It kind of figures, somewhere on the agenda, along the lines, if I may, that the conversation ought to wear out its welcome and elephantly touch upon the psychedelic realm – after all, we are in the Ecuadorian Amazon basin, whence many shamanic stories come. Then again, if one looks hard enough, any place will have such accounts (or at least a tapestry of fates Inquisitioned), won’t they?
Have you talked to your soul today? Excuse me, Mister, how is your spirit. “I’m in great spirit!”.
So what is there to tell, what kind of tales can we wag?
The rain came just a few minutes ago – it always comes and it – yes, “IT”, has taken some sort of, dare I say?, sentient form. One finds oneself referring to the rain as a colleague or companion, someone to be reckoned with; for it always comes, at some point, and often times violently so. And it just came like that. I could hear it in the distance, turned to look out of the window and I could see it coming in from the hills. Slowly, steadily and the volume rising threateningly, but also comforting: air condition coming up, Massa! It brings air, oxygen, space to breathe in, – and out, deeeeep in-breath. Ahhh.. The rain, my friend.
Having just medically applied some (non-conformist, afternoon) Shiva meditation to a slight, dizzying lingering feeling of perhaps two Cuba Libres too many last night, it is obvious that all channels were open, no signals crossed, and she, is it a she?, I don’t know, but s/he blazed right through me as the distant sound of the tin roofs enveloped me in a wonderful inferno of pure music (read: the horrible sound of tropical, torrential rain on tin roofs). Wow! I liked that.
That is probably the second spirit I have come across around here. For such a presence must indicate that the rain is a, has a spirit? Or, actually, come to think of it, what is a spirit?
I used to think (perhaps you could say “believe”) that spirits resided in the/a metaphorical domain, in much the same way as I read the fantastic fiction (perhaps that is literary genre: fan-fi?) of Carlos Castañeda as fables of something worth consideration. But then I met one, I think. Not like the rain, not a metaphorical spirit – en entity, rather, with proper sentience and presence, and maybe more so, with intent. Directional intent, if it needs qualification.
It came and it went, but it stayed in my mind and changed my view on spirit(ual) matters. They exist (I think that I believe). It wasn’t one of those classic “I’ve seen God” or “I felt the universe breathing through my soul moved to the rhythms of the infinite” (or something) moments. It was stone cold crazy, you know? Empirical evidence presented (itself), rationalised, validated and presented to the upper echelons of my personality (disorders). It takes one (that have seen one) to know one, maybe. So let us account for this transformation of, or should we? say expansion of my mind’s map of “the real world”.
It is late at night, it is dark and I am fast asleep. At some point the dreaming begins to take lucid form, or whatever you want to call it when you feel or experience that you have ““free” will” in your dream, when you are actually going though something much like the waking world, only of course it is still like a dream where everything is possible, where everything is legal or nothing is ruled, except by you and all the skeletons in your closet – perhaps.
I started to have these kinds of dream when I once, many years ago in another life time, withdrew abruptly from the extremely excessive, indeed obsessive use of cannabis characteristic mainly of a male homo stonus, younger than twenty-two, still on a teenage fascination trip with the psychedelic, yet, at the age of around twenty, an adult for all practical purposes: “Stone Free, you know what I mean!?” (Just had to put it on in the background to relieve the Brad Mehldau trio, Stone Free!!) It was two weeks rolling in mad sweat every night during which I learned how to exit a dream, take a piss, and enter right back into the same place in dream land where I came from – a continuity thing happened, which I don’t know if it’s normal to experience, but it felt like something, something out of the ordinary and it was addictive, hehe. In that period I also, beginning with a Danish text-book called Drømmetydning, based mainly on Freud’s The Interpretations of Dreams (?maybe that is where it all went wrong), experimented with writing down dreams in a semi-wake state in bed, sort of willing yourself to wake up when the credits roll at the end of a dream and just jot down some stuff to recall better when you wake up in the morning.
<slight digression>“Lasternes sum er konstant”, som man siger, som man siger ((_*very*_)insider joke), the Danish saying goes something like “the sum of the vices is a constant”, meaning that if you lose a bit of intoxication on the swings, you gain it on the merry-go-round, init?</slight digression>
So there I was dreaming away in this new, exotic and depressing place where the traces left by a ravaging economy (ours, so to speak, the whole Freedom and Democracy Commodity Circus) hit you like a hammer.
Had only arrived a few days earlier after spending a week in the other-worldly Quito. In Tena I met Guayusa (waii-oohsa). Colona had raved about it, great stuff for working. Have a cuppa, and then another, at six-seven in the morning and you’re fresh for the assembly line -or the keyboard to be more specific. It’s like caffeine, its principle drug, from coffee, with the same kind of upsides, but with added value. A slight hint of something almost towards hallucinogenic in an intellectual sense, some clarity (if you catch my drift), synchronicity, or enhanced pattern recognition – and then the icing on the cake: it has next to no jittering jigginess and spun out side-effects for quite some hours; –perhaps, for this particular metabolism it means that you can work really hard, consistently in front of the screen until the later afternoon. The traditional use is comparable to the cultural practices around (Mama) Coca in the Andes and coffee (and sugar) in capitalism. Great for work and as a stimulant for leisure. (See below how it can also be overdone! 🙂
Boil it as long as you like, twenty minutes is good, an hour makes it really dark and potent. Let it simmer for an hour in the evening, leave the leaves in and heat it up for ten minutes in the morning. Rocket fuel. Two cups (per 100Kg body weight) to begin with, perhaps a third within an hour if you are not quite fully there. Honey is your companion on this mission. Then another after a few hours and when it begins to wear off and the fresh energy enhanced morning fades to grey afternoon, then have a few more cups and add a bit of rum (needless to say, it has to be dark or golden) to stabilise, flatline, the jitter-jigger that will have occurred by then. Chill at night, do some meridian stretching, go for a swim, whatever you need to balance the static life of a (researcher) writer. Essential to unwind the brain is film watching, Hollywood stuff like crime and action or thriller where you just switch to auto-pilot and roll with it and close your eyes in the happy ending – or a good series. (Completely off-topic, hehe, we watched Six Feet Under, all of it, obsessively, the best TV series experience I have ever had.) As usual, if that’s your thing for working, add cannabis to taste.
It had been a fantastic day, the first one in the company of Guayusa. She helped me to draft half a chapter of my thesis that morning, -it all made sense, it was all in order, -and the rest of the thesis, the relations between the chapters, it all began to make sense. It was all about differentiated unity, the writing that is. The next night, or the night after, not quite sure, but it was still one of those first few nights in a new life (or more modestly, new place), a spirit came without knocking..
We were later to read, when embarking on a google mission to get to know this great tea, that Guayusa drunk late at night has been documented/reported as a catalyst for lucid dreaming. Yes, Sir, Guayusa, why not sir, it can most certainly “interfere” with your dream states.
It was still dark. “Someone” comes into the room with a commissarial attitude, with the nose of an inspector of the kind you would fear as a child, the dark side of the patriarchal world settling upon you, scrutinising your conformity – to whatever. It felt like whatever and it felt like something being confronted with something “I didn’t do“ (doesn’t it always, though?, hehe), -and if, then unwittingly so. He, I think it was clearly a he spirit, passed along the bed, which was oriented 45 degrees differently back then, off the wall, not along it, but along the passageway in from the outer door. Then suddenly slapped me in the arse really really hard, but still only in order to establish authority rather than to punish or be outright malicious or vicious, -came round and stood at the end of the bed where I could so clearly feel his presence.
I had to wake up, I think (that I didn’t think), my fear took over and in some sort of rational? defence I cried out in twisted agony to Colona: “!!Tell me that there is no one here, that there is no one at the end of the bed!!???!” which she calmly confirmed and did the old mama thing, “It was “just” a dream” and in some sort of denial and confusion and maybe incapacity to deal with episode we somehow went back to sleep. The next day she confesses that she had just woke up a few seconds before me because she was scared shitless by a non-benevolent “presence” at the foot-end of the bed.
Shortly after there were garlics and chilis in the windows and over the bed, the remains of which still guard our sleeping lives from intruding spirits.
A spirit had visited to check on the new comers.
That it was a collective experience/hallucination/perception/psychedelic moment somewhat lends it a kind of, for want of a better word, credibility; it is as if it moves from subject(ive perception) to object(ive reality) more easily, like there is some sort of empirical data verified by someone else, something that you can have a dialogue around, rather than just a sort of therapeutic talk about. That might be an unhelpful way to classify it, and to take as a rule for anything, but it does nevertheless feel a bit like that. It might be a yet defence mechanism – to remove it a little bit from my head, as it if was too close for sanity comfort if you had to live it by your self.
It is a shame, at least so it feels now, half a year later, that we were so scared – since we have had no visitors of this spiritual form (and certainly not with such a harsh arse-slapping touch), and who knows, if he just gave up on us, a bunch of mama-skirtie dangling gringos, and published in Spirit News that we were no fun to dance with. I wish I had just begun interacting with the presence and seen what had happened, I wish that Colona has been less scared and not performed this transcending, reflexive defence and instead confronted us with the matter at hands. But it could have been devastating, for it was not some sort of fluffy airy-fairy angel that had come for tea, it was mean, lean business of the dark side.
Later we also learned that Guayusa is ritually used before drinking Ayahuasca to mentally focus better and more confidently when entering into the trip, and also mixed in with the Ayahuasca to better the horrible taste.
Did the spirit come to check on our intentions, now that we so strongly drew upon the force of the Guayusa, was he accounting on the force field and wanted to check our access privileges and intentions? Was he warning us – “this is what it’ll be like if you rummage around here being nosy”. Perfect paranoia is perfect awareness.
…..to be continued………
Some links to the world of Guayusa:
And some “random” information for self medicators:
Title: holly, Columbia Encyclopedia:
holly, common name for members of the Aquifoliaceae, a family of widely distributed trees and shrubs, most numerous in Central and South America. The evergreen English holly (Ilex aquifolium), the common holly of Europe, cultivated also in North America, is closely associated with Christmas tradition. The American holly (I. opaca), native to the E United States, is very similar; both are so popular for their decorative spiny leaves and red berries that they are becoming scarce. The hard white wood of both species is used for cabinetmaking and related purposes; it is close grained and polishes easily. Maté, Yerba maté, or Paraguay tea (I. paraguariensis) is very important commercially in S South America as the source of a popular tea like beverage. Guayusa (I. guayusa) is similarly important in Ecuador. Teas and medicinal preparations are also made from some other members of the family, e.g., yaupon and winterberry, or feverbush, both of E North America. Wild or mountain holly (Nemopanthus mucronata) is a deciduous shrub of E North America. Many species of this family are cultivated as ornamentals. Holly is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Celastrales, family Aquifoliaceae.
Another abstract reads:
“In Amazonian Peru and Ecuador leaf decoctions of the rainforest holly Ilex guayusa with high caffeine concentrations are used as a morning stimulant. After daily ingestion, ritualistic vomiting by male Achuar Indians, better known as Jivaros, reduces excessive caffeine intake, so that blood levels of caffeine and biotransformed dimethylxanthines do not cause undesirable CNS and other effects. Emesis is learned and apparently not due to emetic compounds.”
This article is talked about here:
Many people start each day with a steaming mug of coffee to sweep away the last cobwebs of sleep. But coffee just doesn’t pack a big enough punch for the male members of a remote Amazonian tribe called the Achuar Jivaro, report two ethnobotanists from Washington University in St. Louis.
Walter H. Lewis and Memory Elvin-Lewis found that Achuar Jivaro tribesmen — who live in the Amazonian regions of Peru and Ecuador — each morning quaff an herbal tea that contains the caffeine equivalent of five cups of coffee. But even more interestingly the two researchers discovered that the men routinely vomit up most of the tea in order to avoid caffeine-overdose symptoms such as headache, profuse sweating and a bad case of the jitters.
The daily vomiting, or emesis, “is simply part of [an Achuar Jivaro] macho ritual, passed down through the ages,” says Lewis. “The tea is so pleasing that they overindulge, vomit to rid themselves of the excess caffeine, then go about their business,” he says.
The Achuar Jivaro make their jolting beverage from the leaves of a South American holly Ilex guayusa, which contains the highest percentage of caffeine by dry weight of any plant in the world, Lewis says.
Through biochemical studies, the Washington University team determined that the holly does not contain any naturally occurring emetic, which would have explained the tribesmen’s vomiting.”
Good stuff, ehh?
Another abstract (from http://content.apa.org/journals/pha/6/1/87 )“Behavioral effects of caffeine and other methylxanthines on children”, published in Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. 6(1), Feb 1998, 87-95.
“Subjective, performance-enhancing, dependence-producing, and adverse effects of methylxanthines are examined, based on computerized searches (i.e., Medline and PsycLIT). High doses (> 3 mg/kg) of caffeine in children who consume little caffeine produce negative subjective effects such as nervousness, jitteriness, stomachaches, and nausea. Whether lower doses produce positive subjective effects has not been adequately tested. Caffeine appears to slightly improve vigilance performance and decrease reaction time in healthy children who habitually consume caffeine but does not consistently improve performance in children with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder. Early studies suggest caffeine self-administration and withdrawal can occur in some adolescent soda drinkers.”