After the sheer bliss I received from Mama Aya last night, I really wasn't sure what to expect from this next ceremony. I'm always worried that I'm about to get a dark night in hell because, so far, my experiences have been really positive so I must be due. My intention therefore, was quite general: "show me what I'm pretending not to know". I heard the amazing Tina "Kat" Courtney say this in one of her podcasts and I really liked it. I also remembered that it would be Mother's Day once we passed midnight, so I added in "connect me with the women in my family for Mother's Day".
Tonight's ceremony was a lot smaller than last nights. We all fit in the one room, which was the living/dining/kitchen area. There were two spaces left for me. I could either be near the bathroom, with a direct line of sight to the shamans and the altar, or near the fridge with some cabinets blocking my view. I chose the second spot since I don't like being close to the altar. I find the shaman's energy is generally too strong for me so I prefer being further away. This turned out to be a good decision because soon after the ceremony started, a woman came out of the bathroom after purging and collapsed beside the door.
Apart from wondering if I was going to get something dark from Mama Aya, my apprehensiveness tonight also related to my period. Part of me felt guilty about attending ceremony since the Colombians generally forbid menstruating women from taking the medicine. However, another part of me thought if some shamans—particularly female shamans—are ok with it, then it must come down to stigma, so why miss out?
I knew from last night that Mama Aya was ok with my period so it was definitely a shaman thing. Plus I'd paid for the ceremony. I think this is something that retreats and organisers need to be much more upfront about. They generally say in their rules that menstruating women can't attend ceremony but they never tell you if they will refund your money. My period has never been regular so I don't know in advance with any certainty when I will get it. While tonight was not expensive since it was in Panama and I didn't have to travel far, if I'd paid thousands of dollars and taken time off to go to Peru or Colombia or somewhere, then of course, I'm going to take the medicine. Why would I not? I think ceremony organisers need to be much more open about the financial aspects of taking plant medicines if they really don't want menstruating women participating. Otherwise, we are likely to keep doing it.
Image by @carlgnash, with permission.
I took my first cup of yagé and it kicked in very quickly. I'm not sure if Taita David gave me a bigger serving, or it was residual yagé from last night that was still in my system. Either way, the visions came to me quickly. I could see a distorted vision off to the side. It was dark, but I let it come to me since it was persistent. It was Taita David with a scary warrior style face coming down on me. Behind him was a dark energy, like a cloud. The colours were browns and blacks and reds. These are not my colours, which are usually bright pastels. I suspected that Taita David knew last night that I was on my period and I was being sent a message. He was angry that I'd sat in tonight's ceremony, which is why he came to me straight away. The vision showed me the power and energy attached to the menstrual cycle, and how it can block them from seeing, and thus doing their work.
Taita David also wanted to show me that menstrual energy is a powerful force in its own right—I mean fuck, it creates life—meaning it can be hard for women to control. I think Kat gets it right when she says "Ayahuasca once compared herself to a hot stove to me. You can’t ask a hot stove to not burn you." Taita David was seeing if I could handle the power by bringing this scary vision down on me. Given my experiences with channelling energy and Kundalini while taking ayahuasca, I had confidence that I would be ok and I told him to "come at me". The scariness dissipated as I showed him what I could do. Then we had a beautiful moment where we shared our energies and all his dark colours combined with all the pastels I was bringing to the vision. He then showed me his true self without the mask and cleared me to sit in ceremony. I felt much better about my decision to take the medicine after that.
Next, I started receiving some Mother's Day visions. It started with some fun trippy stuff before the energies of my mum and grandmothers appeared. Like the other times I've connected with the dead, I don't see people, just their energies. We were flying around together and the feeling was fun, warm and loving. Then more and more mothers joined us and it morphed into me giving birth to all this motherly energy, which was strange but beautiful. However, it wasn't long before I felt the weight of all the trauma and sadness carried by these souls and I realised I was going to have to purge it for them. I started feeling very sick so I went outside to a tree and vomited. So much came out of me. When I asked Mama Aya what it was she was not specific. Instead, she just said "your body cannot handle all this so you need to release some". I later realised this was the menstrual energy I'd seen above Taita David. I had to release some of it so it wouldn't interfere with what was coming next.
Image by @choogirl
Eventually I was able to crawl towards the fire. An assistant asked me if I was ok and I said no. I could feel a heavy darkness around me and I wasn't sure if I would be able to lift it by myself. I asked him if he could get Alex, the other shaman.
In ayahuasca/yagé ceremonies there is always a fire, or Grandfather Fire. It's a powerful symbol of masculine energy and is used to assist with purging. While I was waiting for Alex, I moved onto the grass in front of the fire. I had a strong urge to connect to Mother Earth at that moment. I then introduced myself to Grandfather Fire. I am glad I learnt the correct way to do this at Rythmia. You start by stating your full name, your father's full name and your mother's full name. Afterwards, you can ask him to help you. I asked him to take anything I was purging.
I began yawning a lot. Purging doesn't always have to be vomiting or shitting. It can be crying, laughing, sweating, yawning, etc. I then lay down with as much of my body touching the ground as possible. Although the ground was wet from all the rain, it was perfectly dry and warm where I was. I dug my fingers into the grass as I yawned into the fire. The darkness was all around me now and I could hear Alex behind me doing his thing to help me release it. Then Taita David came to me in another vision to help pull the darkness into the fire. Yes, I was scared during this whole process even though none of the darkness was mine. At the same time, however, I felt very supported by the strong masculine energy coming from Grandfather Fire, Alex and Taita David. And Mother Earth was keeping me grounded so I didn't lose myself in the fear. I remember they told us at Rythmia it's best to surrender to our fears as that's where the growth is, and that it would always pass.
After the darkness passed, I continued yawning but it was lighter. I was still purging sadness and trauma for the souls of these mothers, but it was in much smaller doses now. It was easy for me to let go of since I was not attached to any of it.
I felt very protected by Mother Earth and Grandfather Fire so I ended up staying outside all night. This was the first time I'd felt the masculine energy of ayahuasca. It was stern like a father and very different from Mama Aya, but it was still very loving. Later, I had a vision of the men in my life and it was a reminder that family is important. Since I live so far away from all my relatives—or they've passed—it's easy for me to forget that I am actually part of a family.
At some point, I realised the significance of my yawning. A few weeks ago something happened to my breath and I stopped being able to inhale completely. I would yawn but not be able to get that satisfying bit right at the end, which caused me to keep on yawning. It was like my yawns were 95% there and it was so frustrating not being able to finish them. Tonight I got all those yawns back and they were the most satisfying yawns of my life. I felt like the Canadians in Southpark whose mouths open up all the way. It was incredibly satisfying. It was also a reminder that Mama Aya knows exactly when you will be taking the medicine, she prepares you for it, and then gives you exactly what you need.
Each of the assistants came out and asked if I was ok at various times. Even though I'm usually the first person to feel the cold, my body temperature was perfect tonight. I was receiving warmth from Grandfather Fire and from Mother Earth. Plus lying on the grass was also much softer than the tiles inside. I didn't know at the time, but later I realised I was supposed to be outside all night since this made it easier for Taita David to lead the ceremony without my menstrual energy blocking him.
When I started feeling good and was able to sit up, I noticed the stars. The sky was clear and there was no light pollution where we were. It was absolutely stunning. The star—pun intended—of the night sky was Eta Aquarii. Every May, meteor showers originate from here, but unfortunately, it is a bit late in the month to see them now. However, Eta Aquarii is still shining very brightly at the moment if you want to get up at 04:00 to see it.
The other thing I noticed when I was sitting up was the unusual things around me. Several times I saw energy move into the fire. I'm not sure where it was coming from. My guess is from people purging in the garden. I also saw some black animal spirits chasing each around the wood pile. They were very playful and not at all scary. Later, someone else who was sitting outside at the same time told me he also saw them. I love this as it tells me that things do exist outside of the third dimension, which we can't normally see.
At the end of the ceremony I rejoined the group for Taita David's blessing. Unlike last night, I felt like I had some residual energies for him to remove and I was grateful for him being able to do so.
Usually drinking ayahuasca leaves people feeling amazing and alive once the feelings of being drunk wear off. Today, I did not feel energised at all. Instead, I felt significantly drained and weak, which lasted all day. Since I always have a strong connection to energy while under the medicine, this is something I have to be careful of going forward. Channelling energy has been a pivotal part of my experiences so far and it's always left me feeling very alive. It turns out the opposite is also true. Purging significant amounts of energy left me feeling exhausted and depleted. Perhaps this is a good lesson for me in not taking ayahuasca/yagé while on my period—at least on the heaviest day—in the future.
Overall, it was a special night. Even though it was emotionally and physically difficult, I love the connections I was able to make with the living and the dead. I feel very privileged knowing that Mama Aya considered me strong enough to take the trauma and sadness from the souls of mothers across time who were unable to purge it themselves. I hope I brought them some peace. I also enjoyed feeling the masculine energy for the first time, and knowing the shamans and Grandfather Fire were protecting me and keeping me safe. The fact that all of this happened on Mother's Day just made it even more special. Tonight was just so perfect and meaningful; I would not change a thing about it.
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