Citation: East Forest. "Entering the Cosmic Womb: An Experience with Ayahuasca (exp75559)". Erowid.org. Jul 19, 2009. erowid.org/exp/75559
The first time I heard about Ayahuasca was in a Rolling Stone article and it did not paint a pretty picture: sitting blindfolded in a dark room, puking into buckets, and wearing adult diapers. I suppose in an attempt at journalistic fairness the author talked about both the psychedelic wonders of the experience and also the corridors of hell. I found the article terrifying.
A year or so later a close friend of mine had his own experience with the spirit vine and upon telling me about his beautiful adventures he continually prodded me, “When are you going to drink Ayahuasca?” In my mind, not soon, but now at least I had an invitation. Through my ongoing spiritual journey I learned more about the “Grandmother” and after about two years of education I decided it was time for a visit. I asked my friend if he could help arrange an upcoming session and two months later I found myself in an Ayahuasca healing ceremony with a Peruvian Shaman direct from the Amazon.
I arrived at the temple about an hour or so before the ceremony was to begin. There were twenty total participants and everyone was setting up little beds – mattress pads, blankets, pillows, personal “power objects” and everyone had a small white bucket for purging into. Another first-timer friend of mind accompanied me for the journey. The group was arranged in a U-shaped circle and with not much room left so my friend and I arranged ourselves at opposite ends of the U with the Shaman between us. Later I discovered that my friend and I were the only two virgin Ayahuascaros of the group. I found it pleasing that the two of us ended up at the opposite anchors of the circle and next to the Shaman.
The Shaman spoke for about twenty or thirty minutes about what we were embarking upon. He blessed the Ayahuasca, called in the four spirits, and then called us up one by one to receive our dosage. I was the last of the group to get the medicine. I was relatively calm in those final moments but had plenty of anxiety beforehand. I had been preparing for the experience a long time with a special recommended diet of no salt, no dairy, no refined sugar, no red meat or pork, no alcohol, no sex, no drugs of any kind, and also meditation in both the morning and evening.
I knelt down to receive my brew. Knowing it was my first time the Shaman asked me through a translator, “Do you have experience with other psychedelics?” I said, “Yes.” “Are you sensitive?” I said, “No,” but haltingly. He poured a dark brown gooey liquid from one container into a thimble shot glass like cup – he looked me in the eyes - poured a bit more from a second container - looked me in the eyes - and then poured a bit back into the container. I felt he was sensing some kind of innocence and I trusted his dosing completely. I drank the goo, which tasted like battery acid mixed with echinachia extract. I thanked him and sat down on my mat.
We sat in silence for about thirty minutes. I was not feeling any effects besides intense anticipation. The sun had now receded and total darkness descended upon the room. I breathed and closed my eyes and after 30 or 40 minutes it began.
I started to see geometric like patterns. Something was happening. I heard someone purge. It was my friend. “Oh no. Is he okay? Here we go,” I thought. The Shaman began shaking a rattle and singing. The visuals rapidly increased into a multi-colored, fractal, ever changing Tron-like laser light show moving at hyper speed. It was amazing but fast. Soon I felt a buzzing of energy around me that was incredibly strong. I got very hot and uncomfortable. I was sweating profusely and I couldn’t find relief – just too hot. I began to accept the fact that I would likely have to throw up. I was having a hard time with it. I reached in the darkness for my little white bucket and put it between my legs. As the buzzing grew and against the cacophony of the light show I heard a voice – a cheerful little spirit – it said, “Okay, so we’re going to do this and it won’t be that bad and after it’s over with things are just going to be great, are you ready?” I mumbled a weak “Okay.” The voice added, “No don’t think about it too much we’ll just get it over with, ok, here we go…” And then I purged. Considering I had been fasting for the previous twenty-four hours all that came up was the same Ayahuasca battery acid and a little bit of water. It came out in an explosion of colors and a wild burst of energy. I heaved as much as I could, tried to clean myself up, and lay back down in a fetal position with my puke bucket as my new best friend.
I lay there on my side and entered hyperspace. The Absolute. I immediately felt better. One of the three sitters in the room changed out my bucket. It was so strong. A muscular force that was lifting me into another dimension. I had no idea where we were going next - I just focused on my breathing: long slow breaths in through the nose, out through the mouth. This was my lifeblood. My meditation practice before the journey was invaluable. Being able to continually return to by breath and release thoughts helped steer the balance of my sanity. The more I was able to breath with total purity – without thought or judgment – the more I slipped into ecstatic enlightenment. I could feel little flittering floating elf like creatures buzzing around me and pulling away layers of beauty.
The music was beautiful and the Shaman was seemingly everywhere. Sometimes I would sing along with his songs to help regulate my breathing. I would hang onto his singing like a life preserver in a stormy ocean. His rhythm was incredible. He would sing a song and then stop for what seemed like long stretches of time when I could forget there was any music before at all. And in the pauses was total silence as we gently rocked in a womb of absolute being.
I felt we were in a hall or pantheon of cosmic peace and wisdom – an infinite space of pure thoughtless being. All twenty of us were there together, all absolutely in the same space, all breathing together – in and out. It was incredible. A room of souls just hanging out in Timelessness, purring and utterly connected. If someone was in need - in pain or purging - we would breath for him or her and bring the individual back into the space. I realized that we were taking turns breathing for one other – we took turns at many tasks, looking after one another – so we could all do the “work” that needed to be done. I found this to be a poignant model for building community on planet Earth: each of us taking care of one another, taking turns, trading, sharing, not waiting or expecting, pure giving.
Throughout the ceremony my mind, my ego, was a masterful clever fellow. I saw my mind as a separate sentient being with thirty-one years of experience and it would use unbelievable complex tricks to grab my attention. Anytime I found myself “thinking” and falling down an uncomfortable void of anxiety I would (as in meditation) return to the breath – in and out – and almost instantly the bliss returned, the cosmic knowledge returned: “this is the lesson, this is your being.” The never ending back and forth from our minds to our body, from our ego to our souls, from our thoughts to our breath, is an endless lesson in forgiveness – I was learning how to let go and surrender to what is, to the moment, absent of any punishment or perceived outcome. I felt profound forgiveness. I felt a lifetime of judgment and guilt for all my perceived shortcomings and apparent failures disintegrate in one breath. The simplicity ushered absolute peace. Just one breath and it was gone.
At one point I felt the voice return and it said, “Do you want to know what enlightenment is?” “Yes,” I replied. I took another slow deep thoughtless breath and understood it in pure manifestation. “There it is, it’s as simple as that” replied the voice, “and it’s with you at every moment.” It’s all inside us – enlightenment is as simple as letting go of your mind – letting go of attachment to yourself, to outcomes, to just letting go to the way things are. But the realization wasn’t a rejection of my ego. Instead it’s about embracing the false duality of our existence with compassion.
The songs continued. The journey pressed on. Sometimes other people offered music. Much of it was transcendent: antique guitars, chimes, solo voices, flutes, and myself with a drum.
Throughout the ceremony I sometimes wondered how long it had been or how much longer it would continue but such “thoughts” only brought discomfort and I found them to be yet another trick of the mind. The Shaman came over to me at one point and put his hand on my head and whispered in my ear, “How are you?” “I’m listening to you, I’m here, I’m listening,” I whispered. He blew something around me and under my shirt and I felt as if gold rain was washing away all my fears, all menacing spirits, and I melted into surrender with bottomless gratitude.
The absence of validation and judgment with the embracing of total surrender and forgiveness for the Self and others (many times being the same thing) was a critical lesson. I felt this was the ticket to the highway of eternity. Forgive myself, let go, and breath – in and out.
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