Tobacco, Ayahuaca, Peyote, Mushrooms, Santa Maria Ė Heaven and Hell
Bodyweight: 73 kg
Tobacco Ė a few snorts of Sumo de Tobacco, a few puffs of the pipe
Ayahuasca Ė 1 cup of tea
Peyote Ė 2 cups of tea
Mushroom Ė a cup of tea of around 1.5 gram Ps. Cubensis dried
Santa Maria Ė 3 big hits
Tobacco: never used ritualistically, never done the sumo
Ayahuasca: third time, once at Santo Daime, once at home
Peyote: first time
Mushroom: about 20 trips, from 1 to 10 grams dried
Santa Maria: lots of experience, moderate use for about 5 years
Overall: I guess I tripped around 50 times in about 6 years, mostly alone and in silent (semi-) darkness, never really had a hard time, except once at the end of an acid trip through which I smoked too much hasheesh and got a bit paranoid. I was able to guide myself through it. My general attitude while tripping is: if it feels bad, I probably donít feel it well enough and must use my consciousness to relax the pain.
I had been looking forward to this intense ceremony for only a few weeks, because I only knew I was going to join it about two weeks ahead. I finished work two days before it started, on Friday night before the Sunday summer solstice and had the week off after it, so I was relaxed and had no worries for the days after the ceremony. The program would be rather intense: on Friday night, we would drink ayahuasca and use tobacco as well. Saturday night would be even stronger with Peyote, Mushrooms and Santa Maria (cannabis). I was pretty excited to finally try peyote this weekend, as I hadnít used any cactus before and had been looking out for it for quite a while. During the week prior to the ceremony, I asked myself what I needed to learn. I had no specific intention other than to learn what I needed to learn and to dive deep.
I arrived at the place of the ceremony Friday afternoon, just after 6. There were already a few people there and I talked to them for a bit while the others came in. The sun was shining and we were sitting in a nice garden. We had a cup of tea and when we were complete (23 people, including the shaman), we proceeded to the tipi, in which the ceremony would take place. I was quite late in entering the tipi, because I changed my clothes to be a bit more comfortable, so there were not a lot of places left. I decided to take my place in between a man I liked from the moment I met him. He had done ayahuasca a few times at the place and it had helped him kick his coke and speed addiction. On my left was a Slovenian woman whom had never done a ceremony nor any psychedelic as far as I know. I knew two other people present, the person helping with the fire and another right hand man of the shaman.
Start of the ceremony: Sumo de Tobacco.
We started the ceremony with a small round with the pipe in which people introduced themselves and expressed their intention for the following days. The shaman talked about the doubts he had in the days prior to the ceremony, but that he decided to go through with it, because it would be a tremendous healing experience. I found it hard to find words to express what I felt and noticed that I was slightly nervous because I didnít know what to expect. I said I wanted to learn from the plants and expressed the trust I put into them, noticed that I was trying to convince myself a little.
To really start off the ceremony, the shaman went round with a big glass of sumo de tobacco, tobacco juice, which we needed to snort. I never snorted anything before in my life, but it was quite easy and it really cleared up my throat, nose and forehead. Everyone was snorting, spitting, sweating and producing loads of tears. Fortunately, there were seconds, so we spat, sweated and teared some more. After everybody calmed down a bit, we were ready for the ayahuasca.
Lift off: Ayahuasca
The shaman explained the practicalities of buckets, holes in the ground, whom we could ask for help if needed, etc. He then proceeded to give each person his own dose of ayahuasca. Some people got a full glass, others just a little bit to get them started. He said we needed to wait until it started and that the dose was rarely wrong. If we wanted to take more, we could when he would say so. My glass was about 4/5ths full. The shaman asked me if I was ready and I said I was as ready as I could be. I downed the glass in two times, the ayahuasca was bitter and there were some plant particles in it, so it had a flaky texture, but it was relatively easy to down. I noticed the shaman hadnít used acid in the process, because it wasnít acid at all. I went back to my place and drank a bit of water to get rid of the bitterness. I then laid down to wait for the effects.
My memory isnít perfect of what happened when from this point on. I may confuse things and may not know which was first and which was next.
After about 30 minutes a started feeling nauseous. The fire was taking up a lot of oxygen in the tipi and people were already puking and as the shaman had explained it would be good to puke outside in the hole in the ground, for symbolic purposes. So I went outside and was flooded with oxygen. The nausea subsided. After a few minutes of staring into the black hole, I went back inside. The nausea returned slowly. I decided to go outside again after about 10 minutes of lying down with my eyes closed. The nausea was stronger than before and I was still nauseous even with the oxygen returning to my brain. I stayed above the hole in the ground for quite a while, because I thought it really needed to come out, but it didnít. After another 5 to 10 minutes I went back inside. It was now about an hour after the dose and besides the nausea, I didnít really feel any of the effects of the ayahuasca. The shaman started to hand out second doses at this time and I thought: why not go for a second dose. Fortunately there were a few people ahead of me in line and I laid down for a minute, because as soon as I closed my eyes, I was tripping harder than I had imagined.
The descent to hell
The first thing I saw that I could name was a huge snake. Maybe it is a bit clichť, but it wrapped itself around me and swallowed me head first. It was very dark. I wasnít scared, but I knew at that point that it was going to be a rough ride. Nausea filled my mind and I grabbed one of the buckets while remaining in the tipi. I heaved, but nothing could come out. I knew that things would be better if I just gave in to the urge to purge, but it was very hard while I was in the circle towards the fire. I was so nauseous, but at the same time couldnít puke. I felt humiliated in front of all the people I hardly knew and when I decided to turn myself (including the bucket) away from them, the gates opened and I puked. Unfortunately, it was a strong process, puke ending up on my pillow and in my hair. Tears in my eyes from not being able to be strong and just sit in the circle while puking and hiding my dirt from the plain view. There were black pieces of puke in the bucket and I thought there was still coming more. Puking while lying down is not a good idea, but I couldnít move, my body felt paralyzed. The fireman changed my bucket for a fresh one and I was touched by his help. He asked me if I could turn around, but I couldnít. He asked again and I said I couldnít. The shaman said: if he canít he canít, no problem. I felt a bit relieved that the nausea was mostly gone, but knew that the journey was about to begin and I wasnít feeling good at all. It felt like I needed to purge more, but I knew that I was unable to do so.
I didnít see any visuals. I was just inside a dark place. I hid my head as close to the earth as possible, going under my puke-drenched pillow, wiping my pukey hair out of my face. I felt relieved and miserable at the same time. I felt alone. I noticed that I was alone, that noone could help me. Of course there were people there and they would be very helpful if I asked them, but I had a hard time admitting that I couldnít take care of myself. Now I realize I was just too damn proud to give in, while it wouldíve been best for me if I just admitted it. I was alone in a dark place and there was noone around me. The only thing I needed at that moment was someone or something to love. But there wasnít such a thing. I couldnít even love myself, because I noticed I wasnít able to love emptiness. I got scared. I never experienced such a fear in my entire life. It raged through my body, I trembled. I started crying, asking for help in my mind, but not speaking out. I feared being alone and hated it. I was very sad. Feelings of anger also surfaced. I was angry at people for fighting each other, not noticing I was doing the exact same thing.
This lasted for what felt like hours. After a certain period I was able to express my feeling by crying louder and even screaming away my fear. But there was no end to it. During all of this I was able to feel gratitude for all the people in my life, for the ability to love, for the wisdom that I find around me, for the lessons I was learning. I remember the people around me going through their own processes. A woman reliving feelings of jealousy. I noticed that my feelings subsided as soon as I focused on her suffering and my wish for her to be truly happy. Soon as it was gone, I was in hell again. All the time, I couldnít move anything except maybe turn around a bit. No posture felt comfortable. My neighbour puked out his 20 years of smoking over a period of half an hour. I felt joy for his release, but the memory of my pain and fear led me back to my personal hell.
At some point the shaman came over to me and waved around with feathers taking away my fear and putting it into the fire. I noticed that it helped me tremendously if I believed the process and felt lighter. But I couldnít do it alone, felt powerless. I thanked the shaman for his care, thanked him truly from the bottom of my heart, as I noticed how all he did for the others was from his heart. But he had to go to another person and my hell came back. I needed to go to the bathroom, but couldnít move. Fortunately I was able to keep it in.
The slow and arduous ascent out of hell
The ayahuasca was wearing off. I didnít feel good. In fact, I felt like excrement. I knew somewhere that it was precisely what I had needed and was thankful for the lesson, but was worn out and couldnít do anything. I felt like a juiced orange. The soup was ready, but I couldnít eat. All I wanted was sleep. I was thirsty, but drinking was hard and I fell asleep around 5 in the morning, when it was already getting light outside.
When I woke up, I still felt like shit. I was Ďbackí, but the previous night wasnít exactly what I had in mind before I started. I ate some fruit and soup and drank a lot of water. I finally was able to go to the toilet and during the day I went about 6 times. It felt like the bad stuff that I wasnít able to throw out during the ceremony, was coming out the other way. I felt better every time I came back. I talked a bit with the people and it helped me give the experience its place and prepare me for the coming night. I slowly came to appreciate what I had experienced, knowing deep within that I needed to be taught a lesson about what it meant to hurt. I started to attach meaning to the experience and make sense of it. I was dead tired and didnít feel like tripping at all during the morning, but thanks to talking to the people around me, I was able to come back a bit. I still had a headache when we started the second ceremony, but I was ready to continue.
Three cups of tea
We started with another round of the pipe, everyone sharing what he or she wanted to share about the ayahuasca ceremony. I had a hard time explaining what I had been through, but managed to say I had a very hard time and how I had felt. Tears were in my eyes and my voice was hesitant. We drank a cup of peyote tea to get started, as it would take at least a few hours before the effects would be strong. Then, the opportunity arose for people to sing something. I was unsure if I would be able to do it, but something inside me convinced me I had to. But what would I sing? I am not an experienced singer and I donít really care for remembering lyrics. Besides that, my mind was completely blasted from last nightís ceremony. The only thing that came to mind was a Tibetan mantra, ĎOm mani padme humí, so when it was my turn, I begin chanting this mantra and the words started flowing. I was able to sing, and I was glad I could. Singing liberated me from the horror of last night and gave me the strength to continue.
After the round of singing, which lasted about an hour, we had another cup of peyote tea. My headache was becoming stronger and I found it hard to relax my head so it would stop. The next part of the ceremony would consist of dancing to the music the shaman played on his wheels of steel (!). We went inside to the little dancing area, but I found it hard to stand, as the headache was getting stronger. After sharing a cup of water, I decided to go back into the tipi and rest a bit, so I could join again later. It was really nice to lay down and just float. I noticed the slight effects of the peyote beginning to take hold of me and was able to relax a bit. I saw my headache as a tight knot of energy around my head and just relaxed so it could unwind. After a while I fell asleep for a short while. The dancing episode stopped and people reentered the tipi while I was asleep, but I noticed them returning. I continued being superficially asleep for about another half hour. A third cup was served. The shaman asked me if I wanted more and I said that I had enough for now, that I needed to relax my headache and that I would be alright later on. I felt more relaxed than before and noticed the headache was already a lot less painful. The effects of the peyote were not very strong, but if I focused on them, they were very apparent. It was very subtle, very loving and very, very wise. I continued sleeping for a bit.
When I woke up my headache was gone. I was wide awake and I sat up, something I had had trouble with for at least 30 hours, so naturally it felt great. I woke up just in time for the mushroom tea. The peyote was still going strong, but it wasnít a strong trip for me, so I welcomed the mushrooms to add to the occasion. We each had tea from about 1.5 grams of dried mushrooms. I drank it in two big sips and was ready for the effects, which I knew would start within a matter of ten to twenty minutes. I was able to talk with my neighbour, who is experienced with mushrooms as well and we both enjoyed the mild effects. I was getting more social and was able to open my heart to others for the first time that weekend. The mushrooms were playful and gentle, they took the seriousness I had upon me away and released me into a field of joy. I hadnít much visual effects, neither from the peyote nor the mushrooms, but it was all very apparent and I must say it was just as Ďstrongí as the 8 gram mushroom trips I had before, without the visuals. Intensity isnít just dependent on dose, but also on ability to sense.
After we had reached the peak on the mushrooms, the Shaman shared his sacred Santa Maria, the cannabis he has cultivated for over a decade. He gave each group of three a pipe filled with the magic herb and told us to take it easy, because it was strong stuff. I smelled the Santa Maria and it was the best smelling herb I ever smelled. It was a round, full smell, that dwarfed all the weed I smelled before. I took about three hits from the pipe and it was indeed pretty strong. It wasnít strong like the high-THC weed is strong, which makes you more heady and pushes your imagination, rather it was strong across the whole spectrum of effects this plant has in store. My body turned into pure sense, I relaxed and my mind was quiet. The shaman gave us the advice to use the Santa Maria to inquire about the other plants we had used that weekend. I laid down and closed my eyes, removing myself from the social sphere to dive inward again, this time confident that I would find out what I wanted.
I first envisioned ayahuasca. I saw the big snake from the night before wrapping itself around my body. I saw my body cleansed, all the cells collecting all the negative energy they had within them and purging them into the fluid between the cells and this fluid purged by throwing up and evacuating the bowels. It was a harsh but effective method of cleaning and it required a certain attitude of acceptance and hope. It also required one to look beyond the self into others, to find the love that you have inside and give it to them. I then knew what I had done wrong the previous night. I focused too much on my own process and didnít accept what was going on. I didnít want these emotions to come up and held on to my pain the best I could. Letting go is easier when you just do it, you canít drop something slowly.
I then envisioned peyote. I saw visions of peyotes and other cacti, growing in the desert. I became the cactus, knowing when to grow. I felt my body and how I was using my mind to create the reality around me. I noticed how my intention was key in approaching life and that I needed to learn how to channel my energy even more, so that I would reach the goals that I set for myself. Peyote teaches one to act out of love, it shows you how to align your heart, your mind and your actions, so that you can act in harmony with your surroundings and do what needs to be done. Peyote taught me about shamanism more than any other plant: it showed me how to take an intention and work with it. How having an open mind and a big heart will shape your experience positively and how you can navigate on your senses. Peyote also showed me an erotic side. It made me aware of my sexuality in a way that no other entheogen has done before. It showed me the connection between love and sexuality and convinced me of the transformative power of sex.
I turned to the mushrooms. The visions changed in character again. I envisioned mushrooms growing in a pasture. They are small, grow fast and are very powerful. Mushrooms can shake you loose from habit, they introduce playfulness and joy into what was monotonous and gray. Mushrooms are perfect for accessing spirit and philosophical transcendence. They give you the ability to think clearly without giving you the ability to focus on details. They show the permanence behind impermanence, the everlasting oneness of creation behind the superficial dichotomies. They even dared me to use Santa Maria to learn about Santa Maria, so that is where I turned next.
The mushroomvisions changed. Colors got less intense, but there were lots of colorful shapes and forms against a dark background. Santa Maria was the canvas against which we can paint anything we can imagine. It stimulates visions and ideas, while at the same time relaxing the body. It is one of the most sacred medicines and should be used as such. Santa Maria gives you the ability to explore freely, but needs directed action to bear fruit. It tought me to access the other plants, it showed me the way to their inner wisdom. Santa Maria gave me the key to unlock the doors of perception, it showed me that I controlled my own reality and that I could make choices about entering an experience. It also showed me how my interpretation of that experience was important in determining if it was a useful or unuseful experience. All that matters is whether I was willing to learn or not.
It was getting lighter already. Today was the longest day of the year and the ceremony was nearing its conclusion. We were still under the influence of a cocktail of medicines, but the effects were diminishing. The soup was brought in and it helped me ground a little before I fell asleep. After a few hours I already woke up. It was a beautiful day. We ate some fruit together and talked a bit about the experience, when the time was right we said goodbye and I went home. That night I slept for 12 hours waking up refreshed and reborn. I have felt great for the past three weeks and feel more positive about life (although I didnít really feel negative about it prior to the experience). I have learned a lot, not so much about myself, but more about the experience and the healing process that these plants can give to anyone who dares to look and sense. I noticed in the last few days that my perspective was changing/changed by the experience. Instead of looking at things from the first person point of view, I tend to look at things more all-encompassing since this experience. This really relaxes me and I have felt more open towards new possibilities.
This was my fraction of what happened during the ceremony. It is only a fraction of all my memories, but it was one of the most consistent stories I could distill out of what happened that weekend. And there were 24 other stories as well. I do not fully comprehend everything yet, but donít expect that either. What happened has made a profound influence on me and my life and Iím really looking forward to the next few years in my life. There are gems to unearth within and there is wisdom to channel to others. I am grateful for having the opportunity to be healed by these medicines and I am curious about what more they can offer me.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Feel free to ask me about it if it was unclear, it will probably help me to clarify it within me as well.
Peace, Love, Harmony,