Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Snake, The Puma, and the Condor

The Snake, The Owl, and the Condor

I never thought I'd have to do research to discover the depth of meaning conveyed by Grandfather San Pedro. But that's exactly what I found after answering the call to a one-day ceremony in January. One day was unusual because over the past few months the pattern had been Grandfather preferred me to visit two days, back-to-back. The two day format proved to be so rich and deep for explorations and healing, I actually wondered if a single day might turn out somehow foreshortened and incomplete. Was I ever wrong. To the contrary, my one day in January turned out to be the most intense and remarkable encounter yet.

My last meeting with Grandfather was over a month before in the first part of December. In the intervening time I had begun a daily practice of morning yoga right after I woke up. Getting back into the practice and the accompanying quiet reflective time had been spurred on by an earlier ceremony last year in which San Pedro took me back to my earlier self for a variety of other reasons. Long ago when I was in high school I had done a lot of yoga and had enjoyed it very much. And yet, as often happens, such things fall by the wayside as life concerns with school, work, and eventual family responsibilities intervene.

Deep down I had always missed the sense of well being and spiritual connection that yoga produces. But missing it never quite translated into action. It's odd how often we let so many valuable things, things we wish to do or be get sidelined, supposedly saved for another day, until one day we find too many days have gone by and all of that wonderful potential never gets realized. "Someday" is a sorrowful mantra to adopt for all that one can be. For me, a reconnection with yoga has been part of a healing meditation that helps me integrate everything derived from the recent plant medicine ceremonies.

A mention of yoga also brings to mind a most unusual event that occurred back in my high school years. Regardless how extraordinary it was, I am as sure of the reality of what happened as I am any wakeful moment I've ever had. Whether this event has anything at all to do with my current practice of yoga, I'll let others debate and decide. All I know is the event happened during one summer vacation from high school when my yoga routine had reached a remarkably advanced level. I remember I had become so comfortable with certain poses and positions that I would actually doze off while fully positioned in them. One pose in particular was my favorite for napping - that was the Halasana or plow pose. I enjoyed a sleepy variation of the pose where the knees are lowered to the ground, close the ears, while the lower legs extend back beyond the head. 

My most unusual event didn't happen during yoga. It surprised me in the middle of the night. I woke up in my bed while sleeping on my stomach. From the deep, black void of dreamless sleep I opened my eyes and found myself fully awake. This was not a lucid dream. I knew I was awake the same way anyone realizes they are awake in their bed or anywhere else. Because I was awake, the view before me was at once surprising and disorientating. For one thing, even though it was the middle of the night, there was illumination from somewhere. It seemed to come from everywhere. There was no one light source I could identify. I simply saw everything clearly. And what I saw was me.

I quickly realized I was looking down on myself. From about ceiling level, my horizontal perspective was looking down, viewing my body lying on its stomach under the covers on the bed. I could make out the room in fine detail but the light that lit everything was even, soft, and bluish-white. It was obvious the body below me was mine. But I felt detached, not only from my body but from the entire world surrounding my body. There was also an emotional detachment, as if the world below was a shadow reality, a cosmic play in three acts, an elaborate hologram of some significance but with no intrinsic meaning that lasted. I marveled at it all, stunned into a rapt astonishment. Timeless moments of awe and amazement left me floating beyond any incredulous thoughts. This was happening. The whole thing pre-dated the expression OMG but it certainly applied.

It's one thing to think, wonder, or dream about something like this occurring but realizing it's really happening becomes a whole other magnitude to deal with. OMG suddenly shifted into Holy Shit! My awe got shot through with a dose of anxiety and fear. What had happened to me? What was going to happen? Geez, was this permanent? What the hell was going on? Did I do this to myself or was someone else involved? If so, why? My flash panic triggered an emergency return to my body. And that return was an experience by itself.

Visual clues said the distance between me and my body was the space between ceiling and bed. But that was not what it felt like to return. Imagine falling from the ceiling to your bed. Now imagine in the span of time it takes to do that, you zoom from Jupiter to your pillow. That was the intense rush I felt. Immense speed with a tremendous distance covered in a blinding second. Add to this going from an awareness of no sound to having a high-pitched whirl of voices chirping and wind gushing ever higher in pitch all around me. Once I met my body, I felt my bedroom world spinning clockwise horizontally. Since literally everything was spinning, I couldn't see the motion, only feel it. The speed of the spin forced me to grip the sides of the bed in fear I might be thrown off at high speed. I held on with all my might. As I settled back in the feel of my body, the sounds and rush and spin abated. Suddenly, I was lying face down staring into darkness in a silent room. The soft, bluish-white light was gone. The regular feeling of night in my room felt strange even as it was so familiar. I was once again attached to all the aspects of worldly reality that only a moment before I felt so removed from.

I jumped up immediately from my bed and stood in shocked silence, looking around. The tingles of either surprise or speedy transport or both lingered quite a while. I had one thought in mind. It was more of an impulse. I had no idea why the impulse was so strong. I wasn't even sure if the impulse was mine. I had to go to the window. The wood shutters were closed. I lifted my tingling hand and pulled the slats of one shutter section open. My eyes were already looking in a certain direction before the outside view was revealed. It was as if I already knew where I needed to look.

I lived in a corner house. My room faced the front street. A street light was on the corner. A walkway to the front door was just outside to the right. It was a long walkway but my eyes had already trained on a certain spot on that walkway. I knew right where to look even before the wood shutters opened. And there it was, a beautiful white owl. It stood on the walkway, facing my window. I looked out at it and it stood, apparently looking my way. It was the most bizarre sight. In the instant our gazes met. After that connection, it turned and took off. Flapping its wide, white wings, it lifted past the streetlight and disappeared into the night sky.

One Eye of the Owl

I stood at the window a while trying to process what had just happened. I felt I had made a connection but I had no way to figure out with whom or what it meant. Despite what I saw, I had the sense there was more to the exchange than seeing an owl. But it was almost as if it wasn't something I needed to figure out. It wasn't something for my regular mind. The connection had been made. That was all that was needed. I turned and quietly left my room so as not to wake my sisters or parents in the other bedrooms. I slowly walked the house in the dark, not knowing what to do. I felt as if there was something I needed to do. I wasn't sure where to go or what it all meant.

I wanted to touch base with the reality of my house and my life. I wanted to find something but I couldn't quite remember what. I had felt so detached only moments before. Now I was back and not knowing how I felt about it. It took a long time before I managed to get back to bed. Once there, it took even longer to fall to sleep. In my life, this only happened once. But it was the kind of thing that only needed to happen once. I know it changed me. I know it opened my perception to accepting so much more. I know it was a gift that pulled back the veil and showed me the path. It was a defining moment of my life.

So what does this have to do with a San Pedro sacred plant ceremony? When I started my one day with San Pedro in January, this out-of-body incident was far from my mind. If someone had mentioned it to me, I would have asked the same question - what does it matter? I include it here because, as I said, I never thought I'd have to do research to discover the depth of meaning conveyed by Grandfather San Pedro. Consider it part of that research.

My intention for the day with San Pedro was not elaborate. I merely wanted to explore the notion of "trying." When one gets a healing message or wants to put into place a new way of thinking or living, the act of trying to do so can often get in the way. It's like trying to relax or trying to be spontaneous. Such attempts are more than counter-intuitive; they seem counter-productive. So if trying is out, then how does one sneak up on implementing all of these new good things? That was the intention to start the day with San Pedro. The ceremony facilitator agreed that "trying" was something to avoid. He noted how too often people used, "Well, I tried" as an exonerating excuse for not accomplishing.

As usual as my journey began, Grandfather San Pedro didn't disappoint. As what usually happens, he dispensed with my intention right away. He simply pointed out that having "intentions" to start the day with him was also a form of "trying." I was trying to get something out of the day. I was trying to apply the messages and lessons from before. I was trying to delve into issues and resolve them. I was trying to discover and master a method for doing what should be second-nature. If the goal was to let go and rely on the law of allowance and one's own intuitive nature to go with the flow, as it should be, then "trying" with ceremony intentions was missing the point. So no intentions. So much for that.

Field of San Pedro

OK, forget trying, but I couldn't help bringing up the very things I had been trying to do. From past ceremonies, I felt I needed to try to simply play the game of life and do what makes me happy, wherever that should lead me. I had been earnestly trying to do that. And even though there was some satisfaction to be found in rediscovering the simple joy of involving myself in activities I liked, I could quickly see by extending this kind of existence indefinitely into the future that ultimately as least for me, making a life out of pursuing what made me happy, oddly enough, seemed rather pointless.

And I told San Pedro this. It's like the artist or performer who suddenly achieves the fame and fortune they always sought and now they can afford to take any vacation, buy any house or car, throw any elaborate party they want, acquire any art objects or even companions they desire -- and yet, they increasingly find they are chasing the next happy thing, the next high, the next shiny object that their happiness demands. It never ends and ultimately it doesn't satisfy. They wind up with everything they sought but ironically empty inside.

I don't know how I expected Grandfather to respond but during next two hours he took me on a trip through myself and society in a way that turned the reasons and emotional context enfolded in all of this inside-out and back around again. As he has stated in previous ceremonies, he impressed on me how I was too wound up and I needed to let go. He attributed some of this to past wounds or traumas I had endured. He paralleled my wounds and trauma with all that society at large was putting people through, how the false claims and implicit brainwashing into shallow values and dead-end goals that didn't serve people were playing out everywhere in confining and destructive ways, leaving tremendous emotional wreckage behind and wasted lives.

He said flat out, "The wounding of people is used to control people."
He showed me how so many institutions and false prophets give people an imprecise even flawed concept of what life is supposed to be like, knowing all the time that people will be disappointed and wounded by the very thing they are told to hold to be true. He delved into the torturous emotions associated with the sacred and the profane, the ideal and the real, the expected and the probable -- all of which were artfully manipulated so that when people were wounded by sacredness being betrayed, or the ideal put farther out of reach, or the expected dashed by engineered complications, then these same institutions swept in as the rescuers, the comforters, the ones who would lead the traumatized individuals and the wounded world in general to a safe and comfortable space, if only everyone followed obediently and without questions.

All the while, it's the very ones who come to the rescue with instant compassion and a ready solutions who, more often than not, set up the conditions for the wounding in the first place. This held equally true for gurus and churches, governments and counselors, teachers and pop-up cultural philosophies advertised as self-help solutions. "Don't let them wound you and they can't control you."

As we flew through the ways people and societies were burdened with this wounding, he took me back to two episodes in my distant past when I felt stressed and traumatized. He told me these traumas were unresolved. One of these times was when I was very little and one of my sisters, who was nine years older than me, would straddle me, hold me down lying flat on my back, tickle me far beyond the point I could bear, and not let me get up. With my shoulders pinned to the ground, I'd struggle to free myself until I hyperventilated and panicked. I imagine this must feel something like the panicky drowning feeling of being water-boarded. I couldn't catch my breath and I couldn't stand to be in that claustrophobic position one second longer. And yet it persisted, on and on, until I was forced into a place beyond my capacity to cope.

Grandfather San Pedro blended this experience with the feeling I had been having for over a week before the ceremony, a feeling in various situations of not being able to catch my breath. During a hike, while sitting and eating, while trying to sleep at night, I had been having trouble catching my breath and I didn't know why. All of a sudden I was that little boy, on my back, unable to get up, feeling the weight of my older sister holding me down. The panic of those moments blended with a new, rising panic of finding pointless all my attempts to do what made me happy. Grandfather dissolved one feeling into the other and whispered to me, "You need to let go..."

There was so much that transpired in those two hours and so much I wanted to write down but was physically incapable of doing so. I was going someplace. I could feel it. And there was no way I was able to interact with the ceremony space. Not when I was preparing to leave it. Grandfather then whispered something to me. He whispered it as if he had drawn very close, so close that even the most sensitive of secrets could be shared. He was right next to me, close enough to feel his breath on my ear. He needed to impress on me to really listen and take this in. His whisper was soft but behind it was a strength that demanded attention.

"Don't be tricked into fearing the opposite of what you want.
...they use wounding and fear to control you,
...instead of concentrating and going after all you can be,
they get you fearing the opposite of it,
then you spend all your energy fearing the opposite,"
...don't be tricked into fearing the opposite of what you want."

The examples spiraled off into all the systemic technologies of mind games in play. Even simulations of everything natural are used as a substitute for the real thing because simulations can be programmed. They will keep doing this until they find a way to program nature itself. Even now they have a simulation of human creativity in AI and they actually believe it's an improvement. They trust that all simulations will eventually overtake their natural counterparts. Their goal is not only for nature to be subdued but transcended. Where this is going, he showed me, will be the final and ultimate trap for humankind. If people don't wake up and reconnect with their nature, with their true selves and not the engineered personas given to them by the wounders, the ultimate trap will be deployed when the wounders develop a comprehensive technology of spirit. A technology of spirit will be the final trap.

Once nanotechnologies are embedded in the body and brain at birth and receive the signal to entrain to the simulated spirit-self, a total programming of humanity's collective consciousness outside of nature will be possible. People will grow up thinking they are connecting with spirit, they will believe they are having mystical experiences, they'll trust they're receiving intuitive messages and lessons for their lives, they will experience the "grace" of knowing what can be looked at and what must never be considered, but all of it will be generated by the wounder's own subroutines of control in the global cloud. It will be made to feel not like slavery but like universal harmony. A new pseudo world religion will unite everyone in a programmed common destiny. No human will be able or allowed to contact true spirituality or their true higher self. To do so would threaten the programmed harmony's total control.

Technology of Spirit

Grandfather impressed on me again, "You are wound too tight. You need to let go."
I saw a flash from the movie Contact, a movie I had enjoyed more than once. The flash scene was Ellie, launched by the rocket, shaking violently while strapped in her seat. Then she sees an object float near her and the object is not shaking at all. She frees herself from her chair and realizes she's supposed to float free; the chair was unnecessary and that's why it was never part of the original design downloaded from the star people.

"Release yourself from the wounding. It was never in the design. The shaking and the trauma happens when you try to hold on. Let go...Let go..."  The whoosh of the intensifying journey accelerated around me. Grandfather took my mind and emotions through all the ways of letting go.  "Let go of analysis, let go of concepts, let go of emotions, let go of attachments, let go of assumptions." The ways of letting go took layer after layer off of me, all of which were wrapped tight and holding me down.

"You've been having trouble catching your breath." Grandfather swept me back again to being on my back, a little kid pinned to the ground. Then he took me to another highly personal trauma when I was doubled-over in a fetal position on a bed, trying to cope with all that was going on.

"Don't let them wound you, don't let them control you and keep you from yourself. Rise above it. Let go!" He never fully explained who he meant by "them" but I got the impression it was intended in a much broader sense than one might first expect.

He directed me to get up and go to a certain spot in the yard. As is often the case when I visit Grandfather, at some point, usually a point of impending great significance, he requires me to lie down, which is no big deal, except he always picks the most uncomfortable spot he can find. This time it was a concrete slab, the top step to a small semi-circle of steps that led down to a fire pit. The chosen top step was flat, hard, and rough but accepting the impulse, I managed to get up, go over, and lay down on my side on the hard surface.

Another freaky thing usually happens when I get such an impulse. This also happens every time Grandfather directs me to one of these challenging spots. Incredibly, as soon as I submit to the impulse and lie down, the surface melts into the most comfortable thing ever, better than the best mattress. It never fails, and this has always been the signal that a deeper ride is about to begin. And this time the ride was leaving the property for parts unknown. The more I released into the comfort of the hard step I rested on, the more I felt myself slip away.

And one more unusual thing was noticeable. I usually always feel small, involuntary muscle quivers in my legs as the San Pedro medicine first takes effect. But this time the quivers started up again and intensified as the comfort around me increased, and this was two hours after first drinking the San Pedro brew. I even felt some in my arm muscles which had never happened before

Inca Snake Symbol

Up until this point, I have never experienced any hallucinating visuals while on any journey with San Pedro. Whether my eyes were open or closed, everything had always looked "normal." But that was about to change.

The more the comfort of the hard step enfolded around me, the more I sensed the sight behind my closed eyes transforming. My eyes were closed but my view slowly dissolved into a plain sheet of whiteness. I saw nothing but an infinite expanse of white. In time, this whiteness divided into a series of floating white cubes. Remarkably, the spaces between the cubes wiggled out of place to become pale, blue-white snakes that slithered up each cube from the bottom. When the snakes reached the top of the cubes, the snake heads turned white and divided into four heads for each cube and those heads squirmed over the four corners of the cubes and down the sides. As the heads twisted down the sides, the cubes were impossibly turned inside-out to become funnels. These funnels each contained a fractal spiral that descended to a vanishing point. As the intensifying comfort overtook me, I found myself enveloped by white snakes and falling forward into one of the spiraling funnels. The descent was quick. It felt like a release, a surrender, a welcomed passage beyond all I knew.

 (It is difficult to fully describe what I saw but the following video hints at one tiny aspect of it -- what must have been the impossible unfolding of the 4th dimension and the attempt to visualize it in 3D. Except, I wasn't watching a projection of this onto 3D, rather I was drawn into it and then beyond where the nature of what the snakes pulled me into transcended even a 4th dimensional explanation.)

In the darkness of the welcomed void I heard Grandfather's voice whisper again.
"For the last couple of weeks you've had trouble catching your breath..."
There was a lingering pause, then he added, " want to set your spirit free, don't you?"

I hesitated but knew I must answer truthfully, "Yes."

In the next moment I was back in my room as a teenager looking out the shutters, making eye contact with the white owl standing on the walkway in front of my house. The sudden shift caught me off guard and I was struck with awe at the feeling of being in that wondrous moment again.

Grandfather's voice neared. He whispered with much resolve and compassion. "...come fly with me."

I was dumbstruck. "Fly with you!?"

"Yes," he answered right away. "The owl and the condor -- let us fly."

Incredibly, his inference was -- I was the owl.
"I can fly with you?!" I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

"Yes -- it's all up to you."

He waited and in my shock I hesitated.
"Do you want to?" he asked. "You say doing what makes you happy is pointless. You are having trouble catching your breath. You say you want to let your spirit free. Well...come fly with me."

I was overwhelmed with emotion. My heart instinctively leapt with joy and anticipation. "Yes!" I gushed, "I want to fly with you!"

I had a strange, ludicrously impossible sense that my nature was becoming more birdlike than human. Even the involuntary muscle quivers I had felt now became tactile evidence of the rustling of feathers. It was too real and immediate to discount or laugh at as incredibly out of the question. It was happening and there could be no argument with the sense of being so certain.

His whisper came again. His words were calm but invigorating. "Come fly with me!"

In the moment I committed to YES, nothing less than a transcendental release overcame me. And there was a moment, a billionth of a moment when I was stepping off, launching off. It was as if I was poised at the edge of a lofty cliff, perched on a boulder floating in cloud city, leaning forward to launch myself into flight, except this flight would not be a swoop down into air but a rapid ascent up into the final unknown. The speed of the ascent would make my return to my bed in the out-of-body experience seem slow by comparison.

But in a trillionth of a billionth of a moment a stark realization seized my soul. I suddenly realized what I was saying YES to -- and it was nothing less than my final moment -- I was taking my last breath. A flurry of communication went on between me and Grandfather out of time. I now understood that my YES was an agreement to go with him -- permanently -- to once and for all set my spirit free. It dawned on me what flying with him truly meant. It meant leaving this life.

Grandfather talked me through it. " think this is pointless, you want to set your spirit free, so it's your option -- you can fly with me."

The impact of that option involved nothing less than my whole existence. To say yes was saying goodbye to all I knew. To say yes was to leave for good. It could be made so in the next trillionth billionth of a moment. It was that near. Already, I could feel the detachment, the calm transcendence possible. But immediately I held back.

Grandfather wondered, "You hold back? You're not going?"

My answer flowed out of me as quick as I could say it, "I don't want to leave Deb."
Deb is my wife.

Grandfather not only took it in stride, he showed it to be part of his design. "You're learning the lesson. You remember that other message about doing what makes you happy?"


"I gave you that lesson -- so you'd learn it was pointless.
Doing what makes you happy is pointless.
What you should be doing -- is something that makes somebody else happy.
That is folding into love.
You could have gone with me but you didn't,
not because of missing what makes you happy,
it was about Deb. See --- it isn't pointless."

Bird in Flight

From 11am until 3pm, I laid in one position on my side on the top concrete step leading to the fire pit.
I was not there. I was being transformed into a bird.
I was being offered the chance to fly away - for good.
Even though I had initially declined, it was made clear that the same opportunity would remain available.

Around 3pm I opened my eyes and rolled onto my back.
All day dark and cloudy skies had threatened to rain on me but no rain had come.
Now, floating back into my body, I laid on my back, transfixed by the sky.
I don't know how long I laid there entranced by bunches of dark clouds churning overhead.
I only know as I watched, a most peculiar spot began to appear in the sky.

It was of course the sun starting to shine through clouds that had thinned enough to let the disk of the sun make a dimmed appearance. But to me it did not look like the sun. It wasn't bright enough to be the sun because I could look at it. It was not defined enough because in the place of edges it existed only as a fuzzy spot of hypnotizing light larger than the sun. I was drawn to it and yet I felt I had come back too far now to reach it. It was the dark vanishing point at the bottom of the funnels with the fractal spirals, only now it had erupted into light, it had opened to receive me. It was the eye of an opportunity that remained open. I could still fly with him if I wanted.

Eye in the Sky

Sometime before 4pm, still strong in the medicine, I was offered some tea and then fruit salad. I didn't feel like I was back yet and I certainly didn't feel human. I found myself watching the sky as if it were my domain. I could not reconnect with the ceremony space. I felt a physical and emotional detachment. It was as if the world around me was a shadow reality, a cosmic play in three acts, an elaborate hologram of some significance but with no intrinsic meaning that lasted. The feeling was strong and lingered well after 6pm.

About 6:30pm, Grandfather whispered another offer in my ear. "You know, the owl is a night bird, it flies at night. You are a bird now. So tonight, when you go to sleep, you can still fly with me. You can do that if you want. Set your spirit free.

I asked, "Can you guarantee I will come back if I fly with you?'

His answer came quickly, "No. I can't guarantee that. That's up to you."

Was it an offer or a test -- or both? He wasn't going to tell me. Drifting into the dark evening, sitting in a wicker chair, still deep in the medicine and feeling not quite human, I languished loosely connected to the space around me. The passage of time oozed by. I had some soup for dinner after 8pm. It was eleven hours since I first drank the medicine. Food hitting my stomach started to ground me a bit but by the time the ceremony facilitator was offering angel card readings for the participants, I was just beginning to return to the group.

My angel card was Life Review --

  • "Take inventory of your life and resolve to change or heal anything that is unbalanced.  It takes courage to look at your life. Yet, if done with compassion and a sense of humor, you’ll grow and learn from a life review. I’ll help you take stock of where you’ve been. We’ll look at what you’ve learned, and how these lessons are a valuable asset for today and tomorrow. We’ll also notice life patterns that aren’t serving your highest good, and we’ll take steps to release those patterns.”
  • "Working with Archangel Jeremiel: One of Jeremiel’s purposes is to help newly crossed-over souls review their lives. He also helps those who are still living to make life reviews. Take time soon to be alone, and ask Jeremiel to help you review where you’ve been, what you’ve learned, what patterns you’re ready to release, and what you’re grateful for in your life." 

The ceremony participants shared their day. I shared my opportunity to fly and my decision to pull back to ensure I'd stay with my wife Deb. With magic synchronicity, exactly one minute after I shared this with the group, I received a text from Deb, "Thinking of you and sending tons of love." The text said it was sent "one minute ago" -- right when I was sharing.

Needless to say, I floated into the deeper hours of the night still dazed by the day's experience. There was the added suspense of going to sleep that night on ceremony grounds, not knowing if I might still choose to fly with the condor. Obviously, I did not.

The next morning came and I didn't remember anything about my sleep time, not even a dream. Since then I have hiked high in the Cajas National Park and witnessed soaring large birds riding the thermals above me. Their majesty of flight and beauty of form gave me pause. And yes, I could see myself among them - but not yet. A good friend, a hiking companion, even found a feather on the ground from one of the high-flying birds and gave it to me.

I guess, as they say, one can live life as if nothing is a miracle or everything is. How do you define miracle? For me, I've concluded it's very difficult for any of us to recognize miracles -- because all that most of them do is set things right. Just as we expect. And since so much is right, it certainly follows that there must be a lot of miracles going on.

Inca Chief

As I said in the beginning, I never thought I'd have to do research to discover the depth of meaning conveyed by Grandfather San Pedro. Some of the research I did after returning home from the ceremony follows. Emphasis added.

Snake, Chakana, and Condor on Cuenca Street
 The Appearance of the Serpent
Because it is simple and, through this simplicity, the beginning of all shapes, the serpent symbolises the essence of forms, their pristine oneness. Because it is only a line, and yet also has within it a forked tongue, it represents, in the most profound and sacred sense, the resolution of polarity in unity, like the symbol of Tao. The vision of the serpent, the symbol of medicine, (principally within an experience where one also sees mandalas or multi-coloured geometrical shapes) often indicates the start of a process of change or healing, the resolution of a conflict, the acquisition of a new virtue or ability, the realization of something intuitive, the birth of a vision, or the creation of a new alternative. In Hinduism, the serpent is known as Ananta and also represents the infinite, the symbol of eternal cycles. The serpent is an absolute sign of life, of immortality, of cure (the symbol of Esculapio the healer, son of Apollo). It represents the beginning of life, ancestral strength, the beginning of all designs, creativity. It’s the symbol of the goddesses, of the great creative mother who is the goddess of nature.

The Condor
The Andean Condor is associated with the Sun deity and is the ruler of the upper world. Condors live in the Andes Mountains, the highest peak of which is 6,962 metres high. Condor is the messenger of the gods and the carrier of our dreams and prayers to heaven, because she flies much higher than any other winged animal. She teaches us about the ancient mysteries of life and death, about communion with the spirits and how to soar above our limitations. Condors have an uncanny ability to sense death, so they are sometimes seen as the angels of death, circling around when life is about to end. Condor is very powerful protection in the spirit world. Condors live on average between 50 and 80 years, roughly the average lifespan of a human and thus teach us about life. Condor helps us transform that which is dead  and no longer serves us into energy that helps us soar above, into greater heights of awareness.

More on the Condor
Condors prefer to live in the high mountains, to fly in the skies above the cordilleras. They symbolize the highest elevation, above limitations and obstacles. They are, above all, the symbol of the transpersonal; they integrate the wisdom of those who have died, those who have no ego. They are the symbol of spiritual ascension, of communication with the spirits, with what is subtle. They are the winged representatives of Ayahuasca.

The condor is the symbol of creative power, the incarnation of timeless philosophy; his majestic flight suggests the process of life itself, of creative eternity, whose ever-living works are made up of births and deaths.

The eagle is the symbol of the sun, but the eye of the condor is the sun; it symbolizes the hidden light of the great emptiness. It is the master of weather, of thunder and lightning, of wisdom, of new vision, of prophecy, of illumination.

The condor is without doubt the king of the skies, but ultimately he is a servant, a simple gardener, the instrument of the art of renovation, of cleanliness and purification; new productions need new spaces, which are fertilized from the disintegration of the old, of the spirits of the dead. Wisdom, prudence, calm, reflection, discretion, intuition, vision, prophecy, messenger of the divine – these are the attributes of the bird.

More Icons Along Cuenca Street
 Andean Spirituality
The Inca mythology includes a series of mysterious stories and legends that explain and symbolize their faith. It all begins with the “Chakana.” This is the Quechua name of a three-stepped Andean cross, representing the three stages of Inca life.

The snake, puma and condor are symbolic representatives of the three levels. The snake, Uqhu Pacha, represents the lower or underworld. The middle world of humans, called Kay Pacha, is represented by the Puma. The upper world of the Gods, Hanan Pacha, is represented by the Condor. The hole in the middle of the Andean cross represents Cusco, the centre of the world (Qosqo: translated from Quechua, means “navel of the world”)

The Condor as the Messenger between Earth and Heaven
The condor, symbolizing righteousness, was considered the most sacred bird by the Incas. It was thought to be the messenger between the earth and the heavens. The Incas believed that the condor was in charge of taking the spirits or souls of the dead people to heaven on its wings. These South American birds actually travel long distances daily, overcoming huge differences in the altitude of the Andes peaks to the sea and back. It is therefore obvious that this animal was chosen to serve as a mediator between different spiritual worlds. The Condor is also the only bird strong enough to fly up to the heavens and deliver messages to God.

The Puma: patient guardian of the Earth
In the Inca´s belief system, the puma represented the central world: the earth. For the Inca, the puma represented the power and strength on the earth´s surface. The Incas even designed their capital Cusco in the shape of a puma! If you look at an old map of Cusco you will find that the cathedral in the main square is the heart, which was once the Palace of Wiracocha, the ninth Incan Emperor. Qoricancha, or the Temple of the Sun, was the center of the puma and Saqsayhuaman was the head!

The wise Snake of the Underworld
In the Inca mythology, the Snake stands for wisdom and knowledge. The snake represented the beginning of new life, as the snake always comes out from its hiding place in the underground. The Andean tradition says that life always begins in the underworld. The snake travels to the underworld, where it sheds its skin and returns “newly born.” To the Inca, this transformation symbolized the fulfillment of the circle of life.

The condor is known for having wingspans of up to 10 feet wide and is native to the mountains of South America. Every civilization that has inhabited the territory has referred to the condor in their design. In the Peruvian tradition, the bird is considered the messenger between our physical world and the realm of the gods or spirits, and represents all heavenly life forces.

The condor represents the ability to “see” as a bird would from the air. In other words foresight and spiritual wisdom are all associated with this image. Many people relate the image of god’s eye with that of the condor. Furthermore, the ability to fly also alludes to transcending. The condor is associated with the top of our head, the place of sight and perception, and, according to Q’ero shamanism, the place where the soul can enter and exit or commune with gods.

The serpent is the keeper of the underworld or world of the dead. Much different than the western world’s conception of hell, the underworld is the place where souls go after death to prepare their next rebirth. Under the ground’s surface is both the place where dead leaves decompose and new seeds rise to life. The world of the dead is in this way also the world of birth. This continuous death and rebirth process thus not surprisingly links the serpent to the Pacha Mama or Mother Earth. The human belly or center is associated with the realm of the serpent.

Condor, Puma, Snake
In these three animals, sky, earth, and the underworld are represented. Condor, the messenger to the gods. Condor, we learn, is the only bird strong enough to fly up to the heavens and deliver messages to God. Also, condor does not hunt and only eats the dead. What condor eats comes harmlessly from the earth and goes back to it. Puma has patience and strength. The snake travels to the underworld, and when it sheds its skin, is reborn, transformed. This is a circle of life I can embrace.

Condor Feather Significance Healing
Feathers have an ancient symbolic meaning, they are linked to the air element, freedom and pure potential. They are attributed to transformation that is strong, swift and potent. Feathers are used by a healer ("yachek" in the Andes or shaman) on the aura (energetic body) of an individual, in smooth, long strokes from the head to the feet, in order to clear energy. They are used from any one of the nine cardinal directions towards the body in order to invoke healing energy.

White Owl
Owl is synonymous with the Gift of Higher Knowledge and Insight. They are shape-shifters and carry the medicine of Sight Beyond Illusion. The Owl is thought to be one of several Animals blessed with the Medicine of Shape-shifting, that is the ability for them to change their form from that of the Owl to a human form, and back again. If Owl is your personal medicine, no one can deceive you about what they are doing, no matter how they try to disguise or hide it from you. Owl people can see into the darkness of their souls and the souls of others. Snowy Owl's ability to navigate in the darkness makes her not only a master totem for soul retrieval and the reclaiming of lost parts of the soul, but she is also the guide that helps us go into the void of the Great Mystery to call forth ancient wisdom, knowledge and secrets that have lain dormant for ages to help us remember the fullness of our being, and create the new earth. Owl is a symbol for wisdom. This is because Owl can see that which others cannot, which is the essence of true wisdom. Where others are deceived, Owl sees and knows. White Owl people are seers of divine wisdom and are said to be oracles of secret knowledge from the elders. In fact, Owls are Medicine Messengers, and each Owl has a different Medicine message. Snowy Owls, in particular are the carriers of Wisdom from the Elders and if the Snowy Owl is your animal spirit you have the gift of channeling the words of the elders via inspired written words or automatic writing.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Hole Mountain

The Hole Mountain
A Life Without Mystery?

What would life be without mystery? While hiking in the Cajas, I took a photo that surprised me later when I got it home. Somehow, a curved wedge of sky had superimposed itself over the jagged rock face of a mountain. Obviously, it was an error, an artifact of a digital camera in technical confusion.

...Or perhaps not.

What is better, to explain all mysteries away or entertain their possibility? Sometimes the sky where the mountain should be is just a digital error. But must it always be? If we believe that, I wonder what drives such a need for a mystery-free certainty in life. People like that are a mystery to me.

It would be easy to start branding anyone who believed in the existence of mysteries. We could ostracize them if they dared to raise their addled heads or let their voices be heard. We could label them "Mystery Theorists" just like anyone who believes in the possibility of hidden schemes and agendas are now branded "Conspiracy Theorists." Of course there are no hidden schemes and agendas, especially among the elite and power-class of the world. Whoever thinks that deserves their tinfoil hat! Likewise, heaven forbid you ever get labelled a "Mystery Theorist." What immense ridicule you'd open yourself up to -- "Image that," they would laugh, "here we have one of those rare, peculiar sorts who actually believes in mysteries!"  Of course, everything is explainable they would insist. Not only is it explainable -- but the way one explains it has to make sense. And making sense has already been defined and agreed upon once and for all by the sensible people. The sensible people got to be the sensible people because they branded themselves so. And that's it. Case closed. Enough said.

My aberrant mountain photo made me think about the mystery of the ghost lighthouse. 

As the tall tale goes, old-time mariners who frequented the waters of the Bismarck Sea off the Northeast coast of Papua New Guinea would argue among themselves about the existence of a ghost lighthouse that shined its light only when ships were in peril. Adding to the mystery, not all ships in trouble saw the light. No one could ever figure out why some did when many didn't. 

Some swore they had seen the light blazing through the rains of angry typhoons while others offered to bet money to cash-in on the fact that no such thing happened. Part of the confusion lies in the fact there was no reliable way to see the lighthouse or find it once it had been seen. Those who had encountered it couldn't guide anyone back to it. They claimed they were lost in storms at the time. Most hadn't been sure of their bearings. All they knew was, whenever the light appeared a ship's captain took evasive action that saved his vessel from ending up broken on the reefs. 

Some industrious chaps, eager to collect on bets, actually led search parties through the islands in the area. Surveys of the coastlines of island after island yielded nothing. Even the best guesses of those who had seen the rescuing light were dashed when surveys of Mussau and Narega Islands found only sand and trees. And so the impasse lasted for many years - so many years that it extended beyond the lifetimes of many of the believing mariners. 

The story was almost forgotten until one stormy day a stranger walked into a bar on the island of New Britain and slapped down a photograph he said was the lighthouse matching the legend. Most ridiculed the man's suggestion. What proof was that, they shouted at him. There were no landmarks to be seen, just a lighthouse. It could be anywhere. Except, as one patron pointed out, there was one extraordinary peculiarity about the man's photo. At first, eager to dismiss the claim, none of the other naysayers had noticed what jumped out at them when given another look. On closer inspection, all had to agree to be dumbfounded. 

This lighthouse in the photo was in a small clearing, surrounded by tropical trees. How odd. Who would build a lighthouse inland? What would be the point? It was ridiculous. Except, as one patron pointed out, it appeared that the top of the lighthouse reached above the treeline. If someone should turn on the light mounted there at night, there was a very good chance it could be seen by ships at sea. Perhaps the surveys of the islands never located the place because the industrious chaps only looked along the shoreline, as was reasonable. But maybe the reasonable was thinking too small. Maybe the ghost lighthouse did exist. At least, this new wrinkle had revived the legend. 

By the time the patrons seriously considered the new evidence, the man and his photo had gone. To this day, there are sailors who swear a light appears on stormy nights for chosen mariners in peril. But to this day, no one can say where the saving light comes from, if it is real, or who turns it on. As one old sailor remarked while puffing on his pipe and walking away, "Fools! They'll never find the damned thing. It doesn't want to be found."

Who knows if the ghost lighthouse story is even true. Most likely, someone made it up -- one of those tall tales to amuse newcomers as they sink into the mysterious darkness of night with drinks around the fire. I'm not sure I'd enjoy being around a group of "Certainty Theorists" who deny the existence of mysteries or claim the unknown is just a collection of things not yet explained by their interpretation of the "sensible." People who are that overtly sensible seem to be in a self-hypnotized state of denial. They can't even see the mystery of why they act that way. For me, the Hole in the Mountain is most probably a digital error of a camera. But it's not a certainty. And I like that. I will always leave open the door to mysteries. I can't imagine a fulfilled life without them.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Yoke hole for the sky
a sculptor chips away at stone
to reveal the image underneath

so too knowledge of yourself is gained 
by removing concepts

finding who you are by relating outside yourself
is like asking which star has the best position
everything is in the middle 

of where it needs to be
including you when you realize it

when you finally discover 

there's nothing you need do
to achieve the loftiest of spiritual goals,
whatever you do - don't try to do nothing

greater awareness comes from inner balance
inner balance comes from greater awareness
oh where to begin that which is done?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Ceremony Space

Humble Pie & Tranquility
(Or -- Enjoying Diverging Glides of Present Polarity in the Timeless Unity
behind a Virtual Personal Space Unfolding Upon Laughter)

Out of the blue, some remarkable things come as nudges. At other times, emphatic messages manage to make their way through, even when one would guess they don't have a chance. Months ago in October, while planning a trip to Vilcabamba for three ceremonies with the Kambo medicine, what began over a few days as a recurring nudge soon became a dramatic call from Grandfather San Pedro.

I didn't plan to include San Pedro in my time down south. It seemed blatantly obvious that three bouts with Kambo would be a sufficient taxing foray into transformative altered states within a single week. But it also became clear that San Pedro needed to be a significant part of the trip. In the most unusual way, he was very specific about it. In no uncertain terms I was told to come visit only if how it happened was followed precisely. The message was strong - San Pedro needed to be taken back-to-back over two consecutive days. Not before but after the Kambo. This was expressed to me by Grandfather in a take it or leave it ultimatum. Whatever I needed to do to make this happen, I should do. Otherwise, don't visit.

My wife and I had discussed how to arrange the trip. There had been talk of splitting up the Kambo ceremonies with San Pedro on alternating days, or possibly book-ending the three Kambo experiences with San Pedro at the beginning and end of the week. Grandfather would have none of it. If I intended to visit with him, back-to-back over consecutive days was the way I needed to show up. Also, I needed to stay in the ceremony space the whole two days. There was to be no leaving for trips back to the city or to lodgings or side trips elsewhere. It wasn't a request. Since by now the calling to visit him was strong, the way to schedule things was also clear. And so we had a plan. It wasn't what we started out with. It was unexpected and challenging beyond what we had envisioned. But the unexpected and challenging that feels right still feels right.

As it turned out after all ceremonies were complete in that jammed-packed week, the consensus was unanimous. The extended time in ceremony, the uninterrupted San Pedro journey, the synthesis possible in having the special extra time to go deep on day one, then deeper on day two, proved to be a recipe for intense revelations and profound healing. Everyone who attended the two days commented how much would have been lost if the journey with San Pedro had abruptly ended with one ceremony at the end of day one. Part One would have missed a conjoining Part Two that fit together like two sides of a coin. Issues would have been opened but not closed with the same depth or completion. You can't see the full glory of a sunset if you stay in place for only a minute. Something about the added time, the undivided attention, is required for the experience to access much more of oneself, the part that counts.

After the October ceremonies were done, I participated in another dual-day journey with San Pedro in November and then scheduled the same for December. Not only were the consecutive days powerful, I found the cycle of returning to these once a month had the power of compounding the effects that spiraled the process into something grander. The monthly conversations with Grandfather San Pedro became cumulative stages in healing that left three weeks in between for internalizing, expanding, and living the messages in new transformative ways.

It's never possible to predict what a ceremony has in store but as the December dates approached, I didn't expect the journey I was about to take to once again prove in stark, emotional terms how powerful the back-to-back San Pedro ceremony format could truly be. Past ceremonies had cured me of thinking that any well-crafted intentions before a ceremony would matter much to how San Pedro interpreted what I needed. The intentions were valuable for me more as a method for getting into the proper meditative state with the positive attitude of respect and consideration for all that was on my mind and heart. Beyond that, intentions may or may not come up at all during the journey.

It seems some things are best internalized when they come as a surprise. And Grandfather San Pedro knows every which way to spring those surprises on you. As a result, my intention was simple. Beyond just wanting to explore what the medicine thought I needed next, I was curious how one could best put into practice the past lessons received. This had become a small but niggly issue during the three weeks spent back in normal life. What appeared so clear and direct as a message while in ceremony could cloud up in the confusion of being back in the "real" world. If there was any prescription on how best to put the lessons into practice, that would help enormously in taking the healing back into daily living.

The DAY ONE ceremony space this time was in the mountains close to Cuenca. In fact, at night the lights of Cuenca glowed below in full glory beyond the trees in the backyard. The yard was designed, like the house, more to be a weekend party location than a residence. A pool, a fishpond, waterfall, a patio with spinning dance lights, an open outdoor cooking area with thatched roof, a fire pit off to one side, a single bedroom and bathroom, a narrow deck and extended patio now doubling as a sleeping space were all compressed into an area smaller than necessary for most anything other than a close-knit party.

A prayer opened the ceremony as the time neared 10 am.  All in attendance except the facilitator drank the San Pedro brew and discussed their intentions for the day. As we drank, filtered sunlight broke through the fast-moving clouds that cruised over the ridge lines of the mountains around us. The warmth of the sunlight seemed a good omen for the day's journey. We sat a while and enjoyed basking in the light from above and the light from each other. I was there with two friends. All of us had attended ceremonies together before. From past discussions, we knew a lot of about each other's paths of healing and wished each other well.

There comes a time after drinking San Pedro that the bitter taste in the mouth is forgotten, replaced with a purging concern for the queasiness in one's stomach. Other individual effects appear. For me, little quivers of my leg muscles signal that the brew is finding its way through me. During this time, I feel it is reading me, knowing my current state, learning what is needed for the day. When these symptoms take hold, most participants silently feel the urge to find a quiet space off by themselves. Not much is said during this process. It is simply the unspoken need to drift away from the ceremonial circle. It is the pull of the medicine. It is the call to a type of introspection that expands one's awareness and opens one's heart. Once it is felt, you know your journey has begun.

For whatever reason, on that particular day I didn't feel like I had the gobs of energy needed to endure an ordeal. I couldn't help but remember how some meetings with Grandfather San Pedro in the past had included wrenching bouts of emotional turmoil and tiring life review. I wasn't sure if I had the strength for such a day. I wanted to commune with Grandfather but I thought it'd be nice to take it easy. I was aware it's often said that San Pedro gives you the strength you need for what must be done. Even those who feel they should go to sleep oftentimes find sleep eluding them no matter how hard they try to doze off. In place of slumber a dreamlike reverie arrives in which the conscious mind is present but put aside. Awareness is sharpened. Feeling is amplified. And a deeper conversation begins.

I thought about my original intention - how one could best put into practice the past lessons received. Grandfather dismissed it. Instantly, he showed me how ludicrous it was. The so-called "lessons" had been direct and simple, such as "do what makes you happy" or "realize you are love and act accordingly." There was no instruction manual for something so simple and natural. The statements were in their simplest, clearest form. Asking for instructions was merely an evasion of ego. The heart knew how to put them into practice. His answer concluded with - get out of your heart's way and simply do it. So much for my grandiose and cleverly studied intentions for the day.

Having started off on such a gruff and dismissive note, I wondered if my day might indeed need the energy I didn't have but it was claimed San Pedro could provide.  Despite knowing this was possible and likely, asking to have the strength given to me was not my request. As I laid out a mat and reclined on the grass, all I wanted to do was look for the beauty, go with the flow, and have a deep but pleasant day. I asked Grandfather in just these words. I might not have spoken them at all if I knew how they'd be the defining trigger for a most harsh, humbling, and exhaustively gritty boot camp of lessons by example. With spooky timing, the weather immediately changed after my request. Sunlight faded. Dark clouds raced overhead. A chilly breeze kicked up. Grandfather's conversation began in earnest. He was firm as he took issue with me. This time he spoke with a distinct Latin accent.

"Look for the beauty? What do you want? Puffy white clouds? Rainbows. Flowers? What do you think beauty is - some kind of Disneyland designed with everything nice that pleases you, convenient, on demand, easy in reach? Why do you pass over so much to look for certain things you call beauty?"

The next half an hour made it abundantly clear -- if I could not find beauty in an old block wall, a fallen bird's nest, a scab on the back of my hand, a water stain on the pool's decking, the shell of a desiccated beetle hidden in the grass, and infinitely more -- then the glory of creation was lost on me. Beauty was something I brought to life. It was not a narrow band of acceptable niceties automatically filtered out from all there is. Beauty was an expression of love and if I couldn't love the whole world, then how could I ever expect to experience finding the true and full beauty in it? People who are in touch with themselves and the world realized this. They instinctively knew it was their experience of the world that made it beautiful. To look for beauty outside of one's own appreciation and gratitude was limiting and illusory. Grandfather used Disneyland as the metaphor again.

"You people have lost your instincts. You follow the herd to another ride all plastic and shiny and you think you've experienced something real. You stand in line to see big plastic flowers and colored lights dancing in mirrors. You think you can construct identical packets of happiness and beauty like an assembly line. You don't even know what you've lost."

As the breeze turned colder, the mountain top I was on was hit by brief bouts of fog. The ceremony space was only so big with limited places to escape to. I had only the patio and deck to move to if I wanted to take cover. But one of my friends was on the patio, deep in his own journey, and the deck would take me close to where the other participant was vocally working with the facilitator on issues that needed immediate attention. I knew all along I would stay put. But I needed more warmth. I got up and got a blanket and returned to my mat on the grass. The fog and the icy breeze swirled around the ceremony space and gave me something immediate to find beauty in.

I laid on my back and stared up into the roiling dark clouds and the wisps of chilling fog. Letting go of any concentration on discomfort, I learned how to appreciate the moment and enjoy the sights above for all they were. The moving designs in the fog and clouds truly were beautiful. All I had to do was see them, not ignore them. And as I laid there, brief drops of mist hit my face. Instead of focusing on questions whether or not the drops were cold or if they would increase into rain, San Pedro invited me to enjoy them in the moment for the refreshing surprise each individual drop became.

I had to ask myself - or perhaps San Pedro was asking through me -- why did I pass over so much when I looked for beauty? Who or what had programmed those judgments into me? When had it started? Had I ever had a natural appreciation of everything around me without acceptable filters or snap judgments evaluating what it could do for me? Instead of being accepting and relaxed about each moment, something had hypnotized into me a need to discriminate everything down to favorable, acceptable, useful, and desirable elements. The ego-reductionist approach was insidious and from what I could tell, most times unconscious. The concept of an unconscious ego spun deeper behind the mask of perception. Even as it did, Grandfather led me past the synthetic distinctions of ego, id, and superego. One does not connect with the life force of a plant by picking its leaves, branches, and roots apart. Life force, like beauty and love, were not things to understand by an exploded diagram of parts. "No wonder you people get lost in what you think are the details and need help finding your way back."

The effect on personality and spirit was numbing even as it advertised itself to all that these attributes were a sign of being a well-put-together member of society. The resulting narrow prism allowed by this programming with which one was allowed to see the world yielded only an elitist shadow of possible colors and intensities. The world that was left became an artificial construct made to convince us we were riding the leading edge of sophistication when in fact we were manifesting a box to confine our consciousness. With so much of the world filtered out, engineered scarcity resulted, which made the designated beauty more valuable. To possess or enjoy such beauty would come at a cost. Those who could meet the cost would be idolized as having achieved their goal in life. They were the icons to emulate. For life in the box was all about acquiring the things and experiences that set one apart by virtue of the fact the desired things were made scarce and yet one had obtained them.

For a couple hours the manufactured Disneyland of ordained beauty and prescribed desirability was contrasted against the totality of the natural world. In the comparatively brutish, gritty world of everyday life, not everything was beautiful in an ordained way just as not all moments were meant to be spent laughing or all sounds were meant to be angelic. There was a balance and appreciation in the fullness of life that fed insight into a deeper understanding of duality. This is where the richness of knowing true beauty always existed.

For anyone to come to San Pedro and expect the day's appreciation of beauty to be little more than a pre-packaged display of pretty colors and pleasant objects as detailed on one's intention list belied a deeper disconnect. If one approached a ceremony that way, then how in the hell did they approach life? I was made to experience everything in excruciating, realistic, tough, and uncompromising ways. I was made to look at things closely without the filters, without the judgment, in all its detail no matter how much I would have liked to avoid it. How many times did I ever look at the world fully, as it is? How often could I drink and breathe in the dark cloud as much as we did the sunset? It wasn't about making it a part of ourselves. It was about knowing where we were. It was appreciating who we were in relation to it.

As the day progressed, I sensed the gruffness and grit of the day was backed by a compassionate force that needed such measures to snap me out of a hypnotic state. Like a slap in the face to say wake up, the intensity of the humility intended by having my face pushed where I needed to see was actually understanding and caring in intent. Grandfather and I, from past ceremonies, had established a father and son relationship that was as loving as it could be firm. I never wanted Father to pull any punches with me. I would rather be sat down and given the truth in a single dose than having it doled out in eyedropper drips that dragged on. He knew this and respected the way I preferred to relate. The fact that he decided to do this on a day I had low energy didn't seem convenient but perhaps, in his wisdom, he knew that was the best time to deliver the slap. It insured it would take -- and I wouldn't need another one.

At this juncture the tone of the conversation with Grandfather San Pedro shifted, as if introductory feelings were over and now the day's major example was about to begin. This is the part of the day I cannot talk about as much as I would like because when it was over Grandfather admonished me --- "you don't have the right!" He made it clear there was no way I had the right to write out details about the five-hour example I was taken through. To do so would position myself in a way that was disingenuous.

I will respect what he said to me. I will not disclose full details. I will only say it involved a remarkable experience of being put into the place of others - walking in their shoes, feeling what it was like to be them, interacting with the world and with one another as only they could do. I was also made to see how I looked to them and how many of my Disneyland manufactured values stacked up with the gritty, honest fullness of their world. It wasn't that they were perfect, far from it. It was a needed jolt to shake loose the hypnotic attitudes of my ways. Again, the contrast was made stark and immediate for me - their joys, their sorrows, their pride, their material poverty but richness of spirit, their way of relating to the moment and each other.

But Grandfather made it clear -- the spirit medicine's placement of me in them was a ceremonial experience, something other dimensional to take to heart personally -- but it in no way gave me the right to come back to normal life and proclaim I knew what it was like to be them or knew how they felt. Having the experience of jumping into the ocean and swimming deep didn't give anyone the right to come back to the surface and proclaim they knew what it was like to be a fish. I was given this remarkable experience but it came with a condition. Some things you can't take back through the door. It's just the way it has to be.

By the end of the day I was a limp rag, wrung out of so many preconceptions and attitudes. I felt like being quiet and recovering my balance. But it was not to be. The false balance I was trying to recover was the very thing I knew now I needed to leave behind. The more the evening deepened into night, the more I realized the chance of recovering any of that was impossible. All of it was left in tatters. I fell asleep, anticipating the next day's ceremony but wondering how I would cope with it if I remained in such an unbalanced state.

The Door to Day Two

DAY TWO started after a chilly night sleeping on a short couch on an open patio. Luckily I found a pair of warm blankets to get lost in and the exhaustion of the day knocked me out. Squiggles the dog was the first up and about as the sun rose the next morning, which was no surprise. Everyone had a big first day and went to sleep late the night before. It was a slow, easy start to Day Two. The most pressing item on everyone's agenda was finding a cup of hot coffee and a comfy seat where the morning grogginess could be sipped away.

The appearance of warm sunlight was not the encouragement one might think it could be. Day One had also started with sunlight but I was proof positive that such signs are no harbinger of bright sailing through an easy ceremony. The weather can change just as quickly as the atmosphere, opportunities, and obstacles faced while on a plant medicine journey. And so, while I enjoyed the warmth and light and pleasant skies, I drank down the large glass of huachuma and remained uncertain and anxious about where the day would take me.

Everyone eventually gravitated to their favorite places from the day before. All except me. I tried out the mat on the grass again but felt the impulse to find another kind of comfort. The only other place available was on the porch on the other side of the house. There I found an old wicker chair and a wood railing I could prop my feet up on. It had a nice view of the sky and swaying eucalyptus trees in the distance. To start a day that was so far very tranquil, the wicker chair spot was good enough for me.

For quite a while I lounged back and enjoyed enjoying. I found most thoughts rapidly slipping away. There wasn't much passing by my mental space that needed holding onto. A slide of soft emotion flowed easily like a full but contented river. The longer I sat, the more my mind quieted and my awareness opened. To have a quiet mind and a wide-open awareness at the same time was unusually peaceful and exciting all at once.

The amplified awareness fed an appreciation for so much I was noticing. So much was being apprehended so quickly, there was no time to stop to ponder, analyze, or judge. Nothing I was noticing was triggering any tumble of distracting thoughts. It was the moment, the totality of that moment, and everything rushing in from my senses. Nothing more. Nothing else was needed. There were no mysteries to solve, no unconscious tangles from the past to heal, no cosmic solutions to find. The mystery, the healing, the solution was contained in the moment the same way so many colors enfold in white light. San Pedro whispered to me, "You will reach a place beyond all messages where you simply enjoy."  I didn't realize it then, but this pronouncement was to set the tone for the day.

That's not to say the day was without its challenges. But with the quiet mind and open awareness, the challenges truly became opportunities. Grandfather eased me into a frame of mind where no matter what transpired, I was able to flow with a new balance in the beauty I could bring to each moment. The medicine was showing the flipside of Day One, a way of being that had no anxiety driven by acceptable lists of beauty and conditioned worth that had to be pursued. Instead, each moment was a chance to direct myself with expanded awareness into those things I put beauty into.

This was how it could be. But I was the one projecting the peace, the beauty, the contentment. It was not something I gathered to me from out there somewhere. And so, it was not limited to what I had been hypnotized into desiring, driven to consume, or pridefully acquired to be socially acceptable. But enjoying many of the things left off the hypnotic list made no one any money. Maybe that's why they weren't on the list. I discovered I could no longer find in mind the knee-jerk images and sense perceptions to imagine how "peace and contentment" should look. So much more than that was possible. The spectrum of one's self contained infinitely more.

As I reveled in a discovery state, empowered with San Pedro's new balance, I became aware of voices. One of the other participants was having a difficult time and had sought out the counsel of the facilitator. There was anguish, searching, confused power, and compassion in the exchange. At any other time, and definitely before Day One, such a disruption to my tranquil moment might have triggered annoyance. But I found nothing of the sort. I was so into my new balance that I didn't even think my lack of response was odd. My only concern was for the other participant's privacy. I decided to move back to the other side of the property so they could keep the exchange just between them. The prospect of having a whole new collection of things to take into my awareness in a new spot was something to look forward to. Instead of annoyance at having to leave my wicker chair spot, I only felt full of how much could be enjoyed in the new area where I was going.

With the nice sunlight bathing the yard by the fish pond and pool, I strolled back to my spot on the grass from Day One and laid down on the mat once again. Lying there was nothing like being in the same place 24 hours before. In fact, it was pleasantly the opposite. No sooner had I laid down and started gathering everything into my awareness but a children's party began at the neighbor's property close by. It was easy to hear the loud talking of adults and the jabbering and laughing of children. Once again, at any other time, such a disruption to my tranquil moment might have triggered annoyance - especially since I had just moved from the other spot for the same reason. But once again, I felt nothing of the sort - no aggravation. I was so into my new balance, I didn't even consider anything being irritating. In fact, the opposite happened. Instead of trying to ignore and block out the party sounds, I felt an impulse to tune into them. Everyone was speaking Spanish and it was intensely interesting to see if I could understand or figure out what they were saying, to feel what they were going through -- both from the little Spanish I know and from the inflections and context of their exchanges. Also, the voices of the children, instead of being an irritant, sung like joyous music to my ears. Oftentimes they mixed with the occasional bird call, which added another beautiful juxtaposition.

It was becoming clear that Grandfather San Pedro was providing ample opportunities to apply my new-found balance and loving perspective. Whenever I thought he had finished with ways it could be done, something else occurred that at any other time would not have been received the same way. Mid-way through the ceremony, early afternoon, I left the sunny mat for the shade of the patio couch and some fruit salad and tea. The voices next door and the children's play, which had gone on for over an hour, subsided a bit as they moved to another part of the property. But the lull in the party was just that -- soon the party ramped into high gear with booming music and dancing and a PA system with a DJ announcer who spurred on the celebrants into higher and higher states of enjoyment. This level of jubilation went on for the next five hours, into the early evening.

As it turned out, another ceremony participant - the one who had camped out on the bed on the patio, also found the high level of merriment next door to be humorous and enjoyable. We both began commenting on some of the raucous noises and carrying-on as it seemed the adults at the children's party were getting increasingly liquored up and loose. The longer the party went on, the more hilarious the whole situation became, fueled by disturbingly funny whoops, hollers, and passionate outbursts by the adults. By the time early evening had cha-cha'd around, my fellow ceremony mate and I had created a panoply of funny party characters and named them, we explored the salacious possibilities afoot, and we even got up and moved to the tunes ourselves.

Far from being annoyed at the possibly intrusive party, the party had extended to us as a blessing. Our afternoon became especially memorable in a delightful way when it could have been a disaster of us being bothered into indignation. It was the most dramatic lesson in how the new balance and perspective demonstrated where true beauty, love, and happiness emanated from. It wasn't the situation but ourselves that made our world what it became. As a gorgeous sunset blazed in the west, we dangled our feet in the pool to a blasting medley of '50's sock-hop tunes while a cackling woman three sheets to the wind took over the DJ's mic and presumably implored the children to keep truckin' as the colored lights spun. This was, of course, followed by YMCA by the Village People, to which my friend got up and perfectly recreated the original choreography. Priceless! Later that evening, each of us selected Angel Cards. My intention upon selecting was to get a spiritual comment on my two days. Interestingly enough, the card I drew was Priorities. As we huddled around the campfire, I let it all sink in.

I am grateful to Grandfather San Pedro for two absolutely different days. They were unlike as much as two days ever could be. And yet each in their own way provided the sides of a new coin that can be energetically cashed-in if I take the lesson to heart. My process of integration has been a quiet slide. There is no method, no system, no instruction booklet that guarantees the path to integration. Strangely enough, it has come to me without thinking. I find myself more aware of my surroundings and less occupied by the itty-bitty-shitty-committee of idle knee-jerk thought forever trying to drive the bus. I don't have to think of it as a bus. That's the first lesson. I don't need to think about quelling my thinking just like I don't need to listen for the sound of one hand clapping. Perception expanded doesn't go back to the original state. Follow the flow of intuition back to its source and I will find Day One and Day Two experiences feeding my soul. Just as there is no sanctioned list for acceptable beauty or expressions of love, there is no required list of approved ways to oneself. The journey continues both in and outside medicine space. To feel they are the same is where the most profound integration takes place.

When does a good idea get better?
When a famous person says it, of course.

"Life is great" said by Gandhi or Einstein or even Wayne Gretzky will get traction - even if they didn't really say it. You'll see it quoted in articles, put on t-shirts, chiseled as epigraphs on buildings and statues, or solemnly repeated by valedictorians at commencement ceremonies.

If someone on the street says the same thing, good chance they're ignored, looked at suspiciously, or barked at dismissively, 'Oh, yeah? What the hell's wrong with you? What planet are you on?'

So next time you're standing by the water cooler, gabbing with the guy next door,
go ahead and say your good idea. Announce it loud and strong.

Just remember to attribute it to a famous person.
And be careful what celebrity you pick.
You might just stumble upon a truth you didn't expect.


Ad on a wall
  • “What Orwell feared were those who would ban books.
What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book,
for there would be no one who wanted to read one.

  • Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information.
Huxley feared those who would give us so much
that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.

  • Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us.
Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.
  • Orwell feared we would become a captive culture.
Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumble-puppy.

As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny ’failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.

In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain.
In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure.
  • In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us.
Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

– Neil Postman
Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
(New York, Penguin, 1985)

Ayahuasca vs. Cannabis - How Should Governments React?

Both Ayahuasca and Cannabis are plants. Both have long been used as plant medicines.
For anyone who has experienced both, it is certain to say the effects of Ayahuasca are orders-of-magnitude greater than Cannabis, like Niagra Falls compares to your backyard fountain. Both Ayahuasca and Cannabis have never been property studied to determine all of their medicinal benefits, even though there is a preponderance of personal experience to support such studies.

In an inexplicable Catch-22 situation, governments keep both plants on the "Schedule 1" list of most dangerous, banned substances. Their excuse is that no studies exist showing anything different. Of course, being on the Schedule 1 list preempts those studies.

Meanwhile, here's a comparison on how two governments are approaching the issue.
First, how the United States is approaching cannabis:

One pot plant seized from 81-year-old woman
A National Guard helicopter was used in the raid. She used the plant to ease her arthritis and glaucoma and to help her sleep at night. Residents are concerned how the authorities even knew she had a single plant when no one informed them.

Second, how Peru has approached Ayahuasca.


National directorial resolution
Number 836/INC

Lima, June 24 2008-07-14

Having read Report No. 056-2008-DRECP/INC dated May 29, 2008, prepared by the Directorate of Registration and Study of Contemporary Culture in Peru:


That Article 21 of the Political Constitution of Peru indicates that it is
the function of the State to protect the Cultural Patrimony of the Nation.

That part 1, Article 2 of the Convention for the Preservation of
Non-material Cultural Patrimony of the UNESCO, establishes that "it is
understood that ’Cultural Patrimony is defined as the uses,
representations, expressions, knowledge and techniques-together with
instruments, objects, artifacts, and cultural spaces that are inherent to
them---that the communities, groups, and in some cases individuals,
recognize as an integral part of their cultural patrimony’. This
non-material cultural patrimony, which is transmitted from generation to
generation, is constantly re-created by communities and groups, by means of their location, their interaction with nature and their history,
inducing a feeling of identity and continuity and therefore contributing
to promote respect toward cultural diversity and human creativity".

That Article VII of the Preliminary Title to Law NO. 28296

- General Law on Cultural Patrimony of the Nation disposes that the
National Institute of Culture is charged to register, declare and protect
the Cultural Patrimony of the Nation within the confines of its

- That part 2) of Article 1 of Title 1 of the above mentioned Law
establishes that part of the Cultural Patrimony of the Nation consists of
the creations of a cultural community, based upon traditions, to be
expressed by individuals unilaterally or in groups, and that consensually
respond to community expectations, as an expression of cultural and social identity, in addition to the values transmitted orally, such as
autochthonous languages, tongues and dialects, traditional knowledge and wisdom, be it artistic, gastronomic, medicinal, technologic, folkloric or
religious, the collective knowledge of peoples, and other expressions or
cultural manifestations, which jointly comprise our cultural diversity;

That National Directorial Resolution No. 1207/INC dated November 10, 2004, approved Directive No. 002-2004-INC "Recognition and declarations of active cultural manifestations as Cultural Patrimony of the Nation";

That it behooves the National Institute of Culture, in order to carry out
its function as assigned by law, with the active participation of the
community, to conduct a permanent identification of such traditional
manifestations of the country that should be declared as Cultural
Patrimony of the Nation;

That by means of the proper document, the Directorate of Study and
Registration of Culture in Contemporary Peru requests a declaration as
Cultural Patrimony of the Nation the knowledge and traditional uses
associated with Ayahuasca, and practiced by native Amazon communities,
according to the Report prepared by Dona Rosa A. Giove Nakazawa, of the
Takiwasi Center-Tarapoto and submitted by the Regional Office of Economic Development of the Regional Government of San Martin to the Regional Directorate of Culture of San Martin;

That the Ayahuasca plant-Banisteriopsis caapi-is a vegetable species which garners an extraordinary cultural history, by virtue of its psychotropic properties, used in a beverage associated with a plant known as Chacruna-Psychotria viridis;

That such plant is known by the indigenous Amazon world as a wisdom plant or plant teacher, showings initiates the very fundaments of the world and its components. Consumption of it constitutes the gateway to the spiritual world and its secrets, which is why traditional Amazon medicine has been structured around the Ayahuasca ritual at some point in their lives, indispensable to those who assume the function of privileged carriers of these cultures, be they those charged with communication with the spiritual world, or those who express it artistically.

That the effects produced by ayahuasca, extensively studied because of
their complexity, are different from those produced by hallucinogens. A
part of this difference consists in the ritual that accompanies its
consumption, leading to diverse effects, but always within the confines of
a culturally determined boundary, with religious, therapeutic and
culturally affirmative purposes.

That available information sustains the fact that the practice of ritual
ayahuasca sessions constitutes one of the basic pillars of the identity of
the Amazon peoples, and that the ancestral use in traditional rituals,
warranting cultural continuity, is closely connected with the therapeutic
attributes of the plant;

That what is sought is the protection of traditional use and sacred
character of the ayahuasca ritual, differentiating it from Western uses
out of context, consumerist, and with commercial objectives;

That the Manager, the Director of Registration and Study of Culture in
Contemporary Peru, and the Director of the Office of Legal Affairs, being
cognizant of the above information;

In conformity with the dispositions of Law No. 28296, "General Law of the
Cultural Patrimony of the Nation" and Supreme Decree No. 017-2003-ED,
which approves the By-Laws of the Organization and Operation of the
National Institute of Culture.


Sole Article.-

To declare as CULTURAL PATRIMONY OF THE NATION, the knowledge and
traditional uses of Ayahuasca practiced by the native Amazon communities, as a warranty of cultural continuity.

Be it registered, communicated, and published.


Manager of the National Directorate
National Institute of Culture