I recently attended a yagé ceremony in an undisclosed location in Panama. I believe it used to be legal to consume here, but it no longer is, mostly due to Western influences on government. That said, ceremonies are still held on a regular basis, except now they are organised discretely. It's sad it has come to this given the powerful healing benefits of these plants.
Attending ceremonies in a house is a very different experience to attending ceremonies at Rythmia. There is no "VIP mattress" experience. Instead it is BYO BBB—bed, bucket and bog roll! And lying on a yoga mat on a hard tile floor for 6–8 hours is not that fun. That said, the ceremonies themselves were still beautiful.
Since there were fewer people, the organisers were less strict with the rules. We had permission from Mother Earth to purge outside into tree roots if we could make it off our mats. There was less emphasis on holding the noble silence at all times, which was good and bad, and it did feel a lot more intimate given the size of the space. I wouldn't say it was better or worse overall, just different. These things aside, I was grateful that I'd been to Rythmia first. I will discuss why in my next post.
Taita Querubin and Taita David. Source
The two ceremonies on the Friday and Saturday nights were supposed to be led by Taita Querubin Queta Alvarado, a 105-year-old native Colombian shaman, and one of the most respected and the highest authorities among the A’i Cofán Indians. Unfortunately, he was unable to make it due to a law just passed in Colombia allowing fracking on their land. This led to an emergency meeting called by the Elders to discuss saving their land. No one attending the ceremony was upset about this. Saving the jungle and Mother Earth obviously takes top priority. Instead, the ceremonies were led by his son, Taita David Queta. He was coming anyway to assist so this did not change. The medicine itself was prepared by Taita Querubin.
On Friday at around 23:30 I took my first cup, which was only a centimetre or so shot. This stuff was strong so Taita David was not pouring large volumes. And unlike the yagé at Rythmia, it was not gritty. It still didn't taste as good as the ayahuasca teas, but it was definitely not as awful-tasting as Mitra's brew.
My intentions tonight were "show me my past lives" and "show me who I'm supposed to become". I've been curious about my past lives since Rythmia. My friend Vanessa had a very mild experience all week. When she asked Mitra about it after the final ceremony, he said that she was very spiritual in a past life and that person healed her lineage. As a result, she now has to approach the medicine slowly, or it will be too much for her given what she'd previously achieved.
After taking the medicine, I lay down on my mat and not much happened. I wasn't sure if Taita David would call for second cups, but I felt like it had been a while since I took the first drink so I went up on my own. Not long after this, I felt like someone was holding down right my arm and then my feet. I sensed the pressure was coming from was my spirit helpers, who I'd called upon along with Mama Aya to keep me safe. I think they were taking it to the extreme so I asked them to release me so I could work with Mama Aya. Their job was to stop any negative entities attaching themselves to me, not to stop me from doing anything. Then my body started twitching. It was somewhere between shivering and convulsions. I knew Mama Aya wanted me to get off my mat as the twitching got stronger with the music. She even tugged at my eye mask. I kept resisting saying I was comfortable lying down, but she insisted.
I removed my eye mask and saw one of the other women dancing. Since I wouldn't be alone I got up and danced with her, even though I don't love dancing. There were two lessons here. First, Mama Aya wanted me to step outside of my comfort zone, and second, she was telling me to be an active participant in my own life. I know I am very capable of making things happen, but I am also very comfortable in my routines and not interacting with anyone. Her point was to 'lighten up' because she knows that more often than not, I enjoy it when I do.
I lay back down and when the visions started I tried to focus on my past lives. However, Mama Aya kept showing me things I had no interest in. I realised this was a lesson in how much time I waste consuming content I have no interest in, or which doesn't serve me.
I asked her once again to show me past lives. I saw myself on a theme park ride and I knew this would take me to them. However, the ride wouldn't start and she kept distracting me with pretty visions. I was stuck in a loop of trying to see my past lives then getting distracted until I realised she was showing me that I have problems focusing. I am easily distracted by shiny, pretty things compared to whatever "work" I should be doing. I will put things off if they aren't urgent.
By now I was getting frustrated since she hadn't shown me anything I don't already know. How many mirrors was I going to have to stare into here? Then I saw a row of lights and when I got the answer right about myself she switched one of them on. I assumed I'd have to get them all to start the ride. In hindsight, the characteristics she showed me are the main things limiting my progress. I guess I should work on them.
I started playing with her by saying things like "don't I meet the height requirements for this ride?". She would just respond with more distractions, but now I was onto her game. I kept bringing my focus back. She then showed me an image of a young woman, around 20 years old. She didn't linger though, and I couldn't get her back. I can only assume this was one of my past lives since Mama Aya rarely gives me photo quality visions. Most of them are very artistic. However, she would not tell me who this woman was. She then refused to take me to my past lives saying that it's not important for me to know. Perhaps my lineage has been repaired already so there's nothing for me to do, I don't know.
Not one to dwell, I moved onto my second intention, "show me who I am supposed to become". Mama Aya then gave me visions of plants and told me I need to plant things. This makes sense. I mean, I did become Mother Nature at Rythmia and I seem to have a strong connection to the earth each time I take the medicine. I've also been thinking a lot about hydroponics and growing micro-greens lately. Then all this feminine energy came out of my womb and began lovingly embracing and fixing the Earth. Does my potential green thumb have a role to play in this? Mama Aya seems to think so.
As an aside, I thought the way she presented this vision was interesting since I'd started my period during the week. However, it is generally quite random and I wasn't even sure if I was bleeding at the time since I wasn't earlier in the day. I asked her if she minded me taking the medicine while menstruating and her answer was a resounding no. She told me the problems with menstruating women lie with the shamans not her, which I'll discuss in my next post. To make a point of this, most the visions I received tonight originated in my womb. She was celebrating my period, not condemning it.
Returning to my future, she said I've made good investment decisions and that I will do good things with the money that is coming to me. Now I just had to show patience (my lesson from Night 1) and wait.
At Rythmia, I heard that Mama Aya can be playful and funny and tonight I experienced that. I was having a great time with her, so I asked her what she thought about Bitcoin. She told me she loves it and gave me a trippy Bitcoin vision. She says it's one of the best things we've invented since it was created with good intentions. She also loves that it can be powered with renewable energy.
Mama Aya then contrasted Bitcoin with gold. She doesn't like that for generations, relatively few people have hoarded most of it. This was not her intention when she gave it to us. She wanted us to create things with it that would make our lives better. Because we're not, she's taking away new supplies.
Since I didn't have any more lessons to learn for now, I allowed myself to be completely distracted by her visions. I was back on the ride, which was now working. I can't remember them all except my favourite one. I was riding around in a chocolate carriage with the Easter Bunny. Obviously I licked the carriage, but sadly I didn't get a realistic chocolate taste in my mouth. That really would have been amazing!
There were two musicians in ceremony that night. At some point they walked around playing these flute/recorder type instruments. The sound was delightful and I wanted to see them so I removed my eye mask. For the first time since I've taken ayahuasca, the room was lit up like one of my visions. There were colours everywhere and these two guys were like magical musical beings floating through the room giving off light and sound. It was so awesomely trippy. After that, I didn't need my mask. I was having visions with my eyes open or closed.
This amazing, colourful theme park ride went on for a while. Then Mama Aya said to me "you've been on the ride too long and you know all the movement is making you sick. You're going to have to get off and vomit at some point." I really didn't want to get up so I started bargaining with her. I rolled onto my side to see if the nausea would subside. It didn't. I then asked if she could give me diarrhea later. She said no. Like any good mother, she then told me that I should just get it over with because I'll feel better after. I knew she was right but I still didn't want to get up. It was here I received the fifth lesson about myself. I like to control things in my life including my body. Upon realising this I said to Mama Aya, "I'm going to have to purge control aren't I?" She responded with "yes".
I made it outside and just onto the grass before vomiting. The first part was just that. Vomit from an upset stomach from being on the ride for too long. But then it turned into a purge as I released my need to control. One of the assistants had come out and was holding space for me while this was happening. I could see him doing something and it did help. There was a calmness around me. However, I felt like I couldn't quite release everything. I said to Mama Aya, "I can't get this last little bit out but I have nothing left in my stomach". She told me it was ok and I could go back inside. I emptied my bucket into the roots of a tree and returned to my mat. As soon as I lay down I realised that last little bit was me even wanting to control when I vomit. That was the remaining piece and I felt good afterwards. Of course, Mama Aya was right; the visions just got better and more intense after my spew.
To end the ceremony, Taita David gave everyone an individual blessing. I watched him perform blessings on the people opposite me. As he started on them, their faces would change from normal to Día de Muertos and I could see the energy he was releasing from the top of their heads and/or down their arms. Each person had a different colour. Some had a lot coming off, and some only a little. It makes me wish I could see auras, because I'd love to know if the colours were the same.
I was definitely tripping the most out of anyone at this point. When he got to me I was smiling and swaying to his icaro and the music. There was no bad energy coming off me tonight. I know I've said this twice before, but this really was the best night of my life. I was in total bliss and the visions I was getting outdid the previous "best nights of my life" at Rythmia.
Taita David then did a second touch-up round of blessings. Interestingly, when got to the guy next to me he did not brush off anything from the side closest to me. The negative energy leaving his body was exiting his other side. When Taita David got to me, I don't think he brushed anything away. Instead, he placed his hand on my head while singing the icaro, and I let him replenish his energy since I was oozing it.
I was still feeling very energetic and tripping hard when the sun rose a short time later. I needed to earth myself outside for quite a while to calm down. Eventually I returned to normal and could go back to my hostel for a shower and a nap. I would return that evening for the second ceremony.
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