The Fire and the Night Sky – Day 2

Yesterday’s Rapè and Kambo medicines helped calm and focus my intentions today. Yet, nothing could truly prepare me for my first Ayahuasca experience today. I had seen You tube videos and read everything I could but when I talked with those who had experience it then I realized how individual an experience it was. I made my peace with the fact that I might have a medical issue of some sort. Now it was time to put the past behind me and to embrace the enormity of the moment.

The Ayahuasca ceremony started with all 50 something participants in a large Yurt tent siting in two circles, one encompassing the other. I was in the inner circle. As the medicine preparation was being finalized we were told that under no circumstances should a ’newbie’ receive more than one tablespoon of Ayahuasca. More can be given later but the first experience must not be beyond a person’s ability to manage. 

As I held my one tablespoon of Ayahuasca, however, I felt that in might not be a full tablespoon. I compared this with those sitting closest to me and every one agreed that I should ask for a top-up. I caught the attention of a busy server and clumsily said ‘I need a bit more’ and ended up with a full serving of two tablespoons. I hesitated as others stoically gulped down their servings.

I decided to fully embraced this unfathomable, transformative journey and gulped down my medicine with trepidation.

As I surveyed the tent, I saw people settle back into their respective mats. Many seemed to know what to do. I had long imaged what thoughts I would entertain before walking off the edge of the known world and, now, I had none. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply, evenly. I soon saw elaborate designs not too dissimilar to the surrounding trippy wall tapestries. When I opened my eyes I felt that I needed to vomit and as I did, the hallucinations stopped.I focused on my body which seemed to be under siege by the rapidly advancing Ayahuasca.

I felt enclosed. I was irritated by the sounds and movements of others. Some were vomiting while others moaned a deep cathartic-sounding, almost primal moan. It was too much for me. I was unable to claim my own space. I decided it was better not to suffer this situation and attempted to leave. I started to get up but stumbled. A SQ helper steadied me and, together, we began to walk away with no destination in mind. 

I feel connected to the essence of the fire and the night sky.

The helper asked if I wanted to sit by the fire. I knew immediately that this is where I needed to be. When I saw the night sky and felt grass and dirt between the paths of artificial turf then didn’t want anything except to stay where I was. As I felt the warmth I wanted to get closer. It was a cooler now that the sun had set. I regretted the fact I was in still in short sleeves and shorts after today’s 32C blast of full-on summer heat.

I was cautioned not to get too close but during this evening I continued to feel a strong urge to be in the fire or at least be closer than I was allowed to be. For now, however, I settled into my experience with Ayahuasca as my first shift in consciousness was elegantly unsettling. All of the SQ staff that I had met yesterday looked like me when I was younger. I became to refer to someone by their real name but affixed my name to theirs, i.e., Peter Craig. I didn’t know at the time but, in retrospect, I had started my journey. 

As I looked at the night sky I became mesmerized. It was oddly comforting to imagine early man sitting in front of a fire and starred into the night sky. It was more that a means to eat cooked food and share stories of the day or of the past, it was the time to ponder the forces that shaped his/her world and to seek clarity to the meaning of life or death. My journey has some of the same unfathomable questions and today, despite everything we now know, we still do not know what we do not know so, in many ways, the mysteries run just as deep.

My default explanation for the mystery of the cosmos and man’s destructive nature was an elaborate deceit.

I soon saw fellow participants as collaborators in the ‘masquerade’. I felt that they were not newbies and knew exactly what I was experiencing and what I would inevitably experience. I wasn’t upset or unsettled by all this and in some ways felt that they were there for me. When things got crazy I would physically touch a person to see if they were real or not. Occasionally I would speak a few words of encouagement to a fellow participant. 

It felt like I was the only one not in on the joke. An elaborate deceit in which staff and fellow participates conspired to manipulate the newbies by their shifting presence and a range of activities from throwing up, moaning or resting peacefully. All part of the soundtrack that needed to ignore in order to heard the music speak to me. The soundtrack felt like a guide to how I should feel and act. Sometime the words told me directly and other times it was the overall feeling of the music itself. 

I had always imagined life an elaborate deceit. My version of life being a game in which humans and nature need to try to co-exist with the resources and limitations provided. As we evolve, I feel that humanity, as well as individuals face choices which are often subverted by special interests and our own conditioning as tribal animals. Yet balance is also within each of us, even the greedy who want more that their share. 

The consequences that I imagine is a reset for humanity and another chance to get it right. I know that nature is resilient and that the real environmental burden today is not only our pollution but also our population. Less people equals less pollution and the opportunity for nature to have a reprieve from today’s onslaught. When we fail and mankind restarts to ‘play’ at the very beginning, or perhaps before of our evolutionary start. 

Now I began to experience the multi-level Ayahuasca game

This game that I imagine is a game of life and death. Not my life or death or yours but the life or death of humanity. There are choices and there are consequences. Our failure to find balance with other life forms and our ecosystem has real consequences that acting against our better nature will not absorb indefinitely. 

I’ve described my Ayahuasca experience to others as a video game. At the time I imagined being inside a multi-level progress game that required passing one level before proceeding to the next. Every misstep, however, erased my memory so I needed to bring fresh understanding to the problem in order to advance. It was extremely frustrating to realized that on successive ‘turns’ I returned to the same spot, same point that I was unable to overcome.

I began to see the game as a series of steps that I needed to take in order to have my ‘intention’ that I used to inform this ceremony. I asked ‘Please Mother Ayahuasca, gentle show me how to embrace my inevitable death’. I had heard that the medicine was powerful so I wanted to be respectful and polite, as well as cautious. The fact that I was sincere and my intention was real helped me to let go of expectations and embrace the uncertainty of the game that I found myself trapped within. 

Eventually I resumed the game in a more constructive manner

On one level I began to understand the connectivity embraced by the similar looking people around me. I felt connected to all life including the earth below me and the stars above me. When I embraced my oneness with all life I also saw that I was no longer surrounded by nature but a part of nature, no different than other animals except for my relationship to a collective force that was out of balance with all other life. 

When I felt centered I went to another level, in my mind. Although, it was my body that often dictated or, at least, prompted my progress. On another level I felt that I needed to stand up and look skyward despite my instability. The North star demanded my attention, my loyalty. Sometimes I didn’t make it. Sometimes I only made it long enough to resume my previous earth-bound position. 

Eventually, I stood up with my head back and my arms outstretched like a converted atheist who has found the spiritual force in life, at least, in his life. For, much to my surprise, this is exactly what happened to me as I felt electrified by an all encompassing love. Yet, I wanted more. I couldn’t see any image of a deity or a presence in the sky. I logically didn’t believe that it even existed but nor would I have believed that I would feel such an overwhelming love from the North Star. 

My desire to see a divine presence took another turn

As I lay on the ground I again felt the dirt and grass beneath me. I placed a few blades of grass and a couple pinches of dirt on me. I had lost all semblance of social-consciousness. I didn’t care what others thought about my behaviour. I only cared to stay in the moment for as long as possible. I felt that the game was over. That I had finished the journey which Mother Ayahuasca felt that I needed to undertake. 

Theresa, a traditional plant medicine woman, is part of the SQ team for the summer. We had a one-on-one session together where she scrubbed by skin with ceremonial plants and told me that I was fit. I wanted more, at first, then realized that there might not have been more and I should be grateful. Now, she appeared suddenly and smiled down at me. I felt her energy as she warmly told me that I was a campeón (champion). I wanted to know more but she just smiled and then moved on. 

Throughout the whole experience I struggled to understand what was real and what was not real. I still didn’t know what to believe and what I had to do. I had lost my compass. Then, the server who had already given me twice my suggested Ayahuasca allowance bent a knee and said that I should seek out someone whose name was Jeanette, or possibly Ginette. He said that all my questions would be answered by this person and somehow planted the idea that this person was God, or at least God-like.

As I lay back I again glanced skyward and saw a sign of a divine intelligence.

Across from me in the human circle around the fire were only a few others and people would typically come a go except for one or two others. One was a lean, long-haired mid-thirties man who sit almost motionless, who, later, would describe himself as a seeker. Another was a large, joyful woman that exuded confidence and power, who, while seated ramrod upright used her hands and arms to dance with the music. Both were beautiful. Both were real. 

I no longer felt the compulsion to stand. I was content to feel connected to both the earth and the cosmos. i felt their respected life forces of nurture and nature as originating from the same source of love. I lay back and closed my eyes as the music fell over me like a warm blanket on this cool night. Yet, I still wanted to see more. 

I still wanted to see a deity or, at least some visual sign of superior life force or intelligence. When I opened my eyes and next glanced at the sky I saw none of the ever-present airplanes traveling to and fro over this well travelled city. it took a moment before I saw what appeared to me as an alignment of the stars. I took another moment before I noticed all the stars were shaped like a necklace. I thought this was another illusion but one that I felt that I could embrace as a sign of a divine intelligence. 

I also realized that this world is not real, at least in the physical sense of reality.

Quantum mechanics says that reality is what we choose it to be. A photon, the smallest discrete amount or quantum of electromagnetic radiation, can act like a bullet-like particle or a rippling wave and that it’s configuration isn’t predetermined. Even time is not how we were raised to think of it. So who is to say what is real and what isn’t?

Today turned my sense of reality upside down. It made me realize that there is so much to learn from this precious world. I don’t know what I don’t know except it is likely more that I know now. So it isn’t a leap for me to see myself as an insignificant part of the natural world or to appreciate that I’ve experienced infinite love today. 

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