[The Ayahuasca Monologues] For my entire life I have felt a strong rift between my brain and my heart. Having been raised in a Ukrainian-Jewish immigrant household, my view of what life was supposed to be was limited and rigid. My parents brought me to this country at a young age to give us a better life. Of course this meant allowing their children the opportunity to be successful and wealthy. Idealistic dreams of a creative child were abruptly transformed to pragmatic, money making goals. And so the separation continued. I went from desperately wanting to become an actress or dancer as a child to aspiring to be an investment banker or lawyer.
Nevertheless, there still remained a spark of deep wonder and mystery. I always knew there was more to life, and I felt progressively called to understand it all.
In my early twenties I found myself working at a dull corporate job, searching for something new. The universe was starting to align in amazingly synchronous ways, setting up meetings and situations to set me sailing on my heart's journey. Months earlier, I was fortunate enough to be involved with the start of a local chapter of the Evolver social network, organizing events and meeting kindred spirits in what we were calling "the consciousness culture." Always feeling a push to be active in the transformation of my city, the creation and flourishing of Evolver Atlanta was synonymous with my internal state of being, allowing me to dive deep into personal growth. I went back to a steady yoga practice, danced and meditated often, recreated my living space, started a community garden, and began to facilitate gatherings aimed to empower the local community with knowledge and connection.
On Valentine's Day weekend, I decided to take a single woman trip to New York City, hoping to walk away with some kind of insight. I met with family and friends, wandered the streets and inhaled the fresh breath of independence. A friend I was meeting for the first time invited me to come with him to a shamanic healing circle, and I gladly accepted his invitation. Though he was unable to come at the last minute, I knew that this experience would be worth while.
I entered a room of fifteen or so strangers. They were varied in age and sex, but all were seekers like myself. We made our introductions and proceeded into the journey room. The room was small, warm and simple. We took cushions and blankets and seated ourselves in a circle, facing each other. The maestra first led us into a guided meditation, working our energy through our bodies and creating a protective bubble of light enveloping us. Although I'd had some powerful experiences with kundalini meditation, I'd never so strongly experienced energy coursing through and around me before. My face began to buzz and vibrate, spreading down to my entire body. Tears were flowing like rivers down my temples — pure release. After raising the vibration of the room, the maestra led us on three more journeys over the course of the next three hours. I traveled deep into the shamanic realms of freedom and enchantment. Regardless of whether it was my own imagination or my soul journeying to other worlds, I felt reborn and awakened to the great mystery of being. It was as though I had reignited a raging flame that was on the back burner, so to speak. I knew that this experience blessed me with a clear view of my shamanic path and would be the first of many magical happenings.
Back in Atlanta, our crew was in the beginning stages of planning EvolverFest, a local festival of transformative culture, coordinating vendors, performers and activities. Seeking out potential guest speakers, one of my fellow coordinators sent me a suggestion to visit a local woman who is a healer, priestess, and keeper of a garden sanctuary honoring the sacred feminine. Coincidentally, I had browsed through her website a number of times over the last year with every intention to pay her a visit one day. I knew that I must go see this woman with the intention of having her speak at our festival. I sent her an introduction email and asked her for a meeting. On a cold and rainy March day, I met with the priestess and her apprentice over tea. She was the proverbial "good witch." Her house and garden was a healing temple, amassed with spiritual power objects, icons, symbols and representations of the Goddess from every culture and religion. Within ten minutes into our conversation, I knew that I had found my teacher. She had entered my life at the exact moment I needed her to guide me through the intricate patterns of my journey here. I scheduled our first of many monthly sessions, embarking on a mystical voyage to explore who I am, what is my place and purpose here, and how I can navigate this fantastical world.
In our first conversation, we got around to speaking of shamanism and ayahuasca. She had journeyed many times with this "jungle juice," and often referred to it as the grandmother ayahuasca spirit. I'd been intrigued by this master teacher plant for quite some time, and, being no stranger to altering my state of consciousness as a means of spiritual growth, I decided I would some day soon travel to South America to drink the brew. Feeling a sense of trust, my newfound teacher opened a world to me that would completely change the course of my life. She disclosed information regarding an out-of-town ayahuasca community who hold biannual ceremonies with several Peruvian shamans. She put me in contact with the coordinator of the ceremonies, informed me of the next journey less than two months away, and said that I had her recommendation to be invited into the circle. And so it began.
As a student of the priestess, I chose a goddess with whom I resonated to guide me along my path. I asked for the wisdom and guidance of Pachamama, the Peruvian Earth goddess of creation. I spoke with her, asking her to be with me in dreams and meditations and to help me throughout my ayahuasca journeys. As silly as all this initially seemed, this practice challenged my deep sense of pragmatism and slowly allowed me to let go of what I believed to be real or imaginary. When I released my own limitations, energy, love and wisdom flowed freely through my life, as did the healing touch of Pachamama and all of the divine feminine. A golden, luminous thread began to weave its way through my life, creating magical tapestries of experiences and moments. I was doing the "good work" that women of spirit have been doing since time began. Using my power to navigate and transform the physical dimension through the spiritual realms. The pieces were aligning and life was in full bloom.
During the same time that I started to work with the priestess, I fell deeply and passionately in love. As unexpected and hasty as this seemed on the exterior, nothing felt more natural and familiar. We connected at a crucial point in both of our lives to heal and support each other. I was soaring high in love, exploring new worlds of being with my beloved partner. The universe had blessed me with a healer and a lover, setting the stage for remarkable experiences to come.
The night before the ceremony, I experienced a powerful healing with my partner. I joined him in a deep meditation, where I called upon both Pachamama and the ayahuasca spirit to guide me in my upcoming journey. I felt an immense feminine presence protecting me during this work. Using different crystals and stones, as well as Reiki energy, my partner lovingly helped revitalize and protect my energetic field, connecting me to my source and preparing me for the adventure ahead. The next day, I took off work early so I would have time to travel to the ceremony. Before I left the office, my employer of two years asked to speak to me privately. That afternoon, hours before my first ayahuasca journey, I was fired from my job. As stunned as I was, I knew that I had manifested it. My job was the one aspect of my life that left me feeling empty and discontent. I never quit because it was stable and paid me well. But now that I was resonating on a higher frequency, the lower rung energies were falling to the wayside to make way for what fits. I considered cancelling my spot in the ceremony but felt strong in my belief that everything happens for a reason. So onwards I pushed.
As I entered the ceremonial space, I saw mostly new faces, though some familiar. It was a large, indoor venue covered in tapestries and sacred art. Musical instruments adorned the room. People's bedding cluttered the perimeter of the walls, leaving the large corner space for the shaman, translator and other elders. I came up to the altar, said a blessing, met the shaman and took a seat. I was fortunate enough to sit next to my only friend there, my Evolver partner in crime.
We greeted each other with a warm but nervous embrace. When he asked me if I was coming straight from work, I told him of the day's events. He seemed surprised that I'd even decided to come, as if insinuating a tough journey ahead. Feeling confident in my decision, I told him that if this was what was meant to happen, I would let it be. Just before the ceremony began, he turned to me after moments of silence and said, "I hope you find what you're looking for." These last words kept ringing in my head throughout. But what was I looking for? Why had I chosen to take this road in life, as opposed to many easier, well-traveled paths? I really wasn't exactly sure what it was I was seeking, but I knew I would find out soon enough.
The ceremony began with an introductory talk by the organizer and the shaman. We were then asked to each say aloud what our intentions were for this experience. Mine was to be shown guidance on what my place and purpose is in life. Within myself, I asked for wisdom, guidance and protection from Pachamama and Grandmother Ayahuasca. I had no expectations and was ready to journey with an open mind and an open heart. The shaman then began the ceremony by invoking the spirits and energies from all directions, blessing each direction with rose water. All the candles were blown out except for one, which the shaman used to see as he poured the brew. I was the second person to come up to him, and I drank a full cup of the dark, viscous medicine. I returned to my seat and awaited the ultimate ride.
Just after the last person drank their cup, the first wave of nausea overcame me. I lay down on my mat, closed my eyes and let my body sink into the intoxication. Out of pitch-black darkness came an enormous, three-dimensional spider. Spanning my entire vision, she hovered over me, motioning me into her with all eight limbs. I recognized her as the goddess Spider Woman, the weaver of the web and connector of all life. Unable to hold in the medicine any longer, I instantly purged into my bucket and collapsed on my pillow. The deepest, most powerful, most horrifying sense of fear came over me. Fear like I have never felt before. What have I gotten myself into? I didn't sign up for this! This is too much! I want it to stop! These cries kept running through my head as the teacher plant was trying to work her way through me. I wouldn't let go. The tighter I held onto my body and ego, the stronger the intoxication became.
My soul was slowly being ripped into pieces. I felt as I had I just walked out onto the ledge of a cliff and jumped off. All of the doubts and confusions in my life, all the hurt and conditioning came tumbling toward me like an avalanche. Every emotion was doused in fear and exaggerated infinitely. I was fighting through a lifetime of misconceptions about what life really was, struggling desperately to break through the caked-on, crusty layers that covered my pristine essence. My heart was racing; I began to hyperventilate. I curled up in a fetal position, grunting, moaning, and crying. Not knowing it, I was digging my nails into my face, head and body, leaving deep scratches and cuts. I was fighting my personal death. I never knew I feared death until I felt I was facing it. Being an Earth sign in the zodiac, leaving my body had always been difficult for me in any kind of shamanic work. I felt as if I would never come back. The time came to surrender. There was no other choice.
The shaman heard my calls and began to work on me. He blew tobacco on my body, rattling his chacapa around me, singing his beautiful icaros. I wanted for it all to be gone. I had never been so terrified in my life. The interpreter reminded me to breathe deeply and slowly. "Let her do her work. Breathe her into you," he said. It took every single ounce of strength inside of me to bring myself out of the darkness. I was in the depths of hell and finally allowed my ego to die. I inhaled deep into my core and breathed in all of existence.
I heard a deep and powerfully resonating sound. It was the sound of the universe: OOOOOOOOHHHHMMMM. Spanning my entire vision was a slowly moving sphere bathed in radiant, luminous light with rainbow bands spiraling around it. This was more than a psychedelic vision I was coming face to face with all of life and seeing the source of consciousness. I began receiving a direct transmission containing vast amounts of information from the past, present and future. This wisdom was Goddess I'd been seeking. She blew open my mind, and my heart. There was nothing that could have possibly prepared me for this level of experience. I cried out loudly, "WOW! I had no idea!" My identity was shattered; I was a drop in the immense ocean of consciousness — dancing, creating, loving. The shaman's icaro guided my journey beautifully, tapping me into the source of all of existence, sending me flowing through the nectar of life. There was no more "I" left. I had transcended the body, mind and ego, and was venturing deep in the shamanic realms, immersed in the richness that is BEING. I saw the source of all creation as the continuous combustion of love, an infinite state of orgasm that was perpetually exploding, creating.
Slowly coming back, I found myself in a beautiful Amazonian basin, moving through the water peacefully. Pachamama was in the sky, singing to the Earth above the canopies. The beautiful Earth Goddess had rainbows flowing through her and was the embodiment of love. I was washed over with the deepest love I have ever felt. Love is all there is, the fabric of this web. I danced in love under Pachamama's glow, moaning in pleasure, buzzing with life energy. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this amazing gift of life! How extraordinary and beautiful it is to be alive! Feeling, moving, breathing, tasting, loving! The medicine brought me back to my original self, fully connected to all of life. She took me through personal layers of hell and gave me rebirth, as if seeing the world for the very first time. Nothing would ever be the same. I lay on my mat through the rest of the ceremony, swimming in bliss and gratitude.
The ayahuasca journey had sent me through a painful, dark birth canal, deconstructing my reality and identity and sending new light into my being. The world had become fluid and malleable. I had fully embarked on the path of the goddess woman, realizing my power to manifest reality, heal, and move through the interdimensional shamanic worlds. Within these realms is where the real work happens, I knew this now for sure. What I experienced in ayahuasca consciousness are the spiritual-energetic currents of all physical reality.
After a tumultuous integration process, I recognized that what I had been looking for was Truth. Always truth… Truth is what we are all looking for. And the truth that I saw was more beautiful, more pristine and magnificent than I could have ever imagined. I recognized all of us as a kindred family, finding our way back to the source; learning, growing and blossoming into the gods and goddesses we all truly are.