To my right sits the warrior. Stoic. Hooded. Fierce. To my left sits the healer. Open. Glowing. Hallowed. Directly across from me in the circle I see my teacher. Still. Allowing. True North.
The lesson is gratitude. Universal counsel surrounds sacred circle. On the outskirts the protector compassionately holds safe space.
I breathe deeply inhaling gratitude. Taking it into every cell. All nooks and small hiding places open to receive the lesson. Gratitude. Please hear me. She’s here now and I can feel grandmother medicine gliding through the circle shining over each one of us as part of the lesson. My lesson.
And now gratitude for my wounds, healer touching it with love.
And now gratitude for my fight, warrior standing firm by my side.
And now gratitude for my growing pains, teacher guiding with knowing.
And now gratitude for my vulnerabilities, protector keeping me safe.
Silent now, dear one. All hearts are beating in union. Listen now dear one. The lesson is gratitude We are grateful for your remembering. Again and again. And yet again. Please turn your ears up dear one and listen. Stop fighting and surrender.
It’s not my first ceremony and I’m having trouble surrendering. This is nothing new. I haven’t wanted to surrender most of my life and I often actually believe it is the only reason I’m still alive.
No it’s not my first at all. This is actually my third ceremony.
6 years ago I had a very small affair with Ayahuasca in two different circles. I didn’t stick around for more after the second one.
At that time I was crawling out of a tepee as the moon shone directly on the vibrating ground. Turns out it wasn’t the ground moving but snakes and scorpions from the netherworld. I had the wherewithal to understand it was the psychedelic tea making me “see” things so I dragged myself by my arms away to a shock of bushes shimmying my ‘broken’ legs behind me and stuck my finger so far down my throat I was sure it would come out the other side.
Just get it out of me. Get out of me. I tried again. I was sure I was going nuts and I wanted the hallucinations to stop. I wasn’t surrendering to shit.
Damnit, everyone says this stuff is supposed to make you throw up, or get well if you’re one of the die hards who does this shit for every equinox. For whatever reason I can’t make myself “get well”. In hindsight I see maybe it was because throwing up is actually a form of surrender and I’d already decided I wouldn’t be doing that.
Someone comes out to check on me and I’m too out of it figure out he’s even human, instead, I’m sure it’s a demon bringing me back inside the tepee where I moan and yell and ask the shaman what the hell is inside of me, “The holy spirit” he says.
I’m pretty sure I got that one covered since I asked Jesus into my life at 10 years old so I don’t believe him. This is something much worse, something terrifying. I’m not ready to face it and driving away in my car the next morning I quickly close the door on this form of healing even though I notice general benefits for the months following.
Everything in due time, and Aya wasn’t done with me, but I still had some lessons to learn and some healing to experience before I was ready for the mastery chapter of this book.
Lucky for me, it’s now my official third ceremony and I’m having a much different experience. Specifically everything, while still scary, is way the fuck less scary and I hear a voice guiding me. I can tell it’s her because she calls me ‘dear one’ every time she speaks. This is not an endearment I’ve ever used with myself. She’s guiding me to surrender but I still live by the belief construct that fiercely gripping and holding on is the only thing keeping me alive.
I know if I hadn’t been so stubborn in my earlier life I’d be dead now. Surrender sounds like a sure fire way to die. And even though I’ve had multiple experiences of thinking I wanted to die I know deep down I didn’t surrender and it’s why I’m alive.
In this moment with waves of nausea hitting me I thinking dying doesn’t sound like a bad idea but I still don’t want to surrender. Like, not at all. Not even a little bit.
“Let me take your bucket, I got this one”. The healer has tapped me on the shoulder and stoned out of my mind I look up. I’m confused for a moment before I can answer.
“Oh no” I say, “there’s nothing in there”. I look down to double check.
Most people experience some kind of vomiting during ceremony which is why each participant sits with a bucket behind their spot in the circle.
I’d been heaving for what feels like hours but nothing has actually left my body. This ceremony is new, and even so time has stood still in one way. Like 6 years ago, I still desperately want to get well and I hold my bucket tightly between my legs gagging and choking.
It is different this time though. I’m not trying to force the tea out of my body anymore. Instead of sticking my fingers down my throat I keep them white-knuckled around my bucket and understand if I throw up so be it, if not so be it, either way there’s a lesson here for me.
Yes dear one. Gratitude. But now it’s time and you must surrender.
“Fuck you,“ I think with my brain. It’s the one part of myself not flowing with medicine and my Ego is holding down the hatches terrified of personal annihilation.
Aya has a way of showing you what you’re made of. If you’re filled with fear what you see will be fear. If you are filled with love what you see will be love. And I believe we are all love but it’s often masked by the trauma we’ve experienced in our lives. At this point I know I am love. I have some moments beautiful moments with the medicine too. A color show and an experience of oneness and pure love. Exactly what I am. I am love.
My fear mind can’t handle so much love and I ping pong back and forth between expressions of beauty and dark ones of fear and shame.
The warrior hasn’t moved in awhile and I look over to see if she’s still breathing then stop to feel a bit of her fierceness radiating from her solid straight back. I wonder if there’s a difference between fierceness and lack of surrender whatever you might call that. Oh, maybe stubbornness. Yes. Maybe she’s just being stubborn.
No, you are dear one. Let her have her journey. It’s time for you to let go and allow.
We’ve only drank one cup of the three we will ingest tonight and Aya’s not backing down on me and keeps whispering in my ear.
I try to quietly put her voice on mute and think about what I should do.
Action is required to get to the state of flow. Action is required to rinse the sadness and the grief from my cells, action is required to release the addictions, the distractions, the traumas, the struggles, the fights all keeping me from wholeness. Action is required to reach joy. It lives in the center, it lives in the flow and action is required. I must do something.
No, dear one, surrender and allowing are all that is required, not action.
In my brain, I understand to reach these unique states of being I must take particular action. And in the same moment I can feel in my heart you don’t need to take action if you just ARE. It’s a weird conundrum which wholly makes sense to me while I’m tripping the tea fantastic.
At my core I am love. And love is surrender. Love is allowing. Since it is who I am there is no action required. It’s a total AH-HA! moment and I grab a pen to write it down in my journal.
I know I’ve left only one pen sitting next to me but looking down now I see hundreds of them.
You’ll forget this tomorrow dear one but it is still important for you to feel it and a part of you will integrate this. You are on a path to mastery. Stay on the path. Don’t lose sight of effortless action.
I look again and locate the one pen that seems real, I pick it up and it moves quickly across my page. Faster than I could ever think or write.
I feel I must dissolve the trauma I’m holding to find a state of effortless action but the answer comes fiercely onto the paper.
Written on the page:
There is no action to take and nothing to dissolve, that alone implies it is real and it’s not real so you don’t need to do anything or dissolve anything. Just be it. Be one with it. This is the point and this is easy dear one. It is this easy, ego Dissolution.
Tomorrow when I look at this paragraph written on one page with pages before it of scribbles and pages after, some legible-some not, I’ll remember it made complete sense the night before but I won’t feel it in the same way I remember feeling it with the medicine in me.
Pages and pages of notes and many resonate with me and as I read through all the paper I filled up throughout the 24 experience and 3 cups of tea (honestly more of a thick resin like sludge than tea) I drank.
Words on paper:
You can’t write truth only live it.
We can speak through your pen and as soon as it leaves you it is no longer truth.
Even still it will bring you back to us more quickly though. So keep writing, dear one.
I hear the word “vigilant” ring out in my head, exactly the way B.S. Gonkea said it during my Vipassana training but I immediately feel Aya laughing sweetly inside the very word.
There is nothing vigilant about surrender, and yet there is everything vigilant about it too. She loves the paradox as does Vipassana. Just in a softer, more gentle way.
After a night of this intense healing I think movement feels like the perfect integration of the lesson of gratitude so I uncross my legs and unsteadily stand up.
It’s daylight and the circle is broken. The teacher smiles knowingly at all of us and I give the protector a huge hug thanking her for holding such a powerful space for me during the night.
I’m aware we had a complete experience of oneness and also our own separate journeys with the medicine as well.
Inspiration returns with a thoughtful inhale and exhale. Intentional and audible. Definitely grateful.
Knowing I surrendered a bit through the night. And still so much work to do. I will be back again, it’s one thing I know for sure.