A few years ago I attended 2 ayahuasca ceremonies led by an ayahuasquero. Ayahuasca is a natural drug that has been used by the indigenous people of Latin America for centuries. The ayahuasquero is the person running the ceremony. If used with the right set in the right setting ayahuasca brings insight in life and one of the special qualities of ayahuasca is the ability to restore the connection to nature and life.
I went for several reasons, one being that, after my mother died, I had lost my connection to life itself. It was as if half of my cells died with her and I could not find my way back. Undoubtedly my increased use of alcohol had a lot to do with that to. In preparation to the ayahuasca ceremony it is advised to follow a diet. The diet sort of excluded everything apart from fresh vegetables, fruits, water and herb tea. I lived on that for about 2 weeks only adding a little piece of fish here and there and a few glasses of cola.
I am trying to make this a coherent story but I am so sad, so sad. Yesterday was a very heavy session at my therapist, living through pain that feels eons old, crashing onto me. That’s why I need to write, feel like drowning all of this in a six-pack, 2 six-packs and a bottle of wine. The reasons not to drink have disappeared and the only thing that is keeping me is the knowledge that it is not a good idea. The desire to be clear has left me.
The ceremony was in a farm in the country side. We were advised to bring a sleeping bag. You might be surprised to hear that I, apart from blogging about changes in toilet habits from the bottom of my heart, I am a rather private person when it comes to beds, bed covers and sleeping bags and even more peculiar when it comes to food. So, even though there was little place in the car I also took my pillow and another blanket. And some food to my liking of course, a big bag for 3 days. Can’t trust others to buy exactly what I might need now can I?
The ceremony started and I took care to arrange a bed in a dark corner, as far away from the crowd as possible. I was scared shitless, well not shitless, that I unfortunately noticed later. So I was scared. Scared I was going to die, scared I would be very sick, scared I had this funny heart or brain disease that would make me be the only person ever to die of ayahuasca and die in horrible pain but so quickly that nobody could actually do something about it, while shitting my pants and with puke in my hair. Or so quietly that nobody would notice, or, maybe they would not think it was serious and I would still die and, and, and, and…. pffff. Things to fear. Things to make up to fear.
The first ayahuasca wave hit me, I started seeing tiny purple speckles on my bedcover. PANIC!!!!! I don’t want to see purple speckles that are not there?!!!! So there came the orange dots, and the vibrant green, and they became a nauseating vortex of colours. I puked and everybody puked because puking is one of the things that happens. I think it cleans out the mental and spiritual shit. Loads of puking in special tiny puke buckets. I was scared and not yet shitless as I noticed when I crawled to the toilet 20 meters further. Crawled? Yes. Crawled. Glad I made it in time.
Then came the images of animals, lions with heads of an eagle, men with wings and heads of dogs, snakes. Gazillions of mythical animals rising up from the subconscious, invading my consciousness, doing macabre dances and loads of threatening and ritual killing of other mythical animals. My thoughts were caught up in fear of dying and having that horrible disease that would send me to hospital. And then I realised: it is not about the animals. It is about realising how scared I am, realising that I always think that I am threatened, always think that I have a disease that is unknown, always think I will either die or become insane in the next instance. Having worked that out the images changed to men raping and killing babies and laughing about it. I cried and cried and cried and cried because of being so, so scared and so, so tired of living and being scared. My worst nightmares had come true and I finally decided at that moment NOT to ‘go there’. I would not pay attention and even though I felt overwhelmed by all this (non)info coming from my brains I was going to choose another scenery. This is one of the first lessons of ayahuasca: There is a choice in how to deal with stuff, now choose.
That was when my ayahuasca spirit arrived and started speaking with me – well, in my head. Actually it felt she was outside my head, at arms length away, a little above my head. Something to do with a true sovereign. Not sure how it works. She was this tough uberbitch, not kind, not unkind, just present and CLEAR. Which was a good comparison because I had already walked on the path of alcohol for a long time.
‘You are sad? It seems to be your most used emotion.’ And believe me there was no judgement, only a pointing out of the obvious that I in my whole life had NEVER seen, noted or heard from anybody else.
‘How can you say that?! It is not like I choose to be sad?!!’
‘No, you don’t think you do, but you don’t put as much energy in being happy either….’
‘I just feel so alone! I have lost my connection. Since my mother died I feel like I am dying too. I am so sad!’
‘You have lost connection. Now look at what you do; you go to an ayahuasca ceremony to feel connected and you take your own blanket, even an extra one, your own pillow, your own food and you make sure to take place in the utmost corner far away from the group. You do not connect because you are scared people will upset you.’
And I cried, and cried and cried till I felt there was no tears left anymore. That ceremony I learned a lot of stuff, loads and loads of insights, big, small, beautiful, painful. But I was sad because I felt I was not connected. But the next morning I walked out of the farmhouse and the whole world and all of nature were alive to me. Finally I had found my connection back. Trees, flowers, grass, insects, the wind, people; they were speaking to me again and I was alive.
The next day there was the second ayahuasca ceremony and I started of with fear, sadness and disconnectedness only to go through the same conversations as the day before – but shorter. And finally I pleaded: ‘But I have looked everywhere for love and I have not found it.’
‘Where have you looked?’
‘Everywhere, really, everywhere out there!’ (That was in the landscape I experienced within the ayahuasca experience)
‘I can’t go anywhere, it is NOT out there. I am sure! I have travelled all over the place and not found anything. In real life I have been in intimate relations but I have found nothing. I am so sad….”
‘If it is not out there, where is it?’
‘Inside?! NOOOOOOOO! NOOOOOOO. Can’t be?!!! Can it?’
‘You could have a look.’
And I had a look and what I saw had such beauty that I feel, even in my mother tongue I could not describe to do it justice but I will try; I saw a room that looked like an ancient bathroom from the Middle East. In the middle of the room was a light of such clarity that it shone through my body, my mind, my soul and it laid bare who I was. It was GOOD, it was original, it was life, it was ancient and young at the same time, it was endless.
I cried and said: ‘I have never seen something that is so beautiful. It makes me so sad.’ And the vision went away. ‘Where did it go?! It was so beautiful and now it is gone! I am so sad.’ I cried.
And the ayahuasca said: ‘Sadness is still your favorite emotion is it not?’ I figured I should not be sad upfront and the vision reappeared in all its beauty.
And I cried and said: ‘This is so beautiful, this is so beautiful. They will come and destroy it. I am sure of it’ And the vision would be gone.
‘No, this is not the way.’ my ayahuasca spirit said and I would practise to leave the sadness and the vision would came back.
‘This is so beautiful! This is so beautiful! What is it? Ooh my God. No matter what you say I am sure they will come and destroy it.’ And the vision would be gone.
And I would practise to leave the sadness and the vision would come back.
‘This is so beautiful! This is so beautiful! What is it? Why have I never seen this before? It is so beautiful and I have never seen it before, that makes me so sad!’
Well, you’re getting the cycle now I guess? And I would practise to leave the sadness and the vision would come back. And right now, when writing this I am crying because it all seems so futile because the sadness is back. And there is another ceremony going on right now here in the city and I am not part of it because I let sadness and alcohol rule my life.
I should not be sad. I still have not learned! Jason Vale told me to be happy about quitting and today I have not been happy about it and that scares me. I have seen on of the most beautiful things in the world. I should not be sad, sadness makes it go away.
The cycle continued: ‘This is so beautiful! This is so beautiful! What is it? I have looked everywhere to find something that is so beautiful I am sure it has been destroyed everywhere! That is why it is so difficult to live my life. I am so sad that this is not around more.’ And the vision would be gone.
‘Ok, OK! I got it! I should not put sadness between me and the beauty. It is so sad that I put sadness between me and …..’
‘Ok, I think I got it. 🙂 I should not put sadness between me and the beauty. This is so beautiful, I can’t believe it….. I don’t deserve this.’
And so I practised and practised. I met sadness another 10 or 20 times over. Along came fear of destruction until finally I worked out that what I saw: my divine spark. And I should not be sad to meet it. I was happy. I was happy because of the beauty that I carry within, that everybody carries within. I was happy because I had met it. I was happy because I had practised not being unhappy. I was happy because I had looked all over the world for it and had finally found it.
And now I am sad, because I have a body that has been attacked and has been brutalized and disturbed. The sacredness, the integrity that I had been born into has been destroyed and it leaves me wanting and yearning to be whole again. It has made me scared and does make me sad at so many levels. And in between all of that I know now that I need to practise to get away from that hurt and try to connect again and NOT look in the outside world for answers. In addition to that NOT look for solutions that come from the outside like beer and wine or food or chocolate and chips.
No matter what happened, right now I am the one that destroys the experience of the beauty within me. Can I go back and live from that experience? Take the ayahuasca vision into the world and live from that place? I feel I can’t, I feel I can. I don’t know. It hurts. I have been revisiting old pain yesterday at my therapist and shit it hurts, it hurts, it hurts. I am not sure if I want to live in this world. Guessing I’ll have to otherwise I come back as a clump of grass in my next life.
Thinking of the character of the pain now. It was not the physical pain, though in some cases that was big. It was not the suffocating and feeling I could not breathe, even though I thought I died. It was the betrayal of the persons that did it, knowing that they should not, knowing that they enjoyed hurting me and did not care because they wanted that and wanted what they came for. They betrayed not only the bond we had but also damaged my feeling of safety in the world and did not care. And with that came the betrayal of my mother who did not believe me and did not take action. It destroyed my self-worth. If my mother does not even care, it must mean I am worthless. And all along I kept thinking that I should be fair and straight and honest. Because that is how it should be. In my dreams.
It are these very strong dreams, ideals and losing those that have hurt me but hanging onto them while obviously they were not in line with reality (well, that would be the definition of ideal) has kept me from accepting what happened. It has kept me from closing the wounds and moving on. Their actions have kept me from ever trusting a man in an intimate relation, from having children, from working long time in places because always there would be a man in the workspace reminding me and the dynamics I bring along would force me to battle it out with him.
On another level these experiences caused extreme reactions in me and laid a pattern in which there is no healing possible but only extreme sensations of low selfesteem or, in reaction to that, supriority, because the experiences were too big and overwhelming to be carried by me. Not by me and not by my mom, that is why she had to silence me, to not be confronted with what she could not bear. And that is why she did not come to my aid because she could not bear it either.
I asked the ayahuasca what I would need to do workwise in the future. She said: ‘That is not important, the only thing you need to do is to get clear.’
Clear in the word of the ayahuasca as I understood it means: not drinking but also, not hiding, not blowing up feelings to the extend of totally lacking self worth or being all-knowing and all-powerful, not hiding behind excuses, just doing the stuff that needs to be done and speak the words that need to be spoken. And not mourning over the wrong things, being happy and living, not putting sadness between myself and every experience that I have, every person that I meet.
And here it is….. ‘Oooooh, NOOOOOOOOO, I can NEVER do THAT?!!’
Well, maybe I can not, but I think I should do it anyhow. It takes a decision and the maintenance of the decision. I have been practising that. I have been practicing being happy about not drinking. That worked, well, up to yesterday. I need to continue to practise it.
And now I deserve a drink, if I don’t deserve a drink right now I don’t know when anybody ever will.
And so it goes on, and on and on until I fully realise that I do not have to walk that path anymore and have practised another path. As the ayahuasca spirit said:
‘I can only show you what is. You have to do the work yourself.’
Happy that I quit? Not sure. Tired. Way past bedtime.