After a 15 minutes’ drive we arrived at the house where the ritual was to be held. A beautiful three-storey house with a large terrace and pool, perfectly designed to host resourcing yoga retreats. The use the owner, a French Ashtanga Yoga teacher, wanted to make of it. It was almost eight o’clock. Before moving our stuff (mattress, blankets, pillows and bags) to an open field in the forest behind the house, we chatted on the terrace.
Aquarius was talking with a woman, born under the sign of Gemini (my Moon sign). They were saying that Communication was a very important aspect for her to develop. She added it was even more important in helping her accept this ability she always had: telepathy.
I must say I had a very scientific education: if science can’t prove it, it doesn’t exist – except in movies. But when I was living in London, I fell in love with a guy who mentioned telepathy to me in some occurrences. I was scared he was making a fool of me so I never really got into a real conversation about it – since adolescence traumas, I have always been scared of believing people trying to fool me. But with him, I experienced strange coincidences. For example, when I was back in Canada, I would sometimes wake up at abnormal times to find out he had just sent me a text message. It happened very often. Often enough to have me believe there was something special happening.
- How do you experience telepathy? I asked Gemini.
- You mean… How do I live with it? She wondered, with a tortured smile. It was very difficult to accept… It is still difficult… It complicates communication. It’s a lot of information… A lot of confusion…
She stopped, staring at me. She probably read the question marks in my eyes, and clarified: “Did I answer your question?”
- Hum… I meant… How does it work? Do you read people’s thoughts or do you send thoughts in other people’s mind?
- I read the faces.
I thought about this guy in London. Few weeks before my departure, I asked him: “do you have a special talent?” “Reading people” he answered. Was it some kind of sixth sense? Or just an ability he developed from observing and meeting so many people in London, reading psychology books and surfing the social medias? Or a mix of all this?
- The medicine, the Ayahuasca, Continued Gemini, helps me accepting telepathy.
I had no clue of what she meant. But feeling some discomfort from her side, I preferred to end the conversation there, and I turned around to observe the scene.
Behind me, even before the ritual had started, the Shaman was giving some regulars the first medicine: the rapé. On the extremity of a long cylindrical wood, he’d put an amount of a green powder. The tool, an inhalator, was made of two pieces of what looked like bamboo sticks, connected in an obtuse angle. The Shaman would place his mouth onto one of the extremities and the other person would place the other extremity inside one of his nostrils. The Shaman would then carefully observe him, as he would blow powerfully into the tube. Pop! The powder would reach the nose with a popping sound. Same process with the left nostrils.
Scorpio had told me about rapé. She experimented it once with this Shaman, and was so scared of it whe didn’t want to have it this time. She kneeled down next to the Shaman and requested to receive only ayahuasca today. After stating that the final decision would be hers, he explained that rapé was a very good preparation to receive better the Daime – how he would call Ayahuasca –, as it would help start the cleansing, limpieza, and would realign the chakras.
The men who had inhaled rapé were already blowing their noses, clearing their throats and spitting loudly, all around the terrace. They didn’t seem to find it that bad.
- Aren’t you anxious? Asked Cancer, a young man I met at the departure point in Arraial d’Ajuda.
Cancer, with his generous smiley lips and cheeks and his round brown eyes, was exactly what he seems to be, with no dark corners: emotional, open-hearted, anxious and loving. An innocent head in a chubby and feather-weight body. A happy presence.
- No, I answered peacefully. I was anxious for 15 minutes today, but then I made up my mind. You shouldn’t be anxious to do those things.
The space where the ritual would be held was a circular grassy area in the forest, about 20 meters from the house. We set up our mattresses – a towel in my case, as I didn’t know I might need a mattress – around the fire place. Scorpio and I chatted while the Shaman and the owner of the house were setting up a sort of altar with Jesus on a large fabric, a computer and speakers, the medicine and bathroom tissues.
Scorpio was trying to decide where we could vomit at ease, without feeling ashamed with all those strangers around. I didn’t really care. I could as well vomit, poo and piss in full view of everyone if needed – in extreme case.
*It would be an extreme case.*
Around 21:30, once everything was set up, the Shaman explained the « work », trabalho, as he called this ritual to make sure we understood we weren’t here to have a « cool experience ». I retained two important things. First, vomiting was the medicine’s manner of cleansing us, hence we should welcome this cleansing process with gratitude and peace. Second, always remember that « nothing is permanent », so dive into the experience without fear, knowing that it is not permanent. The Shaman then invited each of us, one after the other, to sit in front of him to receive the rapé. He suggested that those who were new to it would go after, so they could observe first.
I was the last one to sit in front of the altar with the Shaman. I asked to receive just a little, as Scorpio did. Always better to start with less with drugs. After placing the green powder in the tube, he explained: “Breath in before, don’t move your head back, so you don’t get it into your eyes, and only breathe smoothly with your mouth after. Don’t use your nose until you have cleansed it”. I nodded. He placed the tube onto his lips. I placed the other extremity into my right nostril. He blew. The powder rose up to my nose, into the upper part of my nostril, burning… burning inside like a bee sting… but ten bee stings at the same time. My whole body intended to move my head backward, away from the bamboo tube, slightly moved, felt some powder scattering on my face, plugged my nostril back onto the tube.
The whole dose was in. Burning like venom. The fire rose up from my right nostril to the top of my head. The right half of my face – or my brain –, was wriggling, scorching. “Hot” wouldn’t be enough to express the sensation of the flames consuming my face at that moment. The shaman was already preparing the inhalator to do the left side. In a huge effort I held my palm. “Wait”. Breathed smoothly with my mouth. Tears were leaking on my cheeks. It felt good. The burning sensation was slowly calming down. Ok, I could do it. I had no choice, anyway. Resigned, I put the bamboo tube into my left nostril.
The second side was more bearable. I thanked the shaman, stood up and walked carefully to my towel.
I sat there in a cross-legged position. Closed my eyes. It was so hot inside. “It is not permanent”, I thought. I breathed deeply and smoothly to try to relax. Felt the burning sensation spreading from my head to my back, all the way down to my coccyx. The rapé started cleaning my nose. Had to blow it few times. And my throat. Started spitting next to my towel.
Got back to cross-legged position. Told myself: “It is not permanent”. I placed my wrists on my knees, turned up towards the black sky. And I observed inside. Felt I was sitting straight, straighter than ever before, without any effort, any discomfort. Felt a sort of wave of energy moving along my spine, making it undulating. The burning sensation all over my back was now very pleasurable. I wasn’t feeling my body anymore. Wasn’t feeling my skin, nor my muscles, nor my organs. Was just energy. Even my arms were just wriggling, vibrant, hot, energy. It felt good. I thought I could stay there forever…
But immediately stood up, my body answering – before my mind – an urgent need to throw up. I walked to the side of the circle, leaned a hand on a tree and started vomiting. Some water. Some rapé, maybe. And then just saliva. And saliva. And saliva. I was feeling almost grateful to be cleansing so quickly: the Shaman said vomiting was the cleansing process, meaning it was working well on me. I sat on the floor to be more comfortable and continue vomiting without urge. Interrupting just to blow my nose. Or to swallow some water Scorpio brought to me.
The Shaman had started the opening prayer of the Ayahuasca ritual. I could hear his voice amongst all the spitting and nose-blowing noises around the circle. Nobody else was vomiting. I felt almost cherished. I grasped some words of the prayer although I was still puking up every few seconds. I retained this, which he repeated many, many times, more rapidly each time: “Archangel Michael in front to defend me. Archangel Michael behind to protect me. Archangel Michael on my left and right to accompany me”.
My abdomen became noisy, my digestive organs activating, giving me winds as I vomited. I didn’t care. As he finished his prayer, the Shaman looked at me, smiling, and asked:
- Tudo bem?
- Sim, I nodded, smiling. It was true.
I was feeling at peace now, seated a dozen meters away, at the edge of the sacred circle, few inches from my vomit.
- But I want to go to toilet, I asked, allowing myself to be childish.
He pointed out the light in the forest, on the path that conducted to the house. As I looked toward the path, it seemed a huge challenge for me to get there alone. Luckily, Scorpio offered to conduce me. In the house, away from the sacred circle and the relaxing energy of the tropical forest, I was feeling dizzy. I alternated pooing and vomiting some long minutes in there. I noticed I was enjoying the sensation of defecating – isn’t it one of the first sensorial pleasures for a baby? I reached the point where I wasn’t feeling good in there and felt it would never end. Through the door, Scorpio called me: “Come out. You’ll feel better outside with fresh air.” It was true I was suffocating here.
I was finally back into the sacred circle. Everybody was sitting around the fire place, in silence. I understood they had all taken at least one dose of the Daim while I was cleansing for… an hour?
I sat on my towel and wrapped myself with my Yemanja shawl, feeling good, feeling physically, mentally, emotionally empty. I asked Sergio to wait a bit before taking Daim. I still had the taste of rapé in my throat and didn’t have the courage to take anything else right now. I wanted first to feel more… normal.
It was probably around 23:00 when I resigned myself to take my first dose of Daim. He gave me a little dose, half a regular glass. I drank it straight. I tasted and seemed as molasses. Not bad. Then I went back to my towel, almost falling asleep.
Around an hour later, nothing had happened. Sergio suggested I might have another dose. I did. Then went back to my towel. Laid down, wrapped myself in my shawl and sheets. Feeling at ease, feeling tired. Looked at Cancer who was dancing like crazy around the fire, a huge smile on his face. I smiled back at him, feeling his joy, wanting to send him back this same joy. I did. But it was nothing really special. I am naturally very empathic. I laid and closed my eyes. I was filled with beautiful thoughts about my future. The novel I will publish this year. The other book project I have. This trip in Brazil. The true love that is awaiting me. I was trying to imagine where and how I would live, after. But it was nothing very special either. Gradually since I started to be the creator of my life, in 2011, I’ve had always a bit more, at various stages, those creative thoughts about my future. And since my arrival in Brazil, I have often had those pleasant moments where I let my imagination go about my near future, not attached to any thoughts, without rigid will, just having fun and feeling a deep, true faith in life and destiny.
It was already 3:00. Nothing had happened. “Nothing will happen today, I told Scorpio. But it’s fine. I think I’ll just sleep now.” I was smiling. I was feeling good. At peace. Happy I had come, happy I had tried rapé, experiencing my first out-of-body sensation, which I would never forget – Oh no, way more then I thought. Also, I felt a bit reassured I would not experience the terrific trip I had read about.
I laid down on my towel, draped myself again with my sheets. Closed my eyes and peacefully let my imagination go again about all the beautiful things that were awaiting me. I felt grateful for the work I had done over the last years (travels, yoga, psychology, drugs, introspection, questioning. I thought maybe I was already fine as I was now, on the good path, and didn’t need deeper insight into my Truth. Maybe I had finally found my Truth.
Slowly, I fell asleep…
*Don’t be fooled as I was. AYAHUASCA had other plans for me.*
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