The Humming - An Ayahuasca Experience (PART I)Before I reached South America I had heard about Mescalin, and hallucinogetic mushrooms, and that these substances (also) had been used by shamans for thousands of years. When I came to Brazil I came to hear about the "news", at least for me: the Ayahuasca. It's a mixture of a vine and low leaf plant that exist in the tropic parts of South America. Banisteriosis caapi is the vine and the other plant belongs to the family named Psychotria. The Ayahuasca isn't just a drug, and actually more commonly considered a medicin or conciousness alterer. Shamans use it to get in contact with gods and the "regular people" use it with a cleansing purpose both for body and soul.
In Argentina the rituals of the shamans also wanted my attention. One month before it got announced who was the 2010's nobel laureate in litterature I started reading "The Storyteller" by Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa. The fact that I didn't know of him makes me a little bit ashamed; there were quotes on the adverse of the book comparing him to Balzac and Dickens.In this book Mario describes the Shaman Tasurinchi, how he experiences the world of Ayahuasca. How he learns how to fly. How he receives messages from the gods and about bad trips where he gets transformed to beetle-Gregor-Samsa on its back and gets threatened to be eaten up by birds.
When we actually reached Mario Vargas' Peru I wanted to learn more about the Ayahuasca. It seemed like there were many ways of doing it. One of our guides just told me to buy it on my own. Another said that I should be very careful and take certain precautions, and that I definetly shouldn't do it on my own.
After walking in the tracks of the Incas we left Cusco for "Poorman's Galapagos" in Pisco outside of Lima. From there we took a small airplane towards the jungle city Iquitos. A boiling hot place that seem to be very close friends with the Ayahuasca. At the restaurants they had big signs advertising their special Ayahuasca diets, which is: no meat, no oil, salt, sugar or sex(!).
We spent five days in the origin. Being this close to nature, myself and jaguars I realized I really had to get my hands on the Ayahuasca; no or never. I asked our jungle guide if he knew. He said he was gonna have a look around in the city when we came back and also that I shouldn't have breakfast the next in case of us finding a shaman for me.
The day after we left the jungle to get back to the semi-civilzation of Iquitos. Our motor driven river boat bobbed with us in it for a few hours before we reach ashore. My hunger was not content with being in the peripheri but got a somewhat quieter when I handed it some Coca-leaves brought from our "mountain expedition".
After finding a hostel to crash at before our early flight the day after I went to see the guide. He waited outside their small small office with a big smile on his face nodding. I smiled back. He said there was a ceremony just two hours later and that I should by a bottle of water and a few lemons before going there. I reminded me once more not to eat, neither now nor until noon the day after.
I walked around town for little while feeling nervous before I found myself some lemons and jumped on a motorcycle-taxi. Ten minutes later we arrived outside a light green blueish house not matching the ones next to it at all. The street is empty and the windows are all dark. I shiver. I pay the driver the 50 cents and turn around again to face the building. From nowhere a short man appears with something of a glow around him. I can't understand how I missed him before because he is certainly somebody you'll notice. His dark hair is of shoulder length with a touch silver. He offers me his hand and says something on a jungle dialect of Spanish. His hand is wiry, tiny but thick. His name is Jose.
When the shaman lets go of my hand he turns around and walks into an alley next to the house. I don't hesitate for some reason, I do picture what could happen but my legs pulls me forward. The alley turns out to be a small outdoor corridor with a ground of soil. A wooden gate is opened after thirty yards which almost falls of when the shaman touches it. We enter a gloomy room with a floor of dirt. Feathers and dream catchers are haphazardly situated along the walls. By two of the walls small altars are leaning. Jesus and Mary are depicted in icons and small bookmarks; weird with a christian shaman I think to myself. Incent is burning all over and the sweet sultry scent finds its way into my nostrils. The shaman asks me to sit down at a couch by the far end of the room. He says it'll soon begin. He also asks me if I like to smoke since many people enjoy that after swallowing the liquid. Despite the fact I've quit since two months I hear the nicotinist in me saying:"of course it's ok to have a cigarette since it's a shaman ritual".
The shaman takes out two small mugs of reddish clay and 16 ounces bottle of Coca cola where I see a glowing brown opaque liquid. He pours it and gives me one of the mugs and before knowing anything he says: "Salute!". Not until the mug touches my hand do I realized the seriousness of what I am about to do: I'm drinking an unknown hallucinogetic brew together with a Peruvian I've known barely ten minutes. I swallow it all in two big gulps.
The lustrous liquid glides repellingly down my throut. After a few seconds when the air has entered my mouth to I feel the taste. I'm filled with disgust and an acidic vomit-like taste rays out of my throat. I continue to swallow air to prevent vomiting. I feel the brew corroding on the bottom of my empty stomach; I can almost picture the smoke and the fizzle and mosey. Then the shaman hands me pack of red Marlboros. With shivering fingers I take one; maybe the taste of tobacco will relieve some of the taste that covers my lips and mouth. My first hit of tobacco in a few months tastes nothing. I can just hear the dry click of my lips and watch the smoke diffuse into the room. The next few inhales don't taste anything either so I put it out by throwing it into a bucket with water I conveniently find by my feet. The shaman says he will shut the light in three minutes so it's time to focus. He also tells me not to open my eyes during the ritual. I pull my legs up beneath me and try to find a good simplified lotus-position; I think to myself that it is handy that I've meditated quite a bit on my traveling so far. Even though I'm trying to concentrate on my diaphragmatic breathing a hear myself doubting the anticipated effect of the Ayahuasca; will I actually feel something or will it be placebo?
When approximately twenty minutes of good meditation has passed nothing has happened, except a few white spots on the inside of my eyelids and a beginning ache in my back. All of a sudden I hear a soft humming above me to the right. It sound like a cartoon bumblebee or a miniature hummingbird that flaps without moving at a constant frequency on its small small wings. With every second I focus on the buzzing the more I become absorbed and the more it gets non-auditive. I see a golden spiral in front of me, a tornado turned up-side-down that gradually swallows me from top to toe. The spots of light on my eyelids no slowly transform: eyes get born; jaguars, lions and wolves stare back at me from the bottom of my unconscious conscious. The humming gets more and more intense, not in volume but in color; the golden becomes more shiny and the glow becomes more shiningly phosphorescent. Suddenly I'm in the vibrations. It's like a portal that has opened and on the other side I've found a world of silver filled with the smallest rectangles in violet, lemon color and orange. The walls that surround me are moving and are creating a tunnel in the silver dimension. I notice how I start to loose the sensitivity of my legs and soon it feels like I've left the carcass of body behind me on the couch in the dirty reality. I am astound by the colors and I realize that I'm gasping with a fully opened mouth trying to experience and consume as mych as I can with as many senses as possible, when I see the walls turn into creatures. They move gracefully and phlegmatically close to me. They have the same color as the walls so I don't know if they have originated from the walls or if they are the walls. I'm so happy from all this beauty, color and delight that I feel luke warm tears flow down my cheeks; I can really feel how I'm smiling with all my body. At the same time it's not enough, I want more, I want to be apart of it all, I want to be it. I lean my head slowly backwards and I feel a yawn being born. My mouth opens even more and I feel a massive fog run through me and filling me up - I don't need to breath anymore. My mouth is fully opened and I picture myself looking like a cyclope with a mouth as an eye. The being of the humming is now inside of me and I am inside of it. It howls in the smallest of my bloodvessels like a vibrating warmth that also is all around me. Suddenly I hear a phone call through the darkness and I'm instantaneously back in my worldly body. I don't have time to just notice the shift in consciousness before the humming wants my attention again. Again it's the up-side-down swirl that grabs me and demands my return - my presence. I do have time to feel fear. What if I can't come back to my own world? What if I have to stay in newly found Narnia. Will my experiences continue to be benign or will my darker parts also want to play and produce blacks and nightmares?
I can't fight back. Before I know it I'm engulfed again. I'm floating free, separately but still in unity with a starry universe that is shimmering in a dark intense nuance of green.
Words by C-F Haegring
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Written on 2011-05-12 at 22:34
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