Reflections Two Years Later

My immediate sense of this experience was not especially positive. I felt confused about the meaning and relevance of many of the things I had seen. I had a feeling of betrayal in terms of the spirit realm and doubted its authenticity. Later, when I had time to integrate my experience more, I realized that I have had a long distrust of the Spirit, and that the suspicion of the Spirit being a false thing was an old familiar theme dating back to not trusting the security and connection of my family or of a God that would not protect me from the pain of my early childhood.

I had a sort of claustrophobic reaction to the idea of existing in the realm of "fucking and dying," and yet I understand now that on one level that realm really does exist. When I was in the experience I found myself not wanting to see the meaning of what I was viewing. It seemed too hard to bear. I did not want to merely be here to fuck and die. I did not want to be so ignorant of the reality of my existence that I was, as Gurdjieff would say, just here to feed the moon. So for awhile I had the feeling of being stuck in a not very appealing place. This feeling was a reflection of my own internal state at that time. I do feel that this experience made a rather dramatic shift in me in relation to how I look at human purpose on the earth. I now hold the underlying belief that if one's life is not lived somewhat consciously that the sum total of it may just be the "fucking and dying" that I saw so clearly in this experience. And that "fucking and dying" is fine, but I want more in my life.

I have spent much time in thought about human existence, about what the spirit is, and why our spirit would chose to indwell this human form on this planet. We are very complicated beings, and the big joke is that we know so little about ourselves even though we think we know a lot.

The exploding skull was perhaps the most interesting part of this experience to me. I did eventually draw a picture of it. Initially, looking at the skull captured me because of its stark beauty and also because it seemed to emit a very healing, blue light-energy. When the skull exploded it gave me a surprise and a great sense of freedom and joy, a sort of breaking from the bondage of the mind and of the human form. The light that emanated from it after it shattered was the kind of white light that one sees in spiritual experiences. I have seen this light before. It has a brilliance that seems to pass through the viewer. It seems to touch the very essence of one's Self. One recognizes it. I believe that it is the light of the Spirit.

Now and again I think about this experience. It seems to me that I traveled down the road of one of the most pressing questions I often ask: What is the nature and purpose of our existence on this planet? In the end, the body was merely bones and what was left was the life of the light.





An actor and body therapist in his forties relates his first experience with ayahuasca, in which he unexpectedly encounters a vision of the ancient Egyptian goddess Sekhmet, of which he had zero prior knowledge. Along with this vision came detailed memories of having been a priest of this goddess and the nature of her teaching. Subsequently there also occurred visions of Tibetan Buddhist deities. The connection with the spiritual healing power of Sekhmet deepened and strengthened his therapeutic work.

I was in the High Desert of Southern California for my first session with the Circle and what would be my first ayahuasca journey. The Circle was a group of spiritual journeyers who used hallucinogenic plants in a sacred way for vision and healing experiences. My intention for the upcoming medicine journey was to seek a vision that would energize and fine-tune my spiritual path, and enable me to walk in balance on the Earth in a way that would benefit all my relationships. I also sought to have knowledge already learned to be transmuted into understanc ing at a deeper level.

About a dozen strong, including a guide and a sitter, we had arrived at our small desert house on a Friday night and had spent the following day in the surrounding desert on solo vision quests, shedding our busy lives, communing with nature, and fine-tuning our intentions. At the end of the day, we gathered once again in the house and began to prepare for the journey. The circle ritual was opened with an invocation of the four directions and an honoring of the spirits of the place. At about 7:00 pm, I was given 90 ml of a liquid preparation of ayahuasca. It was not unpleasant tasting, a rich chocolaty molasses flavor. At first, I experienced the medicine only somatically. I felt nausea, but it was faint at first. I breathed into it as the guide had suggested and "rode it." I found myself using my hands to channel light to my body and my chakras. I felt a connection to the earth and a sensuality, similar to my first MDMA experience with a therapist the previous month. I wasn't sure what to look for in terms of a vision. The guide had said it might not be visual, but a combination of thought and awareness patterns. The first hour was mostly about not giving in to the nausea and keeping the medicine down so that it would be effective.

Around 8:30 pm, I was given a 10 ml booster and almost immediately threw up. When I came back to my place in the Circle, I focused my awareness more deeply into my brain to feel the effects of the medicine. I sank deep within the actual substance of the brain, experiencing there a serpentine consciousness in the physical form and experiencing electrical currents running through the brain in the form of little serpents. The close physical proximity of these serpents to the ajna (third eye) and crown chakras made me think how curious was this juxtaposition of pure consciousness and serpentine substance. I observed that these two opposites were close, but not interrelating at this point.

I started having sporadic light visuals, but nothing sustained. I still didn't know how I would perceive my vision or if I would even have one. Then I caught a glimpse of what I thought was a large eaglelike bird flying high in the sky of my consciousness. I somehow knew that his name was Garuda.

It was around this time that the first round, or speaking session, was called by the guide. Smoke was passed in a pipe, an herbal combination of cannabis, datura, damiana, and dried amanita mushroom, and with one draw, I felt the ayahuasca really kick in. Marijuana had always been a good medicine for me, an ally that would put me in touch with some degree of shamanic perception. It was after this smoke that I began to know the nature of ayahuasca.

I began to become aware of the presence of a Being. The name Sekbmet came into my awareness, almost as though it were being whispered to me. Through this faint impression, I was only aware that Sekhmet was female and that she was Egyptian. I went on to other experiences, but the question "Who is Sekhmet?" was burning in my consciousness. Several times the question was so loud that I almost asked the guide who she was, feeling that he would surely know the answer. I never did ask him, but the question in my mind went out with a power that had to call in an answer. I became aware that she was a goddess and thought I must have seen her in a book I had been reading a few days earlier that had contained a plate depicting Egyptian deities with their names printed underneath their images. I could see her on this page as a small hieroglyphic figure of a cat-headed woman, standing, facing sideways. Very clearly printed under her depiction was the spelling of her name: Sekhmet. The name was familiar. It was as though I somehow knew from the distant past who she was, but had forgotten. I began to see images of this goddess carved in black stone, seated on a throne. There were hundreds of these statues floating around in my mind's eye.

I was also aware of the presence of other goddesses. Far below me, or so it seemed, I saw the dark figure of Kali. The visual of her was slanted, as though on a different plane. I didn't approach her.

All of a sudden, the full presence of Sekhmet flashed into my perception. She was revealing herself to me in all her glory. Just as suddenly, I had to vomit again. The purge was lengthy and full and purifying. When I rejoined the Circle, I tuned back into the vision I had been given of her. A tension had been released with the purging, and now I could lie back and let the details permeate my awareness. It was as though I had downloaded the vision when she appeared to me, and now I could access the information.

In the vision, she was seated on a throne in a cavelike temple within a desert mountain. The cave was illumined with golden light, and it seeme~ that the Sun itself was behind her throne. Her face was that of a lioness, and she exuded great beauty, warmth, and beneficence. As I approached her, I experienced other beings, her guardians and attendants, beckoning to me, drawing me forward, and I felt the mountain opening up to receive me. When I reached her throne, she was surrounded by these guardians. Everything in the temple was infused with golden light. I was told tele-pathically that I was a priest of Sekhmet.

The next thing I remember is being given an initiation, a death rite passage. Sekhmet, it seemed to me, had a place of authority in the realm of death, an honored place in the underworld. I began to sense that she was present at the moment of death. And I knew that I was about to die. I checked in with my inner knowing to see if this was going to be ritualistic or actual death, and I was given the green light to give in to the experience.

I became Osiris in his tomb. Sekhmet was present. She had brought Death. She was Death's attendant but more than a mere attendant, for Death seemed to be in her presence as though she were its ruler, its mistress. I was lying on a death couch. I began to experience dying. I knew that it was my ego dying and that my mind was emptying out, stilling. Soon there were no thoughts left, only consciousness. My body was now on a barge floating down a river. It felt like the Nile, but it was known as the River of Letting Go. My body was dead, but I remained in it. My hands were folded over my heart, my mind was still, alert, listening. Above me I felt the presence of Horus as a hawk. I knew that I had the potential to rise up and become him, but instead I heard music, with the name Ishtar being softly sung. Ishtar seemed to be synonymous with Isis, and she had come to bring rebirth. I felt life starting to course through my body. It came from Isis-Ishtar, but it also came from Sekhmet who had been present throughout the experience. Indeed Sekhmet was running the whole show. Just as she had held the power of death, she was now the giver of life. Her mystery was that she represented the Great Mystery, which I was now experiencing as a mystical nonboundary between life and death, the simultaneous coexistence of both the presence of death and the force of life. And now she was making my body into a lion. As life poured in, so did the qualities of a lion. In fact, I felt the force of life as a lion. They were the same.

Once again I received the telepathic message "Priest of Sekhmet." I didn't know if this meant I had been her priest or that I was to become her priest, but the sense was that I had been and would always be. I

was given a teaching to impart to the Circle, which I did during the next round. The gist of it was this: one must bring death into life. Death must be embraced, for life follows death and only if one totally lets go into death, can one fully live. This is true at the end of a lifetime, at the end of any cycle, at the end of each instant. I was told that if death were faced within oneself, there would be no killing, no wars. That is only acting out or projecting onto others the death that is denied, rather than embraced, within oneself. As she taught me, I felt her entering my body, and I opened to receive her, to become the Lion Goddess. I felt transfused by her spirit. My face became her face, the face of the Lioness.

At this point in the evening, the guide put on the music of the Gyoto Monks of Tibet, and I felt compelled to sit up and face East. I went into full lotus quite effortlessly and felt strong tangible waves of energy coming into me as teachings of the East. It felt nurturing and completing since I had been more recently focused in my life on teachings of the South, West, and North. The drums and the deep sounds of the music kept taking me deep into the Earth, deep into my root chakra. I felt the surge of kundalini and felt the Tibetan music was designed to awaken the kundalini power and to balance all the centers so that they would open to this power. Eventually I felt the serpent totally inhabit my body. I was the Serpent Goddess, Kundalini herself, my head a serpent's head, rotating to look around, my tongue darting out of my mouth like a snake's tongue.

Throughout this part of the session, I felt the balancing of male and female energies, the dance of consciousness and substance. It was so easy to leave the Mother and be drawn upward toward the sky, but the drum was like the heartbeat of the Mother, serving as a reminder to stay connected. I felt the grieving of the Mother when I would be away from her, and felt my own mother's grief at our separation. I experienced myself from the perspective of pure masculine spirit and my love of form. I jotted something down in my journal and later found the words, "Yes. I came from the stars to love you, Mother of All Forms, in the body of this Earth, Gaia."

At one point, the guide led the Circle in invoking spirits. The doors to the outside blew open and I saw spirits entering on the wind in waves of rainbow light. They assembled around the circle of people.

Toward the end of the session, I became aware of an energy parasite in my splenic plexus. I unified with it and became its consciousness, my face distorting to look like it, and, using my breath and an extremely strong will and concentration, I reached my etheric hand all the way into my physical body, took hold of it, and pulled it out. It was in the form of a scorpion. I dissipated it into the air around me. I felt some residue still within my body, and since I wanted to see if I could do it again, I repeated the operation. At that point, the guide and the sitter started to drum. The sitter was near my feet, and the guide was in his position behind me and to the right. I drummed with them, using the skin over the etheric wound as a drum. The drumming aided in the healing, and this area of my body proved to be quite resonant.

The full effects of the ayahuasca lasted about five or six hours through the closing of the circle and then lingered on somewhat for a couple more hours as the group broke their fast with hot vegetable soup and began to share experiences.

When I returned home from the Circle, I immediately went to the book I had been looking at some days before, to find the picture of Sekhmet. I found the page, but no depiction of Sekhmet. I did find the god Set and the goddess Nepthys and surmised that in my hallucinogenic state I had synthesized their names to create the name "Sekhmet." I checked all my other books that could possibly contain some reference to her and found nothing. The next day, as I sat down to write up a record of my journey, I was starting to feel that this Sekhmet was nothing more than a product of my ayahuasca-induced imagination. I stayed true to my vision, however, and wrote up the experience.

Later in the day, I went to the Bodhi Tree Bookstore to scour their Egyptian section in hopes of finding some reference to this lion-faced goddess. After searching for about an hour to no avail, I came upon a book called Her Bäk. I could find no reference to her in the index or in the text, but as I was about to place the book back on the shelf, it fell open to a plate of about twenty-five gods and goddesses. No Sekhmet. But I turned the page to another plate and there in the midst of another twenty-five or so deities, looking somewhat insignificant, but definitely in existence, was Sekhmet, a woman with the face of a lion. I was elated. I had found her.

During the course of my research over the next few days, I was to discover that Sekhmet was one of the most ancient of deities, known as Lady of the Place of the Beginning of Time and also as One Who Was Before the Gods Were. Although having a ferocious wrathful aspect, she was also a renowned healer because of her knowledge of magic and sorcery and is said to have introduced the art of medicine to Egypt. Many Egyptians felt that they were created by Sekhmet and Horus, and that Sekhmet was their protectress and spokeswoman in the underworld. Rameses II believed her to be the mother of his soul and, interestingly enough, had hundreds of large black statues carved in her image. She is always depicted with the sun disk crowning her head and usually with the uraeus, or cobra, around it; in her hand she holds the ankh, symbol of life. In one book, I found a reference to the priests of Sekhmet and discovered that for centuries they were regarded as the most potent healers and magicians of the ancient world, very often performing their healing from a trance state.

As I read about Sekhmet and assimilated my experience with her, the understanding that formed in my consciousness was that Sekhmet is a Great Mother Goddess, one that spans all time. With the sun disk at her head and the snake around it, she symbolizes the serpent power of the root chakra having risen to the crown. Thus, she encompasses both heaven and Earth and demonstrates the way to unite the heaven and Earth of our own nature, Spirit and Form, through the awakening of the kundalini power in the muladhara chakra and its arising to the sahasrara chakra.

I found references to lions and serpents in various mythologies other than the Egyptian, the most potent being in regard to Senge Dolma, the lion-faced dakini who transmitted the tantric teachings to Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism.

In the days following the journey, I felt the presence of Sekhmet quite strongly. Exactly one week after the initial experience, I once again felt her infusing me with her spirit. I seemed to become a lion, and my heart chakra was expanded and filled with the power of the Sun, as I heard thw words "Lion Heart." Two days later I was given a teaching in a dream wherein the Lioness Goddess had three attributes: life-giving, nurturing, and destroying, similar to the Hindu godhead of Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva.

This journey proved pivotal in my life, just as I had intended it to be. As I asked for, I was given a vision for my path. Through my healing experience with the etheric parasite during the circle ceremony, and through my discovery that priests of Sekhmet were healers and magicians, I embarked on a path of shamanic healing. The day following the journey, I met a woman healer in the desert who was to become my lover and teacher of healing. Together we would invoke the presence of Sekhmet in our healing work. I would very often feel Sekhmet within me, receiving her transmission and "becoming" her in learn the way of her healing. I had done healing work before encountering Sekhmet, but she took me deeper. I found myself going into a trance-like state during healing sessions, which provided intuition in "reading" the patient and brought a certain touch of magic to the healing. Visions would paint a picture of the area of the body that needed attention and lead me through pathways of inner landscapes to remove obstructions, channel light, and restore health and balance.

Besides her nurturing and healing side, the warrior side of Sekhmet has been equally valuable to me. Since my vision, I have felt a strong sense of being under Sekhmet's protection. Her wrathful aspect in mythology I feel as the ferocity of the mother lion caring for her cubs. I was later to receive the transmission of Senge Dolma from a Tibetan rinpoche. The mantra is all about protection. I use this harm-dispelling mantra whenever I feel threatened.

My research of Senge Dolma and Padmasambhava led me to explore Tibetan Buddhism to see what secrets the lion-faced dakini might have revealed to the man who brought Buddhism to Tibet. I later came to understand the flight of Garuda, which I witnessed above my head in the journey, to be a metaphor for one of the highest teachings in Tibetan Buddhism, that of dzog chen, the Great Perfection, the view of nonduality. While visiting Nepal, I felt the powerful presence of Senge Dolma, and the day before I left a Tibetan monk who had befriended me gave me an delicately painted scroll of the lion-faced dakini. And Kali, the dark goddess who I glimpsed below me during the journey, was to visit me again when I returned from Nepal, on the wings of a different plant teacher.

One summer solstice, five years after my initial vision of Sekhmet, I

traveled to Mount Shasta in northern California. After doing ceremony with two friends on the mountain, I looked up to see a large, substantial cloud moving toward the Sun. The cloud formed into a face with the Sun at its crown chakra. It was the face of Sekhmet as clear as though it had been painted. A woman's body formed beneath the head. The eyes were orbs of sunlight, openings in the cloud, and the countenance of the smiling face was of love and benevolence. Although the wind was blowing, this face did not change for about five minutes and was witnessed by the two friends with whom I had done ceremony.

My subsequent journeys with ayahuasca, although beneficial in terms of both healing and vision, were never as powerful as that first one. This journey gave me a major life vision. It came at a crucial turning point in my life as I embarked on a new path of shamanistic spirituality. The setting of this phase of my life combined with the set of my strong intention for new direction to bring about this phenomenon of encountering a goddess who would inspire, teach, and escort me into new realms of experience.

It is of interest that after ingesting a South American jungle hallucinogen in the middle of the California high desert, my vision would be primarily from ancient Egypt, with Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist overtones. The spirit of this medicinal plant transcends cultural, religious, and geographic boundaries, transporting one into the collective consciousness realm of all spiritual metaphors, into a limitless sea of cosmic possibility.

Tl?e Pieces of My Life Fell Together in a More Meaningful Pattern

In this account, a psychologist and dance therapist in her fifties describes how the ayahuasca helped prepare her psychically for uterine surgery, as well as giving her some deep insights into self-limiting patterns in her relationships. The format of this group ritual involved a four-hour solo vision-quest walk in wilderness, prior to the circle ritual with ayahuasca, which took place inside.

The following is an account of my third trip with ayahuasca. The first had been extremely visceral, and the second milder. I felt that I was in the midst of an ongoing dialogue with the ayahuasca spirits.

We began with a meeting on Friday night to declare our intentions. Mine was to heal; I was awaiting uterine surgery and wanted to work with the meaning of my symptoms. Since ayahuasca was such a physical experience and since I had already felt a strong relationship with it, my questions were: "What is at the root of my physical symptoms, and what is necessary to bring about healing?" Clarity and commitment of intention were necessary to give the ritual power. Our guide had reminded me to make my own healing a priority.

On Saturday morning we began the fasting vision-quest walk. We traveled out to a wilderness area in the desert. We were asked to focus on our intentions, on the qualities of the four directions, and to let the nature spirits of the desert guide us. I found myself drawn to the southeast, in the direction of open space and wide horizon. I happily followed an arroyo for about an hour, with little desire to climb into the rocks or sheltered spaces. I then found a rock ledge that offered a panoramic view of the valley, while still providing partial shelter. On this rock, I took off my clothes and basked in the warmth of sun on skin, and skin on warm rock. I felt close to the lizards and remembered how I used to keep and raise lizards when I was young.

I was also fascinated by textures: dead joshua trees with charcoal lattice-work bark, black and brown dappled rocks, subtleties of brown, black, and silver. I saw images that have been repeating themselves to me: swirling tunnels of dark browns, with yellow-eyed wolf faces emerging, fading into owl, boar, and bat faces, all textured with feather, whisker, and animal hair. The desert seemed to be preparing me for the ayahuasca, the open spaces and heat put me in a body space, while the vivid colors and textures presaged visions I would continue to have of fur, warmth, and texture, like the dappled brown and silver texture of this warm rock. Brown and silver, a new color combination for me. Melting into warm rock, naked skin on rock, dozing like a lizard. Warmth, texture, my being as a sensation of nature, ageless; no thoughts, just spaciousness and peace.

After we returned to the house in the late afternoon, we began the medicine circle ritual. Invoking the guidance of the spirits of the four directions, the personal and tribal ancestors, and the animal, plant, and insect world, set a strong circle and safe space for the group. We each then put a special object onto the altar in the middle and called on the spirits for help in following our intentions.

At first, the ayahuasca was visual for me. I saw the swirling browns and blacks, the animal faces and lower world imagery, the depths of browns and earth colors. When the music changed, I saw other colors—turquoise and pink—and playful shapes. Then a requiem came on and I found mysCn sobbing, feeling the weight of universal grief, of grief for the planet and for recent deaths and injuries in my family. After some time, the imagery faded, and I was mostly feeling.

Then the nausea came. I felt long and sustained waves of nausea, unlike the usual sharp and quick pangs of previous trips. I asked myself "What makes me nauseous?" and saw scenes from my life. My own life is making me nauseous; something is not sustainable or wholesome. I'm divided; something needs to come clean. As I bent over the pots to vomit, I felt my intense struggle to hold on, not to let go. Images of relationships and parts of my life that must be let go came to me; they are draining me just as my fibroids are an energy drain.

These images concerned several men and relationships I maintain, and especially images from my own past. I felt how in love with my father I still am, and how he is such a difficult act to follow. I know I needed to let go but fought the nausea and the imperative to let go as hard as I could. Each time I rationalized and thought about how I might avoid letting go of a particular relationship or connection, a new wave of nausea would come over me. I experienced a struggle between old mind patterns and a very eloquent body. Even though this was (and is) really a life and death issue, I could feel how part of me wanted to make light of or avoid the definiteness of letting go. Although I'd been told this many times, I felt for the very first time how much I was still in love with my father. I also saw how the secrecy of my relationships was nauseating me and tried to see how I could break the code of secrecy.

The next morning I felt very tired but more peace, less struggle; just naming what for me is a huge "family secret" was somehow liberating. Naming this complex in such a straightforward way in front of my peers helped me to get over a certain shyness and helped me see how otherwise unexplainable or irrational behavior made sense. Much as I had always resisted the reductionism of pointing to one variable as the determining factor of a life, I nevertheless felt a definite clarity and relief when I could name this one. And despite years of psychotherapy, analysis, and even being a psychotherapist myself, the picture had never been so clear, or so viscerally felt. As pieces of my life fell together in a more meaningful pattern, I felt a sense of peace. Being in love with my father was not a sin, and I did not need to feel guilt over it. What I did need to do, however, was to clean up my actions, so that they would not be unwholesome or unsustainable.

A significant part of the ritual was integration—bringing the insights and images into real life. At the closing, we were asked to reflect on the following questions: What was your intention? How did your experiences in the desert and night connect to this question? What will you take back to the world?

My intention was to heal the fibroids and prepare for surgery, to get to the secret of the bleeding and coagulation. My experiences in the desert and the night gave me images of death and life, enabled me to grieve for the several recent deaths, and gave me a strong physically-felt image of purging and letting go—letting go of my father and other relationships in my life that are like my relationship with him. What I took back to the world was an intention not to keep acting out this particularly unhealthy pattern, and to take even more responsibility for my own health.

Although I wrestled with the problem of how I would concretely implement these intentions, I also had faith that the ayahuasca spirits would help me. Since the learning was so in my body, and since I so trust bodily ways of knowing, I knew that any changes in my life would reveal themselves as I went along.

Sure enough, I found myself easily doing healing rituals to help prepare for surgery. With little resistance, I stopped drinking wine, prepared my teas and herbs, strengthened my body, and took pleasure from taking the time for these rituals. More important, the people with whom I needed to change relationships just happened to call, and distance themselves for other reasons, like not being able to travel. I didn't have to let go, or to make a drama of letting go, but life just took care of itself. Further, my father called the next day. Without rehearsal, I managed to tell him simply that I'd always loved him, and he was able to return the feeling. Although there is much more that could be said between us, I felt that this was enough, and could let him go in peace.

As I got ready for surgery, I was aware of how I used to be afraid of anesthesia and of losing consciousness in a hospital. I realized too that I hadn't had surgery since I was very young. Remembering ho,, naturally I rode the changes brought about by the ayahuasca and emerged stronger, I was no longer so afraid of losing consciousness. Preparing myself with relaxation tapes and the help of loving friends,

I went through surgery smoothly, with almost no bleeding and a very fast recovery. The surgeon was amazed at my recovery process; I know that it had to do with all the psychic and physical preparation I went through. Within three days the stitches were out, and I am now recovering strength quickly.

I feel more calm and confident about my life, about keeping it on a healing keel, and can feel much more distinctly those people and projects that sap energy, as against those who give energy. I have been careful to keep healing thoughts and images in the foreground and feel the results. And in my movement-therapy work with women with cancer, I feel that I have more healing energy and can see them respond. Without having to share details of this healing journey with them, I am able to bring them some of its energy and intention, and together we heal. I know that ayahuasca, with its strong physical presence, was a big part of that healing for me.

Reflecting back on this experience several years later—many changes continue to happen on a nonverbal level. Unhealthy relationships have been purged, and I feel younger, fresher, lighter. I am able to take more nourishment from life itself and avoid being drained of energy. My professional healing work has grown, and I am involved in several exciting new projects.

On the whole, I value how the ayahuasca experience changed my life energetically, nonverbally, and enabled me to make new and healthier choices.

Knowledge Wad Gracioudly Invoked in Me by l\)e Plant Teacher

Oregon T.

In this unusual experience, a college philosophy professor in his forties obtains confirmation of intuitions of a prior lifetime as a student of an alchemist magician in Elizabethan England. Seeing the parallels between that life and his present life, he rediscovers certain mathematical relationships and also obtains liberating insight into personality patterns.

My intention on this first experience of ayahuasca was remembrance: during the past several years, I have received fleeting intimations and vague recollections of a life in sixteenth-century Elizabethan England. Much of my study, writing, intellectual pursuits, including even my Ph.D. dissertation topic, have been colored by the remembrance of that life. Following a series of out-of-body experiences, combined with specific details supplied by a gifted reader of the akashic records [according to occult philosophy, the collective astral and mental memory banks—Ed.] I was led to the recognition of the identity of this individual—Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester. Recognizing uncannily detailed resemblances in the proclivities and interests of my present ego-personality, I wanted to seek communication with this previous life.

The intention was not to simply satisfy the ego by stretching consciousness into the past. Rather the concern was to get a handle on the soul's purpose in this incarnation, by remembering both the joys and frustrations of a prior lifetime. Specifically, I wanted to see if I could recapitulate the esoteric mathematical knowledge garnered in that life; if I succeeded I wouldn't have to reinvent the wheel in this regard. To anticipate what the spirit of ayahuasca showed me was consistent with my intention, but at the same time surprising in the lessons learned.

My initiation began with the proper fasting and a preparatory half-day solo vision-quest walk in the mountains, communing with the spirits of nature. We each consumed a very small amount of San Pedro cactus that served to heighten alertness and one-pointedness on our vision walk. I climbed high into the mountainous terrain traveling in a westerly direction. I noticed that birds were appearing to me in pairs; I interpreted this message to point me to the importance of love. For some time I watched carefully the dancing and jumping movements of a small fly. I was hoping for the appearance of a significant power animal, as practiced in shamanic traditions, and was beginning to get somewhat frustrated. I found a secluded spot amongst some pine trees and laid down to observe the birds some more. Finally I got to the point that I thought nothing was going to happen.

Just as I was about to give up, a lizard leaped out from under the brush right between my legs and onto a nearby large rock. Our eyes locked. As we gazed at each other, I was not sure who was mesmerizing whom. You might say that it was mutually hypnotic. The communication was telepathic, consciousness to consciousness. However, I did say some soothing words. Eventually I slowly approached him and was able to touch his back gently, petting him. I had taken my camera and recorded my finger stroking his head and back. He also allowed me to take several close-up pictures. Before long it was time to return to the group, so we parted ways.

Later that afternoon we drank the ayahuasca tea. I did not find the liquid preparation disagreeable at all. In fact, I took it with great relish. We gathered together in the vision circle, around an altar that included sacred ritual objects that each of us had brought along. There were fourteen of us along with our guide and his assistant. With my bowl for the subsequent purging next to me, I lay down placing ear plugs in my ears and a mask over my eyes. Before too long, I began to see within my mind's eye undulating, circling, spiraling formations in a panorama of kaleidoscopic colors.

I soon had the distinct impression that we were all in the body of a large serpent or lizard. When alerted to sit up and participate with the group in chanting, I perceived visual images of large felines, jaguars, and panthers, as well as snakes, lizards, and crocodiles. I was reminded of the mummified crocodiles representing the god Sobek that I had seen at the ruins of Kawm Umbu, during a trip to Egypt in 1990.

As I again closed off the outer world, I began to pursue with focused tenacity my intention of communication with the former life. I began to have images of riding upon a black stallion in a procession at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. The scene changed and I found myself at Mortlake outside the home of Dr. John Dee, who was my teacher in that prior life. We were looking into an obsidian crystal, along with Queen Elizabeth and some of her entourage. The scene changed again as I focused my attention on attempting to communicate directly with "my" former personality (Robert Dudley), in a direct face-to-face encounter.

I found myself in a psychomanteum, a place specially constructed for divination and communication with deceased relatives. There was a large mirror on the wall, in which a face took shape and became three-dimensional. This face and the eyes told me what I wanted to know even though the exchange did not last long. However there was sufficient communication to inform me that I had already in effect rediscovered the mathematical key that I, as Robert Dudley, had previously worked on under the tutelage of the Elizabethan magus Dr. John Dee.

Ayahuasca was now about to teach me the lesson that I had not consciously sought. I began to see a series of shortcomings, not only in the previous life as Robert Dudley, but now again repeated in this life. I saw the machinations of the ego-personality and its subtle deceit of the Self, of the true Monad. I realized that intellectual success is not the end-all, but rather love and compassion wisely applied. I began to sense and feel the importance of my family, my parents, and particularly my love for my wife. I was raised up to the summit. I was at the feet of Plato's Indefinite Dyad, t^ primoridal duality or ultimate yin/yang, about to be merged into the One.

Then I began to feel as if I was in the United Nations General Assembly where the ultimate union of male and female was about to take place. The yang and yin were about to merge into the One. I became deeply concerned that the world would not be here tomorrow if I went one iota further. Curiously, the following day during the integration circle, when we recounted our experiences, just as I was saying, "I feared that the world would not be here tomorrow," one of the glass votive candleholders on the altar shattered with a loud bang.

As I descended from the height of the summit experience, I felt remorse over the games I and others play. I saw the dance of lives with the perpetual repetition of mistakes, deceit, and cruelty toward Earth and all her creatures. I knew that I was in a chamber of initiation, about to go through a death experience. I felt great sadness for the pain I had inflicted on others, whether intentional or otherwise. I began to hear the "swoosh" of a large snake. I felt my abdomen crackle as if the skin of a snake were being shed. As I relived the pain of mistake and deceit, I physically purged into the bowl. I knew I had died without really having to die. I had truly experienced a death and rebirth.

Images, thoughts, and realizations danced inside my head. I was gently brought back by our guide to the group sitting in the circle. We then participated in very meaningful, though at the time somewhat difficult, exercises of the voice. We attempted to convey some of the meaning of our experiences through vocal tones and chants. It was incredible. I saw our guide literally transform into an old Indian shaman. We closed with a thanksgiving ritual, and I eventually drifted off to sleep.

When I awoke at dawn, I felt compelled to return outside to the mountainous terrain. Each step I took was sacred. The ground upon which I walked was sacred. I climbed as high as I could onto a precipice so as to contemplate the sunrise. I asked for forgiveness from the Earth for any harm I had committed. I studied the rock formations and found one that appeared to be a lizard with a human face. Fortunately I had grabbed my camera on the way out, and captured the incredible image. The Earth was speaking to me. I had acquired the meaning I had sought in the circle session, and so much more. The spirit of ayahuasca taught me that all is alive, all is sacred, and all is ultimately love-wisdom.

In retrospect several years later, I see that this experience opened many doors of perception for me. It allowed me to confirm the insights into

Pythagorean mathematics that have been the intellectual focus of my present life, through seeing its origin in a previous life in Elizabethan England. The recollection of this lifetime also helped me to understand the roots of certain other interests and proclivities. For example, my instinctive love of horses in this life feels closely parallel to my previous experience as Master of the Horse for the Queen. My present life's efforts and successes at tennis, racquetball, and athletics were foreshadowed on the tiltyards and tennis courts and in the forests of sixteenth-century England. My continuing interest in alchemy, sacred geometry, and the hermetic sciences are rooted in my previous work and study with the mathematician, alchemist, and magician, Dr. John Dee. Habits and frustrations of that life continue to be paralleled in events of this life. The real beauty of the teachings of the ayahuasca spirits is that they can help provide meaning, purpose, and direction to one's life.

In subsequent work with this particular plant teacher, I have been able to access other previous lives and their significance for my present journey. Ayahuasca has allowed me to explore the deepest philosophical issues of the self. I have been given insight and remembrance into the thorny issues and dilemmas involved in the Hindu doctrine of atman ("Self") and the Buddhist teachings of anatta ("Not-Self"). I have come to understand that these are difficult concepts, not because of the underlying reality, but because of the limitations of our conceptual formations and linguistic expressions. I have learned that by posing the questions appropriately, the plant teachers will assist with the response.

As a result of my ayahuasca experiences, I now have a greater clarity of direction in my life, a recognition of the sacredness of all living beings, and the presence of consciousness at all levels of organization within and throughout the cosmos. The ayahuasca plant teacher, much like the entheogens probably employed in the Eleusinian and other ancient mystery religions, assists in the sought-after remembrance, what Plato referred to as anamnesis. Our birth truly is a forgetting, as the poet Wordsworth said. Thank heavens there are techniques that can initiate one into deeper states of remembrance and recollection. T ayahuasca plant teacher has helped me to begin to answer, for myself in my own small way, the perennial questions: Where do we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going?

Here Began a Series of Teaching*) about the Nature of the Heart jom i'm s.

A writer and consultant in his forties describes initiatory ayahuasca sessions in which he obtained psychological insights, confirmed knowledge previously acquired through channeled teachings, and embarked on an intensive program of training with ayahuasqueros in Peru.

On this my first experience with ayahuasca my intentions were to prepare for my fortieth birthday, to allow more essence to flow through me, to increase my humor level, and to heal my right shoulder blade, which had been severely bruised in a fall off a ladder.

Visions began with some animal impressions after about forty minutes or so. My face became a tiger or large cat. Visions progressed rapidly with strong psychological content. Each emotion seemed very intensified. Some difficulty keeping track of any one thought. Just a stream of consciousness. At first some mild physical discomfort in stomach. Awareness of teachers showing me aspects of my persona and shadow sides.

My own narcissism or arrogance was a preoccupation for a while. First I felt greatness and wonderfulness as a special type of person with a significant mission in life. Then I became concerned that I

was feeling overly self-important. Self-deprecation began to set in. I struggled between these two points of view, trying to know what the real truth was for what seemed like a long time.

Perceptions of my children. Great love for my son, C., aged 5. Great pain perceiving my relationship with my daughter, A. Felt that I wanted to be closer to her, but that I see so much of myself in her that I have a hard time relaxing with her. Missed my wife and felt like I wanted her to be with me. Had a strong vision of snuggling with her and the children in a big pile like kittens. Very happy with this. Smelled their animal smells, very familiar.

Aware of feeling isolated and difficulty letting love in from others. Felt that I must be a difficult person for others to give to. Struggled with this for a time.

Some illness set in after thoughts about the horror of the violence in Ireland. Got a strong sense of the law of karma and the awfulness of people feeling so separate from one another that they could kill each other. Sensed the horrible karmic consequences of these acts. Vomited and felt better. Sensed how karma can be greatly mitigated by forgiveness and surrender. Prior to this I fought off the impulse to vomit, thinking it was embarrassing in front of other people. Struggled with my own arrogance and wished to appear okay to others. Realized that I would have to vomit to overcome this.

I had been doing a lot of work with the seven roles or character types, according to the Michael teachings, and their specialties on the planet. Artisans and sages are expressive types; servers and priests inspiration types; warriors and kings the action types; and scholars the assimilation type. Became aware of fun, and how sages bring fun into the world. I felt the sage in me and experienced lots of mirth. I had visions of sages I know with expressions of intense fun on their faces. Then I thought about priests and how good they are at forgiving people. We give them the power and authority to forgive and heal us. Their specialty is compassion. Thought of the service of servers, the grandeur of kings. Had a vision of my son, C., a king, sitting on £ emerald green throne with a huge emerald suspended over his head. Brilliant cartoonlike visions accompanied these perceptions. Lots of forest greens and strange looking creatures that seemed to be included in tapestries or huge suspended paintings, slightly grotesque and not animated but fixed.

Saw myself as a beacon, as a light that could be sought out by others who wanted to pursue knowledge that I might have to offer them. Perception of a fraternity of more aware beings that could be emulated for their integrity, wisdom, and overall way of being. This fraternity of older, wiser souls could transform society if they became the models for others rather than the violent stereotypes on TV.

Perceptions of my childhood and my relationship with my mother. Experienced my fear as a child. Indescribable how fearful I was of my mother at times. Recalled her being quite crazy for a time—violent and unpredictable. Felt repelled by her refusal to look at herself in this lifetime. Saw clearly how much denial she has been in. Saw her as old and sad and cowering. Then felt compassion for her. The need for forgiveness. The need to stop judging her and be understanding. Felt bad about my neglect of her and dad in their old age.

Looked out the large window in the living room toward the outside. Saw a bright light in the sky, moving slowly and without blinking. Got the distinct impression that it was not a plane. Thought it could be a UFO. Had never seen one before and got quite excited. Again, wanted to tell others but it was too difficult to communicate. Visions increased manifold after this.

Wondered whether there was a ceiling or limitation to this drug that gave it its strangeness. Is this a higher reality or is this a drug version of a higher reality that is severely restricted by the nature of the drug? Would my experience be the same if I took it again? At this point I became aware of others in the room. I noticed someone doing kriyas [yogic energy discharges—Ed.] and he seemed rather ecstatic. Wished I could feel ecstatic too.

I became aware of healing properties. Intensely aware that love heals all. I enjoyed feeling the rapture of loving between people. Then I worried that I was simply thinking and not experiencing. I realized how much I tend to do this and suffered for awhile under this perception.

I became aware of the nature of illusions. The difficulty and impossibility of paradox because each side is offset by the opposite position.

Paradox demands the simultaneous holding of both sides of duality. The only way to meet it is right down the middle.

Body vibrations. Streams of vibrations shaking my entire body at various times during the evening. These were not particularly ecstatic, nor were they painful. I witnessed them as somatic releases, perhaps kriyas that I had seen and wished for earlier on in the session.

Perceptions of ayahuasca spirit helpers circling around and around in groups of three. Each was smiling broadly and had three colorful feathers sticking out of a headband, very large eyes. They were full of humor and mirth.

About seven months later, I had my next ayahuasca session. The first image was of a small monkey, spry and cute, swinging with its family through the high limbs of trees. It communicated to me that it was good at getting into small places.

When the visions became intense, I noticed that I became skeptical and doubted the visions. I saw that visions in general are creations of artisans on the astral plane. I also saw that the artistic and creative artisans are a part of my larger self in the Tao. I saw their delight in working with images and forms and colors. I remembered not to get caught up in these visions but to press on and see if I could reach another level of awareness. I thought of my guide and teacher Michael and grabbed a piece of sugilite, a small purple rock from Africa, and another rock that I had brought with me, to help me get in contact with him better. I held the rocks in each of my hands and felt their effect as they sent energy up my hands and arms into my torso, opening up my chakras to become more receptive. I realized suddenly that the ritual substance was the main teacher in this event and that bringing in another teacher was not necessary. I put the rocks down.

I wondered if I should lose myself in the pleasure and enjoyment of the visions or push on toward deeper and more profound insights about the nature of consciousness. After a while I relaxed about this and the visions continued, but I felt I had gone deeper somehow.

I felt the softness of my heart. I felt indescribable tenderness. The moment I focused on my heart, everything became quiet. The whole surrounding universe seemed to pay respect and became peaceful. Here began a series of teachings about the nature of the heart. I learned that this is the center for essence contact. Love is its vehicle and product. It is a sender and receiver of love. Love is incredibly powerful. Love is the food source of life for all beings. Children, animals, and plants gravitate to it and feed off of it. They bask in it. A little bit will go a long way. All it takes is a fraction to make a big difference. As we experience love, we can then give it. When we give it, we instantly get back an outpouring of love-energy from animals, plants, and elements. I felt loved by the universe. I realized that I could love myself.

I saw that my mother and father wanted to fully express their love for me, but they were frustrated by their own challenges and limitations. I allowed them to love me, and I loved them back. I saw that they got me going in this lifetime. That they gave me just enough love to launch me. I saw that I became an expert at making a little bit go a long way. I heard my guide Michael say "Reach out for the higher centers," and as I did that, I experienced more love feelings.

I looked out the window and saw Grandmother Ocean. I saw the trees, the clouds, the Earth, their properties and principles. I saw their life. I loved them and they loved me back. I saw the power of life coming from the earth. I felt myself ball up and become the earth. I saw the clouds and laughed to see the pattern there. I saw South American images of the gods there. I saw the ayahuasca spirits in the patterns of the clouds. Was this a metaphor? Was I projecting these images? Did it matter? The fact is, I was seeing them. They kept moving together but never colliding.

Eventually I was pulled away from the window by the circle check-in. I found myself able to listen and speak from the heart. I spoke openly and freely without fear about my experience. I felt tremendous compassion for the woman next to me who was so sick. I knew it was her problem, though, to work out, and I could stay separate but understanding.

I felt much relaxation of my shoulders after I learned to work with the energy there. I could approach my shoulders from my heart and send them love, and they would respond to that kind of healing. I understood how hypnosis works. It lifts the binding, blind responses of certain defenses or behaviors and gives them permission to stop. They are commanded to stop by a higher authority. They need a directive to give them their new instructions. I saw that whatever I said as a command would take effect during hypnosis.

Looking back several years later, I see that these first experiences with ayahuasca have had a powerful influence on my life over the long term. They led me to many further explorations with this plant teacher through the assistance of an ayahuasquero in the jungles of Peru. I cannot begin to explain the many insights into myself and others and the liberation these visions have given me over the intervening years. In fact I am now working on a book based on a personal account of these powerful experiences and events.

A Virion oftlpe Fabric That Id Woven by Ud All

A meditation teacher and artist in her thirties describes how in her ayahuasca experience she spontaneously exorcised a toxic psychic entity by purging it, and then tuned into the supportive web of life and spirits woven by women and men, and indigenous and modern peoples.

During my first experience with ayahuasca, which occurred in a private residence in northern California, I saw an image of the Great Spiral and had the physical sense of moving within it. The images, colors, and depth intensified until I was totally within the Spiral. I felt a knowing that God was there, teaching me my place on the Spiral. Once I understood that, the faces of all the people I love in my life began to appear and move into their place upon/within the Spiral. I had an incredible sense that everything was perfect right where it was.

I suddenly became aware of one of the men in the circle becoming very sick, and I knew it was because he was struggling against the force and momentum of the Spiral. I telepathically told him to "relax, move with it," as I astrally moved into his space to support and guide him. He continued to retch and struggle for a few moments and then became aware of my presence. Others in the group had also sent their energy and/or astral body for support. He then relaxed and began to move forward and upward with the Spiral.

The Spiral changed into an incredible area of third/fourth dimensional energy. Colors were deep, and everything had movement, life, and presence. I could feel form and creation and my presence in it. From the diamond pattern emerged the sacred serpent, a boa, who taught me about the importance of the Spiral, the kundalini power/ movement in my own body, the journey back to God.

I had a feeling of needing to urinate and stood up to go to the bathroom. As I stood up, I became aware of the Plant Kingdom Guardians sitting along the side of the room. They were in deep meditation, and I could sense that they were overseeing our visions. I felt that they were permeating the room with their presence, giving me a sense of respect and knowing of Plants that I had never known before.

I was then assisted upstairs to the bathroom. "While sitting on the toilet, I suddenly and violently had an intestinal spasm, while at the same time receiving an image of a dark hole with the diamond patterns. Up from this dark hole sped a very powerful and scary demon, which I knew did not belong within my being. As I vomited, the demon rushed out of my mouth. Everything went blood-red—the sink was filled with blood and my hands were covered with blood. I was not afraid, for I knew that this demon had gone to its right place. As I let the image move away, the blood turned to water and then was gone.

My power animals, Jaguar and Mountain Lion, came to teach me about physical strength, about breathing through my nose with my mouth open to smell and sense my surroundings. I had a great sense of feminine strength, knowing that the clan depends so much on Her wisdom and abilities. I had a realization of the need for women to recognize their power, to claim their rightful place within the clan. I know the importance of men and women respecting and supporting one another's power and place, but this gave me a sense of the urgency of the Great Mother for women now to come forward and to reset the balance.

I saw how the women's liberation movement was pushing too hai in the opposite direction and was not in its proper place on the Spiral. I experienced myself among my people (Cherokee) in a tribal/clan situation where the women got together and built power together; they were extremely strong and purposeful. Yet, they did not seem to make their actions and purpose obvious to the tribe. They generated an incredible presence, a fine thread of consistent power out into the clan, weaving the fabric of clan society with their imagery and heart energy.

I then got a vision and physical sense of the fabric that is woven by us all. I could see the fabric being woven by our circle as we all focused on our own and the Earth's healing. I could sense each person's color and texture of thread, and how it all contributed to the fabric. I was then shown my meditation group, and how that fabric is getting so thick and strong and beautiful because we meet every Thursday, adding energy and material to the fabric. I knew the importance of families, healing groups, coworkers, etc., being aware of this fabric, and consciously building and creating it. This is how our world is created.

As the visions became less intense, I became very aware of the sense of family/clan among the circle members. It was obvious that, although we had each had different experiences, there was a very strong and stable presence of commonality and support. After the circle was closed, some of us moved out to the hot tub or sauna, continuing to share our experiences. In the morning, we shared our stories. It was amazing how interconnected the teachings were. Some people had experiences of Nazis and Jews, others of Native American Indians. There was a beautiful sense of belonging, and we all felt that much healing and teaching had taken place—both individual and planetary.

I felt honored by and grateful for this powerful experience and know that it has had a significant and positive impact on my knowledge of my Self, my place in the universe, and my purpose on the Rainbow Path.

Healing Spiritual Techniques

Healing Spiritual Techniques

Spiritual healing is the ability of your mind and soul to repair your ailments. These ailments are not limited mere physical wounds, but can also relate to mental illness and self esteem issues. Many modern day physicians invoke the idea of spiritual healing along with western medicine as a means to promote the health of their patients.

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