I expected fireworks. After all, the last time I was in the jungle, I traveled to the 8th dimension —A place where thought becomes manifest and the world is directly influenced by belief. So as I drank my first cup with Maestro Orlando Chujandama, nicknamed ‘The Dragon’, I buckled up for another epic ride.
The nausea flooded over me in a wave. I fought to keep the thick, earthy brew from immediately retching from my stomach. As I battled, listening to the sounds of the jungle and the ancient icaros of the shaman, a few hours passed. Where were the visions? Did I do something wrong with my diet? Certainly my nausea might attest to a few weeks of less than clean living. The shaman closed the ceremony and I wandered back to the hut, barely making it through the door before a cascade of fluids assaulted the toilet from stomach and bowels.
As I puzzled out the following day as to why the visions never came, Occham’s razor led me to an inconvenient truth of my own: Not all brews, even from the Dragon, are created equal. A well known fact to ethnobotanists is that some plants such as the mimosa hostilis, the highest DMT containing species in the world, have a huge variance of DMT content. Chacruna, the DMT containing leaf used in the ayahuasca brew is no exception to that. I resolved to drink two full cups for my second journey, and this proved wise.
The visions did not come in the overwhelming manner that I was accustomed, heralded by a strong kaleidoscopic chrysanthemum or the arrival of flesh eating snakes. Instead I found myself peering into a nexus of energy, latent with potential but largely unmanifest energy. It was as if instead of being whisked through the wormhole as I was accustomed, I remained on the earthly side of the portal waiting for something to come visit me. As I am not the most patient sort, I asked to be visited by a spirit guide. And like the proverb, ‘ask and you shall receive’ I was gifted by one of the most powerful visions I had ever encountered.
A snarling silver dragon, 10 times the size of a large horse burst into my vision. He had blue and green lights in his armored jowls, and his nostrils billowed small plumes of smoke. He cast his intimidating gaze right through me. I was not afraid. Then he opened his mouth, and challenged me with deep baritone voice:
Dragon: So you want to change the world?
Aubrey: Because that’s what I’m here for.
At this point the dragon bellowed a few laughs, and his tone changed to slightly less fiery. I took the opportunity to grab a horn and swing myself up on his back. He took to flight and we dashed through an ethereal world. And yes, it was a lot like The Never Ending Story!
Dragon: Why do you want to change the world?
Aubrey: To help people. I was pleased with my answer until the dragon responded.
Dragon: Are you sure?!
At this point the dragon showed me a cross section of all of my actions thus far in my life. What I saw was that mixed in with every action I have taken to help the world, is a motivation to help myself--A desire to feed my ego, or gain influence. So while my actions were ostensibly altruistic, my motivations were almost always mixed. I acknowledged what I saw to the dragon, and it was a powerfully humbling moment.
The dragon was not finished with me yet though. As we dove downward like a bi-plane on a strafing run he boomed out to me:
Dragon: What do you want to destroy?
Fire licked from his lips, and I could sense he was ready to unleash hell at my command.
The fire extinguished from his lips and he replied.
Dragon: Shouldn’t that be what you want to heal?
Two points for dragon. Zero points for Aubrey. Of course he was right… All too often we look at ignorant people with a spiteful attitude, as if we would be better off if they were simply eliminated from the equation. We realize that it is difficult to change the most stubborn cases, but behind the blustery claims of a drug war advocate for example, is a scared, scarred human who still has the potential to find truth in life before death shocks and overwhelms them with it. As I let this shift in thinking permeate my moral paradigm, the dragon dropped me off at the edge of a forest. As I peered through the trees I saw a bear with a crown, covered in gold chains and jewelry.
As I looked curiously at the bear (it is not often you see a bear that has more jewelry than Mr. T) he saw me looking at him. We met eachother’s gaze and as I looked closer I saw that his spirit was struggling to break free from the weight of the gold. Then the bear spoke in a strong and wistful tone.
Bear: I remember, before all this gold, when I used to be just a bear, and I was free.
At that moment I understood exactly the Buddhist sentiment he was expressing. Wealth can be as much a prison as an enabler. It all depends on how you relate to it. When utilized properly, money can create freedom--Freedom from worry about survival, freedom from stress about bills, and freedom to travel the world. When the relationship with wealth is toxic, you saddle yourself to higher bills and parasitic concerns about losing your wealth or possessions.
I let the bear know that I understood what he was saying, and then I summoned his spirit to go with me for a run through the woods. His spirit broke free from the gold chains and we galloped over logs and through the brush, chasing a stream through the forest. It was exhilarating. I took a leap over a fallen tree and the ground disappeared from under my feet. It was the Eagle’s turn to teach me a parable.
Eagle: Do you know how I see so well?
Me: No eagle, tell me.
Eagle: Because I see through everyone else’s eyes.
Taken as words alone, this is a profound but enigmatic statement. But what the eagle then showed me, is that bias borne of my own ego clouds my ability to truly perceive what anyone else is experiencing. Imagine a time that you got angry with your girlfriend/boyfriend for example. Do you really ever see exactly what they are experiencing as you express your anger? You could, if you chose to. Imagine someone who you deem to be annoying or ignorant. Have you ever really gotten past your own tinted perception, to see what the world looks like through their eyes? Understand their fears, their insecurities, the thoughts that trouble them at night? Our ego constantly judges everyone around us and this prevents us from truly seeing through someone else’s eyes. This awareness was the eagle’s gift.
At this point I could feel the nausea bubbling like a witch’s brew in my stomach. I forced myself to fight it off, and more visions came. I found myself on a viking ship, gliding through a stormy sea. The moon was blue and bright up above. As I noticed the moon, the ship peeled up out of the water and charted a course straight towards la luna. I could feel the blue light of the moon permeating my physical body, not just in the vision, but in my tangible self. It had a deeply nourishing effect to my spirit. Then a purple orb about the size of a tennis ball, a glowing will o’ the wisp came out of the moon, and drifted towards me. For whatever reason I opened my mouth and like a stoned Pac-Man, swallowed it down.
What the hell was that? I remember asking myself that very question the moment I swallowed it. No answer came for me. Apparently my stomach didn’t agree with whatever I had swallowed because moments later I had a savage purge. When I purged, the visions calmed down and I had a peaceful meditation until Maestro closed the ceremony.
The question as to the meaning of the purple orb is still unresolved. My instinct says it had something to do with instilling feminine energy, but who knows. But what this vision in particular illustrates is that the DMT experience does not always provide clear answers to the visions you see. As I have mentioned in other blogs, I feel as though when DMT tries to communicate information to you from the other side, there is a translation gap, and so your brain creates pictures to help you figure it out. Sometimes, as in the case of the purple orb, the pictures provide as much of a puzzle as an answer.
The third ceremony I once again indulged in a double cup dose, and determined that no matter what, I wouldn’t vomit until I was back in my room. Before long, I was ‘drunk’ as the shamans say. Despite a chorus of wails and moans from my less than stalwart journeyman I found my vision-self nestled in the mud of a primeval forest. Bugs crawled inside and out of me, snakes slithered over the top of me, and I was truly one with the Great Mother herself. It was the most grounded and connected I had ever felt. I asked to be visited by the dragon again, but the dragon didn’t come. So i lay peacefully for hours in the serenity of this ethereal jungle, with all of my 3rd dimensional surroundings having completely melted away. There was very little nausea to contend with and only the usual rumblings in my stomach. When the shaman called me over to close the ceremony I expected a peaceful return back to my hut, and to drift off into sleep. I was wrong.
Instead of the usual cinnamon that he uses to close the ceremony he lit a large nicotinia rustica cigarette and started blowing the smoke in different parts of my body. The top of my head, my chest, my spine, my hands, were a few of the targets. I felt a little lightheaded, but thanked him and packed up my stuff. I thought i detected a funny smile when I walked away...
When I got to the room all hell broke loose. I was projectile shit-vomiting as fast as I could switch front to back on the toilet. At one point I felt like a ball of something was being wretched up from my spine, and when it hit my mouth it exploded out of my nose. If there is something worse than stomach acid and partially digested ayahuasca coming out of your nose, I haven’t found it yet! My friend and roomate Bode was laughing his ass off, which certainly didn’t seem to quell the situation. Eventually all calmed down and found the peaceful sleep I was anticipating.
The next morning I felt more balanced, clean and humbled than I can ever recall in my life. The ayahuasca did not give me the fireworks, but it lived up to its reputation as the ‘master medicine’. Is there more to explore for me in the jungle? Perhaps. But there will always be a reason to cleanse my body, find my own humility, and ground myself once again on the belly of the earth.