Don Amado's face was glowing. His entire being emanating a gentle loving power. She had broken from her meditation to watch as he filled her glass. It was obvious to her that everything in her life had led her here to this moment. As he handed over the glass she saw flashes of all the guideposts and serendipitous events that had brought her there. She smelled the rosy colored thick liquid, smiled, filled her heart with intent and drank. It was tangy and chalky but not near as difficult to get down as she had anticipated. She took a deep breath, gave thanks and handed him the glass back, smiling, not knowing this was to be the worst night of her life. After everyone had drank their shares Don Amado blew out the candle. It was a sound to never be forgotten
. The room was suddenly filled with darkness. She took another deep breath and attempted to return to her meditation but her mind was racing. Distrust and doubt started seeping in, so sly and sneaky these lies are. The ceremony had begun and there was no turning back. The shamans hypnotic whistling began to part the veil, the icaros luring her forward. The sounds were otherworldly and forign yet strangely familiar. Her mind continued to race eventually fragmenting into many voices in her head all fighting for the floor to discuss the most pressing topic. Suddenly they were all hushed by an overwhelming urge to vomit. It felt like it was emerging from a place much deeper than her stomach, like the pits of her soul. This painfull wretching continued on for what seemed like an eternity. She was gasping for air as well as some grip on "reality" as she sunk furthur and further into the darkness. Unable to escape images of suffering souls, discusting places, and demons she was sure were intent on riping her soul to shreds. It wasn't as though she was separate from these images, as she became enveloped in a dark place, she herself became the darkness. It was her deepest fears come to manifest before her very eyes. When the vomiting stopped yet the torment continued she decided to hide somewhere where she could be "alone" and sort this all out. She dragged her body across the floor and crawled out of the ceremony to find her bed and mosquitereo. Once inside she assumed the position of a corpse in a coffin and prayed for death to save her. Blood began to pour from her nose and pool into her hands but still the haunting persisted. Not even death could save her from this torture. She resigned her efforts to catch the blood and just let it run down the sides of her face. She began to hear other voices besides the ones in her head but they were speaking languages she couldn't understand. They seemed to be really enjoying themselves, singing. Every once in a while one of them would talk directly to her in a language she understood, petitioning her to join them, reminding her that she wanted to know what was really going on
. She didn't know how to join them and she was terrified and paralyzed feeling way in over her head when she realized that she was dead and this was the afterlife. I'm not ready for this, I just want to go back, she thought as she saw herself peteling backward on a bicycle floating in space going nowhere. She tried to think of her life, her family and friends but her memory's were already to far away. She was unable to picture who they were. Who was She? She couln't remember her own name, what was my life like, she wondered, her own identity disintegrating. Until only the strange songs of strangers in this strange place remained. She drifted here lost until suddenly there was familiar voice. "Please come out". It was the shaman, Don Amado. She was pulled back through the cosmos at warp speed in agony eventually back in her body looking at the roof of her mosquito net. "Please come out" he said again. She sat up and crawled out. It was her turn for a personal session with the shaman. It wasn't long before the griping sensation of projectile vomit took over again. Don Amado handed her the bucket just in time for the demons to come flying out. Then she realized that her nose was still bleeding, this time not wanting to die, she knew she didn't want to go back there. She found her voice and cried out, help! my nose won't stop bleeding, showing him her hands full of blood, watching as it overflowed and seeped between the cracks in the floor, connecting her once again to the room in which this ceremony had begun
. The shaman flicked his lighter and informed her that it was only a hallucination. She looked down and saw that the blood was gone. Her eye's now wider than before, moved slowly from her hands, now empty, to the shamans face, his eyes reflecting an image of herself, trembling. Shocked she sat there and recieved the rest of his efforts to help her. Then she crawled back into the net confused and exhausted. The ceremony closed shortly after and everyone left for their respective habitacions while she was left alone, convulsing uncontrollably in the isolation tank she had created for herself.
The sun came up and Don Amado returned to bring some tea and see how things were going. The tears just streamed down my face speaking for my trauma and confusion. The tea was made with Ajo Sacha, the plant I would now be dieting to help me through this process. We walked over to the other hut where Leif, his apprentice, Don Amado and I discussed the details of the previous evening. They listened intently to me as I described the horror and my newfound fear of death. The shaman informed me that seeing my own blood was a very good sign, it meant that I would soon have a triumph. My next ceremony would be much better for me. This was slightly comforting, maybe it wasn't all for nothing. Wait, next time? Next time? I thought as my eyes welled up and I gasped for air shuddering at the mear thought of going through it all again. He said that I had been carrying a lot of negative energy, I needed to purge
. This is what died, it was the part of me that needed to die to move forward. He could even clearly see the residue from people I had previously spent time in my life with who's negative energy I had taken on. This was gone now. Apparently I had done a lot more work that night than I realized. I came to the conclusion that the only way to move forward from here was to drink again. It was my only hope. I needed to move past this place where I had left my last session. Now I was already beginning to feel the assistance of the Ajo Sacha giving me strength.
The following days were filled with walks through the jungle identifying medicinal plants, resting, and discussing the processes of the mind, energy, and spiritual identity and persuit. The more I got to know Leif, Don Amado and his family the more I fell in love with them all.
By the time we began the second ceremony I was feeling much stronger and more confident that I would have a more positive experience or at least it couldn't be as bad as last time. This batch, Don Amado had made especially for me. I was feeling very cared for and nurtured by this. I also felt more at ease having had the chance to get to know everyone a little better. I reminded myself that whatever was to come up, It was for my healing and awakening.
It began much like the first
. The candle was blown out, the whistling began to part the veil. I noticed this by the silver strings that seem to hold it all together pulling apart. The Icaros guiding the way. This time I remained focused in my meditation letting the chatter in my head fall away, noticing that it wasn't really serving me in this place, feeling as though there might be something more beautiful to give my awareness to, trusting the Icaros. I traveled for some length of time. As images appeared that seemed dark or scary I either looked them in the face and they would disappear or I would ignore them altogether trusting the voice that told me that if it wasn't beautiful it wasn't real. I believe this was the voice of the green mother herself. The tambo was traveling with me this time, I had learned my lesson about isolation and the interdependence that truly exists. I remained in the ceremony this time appreciating the loving guidance of the shaman and his wife. Beams of light came pouring into the tambo. It seemed to mostly be coming from the jungle behind me at first, then the light was coming through the cracks in the roof and the walls, under different circumstances I might have thought this was an alien abduction. Then I noticed that I too was glowing. It started in my belly, I reminded myself of a firefly. There it was, that is what I had come all this way for. It was my light. I cradeled it and rocked as the tears streamed down my face, filled with the presence of a love beyond words. I was experiencing the powerful truth of myself as is only possible in the absence of fear
. I sat with this light for what seemed like forever. I appeared before her, the part of myself that had died to get me here, and expressed my compassion for all the suffering that she had endured and my gratitude for her perserverence to get me here. I sent my graditude out into the cosmos for all the love and guidance I have received. And then I knew it was time to return, I could feel the veil beginning to close. I asked if I could bring the light with me. I was answered, It is always with me but If I could remain focused and carry it with me through to the light of day, I would not forget so easily. So I made the pilgramage to the depths of my soul to recover this light of mine and carried it across the universe through all of time and space to be with me here to share with you.
In retrospect I realized that all the demons and darkness that I had experienced in my first ceremony were only manifestations of the beliefs in lies about the nature of our existence that I had accumulated, in my 30 years of common societal conditioning. I was suffering. Mind you these are only words. Words can be so deceptive because they are subject to interpretation but it is a means that I have to contextualize this experience to share with you. I think the best way to relay what I have found would be to just give you a great big hug so if you see me around, just ask and it would be my pleasure to share this with you. I Love you. See you soon!
*The names in this narration have been changed to honor the privacy of those involved, should that want it.
The story you have just read has no pictures, the following pictures are from around the Iquitos area.
Fear Knocked at the door, love answered and lo, no one was there.