Sunday, September 9, 2012

What Does Adventure Mean to YOU?

What does adventure mean to you?

Adventure to me is synonymous with excitement.  It’s the thrill of being somewhere you’d never dreamed you’d ever be.  It’s the rush of knowing that no one is there to help you if you fail.  It’s looking your fear in the eye and confronting it.  It’s that element of danger that keeps you alert.

Adventure is challenge.  It’s the anxiety you feel when you step outside of your comfort zone.  And it’s the satisfaction you achieve when you know you’ve accomplished something great for yourself because of it.

Path of the Shaman is a unique journey that not only includes travel to an awesome and adventure-filled part of the world – the Amazon jungle – but it includes an adventure of the mind, body and soul.  By surrendering yourself to the guidance of Ayahuasca under the supervision of a trained Peruvian Shaman, you are opening yourself up to a journey of unexplainable proportions.  You can only know its depths by experiencing it for yourself.

Find out more about Path of the Shaman by clicking here, or contact us here to apply for one of the few seats left on this jungle-bound adventure for the mind, body and soul.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Chimbre Summary

May 15, 2011

It’s been five weeks since I returned to Canada from South America, and seven weeks since my final Ayahuasca session at Chimbre.  The effects of the development that I suffered at Chimbre were twofold.  The experience of being there and working with San Pedro and Ayahuasca was one of the most unique and amazing experiences of my life.  But, as they say, the real work starts after the ceremony.  And since, I have certainly noticed some well defined, fundamental improvements in my thinking, energetic fluidity, and overall physical well being.

In life, we, as humans tend to absorb or assimilate negative energies and negative thoughts.  We strive to gain approval of others in order to validate ourselves and we allow the judgments of other people, whether authentic or perceived, to detract from our own self worth.  These heinous injustices we allow upon ourselves have a snowball effect in our lives, causing us to pursue endeavours beneath our personal capabilities, out of alignment with our deeper selves, and to participate in self destructive behaviours.  The constant inner dialogue we dedicate to these futile ends is a waste of our finite time, productive energy, and precious life.

I went into this project with a mind that was like a saturated washcloth: dripping with ego; fragmented, hyperactive, redundant thoughts; and striving to earn the approval of people who were never going to give it to me anyway.  In such a state, there was little room for authentic growth, as my energies and mental capacities were spilling out in so many misaligned directions.  These plant medicines, primarily Ayahuasca, acted as two strong fists, wringing out this saturated washcloth, disposing of what was preventing me from the growth I desired.  My thought processes have since become remarkably focused, but, quite noticeably, on a much narrower area of subject matter.  So much waste that used to consume my thought capacity has simply fallen away.  This additional operating capacity has allowed me a crystal clear vision of my next project…a long term project…reining in all of my scattered passions and skills, focusing them on one ideal, unique outlet.  In the past, I’d not been able to – wholeheartedly – look beyond a six month-to-one-year frame of time, or fully define what I wanted to do with my life.  This new found certainty has supercharged me with energy.

Thoughts and energy are so much intertwined: one cannot be affected without the other.  The process of squeezing out stale, redundant thought patterns simultaneously forces away toxic energy.  Like an invisible, low-viscosity mucous, toxic energy clings to and accumulates in one’s energetic fields.  This toxic energy creates a sluggish and dysfunctional energetic fluidity, preventing one from achieving maximum potency in life.  Ayahuasca opens up the gateway to these energies, allowing one to focus on them and banish them from one’s energetic being.  Each session discards more and more toxic energy, reaching deeper and deeper within, and releases one’s energetic being from the sludgy prison it used to occupy.  It is akin to a snake shedding its skin: discarding what is preventing it from growing larger.

Now that I have achieved a higher degree of energetic fluidity, I am much more sensitive to those things in life that siphon away my useful energy.  Bad food, bad drugs, and bad people are all things that I can now immediately feel affect me on an energetic level…sometimes just from thinking about them.  Having this new sensory perception makes it easier to simply avoid these things.  Beyond that, the feeling of being energetically charged is awesome.  It spills into every interaction and activity I participate in.  I feel unstoppable, and circumstances seem to have been “magically” working out in my favour…continuously.

The detoxifying properties of Ayahuasca, however, are not only limited to thoughts and energies.  The most immediately noticeable effect of the medicine is the physical detoxification.  Although unpleasant, the physical detoxification process through Ayahuasca is highly effective. 

Throughout our lifestyles in the “developed” world, we consume high amounts of genetically modified and processed foods, food additives, chemicals and other environmental pollutants that accumulate in our digestive system, lymphatic system, mucous glands and other tissues in the body.  These built up toxic or unnatural compounds found in the body prevent optimal physical functionality and increase the risks of disease.  Ayahuasca’s legendary “purge” is a potent – albeit unpleasant – method of ridding the body of such compounds and toxins.  It essentially scrubs your digestive system through intense vomiting and occasionally diarrhea.  This process also kicks one’s mucous glands into overdrive.  The release of all these bodily fluids carries with it many concentrated toxins and compounds, and opens up the capillary flow between tissues and membranes deep within the body.  Replenishing the body with clean water and healthy, natural food after a strong purge leaves one feeling light and healthy – a feeling that can last for months.  I have personally noticed a heightened efficiency and regularity in my digestive tract, a higher metabolism and a healthier complexion.

Notable, also, is that one week after my final Ayahuasca session at Chimbre I visited a spa in Ecuador.  I went for a massage package that included an “ionic foot bath.”  This device is essentially a basin of water one dips their feet into for thirty minutes as a small current of electricity is passed through the water.  I’d seen this done before in Canada.  The electric current draws all kinds of disgusting poisons, sludge and heavy metals through the membranes of one’s feet and into the water.  It can get quite ugly. 

After thirty minutes of having my feet in this bath, the water was virtually unchanged. The lady who administered the treatment was astonished.  She claimed witness to hundreds of people every year having the same treatment done – right before her eyes – and only had seen three or four in her life with the same toxin-free result as mine.  I found that astounding, considering I’d been a cigarette smoker and heavy drinker for over a decade, as well as a relatively high consumer of meat, processed food, and other recreational substances.

Additionally notable is the fact that before this project began I mentioned my somewhat excessive drinking habits and an addiction to nicotine.  I can’t say my drinking habits have changed much…yet…but I have finally been able to kick the nicotine, which is progress made.  I’ve been nicotine-free since the day I landed in Canada: five weeks prior to the time of this writing…and counting. 

To wrap this up, the outcome of my time at Chimbre was virtually as I’d hypothesized.  The experience of being there was amazing.  San Pedro and Ayahuasca showed me things that cannot fully be described or repeated, and that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.  Moreover, the cleansing properties of Ayahuasca have combed through my energetic fields, thought processes, and physical body, removing negative energetic blockages, stale and redundant thought patterns, and toxic compounds within my physical body.  This removal of blockages and garbage has allowed me to develop a well defined project that will satisfy my passions for years to come…something I’ve never fully been able to do.  Finally, I made a conscious choice to discard my addiction to cigarettes, and I’ve been nicotine-free for five weeks.  Ayahuasca has earned my confidence as a highly effective tool for the development of personal strength, mental resilience, and the improvement of mental, physical, and energetic well-being. 

Get Amongst It - Week 1

February 9, 2011 –  

9:00 pm, 25 degrees Celsius, shorts and a sleeveless, droplets of condensation rolling down the side of a cold beer – such are the conditions of this moment.  I’m in Peru.  Puerto Maldonado has surpassed my expectations.   Most of what I´ve read has painted a dirty and somewhat menacing picture, yet the city – at least around the Plaza de Armas, is quite pretty and charismatic.  There is an abundant variety of urban vegetation, absorbing the sunlight and radiating a wide spectrum of green.  Bright red flowers peppered throughout the shrubbery offer an eye pleasing contrast. 

The local people are relaxed and approachable, happy and hospitable.  Even just the hustle and bustle of the locals speeding around on their motorcycles and moto-taxis – a three wheeled enclosed vehicle fabricated from the front half and engine of a motorcycle – is quite endearing.

I found a massive bed in a hostel just around the corner from Plaza de Armas for $10 a night, ate a six inch stack of mouth watering ceviche and  a beer for under $10, and the fifteen minute taxi ride from the airport cost me under four bucks. 
I await pick up from Chimbre´s team tomorrow morning. 

February 10, 2011 –

Upon meeting the group, I immediately felt I was in good hands.  Maestro Mancoluto was the first to greet me.  A brief, pleasant introduction was all that ensued, after which he led me to his vehicle.  There awaited Vicky, Florian, Olivia and her two year old son, Marco.

Aside from the introductions the ride was quiet and relaxing.  We began to converse when we stopped at market to pick up some supplies.  The Maestro, Olivia and Marco went inside.  Vicky, Florian and I waited at the van, immersed in the sputtering, obnoxious whine of two stroke engines competing as motorcycles and moto-taxis sped past us.  Peruvian women selling pirated DVD´s stationed a string of four or five kiosks on the opposite side of the muddy, chewed up gravel road.  I got out and lit up a Marlboro.  Florian slid open his door and kicked out his feet.  Vicky did the same.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Florian – a 31 year old German man – has been working with Mancoluto for 10 years.  He is now under his full apprenticeship, learning the ancient Shamanic knowledge systems and rituals of the Chavin civilization, and working with the corresponding plant medicines. 

Additional to my previous knowledge, as well, Mancoluto has been developing Chimbre for years.  It is his home, his land.  To me, that speaks credibility.  It is now, though, a significant investment from Roberto Velez has aided in bringing Chimbre to what it currently is and aspires to more of – an exemplary facility of psychological and energetic healing, capable of accommodating up to sixty people at one time, and it´s only getting bigger.

Vicky, a 31 year old woman from New York, has been working with Rob on this project since she had a life changing experience with Ayahuasca a year ago to date.  Aside from just working on the site project, Vicky, Rob and others have put countless hours into the full length documentary ¨Stepping Into the Fire,¨ and have been conceptualizing a television series based at Chimbre, featuring the before and after stories of its guests. 
After conversing some more with Vicky and Florian, a familiar tingling sensation blanketed my body, just beneath my skin.  I knew then that here is exactly where I need to be, right now.  There is no better feeling.

We continued on our short journey.  As we moved onward exiting the city, the roads got rougher and the scenery got greener.  We turned onto a narrow gravel road, meandering through dense forest with foliage intruding upon the road´s edge.  This was the rainforest.
After crossing a few bits of somewhat questionable terrain we turned on to Mancoluto´s property.  We had arrived at Chimbre.

It was impossible to avoid feeling completely at peace.  Against the backdrop of endless miles of Amazon rainforest, Mancoluto´s hilltop property was neatly manicured.  The central ceremonial structure imposed a much more awing presence than what I had imagined from photos I had seen.  Chickens scavenged confidently amongst a handful of playful dogs.  The balmy air held the sweet, thick aroma of moist vegetation – typical of such regions. 

I took a few moments to perch myself at the edge of the hilltop, soaking in the expansive forested vista.  I´d come a long way, spent a lot of money, and sorted through a great many details to experience that first moment.  Along with the simple pleasure of enjoying that moment, came a sense of accomplishment.  My journey was successful.

Aside from a savoury lunch and a tour-a-la-Vicky of the jungle trails below, the remainder of my afternoon was dedicated to sorting out my quarters.  I was quite happy to find that my room included a double bed, beautiful viewpoint, and desk with a chair.  A typical Peruvian tapestry and a couple of masks hung from the walls, adding local Amazon character to the 10 foot by 15 foot wooden planked cabin.  I began to settle in.

February 12, 2011 –

A punishing haze of humidity binds me in a prison of perspiring laziness.  The last two days have been of extreme contrast; yesterday unrelenting downpour and today unrelenting sunshine, vapourizing the saturated landscape into a palpable, mind numbing haze. 

Both days I’ve not done much but sleep.  Yesterday was because I had picked up a dose of food poisoning, of course, and today is because I await my first ceremony this evening.  The shaman instructed me to fast and take it easy.

The food poisoning hit me on my first night at Chimbre.  I awoke in the middle of the night to a searing pain in the pit of my stomach, feverish chills and diarrhea.  I spent the next 24 hours purging from both ends. Although not pleasant, I am grateful to have gotten that out of the way.  It should make my ceremony tonight less painful.

 La purga is one major aspect of these plant medicines.  Being that I´ve already purged – significantly – and that I´ve essentially been fasting for two days, I should get the best results from the medicine.  It will have less resistance to break through and, I hope, can act directly on my mind.  That is where the real journey begins.

February 13, 2011 –

The ceremony began at 4:30 pm.  Only Vicky and I were asked to participate.  She was to drink Ayahuasca and I, being this my first ceremony, was to take San Pedro.  The Shaman uses San Pedro to first open one´s mind and accustom them to a night awake in the jungle, in order to prepare them for the shock treatment of Ayahuasca.

The Shaman, Mancoluto, handed me an intimidating, large cup full of pureed San Pedro cactus.  At that stage, I hadn’t eaten for two days.  I wasn’t hungry, I was ravenous.  Recalling a few moments before the ceremony, I said to Vicky ¨I’m so hungry I’m going to chow that San Pedro like it’s a home cooked meal.¨  She questioned that likelihood, ¨have you ever tried San Pedro?¨ I hadn’t, of course.  ¨Just you wait¨ she cracked challengingly.

Our bodies provide us with senses so we may respond to our physical environments in a way that encourages our optimum health and survival.  The moment my olfactory senses determined what was in that cup, my thoughts were ¨this should not be going into my body.¨

The first taste was worse.  I tipped the cup and choked down my first gritty, chunky, gag-reflex-stimulating mouthful.  The texture was like a thick, sloppy vegetable smoothie.  But the taste was the epitome of horrific bitterness.  I noted:  ¨this is the most repulsive, obnoxious substance I have ever tried to force past my palette. ¨

The Shaman took very seriously to his work.  With focus he organized his ritualistic pieces in front of him as he donned his ceremonial dress.  He dashed cinnamon oil on the floor around his circumference, began shaking a rattle to a steady tempo, whistling and singing traditional sequences of notes.  As the minutes passed and I continued to punish my taste buds with San Pedro, he alternated instruments, combining a bell and stone carved whistle with the shaker.

I would like to have been able to take a more romantic description of the ceremony, but my focus was on the task at hand – fighting my way through an endless bucket of culinary torture.

After about 45 minutes he instructed me to put down my cup – there was only a couple of mouthfuls left – and retreat to the jungle below.  Florian, the Shaman´s apprentice, led me down the steep concrete steps and rotting boardwalks below to a 12 foot by 12 foot screened room in the swampy, dripping jungle.  He had prepared the room for me by placing one plastic patio chair and one thin foam mat with a blanket on the plank wooden floor.  I would spend the duration of my journey, there in solitude.

San Pedro can take hours to climax, but the effects can also last quite long – up to twelve hours.  I found the effects to be stimulatory but not extremely hallucinogenic.  I did find myself thinking introspectively as well.  I was surprised it wasn’t more intense, but was definitely contributory to an ultimately surreal experience. 

The air above the jungle floor was saturated with moisture; a thick haze.  This low lying swath of jungle cloud drifted through the submissive screen structure continuously throughout the night, bringing with it the distinct rainforest bouquet of organic growth and decay.  It dampened my hooded sweatshirt and blanket, wicking away my body heat.  I could barely keep a cigarette lit.  The occasional firefly would visit the edge of my cage, while monkeys chirped, howled and barked against the ominous sound of water droplets hitting leafy vegetation and puddles on the forest floor.  The occasional nut, palm fruit, or bit of canopy borne debris would cascade down, crashing through the foliage and terminate with a loud splash in the swampy undergrowth.  There is no doubt, spending a waking night in the Amazon jungle is an enlightening experience, whether accompanied by Saint Peter or not.

By three in the morning I´d had enough.  Any restricting effects had worn off and I had nothing but gumption and a desire to move.  I packed up my gear and made the dark trek from bottom to top.

I was welcomed by symphonic barking as I reached the main property.  After reassuring my new found canine friends that I wasn’t a malicious intruder, I perched atop the steps just in front of the main ceremonial structure.  There I sat in reflection, gazing over the forest canopy so faintly bathed in moonlight muffled by the overcast sky.  A gentle, silent, humid breeze lapped at my face.  To my periphery, fireflies congregated in the palms and shrubbery, their intermittent flashes adding a three dimensional sparkle to what would otherwise be a silhouette against the twilight.  I knew no further definition of peace.

February 14, 2011 –

Last night I finally had a decent (translated) conversation with the Shaman.  Until then, I wasn’t even sure if he knew why I was here.  He didn’t.  I was sent here as a volunteer by Rob Velez in New York, to write about the experience of being here and chronicle the various happenings on site in exchange for room and board.  While still welcoming, Mancoluto was unaware of my purpose.  Now, it seems, we have established some clarity.

Mancoluto agreed to this project but he cautioned me not to focus only on the superficial aspects of being here.  Contrary to the increasing number of Ayahuasqueros who are filling the niche market of ¨Ayahuasca Tourism,¨  Mancoluto has been doing this since he was a small boy.  Selected by his elders to walk this path, he offers deeper, ongoing teachings that stem from a rich ancestry dating back to the beginnings of the Chavin civilization.  While I will not here attempt to describe his teachings – simply because I am not qualified in the least to do so – I can speculate that his message pertains to humankind’s position in history, on Earth, and in the Universe(s).

Plant medicines are only a small part of Mancoluto’s apprenticeship, which focuses on preparing the individual for an upcoming, difficult, and sobering future.  Again, his plentitude of years of training and teachings cannot be described adequately in just a few short paragraphs.  But I wish to draw a line, as he quite adamantly does, between his teachings and those of the trendy, philosophical, post-modern Western versions of Ayahuasca Shamanism.

With that said, tonight I was pleased to learn we will be having an Ayahuasca ceremony tomorrow evening.  As usual, the day will begin with fasting and relaxation, reserving our energies for the evening journey.

Although one can never be fully prepared for the unpredictable, inter-dimensional hurricane that is an Ayahuasca journey, I feel as ready as I could possibly be at this stage in my Shamanic experience.  My diet has been light and basic.  I’ve developed a comfortable energetic relationship with my surroundings and bonded with the jungle.  My mind is open for whatever message the Ayahuasca is to deliver, whether pleasant, unpleasant, or utterly horrific.

February 16, 2011 –

Like the hammer of a vengeful God, Mancoluto’s Ayahuasca delivered a thunderous blow to the entirety of my being, rippling through every cell and tissue like a great seismic blast.  The effects began to skyrocket after only 10 or 15 minutes of drinking the putrid vinegar.  Within an hour, Ayahuasca had me tightly clenched within her inescapable grasp.

Language as we know it cannot describe the world in which I entered.  With my eyes open, I lied on the wooden floor of my jungle prison.  The clear sky allowed a fully visible moon to shine down through the trees, illuminating the tangled, gnarly roots, vines, and foliage that surrounded me. 

But with my eyes closed, I glimpsed an alternate dimension of indescribable beauty.  Brightly coloured and perfectly geometrical designs made up the constructs of this dimension.  Unblinking eyes gazed benevolently at me, all together signifying a realm of deep universal intelligence.  A voice repeated the word ¨welcome.¨

It seemed as though I was being shown a corridor through which I was invited to walk.  A canine figure – what I think was a coyote – sat perched in front of me.  He was fully alert, staring down the corridor with a curious look, ears perked and eyes focused.  He was not moving backward, not afraid, but moving very cautiously ahead.  He would take only one or two steps forward then sit back on his haunches and observe.  I was not confident enough to follow.  Not just yet.

I opened my eyes and changed positions on the floor.  My motor skills were deteriorating, rendering me nearly paralytic.  I entered a different construct of this other dimension.  A child was there.  He held out his hand, again telling me ¨welcome.¨ I was in some otherworldly version of a jungle, more pristine and peaceful than any on Earth.  This was Ayahuasca’s realm.  Long vines hung down in tight, leaven, stringy coils.  Clear water ran softly below the structure that supported us.

The nausea began to build, but Ayahuasca would not let go so quickly or easily.  The sounds of the jungle intensified as the bright moon rose higher in the sky.
My thoughts turned to my family – a recurrence.  I could see them; my sisters, my mother, my father, my grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.  I wanted to show them this experience.  It became certain I must continue to promote this medicine with all my passion.

The growing torment in my stomach and digestive tract gradually approached the threshold of torturous.  I hunched over my puke bucket, wanted to expel the twisting and burning demon in my stomach.  But Ayahuasca wouldn´t just yet let me go.  My intestines began to bubble, a worrisome signal that tonight la purga would be coming from both ends.

I strived to look around, labouriously searching for the door, but my vision was failing me.  I had no toilet or tissue.  Again and again the turmoil in my stomach forced me to suspend my face above the puke bucket.  My guts bubbled.  I needed to find a way to a toilet, but was nearly paralyzed.  The closest toilet was light years away, at the end of a darkened labyrinth of winding jungle trails, up a mountain of steep concrete steps, at the other side of the property above, and I couldn’t even stand.   

Holographic visions of sexually attractive, scantily clothed female bodies stood in my direct line of sight, even with my eyes open.

The nausea surged.  I pulled close the bucket.  I wasn´t allowed to drink water after 10:00 that morning.  My mouth was so dry I simply dreaded passing by it the acidic, repulsive contents that now swirled through my stomach. But it was coming.  I braced myself on elbows and knees, then, without a trace of dignity, unloaded the searing liquid into the bucket.  How good it felt to release.  The deepest contents of the bowels of my stomach cascaded upward.

Exhausted, I flopped down on the floor mat, breathing deeply.  A wave of relief engulfed me.  But it wasn’t over.  My intestines continued to churn and bubble.  I needed to find a toilet.  My other options would be too disgusting to bear.  Either I had to try to coordinate my rubbery muscles and brace myself over the puke bucket inside, or brave the swarm of bloodthirsty Amazon mosquitoes that lay await outside the door.  Neither option offered ease or any degree of cleanliness.  And I wasn't about to humiliate myself by shitting in my pants.

My only acceptable option became clear.  I peeled myself off the floor, raising myself to stand on two wobbly legs.  Not only were my motor skills severely impaired, my perception was untrustworthy.  I took a deep breath, did what I could to get my bearings, and made the move.

The point of no return came quickly as the winding trails got darker, quickly concealing the path behind me.  In my haste, I had left my flashlight in the screened cage.  I had no choice but to keep moving forward.

The canopy continued to thicken above, blocking the moonlight from the forest floor.  I couldn’t see the trail, front or back.  Slowly I edged one foot in front of the other, grasping for whatever handrail I could find.  My slow pace made the trail seem infinitely longer than what I had remembered, causing me to second guess myself.  I felt like I was walking in circles.  Then I began to stress, seeking my bearings.  I could hear dogs barking above but couldn’t distinguish from what direction.

Just as my confusion peaked, I rounded a corner – sure I was going the wrong way – and found a step.  That was a relieving sign, to say the least.  If I could only follow the steps, I would make it to the top.

I climbed every tedious, tiring step.  They seemed endless, but I knew if I just kept climbing one at a time they would lead me to salvation.  Step, step, step, and there it was.  A solemn glimmer of moonlight beamed down through the opening in the top of the stairway.

I was at the top.  The familiar sight of the giant ceremonial structure eased my strain.  Now, I just needed to traverse the dark trails across the property.  But I had walked them countless times, and was relatively confident. 

The Holy Grail for which I had been searching appeared as a white double bathroom building.  I opened the first door and turned on the light.  An empty roll hung uselessly on the toilet tissue dispenser.  With a sigh of frustration, I turned on the tap.  It sputtered, discharging nothing but a gasp of stale air.  The water for the whole site was turned off.
I tried the bathroom next door.  The result proved the same.  At this point, I wondered if the Shaman had turned off the water purposefully, if not only to intensify this grueling challenge.  After all, that is the point of all of this.

Exhausted and monumentally frustrated, I walked to my room to lie down.  The visual effects of the Ayahuasca were still strong.  Energetic trails of light lagged behind my fingers as I marveled at the motion of my hands.  But still, I had no water, I was thirsty, I needed a toilet, and I needed toilet paper, because I knew it was going to be messy.
At first I tried to sleep, hoping I would simply drift off and awake when the sun was up and the bathrooms were sorted out.  But Ayahuasca would not let it be so easy.  She kept me awake and, although I left my watch in the jungle, I knew it wasn’t much past 11:00 pm.  That was too much time to wait.

I then recalled another set of older looking toilets I saw a day or two before, in front of a different cabin.  Not wanting to return to navigating dark trails without a light, yet forced by necessity, I once again ventured onto the trail system.  But, thankfully, the white buildings stood out against the darkness, and I located the toilets with relative ease.  They were older structures without lighting, but I felt my way inside.

Again, there was no toilet paper.  But then I tried the tap.  It worked.  This bathroom’s water was sourced by a rainwater catchment tank, not the main spring.  My lower guts screamed emergency.  I had no choice but to sit on the toilet and discharge.  The relief was of inexplicable proportions.

I won’t describe how I cleaned up; only that it wasn’t nearly as bad as what I had feared.  And I felt the weight of galaxies lifted.

Finally able to relax, I retreated to the comfort and security of my bed for the last time.


This description may cause people to wonder why, on Earth, anyone would choose to put themselves through this torture.

The answer is simple:  because it is torture.  But it’s also safe, beautiful, and educational.  It’s a training ground for courage, mental resilience, strength of will, and independence.  After each experience one becomes stronger and more fearless.  Day to day life becomes less frightening and easier to swallow – hence the reasons why so many drug addicts find their salvation in Ayahuasca.  And the deepest of personal insights are available. One must just relinquish his fear and allow those insights to self-illuminate.   

I am proud of myself for overcoming last night’s struggle.  It was a grueling challenge, but I persevered, and today I am renewed.  Tomorrow I will feel even better.  My body is detoxified and my energies realigned.

The next journey, although infinitely intimidating, will only carry me to a place of greater strength, open mind, and clarity of vision.  This is what Ayahuasca is all about.

Feb 24, 2011

The second Ayahuasca ceremony was, for me, a concrete reaffirmation: every breathing human on this planet should be taking this medicine.  It has added a completely novel depth to my life, as if I’ve entered into a whole new realm of existence…a higher, fuller, magical realm of existence.

The Ayahuasca took an hour an a half to activate.  At first there were no visuals, just a fully engulfing surge of intensity that laid me flat out on the floor.  Rapid frequency vibrations coursed through my body as I lied on the wooden platform, writhing in a comfortable paralysis.  My stomach was stable.  The Ayahuasca continued to digest.  The intense, all consuming feeling climbed steadily upward.

This time more than others, I tried with all my strength not to vomit.  I wanted to keep it in, not only to avoid the unpleasantness of the purge, but also to maximize the effects of the medicine.  That, however, was quite an ambitious goal.  After about three hours, my stomach began to indicate that it was losing its patience, and the Ayahuasca was scheduled for eviction.  The intensity surged in parallel with the nausea.

I fought, breathing deeply and focusing on keeping the Ayahuasca inside me.  The effects approached the threshold of maximum bearable intensity.  This is the stage when one is closest to “losing it.”  The physical discomfort becomes very strong, and one just wants it to be over.  One wants to scream and hit the “power off” button, but there are none that exist.  I told myself, “Don’t fight it.  Stay in the moment.  Feel it, experience it, learn from it.  This is a test.”  I could feel every atom of every molecule of every cell, structure and membrane in my body awakening, vibrating, coming to life.  “This is the point when one truly knows thy self,” I thought.  “This is the point when one truly knows they are alive.”

Braced on hands and knees for too long, readying myself for the yet to come purge, my lower back and hips ached, craving a rest.  I lied flat, grimacing from the discomfort, dreading the incoming, inevitable purge.  With hands on the puke bucket, my stomach began to spasm and the wretched purge commenced.  It was horrible.  It was disgusting.  The Ayahuasca, with its distinct acidic molasses flavour, spewed through my throat and sinuses, leaving a trail of burning residue behind it.  I coughed and spat, blowing my nose into the bucket, pouring every effort into cleansing my palette of the awful taste.  After the dry heaves ceased and the material was cleared away, I felt relief like never before.  I rolled onto my side and lied comfortably. 

As physically taxing as the process of birth itself, this episode left me feeling reborn.  I felt good – really good.  The Ayahuasca remained powerful, showing me what I could not otherwise describe as a look at the infinite.  Perfectly geometrical, coloured patterns shifted kaleidoscopically.  Virtual blueprints of advanced structures flashed before my perception.  Like a surging electric current, Ayahuasca’s universal teachings ran through my mind in waves.  This was pure life.

When my physical energy returned – along with my motor skills – I ventured to the surface of the property.  Just the simple act of walking the jungle trails made me feel closer to the Earth.  But at the top, broken cloud cover made luminescent by the low hanging moon exposed a brilliant starry sky.  Beauty oozed from the heavens.  Pure energy radiated in all directions.  As I gazed at the sky, I felt closer to the universe.

I finally made it to the head, and my cleansing was completed by the discharge of my lower digestive system.  The spasms and convulsions that had rippled through my diaphragm earlier had loosened up a surprising, impressive amount of material.  I was detoxified and fully realigned, ready and waiting for the deepest of sleeps which soon followed.  

February 28, 2011 -

Ayahuasca can show you the realm of infinite energy and infinite intelligence, from which our consciousness was created and to which our consciousness will return in death.

My third ceremony reached a level of intensity I did not before fathom was possible.  Within twenty minutes of drinking, I had begun climbing the steep ladder to infinity.

As I had already shed numerous skins with the previous ceremonies, this third ceremony went deeper than ever before.  Vibrations reverberated through my body as I breathed deeply, energy surging through my depths as every muscle tensed and convulsed.  I unleashed a guttural scream from the bowels of my diaphragm. 

Like a prolonged nuclear blast, my energies ballooned outward.  This was a metamorphosis. 

The last remaining shreds of negativity were obliterated by my outwardly radiating energies.  My strength and power multiplied exponentially.  My field was purified.

Yet, it did not stop.  Like a cage fighter battling through twelve brutal rounds, the physical labour refused to cease, even after the purge.

My vision swirled like a cloudy, milky soup.  I begged for the end, but it was not in sight.  Over, and over, and over I endured the same painstaking motions, cursing in agony.  But, there was no refuge.  Ayahuasca had me locked in her cage, bound in her world, and she was relentless in her teachings.

She showed me the dimension of infinite energy.  Non-human beings, forms and shapes appeared and disappeared, flaunting their ability to instantly manifest out of energy anything they wanted.  Then the energy would simply collapse and return to the eternal flow.  It visually presented to me that nothing is permanent.  Change is innately and inescapably natural, and should not be feared.

Hours later, I forced myself standing, committing myself to the journey through the jungle labyrinth to the main property above.  Through a cloudless sky the Milky Way gleamed upon me, spread across the black of night like a spilled bag of celestial marbles.  This most profound display of the galaxy injected me with mysticism, and held me in a state of pure awe.

Again, I was reborn.  I cannot yet define how I feel, except fully transformed.  This stuff is beyond words.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Based on rhetoric from my recent blogs including Worlds Apart, A Blast From The Plast, and Consciousness Is The Key To Change, it may appear that my worldview could easily be categorized as millenarian, apocalyptic, or Utopian.  John Gray's engaging, well informed, and well written book Black Mass:  Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia has influenced me to analyze and measure my own worldview against these very stories.  According to Gray, millenarian and apocalyptic worldviews have pervaded society since the birth of Christianity.  The basis of these views in the context of religion is that through some violent reforming event -- an Earthly battle between God and Satan, good and evil, or Christianity versus Islam -- the surviving human collective will transcend to an era of peace, holiness and prosperity -- a Golden Age.  This, apparently, is an increasingly popular view in the West and other cultures, and has become obvious as a driver behind historical and post-modern military endeavours around the world, as in the catastrophic American-initiated war in Iraq.  As Gray clearly illustrates, George W. Bush's illegiance to the Christian fundamentalist apocalyptic worldview had influenced his decision to initiate that brutal, destined-to-fail struggle in Iraq -- in pursuit of an ill advised, delusional Utopian vision.  Utopian visions are typically characterized as a future scenario that is unachievable, the promotion of impossible social engineering or idealism that denies the innate tendencies of humans toward violence, corruption and selfish interests, and is therefore unattainable.  Bush's attempted imposition of Western style liberal democracy in Iraq is just one of many examples, from pre-modern European Enlightenment movements to Nazi-ism. All have resulted in failure, always manifesting worse conditions than before, including widespread misery, environmental destruction, and death.

So what makes my ideals any different than those of historical Enlightenment prophets, apocalyptic religions, and other pursuits of unachievable Utopian visions?  Primarily, I absolutely refute religion in my worldview.  While strategizing in life -- as in the game of chess -- an assessment of most likely future circumstances is critical if one's strategy is to be effectively executed, and if one wishes to position themself as successful in their endeavours.  So based on a selfish perspective, over and over again I assess and finally equate mounting global circumstances and available information to a certain vision of the future which strikes me as most probable.  Coincidentally or not, based on probability, my personal vision of the future parallels to some degree that of apocalyptic religion -- minus the religion.  In my view there is no battle between God and Satan, only the grinding retribution we will suffer at the mercy of nature.  What I fear is a world of increasing desperation, depravity, violence, struggle for shrinking resources by an increasing population, reduced food production by the aftershock of peak oil production, scarcity of potable water and housing, and a most horrific global war of unfathomable proportions.  All this may or may not be avoidable, but it certainly will not be avoidable if things continue as they are now.  Many including Gray suggest the Earth is at maximum or beyond its maximun carrying capacity for the human species.  As global food production is heavily reliant upon an immense supply of cheap energy, now arriving from fossil fuels, the aftermath of peak oil production alone will increasingly reduce availability of sustenance and, therefore, the carrying capacity of the Earth.  As our population continues to overload the planet's support systems and the carrying capacity diminishes, there is an inevitable clash of trends, which must ultimately result in a drastic increase in resource availability or -- what is more likely -- a drastic reduction in the world's population in the magnitude of billions.  The process by which billions must perish, the grinding transformation of human geography on the planet and the squalid, horrific conditions that must accompany it are what I would label as my own apocalyptic nightmare.  And as I aspire to conceptualize some positive outcome or less frightening alternative scenario, the only options I conceive are a radical and immediate shift in current trends or some distant desirable aftermath of my apocalyptic nightmare, where collaboration, unity, and cooperation ensure the most efficient management of our available resources and civilized treatment of all humans, creatures, and the planet itself -- which also could be labelled as my own "Utopian" vision.  It may be a concept that is beyond the realm of likelihood, but the other option is to accept utter demise or perpetual widespread misery. Additonally, I don't believe in restricting possibilities to those of simple likelihood.  From sports to science, history has shown us that what was once believed to be impossible can rapidly manifest into the realm of possibility, if only through sheer will, aspiration, and committed action. If we don't aim for the most ideal circumstances, we will never achieve them.  That is as important a lesson in global affairs as it is for personal life and setting goals for oneself. 

Another difference between myself and historical Enlightenment thinkers is that I deny the concept that peace can be achieved through violence.  Rather, I fear violence as an undesirable -- but not necessary -- consequence of a grand portfolio of lessons we seem destined to learn.  And this violence will not be initiated by outside forces but thrust upon ourselves by our own resistance to transformation.  Although I sincerely hope this is not the case. 

In any case, Gray's Black Mass was a sobering read, quelling to any fantastic Utopian visions I may have imagined.  I recommend the book to anyone who has interest in the subject.  But it hasn't changed my propensity to conceptualize a most likely future scenario -- if not only for my own selfish purposes -- and envision what ideal criteria could incubate my most desirable circumstances on the planet.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Worlds apart

In recent months, I've been attempting to persuade my father, among others, to work with Ayahuasca.  Not only is this because of the immense physical, psychological, and spiritual benefits one can gain by working with Ayahuasca, but, as I now realize and can acknowledge, it is because I have a desire to share my worldview with my father and my peers alike.  And not just through words and discourse, but through a real experience.  Ayahuasca is like a wormhole into a dimension of deep universal knowledge, a realm which -- although personal experiences can differ greatly -- is commonly experienced by its users.

The definition of worldview, by (for simplicity's sake), is:
1. The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.
2. A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group.

This isn't a long-winded story about my and my father's relationship.  I'm simply beginning with our relationship as an example for a broader point, which will become clear before the end of this essay.  Historically, I'd felt as though my father and I were two very different people, with a rift of uncommon likes and dislikes between us.  But, as of late, I believe we are more similar than I had thought in years previous. My father is a sportsman, an athlete.  He is a fighter, strong willed and idealistic.  I can see how that sportsman in him transfers -- as he will also admit -- from games such as hockey into other affairs in his life, such as work, business, and finances.  Every game comes with a set of rules, a scoreboard, and a winner.  That's how Dad plays the game of life.  And, although the activities in which I have chosen to participate do contrast significantly with my father's, I do operate similarly.  What major differences exist, appear to me, to exist in our differing worldviews.

For years I'd condemned the indifferent actions and seeming ignorance -- as perceived by me -- of my father's baby boomer generation  -- with respect to issues such as the dispute of global climate change, dismissal of irreparable widespread environmental degradation, and the blind, relentless pursuit of self interest, material accumulation, and financial gain.  I'd blamed them for allowing the brutal maltreatment of the planet to continue, if not encourage it by idealizing the destructive, capitalistic, economy-over-environment paradigm.  But, in years leading up to this era, widespread public discourse was not necessarily focused on these topics.  It has been years of experiences, lessons, and social conditioning that has constructed their worldview into what it is today.  And where my worldview differs today, it is because I have undergone an entirely different set of experiences and been exposed to my own unique streams of social conditioning.  Acknowledging that, I cannot claim any sort of innocence in the predicament we're in -- I've got just as much blood on my hands as anyone else -- but I refuse to simply discredit or ignore the situation our very existence on this planet is faced with.  And it's not just the older generations who offend, disappointingly.  Even after all the available information today, after all the frighteningly clear signs of our planetary collision course, I see the vast majority of my own generation -- the ones our seniors claimed were going to change the world -- assimilate into the same dismissive, ignorant, self important, money seeking lifestyles.  The sad thing is, much of that has even been perpetuated by our seniors as they, consciously or not, influence our own worldviews.  But again, I must be careful of my scathing judgments, because what seems, to me, to be a dismissive, ignorant, self important, money seeking lifestyle may be someone's pursuit of goals and morals he or she believes to be righteous.  Maybe he or she is not aware of the severity or reality of the widespread social and environmental consequences our fast paced, well dressed Western lifestyle costs the rest of the world. Maybe if they were, they would refuse to be complacent and conform.  It all comes down to their worldview.  And someone's worldview can only be developed over time, experience, and social conditioning.  When considering a broader scale, it's obvious that worldviews differ even more greatly between regions, nations, climates, continents, ethnicity, and religions.  How can there be so many worldviews, when we all live in the same world?  Which is correct?

There is obviously no easy answer to that, but I do believe that most people or groups believe their own worldview to be correct.  In many cases enough to warrant violence, oppression or pain on others of different bend.  Perhaps one of the major reasons why contemporary humanity in bouncing around in in this catastrophic stalemate, unable to curtail our acceleration down this perilous path, is because no one can agree on one holistic view of the world, the cosmos, and our place within them.  My recent focus has been on consciousness as the driving force behind our actions.  But along with consciousness, worldview is the main determinant in how we behave.  So, then, it seems realistic that the unprecedented, coordinated global action required to rehabilitate the planet and solidify a fair, humane, and sustainable existence for its inhabitants, would be most effectively brought about if we were somehow able to mitigate our differences, globally, and adopt a unified worldview.  With unified action, humanity's potential is unbound and infinitely formidable.  So, the most critical challenge now becomes how we can develop a clear, realistic and functional worldview that can be adopted by all humans.  One that will encourage us to place the life of our home planet above self interest and greed. Here's my suggestion:  Give every breathing human a cup full of Ayahuasca, and we'll go from there.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A blast from the past

Written in July, 2010:

"I’m not certain what has compelled me to write this.  It’s likely a combination of feelings…boredom, frustration, anxiety.  I’m not a professional writer, nor am I a professional anything, for that matter.  What I am is a product of my unique generation.  No generation has ever before been presented with the types of challenges facing mine and ones after me today.  On one side, I feel the pull of my senior generations and the world they have created.  It is the pressure to assimilate, to work and conquer, to sacrifice one third of my adult life toward some type of occupation, the integrity of which may be less important than the dollar signs I can produce with it.  For me, that is compounded by the inherent fear of societal judgment that comes with not pursuing a socially acceptable position, or having enough money to live an abundant lifestyle. As much as I try to ignore or counter it, it’s still there. Especially now that I’m approaching my third decade of life and am beginning to think about my future, as opposed to just the future. On the other side, I feel the rebellion and wanderlust of my generation, the refusal of influence from my senior generations. 

Living in Canada, it is easy to see the world from either perspective.  The former perspective is simple.  There are no immediate catastrophic environmental threats in Canada.  The quality of life is high.  We have abundant natural resources.  The lifestyle is peaceful and we enjoy a relatively high degree of social freedom.  The only thing one needs to survive and enjoy a happy and successful life here is a good education and a good job, or some business savvy and a good idea.  That seems fair.  And that’s the basis of our capitalist culture.

But, it doesn’t take long to see past this smokescreen.  From the depths of radical alternative information to ancient indigenous prophecies, from extremist religions to the carnage portrayed on the evening news, there is much that suggests our rein on this planet is coming to an abrupt end, and the walls we’ve put up are tumbling down around us.  Or rather, the foundation our Earth has provided us cannot support the structure we’ve built on top of it.

My feelings of anxiety and frustration stem from the dilemma of choosing a path for my life.  How does one process this barrage of conflicting information and opinion?  How can I logically sacrifice my short term future for the benefit of my long term future, when all of these signs suggest to me that a long term future, or one supporting the same construct of society, is not probable?  If that is the case, then, how should I be planning to use my short term future?  What can I expect to experience from the world of the future?  What is valuable to me and what can I get out of this short life to make the most of it?  If there is a long term future but with a different set of rules or under a new paradigm, what is that new paradigm and how do I prepare for it?  And, possibly the most difficult question and frustrating scenario, how do I adequately sustain myself and possibly a family in this broken paradigm while preparing for a new one, whatever that may be?"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A moment of question

January 9, 2011 –

In recent days, as I’ve walked paths along the Pacific coast of Vancouver Island, bearing witness to the ferocious and unrelenting power of the ocean, as I’ve analyzed the direction to which I’ve thrust myself through the publication of this project, and as I’ve sensed an element of self doubt, a feeling of anxiety has been creeping through my veins like tiny elongating fingers -- as a network of mycelia creeps through substrate.  I’ve now been on this fishing boat for twenty six hours. 

Just before writing this entry, I stood at the front of the wheelhouse on the top deck of the boat, staring into frigid January wind and a solemn glimmer of the crescent moon’s reflection on the throbbing, rippled surface of the dark ocean.  Ocean spray lightly pelted my face as the hull of the boat forced its way through slowly rolling, moderate waves.  I pondered my predicament:  I have just ramped up the intensity of my life…for real.  I am now standing on a floating tin can, miles from land, where nature shows no mercy.  Things can get real – very quickly – on the big, bad, cold ocean – especially during the winter and her storms.  Respectfully acknowledging the gravity of my whereabouts, I moved on, my thoughts turning to the rapidly approaching trip to Peru.  I suddenly, also, felt the reality of that incoming experience-bomb, and it made me a bit nervous.  For, I already know how "real" life can get in Peru.  I experienced that only months ago, as I stared down the wrong end of a machete whilst my pockets were emptied of their contents.  And I’ve had no shortage of reminders that my body is susceptible to the forces of nature – gravity, momentum, and blunt force having been the most impressive upon me.  In addition to the physical dangers I have presented for myself, the main directive of this project is to boldly navigate the dark and cavernous depths of my own subconscious, using Ayahuasca as a guiding light, hunting and confronting what wretched, persistent, and frightening creatures of the mind exist there.  Not only will I confront these monsters, I have publicly committed myself to exposing my findings...or, at least, what surpasses the threshold of just too damned personal. There I thought “have I bitten off more than I can chew?”

For a moment, there was worry…even fear.  But then I recognized:  of course there is worry and fear!  That is what propels me.  That is what I seek.  That is what truly excites me, down to the elemental core of my being.  Fear is what makes an adventure real.  Then I ordered myself – “use it!  Let the fear fuel you!”  Feeling slightly more confident – yet, not quite fully exorcised of anxiety or self doubt – I was, at least, compelled to come inside the boat and verbalize my thoughts with this entry. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Gone to sea...

Well, the adventure begins.  As a precursor (cash generator) to the Chimbre experience, I'll be working on commercial fishing vessels off the west coast of Vancover Island as a Fisheries Observer.   I've been in Ucluelet for a few days now but just been assigned a boat.  I'll be boarding the Miss Tatum in Ucluelet harbour at eight this evening.  Weather permitting, I should be out for the next four to five days.  Fortunately, I managed to get out for some hiking over the last couple of days and I took some decent photos.  The weather's been flawless and the scenery stunning.