Mental preparation. The dieta. No sex. There are number of things that should take place leading up to a sacred plant ceremony. Equally as important is ‘the intention’. That is specifically what you’d like the medicine to heal, cleanse or shine light on. The reason you’ve come to sit down, drink up and speak with The Mother.
I had tossed and turned with the question of my own intention for weeks leading up to my ayahuasca and San Pedro ceremonies. Finally, whittling it down to what was the problem du jour of my existence. ‘My darkness’, as I had come to call it, entered my life at the age of 8 promptly after my father departed from his own. Originally it served to protect me; providing ways and methods to cope with the grief and abandonment of my father’s death at such a young age. From that point onwards, it followed me throughout my life like an extra shadow that I never wanted; a familiar though destructive ally that I never quite could shake. Perfectionism, eating disorders, addiction – it manifested itself in many forms. Of course, eventually evolving into insecurity that crippled, anxiety that took my breath away and depression that stole what should have been the best years of my young life. If I had been victim to in my teenage years, by adulthood I had enough and instead decided to take it (and essentially myself!) to war.
For almost a decade, I attacked this hangover of my childhood grief from every angle available to me: cognitive behaviour therapy, acupuncture, reiki, iridology, yoga, positive manifestations, Buddhism, Taoism, veganism. I tried drowning myself in work, suffocating myself in relationships, changing careers, changing my boyfriend, changing my friends, changing my hair, ‘re-inventing’ my life. I even caught myself arms raised giving praise to the Lord at one point that went on for longer than I like to admit (no offence Hillsong people you’re all very lovely). Yet despite it all; the symptoms persisted. Depression still slept in my bed twice yearly. Insecurity refused to move out. Addiction had me hooked on tobacco. Thought patterns of an anorexic formerly known as moi nagged daily. And, anxiety dropped in at the most inconvenient times.
I had though grown wonderfully capable of deceiving those on the outside (unless they got too close), and to some degree myself, that I could keep it all together. But the stress of this ‘keeping it all together’ seemed to have congealed in my throat – physically, creatively, energetically and another ‘-ly’ I couldn’t quite put my finger on but felt something like a hunch. I found myself in-and-out of hospital with a plethora of throat issues. In my everyday, usually in emotional or creative situations, my throat’s delicate muscle fibres would clench up into a rock that ached with ferocity. It felt as though there was not just a blockage in my throat, but one over my entire life. Trying to achieve goals in my relationships, my career, my finances, my dreams, was like trying to sprint in one of those nightmares where your legs don’t work.
“You’re in the wrong job. You should be writing books,” my bestfriend said and she was right. I wasn’t clueless to the potential that this denial of my full creative expression held some roots. However, culture had its claws in deep. I wasn’t quite ready to turn my back on my good job, urban lifestyle and all the concepts of success that capitalism had reared in me as virtues. The pursuit of the plants – both ayahuasca and San Pedro – were essentially another attempt at healing what I had failed at hundreds of times over.
“I get this pain – like a blockage. In my throat,” I held my oesophagus in the place where it hurt. In an attempt to articulate to my audience my intention AKA the reason why a 27-year-old girl with a ‘good job’ from Sydney had traveled, alone, 13,0000 km’s across the Pacific to drink psychedelic plants at a retreat somewhere in Peru.
The shaman smiled at me under a mop of brunette.
“I see a lot of this type of thing in writers. We can do good work here. Tomorrow, I really want you to focus on that sensation when your throat is activating. Ask the San Pedro to help you.”
“OK. I understand.”
Of course, I didn’t understand at all what was about to happen over the course of the next twelve days and how myself as I knew it was never to be the same again.
P.S. I found a great article a while back on setting you intention and several of other tips to better your ayahuasca or plant medicine experience. Super easy-to-digest, useful and practical advice. Check it out here, compliments of Guy Crittenden and Reset.me 🙂