The following is a chapter extract from my book Ayahuasca Journals: A Journey Through Impossible Realms (available on Kindle and free for users of Kindle Unlimited).
The following is exactly what happened as I remembered it. Thanks for stopping by and good luck on your own journey.
The air in the room was thick with anticipation. Everybody was nervously grinning as we shuffled into position in our sleeping bags. It was eerily quiet. Earlier that day, we had been given a talk by Angel in which he professed some very serious advice.
He informed us of the sacred Inca trilogy, the anaconda, the condor and the panther. He said there was a good chance we may see one of these symbolic creatures or entities during our journey. Our shaman Javier (not the feather guy), was around mid 40’s, very friendly guy. Seemed really chilled out and personable. He proceeded to explain as Angel translated…
According to Inca tradition, the snake represents Mother Ayahuasca, the healer. She may take the form of a snake. Angel told us not to worry, in fact at one point he casually stated “If the snake seems like it’s going to eat you, do not resist, just relax and submit to the experience.” (WTF!!). Traditionally within the Shipibo tribe, the anaconda has several connotations, she may indicate the start of a process of change or healing, the resolution of a conflict, the acquisition of a new virtue or ability, the realisation of something intuitive, the birth of a vision, or the creation of a new alternative.
The condor represents a messenger between the heavens and the earth, the emissary of the cosmos. Angel said he may present a path or a gate/door, and if he does, just go with it, accept it. (This was something I wanted to experience more than anything, I’ve had a lifelong fascination with space and the profundity of the universe. Many of the accounts I had read described mind-boggling astral experiences. Although I was trying to be as open as possible to whatever presented itself, I couldn’t help the biased yearning to bump into the condor as ridiculous as that sounds! When in Rome!).
The panther or puma represents Mother Earth, the guardian of the planet. She represents the power and ferocity of nature. A fearlessly adept predator, efficient and calculated, she exemplifies intuition, strength and boundless energy.
All this was blowing my mind (again), I had heard bits and pieces about snakes appearing in visions but I had never heard the traditional significance before or the symbolic implications. At that stage, I was truly fascinated (again) but i was looking at it with the same reverence as Irish folk lore. The stories of the Tuath De Danann, Na Fianna, Cuchulain and Banshee’s. Amazing tales in their own right, but there’s sparse evidence to suggest they are anything more than fireside stories, the ancient equivalent of ‘Breaking Bad’. So this was my take on the Inca trilogy at that point, pretty sceptical.
Angel explained that for those who had never experienced it before, it could get pretty scary and there were four pillars of practice, to use as a guide during our journey.
“Every time, things get crazy (which was pretty much 100% of the time), you will repeat this mantra to yourself and try and move towards ‘the light’, do not get caught up in ‘the dark’, it will pull you in but you must always remember the pillars. Never forget the pillars. Never. Remember that if you travel far, far away, you will always come back, do not worry.”
I was worried.
Javier silently proportioned out the dosages from the large bottle into plastic cups, each one with approximately a half pint capacity. He eyeballed us all, calmly deciding on how much we could individually handle. Dec was last, right beside me, and the 3 other guys got their doses first. I was watching the maestro like a hawk. 1/3 of a cup, 1/2 a cup, 1/3 of a cup then some whispering and deliberation with Angel as the shaman assesses the two tall Irish lads, a full cup and a full cup, right to the brim, thank you very much.
We were instructed to down it all in one attempt, ‘it’s much easier that way’.The taste was putrid, a thick viscous liquid with particles of plant matter, insects and grit mixed in. It was something of a cross between cough syrup, rancid old socks and a dead body. I blasted it down, a seasoned veteran of horrific beverages after spending considerable time ploughing myself full of buckfast at university. I sat there, knowing it was time, there was nothing more I could do. I was helpless. I watched Dec do a massively theatrical grimace as he downed his full cup, about 3 massive gulps. I laughed and I was so glad that we were carrying out this idiotic experiment together. In such a weird, secluded and unusual environment, so far from home, it was like Dec was the only anchor to reality that I had left.
We were instructed to sit upright for the first 30 mins of the ceremony. The lights were turned off and silence ensued. I chose a stereotypical lotus pose (that lasted about 4 minutes until my knees were fucked – I’m not fooling anybody I decided and reverted to a kneeling posture). I still had that faint disgusting taste in my mouth, regardless of how much water I drank. I sat there, trying to calm my mind, trying to stop myself pouring over the last few years of events that had led me to this point. I felt strangely calm, the fear and the nerves were useless at this stage. The cat was out of the bag and one way or another, shit was about to go down.
Around 20 minutes in, Maestro Javier began to whistle, very softly at first. This was the beginning of the icaros. The icaros played a pivotal role in the experience. Somehow the rhythm of the icaros ran in tandem with the visions. It was truly incredible. The start of this video has the same song Javier sang, it’s making my skin crawl right now.
About 30 mins in, I began to get sweaty, feeling hot, uncomfortable and restless like when you have a temperature or a fever of sorts. I opened my jacket, my stomach was feeling queasy, nothing extreme, just uncomfortable (I hadn’t eaten all day – mandatory fasting). This feeling would come in waves, progressively intensifying over the next 10 – 15 minutes. I thought at one point I saw a flash of a snakes face, for a millisecond, it’s tongue out, tasting the air in front of me but it was so fast that it could have been my imagination.
I began to sense a very unusual feeling, as if something was travelling throughout my entire circulatory network, even as I write this right now, I feel extremely uneasy. I can remember exactly how it felt. The room was very cold but I was hot, sweating profusely at this point, and could not get comfortable, I was trying to remain calm as I realised it was showtime. I could hear some groans in my periphery but I had my own problems. The feeling moved into my brain and it was as if some giant industrial engine just had the ignition key switched on, the feeling throughout my veins turned into what felt like very high frequency vibration as the industrial hum in my head grew louder. Holy fuck! I knew it was going to be powerful but with the thunderous humming noise becoming louder and louder and the vibration throughout my entire body, there was nothing I had ever experienced that was even remotely comparable. As the noise and the vibration intensified, so did Javier’s icaros. His voice was building in volume and intensity in tandem with the vibration through my body. I could hear him take deep breaths before he bellowed each guttural, lamenting note of the song. I was struggling to remember that I was at an Ayahuasca ceremony and in a sleeping bag. Javiers song was my last bastion of materiality, my world was dissolving and suddenly, I was gone.
I felt like I had been blasted from a cannon at an unknown speed, maybe light speed, it was fast, I know that much and to be frank and honest about the whole thing, the correct assessment of my speed was low on my priority list. I was hurtling through some sort of wormhole like pipeline, I felt like I was me, but I didn’t have my body, I was simply a pair of eyes, I could see and hear but I had no sense of physicality.
The images I use from here on are the best collections of art available on-line that somehow relate to my own personal experience. They’re obviously not completely precise but they are the most suitable ones I could find to help me explain myself. The fractal detail and sheer magnitude of information that was being processed goes infinitely beyond the confines of a canvas or 2D image. Check here for a few cool examples of ayahuasca influenced art.
As I roar through this spiraling wormhole, the walls are full of fractal images of Inca iconography, images of sculptures of the sun and moon, sculptures of warriors holding weapons all spiraling around me, with each spiral changing direction if I tried to focus on it. Colours were vibrant and loud, constantly morphing as if they were alive, pulsating in sync to the backdrop of the Maestro’s chant. His voice was the only element of reality that was left, I was oblivious to every other physical aspect, my body, the room, the nausea. Only the Icaros survived. Still, it was more like a videogame soundtrack, I didn’t have the cognizance to realise it was coming from the maestro.
The second that I had just about come to terms with the fact that I was blasting through this tunnel, everything around me exploded into an infinite cloud of particles and when my focus adjusted to my new surroundings, my mind gets blown again.
I’m in some sort of impossible structure, with no defined floor, ceilings or walls, almost like a cathedral or temple with hugely intricate and beautiful geometric patterns and designs. Being a structural engineer, my mind inevitably started trying to process the geometry, to establish the load paths and figure out how the hell this place could exist. I couldn’t. At this point, I was in full-on, face melting, banana land.
I had a profound sense that I was not alone. There was a sense of being observed, not in a malicious way but in a kind of a passive observer way, like somebody watching a drunk guy trying to get up off the floor while his balance is on hiatus. It was like ‘they’ were waiting to see how I’d react to this level of insanity, would I fold? Could I handle the next league up? My brain was redlining, pathetically failing the mental gymnastics of trying to process the inconceivable complexity of my surroundings. I was flying through this ‘temple’ (or whatever it was), with no sense of up or down, overwhelmed with astonishment. I was beginning to accept I was here and that’s when I felt the first sense of communication.
I couldn’t see anybody or hear any voices but a very strong message of intent, like a thought came into my mind and it seemed to be conveying something like – “Stop trying to understand! You can not, just accept, see the beauty. This is far beyond your understanding, look and see, accept.”
I didn’t even flinch at the message, everything was so monstrously absurd at that point that I just accepted it. Of course, there’s some super intelligence telling me to chill out, why wouldn’t there be!? I am in the temple of infinite complexity after all, obviously I need to be told to chill out. At that point the initial whiplash of being launched into a new dimension for the first time had somewhat receded. I accepted I was there and now instead of screaming “AAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” as I pummeled through the fabric of space and time for 15 minutes straight, I was curious, eager to understand and to learn what I could. To explore the place if you will!
It was as if my thoughts were being easily read, like “OK guys, he’s passed level 2, lets turn it up a bit here”. I was floating around examining the geometric depth of the architecture, the closer I looked, the more I realised the fractal nature of the design, it just kept going. I couldn’t figure out where things began or ended.
I saw a shape in the distance, it was huge and it was alive, maybe the size of an elephant. I didn’t feel scared so I float towards it. Get this…
As I approached, it turned out to be a huge condor. It was a mix of shimmering metallic blues, so vibrant and rich. All over it’s body, its feathers, wings and beak were inscribed with silver designs of amazing detail, alive with an electricity or energy. It didn’t look like a real condor, it was almost a living cartoon, in the style of indigenous art. Imagine the pic below but with 1 billion times more detail, as in, it would take 1,000 artists 1,000 years to produce the level of detail that was apparent to me.
At that point all I could think was “Oh my fucking God, it’s the condor, I can’t fucking believe it, it’s right in front of me and it’s looking right at me. Holy fucking shit, I can not believe this, I can not handle this, holy fucking fuck, the fucking condor.”
This was a pretty unproductive reaction, I acknowledge that.
He towered over me, exuding a majestic aura of dignity and intelligence. He nodded graciously, accepting my presence, as if he was waiting for me. I nodded back, very respectfully, in awe of what was happening. He stepped to his side and unveiled a huge ornate chariot, roman style, but with no horses. It was the same metallic and vibrant mix of blues and silver as the condor. Beautifully constructed, every inch contained a lifetime of master craftsmanship. He opened out one huge wing, the underside of which revealed more amazing patterns and beauty (this was just too much!). The wing gestured toward the chariot and he bowed his head low like some sort of medieval serf. An invite.
“So you want me to get?” I thought. He nodded and did one of those cool shuffles that birds of prey do to keep themselves loose and agile, like he was ready for a flight. I felt a sudden blast of fear. I had just accepted I was in this psycho temple and now he wants me to get in the chariot. I started thinking “Oh man I’m so fucking fucked right now, I don’t think I can handle getting it that chariot, where the fuck are we going to go?”. He was becoming impatient, he nodded and gestured again as if to say “Are you coming or not? Here’s the chariot, jump in. Pretty basic stuff.”
I thought to myself “Yes, I want to get in, absolutely, there’s no doubt about that. I want to see what happens, I definitely do. BUT I’d really appreciate if I could just look around here for another couple of minutes, it’s so interesting. Just a quick look, then I’ll jump in the chariot and we can take off. Can’t wait.” He acknowledged my apprehension, looked at me with a sense of frustration and just vanished. Gone. Just like that. I was disgusted with myself. I still am. I blew it. The one thing I wanted more than anything and I didn’t have the balls to get in the chariot. I genuinely wanted to but for some reason, I’d convinced myself I needed a few more moments to prepare.
My disappointment suddenly brought me back to reality. I felt my body again and immediately following, a huge lurch in my stomach, I sprang upright and projectile vomited into my bucket. I was sweating, breathing hard. Puked again, retching over the bucket. Helpers came from the shamans side, rubbing my back and comforting me, telling me to drink some water. I was out of breath, speechless. We were around the one hour mark and things were just getting started. I looked to my left and Dec was flamboyantly writhing around on the floor in his bag saying some pretty funny stuff. He was literally out of his mind. I couldn’t laugh. I was in shock and I was pissed off with my chariot decision. I knew he was on his own crazy journey but I was so relieved he was enjoying himself at that point. I became aware of the others groaning around me, each person had their own brand of primal moan.
I lay back down, relieved to have puked and closed my eyes. I was so disappointed in myself, I couldn’t shake it. I focused my mind, trying to calm the sea of thoughts and slowly drifted into the next vision….
Thanks for reading, this was just a small portion of my book “The Ayahuasca Journals – A Journey through Impossible Realms”. This book contains the remaining hours of my first ceremony which were transformational for me as a man, it basically blew the doors off my consciousness. I am positive that it has somehow rewired my mind, I know that sounds scary but I am truly confident that it was a positive change. The benefits have been broad and many.
This book covers my personal conversations with the shaman and also my second ceremony in all of it’s inter dimensional, heart-pounding glory. I hope this post helps give people a picture of what an ayahuasca experience is like and how profoundly intense it can be.