My First Ayahuasca Experience. At SpiritQuest Sanctuary in Peru.
I have broken this up into 3 parts. The Summary, Some of My Main Takeaways, and The Story. The story is the long part ;)
The whole experience at SpiritQuest Sanctuary in Peru, what it did from my perspective, was burn away a lot of the noise in my head and heart. It quieted that which was unimportant and not serving me, so that what was important and what would serve me would be clearer and in focus. I didn’t necessarily receive ideas or messages that I hadn’t thought of before. But they were covered with a bunch of baggage, a bunch of shit that I had been accumulating for too long. Bad ideas, bad opinions about myself and what-not. Ayahuasca cleaned house, got me back to seeing what was important, for me. It’s a journey, I have to keep reminding myself of these things, bad habits don’t break easily, past patterns don’t necessarily give themselves up without a fight. But these are the battles I choose, these are the battles I want to engage and fight. Because the man that does, is a great man. Because I say so. I am the man I want to be. I am a great man.
I am grateful. I am grateful. I am grateful. — to myself first, and to the universe, which is everything, which is me.
I am love. I am love. I am love. — to myself first, and that will overflow to others.
Some of My Main Takeaways
Trust myself. Only I have the ability to know what is truly best for me.
Follow my own intuition. It is probably the loudest way that my higher self and the universe communicate with me. The thing with my intuition, is that it doesn’t really plan ahead much…I usually only sense the next step in my journey. I don’t even know what the outcome of making the step will be. But I want to try and trust it. I spent the last 2 years denying it and that led to my own destruction. It can be hard to hear and to take action on what I hear, but I think that it will lead me better than my ego mind will as it desperately grasps about for validation.
Enter into presence. Especially with others. To look them in the eyes and feel what they are communicating. To enter into their experience with them. To intentionally not try and steer them into my own beliefs about what they should do, but just to listen and hear. Allow them to do their own work and only offer an opinion if asked for it. Each of us is on our own journey. Each of us is responsible for our own life and decisions. Everyone’s experience is unique.
I’m not alone. I am in La Familia. There are others fighting battles and engaging life with a similar growth mindset and empowering beliefs. People who believe in me. We are all over the world. We know and accept each other. “For those that understand, no explanation is necessary. For those that don’t understand, no explanation is possible.” (Some people get it, others don’t. It doesn’t mean they won’t. It doesn’t mean I’m better than them. But I think you know what I’m talking about.)
Let go of the need to Comprehend. Let go of the need to Understand. That’s where the magic happens. If you understand how something works, then it is within your understanding. It is within the framework of how you see life. If I think that xyz can’t happen to me because I am _______(unworthy). The universe is unlikely to make me accept something outside of my framework. My framework of what’s possible and what’s not. If I can let go of that, let go of my self-limiting beliefs about how or why things happen or don’t happen, then things outside of my framework of understanding are possible. It was once I let go of the need to understand what I was seeing during the last Ayahuasca ceremony that I was transported to a place and experience more beautiful than I could imagine. An experience outside of my framework of understanding. What’s kind of funny about this is that I’m still trying to grasp(understand) exactly how to do this well or even explain it, haha. Belief is a powerful thing.
Imagination is Creation. What we imagine or believe about our past is what we carry with us from it. What we imagine or believe about our future is what we are going towards. The placebo effect in drug studies is when people affect their physical condition through the power of belief alone. It is accounted for in every clinical drug study. Use your imagination. Use your insane human ability to create your own reality. I get that this can sound like denying reality, but we all interpret our reality through our framework, through our paradigm. We create our reality already. No two people will experience the same situation in the exact same way. I think I have more power and control than I realize.
Patience, Surrender, Courage.
Patience with myself. Patience with my journey. Patience with the universe and how it flows.
Surrender to the process. I have goals I want to accomplish. I have to trust my higher self that it will get me to fulfillment. I don’t know where the path will take me or in what ways my plans will be derailed, but I think it is best to surrender to the process that my higher self and the universe is putting me through to make me into the man that I want to be. I don’t think of it as a passive surrendering, but an active one. We all get put into situations that we did not plan on being a part of. Sometimes by our own hand, sometimes someone or something else’s. We don’t control everything. So I want to accept the situations that are given to me as necessary in making me into the man that I want to be.
Courage to do just that. The courage to be patient. The courage to accept the situations I encounter. The courage to engage those situations, to learn from them and act within them in a way that I would be proud of. …That’s a lot of courage.
I am who I want to be. Not because I’ve arrived. I feel like I’ve barely started, maybe gone backwards, maybe forward some. But I sense that there is a part of me that is proud of who I am. I am capable. I think in unique ways. I am capable of what I imagine myself to be capable of. Look at me putting effort into believing that I can accomplish what I want to. Look at me stretch myself to the breaking point time and time again. I AM who I fucking want to be.
Which leads me to loving myself. There were times on this trip where I really loved being me. Where I looked into my eyes and saw how beautiful they were. I am worthy of my own love. I have erred on the side of humility long enough. Self-deprecation has been an epidemic in me. I want to love being me. I want to be proud of being me. I want to revel in being Trevor Lindgren Storey.
Leading up to the first ceremony
I first heard of ayahuasca about 3 years ago I think, around 2016. Through the Aubrey Marcus Podcast. About 2 years ago, 2017, I felt the initial call from ayahuasca and I knew that it would be a part of my journey at some point. About 1 year ago, 2018, while on a mushroom trip, I felt the need for it and the call much louder. I knew then that I needed to do it as soon as I was able to.
In May of this year, 2019, a 2 1/2 year, very toxic, romantic relationship I was in ended. In August, I received notification that the contract I was working on would end at the end of the month. So starting September 1st, I would be jobless. I soon realized that this was an opportunity to go to Peru and take ayahuasca.
I was still reeling from the relationship that destroyed me. I was not being hired on full-time for a company that I had loved working on as a contractor for. I had recently starting going to therapy again because my suicidal thoughts were getting more frequent and more intense. I didn’t know at first if it would be wise for me to travel to Peru and take this medicine that might be even more challenging on my spirit. But as I contemplated, I became more and more determined to go. I emailed Parker Sherry, the facilitator from SpiritQuest Sanctuary and asked him what he thought about my current spiritual/emotional state and if he thought it a good idea or not for me to come. He replied very thoughtfully, but in the end he didn’t advise either way. One of his main points was that Ayahuasca is, in one phrase, a confrontation with yourself. I talked to my therapist about it and contemplated for a few days until I finally decided that it was my time to go.
I was only about 3 weeks away from the retreat dates I wanted to attend, so I had to move somewhat quickly getting my plane tickets and paying for the retreat. There is also a certain diet that you are supposed to stick to for some time before and some time after. It’s not too intense, but no pork for 2 weeks before the first Ayahuasca ceremony, no weed or alcohol for 1 week before, no orgasms from 3 days before until 3 days after. I made all the preparations, stuck to the diet and on September 5th started my journey to SpiritQuest Sanctuary near Iquitos, Peru.
Journal entry September 5th, 2019 4:02pm Denver Airport -
“I feel so many things. Most of them negative. Mostly I just feel isolated, alone and empty. I don’t really feel excited. I don’t really feel hopeful. Just alone. So very alone.
I’m on my way to Lima, Peru. I’m scared, nervous, feel inconsequential, unimportant, alone, sad, homeless. I want to go home. I want to feel like I’m home. I hate being alone right now. This feeling just is. How is a person supposed to feel good alone? Didn’t I do that before? Haven’t I been okay before? Not drinking or smoking is hard.”
On September 7th I got on the plane from Lima to Iquitos. I had met a few of the other participants at the airport, but was sitting by myself on the plane. I didn’t really want to interact with others, it felt right to keep to myself. As I sat there, trying to inhabit my heart-space and meditate, I slowly felt more and more like I was exactly where I needed to be. Like I had finally sync’d up with my best path. I cried because I hadn’t felt that feeling in a long time.
Once we arrived in Iquitos, it was about a 30 minute bus ride outside the city and then we got on a few ~12 person boats and traveled about 30 minutes to SpiritQuest Sanctuary. The sanctuary was surrounded by dense jungle. Really the only way in or out was by boat. It was serene, without much in the way of amenities which was perfect. We were all there for a spiritual awakening and not having distractions was bliss. We could focus completely on here and now presence and our own personal growth.
One of the first scheduled activities we had was a group sharing circle where we each introduced ourselves, talked about why we were there and what we were currently going through. It was immediately clear that every single person was there to do work. Most of us were at some of the lowest points of our lives and everyone vulnerably and openly shared what was on their hearts. It set the tone for the rest of the retreat. Every person was intentionally going into the process without ego. The stories I heard were humbling to say the least. Most everyone was looking for hope, healing, a path forward.
Before coming on the retreat, I wanted and expected to keep to myself. But after that sharing circle and a few meals together, I realized that I could gain a lot from being in the presence of these other heroes.
On September 8th, during the day, we got to help prepare the ayahuasca by beating the vine to a pulp and then tearing apart some companion plants that would go into the brew. We did all of it with reverence and putting our intentions into everything we touched. We also had a mapacho, sacred tobacco, smoking ceremony. During that, we saluted each of the 4 directions, North, South, East and West, as well as Mother Earth and Father Sky by facing them and blowing smoke in that direction. We also took a bit more of a companion plant in hand, stood over the boiling brew of ayahuasca, uttered an intention at the plants, blew the intention into the plant via mapacho smoke and threw it into the pot.
That night at 9pm, I entered the ceremonial maloka to partake in my first ayahuasca ceremony. The maloka was a circular building with a thatched roof and screened windows(no glass) all the way around. All of the participants had a mat to sit on somewhere in the room. We were asked to wear light colors, bring an eye mask or blindfold to cover our eyes and a lighter to light a mapacho if we would like. The mapacho could help intensify the ayahuasca.
We were also asked to bring 3 things into the ceremony with ayahuasca, an intention, an offering and a request. For this first ceremony my intention was ‘to realize myself’, my offering was ‘to help others realize themselves’ and my request was ‘that you will help me listen and understand’.
The words we were told to remember during the ceremony were — Patience, Surrender and Courage. Patience because you don’t know what ayahuasca is going to do, it might seem like nothing. Surrender as in to witness what was happening and allow whatever is to be, to be. Courage to go through whatever it is that you will. (My own elaborations).
So I sat on my mat, in the dark maloka. The only light was from a few candles on an altar at one side of the room where sat Parker, Don Rober the Banco Ayahuascero(master ayahuasca shaman), his wife Doña Eliana, his son Don Carlos and Selva the Hauchumera(huachuma shaman), daughter of Don Howard the Huachumero.
After all of the participants were seated, Don Rober came into the room and said a few words explaining what ayahuasca was and how we were using it. That our purposes would be to attain higher levels of consciousness as opposed to any kind of nefarious sorcery. Each person participating would walk up to the altar, Don Rober would pour them a cup of the ayahuasca which looked like muddy river water, hand it to Don Carlos who would hand it to you. I took the cup, uttered my intentions into it and drank it down. It pretty much tasted like muddy river water, I didn’t much notice it this time.
Once everyone had partaken and sat back down, Don Rober and Don Carlos walked around to each person, would blow some mapacho smoke on their head, then take a bundle of dried leaves called a chakapa and tap a rhythm on your head while they sang an icaros, which is a chant-like song. I don’t remember exactly what they said this was for, but I think essentially it was meant to prepare you for your journey.
When they came to me and started tapping on my head, I thought it would feel like something washing over me, like a protective field washing over me. But what it actually felt like was something awakening inside me that I didn’t know was there previously. Like my body had it’s own energetic armor that was always available, but I just didn’t know it was there. He started tapping and this energetic force pulsed out from my own body and felt as if it was wrapping me in this energetic force field of my own making.
The next thing they did was blow out all but one of the candles in the room. Then they walked around the maloka, blowing mapacho smoke all around to protect the maloka and those inside from anything that would try to interfere. Then they blew out the last candle and everyone was seated and journey’s began.
My First Ayahuasca Ceremony
Next day journal entry, Monday September 9th.
The first ceremony wasn’t too intense. It started pretty intense. First Don Rober sang the icaros on my head. I thought it would feel like something was washing over me, but it actually felt like it awakened a strength inside my self. It came from within and pulsed outward sort of.
Then I started feeling tingly and uneasy as the medicine started taking effect. As it intensified I kept telling myself to allow. ‘allow, allow, allow’ over and over again. I was feeling energy coursing through my body. I started feeling like I was everything and everything was me. I heard someone throwing up and had the sense that they were throwing up for all of us. I felt thankful to that piece of us for going through that for us. For getting that out for our collective good.
I kept thinking that it’s time for me to lead. I don’t know how or what, but I need to be a leader, because I would make a very good one.
I felt a ton of energy in the room and coming from my hands specifically and I played with it for a bit, casting this power around the room and finishing by sending it into my heart space. It felt warm, full of energy and empowerment.
I think the next thing to happen was that ayahuasca was poking around my thoughts and feelings, just kind of seeing what was there, getting the lay of the land so to speak. When she came across the wound my ex-girlfriend made, she noticed that I was hurt and sensitive there. It was like a person pressing on a physical wound and asking ‘does this hurt?’ And how one would wince with pain when they pressed on the hurt spot. It was the same only in an emotional sense. When she pressed on it, it would hurt more for a moment, bring tears to my eyes, and when she released the pressure, it would relax a bit. I told her, ‘yes, I let another woman in there and she just thrashed about without regard for me. She was a very destructive force that I let into a very vulnerable part of me. And yeah, it hurts a lot.’ She said ‘okay, I’m going to heal that’. And then she dressed the wound. It wasn’t totally healed, but it was patched up.
I had been feeling uneasy all through that and now is when I threw up I think. I felt better after that. I remember flowing with the energies of the room, dancing (while sitting) to the tune and time of the icaros being sung by the shamans. Then I had a vision that I was dancing with Ayahuasca. She was a woman about my age, maybe a bit older, dark skinned like many peruvians, with dark brown hair that had a little red in it. We were dancing around a bonfire. I think we were the only ones dancing, but there were many other spirits around. I asked her who the other spirits were and she said that it was just a party, whoever wanted to come was welcome. So it was just about a hundred random-ish spirits apparently.
After dancing for a while she showed me a door. The door was made of cold hard steel, unfriendly, and I got the feeling that it was dangerous on the other side, like enemy territory or something. The door had an alien hunter head formed into it. Like in halo if you remember those xbox games. I saw a vision of my ex in battle armor as if I was telepathically looking through the door. I thought that she might be on the other side as like the leader of the enemy on the other side of the door. Ayahuasca asked me if I wanted to go through the door. I told her that I wanted to trust her and if she thought that was best that I was willing. She asked me again if I wanted to go through it. I said that it didn’t look appealing, but if that was what I needed, then yes. She asked a third time “do you want to go through it?”. I replied “I mean, not particularly.” She said “okay” and then we went back to the bonfire and danced a bit more. Then she and the vision left.
That all happened within the first hour of the trip, and for the rest of the night I was mostly sober. During the “mostly sober” period, I imagined playing with a small, happy puppy for a few minutes. I also conjured a spider. It was like a tarantula the size of a small dog. At the top of the maloka, the structure kind of looks like a spider web. That’s where the spider appeared. It lowered itself down on a string of web and crawled right up to me. It stared at me as if waiting for me to do something. I knew it wasn’t a powerful spirit like Ayahuasca. Something less independent than that, like a lesser creature for lack of a better term. I never felt any fear towards it and it didn’t seem like it was afraid of me at all. I pet the spider’s front legs, it seemed to like that so I pet the top of it’s body and it seemed to like that too. I remember thinking that maybe I could conjure or call more spiders to me if I needed them at some point in my journeys in the astral. I thought that perhaps I was some kind of spider queen.
Also, at one point when Don Rober came back from leaving the maloka, I saw him as like I would imagine Zeus to look. In “real” life, he’s actually like a 5’ 4”, clean shaven Peruvian man in his 70s. But I was seeing him as this towering 7 foot tall man, super strong, with long white hair and beard, dressed in white robes. He looked to be hundreds, maybe thousands of years old, I couldn’t really tell other than to say that he looked ancient and powerful. He was limping as he walked, leaning on his wife, Doña Eliana, for support. He had hurt his ankle in “real” life that day so was actually limping.
One last feeling that I had at one point, was that I felt Ayahuasca in one of the other participants, Elena May, during the ceremony. It was interesting because I asked myself if it felt like it went the other way, “did I feel like I felt this individual in Ayahuasca?” The answer was no, but I did feel Ayahuasca in them.
The dancing with Aya was very fun, flirty and light hearted. It felt really good. When she showed me the door, I think what she was telling me was that she wouldn’t make me do anything I didn’t want to do. I also think that she didn’t want to take my power from me. I kept trying to defer to her, “if you think it’s best, I’ll go through”, but she wouldn’t let me defer to her. She just kept asking if I, in and of myself, wanted to go through it. I should have been asking my self, perhaps my own higher self, if I thought it was best that I go through that door. I don’t know if I would have done anything differently at that moment. Because I was just starting to crawl out of the deep hole of one of the darkest and lowest self-belief times of my life.
Here are some take-aways that I wrote down for myself from a few of the other participants’ experiences during the first ceremony.
“When someone does harm to you, it’s not something you’re doing wrong, it’s not your fault nor is it a failure or weakness on your part in any way. That is their journey, their path.”
“You don’t have to prove to anyone, including yourself, that you are a good person with a good heart. You are a good person. You do have a good heart. You know these things already.”
“Remember your power”
“Mind the qualifiers.” Like, I would do that thing, but I can’t because I’m too old/young/weak/inexperienced… everything after the ‘but’ is a qualifier. Discard the reasons you use to say you can’t do something or that you’re not enough.
“For those that understand, no explanation is necessary. For those that don’t understand, no explanation is possible”.
Ayahuasca Ceremony 2
Journal entry Tuesday, September 10, 6:30pm
“Tonight will be night 2 for ayahuasca. I had a dream/nightmare last night and I just kind of have a sense that tonight’s ceremony may get dark. But Aya does not want me to be defeated. I will receive what I need. Now is the time to face my demons and defeat them. Patience, Surrender, Courage. I believe that this is pre-battle stress. I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if tonight I fight something or someone. I must remember the power in my hands and in the spiders. Witness and allow. I feel like I’m gearing up for battle. But I must be open to whatever aya has in store for me.
I intend to lead.
I offer to provide and protect so others can realize their full potential.
I request the courage to use my power and strength to defeat that which hinders me.
Para el bien de todos.”
Journal entry next day,
“Very mild and pretty uneventful ceremony. The drink seemed thinner this time to me. I only just started to feel the effects and then it went away. I did have the idea to write songs that these other great people I know would want to write parts to or be a part of. I also had the idea to put an eye tattoo on my shoulder. Almond shaped, feminine, yellow eye color.”
Some thoughts from the sharing circle after the 2nd ceremony:
Trust myself and trust her[Ayahuasca].
Sometimes our body creates ailments so that we have to get the thing we need that we are denying it. A lot of times that is rest. I think that was why I got that cluster headache in new york that day. My ex was in new york for a show and had the opportunity to see me, but wasn’t going to. I was so starved for love that I think my body created an ailment that would force me to go to the emergency room. And it forced her to come and see me.
It’s fairly easy to encourage, love and uplift others. It is very difficult to encourage, love and uplift myself.
Don’t do or say things that put you at a disadvantage to get or be what you want.
Things that bring this presence here.
Be the man you would be proud of, that you would be proud to be.
The day after the second ceremony, I asked the facilitator if there was anything I could do to make the experience more powerful. In fact I asked him that on a few different occasions throughout the trip, but his response was essentially ‘no’. He encouraged me to follow my intuition. I brought up some ideas like fasting or drinking more or less, and each time he would say “if there was something that I thought would help, I would tell you. Otherwise, follow your intuition. If you think you should fast, then fast.” (paraphrased quote). This was very frustrating to hear. I didn’t have any experience with Ayahuasca, he had tons! He’s facilitated tons of people! How could he not have noticed anything that would sometimes enhance the experience for someone? …I learned later that this was one of the lessons that Ayahuasca teaches. Self empowerment. YOU know what is best for you, no one else knows better, even with things you’ve never done before sometimes. I prepared for ayahuasca intensely before going to Peru and leading up to the ceremonies, so I think that I did know what I should have done. However, if it was something I had never done before AND had not prepared for, that might be a bit more difficult to discern.
The next night, we had a bobinsana ceremony.
This plant medicine and ceremony was a light, friendly, connecting one.
We all sat in the same ceremonial Maloka as we do when taking Ayahuasca. Except this time we were seated on chairs in a circle, including the shamans. Each of us got up one by one and took the drink. It tasted pretty good, like honey and tequila. I think that the shamans sang the first icaros by themselves, but after that they said that we could join in and sing or tap along with them. As far as I could tell, all of us were singing from the moment they said we could. It was beautiful to all sing together. We sang two or three icaros together and then the shaman said that if we wanted to tell each other we loved each other or give hugs that now was the time to do that. So we all got up and started hugging and encouraging one another, including the shamans! After that, we all went up to the star deck. The star deck was a circular concrete slab with tile and a totem in the center, maybe 18 feet in diameter. It sits at the top of a hill, above the sanctuary. It’s a great place to watch the sunrise or sunset. One of the participants brought a guitar and we sang songs that were familiar to everyone for a long time.
Personally, I only felt the effects of this plant medicine for about 20–30 minutes. But it still was a lovely night full of encouragement and love.
At this point, many of the participants had already had some amazing epiphanies and experiences on Ayahuasca and Bobinsana. I had the one dancing experience during the first ceremony, but that alone was not going to change my life in any way. I felt like I was ready for anything, that I was trying to do everything right, but I still wasn’t getting anything I would call significant.
The day after the Bobinsana ceremony I was feeling really discouraged.
Here is my journal entry from that day, Thursday September 12, 8:00pm.
Going for the third ceremony tonight. Feeling defeated. Like maybe nothing is going to happen. Like maybe I’m not going to get what I came for. I feel like ‘what’s the fucking point?’. I’m trying, but I’m not getting anywhere. I want to. All I feel like I’m learning is that what I want doesn’t matter. It just seems like nothing I do makes any difference to my life at all. How can I lead others if I can’t even lead myself?
It feels like I’m just not meant to have the life I want.
The universe just wants me to despair?
Ayahuasca Ceremony 3
Journal entry Friday, September 13th, the morning after the third Ayahuasca ceremony. The day of the fourth and last Ayahuasca ceremony.
Well, I’m disappointed by last night’s ceremony. But I’ll try to recount it as I experienced it as best I can.
I left my frustrations in my room. I walked to the maloka with a certain degree of confidence and openness. By the time I entered the maloka I felt good. As I sat and the maestro’s did their preparations, I was feeling more and more at peace, open, and empowered. I could feel energy in the room that I had not felt in the second ceremony. By the time I went up to drink I would say that I felt fully empowered.
I took the first cup in my hands and said, “I came to learn, teach me what I need to know. Para el bien de todos.” And I drank. I stood there for a few moments to see if my body felt like it could take more, I felt I could and asked for more. (During the first 2 ceremonies you are allowed only one cup. During the 3rd you are allowed up to 1.5 cups and on the fourth up to 2 cups.) The Maestro poured the last part of the 2 liter bottle of brew into the cup and I thought “Nice, that’ll have all the leftover sediment from the bottom of the bottle. If anything is going to work, it’s gonna be this.” And I drank it down.
I sat down and it was a challenge to keep it down for a while, but I did, to the point where my stomach even calmed somewhat. I felt that I sat in my awareness, in my heartspace, feeling, sensing and waiting. For about an hour I just let thoughts and feelings flow through me. I was physically moving in a very flowy way with my body and hands, not judging any of my movements, just flowing with the flows of energy that I felt around me. I was doing what felt right, while kind of watching and waiting for Ayahuasca or anything else. I remember looking at one of the other paricipants and they were glowing, or something at their chest was glowing. I even blinked a couple times to see if I could get it to go away, but that dude was glowing. I kept telling myself to allow whatever came up to happen, I tried thinking about and feeling about times when I’ve been hurt. As well as different desires that I have, but no one came and none of the questions I asked were answered.
Eventually, my head and neck started feeling huge and strong. I thought that maybe I was an elephant, but that didn’t seem right. maybe a jaguar? but that didn’t seem right either. Then I thought ‘panther?’ and that seemed to fit.
I saw myself as a panther in the forest with these light pulses on kaleidoscope kind of twirly colors. I asked if I had a name as a panther, but nothing came.
So there I was, sensing that I was a panther. I wondered how a panther would sense another beings presence and came to the conclusion that it would probably just sense it, almost like a 6th sense. So I tried, as a panther, to sense Ayahuasca or any other spirit presence nearby, but I didn’t sense anything.
So then I decided that I might as well do some panther-y things while I am a panther and thought about what a panther does. I thought about hunting, but I wasn’t hungry so that didn’t seem like a good idea. I eventually decided to just try and explore the forest I felt I was in.
I opened my physical eyes at some point while I was trotting around the imaginary forest as a panther and what I saw through the windows of the maloka were ancient ruins and when I closed my eyes again I was in them. I lingered here for a moment, but then Don Rober started singing another icaros. It sounded far away and like it was coming from the direction of my 2 o’clock. As a panther, I went towards the sound and soon came upon a bonfire where a tribe was doing an ayahuasca ceremony. I climbed a tree and rested on a branch with my paws folded over each other while I watched the ceremony.
I also seem to remember at one point being with Ayahuasca and a jaguar, journeying through the forest. The jaguar and I were acting like scouts sort of, always keeping Aya in sight, but moving forward, behind and to the sides, being aware of everything around.
At another point, when I was alone as a panther and nothing was happening, I was hearing one of the other participants yawning and decided that it would be appropriate, since I was a panther, for me to just guard those of us that were not on their guard. So that’s pretty much what I did for the rest of the ceremony.
That guy that I saw glowing during the ceremony, the next day he told us that he had one of the most loving experiences of his life. It made sense to me that he glowed :).
That was it for the third ceremony. When I woke up the next day I felt very discouraged because I didn’t feel like any of the “visions” I had came from outside of me. It seemed more like I was just imagining the whole thing. Like I could have done the same thing on mushrooms. I felt very much like I did not belong with these other participants. Another place that wasn’t home, where I didn’t feel like I was ‘great’. I didn’t feel like I belonged to this family of heroes experiencing epiphanies and other incredible things. I felt very less-than. I didn’t come out of it with any epiphanies, messages or feelings of any real significance.
Ayahuasca Ceremony 4
The last ceremony. The third and fourth ceremonies are back to back nights. The brew is supposed to get stronger as it ages as well. It was also the first night of a full harvest moon, Friday the 13th. So this had all the ingredients for the most powerful night yet. I also decided to fast for the day since I still hadn’t received anything significant during the ceremonies.
From the first ceremony, all of us from the group gave each other a hug before we went into the maloka for a ceremony. So again, before this one, I gave and received a hug from each member of our family. One of them, who we called British Sam, went to hell during the ceremony the night before, or what he could only describe as hell. And here we are the next day, he’s not even sure if he’s going to drink ayahuasca at all this ceremony. He took hold of both of my shoulders and with a big smile said “tonight is YOUR night! I know it. For sure. Tonight is YOUR NIGHT brother.” I accepted what he said and said thank you. I was amazed at his ability to receive and give a message so encouraging so soon after his hellish experience. Another of the group, Elena May, told me “Be selfish. Just be there for you and no one else. Do what you need to do for you.” And then another person, The Lion, took my face in his hands and said “Let go. Let go.”
I wouldn’t have received these encouraging and powerful messages from my brothers and sisters if I hadn’t opened myself up vulnerably earlier in the day and told them how discouraged I felt. A reminder of how amazing it can be to show my doubting feelings to people that love and believe in me.
I stepped up to the altar. I don’t even remember what my intention, offering and requests were now. I took the cup in my hands and drank it down, straight into my heart. It was the most vile taste that I have ever tasted. I waited for a few moments to see if I thought I could take more, I thought I could so I asked for another full cup. They poured, I drank. It was…repulsive and disgusting. But I grabbed a mapacho and started smoking it. Willing my stomach to relax. Just feeling the sensation of my stomach wanting to freak out, but not letting it get to the next step where it does. Then I started feeling tingly in my hands and soon was feeling strong energies flowing through my body. I was telling myself “let go, let go, let go…” over and over as I attempted to let go of my physical body and enter the astral. I felt Aya say ‘stand up’. I thought ‘uh, I don’t think that’s a good idea. I’m trying to leave the physical realm altogether. It will take a lot of focus to stand, if I can manage it at all being blitzed on ayahuasca.’, but a few moments later I sensed her say it again, ‘stand up’. So I thought, ‘Okay, here’s what I’ll do. I’ll stand as my spirit self, and not physically.’ She replied ‘That’s not what I mean, but alright.’
At some point, my chant of ‘let go’ became ‘let go of the need to understand, let go of the need to comprehend’.
In previous ceremonies, I wanted to understand what I was experiencing so badly. Every time that I would begin to see something or feel something, I would try to label and describe it, ‘there’s something, what is it?’. When I felt ‘Let go of the need to comprehend’ in this ceremony, I realized that I needed to just experience, not to label or describe, but just to see what I saw and feel what I felt and stop right there. Allow whatever it is to be whatever it is. Doing that is the most present I had ever been in my life up to that moment. To see and not describe or label what I saw, but just to see it and experience what seeing that thing was like. As soon as I let go of the need to comprehend what I was seeing, I was transported to this other place in the astral.
It was outside. All the plants and critters, all life, was made of neon light. The grass was made of neon green light and as the wind rustled through it, the light would sway and pulse. There was a grassy knoll directly in front of me, Don Rober was on top of it, playing and singing his icaros. He was dressed in big white robes and had a big tribal-looking headdress. To my right was a red cliff and on top of the cliff was Aya. She looked like a fairy tribal woman kind of. She was jumping and kind of hovering back down, throwing neon paint up towards Don Rober and the night sky. When the neon paint met the vibrations that were coming from Don Rober’s singing and tapping of the chakapa, it exploded like a firework made of neon paint, painting the night sky with explosions of bright colors.
When I saw all of this happening, I was in total amazement. I had the thought, ‘Oh! this is why I’ve always liked bright explosions of color! Because it reminds of home.’ !! home? I was surprised that I used the word ‘home’ rather than ‘this place’ or something. But there was definitely something ‘Source’ feeling about this place. Like it was home, not like my house or where I grew up was home, but something a little different and a little deeper.
I said to Aya, ‘you are SO creative’ and she replied, ‘That’s why everyone has a unique experience with me. I would get bored if I gave everyone the same experience.’
Then she said ‘Imagination is creation’. She said that many times throughout the ceremony. She explained that my panther experience was just as real as the vision that she gave me in the first ceremony. She said “If you choose to imagine you are a panther, then you are creating that reality and you can experience it and learn from it.” We create our own reality. My experience of my life is what I imagine my life to be like. My interpretation of events is the reality that I live in. What I imagine an event to mean to me, is the truth that I live out. Imagination is creation.
I felt such an unbelievable amount of love for myself. Pause and think about what that would be like. Imagine actually feeling like you love yourself, just as much, if not more, than you had ever loved anyone. I felt so grateful for me. For me being me. I felt like I was everything and everything was me. And I could tell myself that I loved me as if I was everything. It was like Aya was saying it to me, but it was more like the God in her was saying it to me. Just like the God in me was saying it to me. The grass was saying it to me and I was saying it to the grass. I was Love in that moment. All of the life around and inside me was pulsing with love. I felt so grateful. So incredibly grateful. Over and over again I was saying ‘thank you, thank you, thank you’. Until I couldn’t say it anymore. But once I couldn’t, then every time I exhaled breath, it was like God in everything was receiving my exhale as ‘thank you’. All I had to do was breathe and life was hearing my breath as ‘thank you’.
And then she again said to me ‘stand up’. This time I didn’t hesitate for a moment. I took off my shirt because it felt right to do so and I stood up. I saw myself as what I describe as my light body. I was a glowing white silhouette of a humanoid, without any distinguishing physical features, but still known as me. I hadn’t lost my identity. I was still in that neon light garden, but now as my light-body self. I was standing there, feeling the power of life and light, feeling it as my own power. I realized that this was why I hadn’t been wearing a shirt much the past few days. It felt closer to my true form.
As I stood there, she communicated to me that this was all that I needed to do. Just stand. Those other responsibilities you feel, those deep depression episodes, just remember to stand. If you can stand, then you’re doing it. Whatever situations come up during life, whatever storms rage around me, if I can stand, then I’m okay. Nice home or no home, just stand and feel my power.
As I kept standing there, I looked to my left(still in astral home), and there were all of the other participants, also as light-bodies. They were all standing around a couple of people from our group that hadn’t had an ‘awakening’ experience with Ayahuasca yet. I hesitate to use the word ‘awakening’, but I haven’t been able to come up with another word that doesn’t have even a hint of judgement attached to it. I didn’t feel judge-y towards these other people at all. I definitely was thankful for my experience of ‘awake-ness’, but I didn’t feel even remotely better than or less than these other people. Anyway, I joined the circle so that all of the ‘awake’ participants were surrounding the ‘sleeping’ ones. The sleeping ones were kind of gray looking. Like a light bulb that isn’t on. I thought “These people are part of this family. It doesn’t matter if they are lit up or not. They will be eventually I think, but that’s not even the point. They chose to be here. We all did. We each made whatever sacrifices we had to to be here, now, with these others and to create and remember us as this family.”
Before this ceremony, I was feeling left out and like I didn’t belong in this family of heroes because I hadn’t had any epiphanies or deep experiences. Because I was ‘asleep’ or ‘unlit’. But through this vision I realized that I always belonged. Even when I wasn’t lit up yet. In our light bodies, all of us were standing there, as if waiting for the sleepers to light and wake up. But not impatiently at all. There wasn’t really a feeling of ‘waiting’. It was more a feeling of just ‘being’ there, watching kind of. Like we would contentedly stand there forever, like it was where we were supposed to be. There was no where else for us to be. At least as long as there were sleeping family members. They would wake when they were supposed to wake and not before. And that felt perfect.
I felt so much love and gratefulness towards each of these other heroes, these other light-bodies. I felt so thankful for their presence. For their decision to be here, for the sacrifices they made to be here and the impact they brought to the experience I was living. I loved each and every person/spirit and how they expressed their own selves. I felt myself taking each of their faces in my hands, looking them in the eyes and saying ‘Thank you. I love you.’
After that vision had left, there was a point where the maloka was pretty quiet. Just a little bit of rustling here or there. I held up my finger to my lips and very softly, such that I didn’t think anyone would hear, uttered ‘sshhh’, and the entire maloka went completely silent for like 10–15 seconds. 20 people in a small room and no one moved or uttered a sound. The stillness was absolutely sublime. It was probably just good timing on my part, but it felt really fun.
I remember feeling really thankful towards my body for being able to drink two full cups of that foul tasting ayahuasca brew.
When the ceremony was over, I walked back towards my room and had to use the restroom. When I finished, I glanced at myself in the mirror and had to do a double-take. I thought that my eyes looked beautiful. I’ve never had any particular issue with how I look or what my eyes look like. I feel more like I just never even thought to think about whether my eyes were beautiful, or not, or something in between. But in this moment as I looked at myself in the mirror, I thought that my eyes were beautiful. It made me smile. I stood there for like 5 minutes just admiring my eyes.
Huachuma Mesada Ceremony
Early in the day, Parker the director, had spent a couple of hours explaining to us what huachuma was. About it’s history and examples of how some people describe the experience. At the end of it, I still didn’t quite feel like I understood how to go about experiencing this medicine the right way. So I asked Selva, the Huachumera, who hadn’t said anything about it yet, “do you have any advice for us in regards to our intention/offering and requests? or any advice at all really?” She looked off into the distance for maybe 30 seconds and then somehow communicated to my heart exactly what I needed to know. It took her all of 2 paragraphs to make myself and the rest of the participants understand how to approach and experience the medicine. Frankly, I don’t remember what she said, other than that our request should be for something like ‘empathy’ or ‘strength’. And not to ask for material things or power. I remember that it was stop-me-in-my-tracks profound.
I decided to eat a light breakfast and no lunch, an almost-fast, for the huachuma ceremony since we were only going to do it once and it seemed that fasting helped quite a bit with ayahuasca.
This was the first Huachuma Mesada ceremony of Selva the Huachumera, daughter of Don Howard the Huachumero. She spent a day preparing the mesa, a cross shaped table, with all of these ancient chavin relics in very particular formations. Rock formations, figurines, bones, on the right 3 skulls of ancient Huachumeros(male huachuma shamans) and on the left 3 skulls of ancient Huachumeras(female huachuma shamans). In the center of the table was a totem.
All of the participants came in, about 1pm, and sat in a circle around the mesa. The next part I’ll probably mix up the details for. But anyway, Selva blessed the huachuma drink with mapacho smoke and a song of some kind with small metal maracas. There was much ceremony.
When it was my turn to drink, she looked at me intently for a few moments, then said something to me. I didn’t hear what she said, but later she told me it was a compliment. Parker also said something to me which I also don’t recall… I got up and put forth my intention/offering and request. I don’t remember what they were. I was to put both of my fore-fingers and middle-fingers on the table as I spoke to grandfather Huachuma. Once I was ready, I took the cup in my hands. Then Selva, with assistance from Parker, played a song with the maracas. After about a minute, they would fade out and that was my time to drink. As soon as I put the cup to my lips, Selva and Parker crescendo’d back into the song and blew mapacho smoke on my head and body. Then I walked back to my seat and watched as each of the other participants went through the same ritual.
Once everyone had drank, we went down to the boats and started on our way to la playa, to a beach that was sparsely populated. It was maybe a 35 minute boat ride. The boat seating was situated in 3 rows of benches, with room for 3 people on each bench. I initially sat on the right side of a bench, so I could put my hand out into the water rushing past. At this point, I couldn’t really feel the effects of the medicine, it was probably 30 minutes from when I took it. But I chose to lean into the present moment and my intuition as much as possible. It felt refreshing, light and fun to play with the water. Ty was sitting in the middle seat of the bench next to me, unable to play with the water. I wanted him to be able to experience it, so I asked him to switch with me and sat in the middle. I was enjoying listening to music on my headphones. Ty and I gave a listen to what the other was listening to. After a little bit of that, I was wanting to play with the water more, so I sat on the floor of the boat, kind of at Ty’s feet, so we could both have hands in the water.
It had been at least an hour since taking the medicine when we got to the beach, so I felt that eating at this point wouldn’t negatively affect the medicine’s absorption into my body. We had packed some fruit to eat and limonada to drink(water and lime juice). I ate an orange and poured some limonada as I chatted with others about what we were experiencing so far. If I was noticing anything, it was extremely subtle. Someone had brought a radio and was playing some music, people were playing and swimming in the river. A beach party scene sans alcohol.
They had told us that the limonada could deepen the experience. And sure enough, as I drank more, it did seem to keep deepening the experience. When it was still coming on, I noticed The Lion(who’s actual name is Francisco, but ‘The Lion’ is much more fitting from my perspective) standing out in about 3 feet of water, staring at the sun. He hadn’t ate anything yet, so I grabbed a couple apples, brought him one and asked him what he was feeling. He started talking about how the energy of the sun gave life to all things. We soak it in, the plants and animals soak it in. He noted that both he and I had blue eyes, which theoretically makes us more sensitive to the sun…which meant that we could soak in more of its power. He invited me to stare at the sun with him, so I did. We stood there for a few minutes staring into the sun. After my eyes adjusted to the brightness, I could see waves of power swirling around it. It was beautiful, powerful and I indeed felt like I was soaking that power into myself through my eyes and body.
A few minutes later I was standing in the water with Julie. I was now feeling the subtle power of the medicine more acutely. I was mesmerized by how the light of the sun was reflecting off of the waves and ripples of the water. As well as by the birds banking off of the wind this way and that. The sky and clouds were marvelous. It was like everything was becoming clearer and more vibrant.
I went and sat with Selva, her mother, and Parker, who were sitting a little ways away from the group, watching everyone play and do whatever they felt compelled to in their moments. We talked about the subtleties of huachuma. I told them of my experience thus far. How much the limonada seemed to help and also how it seemed like when I focused on that which was subtle, at a certain point it imploded into this incredibly powerful experience of each and every moment. It was like I could taste the beginning, middle and end of every second and every part was warm and delicious. We talked just as much as we engaged in silence. At one point, The Lion came by and stood in the space where our presence was and added his own. At one point I asked him if he wanted to communicate anything. He thought for a few moments and then shook his head ‘no’. It was amazing how just being in somewhat close proximity to another person, you could feel their presence so much that it was like you could have your own experience of what they were experiencing in that moment, without talking about it at all. It was amazing just sitting in different places on the beach, alone or with another person or two and experiencing what it was like in that space and/or with those people.
I watched Jason with glee as he created this dragon out of driftwood on the beach. He was just being him, playing on the beach, creating art. He told us later that he didn’t know he was making a dragon, he just started putting stuff together and that’s kinda what happened. He was just following his intuition, one foot in front of the other. And in the end it was this rad dragon! He then had the idea of writing something down that he wanted to leave there on the beach, something he didn’t want to take back with him. He invited all of us to take part in it. We all wrote a little something on a sheet of paper and placed them all in front of the dragon’s mouth and burned them. I wrote ‘self-limiting beliefs’. It’s a hard one to leave behind, and frankly, I still notice them in me often. But that’s what I felt compelled to write and if I could rid myself of something, that might be the most powerful thing. Always a process. Patience, Surrender, Courage.
I also have to mention that I’ve never experienced a sunset SO FUCKING MESMERIZING. The huachuma enhanced all the colors. It was like getting prescription glasses for the first time. Everything is clearer and brighter.
The whole day, the sunset, that little private beach in the jungle, the people, the presence. It all combined into one of my most favorite experiences of life so far. It was so full. So full of love, joy, peace and presence.
After all of that, it was getting dark, so we piled back into the boats and went back to the sanctuary. The ride back was absolutely gorgeous. Seeing the silhouette of the jungle trees above the river on both sides was amazing. When we got there, I realized that I hadn’t really tried to talk with grandfather huachuma during the day. I was still very much feeling the effects of the medicine, I don’t really remember what time it was, maybe 7–8pm. So I decided to find a spot to sit by myself for a bit. I then asked grandfather huachuma if there was any message that he wanted to give me. He pointed at my broken heart. He said that feeling pain like that is part of being a man. That carrying pain like that and still carrying on is part of being a man. I was sad to feel the pain, but it wasn’t suffering. I was okay with the pain, in a way he told me that the pain was okay. He also said that I would love again. He didn’t say whether I would love again in the same way or differently, but he did communicate that I would love again. It gave me a bit of hope. I felt content, even while feeling my heart still bleeding a little.
Then Selva told us to all meet up at the stardeck. When I got there, The Lion was staring at the moon. It was the second day of the full harvest moon. It was so full, so orange and felt so powerful. With one arm around each other we stood there, soaking in the energy of the moon like we had soaked in the energy of the sun earlier that day. Eventually, Selva told us all to sit in a circle on the stardeck, around the totem in the middle. One by one she and Parker would shake their maracas over us, blessing us in some kind of way with the song and mapacho smoke. As this was happening and I was sitting on my mat, the stardeck itself felt like there was power emanating from it and us in the circle. It felt like we were these master priests or wizards from every corner of the world. Like all day we were soaking in the powers of love and connection and the sun and moon and everything from the mesada with the ancient relics. Then we brought it here to this powerful place, to the stardeck. And when we came here together, the stardeck combined and compounded our powers so much so that it felt like being in an all powerful ocean of pure, electric energy. My arms could float in it. I have never, in my life, felt more compelled to worship than I did as I sat there. I would bow somewhat frequently, usually in sets of 3, towards the totem or the moon usually. But I wasn’t worshipping those things in particular. I was worshipping Source, Life, that which created me, that which I was a part of. It was incredible. Mind-blowing. It was like what I would imagine being in Source to be like. That river of life flowing around and through me. It was all I could do to feel that energy and vibration with my arms and hands and not fall over.
After we finished on the stardeck, we went back to the mesada, the table where all of the Chavin relics were. It must have been 8–9pm at this point. It was lit by many candles. Selva instructed us to all stand at the edge of the table and hold our forefingers and middle fingers on the table at all times. Whoever was at the head of the table, they stood there for 5 minutes or so, feeling the power of the table, communing with it. Then Selva would ring a bell and we would all shuffle to our left, until every person had been at the head of the table. This was after like 7 days of different plant medicine ceremonies and a whole day playing on the beach. Even with all of the power in that space, many of our physical bodies were very tired. Mine included. My whole body was sore and achey. But at one point I started staring into the eyes of the person across from me, if they would. There were 5 others in the group that stared with me. And for each one, it was like we created this infinite loop of energy. Like it came from the table, through my fingers into me, out my eyes and into the other person’s eyes, down into their fingers, back into the table and continued looping. I didn’t feel tired at all. I felt the other person, I loved them and felt loved by them. We communed in each other’s essence, without a word. It. was. magic.
When everyone had been at the head of the table, Selva handed each person an ancient ceramic animal sculpture whistle. Each one was a unique animal that would play a unique note. She would pick it up off the table, blow through it, sounding it’s note and then hand it to the person who was meant to have it. Then they would blow through it once. She handed me the panther ;). Once everyone had their whistle in hand, we all blew all of our whistles together. The loud chorus pierced through the night silence. It was epic. Each of our unique voices powerfully added together to create the one voice that was all of us, together, unashamed, unjudged, present, empowered, loved.
Later, I asked Selva if she handed me the panther on purpose. She said that she just followed her intuition and what Grandfather Huachuma led her to do. I had no connection to panthers before this trip at all. This was the second time during the trip that a panther was a significant part of my experience. I was moved and henceforth, the panther is a part of my experience of life. It’s another set of eyes that I see through. I don’t know if it’s my ‘spirit-animal’ or anything else like that. I don’t know much about those types of things. Maybe I was a panther in a past life, maybe I’ll be one in a future life, who knows. But I choose it to have significance to me in this life and I receive it thankfully as a gift.
After blowing our whistles into the night, we went to the dining maloka and feasted together. After the feast, myself, Parker, and four of the five others that had stared with me at the mesada stayed up until like 3am or so, just communing with each other. Fellow masters, speaking from their own unique experiences, gracing each other with our ideas, wisdom and laughter.
That’s pretty much what every conversation was like with this amazing group of people. No judgement, no skepticism, just love, acceptance and true presence like I’ve never experienced before. Truly as if each of us knew that we could learn from just receiving and feeling what the other person was communicating. Not necessarily taking it as our own truth, but being in 100% belief of what the other person said they had experienced or were experiencing. And most importantly, trusting them that only they themselves knew what they are meant to believe and experience. So that they can fulfill their purpose in the universe, here and now. Everything is possible for you and for me. No one was there to be better than anyone. Everyone was there to better themselves and had the utmost respect for each other. I am the master of my own personal corner of life experience, and each of these people were the same. Like finally meeting with other masters that were on the same page. We had all studied Life from different corners of the world, but with similar souls, like we had all come from the same Source, from before our current memories began. It was tribe. It is a tribe that I am supremely honored to be counted as one of. We are La Familia, The Family. This was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. It is one of my most cherished memories now and one that I intend on reminding myself of often. It means so much to me. Life is a crazy, beautiful thing.
I am grateful. I am grateful. I am grateful.
I am love. I am love. I am love.