I should have been more nervous.
Mamacita, from what I’d heard, can cause terrifying hallucinations, vomiting, diarrhea. At the very least it promised to be an intense experience.
But I wasn’t afraid. I was too hungry for her teachings.
Remember this particular experience in Utah?:
I was already firmly convinced that the same awareness which observes this human woman, Me, as she struggles through her thoughts about the world, as she negotiates her fears and desires, is the awareness that flows through everything else that is, i.e. God. I already believed myself to be God. In the tradition of the transcendentalists, of Ginsberg and Emerson, of philosophers and poets and scientists aplenty, I thought of myself as, somewhere deep inside of me, at least, all powerful and all knowing. I Am that I Am.
But what is the logical conclusion of this thought? Where do you land when you follow it all the way? I found out, as the acid that night took me deeper and deeper into my own head, into my own understanding of the universe. What good is it to be all powerful if you can’t manifest the things you want? I wondered. How do I take advantage of this power? Where do I go from here?
There were several things I concluded as I searched myself. One: the entire universe folds in on itself constantly. Every line of thought I chased came out again on the other side, saying the opposite of what it started out saying. Every time I thought I found a Truth, I kept going and saw my own tail still trundling after my front half. I did a series of M.C. Escher thought puzzles, and by the end of it, exhausted and certain I’d solved the mysteries of the universe again, to an even greater degree this time, I suddenly felt convinced that I was just a vast and lonely power, putting on an enormous puppet show for itself.
Since then, I’d been in a deep limbo. Not suicidal, just…not really convinced I was still supposed to be alive. Like, “okay, can I die already please?”
It’s not that I can’t come up with something useful to do with myself. It’s more that I have so many ideas of what to do, and I can’t for the life of me figure out which one to pursue. And I’m not sure I can ever release the part of my heart that assigned itself forever to the one who got away, which means I can never go all-in on love again. Loving someone deeply and completely was always my key sustaining factor, so if I can’t do that again…what’s the point? How am I supposed to care?
Still alive, and tired of coasting through with this sense of futility and disengagement bordering on despair, I knew I had to do something drastic.
The thought of Burning Man kept me going. I made it there, and it definitely lifted my spirits. I went on a journey to find my spirit animal, and despite doubts, I found it, and had the discovery confirmed, as I’ve heard many do, by seeing my spirit animal again shortly thereafter in a clear physical form, in this case a painting hanging above a couch at the Bureau of Misinformation.
I was sitting on that couch, not thinking about much, when the thought floated through my head: you should become an ayahuasca shaman.
At the time I didn’t know very much about ayahuasca. I’ve talked to a handful of people who have taken it at some point, and I’ve seen documentaries that talked about it. All in all, it was a pretty random thought, especially since I’ve never put a lot of stock in shamanism.
When I got back from the desert, I mentioned this to a few people. One of them said, “Oh, ___ did that recently.”
I perked up. “In the Bay?”
“Yeah! She went to a shaman here in the Bay Area and did the ceremony. She had a really cool experience. You should talk to her.”
Talk to her I did. We got Ethiopian food and she told me all about her own experience, and then said she would talk to the shaman and have her contact me.
Now here I was, in the small basement quarters of an experienced shaman, placing my intentions on the altar along with a small pouch of stones and crystals and the ring given to me by the one when he proposed in a last-ditch effort to save our relationship.
“My intention for this ceremony is to learn what I need to let go of, and what to hold onto, to best serve light and love.”
I retreated to my cushion as the shaman and the other companion for our journey smiled supportively. Soon after we drank the earthy, bitter liquid and then waited for it to take effect. I must admit I wanted beautiful visions; I wanted to meet Aya, mother vine, as my shaman said I might. I wanted to be overtaken with a pervasive sense of the wonder and connectedness of this world, to be shaken to the core.
Looking back, I realize this was greedy of me. I’ve already had such experiences (short of meeting Aya.) In any case, she came to me not in a mighty wind or terrifying visions, but in the “still, small voice” of my childhood religion. Almost immediately, gentle questions began making themselves present in my mind. She interrogated me about why I look externally so often, instead of internally, for answers, why I rely on drugs instead of listening to my heart.
My friend also talked about being afraid of being alone, which I guess is also my deepest fear…but I didn’t want to acknowledge it…Aya made me face it.
I have to abbreviate my experience because I want to share some of the most exciting parts and I’m running short of time. Mostly I purged that night, had little glimpses of beauty, laughed at myself, but nothing earth-shattering. The next night I set out with the intention: “To open my heart and mind to the dimensions I have not yet experienced, and to meet any spirit guides who are ready to reveal themselves to me.”
My shaman told me she never used to believe in angels, but now she is certain of their existence. They leave her dimes sometimes to announce their presence.
One of my recent experiences on mushrooms, I noticed that the light imprint on my eye was not following my gaze, but leading it…interacting with me…my first clear experience with an unseen presence. Or, not my first, but my clearest.
My second night involved a great deal of purging as well. I saw a spirt guide who may have been the White Buffalo Woman. Aya kept beginning to march out to great fanfare but staying just hidden…I saw the white edges of her…
I think one of my imperatives now is faith. Faith over fear.
I’m going to have to make this a two-parter. I had another experience with Mamacita on Sunday night, after leaving my shaman’s house. But in the meantime I want to note that one of the most elevating experiences was not during the actual ceremony, but during a spirit journey we undertook, a meditation on Saturday afternoon where she used the drum to help us travel to the Hall of Sacred Conference.
When I arrived, I met the one who got away. “Was this supposed to happen?” I asked, “Or did I mess it up?”
I got the distinct impression that he and I have journeyed together through many lifetimes, that we’ve ‘gotten it right,’ so to speak, before, and that this time we decided to be apart in order to learn how to expand our love to others, to have a more universal love.
“But I have an easier time loving others unconditionally when I can anchor my unconditional love in you!” I told him. “Can we make a new agreement? I think we were wrong…”
All the same, when we came back, I felt a new peace. If we have many lifetimes, and he and I have already shared many lifetimes, and my mission in this one is to learn to be separate from him…just that thought alone helps somehow. Which isn’t to say that I don’t still yearn for him, or hope that our meeting in the Hall of Sacred Conference hasn’t reached him on a soul level, and gotten him thinking…
I still want to meet Aya, but I see her point in using the language of my childhood spirituality to commune with me, in pointing out to me how many times I’ve had evidence of the divine in my life and denied or forgotten its significance, and in demanding from me more faith and patience. Nevertheless, my mind continues to be blown on a daily basis ever since.
Wonder, wonder, wonder…this world is truly magnificent, and we are coming upon an incredible time…