Tuesday, October 01, 2013

What Happened to My Leg

I've been thinking about writing this for a while, but have not. I think I'm intimidated because there is at least an element of brujeria--black magic--or the possibility of an element of brujeria involved. Which means an awful lot of people are going to write this and me off pretty quickly. It also means that I have to explain some things.
    So I'll give the prior-to-the-leg story.
    Some years ago, I was attacked by a pretty damned negative energy during an ayahuasca ceremony with Julio. He saw it and tried to chase the spirit--or the physical person's negative energy--away while I sang for my life. In the end, I saw two friends/quasi friends who took credit for the attack with the simple explanation "Because I can." As if they were trying out some superpowers and just happened to try out the negativity one on me.
    I don't know that they were really the attackers--in the spirit world spirits hide behind a lot of masks--or we humans, in our attempt to compartmentalize the disembodied spirits we're seeing, give them form. So it might have been a negative energy bought and paid for by someone who didn't like me--in Iquitos, that's pretty common--or it might have been someone directing energy at Julio that I somehow intercepted--and a lot of people wanted him dead when he got very old because they thought--and this is the way it is with curanderos and their spirit helpers--they could steal his spirit helpers if they were there at the moment of his death. Whether they can or not, I'm not sure, but that's the belief system for a lot of people in that part of the world--and it results in good friends trying to kill you if they think you're going to die, just to be there when you actually kick the bucket so that they grab that power.
    On a trip not long after that one, one of my guests put a box into my green shoulder bag--those who know it call it the magic bag because it always seems to be filled with just what you need at the moment you need it--and told me they'd been given it by a friend of mine who said it was a gift for Madeleina, my daughter.
    It was a box with an odd little plastic space man sort of doll in it. I thought it a strange gift for Madeleina but put away in my suitcase in my room in Iquitos with the intention of bringing it to her when I went back to Texas.
    But strange things started happening almost immediately: My team began complaining that they didn't like the energy in my room. They smoked it with mapacho--think of smudging with black tobacco cigarettes--and Agua Florida and sang icaros and shook chacapas--bundle leaf fans--to clear the space. A couple of my team felt ill and vomited in the room in the first days after I got the doll, but I didn't even think of it at the time. But something was going on: There were noises and conversations in the room at night when I was alone; things fell off the thick cement walls that had been in place for 40 years.
    And then one morning when I got up--my team was already in the room and hallway ready to work--I just keeled over. My team got me to a doctor who said I'd had a little "heart attack, a little heart fart" would be a good translation. No big deal, just one of those things. He examined me and said everything was fine, it was an isolated thing I didn't need to concern myself with but that it was lucky that someone did a basic CPR and got me breathing.
    Back at the room, the team demanded to look around. They said it was brujeria at work and were sure someone had put something in the room that acted as a magnet--or directional compass--to draw the negative energy that was so recently prevalent there, to the room. I said the only thing new that I knew of was a gift for Madeleina, and I took it out for them to see.
    They urged me to open the box. I did. The doll was hard red plastic. But out of the box I realized it looked as though you could open it. So I did. And inside was another doll, smaller, I think more or less the same. But when I opened that, there was another doll inside. But this doll was turned in the opposite direction and was completely different except for being made of red plastic. This doll had a knife in a raised hand that was pointed to the second doll's heart from the inside--and that meant it was pointed at the larger doll's heart as well. And there was a note attached to the doll in English. I can't remember the exact words this very second, but it went pretty much like this: "You are my enemy and I will kill you until you die!"
   Okay, that was freaking eerie and we decided that it wasn't the sort of doll I should bring Madeleina--in fact, it might have been the sort of doll that someone would pay a brujo--negative person, generally a fallen curandero who made a living with love spells and being paid to cast concentrated negative energy toward people--to put a lot of hatred and anger into and pass along to me. But they would only do that if they really hated me and they'd only hate me if I'd wronged them. And I had not wronged anyone. Chepa was free when I met and fell in love with her. I didn't take clients from anyone else, ever,  didn't steal money, didn't do anything that would make someone hate me. Hell, I didn't even take my clients for the Jungle Trips to a place used by anyone else.
    We got rid of the doll: Burned it, sang over it, crushed the remains and buried it in the river. It might just have been a doll but with that little knife and that message, well, it wasn't a nice doll.
    Two or three years later, out of the blue, a fellow who'd been on one of my very early trips called me out of the blue. I'd seen him on the street in Iquitos now and then and we shared pleasantries but I always though him a bit distant considering we'd spent a week in the jungle together and he'd had a great time and we'd enjoyed one another's company and so forth. After saying hello, he said that he wanted to apologize. I asked him "apologize for what?"
    He said he knew that I knew he'd gone to work for a well-known ayahuasca lodge in its early days and had helped grow it to something considered very excellent just outside of Iquitos. I said that sure, I knew he worked there and I was glad they were doing well and doing good work.
   Then he told me that many time he and others at that lodge--I knew some of them at least to say hello to--sat around and talked about how stupid Peter Gorman was, how I was a jerk and how my trips sucked. I asked him why they thought that. He said they sometimes saw me drinking or drunk on the Boulevard and I said of course. When I'm in town I'm on my time having a party. And when I have faltered in the jungle setting--and I have, occasionally--I try to make it up to the clients. He said he knew. He also said the trip with me was the trip that opened his eyes and made him want to be down in the jungle, drinking medicine. He said the overnight riverboat ride up the Amazon was the single best night he'd ever had and the medicine he drank with Julio was the most potent, profound and healing medicine he'd ever done.
    I asked him why he sat around and made fun of me and my trips if that's how he felt. He said he didn't know but that's why he was calling to apologize.
   I asked him if it ever got to the level of wanting me hurt--or sending a doll my way. He said no. It was nasty and negative and at my expense but not brujeria. I believed him and that was that.
   The call sort of opened my eyes to the idea of people not liking me. Not that I thought everyone did, but until then I couldn't have imagined that anyone who didn't would have spent one second thinking about me. It never occurred to me.
    I believe he didn't send that doll, but someone gave it to one of my guests with instructions to put it into my bag with the word that it was a gift for my daughter. And it was not a doll that's available in Iquitos or anywhere in Peru. So someone went out of their way to send negativity in my direction. That was disturbing.
    Now the leg. On my trip in June, I had a good group of nice people, and ayahuasca said she had things to teach me so that I should stay very straight during the trip. I did. And as always, before the trip started, I asked the universe--give it any name with which you feel most comfortable--to make certain that if anything bad had to happen on the trip--like a bad fall, a snakebite, a really awful spider bite and so forth--to make certain it happened to me, and not my guests. They were just down for a life-changing experience, after all, and were due home in a couple of weeks and having them hurt would really crimp things. Now I don't like getting hurt either, but I've been hurt so much in the jungle over the years that I figure I can handle it, so it should come my way. Wretched universe is always accommodating and so yes, the bad things always happen to me. Darn.
    We left Iquitos on a riverboat at about 2 PM, headed up the Amazon. The boat arrived at our first destination at about 3 AM, where we disembarked, had all of our food/camp materials and so forth taken off the boat, and headed into the pitch black town. The place we land has no electricity most of the day most of the time, and certainly none at night, so it's really pitch black after you get past the four solar panel-lit lights at the port. But I'd arranged for a restaurant to be open for us and to have hot coffee and tea ready. The owner had two long tables with table cloths and candles set up, so that my guests, probably wondering what my plan was as we walked through the pitch dark of the town, suddenly got a lovely surprise. We had coffee and I bought some of the local cheese and crackers and we had a good snack, after which my friend Juan got them to their simple hotel rooms.
   Now at the end of the alley where the tables were set up--I called it a restaurant but it's really just an alleyway--were the gates to the local market. The market has two bathrooms in one corner. It opens at about 5 AM when the first fishermen come in with the fish caught in their nets. Their wives cut and clean them and strip the scales on long cement tables and push the refuse to the cement floor. Shortly after the fishermen arrive come the people selling plantains and papaya, chickens, bread, and the other things sold in the market.
   Well, the gates had just opened when I had to take a leak. I mean, had to take a leak. Normally, I would have stepped around the corner of the alley and peed there, but a couple of guests had not gone to their rooms yet and so out of decorum I decided I'd try to make it to one of the bathrooms on the far side of the cement-floored market. It was a desperate situation: I'm a grown man and can hold it for hours if I have to but not this time: It felt as though someone was squeezing my kidneys from both sides and I knew I'd be peeing down my pant leg in just a few moments. It might have been the first time in 10 years I got the urge like that, and with my clothes in my backpack being loaded onto the smaller boats in the port that would take us where we were going, I had nothing to change into.
   I strode to the steps at the top of the market, walked with long strides across the floor, and about halfway across felt myself begin to slide. It was as though someone had put a rope across the floor and I'd walked into it: The floor was slippery, but instead of falling with one leg forward, my head stopped abruptly, my legs came together and left the floor so that I was in a perfect planche position, head parallel with both feet for a moment, then fell and hit with my entire body at the same moment. I tucked my head so that I didn't hit that so hard but when I landed I stayed still a moment. "Oh, shit. Something bad just happened," I thought. And I knew it. Something awful had happened and I didn't mean falling in front of people selling fish. I've been embarrassed way too often in my life by my own failures to worry about that. No. This was a deep feeling that something had just gone terribly wrong.
   When I tried to get up I realized I couldn't. I just slid in place. Heck, it probably took me 30 seconds just to turn over. When I did, I realized that what I'd fallen in was the soap and water used to get yesterday's fish guts off the market floor. I was sliding around in day old fish entrails and soap and muck and finally someone passed me a long stick and I grabbed it and they pulled me to where the floor was dry and I got up then went to the bathroom and peed.
    As there was no water, I just brushed as much of the goop off of me and my bare calves--I was wearing shorts--combed the goop out of my hair and returned to the long tables for a coffee. But the nagging sensation that something had gone wrong, really wrong, stuck with me. Who had made me need to urinate that way? So badly that I didn't look at my surroundings when crossing the market floor. Who had caught my neck with an invisible rope that had me fall the way I did. And why?
   That's the kind of "really bad thing" I was thinking about. This was not an ordinary fall. I do that frequently enough to know I don't have any style when I fall. This was entirely different.
    And I knew that it wasn't necessarily someone who hated me. Just someone who sees me come into that town four times a year and each time I arrive I have a huge team of helpers and guests and they might imagine that they should be working instead of my helpers, or that they should have the guests and not me, or who knows what. I do know--I've learned--that negative energy from simple jealousy can have real world impacts. And I know that there are people in that town who don't like me or who are jealous--several have told me I don't belong there even though I've known that town since 1985.
    The trip itself went well. And while I tried to ignore the tugging feeling that something had gone very wrong with that fall, when nothing happened by the time we all returned to Iquitos, I was thrilled to be proven wrong. I imagined I was just getting caught up in my own self-importance and was glad to see the universe was putting me in my place by letting me and the guests and my staff all come out without anything rotten happening.
    I went to bed that night in my room alone, thanking the universe for not letting anything happen on the trip.
    I woke up to angry red streaks on my right calf and a small hole of rotten flesh in the middle of them. By that evening it got ugly; the next night was so bad that Alan Shoemaker sent my friend Jorge to my my room insisting I go to the hospital. I did, but the flesh eating had started and in the end nearly took my leg off.
    Interestingly, when cultures were finally done at the hospital in Texas a month later--and they took more than a week to fully develop--it turned out that there were four different things attacking the leg:
Morganella morganni
a species of Proteus
Aeromonas hydrophila
    The last two, while fairly common, often occur in fish--and rotting fish guts and skin and tails that have been sitting in the heat of a metal roofed building festering for 24-hours is apparently a good place to pick them up in open cuts and such. And I've always got some small cuts on the back of my calves in Iquitos because I scratch at mosquito bites and such.
    So I'm not gonna swear that those four bacteria, or even the last two, did the very unusual and became flesh eaters--not their typical action in humans--because of any brujeria. But I am going to think that the fall that landed me in that microbe goop exposed open cuts on the back of my calves to them. And I'm going to say that the fall just wasn't normal.
     And the takeaway is this: While someone who has accrued a good deal of personal power or spirit world juice can wreak havoc on you life after sitting around a cauldron and wishing you ill for three or five or seven days, it really really doesn't take that much effort to mess a person up. Just thinking negatively will send energy out into the universe and that's enough to change the equilibrium of people who are not continually geared to protect themselves.
    So I'm going to ask anyone who doesn't like me, hates me, thinks I suck, to just not think about me, okay? I'm not doing anything to interfere with anyone else's life, so don't waste time on me. Cause I don't want this happening again. Seriously.


Unknown said...

Maybe a few people did send concentrated negative energies to you for whatever reasons, look at the bright side, there are more people who send positive energies to you through their donations and blessings.

I stumbled upon your site while I was researching for my upcoming aya trip. Your stories are truly fascinating and at times can be a bit scary.

Just curious, is your protector snake still in your tummy? Did you still ask it for help?

I wish you get well soon. Sending concentrated positive energies to you from the East.

Peter Gorman said...

The snake is still there, still helping. It's part of the reason I still have the leg, I think.
Thanks for writing.
Peter G

Frater C.M. said...

Hey Peter, excellent post.

I've spent half the day reading your blog, you're great :)

I was curious, why choose the victim mindset(i.e. please don't hurt me with your bad intent)? People with bad intent or "muy celosa" will send out bad vibes whether you (or they) like it or not. I personally think that this conscious/unconscious threat is heightened in Peru because it is a deep part of their culture.

Why not take concerted action against celosa, envida, or just plain ol' bad intent? Take one step further than simply relying on your protective snake. Your snake can be considered the last line of defense :)

Simple rituals and visualisation practices (embued with meaning and intent) are an excellent way to create a protective bubble around yourself. Sounds crazy, i know. But hey - you've taken ayahuasca so you should be used to crazy, right?

My background is in Western Magical modalities, so I regularly use what we call the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, its purpose is to connect with the Divine/Higher Self/whatever, disperse negative energy/spirit/whatever, ground oneself (i.e. avoid hippyitis)and create a "protective bubble".
Now this likely won't jive for your personal worldview, so why not create some ritual that does sync with the way you engage with the world? Why not regularly use a protective ritual that is more shamanic, icaro or plant inspired?

These rituals should not just be considered panaceas for paranoia. With the right intent, it should also increase confidence and energy, reduce fear and paralysing doubt, and center/align oneself. In other words, it should keep one focused on what is right and true for oneself.

An other thing that I think might be the cause of your injuries could be the very fact that you are asking for it! It is noble to do the whole "Damien Karras shtick" but it is dangerous to your own well-being. Rather then ask that danger be directed to you (rather than your customers) why not do something a bit different and safer? If you're sick or dead, then your customers won't have anyone as cool as you to introduce them to the jungle, or write the great things that you write. So you being healthy... and alive, is good for everyone.

Here is a suggestion; Make a little doll out of earth/clay, pretty it up if you so desire, give him a name (eg. Bob), create some meaningful doll-man making ceremony and then "blow" life into him, and then place him in a small box. It will be his new home for all eternity. Don't ever open the box again. Bring it with you whenever you go out to the jungle with your clients.

Now, rather then ask that bad shit happen to you (instead of your customers), ask that the bad shit happen to your little golem friend, Bob. Let him take the fall man:)

Over time this creepy little golem dude will be imbued with some pretty nasty energy, just don't do what a brujo might be tempted to do with it.

Thanks once again for your writings and insight!

The weird guy with the weird suggestions