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Not in Kansas Anymore: My First Ayahuasca Ceremony (Part 3)

I heard Annie enter the tent through all of this, spreading word to others “The Shaman is going to start the closing ceremony around the fire in about 20 minutes or so, give or take…”. As I nestled into my newfound love, I heard her pad up to my station in the back corner of the tent. She patted a hand where my feet were under the bulky sleeping bag. “Good morning Miss Kat,” I heard the smile. “The Shaman’s ready to do closing ceremony by the fire.” I knew I wasn’t ready, but I knew I wouldn’t be ready in any conceivable space of time either, so I sprung up from my huddle position and broke into tears the moment I saw Annie face. “Ohh,” she crooned and went in to hug me. I managed to stammer out “I just… love… so much!” “I know,” she said “it’s like you wanna call everyone you know and tell them ‘hey! do you know what I know?’”

No, I thought, I just really love my sister… Surrendering to how overwhelming it would be to explain to her, I slugged off to the side and fell over the [thankfully] empty cot next to me, opening my eyes to what I recognized as Sebastian’s beautiful face. I instantly became enamored of the contours of her eyes and forehead, and the way her face broke into such a warm smile and what must’ve been laughter at the state I was in. She said “Good morning” and asked how I was. I started to smile and speak, but just burst into tears again and whispered “Hi” a few times, crumpling my face to the ground. I was beginning to get an inkling of what the medicine felt like. Sebastian guessed, following in Annie’s footsteps, at which insightful plug was causing my emotions to overflow. “I know! It’s like we’re all on our own journey, but we’re doing it together.” Again. Noooo…. I didn’t really care that they didn’t get it, since I’d had those types of epiphanies before. Just not at this particular moment. We were both laying, looking at each other, and I reached out my hand to touch her and she reached out hers and touched mine.

She held my hand and traced a soft finger along the back of it. Her hand was so warm and nice and I told her that, my eyes closed to the ground, reveling in the sensation. I eventually managed to communicate that I was crying because I loved my sister, but I realized that I would never be able to communicate my wonder at how the first sobs she’d heard were of maudlin self loathing, and had become this smiling overflow. She continued to hold my hand as I collapsed again, in attempts to sit up, because I was aware that Annie had moved on at some point to rouse others for the closing ceremony. I collected myself enough to iterate that I was a now crying because her face was so beautiful, and that we really should go out to the fire. I heard Annie tell somebody else something along the lines of 8 or 9 minutes to go before the closing ceremony. I’m not ready to see OTHER faces. I’m certainly not ready for a ceremony, but let’s dive in any way.

I hopped up and swayed out to the fire. With my eyes open now and maneuvering through this strange, wavy world, I could now see just how hard I was tripping. Upon reaching the fire, I crouched down and started warming my hands. WOAHHHH. My hands were amazing! It was like I was seeing them in ultra HD, contrast turned all the way up, but still so splittingly colored. I could see all the roughed areas where my farmer’s hands were calloused and red from the cold. Bunchy like fabric at the joints. All wrinkled throughout. As I gazed up the backs of my fingers, they seemed to extend even longer than they were and I felt like an Egon Schiele depiction; Perhaps titled “Tripping Girl Wigs Out at Fantastic-Fucking-Knuckles”. Then I turned them over.

Holy Crud! They were just as amazing on this side. They were creased like a baby’s - forever marked from the way they were clutched in the womb. All the little cuts on my fingers from carelessness with kitchen knives and harvest tools were little worlds that I found myself dissolving into. I became aware that I was surrounded by people far soberer than I that were probably watching me examine my hands with such emotion. I looked across the fire and wasn’t surprised to see a group of three huddled, chatting quietly - I couldn’t tell though how quietly, as all the conversations seemed to drift past me, blending together and weaving out, like streams around a rock in a riverbed — and occasionally looking at me.

An intense thirst interrupted my fixation. You weren’t supposed to drink water with the Ayahuasca, so by 8am, which it must have been, I was exquisitely thirsty. I mumbled something about needing water and stumbled away form the fire smiling still, but also aware that my nausea was making a comeback. As I entered the tent, I saw that the Shaman was there, hovering about the altar. He clocked me, sensing that the medicine was taking root. He curved into his elbow and whisked out his harmonica and began to play at me. The same tilting melody he’s spawned a thousand purges with, but I refused to allow it to work any magic. I was resolved to not give him the satisfaction of helping me. Where was he when I needed to purge two hours ago? Warm in the house?? I was grandiose with my indignation, plodding up to my corner like a large, drunk toddler. Half falling onto the mats and scavenging for any water bottle. There was a full one wedged in the corner, but I settled for the nearly empty one that was close to my hand. I toppled over so that I was sitting now, legs spread out wide and sloshed back the last swallow in the bottle. In what felt like a mic drop to me, but probably reeked of a lack of coordination, I tossed the water bottle behind me and went to swagger out.

The harmonica ceased and I felt resigned to whatever lesson I had been trying to shove in his face. As I was trying to swagger out, I found myself confronted with a herd of the people that had been out at the fire shuffling in. In the instant that I saw them, I heard somebody somewhat nearby announce “Shaman’s doing closing ceremony in the tent because the wind is… it’s too much”. Her voice sounded strange when who I’d identified as Annie said this; It sounded as if she were saying it for my benefit. As it happened, by the time everyone had come in and gotten settled, sitting at the foot of their mats, me shakily crouching next to Douglas, I began to feel very nauseous. I heard the chirping whistle — I felt like his icaros were animating the serpents of medicine inside me, making them writhe -- knelt forward, and purged heavily into the nearest bucket. A commotion was still going on.

Though I was incapable of looking up to check, I got the feeling that nobody was staring at me in this delicate moment, as the echo of my ego worried in my ear. By the time I was done, I could only breathe above the bucket. I felt a hand pull me back and I collapsed against Douglas’ large body, a big paw slapped over my shoulders. Things began to escalate. I could feel a distance growing between me and my body. It had the thrill of a pleasant sensation, but I was still very aware of my stomach moving and the cold closing in on my fingertips. The Shaman looked around the tent, evaluating whether he had collected everyone’s attention, and did a double take when he clocked the big dumb smile on my face. We both laughed at me. “I-don-feel-nossing-I-don-feel-nossing” he mimed me knocking back cup after cup - “well, you feel something now?!”

Just the beginning of something, but something indeed.

Leaf the Ego at the Door: My First Ayahuasca Ceremony (Part 4)

Leaf the Ego at the Door: My First Ayahuasca Ceremony (Part 4)

An Introduction to the Medicine: My First Ayahuasca Ceremony (Part 2)

An Introduction to the Medicine: My First Ayahuasca Ceremony (Part 2)