I arrived in Cali, Colombia about a month ago. After realizing I had been in the Iguana Hostel for two weeks, it was apparent something about Cali was drawing me in. I decided I wanted to spend a bit of time in here so I started looking for some other accommodation.
As fun and social as hostels are, and as much as I love my cozy hippie van, if you’re going to be spending a bit of time in a place, I find it’s nice to immerse yourself in it a bit more. So I searched on couchsurfing and airbnb for either a host or a short-term room or apartment rental.
I met Ivania, via one of those sites and she offered to host me for a few nights, which turned into a longer term arrangement. One night we were hanging out with her friends, and one mentioned that they were planning on going to an Ayahuasca (or Yage, as they call it here in Colombia) ceremony in about a week.
They invited me to come and I felt it was the perfect time, as the opportunity had come to me so naturally and genuinely, instead of me searching it out.
The following Saturday was the ceremony. I decided I really wanted to show my dedication and appreciation for this ceremony and the medicine, so immediately (one week before); I cut out all red meat from my diet, as well as alcohol and sex.
From Wednesday on I didn’t consume any meat at all. Friday I only had some fruit smoothies and a salad, and Saturday I had a few peanuts in the morning but then only water until the ceremony.
Ivania, our two friends and I, left the city around 7:30pm heading for the surrounding hills about 30 or 40 minutes outside of Cali. We met the other participants mid way and caravanned the last leg of the route to the property where the ceremony was taking place. When we arrived it was already dark. It was a hillside property surrounded with lush tropical plants.
After arriving, we met the shaman (there were 14 of us all together including the shaman). He guided us down the hill about 30 meters to an area below his house that had hammocks and mats and all the ceremonial supplies.
He gave everyone time to settle in while he prepared some things. It was at least an hour before we got started, which was great because it was nice to settle and center yourself before going in to such a powerful experience.
After we had settled in, we were summoned. The shaman gave the group somewhat of a pep talk, instilling in us confidence and courage for the journey we were about to experience.
With that, one by one we stepped forth to drink the sacred tea.
After drinking, some people went to the hammocks, some lay on the mats on the ground and others sat by the fire. I went to lay on a mat. After about 20 or 30 minutes and having felt no noticeable effect, I walked over and sat by the fire with a couple others. After sitting by the fire for 10 minutes or so my stomach became agitated. Others had already begun purging (vomiting) but still I felt no real affects besides some stirring in my stomach.
We were instructed to use the outer perimeter of the ceremonial area if we needed to purge (vomit). 5 or 10 minutes later the stiring in my stomach continued to amplify and I felt the need to purge. I walked to the outer edge of the ceremonial area, where the hill dropped down (there was something of a bamboo fence to stop anyone from taking a tumble down the hill). I coughed and coughed but could not throw up despite feeling the need to. I went back to my mat and lay down curling up in discomfort.
This is when the psychedelic effects began to come on. I began to see incredible patterns far more complex, intricate and elaborate than I could ever attempt to explain. Despite their beauty and brilliance, I could not enjoy these incredible visions as I felt ill and uncomfortable. I tried to find comfort lying on the ground but realized if I wanted to push forward in a positive direction, I needed to get up and work on trying to purge this blockage I was experiencing.
I walked back over to the bamboo fence at the hillside and put myself in a crouched position. Finally it came. After purging I returned to my mat and lay down once again to take in the visions as I closed my eyes. After a few more minutes the discomfort returned, but I already knew what I needed to do. I returned to the hillside.
This time I remained there for quite some time, purging quite frequently. One would think this was a terrible experience, but the magical thing was I was enjoying it. I was passionately purging. I got the notion that I was not just purging for myself, but for others around me. Helping them dispel their negative energies and blockages. I was not the least bit bitter about it, in fact I felt an immense sense of joy that I was helping others. I was literally laughing and smiling as I threw up over and over again.
During all this purging is when I experienced the feeling of pure passion, passion that consists of unadulterated drive and desire. Passion which dispels all fears and causes you to enjoy and bask in the pain and agony because you are so thrilled and enthralled in the experience.
I embodied a tiger, experiencing its power and passion. Experiencing sheer energy. I had the epiphany that when you’re not feeling good you can a) curl up on the ground and try to find comfort and feel bad for yourself or b) let your primal tiger rage, taking the discomfort head on, and purging out all the negativity with passion and thrill.
I think that’s what it comes down to that makes the best of the best at their best so good at it. Take any profession, art, or talent and the leaders in every single field or occupation will be the people that are the most passionate about what they do. They have all learned that passion is an extremely powerful energy force that one can choose to harness.
I experienced being a soccer player in the World Cup, moving through life with all the accumulating moments that lead up to playing in the largest tournament in the world. All the sacrifices, pain, and back-breaking hard work. All of it was nothing less than glorious.
Still in the mind of a World Cup player, I was there in a World Cup match after just having experienced all these life events leading up to the game. I had been playing hard for at least three quarters of the game, time was in ultra slow motion, taking note of every ounce of pain and exhaustion that coursed through my body. But simultaneously I was riding this extreme force of passion, causing me to find elation and delight in the pain and exhaustion.
Passion is like a hungry, extremely wild and powerful dragon. As seemingly uncontrollably wild as this dragon is, it can be harnessed. All one needs to do is to feed it and make sure it stays happy about what it’s fed. This dragon can be picky at inconvenient times, but if you treat it right, it will take you anywhere.
This is when the dragon/passion turned into Pachamama or MotherAyahuasca. She expressed her appreciation for my preparation leading up to the ceremony. She gave me the message that if I treat my body right, we can go further together.
Another epiphany came over me, that when you have conscious control of a force so great, you can’t let it go to waste. I had come into this ceremony specifically wanting to deal with some energy blockages I realized had been holding me back for some time.
Almost as a parent giving an approving supportive nod, Pachamama told me if I felt that I was up for it, we could turn up the energy and really try and blast through these blockages. I made my way over to where The Shaman was and let him know I was ready to drink again.
He prepared a cup for me, and I once again lifted it to my mouth and graciously consumed the brew. I almost gagged after swallowing it. In less than two minutes I was again at the hillside, purging more violently than ever.
At this point one of the group members began to play icaros (An icaro or ikaro, is a song sung in Shipibo healing ceremonies, or by vegetalistas. The word icaro is believed to be derived from the Quechua verb ikaray, which means “to blow smoke in order to heal”.)
The way he controlled the energy of the group was incredible. And just like clock work at the end of each song I purged. This makes sense, when you take into account the meaning of icaros.
The songs were absolutely beautiful. Filling me with all sorts of emotions. I cried, I laughed, I danced along to the music, and I just beamed with happiness and gratitude for a good part of it.
The emotions the music brought out in me, also turned into revelations about feelings I had been suppressing, which I hadn’t been conscious of. I realized I had been holding on to a lot of things subconsciously. Things that were blocking me from moving forward and living freely.
We all experience discomfort, disappointment, frustration, and other negative feelings. I realized that some of the ways I was managing these things were actually not good, because despite letting them pass and not bother me, I wasn’t properly disposing of them.
As time progressed, these improperly discarded negatives were building up. At this point I got the message that this was partly why I was purging so much in this ceremony. Not just for others but for my self. I was cleaning out all the improperly discarded negative energy that had slowly been accumulating and thus blocking me.
After a good while, most of the group fell silent. Most were laying down, sleeping or deep in their experience. However I was very much awake and aware. Life pulsing through every decimeter of me. The majority of the visual effects were gone, but my mind was completely alert.
It is very hard to explain the change in thought patterns and processing abilities, but I would best describe it as having complete and full access to your entire mind and processing abilities. During this time I pondered many things. I had the ability to process ideas from unlimited perspectives, which allowed for greater understanding.
I closed my eyes and was taken in to the mind of my Grandmother, who is 91-years old and has dementia. In the past couple years, her ability to function “as normal” has declined quite significantly. The past couple times I visited her there were often disconnects. Many of the things she would say would not make sense to us or were clear regressions to previous times in her life.
I experienced the thought patterns and processes of my grandmother. I understood the confusion she experiences, where different and sometimes-contradicting realities continually collide. I got the sense that despite the overwhelming contradictory impulses she has been experiencing in recent years, she does find solace and happiness in her day to day life.
This was comforting to know, as I have often left visits with her as of late, feeling down, thinking of the mental anguish she goes through. I know at times she feels utterly hopeless, but I think that stands true for everyone.
For the majority, we are lucky enough to experience a reality that is stable and follows a more or less linear timeline. Perhaps there is a reason to this.. When you think about a baby entering the World, it is completely and utterly confused and disoriented.
If that is how we enter the human experience, it seems to have some logic that we leave in a similar manner. We are frightened by what we don’t understand, and perhaps the extreme confusion experienced by some in their final years has a role in preparing us for departure.
I again closed my eyes and was taken into another mind, the mind of the 19-year-old autistic boy I use to work with. It was incredible. The reality was completely foreign, but absolutely brilliant. It dawned on me that, often we don’t understand others realities and to make sense of it, we try to come up with reasons why they act how they act. In not completely understanding, we make assumptions as to how they are dealing with their reality. I think because we don’t understand, we often assume negative things, when in fact it could be quite the opposite.
After visiting both my grandmother’s mind, and then the mind of the boy I use to work with, I returned to my own mind. I was able to literally maneuver throughout my mind. I was able to examine how different parts of my mind worked.
I had complete and utter control. I could consciously separate receptors and transmitters, emotions from external forces. I realized just how powerful our mind is if we learn to control it. Imagine not instinctively feeling upset about something, and instead choosing to experience a different emotion. The truth is, we have this power with us at all times, we just need to learn to control it.
These were some of the most impactful experiences from this journey. As always, so much can happen in a 6-10 hour Ayahuasca ceremony, that it is impossible to write everything down. That being said, I do intend to write a follow up post, on the post ceremony effects and thoughts I have experienced the past two weeks since the ceremony.
The sun rose and sometime in the early morning, perhaps 7am or 8ish, the shaman closed the ceremony by cleansing our bodies with various herbs, oils, pure tobacco smoke, and song.
After we were given time to gather ourselves and our things and each at their own pace, made it up the hill to the shamans house where we worked together to make a delicious, healthy and plentiful breakfast to nourish our bodies.
Click here to view Discovering Ayahuasca Part 5. Also if you haven’t already, check out my other previous Ayahuasca Experience Posts Below;
Discovering Ayahuasca Part 1: An introduction to the medicine and how it found me.
Discovering Ayahuasca Part 2: My first work with the medicine, Peru 2010.
Discovering Ayahuasca Part 3: My second ceremony, Ontario, Canada 2011.
I can honestly say this experience was the greatest night of puking I’ve ever had.