Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ayahuasca Visions (Second Ceremony)

The second ceremony was held inside the Maloca. Since space was tight, a small group was split off and relocated in a screened room that was being used to display artwork. Riccardo presided over this group. Don Guillermo, Sonya, and Maria, along with other apprentices, performed the ceremony with the larger group. Again, each member in the circle got up from his or her mat and knelt before Don Guillermo who poured the ayahuasca from his plastic bottle into the cup he raised in his hand for all to drink. We were given the option of asking for a larger or smaller portion of ayahuasca from the outset or we could come forward later for another cup during the ceremony.

The bodily sensations I experienced were not as strong as the first time, but I could feel my guts start to churn and I burped a few minutes after I drank my cup and returned to the mat beside Gabriel. We looked at one another, smiled, assumed meditative postures, and closed our eyes.

The ceremony was being held inside because of intermittent rain that had fallen during the day and that had nearly dissipated by the time the ceremony began. I could hear drops falling on the thatched roof. It was a cozy space. I sat with my back pressed against the curved wood wall of the maloca. Jeremy Narby and Dennis McKenna, two of the presenters I had traveled to Peru to hear speak, sat directly across from me. I felt at peace. Serene.

The visuals were very subtle: snake-like tendrils swaying down, like willowy branches stirred by a breeze. The icaros began weaving threads in the darkness. The man who had heaved his guts two nights earlier began his second all-night-long vomiting session. In fact, while I was sitting on the toilet later that evening, he burst in on me ready to hurl, but he backed out and rushed into the next stall and heaved. A close call.

The night was overcast and hazy from the rain that had all but disappeared by now. I stumbled in from the john through a different door to the maloca than the one I exited and was blindly searching for the spot I thought my mat should be when I was politely asked what I thought I was doing and then gently guided to my spot on the opposite side of the room. No nausa. No impulse to hurl. Just a slightly queasy feeling in my gut. The icaros in the maloca this night were much lighter, which I attributed to the fact that Riccardo was in a different building.

More voices were added to the singing as the apprentices harmonized together. We were treated to beautiful symphonic chanting throughout the night, the female voices sprialing upwards, floating, nearly resolving, but then rising again in a slight variation in an undulating rhythm that was extremely pleasant.

I felt as if I had been left standing in front of a row of shop windows in some indistinct mall of some sort. I didn't feel like wandering a mall. Visiting the shopping center is not something that excites me. I wanted the crystal palace, the space ship, the journey to distant planets, contact with alien races. But here I was, dropped off at the mall. The voice in my head asked me if I wanted to see what was in a display case. I realized that here was a simple metaphor that I could easily understand, as well as a method for sharing information, so I replied, "Sure, let me see."

There appeared a rectangular doorway or mirror framed in silver jewels that I approached hoping to see in it the reflection of my face or to pass through it to whatever lay beyond, but as I got nearer it disappeared, and I was peeking in the glass of the display case when a hand appeared holding a carved wooden box with what looked like fuzz-covered seed pods packed like bonbons in an ornate candy box. The case was slightly tilted for me to see and then the carved box and the hand holding it withdrew below my line of sight.

Threads of light continued to spiral down from above, angling toward me in a third-dimensional way, sort of like a glass snowglobe effect, but instead of snowflakes, ribbonous snakes, like crepe paper streamers, floated down on the vibrations of the icaros. I feel asleep listening to the family chanting sweet music, the chorus in full-throated harmony, the high mosquito whine of Maria's voice darting like a hummingbird around my head.

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