My stay in gorgeous Peru is coming to an end. I have my last ceremony (San Pedro) tomorrow, will take a couple of days to recuperate and integrate, and will then be flying back to Barcelona on Tuesday (first class, naturally). My trip here has been infinitely valuable. The Melody that’s returning is, in many ways, a completely different person than the one that left. Don’t worry, the changes have all been good – I am more of Who I Really Am than I’ve ever been before.
With that in mind, I think it’s the perfect time to answer a question that was asked in the comments of last week’s blog post. Why would anyone engage in this method of growth in the first place?
Awesome “Just Call Me A” asked: “If I may ask, why exactly are you interested in such ceremonies that use hallucinogens, for those of us who do not plan on using them? I am trying to understand their use. Is their use sought out for the feeling they provide? Is that how one is supposed to feel when close with Source (even though I know it to be as sheer peace)? Is what is happening actually the cognitive part of the brain getting out of the way and allowing the drug to put them in a place they would find difficult to reach themselves and thus make certain realizations? The after effects are kind of severe, but they are seen as a cleansing and as resistance being shifted. Do the hallucinogens accelerate the process, and that is why they are used? I know it takes longer to achieve these states without the plants; it just seems more preferable to me, but I would like to know the actual purpose of the plants in ceremonies.”
Dear Awesome A,
Thank you for your wonderful question. First of all, I want to make it very clear that no one HAS TO use entheogens in order to facilitate their growth. They are tools, one particular set of tools out of many. I’m happy, however, to tell you why I use these powerful plant teachers, although I do so in conjunction with many other methods.
Personally, I find the term “hallucinogen” a little inaccurate, although one is welcome to argue with me on that. Here’s why: A hallucination is something that is considered unreal, a vision made up by the mind. I don’t believe the visions that these plant teachers help us to access to be hallucinations. They may be symbolic; for example, when I saw a huge snake swallow me whole, the snake was not real, and I didn’t really get swallowed. Nor was it a premonition of some snake swallowing to come. But the image and experience were representative of something – in my case a surrender to the journey. I realize that this is semantics – potato, potahto, but I find the distinction important. If they are hallucinations, they are hallucinations with deep MEANING.
Discovering the illusion
For me, these plant medicines help me to discover, face and surpass the illusion – what we consider to be physical reality. It’s not that this reality is fake, per se, it’s just that it’s only a fraction of what’s really going on. The illusion is that we are limited to this one perception, and I’ve come to understand that we, very clearly, are not. The illusion is that we are small, insignificant, and powerless. The illusion is that we are alone, separate, lost and unsafe.
Our perception of physical reality is only a tiny percentage of all that there really is. Ayahuasca and other plant teachers give me access to a great deal more of those percentage points (not all, mind you, I’m not sure the human brain could contain it all, but more.) They help me to move into an altered state of consciousness where I am able to consciously perceive the interconnectedness of everything (humans, plants, animals, the earth, etc.), and even interact with those connections. Again, this is not the only way to achieve that goal, but it’s one of the ones that seem to work well for me right now.
Much of the work is emotional, yes, and I am able to achieve states of feeling in the ceremonies that I then carry with me into my “normal” life. For example, if I experience the feeling of unconditional love in a ceremonial setting, I will remember that feeling and am then able, if I so choose, to reach for that feeling in my waking state. I don’t have to, of course, and doing so can represent a considerable amount of work. But once I’ve found a certain frequency (such as unconditional love), once I know what it feels like, it’s easier to find it again.
Being slapped by resistance
Another reason that I use these plant teachers is because I am able to manifest, in a safe and non-physical setting, any hidden resistance I have to fully becoming Who I Really Am (which is the goal of this work). I may, for example, set the intention to release any beliefs I still hold that are keeping me from fully connecting with my body. This was actually an intention of mine before one of my ceremonies on this trip. In that case, Ayahuasca brought up the belief that was still holding me back. I was no longer afraid of death, I’d cleared that ages ago, but it turns out that I was afraid of decay. I was afraid of declining. I had no idea that I had this limiting belief; it wasn’t something that had ever been triggered. Aya helped me to clear it (she turned it into a medieval dragon and slayed it). For my part I had to be willing to allow that to happen; I had to be willing to let it go (I was very willing).
Would I have found that belief eventually on my own? Of course, I would’ve. The ceremony just facilitated that discovery and release.
The thing about these teachers is that they help to bring up our resistance in a way we can’t ignore. You say “show me”, you drink and then you will be shown. You are not forced to release anything – that’s a choice, although you are made strongly aware of just how uncomfortable it is to hold on to those beliefs and perspectives. But it’s much easier to let something go once you’ve become aware of it. You can, of course, refuse to believe what you are being shown. It’s not easy when it’s slapping you right in the face, but you still have free will.
Turbo charging growth
All in all, plant medicines are a way to facilitate quantum leaps – a super-fast way to release resistance. This is why they tend to be so intense and uncomfortable. Keep in mind that while Ayahuasca and her brethren can show you your resistance, they cannot release it for you. You still have to do the work. This is not a magic pill. The methods I generally teach on this blog are a bit slower but therefore much gentler than this type of work. This might sound hypocritical. After all, why wouldn’t I just teach what I practice? Well, actually, I do. I don’t JUST use plant medicines. I engage in this type of work about once a year, when I am called to it. I take the entire month off, and allow myself the luxury of intensive, turbo charged growth. The rest of the year, the other eleven months, I use all the other methods I talk about on this blog.
The time may come when I no longer resonate with this set of tools. I’m ok with that. Most of you won’t ever be called to use entheogens. And that’s totally ok, too. Like I said, there are so many ways to do this, some faster than others, some more gentle than others, and choosing which methods to use is an intensely personal process. I haven’t shared my experiences with you this month in order to entice you to go to Peru and drink the brew, nor am I endorsing this method of growth. But I’ve promised to be as authentic as I can, and therefore I would find it hypocritical of me not to peel back the curtain and let you into this part of my world. What you do with that information is entirely up to you.
For those of you who would like to know more about this type of work, I’m happy to report that I successfully completed a video interview with my Ayahuascero (shaman) Javier this morning, and will be posting that video in the coming months. Javier will be away for a couple of months and has asked me not to upload the video until he’s back and able to answer any questions that come his way as a result of the interview. The good news is that this delay will mean that I’ll have a chance to get the video transcribed, so you’ll be able to read as well as listen to our conversation.
For those of you who really can’t wait, you can read Javier’s book Soul Medicine of the Amazon Jungle: A Comprehensive and Practical Guide (not an affiliate link). I highly recommend it for those of you who resonate with plant medicine. It’s the best book on Ayahuasca that I’ve ever read.
Although my time here has been incredible, I’m really looking forward to getting back to my apartment, to first rest and integrate and then get back to work. I’ll be finishing the final draft of my book, will be answering a slew of messages (my inbox is overflowing), and will go about sharing this new, delicious vibration with my coaching clients (and you on this blog, as well, of course!).
One week from now, I’ll be all yours again. Until then, I wish you all love and light and the smooshiest of happy shiny puppy hugs!