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Aya #4 Beyond the Light Show
The process started 3 days before with the diet. Cut out the bananas, avocado, and salt. And laid off the Game of Thrones and heavy metal. I wanted to go in as well prepared as possible.
I arrived late Friday afternoon for a sweat lodge. This would be a first for me. I was not planning to go, having been out of town that week, but X said I should do it for the whole experience. I was pleasantly surprised that she backed me on this one. I started with a cup of cinnamon bark tea which was delicious. Then we set up the sweat lodge. It was a wooden framework in the shape of an igloo, which we covered in moving pads and a canvas tarp. There was a small pit in the center, and carpet squares around the outside to sit on. XX started up a bonfire outside to heat up the Grandfathers, large porous stones that hold the heat. After about two hours we lined up outside, women in light dresses and men in shorts. We were smudged front and back, and feet before entering. The women went in first, clockwise around the outside. We followed and filled out the circle. 4 Grandfathers were brought in. The women dropped incense on them, and then XX poured water on them to make steam. With the door closed the only light was from the red of the stones, which was very little indeed. After they lost their initial heat, it was pretty much the same eyes open or closed. The first round was not too hot. We sang a song to the 4 winds, W ?, N to ancestors, E to the sun, and S to green living things. The door was opened and 8 more stones were brought in. Incense and water again, then we sang a song to all men. This round it definitely got in the sauna range. I started sweating like crazy. When we finished they brought in 8 more, poured on incense and water, and we sang a song to all women. After that a pipe was passed. A long ceremonial variety, packed with willow bark. The last round was a song to all living things. By this time it was quite hot, and I still had sweat to pour out. One person saw a fox in the stones, and some people saw spirits. This was beyond sauna, beyond even A C in the summer where you are only allowed to work 15 minutes out of 60. By the end my shorts were soaked, the carpet under me was soaked, and my hair was soaked. At the end the women left first, and we shook their hands as we came out. The leader of the ceremony, XX, was literally steaming as he came out. Giving off a genuine fog. I dried off, went back to my tent, and drank a half a bottle of water. I felt pretty good considering, and I must have rehydrated enough as I had to get up in the middle of the night. The purpose of the ceremony was to purge out all the fear, hate, resentment, etc. and leave peace and forgiveness. I think it worked, at least for the day.
Woke up in the morning and ate the customary apple for breakfast. Don't want too much in there, just in case. There were about 20 participants, 75 percent Spanish speaking, and about the same percentage first timers. We started with another smudge, same as the previous night. This was followed by some genuine baccy cigarettes, not the commercial variety. This time I partook, but did not inhale. We waved the smoke around the face and head. I felt a light nicotine buzz which is supposed to help with onset of the medicine. The remainder of the cigarette was fed to the bonfire. Then we got up from left to right, walked up to the table, were annointed with oil, and took the shot. I don't think it was my imagination that Mr X poured me a doozy that took me two gulps to get down. I remember it being only about 1/3 cup last time. The taste was a little less gritty and more spicy this time, not unpleasant.
I sat down in my sleeping blanket nest and waited. The man sitting next to me was purging within 5 minutes. X came over and explained that it was the diet and it was normal. A couple other people were in the same position fairly quickly. I waited and wondered what the Mother was going to throw me today. Some thoughts raced through my mind in anticipation. Being outside, open eye or closed eye? If you open your eyes, can you go back inside to the same place? Would it work or not this time? Would this be the one that takes me down rather than up? I got from a podcast the idea that today would be a good day to die, and not to worry about it since I would come back, but such was not to be my fate today. I felt a little light headed as before, and checked in with my eyes closed every 5 minutes or so to see if it was coming on. The music was starting, mostly Indian mantra style. There was a definite air of anticipation as I looked around and checked in with the other participants. It came on gradually this time, with light hints of visuals like a faint net in the black background.
After about 45 minutes the heavy stuff started to come on, jeweled in gold, blue, and red. Visions and sounds of such beauty that words cannot describe. At the same time one of the two ladies to my right started to have a rough time of it. Purging, crying, a bit of screaming. It built up to what in my mind counted as a full scale exorcism. I stole a glance and noted that one of the helpers had her wrapped up in a hug, taking care of her. Back inside I noted that what she was going through in no way affected the mind blowing beauty of what I was witnessing. In fact it added to it. I knew that what she was going through was absolutely necessary at that time. To paraphrase a podcast I had just heard, did I want her to stop or did I want her to heal. I wanted her to heal. The thought occurred to me that I had to forgive whoever had done this to her. I also thought that in no way did I want to take a peek inside her head to see what was going on. As it turned out later, it was nothing like that. At the sharing she described that it was a difficult experience with a lot of pain, and had something to do with a vision of her father in the hospital. If my Spanish is correct she felt like she was unable to help him. At the end she said she saw a vision of giant butterflies flying away, and that it was beautiful. I found out later that she had just arrived from XXX the day before. I gave her a hug when she left and thought to myself what a brave soul.
The visions were incomparable but I had come for something deeper. Twice I asked the Mother "Ok this is nice but show me what is behind the next curtain. I can handle it." And she did. Literally pulled back a black and red curtain and took me to another realm. Like before, but more, gold with geometric patterns laid over it, this time like a dome, with sound and something more that I can only describe as pure energy beaming into me. I remember thinking at the time, "This is it. If you can get here, there is nowhere else to go. You made it." More on this later.
There was an Indian kid to the left of me. Had been to Peru so I figured he was a veteran. Well he went for a second shot a couple hours in. Ended up pushing him into a full on public freakout. He was shouting "What the fuck is this?" "Woo hoooooooo" "This is AMAZING!" for about an hour straight. All the while flopping about, rocking, and getting out of his space. They had to relocate his neighbors and several times the helpers came over to drag him by his arms back into his space. X sat at his head on a chair for an hour or so, just babysitting. At one point I saw a couple of the helpers circled around him working some serious magic on him. I must admit the temptation was too great and at one point I closed my eyes and went into his head. I saw intense visuals, somewhat more of a funhouse atmosphere compared to my own but nothing I needed to stick around for. In an instant he went from this state to a healthy purge. It happened so fast the helpers barely got there in time to prevent bodily fluids in the lap. Which would have happened as the look in his eyes told me he was in no way in control of himself at that point. He described his experience at the sharing and had no recollection of his antics.
Every 30 minutes or so I opened my eyes to cheek in with the group. Some were wrapped up catatonic. Some met my gaze with a knowing smile. Some could only hold it for a bit before drifting off again. And a few of the new people had a look I can only describe as astonishment. No response to my eye contact. No movement. A few times I had to move my mat to dodge the sun. It proved difficult. Odd that I could dance around with my upper body, rub my hands all over my hair and face, but found the concept of moving a sleeping bag baffling, and speech out of my grasp. Somehow I knew I could talk, yet I couldn't. The best I could do was patch together some sort of sign language At two distinct times X and X came over with either a bottle of flower water or a spray of some sort of essential oil. Each time I thought "Well, what magic is this?" And magic it was. It sent me back into a revelry of visuals, music, sound and now something more I just can't put to words. I went into a sort of ecstatic dance with myself. X and X on two occasions saw me and walked over with the didgeridoo. As they got closer I leaned into it and fully took in the experience. It made my whole chest vibrate. It put me in a state I can't describe, but totally mind blowing. I thanked them as they moved on through the circle.
Ok time to check your judgement at the door. The youngest participant in the ceremony was, yes, a girl of X. I'm way beyond judgment about these sorts of things at this point, and these people clearly know what they are doing, so I just let it go. At the sharing she described a descent into a very emotional sadness that had to do with her brother. She felt stuck there like she was going to die, and then it turned around into something like a rebirth, like a newborn faun. To be X and able to experience and articulate something this deep… I was humbled. There was another girl of X who described geometric shapes, 4 animals including a flying dragon. All I could think is they have a big jump on the world for awakening. Could I deny these experiences? No way.
Last time I saw the Mother in a very reverent sort of way. Not at all funny like our other teacher. No cosmic giggle phase. Though this time with eyes open I was able to sit and laugh at some of the antics going on. I closed my eyes and pondered whether she would dance. And she did. I only allowed myself to dip my toe in, but it was quite beautiful. It was very visual, and I felt like I did not have a body. It was beyond that.
About half way through there was a battery failure and the music went dead. There was absolute silence, except for the sound of a few birds. We all came out of our heads and back to the circle, at least those of us who were able. I had this sense that the whole thing was planned, whether it was or not. X had taken the medicine, and as I looked over I saw him sitting in the chair, taking in what had happened. It took a few minutes but he was finally able to come back into a space where he was able to get up and fix the player. It was a sort of intermission, a weird gap in space and time. And it was beautiful.
Once it wore down came back together for food and sharing. We had a mild vegetable soup with big pieces of soft French bread and a delicious fruit salad. I will say that the people who make this happen put on a first class experience that for me is unequaled. People described various experiences, angels, visions of animals, connection with the earth, every one different. I felt a sense of connection among everyone there. One of the assistants gave me a big hug and thanked me for bringing my energy to the circle. We hung around for a bit around the fire sharing stories of past experiences. Around 9 I headed home.
I leave with a sense that all is not as it appears to the eye. I tapped into something that is very big but I barely understand. I know some people who think this is a diversion from the real work, and if done too much will slow you down. Yet if it wasn't meant to be used, it wouldn't work. I'm not sure exactly what is going on here but I'm not done with this journey yet.