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I took Ayahuasca and here's what happened...

My experience with ayahuasca was so profound that putting words to it feels like it cheapens the power, dissolves the depth, unravels the layers, and poorly names the unnameable I felt. What I experienced was so much everything and nothing all at once that I've not shared it with anyone - still standing in the humbling awe of witnessing what felt like a thousand supernovas in a single blink - and then being asked to describe "the light".

I am a scientist, and a wordsmith - an expert at observing the observable and wrapping it all into palpable, sumptuous, intoxicating reports for others to consume as well. And here, both my keen observation and impeccable vernacular evade me to the highest degree.

Flying in the face of modern 'science', I understand profoundly now that some knowing in this life is not meant to be observed - it's meant to be experienced - and it's the crux of the biggest lesson Madre Aya needed to teach me.


I am an expert in healing trauma.

And you cannot be fluent in the language of healing trauma if you're unwilling to speak the basic dialects of plant medicine. It's coming full-circle to me now why I ended up 'accidentally' living in Mexico, on powerful Mayan land, with access to so many deeply healing plants. Because what they've strategically vilified, is exactly what we need to heal.

I'd never done any "drugs". It took me a long time of mental preparation and intense study to integrate psilocybin-assisted therapy into my practice, but the profound results spoke for themselves. The plant could do something in four hours that a decade of psychotherapy couldn't - and i witnessed these dramatic shifts in clients over and over.

I knew ayahuasca was next in line (mushrooms are often referred to as 'baby ayahuasca'), but it just felt a little too extreme; a little too taboo. Especially for someone who was in no way versed in mind-altering substances. Wasn't ayahuasca what barefoot hippies did in the jungle, then saw psychedelic visions and vomited a lot?

Plant Medicine should only be done when it calls to you. And she did.

I have been open to sitting with Madre Aya for over a year, but felt deeply that mine wasn't meant to be the typical overnight group experience - the way all of them are - usually ten to thirty people sitting around a campfire in a jungle from 10pm until 4am - and more stories of traumatic experiences than I can count (I've often held space for plant ceremony integration and trauma healing following difficult experiences). It was never a matter of being afraid for my own safety - it was a deep knowing that I wouldn't be able to experience my own journey in the midst of a potentially mis-managed circle (as so, so many of them are).

Private ayahuasca ceremonies are rare. If you find one, "You'll pay for it." one of my Escuela sisters informed me. Not a day went by that week where ayahuasca wasn't named. She had obviously been a powerful piece of each of my sisters' journeys. How could so many women, fellow shamanic healing apprentices whom I deeply respected, have such unwavering opinions on the matter - and here I was, still paralyzed in fear? Was my fixation on the unicorn private ceremony just resistance to the experience?

Not more than a handful of days after returning from the school, the opportunity for a private ceremony found me. I consciously chose to invest in myself, and began to prepare.

When I Arrived...

The private ceremony was held in a super remote jungle location between Playa Del Carmen and Cancun. Mark and the twins drove me there. I was anxious the whole way, repeating, "I feel like I'm going in for surgery."

"It's because you're about to give up control." Mark announced.

An assistant met me at the gate of a long driveway just as the afternoon tropical storm rolled in. They'd set up a fire outdoors but the rain had other plans for us. I was led to a jungle hut a few steps away where the shaman and his wife were inside waiting for me.

Immersed entirely in thick jungle foliage, the smell of rain-soaked ground wafted through the room. The shaman had a coffee table covered inch by inch in ceremony tools, preparations, power objects. He began getting himself ready when I arrived, praying over a half-dozen necklaces - big bone-carved beads, a hugely oversized obsidian arrowhead. He didn't speak any english (and my Spanish comprehension is nominal at best) so his wife translated the instructions to begin.

I arranged my Mayan blanket mat on the floor in front of the ceremoniously-strewn coffee table and unfolded my Peruvian mestana (sacred altar cloth) to my right. Inside my mesa cloth, my own power items (most of which were initiated recently at my week spent in the Escuela). I set out the candle they asked me to bring, my copper water bottle, a box of tissues. I noted the small plastic-lined garbage bin placed nearby and remembered the horror stories I'd heard of the "ayahuasca purge" - intense vomiting, powerful diarrhea. Was that was awaiting me?

The Shaman asked if I'm a healer. I could sense that he felt a strong energy from me and I could sense it was confusing his typical approach - which is usually obviously to a group of people, likely heavy trauma, unprocessed grief. I suppose maybe it was atypical that I arrived for a private ceremony, with an Authentic Peruvian mestana of items, with lightheartedness and curiousity.

He stated matter-of-factly, and his wife translated: "The things you're healing in other people is what you're healing in yourself."


"Your escape is helping others."

Medium-fact. I don't actually believe I'm escaping anything anymore - on the contrary, I'm hurling myself face-first into every shadow to prove to myself that I'm not spiritually bypassing anything on my path.

He stated this curious thought, "You've come to me to heal something in you that I myself must heal." - suggesting that healers attract people with ailments that they, themselves, must resolve within. It was a sort of meta-moment that I wrote down but knew would need much more time to process. It felt accurate.

He told me that he felt I wasn't always living in the present, that my thoughts were in the past. Here's where I began to intuit that he was drawing from a script of phrases he speaks to everyone - it's usually a safe bet that most people 'live in the past' (and something I've consciously shed from my life). Maybe he sensed my dissonance to his words because he changed course and went down the path of, "You aren't taking enough energetic care of yourself, and you can't give something you don't have."

Fully agreed.

He went on to say something that struck the most resounding chord of the entire ceremony:

"All the feminine energy you need to heal, you will find today." - how could he be so sure? But the confidence in his words, even translated by his wife, permeated me to my core.

Regardless, I arrived in perfect trust, and I knew I had not been led to this experience for no reason.

What is Ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca is often labeled a psychedelic; it's a psychoactive, entheogenic substance, a thick tea-like brew made from the South American Banisteriopsis caapi vine, the Psychotria viridis shrub, and other plant ingredients including Justicia pectoralis, one of the Brugmansia or Datura species, and mapacho.

Psychoactive denotes a chemical substance that changes the function of the nervous system and results in alterations of perception, mood, cognition, and behaviour. Entheogenic substances have the same effects on the nervous system, and are used for the purposes of engendering spiritual development in sacred contexts.

To better understand entheogens, straight from Wikipedia: "entheogens are used worldwide for religious, magical, shamanic, or spiritual purposes. They have traditionally been used to supplement many diverse practices geared towards achieving transcendence, including divination, meditation, yoga, sensory deprivation, healings, asceticism, prayer, trance, rituals, chanting, imitation of sounds, hymns like peyote songs, drumming, and ecstatic dance. The psychedelic experience is often compared to non-ordinary forms of consciousness such as those experienced in meditation, near-death experiences, and mystical experiences. Ego dissolution is often described as a key feature of the psychedelic experience."

Ayahuasca's active ingredient is dimethyltryptamine (DMT) - naturally occurring in many plants and animals, including the human body. It has a rapid onset, with intense effects, and a relatively short duration (five to 15 minutes) when inhaled, ingested or injected. When ingested orally alongside an MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) - as is the case in ayahuasca - projections of mystical experiences, euphoria and dynamic pseudohallucinations of geometric forms can last 3-5 hours.


How the Ceremony Unfolded...

We continued with an intake form - asking about my drug use, alcohol consumption, red meat consumption habits and previous experiences with DMT (largely none to most of the above). The Shaman's wife explained the sequence of events and purpose for each: mandatory rapé (“ha-peh” or “rapay”) for grounding, ayahuasca, with optional xanga ("changa") and sananga. They explained the abridged version of what each does and I was reminded that I could choose throughout the ceremony whether the additional two felt right for me. I asserted that I trusted the process and would remain open to what the Shaman suggested. It was the guiding force of the whole experience for me - "I trust, I trust, I trust."

Until his wife mentioned that if the Shaman felt I needed additional doses of ayahuasca, I was not to reject them. She said it and I felt panic in my chest. You can't make me consume something I don't want to I rebutted in my head. "Sometimes our inner demons and dark energies don't want us to clear them, so we reject the medicine. But if the Shaman feels it's best for you then you cannot reject it." - I couldn't help but roll my eyes at her and the pressing message. Nobody was going to make me consume more of anything if I didn't want to. Though something about the message around 'dark entities refusing to comply' echoed with familiarity - like the handful of times I'd witnessed really (REALLY) dramatic .... events.... (??) on my table - my (highly successful, well acclaimed) clients writhing and shouting obscenities at me (another story, another blog) - and watching them respond to palo santo, sage, or a shamanic drum. I didn't like what I'd heard, but that didn't stop it from feeling like the truth.

"I trust, I trust, I trust."

In my last mushroom journey/non-journey (that's a separate story for a different post) I kept being reinforced the message, "You are safe. You are guided. You are held. You are strong." - and I felt it with every fibre of my being. I was safe. I was guided. I was held. I am strong.

I consciously went into the ceremony without a specific intention. They mentioned to me that people often come with specific questions or specific topics or particular matters on which they’re looking to gain insight - and I consciously came intention-less to this experience. I was open, curious, and ready for any lessons that wanted to meet me - but I needed nothing from it. I didn’t go to heal anything - I simply went. The things in my life I could handle to have less of? Night trauma, for sure. Crippling fear of not enough sleep that’s stuck around since postpartum days. My intense aggravation to noise - especially that of my twins - and yes, even if it’s them making happy sounds (loud noises triggered me in ways I could barely describe). Obviously I would love to deepen my connection to those I love in any ways I didn’t realize I needed, and enhance my pleasure practice in any way I didn’t know what possible. I was super open.

"I trust, I trust, I trust."

So, of course, hilariously, as if to put my trusting ego in check in a swift and timely manner, the rapé knocked me right off my 'steady and safe' pedestal.

Rapé is a psychotropic substance (meaning it affects the nervous system, influencing mood, thoughts, behaviour, perception) - a shamanic snuff made from finely ground tobacco and other Amazonian healing herbs. Rapé is considered sacred, a form of prayer. They told me it would move trapped energy in my body - that it would likely happen in the form of burping. The scientist in me butted up against this - how could something administered to my nose have any immediate impact on my GI tract?

It happened quickly. It was uncomfortable and overwhelming - blown sharply by the Shaman through a straw-like applicator first into my right nostril and then into my left. It felt like searing hot shards sent up into my brain - it was shocking and painful - the Shaman's wife massaged the back of my neck and the Shaman held my head. In an instant I was hurled into a body sensation I've never known before - a sort of heaviness, the heaviest of heaviness I've ever felt. In an instant I felt every cell of my body and I became aware of the weight of my 3D form. It was more overwhelming than the strike of rapé into my sinus cavity. The 'GI distress' was immediate - as they said it would be - I felt nauseous, the burps escaped and I had an instant (though small) purge reaction (though confusing because I intentionally ate very little that day). My science brain explained that clearly my body reacted with a gag reflex assuming I had been poisoned. My stomach was empty enough that I had barely nothing to vomit.

My body was so heavy. The heaviest of heavy. I didn't like the feeling and began to panic. I was sweating, sitting on my knees, and my torso became so heavy I dropped into child's pose and just tried to breathe. I was butting up against my first trauma before the ayahuasca had even arrived.

I have refused to feel my body my whole life.

I had become an expert at dissociating from my body.

I wrote in my notebook, "I have fear of feeling my own body."

And here I had no choice but to feel it, to feel all of it; the weight of all my attempts at escape staring me dead in the eyes, all at once.

The feeling was so sudden, so powerful, so profound, that it took me from zero to a hundred way faster than felt safe. I guess that's the point. The panic of this unknown bodily sensation coursed through my veins as the Shaman poured ayahuasca into the crystal glass sitting in front of me.

I couldn't drink it.

Suddenly, I was terrified.

My body felt heavy, I felt like I was only half in it (dissociated, yet in the most conscious + aware way) - I could feel every bodily process happening inside of me... and they wanted me to unglue myself from reality even more?!? No chance.

My thoughts turned to my panic and gave it power. I began to feel trapped. I wondered how I could leave. In a split second I played out all scenarios in which I backed out of the entire experience. I didn't want to look at the cup, I didn't want to touch the cup. My body was still reeling from the rapé and I didn't like it.

The Shaman and his wife both ingested their cup of ayahuasca. I was not ready and defiantly asserted that I would not drink mine in that moment (still actively deliberating my escape plan).

"I have fear." I announced.

She asked me what I'm afraid of.

"Fear of losing control." I managed to choke out.

"There is no such thing as control of anything." the Shaman responded, in Spanish. "Control is an illusion." - and in one fell swoop it felt like he'd unraveled a ball of control-obsessed yarn I'd carried deep in my psyche my entire life.

What does that even mean, fear of losing control? Isn't that in direct contrast to claiming I'd arrived in perfect love and perfect trust?

I'm afraid of what my body will tell me. - but that's what I'm here for! This is the process! This is how I would go deep into the layers I couldn't touch otherwise.

Still in my super-symbolic-of-surrender child's pose, I wrapped my fingers around the cup. I couldn't look at the glass yet, but at least I had made delicate contact. The Shaman picked up a beautiful indigenous wind instrument and sweet, healing sounds of shamanic flue began wrapping themselves around me. My nervous system calmed. As if by cosmic design, the tropical rain stopped and sunshine suddenly pierced the jungle foliage and came piercing through the window directly at me. The sound, the warmth, the light. I opened my eyes and looked down at my forearms as my hands grasped the cup. The tiny tattoo on my right arm, my parents' handwriting - "Bądź dzielna".

"Be brave."

In my heady, body-buzzed state, I picked up the cup and brought it to my lips. I examined its thick brown texture. It had no smell. It was now or never. I felt safe. I drank.

It had the consistency of prune juice and almost a faint taste of it, too - but much earthier and more root'y. It wasn't good, it wasn't bad - it just was.

The Shaman's wife filled the glass with water and had me drink the second cup as well.

I sat cross-legged on my blanket, closed my eyes and went inward. I knew nothing would happen for the first 20-30 minutes but I could feel a process unfolding. I felt safe. I had moved past the heaviness of my 3D mind-story of panic and I'd re-arrived in a place of surrender and peace.

Nearly immediately I recognized a knee-jerk behavioural response - I create safety in my life by communicating with others, by making people feel good - by being likeable. When people like me, I'm safe. It felt very inner child'y. I knew it wasn't the ayahuasca yet - but the reflection was powerful. In this case, communication (with them) wasn't the goal. They were there for me. The experience was mine. All focus needed to be within.

I am uncomfortable with feeling / taking / accepting pleasure.

More inner child stuff. It was bubbling up in a mind-story way - like my head was telling me that this is what I thought but my body wasn't aligning with it- I didn’t actually feel it. That’s when it came to me - “Holy fuxk. Our minds are complete poison.” Now, I've done a lot of work on myself, I'm explicitly aware of these patterns in myself and others. It was curious that they came up for me, seemingly "one last time" at this moment.And it allowed me to meta-understand the feelings others hold in an entirely new light.

I don't know how much time passed (they took away my phone when I arrived) - but maybe 20 or so minutes. I was deeply present in my body. Calm. Safe. Nothing was really happening. But I was present, and aware, and that's something, right?

The Shaman offered me xanga. He explained that it "kick starts" the experience. That it's like going sky-diving and being afraid to jump out of the plane, or bungee-jumping - and it pushes you over the edge. I was in such a state of surrender and trust that I didn't object. I didn't feel the need to be pushed over the edge but maybe he knew something I didn't?

"You're going to feel like you're flying and underwater and everything and nothing all at the same time." his wife explained.

He came over and sat in front of me with a glass "cigarette" filled with what looked like a dark brown paste of herbs. They explained the ingestion: he would light it and I would inhale from the end of the glass tube three times, then hold my breath until he would tell me to exhale. Instinctively when the glass tube arrived at my face with the lighter nearby I closed my eyes. I inhaled once, nothing happened. I inhaled again, nothing happen. I did it a third time, coughed, and suddenly I was whole-body freefalling in a black hole vortex with random neon outlines of god-knows-what floating around me and then a neon outline of a weirdly evil-looking monkey (toy) holding cymbals flooded across my optic screen - he felt like he was mocking me?! - I opened my eyes and I saw his outline on the stone floor beneath me, and I saw the Shaman's wife closing the curtains and I didn't know who I was or what had just happened or how I got to that space and what was happening to me (reminder: distinct lack of mind-altering substances in my life)....

And suddenly, I felt Allegra.

Suddenly, 'standing' on my left, was the grown-up energy of my now-5-year-old girl twin and the message from her was, "I brought you here. You're here because of me. You're healing because I came to make you heal."

And I tried to hold onto the message or onto the vision or the sensation or whatever it was that was happening in that quantum-moment.. but just as quickly as it came, it went.

"Xanga confirms knowing." the Shaman's wife translated.

I'd received messages in the past that Allegra purposefully didn't descent during our deeply traumatic birth experience - that her soul knew my birth had to be deeply disturbed in order to awaken me.

I quickly 'asked' - "But what about Asher?" and the quantum-knowing answer I got was "I'm here to heal him, too."

And that's one weird and incredible thing I can say about messages received during psychedelic-assisted therapy... it's the deepest kind of knowing without the need for a single shred of scientific proof. Quantum-knowing as I've come up to describe it - knowing everything at once and being so unmanageably sure of it - and having no idea where it came from - it just shows up and you know. And you don't need anyone else to know, because you do, and that's all that matters. It's mystical and magical every time I've ever experienced it (but the magic truly begins when you access that same level of knowing without a single plant crossing your lips).

The xanga off-the-cliff experience ended as instantly as it came on - yet was truly a momentary instant of experience I will assuredly never forget. No proof. No supporting evidence. No one else on the planet who experienced that moment the way that I did - but it was the truest truth I could have possibly felt, the realest real that nobody could undermine or take away from me. Another facet of deep inner alignment had unknowingly just taken place.


Suddenly the Shaman (who I guess was on his own journey of insight as well) asked me about my mother. From studies I've learned that historically the 'patient' wasn't the one who took the ayahuasca at all - it was the Shaman who entered the altered state of consciousness, collected information from 'beyond the veil' and would return to the 3D world wiser of the insights he'd gleaned and ready to share them with the here-and-now. I guess that's what he was doing with me as well? The timing felt strange - that he would suddenly bring up my mom. Just a few hours earlier, my mom had purged a pretty substantial amount of her pain out onto me... in a confusing, difficult-to-wrap-my-head-around-what-exactly-she-meant kind of way. The issues she's brought up felt disjointed and messy, but I recognized her need to express her pain and I reiterated to her that I'm strong enough to take it on and that I was wanted to support her in any way I could.

He made some very strong, definitive remarks about my mom. I wrote them down. They felt right. He made some statements about my dad (and specifically my dad's relationship with my mom). It's like he just knew - and all of it either was, or felt right. What I couldn't factually confirm/deny, I would feel into with my body. I don't know how he knew... but he did. In my reflections now, I'm understanding this more and more deeply - it's the exact same process I'm beginning to witness with clients within myself.

We sat in the 3D together for a moment and discussed my family ties... I laid back down and turned my head to the left - staring out into the jungle. It still smelled right rain.

The leaves were breathing. I could feel the entire jungle being alive. I felt such profound gratitude for being so immersed in such pristine nature. I felt such deep peace.

The Shaman offered me a second cup of ayahuasca. I trusted without even batting an eye. There had been no hallucinations, no vomiting, no diarrhea - just such a deep, intense sense of safety and connection, of rootedness, that I trusted implicitly. This time I drank without thinking twice and refilled my own cup to wash out the resin. I laid back down.

I felt like I was inside of a tree.

Inside its layers.

I felt enveloped in this powerful, mystical, magical yet totally ordinary and unremarkable thing that I'd barely paid attention to before. It was just a tree. And yet it was A TREE - this thousand-lane highway of water moving up and sap moving down and tiny ants and aliveness and vibrancy and motion and life - so deeply alive and so multidimensional and cosmic - all hidden deep within the entirely normal stature of a tree. Suddenly life felt like it took on a drastically intra-dimensional meaning - what we see, what we feel, how things work, what we perceive and what we refuse. Just because we don't see the mystical, magical, microscopic inner workings of a tree doesn't mean they don't exist.

I felt grossly enmeshed. Deeply embedded within a system so much bigger (and so much smaller) than me.




In my body, I began to feel discomfort in my solar plex. As I used my right hand to create some pressure and observe, I quite literally saw (felt?) - something escape me. In the 3D realm I could only describe it as some kind of eel- fish-like ... creature....? with teeth. It wasn't kind. And it wasn't there for good reason. And it wasn't mine. It left my body, escaping unremarkably away on my right side - and I sat up, still kneading and massaging my solar plexus.

The Shaman looked at me curiously - as if he'd seen what I'd felt.

"It wasn't yours." he said to me. His wife translated but I already understood. "It came from one of your clients."

He proceeded to tell me that my mother is a powerful healer too (he's right, and he had no way of knowing that) - and that she hasn't energetically cleansed herself properly, that she's carrying the grief of unprocessed energies her clients have left behind. I felt that was true. I also felt that this is the next stage of my growth upon this path - to ensure that I'm cleansing myself of everything my clients 'leave behind' - the energetic imprints left upon us by all people we cross in this life: a unkind nurse, an insulting government worker, or the guy that aggressively cut you off while driving to work. All of us carry unwanted energies left behind by others.

I wish I didn't have to write about the "dark, greenish fish/eel-with-sharp-teeth leaving my solar plex" in my account of my ayahuasca experience. My inner scientist / academic is just screaming inside that something so 'ridiculous' could have transpired.... but it was there. I saw it. I felt it. I felt/saw it leave. And here again science butts up against experience... and which one becomes "right"?

I laid back down.

Suddenly, my throat space felt like it was covered in black tar. Immediately I knew it wasn't mine. My dad's energy came to me. An overwhelming sense that he's lived his life silenced, drowning in the dark sludge of being unable to speak his truth. I shared my feelings with my guides.

"Xanga will confirm whether this actually belonged to your dad." the Shaman expressed. I immediately recoiled - "No more xanga!" - and they chuckled at me. His wife told me that it wouldn't be anything like the first time, that's it meant "to confirm" the messages. They also said it would only be one inhalation... I trusted. I felt the "airiness" and levity without the scary neon monkey vortex.... and deep inner knowing - my dad has been drowning his entire life. I felt his sadness and let it pass through me.

I was struck by the lack of "wild" experience - no explosive emotions, no tears, no screaming, no vomiting, no diarrhea. Every horror story I'd heard - none of it was happening for me. Actually, completely the opposite. I just arrived more and more rooted, more and more peaceful, more and more held, more and more safe.

There were some gentle hallucinations but nothing like with mushrooms - the presence of blue feathers morphing from bird essence to some kind of pegasus essence - and it reminded me of what I'd seen doing a lympia, an energetic cleansing on one of my Escuela sisters at shamanic school (though hers were black - appropriate to her incredibly dark power). I did see some darker images but felt unmoved... piercing the darkness were powerful, bright, menacing albeit protective Jaguar eyes - I knew who she was... she'd appeared during a shamanic drum journey I'd been led on by my teacher at the Escuela. She was my "medicine animal", or "Spirit animal" or "Power animal". I'd butted up against her presence while in New Mexico but with the gentle guidance of a sister there, I accepted what had come. The darkness had no stronghold - I was so safe.

There was a lot of sense of flow... like water / stream / movement.... I felt like I was flowing along a river / brook / stream - water moving around me the same way the microessence of the innards of the tree were happening around me as well. It just felt safe, and calm, and connected.

The third cup of ayahuasca. At this point I knew that the purging wasn't going to be part of my path. I wondered if any emotions would come up... and the only one that did was sadness - intense grieving and sadness - it undoubtedly belonged to my parents. I felt their pain but consciously passed it through me. I felt the heavy reality of my dad arriving at his end of life - and repeated peacefully a message to him allowing him to go whenever he feels he's ready (not to stick around just because he feels that we need him to). I sent them both love and transmuted their pain into the jungle floor.

Suddenly, a striking message:

I don't need this medicine.

I don't need this Shaman.

He is not my connection to Source - I have that already inside of me.

In a single moment of quantum-knowing it became clear to me that I can acquire and practice all the tools for strengthening spiritual connection and knowing / seeing / feeling - but once I have that connection (to myself) - I don't need anything or anyone else.

Suddenly, Madre Aya felt like a luminous cloud of Fairy Godmother energy that rolled in like fog, surrounded me, and said -

"You're free."

Just. Like. That.

She said to me, "All your 3D identifications and complaints... all your mind-stories, your traumas, your fears, your struggles. Yup, all of those... and those too... each of them..... They're gone."

Just. Like. That.

It's the last line I wrote in the notes I was taking.

Could it actually have been that easy?

Like the luminescent gentle fog of the spirit of Ayahuasca literally just 'waving her magic wand' and telling me I'm free.....?

It felt so abrupt, and so surreal.. but at the same time so comprehensive and so very real.... that the journey just..... stopped.

Just. Like. That.

I felt all my senses stitch themselves back together and I re-arrived in the room, fully present and fully aware. Just like that, I was ready for my ceremony to come to a close. Just like that. I didn't need the Shaman anymore, I didn't need the music anymore. I didn't need his wife or her translations. I was ready to go. I became overwhelmingly tired..... like, the kind of "I need to go to sleep right now or I'll die" kind of tired I'd felt for years after birth trauma. - maybe the integrative lessons were still coming?

They instructed me that we still had to close the ceremony and they needed 20 more minutes. I was aggravated that I 'wasn't in charge' and had to 'surrender control' - but did so with humility and trust (though my inner child was tantrum'ing all over the place.)

The Shaman cleansed the ceremony, and himself, and me with a tremendous amount of tobacco - which, the more I read now I recognize as a deeply powerful medicine plant - but I was so momentarily over the experience and I was leaning into some of the knee-jerk panic of "night trauma" and wanting to leave - that I had had it with his music and essence and singing and the thick, heavy white tobacco smoke blowing out onto me. I knew it was important - it was the second day of my moon and my cervix + womb were wide open. I know he was cleansing any negative energies that may have stuck around. I know his intentions were good. It was a final lesson from Madre Aya in humility and trust, patience - and even overcoming my very real / very physical / traumatic response around being tired.

I leaned into the complete and utter exhaustion, closed my eyes and waited while he finished what he was doing.

As he sat across from me, his body well into my energy field, I felt powerful pulling from my stomach in his direction. I suddenly knew he has extensive GI issues. I just knew. I intuitively closed myself energetically to him - knowing that his intention wasn't to draw from me, but that I, too, am a healer - and that he, too, needs healing. I instinctively drew in Source energy through the crown of my head and used it to strengthen my energy field, then softened my 'shield' and consciously offered to him whatever he needed in exchange for the work he had allowed me to do.

He said to his wife, and she translated to me - "I need to do more work with you.". - I knew he knew in that moment that he needed me as well.

We closed the ceremony. I stood up and the nausea came on quick and strong. No vomiting, though I likely would have felt better if I just did. I was weak to walk and felt completely drained. Packing up my mestana items, blanket, water bottle, notebook, I stepped outside beneath the night sky and crouched down on the pitch black jungle path waiting for my hosts to prepare to leave. They graciously offered to drive me the 20ish minutes out of the jungle to meet Mark at the main road in town.

The drive was pretty terrible. The Shaman had transformed into his 'regular self' and suddenly he wanted to know about my work. I, on the other hand, was still quite deeply in a process of my own and (in the midst of fighting not to vomit in their backseat) had no interest in communicating. I assured them both I would send details of my mens' trauma release massage when I could muster the strength to look at my phone (which they'd also returned at this point).

Mark picked me up. I could barely speak.

I managed to choke out the words, "It was nothing like I expected."

My other partner texted me as well - I managed to look at my phone only long enough to respond to her, "I feel awful."... she asked me, "Did it change your life?" and I typed back, "Completely." I slept most of the drive back to Playa - assuming that if I slept I wouldn't vomit. I could feel my entire body responding to the medicine - every organ system, every organ, every tissue, every cell.

The Changes...

Arriving home, Mark let me know the twins were sleeping in my bed. Normally this would be a source of pretty tremendous stress - night trauma, lack of sleep, lack of personal space, inability to integrate. Our nanny had even suggested that I spend the night away at a hotel to take some space for myself - weirdly, I had no need.

I climbed into our oversized king with my tiny tots. I didn't vomit, though my stomach continued to turn all night. I didn't 'sleep' - though it felt like I might have - I was integrating thoughts and receiving messages of knowing. It became clear to me that I'd received healers' rites in past lives as well. That I've been initiated into this world before. That growth is painful and uncomfortable and necessary.

In the past, the twins touching me while I slept would have evoked a sense of overstimulation, overwhelm, frustration. This time, in my state of feeling between-worlds, it felt like every time they touched me they were healing me... that something was releasing from my body and they were taking it from me. Suddenly they weren't the grief, they were the resolve.

I opened my eyes at 0500 and couldn't close them again. I didn't feel any grief or panic around my 'lack of sleep', I simply accepted what was. On the contrary - I felt my entire body - a whole-body experience from my head to my toes of every micro-process happening at the same time - just like I’d felt within that tree. I felt my own blood coursing through my veins. I felt ALIVE.

The diarrhea showed up in its delayed pace... I accepted it and felt grateful for the 'cleansing'. It felt like heavy sludge-like tar leaving my body. Allegra woke up with me. I didn't panic about needing to watch her in my delicate state... I poured us a bath and we climbed in together. I told her I'd just been to the "doctor" and wasn't feeling well.. she was quiet, gentle, and loving.

The day after unfolded in a gentle, delicate way. I was exhausted and slept often. I felt calm. I accepted all the waves of nausea and cleansing as they came. I attended a kids' birthday party with my twins - zero affected by the noise that would have typically driven me to the edge of sanity. I felt like my entire nervous system had been reset.

Tender. Delicate. Renewed.

Everyone told me I felt different; that my energy had changed.

They were right. I felt it too. I felt... calm. peaceful. accepting. strong.

I feel rooted and stable, remembering how it felt to be inside of that tree - safe and protected - witnessing on a macro scale the micro-magic of the world around me.

My nervous system, typically frazzled within a few hours of the day by the shouting and tantrums and demands of 4 year olds - hasn't so much as blipped on the radar.

I haven't felt a sliver of night trauma. Not an ounce of overwhelm. Eerily unaffected by noise. I felt the 'medicine' in my body for three days.... I can't explain how I felt, or what I felt - just that I felt its presence... her presence .... slowly making her way through me, touching on every cell that needed her there.

My hips, the part of my lower back on the left and right side where I was injected with hundreds of IVF needles (where I've felt unprocessed physical and emotional scarring) - began burning, searing - a feeling like someone had taken a hot knife and was passing through the tissue, allowing the unspoken grief of fertility treatment to pour out of me.

I felt her moving through my womb space and my pelvis felt like it was expanding. On day 3 of my moon, when typically my cycle becomes lighter, I began passing massive (MASSIVE) blood clots. Cleansing.

I feel so deeply reset that there's an overwhelming amount of me that doesn't actually believe what I feel is real. Could it have actually happened this way? Did the Fairy Godmother ayahuasca fog really wave a magic wand and extinguish my grief?? I'm a neuroscientist - I know the nervous system inside-out and backwards... and I know that I don't know the last time I have felt this unaffected by stimuli that would normally send me into an overstimulated spin.

The intestinal cleansing is like nothing I've ever experienced before.... weird emotional aches in my chest, my solar plex - intense waves of my mother's criticism, judgment, her own pain and shadows pouring out onto me, and suddenly I sprint to the toilet and decades of wounds, centuries even - come pouring out of me. It's been six days. The first three days were so delicate, tender… it’s like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop - this sense that it hadn’t actually happened, that nothing has actually changed. The sixth day now and it couldn’t be further from the truth - I feel different, more whole, more peaceful, more aligned, in every cell of my body.

Even my experience of sexual pleasure has entered a completely different realm of unimaginable - no longer that I experience galaxies in my partner but that I myself have become the cosmos - and when I feel myself beneath my own fingertips it feels like I’m drinking in my own stars - gulping my own galaxies of unhindered wild. Three, four, five orgasms in a row. And then pure, utter, whole-bodied, complete, total melting into pure unadulterated bliss. *see disclaimer at the end of the post

It feels entirely outrageous and downright ridiculous to name the unnameable - to describe the everything and nothing that experience held. I'm positive my integration isn't complete. I'm positive my transformation isn't either.

What's curious and strange is that when we were living in Thailand, "accidentally" in 2017, we'd found ourselves on Koh Phangan - known as one of the world's most healing islands. A local designer created "divine essence" artwork for clients - at even though at the time I had no idea what my divine essence could mean, or barely even what energy was - I was drawn to commission his work. This is what he created:

Nothing could have prepared me then for the fact that it would take six years before I would finally even begin to come close to understanding what it is he saw in me then.

I'm forever grateful, and it's only been six days.


Disclaimer: My experience with ayahuasca was profound, and from what I gather from my limited professional and personal anecdotal experience - atypical. Ayahuasca is a life-changing and powerful experience but is not recommended for everyone. If you are considering an ayahuasca journey and would like to either incorporate it into your advanced transformational healing program here with me in Mexico, I would be more than honoured to contact the Shaman and hold space in a private ceremony with you. If you’re looking to integrate your own plant medicine journey, this can be in-person or online. Unfortunately, I am not able to attend a group ayahuasca circle in a space-holding, therapeutic capacity. Please note, sexual abstinence is part of the ayahuasca dieta - before and after the ceremony. In my case, this was part of the work I've been doing - and I consciously made a different choice for myself. For your own journey, I recommend following the instructions given to you by your shaman.

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