Huasca Combo (B. caapi & M. hostilis)
Citation: Jetty. "Ridden by the Serpent: An Experience with Huasca Combo (B. caapi & M. hostilis) (exp97427)". Erowid.org. Nov 7, 2018. erowid.org/exp/97427
A close friend and I decided a few weeks ago to take Ayahuasca, and we began making preparations in our own ways. As an herbal enthusiast, I gathered the necessary botanicals: Peruvian yellow Banisteriopsis caapi (the Ayahuasca vine) and Mexican Mimosa tenuiflora/hostilis root bark, as well as frankincense and sage and palo santo and copal for smudging and incense, agua florida, and other such ritual supplies. Meanwhile my friend, T, selected a site on his land in northern New England. This being our first time with the medicine, we both did some research on preparation techniques and on some of the lore of Ayahuasca.
In searching for someone to serve as guide, we were amazed to discover that T’s brother, an otherwise straight-laced young man, had attended a couple of Ayahuasca retreats with his wife and that they would be thrilled to preside at our own little gathering.
We were expecting four actual participants--myself, T, his girlfriend L, and his brother D. Accordingly, I decocted 200 grams of caapi, simmering it (without adding any lemon juice or vinegar) in three changes of water over the course of about 8 hours. Due to the tannic quality of the mimosa, I took a cold infusion approach with it, soaking 50g of root bark in three changes of water. After further simmering down the combined extractions of caapi, we ended up with about 20 ounces of thickish, brick-red, opaque liquid. The mimosa extraction came to 16 oz of what looked like red wine--deep garnet and (after being strained through a coffee filter) very clear. We kept the two preparations separate as per some internet advice.
In the event, D was unable to partake; with a busy week leading up to the designated night he found himself unable to carry out the requisite dietary restrictions. The other three of us had managed two to three days of the recommended abstinence from alcohol, grease, meat, intense spices, and sexual activity. The day before the ceremony we ate only rice and steamed vegetables, without any salt, plus a little fish and some fruit. The morning of, we ate similarly lightly, then fasted altogether after lunch.
Our little ceremony began around 6:00 PM with a quick, chilly bath in the pond. We dressed in the cleanest, whitest clothes we could muster up, and I anointed us with agua florida and a blend of cleansing essential oils. We were all feeling varying degrees of trepidation and excitement as we gathered in the area we had prepared: blankets arranged on one side of a big fire pit, with a makeshift altar nearby. We had brought out a drum and a plate of offerings to the spirit of the medicine (chocolate, tobacco, a corn husk doll, some vegetable soup) and arranged some stumps for our friends to sit on. In addition to the three participants and D and his wife, we had asked three other friends to come “see us off.” This plan backfired to some extent, however, as it soon became apparent that the participants were outnumbered by people without much experience holding ritual space. In any case, we began the ceremony proper with some smudging with sage, lighting candles and making the offerings, the three of us speaking our intentions out loud to another, and then T reading an invocation he had written that nicely summed up those intentions. In brief, we approached the plant respectfully, stating that we were not out for a cheap thrills or (as T put it) a “quasi-legal high” but were interested in purification, healing, and insight
we approached the plant respectfully, stating that we were not out for a cheap thrills or (as T put it) a “quasi-legal high” but were interested in purification, healing, and insight
. My particular motivation was to deepen my work as an herbalist, moving beyond physical properties to connect, through Ayahuasca, to the realm of plant spirits.
It was around 7:00 by now, with about an hour of daylight left and a chilly night predicted. Without further ado we divvied up three quarters of the caapi brew (as we had originally been expecting four people to partake) and drank it down quickly. It was remarkably mild, slightly sweet and even pleasant tasting.
Being perhaps the most sensitive of the three of us, I noticed some slight, subtle effects almost immediately--a tough-to-describe shift in consciousness. Without waiting very long, though, we each drank about 1.5 ounces of the extremely bitter and astringent mimosa infusion--just a tenth of the total amount I had prepared, as we were unsure of the appropriate dosage and wanted to err on the side of caution (the online botanical source enclosed a note with the parcel stating that most of their customers had found that 3-5 grams of this particular mimosa per person was plenty). As we sat around chatting quietly, waiting for things to get interesting, I became aware of a mildly hypnotic, “seductive” feeling, which I felt was somehow snake-like in its undulating quality. Except for the mild nausea which we all felt, it was so far remarkably pleasant, much more like what we might have expected from something like opium.
At some point within the first forty minutes or so we each decided to lie down on our blanket raft in front of the fire. I could have stayed sitting, but it became appealing to be horizontal. I felt a gradual tug in the direction of another, dreamier realm, but the mundane conversation of our babysitting friends nearby made it difficult to fall fully under the spell. After an hour or so had passed since ingestion, D and his wife told us we should be feeling more than we were. We waited a few minutes longer, comparing notes on our more-or-less normal mental states, then sat up and divided and drank the rest of the caapi and another 1-2 ounces each of the plentiful mimosa brew. At some point I had another swallow of it, so that I probably drank 4 or 5 ounces total (corresponding to something like 12-15 grams of mimosa root bark).
In the growing dark, the hypnotic pull soon became stronger. I lay back down and tuned out the ambient conversation. I was aware of unusual sensations and thought patterns but can’t remember them now. I must have actually fallen asleep at one point, because I seemed to wake into a sort of lucid dream. The experience was not particularly visual, but my consciousness felt like it was being tumbled about in the coils of a snake. I was alarmed momentarily but was soon present enough to remember that I was under the influence of the brew and to remind myself to relax into it and let it take me where it wanted to go (as D’s wife, B, had maintained was crucial, in her experience). Lying under a sleeping bag by the fire with my eyes closed, I smiled and told myself to hold on for the ride. From this point on, some part of my mind remained in touch with conventional reality; I wasn’t completely in another realm. Although I may have already peaked by then, I was still far from coming down, and the most powerful (or at least memorable) part of the experience was still to come
the most powerful (or at least memorable) part of the experience was still to come
Of all the senses, my sense of touch was most powerfully affected. I have never been particularly prone to “visuals” with mushrooms or san pedro cactus, and this (admittedly rather mellow) ayahuasca brew proved no different in that respect. But it opened my bodily awareness in ways those other substances never have. When a limb would start falling asleep under my body weight, for instance, the pins and needles sensation was overwhelming, and almost comically so, like a rain of comets shooting up my limb. Now ever since the murky, snake-wrapped peak, I’d been aware of strong sensations in my legs. They had begun shortly after the second dosing and had only grown stronger since. These eventually became spasms, primarily of my inner thighs, rather as if I were gripping a horse between my legs. They weren’t painful, but they were intense. The sensations spread to my spine, and I began to move a little, writhing around slightly, still horizontal. The overall impression was of something large and powerful coming over me, wrapping around me, moving me. I felt it in my legs and spine and in my viscera; it was deep inside me. It was a little dizzying but, again, not unpleasant; it felt like a ride, but I began to realize that I wasn’t riding but rather being ridden. With this realization, something clicked into place mentally. Now I had a frame of reference for what was happening and enough presence of mind to watch it happen and, indeed, to enjoy it.
I was present enough in the mundane world to communicate with only moderate effort. I exchanged a few words with D and his wife, B, letting them know I was doing fine. B helped me to my feet so I could go pee. Despite not having drunk anything besides a few ounces of the two brews for hours, I peed for what felt like a full minute or more. It was a powerful relief. I zigzagged back over to the fire, again exchanging a few remarks with D and B. I noticed that my compadres T and L were lying down and I assumed they were in Ayahuasca dreamland, out of it. I took a moment to look around. The sparks from the fire traced spiraling lines in the night; the stars were out in full, and the maple branches overhead reflecting the fire’s glow seemed like two-dimensional overlays against the sky. But my slightly tweaked visual perception was not of nearly as much interest as the sensations that continued to play through my body. I knelt on the blanket, exploring my state. Somehow or other I began moving, gyrating, my pelvis making deep circles that my spine followed in spiral fashion. Though I could have stopped them if I had needed to, the motions were completely involuntary, and I twisted and gyrated in various patterns and positions over the course of what must have been twenty minutes. I was being irresistibly led in a dance with a serpentine creature, mercilessly twined and spooled. I felt my organs being massaged and muscular holding patterns in my back and shoulders being unwound. It was therapy; it was play; it was, I realized, a form of lovemaking. I was not physically aroused nor thinking sexual thoughts. But I had been entered, unmistakably, from below, through my legs up and now up through my spine. (Later, I though of the Kundalini of yogic lore rising from the base of the spine to unlock one’s latent power.) I was possessed by the plant spirit in serpentine form, and the more I realized this and surrendered to it the more joyful it became. The gyrations continued, still involuntary, but freer and wilder now. I let out some gasps and “phew”s, as one might during a fireworks show or a roller coaster ride or prolonged intercourse. Finally, and without any particular climax, the motions subsided, and with my legs still folded under me, feet pointing back, I leaned forward and let my cheek rest on the cool earth beneath the blanket. I felt heavy, happy, alert to the next stage.
A sense of the presence of another intelligence continued, now mostly in my back. I could feel it breathing with me up into my kidneys and extending the length of my back, up into my head. When I sat up again, it was with a sense of great blessing and power; I seemed to be seeing through the great snake’s eyes, its consciousness overlaid onto mine. Gazing into the steady fire, I felt myself a creature of light and heat, ready for most any test. Physically I felt incredibly limber and relaxed now that the spasms had subsided--the gyrations had untied all sorts of knots.
It may have been now that this image flashed before my mind’s eye: a skeleton--my own--woven through with a serpent like a needle with thread, our bodies all but fused. I felt myself penetrated and penetrating, the caduceus’ stick and serpents at once. Something clicked and the words “I am bisexual” resounded in my mind, accompanied with a startling sense of power and glory. Whether the statement belonged to me or the snake/spirit I am still unsure. But it carried the weight of revelation. I saw the archetypal serpent with its many layers of resonance--DNA strands, the symbols of the ouroboros and the caduceus--as raw generative power. Its forked tongue suggested duality subsumed into unity, unity giving rise to duality, in a sort of binary game. Male and female, it struck me, are merely a split at the end of a long, shared genetic road. In the moment it seemed like a personal revelation about my own sexuality as well as a perspective on the nature of sexual energy.
I rolled onto my back, knees up, staring up at the milky way, savoring the fading presence of Ayahuasca. I might have gotten deep into celestial contemplation on this perfectly clear night, but I was soon distracted by something, perhaps by my friends waking up. They were disappointingly sober except for a few hints of images and some mild stony sensations to report. It seemed that we had all flung what is called in Chinese medicine “the orifice of the heart,” but that the winged snake had chosen me this night. Maybe I was the most sensitive of the three of us; or maybe, as the unpaired one, I was an overwhelmingly tempting target. I lay there half-astonished but fully sane and grounded, basking in the glow of the divine love-play I had experienced. I knew this was the start of a highly unusual relationship.
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