Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sorry, but One More About Ayahuasca

Someone who recently read my book, someone I don't know, wrote this morning to ask about whether ayahuasca has a selfish side. It came in reference to a moment in the book when ayahuasca asks me to bring her "fresh meat", which scared the hell out of me. So I wrote this answer, and I don't think it will ruin the book for anyone since it's not that kind of book.

Dear X: Now, your question: It is hard to say, prior to understanding fully, some of the things that go on with ayahuasca. When I first saw the Man with the Hat, for instance, he was the size of the entire universe, and so it was frightening beyond words when he said I should follow him. Later, it turned out he was sent to help me--and has helped me ever since.
So the fresh meat: Does that mean she wants me to come after I've done a dieta for days so that I will be fresh meat, rather than some old white guy? Maybe.
Has my having been instrumental in making ayahuasca known and subsequently making her a destination for thousands and thousand of people gotten her ego piqued? Does she now think she's a little more important than she is and so wants "fresh meat" to work with in the way of more guests, not just from me but from others and from those who will seek her out because of things like my book? Possibly. I do believe that all spirits/life forces have will, intent, desires. So who is to say she, like the rest of us, doesn't have a bit of an ego that can get out of hand sometimes?
That is something I've been trying to figure out for nearly two years. And during that time I've only drunk a few times because of my fear of approaching her. There is a part of me that knows--and if you want you can chalk this all up to my own insane ego--that there was a reason I wound up writing the first cover story in a national magazine about ayahuasca. I wasn't chosen but I was in the right place/right time. I think my relationship with her spirit is a bit different than a lot of other peoples' because of that. I think she has made demands on me--some of which I didn't write about because they might frighten people--that she has probably not made on many people. One was once when she announced that she and the spirits would need my body, that they wanted to feel the tactile sensations humans felt. So I sent the family away, told her I'd go along with it only if those spirits didn't do anything to hurt me or the person with me, my friend Lynn. And then we drank and for several hours hundreds of different spirits moved through me for a few minutes each. They wanted to touch water, leaves, smell flowers, sing, scratch skin.....and they had to be told "no" pretty freaking forcefully when one of them wanted to cut my fingers with a knife to see how it felt to bleed. If anyone had seen me that night other than Lynn I am sure I would have been put in a looney bin. That was a frightening experience, but one I was glad to let her have because of what she has given me. And at the end of it I was led to sit under that throbbing, fantastic corona I describe in the book. I thought my body would burst from the energy that corona had.
So there are some things left out of the book, some things that will go into another book if I ever gather enough good material. Why were they left out? Because I don't have enough understanding of what happened yet. The crush of going into that black magic space, in the center of everything, I've only tasted it. What will it be like to experience that crush of myself within the gears of the machine that runs the universe? I don't know so I didn't want to discuss it much.
I am gathering up my courage. I am remembering that there is a reason this spirit and I came together, and it wasn't just by accident. If Moises hadn't said the word, if Alfonso wasn't home that day, I likely would never have tried it. But I will need a lot of courage to jump into that fire fully. It's a frightening place because it's deeper each time, more demanding each time. And yet I suppose, if I gather up my courage, it will be more rewarding as well. The spirits are as deep and dense and wonderful as our spirits are and the chance to plumb the depth of one as sturdy as ayahuasca is a rare one.
When I do will I discover her to be selfish? I don't think so. I think this is just another test, and that it is a test for both her and I. We are somehow intertwined--and she may well be intertwined with thousands of others--and that story needs to play out, needs to come out on another side. And the other side won't just be being a curandero. It will be something else. I think Julio did it. Some other curanderos have done it. But not many. I think it would mean the same thing as it meant for those spirits to inhabit my human body for a few minutes: It might mean, and I think it certainly would entail, me inhabiting her spirit for a few minutes. And that, while a wonderful thought, is also an overwhelmingly frightening one.
Anyway, if I ever find out if ayahuasca is selfish, I'll let you know.

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