I just got back from an amazing weekend of working with the plant medicine Ayahuasca, Mother Ayahuasca, and I really can’t find the words to describe how grateful I am for the teachings she has so kindly shared with me. On the days leading up to the ceremony I can honestly say that I was a nervous wreck. You see I haven’t sat in on one for over two years prior and so all of my fears about what I thought might happen began rising to the surface. Am I doing the right thing? Is this the path for me? or am I simply opening doors that were never supposed to be opened? The thought of my own mortality came to mind a lot and the possibility that my mind and body may not be strong enough to deal with such experiences.
I have to say that a lot of those fears were put to ease however after meeting with the ‘Ayahuasquero’ Ayahuasca Shaman last Wednesday. Myself and two good friends took a walk with the shaman up into the mountain of Slieve Gullion which is located in Northern Ireland and together we had a small tobacco ceremony inside an ancient cairn which lies on the summit. It was freezing cold outside but inside this stone cairn you could hardly feel it. We talked over tea, laughed, played music and sang for a while until it was getting dark and time to leave. The following is a picture of us making our way back down the mountain; the view was absolutely incredible.
Friday had arrived and although I still felt somewhat hesitant about what I was getting myself into, I decided the best thing for me to do was to let go and trust. We arrived at the location where the ceremonies were to take place at approximately half 9 that evening and we all introduced ourselves. There were 10 of us in total, most of whom I had known already with the exception of one or two, and so with our blankets, pillows and buckets we found our own little space on the floor.
At approximately 10.30pm the Ayahuasquero opened the circle to begin the ceremony. He began by calling on the four directions, the earth, the sky, our ancestors, guides, the animals and many other benevolent spirits for our protection. He then shared some of his sacred mapacho with us before finally calling us up one by one to take a cup of medicine. I was the fourth person in line and as he poured my cup I felt the final bit of fear come to the surface. He picked up the cup and blessed it by blowing tobacco smoke over it and as he passed the cup to me he spoke three words “For your health” followed with a warm smile. I smiled back as I took the cup to my heart and began putting my own intentions into the medicine. I lifted the cup back toward the shaman, thanked him and quickly drank it down. All that was left for me to do now was to go back to my space on the floor and wait in silence. Laid out before me I had a handmade serpent-heart ‘Shipibo’ tapestry (*pictured below*) which I picked up some time ago but I had no idea that it was going to play such an important role throughout both nights.
Approximately 45 minutes had passed since I had taken the medicine and I was really starting to feel it now. I have to say though the effects crept up on me very gently and I was feeling rather calm overall. I suddenly noticed a circular ring of light coming down and shining on my tapestry exactly where my ‘Pi Stone’ (the pink disc) is placed in the picture above – just below the serpents head. The pi stone was given to me by my shamanic teacher during the Munay-Ki initiation rites I received in Galway a little while back. The light was clearly instructing me to place the pi stone below the head of the serpent and to keep it there. I found the longer stone (which is sitting just below the pi stone in the picture) on a beach near my house, it called out to me at the time but I wasn’t quite sure why.
During the ceremony after I had placed the pi stone down, a guide instructed me to hold the long stone in my hand throughout the ceremony. I was told that both stones are energetically connected and that no matter what kind of dark places the medicine may bring me, or what frightening things it may reveal, as long as I had a hold of the long stone I would be protected, it was a tool to remind me to stay connected to the heart at all times – the heart represented by the serpent in the tapestry. As I sat with the stone in my hand and the tapestry laid out before me I felt so deeply connected to my heart and to the unconditional love of the universe, I was no longer afraid. In my mind I kept hearing the words “Find strength in the calmness.”
Over the course of the next couple of hours as I sat in that loving space I was shown many things. I was shown how to use the tapestry and stones together not only for my own protection but also to send healing to others and to the planet. I was completely engrossed in what I was doing that I could not see anybody else in the room and as I sat there staring at the tapestry with my left knee clutched tightly into my chest, I began to feel strongly for the first time in my life that this was the work I was here to do. With that thought in mind I suddenly was no longer sitting in the same room, instead I seemed to have entered the body of a Native American Elder. I was sitting in the same position (knee clutched to my chest) underneath a giant teepee. A circle of people were gathered around me under this teepee as I smoked tobacco and I could hear the loud bang of drums and chanting all around.
I have to say that the medicine was extremely kind to me on the first night and not at all the scary ride that I was expecting. I had a strong feeling however that this was only preparation for the second night. It was as if the medicine was deliberately taking it easy on me and teaching me how the tapestry, the pi stone and the long stone work together, so that when I do eventually go deeper I would know how to keep myself safe and protected. The next morning rolled around and after getting a few hours sleep we spent most of the day taking it really easy. We ate breakfast (fruits mainly), chatted, sang and played music the entire day long. It was really nice to take a break from the ordinary and spend time with like minded souls, it’s a shame that we don’t get to do things like this too often in the west, I’m sure the world would be a much better place if we did.
We gathered together at approximately 8pm on the Saturday night for the second and final ceremony of the weekend and we were informed beforehand that the medicine this time around was going to be a little more potent than the previous night. The shaman also decided that we would each take just a little bit more than the previous night to help us go deeper. So once again I was called up to receive my cup and as I sat back down in my seat I picked up my long stone, held it close to my heart and lay the pi stone down in it’s position. Within the space of ten minutes I noticed that there was a definite difference. The medicine felt a lot more intense as the effects seemed to come on extremely quick and strong.
At around the half hour mark it felt as though an eerie heaviness began filling the room and I began to feel overwhelmed and extremely uncomfortable by the intensity of it but holding the stone tightly in the palm of my hand I remembered that I was safe, nothing can harm me. All kinds of strange things began popping up around me. I was seeing pyramids with the all-seeing eye in the center and faces of reptilian beings flashed before my eyes. I was feeling really nauseated at this time and felt the need to get sick so I reached over for my sick bucket, placed it between my legs and hugged it with both hands. Holding the bucket made me feel safe for a while because rather than focusing on what was happening around me in the room I was concentrating more on trying to get sick, in a way it was stopping my mind from wandering elsewhere. As I gazed down into the deep abyss of my bucket I noticed small snakes with sharp teeth jumping out at me but to be honest they didn’t phase me at all. I managed to convince myself that they just wanted me to purge so that they could feed on the negative energy that comes up with it. I kept the bucket with me for what seemed like at least an hour but I didn’t manage to get sick this time unfortunately. I say unfortunately because in an Ayahuasca ceremony ‘getting sick’ really means ‘getting well’. The medicine has an extremely intelligent way of releasing fears, blockages and other negative energies from your body through the act of purging and so in actual fact getting sick after taking the medicine can be super beneficial to your overall health.. spiritually, emotionally and physically.
I was seated directly across from a large window (pictured above) and I really liked it where I was because for most of the night I could see the light shining in from the full moon. However, during the ceremony I noticed two alien ‘greys’ with their big black eyes staring in at me from the window. They gave me the strong impression that they had just came from the moon. I looked down at my stone and noticed that it had come to life! It was no longer a stone but had shape shifted into a human finger, nail and all. I squeezed it tightly and remained completely calm and relaxed. The two aliens stayed at the window for quite some time but I didn’t feel threatened in any way, they seemed to be curious more than anything else. I tried my best to put them to the back of my mind so that I could begin to work with the medicine. I needed to find answers to some questions and all of this just seemed like a distraction.
I called on my spirit animal, the wolf, who appeared right there before me and I put a question to Mother Ayahuasca which went something along the lines of “How do I love myself more?” Instantly I was shown myself through the eyes of other people, friends and family, I could see my face and all of its features. It was an extremely emotional and beautiful moment. I could see completely how my energy affects those around me in a positive manner. I then had a vision of some kind of celebration yet to come, in it I was with a girl and she loved me for who I was. She wrapped her arms around me and kissed me on the cheek. My friends and family were all around, congratulating me and shaking my hand. My friend Paul was there also and he was sharing in the delight. I gave him a hug and while I hugged him spirits shouted out “Don’t you remember him now? He’s your brother, he’s your brother!” I then asked “Will this day come soon?” And the spirits laughed and said “You don’t need to know that… it will ruin it. Just know that it will.” I left and came back to my body although it still felt like I was looking through someone else’s eyes. I stared at my arms, legs and stomach in awe and realised deeply how precious my body was and how much I loved it, how much I love myself. I could see too that my body is not exactly who I am and that it is only a vehicle I am using for the moment. I will eventually leave it behind and go back to the world of spirit.
Throughout the night I went to many other places that I simply cannot describe. I’ve journeyed down tunnels and walked around massive Ancient Greek or Roman style libraries with huge stone pillars. I guess I’m still trying to process some things. As the effects of the medicine gradually started to wind down I recall one final thing, Mother Ayahuasca appeared to me in the form of a large serpent. She wrapped herself around my body and my consciousness and surrounded me with an embrace which felt very much like a blessing, I sent her love and slowly started coming back to my body.
The next morning the shaman finished up by sharing some more mapacho with the group and we closed the circle that we had opened together on the Friday night. It was time to go back to our lives. We gave thanks to the medicine, the four directions, the earth, the sky, the animals and spirits who worked with us. The shaman held the space extremely well all weekend and it was a pleasure to be in his presence, I told him afterward that I always felt safe with him around. He sang his icaros and songs at just the right moments and he imparted some incredible stories and wisdom with us all. He goes back to South America in the next couple of weeks but hopefully he will return to Ireland later in the year and perhaps we can pick up where we left off.
Finally I would like to leave you with this precious moment >>