I murder hate by flood or field,
Tho’ glory’s name may screen us;
In wars at home I’ll spend my blood—
Life-giving wars of Venus.
The deities that I adore
Are social Peace and Plenty;
I’m better pleas’d to make one more,
Than be the death of twenty.
I would not die like Socrates,
For all the fuss of Plato;
Nor would I with Leonidas,
Nor yet would I with Cato:
The zealots of the Church and State
Shall ne’er my mortal foes be;
But let me have bold Zimri’s fate,
Within the arms of Cozbi!
The ringing in my ears grew louder. Louder still. I winced in pain. My eyes shot open and I gasped for air at the shock of this rude awakening. I awoke in the maloca once again. Pained, battered, bruised. As my brain switched itself back on, memories of the last night clouded my thoughts. Fuck, my head is ringing. This was a headache of the kind I had never felt before, the kind that seared not only through your skull, but through your entire nervous system. It felt like my cells were on fire.
Immediately as I regained conscious thought, I jumped up in alarm as my bladder told me it was about to burst. I slammed heavy feet on the wooden floorboards, undoubtedly waking a few fellow sleepers in the process. I fumbled to open my pants; feeling the sudden burning sensation in my loins. The torrent that followed left my body quaking as it made its way into the toilet bowl, unlike anything I had ever felt. It singed as it left me. My face contorted with a mixture of relief and pain. How was it so sudden in its release? Why did it not warn me prior, whilst I slept? This was a new sensation entirely.
I washed up and stumbled out into the early morning light. It was around 6am, judging from the daylight. I had quickly grown accustomed to the timing of the jungle, for it was not too dissimilar to the jungles of Borneo. Down the walkway I went, and I couldn’t help but contrast the feeling inside my heart compared to the night before. The beast had been awoken. He was injured and foul-tempered, baring fangs at anyone that came close. “Calm yourself, Dan…” I whispered to myself. “This is not the place nor the time to let him loose. Cage that fucker. Now!”
The breakfast was a blur to me. People spoke, and I barely registered what was going on. I could remember that people were speaking mostly of revelations that they had had during las night’s ceremony, while I was lost in deep thought about where my darkness had taken me. A lot had happened to me over the years. I had witnessed things that no person should ever see, as well as done things that no person should do. My mind couldn’t help but dwell on that violent part of me that had haunted me for so long. My teenage years were filled with it. In my early twenties, I revelled in it. By my mid twenties, maturity overcame it, and I shunned the use of violence. It had brought me enough grief already. But I had not yet come to terms with it. My anger and rage turned inwards. I had no means of expressing the rage that festered inside me, for the only way I knew how was through fists, knees and feet. There was no more outlet for what I felt inside, and it grew by the day, slowly poisoning my soul. Gandhi once said “Anger is the enemy of non-violence, and pride is a monster that swallows it up.” I was totally conflicted. On one hand, I had rejected the use of violence already, but on the other, my anger at the world, which was created through my early childhood experiences, left me shaking in rage. Rage. Where the fuck do I get that part of me out? Where does one go to release that? It was no wonder that I signed up for the army when I was 19, of my own volition. It was no wonder that I enjoyed nothing more than shooting things and blowing them up. I revelled in violent acts. They had become a part of my life… an inescapable reality. Even as I matured and grew to learn to not use physical force against others, I still carried out acts of emotional violence against others, as well as myself. It made me feel whole.
And yet, the last night’s experience had done exactly that to me. It had absolutely revelled in dishing out the most major ass whipping to me. I could see it grinning with sick joy as it beat me mercilessly. And yet, despite the pain, I refused to submit. “Fuck you!” I yelled at it; sweat running into my eyes, stomach twisting in pain. “Fuck you and fuck the carriage you rode in on!” My head was unbowed. My thoughts slowly tuned back into my surroundings. People were happily chatting away. I did my best to pretend as if everything were okay. The daily morning talk came at around 10 am, but I was too gone. I couldn’t even tell you what the topic of conversation was. I was too tired to care. Halfway through, I walked out and went back to my room and slept a deep, dreamless sleep.
Contrition is for the weak.
I heard the familiar call to lunch; the birdlike whistle from the cooks. I walked into the chow hall, looking around wondering who I should sit with. Lynne came to mind. Lynne was the woman who I met on the first day, that shared such huge similarities with my own mother. I think, rather sub-consciously, I sought her company. I sat next to her and her lovely Irish friend Adrienne, and just enjoyed their maternal energy. It was healing for me. They asked me how my night had been, and I replied honestly. It was shit. With them around, I somehow felt less inclined to let that beast run away with me and take me to places in my mind I didn’t want to go. Their mere presence was good for me. I felt some healing in just being with them. I felt my respect and love for Lynne grow stronger by the minute, for she seemed an amalgam of all the wonderful maternal figures I had been blessed with my whole life. She had the loving nature of my mother, the sweetness of my nanny, the toughness of my sister, and yet, she had something more. She had that bold sense of spiritual curiosity that I had as well; that desire to go further afield than others in order to understand the universe better. I admired her greatly. The fact that we had so many similarities, having spent both time in New Zealand as well as in South East Asia only made the bond grow stronger. I can’t remember exactly at which stage it was throughout the whole six days, but I can remember telling her that I was glad that she was there, because it was her maternal energy that gave me the strength to carry on.
After a good chat with her, I tracked down Malcolm for another conversation. He was aware of how challenging the last night had been for me, so we talked a bit about that. I told him of how, my whole life, I have never been able to learn things the easy way, and that I was absolutely sick to the teeth of having to learn every lesson the hard way. In his response, I felt sincerity, but I also felt that he knew that I had more suffering to go through. He gave me more good advice. Just be willing and patient with the medicine; accept the lessons it has. Go through the experience with grace and ease. He meant well, and I appreciated how caring and patient he was with me, but still I wondered. I was scared.
I tried to write again, but all I managed were a few garbled notes, jotted messily in my notebook. The fear had taken over me. We did the usual tea ceremony with the dieta plants again at 4:30, then rested for a while before the night’s “work”. I walked into the maloca with great trepidation. I was fortunate to have Marcus and Juliana around because I felt very comfortable around them. We chatted briefly before the ceremony began. The ceremony began as usual with all the same rituals being observed, and everyone raised their glasses to the spirits. This night, I accepted half a cup from Malcolm. When I was busy doing my research on Ayahuasca, I had seen so many videos of ceremonies where people glugged down full sized cups of the medicine. Blue Morpho medicine was definitely different. All we had were rather small plastic cups, probably about an inch tall. It didn’t seem like much of it was needed in order to rip you to the far edges of space and beyond. Our medicine was definitely strong beyond belief.
To the salutation of salud, we chugged down our medicine, and I laid back and prayed for the best outcome. My mind was constantly switching between states of fear and calm. I was fearful of a repeat of last night’s performance, yet Malcolm’s words gave me some semblance of calm. I lay there not knowing what to expect. I had by this time grown rather accustomed to the ceremony experience, and knew where to place all my belongings in the event that I needed them, mareacion or not. Rather automatically, my body began deep-breathing. It was something I was not in control of, and my conscious mind seemed to shut down. I felt numb. The mareacion began to come on rather quickly tonight, even though I had opted for slightly less after a conversation with Malcolm at the mesa. Slightly similar to the night before, but quicker, I saw the organic jungle shapes appear before me again. “This is truly a portal into unknown worlds.” I thought. Suddenly I saw a serpentine creature white in colour, fill my vision. It pulsated and grew, sacred geometry filling my sight. It had its body coiled around my whole consciousness as it stared at me devoid of emotion. I felt pinned to the mattress, transfixed at the sight of this glorious beast. As I stared into its eyes, I felt myself slipping down into a familiar world of pain and remorse.
I felt a hand choking my heart. I felt as if creatures were scuttling along the insides of my body clutching onto whatever they could hold onto. There was a moment of calm at the eye of the storm; before the realisation kicked in, and then all of a sudden I was sucked into a black hole of pain. Purge. And purge again I did. By this time I was used to the puke bucket vortex. It no longer felt alien to me. Yet this time was different, because I felt this choking feeling that I didn’t feel on the previous nights. I felt that whatever needed to come up really, really fucking resented it, and was doing everything it could to stop being expelled from my being. After throwing up whatever was left inside me, I continued to retch and moan and hurl for a long time. There was nothing left. I screamed at the spirits yet again. “What do you want from me?!” But this time I added, “I have nothing left to give!” It felt so sudden and violent, like a freight train that came barraging its way into the station unannounced. Purge and purge and purge again, there was no relief this time. I felt darkness completely overwhelming me, as if it were even possible, even darker than the night before. “This is truly it. I’m dead. There’s no way I can be alive.” I felt my arms clutching at my torso and head to check if they were still there, yet even though a part of me knew they physically were, I was completely convinced that I had slipped away to the realms of the unliving. Fuck the undead, they had it better than the unliving. And yes, there is a difference.
The vortex appeared before me, sending me plunging down. Malcolm came over and spoke to me words that I couldn’t remember. All I could remember was his presence. I grunted and groaned as if i were one of the demons begging for Jesus to be cast into the herd of swine that would plunge into the sea; free of this physical torment at last. Malcolm stood over me and and sang. All I could do was to writhe restlessly to his chants. I was powerless. The purging resumed once more, and as I had encountered previously, nothing was coming up. I distinctly felt as if something truly powerful and dark was choking me to death. It had its death grip around my throat and refused to let go. It reminded me of the time that my friend tried to push me into the pool whilst fully clothed, and I said to him rather sinisterly, “If I go, you go too.” If I thought last night was hellish, this was an entirely different realm altogether. I thought to myself I must have surpassed the ninth level indeed, for this was something I had not thought was possible. This darkness that had taken hold of me was terrifying.
I felt as if I were falling deeper and deeper into that dark swirling vortex of madness. I was vaguely aware of some noises that other people were making during the ceremony, but I was just so trapped in my own mind, fearing that the worst had already happened, and that I was dead. Occasionally I’d see demonic shapes and faces flash before me. There was nothing kind in them, only hostility and evil. “What the fuck have you done, Dan… what the fuck am I doing here?! I should have stayed home.” It was far too late to step off this train ride. It was a one way ticket to hell, with satan as the conductor. The choking feeling persisted. Something was definitely holding on for dear life, refusing to leave, and with each unsuccessful purge I grew more and more despondent and desperate.
I was burning up again. My T shirt had long ago come off. The sweat rolled down my face and got into my eyes, and my back was drenched. As the purging went on and on, I felt weaker and weaker. Finally, a lull. But there was no relief to be had, for my bowels were telling me it was time to go to the toilet. I was in such an extremely fearful state of mind. I quickly found my torch, and I got on my knees and waved the light around frantically. My mind was swirling with absolute fear and panic, and as no one came to me, it sent me overboard. I put the torch down momentarily, cupped my face with my hands and did my best to calm myself by breathing deep, measured breaths. “You can do this. You have to. There’s no choice.” I picked the torch up again and waited forever. Yet again, time is a relative thing. Each second that passed was excruciatingly torturous, and I fought off the feeling of crying uncontrollably. Finally, Chris came to my aid, and with a bit more urgency after seeing the state I was in, whisked me off to the toilet rapidly. My bowels exploded before my arse even hit the seat. I could feel my intestines in knots. The walls seemed to be closing in on me; dark energy swirling around. I could hear the concern in Chris’s voice as he did his best to placate and encourage me, but I was in far too much pain for his words to have any effect. Suddenly I felt the need to vomit again, and I grabbed the bucket that was in the toilet, and started going off both ends.
“Is there no end to this?! When will it stop?! MAKE IT STOP!” I wasn’t sure how much more of this I could take, and by that stage I felt like breaking point was nigh. Minutes passed by as I groaned and hurled and shitted relentlessly. The immediate feelings of needing to purge slowly subsided, and I was barely able to stand up after the whole affair. Chris led me to the sink where I started splashing water all over myself and rubbing my face. I looked in the mirror, and I saw death. My eyes seemed inky dark, and all the colour had drained out of my face. I looked like a fucking ghoul. I had barely finished that thought when the pain hit once more and nearly made me double over in shock and awe. “Toilet! Again!” Chris didn’t hesitate one second, dragging me back to the toilet where I resumed the horrid purge.
Wave after wave of psychic and physical pain smashed into me. The choking feeling grew stronger. “GET. IT. OUT OF ME!” I bellowed. “GET OUT GET OUUUUT!” My vomiting became so agonising that I felt that my throat was going to rupture any second. I spent what I imagine would have been about fifteen minutes like this. Malcolm had heard all the commotion I was making and came over to check. “Hang in there matey, you’re doing fine. Breathe your way through it.” I know he meant well, but right then I was fighting the urge to tell him to go get fucked. Suddenly my bladder started burning up. Great, so now I had to pee too, except it refused to come out. It just sat there, burning away inside me. I could tell Chris’s patience was starting to wear thin. He’d been by my side for a long time. I told him that I needed to pee badly but couldn’t. “Well, maybe it’s not that urgent. You can try again later. Let’s get you into the shower, eh?” I couldn’t get off the seat, because the sensation was so strong. Finally after a few more minutes, the smallest trickle of pee came out, and it burned as it did. I winced, and my eyes teared up. With that done, I cleaned up and walked out of the toilet and staggered into the shower once more. This time, when the water hit me, I totally freaked out and started hyperventilating. Chris did his best to calm me. Eventually I worked my whole body under the cold jet of water, head pressed against the hard tiles. I figure I stayed like that for about a good ten minutes at least. Upon Chris’s urging, I finally turned off the water. The poor bugger had probably been with me for at least a good hour making sure I didn’t fuck myself up completely. A sudden dizziness overcame me just as the water went off. I stumbled, then had to prop myself against the tiles, mind spinning. My eyes weren’t even looking straight.
A few more minutes passed in that manner before I could even begin the monumental task of drying myself off and putting my shorts back on. I was so confused about everything. Chris walked me back to the mattress, and I said to him with utmost sincerity, “Thank you. Thank you, so incredibly much. You saved me.” He patted me on the shoulder, looking down at the pitiful pathetic mess I was. “You did good tonight, Dan. Just hang in there.” A while later, Matt came up to me and told me to come to the mesa. I was to receive a ventiada from Don Alberto himself. I walked over and sat in front of him, hugging my legs for comfort. I felt his eyes bore into my soul. Shirtless and still feeling heaty from the experience, I felt an odd shivering feeling coming from my core. The chacapa shook over my head as he began his spirit songs. I did feel some comfort in hearing his voice. He had a very distinctive voice that was very soothing. Something about it seemed to speak straight to your heart. But try and try as I might to get into a more positive frame of mind, my whole being refused. I sat there bowed and broken and exhausted. Don Alberto blew the mapacho over my chakras, patting me on the shoulder as he finished. “Gracias, Don Alberto” I said with a hoarse, humbled voice.
I walked back to my spot flopped myself face down into the pillow, cradling my head in my hands. Malcolm wandered over to me while on his rounds. “How you doing, Dan?” Without even raising my head, I muttered into my pillow “Just questioning my own sanity, mate…” He chuckled. “Dan, when you realise how insane the whole world is, you discover that actually, you’re the sane one. You’ve been through a hell of a trip. Congratulate yourself.” “I dunno, Mal…” I replied, still talking into my pillow “I feel so incredibly broken. Broken, broken, broken.” I couldn’t remember what he said next. I was already beyond emotional. When he finished speaking and walked away, I began to sob. It started off small, then in seconds, I was sobbing the deepest, most pained sobs of my entire life. Losing my father ten years ago was terrible, and of course I cried for his loss, but the crying now was so indescribably deep in its misery and pain. It felt as if all the suffering I had ever experienced forged into one single dagger that pierced my soul; blade twisting as it cut deeper and deeper. The bloodthirsty beast had done its work on me. I was crippled and weakened.
“What have I done to myself?! I’ve been poisoned. I would have been better off not coming here at all!” I missed my mother so badly right then. All I wanted was to feel her arms around me and to hear her gentle voice telling me everything would be okay. I lay there, in pieces and fragments of broken dreams and spirit, and cried myself to sleep.