The ayahuasca diaries 2: A trip to remember

2nd June 2017

The story of an incredible ayahuasca trip during ceremonies on a farm somewhere in Chile’s lake region… Read part 1 here if you missed it.

ayahuasca trip

Our shaman, Wilder Antonio Muñoz Sanchez. Credit: Cynthia Cittadino

Preparing to meet abuelita

Two nights later, we sat once more in the forest clearing, ready for the second ceremony. Again, we drank. Again, we meditated. This time, after just a few minutes, a member of the group, a young American with beautiful red hair and an open face, began to hum. A strange sound, that as I listened began to vibrate out into tangible saucers of sound. I felt the urge to hum too, and as I did, I felt space shift within and around me. Soon, there were murmurs passing around the circle. The medicine was kicking in.

A journey to inner space

An urgency in my bowels sent me on a trip to the small outhouse nearby. I was still completely aware, yet when I tried to stand, dizziness overpowered me. One of our helpers came to my aid. In the forest, holding firmly to her supporting arm, I stopped to look up at the canopy. A kaleidoscope of branches spun overhead in cosmic tapestry. Over to the right, I could see the light of the outhouse, but it shifted further with every step. Above, aside and beyond, the world spun, and I couldn’t tell if my guide led me, or I her. “It’s ok,” she urged, but I just laughed and sank down to purge right where I was in the musky forest earth.

On the way back, the shaman’s voice reached me, all at sea, as if from a lighthouse. His song became a familiar refrain:

En tus ojos de agua infinitas,

Se bañan las estrellitas mama

Limpia corazón aguas brillantes,

Sana corazón aguas benditas,

Calma corazón agua del cielo mama

Returning clumsily to the circle, where others were now being led meekly to purge, I cocooned myself beneath blankets and the pervasive shaman’s song, surrendering to its ululations. Relaxing into the heat of the medicine flowing through my body, a sense of complete calm descended. The ayahuasca trip was finally beginning.

A trip to the cosmic palace

For what felt like the first time, my body, soul and mind were one. My mind lay at my feet, a powerful but obedient creature, ready to do my bidding. At peace, it sat in silence as I stalked through vast corridors and chambers unmolested by thoughts. I was like an audience member sitting before an empty stage in a beloved theatre, recalling past productions. Memories of violent emotions flickered like ghosts across the stage, but I could hardly believe they had ever happened in this place of infinite calm and space. With gratitude, I remembered the garden of the mind, and imagined how simply any unwanted thought might be banished.

As I bathed in this cosmic palace, I became aware of something stirring. A thought. A lightbulb spark, a miraculous act of perfect creation from the void. Energy created from nothing. Within my thought, I saw how the mind brought ideas into being. I felt the mechanism of millennia whirring into being. A single thought followed an evolutionary path from the primal cerebellum ascending to the tinkling cymbals of awareness in the higher cortex. Through its very journey, it told me everything I needed to know about life.

The meaning of life

We are the question and the answer, constantly in the act of being conceived, asked and answered. We are the fire of curiosity, the shifting earth of discovery, the waters of clarity and the air of truth – all choreographed in perfect synchronicity.

As the thought turned itself around in my mind, others added themselves to the mix. I began to see the farce of our intellect, and its thousands of years of trying to fathom what our body and soul – our perfect organs of sense and perception – already knew. At the same time, next to me, the American girl had started up a steady diatribe against the world.

It’s ok to be who you are.

It’s ok to be scared.

It’s ok to be yourself.

It’s all about your voice!

I noticed the shaman nearby, and one of our helpers, trying to calm and quiet her. But far from bothering me, her words worked themselves into my consciousness. I imagined boardroom execs stuffed into tiny toilet cubicles comically extricating themselves from their suits, the sophisticated shackles of the modern world, to daintily purge their bowels. I cackled at the thought of these people hopping around like costumed monkeys in their elaborate charades. All the marks of civilisation served to mask their essential selves, to deny their primal modes of being. I saw scientists hunched over microscopes, attempting to dissect the world to understand it. How weren’t they able to see that no amount of magnification could elucidate the knowledge they already carried within themselves. The utter perfection of life that we all exude.

Perfect harmony

Now, around me, others were making noise. Crying out, singing, laughing. I felt my body. It oscillated in perfect harmony with everything that is divine and eternal. In the dark of the forest, it was plain as day. We are our vibrations, and love is the highest of these. I am love. Breathing in, my lungs were a bellows. I exhaled pure healing fire. I am the gospel of love. As I joined the throng of voices that hovered in the air, reverberations within and without filled me with pure joy.

The fire called to me. I sat in front of it and sang, allowing my voice to rise up with the flames. But beside me, the American was still stuck in her stream of consciousness. I looked at her and she turned to me.

No seriously what is this bullshit?

You wanna go in the fire? I can get in the fire.

The trip heats up

She shifted closer, or tried to, and now I saw the shaman behind me, grabbing a leg, and a helper behind her holding her shoulders. She was trying to escape. The shaman spoke slowly and firmly, trying to ground her, but she resisted.

This is all about my voice. It’s all about my voice!

You wanna get in the fire? You can go in the fire!

There’s nothing to be afraid of.

Once again, the diatribe started up. Later, I was vaguely aware of a kerfuffle as the shaman tried to sing to her, but she pushed back, defending her right to full and free expression. Throughout, the implacable shaman remained calm. It seemed he was used to dealing with locos gringos locking horns with Abuelita. At one point, he came over to me, singing and placing his hand on my head, blowing his smoke into my face, hands, over each ear and the top of my head, banishing spirits. With a quiet gravitas, he held his hand on the top of my head, and told me to sing, sing out loudly and strongly. I opened my mouth and the song came, flowing as if from some inner well, newly tapped.

Coming back from the ayahuasca trip

Gradually, the medicine subsided and we came back to ourselves. For some, the noise had been too much. They exited silently for the sanctuary of a tent or bed. A number of us stayed behind, including the American. She was pale in the fire’s flickering light, but a smile played on her lips. We shared our experiences. Everyone agreed that she had been the channel, opening up a space which we all inhabited. Even now, when fear takes hold, I hear her voice reminding me – There’s nothing to be afraid of. She was right. There really isn’t.

One participant, a softly spoken American, seemed shaken. “I went to hell,” he said. “For the last hour, I just wanted it to end.” Another of the group, an Englishman with some significant Ayahuasca experience under his belt, told us that he’d had a vision of the Buddha, sitting in front of him, perfectly still. Later, he ascended into a place above our heads where a counsel of elders held sway. Maintaining his impeccable manners even on an Ayahuasca trip, he apologised for his intrusion, but the counsel welcomed him, and he shared with them in divine meditation.

The unsayable

We were all still glowing from the medicine, as we tried to construct the night, piecemeal, attempting to put into words eloquence far beyond language. Abuelita was loosening her grip, for now.

Another of our group, a Californian with a Christ-like aspect, shook his long locks and stroked his beard. “Man, what a trip.”

We smiled, and wondered what the remaining ceremony might have in store for us.

Tune in for the next part of The ayahuasca diaries soon. Why not subscribe, so you never miss a post?

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1 Comment

  • Reply Sarah Gebeke 4th June 2017 at 6:16 pm

    This is by far the best written experience I’ve read. Thank you for so generously gracing us with your gifts!
    Much love!

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