This is a great thread! I wanted to relate two experiences - my own on salvia divinorum and my friend's experience on ayahuasca. My experience smoking salvia leaves was not as intense as some of the DMT experiences I've read about on this thread - no sound buzzing, no entities with alien languages. But it was extremely profound nonetheless. I was alone in my apartment sitting on my couch. I can't recall if I was playing music or not. But I initially recall the sensation of my environment closing in around me. Looking at the walls, they seemed to have a liquid quality. Gradually, the walls became my primary point of connection as I felt they were breathing. At some point, I began to feel a profound connection as being part of the wall, or to abbreviate a John Lennon lyric, "I am the wall!" This connection gave me a deeper emotional and spiritual empathy with the environment than I had ever experienced. Everything in the wall connected with the Earth, and I was just a small part of the living whole. At this point, I no longer feared death. When my body perishes, I will connect with the Earth on a different level. There may be separation from the previous state of being, but I now had experienced the comfort of consciousness: there may be different states of being, but all is connected. That was my personal discovery. And it only took about 10-15 minutes to achieve that.
My friend e-mailed his experience on ayahuasca, which was considerably longer and significantly more intense:
I´m going to get into the very heavy details of my Trip, so for those of you turned off--or merely bored--by tales of weird drugs, skip it. But it was profound to me, so I have to elaborate.
Here´s the fast lowdown on ayahuasca: it´ a brew whose chief component is a huge jungle vine , a woody creeper that grows to gigantic sizes in the Amazon Basins of Peru and Ecuador. This ayahuasqueros (men and women who take this as a spiritual sacramnent) are a cult older than mushroom cults of Mexico, and larger, and more complex, and far more powerful. This has been going on for centuries.
It is known for its colorful, sometimes terrifying hallucinations, as well as its ability to produce Visions of vast landscapes & strange cities & jungle beasts,tell your future, explain your past, allow you the power to fly, to be invisible, and go on voyages to the heart of the Milky Way and other worlds.
But mainly, it´s used as a curative, a panacea, with an ability to cure addiction, depression, sex hangups, relationships, etc. that has made it legendary. It´s not a drug, it´s Medicine.
And it´s administerted by a Curando, a witch doctor in the best sense.
The trick is finding the right one. Remember Laurent, the crazy Frenchmen, who wants to be a curando (and will be a great one...I can´t wait in a few years to have him guide me on a voyage)?
He´s been searching the Amazon for someone to apprentice under, and found one in Pucallpa. But he heard good things about a doctor who works out of Eco Amazonia. I was planning to go to Iquitos in my search, but he steered me away.
"Many ayahuasqueros are charlatans, especially in Inquitos. There are zese places like Blue Morpho, Loving Light, with gringos working under shamans. You sign up for a 10 day course of fasting, and 5 sessions. Ít is done in a safe environment deep in ze jungle. Zey all speak english, went to univerisity, have Masters degrees and zat sheet. But zey charge $2000, or more. For what...no food, no running water, no private rooms to get your head together. It is ze fucking commune. I ask zem, ´Why not work on a slidng scale? If you can afford $2000, you pay. If not, donate what you can.´ But financial success and the cover of National Geographic has made them foget the basics. Hamilton (the Californian who founded Blue Morpho) is a slapdish. He had ze right intentions, but became corrupt. Now, he is a fucking guru!"
What Laurent taught me is that is doesn´t have to be a a deep forest Indian who is a master of the ayahuasca medicine-- it is simply someone who knows how to prepare it.
"Zese men make their reputations on ze quality of their brew, ze chants, and ze cures. They are sought out all over Basin for their highly individual personalities.
"See, shamanasism in Peru is like alchemy in old Europe, in that it utilizes psychic involvement in matter, but European alchemy is stuck on metals and elements, while shamanism is centered on living matter...plants, where alkaloids and other biodynamic sheet connect to the human nervous and brain-stem system."
Lauent is the craziest fucking Frenchmen I´ll ever meet.
"Try zis man in Eco Amazonia. Report back."
So I was on a mission.
It was arranged by Rodolfo, the owner, for me to meet the shaman my second day there. On day one I fasted, eating only rice and juice. I went on a 12 km walk with the Canadians to Lost Lagoon´ that was good for my energy, as I hadn´t hiked since Machu Piccu. Jungle hikes bring out some serious sweats. I was covered in that repellent to keep away the mosquitos, which were legion.
Gary was actually on the fence about joining me in my session the next night. But he wasn´t sure he was ready to "face himself" so soon after his wife´s death. And once Christian was told you couldn´t drink as least the night before, he was out. He´s Canadian, love his beer.
Late that second afternoon, after a solo 2 km hike in the jungle (that scared me, all those sounds) I met the shaman. His name is Panduro Rumayna, or Maestro, or Medico Vegetalista. He was in his 40´s, with a round face and barrel chest, cropped black-gray hair, and a gold tooth. Nice smile, warm.
We met in the dining hall. Rodolfo acted as a translater. Panduro spoke little english but I was told that once a session begins, words are not neccessary....it´s all telepathic.
He wanted to know my drug experiences (plentiful), what I wish to find out ("My own interest is the vision state"), what my sign was (he´s also an Acuquarian, born one day after me on Feb.1...."a good omen," he said)
He also wanted to know why I was taking it alone, as he usually works in groups of 4 or more.
"I am alone, at present. And I´m not afraid."
He said I was a sound healthy person for ayahuasca.
(I was lying, I was very afraid.)
"I cure, that is my gift," he explained to me. "This is medicine, a restorative. You must be open to the messages of the plant. Visions often come later, after several sessions....the ´icing on the cake.´ I am there to give you directions, but you are driving."
"Are you taking it with me?" I asked him in spanish.
"Claro," he said.
So on the night of June 5, at 8pm, Maestro and I walked down a long stone path, past the bungalows, to the Ceremonial Hall, which rested in a small field on the outskirts of the lodge. It was a large, screened in, thatched hut surrounded by the deepest jungle, with no light around at all. It looked like small jungle church, or school (both, turns out). Inside was a wood floor, with a small alter, candles, mats, and down the hall, a basic toilet and shower (which I would need, turns out).
He lit a bunch of candles to give the Hall a peaceful, ambient glow and took out his brew from a white bag. It had been prepared fresh from the banisteriopsis caape plants that grow in the wet, swamp jungle near the lodge. It´s mixed almost half & half with with a strong catalyst, a leaf called chacaruna, the admixture with the vine´s DMT that produces the visions. You cant have a real brew without it.
The Brew was a thick, dark amber colored liquid, like rich coffee sludge. It was in a large water bottle. Smelled rotten.
He lit a large wood tobacco pipe and purified the room with smoke, then me by blowing smoke all over my body in rhythmic puffs. Then he poured the liquid into a small metal tea cup, blew tobacco smoke over the cup, whistling a sad tune through the smoke.
He passed the cup to me, told me to shoot it in one gulp. It didn´t taste awful, not great....like a very bitter, thick tea. Smelled worse than it tasted.
He took his portion, which was a bit more than mine. I asked him "un poquito mas, para me?" and he laughed. "Tarde, tarde, OK?"
He told me to lie down on the mat, eyes closed. Then, he did something I wasn´t expecting. He blew out the candles. I mean, lights out!
Pitch darkness in that place, and the sounds of the jungle all around.
He began singing and it brought me into the medicine´s water gently. I roved and scanned like a swimming fish as it came on pretty quicky, after about 10 minutes.
"This is not so bad," I said to myself, because it was familiar to LSD, or San Pedro...some spirals, mandelas, flickers of light outside the hall.
But then I got a sharp, almost painful tingling in myhands, like when your hand falls alseep. I held my hand up to the screen to see a blue circle of light inside my hand. I reached with other hand to see how it would feel, expecting flesh, but it was alive, like blue mercury liquid and quickly the blue disc retracted from my touch and spun away, incandescent in the dark, growing smaller, then fading into ceiling.
"Uh oh," I thought. "I´m in for it."
I shut my eyes tight, expecting Gow knows what, slowly drifting away but still thinking inside my body...until my body became totally fucking immobilized...paralyzed....passive wood. I couldn´ reach for my water 6 inches away.
My soul started rocking back and forth, and soon I had slid into an Eternal Journey in the dark. Basically, the whole fucking cosmos broke open before me, broke loose and untamed, and I entered the threshold of the most intense, strongest (and worst) psychedelic experinence I´ve ever had. Much stonger than any other psychedelic I´ve ever tried.
It´s supposed to trigger intense vomiting, but physically, I felt the come-in was rather smooth. Mentally, I was fucked.
I entered what I called The Great Being, because in in my Minds Eye I saw a small white hole, and through it I went.
My concentration was disturbed by mosquitos buzzing around and creatures scurrying about the hall floor, but eventually I just accepted their high pitched whine as part of the Jungle Music of crickets, frogs, birds, locusts, and the distant music coming from lodge bar.
I couldn´t move anyway, so I just lay still and allowed them to bite and buzz...."all part of the same universe," I convinced myself.
The images were very science fiction orientated at first...lots of buttons and levers I had to pull, machines I could see outside hall when I tried to lift my head.
"Ojos cerrado," the Maestro reminded me.
But it was ugly in my Mind, with a great snake of Eternity opening and closing its mouth in vast slow motion in the inner phantasmal recesses of this imagination-hallucinated state.
I didn´t so much feel I was confronting Death, but I saw Death, these annoying skull trances in my vision, and what looked like a devil worshipper.
I heard someone walking down the stone path and got very paranoid. At first I thought it wsa a snarling, savage cat outside thehall, but then I recognized the figure. "Its Phil!", I said aloud (my friend who died--I saw his face for a second). But the maestro said something in Spanish and he walked away--I guess it was a guest peeking in and I guess I was dreaming there for a second...or traveling.
All this time, the maestro was whistling these haunting tunes, called de los brassleros. Then he would sing, then chant, then blow tobacco smoke, then be silent. These songs and whistles continued for many hours.
This guy is a doctor, and knew when I needed singing, chanting, whistling, or the silence.
Occassionally he blew tobacco smoke in all corners of room, and on me and his face would light and look like it was melting.
The nights imagery was drifting, inconsistent as I sort of drifted through the Past...saw lots of faces (so many of you were with me) and places.
I had a long wordless dialogue with my gramma in the form of a letter that I saw myself writing in the air and sending, in which her death had (will) rededicated me to being serious. A major lesson I saw, that I felt I should live up to something for her.
The whole trip was extremely internal, unlike mushrooms, which is an encounter with an oraganized Other. This is serious self-exploration. Remember, I literally was not moving. My hands were folded across my chest on that mat for hours.
Also, Other Lessons came to me, like a stream of all my fuck-ups...I saw that I smoke too much, I pass up on too many good women because they´re not hot enough, I don´t call my parents enough, I take too many pills.
I mean, I aleady knew all this, but I SAW it in the form of little movies....hard to describe. But it´s all there, your life, like a TV show that keeps changing channels.
I have always wanted to have a psycheldelic experience in the environment of true sensory deprivation. After all the trips wandering around Dead shows or forests or cemetaries and parks....to lie in complete darkness and silence and watch the back nof your eyelids and see the mental phenomenon uncontaminated by by any outside sources of stimulation...can´t be dupicated.
It is to leave your body and journey into mental space, which is an area as large as outer space.
We want music, movies, to walk around Redwoods or Joshua Tree and talk. Which is all beautiful in their own right, but very deep shit is happening in the utter blackness behind your eyelids while lying still in silent darkness punctuated by the nececcesary songs and whistles of the shaman.
This is where mystery comes from and goes to.
It was all very intense and very scary, like I was pertrified to move even an inch. It took me 10 minutes to decide to move my legs and switch their positions. But I thought I did OK. But then at around midnight the shaman told me I should try to stand up and go to the bathroom, because I had been holding too much in for 4 hours. He pulled me up....and that was it.
I stood up into Total Horror. He had a flashlight to show me the way the bathroom, and on the floor I saw some red ants. Then a line of them. Soon, I was covered in red ants. I couldn´t walk, and--to his discredit--he missed me when I fell back onto the mat.
I vomited all down my shirt, followed by a total loss of bodily control. I exploded and shit came from everywhere, through my pants, down my leg, into my socks. He tried to get me to the bathroom but I was dead weight.
"OK, OK....no malo," he said.
But it was malo because bright red ants were crawing up my body. Then when I closed my eyes I felt I was an ant. I vomited up the universe, this time in the bucket he handed me.
"Why can´t I lie on the mat?" I cried out.
But this is supposed to happen, sooner or later.
He helped me crawl on all fours into the bathroom, where I pulled off my shit-covered pants and sat on the toilet, shat more as I vomited into the bucket.
Back in the hall I could hear him chanting, but now it wasn´t working because I was breaking into a freezing sweat on a filthy tiolet. When I used my flashlight to look into my bucket, I saw a million, or thousands anyway, goddmamn ants, eating themselves.
"Holy shit, I´m vomiting ants!"
I sat on that toilet for an hour, promising: "I will never do this again!!"
This was the PURGE that people talk about.
Sounds fun, huh?
Eventually, I stripped naked and through away all my clothes....my shirt, pants, underwear, and socks. None of them could be saved. The maestro held a flashlight on me in the shower as I washed all the crap off my leg and hands...and watched the ants go down the drain....
Til there were none.
The maestro patted me on the back, and walked me NAKED to my cabin, his sweater draped around me. I could barely put one foot in front of the other.
Once I was safe inside, he said, "No walk...stay on all fours, like un perro."
So I crawled in the dark on all fours...to my rucksack to get new underwears, my ipòd, a sweater.
Know how I felt?
I took another cold shower in my room (on all fours) and got under the covers, still reeling from the experience but feeling the drug leave my body slowly. The comedown is heavy and long, and the DMT does´t allow you to sleep, and by 6 am I felt invigorated instead of exhausted. There were no adverse side effects and at breakfast, about 8 am, I had some juice and eggs with Gary and Christian and the other lodge guests, feeling clarified and revitalized.
I also realized that I had never payed the maestro the $140 the session cost.
"A god shaman is not concerned about money," Laurent had told me.
What did I learn from all this? That Ayahuasca consciousness is more valid than normal consciousness.
That in my long quest to enlarge the field of experience, I have finally found a drug that enables me to encounter the great cycle of birth and death...to understand my mother´s illness, and how that´s affected me sexually, to understand my gramma´s death, my friend Phil´s death and future deaths. How much certain people mean to me.
It is nothing short of Psychedelic Analysis.
There is so much to learn, but the answers and cures come from repeated and careful experiences...some say 3 times, some say 7, some say 50. Luarent has done it 37 times (the last I saw him, more by now). And the scary parts are terrifying.
But I am obsessed and MUST try again, but not alone. I want to do it with with some key people in my life who will benefit from the lessons...my brother, Seb, Tracey, Dave Neabore (if he promises not to lose his shit), Tony Rodgers, of course. A few others.
The question is where....Laurent says Peru is ideal, but there is something to be said about doing it against the famailiar background of your own environment, and the key is a good shaman. There are some in California and Hawaii.
But I came from first experience convinced I was meant to live up to a Call. I always knew I had a Call, but living up to it has been hard for me. Now I have a lot of work to do on my craft, as well as myself, and I think with more sessions I can get over my self doubt and lack of confidence. Addictions. Just about anything.
"I have come home, and I demand admittance through the gates," Ginsberg said after his first 5 trips and I know what he means.
I ended up giving the money to Rodolfo, who said he would give it to Panduro.
I said goodbye to Gary and Christian, the jungle, took a solo river boat ride up river this morning at dawn to catch my flight from Puerto Maldanado to Lima, where I am now, in the airport Radisson of all places.
I have seen so much and my eyes are tired. Lima, like Ireland, Scotland, Argentina, Africa, ET ALL...can wait.