HIGH SOCIETY: ‘Salt of the Earth’, Ayahuasca & The Astral Body – By Nowick Gray

Source – newagora.ca

  • “…Ayahuasca is no mere joyride, for kicks. The medicine allows you to experience, with more intensity of feeling and awareness, both your weaknesses and limits, and your core strength and integrity….Putting all my planning charts and self-evaluations aside, I can say it was a path of connection to source nurturing energy. What emerged was not a fixed formula, before or after; rather, an evolving self-definition—both freer and more expansive, and more grounded, humbled. All thanks to the human healers, the healing plants, and the healing spirits”

Ayahuasca and the Astral Body – By Nowick Gray

Ayahuasca and the Astral Body

The astral body is all very well, but no heaven is complete, it seems, without its counterbalancing hell. And no hell is everlasting, when there is a return to the place in the middle: planet Earth.

(an excerpt from The Last Tourist, by Nowick Gray)

Setting the stage:

The impetus for my journey to Peru in 2005 was a quest for better health. I had experimented with ayahuasca in controlled settings near my home in BC. In ceremonies led by established traditional shamans of the Peruvian Shipibo tradition, I found some promise of relief from a chronic sinus condition.

The container for ceremony is set by individual intention and group support, in a yurt with low lighting and live ambient music of flute, drum and rattles to accompany shamanic singing. Each person on a mat has blankets, pillow, and a bucket to purge the noxious drug. Within an hour of drinking a shot-glass of the red-brown, bittersweet brew, the visions begin. At least, that’s what normally happens. But every session is different. It gives you what you most need at that time.

Ayahuasca is no mere joyride, for kicks. The medicine allows you to experience, with more intensity of feeling and awareness, both your weaknesses and limits, and your core strength and integrity. After my initiation to ayahuasca ceremonies and revelations near home, I was inspired to sign up for the real thing, a seven-day solo dieta in the Amazon jungle. The trip to Peru promised individualized attention and local medicinal prescriptions, complementing almost-nightly group ayahuasca ceremonies. Inspired at the time also by readings in esoteric alchemy, I imagined that such full immersion could bring my holistic healing process into focus as nothing less than an archetypal, alchemical transformation.

What Goes Up Must Come Down

To spur my milking of the opportunity for all it could yield to my greedy soul, I had been devouring Dennis William Hauck’s hermetic masterpiece The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy for Personal Transformation, taking copious notes to form a template for my own transformation.

The basic ladder of classical alchemy matches well the chakras of the Indian tradition, leading to a crown of gold enlightenment, in seven steps from the base lead of the root chakra, material earth. An interesting capstone to the comparison occurs with a sealing of the ceremony at the end of the process, with the introduction of salt. Along the way impurities and new challenges are worked through and transformed, raising the serpent kundalini to the next level of psychic chemistry.

I dared to intend that these seven stages of classical alchemical soul transmutation would be completed, in my case, not in seven lifetimes, seven decades, seven years, months or weeks, but in just seven days.

Why not?

Self-talking myself into success at each rung of the ladder during the week, I had psyched myself up for level 7: the pinnacle, the peak, the destination, the promised land. Hauck calls it the stage of “Coagulation: Ultima Materiaof the Soul.” Was I ready for this? I believed I was.

My intention going into the stage seven ceremony was to hop on the Astral Travel Express—a full-fledged out-of-body experience. The experience I was given instead made any such notion seem like a cheap parlor trick.

Here was real magic, in which vibration, pure energetic vibration, was the operative reality.

Was I in my body?

Trouble is, there was no I. The body was still, the mind composed, and the plant and the chants took care of the rest.

At first I was resigned to a rather mild and mellow experience—no sickness, calm demeanor, all systems cruising at little more than idle speed. I considered boosting with a second dose. Good idea… not!

Ricardo chanted for me, calm and sweet, and then Guillermo assembled all of us in front of him for his icaros, our aural medicine. Only when his chanting was done, did the fireworks begin in earnest. The room turned into a grand tripping party, with giggles, soft conversation, telepathic smiles. Guillermo’s eighty-year-old mother, Maria, sounded almost playful in her squeaky high voice. Fred’s bass chants rocked with the power of his hoop drum. Russell stood and flapped his arms like wings, the eagle spirit taking fierce hold. Francois wore his best shaman’s expression, a mischievous mask.

I was beaming with a beatific grin, at the wonder of it all, and of Guillermo’s genius as the MC. And there was this disturbing contralto vibration going on from a disco dive deep in the jungle—not our imaginations. It set up a manic minor vibration in my sternum all night long, that left its mark in an irregular pulse and ungrounded state throughout Sunday morning.

Somehow I managed to ride out the waves of nausea, stomach knots, bowel churning, by maintaining a supine posture and breathing with focus. This strategy continued for many hours, both inside the maloca and back in my bed. I never did sleep—I was too wired, floaty, on the edge of survival. I had a vision of my body laid down into the earth, a soft pall of great gray feathers enveloping me in grave comfort.

I stayed out of a negative fixation, though—because I held onto a thin core of stability; because I had weathered worse before (on day 2); and because I was intrigued by the microscopic zoom of my mind-body-spirit-emotion awareness.

I cushioned soft and low, content and quiet. I curled on my side in a fetal position, holding myself as in the incubator—a tender newborn. I called on all my self-healing, self-loving powers to assist in keeping the ship upright and running true. Breath and mind focus were continuous, sustained, but with constant effort required.

Through it all I was awed in the face of the permeating power of full consciousness. My being was transformed into a new body of light and pulsating sensation on the subtle level. I was my astral body: there was no separate or original physical body anymore.

“At this stage,” Hauck tells us, “you are born into the Universe and have arrived at a new plateau, the Greater Mysteries of the ancients.”

Next morning…

I was still tripping, vibrating, pulsing by breakfast time. So it was all true. I had seen what I have come to see, stepped into that place (or at any rate, out of this one). Now what?

What goes up must come down.

In more eloquent terms, Hauck explains,

Dematerialization is not the end, and getting into heaven is not the final stage in alchemy. As Hermes has repeatedly warned us, the eighth stage is a step off the ladder of transformation and a return to where we started.… The successful Coagulation is only made real if it “descends again to Earth” and enters into the processes of projection and multiplication to perfect others. It is the return of Buddha, Mohammed, Christ, and all the saints. In this view, we are truly the Salt of the earth.

That was all very well, but the kicker was the actual fall from the top rung to the salty muck at the bottom.

The brew was vile for this night’s finale, tasting evil, badly fermented. It had everyone retching into their buckets, and staggering to the outhouse with the runs. The maloca was a seething mass of misery—belching, puking, groaning, sighing, thrashing—for what seemed like four hours.

The chants were sometimes calming, sonorous, but more often they offered fitting accompaniment to the sickness vibe.

All this, after our collective intention to “let the love vibe in”?

No, the plant spirits reminded us, day 8 was about returning to the pain and suffering inherent in the wretched human physical body on earth, with emotional, mental and psychic (did someone say “spiritual”?) baggage brought along for the ride.

In the middle of the night poor Damien got paranoid and violent, needing two attendants to restrain him as he yelled out that vampires were after him, that they were going to throw him into the oven. Lana laughed and cried in turns as she milked herself of rivers of residual pain. Maria keened like a black angel and Ricardo, her husband, sang Shipibo blues in the shape of a melting Keith Richards guitar, accompanied by tree frogs careless of our sad condition.

I spent the night in grueling nausea. When Sonia came to escort me to Guillermo, I couldn’t or wouldn’t go—it was too much effort to sit upright, let alone walk or otherwise move across the room. She asked Francois for backup and he convinced me to try. I crawled there and bowed and prostrated myself before the evil magician, pleading silently for some grace. A few bars into his chant I heaved into his bucket. That was the grace. After that I could at least sit up, though I still had to crawl back to my mat when his work on me mercifully ended.

Eventually a couple of trips to the bathroom completed the relief from a continually tormented gut. I was, in short, unimpressed with the prospect of doing any future ceremonies. It was all pain with no gain.

Actually the gain was relative: an experience of small bliss just to feel more normal again. A character-building kind of afterglow, after having endured the worst.

October 31st

Still punky in the morning, abed after most had recovered, I found fetal comfort with the image of Maria and her small slippered feet, a cozy maternal warmth. In the patient passage of those hours, I came to appreciate the value of sacrifice, release, having fully experienced the depth of life’s core suffering.

The astral body is all very well, but no heaven is complete, it seems, without its counterbalancing hell. And no hell is everlasting, when there is a return to the place in the middle: planet Earth.

In the afternoon Guillermo drove the point home by assigning us a dual mission: a two-hour forced march in the sun down the dusty road, only to quench ourselves in the earthly paradise of the lake at the far end, reward and redemption for it all.

Aftermath

I was left with images and metaphors for the pain and suffering I’d endured during the week:

—Like being punched repeatedly by a pro boxer whom I’ve offended or stupidly challenged.

—Like being walked over slowly by a herd of cattle, a slow-motion stampede.

—Like an old shirt being twisted and wrung out, and hung to dry in a damp jungle.

And how would I summarize what alchemy actually occurred within me, a year or fifteen years later? Was it all so very profound, or life-changing at all? My relationship back home came to an end over the next six months; but I could not lay blame or credit clearly on my trip to Peru. Was the journey unforgettable, but so unique it could not be communicated, except by saying, “You just have to go there”?

I did what I wanted then, and was inspired to continue… to “go deeper.” I learned directly how to “listen to the body” and “open the mind.” Still, these are such mundane phrases. Their truth lies in their simplicity. Putting all my planning charts and self-evaluations aside, I can say it was a path of connection to source nurturing energy. What emerged was not a fixed formula, before or after; rather, an evolving self-definition—both freer and more expansive, and more grounded, humbled. All thanks to the human healers, the healing plants, and the healing spirits.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Healing Journeys,” Part III of The Last Tourist, traces a decade (2005–15) of experiences and reflections at four notable world centers of spiritual healing:

  • Amazonia– at Espiritu de Anaconda, a retreat in the Peruvian Amazon with ayahuasca shaman Kestenbetsa
  • Abadiania– site of psychic surgeon John of God’s healing center in central Brazil
  • Ayurveda– at the Poonthattam retreat center in Kerala, India under the direction of Doctor Raveendranath
  • Arunachala– the sacred mountain of Shiva, rising above sage Ramana Maharshi’s ashram in Tiruvannamalai, India

Nowick Gray writes from Salt Spring Island, BC. His books of genre-bending fiction and creative nonfiction explore the borders of nature and civilization, imagination and reality, choice and manifestation. Connect at NowickGray.com to read more. A regular contributor to The New Agora, Nowick also offers perspectives and resources on alternative culture and African drumming, and helps other writers as a freelance copyeditor at HyperEdits.com. Sign up for the “Wild Writings” email newsletter for updates and free offers.

2 thoughts on “HIGH SOCIETY: ‘Salt of the Earth’, Ayahuasca & The Astral Body – By Nowick Gray

  1. Pingback: Virus Not Isolated, Yet Vaccine Produced. – The Searchlight

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