May 16, 2016

How I Learned to Stop Suffering & Answer The Call of Mother Ayahuasca. {Adult}


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It started with three grams of Psilocybin Cubensis and more desperation than I could ever quantify.

I was in bad shape.

I couldn’t make art any more. Life had lost the luster and awe that it once held for me.

I was losing weight at an alarming rate. My hair, falling out in clumps. I was mutilating myself several times per week. I have struggled with treatment-resistant depression and PTSD for 23 years.

I know intimately a despair that plunges its vitiating tendrils into your very soul, leaving you catatonic and desiccating in a darkened room for days until your flatmates begin to ponder breaking down your bedroom door.

“Haven’t seen you eat in days, dude, are you still alive in there?”

I was suffering.

My art was suffering.

Brushes sat unused and gathering dust, VJ+DJ equipment untouched, unfinished commissions, abandoned. My relationships were strained to the point of collapse.

Facebook posts alluding to suicide became so commonplace that many of my friends stopped bothering to inquire about my state.

I was in trouble.

Of course, the pharmaceuticals weren’t helping any more, and by that time, I’d tried just about all of them. Lithium, Vyvanse, Ritalin, Wellbutrin, Dexedrine, Paxil, Lamictal, Prozac, Effexor, Geodon, Trazadone, you name it.

That’s what happens to indigo children in our culture who present emergent spiritual crises and symptoms of abuse when they’re disruptive in school. There’s no context for Shamanism or guidance into the spirit realm.

“Don’t send him back without a prescription for amphetamines and a mood stabilizer. We can’t be bothered to show compassion for these cuts all over his arms or the rumors of police paying regular visits to your home for domestic violence. Yes, we’re confining him to In-School Suspension. Again.”

Seventeen years, a few hospitalizations, and one extremely unethical psychiatrist after that first dose of dexedrine, you wake up an adult who has no choice but to kick every prescription cold turkey because your heart is about to collapse and your immune system is a twisted, smoldering wreckage.

You wake up an adult who can’t hold regular work. An adult robbed of the opportunity to cultivate focus, mindful practices, routine or discipline, disabled and struggling to get by on public assistance in one of the most expensive cities in the world. The pharmaceuticals take care of everything, until, finally, you realize that they don’t.

In a desperate hour, I sought counsel from some of my artistic contemporaries and a Priestess I had come to love.

“Have you tried psilocybin?”

It all came into focus with that first cup of strong mushroom tea, sitting on the bed of my Priestess. I rode a white wyrm into a solar storm raging at the center of an eon-dead cosmos. The nebulous purple sky split with a cavernous fissure, revealing Kali-Ma to me as a fiery red colossus with 108 arms, her tongue lolling out of her blood-drenched maw, her neck strewn with a thousand screaming skulls, her perfect breasts oozing a viscous, acrid, brown-black fluid, her sword effortlessly bisecting my ribcage, laying me open on an altar of antimatter.

Somewhere beyond the lines of reason or explanation, a luminous vine slithered out from the depths of the darkest jungle, entering me and snaking through my tissues and viscera, suddenly awakening me to the sound of every cell in my body—crying out for communion with this unidentified presence. My first encounter with one sacred medicine had somehow attuned me to the frequency of another. I was now receiving the call of Mother Ayahuasca.

And so, for a year, I sought access to its healing wisdom, working with other sacred medicine along the way. I read every book I could get my hands on about Ayahuasca, Transpersonal Psychology, meditation, mindfulness, and psychedelic exploration. I watched videos and listened to podcasts on the subjects of expanded consciousness and medicine work.

I listened to Terrence McKenna and Graham Hancock in Los Angeles traffic for months. I shared my art and my story with Rick Doblin of MAPS and Dr. Stan Grof. I poured over the archives of Reset.Me, and plunged into Burroughs’ Yage Letters.

I pleaded with unscrupulous, profit-motivated ayahuasca practitioners; phonies who bawked at the notion of working with anyone who couldn’t afford to fork over thousands of dollars for a local ceremony. With my painful spinal deformity and immune issues, trekking through the Amazon to lie on the wooden floor of a maloka and shit my guts out into a latrine while being eaten alive by mosquitos was pretty far outside my realm of possibilities.

Others I encountered refused to work with anyone suicidal or with a history of bipolar disorder, no matter how wrong that diagnosis turned out to be. One group wanted me to pay six hundred dollars upfront for pre-screening with no guarantee of accessing the medicine. I hung up the phone in frustration after explaining that I hadn’t eaten that day, and couldn’t remember the last time I had any disposable income. Things were looking bleak until a kind, experienced shaman trained in the traditions of Amazonian Medicine Work was put in my path.

“Don’t worry about the money, we can work out an equitable exchange for your awesome artwork. Just show up to our next ceremony.”

The case of nerves I had on the two hour drive through Friday afternoon Los Angeles traffic to the secret location where the ceremony was to be held that weekend rivaled anything my panic attacks had ever thrown at me. I got there hours before anyone else, arriving with my memory foam camping mattress, my stuffed slow loris Mister Malu Fizzgig, and my nine foot neon caterpillar, Tickles. I was all set with my celiac-and-dieta-friendly provisions and my badass purge bucket completely decked out in visionary art, emblazoned with the DMT molecule eclipsing the phases of the moon, beset on either side by anacondas slithering out the third eyes of grinning skulls whose mouths were sprouting mushrooms.

“Cool bucket,” the warm, grizzly bear of a shaman said with a knowing chuckle. “It’s almost a shame to purge into something so beautiful.”

The way I was welcomed into this community, by this skilled and compassionate healer, put my apprehension to rest immediately. I knew that this was exactly where I belonged. And so, at 8:30 p.m. on February 26th, 2016, my heart hammering with excitement, I held the ceremonial stone cup filled to the brim with that tannic brew to my lips and threw my head back, speaking my intentions to whoever was listening. I went back to my place in the circle and sank into my mattress, breathing into the darkness, hugging my stuffed pals, and waiting for the healing to begin. After months of seeking, after endless hours of doubt and frustration spent pursuing one dead end after another, I had finally answered the call of Ayahuasca.

By the time this article is published, I will have put that stone cup full of magic and love to my lips eight times. Every week I am not in Dieta or drinking Ayahausca, I work with mushrooms in ceremony. I micro-dose cannabis, psilocybin, LSD, or a Banisteriopsis Caapi-only (non-DMT) version of the Ayahuasca brew almost every day. I sit in Ayahuasca ceremonies with friends, and strangers who inevitably become friends through the beauty of this unifying, transformative experience. I’ve sought out membership to the Ayahuasca church of Santo Diame.

I have found a stable place to live and heal. I’m earning a little income, working to grow my own food and medicine, creating work and building my art into a thriving career. I’m even working on a portfolio so that I can go back to school for classical figurative art. I’ve started a gofundme to help with my medical expenses, aid in my recovery, get me to Peru for a month-long intensive Ayahuasca retreat and perhaps some time in Mexico with Ibogaine. 5-MeO-DMT is on my radar now, and will undoubtedly present itself to me when the time is right.

Three months have passed since that first experience. I’ve sat in the dark, crushed into a singularity by the sacred gong of my shaman, healing pounded into me by drums, my ego collapsed by the roaring of tandem didgeridoos, my heart rent wide open by a guitar strumming, “All is Welcome,” my consciousness expanded by poetry and song and silence. My passion for music has been reawakened from a decade-long slumber.

Wave after wave of healing realizations have washed over me, cleansing my spirit. I have purged, I have fainted, I have cried, laughed, even sh*t myself up and down. I have collapsed into tremors and sank into a depth of meditation I have never known. Ayahuasca has sent millions of iridescent extradimensional nanobot insect doctors swarming up my nose and into my gut to resolve decades of migraines and digestive issues. She has taught me how to be present and perform my own body work and self-massage, gracefully exploring my sinews and structures with a healing touch.

She’s obliterated the terrible will to mutilate and injure myself. She’s shown me how to arrive at the easel without a molecule of judgement in my heart, to listen and allow myself to be led in the divine process of creation. She’s taken my hand and pulled a paintbrush made of light from behind my sternum, dipping it into the the pallet of my heart, my third eye, my tears, and my sex to paint scenes of incomprehensible beauty.

I’ve communed with the uncle I lost to AIDS when I was seven who was like a father to me, whose death has haunted and pained me ever since. Cradled in his arms once again, I’ve seen his courage and kindness reflected in me, certain that he will always be there to guide me. I’ve forgiven the people who raped and abused me, and sent them pure love. I’ve learned to turn off the old radio in my head that has ceaselessly replayed the lies those poor, wounded people told me about myself for the last 20 odd years. I have rekindled relationships with family and friends I once thought lost to me forever. I’ve taken new lovers and made many new friends. But what can really be said about the summation of these experiences, of this healing, this awakening?

They say that when the disciple is ready, the Master will appear. In coming to know so deeply the beauty and wisdom of this most sacred medicine, I learned to ask humbly and sincerely for the help I need, unburdened by the acrid taste of shame in my mouth. I learned to silence the droning blare of despair and worthlessness trapped within the echo chambers of my mind, to banish the horrible murmuring of impotence and sorrow gnawing hungrily at the back of my eyes and clawing frenzied at the walls of my skull. I have showered the people I care for with love and gratitude for the support and companionship that led me to this most holy experience. In this moment, I am in debt to the congregation of parents and children, of great warriors and lovers, of brothers and sisters, of powerful healers, ancestors, and spirits who held the space for my Awakening.

But what words could ever convey the beauty in coming to understand that I already have everything I will ever need?

How can I ever again blithely refuse to be at peace?

How can I now be consumed with want when I understand that no part of me aching to possess will ever be satiated, and no part of me yearning to love will ever be left hungry?

What is left to do—when you can hear the whisper of God in every breath—but listen?

How can I ever now forget that in spite of even the most immense corporeal pain, there will always still be a reason to smile?

Who needs answers when you look upon yourself and ask, “How could I have ever forgotten how to love you?”

How do I describe the majesty of coming to feel more of that love than I have ever known, more joy and gratitude than I could possibly fathom?

I finally see that out of these twisted and gnarled roots grows the most magnificent spirit, immense in its strength and staggering in its beauty. Indescribable ecstasy pours forth as I find pride in every step of my journey, and the shame I have sat with for an eternity is burned away in the cleansing white fire of my third eye as it opens to behold the face of the Divine…

How then can I stare into the three shuddering, infinite eyes of God and ever put down my paintbrush again, knowing that my greatest source of strength is the very breath of creation flowing from the heart of the universe and out the tips of my fingers? In every stroke I convey the sacred and the profane, the visceral and the visionary, in master works of incomprehensible rapture that will forever sustain me.

Just as I was called toward the medicine, I am now called to be in service of it and walk the path of the Healer and the Shaman and the Artist. In doing so, I commune with the Divine Love in my every living moment. The Kingdom of The Plants has welcomed me into a place of pure, healing bliss.

Mother Ayahuasca has made me her humble disciple. Divorced from sorrow and rooted in the Seat of Self, I am cradled in Her lush and verdant embrace, yet again—and somehow, for the very first time, called to create radiant shadows for the gods to dance in.

Goddess Almighty, Mother Ayahuasca, I am home.

What can now be said of my journey in answering The Call, but simply…

Rest in natural great peace,
This exhausted mind
Beaten helplessly by karma
And neurotic thoughts
Like the relentless fury of the pounding waves
In the infinite ocean of Samsara.
Rest in natural great peace.

~ Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche





Author: Cataclysm

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Author’s Own

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