Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ayahuasca, Part 1

I knew that I would not be able to sleep, but I was dragged down to the ground nonetheless, my tired body slipping heavily between the tall grass around me. My breath carried the tremble of fear, so I closed my eyes to focus my mind and center myself in this body. Deeply in and out, the midnight air soothed my nerves. I was open and attentive, while trying not to let an over-productive imagination flood my senses and drown out whatever truth the night might bring. Time passed. I sat up and opened my eyes to engage once again with my surroundings, struggling to see through the darkness of the moonless night. A figure moved in front of me. It was a woman. She was crawling around beneath one of the mango trees that were scattered across the terrain. On her hands and knees now, she started to weep. They were the unmistakable sobs of desperation. She moved a hand to the trunk of the tree for support and began to vomit uncontrollably, expelling the toxins from inside, cleansing her mental anguish one heave at a time. The sobbing continued between the purges. Others in the distance were now letting go as well, as if prompted by her release. I couldn’t make sense of what was happening, all the crying, all the vomiting, all the screaming. I thought that I must have been in Hell, or some hopeless, awful wasteland along the way. I laid back down and closed my eyes once again to try and shut it all out. My salvation is within me, I thought, as I started to retreat inside myself, searching for something pure to hold onto. Just breathe. Seek the quiet inside yourself and just breathe. A falling mango from the branches above me shattered the rhythm of my breath and assaulted the calmness of my heartbeat. I laughed quietly out loud and reassured myself that all these latent fears were just as silly as being afraid of falling fruit. I tucked my pants into my socks to prevent more fire ants from crawling up my legs and feasting on the backs of my calves. Relaxing back into the grass I mentally brought some light into my body, into every finger, into every pore, letting the time pass. It wasn’t quite fear that seized me when I opened my eyes again. For me, fear brings with it a sense of helplessness. This was abject terror. The curious, paralyzed shock of the unimaginable. But I never became disconnected from a faint calmness deep in the background of my mind, the intuitive realization that everything was as it should be, that all was one, that I would be okay. I let it come, and with renewed conviction in my process, begged the darkness forward. The grass had grown tenfold and had moved in to surround my body like a cocoon. It was jet black in color. All around me it swayed gently in windless space, like living blades of shimmering darkness. My eyes were peeled open, sweating, and I took it all in: the terror, the bewilderment and the confusion, ready to die for whatever lurked within or beyond this grassy, mango covered hill. I took in a slow, deep breath and let it out quietly, knowing full well that noise mattered little, my presence had already been felt, I could be screaming and it wouldn’t change a thing. I sensed movement in the black, knee-high forest around me. Glimpses of what was out there, caught from the corner of each eye, hurled my vision skyward and my imagination crystallized the panorama of my plight. Lurking in the grass all around me were snake-like cats, monstrous in size, pressed low to the ground, concealed in shadow, slowly zoning in on my body with a sinister, slithering crawl.

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