I wound up staying the next night as well. I like the people I was staying with in town but this place was just calling to me with a quite austerity that cleaned and crystalized. The stars overhead were infinite and people basically non existent. Beside my host, Cyan, The Rider and his family, at maybe a mile away, was the only encroachment of humanity for a few miles. There was nothing but you and God.
And the waterfall. Alto is famous for the waterfalls. Key letter being 's'. Where as most places have a particular waterfall, or set of falls that they take pride in, Alto has waterfalls like a beauty competition has boobies: they're just everywhere! And they're beautiful. I'd seen a few so far and the one here was my favorite, and completely unexpected. The landscape here is dry grass and this little Joshua Tree cactusey looking things, not really the kind of environment that leads to waterfalls but about five minutes from the house there is a tiny forest, maybe a hundred feet wide. As you walk into it, the universe transforms: instead of lizards and sunburn, it's suddenly jungle. The air is moist and the earth fecund. Butterflies float and play through mossy trees, vines and flowers entangled in a thickness of flora that seems completely incompatible with the austerity a few steps away. All of this is made possible by a spring which emerges from the ground and cascades through the center of the forest across gorgeous tan colored rocks, sparkling over emerald patches of moss. The volume of the water isn't that high, but somehow it lends a more personable feel to her. Like you can actually take in every aspect of her gentle flow. And just for fun, somebody built a little rock pool about half way up so you can submerge yourself completely. I was in love.
I'd had such a time at the last ceremony that I'd wanted to make one the next night, while there was still an almost full moon. Cyan, who was the closest available authority on ayahuasca suggested I wait a night.
As it turned out, Cyan wasn't up for another ceremony the next night and there was no one else around, so I wound up making my own private ceremony. I laid a fire, set out the mats and made everything ready, poured one big glass and drank it down.
I'm very interested in the idea of trying to work with different medicines in combination with various meditations and eastern spiritual disciplines, so I stared off by doing an hour of Vipassana meditation which is my most regular spiritual practice and - to summarize an entire discipline into a sentence fragment - basically means you sit with out moving, usually cross legged or (if you're more flexible than me) in a full or half lotus, close your eyes and scan your body, usually starting from the top of your head. At first you're supposed to pay attention to what we would think of as normal physical sensations - warmth, tightness, pain etc. The idea is that eventually you get to the point where your awareness is heightened to the point where you can experience things at a subtler level and experience yourself less in the gross physical sense and more as patterns of energy. Which seemed like it would be great way to dip into the ayahuasca experience. And probably would've been except for the stomach ache. Ayahuasca is famous for creating a world of difficulties in stomachs, but so far I hadn't had anything more serious then an intense craving for granola. But this time I felt the pain. My guts were were just going through it. I tried to throw up but that wasn't happening. I was just stuck with pain, sitting there, eyes closed, focused on my bodily sensations. Vipassana incidentally, is all about acknowledging and excepting the pain (which will eventually dissolve and free you from and endless cycle of craving, or so they say).
I made it almost the full hour and finally had to get up. I've given quite a bit of thought to why my stomach hurt so much at this particular time. First I really didn't eat quite the right food - pasta that was a little to oily, garlicy and flavorful - the aya diet is all about the blandness. Also, I think something about the my sitting position constricts the stomach - my posture is often not the best so I collapse a little on my belly. But more significantly, in my limited ayahuasca experiences, I'd gotten really good at clearing bad energy without throwing up or doing things other people do. I just move the energy out. I can do it with my hands, or by singing or just stuff. I just kind of feel out what will work, but it always involves some kind of action. Just sitting there focusing my awareness on it like a good mediator was not on the list. Also, there's just a little resentment/I-don't-feel-like-doing-this-bullshit energy I have around meditating sometimes and I think that manifested itself in a stomach ache, which loathe though I am to admit the value in pain, was kind of a useful kick in the ass to get me to clean up how I related to my whole mediation practice.
Once I gave up meditating (for the evening), I found the world very pleasant - the plants that looked freaky two nights before now looked funny and playful. The moon still shown from above and the air smelled beautiful.
I went to light the fire, but a lot of dew had fallen and the matches and the kindling were wet. Instead of taking two seconds, it took like twenty minutes, stomach ache and all. Between the dew and the wind and the shitty matches it wasn't a lot of fun, but the main thing was that except for the stomach ache, I realized I could basically shut off the aya if I had a practical matter I had to attend to. I just told it to go away and come back when the fire was lit. And it did. And this was the biggest glass I'd ever drunken.
Once I got the fire lit, I lay down on my back and started to sing a little, and the stomach ache disappeared almost instantly.
On the last journey I'd had a pretty intense heart opening experience. This time I reapproached that space in a less dramatic way. If previously I'd been thrown into another universe, here I was it was more like someone pointed out that there was a door that led to the other universe and reminded me of how to use it, and where the mud room was. This whole heart opening concept, had really entered my consciousness via my partner, who is greatly invested in her ability to be open hearted and loving and for whom the major question about anything, particularly us seemed to be how open hearted she felt at the moment. And one of her main things was that an open heart was always very vulnerable. Which certainly made sense, but problematically black and white to me, so I spent a good amount of time playing with the idea of opening the door part way, and the closing it again, leaving is slightly ajar or developing an open heart with some kind of protection around it. Basically making there be language and a level of gradations around world of open/vulnerable and closed/protected.
After that the night was basically about sex and gender essences - but then isn't life. I like to think I have a pretty clean ship as far as most of that stuff goes but there is definitely some detritus floating around and I suddenly found myself swimming in it.
Basically as I dissolved, I found myself again feeling more and more feminine, which by now I'd just decided was part of the aya process. As I was dissolving, I again got caught up on this sciatic tension, which has always seemed like a zit on the face enlightenment. And the more I worked into it, the more I could feel that it held all sorts of really nasty fears and perspectives. Part of it was a fear of the feminine in myself. It's disconcerting how feminine I tend to feel after drinking aya and I often don't know whether to love it or hate it. On the one hand it seems wonderful and effortless. On the other hand is seems terrifying - I mean am I gonna wake up in the morning growing boobs? But in the clear light of day - or in this case, computer monitor - it's actually pretty straightforward. We all have a lot of stuff in us that needs expression. And though society generally encourages us to express that within ourselves that matches our gender and gives us a healthy bit of fear around that which doesn't, it's important to do pay attention to both sides of the coin. Because in order for one side to be fully and healthy expressed, the other side does too.
Next comes a particularly weird kind of homophobia. Not a sudden hatred of showtunes and those who listen them or a fear that I might be just slightly to concerned about whether my curtains match my living room sofa set. But this concept of a really misogynistic hateful kind of gayness. Macho leather clad barbarian dudes who spend a lot of time talking about how women are disgusting because they bleed and needs lots of attention and cart around these noisy children that always need feeding. To top it all off they start to shout that if I had any balls I would join thier tribe. I can already here the politically correct up in arms over such a callous stereotype. And I completely agree. The weirdest thing about all this - and this movie went on for some time - was that it didn't seem like anything I particularly believed in. I mean obviously everyone has some degree of homosexuality and for that matter homophobia in their make up, but this particular scenario seemed pretty off the wall to me.
That said, the content seemed very similar to things that had flashed through my mind on acid years earlier. And the way it was constructed had a very acid feel as well. LSD has this capacity for multiple hypothetical truths, sewing together immense stories instantly and that kind of mocking 'it could be true or it could be made up' thing. It's really different then the slow methodical clarity of ayahuasca. This felt like some weird acid echo chamber that had been lingering in my consciousness, synthesized at a rave years ago partially from my own perspectives and partially from all the crazy sexy energy rattling around the bass bins. I'm not saying that it wasn't at least partially from me, just that it wasn't from that moment. It was something indigestible from another time and socked away in my body like mercury in a fishes fat cells. That was actually the weirdest part because it did seem to come from a very concrete place, the sciatic tension on my right side.
And there I was in open minded land, staring up at the sky and I had to asking myself, am I secretly gay? Do I hate women? Do I hate the feminine in myself?
When the storm finished thrashing itself out, I was kind of washed up on the beach of sexual romantic possibility and left to think about what I want. And I felt around for minute, and what did I feel. Hatred of women? Fear of leather clad gay men? A deeper fear that actually I wanted to join them? Alas, no. What I felt was… come on, it's ayahuasca. You can probably guess the answer. Thats right... Love. My partners love to be precise - for those of you who skipped the previous entries, she is definitely a woman. And love for women in general. And I knew that although all sorts of sexual permutations, and perspectives on sexuality are possible, and that the theater of my imagination is essentially infinite, that what I really wanted was love. And right now, love is centered around my partner, and everything so wonderfully female and messy about her. And without denying or distancing myself from any part of the movie that had played throughout the journey, it seemed like just that, a movie. A random collection of fears and unhealthy perspectives that I had watched or created some time ago, that would have been long since forgotten in sensory tidal wave of a random acid trip but because it was a little to frightening to ever completely chew on, it never got processed, and because of that had been given the enduring longevity that all ghosts possess. But now it seemed as harmless and quaint as Casper.
I lay there pondering over many things and noticing this and that about my self and the universe and realizing for the millionth time that I want share everything that I experience with my partner. The way the wind was rustling. The bird that flew into the vines, the soft hissing of fire and the warm pleasure flowing through my body and most of all, the beautiful love in my heart.
Such a dork!