, it replied, “We grow bodies from the earth. Your body is a part of the earth. You are leasing it at that moment. It grows because that’s what it is made to do. You have little to do with that. You are much more than your body. While you’re alive, you get the benefits of having one, but once you’re gone you’ll move on and have to let it go.” I felt like a child being taught the sum of 1+1. Being too dense to comprehend, the consciousness implanted its experiences in me so that I can grasp what was being said. In that moment, I knew everything that it knew about human beings, from origin to how we fit into the universe. Stunned with understanding, I was excited and awestruck.
These insights were exactly what I was looking for. Eager to continue, I thought about my list of questions. My iPhone screen floated in front of me displaying all my questions listed. I started to read the first question, but then the screen flew away. “I know all the question you have,” the consciousness said laughing. “You don’t need your list.” Then it proceeded to spout out revelations about Rey. It revealed the core of my identity — everything that makes me, me. It went back through my life and showed me each pivotal moment that shaped who I am. I felt like I was on that old school TV show “This is Your Life.” It was an erie and emotional experience.
I asked questions about my marriage, friends, family, career, whether I should have kids and a myriad of other personal topics. All answers came in words, images and direct implanting of knowledge. In the areas I had trouble, I was shown how those troubles began and how to solve them. For example, I always thought it would be easy for me to reach the goal of being a successful hip hop artist. I’ve been labeled “smart” and “gifted” ever since I could remember. With that mindset, I expected anything I wanted to be or do would come easily. I thought that if I put in a little effort into music and made a few songs, I’d be on my way to the top in no time. After years of trying, I was wrong and disappointed in myself. The foundation of my identity had been cracked. “Gifted” people don’t fail. If I were “smart” I’d be able to figure out how to make music that people liked. I questioned if it was time to give up the mic.
When I asked the consciousness if I should continue making music, “no,” was the response I received. I paused for a long moment and acknowledged my doubts confirmed. I wasn’t smart or gifted enough to be a success in music. “That’s okay,” I said, consoling myself. “Music isn’t for everyone. I’m smart and gifted at other things.” “You give up too easily,” it said laughing. “You’re not really committed to music anyway. No one who is serious about something would be dissuaded so easily.” More seriously, it continued, “You have to work hard at it if you want to succeed. You don’t want to work hard because if you work hard and fail your fear of being a failure would be confirmed. If you give minimal effort and fail, you’ll be comforted by the fact that you didn’t really try. You care more about protecting your ego than being a successful rapper. It doesn’t matter whether you continue to pursue music. What matters is that you strongly identify yourself with your ego. You are not your ego. You have to give it up. If you don’t, you won’t reach great success in music or anything else.
I was speechless. It hit the core of all my issues, with the precision of a sniper. I had to make a change.
Suddenly, I heard Orlando chanting again. The examinations were over. I was back on my mat. Orlando stopped in the middle of his icaros and asked if I was okay. I thought about it for a moment and said, “This ayahuascas es muy fuego!” He laughed and agreed. I wondered how M was doing and before I could ask Orlando called out to M. There was no response. He called out to M again and still there was no response. I sat up and heard heavy breathing coming from M. Orlando laughed and said, “M is okay. He’s sleeping.” I started cracking up and laid down. Orlando began chanting and my journey continued…
This was Part 3, Side 1 of Facing the Dragon: An Ayahuasca Experience. Click here to continue to Part 3 Side 2: the Reality.
About This Story
Facing the Dragon: An Ayahuasca Experience is the story of my trip to Peru in September 2015 to participate in an ayahuasca ceremony. I’ve broken it down into several parts to make it more digestible for consumption. Below are links to each part. I would suggest going in order but, the choice is yours.
- Part 1: Exposure — how I found out about ayahuasca
- Par 2: Mission Accepted — getting to Peru and meeting Orlando, the shaman who conducted my ceremony
- Part 3, Side 1: The Dream — the first side of my ayahuasca experience
- Part 3, Side 2: The Reality — the second side of my ayahuasca experience
- Part 4: Rude Awakening — the day after my ayahuasca experience
- Part 5: The Return — my second ayahuasca experience
- Epilogue — closing thoughts about ayahuasca and next steps
I’m Rey. I like making music, ux designing, iOS developing, hustling and expanding my mind. I write and produce materials in all my above interests. Join my mailing list to get notified when I have something interesting to share. Until then, let go, accept, trust, love, believe and peace.
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