Citation: self-so. "Orgasmic Possession, Forest Faeries: An Experience with San Pedro (exp86072)". Erowid.org. Nov 26, 2011. erowid.org/exp/86072
In San Francisco, I climbed aboard R's Mexico-bus with D and L and E and D, C and B, one Bolivian shaman, and others not yet known, and we drove up to Ukiah for a weekend of spiritual plant-medicine journeying.
The first night, I drank the Ayahuasca brew with 25 others, sitting uncomfortably on the floor of a yurt. I sat trying to meditate for an hour or so, and then listening to everyone but me throw up into oversized dixie cups while a shaman blew smoke and played the harmonica, and then I sat falling in and out of sleep for another few hours while everyone else went back for seconds and then thirds. The stuff really didn't work for anyone -- some had mild, probably placebo-induced experiences, but S was the only one to report 'a profound spiritual experience.' It's in his MO to be scarcely believable at all times so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. As soon as the shaman had released us from the ceremonial shackles at around 4AM, I crawled up the ladder and fell promptly asleep in my loft bed.
Only the next day did we discover that the shaman had received the wrong package from his colleague in Bolivia, and hadn't known until he started to distribute the doses. He apparently made a judgement call to feed us whatever substance had come in the package. Thankfully the worst that happened was many people threw up.
Still, the lack of trust stemming from this turn of events sent several participants packing. Several more had not planned to stay for our second nights' event, the San Pedro Cactus ceremony, and they headed back to the city disappointed.
The remaining 20 of us sleepily explored the beautiful green hillside land, with the Eel river flowing far below and the oak forest providing pleasant patchy shade. While some, disillusioned, packed their things and headed on to reclaim the second half of their weekends, we painted cloth banners with our intentions for the coming evening. A young woman by the name of C asked me to paint her body, which she then rolled around on her banner to produce a surprisingly beautiful and rich abstract design. After rolling on her banner, she got up and kissed me briefly on the lips. It was a funny kiss, as if she realized immediately that it was a bad idea. I asked her to paint 'creativity' and 'positivity' on my chest, and I stamped my banner with those intentions. My banner also had the phrases HUMOR and CURIOSITY, and in the corner was a dark and muddled image of a scale representing the judging mind -- that which I intended to let go of. I also painted the soles of my feet and walked over the banner, creating a path of footsteps in two different colors. I thought of M and of us walking side-by-side through life. Between the footsteps I drew a golden wavey line symbolizing the Dharma.
As all of this was happening, a few dozen yards away under the oak canopy the shaman and the workers were creating an altar. It consisted of a pentagram made of small stones with a medium-sized bonfire in the center. In each of the five points of the star were placed various objects like stones, metal figures, and crystals. There were also five offering bowls which were to be filled with fruit, nuts, etc. the shaman gave the group instructions for filling the bowls, but they weren't to be filled until the very last minute.
One of the offers was to be raw meat; this was fetched in late afternoon from the town store several miles down the road. While Michael, owner of the land, was setting up the bowls, he left the uncooked sausage by his feet and one of his golden retrievers nabbed it. 'Oh my GOD! FUCK!' he yelled, running at the dog and trying to smack it, instead slipping and falling on his ass. His over-reaction reminded me somehow of my father. The raw meat was gone, the dog's owner was very upset, but the shaman said it would be acceptable. In retrospect, some of us considered the lack of the meat offering to be a bad sign of what was to come.
Around the fire-altar we built a circle of tall poles, and around the poles we ran twine to create a kind of circular pen. We hung our banners around the circumference of the pen and made a walled-in circle around the altar. We were to dance in a circle around the fire, inside this pen, in one direction, without stopping, the shaman told us as the day grew darker. We would dance from sundown until sunrise. There would be no drinking water and no eating. 'It's best to let the medicine do it's work,' he said. In addition there was to be no talking, no touching each other, and specifically no touching of the shaman's instruments. Apart from these brief instructions, the shaman did not explain the ceremony further.
The shaman sat at one point of the pentagram, surrounded by his formidable collection of strange small objects, his drum, and his pipes, and did 'practice chants' for forty-five minutes. The rest of us gathered around, some solemn and some giddy, exchanging disbelieving glances and cracking short jokes. Finally he produced a wrinkled plastic bag filled with a dark power: the skin of the San Pedro cactus (the mescalin-containing Peruvian Torch, which when sliced in the preparation of the medicinal mixture, is cut into thick star-shaped slices.) He poured about an inch of the power into the bottom of a cup, then added a half-cup of water and a spoon, and we passed the cup until it reached the last person in the circle. This was repeated until everyone had their own cup.
The green slosh was awful. I only knew it was green because of the smell -- it was past dusk now -- it smelled like strong, tangy green fleshy cactus! It tasted something like aloe vera mixed with Elmer's glue. Not an unpleasant taste -- for a sip -- but after a few huge gulps the ingestion process became quite a chore. The cactus didn't dissolve completely even with furious stirring (which we all eventually succumbed to), and I wondered whether I was swallowing gulps of dirt and pebbles, or worse: cactus thorns. In my anxiety I left about a centimeter of slush at the bottom of the cup and put it aside. The shaman pulled out his shakers and started shaking a quick rhythm, and we all got up to dance.
It was more like a walk, for awhile. After about 20 minutes the walking became dizzy and the pace was hard to keep steady. I was picking the terrible hard chunks of cactus out of my teeth with my tongue. Finally my mouth began to water and my stomach tightened. I ducked out of the doorway of our arbor, and puked on my hands and knees into the twigs and poison oak. After three monumental expulsions I felt relieved, wiped my mouth with my sweatshirt sleeve, and headed back to the very weird scene around the fire. I think I was the first to throw up, and after that there was a steady stream of pukers headed out to the woods.
The energy levels steadily rose, and at some point I was practically running around the fire. I felt a buildup of energy in my hands and feet and eyes, my gut and my genitals. I realized eventually that I needed to make a trip to the bathroom; more expulsion. Sitting on the earthen outhouse seat was a strange experience. The curtain hanging in the doorway was changing colors slightly in the breeze, and my headlamp, normally cool-white, seemed to be tinged with other hues. The cries and whoops and claps of my tribe echoed from the hillsides. As I shat I felt an intense sexual buildup, as if I had been making out with a woman for hours. Shitting began to feel very pleasurable, and just for the hell of it I groaned and it felt great. For a few minutes I contemplated masturbating, but something told me it would be a waste of that energy, so I cleaned myself up and headed back out into the cold dark night, ready for action.
When I returned to the fire, it was as if from another world. These creatures were probably still recognizable as my friends but I didn't care to investigate. The sense of their energy and their strange movements and noises would stand for no inspection: I simply had to join in the madness. Suddenly we were all behaving a lot more like the shaman; burps and wheezes and yelps were emitting from almost everyone, seemingly coming not from us but from the energy, the spirit, of the medicine we had taken. A few among us were walking slowly and intentionally. Others were speed-walking full clip. Two lanes of traffic formed around the fire. The weird, wild energy ebbed and flowed for awhile as we made lap after endless lap around that fire. The shaman sang, and elicited different energies from the ether with his various instruments and songs. Sometimes he would stop and there would be a period of silence. During these times I would come back to myself and suddenly feel my inner energy, different each time, wanting a different style of walk-dance or a different sound from my throat.
I alternately clapped or stomped or took huge steps like a dinosaur. I shuffled my feet or dragged them or took small dainty steps. I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. Was this stuff even working? I remembered the banners hung all around us -- walking around the fire was like passing by an endless stream of the images and words painted on the banners, straight from the hearts and fears of the tribe. Suddenly the thought of those symbols was almost too poignant to bear. I experienced a quick series of emotions: sadness, love, tragedy, sweetness, joy... and then looked away. The banners were holding our space, reminding us why we were there.
The shaman began beating his conga drum. Heavy bass notes at a medium clip. When I passed through his part of the circle, I passed through a heavy reverberating echo chamber, and those drum beats were my entire world. The world continued to spin with me.
Suddenly, C is walking the wrong direction around the circle.
Immediately her energy is clear to me: she's being a brat, being contrarian. I didn't really expect this from her but it becomes obvious at once. She's a spoiled brat and her emotional age is suddenly broadcast to the group. the shaman stands up and turns her around, and she continues for a minute in the right direction. Then she turns again, and starts to speak, taunting us all, 'Come on guys, break the rules! These rules are stupid! Do what you want! It's all a trick, don't you see!' People are agitated but slightly amused. The organizers of the trip are horrified. the shaman is angry and desperately tries to hold the space. He sits on his drum and beats the hell out of it. The rest of us pick up our energy and our pace, determined to hold the sacred circle and continue walking, just walking. I put my head down and focus, not wanting to add any energy to her outbursts. Keep walking.
With most of the group ignoring her, C kneels in front of the fire. She is quiet for awhile, but the drum beats get to her, get inside of her. She begins to moan in rhythm with the drum, touches her stomach and chest with both hands. At first it seems appropriate, everyone is making strange sounds, and she is keeping the beat. But soon I sense that she is not in control. Her moans become more forceful and louder. It's like she's trying to expel this energy from her body. Unnnghhh!! she is yelling now, with each beat the intensity of her voice becoming stronger. She is practically screaming now in an orgasmic fit, her voice becoming hoarse. 'Unnnnnhhghhh FUCK ME you FUCKING SHAMAN!' she yells, jumps up and breaks into the circular dance. 'Fuck me! Fuck me! Oh yeah, Oh yeah, sex is good, water is good! Sex and water! You know you want some! Come on people, stop this stupid shit and let's go fuck in the woods! This is all crazy! This isn't real! Why don't you see it? Come on Unnnngghh fuck me, Shaman! My fucking PUSSY is so WET!' The rest of us can hardly believe it. Even in our orgasm-crazy crowd this is beyond belief. My brain officially checks out for the evening. Our pseudo-sacred ritual has been tarnished, the ceremonial seal has been broken and a sense of utter chaos has descended on the woods. I feel the cold wind blow over our banners. The poor shaman! Some are laughing, and again some are terrified for the breaking of these barriers. Others begin to fall to the demon, tempted into opening their mouths and trying to persuade C to shut up and just dance.
People take turns over the next hour or more pulling her aside for brief words or to glare at her. She disappears into the woods more than once, and comes back with a water bottle, taunting us all. Her flip-out has taken over most of the energy of the experience. To me, it all seems to perfectly clear. She couldn't handle the intense buildup of energy, she popped and lost control instead. I am seeing this in a weird new light, however, and I have the felt sense that something other than C has taken over C. Suddenly the dance and whatever protecting energy we had successfully generated thus far in the night took on a whole new importance. The group was in a power-struggle with something that sought to destroy it. No sooner did I have this feeling than C began to pull at the banners, trying to destroy our arbor. She was physically restrained by three of the guys, she pushed and shoved and hit them off of her, and disappeared again into the woods. Some of the guys went to look after her. This was the way of the next several hours. We danced and sung and occasionally the demon would return to wreak havoc on our ceremony.
During the quiet periods, I began to notice that the energetic space of the woods had taken on a very different character. There was a spherical bubble of a certain type of energy -- warm, powerful, deep, grounded, healing, and overpowering, centered in the altar. When I looked at the altar, it seemed that a large hole had opened up around the fire and that the very earth was glowing red-hot as embers. It swirled somehow, and had a gravitational pull. It was very strong. It was benign -- as long as I kept moving. During the times when I would stop to pray - as I had to more than once because of the sheer power of the experience - I would put my forehead down in front of the fire, and it was something like putting my head against a buzzing furnace: the vibration and energy of it was amplified when I made contact. The inner world behind my eyelids would not hold still; there were strange crawling growing images and sensations with them. With my head on the ground I felt the strange hairiness of brown forest spiders and could somehow smell them. This was so disturbing I had to get up and dance. Later I bowed again and saw/felt/smelled larvae, pale white and segmented bodies, moving in the earth. Yuck. I would rather dance. My head reeled from these weird transmissions.
Outside of the burning energy vortex of the fire-altar, there were completely different energies. I sensed forest-things looking in -- no doubt wondering what the hell was going on around the fire. First I detected a general curiosity. But when I in turn became curious and focused my attention outwards, I felt called into the forest. It was cool and light out there, the full moon bounced from majestic tree trunks and the whole world was bathed in blues and greens and silvers. There were voices -- young, female, and playful. But the tones they used were too alluring for me to trust. The orgasmic moans again echoed through the forest but this time I was sure they were not coming from C. I felt it was mostly safe for me to wander, as long as I kept my wits about me. At one point I happened upon a clearing with an especially tall pine tree, a good strong tree, and under it was sitting... E. She seemed dizzy and out of breath. Her eyes were big but she was soft and tired-feeling. When I approached she shined her flashlight on me. 'Can you hear them?' she asked me. I realized this forest was an enchanted faerie-land, filled with all kinds of beings normally hidden from view, and from that point on I spoke only in hushed tones.
At another point I found myself standing on a small boulder, peering over a hillside, with the moon as bright as the midday sun. I could feel my eyes squinting just to take in the sheer brilliance of the light. I was overcome with the power and beauty of Mother Nature, and all I could do was to give thanks in a silent prayer with hands held out, my heart filled with love.
As the evening wore on, it became even crazier. The prospect of dancing until sunup was eventually too much for almost all of our psyches (what was left of them,) and the group degenerated into every manner of silliness and mild altercations. The various personalities either held the space or were lost to immaturity, playful and adventurous or hard-assed and solider-like. The shaman wandered off more than once -- to look after C, to ask for help from his spirit guides in dealing with this outrageous bunch, or to just smoke his pipe I don't really know. In his absence R or Antonio would hold space and play drums. Once I picked up the shakers and shook myself around the circle for awhile. the shaman suddenly appeared in front of me with his hands held out and a stern look on his face, fire in his eyes, and I quickly handed him back the shakers.
More than once I tried summoning all the power within me to force the sun to rise more quickly.
My stomach felt empty and my feet were swollen. Just keep walking, we chanted together.
Minutes before sunrise, C reappeared and began to successfully tear down our banners and poles. She was trying to destroy our container, to bring the whole thing down. There were a few more altercations, slaps and choking, punches and kicks to the groin. The men were exacerbated and exhausted, and aside from preventing her from hurting anyone else there was nothing any of us could do. She was tireless. She knocked one pole into the fire, almost hitting the shaman. She threw his shaker into the flames. This earned her a slap on the face from the shaman himself. It seemed perfectly deserved at the time. I started taking down the poles for our safety. I talked to her a few times without violence. She wouldn't communicate for more than a few words. She left yet again, and this time headed away from camp, down the hill towards the river. The sky was becoming a steel gray, dawn only minutes away. The shaman approached me with his tobacco pipe and blew smoke on my forehead, in my face, and between my hands. I took that as a signal that my ceremony was done, and sensing it was my turn, I went off down the hill to keep an eye on C.
I caught up with her a half-mile down the hill just as she was letting the llamas out of their pen. I pleaded with her not to, almost in tears, sure that they would kick her in the face or trample her. They ran out and down the hill. She walked on, not acknowledging me. I told her that this wasn't what friends do to each other, that she must not do this, that I won't have her death on my hands. I held my voice as steady and firm as I could without yelling. She was going to walk through the wilderness to find her way home, she said. I glanced up the steep hill, wondering how long it would take me to run back. I asked her many times if she would stop walking and just talk to me. Finally, thank God, she turned off the trail and headed sideways back up the hillside. She walked out onto a rock outcropping and stood at the top. Below us was a long and steep slope. I stood for a long time several feet behind her, with a wide stance, contemplating which part of her clothing I would grab onto if she moved an inch. The blades of grass were changing colors. She sat down. I asked if I could sit with her and she nodded her head.
We sat on that rock and watched the intense sun peak over the ridge, and just like that the whole crazy night was over. I talked her down gradually, her story slowly coming together, the craziness gradually mixing with my interjections of relative sanity, and in the end we had pieced together something like a common perception of what had occurred that night. She went back to camp and fell asleep. I returned to find everyone in a good mood, disturbed but sensing that they had received something holy and profound amidst the chaos. The rest of the morning was spent laying in the meadow grass under a not-too-hot sun.
I came away from the experience with gratitude for experiencing something that I never knew existed. I saw and felt and knew a kind of earth magic that I would never have believed if it had been described to me. What's more, I witnessed a young woman be totally overcome by a spirit and a personality that did not seem to be her own. It was a powerful lesson that there is still much we don't understand about ourselves and the forces in the world that affect us.
I will take the medicine again, if I ever get the chance, and perhaps next time have the chance to go deeper.
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