Monday, December 11, 2017

How After Why


Ayahuasca and Huachuma (San Pedro) work very well together -- either blended in the same cup or experienced in separate ceremonies close in time. They are quite different but complementary. I was reminded of this after a recent journey with Mother Ayahuasca -- detailed in Raki Raki Yanantin Time  Much was explored during the night, not the least of which was my questions about how we communicate with others and the world. I've heard an expert in the field of shamanism assert that a common message from shamans all over the world is simply -- the experience is not the thing, the knowledge from the experience is the thing

If this is true, should we be content on integrating this knowledge for ourselves and leave it at that? Are any of our attempts to communicate this knowledge to others a sign we don't understand on a fundamental level? Such things need to be experienced, not heard as hearsay, end of story. One person cannot tell another this knowledge. In finding a block within myself regarding this, maybe I'm channeling the Zen tradition too much. Zen is replete with koans that encapsulate the presumed paradoxes and dilemmas of living. To paraphrase one such koan, "If a person says they know about this stuff and want to tell you all about it, that's a sure sign they don't in fact know, for if they did, they'd know better than assume they could." This goes much deeper than mere reverse logic. This drives to the heart of what experience and communication is and all it can possibly be. 

Mother dissolved this logical rock and its hidden depths in her inimitable way. I guess my block and this rock would say I feel I need to share what happened and yet I can't adequately describe how she did what she did because if I thought I could, I'd certainly be broadcasting to everyone I didn't understand the process. It would be firm evidence that I'm either woefully deluded or else steeped in my own ego desire to somehow know it all. And if I can't do a good job of explaining it due to the subject matter, then what's the point of attempting communication at all?  Ah, so much for the double-binds of mind. 

There are ample signs that whole philosophies and religions have grown into influential monoliths planted in the human mind in order to deal with counterfactuals like this. They deal with it as if all of it has substance and actually needs to be dealt with. Curious. Mother Ayahuasca didn't go there. Instead, she took me to a realm beyond my rock where a single, simple directive flooded my heart -- "The most important one to communicate with is oneself. When you can do that, do that completely, all the rest falls into place. Find yourself there and you'll discover there is no rock. If you want to communicate with others, do so by experiencing full communication with yourself first. Let them see that. That's all you need do."

Forty-eight hours later, I brought this message to Grandfather Huachuma. The sacred cactus medicine took this message and ran with it. Unlike the usual conversations I have with Grandfather, this time what started as a conversation transformed into an experience. By the end of the day, it was one of the most dramatic demonstrations I've ever endured of learning by living the example. 

When I say "endured" I don't mean to imply it was unpleasant, not entirely. But medicine space shows us how some intensities shatter limits and test our ability to absorb what is being offered. Stretching limits, dissolving limits, redefining limits, call it what you will, medicine space seems to be all about finding new, personal ways of doing this. Grandfather saw I had Mother's message on my mind. He understood better than I -- she had told me what needed to be done. Whether I expected it or not, by coming to him I had now bought a ticket to experience how to do it.  Since I seemed clueless about her intention in telling me to communicate with myself, Grandfather took me to task. My conception of communication needed some serious adjustment.

Grandfather concludes serious adjustment is needed

I was lounging on a patio overlooking a verdant valley ringed by majestic mountains. The patio was up in the trees, near the sound of water flowing and flocks of birds sporatic in their dalliance, including birdcalls from the Pacific Hornero. The sky was a manic-expressive display of sun and rainclouds chasing each other in a slow-motion ballet. Micro-stormbursts confined to a single far valley or ridgeline came and went. The breeze was cool but undecided which direction it wanted to come from. It reversed direction with gusts that rippled through the leaves around me.

Over the next three hours, I was shown by example how communicating with oneself, the way Mother Ayahuasca meant, was dependent upon opening up all channels of input. Opening them all the way. Life is Being. Experience is Being. Being is life. Experience is life. Experience is the raw material. Being is the energy. Life is the raw material of the experience. Say it in any combination you like. Laugh at its simplicity, its self-referencing redundancy, its childishness. It didn't matter. Words weren't the way to experience it anyway. The fact is -- the more you open up to all that's possible to receive, the more you have to communicate with yourself - and ultimately others if that be your choice.

Grandfather swept forward with examples as experiences as gusts of wind rocked the trees nearby. Blow away all the crap prescriptions and explanations and limitations. So many devotees are steeped in method and practice. Some are all intent to raise their energy to their crown chakra. Grandfather had no patience with such preoccupations. Who the hell ever said one chakra was better than another? What kind of limiting, ego-goal is that? Grandfather was adamant -- you have all of those energy points for a reason, and the importance of each cannot be compared, ranked in specialness, or rationalized away by a voodoo desire for transcendence. It was an oxymoron anyway -- desiring transcendence -- when greed, desire, and illusion are loathed bugaboos of that kind of guru-voodoo.

Even the limitation of saying there are a certain number of chakras -- seven, twelve, how many now? Should we form a weekend conference and argue the point? He swept me past all of that. The subtle body contains a vast array of energy states and moving, intersecting points that one could spend the rest of eternity sub-dividing without end. Why get stuck on a certain number? What's the point - to isolate a particular attribute of our being? To say -- this is the sexual spot, this is the heart spot, this is the third eye spot, and on and on. Don't miss the point, implored Grandfather. What Mother Ayahuasca wanted was all of those energy points and more turned completely on simultaneously and receiving fully -- being fully in one's being, being fully in one's experience, being fully in the energy of union with life. 

What some called Kundalini energy was a sense of what this full open experience could be. Most devotees were chasing it to achieve some transcendent experience, often envisioned as a blissful state beyond the here and now. Grandfather made clear, the total communication with self really was a transcendence but one that intrinsically included the here and now in all its lowly, normal attributes. When fully activated, our experience could include this so-called lowly place we live and see it as part of the complete transcendence. Nothing in creation was to be "transcended" to experience "transcendence." Anything that transcendence could reveal to one there could be revealed here. The here and now was not usually seen as a transcendent place precisely because we weren't communicating to ourselves properly.  

Chakra Man

While some try to raise energy to their crown, others proclaimed that primal energy was located at the base of the spine. Many got lost in the metaphor of rousing, then raising this base, serpent energy to the "thousand-petaled lotus" at the crown. Grandfather swept it all away. Never mistake the state for the metaphor reminded Grandfather. Never assume the metaphor conveys the state. Metaphors are impressions and sometimes convenient guides in light of the limitations of mind. The reality of anything, by definition of that limitation, would always be so much more and most times bear little resemblance to the metaphor. One can follow a map to a scenic spot but the scenic spot will always be more than the map. No one takes a photo of the map once they reach their scenic spot. Stay focused on the experience and the knowledge to be gained from it.  

Grandfather took me into the metaphor of transcendence and blew through the wireframe oversimplications of it, replacing the convoluted tinker-toys with an expanding experience of here and now. I felt myself receiving in every which way, through every physical sense and the states of mind and intuition beyond the physical. Colors, sights, sounds, touches of minute particles of a breeze on single hairs on my arm, impressions, insights, the taste of smells wafting in subtle patterns from the trees and bushes and flowers, all intermixing and unfolding upon combined sensory groupings and emotional feedback from it all. 

As sensory input expanded, so did awareness of what I could be aware of. New depths in 3D sight pulled me into foggy clouds skirting a far mountain top. The sound of flapping wings divided into component parts of individual control feathers sending a group of birds zipping through nearby branches. Water cascading over rocks in the distance amplified to reveal a pattern in the rocks that coaxed the water to fall a certain way. There was no limit to how much I could do into the experience of everything around if I remained full-open to it. Being had no limitations although we could certainly put all sorts of elaborate constraints on it. Even with my breathing, I was implored to take in more, to always take in deep, slow breaths. As the experience intensified, a gentle rain began to fall and take me with it on its ride. Moist breezes whipped around. Small animals scattered in the trees. Hot spots of key light from lighting grid father-sky burst forth here and there. Being was a non-stop show with everyone and everything in starring roles.  

Even the feel of being settled in my body, lying back on a bench seat on the patio broadened in dimensionality. The sampling rate of everything coming to me changed all perception of time. How I could be speeding through input while the impression of it passed in near slow-motion was unfathomable. A sense of being overwhelmed and yet capable of so much more gave me a sort of motion sickness. I couldn't decide if all of this was way too much to handle or if the potential of more needed to be explored and now that the process had started, it couldn't be stopped. Had the dam broke? Was the flood upon me? On other days at various times, prompted by other medicine journeys or emotional heights, I had thought I was so into the moment, so present, so grounded in the here and now. This was an order of magnitude over and above. 

Orders of magnitude over and above

As I reeled back, max-permeated and saturated by experience all the while taken to a place where one couldn't help ever-expand into more, I felt a unified jolt through my body. For an instant, it was as if I had become a lightning rod for my own communication with myself. The energy pulsed through me, leaving me a soft mass of sensations and feeling without comment or examination, without reflection or interpretation. Only inputs now flowing through me unrestrained. In a few minutes, to my surprise, I discovered that among my heightened inputs during that lightning rod moment, I had experienced an orgasm. It wasn't so much noticed at the time it happened since every area of being was also at an equally elevated state at the same time.   

Over the next couple of hours, the experienced relaxed and settling down. A peaceful sense of connection blended with the heightened inputs from my surroundings. There was a deep sense of appreciation for all there was to experience. Grandfather made it clear -- this was not all there was to communicate with myself. This was only an example of how to do it. This was the wide-open, extreme example, the one that defined the space. I should carry the feeling of this complete input state with me always, let it inform the way I approach anything in my day. Not everything would be an extreme, full-open input overload, nor should it. That wasn't the point. I had been shown the final state, the ideal, the total deal so the feeling of it would stay with me. 

No matter how I now decided to direct my energies, no matter which things I decided to do, I should always approach them intent upon a communication with myself that took in as much of the experience as I could. As I had seen, it was possible to take in so very very much. So many people close themselves down to all there exists to experience. The result is stunted potential, misunderstandings of purpose and potential, and states where people confined themselves in an unconscious prison of limitation or reduced expectations. Such warped perspectives and partial viewpoints would never be affected in knowing onself, in knowing others, or succeeding in one's passion or purpose in the world. 

No matter what I wanted to do with people or in the world, it would be much better served if first I opened to the depths and ranges of experience, and then communicated to myself by this action. My cause or project in the world might succeed or fail, my efforts to bond with others or share whatever I thought important might fall flat -- but none of that mattered if one completed a full communication to oneself. As the shaman say -- the experience is not the thing, the knowledge from the experience is the thing. So give yourself the knowledge. This is as true in living as in a plant medicine ceremony, for after all, what's the difference? If anything, the journey of living is the ultimate ceremony. 

Full open experience

Kirlian photography has been around since 1939 when Semyon Kirlian accidentally discovered the photographic effect. Since then the subject has had its proponents and naysayers along a wide spectrum of belief, conjecture, and outright dismissal. Many scientists don't deny the effect but they are quick to explain away any paranormal implications. They often point to the fact that many factors influence the quality and intensity of the visuals produced. 

As the Wikipedia entry on the topic readily concludes -- "The coronal discharges identified as Kirlian auras are the result of stochastic electric ionization processes and are greatly affected by many factors, including the voltage and frequency of the stimulus, the pressure with which a person or object touches the imaging surface, the local humidity around the object being imaged, how well grounded the person or object is, and other local factors affecting the conductivity of the person or object being imaged. Oils, sweat, bacteria, and other ionizing contaminants found on living tissues can also affect the resulting images."

Wherever one stands on the issue, if nothing else, the Kirlian effect is a curiosity that's interesting if not thought-provoking. Analyzing patterns in the many substances tested can lead to deductive models that point to other questions, leading to more research. It can be a fun exercise to see where, if anywhere, the pursuit of inquiry takes one. I always thought that was the heart and soul of the scientific method. So what's the harm looking into the effect? It might lead somewhere, it might not. But to dismiss it out of hand in a reactionary way because some zealots jump to paranormal conclusions seems emotional, not logical (as Mr. Spock would say).

For example, here's a series of kirlian photos -- a woman's fingertip, a man's fingertip, a couple of dimes, and a leaf. Right away we can conclude that all matter exhibits the effect, not just things we've classified as "living." It may be all of matter is "living" in some regard and our way of cataloging such things is limited and inadequate. Or it may be that all of matter is actually, as the quantum folks would agree, just a form of matter. E=mc2 proved that, didn't it? Or was it the atomic bomb that demonstrated it so well? Since all of matter is energy, why shouldn't everything exhibit the kirlian effect?

Since everything has a kirlian energy signature, then the real interest shifts into how these signatures differ. Are there patterns? How do these patterns morph under different effects? Can emotions effect the patterns? Can contact with other people or objects affect the patterns? Can one's thoughts modify the patterns? What are the catalysts for change, amplification, and attenuation? So many routes of scientific inquiry have been explored.

A Kirlian Photography, female 1989
A Kirlian Photography, female fingertip 1989

A Kirlian Photography, male 1989
A Kirlian Photography, male fingertip 1989

Kirlian coins
Kirlian coins

Kirlian Photograph of a Coleus Leaf 1980
Kirlian photo of a Coleus leaf

Doing science on such things can be great if the scientists remain open to their own method. It's terrific when separate studies overlap and add to each other, filling in puzzle pieces in our understanding. Modern science, over-classified and segmented into discrete disciplines and sub-specialties, often times is hampered in achieving this synthesis. Add to this the fact that each discipline produces so much data, a scientist nowadays would be hard pressed to keep up with the latest going on in their own sub-specialty, let alone study others and work on ways to combine them. The internet has helped with this, but one can't help but feel so many opportunities to put things together are missed by the sheer volume of information pouring out. Maybe someday an AI computer will help pull it all together but right now, science is racing to keep up with itself.

Since the scientists point to moisture and humidity as one of the factors that can interfere with kirlian results, it's interesting to note the work of Dr. Masaru Emoto and his bestselling research work, "The Hidden Messages in Water."  What does it say when we combine Dr. Emoto's research with findings by the Kirlian photographers? Maybe nothing. Maybe something. If nothing else, Emoto's findings add another wrinkle to proper interpretation of the kirlian effect.

In light of Dr. Emoto's work, I find it interesting that 99% of our spinal column's CSF is water, a fluid that circulates up and down the spine and bathes the pineal gland. What effect do our thoughts and emotions have on this fluid? For that matter, what effect are we having on all the cells of our bodies since they're all 70% water. There's much to read online about the CSF process from spine to brain and back, such as the following from the Science and Non Duality site:

"The third ventricle is a space in the mid-brain filled with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)...The CSF is a conveyor of energy. An adult produces 500ml of CSF daily. While the CSF is 99% water, the CSF is also rich in proteins, ions, lipids, hormones, cholesterol, glucose, and many other molecules. The CSF is home to many neurotransmitters and signaling molecules providing an elaborate range of biological functions. The CSF utilizes volume transmission and its components can potentially be dispersed quickly and target key brain regulatory centers simultaneously due to its fluid nature. Moreover, along the third ventricle, the pineal gland makes direct contact with the CSF, and releases information directly into the CSF for volume transmission to the rest of the brain. In addition, the CSF contains the ‘spirit molecule’ DMT that is released by the pineal gland."

Regardless what all the opinions are about all of this, I still found a 2012 study in Brazil quite intriguing - especially since I've participated in quite a few Ayahuasca ceremonies. The Brazil study by Krishna Madappa included Electro Photon Imaging of an Ayahuasca Ceremony. The kirlian-type devices clearly showed that energy centers along the spine of the participants (some call them chakras) were aligned after ingesting the plant medicine. 

Beyond that, a single drop of the Ayahuasca brew was analyzed by the photographic machines. The energetic signature of that single drop was recorded. For what it's worth, in this one experimental situation, a drop of Ayahuasca displayed its energy pattern. Yes, as Wikipedia would so readily point out, many factors were in play. But the signature is still there, for what it is. Having felt the Mother plant spirit within me, I can't help but also feel an intuitive affinity to the signature I see in the video. 

Yes, naysayers can easily dismiss my affinity -- and I can easily dismiss their resistance to explore in new ways the "what-if's" that surround us. The old naysaying adage, "If you can't see it, touch it, measure it, sense it, I don't believe in it" just doesn't hold its water any longer. 

Before Geiger counters, scientists walked over rocks that emitted radioactive signatures and had no idea what they were near. Before microscopes, scientists bled people to remove the "bad humors" because they couldn't detect microbes. Before wide-spectrum telescopes, scientists believed only visible light luminous stars existed - now they routinely study x-ray and gamma-burst sources in far reaches of space. Before techniques existed to study the electrical-chemical actions of brain neurons, scientists routinely lobotomized patients to relieve adverse psychiatric conditions - now they administer a pill to correct the chemical imbalance. When was the last time your local hospital down the street performed a lobotomy? 

Think about it -- these were scientists, just as sure of themselves and dismissive of new ideas as many of those plying the same profession today. What pulled progress forward were the outliers, the fringe people, the ones who at first got laughed at and ostracized. The history of science has this pattern. Does anyone really think the pattern's stopped? Yeah, today's scientists do.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Let the owl stare at you

Shaman Schwaman, Yeah Whatever, Really?

What difference does a shaman make?
It's easy for someone to call themselves a shaman,
so does the word mean anything anymore?
Michael & Sandra Harner Ph.D's, anthropologists and experts in
shamanism described the basic attributes of a shaman to include:
  • a proficiency with certain altered states of consciousness
  • possess a means to change consciousness at will (plants, drums, etc.)
  • their journeys to other realms are for practical purposes
  • contacts one or more compassionate spirit helpers personally
  • exist among their people as persons of knowledge
  • help to solve problems with people using "non-ordinary reality"
  • and regardless where you find shamanism, there are similarities/uniformity in the shamanic terrain beyond culture and mythologies, beyond tradition and even individual experience
From my experience, there's only one way to know.
Direct experience in an altered state with a shaman present.
It would be easy to say it's one of those things
where you had to be there, there's no way else to understand. 
But it's worth the attempt to convey an example nonetheless.

Case in point.
Once upon a time there was an Ayahuasca ceremony
somewhere in South America. It had lasted over ten hours.
As the cliche goes, it was intense. Dawn had just come
and the shaman closed out the ceremony by passing around
the talking stick and then liquid tobacco for us to snuff;
he spoke to us in low, compassionate tones about all that transpired, 
he then allowed us one-by-one to say our own silent words over the central fire
as we dropped a pinch of incense into it and made it crackle. 
So far so good. Anyone calling themselves a shaman could have done this.
We had reached a point of completion and yet expectancy.
Expectancy for what? That's never certain. Even at end of ceremony,
the medicine is still present within, still doing its thing.

The shaman made the end of ceremony official by respectfully
tending to the glowing embers of the fire until they were snuffed out.
As the final wisps of smoke headed upwards to find the opening
at the top of the teepee, he paused a few moments to look at the ashes in reflection.
Then he was gone. He quickly turned and exited, leaving all of us 
floating in our experience, very attentive, but silent.
And we remained silent. There was too much to say and nothing all at once.
Either way, words would never do. Communication had become something else.

Enter the shaman. A few minutes had passed. He had left us alone with our feelings,
letting them swizzle and expand and swirl us into a mood, a mood that can't be described.
He stepped back through the teepee flap and quickly squatted down.
He said nothing. He looked around at all of us, one at a time.
He made serious, I'm-in-you and you're-in-me kind of eye contact. 
His face blended intensity, seriousness, and love with an ever-present but slight grin.
When he had finished reaching all of us individually with his eyes,
he looked down to the ground before him. In an instant, he dropped into meditation.

A little while later he picked up a small rock and rubbed it between his fingers for a minute.
Everyone was silent, entrained on him. His mood and energy told us something was coming.
In silence he made us wait. Then he reached forward and struck the little rock 
on a bigger rock lying in the dirt. Tap. Tap-Tap. The single sound of rock on rock filled the teepee. 
Then the tap pattern repeated, and repeated until the rock strikes 
tapped a simple, repetitive beat, a tribal beat. 
Over and over he tapped out this beat. What did it signify? It could be anything, Earth's heartbeat,
some kind of Morse code to the spirits in the sky, a comment on all that had happened
in the ceremonial night still so near to all of us.

The shaman's eyes fixated, unblinking, on the two rocks.
One striking the other, both forming the beat.
The beat contained its own immediacy, its own push and pull
to awareness, its own command of being what it was.
Soon, someone else in the teepee began tapping on their leg, keeping the same rhythm. 
Then someone else began clapping to the beat.
In time, more in the teepee added their versions of the same beat. 
A piece of wood was struck to another to make the beat. 
Then a woman, moved by the beat, began singing a song of spirit
and love and communion. She sang in Spanish. She sang to the beat.
Before long, everyone in the teepee had joined in somehow,
some more than others depending on how much they were still floating, 
but all were in time and tempo with the shaman's first taps. 
The beat stayed the same as the intensity rose. 

After reaching a crescendo of song and beats, 
now filling the teepee and spilling out into the cool air of dawn,
the singing stopped and the beats from all of us, one by one, 
faded and stopped. It all stopped except for the shaman.
He kept his two rocks tapping for a while,
and then he too ended the beat with a final, definitive tap.
When he did, he kept his eyes on the ground and rocks before him.
He let silence flood back into the teepee.
He lifted back out of his meditation and took a few quiet moments 
to drink it in. Then he looked up and scanned all of our eyes
once more. His knowing grin was a little wider now.

He made eye connection with all of individually,
then stood abruptly and swept out of the teepee once again.
We were left smiling and laughing and rolling back into the dirt in joy.
The whole musical performance couldn't have been more perfectly
orchestrated. It was all in the moment, spontaneous, unexpected, unrehearsed.
And yet it had transitioned through beginning, middle, and end
as if the best sound recording producers and engineers had sweated over it
long and hard. For us, it had just happened, it had flowed from us, from where we were.
We had discovered where our expectancy was going.
The shaman had taken us there, without a word spoken,
without prompts or methods or scheduled exercises.
We were not only back in the medicine, we were fully in what we needed.
We were present, we were united, we were blessed and lifted
beyond the effort and struggle of the night before into our individual healings. 
Powerful integration had begun.
We were in ecstasy.

No doubt about it.
This was a shaman.

Shaman of the Andes

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Light in the Teepee


My trip to Peru affected me more than expected. Climbing Inca ruins and feeling the energy of Cusco became a connection with people who once lived there long ago. Adding power to this were the San Pedro ceremonies, one at the Temple of the Moon and another in the Sacred Valley. They only reinforced the heartfelt energy of the place and especially the people long past whose essence still permeates the area.

I remembered standing in Plaza de Armas in Cusco, the place where in 1572 the last Sapa Inca, Túpac Amaru, spoke his last words to quiet a saddened but tumultuous crowd before being beheaded -- "Ccollanan Pachacamac ricuy auccacunac yawarniy hichascancuta" ("Pacha Kamaq, witness how my enemies shed my blood").

Túpac Amaru II
Túpac Amaru II
This was the same plaza, in Cusco, where 209 years later in 1781, Túpac Amaru's great-great-great-grandson, José Gabriel Túpac Amaru, was publically executed by the invader Christians. As one historian described the execution -- "Amaru II was sentenced to be executed. He was forced to bear witness to the execution of his wife Micaela Bastidas, his eldest son Hipólito, his uncle Francisco Tupa Amaro, his brother-in-law Antonio Bastidas, and some of his captains before his own death.

The following is an extract from the official judicial death issued by the Spanish authorities which condemns Túpac Amaru II to torture and death. It was ordered in sentence that Túpac Amaru II was condemned to have his tongue cut out, after watching the executions of his family, and to have his hands and feet tied... 

' four horses who will then be driven at once toward the four corners of the plaza, pulling the arms and legs from his body. The torso will then be taken to the hill overlooking the city... where it will be burned in a bonfire... Tupac Amaru's head will be sent to Tinta to be displayed for three days in the place of public execution and then placed upon a pike at the principal entrance to the city. One of his arms will be sent to Tungasuca, where he was the cacique, and the other arm to the capital province of Carabaya, to be similarly displayed in those locations. His legs will be sent to Livitica and Santa Rosas in the provinces of Chumbivilcas and Lampa, respectively.'"

Túpac Amaru II tortured and executed

So much for Christian love and compassion, loving your enemies, turning the other cheek, and emulating the Prince of Peace. History has amply shown all over the world -- all of that faux piety only gets lip service after the blessed clergy mercilessly wipes out anyone who doesn't agree with them, forbids their culture and language, steals their gold, and brainwashes their children to deny and forget their heritage. Just about every town in South America has a Catholic Church in the center of it and yet the genocide this represents somehow gets a pass. It's sadly instructive to see how the descendants of the original victims of this outrage even today stoically cling to the language, religion, and customs of the invaders. 

The Lamb of God

I came back to Ecuador feeling pulled by unfinished business. It was hard to tell what any of it meant. Was this merely a spiritual connection to members of a civilization long gone or a calling to be part of something now? The past and present felt intertwined in something important, a destiny of potential unfolding. If nothing else, I felt certain I needed to return to those places, if not to do something, then to receive. Receive what, who knows?

I anticipated subsidence. I expected the passing days to see the churning feeling wane. When it didn't, I sought a day surrounded by nature. Possibly being in a clear space with so many natural things to  commune with might coax the answers to come. And so I reached out to a friend. We had talked about a hike to the highest point in the Cajas Mountains, a national park west of Cuenca. Neither of us had been to this peak before but it was always a goal. Weather was a critical factor. Conditions change rapidly in those mountains, particularly at those altitudes. One does not want to be caught on a narrow ridge-line above 14k feet when stiff icy winds or rain clouds and blinding fog overtake the place. 

Long story short, we made the trek on what turned out to be a beautiful day. It took us 2-1/2 hours driving on dodgy dirt roads to get to the trail-head, arriving at 7:30 am. Nearly five hours later, we were nearing the peak. From afar we could clearly see that some kind of official marker post adorned the top. It appeared to be a white concrete obelisk chopped off flat on top. Before our last push to the summit, we rested. My friend turned around and was startled at what he saw. Right above us, in clear view, was the marker obelisk. And on it, regally perched with determined eyes scanning the lowlands all around, was a massive bird. We didn't know what kind, but on first sight one might guess it was an adult eagle. It obviously could see us but was not perturbed in the least. 

Mountain Caracara at the summit
Given my plant medicine history with bird and flight symbolism, it seemed that nature was trying to tell me something. I had gone into nature, deep and high, surrounding myself with nothing but nature, and here I was, within feet of the highest point in the Cajas. And what should be waiting for me at my goal but this massive, beautiful bird. The next day I discovered the bird was actually a Mountain Caracara, also known locally as Curiquingue. A bit more digging uncovered another connection beyond the bird symbolism from medicine space. It turns out this was the same type of bird from which the Incas collected feathers to decorate the crown of the Sapa Inca, their king. 

I imagine all of us tend to stretch the meaning and significance of "signs" we receive, but this seemed pretty obvious. Whatever I was feeling had substance and I needed to pursue it. Sure, but how? More importantly, did I know why? There was only one teacher I knew that could blast through this level of confusion and anxious curiosity and help me read the signs correctly, if indeed that's what they were. There was one teacher I trusted to help me find my own answers at this level. And so I headed south for a night with Mother Ayahausca. 

Mother Aya may be the teacher I trust but more trust is required for a successful journey. One must also trust the shaman who makes the medicine and holds the ceremony space. In that regard, I had no doubts. I had been in ceremony with this shaman multiple times before. I knew his competence and compassion all too well. But I also knew he has a subtle, almost quiet way of pre-staging the energies before ceremony. 

One of his techniques is to be coy but magically suggestive about the medicine itself. Many times he will admit to new wrinkles to the night's brew. It'll be a slightly different kind or prepared a whole different way than before. This night I was surprised and interested at his answer when I asked him about the medicine. With understated gravitas he calmly dropped the bomb that this medicine was not brewed like any before -- this brew had been buried for two months until it fermented. Other things happened in the preparation after that. He wouldn't go into the whole preparation method, but his manner and expressions implied the result was something special.

Four participants shared their intentions around the fire in the teepee. Mine were vague but swirled around the energies gathered from my trip to Peru and the subsequent nudges from elsewhere that hadn't abated since I returned. Surprisingly, the shaman shared his own intentions for the night, which were quite personal. I was quite impressed by his honestly, humility, connection to us, and lack of ego-need to present himself as the all-wise guru with no work to do anymore on himself. 

Far from suggesting I should question his abilities, the personal way in which he shared what was going on with him only confirmed how confident I was in him. I admired how he kept things in perspective. He was not the medicine, nor was he the spirit teacher, although he understood it and the realms it gave access to far better than any of us did or probably ever would. He was simply a knowledgeable, insightful guide into the intensely personal and infinite beyond. He did not control those mystic realms any more than a Sherpa controls the steep slopes of Everest. But if you were going to the mountaintop, he was the best one by your side. Beware of any shaman who feels he or she needs to play the role of shaman as expected by ceremony participants. 

My journey started with subtle visuals that grew more intense as I focused on them. Elaborate and colorful geometric patterns corkscrewed and fractalled with intent and design to a seductive vanishing point. At first there was gold movement on black, then bursts and patterns of colors got woven in. The rounded gears of perfectly-meshed movement grew ever more complex, composed of fine webbing and morphing filigree. I watched and meditated on what feelings were coming up but mostly I noticed something else. I saw how, as my interest increased, so did the complexity of the visuals, as did my desire to see where the evolving movement went. 


Although the pattern and color of the movement never repeated, there developed a feedback loop. Drawn to be interested, I watched the movement get more complex, at which I got more interested, thereby spawning more intricate movement and color patterns, which only drew more interest. There was no end to how involved the movement and patterns became. Just when I thought the dizzying multiplex couldn't get more surprising and interesting, it effortlessly slid to the next level. If I intended to wait for the ultimate movement, the final shape, the best color combination, the most significant revelation within the patterns, I'd be waiting in perpetual awe. One thing was certain - it was terribly difficult to pull my attention away.

Up until then, I hadn't heard Mother Ayahuasca's voice. So I called out to her. I let her know, while the visuals were wondrous and captivating, I didn't want to spend my entire ceremony enthralled in multi-various morphs of sacred geometry kaleidoscopes. I needed to go deeper and explore the things I had brought to ceremony on my heart and mind. No sooner had I put out this intention than the chaotically perfect visuals diffused into darkness. 

Not only was I a bit surprised that I could direct my journey so immediately, I felt Mother approved of me being aware enough not to get stuck in low-level dazzle. If anything, the visuals had been a test of sorts. She was testing if I had integrated her message about avoidance of going down rabbit holes that were ultimately negative or didn't serve me, no matter how entertaining or distracting they might be. It was the lesson from a previous ceremony months before -- "recognize and interrupt."

Freed from this rollercoaster dazzle ride, I floated through a rich blackness, an energized abyss that began pulling thought and feeling out of me like inter-soulular dust and gas amassing from its own gravity arising in the subconscious void. Before long, Mother and I were in conversation. Her voice was soft, almost whispery, and yet her awareness and the impact she intended was hyper-vigilant. It started with my concentration on the energies from Peru. It swirled and gathered mass with the feeling that something needed to be done or received. It achieved critical density when stories of Eagle and Condor flying together met Q'ero tribal prophesies and questions if any of us had a role to play to help with anything needing to be done. 

energized abyss

Some say it's wise to take pause before getting too wrapped up in seemingly worthy causes. The common adage from Carl Jung would have us believe "what we resist, persists." This would have us believe it is much better to affect change only by our example than by fighting against anything. The energy of opposition only increases what you fight and often times makes you become what you are trying to eliminate. One does not erase hate by hating hate. One does not stop war by battling those who would wage it.  

But does the same hold true for communications? If we try to reach the world with messages from spirit about our need to reconnect with the Earth and ourselves, are we not fighting, resisting other ideas? Ideas resist other ideas, so if we try to communicate what we've gotten from spirit, are we not resisting something else, thereby encouraging it to persist? Metaphorically, can the spirit wisdom of the condor ever help balance the greed and technocratic, planetary destructiveness of the eagle? What if the messages held in ancient wisdom from spirit are never communicated for new generations? 

Without diligent communication of the message to reconnect to spirit, any example set by those who try to integrate these healing messages are easily overwhelmed. The influential juggernaut of scientifically-manipulative media and mesmerizing, ego-and-greed based memes continue to drive consumption culture. Resisting this maelstrom by example alone doesn't seem enough to heal the planet and steer us away from self-destruction. 

Worse yet, even the messages from spirit, in many ways, have been co-opted by the profit-motive machinery of ego. Whole industries have grown up around New Age and spiritual concerns, with the result that many in the masses gloss over or ignore the messages because they assume they're being communicated merely for financial gain with little import or genuineness. It's nothing but the latest hyped production from some self-proclaimed guru living in their eco-friendly mansion. Far from being altruistic, the true motive is assumed to be a gathering of followers who are coaxed to be self-help addicts desperate to feel better about their lives and stave off pangs of repressed fears about their mortality. 

This "enlightened" collective will gladly purchase the latest twist in the ever-complicated good news and thus feel good about themselves, maybe even spiritually superior. In such a toxic environment, how can one's good example or healing communications ever hope to counter-balance the scientific materialism of an ever-encroaching global corporatocracy that has no qualms destroying the planet or crushing people's souls if it means a fatter bottom line?

I suddenly noticed that the conversation had become one-sided. I was spinning off, gathering more into my concerns and arguments but Mother Ayahuasca had gone silent. It became obvious - my flurry of questions and conjecture was only the tip of a "gneiss-berg" (gneiss is a type of rock) extending below the surface into shifting tidal forces of emotion that ebbed and flowed in a vast sea of energy within me but emanated from everywhere. This "gneiss-berg" was a rock of hardening patterns of mind, not a simple iceberg that floated before me. 

My perspective slowly telescoped back until I was no longer in and of that rock but beyond it, watching it float in a sea of displaced spacetime. The "gneiss-berg" was not me but something my energies had created. Once manifested, I had allowed myself to go into it, trying to find the far reaches of its hidden depths. It was definitely a hazard to navigation. Layers and striations and moving bands of intent and shades of meaning snaked around and through the rock. In an instant I saw it for what it was. It was the condensation of where I had let my energies go. 


Now that this rock existed, I could involve myself with it as long as I wanted. In all likelihood, it would enlarge. As it did, the layers and striations and moving bands would intensify and grow more complex. The realization hit me with a flash of concern -- my "gneiss-berg" could endlessly fascinate and engage with me -- just like the multi-various morphs of sacred-geometry kaleidoscopes I saw at start of ceremony. What had I done? Only replaced one non-serving distraction for another? 

Mother's voice was near. If I didn't want to spend my entire ceremony enthralled by endless fascinating visuals, then why had I turned around and created the same thing in a different way with my own energies? My perspective widened to see my "gneiss-berg" as a self-reinforcing, paradoxical double bind. Having accepted that I'm subject to these influences and concerns and there needed to be something done about them, I could never be sure of the validity of any doubts or reservations about one course of action or another. Were they simply the product of my own unconscious limitation to see the whole picture more thoroughly? And so, ever more energy needed to be pumped into the equation. 

To simply walk away from it was out of the question because obviously it was tangible in my heart and mind. Where that tangibility came from was a moot point once it was there requiring attention. To deny its importance flew in the face of what all the layers and striations and moving bands kept reinforcing. If anything, the more I went into it, the more important it became. Even the method of "recognize and interrupt" would be hard pressed to penetrate the cult-of-self conditions I was gathering into solidity with my own energies. While there may be real matters to consider very near to me, the way I was going about it would only have me endlessly chasing the far horizon.

I could not believe how effortlessly, unconsciously I had substituted my questions and concerns for the engaging visuals at start of ceremony. But the sinking feeling was there -- both were taking me towards a no-convergence point, one I would never reach and gained nothing by the attempt. As soon as I absorbed the full import of what she showed me, I felt such a release of dismay at what I had done. I felt I needed to apologize to myself and Mother for where I had allowed things to go, not only in ceremony but in the weeks leading up to it. 

As soon as this understanding mixed with repentance and relief, everything changed. Unlike the chaotic visuals from before, the "gneiss-berg" didn't just fade like a be-speckled fog. The floating rock simply winked out of existence, leaving behind a living void. The suddenness of its disappearance was felt as heat, an ache welling up from my feet and rushing to my head. I had to purge and the urge was strong. But this purge wasn't going to be through the mouth. I struggled to my feet in the dark, hurried from the teepee, then followed the path through cool blackness to the jungle toilet.

Does it really matter where you have your transcendent experience? If it's truly transcendent, I don't think so. As humorous as it might seem now, that night I had mine sitting out in the open, darkness all around, while purging into a hole in the ground. In those moments I released my "gneiss-berg" so to speak. For quite a while after, still wavering in energetic excess and high frequency fluctuations, I sat not knowing if I could maintain control over a body I had left. It was all I could do not to release fully into the experience and simply let my body flop off the toilet and roll away on the ground.

In time, I managed to stand and walk back to the teepee. I wobbled outside and attempted to maintain a spacetime presence. Spatial relationships and movement of my muscles altered in alien ways. The ground appeared so far away. My legs were jellied noodles of sparking energy. My feet were frequency patterns interfacing with Pachamama. My inner sight received only a fraction of what was being perceived from my eyes. Nature was all around and I knew I couldn't leave it and duck back into the teepee. With some effort I sat on the ground and felt everything settle around me in welcome.

I felt too good to be in my skin. I felt too expansive to be in one place. I felt too cleansed to have a thought. The night cradled me as I birthed new feelings of peaceful contentment. After timeless release into it, I began to settle more into my body. As I did, I began to feel chilled. I changed position to hug my knees to retain heat. As I did, the heat gathered at my feet and intensified up my body. 

When the heat reached my head, another purge gathered within. This time it was through the mouth. It came from deep within, below my stomach, beyond any physical part of me. When it was over, a rush of peaceful contentment rippled through me until I floated away again. This time, I floated among fireflies that flitted all around. They were real fireflies, not hallucinations, and yet the way they looked to me in my condition might as well been an inspired flight-of-fancy masterpiece by Vincent Van Gogh.


Over the next two hours, I went through three cycles of peace, then cold, then heat, then purge. Each time a deeper level of peace was gained and a more intense purge was required. After the last purge, Mother gave me a vision fully-formed, something I can only describe as the four offerings. It was a thought-form, complete in the instant, explaining the four stages of help Mother was willing to offer anyone who approached her with right body, right heart, right intentions, and with gratitude and a willingness to surrender to what was needed and then do the work to move through it. The vision was so complete, I've described it elsewhere  -- Ayavision -- The Four Offerings

During all of this, the shaman played music and sang icaros. More than once he came out of the teepee to ask me if I was all right, how I was doing. In time, he re-lit the central fire and I returned to my blanket by it. Much later, the shaman would remark on my night's journey. His eyes showed he had felt its significance. He noted, given my past experience at ceremonies with him, I was the last one he expected to spend so much time by myself outside the teepee in middle of ceremony. 

After the fire burned out, all of us rested until dawn. The shaman brought out liquid tobacco snuff to sharpen our awareness and focus at the close of ceremony. Soon after, we took turns receiving Kambo. For the next two hours the jungle frog venom worked through us, completing the cleansing and chasing away leftover errant energies from the night before.

I walked from the shaman's house. All the while along the mountain path back into town I felt more than rejuvenated. A healing was taking place, one I would need to complete by integrating the essence of it into daily life. Some healings act on the sores and maladies we possess. Other healings, as I found out, act on the maladies and patterns that possess us. Possession by bad energies does take place, but it's not done to us by some external demon. We do it to ourselves which, as it turns out, is much more insidious. 

We create the ride that's fun or interesting or so important -- at first. But then it becomes something we can't get off. No longer are we riding the ride. The ride is riding us, then it becomes us. At that point, the question on how to get off doesn't make any sense. Of course, someone could simply explain this to me and I'd accept or reject it. But even if I accepted it, how far would I take it in and act on it? How easy would it be to fall back into old patterns? Those are very comfortable patterns, even if we can't see they're nothing but self-reinforcing paradoxical double-binds. Mother wasn't going to tell me this. With a one-two punch, using pretty visuals and then my own juggernaut of a mind, she took me there instead. For that, I'm forever grateful.

Walking down into town, Mother's spirit was with me, as was her lesson. And what had become of all my concerns about our possible role in resolving the issues of our time? Mother assured me --  nothing she had put me through ever said we should do nothing or turn our backs on communicating what our heart has received. The difference is in the way we approach it. Realize that forces and cycles and balances have and always will work themselves out according to the natural flows and infinite designs of source. We can help it along but it doesn't serve anyone or anything to lose ourselves in the attempt. Now may indeed be a time when the balance needs to swing back towards a re-connection to spirit. But we shouldn't underestimate spirit or the cosmic-scale cycles in play. She reminded that the forces and powers of the eagle also had many positives. It should never be about which was correct, which would win, condor or eagle -- it was about the coming together of the best elements of both.

We may think that the massive greed-monster of corporate materialism is about to swallow the planet and yet she reminded me -- every monster already contains the seeds of its own demise, otherwise it wouldn't be a monster. Gigantic edifices that can't be scaled by lowly peasants eventually crumble from within. The greatest darkness is penetrated by a single torch. The action of water eventually brings down the highest mountain. The metaphors are endless. As should be our belief in what we claim to represent. Go forward, but calmly, confidently, at peace in the knowledge that the balance is inescapable. 

Yes, what I've called Raki-Raki Yanantin Time will come. But it's not something to fight for. It's inevitable. When we know that, we help to manifest it, possibly sooner than it would otherwise come. How would you act if you knew with certainty that a healed planet and a re-connection with spirit will happen by moving ahead in resolute peace? That's the way to place energies that draw all of us into that future. Don't fight for a future you fear won't happen. Fear will only delay the inevitable for that is the nature of fear. Be peaceful in knowing that's where it's all going. It's in the design. There's no other way. Communicate it, yes. Point out where things are going wrong and in doing so wake up anyone lost and conditioned not to see. But above all, pass on the peace of knowing. Maybe not in my lifetime or yours, but eyes will someday open and a new synthesis as an expression of balance will be established. Rest assured, Spirit is not going away.

In the Quechua language:
raki-raki  ~ when two things are separate that should be together
yanantin  ~ harmonious relationship between two different things

Prophetic Legacy

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


ascendancy of tree
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cathedral of nature once again
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human society back in proper perspective
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