Citation: KBF. "A Psycho-Spiritual Experience: An Experience with Ibogaine (exp76892)". Erowid.org. Feb 23, 2009. erowid.org/exp/76892
I was supposed to take ibogaine on Tuesday night, but Rocky, the administrator of the clinic was feeling sick and said the day didn’t feel right. I was disappointed but had to agree, everything was a little off.
I had been dreaming about ibogaine even before I arrived in Mexico. Powerful dreams that I figured was my subconscious preparing for the intensity of an entheogen like ibogaine. That Tuesday night, I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. I was ready, I thought.
I woke up refreshed and knew that Wednesday was going to be the day. Mary, a woman who worked for the clinic, suggested that I eat something before 10:30. After that, it would be back to fasting just like the previous day. My emotions were on a string. I was so excited, nervous and eager that I didn’t have much of an appetite. I ended up with a fresh banana and avocado smoothie. I was skeptical but it ended up tasting amazing.
I spent most of the day reading and talking to the others at the clinic. One of the guys, Chris, had been treated a few months back and had completely kicked his 3 to 5 gram a day heroin habit. If he wouldn’t have told me, I never would have guessed. He looked fantastic. The other guy, Raymond, was going through treatment the same time as me. He was an older man who had gone through ibogaine treatments before but got sucked back into his alcoholism. His aim was to find out why he kept slipping up and falling off the wagon. He was determined to kick his ‘liter of vodka a day’ habit.
As I was perusing the bookshelf near my room, I found a copy of Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception. I sat down and read it cover to cover. I’ve always been impressed by writers who not only have the courage to talk about the psychedelic experience, but also attempt to capture it in words. It’s a difficult thing to do.
At around 5 o’clock, Rocky showed up at the clinic. He asked how we were feeling and if we were ready to go. He brought me into his office and began the preliminary evaluation. My body weight was calculated and the ibogaine tablets were measured out to match the experience I was seeking. He asked me how far I wanted to go. “Deep, as far as I can,” I replied. I wanted the full experience.
We decided that somewhere right around a gram of ibogaine would be appropriate, spread out into four separate pills so I could ease my way into the experience. This would be my last opportunity to ask questions before I ingested the medicine. I was allowed to see different charts comparing the levels of ibogaine and ibogamine between the different ibogaine clinics while we talked about the plant. I also tasted a hydrochloride version of ibogaine that included all of the other chemicals contained within the Tabernathe Iboga tree. The bitterness reminded me of ayahuasca. Rocky made a small beaded bracelet for me to wear on my left wrist, plopped the Ibogaine tablets that I was going to take into a small plastic carrying case and I was ready to go.
I went outside and watched as the sun began its descent over the Pacific Ocean. Raymond was taken into the office. It was around 6:30 when we were finally ready and went to the second floor of the house. Raymond and I were staying in two small blue bedrooms that sat adjacent to each other. We congregated in the common area that tied the rooms together.
Rocky lit some sage and smudged everyone in the room, asking for guidance from the Bwiti. He then took one of the capsules filled with ibogaine and broke it into a seashell that was sitting on the table. It was passed around and everyone in the room tasted the medicine. It was bitter, very bitter. Just a tiny bit coated my entire mouth, creating a slight numbing sensation.
We were ready. Rocky handed out the ibogaine tablets which we took with a little bit of water. Raymond leaned over and gave me an encouraging pat on the shoulder.
Rocky, Mary and Chris sat with us while we waited for the effects to come on. You would think the conversation would focus on ibogaine, but we talked about ayahuasca and my desire to work with one of the shaman in South America. Mary had done it, and told me it was a difficult thing to do, but worthwhile in the end. We talked about the last time I had taken ayahuasca and what it said to me - that it was dangerous to just go into the ayahuasca realms with no preparation and no spiritual protection. The more I familiarize myself and work with these powerful plants, the truer I believe that statement is.
There were no effects after thirty minutes, but that was normal. “Regardless,” said Rocky, “it’s still a good time to get vertical.” I took another pill, then went into my bedroom and lied down above the covers. After a few minutes, I decided that it was probably best to lose my shorts and actually climb into bed. One of the major effects of ibogaine was that I lost most of my mobility when I entered into the trance. I wasn't paralyzed per se, but it became very difficult to move.
It’s the lull between taking the medicine and feeling the effects that always worries me the most. Not because I fear moving into the altered state, but because I’m always afraid that somehow, the medicine won’t work for me. “Am I worthy of this? Have I properly prepared? Will I meet the spirits who have wisdom to teach or will it be the tricksters?” Questions always plague me during the lull.
I began to feel myself move off-base after about forty-five minutes. All worries that the medicine wasn’t going to work dissipated. I felt a very warm feeling start to grow in my stomach. I also began to feel very heavy. As if the gravity in the room had been amplified and was focused solely on my body. The heat continued to spread towards my extremities and I could feel my face starting to flush. I could feel the left side of my jaw starting to tingle and go numb, which is always a personal indicator that I’m moving into an altered state of consciousness.
The warm feeling in my stomach became hot and continued to spread throughout my body. Wherever the heat touched, a feeling of relaxation followed. I began to notice the metallic buzzing sound that other users had reported. The sound doesn’t act as one consistent note, but varies up and down, in a way that I can only describe as full-bodied and intense. It reminded me of a bug zapper with a large bug caught in it.
I began to see slight distortions in my vision, which Rocky called the ‘zippies.’ If you close your eyes and press down hard with your fingers, then suddenly lift your eyelids; those little balls that dance in the peripherals of your vision for a few seconds are zippies. I watched as they interacted with the light dancing on the ceiling, thrown up by the two saint candles burning on the dresser.
I began to feel a few waves of uneasiness. I could tell that the medicine wasn’t even close to peaking and that this journey was going to knock me for a loop. The little voice in the back of my mind was peppering me with questions. It asked if I really wanted to go through with this. I was asking myself the same thing. “Why do I always rush headstrong into these things? What is it about myself that is drawn to these states, and the big question, why am I in Mexico taking Ibogaine in the first place?”
My heart was beating loud and fast, and I could hear my pulse racing. My uneasiness only seemed to make everything move faster. The intensity was still growing. After a few minutes I managed to bury some of the fear. I was entering the ibogaine altered state and it was too late to change anything. I was way past the point of no-return.
Rocky came in to check on me. I let him know that I was definitely off-base and feeling the ibogaine’s effects. My own voice sounded strange in my ears. It was thick and distorted. I could hear myself stumbling over the words as I tried to talk. He said that an hour had passed since ingestion and that everything was happening as it should. I swallowed my last ibogaine tablet and he left the room. The heat was still spreading throughout my body and I felt my arms starting to shake vigorously. On top of that, I felt my entire body start to tremor, as if someone had stuffed me into a paint-can shaker and turned it on. Besides the shaking, I was completely immobile.
I began to really notice the Bwiti music coming from the stereo in the living room. It consisted of a harp coupled with male and female chanting in French. As I listened, I felt I could almost understand what they were saying.
I soon started hearing whispers coming at me from different angles all over the room. I thought it was the administrators talking softly but no one was there when I opened my eyes. A new song started on the stereo. Several Bwiti males were chanting, their deep voices moving up and down. I heard the whispers in the room respond and begin chanting alongside the Bwiti singers – so that I was able to hear higher and lower notes on top of what was coming from the stereo. I’m still struck by how much presence the whispers had.
My eyes are closed from this point onward.
As I settled into my own mind, I began to see the incredibly complex mandala’s which are common to many people’s entheogenic experiences. These huge, beautifully patterned works are always spinning and spiraling in perfect unity. I could see the hazy forms of mythical creatures floating around in the foreground while millions of eyes stared at me from the tapestry of the mandala. I felt the familiarity of the place and knew that I had been there before. As I moved forward, the Badger suddenly appeared. He always accompanies me on my journeys and I’ve learned to recognize him as an old friend. I watched as he sauntered towards me on two feet, walking like a human. He quickly ran behind me, before hopping up on my left shoulder. I felt a surge of comfort knowing that he was there.
All of the sudden, I started getting pounded with messages from the Iboga. They came at me fast; the equivalent of a spiritual hammer hitting repeatedly between my eyes. Learn to just be! Everything’s connected! Learn from the plants, they’re teachers! Learn to accept these experiences! Integrate them! Oh, and you’re out of balance, fix that too!
After the first volley of messages, I felt a tinge of disappointment. I had already been shown these things during my time spent in the ayahuasca realms. I could sense the Iboga laughing at me. I had come expecting a new message because I was taking a new substance, a new plant. What a flawed idea! I needed to take those basic lessons to heart or I would never be able to grow. I could hardly feel my body anymore. But every image in my mind was infused with an incredibly high level of energy. It felt as if I was going to burst open at any minute.
I became aware of something hovering over me. It began rifling through all the images, experiences, and scenes stored in my memory. You could tell that it had access to every file and nothing was left hidden. Every secret, every dream, every disappointment, they were all laid bare before it.
I could feel it smiling as it began to pluck out memories and reorganize them. You can almost hear it speaking while it works, “this doesn’t go there, that doesn’t go here, and let’s move that over there.” As it continued to pull files, I found myself standing in a visually realistic bedroom. I watched as the room began to rearrange itself completely: the bookcase standing by the wall floated past me from the right, the lamp and nightstand floated past me on the left and the bed floated upward towards the ceiling. I knew that it was the Iboga’s metaphor for what was happening to my mind.
I found myself staring at a large grey screen. Something was moving in the corner of my eye but I couldn’t make it out. My uneasiness was transformed into enthusiasm and I waited for what was to come next. In a split second, everything changed. I found myself standing in the middle of a dense forest watching as 18th century carriages rolled by. Everything was shown in hyper-realistic detail. I could see the nostrils flaring on the horses, the driver juggling a lantern while he tugged on the reins, the knots on the ropes that held down the luggage. I was so stunned by the realism that I opened my eyes. I remember thinking, “wow, so this is what it’s actually like.”
I soon realized however, that by opening my eyes, I had accidently cleared away the vision and there was no going back. It’s my one regret that I was unable to follow the carriages. I know in my heart that it was the beginning of my ancestor progression – the part of the journey where past family members come before me in vivid detail.
I closed my eyes and found myself standing in a darkened landscape. The area around me felt immense, like I was standing in a wheat field in Kansas at midnight. Things were looming on the horizon, but nothing was in focus. I watched as two grey stones lumbered towards me out of the darkness, each spinning on its axis slowly. As they approached, I was able to make out two distinct weatherworn faces carved into the car sized granite boulders. It reminded me of Easter Island.
The heads disappeared, and I found myself staring down a very large snake. Its mouth was hanging open and I could see a long forked tongue dangling out. It moved at the same speed as the boulders, except it was heading right for me. I felt panic. It looked ready to strike. I considered clearing my vision, but something told me to wait, that this was a test. When it reached me, I realized that it was the ayahuasca snake and I had nothing to fear. For a moment our eyes locked, and then it brought its mouth to my forehead, kissing me in the location of my third eye before disappearing.
All of the sudden, dozens of things were coming at me. The whole horizon filled with dangerous and frightening things. I watched as knives, daggers, swords, and pots of boiling water all hurtled towards me. I was leery, but I knew this was also a test. I decided to stand firm. As each item touched me, it dissolved into nothingness.
I was transported from the immense field back into the darkened room. But this time it was pure chaos. I watched as hundreds of different entities moved throughout my field of vision, each one doing something unique. Some were waving at me, some pointing; others were dancing with each other and spinning around. There were even a few tiny humans in the mix, signaling frantically to get my attention. It reminded me of the pictures in the later ‘Where’s Waldo’ books. I saw one of the beings was flying a small plane near the top of my peripheral vision. A message was being dragged it, but when I tried to focus, I moved my eyes and everything was cleared. I understood – the thing in the plane was screwing with me.
I was back at the blank screen. Suddenly, there was a flash of yellow in the lower corner of my field of vision. It looked like straw. As the image sharpened, I could see that it actually was straw, but bundled together to form what looked like a top hat. The head underneath it slowly appeared and spent several seconds giving the inside of my mind a long surveying look before disappearing.
Everything remained blank for a few more seconds until suddenly a large pillar began to descend from the sky, directly in the center of my field of vision. When the bottom of it hit the ground and it stopped moving, I was able to see that the being in the straw hat was standing on the top of the pillar. He looked like an African tribal chief; he wasn’t wearing a shirt and his chest was puffed out to make him look very important. The extravagant pants that he was wearing were made out of the same type of straw material as his hat and he was carrying a large staff decorated with different colors and symbols that I didn’t recognize. We locked eyes for a second, then he smiled and started dancing around and flailing his staff. The space around him crackled with the most intense energy as he moved.
Suddenly, we weren’t alone. Other Africans started poking their heads into my field of vision. A few came out from behind the pillar and began to walk around, while others just poked their heads in for a few seconds. They were in absolutely no hurry, they were just interested and looking around.
A couple days later when I was recovered, Rocky told me that a lot of people who go through the ibogaine treatment have the Africans come and check in on them. He said it was the Bwiti in Gabon and Cameroon who psychically travel to Mexico to make sure the ibogaine is being used appropriately. I know that I felt very comfortable with the Africans, and I still get a feeling of comfort when I think about them looking in.
The Africans slowly began to leave, and as the last one disappeared behind the pillar, the Bwiti guide moved from the center of my vision.
I began to hear a rumbling sound in the distance coming closer. Suddenly, I felt a large hole open in the center of my forehead. The hole began to expand and twist before forming into a narrow tunnel that stretched upwards into the sky. It felt like an antenna was being extended from the center of my mind. I referred to it afterward as the cosmic noodle because as it stretched upward, it moved like a giant, wet spaghetti noodle. As I watched it grow, something told me that every human being has one of these and it acts like an antenna to all of these different frequencies that we can tune our mind to. When someone meditates, they’re accessing their antenna, just like when someone takes an entheogenic substance. I’m left with the feeling that ibogaine is definitely one of the ancient wisdom channels of humanity; everything that comes through the antenna and everything that is shown feels like it has been infused with wisdom.
Once my antenna was opened, another hole popped open but this one wasn’t emanating from my body. It was very dark, and I could tell that it wasn’t meant to be explored.
I could feel something coming down the antenna tunnel. Before I knew what was happening, my entire field of vision filled with small little holograms of scenes from my life. Each one was hyper-realistic and detailed to the extreme. This wasn’t like TV though; each scene was shown to me in vivid three-dimensional space.
I saw scenes of myself doing mundane things, stupid things, bad things; each one different yet filled with meaning. I saw one scene where I was in my kitchen cooking. I saw another scene where I was in bed reading. I watched myself abuse alcohol. I watched as I uncaringly hurt the feelings of others. I watched my own shortcomings and fears. As I kept my eyes focused straight ahead, the room moved and more holograms filled the void. They began to stack on top of themselves and crowd the room.
While these visions were happening, I watched as a separate image of myself walked through and examined each hologram. Whenever the other me would stop and point at one of the scenes, the Bwiti guide’s voice would boom, “IS THIS YOU?” I always answered no because I don’t feel that a human being can be defined by strictly what they have done in the past. Every time I said this, the hologram in question would be sucked out the black hole that had opened earlier. I repeated this process for many different scenes.
After this was over, my field of vision transformed itself into a high-tech screen with two large buttons that I was able to push. The Bwiti guide allowed me to play with the screen for a bit and learn how to use it. I had a large green button that I could push when I saw something I liked and I had a large red button I could push when I saw something I didn’t. I was shown so many different things during this time; it was hard to remember anything at all.
At one point, the room darkened and a young girl materialized. She didn’t say anything, she just looked at me. She had ear-length brown hair and was wearing a tiny dress. I asked her who she was. It took her a while to respond but when she did, my world rocked. She said, “I’m your daughter.” We spoke for a few more seconds before she disappeared. I remember thinking that I have to prepare the world, not just for her, but for all the children that will be coming here.
One of my last visions was very strange. A large pink cat popped out of nowhere and smiled at me. It looked like the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. I told it that I would call it Kat, spelling out each one of the letters. It replied, “But I’m a boy.” I said, “Well, I’ll call you Kar then,” again spelling out each one of the letters. Kar smiled, curled up on my shoulder and we started to walk. A few more images came to me, but I knew the end was close. Kar turned and looked at me, smiled, and then was gone.
The Bwiti guide appeared before me and I knew that the end was close. I also knew that this was the point where I would be able to ask questions that the spirit would answer. It was my intention to ask what I should do next in my life. Should I continue on the path that I’m currently walking, or would doing something else make my goals easier to accomplish. Perhaps I should go to law school? I started trying to explain all this in the form of a question, but the Bwiti guide motioned for me to be silent. It said, “YOU DON’T GET TO ASK QUESTIONS.” I was confused and wanted to know why. In all the ibogaine reports, everyone gets to ask questions. It replied that if it showed me what path to take, I wouldn’t have to take any responsibility for my actions. I would simply be doing something because I was told to do it. It showed me that I was at the point in my life where I have to make my own choices and had to find my own purpose. Its last words were, “TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.”
As quickly as the visions began, they were over. I could feel the antenna coming out of my forehead closing and the energy level dropping. The grey screen appeared again and it was done. The Bwiti music was also finished. Now, the stereo was playing a very relaxing, almost religious music that set the mood perfectly.
I was spent after the inner journey I had just been on, but I wasn’t sleepy. In fact, sleep is impossible after taking ibogaine. The state that I found myself in is difficult to describe. It’s like being asleep and awake at the same time. I was conscious of everything that was going on around me, and I was able to tell that time was moving at a normal pace, but I wasn’t able to move or talk. Many people refer to this as the introspection stage because I was almost forced to review everything that was just shown to me.
At nine in the morning, Mary brought me a glass filled with coconut milk and a bowl with pineapple and bananas. I drank the milk, and ate a few pieces of fruit but wasn’t hungry. It was incredibly difficult to even sit up and drink from the glass, since I was still very uncoordinated. I watched the sun rise out the window. Crawling around on the window was a wasp that was making its home somewhere near the top of the window. She sat there watching me for a while, and I watched her, sending it a telepathic message that I wasn’t going to bother her and to just ignore me. She started to preen herself, using her mandibles to clean her face and I was struck by her simple beauty, her crisp femininity. She was doing what millions of human females do every morning. It was at this point that I truly understood the similarity and interconnectivity of all life on this planet.
I felt myself growing more lucid and I really needed to urinate, so I decided I would get up and go. Wow! I was nowhere near lucid. It was an incredibly long walk to the bathroom next door and it took every ounce of concentration to go and make it back to my bed. With every step I took, the room would swirl and I would feel dizzy. It was afternoon before I made my next attempt to get out of bed. I went downstairs and ate a handful of nuts but I still wasn’t very hungry. I spoke with Raymond, but neither of us had much to say. He said he was too spaced out to talk, and I was no better.
As I sat and thought, I realized how great I felt. It was like someone took a blanket made of pure calmness and pure goodness and draped it over my shoulders. Everything was fused with a state of calm. Everything also shimmered with energy. I could look at anything and feel power pulsating from it, both animate and inanimate objects. I remember thinking that this is how it must feel to be a god; complete calmness and infinite wellbeing
I never realized how much anger, frustration, and pain I can carry around with me on a daily basis. Most of the time I'm so used to it, that I don’t even realize I should feel different. I know this now, because I noticed how all of those feelings and pent up emotions disappeared after Ibogaine. I also felt as if my mind had been purged of all the garbage that I was carrying around. I felt whole.
It’s been almost four months since I went through the treatment and I’m still trying to integrate what I learned. Writing has helped, but trying to capture ibogaine’s profound nature in words is an impossible task. When I tell my story, most people ask if I feel it was worth it; if I would repeat the experience. Without hesitation, I respond that the ibogaine is truly one of the most important things that I’ve been through and feel blessed to have received it’s wisdom. As for doing it again, I remember thinking a few days afterwards that I never wanted to go through something that intense again. Now, with a little more distance, I realize that I do want to go through it again, but only in Africa with the Bwiti.
For those looking into ibogaine for addiction therapy, I can only speak with my limited experience. Since my treatment, I have completely given up alcohol. It wasn’t my intention to do so, but now I find that I have absolutely no craving and no desire to drink. It disappeared. However, I wouldn’t recommend the ibogaine experience lightly. Something as profound and intense as this should only be approached with the utmost respect. Ibogaine showed me who I truly am. I saw things that I may not have wanted to see.
Since I took the time to learn the lessons this plant was trying to teach, I discovered what a powerful ally it is to have in my life when things start getting out of hand. Thank you Iboga.
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Some of the activities described are dangerous and/or illegal and none are recommended by Erowid Center.