Wednesday, December 28, 2016

On the Question of Sociopathy

There is a notion that has taken hold in a large part of the world's population (at least in the so-called "developed" countries) that is totally false. That is the notion that it is somehow spiritually unevolved and undesirable to ever engage in conflict. To ever call out people on their wicked behavior. To ever disagree with bad ideas. Forcefully to do these things.

I am serving notice to this delusion right here, right now.

I have a sense that this falsehood has its origin in the New Age movement - [soft, amber light and tinkling bells, breathy female voice] "We must focus on the light." It's true enough, as far as it goes. Our reality follows our intention and our attention, and so we should predominantly focus those on positive things. However, what this worldview fails to account for is what we are supposed to do when confronted with Evil. It avoids the question altogether. Perhaps it assumes that there is no such thing.

This is patently, demonstrably false. How do I know? Because I have had intimate experience of sociopaths. And when you've done that, you've looked evil in the eye. I won't go into great detail on this, since others have done a fine job of it. But the bottom line is this: they aren't like the rest of us. They are incapable of empathy, of any sort of real human connection. Instead, they understand only domination. They appear to be wired like reptiles, in a way that precludes mammalian warmth and bonding. Wild, dangerous characteristics mark them. They can lie without affect! They don't feel fear in the face of terrible consequences! They cannot love!

How weird that the human species is burdened with these beings! Somewhere between 1-5% of our total population they form, it seems. What a strange, cosmic sort of affliction! What does it tell us about our mission on this planet, our burden, our gift, our lesson? That we should somehow have to learn how to manage these creatures who masquerade as our brethren, but in fact are among us as wolves among sheep?

And learn this we must. Learn it we must. Every tribal or sectarian war in humanity's long, sordid, blood-soaked history has its origin in these reptiles in human skin, these Hermann Goerings and Josef Stalins and Henry Kissingers and Hillary Clintons. Every industrial and post-industrial horror afflicted on human beings around the world has its origins in these "people", these Morgans and Rockefellers and Krupps and Rothschilds. The most prodigiously murderous among them we learn by name. The more mundane we simply feel as a dark, miserable leavening throughout our species, the nameless killers and enforcers and witches and manipulators and hatchet-men who dog us so ruthlessly.

As wise as adders and as gentle as doves - so must we be. We must contain them. We must contain their Evil. As near as I can tell, they're not really even in the driver's seat - sociopaths appear to me to be nothing more than vessels for hateful, hurtful, hellish spirits. I guess you could say it's not entirely their fault.

We must approach them in a spirit of charity, but not of foolishness. We must pray for their souls' healing and at the same time we must not be taken in by them. But what must we do with them?

Do we kill them all? Somehow that seems incompatible with the rest of our program here, with the medicine drinking and divine knowledge and compassion and all. Do we lock them up until they die? Maybe. Certainly the studies that have been done on rapists and torturers indicate that these creatures have no interest whatsoever in changing. They will never not pose a deadly threat to all other human beings. Maybe a wise and decent incarceration is the best that any society can hope to achieve with them. A recognition that they are a severely damaged subset of our species that must be quarantined for the common good.

Do we feed them plant medicine? Maybe. I read a fascinating article in which the author describes how an offshoot of the Daime in Brazil is working with violent offenders to help them understand the meaning of their crimes. I think it's probably too early to tell what its results will be.

I don't know. I don't think anyone else does, either. Honestly, I think what I'm doing here is issuing a call to action to those who feel inclined to read this blog: let's drink and consider the problem. Let's ask Mother Ayahuasca for guidance on the question of sociopathy. She'll come up with something far better than we ever could, I'm sure of that.

Because what's absolutely clear to me is that it's one of the most important questions facing our species right now. Quite possibly the most important. Think about it. What do you experience, over and over, almost everywhere in the world you go? Good people. Decent people. People who are hospitable and kind to strangers, people with light in their eyes who want to do good things.

And yet where are we as a species? On the edge of the abyss, that's where. Why?

"It's the sociopaths, stupid."

Truly, the time that Jesus and John spoke of is here. All that has been hidden is being brought to light. And I assert that this is the most important of all of those hidden truths. It's the lynchpin. The world really is run by a cult of sociopaths. They're the ones causing all of the mayhem. This is the central fact that we are never supposed to understand. We're supposed to believe the lying propaganda of the sociopaths. The problem is always out there - it's the Russians, it's Iran, it's the terrorists, it's the landowners, it's immigrants, it's the Jews. There's a shepherd in Afghanistan who poses a deadly threat to my freedom.

No. This has always been the sociopaths' greatest victory. Conning humankind into believing that some sort of external tribal danger threatens us, when in fact the real danger has always been right next door. Perhaps it has been in our own home. A tribe of people that exists in all of the world's tribes, indistinguishable on the surface from everyone else, yet bearers of an evil so profound that it's on the verge of snuffing us out.

We have to decide if we're going to allow them to do that. To snuff out our light. Because that's what they're really after. They hate and fear the light in us. It has no home in them, and yet somewhere deep down they wish it did. Their reaction to this profound discomfort is simple and brutal: they want to put out the light. They want to destroy innocence and beauty.

We must turn into a race of beings that is no longer vulnerable to sociopaths. That's the first step. To recognize them for what they are and to make a decision down to the depths of our souls that we will no longer be victimized by them. If we do that, we render them powerless.

As medicine drinkers it is incumbent upon us to bear witness to these truths. Simple-minded New Age foolishness and wishful thinking is inadequate to the question of sociopathy. We must bring this question into the light of the medicine. Sunlight dries out the garbage. Once we solve this problem we will be much further down the road towards the bright future that awaits us.

God bless you, whoever you are.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Incredibly Messy Reality of Healing from Trauma

I've stated here before that I was severely traumatized as a kid. That is true. I won't go into the details. Doing so serves no purpose, and, bluntly put, it's no one's business but my own. But it is important to note the fact itself. Why?

Because the human race is drowning in trauma and the spiritual disease that results from it, and we will perish if we don't heal.

Think about what we've been through as a species. What we've put ourselves through. Just one aspect of it, maybe. Like war. Think about what it means that organized, state-sanctioned mass murder is accepted by human beings everywhere as normal. A really amazing author wrote a really amazing book on what killing does to a human being (a normal one, not a psychopath). It's a completely unnatural act, and it's a devastating one - for the perpetrator, the victim, the survivors, everybody. Then multiply that out the many millions of times that it occurs in our world. It stuns the heart and boggles the mind. Our world is drowning in it.

My experience mirrors that of the whole. So perhaps by relating this experience I can offer some benefit to those in need. Lord knows I could have used such a reconnaissance, but I never got that. As far as I knew I was an absolute trailblazer in terms of recovering from this level of trauma. In high school I knew other guys like me, guys who'd been hurt as bad as I had. But they didn't go to college like I did, they went to the military or jail or insane asylums.

In comparison to those guys I was lucky. Pay it forward.

I first got into therapy when I was 20. A bad breakup got me into it (funny how that can crack us like nothing else when we're young). However, it very quickly became apparent to me that I needed to deal with much deeper issues that underlay the profound sense of anger and sadness and fear and unease that had always been with me. I needed to address the abuse and neglect that I had suffered as a child. The appalling and total lack of love and connection that characterized my spectacularly dysfunctional family.

I jumped in. I didn't try and sweep it under the rug, pretend it wasn't as bad as it was. I just started doing the work.

And what work it was. Crying and shaking and shouting and hitting inanimate objects in rage. Feeling utterly consumed by rage, grief, and terror - all of the things I could not feel as I was actually undergoing the trauma. Letting it out. All of it, or as much as I could get to in a single session. Individual therapy. Group therapy. EMDR. Holotropic breathing. Meditation. Chi gong. Then, eventually, when the process had dragged on waaaayyy too long and my organism couldn't take the strain anymore, anti-depressants. Then 12-step programs, which, at their core, never even recognize the reality of trauma.

Fuck, what an ordeal. For over two decades I suffered like this. The means were insufficient to the end - healing a severely, fundamentally wounded human being. A statistical write-off, an outlier like me had the temerity to demand peace and happiness and fulfillment in this life, and neither the medicine nor the spirituality available in my culture could deliver the goods. Full. Stop.

I've talked about this before, my preparation and final journey to ayahuasca. What I've found in her fills me with a gratitude I can't begin to express. I wish I'd been ready for her 20 years ago. But, as they say, everything is always perfect, and I can't help but believe that my own life's trajectory also embodies this truth.

Ayahuasca is healing me of trauma. Completely. Not as quickly as I would have liked, certainly not as quickly as some of the absurd, irresponsible, marketing-driven nonsense on the Internet would suggest, but nonetheless effectively. And as I leave this phase of my life, the phase in which almost every day has been largely defined by PTSD and my attempts to cope with it and/or recover from it, I can't help but muse on my entire experience with it.

It has involved a huge amount of emotional release. Sobbing, yelling, smacking things, shaking in fear - a whole lot of very messy stuff. Here I am explicitly indebted to one man who showed me the effectiveness of emotional release therapy. And here I run up against one of society's most basic taboos - the honest, open expression of male emotion. When I was 6 years old I broke my arm. Fell off of a fence. The neighbor, a helpful sort who drove a truck and abused the shit out of his kids, came over to make sure I received the proper coaching - "Don't cry! Be a man!" But as marginal as this character was, he was enforcing one our culture's central tenets - men don't cry.

What a load of bullshit. And make no mistake - this is some costly bullshit. And some engineered bullshit. Refusing men their natural emotions turns them into caricatures - perhaps the thug, perhaps the eunuch, perhaps the poseur, perhaps the technocrat, perhaps the bum. Often the addict. But never, ever the whole man. And let us not imagine that our appointed overseers desire to have a race of men running around this planet, claiming their rightful sovereign authority over themselves and their families. Saying "No" to the vast loads of insane, totalitarian nonsense we are expected to swallow in this perverted society.

How I touched the third rail of our culture when I dared to undertake true healing! I left the reservation! And there were never any shortage of people to let me know how wrong I was for doing it. How fucked up I was for feeling my feelings. Sometimes they did it blatantly, literally telling me that it was  pathological for me to feel such intense sadness or anger. As if it were my fault. Sometimes they'd couch it in a feigned concern for my well-being - "Do you really think it's healthy to feel this sad? Have you thought about medication?" As if I had a choice in feeling these things or not. As if they deserved nothing better than being obscured by pharmaceuticals. One spectacular sort of dirtbag, one of the perpetrators/con men you occasionally find in an AA meeting, suggested that I was just talking about trauma as a way of manipulating people into feeling sympathy for me. As if I were like him.

That's the core of their reaction, always. Projection. There's nothing like honest emotional expression, especially "negative" emotions like sadness and anger, to set off buried trauma in others. And especially if it's a man doing the expressing. So it works like this:

1. One person expresses a "negative" emotion such as anger, fear, or grief.
2. The other person resonates on the same frequency because of some unresolved trauma in their own life, manifesting as an uncomfortable feeling.
3. To minimize their own discomfort, the second person makes the first bad and wrong.

It really is that simple. Once you see through it, you can't be tricked by it anymore. It has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them.

And it's a crime. It is keeping our species and our planet in bondage to dark forces. That vast pool of rage and despair that exists in humanity - that's what our overseers draw on to fuel their wars and their race hate and their social apartheid. That's what fuels their consumption machine that is consuming the planet - "I feel horrible. Maybe this new product will help."

There's only one way out - we have to let it all out. How perfect that ayahuasca is so effective at purgation. Don't be confused by the spaceships and the dolphins and the patterns and all the other stuff, if you happen to experience such things. What it's really about is expelling things - out of every orifice you have, out of your very organs and pores. Out of your heart and mind, out of your soul.

OK, that's not really true. Once you get enough of the garbage out of the way, you truly can receive divine instruction and power. But don't get it twisted. There's no way to avoid that first stage, the unpleasant one. Not if you're going to receive everything these master teachers have to give you.

Embrace it. Revel in the agony. Give the Devil his due.

Then move beyond it. That's important. It's possible to get stuck in the darkness, and that doesn't serve anyone. Please believe me when I tell you I have intimate knowledge of this danger. For me, navigating between the Scylla and Charybdis of squelching productive emotional release and becoming lost in a morbid version of it has been a tricky balancing act, indeed.

And the medicine helps me see this, helps me make the incredibly subtle and difficult decisions I must make during this process. God how I love it! I feel so in love with ayahuasca today - Mother Ayahuasca, Hoasca, Yage, Vegetal, Santo Daime - all of the many forms she takes. In every one of them she is cleansing and purifying and strengthening the soul of humanity.

I truly wish this experience for you, too.

God bless you, whoever you are.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

We Must Be Soldiers of the Light, Part 2

It's not exactly news that our species is in a profound crisis. War, environmental catastrophe, endemic poverty, political collapse, economic disaster, perversion and degeneracy at every level of society. Most people remain in a state of panic and helplessness around these events, trapped at the material level of perception (and hence convinced of their own insignificance), never understanding the root cause of all the chaos.

As medicine drinkers we must go deeper. We must understand that there is a spiritual war going on right now. It is being fought over the future of our planet - whether or not the Earth will remain able to support life. It is being fought over our future as a species - whether we will continue living in the degraded, ignorant, violent slave state which has been the human condition for as long as history records, or whether we will realize our true nature as spiritual beings having a physical experience and live accordingly. Whether we will continue even to exist as a species.

In this spiritual war there are forces of darkness and forces of light. Thus we are left with 3 possible courses of action:

1. Try to remain neutral.
2. Join the side of darkness.
3. Join the side of light.

I would contend that number one is always an illusion and impossibility, since alleged neutrality always redounds to the benefit of the perpetrator. Silence is complicity.

If you're interested in number two, you're probably not reading this blog. If you are and you've come here by mistake, then by all means accept our prayers and best wishes for your soul, because you need them.

Thus we are left with no choice at all - we must be soldiers of the light. Sounds great. What does it mean?

First of all, let us be clear: it never, ever means harming our follows. If you've picked up a gun in your attempt to do the Creator's will, you're far beyond the help of my modest little ayahuasca blog. It's a tautology: a loving and beneficent creator can never wish the destruction of his and her creation. Any other creator is not possible to conceive, since the prerequisite of creation is care. So we can all take a deep breath and relax: our true God wants us to be happy, joyous, free, and at peace. The crusaders and jihadists of the world are lost souls, serving a lying, demonic entity who masquerades as the Supreme Being. The gnostics were absolutely right: Yahweh is a fraud and a devil.

Fair enough. We have discussed what it is not, but what is it? First of all, it is caring enough to know ourselves. Truly, deeply know ourselves. How are we to remove the splinter from our brother's eye if we are blinded by the beam in our own? We must recognize our faults, explicitly, humbly, and honestly. Our shit really does stink. Having acknowledged and digested these painful and inconvenient truths about ourselves, we must then invite our Creator into the deepest recesses of our soul to clean us on the inside.

This is the purgative stage of the ayahuasca journey, and it's tough - really tough. It requires a warrior to even contemplate it, let alone see it through to completion. But if you would have freedom, real freedom in your life, there is no alternative. Whether through the medicine or another means, you must abandon yourself to this process - self-knowledge, cleansing, and divine transformation.

How fortunate that ayahuasca is such a profound help to us in these tasks! Funny how it works out that way. The 12 Steps get the theory right, but those programs lack the medicine, the sacrament - the actual agent of transformation.

Having cleaned our container, what comes next? For most of us there is a selfish component. We must take care of ourselves - neglected careers need tending, unfulfilling relationships need mending or abandonment, personal dreams need nurturing and nourishment. This is all valid and necessary.

But it is not enough. I would submit that a necessary component of an authentic medicine journey absolutely must be a deep commitment to making things better on this planet. To being of service. To joining the Army of Light.

Lord knows our task is herculean enough. We need all the help we can get.

Here is my own belief about the matter. If it were a question strictly of numbers, we'd be fucked. If a majority of the humanoids on this planet today - the thoughtless, ignorant consumer golems who swill beer and chase tail and whip in and out of traffic and consume reality TV and don't give a shit when some goddamn drone strike kills another 50 kids in Yemen - if a majority of those people had to suddenly and miraculously undertake a kundalini yoga practice, or become chi gong students, or start drinking ayahuasca regularly, or do anything at all in order to know themselves and hence collectively lift the broken and impoverished consciousness of our species, we'd be fucked. It's not gonna happen.

Fortunately, it doesn't have to. That's not how evolution works, it seems. Here I am radically and admittedly out of my depth - I am no scientist. However, many very intelligent and accomplished people are describing a similar process, a new way of looking at species development. Rupert Sheldrake, for instance. It seems that when some critical mass of members of a species come to a realization, all of them get it. As if by magic. As if they were all helping to manifest some idea of themselves that both 1) exists independently, beyond themselves; and 2) is affected by their own development. Something akin to Platonic Form, but conceived as a conversation instead of a decree.

There appears to be some evidence for this idea. I'll be honest though, I don't care so much about that. I like the idea because I know in my heart that it's true. I like it because it conforms to my own experience of life - what I have been through myself and what I see mirrored back to me in everyone who chooses this path. That we are all evolving beings, and that we are in charge of the direction in which we evolve. And that entire human systems (especially families) can be healed by one person fully channeling Divine Love.

What pure, beautiful Grace.

It seems that, in stark contrast to the Newtonian/positivist/materialist intellectual savagery we've been taught as gospel for 300 years in the West, mind trumps matter. Matter is just stuff. Mind is what organizes it. And it is a noun that is always correctly expressed in the singular.

We are all conductors of Universal Mind. Whether we take responsibility for that fact is another matter entirely, but fact it remains. Realizing this fact is the central purpose of our incarnation on this planet, in these bodies.

The satanists, the dark occultists with their bizarre and unholy elite rituals who run this whole show, they know this. They don't ever lose sight of the fact that mind dictates matter. Their minds are powerful and united in service of the Dark Principle. They have been for a long time.

We must match them and overcome them. Not through hateful combat. Not through attempting their destruction. Through loving them and illuminating the darkness in them. First in ourselves, then through every broken, tormented being that desires healing from this medicine. Those of us who feel this call must answer it - we must offer ourselves in charity for the spiritual elevation of our species.

We must love them out of existence.

We must also hold deeply and firmly in our hearts and in our minds a beautiful vision - for this planet and for our species. A world without armies and jails and kleptocratic corporate criminals enslaving us for their own tiny benefit. A world without hunger and murder and rape and poverty and child abuse. A beautiful garden that we all can share.

We absolutely can have it. Never believe the cynics and the cowards who would snuff out these dreams in the name of "realism". They seek justification for their own abandonment of the struggle, that's all. They won't get it from me.

This is not some idle, flaky hippy nonsense. This is architecture. Again, mind precedes matter. As a species, we dream our reality into existence. It is high past time for a new one. Let's bring it into being. Now.

God bless you, whoever you are.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

We Must Be Soldiers of the Light, Part 1

We must be soldiers of the Light
We must not shirk this call
10 million arms of destiny
5 million souls in all

We drink this holy sacrament
She shows us who we are
We take this knowledge to the streets
We bring it from the stars

When troubles come, and come they will
We ask you for your aid
Divine protection all around
To shelter what we've made

Beginnings of a brand new world
That's here for us at last
A million years of peace on Earth
Conclusion of our past

Embrace this vision, let it seep
Into your heart and mind
Then drink, friend, drink, and drink again
And live the Truth you find

[sorry, I just couldn't help myself - R]

God bless you, whoever you are.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Reality of Spiritual Warfare

Ayahuasca has changed my perception in so many ways that it is difficult to count them all. One of the most basic is that I have been shown the reality of spiritual warfare.

It sounds crazy to even say - "spiritual warfare". My mind races to images of witch doctors, rattles, spells, and incantations. Every bit of my cultural programming rejects it as primitive and superstitious. Perhaps it is. But is it wrong?

I don't think so. I first heard about it when I was in Peru. One of the facilitators recounted seeing an entity leave someone during ceremony - a small, dark golem-like creature that bounced around the maloka until one of the shamans banished it from the space. At the time, I thought "Wow, that's wild." It didn't really go any deeper, though. It was just a story.

It became much more immediate to me as I started really exploring my current path. A while ago my community received a visiting elder from the rainforest. This man's specialty is waging spiritual warfare - casting out demons and lower intelligences, rebuking them, giving them ayahuasca to drink, and sending them towards the light. I was very frightened to even attend his ceremonies. They are noted for turning the participants into media - vessels for suffering spirits to inhabit briefly in order to experience the healing of the medicine.

Sounds scary as hell, doesn't it? It sure did to me. But, as is my wont, I went anyway. I guess I've learned over the years that the level of fear I feel about an experience usually corresponds to its healing potential.

That equation was again verified for me. During two ceremonies I learned a number of things. The first of these is that I appear to be a natural medium. As soon as the space was opened to incorporation, I had a suffering spirit enter me and do its thing. And what a thing it was - thrashing about, pounding the floor, roaring like an animal, and then collapsing into a pool of wrenching tears. All of that rage was just a way of covering up a sea of grief, loneliness, and despair. And then, through me, the entity drank ayahuasca and moved out of my body.

At first it was bewildering and terrifying. I had had control of my body taken from me by another being. Naturally, I flashed back to other times in my life when I did not control my own body - the times when I was being abused as a child. So the experiences blended together, and it just felt like another violation.

But by the conclusion of the weekend, I had a very different perspective. For one thing, I felt totally clean on the inside - like my heart and soul had been scrubbed with a wire brush. I had incorporated a total of 4 times, and the passage of these creatures through my being had had an unbelievably cleansing, useful effect on me. The depression I was suffering at the time left me completely. In clearly seeing these tormented spirits in me who were not me, and then having them leave, I was able to better understand who I am. Where I end and they begin.

For another, I realized that several if not all of the entities had already been with me for a long time. We carry them around, you know. Sometimes they apparently follow our families for generations, these dark, fearful, angry beings who feed on our torment. I appear to have been a real fun-house for them. But they have been given notice. They must leave - whether to the light or to more darkness is their choice, but I'm onto them and they're no longer welcome in me.

I also learned that we shouldn't fear them. All of the drama they stir up is just distraction, designed to draw our attention away from their fundamental weakness and terror and confusion. Truly, they only have as much power as we give them.

And isn't that always the case with the dark principle? There's a reason he's called the Lord of Lies. All of the satanic enchantments and delusions are designed with one purpose - to lead us away from the true love and majesty and power of God.

That was the central lesson of all for me - God has all power. And it's not just some tidy, abstract, antiseptic "God-force", it's palpable angelic presence and embodiment - St. Michael, Jesus, Mary, St. John, Yemanja. Guardians and guides, angels and archangels, all of the beneficent beings of the Celestial Court. They surround us always. All we have to do is call on them.

Good Lord - do you realize how I sound to myself right now? Like some kind of pitiful, deluded New Age fool. Like all of the crazy mystical nonsense I used to mock as an angry young punk rocker. I'd never say these things if they weren't absolutely true. I have felt their truth down to the core of my being. Their truth has set me free.

At this point my conscience demands that I make a disclaimer - I could never have come through such a potentially disastrous experience so successfully without a lot of help. And make no mistake - it is potentially disastrous. To have one of these malevolent beings enter you and stay there - that can be a real problem. But, guided by incredibly wise and powerful teachers, and held in the firmness and love of my tradition, I have successfully made it through several of these ceremonies now. All clear on the other side. Much, much clearer, in fact.

We are absolutely in the midst of a spiritual war right now. On one side are arrayed all the forces of darkness - the demonic entities who would rather see this planet incinerated than see humanity evolve spiritually and take its rightful place among the stars; their enforcers in the Bohemian Grove crowd; and all of their useful idiots. On the other side we have all the forces of light - The Supreme Creator, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, St. John, St. Michael, the Buddha, all of the angels and archangels, and all Light and Love in the whole Universe. All of our brothers and sisters who join us in this fight. In their thousands and tens and hundreds of thousands and in their millions they join us.

Medicine drinkers of the world: a call to arms! Love is our sword and our shield. We cannot help but win. Victory belongs to the Light. Light illuminates the darkness.

A beautiful, sweet, inspiring friend in my community, a man who truly walks this path, recently gave me some good news. He said that it had been unequivocally and repeatedly revealed to him in ceremony: the battle is already won. In the Astral it has been decided; the aftershocks of the fight are simply making themselves felt now in the material realm, with all of the bloodshed and mess that always entails for our broken species.

I choose to agree with him, because I have received the very same news. I hope you get it, too.

God bless you, whoever you are.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Choice of the Medicine Drinker

The overwhelming force of the ayahuasca experience presents us with a pretty simple choice. On the one hand, we can surrender to it, opening ourselves up to the full meaning of the word "entheogen" - having Divine Presence enter every level of our being and remove every obstacle to its path in the process. On the other, we can learn to manage it.

"You shall know the tree by its fruit."

It's pretty obvious when we meet people who've chosen the former path - they have a sweetness and a light that is unmistakable. The word gets thrown about in a trite and abominable way, but in this case it's true - they are childlike. They are innocent of the crimes of this world. They are beautiful on the inside, whatever their outsides look like.

The second category can be a bit trickier. The managers of the ayahuasca experience often have a pretty good rap. It's a part of their management. They can sound good. But their actions are another story - behavior does not match rhetoric, in alarming ways. Inevitably one finds significant holes in their spiritual development.

Were they to examine these holes, they would experience profound discomfort. The avoidance of this discomfort is the reason people choose to manage the ayahuasca experience.

This management can occur at every level - physical (purging, not purging), mental (allowing or refusing to admit difficult teachings), emotional (allowing or resisting tears or other expression), spiritual (limiting or not the amount of God we allow in). We can choose not to drink at all. We can choose to smoke marijuana to mitigate the full impact of the experience.

Hah! You see where I'm going with this, don't you?

This is what makes the second category the trickiest of all - almost all of us fall into it, in one way or another. Who among us can indefinitely sustain the full force of ayahuasca dismantling? People crack up from such stuff.

The vast majority of us, particularly those of us with serious trauma in our past, have to manage our relationship to ayahuasca. To do otherwise is suicidal, and in some cases homicidal. I recently visited an ayahuasca community that had its leader murdered a few years ago - they let a young man drink with them who never should have done it, and he snapped. His was a case in which management was neglected, with terrible consequences.

For the committed medicine drinker, then, management is a necessary evil. Perhaps the crucial distinction lies between the strategic and the tactical. At the strategic level we must abandon ourselves to God as expressed through this Holy Sacrament. We must strive to have our tiny individual wills utterly supplanted by His and Hers. We must completely let go of any attempt to manage the ultimate outcome - union with the Divine.

We must also recognize that this is a very long and difficult process. This brings us to the level of the tactical, at which management is not only forgivable but necessary. We must eat this meal in bites. All the nutrition in the world won't do us any good if we choke to death taking it in.

And the entire time we are using our various tricks and tools to manage this essentially unmanageable experience, we must remember that nothing can or should stop our ultimate total surrender. That's the real trick. Never to confuse form and essence.

Perhaps that first group I mentioned, the ones who have been so utterly cleaned and purified by the medicine, were simply very adept at their management of the ayahuasca experience. Perhaps they had a keen, persistent grasp of the difference between the strategic and the tactical. Perhaps they said a prayer something like this:

"God, please bring me to you in a way that I can manage."

God bless you, whoever you are.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Ayahuasca and Marijuana, Part 2

Some months ago, after over 13 years of abstinence, I began smoking marijuana again. I did not do it lightly. I did it because I didn't really have any other choice.

I found myself in a bit of predicament. I had definitively stepped away from the world of 12-step programs and into the world of plant medicine, in a way that I found to be exclusive. I did not regret my decision at all, but after almost a year of drinking ayahuasca I was having serious doubts about the sustainability of my new path. On the one hand, the chronic and unmanageable effects of PTSD had driven me to drinking medicine to begin with, and I had seen real improvement in my life as a result. On the other, the process of clarification was itself becoming unmanageable, with each ceremony bringing up yet another layer of trauma and the negative emotion around it, when the last one had not yet cleared away.

And then a funny thing started happening. I began to get clear intuitive messages from ayahuasca that I should try smoking marijuana again. I talked about it with some trusted friends in my community, and then, finally, I did.

I am now a year into my experiment with resuming marijuana use, and here's what I have to say about it: it's great. I find her to be the perfect compliment to ayahuasca. In the warm, comforting, maternal, subtly visionary space she provides I am able to process the trauma and heartbreak that ayahuasca brings up in the first place. For me, the experience of ayahuasca tends towards the stark: truth, truth, and then more truth again. I find that marijuana softens all of those sharp edges and transforms the whole experience into something that actually works in my life.

It's funny. When I combined marijuana with alcohol, the effect was synergistic and debilitating. Marijuana accentuated the toxic effects of the booze in a way that was truly dysfunctional. Today, when I combine her with ayahuasca, the effect is the opposite: she serves to spread ceremony out throughout my day-to-day life in a way that is useful, beautiful, and inspiring.

A single ayahuasca ceremony can present a bewildering volume of information to assimilate. I find that I need more help unpacking it. A daily meditation practice helps with this greatly. So does smoking pot. Sometimes when I am high tears will come, cleansing me of a trauma that has been locked in my body for decades. Sometimes a lesson that was not fully obvious from the last ceremony will suddenly be brought into relief in a way that is clear and unmistakable. Sometimes a brand new insight will be given to me.

Always my creativity is stimulated, with music, writing, and carpentry all flowing more easily. Always my fatherhood becomes more patient, gentle, and forgiving. Always my work output is enhanced, with seemingly intractable problems suddenly unraveling themselves in the visionary light of Santa Maria.

Do I get all of this free of charge? I do not. My short-term memory is undeniably impaired, which requires me to manage appointments and scheduling more diligently. From time to time I find myself slipping into more addictive patterns of usage, in ways that feel unhealthy. I find that periodic fasts help greatly with this. In addition, ayahuasca herself tends to correct me, putting me back on the correct path and mitigating the danger of addiction.

Perhaps most troubling, I have felt the need to keep this behavior hidden from my daughter, which can result in the feeling of sneaking around her. Honestly, I blame this one primarily on the sickness of our society at large, which does not (at least in Texas) sanction the use of this plant, and in fact criminalizes it. Eventually, when the time is right and she's old enough, I'll tell her about it.

But when I think about where I was a year ago, these side-effects seem pretty insignificant. My depression has left me. I can sleep at night. My creative output has increased enormously. I am no longer troubled by thoughts of suicide.

Just as important, I have felt no urge to resume drinking alcohol. Not even the slightest. When I told my old AA sponsor about smoking pot, he only made one request of me: that I call him if I were ever thinking about drinking again. I'm happy to say that I haven't had to.

In the combination of ayahuasca and marijuana, I have found a blend of plant medicine that truly works for me. I am very grateful for that.

God bless you, whoever you are.