Ayahuasca Trip Report: Set & Setting
I will keep this section brief for two reasons:
- The group I sat with operates within the US, and therefore is “underground”
- Most readers have expressed the most interest in the “juicy details” of my experience
I would like to acknowledge, however, that the two dozen fellow journeyers in attendance were the most genuinely loving and intelligent people The Big Toe and I have ever met. We wondered if this medicine attracts this quality of people, or if perhaps it produces these qualities in people (the vast majority of the participants had already taken many doses). We came to the conclusion that it’s likely a combination of both.
During the Pre-Ceremony Introduction, I met with the Shaman and told her of my experience with “heroic doses” of LSD for entheogenic purposes in the past.
She asked “So, you’re not afraid to surf the big waves?”
I smiled and said “Hang Ten!”
Famous (and egotistical) last words…
My stated intentions for the session were:
- To know the Truth, no matter what
- To know the next steps on my journey to the Truth
Ayahuasca Trip Report: Session One
The ceremony began and soon it was my turn to approach the alter and take the medicine. The cup was filled to the brim… Laird Hamilton had nothing on me.
Within about 30 minutes I could feel the medicine coming on slowly, unlike my experiences with high doses of LSD. My body became warm and lighter, with a bit of dizziness.
I kept with my intention “Show me the Truth and my path towards it”.
Then she spoke to me for the first time. Now, there wasn’t an external figure that I could see (although many others have reported such an experience). This voice was from an internal source, but most certainly wasn’t ME. Those of you who’ve had this experience will know what I mean. Everyone else, just stay with me…
So she says:
“You’ve got to fucking be kidding me, right?”
Her tone was one of disgust and distain, and I could feel it like breathing exhaust from behind a 1972 diesel truck.
“You’re so out of order”, she continued. Do you really think that you’re in any position to get that kind of privileged information? A truth will be revealed, but it will be the truth about you, and you’re not going to like it.”
Although I had been experiencing some mild anxiety leading up to the ceremony, now I felt, for the first time, absolute fucking fear.
“And don’t think for a second that I don’t fully comprehend the true intent of your question concerning your future path towards the Truth. You really think you’re clever, don’t you? Did you think that you could use your linguistic jiujitsu and make yourself sound all spiritual? That maybe somehow it wouldn’t seem so obvious that you just want to “pivot” in some way out of your current vocation into something more exciting?
Let’s take a little inventory, shall we? This career of yours, the one that has started to bore you, let’s start there.
For the last 22 years, you’ve been self-employed in a position that affords you a good deal of creativity, allows you to engage in activities that ensure your mental and physical well-being, pays a good deal better than average, and, to top it all off, you’re consistently shown how much you are appreciated. Every couple of weeks someone sincerely expresses their gratitude to you and for the environment and services you’ve created. You get the privilege of changing people’s lives for the better. Hell, in some instances, you actually get to play a role in saving their lives.
And you find this scene is getting a little stale for you, huh?”
At this point I felt myself shrinking, becoming smaller and smaller, both physically and mentally. It was as though I was a small child being scolded by an angry parent. Or maybe even a disobedient dog having just shit on the carpet and somehow thinking I would get a treat as a reward.
And that was just the first of the five areas of my life to be examined. I’ll spare you, dear reader, all the details, but the format for each and every one was identical; she’d point out how amazing my life was, and how much of a fucktard I was for not appreciating it.
She was truly disgusted with me, which will be clear as I transcribe word for word what she said to me to end this initial phase of the session:
“Let me be clear about this – you don’t deserve any of the blessings in your life. The only reason that you have so many, or any at all, is because of a software glitch. It would take you THOUSANDS of perfect lifetimes to deserve what you have now. And then you have the fucking audacity to be bored. This is obnoxious and you are unbelievable. Actually, you’re just an ungrateful, self-centered little prick.”
I had crumbled over to the floor and was in the fetal position, weeping at a rate that now seems physiologically impossible. Tears pouring down my face and neck, soaking my shirt. I wondered if it was possible to die from dehydration due to crying, and if tear ducts were muscles, could they cramp from fatigue?
Then I was given just a bit of a reprieve from her venomous truths; maybe 10 minutes or so, just to wallow in my unworthiness.
But alas, it was short-lived, as she spoke to me once again and said, “Sit the fuck up.”
It required what seemed like superhuman strength to do so, but somehow I managed to right myself onto my cushion. It was as if I was tying the noose for my own hanging, or sharpening the blade of the guillotine for my own beheading.
“So there will be no revelation of the ultimate Truth for you today, she stated rather matter of factly. We’ve got something much more important to deal with first. You know exactly what that is, don’t you?”
“Yes”, I said.
“Say it, then.”
“It’s the darkness inside of me, isn’t it”, I asked.
“Yes, it is” she confirmed.
“I’ve got to get it out,” I said, as the waterfall of tears began again to flow down my face.
“That would be highly recommended” was all she replied.
“But I don’t know how, can you please help me?” I pleaded.
“Please help me. I know that I have this darkness inside of me. Nobody else knows about it. I’ve tried for so long to get it out, to let it go; but nothing has worked. I need help, PLEASE!” I was on my hands and knees, begging through my weeping gasps for air.
And then I thought that perhaps The Mother was showing me a bit of compassion; that maybe all of this crying would constitute the extent of my purging. Maybe this non-stop cascade of tears was clearing the darkness from my being.
Not so much…
Shortly thereafter I began retching, dry-heaving into my bucket. I hadn’t eaten in over 9 hours, so there was no foodstuff to expel, but there was indeed something that had to come out. It didn’t have any physical form to it, but there was an intense sense of heat each time my stomach contracted as I gagged and spit into the bucket. It was violent. It was gross. It continued for over three hours (give or take).
The ceremony concluded, and The Big Toe and I retreated to our tent. There wasn’t much to say at that point, as we were both still in survival mode. We hugged each other and fell into our sleeping bags, knowing full well that the sanctity of sleep was beyond a reasonable possibility.
Ayahuasca Trip Report: Session Two
I shared my experience during the Integration Circle the next afternoon. It was still so raw and I wept a good deal of the time, but I felt a tremendous amount of love and empathy from the group. Afterwards, a dozen or so people approached me, offering comfort and support. Many shared their surprise at how aggressive my session had been for a first meeting with the Mother. One woman told me her first several sessions were more of a “really-nice to-meet-you, let’s-build-some-trust-so-that-we-can-do-some-good-work-together” sort of thing. But then in an impressive NLP-style reframe, she said: “How cool is it that she knew you could skip all of that and just dive right into your shit!”
“I wouldn’t have been insulted by just a bit of hand-holding”, I told her; to which we both had a good laugh (my first in over 24 hours… and the only one for the next 24).
There were also several accounts from the veterans of having totally different types of experiences from one night to the next, and encouragement that tonight would be better.
After the Integration Circle, we had about six hours to rest and prepare for the second ceremony that evening. I spent time meditating and journaling about the mental/emotional/physical smackdown that I had endured the night before. I had a lingering sense of dread about doing it all again.
We were informed that the medicine was already in our system from our first ceremony, and would be working with us throughout the day leading up to the second go-around. I could sense this to be true, from both a mental and physical perspective.
I began to feel solid in my newly formed intention. Although The Mother was perhaps sadistic in her tone and words, there was truth to what she showed me. I had seen the light. My life is indeed awesome, and I have taken much of it for granted.
My intention for this ceremony was “Love”. Specifically, show me how to be worthy of my life and worthy of love. I knew she would give me guidance.
This time I approached the altar, bowed, and then made the hand motion to request a smaller dose of the medicine. The Shaman smiled in agreement and offered up about 1/3 of what I had ingested the previous evening.
The physical discomfort started to hit earlier and harder than I expected. Within approximately 20 minutes my stomach was cramping, my heart racing and sweat was viciously evacuating from every pore. Could I have run out of tears, and now my sweat glands had to pick up the slack? Note: it didn’t seem humorous when I had that thought in the moment, trust me.
Then the dizziness and nausea kicked in, forcing me to the ground in dive-bomber fashion.
But I was relentless with my intention – “Show me how to be worthy of love!” I knew in my heart that this was the right question, and I had faith that she would answer me.
But for some reason, she remained silent.
I was so far beyond being too proud to beg, so I pleaded with her in between my convulsions “PLEASE show me how to be worthy of love!”
I may have yelled this out loud at some point, as one of the assistants came over to console me. She put a blanket over my shoulders, rubbed my back, and wiped my beard (of puke, bile, saliva and whatever else). I remember saying to her “I’m asking for help. I want to be worthy of love. Why is she kicking the shit out of me again?”
At that point, the assistant told me “She’ll give you exactly what you need. The important thing is that you be kinder to yourself this time.” This was quite helpful in the moment. I am deeply indebted to her.
However, the suffering continued for another four hours straight. I kept asking the same question, with all of the sincerity my miserable heart could muster, and all I got in return were fucking crickets and an ass-beating.
Finally, as I laid there on the floor with my face in the bucket, it all of a sudden occured to me:
What if she’s been answering me from the beginning? What if she’s telling me that I have to suffer like this in order to be worthy of love. What did she say last night, two thousand lifetimes of this shit?
Could that really be the answer? Do I have to go through this intense misery in order to earn the right to be loved? No, that can’t possibly be the answer, right?
The drums were getting louder and faster and intensifying my nausea. I had to get out of there. I managed to crawl my way out of the ceremony room and onto the balcony. The crisp night air offered relief and I could finally breathe again. I reconnected with The Big Toe and we helped each other navigate the darkness back to our tent.
As I laid there looking up at the stars through the trees, I wept at the thought of suffering for thousands of loveless lifetimes. I could feel my heart breaking apart, splitting wide open.
And then I knew in an instant that it wasn’t true. She was lying to me. The bitch was lying to me, and I demanded to know why.
“I know what you think of me. I can do better. I will do better. But I’m fucking worthy of love. Every wretched soul is worthy of love. FUCK YOU, I’m worthy of love!”
At that very moment, a gust of wind surged through the treetops, and I heard the leaves whisper slowly
The voice was soft and empathetic, low volume but clear as day, in the middle of the night.
I instinctively let out an enormous sigh and my body immediately relaxed. I could feel my heart, still gaping open, being flooded with light, being filled with love. I felt tremendous gratitude, and I felt worthy of it.
I don’t remember much else from the remainder of that evening; I fell asleep or more likely passed out.
Ayahuasca Trip Report: You Can’t Always Get What You Want
As the philosopher/poet Mick Jagger so eloquently put it – You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.
What I wanted were psychedelic colored serpents that would show me how the world was put together and how it all worked. And then to know my path towards the Truth, which meant how I could use that knowledge to work with people in a more exciting capacity.
What I NEEDED, and therefore received, were two worn-out memes that are so overused on social media these days as to lose all context and meaning:
I’m quite confident that had Mother Ayahuasca presented these two truths to me in a more traditionally gentle fashion, they would have had little to no impact. Of course, I know (in my head at least) that I should be grateful and that I am worthy. Every teacher and guru I’ve studied over the past four decades has reinforced these standard (aka: boring) ideas.
But I wanted something different, more advanced and to be honest, far more sexy than that remedial feel-good shit.
So she had to make sure that I FELT the experience, and that there were no moments of feel-goodness involved.
I had to be physically and mentally accosted with the truth of both the blessings in my life, and my utter lack of gratitude for them.
I then had to stand up for myself and declare that despite my shortcomings, I am still worthy of love.
Those heartfelt (and heart-crushing) experiences were the ONLY way for me to awaken to these truths.
Ayahuasca Trip Report: Integration
We were told not to judge the overall effectiveness of any Ayahuasca journey too quickly. The medicine continues to work on you for many weeks, even months. And the more that you work with it via meditation, yoga, journaling etc. the greater the long-term benefits. The proper question isn’t “How was the trip experience?” but rather, six months later, are the issues that were addressed healing?
I’m currently only two and a half weeks out, but I can already say with certainty that I am a changed man. My brain is processing my experiences differently. Everything has slowed down, from a positive perspective. There is a “gap” between many of my longtime triggers and my reaction to them. I have a fucking Gratitude Journal (enough said LOL)…
And I’d like to thank each and every one of you (those who I already know experientially and those I have yet to meet in one way or another) for sharing this healing journey with me.
In deep gratitude and worthy love,