Jan. 20, 2013

Noon. Home after the Ayahuasca ritual. It was wonderful. The taita (shaman) was so warm and fully dedicated. I felt he was a good shaman because he made me feel very comfortable with the ritual; I trusted him totally.

The ceremony began at about 11 pm. We were at a beautiful, quiet beach about an hour west of Cumana, way out in the countryside. The rented cottage was an extremely simple cottage (“rustic” doesn’t do it justice) favored by the local country people.

We each took the brew at a shelter on the beach. Each person found somewhere to park themselves. I lay down on the beach in my sleeping bag. A little bonfire was going all night long.

The visions started; they reminded me of visions I’ve had some other time, probably on LSD in the 1970s. Bubbles and water; small, straight lines set at sharp angles to each other (like a cathedral ceiling). My face being pulled off my skull. I felt very sick each time I began to leave my body and enter the visionary world. When someone near me would heave, I wanted to heave. My mantra became, “I will not throw up.” I resisted the visions. I felt Pachamama respond to my choice immediately in a positive, helpful way.Surprisingly, I wanted a healing rather than a mystical experience (though it was a little of both). I didn’t expect this. I worked on getting rid of some bad spirits that have been plaguing me for years, and I needed to strengthen my control of my physical body.

I could clearly observe the influence of the group on the individual during the entire ceremony. Venezuelans are very communal people; they respond to each other constantly. They don’t seem to value alone-time, and silence is almost unknown among them. I was the only person at the ceremony who sat and slept alone, a little bit away from the group. (I felt certain this was OK with the taita, but the other participants seemed confused and perhaps resentful of this American who was ignoring them. I wasn’t there to socialize or pay attention to anyone but me. I was in my favorite place: Bunny’s World. I have only recently (in the last few years) given myself complete permission to live there.
Music during the entire night consisted of one young man who was designated to sing and play guitar, the taita’s harmonica, rattles shaking, and other sounds made by the shaman and his assistants. Whenever I would start to fall asleep, one of the men came around and made some sounds to gently wake me up; we were supposed to stay awake to be conscious of the effects of the Ayahuasca.
I threw up after about 3 hours. People were barfing (some super-loudly) all around me! I also had some diarrhea.

We had food (simple fish soup cooked right there, fruit) and the limpia (mine was at least 15 minutes long) soon after sunrise. Later, the taita asked me about my experience. My Russian CS friend, Katya, came to observe and to translate for me. The shaman was such a good listener as well as a kind, personal speaker. He gave me some great info about Yage, such as:  the Spirit of the Yage gets into your blood and into your spirit, and it never leaves your spirit; when you travel during night dreams, the Yage Spirit will help you so bad spirits don’t attack you. He said to drink a little water before sleep; this helps the Pachamama (Yage; World Mother) Spirit.
Taita Krispin said “Welcome to the Family (of Ayahuasca).” He gave me a hug and a kiss when he left.

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Susy, Jean Luis’ partner, was sick after the ritual. Her experience was extremely intense. Jean Luis had to help her to the car; then, he gathered eaves from plants growing near the ground and made her tea. On the drive home, Jean Luis stopped at a food stand inside the Mochito National Park and bought us fresh fruit smoothies and cachappas (cornmeal cakes with a thick layer of cheese inside); Katya bought an empanada (these are ubiquitous: fried half-moon cakes filled with cheese, veggies, or meat).

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The limpia was quite intense. First, the shaman’s assistant smudged me (as he did at the beginning of the ritual). Then, I sat with my head bent a little forward, and the shaman began fanning, brushing and tapping me with his “fan” (it was made of plant leaves and one, long, blue feather).
The taita danced around me, blew air at me, and blew water at me. He played his harmonica as he danced and sang, circling around and around me. He made loud sounds,  scary sounds (I think to drive out the bad spirits), and soft sounds. I had an incredibly good feeling that he was really HELPING ME. He did all this just for me, to help me have a better life. The taita’s energy was completely positive.
At the beginning of the whole ritual, the shaman said: “This is all about learning who you are. That’s all there is, and it is an endless, eternal project.”
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Cumaná (Spanish pronunciation: [kumaˈna], 824,764 inhabitants) is the capital of Venezuela‘s Sucre State. It is located 402 km east of Caracas. Cumaná was one of the first settlements founded by Europeans in mainland America, although attacks by indigenous peoples meant it had to be refounded several times. (Wikipedia)
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Autism is a developmental disorder that impairs the sufferer’s ability to form social relationships and communicate with others. If treated, the child can overcome barriers and easily integrate into society. (GRASP’s monthly newsletter, Jan. 2013)
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