The Morning After First Ayahuasca Ceremony
The morning after my first Ayahuasca ceremony, I was groggy and felt like a thousand pounds had been heaved from my stomach (that may be an accurate estimate.) I couldn’t even think about eating. Yet I felt even better still. Eluco (the Peruvian shamanic apprentice) walked in and came right up to me.
“Como esta tu ceremonia?” How was your ceremony? He asked.
Spanish was nearly impossible in my morning grog, but I did my best. “Scary, horrible. I don’t know if I can do it again. But I feel pretty good now.”
“You purged a lot,” he told me. Apparently he could see glimpses as to what was going on with me. “Did you see me?”
“Did I see you? What do you mean? I saw everything but can’t remember and couldn’t explain it if I could” I replied.
“I checked on you spiritually several times.” I remembered when I randomly thought about him, and could almost feel him there. I smiled.
In our next day meeting, the confusion energy was definitely up. Several people had gotten totally freaked out (like me), and the Wiccan chick was out the door that same day. Other people talked about all these beautiful things they saw in their ceremonies (why couldn’t I have one of those?) The apprentices set us straight.
“Remember, everything dark you see is coming out of your own body. That’s what a purge is. It’s totally normal.” Heh. That was far from normal. “The scariest part is the fact that it’s been inside your body for this long.
Purging fear and doubt are part of the process…almost everyone from the west has to. It’s ingrained in our culture. So if you can get your mind to remember what’s going on, remember that when you are scared, you are purging fear. When you think we’re all nuts, you’re purging doubt.
Trust in the process, and call in light spirits, and ride it out. How do you all feel today?” A general consensus of feeling great and profoundly changed murmured throughout the room. “See? You can always tell in the aftermath.”
So by the time lunch hit, I hesitantly decided I would do another round. After all, I had paid for these five ceremonies, I might as well get my money’s worth. Something inside me told me not to give up quite yet, even though I was scared. We would be doing another round tonight
We convened in our pre-ceremony bungalow common area, as the night before. The lawyer, the martial artist, and another dude.
“So how was it for you last night?” I asked the lawyer.
“Scary, horrible. I don’t know if I can do it again. But I know I have to.” She was still timid.
“Yeah, me too. Last night I swore I would never, ever again drink Ayahuasca, but today something inside of me wants to. So I guess I’ll just go with it. I have to admit I’m intrigued,” I replied.
“Good luck. It hasn’t gotten all that much easier for me, but maybe it will for you.” Intimidating, but I needed to proceed. I liked her a lot, and was really glad to have her in my bungalow.
Second Ayahuasca Ceremony
7:30, salud. I took the Wiccan chick’s empty mat in the center of the room, so I wouldn’t feel as disconnected this time. Oh God what have I gotten myself into? Why am I doing this again? I must be crazy. I swallowed the brew (tasted worse this time around) and waited for the madness to begin.
BOOM! Lost. Disconnect mind from body. Scary psycho fun-house energy swirling around me from all directions. Evil clowns laughing and fucking with me. It’s too much, it’s too much. My head starts to spin, like I’m gonna faint. Am I laying down? I think so.
I can’t speak. I can barely breathe. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know my name. All I know is that no one could handle the chaos that is this shit. I can’t even think to try to call anything in (my mind is disconnected, remember?) Hours go by in slow/fast motion as get whipped around like a sock in the washer. I can’t do anything. I surrender.
Suddenly, I feel a presence make a cross on my forehead. Was that physical? I can’t tell the difference between the two worlds. The Icaros (Medicine communication song the shamans use in ceremony) sound closer to me than ever.
Suddenly, like a breeze of light, it all blows away. The scary psychedelic funhouse has been replaced by water and air. I feel my heart being elevated, almost out of my body.
Something is happening. Something very, very good. I see rows of angels fly in perfect patterns as they blow their trumpets. I can barely catch my breath at the beauty of what I am seeing. The nearby Icaro stops, though still hear others in the background. I hear a physical voice.
“Sientate.” Is that a spirit talking to me? Something is touching my arm physically, for sure. I come back into my body, and see a figure. “Sientete,” the male voice says again. Lost in confusion, I can’t think about Spanish.
The figure helps me sit up. It’s Eluco. I am incredibly happy to see him. His presence is so light and safe. He blows tobacco smoke into my crown chakra (top of my head), then my back, then hands and feet. I feel so relieved.
“Gracias,” I muster without enough strength to show my true level of thanks.
“De nada,” he giggles and heads off to work on someone else nearby. This time I see what is happening. The closeby Icaro was him. I can see now him tuned into the guy next to me, singing Icaros almost into his soul. The white wind. I can almost see it coming off of the chakapa (leaf-rattles.) The cross on the forehead. How did he make it go from so scary to such beauty in a matter of seconds?
This was the moment I realized what these shamans can really do. I want to be able to do that too.
The Next Morning
I woke up the next day, stomach lining cleaned out as the day before, feeling really, really light. I tried to eat a bit, but I felt like I’d had spiritual gastric bypass surgery. The second I was full, I had no choice but to stop eating. Something was really happening here. This wasn’t your typical energy work…this was something in all levels of my being. This is fucking amazing.
I went through the day with less fear, and more fascination. I couldn’t believe what I saw. Eluco is amazing, and he’s considered an apprentice (but he’d been working in the Medicine 25 years, and the Westerner entitled a Maestro had been in seven, so I didn’t really get how it all worked.) One day I asked him.
“Por que no eres maestro?” Why aren’t you a Master Shaman? Hope that wasn’t too blunt.
“No quiero.” Don’t want to be. Okay, guess that’s my answer. It didn’t make sense, but I got a clear sense that was the end of discussion. The conversation continued into other areas of life naturally.
The program continued onward. Western Shaman turned out to be extremely wise despite his young age and gringo status out here. At group lectures, I was hanging on his every word, trying to soak in the wisdom that transcended most. The fact that the Ayahuasca can teach someone all of this, so fast, is unbelievable.
I absolutely have to apprentice. I could not believe the kind of answers he was tapped into! And he told these wild stories of things in and outside of ceremony…they were so crazy that you knew they were true!
I was really getting to like him, though he felt a little ‘apart’ from me. I noticed myself kind of ass-kissing, trying to vie with other group members for a bit of attention. I just really, really wanted to be friends with him. He was fascinating.
Third Ayahuasca Ceremony
Third ceremony, fifth day. I had spent a lot of time talking to the lawyer, as we were becoming fast friends. The whole group was really starting to bond. I couldn’t believe the martial artist hadn’t thrown up once in either ceremony.
I figured either he has nothing to purge (unlikely) or he has a severe lock on it. Another girl was learning about protection in the Spirit World, to be able to avoid potential possessions. Everyone seemed to be moving along smoothly.
The tea was tasting worse and worse each ceremony. Maybe my mind has a category for it now, who knows. Here I go again.
Back in the whirling chaos. It was a little less scary this time, I guess since I sort of knew what to expect. I could feel Eluco right there, connected to me the whole time. Like he was supporting me spiritually. Maybe it was my ability to manage a bit better, or maybe my willingness, but this time I was brought to a new level.
This level of madness I won’t even try to describe. It was like my brain and being was completely shattered apart, never to return in the same form. A good hour of swirling chaos later, and this sock continued to flop around in the machine. I heard Western Shaman call out my name. “How you doing over there Meghan?” How does he know?
“Good,” I muster, which was a lie. It was a reflex, but I didn’t know what else to say. Time passed, along with the intense madness. Every second felt like an emergency situation. It took me forever to even form a thought. Finally, it came.
If I don’t get myself back, I might be lost forever. All of a sudden I thought of my Mom. Oh God my Mom! In that moment, I had more love and gratitude for her than ever before. Just that she existed, and that she was connected to me.
Somehow just the thought of her brought me back. And in that moment, literally, I found myself. With the help of the spirit of my mother. I laughed as I recognized how the experience of “finding myself” was so different than I expected. For a moment, I felt relief.
Until another level of purge started, even more intensely than before. It’s like finally you manage to shift it all to Light, but the scary shit can come back in an instant. I really couldn’t handle anymore, physically and spiritually.
My head was spinning with dizziness, my body was soaked with sweat and odor, and it all just got to be too much. The Spirit World chick had told me that if you ask for help, they will put water on your head. Until now, I just thought I had to suffer in silence. I remembered her wonderful words of wisdom.
Ask For Help
“I need help,” I pushed through my ego and called out.
Still extremely confused, I saw the sister of the helping team in the middle of the madness. I didn’t know what she was doing. She was asking me something that I couldn’t comprehend. As she walked away with a water bucket, I remembered I had just called for help. I called again, and she returned.
She positioned my head faced down, and slowly poured what felt like the softest, most nurturing waterfall over my forehead into the bucket. Ahhh… Like a mother, she caringly stroked my hair as the darkness washed away. I laid back down, and the madness was gone. It was relief I had never experienced until this day, and will never forget.
Things began to improve. I was raising in my happiness level, and starting to get a bit excited as to the real possibilities in all of this. I asked to feel God.
A white light energy swirled around me like a cloud, and began pulling my body, physically and spiritually, upward. My chest rose high in the air and I swear I almost levitated. I watched my spiritual body being cradled as it was carried into the sky, passing waving angels on the way.
The next part I can’t describe in words, but I got what I asked for. The brightest, whitest light and love energy infused my body like I was a baby. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I knew, I truly was, supported and loved.
And that God does exist, and it’s okay to say ‘God’ instead of ‘Universe’ even though it sounded churchy to me for so long. The majority of the issues I had with God released instantaneously. I was unified, in a sacred experience beyond words. This was so, incredibly, real.
Fourth Ayahuasca Ceremony
Ceremony time, round four. Every night is different, so I had no idea what was in store. I felt like I had picked up some navigational skills in there, with a little more flexibility to move, and less like the sock in the washer. After drinking, we laid down in the darkness.
Within what seemed like minutes, the girl next to me began moaning like she was having a full-on orgasm. I’m used to hearing cries, screams, etc from the room, but this was different. And it was super loud and right in my ear.
“Oh, God, wow! Woooooowwwww, holy shit! Woooowwww…” this was more or less the piercing chant that seemed incessant. Meanwhile, I swear it was also effecting my visions. Scary funhouse turned into evil brothel. I was floating around in this very dark sexual energy.
I was able to tune her out a little bit, and tried to just accept it as part of the deal. What I had learned both here and at Inner Visions, was that everything that happens during a sacred process like this is for everyone. Meaning this was for me as well. I did my best to cope.
But things took a turn for the worst. Remember the martial artist, who hadn’t purged the entire time? Just caddy-corner to me, I feel a banging noise, like something hitting the floor. A guy next to him tries to stop him from banging his head on the hard floor. This could be serious.
We Have a Problem
The Western shaman came over and began talking to him. “Hey, hey are you okay?” Nothing. Bang, bang, bang. I was getting worried about him.
“FUCK YOU!” He yells. The anger from his words pierces the room. I gasp, scared that my fear might be warranted.
He starts thrashing around, kicking the wall, punching the hard floor. All the people near him have since slid as far away as possible. I had nowhere to go.
Meanwhile, the Elder shaman and the other apprentices have been continuing the Icaros. Something in the steady rhythm of them were very calming. And the girl next to me hadn’t noticed a damn thing as her two-hour screaming orgasm continued in my ear.
They manage to calm him down for a second. I breathe, hanging to see if this moment is real. He starts to try to get up. I can’t tell what’s happening, but it seems to be getting worse.
By now I was scared out of my mind. This fear trumped anything I had felt in the previous ceremonies. My visions were dark and feeding the frenzy.
Okay, okay. Breathe, Meghan. This is a sacred space. There are several jungle-tough men in here who will protect us, even given his blackbelt. They know what they’re doing. God is here. Breathe. Breathe.
I continued to try to work through the fear. The martial artist calmed down for a minute, yet still couldn’t communicate with the Western shaman. Two hours, we endured the treacherous ordeal. Eluco came and put crosses of extra protection on all of our foreheads. I could feel it energetically calm and boost up the room. Eventually I acclimated to the level of tension.
Well, if something is going to happen, sitting here in fear is not going to stop it. It’s not like I can fight the guy myself. I just have to trust. Trust God. Trust these guys. I have no choice but to let my own ceremony continue.
And with that, I released a huge level of fear. The bouts of thrashing, then calm, eventually began to subside. There seemed to be a moment where maybe, just maybe, it was over. Silence and hopeful peace suspended in the air, as we all waited to see.
He calls out to the Western shaman. “Is everybody dead?” His words cut through the room with creepy, dark confusion.
“No man, everyone’s chillin’ in their ceremonies! We’re all alive and well!” responded the shaman.
“Heather’s* got a nice ass!” Everyone giggled as the poor female apprentice was called out.
“Yeah, I think we all agree with you there!” We all laughed even more. Relief was beginning to set in.
“FUCK YOU! Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!” Out of nowhere the darkness came through the martial artist’s words once again. Jumbled awkwardly, evil gibberish cursed the room for about ten minutes. He calmed again. Finally, silence. I breathed in a smile. I could not believe the next words out of his mouth.
Oh my God did this dude just call out my name? Are you fucking serious? There are like 30 people here! I am scared to death of this man! Okay, Meghan, be cool…
“Yeah?” I respond timidly.
“So you still want to do this?”
“Um…Ayahuasca or be an apprentice?”
“I don’t know…” The sing-song tone released my hesitance and honesty in the moment.
“Good answer Meghan, good answer,” the western shaman chimes from the front of the room.
Relieved energy began to trickle into the room as people realized he was really done. One by one, we each breathed again. A sigh of relief I will never forget.
Nervous Next Morning
I timidly walk to breakfast. I am still really scared of the martial artist, and I don’t know how to deal with talking to him. I don’t know what happened or what he was seeing, but I have never felt that level of rage and darkness come out of a person.
I was still scared to be in the same bungalow with him. At the same time I didn’t know if he remembered what happened, or how he felt about it. I didn’t want him to feel isolated or alone.
I braved it and sat at his table. That conversation had already started without me.
“I thought they were all demons trying to keep me in Hell. I had no idea it was shamans and apprentices. All I could see was attacks, and I thought that’s what I had to do to save myself from the Devil. Then when I sort of came back, I thought they had killed you all…” Wow. His experience sounded even worse than ours.
“Well how do you feel today?” I asked.
“I feel like a thousand pounds of darkness has left my body. It’s a level of relief I can’t even describe.” Whoa. This medicine is truly amazing. This is why we’re here. Orgasm chick chimed in with her story.
“I can’t believe I didn’t even know all of that was fucking going on!” she exclaimed.
“Yeah what was happening with you?” I asked
“Dude it was weird. I’m totally embarrassed about it now. It was like someone else was in my body, having the two-hour orgasm. I literally had no choice…I couldn’t make her stop. Was it really loud?” she asked, hoping it wasn’t.
“Well…you know…” I stammered. Another guy piped up.
“Yeah dude it was loud as shit!” Everyone laughed, including her.
“No worries though…at least you got to have a two-hour orgasm!” I giggled.
It was strange for me as people tell their stories about things they literally couldn’t control. I had not had that experience yet, and I didn’t know why.
“Ready for the group meeting? This one is required.” The apprentices rounded us up.
The proceeded to remind us how ceremonies are orchestrated, and how whatever happens is for all of us. They will push us to the edge, to stretch us and release energies, but never over the cliff.
“Many of you brought out levels of fear that you didn’t even know you had. To purge this stuff is amazing. Many people don’t have this kind of opportunity. You’ll see…after this shit, from your new big picture and your freshly purged energies, physical world is nothing!”
I felt that to be true. I experienced, managed the best I could, and am here, alive, and fine. There was even a slight bit of exhilaration from the whole thing…like somehow I was fully living.
I remember the words of the Western shaman during a lecture. The soul just wants to experience…everything. The good, the bad, and the ugly. It just wants to live. I understand that a little more now.
Chillin’ with the Shamans
So today we ride on the wooden boat to a little beach nearby. Luco, the elder shaman, one of the other Peruvian workers and I begin chatting in Spanish. I can’t believe how much more comfortable I am in conversing.
It was cool to kind of “hang out” with the elder, as he’s like fifty and very intimidating. This moment, he seemed more like a regular guy than a big scary shaman on a pedestal.
I think he and Luco were talking about how I would be a good apprentice, and something about their village. They said I had a strong spirit like Heather. After the serious talk, barely understood jokes ensued.
A beautiful soul and photographer I had been getting close with, commented. “Wow, Meghan, I’m really impressed with your Spanish! What are they saying?”
“I’m not sure exactly, but I’m pretty sure they’re telling dirty jokes!” She laughed.
“Are you serious? Peruvian shamans tell dirty jokes?” she exclaimed.
Luco, understanding a bit of English, laughed out the message – “You have no idea!”
Fifth Ayahuasca Ceremony
One more ceremony, and we are done. Over these last five, I feel like I have reached levels that may have taken ten years of therapy to obtain (and maybe not even then!)
I have been extremely humbled, as my ego took a massive blow to how much of a baby I really am in the Spirit World, despite all my learn. I can’t even imagine how this would have been if I had not gone through Inner Visions first.
They told us they give us the foundations, and the rest moves from there. It was no accident I got sent there (spiritually) first – having conceptual language for the spiritual process will be vital for my apprenticeship, if that’s the direction it goes.
I guess it happened the only way it was meant to…with their training first to support me through this extreme acceleration. I have lost at least ten pounds, and my body feels truly clean and detoxed. I feel happy, like someone went in a cleaned up layers of resin off of my heart. I am thrilled that the human experience can feel like this. I am on cloud nine.
Afterward, Western Shaman offers to retrieve power animals for each person. I am excited to get mine.
“Okay, Meghan, I’m seeing Butterfly, Dragonfly, and Lion.” The Dragonfly has been with me since childhood.
“Thanks! Can you ask them there’s anything they want me to know?” He kind of chuckles at my tall order. After a moment, he throws his head back with a laugh.
“Ha! Wow. They said that yes, you are a “shamaness” in training, and they want you to practice cultivating a relationship with them as things progress.”
This news hits my heart and soul in an indescribable way. I feel tears of joy welling up. I knew it.
“Thank you,” I muster. This validation was the perfect end to what I felt was the beginning of a very different life; like the one I had really wanted. I sit, speechless in shock, for several minutes. The people nearby smile and congratulate me as the question of apprenticeship has finally been answered.
*Names have been changed
**NOTES FROM THE FUTURE (2018)**
If this is the only post from my journals that you read, please know this is an abnormal run of ceremonies.
The perfect storm of 30 people (which is a lot) in ceremony, plus a boot camp approach, plus a man whose culture and training reveres disciplines and holding emotions at bay (meaning, there was an extreme amount of trapped emotions in his body, leading to an epic dark purge explosion.)
This kind of thing is rare, and the shamans handled it as well as possible given the circumstance.
Also, as I mentioned in my first ceremony post, I too, had an excessive amount of intensity (somewhat due to the location – which is what I needed at the time) but also due to years of “stuffing” to cope and having excess trapped energy and emotions (on top of actually having a life purpose in the Medicine and needed a bit of a trial by fire.) This is not typical, but it happens.
~ Meghan Shannon Elder (@beyond_meghan)
Ayahuasca Preparation and Integration Specialist at Beyond the Ceremony
Accelerated Spiritual Development Coach at Beyond the Whirlwind
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