Early Medicine Encounters
The following is a partial account of three ceremonies that occurred within a few months of each other in the mid-1990’s. They set the template of much to come . . .
I first drank ayahuasca by a very beautiful, isolated, coastal lake in CA. It was just me and the legendary, late D.M. Turner (see ‘recollection 1’, for a memorium I wrote about him), a writer who’s fearless experimentations with mind altering plants and chemistries has inspired a generation of ‘psychonauts’. For Mr. Turner, or ‘Joe’ as I knew him, also his first time with ayahuasca, the visuals didn’t match what he was used to from smoking DMT (a vision-inducing molecule found in ayahuasca, many other plants, and humans for that matter), and he was unimpressed. For me, I realized that a whole education was waiting for me ~ in me! Here is an account of the ‘peak’ of that experience:
“. . . deep into the tryp (a word that refers both to the tryptamine molecule group responsible for the psychoactivity of many plants and fungi, and the experience of traveling they often induce) having passed thru multiple stratigraphies of reality, I became aware that I was in a kind of capital city of Nature. I soon found myself ushered into the boardroom of Nature headquarters, the downtown, central offices, top floor. Around a long table sat faceless human-shaped beings who silently acknowledged my presence. I was there for a reason, to be given understandings of Nature Central’s view of the human . . . endeavor. This information relates like expanding ripples to larger issues of the health and future of this planet and its many participants, and the global effects of human-mediated changes, which are moving, so I viscerally felt and had imaged to me, at a speed and with the apparent recklessness of a runaway downhill train (an analogy, interestingly enough, picked as a theme in the 2007 documentary on essentially the same topic, ‘What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire’). This is a situation which concerns us ALL.
I was ‘told’ that humans are, essentially, big mobile succulents who have lost their roots, figuratively and literally. Though we are fleshy (hemoglobin replacing chlorophyll, and such changes), prone to vocalizing, and flopping about on the earth’s surface, we are still plants in our deep design, and are genetically and energetically disposed to follow the same growth patterns as the vegetative world from which we have evolved and continue to co-evolve. From this I was given an understanding that it is the structural destiny of humans to ‘flower’ if correct association is maintained with life force and deepening currents of love, and that my work in the future will be to cultivate myself in this way and . . teach it, at the appropriate time. ”
This download was more prophetic than I realized at the time. Though I could not fathom how to integrate this vision, it kindled a spark, birthed interests in flowering motifs and metaphors, and in how this blossoming human might be effected.
Intrigued, to say the least, by this experience by the lake, I sought out others, which led me to a beach not far from the lake a couple months later. What follows is a summary of just . . a part . . of my journey with the plants this particular night:
“I was one of the last to receive the brew. I was given a full bowl, as I told the the facilitator that I wanted to go deep into ‘It’. So with a bit of foreboding, I sat and waited.
When it finally hit, it hit hard. The rush was so overwhelming that my ‘controlling self’ circuitry started fizzling, blew out, and I was soon left with a smoking dashboard. This had never happened to me before, not with my previous two ayahuasca experiences, psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, or anything. A fear response kicked in which soon found plenty of reasons to intensify. Being with out any moorings, and realizing that this WAS DIFFERENT then my previous experiences, all the danger lights flashed on, bells went off warning that something was WRONG<WRONG>WRONG and that my Morganism was truly Losing it.
Somewhere in there the urge to ejectile vomit came up and I, being in no position, nor even thinking to ‘stumble into the bushes to puke’ as the facilitator had advised, just did it in front of me. I was enough aware of the great clearing and cleansing value of the purge to push the mechanism. I soon felt I was puking not just for myself but for humanity, and so gathered force to throw up all the ills and disgust of the human condition, and in so doing became even more identified with the human Collective. I had no ‘I’ to retreat to anymore, though I was damned if I was going to give up trying to find it! This futile search for the ‘I’ just amplified my fears. I at least had the consolation that maybe it was just me thinking I had Lost it, and that the group was undisturbed by what was happening to me. However, during the puke I heard commotion, and it seemed someone or ones were poking into my space to communicate to me. It was the facilitator, as I found out later, concerned about my eruption, but at the time this interference was only external confirmation that I was indeed Flipping out, which sent my fears up a few more notches.
It occurred to me that our group had been discovered, and that the rangers or police had come to break us up or even arrest us. I had been to plenty of outdoor raves, all night psychedelic dance events, where the authorities had appeared to disperse us, so it was not an unfamiliar concept. I thought the commotion was signaling me to get up as we had to leave, or something equally unpleasant that I had no capacity to do. The implications of this moved me into feeling the vulnerability of our group, the illegality of so much of what I and our group do and represent, and this schizophrenia in humanity between the ‘dominators’ and those trying to grow and evolve with the Nature program. I felt my own tenuous position in this construct, how I’ve always lived this precarious juggling act between the mainstream and the ‘tribal’, and how easily it could all collapse. I then felt a strong identification with indigenous peoples in a way I hadn’t before, with those who look up one day to find roads and helicopters and missionaries and so on invading and destroying their world. They are as ‘illegal’ as I am, but instead of going to jail, they get kicked out into a world of spiritless culture and poverty, and often die slow deaths of disconnection and despair.
Meanwhile, I was struggling with the continued collapse of my control system. My identities with the thought-streams of Taoism, tai chi chuan, writing, cultural studies, dance, medicine, the Sat Guru, shamanism, student, teacher, son, brother, lover, and on and on all spun away in a vortex of confusion. I began to move in and out of intensely geometricised spaces that configured all the philosophies and world views I had ever ‘secured’, and frustrated every attempt I made to stabilize and establish a reference point. Every time I gained a perspective, it would flip into another arrangement, and then cycle back again. It also occurred to me that I had transgressed some Law by having broken so recklessly into the assemblage of Nature, as all the parts seemed to have sprung out, and I had no idea how to put them back together. This was all interspersed with periodic awareness of the domino effects that would occur when the news traveled that Morgan ‘wasn’t the same anymore’. I finally reached a point where it all wore me out, and I gave up fighting, gave up trying to find and ‘be’ myself, whatever that was. Somewhere in this was an interlude where I passed by a brilliantly green forest and looked down to see dark shapes which I felt to be a council of shamans. It was a point of clarity which gave me some insight into the process, that I was somehow being dismembered to be remade/initiated.
My surrender followed with the sense that some other spirit or intelligence had entered my body, and was now controlling things. This brought on another terror, as I was now no longer responsible for my actions, but again, what could I do. I soon accepted this presence, and it started change me, to move me, to breath me, and I felt the starting up of an emergence process: I was a monad of humanity budding out of the creative matrix of Nature. I felt it as Life Force, and was moved as this Force. As the bud started to open, and segment into the multicellular organism that is humanity, I heard the singing of the Collective, the celebration of Community, and felt it across all its cultural manifestations across all of time. It was an exquisite sense of the organismic nature of humanity, of the differentiated yet bonded tribal family. My identity merged into the tribal and I took on breathing it further into existence. I realized that I was a vehicle to rebirth humanity, to rebreath the Life Force from the groundswell of Nature, to reimprint access to this force through all the stages of human development so that a society would come into existence that would realize its nourishment comes from the Life that only a healthy natural order can provide. So I was humanity and breathed it through its phases, convinced that I was changing the entire world (for there was no separate ‘I’ to tell me otherwise), that the world was remade, alchemized in the energetic furnace of my tribalized body.
When I came to the mainstream-industrial/indigenous-aboriginal split, I outpowered it, transcended the discord through breathing in a new humanity, one that is fully capacitated by being fully charged with Life Force. I was actually quite honored and happy to have been instrumental in getting beyond and rid of this egoic mainstream bullshit I’ve been dealing with all my life, and ushering in this Taoist ‘real man’, or shamanic adept, or what ever this potentiated human might be called. At this point I’ll say that I was periodically aware that my friend J.G. knew of this tribal understanding I was working with – having long been involved with Native American traditions – and was somehow resonant with me throughout it; I was thankful for this, that he was next to me, and realized a depth of our connection as cotravelers that wasn’t as apparent to me before.
I eventually came out of my ‘work’, looked around, and wondered to what extent the world was changed. I also for the first time realized that the police or rangers weren’t there (I was too into what I was doing to even care before) and that I was actually in a safe place. In fact, looking across the circle of people beneath the stars in this sanctuary power spot in the dunes with the cold clean air blowing in from the ocean, I could not have been in a better place for what I was going through. With this reassurance, my identity shifted back a bit from the Collective, but before I could come home to roost I had to reemerge myself. I was very conscious that this was an extremely sacred act of creation, and that as a male I was being privileged to work with the dynamics of birth. With body, breath, and intention I set about restructuring myself, feeling out how a crystal organizes out of minerals, how a flower is articulated out of a bud, how an infant is pushed out of a woman, how a butterfly maneuvers out of a chrysalis. I kept pumping myself, every so often noticing a certain energetic pattern lock into place; I felt I had infinite capacity to absorb vitality, that there was no limit to the extent I could charge myself, and I thought, ‘this is SSSSOOOO healthy’.
When I finally completed my new ‘architecture’, I passed into a dimension where I was once again ‘home’, in control of my body/self. And I was very happy with this, as it marked a transition into psychic safety, and into a space I was more familiar with. I used to call this the ‘lemon-lime realm’ while on mushrooms. Its the dimension of information and visions, where the energized, electrified body is in its element and can explore and create with instantaneous fluidity. I had never experienced this space as being so expansive before, nor had my ‘body’ ever felt so primed for it. Different aspects of myself spread themselves out with great distances available for maneuverability, and I realized how crowded together they had been before, and thought, yes, we have so many identities with so many agendas packed into our psyches, it must get crowded in there, with them jostling each other and vying for the lifeblood of control. GIVE DEM SOME SPACE! Let them meet under ‘naturalized’ conditions, and maybe they’ll make some alliances, or vote a few members out of existence and make life easier for all of us. I also marveled that the palette of my existence was spread with thousands more available colors, opening up whole new ranges of possibilities. Best of all, I felt truly human, truly integrated, authentic, purposeful, and empowered. By resonance I acknowledged other people who must share this understanding – many of them famous through the media, others I’d seen as photographs of aboriginal men/women of ‘high degree’ who just had that look in their eyes – and knew they had worked their creativity to bring strands of this dimension into their lives. True sophistication. Why settle for anything less.
It seems a similar state had been reached with others in the circle as well, as I was aware of a psychic breeze of great calm and contentment. The transformation out of the accretions of separative existence into this beautiful quality of togetherness moved people to laugh, make exclamations. Home again.
Then I closed my eyes and went back to exploring. This is a space of pure energetics and I move through it as a Master. I play with different gradations of inhalation and exhalation, feeling out these instrumentations and how I glide, curve, outline, and neonize the geometries of my breath. Occasionally I work with more subtle ways to pump up, trying to be less forceful. My first ayahuasca session I went through some intense pumping and became somewhat of a cosmic Mack truck (this may have something to do with the fact that I’d been doing some speed that summer), and found myself rising to the rank of ‘boss’ to a whole society of musclemen-type spiritually low-grade entities who were fascinated and submissive to my power. This time, at the heights of my empowering, I felt more analogous to the massive guardian deities I’d seen at the entrance of temples in Asia – this being definitely more profound, I was pleased to observe, than being the alpha male of an astral Mafia.
It seems my work with subtleties also helped move me into a series of what I can only call ‘art worlds’. I passed through ‘homes’ of aesthetics, avant guarde, and what some might call eccentric beings who were enamored with minute incremental changes in the states of things. There was a whimsical, wistful, and somewhat absurd quality to their endeavors. E.g., one thin, mustachioed man was transfixed on an apparently frozen curl of smoke that he was slowly allowing to uncoil, admiring the turn of each wisp as it arose. This all was instructive to me on the essence of aesthetic sensibilities, as it seemed you couldn’t get more refined than what I was seeing.
My visits to these places were punctuated by returns to my ‘neighborhood’. This was where I lived, in a ‘house’ of great expanse, openness, and sweeping pastel curves overhead and around me. The neighborhood was sort of a dimensional counterpart to the circle, and other friends of mine. It had a folksy quality to it, kind of like an upgraded nursery rhyme landscape, all suffused with a slight pinkish glow. The communalness of the circle reflected itself here, so it was all very . . . congenial. During my visits, say to see uncle J.G. – or ‘Qorky’ as he is known to his intimates here – in his house in the tree, or so and so down the lane, I felt it would be nice to have a female companion to visit with, so I thought who would resonate with all this, who would be totally at home here, who has a beautiful personness to her, and I immediately thought of E. Since E. couldn’t make it to the circle that night, it was even more fitting to bring her in. So she appeared in her own radiance, and we made the rounds.
I would occasionally open my eyes to check in with the 3-D circle, but preferred to remain ‘overground’ as long as it lasted. What remained with me from this was that I have been smart enough in recent years to have chosen friends who would love such a place/space, and I thought, I really need to cultivate those relationships to bring out this essence. That’s the real work of this densified existence. We are all struggling thru the mire of the late stages of this era, but there is the freedom to relate to each other from the perspective of this higher/prior/future world, to encourage and bring out this spirit into 3-D life. This is probably how the world will change, the more relationships are suffused with this humble and loving humanness, the more they empower us, and the stronger their ripple effect.
And then I had to shit. . I climbed above the bushes to find a place to squat, and found myself at a vantage point where I could look over the circle, the dunes, the ocean, and the stars. Everything had a sparkling beauty, and all was humming with electrified essence. I was content to just enjoy, sit up there and enjoy, drink it in, expand my capacity of appreciation for IT ALL . . . IT ALL . . . IT ALL . . .
About this time I heard helicopters over the ocean. Must be the military or coast guard. The sound continued as a backdrop for most of the rest of the night. I remember thinking that this is what we’re up against, people invested in huge, monstrous, dangerous, mechanical toys. I was glad I hadn’t heard this during my dismembering period, as it would have freaked me out even more than I was . . .”
This was a radically transformative experience, and it left me dazed and infused with a new, yet raw, sense of self identity. Still in this heightened state, I was approached the next morning by the mother of the facilitator who urged me to join a group that was going to Ecuador over the new year. There, I was told, we would go deep into the rainforest, and drink ayahuasca with a gathering of indigenous shamans. This cost A LOT of money, but how could I argue? How could I NOT take the opportunity to go to the source of this, to find out what was going on with this magical, mystical, mind-blowing gift of Gaia. I paid up on the spot.
Two months later I, 10 or so other travelers, and an equal number of Secyoya Indians, native to this region of NE Ecuador, set up an encampment in the Amazon basin, a three day canoe ride from the nearest settlement. We were near the Peruvian border, in a primeval scrub forest filled with fascinating, dangerous creatures such as caimans, piranhas, electric eels, stingrays, jaguars, and voracious biting ants, and evolutionary relics like pink river dolphins and birds that climbed trees like squirrels, along with colorful birds with amazing electronic sounding calls. I felt blessed to be here.
The gathering of shamans, however, never materialized, at least not on the physical plane. We had one shaman who chose to drink ayahuasca with us only once. This was not ‘as advertised’, and I expressed my dissatisfaction at my sense of incompleteness, at having come all this way and spent all this money for one session. After some discussion I was told I could drink by myself in the clearing next to the encampment. Apparently even the shaman doesn’t do solo journeys outside his house, which wasn’t reassuring. When the evening arrived, the leader of our group than sat me and one other traveler, D., who decided to join me, for a pre-ingestion talk. He pretty much absolved himself of any responsibility of what may happen to us out here in the psychic and physical wilds without the shaman’s protection, advised us on dealing with the effects of the brew, and then left us to our fates.
What was to become a very long and involved night began with a series of body, breath, and energy articulations, such as:
“I started working with a particular drone tone: this I’d start as deep in the head as I needed to go to get a good ‘footing’, or ‘heading’. From there I would propel a vibration into a gradual rise in pitch and intensity, gaining momentum until my whole face screwed into the emission of a loud, laser-like whine, that went on as long, and as high, as I could maintain it. The higher it got, the narrower the beam, the more I could focus it, and the more powerful it got. It was POWERFUL, and probably would have scared me if I wasn’t so fascinated with it. I sounded like a hyperdimensional hornet on a mission.”
and . .
“With my arms bent out to my side about waist high, palms facing directly down, parallel to the ground, and fingers spread, I went into some incredibly fast inhalations and exhalations, engaging every part of my mouth that could speed up and sound out the process, with my hands moving up and down and around in synch with each short burst of air. The speed I was moving amazed me, and I had the feeling that I was rapid-firing electrons. Apparently this was a way of kicking on the upgraded mental circuitry to a faster speed.”
Eventually, I gathered myself into a sitting position to feel the results of all this work. I then,
“ . . . could sense that a circle was gathering around me, a shamanic brethren of some sort seemed to be gravitating towards my sphere. Ideas and understandings started to appear in my thought field. Slowly at first. These ideas seemed both fed to me yet simultaneously my own – as though ‘I’ now included ‘them’. I felt I was engaged in a telepathic conversation with myself as merged with intelligences from the rain forest. As this ‘conversation’ continued, I even occasionally pulled in the presence of others in our group to add a little personality spice to the mix.
The basic premise of this information had to do with the new human which will eventually, sooner or later, emerge out of this crisis or transition the planet is in. It aligns very well with the Incan prophecy I’d heard about in various places in South America. This being that it was foretold that when the European’s came to the Americas a 500 year period was initiated called the ‘clashing of the cultures’. It would then take 500 years or so for the Europeans to understand the Indians and the Indians to understand the Europeans. This period would end with the appearance of the ‘bridge people’, those who are able to take the best of both worlds and alchemize them into a new culture that can hold and evolve a new human. It was emphatically expressed to me that I was one of these bridge people, as well as others like me, and that the state I was in right now was how bridge people are meant to operate. That, essentially, shamans have access to the software of Nature, and scientists have access to the hardware. One without the other is counter-evolutionary. Apparently, each had to develop separately, or at least in this cycle of humanity it worked out this way, and we are now in the throes of a sorting out and merging process. The destiny of humanity is for us to be both conscious of the multi-dimensionally expressed evolutionary program of Nature, and able to technologically transform Nature and ourselves in acts of higher development and creativity in line with this awareness. When and how this happens is the current issue.
It became clearer to me that Taoism is, or was, a refined and advanced form of shamanism. My interest in it has been for those reasons, and through tai chi chuan, and related therapeutic movement arts, I’ve developed an experiential understanding of the physiological alchemy necessary for the human vehicle to handle higher levels of energy and information. This interest brought me to the shamanic Sourcewaters, which was where I was right now. And that one of my jobs was to further develop the bodily understanding of working a High, of riding the Big Surf of expanded dimensional access, and . . teach it. As I had been doing actually (The previous year I started a tai chi chuan school – very experimental, interweaving teachings from tryps, and serving the underground dance community in San Francisco, CA)
It also became clearer that because this transition is also a cultural process, I was to get out in some form, 1) what it is about mainstream culture that inhibits understanding of the evolutionary program and, 2) the vision of a culture that aligns with this program.
Both of those ‘jobs’ aren’t new to me. But this time their import, and the breadth and depth of understanding I was given was WAY beyond anything I’d experienced before. The conversation quickly picked up speed, and the more information I could handle, the more flowed in. This seemed to increase exponentially. I was in awe observing my mind continue to pick up speed, downloading and processing faster and faster and still keeping it all together. This soon began to be organized into book, called ‘The Native Human’ (a name actually suggested by a member of our group a few days previous – it came up in a conversation we were having about how there should be an ‘indigenous peace corps’ sent to spiritually impoverished towns in the U.S. to teach tribal technologies of the sacred). This was a continuation, or another form of a similar project called ‘A Guide to Aftertrypping’ that I’d been writing notes on for a few years and partially published in a few venues. ‘The Native Human’ was rapidly pieced together, chapter by chapter, a true communal effort. I began to sense more of the qualities of different wisdom in the group that I was ‘conversing’ with as the information was sifted and organized and as I played with narrative voices. This process continued all through the night, seeming to reappear in any gaps of attention on the many other things that were happening.
Time seemed to compress itself as an effect of my simultaneously handling different orders of information. While the above was going on I was continuing to experiment with my voice. I was noticing that having broken clean and clear of the English language musculature patterns, my soundings could be tuned to these other realities I was now dealing with. I was realizing that I was creating vibrational bridges into other dimensions, that I was linking myself up with the spirit world, creating a vocal causeway thru which we could communicate. And as I moved closer into these realms I started seeing our world and the human condition from ‘their’ perspective. And I could see how shamanic maturity comes from familiarity with these worlds, of having allies there, of being part of these communities. I could see the spirit dimensions as an apriori matrix in which our 3-D world is embedded, not unlike a cyst. I realized the difficulties of incarnation in this dense muddled world, and had a metaphor impressed on me, that humans are like deep sea divers, those in the armored suits with air lines and tug lines. The spirit worlds are the sources of these two lines. The life force that animates us comes down one, and guidance is offered by the other. As much as they try to help us, to the extent we cut ourselves off from that world, we cut ourselves off from our origins, purposes, and support. We then identify with the armored suit and flail around down here, twisting our air lines and getting radically lost.
Every so often yet another part of me, aware that I’m in a vulnerable position at the edge of the forest, would look up and check for jaguars or caimans. Since I wasn’t far from the water, the caimans concerned me most. I figured that since D. in his hammock was between me and the greater part of the forest, that a jaguar would go after him first. I later found out that he thought the same thing about me, that the jaguar would get me first, as I was on the ground, meaning we had mutual illusions of security!
Meanwhile the conversation was still going on and the book was still being written. I was getting a little worn out by the continued intensity, but knew there was only so much time to work on all this so I kept at it. . .
The High continued to change. I was aware of the incredible fertility in the air and the earth around me, and began breathing in this vibrancy. I went into long, slow breaths, my mouth circling the thick air like a nipple, taking it in with the appreciation of the ambrosia that it was. I was being fed, rebirthed into the arms of Nature, and nourished with the mother’s milk of life force. I drank it in, letting this primal equatorial rain forest growth exudation permeate my being and fill every cell.
Just as I noticed the sky start to lighten slightly, I felt a closure happening with the conversation. I could sense a round of congratulations happening for a session well done, a sort of going around and patting each other on the back, shaking hands, saying good-bye until next time, and then a dispersal of the energies. I also felt quite clearly that I was an accepted part of this forest/shamanic community now. And with it, I knew, brought a responsibility to protect and evolve what I now realized myself to be part of.
The sky began to turn a soft purple. It appeared as a shimmering film or membrane – still potent and surging with energies – a sign that I still hadn’t fully birthed back through into 3-D reality. My vision was definitely different, colors around me glowed and pulsated with exquisite beauty, sending me into long spells of visual rhapsody. I noticed long-bodied hawkwing moths appear for a brief period. Early morning commuters. We were supposed to break down the camp at dawn for an early departure. I was still High, and hoped rain would delay things.
Time passed . . . I practiced my eyesight by watching drops fall from a leaf high above my head, following each one down on its descent towards my face. Around 8 am or so I heard activity in the camp. It was also time to communicate with D.. I rolled us some tobacco to help stabilize what was left of the High. We then got visitors, bringing smiles and offerings of coffee. Ah so.
Our leader then appeared. After greetings, he took us aside and told us something the shaman had told him that morning. Apparently he had a dream that the ‘diablo’ was coming after us, me and D., to strangle us. He, the devil, thought we were two monkeys, I think capuchin monkeys, sucking on the blossoms of a guava tree (which is associated with the ayahuasca vine). The shaman had to get up, tell the devil we were humans, and then spent the rest of the night protecting us. I didn’t have any awareness of anything like that happening and didn’t, and still don’t, know what to make of it. The upshot was that it was felt we should give him something for his assistance. I gave him my tarp and a magnifying glass. D. gave him a Swiss army knife.
The canoe ride that day was blessedly under an overcast sky, so there was no hot sun to deal with in my still fragile state. I spent a lot of time staring at the forest, feeling out this new relationship with it. The signal was fading, but I still got occasional blips of communication as we passed. We also this day saw our first outing of pink river dolphins, an auspicious sign that I couldn’t help feeling at least partially responsible for.”