This is a continuation of the original post which can be found here.
The Shamanic lodge was located in the middle of a forest about 45 minutes drive from the city of Cusco. That Saturday, after the Group readings, my buddy and I explored our surroundings.
It was a beautiful location, hemmed in on all sides by pine trees and a little rocky river that flowed near the house.
After spending a couple of hours basking in the sunshine, we returned to the lodge where we filled the empty hours with sleep, reading books and quiet meditation.
The next ritual was a second, and final dose of ayahuasca which was at 8pm. The same process as the night before except my friend would swap places with me, placing him beside the shaman (he had been distracted by the movements of the staff in the twilight of the night and had trouble focussing). All but one of the group of five asked for higher dosages. The woman who had had a tortuous time of it, wisely asked for less this time around.
As the hour approached and we were finally seated in our sleeping bags in the small room, I felt incredibly nervous. I was desperate to see something. Anything.
My father died seven years ago and I was admittedly keeping that ‘channel‘ open, suspending beliefs in case I would get a vision like the Canadian couple had. As well as the woman reconciling with her deceased mother, her fiancé had seen his best friend, someone who died tragically months earlier in a car crash.
I felt a certain jealousy at the strangeness and lucidity of their experiences as they recalled them with incredible clarity that morning. Asking for a higher dosage of ayahuasca, I was also a little worried that I might bite off more than I could chew. It was the not knowing that made me more nervous but I felt safe and in good hands.
There was a slight change this time around. The manager was delayed en route, increasing our tension as the shaman and staff waited patiently to our side. The translator consulted with the shaman and suggested that to pass the time we could have one of the his cigarettes, which she warned were very strong, something akin to a cigar. I refused, being the only non-smoker, reasoning that I didn’t really want anything meddling with the purity of the drink.
Eventually when the manager arrived to agree correct dosages, we got started and a tall glass was handed to me, slightly more than the previous night. I glugged it down in one go, and it was disgusting and bitter but I swallowed it all, even the coarse dregs at the bottom.
The wait for something to happen was longer this time, or maybe it just felt that way with our apprehension. Typically the process is to puke first and then the visions come. That wasn’t what Pacha Mama had in store for me this time though.
It must have been around the 30 minute mark of waiting in silence. You could tell if someone was going to be sick because you saw them shifting uncomfortably in their sleeping bag, suddenly unzipping themselves, seated nearer the puke bucket. I had been sat in the cossack position for the past ten minutes, agitated and feeling the acid in my stomach rolling, waiting for the visions. The Canadian woman had already puked by this stage. While the night before we all fell quickly like dominoes to our bucket, this felt more like a stand off for who would puke next.
Suddenly I felt my nose bleeding. Actually, gushing would be a better word. It came out of nowhere and streamed down my face onto my chest. I could feel it warm and sticky on my mouth and each exhalation blew the blood out further onto my lap. My eyes were wide open and as I looked down, I could see it had pooled around my legs and over the sleeping bag. I began to think that it was so much blood that I might need to go to hospital as it freely flowed.
The manager and nurse approached me and asked if I was OK. The managers face as he brought his head close to my own looked almost wolf-like. I explained that I felt fine, but was concerned about the amount of blood. They asked me if I wanted more ayahuasca which I refused.
As they left me, covered in blood, I started to protest but my mouth couldn’t give voice to the thoughts.
‘This isn’t what I signed up for! I don’t want to be here!’ I screamed at them in my head.
I looked down at the blood all over me, noticing it had turned black and I found that I was lying in a bed of dark squirming snakes. I finally felt a strong desire to puke into the bucket at my side. Disgusting rancid strands of it. When I pulled my head back, I could see the watery puke was now mixing with the heavy nose bleed.
I stared down at the bucket for a long time and saw a swirling eye look up at me, something like Sauron in Lord of The Rings. It was strongly magnetic and scared the hell out of me. I felt my head being pulled down into it, and could see the evil and ugliness there.
I had a sudden urge to cover my face in the vomit and smear myself with it. With great difficulty, I pulled my head out of the bucket and looked around and saw the other people in the room. They were having sex with serpents, writhing around under their covers. It wasn’t love. It was just brutal, carnal feasting and made me sick to the pit of my stomach. I didn’t know where to look but found my gaze drawn back to the bucket again.
At that moment I could see the connection. I could see the hedonistic party lifestyle, binging on drink, casual sex and absolute emptiness of that life and it disgusted me. My throat felt really dry at this point with the puking.
The manager came over and instructed me to take some water to help with the vomiting. I was dry retching at this point and it hurt my insides. I refused it the offer of water.
Something was telling me that I needed to feel the pain there in its rawness and see the ugliness of my life.
It had been true that I had overindulged in the fun, backpacker travelling lifestyle whilst being on the road for the past six months, in some cases coming dangerously close to peril, and to see that mirrored back, sickened me.
I eventually laid back down releasing myself from the spell of the eye (I must have only been an hour into my visions at this point so potentially three more to go) and found my body starting to spasm. It felt like there was something inside. Some sort of demon, rocking me around and I couldn’t wriggle away from it. After a tiring fight I managed to break free.
Next vision I had was being a newborn baby on a mountain top. It was raining heavily and I was naked and crying. No one could hear me and I looked around the room imploring people for help but no one offered any. I felt so alone.
Then out of nowhere, something told me to follow my heart. At that moment I realised deeply that I needed to follow the voice of the shaman. I tuned into the chanting and it carried me away to safety.
I can’t begin to explain how amazing the shaman’s voice was. It was a tribal indigenous language he used, and the sounds that came out of his throat were something I’ll never forget. Not just the chanting, but blowing air, whistling….it was honestly out of this world. He must have been weaving some sort of suggestive detail into our imagination and we found ourselves floating along with his voice.
All this time, I had been shivering uncontrollably in my trance. I could open my eyes at any moment, but was mesmerised by the visions behind my eyes. Something told me I had to experience this. I can’t describe how much physical pain I was feeling. The cold, shivering pain and scorched insides, hollowed out from puking.
The next visions I had showed promiscuous singles hooking up in random drunken trysts. Ugly, incompatible monsters with tumours covering their faces groping in the darkness, tentacles for hands looking for sex. It was like someone or something was holding my head and eyes open forcing me to watch, saying, ‘See what that road leads to?‘ I implored them to stop, but it continued. The trip lasted a long time and it was very upsetting.
The sequence after that isn’t a straight line. I was getting a lot of random images. In one, I approached a group of three innocent young hippies in the 60’s on the lawn on top of a hill. I asked if I could join them, and they accepted me which felt wonderful. They were very friendly and preached about love. We talked for a little while and I was glad for the respite.
There was also a sequence shown to me where our group were outside in the forest, circling around a camp fire with the shaman. We were all involved in a ritualistic dance hopping on one foot, as we linked hands.
It felt like I had turned a corner, and my mind became more receptive, finally open again after the bluntness and ugliness of the images that had preceded.
The message was coming through to me that connecting with the heart was the only way forward. There could be nothing else. And I had to open mine.
There were only two paths available. The visions in the bucket showed me one path, the one I was already living in my travel experience. The alternative path was to follow my heart – connecting with others on a deeper level.
I was still aware of my surroundings in the room at that moment. In fact, my buddy, who despite his best intentions was still lucid, noticed my discomfort in the shivering and grinding of teeth. He clearly saw that I was going through a horrible time, and rubbed my side, telling me I could control it, and that he was there for me. I thanked him, but responded that it was something I needed to face alone.
As I returned to my visions, I detected a warm, comforting voice that helped reveal the path with heart. I was shown examples in my life of friends and family who had this connection with each other already. I asked the voice if it in fact belonged to my father, and it said yes. He said he was part of the Universe now.
I couldn’t see him but I felt his energy and the light was like from a star, bright and blinding. I asked him some personal questions around my career, passions around writing and future travelling plans which he answered.
He showed me our extended family and pointed out two people who were at that moment struggling. There was sadness in their life, and I needed to bridge that gap and connect with them soon to tell them everything would be OK.
The path with heart also showed me a vision of my future wife. Her name was Caoibheen. As I write this,I can still see her face. Pretty with long brown hair falling onto her shoulders. She was carrying a child in her arms and smiling at me. We would have two more together and I could see us living in Ireland. That bright future was laid out for me as one of two forks in the road – the bucket and its shallowness OR the wife and kids.
I also received some frightening predictions about friends and family. Specifically, in one example, I saw my friend being shot in the head within five years if he continued with his own hedonistic lifestyle.
I saw this happen outside a nightclub, and immediately I turned to him during the trance and informed him. To say it scared him a little was an understatement!
It was also presented to me that my Grandmother who was in relatively good health at the time, would pass away before November.
As the visions started to fade, I still had some communication with the voice that said it was my father. I asked if there was any way I could get in touch with him again. He replied and said that he would always be with me. I asked if he had anything to pass on and the voice said, “Give your Mum a kiss for me.”
At the simplicity of that I started crying to myself.
I was still rocking back and forth and felt something inside eating my insides. I could see it, feel it wriggling around. It looked like an eel with sharp teeth. I tried to resist as much as I could and then thought, ‘why fight it?’. As soon as I accepted it, the experience became easier (through the group discussion next morning, I was told that the eel was eating the bad energy and memories of my past – cleansing me).
Then things returned slowly to normal.
When I fell into bed that night at around 1am, I made sure to check my clothes, convinced that I would be covered in blood. To my astonishment, there wasn’t a trace. Next day, after our readings, we gave a final blessing to Pacha Mama to thank her for the visions, asking for guidance in our own lives. It was with a sense of sadness that the group parted after all that we had been through. It was an incredibly raw and personal experience for each of us and we felt a strong bond and affinity for each other as a result.
Out of the group of five, I had the most intense visions and the manager was actually a little surprised at how much I experienced. He didn’t need to explain much of it to me as it was fairly self explanatory.
I must say, it was one of the most powerful, intense, emotional experience of my life. Whether you think it was a spiritual experience, just a hallucinogenic trip or an overactive imagination, it sure as hell gave me a wakeup call. Probably one that I needed.
Seven weeks on and I’ve toned down the party lifestyle, especially the quantities of alcohol I’ve been drinking. I’m glad to say that my travels have been much richer as a result of these sober days, where my money is better invested in the finer things like good food, great company and excellent experiences.
I’ve spent years building the cash reserve to go travelling. It’s cost me thousands of dollars to get to this point in my trip, thousands of miles from home but I honestly feel changed as a result.
It was by no means a fun or pleasant experience, but it’s what I needed and for that I’m grateful for the harsh lessons.