Friday, November 25, 2016

Grandfather San Pedro

2 Days with Grandfather Huachuma (San Pedro)

Huachuma or San Pedro (Trichocereus pachanoi, T. peruvianus and other species) is a South American plant teacher. The shamans and healers (curanderos) of the Peruvian Andes have used the Huachuma visionary brew since ancient times. At the Jaguar temple of "Chavín de Huantar" in the northern highlands of Peru, a carving of a mythological being holding a Huachuma cactus was found. The carving has been dated as 3,500 years old. At another Chavín archaeological site, the remains of cigars made from the cactus were also discovered.

The sacred cactus was known to the native peoples of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia by many names - wachuma, huachuma, achuma, chuma, cardo, cuchuma, huando, gigantón, hermoso, pene de Dios, and aguacolla. After the Christian influence swept through South America, the native peoples began calling the cactus San Pedro after Saint Peter. They say San Pedro, like Saint Peter, has the keys to heaven. Today the most popular name for the cactus and the medicine brew derived from it remains San Pedro.

Ancient San Pedro Glyph

The main entheogenic alkaloid in the Huachuma cactus, concentrated in the green outer skin, is mescaline but over thirty other alkaloids have been identified, some of which are also psychoactive.  Such additional alkaloids include tyramine, hordinenine, 3,4-dimethoxy-4-hydroxy-B-phenethylamine, 3-methoxytyramine, anhalaninine and anhalonidine – to name a few. As yet, not much is known about the other alkaloids or their combined effects. As least not much is known in scientific journals. The shamans and ceremony participants, on the other hand, can testify very vividly as to the effects.

The Grandfather San Pedro experience has been described as:

  • sacred and heart-opening
  • potent and transformative
  • a rich tapestry of intuitive insights
  • a connection to the Divine Spirit
  • a centering on well being and the wisdom of true Self
  • holistic and visionary
  • a dissolution of one's busy stream of thoughts
  • re-connection with stillness and nature
  • an opening to interconnection to all that is
  • consciousness-expanding into where understanding is born
  • transport to the fundamental mysteries through silence
  • an awakening to higher states of awareness
  • revelations of the magic of being
  • visually intensive
  • soul searching
  • euphoric
  • spiritual
  • a merging of visible and invisible worlds
  • passages to ecstatic realms
  • a rekindling of enthusiasm for life
  • a timeless interpretation and resolution of life events
  • a revelation of the soul's purpose
  • a rapid but gentle sojourn across time, matter, distance
  • a blooming of the subconscious
  • a deep healing of the physical and emotional states within us

My two days with the San Pedro medicine followed three consecutive days of Kambo ceremonies at another location nearby. Kambo is derived from the venom of the Amazon “Giant Monkey Frog.” It produces an intense purge experience that rids the body of toxins and the "panema" that clouds and drags down the emotional/energetic self. [You can read about my Kambo ceremonies via this LINK]. My plan was to let the Kambo cleanse me so I'd be better prepared to accept the teachings of the San Pedro medicine. I also adopted a cleaner diet in the days before the ceremonies. Alcohol, sugar, and red meat were greatly reduced or eliminated altogether, as were heavy spices. The amount of food I ate in general was also reduced while the intake of water increased. For twelve hours before the start of ceremony, I fasted.

By the time my wife and I arrived at the San Pedro site early in the morning on the day of the first ceremony, I felt better than ever. I was still infused with the clarifying after effects of Kambo and Rapé. I had the unusually pleasant sensation of being more grounded while still sensing I was floating. I had a strength of spirit and body and an renewed awareness entrained on the present moment. Every moment was sharply in focus but with a gentleness that glided me ever more deeply into an appreciation of nature and the people around me. It's exactly where I wanted to be energetically, emotionally, and physically before back-to-back days traveling away with Grandfather San Pedro to what promised to be rich introspective highlands.

LINKS to my wife's San Pedro Experience:   Part 1   Part 2

My wife and I were to be in the ceremony with a very good friend and his friend, who we had just met. The ceremonial space was ideal - a small house with a large open-air covered patio in the Ecuadorian mountains. On the upper level of the property were our patio beds, a hammock, wicker chairs and table for relaxing, soft music playing, and a larger table where much later in the evening we would eat dinner. Lush gardens surrounded the patio and nearby was a large Toé, "angel's trumpet" or "Witchcraft Plant" that was in full bloom with large white flowers that hung down. Toé has gotten a bad reputation because some unscrupulous Ayahuasqueros spike their brew with Toé to make sure the touristy psychonauts gets the zowie-wowie trip they expect on the first try. Except, Toé's effects are unpredictable and zombie-like at times, inducing a stupor of profound suggestibility that renders one beyond vulnerable. Combined with Ayahuasca in uncertain mixtures, the concoction can be harrowing if not dangerous. It's interesting to note that our San Pedro facilitator mentioned that on the day the angel trumpets are finally in full bloom, the bees flock to the tree's blooms and "go crazy" sipping nectar and gyrating around in frenzied, unaccustomed ways.

A short walk down a path through the gardens led to the lower level of the property. There I found a variety of trees and large rocks edging a rushing river. I knew right away that the sound of the flowing water would be a perfect complement to a day-long meditation. Added to the enjoyable setting was a fun and friendly dog named Squiggles who tagged along. Huge, puffy white clouds glided over the rugged terrain as warm, refreshing breezes sweep through the tall trees. I returned to the open covered patio just in time to settle in and join the others for the start of ceremony.  The breezes were now playing with the row of small prayer flags that lined the patio roof on one side. It was as if the wind itself was reciting the many Tibetan inscriptions all at once. 

We pulled long mats into a circle and sat down. Then the facilitator began with a solemn prayer that acknowledged the Great Spirit in nature and asked for guidance before invoking the blessings of the four directions - north, south, east, and west. Afterwards, we stated our intentions for the day. The atmosphere was reverent and heartfelt. My wife went first, then I, then our good friend, then his friend who speaks Spanish and only a little English. It was amazing, even though I could not understand most of what the Spanish speaker was saying, the way he said it, the tone of his voice, his posture, his warmth and openness spoke volumes, making literal translation unnecessary. As far as my own intention, it was easy to summarize -- "I would like guidance and exploration of three words as they relate to my feelings: futility, hopelessness, and meaningless."

The facilitator then poured four cups of the green San Pedro liquid from a tall plastic container. One-by-one he handed them to us and asked us to meditate on our intentions. When we felt ready to drink, drink it all down. He passed around a bowl of hard candy in case anyone wanted something that could quickly get the bitter taste of the medicine out of our mouths. I took a wrapped candy just in case but suspected I wouldn't need it. Besides, after eliminating sugar from my diet for so many days in preparation for the ceremony, I thought it counter-intuitive at best and disrespectful at worse to give San Pedro a chaser of sugar to start the day of healing.

Each of us drank down the brew when the time was right. Some meditated longer before drinking while others drank right away then meditated after. Within a few minutes, our silent meditation circle was complete. The facilitator got up, signaling that we were free to go wherever we wanted. We had been told when we first arrived that we probably wouldn't feel any different for 20-40 minutes after drinking the brew. During that time, some could experience nausea and might even purge, which was natural based on what the medicine found within us and what was needed in preparation before the journey.

It was a good time to think about where we wanted to settle in for the initial onset of the journey. We each silently went our own way. The attractive pull of the river led two of the four of us to grab a mat and head immediately down the trail. With the energy and sharpened presence of the Kambo strong within me, I felt imbued with energy and focus for the day. If anything, the combined effects of frog spirit and the Rapé made me feel like I had stepped into an exosuit of immense clarity and power. There was no way I wanted to go settle down someplace - not yet. I was too involved in the moment with too much impulse to move and be a part of everything around me.

Over the next half hour I wandered the property, much of the time with Squiggles playfully scooting along at my side or out in front in anticipation of play. I wandered the patio, I listened to the music, I talked to the facilitator about San Pedro brew preparation while he carefully sliced up some newly-harvested cactus, I inspected the gardens, I enjoyed the feel of the rocky dirt trail to the riverside down and back several times, I cleared brush from a big rock to sit on then sat and examined the patterns in the flow of river water, I relished the variety of nature around me and felt the strong Equatorial sun rising me into the moment like a fine artisan dough being baked to perfection.

The Rock
The Rock
There was no way of knowing when my journey began. I only knew I was well into it by the time I realized something was different. I was still sitting by the river but my mind had wandered. I was now somewhere my consciousness hadn't caught up with yet. But my emotions had and that made all the difference.

To describe the process of communion with Grandfather San Pedro in words will forever be inadequate. I might as well try to generate a holographic thought bubble out of newly mined quintessence then rotate it in twelve dimensions in front of you. On a journey with him time is different, space is different, your inner monologues are different even as your emotions plunge deeper and shine clearer. The flotsam and jetsam of self-talk remains but it's muted as one inhabits a body with a spirit hovering above with wise instruments of perception brought to bear. Louder than the endlessly droning self-talk I heard a new voice. The voice can take many forms for many people. For me, the voice was as deep and strong as it was compassionate and loving. It was as if I was online with a strong Inca warrior chief who had a heart of gold far richer and purer than anything Francisco Pizarro ever laid his hands on.

Grandfather San Pedro was also a presence. When the moment called for it, he needn't talk to get his messages through. He was quite capable of putting me on telepathic speed dial. He was amazingly adept at massaging my emotions into a tapestry of present time examples and earlier life memories that evoked realizations, inspirations, and insights I could feel before I had any chance to ruminate about them. And that was the point, I guess. Bypass all front stage antics where the sound and fury of the ego galloped around in melodramatic bluster and slip backstage where the controlling ropes and pulleys of the production were tied in knots.

River San Pedro
The River
"Why are you sitting by a beautiful river, thinking about thinking?" The laughter I heard was more sensitive and sympathetic than condescending. But it did make a sharp point nonetheless. I heard the strong voice ask me - "What would you be doing in the moment if you were at this same place as a boy?" My self-talk didn't have time to hold a conference and then debate possible answers. Immediately, I was swept back more than fifty years. I wasn't thinking about being that boy -- I WAS that ten year-old boy again. And the landscape around me transformed. The energy and focus instilled by the Kambo also lit up with wonder and a sense of adventurous fun. Everything was interesting, everything could be an opportunity for amusement and discovery.  Without hesitation, my impulse leaped nearby, to a small branch, fallen off a tree. That could be transformed into three - no, maybe FOUR sticks of the perfect size to toss in a game of fetch. I set to work immediately snapping the sticks to the proper size and stockpiling them on my rock for the rounds of anticipated play. Before I knew it, I was up and running with Squiggles.

I guess, instead, I could have reclined on a couch in an office somewhere and had someone potentially clever-talk me into exploring myself week after week for $120/hour until I realized I needed to reconnect with the energies and positive spirit I had as a boy. And maybe I would have gotten it. But this romp by the river was immediate and it was experiential and raw experience is always better than the "optimal cognitive reference given the diagnosed syndrome." No clever-talk needed. No co-pays or endless prescriptions for the latest pharmaceuticals to dumb down the annoying symptoms of distress. And best of all, I had the confidence that Grandfather San Pedro did not have a house or boat with a monthly payment that depended on me returning as long as possible to work on my issues.

And I didn't know it at the time, but this initial river experience was more complex and interwoven with other work San Pedro was going to do on me later in the day. It was as if Grandfather San Pedro was out of time. He understood where all of this was going before I ever sat down on that rock. No psychiatrist could ever be that prescient, that prepared, that genius in positioning something in hour one that wouldn't become apparent until I asked them a question in hour nine.  

The process was a widening spiral that endlessly folded back on itself to reinforce the fact that the movement that was happening was all within. One emotion triggered one experience. That experience would then set up a trigger for a hundred other emotions that fed into other experiences. Grandfather San Pedro sorted through each flood of emotion instantly to highlight the critical element that he drove into the next experience. "Why are you sitting by a beautiful river, thinking about thinking? Go play like the boy you were and feel what life can be again. OK, you know that boy again - you ARE that boy again. What else does that boy feel?

What else is deep in there? Is he lonely? Would he like to be playing with his father but his father never plays? The experience of hiking in the hills with only my dog for companionship triggered more emotion. That emotion triggered another experience. The boy really wants to be like the father, to learn to be a man, to feel the man-to-man friendship that only father and son can have. Shot back through more experience, the boy feels more emotion. The new, deeper emotion triggers another experience. I'm an older boy, collecting surrogate father figures from history and popular culture. I feel the piecemeal construct of fatherhood providing only a stopgap for the innate desire for love from a real father.

Most of this progression was accomplished with only a few words interchanged. Only key phrases and questions were needed in the artfully-crafted unraveling of the interior landscape.  Emotion and experience evoked each other. At no time did the journey get lost in non-productive detours. Even things external to me folded into the lessons. At a moment I slipped into negative self-talk, the voice would interrupt with a question, asking what did I used to like to do. Right away, before my mind could even think of a possibility, a boy on a motorcycle shot down the road on the other side of the river. Immediately, I was swept back to the years of fun I had riding motorcycles in Southern California. More experience evoking more emotion triggering more experiences. 

And so the day went. Hour after hour. Deeper and deeper, Grandfather San Pedro drove me into myself. The complexity of connections and interlocking insights blended with experiences from my past are far too involved and intricate to ever be able to relate in detail here. All I can hope to do is sketch an outline of what I was shown, how I was made to feel, and what it ultimately meant in the way of deep healing.

Finally, early in the afternoon, at a particularly intense emotional moment, when my boy's heart was aching in innocent surrender to the painful feelings of loneliness and yearning for my father's attention and love, the voice came through strong but soft -- "I'll be your father."

I knew in my core how sincere and genuine the voice was. The sense of fulfillment and release became a cascade, a catharsis flowing in and out of me. The rushing river nearby reinforced the washing away of so much I had held onto, carried around for decades, and ultimately couldn't reconcile - until then. San Pedro showed me how I could let it all go in the flow. I could stand by the river and watch it all get swept away. He had me do it. And I watched with the fascinated wonder of anyone witnessing magic happen before their eyes.

I felt so good about myself. I started to play the fetch-the-stick game with Squiggles again. For fun, I started faking him out by pretending to throw the stick but keeping it in hand. It was hilarious to see him all flustered running after the disappearing stick. Then I started throwing the stick straight up when he thought it was going forward. Once again, it was fun to see him caught in the dramatic suspense of not knowing where it went. Then I tried showing him how the stick was going up. I wanted to teach him to look up and follow the stick. Eventually, he did and I felt the pride of accomplishment. In the moment, my self-talk made its own connections -- San Pedro had told me that everything teaches and learns from everything else. I could see an example of this in how San Pedro taught me and now I was teaching Squiggles. Instantly, San Pedro was amused at the thought I was teaching Squiggles...

"You're not teaching that dog anything. That dog did that to teach YOU the folly of such pride. Yes, we teach and learn from everything else, but you are not above anything else. It is all one. You are learning from yourself as much as the dog is learning from itself. Nothing is better than anything else in this. Only by setting yourself apart do you fall into that kind of thinking."


The gratitude poured out of me toward "Father" San Pedro.  As before, as I discovered at another plant medicine ceremony I've attended over a year before that mixed Ayahuasca with San Pedro -- the greatest feelings of healing come at the moment your own gratitude for what is being received pours out of you. Some say if feels like angel kisses all over, some call it transcendent tingles, others describe it as trillions of tiny hands applauding in joy over your skin. However one tries to recount the feeling, it is undeniable - when you feel it, you know a healing has taken place.

Feeling terrific, I returned to the house and patio where everyone was wandering in to get a serving of fresh fruit that the facilitator cut up in a bowl and left to soak in its own blended juices. He had told us earlier that the mid-day fruit was a good way to get a "bump" into the afternoon, sending our San Pedro journey even deeper for the remaining hours. It has something to do with the digestive enzymes stimulated by the food also making possible a more complete absorption of the San Pedro medicine filtering through the system. Besides, even if there wasn't a "bump" with the medicine, the taste of fruit while in the middle of the journey was awesome.

After five hours of the journey so far and having moved through so much to accomplish such a breakthrough, I felt assured within myself that I could expect a pleasant, meditative ride through the remaining hours of the afternoon. But "Father" San Pedro knows the difference between triumphing in a battle and winning the war. My hike down to the river soon became a hike back through the years. I wouldn't realize this until much later, but it was as if I needed certain things resolved before the real work could begin. There were issues the boy had. The surrogate fathers from history and popular culture might have been a clever workaround for a boy trying to figure things out - but those workarounds could never be a replacement for a real father. 

With "Father" San Pedro now at my side, that was a boy's issue that I had now experienced a release from. The boy needed the feeling of having a father who was there for him always whenever he wanted to talk, to pal around, to do guy stuff with. That kind of connection was necessary for being receptive to the deeper lessons to come. And that connection had been made.

But what else was going on with that boy? Was there something else within the boy that he held onto so tightly that the man the boy had become had to live with it his whole life? Once again, suggestions led to emotions that transported me into experiences. Without even thinking about it, I was back as the boy again. The situations from the past drug me down into more emotion. More emotion triggered more vivid experiences. Whether I wanted it or not -- the "bump" was about to happen.

Again and again I was taken through experiences with a common theme. It was a theme that was ever raw but one I had put away on a back shelf where I kept my most intense feelings. I was a small boy, then older, then a bit older. The situations shifted but key elements remained the same. I was playing with toys on the living room floor. I was helping my father clean the garage. I was out doing yard work with my father. Wherever it was, something would happen, whether I had noticed it or not. My father would see something I was doing or had done. His intense anger would flare. He would shout at me - "DON'T YOU HAVE ANY COMMON SENSE?"

In most of these situations I had joined my father in order to be with him. I wasn't particularly interested in cleaning the garage or doing yard work, but the natural instinct to want to bond with him was strong. Implicit in the need for that bond was a need for his love. And yet, no matter what I did, where it was, his bad mood would ignite and the same put-down would be shot at me - "DON'T YOU HAVE ANY COMMON SENSE?"

I couldn't help but submerge in a dark, murky despair. What had happened to all the good feelings and the healing breakthroughs from this morning? Why would "Father" San Pedro drag me through this? His answer wasn't direct. His suggestions and questions led me deeper. Telepathically, it was made clear - the only way out was through.

The next two hours are hard to explain. I can only sum it up with three words -- emotions, experiences, connections. I was taken on a journey within a journey where my psyche got deconstructed. I was made to experience myself with the razor-sharp skills of a lawyer taking apart a key witness and the precise level of detail of a sub-atomic physicist dissecting bubble-chamber data for the God particle. None of it was explained by San Pedro but it was obvious he was architecting the process. He led me through a landscape of myself and my father that got me to realize the salient connections for myself. It was an intense exercise of emotional intelligence that pulled back the covers on that deeply buried shelf where the things with my most intense negative feelings rotted away.

At the end of three hours, "Father" San Pedro laid out the journey within the journey and made me put it all together in a summary. The afternoon sun was brilliant through the trees. I hiked up to a secluded spot at the edge of the property where I could overlook the river. There I did my summary.

I saw a boy who desperately wanted the love of his father. The father's depressive nature ignored the boy and his intense anger lashed out with - "DON'T YOU HAVE ANY COMMON SENSE." The boy hopelessly tried to find a way to remedy the situation. The only way to "have common sense" and get his father's love, it seemed, was to figure out every situation so well in advance that all problem areas could be mitigated. This "figuring out" would also extend into the active moment. Moment by moment, the scrutiny would have to continue. This would mean the boy would have to anticipate all variables and analyze what could happen. And so the boy got better and better at analyzing things. Surely, with everything analyzed ahead of time, the boy would then have common sense - and having common sense was obviously the key to changing his father's heart. But no matter how much the boy analyzed the situations he shared with his father, the love the boy sought was not forthcoming. Over time, the boy sensed it was futile and yet there was nothing else to do but try. For a boy who didn't fully understand the situation, only futility and hopelessness resulted from his search for love.

The years went on but the boy's impulse to get that love never waned. As a man, he got very good at analyzing things. In fact, it formed the basis of his whole life's career. And yet, no matter how many things the man analyzed over the past 50 years, none of it ever got the father's love for the wounded boy still trapped inside. I sunk with each revelation as it came. Now the man I am doesn't even know whether or not analyzing things means anything at all. Who is this man if all he ever was resulted from a boy's misunderstanding on how to get love? The man spent his whole life being very good at something that really wasn't him -- it was just a terribly flawed reaction to a situation he didn't understand how to deal with. What would the boy have become if instead of analyzing everything to get love, he had the love he sought? And so, there's meaninglessness.

"Father" San Pedro was not content with my summary. I was shown how within it was spun too much self-talk borne out of the same misunderstanding that started the problem in the first place. San Pedro took me to task. He directed me to examine the shape of trees around me. The push of the wind had bent them into the shape they were but they were not flawed. They didn't fret over worries that they had become something that wasn't them. Then he directed all his might to the past. He was stern and direct and would not stand for me feeling sorry for myself. Piercing insights hit me one after another ---

"You were not hurt! There is nothing to forgive! Your father should only receive your understanding and compassion! He was caught in the same type of snare that you fell into! He thought he was hurting too! But hurt comes from misunderstanding the situation! You've been told you're so wise, a master -- huh! Well, if you're a master, step up and do it! Realize the only way you could have gotten love from your father! The only way to get love is to show love! If you wanted love from him, you should have loved him! No matter how long it might have taken, only love would have broken through the illusion of his hurt! Once you broke through, you would have not only healed him - you would have healed yourself by loving him! You spent 50 years chasing a misunderstanding because you fell into the snare of believing something else besides love could get you love!"

"But I was only a child!" I shouted back to San Pedro in my mind. He laughed and shot back -- "NONE of us are children." Then I was shown how children are actually closer to the ideal than the adults who supervise them. A child has the honest truth still within their worldview -- if it hasn't been trained out of them by schools and culture and parental prejudices. So much of life experience only reinforces the misunderstanding if we let it. "But I wasted so much time! Over fifty years!" I shouted again. Once again, San Pedro was humored beyond belief and cast the thought aside as unworthy of me. "You lost monopoly money. Nothing more! What are those years to the timeless soul you are?"

I let his words flow over me. I stayed out by the river until those words soaked in. The sun lowered significantly in the sky. Its light danced golden and the sparkles of its reflection off the water and surrounding leaves transformed into energetic diamonds. All the plants and trees around me glowed with iridescence in their satisfaction and joy at what I was seeing - at all that was soaking in. I felt a warm presence in all of it, a comforting "I'm home" feeling welcoming me back to the real world - the world beyond amnesia, without illusion, rejoined with love - rejoined with myself.

The ceremony Day One ended with a prayer after a candlelight dinner of awesome vegetable soup and great conversation. All of us gathered around the dinner table on the open-air patio as the darkness of night blanketed the landscape. Far above in the passing canopy of clouds, inter-cloud lightning silently erupted this way and that. After we shared as much as we wanted about what had happened for us during the day, we each had an angel card reading -  I drew Clairvoyance and Spread Your Wings. In fact, on both Day One and Day Two all four of us drew Clairvoyance. The facilitator said he had never seen a group do that before. Our good friend also had brought a bottle of glitter and so we each had fun going up to be ceremonially "glitterized" in a fashion mimicking the white sage smudging.

It was wonderful knowing we were sleeping there that night - we didn't have to hurry back into town or back to hostels. The ceremonial mood was retained right into sleep. The night was much darker than what I was used to, living for so many years with the lights of a large city. The air also cooled as the hours wound towards midnight. But both the deep darkness and the cool air were perfect. So much had happened in the past twelve hours. And day two was not far away. Would sleep be dreamless hours or time spent in free-fall deeper into the messages of the day? The day had taught me to toss aside such questioning. I flowed into sleep the same way I flowed out of the day - peaceful, joyful, and with immense gratitude. Nothing else was needed.

Mountain and cloud

Day Two started slowly but early. Coming up from sleep was a lazy process for all and yet the group was walking about, sitting and chatting, and having tea an hour before the second ceremony began. As before, we sat in a circle and the facilitator offered the four directions prayer to the Great Spirit. Two bottles of the San Pedro brew were necessary because one bottle didn't have enough left in it for all. But first we stated our intentions for the second day. Given my surprises of the day before and how self-talk only got in the way, my intention for day two was simple -- to get out of my own way and let the wisdom of San Pedro proceed however best the medicine thought was necessary for my continued healing.

The facilitator started pouring brew into the plastic cups. When it came to my turn, he asked me if I wanted more today. I said yes. He emptied the last of one bottle into my cup but only filled it half way. Opening a second bottle, he continued the pour until my cup was filled. I noticed when he emptied the first plastic liter bottle, the darker, cloudier dregs of the liter bottle went into the first half of my cup. I wondered if these dregs were any more or less potent. I also wondered if the two bottles represented brews from two separate huachuma cacti. Would such a mixture from two different plants make any difference in my journey? The questioning thoughts passed so quickly that I didn't ask them out loud. Besides, the ceremony had moved on and my friend was already beginning to state his intentions for the day.

Getting up from the initial prayer circle was so much different than the first day. The first day held so much anticipation and wonder. The second day was a continuation of a mystical conversation in which the wonder had already been internalized. Instead of anticipation, there was intense curiosity to experience how the messages and lessons from the first day could be extended into an even greater healing. There was also an excitement, an expectation of being reunited with a dear member of one's family. But this family member possessed wisdom and abilities not of this world. The sense of belonging to such a family was awe-inspiring and yet so comfortable. It was the feeling of realizing one's true family extended beyond this world and not to merely believe it or assume so -- but to know it. 

By the time the medicine opened me up and the realm of the here and now transformed, "Father" San Pedro was already strong with his telepathic methods for the day. He made it clear -

"Yesterday was about sorting things out, becoming aware, putting it together -- intellectually, with mind, in words, with examples. The second day will be nothing like that. The first day was done to satisfy you - to satisfy your mind. But that's not the place of lasting healing. It IS the place that could block going any farther - if it wasn't dealt with. So done! We took care of it! Now on to what's important!"

I wondered - whatever could that be?  San Pedro shot back - "Most of talk...all emotions...all of everything else!"

I had no idea what that meant. What exactly would we be doing for the next nine hours? 
"No words. No talk. NO QUESTIONS! Just everything else!"

Bed and large scarf
The bed and large scarf

Unlike Day One, there was no impulse to explore, walk around the property, go down to the river, listen to music, talk with anyone else, or play with Squiggles. With no impulse to do anything, I took my shoes and socks off and laid face-down on the bed. The breezes of the open-air patio kept me company but even they were far off and receding further. I was completely aware, fully conscious, very alert, but a large part of me was descending into a dreamlike state. The dream was vacant at first, just a blank place to be. But then I became aware of speed, of motion, of transport. There were no reference points so the speed seemed to have no movement. But the deeper, the farther I traveled, the stranger I felt. It was as if I had flown from the vacuum of interstellar space into a planetary atmosphere, and from there into a deep ocean, and from there into thick viscous lava, and from there into a dark matter too dense to describe, and from there into the hidden emotional nature of myself -- and that was the densest place of all.

The next six hours were truly without words, without mind, without talk or questions. It was also one of the most difficult things I've ever survived. I don't think I can adequately put it into words; it's not something words are fit for. The only thing I can hope to do is come up with some kind of analogy that might convey the feeling of it.

Through incredibly difficult layers of emotion I struggled to find my way. It was as if my mind had become nothing but mirror neurons, all mirroring the behavior of the "other me" out there somewhere, as though the observer-me was itself acting in the present moment in whatever circumstances that originally gave the other-me that emotion. Wrenching, heaving, pulling, twisting, straining, forcing me through each emotion one by one, year by year. It never stopped, it only compounded as it had done in life, layering hurt and sadness, distress and violent melancholy upon each other. As past emotions were remembered in subsequent years, a multi-layered emotion would be created and carried into the future. Then I was in that future, compounding that multi-layer emotion into a new present and dealing with the increasing toll it yielded. 

On it went - on and on it went. I was dragging through it all, wide open, vulnerable, unable to do anything but let it fully pass through me. Hour after hour of sadness and emotional nausea that wouldn't let up. This is what I had accumulated. This is how thick it had become. This could never be thought away. This could never be rationalized or analyzed away. This could not be negotiated with. And the real pity was, this was only real because I had given so much energy all my life to make it real! My snare, my illusion, my amnesia had placed this at the base of me. And this was yet another negative emotion - the realization that all of this was so, so unnecessary. And now only I could make it go away. I was the one who had come for a healing. And San Pedro does not abide dabblers or fools. What you ask for you get. If you're willing to go there, anything is possible. The problem is, most of the time, we aren't willing to go all the way there.

"You want to heal? Then go through this - let it go through you. It's the only way. It's up to you!"

To drive home the point, I believe San Pedro had waited for the right time to show me by practical example.  Crippled by the depths of emotional confrontation, the aware part of me started to notice the music playing in the background. For the longest time it had been the soft, new age type. But slowly dialing up into my awareness was a piece of music that struck a most annoying chord with me. I knew that many new age songs are longer than regular pop songs, but this song kept going for what seemed like over a half an hour. And the song itself was not really a song; it was the same five or six off-putting notes that had a hypnotically repetitive thud-thud beat behind it. Once the repeating notes and beat came up in volume for ten minutes, there would a moment of silence, then the whole thing would repeat again starting a low volume. This kept going on for what seemed like hours, I couldn't be sure. I only knew that the more I listened to it, the more it was driving me nuts. This was no time to be insanely annoyed by a piece of music. The emotional journey I was taking already had me beyond my limits.

I didn't know what to do. I felt like Alex in the movie A Clockwork Orange, strapped into the theater chair with eyelids held open, screaming to please make it stop. I felt out-of-body, unable to move, trapped on the bed, condemned to be dragged through dark depths of myself while the torment of the repetitive notes and beat carried on and wouldn't, couldn't ever stop. At my worst point, I felt a telepathic nudge from "Father" San Pedro. It was the kick in the ass from a father wanting his boy to shape up and do what's right. The exchange was not in so many words but it was telepathically clear in my consciousness...

"You don't like this, do you? So what the hell are you going to do about it? Lay there and cry? Lay there and take it? Get the fuck up if you don't like it! Do something about it!!"

His words shifted me into being active instead of passive. I marshalled what energy I could and sat up. It was hard to move against the emotional flow, but it was equally hard to move while feeling out-of-body. Somehow I managed to put on my shoes and socks. Standing up was an other-worldly experience but I did it. With uneasy steps, I made my way across the patio, into the sun, and down the dirt path towards the river. As I went, my breaths deepened, came quicker, and the annoying song faded with each step I place between me and it. I felt infused with a power of self-will and accomplishment. "Father" San Pedro was back in my head...

"This is the same action you must take when you are faced with any of these emotions again! Don't just sit there and let illusions accumulate and drag you down! Get up, leave them behind! You have the power! You create the world you live in! Never again allow that which annoys you and does not serve you to be a part of your space!"

I saw the point. The farther down the path I went, the more the dragging depths of emotion lifted. It was ironic - the farther down the hill I hiked, the faster up through the less-thickening layers of emotion I ascended. By the time I was sitting on my rock, down by the river, I was once again floating in the all-containing vacuum of space. I was light and relieved. My breaths were still deep and fast. It was another kind of purge passing through me.

I felt better but I felt beat up. Six hours of such torment had taken its toll. Since San Pedro had broken the no-words barrier, I felt justified to say something back to him. In the moment, there was nothing else I wanted to ask but -- Why? Why did I have to go through that? What was it?

"Father" San Pedro was direct, compassionate, but firm -
"It was necessary. I was cleaning out the wound."

What wound? The question was automatic even though there were clear signs.
"Your life! The wound you made of your life!"

I had no words after that. But "Father" San Pedro did. He instructed me to go sit under a particular fruit tree. It was not something I was inclined to do given the rotting fruit at its base and guessing my rock by the river was much more comfortable. But the impulse was insistent and so I went. I was surprised that the instructions continued as I approached the tree. I was not only told where to sit but how to sit. I was told to position my back a certain way and to lean back on the tree in that posture. I was told to cross my feet at the ankles and lift my arm a certain way. With so many directions, I couldn't help ask - why should I do all this? He responded right away, "You are too wound up, too tight to receive the messages."

Fruit tree
The Fruit Tree

Now, I've done yoga in the past and many years ago I studied and got a certification as a massage therapist, but this was something different. For the next half hour, "Father" San Pedro took over my body and gave me a workout. My hands massaged me in a way I had never been taught. He used the tree as leverage in the workout. The whole process was too bizarre to piece together here, except to say that after thirty minutes, I felt like someone had done advanced Rolfing, Myofascial Trigger Point therapy, Shiatsu, Reflexology, and who knows what else to recondition and realign key muscles, glands, and chi-nodes. In the middle of one combined movement, the word "futility" shot into my head telepathically. Instantly, my sight was redirected to the rotting fruit on the ground nearby. San Pedro was amused and noted...

"The fruit on the ground -- is that futile? A waste? What is futile?" Then he laughed.

Fruit on the ground
Fruit on the ground
And so it went through the half hour. Messages and a massage. As the muscles relaxed, so did my grip on old thoughts that no longer served me. By the time it stopped, I was relieved, worn out, grateful, and stunned at the impact of the last six hours. He said no more to me right then. He let me settle into my body and regain my balance. I stayed down by the river for at least a half an hour, not thinking, not feeling, just in a state of being. I left the fruit tree and found one of the mats that someone else had temporarily abandoned. I laid down on it and stared up at the trees overhead. Their motion was my motion and I drifted with it for I don't know how long. The reverie was interrupted when I felt something hitting my legs. I leaned up to find Squiggles furiously kicking dirt onto me. I laughed out loud because I knew telepathically, this wasn't Squiggles at all. San Pedro wanted me up.

I walked back up the path to the patio and house to find that the afternoon cut-up fruit had been readied. My wife brought me some and we delighted in it while sitting on the bed. I guessed San Pedro wanted me to have the day's "bump." After the fruit, I laid back down on the bed in the same spot I had been for the first six hours. A stronger breeze came up and blew the large 6-ft. by 6-ft. scarf, hanging at the head of bed, back and forth over me. I felt its motions as caresses from a disembodied, caring soul. The motions seemed too deliberate, too intentioned to be anything else. In the distance, rolling thunder was heard. A quick-moving storm was headed our way. Then the rolling thunder got louder. With each shuddering peal and booming roll I sank farther into a tearful residual purge of all I had been through. Then the rain fell, gusting around the patio with a whipping wind. Some of it hit my head and hands but once again I couldn't move. The purge, the release had me for the duration. I knew the rain was a continuation of what "Father" San Pedro had said...

"I was cleaning out the wound."

Nothing had ever sounded so powerful, so real, so certain as that massive rolling thunder passing directly over me during this time. The strength of it shook the patio and rattled my bones. It was as if nature herself was seconding "Father" San Pedro's words to me...

"Don't just sit there and let illusions accumulate and drag you down! Get up, leave them behind! You have the power! You create the world you live in! Never again allow that which annoys you and does not serve you to be a part of your space!"

Eventually, the storm passed and I felt the impulse to return to the riverside. I wanted to see the whole area - the gardens, the trees, the sky after the rain. Everything was wetted down and sparkling. The air was extraordinarily fresh and floral. Pockets of brilliant blue were opening up between the rushing clouds, letting the sun perform its brilliant light show on the hillside and the canopy of trees. It was beautiful and I was feeling better and better. My breaths were coming easy and strong. Everything seemed right with the world. And then "Father" San Pedro returned. His statement was short.   

"Now, I only have one question for you..."
There was a gulf, a hesitation in which sky, river, the trees around me seemed to hold their breath.

"Why don't you have any common sense?"

I felt the bottom fall out. I was devastated. After everything I --- we --- had been through over the past two days, after telling me just a little earlier that the six hours of turmoil and torment was necessary because he was cleaning out the wound, and the wound was my life -- of all things to say! I felt betrayed, tricked, ambushed - and wounded again in the worst way. The very idea that the one I had trusted so completely, so deeply, should be the one to do this was inconceivable! I felt destroyed. It was the worst treachery imaginable. I felt my entire dark depths instantly filling back up with torment. To which, "Father" San Pedro responded...

"You think you're healed?"
The gulf, the hesitation in which sky, river, the trees around me seemed to hold their breath returned.

"If you're healed, then me saying that should have no effect. This is the greatest lesson you must receive. Until you know this, you will always be at the mercy of your illusions."

At once, the cleansing power of the thunder storm rushed into me again and I cried. The more I cried, the more the new material in the wound disappeared. When it was all gone, I was inundated -- how should I say -- with angel kisses all over, with transcendent tingles, with trillions of tiny hands applauding in joy all over me.

Then "Father" San Pedro added the most mystical, mind-bending part of all...

"You know, as a kid, when you heard so many times, 'DON'T YOU HAVE ANY COMMON SENSE?' Well, most of that was me. I tried to get through to you like I'm trying to get through to you now. I wanted you to see the true common sense of who you are and not to do what you were going to do. I wanted you to avoid so many years chasing the illusion, caught by the snare. I knew this day would come. I knew someday you would ask me why you had to waste over 50 years -- so I had to try to get you to wake up from your amnesia -- to see the real common sense in the fact that you are LOVE!"  

The whole thing appeared so paradoxical. I mumbled back -- but if YOU were yelling that when I was a kid, then YOU are the one who caused the problem in the first place!

"I yelled long after your father had stopped -- but you hadn't. By then, you were dead set on chasing the misunderstanding whether or not he said anything more or not. How many times do you think you're father actually said that, anyway? I had to try. "

The whole thing seemed again - so meaningless. Exasperated, I blurted out -- Then I don't understand why we're here. What is this place? San Pedro didn't skip a beat. Immediately, his answer came. "We come here with amnesia of who we are. The game is to see how long it takes us to realize the truth."

So what are we? The answer was strong - "LOVE! We are love. All suffering results from forgetting that fact. Once we remember it, suffering stops and we win the game. In the infinity of creation there are endless ways to be surprised at all we are!

I was confused - Game? Is that all life is? A game? Why the hell do we play a game like that?  San Pedro was amused. He laughed and came back more forcefully - "Why do you play ANY game? FOR FUN! Who doesn't like the joy of the surprise? The deeper the doubt, the greater the surprise when it happens!

I challenged him with a lesson from my San Pedro ceremony from a year before -- I was told to STOP THE DRAMA. But if this is a game, it's intensely DRAMATIC. How does that go together?  His amusement continued - "Don't you get it yet? The drama's not real! But it's necessary. How long would you throw baskets in basketball if you were absolutely certain you'd always get them all in? The game wouldn't be any fun! But it IS a game. And the game is only PART of the illusion. When you come out of the amnesia, you see that. So STOP THE DRAMA! LOOK FOR THE BEAUTY! GO WITH THE FLOW OF LIFE! ONLY LOVE IS REAL!"

Instantly, I saw myself hours before, playing the fetch-the-stick game with Squiggles. For fun, I had faked Squiggles out by pretending to throw the stick while keeping it in hand. I thought it was hilarious to see him all flustered, running after the disappearing, illusory position of the stick. Then I threw the stick straight up and had fun watching Squiggles in the dramatic suspense of not knowing where it went. Squiggles was having as much if not more fun than I was. But it was all a game of illusion and fake drama. We played out our parts with each suspending disbelief that any of it really mattered. 

In the moment of play, it all seemed to matter intensely. And yet, in the end, the only thing of true significance was the surprise we felt at the twists and turns of the game and the shared fun we experienced as a spontaneous, expression of love it demonstrated between us. And then within me the game of fetch-the-stick overlapped and merged with the totality of my life, and then everything that extended out into the cosmos - a fractal pattern of repeating play unfolding eternally. I saw genuine, pure play is an act of love. But if you're going to play, you have to play it like the game is real. That's the fun of it.

Place by the river
A solitary place by the river - and a changing perspective

It can appear difficult making complete sense of any esoteric, magical, out-of-time, out-of-mind experiences and reference points once we land back in our "normal" lives. I only know that the two days I spent with "Father" San Pedro were most significant to me in ways I am still mining the gold from. I may not fully understand the process or even all of the messages yet, but I do understand the lightness of being, the gladness of heart, the peace of mind I've inherited since those two ceremonies became a part of me. I'm not about to second-guess real results or put doubts on my relationship with "Father" San Pedro - that would be putting all of my possibility eggs in one basket and then questioning if the basket were real. The famous end of the movie Annie Hall captured it well --

 It reminds me of that old joke - you know, a guy walks into a psychiatrist's office and says, 'Hey doc, my brother's crazy! He thinks he's a chicken.' Then the doc says, 'Why don't you turn him in?' Then the guy says, 'I would but I need the eggs.' I guess that's how I feel about relationships. They're totally crazy, irrational, and absurd, but we keep going through it because we need the eggs.
                                                       ― Woody Allen: Annie Hall Screenplay

Little flowers

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