Samson Part 1 - A Myth That Made Me

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Introduction

This is part one of a work that is quickly becoming something large. I am sharing this first part to get your help. I need to know what is unclear here, what Jungian ideas I may need to introduce or explain, and whether or not this is even meaningful to people other than me.

So, I have a favor to ask. If you read this, please leave a comment with your feedback. What questions do you have? What ideas do I need to explain or clarify? And is this useful? Thank you for your awareness and love. Enjoy.


A Myth That Made Me

On a bright Monday afternoon, as I went for a walk to clear my mind, remembering a comment my physical therapist made changed my life.

I was walking around where I work. Well, I was limping around where I work. A few weeks earlier I had tweaked my back trying to impress a gym girl who didn’t notice me. The following day I went to a yoga class and earned myself a spasmed back muscle.

My inability to get out of bed without wincing led me to contact all the body magicians I knew. One of them is a local physical therapist who is the best combination of Western and Eastern medicine. He’s the kind of technically skilled woo only Austin and LSD can produce.

I had seen him the morning of my walking epiphany, and it was a comment he made that served as the floating strand of hair that connected two open wires in my brain that, once connected, sent an explosion of insight throughout my consciousness unlike anything I can remember that didn’t involve psychedelics.

As he was working on my low back, he said:

“Will you do something if I tell you to?”

“Uhh, it depends what it is, but probably.”

“My Ancestors told me to tell you to shave your beard.”

*few seconds of silence*

“...I’m probably not going to do that, but it’s interesting you got that message. I’ll think about it.”

I’m not shaving my beard, but I thought about his comment as I walked around the cement cathedral where I play with symbols all day.

The reason I took that walk is because I had a lot on my mind. Also, I think it’s because I read a Nietzsche quote that day:

“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”

The purpose of my reflective stroll was to bring some order to my life. I felt overwhelmed. I recently got promoted at work, and I felt (and still feel) like I’m not doing enough. I’d fallen in love with someone who loves me ‘as a friend.’ My back was the weakest and most upset it’s been in nearly 5 years, and, the bow on top was I was beginning to feel my intuition pointing me away from a soul project I’d put over 250 hours into that wasn’t complete — which my ego fucking hated.

But if I’m being real, only one of these really mattered to the single 28 year old that day.

I was trying to wrap my mind around why it seemed my heart demanded my mind and soul kneel while he chased a woman who wasn’t into us (my heart, mind, and soul).

I talk to myself, and for the first 30 minutes of this walk, I talked through my work, relationship, physical, and soul problems. I felt great. I felt like I knew what each of my next steps were, and for the rest of the walk I allowed my mind to wonder.

And it was in this space that I came upon the comment my PT made earlier that day.

Why did his intuition feel the need to say that?

It’s odd what happened in my mind, and I want to do the best I can to explain it accurately.

As I asked the question above, my mind spontaneously jumped to two dreams I had recently. One involved an unconscious teenage male with long blonde hair rising out of the ocean. Another involved a professor trying to teach me the history of Christianity and behind her on a whiteboard was the world DELILAH in all caps.

To keep this brief, I’m a student of what’s called Depth Psychology, and I believe our dreams are trying to communicate with us, and that these two dreams felt like ‘big’ dreams — and they were pointing me towards something significant (I share the exact dreams and my interpretations of them later).

Witnessing my mind making this spontaneous association to these dreams felt like it was my unconscious showing me why the PT’s comment was meaningful. It was a nudge to me to look at these dreams.

My next thought was:

“What is the Samson story?”

I knew there was a story from the Bible about a man who had his hair cut off by a woman named Delilah, but I had never actually read the story.

So, I used the little slot machine we all have in our pocket and looked it up.

A quick Google search showed me this:

Samson was bad with women. He was betrayed by a woman called Delilah, had his hair cut off, lost his superhuman strength, was enslaved in a temple, and eventually prayed his power back and ripped down a column in the temple killing everyone including himself.

(Before I share what happened next, it may be useful to explain a few things. Depth psychology hypothesizes that most of ourselves are unconscious to us, and that there are ‘personalities’ called ‘complexes’ in us that when activated, overtake our consciousness — like when people say “I wasn’t myself” or “I lost it”. Depth psychologists believed mythology’s main characters were examples of these ‘complexes.’ So, one of the ‘holy grails’ of depth psychology is to identify a universal ‘complex’ a group of humans tend to have, then to find the mythological character that matches the personality).

A piece of that story I didn’t know echoed in my mind.

He brought down the temple in his rage.

What is the metaphor we use for the body? A temple.

As I’m limping — I started thinking about the first time I felt ‘betrayed’ by the feminine, and how it led me to start playing basketball, and how over the following 10 years, I used basketball to fucking destroy my body. And I thought about how my recent antics in the gym followed my realizing the woman I was in love with wasn’t feeling me how I was feeling her.

I don’t know if other people experience this, but there are moments in my life where I feel time slows down, I’m sucked more deeply into the present moment, and my senses heighten. I can feel and hear my heart beating, I feel like I can hear the shape of the room, and I can process information faster than normal.

I’m feeling this as I finish reading the Samson myth. Like a calm certainty descending on me from a cloud from God, I know “I have a Samson Complex.”

Instantly I witnessed my mind start putting dozens of memories together. It started linking all my major intimate connections with women together, it began organizing and cataloguing all my physical injuries, and I saw why my heart hijacked my mind to fall in love with this girl I was currently stressing over.

Due to a traumatic experience I had when I was 12, I began to weave the unconscious story “I can’t trust women. My sexuality is shameful. Because your sexuality is a byproduct of your body, and your sexuality is shameful, destroy your body.” And this was the beginning of my Samson Complex.

For years I had studied Jungian psychology — I knew about the collective unconscious, how it sometimes speaks to you in myths you’ve never learned, how we develop complexes in early life to adapt to our situation, and how the goal of the individuation process is to become aware of our complexes and learn to integrate them.

Those were words...and I had just experienced the birthing awareness of my complex.

For the rest of the day I sat in this kind of glow that is hard to describe. I had experienced bringing a complex from the unconscious to the conscious, and now I was going to use all my skills to integrate it.

Since that day I’ve worked on this writing everyday. I know my way of integrating this insight is to write about it in such a way it makes sense to me, but also so it can be a torch in the cave for anyone else who wants to dive down this part of their psyche.

So, in order to integrate this, I am going to share each of my most intense intimate relationships with the feminine, then I will share all the major physical injuries I’ve experienced, and inspect them through the Samson lens.

Then I’m going to give my best description of what the Samson Complex is, and how I am going forward integrating it.

On one level this writing is solely for my soul. I am writing to organize my own psyche, and to help me liberate myself from the control of this complex. But there is a second level here. I am going to share every part of my history that I feel feeds this complex so that you have as many examples as I can offer to help you write your version of this.

Chapel Perilous: How Meditation Helped Me Surf My Darkest Trip

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Alex Grey is a wizard. In a few square inches, instantly apprehensible, this picture may do a better job expressing my trip than all the words I am about to type, but this is his gift.

My gift - the net I get to take into altered-states - is language. This trip report is my best attempt to create something useful out of something terrifying.

On that face is Awe. That is the face one makes when they encounter something terrifyingly transcendent. There is also a hint of realization, as if the overwhelming witnessing is also self-evidently true, that what is being seen is more true than anything else those eyes had seen before.

This is what I felt.

Some Background

I'm a peculiar mix. I'm a cognitive psychologist with a strong logical mind, but I also have a borderline-schizophrenic intuitive mind that is drawn to Carl Jung's psychology and psychedelics.

Since I can remember, I've been a radical Atheist who looked to debate anyone about any claim that couldn't be validated by the scientific method. In hindsight, I think I was a scared little human, desperately looking for someone to help him find a rational path to God.

Once I started taking psychedelics at 19, this rigid scientific materialism view of the world started cracking. After 2 years of intermittent psilocybin use chipping away at the foundation of my belief system, two DMT trips blew the motherfucker wide open.

These two trips seemed like they unleashed this borderline-schizophrenic intuitive mind I didn't know I had. Since this part of my mind came online, weed has never been the same. Where before I could smoke for hours with friends everyday for months on end; after, even a single hit can send me into a very rewarding, but never dull, psychedelic experience.

I think this will set the stage and help explain why a single bite from a 375mg THC medicinal cookie sent me into the most harrowing psychedelic experience I've ever had.

Chapel Perilous: The Three Myths 

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It’s a cliche now in trip reports to say you experienced ego-death. I hope to avoid this by trying my very best to articulate what happened to me.

It's a Wednesday night. I'm visiting my family for the holidays. My mom has a medical marijuana licenses, and she got me a THC cookie. In my poor attempt at relaxation, I decide to eat a little bit of this cookie. I broke off about a 5th and started chewing.

It was fucking delicious. As I chewed the last bits, I went to sit in a living room recliner with my notepad. I'm in the midst of writing an ebook and wanted to catch any interesting ideas that'd flip by.

After about 30 minutes, I thought “ah, this is nice. I feel it.”

Time stopped making sense soon after this.

At some indeterminable point, I began to notice my heartbeat. It was very loud, and seemed to be pumping very fast. I was beginning to sense that this was going to be more than I thought it was going to be.

I put my notebook down and moved my right hand over my left wrist to try and get a sense of my heartbeat. I couldn't get a clear sense, because I began to notice that I could hear my heart pulsing in my neck, and I could feel it pounding in my chest. It felt like my heartbeat was surrounding me. It felt everywhere.

I felt fear knocking at the door of my consciousness asking if it needed to come in and start screaming. I felt calmly in control and let him know that it was fine and that he could leave. I got into a meditative posture, closed my eyes, and just started sitting with my breath and this experience.

It felt like I was sitting in the calm center of a storm. My heart had to have been beating close to 200 times a minute. My fight-or-flight response was at 10. My body was as alive as it possibly could be, but I felt calm, centered, and present.

But at some point I slipped. I let the door open and fear stampeded in, and fueled by my ancestor's threat-detection systems, began shrieking.

This is when the stories started.

Psychologist's Note:

Our thoughts, emotions, and physiology are in a constant feedback loop. When your heartbeat is at its physiological limit, and your mind senses you aren't sprinting or lifting something heavy, your abstract mind is going to go looking for a reason why the heart is freaking out. This is what I think began happening here. My mind started looking for the most terrifying stories it could create that would justify my physiology.

Story #1: You're Waking Up From a Coma 

The first story that came to mind was that I was actually waking up out of a coma.

This life, all these memories, all these plans, all the people I knew and loved, they were comforting creations I had dreamt to protect myself from the fact that I’m suspended in a coma somewhere, with a broken or permanently disfigured body.

Writing these words lack something significant...the feeling.

John Hopkin's University has done some amazing modern psilocybin studies. One of the common reports they collect from subjects is that the psilocybin experience feels "more real than real life."

This...realization that I was finally remembering I was in a coma, felt more real than real life.

Most psychonauts have felt this feeling. I was feeling this feeling. I knew this to be true. I was in a coma. I was waking up. I was so sad. I felt pain for myself. I had been so weak, so afraid of the truth of my existence, that I had created this life, this story, to cope.

Once the pity had washed away, I accepted. I tried embracing the reality of my existence. I was ready to wake up.

As if the THC was waiting for me to think this thought, the story shifted up a notch in existential intensity.

Story #2: You Aren't a Person, You're A Computer Simulating Humanity 

No, I wasn’t in a coma. There was no I. There was only this computer running this simulation.

Humanity, it's cultures, myths, religions, stories, and heroes, were all bits of code running on this computer. And the computer was finally realizing this. The computer saw that its perspective had been contained by the avatar Erick. This sliver of the program was gone.

The computer was realizing itself.

And it broke.

The computer was not capable of realizing itself. The simulation crashed, and the feeling of consciousness that thought itself the computer entered a broken loop. There was nothing other than the sensation of broken, self-referencing looping. This was what happens when this kind of computer breaks. This would be its state forever.

---

This is what this experience felt like.

It felt like I (the thing that feels like Erick) was an illusion. That humanity and everything inside of it was too.

The feeling was what was so disturbing.

This felt like TRUTH. Like it was more true then all the things I've experienced in my life. I truly felt like I was finally waking up out of the illusion of life, but that the “truth” was infinitely worse. My fundamental nature was that of a broken, looping consciousness.

I think this headspace has been mapped by others and called hell.

Slowly, a new story started that was a little more optimistic.

Story #3: Reincarnation 

Ok, I guess I wasn't in a coma, nor was I a computer (or I realized I wasn't ready to handle either of those "truths").

The next story that presented itself was something like reincarnation.

Both the coma and the simulation story was more a sensation than anything else. This story appeared more as an image than a sensation.

In my mind's eye, it looked as if my consciousness was in my lap, looking up at the bottom of my head. Above my head wasn't our roof, but the sky, and above the sky I could see space.

There was a massive, miles long circular tube passing through my skull, arching up through the sky, into space, and looping back down into the other side of my skull. Inside this tube looked like phantoms of my past and future self. The sense I got from the image was that this was the karmic wheel.

The weirder part was what was in the middle of this atmospheric halo. There were two globular bundles of something pushing up against each other. One of them felt feminine, organic, mushroom-y, and alive. The other felt masculine, technologic, demonic, and void. These two things felt like they were equals, required, and both dancing and fighting with each other.

They felt like they gave gravitational stability to the karmic ring.

This image still had the same feeling the other two stories had; that it felt more real than real life, but this story didn't completely flatten my hope and life.

Psychologist's Note: I don't know if any of these three stories are objectively true. If I were a betting man, I'd say they all three were attempts my brain was offering to explain why the fuck the monkey suit was at DEFCON 13. However, in the moment, they felt more true than real life. I have newly founded compassion for people who have psychotic breaks. The key is this feeling of certainty.

Ego Comes Back Online 

At some point, (post hoc research has this about 2 hours after I ate the cookie) my ego came back online and I realized, I WAS FREAKING THE FUCK OUT.

Mentally though.

Physically, my mom and sister said I just looked like I was meditating for 2 hours in the living room.

I realized I was higher than I had ever been before, and that, for whatever reason, my fucking brain was creating the most terrifying existential stories it could dream up.

I thought I must have looked like a fucking goon, and not wanting to scare my family, I thought going to the bathroom would be a good idea. I'd take a shower, and get in bed to ride the rest of this thing out.

As I stumbled into the bathroom, a whole new set of stories came up.

What proceeded was one of the darkest hours of my life, where I truly believe some luck and a meditative mantra kept me from ending up in a hospital from a psychotic break.

Psychologist's Note:

Our psyches evolved to operate in a group of 50-150 people. It seems to be that our mind generates mini-stories for each of these people so we can roughly predict how they will act so we know how to act. We all generate these stories effortlessly.

As a psychologist, I either am more attuned or more obsessed by the stories of the people in my tribe. At this point in the trip, it felt like my mind was compelled to live out some of the most traumatic stories I know are a part of people in my tribe.

Accepting and Loving The Traumas

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I'm a young and naive aspiring therapist. I read the books and do the research, but I have very little experience looking another human in the eyes and feeling their pain as they share the most traumatic experiences of their lives.

It seems that some part of my brain thought it time to undergo some training. My brain attempted to run the simulation of what it would be like to be someone who:

-was ashamed of their sexuality
-had been molested
-had molested someone
-had been raped
-had raped someone
-had been physically abused
-had been the physical abuser
-had been in a coma
-had a psychotic breakdown

It's hard to describe what this was like. These stories weren't as consuming as the previous three. It felt almost like I was living other people's lives, and having to sit with the question, "What do I do if (traumatic event) happened to me?"

I don’t think I would have been able to sense this distinction if I hadn’t been meditating daily. I think if I didn’t have the base of meditation, the chances I would have been taken to the hospital due to a psychotic break would have been unnervingly higher.

It was painful. I felt like I was deeply empathizing with what it would be like to have been through each of these acts. I couldn't think or do anything other than utter;

"I love. I accept."

I don't know where this idea came from, but it saved me. I started repeating it over and over in my mind. I've practiced transcendental meditation, so this felt familiar in some way.

For the next two hours these traumas took turns arising in awareness.

"I love. I accept."

Each time I said this phrase, the traumatic story that preceded it dissipated like smoke. A new trauma would arise, and I’d repeat the mantra.

“I love. I accept.”

Poof. Again and again and again for hours I seared a head of the hydra with love and acceptance.

‘I love. I accept” saved my brain.

The Comedown

Eventually I felt “back.”

After being in the bathroom for 2 hours and failing to shower, I crawled into bed.

What had happened the last 4 hours felt like a dream. (It still feels like a dream).

Before I dozed off, I felt certain that I felt a mycelium like spreading happening in my brain. I felt like I was feeling my brain increasing in density. It was weird, but also likely another story I was generating.

“I love. I accept.”

Poof. Gone.

And I fell asleep.

Hindsight

I'm an existential neurotic. I've been grappling with unfalsifiable, terrifying ideas since college. After several dozen psilocybin and LSD experiences, this fucking edible sent me deeper into my imagined hell stories than anything I’ve ever experienced.

I can't, and never will be able to, know if these stories are true, but I do think this trip gave me a deep gift. This mantra of "I love, I accept" feels very powerful. This is the philosopher's stone that will transmute any "what if" base metal story into a golden gift.

So what if it is true? I love the creativity, and I accept what is as it is.

As for the traumas, I think this was a gift too.

These things happen. If I want to be able to help people, I have to be able to look these facts of existence in the eyes, accept that they are, and to love the humans regardless.

I loved that this experience happened, and I accept that over the course of my life, I will have to revisit Hell and experience worse traumas. I'll bring my mantra with me.

Whatever the story; love it, accept it.

Peru Trip Report: Part 2

If you haven’t read part 1, it is here.

In this trip report is one of the most blissful hours of my life, one of the most meaningful hours of my life, and absolutely one of the most challenging hours of my life.

In the course of three days I tasted a piece of heaven, saw a slice of my future, and I dipped my mind into hell.

As always, thank you for your love in the form of your awareness reading these words. You have the known universe at your fingertips and you’ve chosen to be here, now, so thank you.

Day 4: Earth Mesada (Day of the Heart)

It is the day of the 2nd Mesada, and Don Howard continues to demonstrate his other-worldliness.

It is 1:30pm. We are back in the maloka, and he’s doing his Soul-Stare ritual.

Eventually his eyes meet mine, and after a few moments of timeless gazing, he slowly moves his hand to point to his head and gives me a nearly imperceptible head shake, as if to say “no.” Then he slowly moves his pointed finger to his heart, and places his palm over his chest, and nods.

Clearly, Gandalf saw that little Erick’s Ego was all in his head last time he drank Huachuma. Don Howard was inviting me to leave the comfort blanket of my analyzing mind and to step into my heart.

I felt my eyes water a little. I nodded with a wide grin and moist eyes.

He turned to the mesa to pour my cup, and the cutest thing happened.

The beginning of the pour was by the Shaman King, but it looked like he poured a little extra then he intended, and for a moment I saw the human from Kentucky make the cute little “uh-oh” face a grandfather gives a toddler who just ate the cookie before the vegetable mush. It was light-hearted and made me smirk.

I stepped to my brew, gave my offering and made my request.

2nd Mesada Offer

“My life’s mission is to help heal Western Culture.”

2nd Mesada Request

“I ask for clarity of heart.”

Then I drank my very full cup.

Boat Ride Out

Huachuma is considered a masculine grandfather plant whereas Ayahuasca is considered a feminine Grandmother plant. Where Ayahuasca teaches you to surrender to the truth of what is revealed, Huachuma will give you the clarity to see your situation, yet allows you to choose, over and over, how you wish to respond to the tests.

My test for the 2nd Mesada was to get the fuck out of my head and into my heart, and on the boat ride out, ya boi was failing like an Art major’s freshmen attempt at Organic Chemistry.

I found myself lost in thought about the planet and the human condition. My mind wandered here because we were on a different part of the Amazon river. No more were we in the cozy winding river, where, from bank to bank, the widest she got was 25 feet.

No, now we were on the superhighway of the Amazon. It must've been half a mile wide. There were massive multi-million dollar boats along the coast and all kinds of personal cheap boats scattered about.

But what got me thinking was the way the sky looked.

It was massive and wide and gaping. And my mind began thinking about what our human situation is.

We are a crowd of creatures on a massive organic rock. The size of this thing is truly beyond our evolved brain’s comprehension. We, and all we know are pinned to this rock due to the sheer speed of its rotation and mass of it’s core.

All the water on the planet and all the organic life walking and running and flying on this rock, are like the kids who get into that carnival ride that spins so fast you get stuck to the wall.

Above us, beyond the atmosphere that our brains believe is the edge of the universe...is the universe. Infinite nothing is a few miles up. We are such fragile little things when I think scientifically.

And yet, in the face of all of this, our minds rebel. We each have (at least) two minds in us.

The fragility of our species and the seeming randomness of life that modern cosmology offers us is a symbol for the modern scientific mind, and yet...my huachuma metabolizing experience served as the symbol for the archaic mythic mind.

Our mythic mind demands that we, the individual, be the center of our universe. Our experience of life will not allow us to think any other way than this. It doesn’t matter how much science we learn, how much philosophy we read, or how loudly we proclaim life is meaningless -- our minds sit us directly in the center of a universe imbued with meaning.

The love of our children demands this.

The love for our lovers demands this.

The love for our friends demands this.

Love of any kind, demands the activation of the archaic mythic mind.

It’s a weird dance the modern mind has to do. Our scientific mind knows we are but a speck of dust in an infinite void, and at the same time, our mythic mind knows we are the pulsing centerpiece of the most magnificent song that could possibly be imagined by all the gods.

Fuck...I’m still in my head.

Arrival at the Port City

Eventually, we dock, and even though I notice I’ve been in my head the entire boat ride, I don’t condemn my little monkey brain for his defense, I just try to be more mindful to just be. Here; now.

For today, Don Howard has us dock at a small river port town, where we will then walk about a mile until we get to the edge of the jungle, where we will proceed to hike through the rainforest for about 30 minutes.

Our goal will be to meet a small tribe that sits at the edge of a sacred river, where we will then have a couple of hours to relax and bathes in the stream.

As we begin heading to the jungle opening, Aubrey sees me and asks me how I’m doing. I mention Don Howard’s Head and Heart advice, and how I was trying to be in my heart instead of my head.

He looked at me the way a seasoned veteran looks at an earnest but naive new recruit and said;

“To try is to be in your mind. Do, and you are in your heart.”

And that was all that needed to be said. I nodded

From that point on, the next 4-5 hours are kind of a blur, because as the Huachuma grew in intensity, the thinking Ego Erick began sliding away into some other part of my psyche.

For the sake of the story, I’ll do my best to share how events unfolded, but know, I was here, in these moments, but without much thinking at all, no judging, just being.

---

As we walked through this very small, very poor town, I noticed how intimate the houses were. They were very close to each other, and no house was completely walled off from the environment. These people, while poor, and living in conditions that the weak modern part of me fears, knew they had something psychologically that was critical.

They lived in a way that is truly tribal.

I think there is an innate human need to sleep in an environment where you hear the breathing, movement, and noises from dozens of humans you know and recognize. It is entirely a hunch, but I think humans who get this; sleep better, are more resistant to disease, and are less likely to suffer from mental illness.

I don’t think we have evolved to sleep in isolated cubes where we at most hear the breathing of a lover and maybe the crying of an infant. I think our brains evolved to hear the sounds of dozens of living bodies while we sleep; the bodies of people we love with, hunt with, eat with, and are willing to die for.

The proximity of these houses I think delivered that kind of sleeping experience. I think these people have something modern monkeys lack.

However, while this thought was positive, witnessing these human’s living conditions was jarring.

We are so fucking pampered in the West.

Because of the intensity with which Huachuma was beginning to pulse through me, I don’t remember details of these people’s homes, but I remember the feeling. It was an overwhelming, simultaneous, sadness, respect, gratitude, and anger.

The River

Eventually, we made it to the jungle opening, and we began our hike.

It’s weird to reflect back on this walk. I recall almost no thoughts, and yet, at one point in the walk, we had to cross a wide log that was about 10-15 feet above the ground. The woman in front of me slipped and was inches away from falling and being awfully injured, but because of the love juice coursing through me, my mind didn’t linger on the near disaster. I just kept on walking, in love with the present moment.

After about 30 minutes, but what felt both much shorter and much longer, we arrived at the stream.

Sober me, the night before, was worried about this moment. I’m traveling with a group of people who look like models, who do not have the social and sexual inhibitions most people I know have, and little Ego Erick was worried they’d get nude and that I’d feel pressured to do the same.

The juxtaposition of my fear from the night before and the love I had in the present moment was the epitome of hilarity.

In this moment, I didn’t even notice other people. As soon as I got to the stream, I got into my swim trunks and began slowly stepping into the water.

Time begins to get weird here because the Huachuma was so much stronger than the first mesada. However, I do know that at this point, I entered into one of the greatest moments of my life.

The sky was blue and huge, the sun shimmered through lush green treetops, the water sparkled like a sea of diamonds glittering in the love of the sun, and there in that river, I knelt, eyes closed, oozing love from every part of my organism.

I distinctly remember the flowing river feeling like multiple lover’s hands sensually dripping over my body, beckoning my masculinity to come forward. I remember calmly transforming pulses of light geometry dancing behind my closed eyes. I remember my heart singing something to my mind, that if I had to put language to it, was saying something like, “We’ve never felt this kind of bliss before.”

I existed in this state, without language, in an ego coma triggered from a love hug, for over an hour. For 75 minutes, Erick napped, and my awareness basked in a bliss and a love I did not know was something my human consciousness had access to.

Then something happened that called forth a sobbing deeper than anything I think I’ve ever allowed to occur in front of others (yet I don’t think anyone noticed).

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement in the woods, and a figure emerged. Before me was an indigenous man, in his 40s, carrying what looked like 100lbs of wood on his back. The bag he had for the wood had a handle that wrapped around this man’s forehead, and I saw sweat and strain on his face.

He looked like he was on the way home to his village. In order to get to where he was going, he had to pass through the stream. He had to walk through 30 high Westerners, who each looked like they were heart-deep in ecstasy, and something about this situation broke my fucking heart open.

As I write this, my logical mind can weave stories about how all of this is perfect, that he chose that life, that he isn’t suffering, that maybe he loves his life and that he has grace and bliss and love comparable or greater than mine, but that is not what I felt.

I was crushed by a cacophony of emotions. I was crushed by my admiration for this man. I was crushed by a guilt I dance with often when I viscerally experience the cosmic magnitude of my seemingly random luck and fortune. I was crushed by my own gratitude, both to this man for simply being, and to this plant medicine for the wisdom, this moment showed me.

I sobbed and snotted and bowed my heart to this man. Thankfully, almost as a comic relief, after I sobbed my sob for a minute or so, my mind offered Buddhist proverb,

“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.

After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.”

This bliss hug from Huachuma is not for bliss’s sake. I am here in the world for a reason. I offered my Life’s Mission for this clarity of heart, and there is work to do.

I eventually, somehow, dried off, got my clothes on, and made it back to the boats.

Boat Ride Home

We were lucky enough to get a boat ride home under a full moon.

It was fucking magical -- the way the full white moon reflected off the dark water.

It’s comical how inadequate the picture does justice to the beauty of that night. This was the backdrop to maybe the most meaningful experience I had on the entirety of my experience in Peru.

I have a weird personal habit when I’m inside of a psychedelic experience.

When I’m really deep in an experience, I tend to either hallucinate -- or become fixated on -- a circular object. It may be a mandala, the moon, the sun, a far-off light, or something entirely made up in my mind.

The peculiar thing is that this circular object always feels like a gateway or a portal or a tunnel. It is always a symbol for a connection to something beyond where I am now.

One time on mushrooms, it felt like God spoke to me through a portal in the sky, another time felt like a huge technologic/biologic force was trying to ooze through a hole I was hallucinating on LSD, and a third experience, while on MDMA, felt like my future self was on the other side of a far-off light, assuring the me on this side that all would be okay, that I was on the right path, and to just relax.

On this night, the moon was my portal.

As our boat glided along the dark river, I was fixated on the moon. At first, there wasn’t any thinking, I was just staring at this beautiful orb. But soon a feeling began to dawn on me.

(Note: the following is a description of my experience, not a description of the material world.)

The moon was the eye of God. A part of my mind began speaking to the eye. Without conscious intent, I began thanking the moon -- thanking God. I thanked God for my life, for my mind, for my fortune, and then I began thanking God for the children I don’t yet have, and the wife I haven’t yet met, and for accomplishing the goals I haven’t yet achieved (I don’t know why I did this, it just felt right).

Then things got a little weirder.

There is a feeling that sometimes come with altered states of consciousness that William James coined the “noetic quality.” It is the feeling one gets in an altered state where what they experience feels more real than real. As if the thing being revealed in the altered state is truer than anything experienced in normal waking consciousness.

Well, I felt this.

I felt that my unborn children were on the other side of this lunar portal. My wife was there too, and I cried at meeting them. I couldn’t see or hear them, but I felt them.

I let them know that I loved them, that I couldn’t wait to meet them, and that all I’m doing is dedicated to them, and is for them. With this connection and dedication came a deep sense of peace, and from this peace came some clarity on my life’s mission.

My life’s mission, when stated as clearly as I can, is: To create the most empirically effective psychological system for treating Depression.

Due to some of the insights from the 1st Mesada, along with the clarity and peace I had at the moment, I realized this mission was wrong.

My goal is not to heal depression. My goal is to study depression enough to be able to psychometrically measure whatever the true opposite of depression is (the word that lends itself at the moment, for this psychological condition that is the opposite of depression, is “Ascension,” but that feels a little too grandiose for scientific minds).

If I use all the data we have on depression to create the measurement for it’s opposite, and then create an empirical system that reliably cultivates whatever this opposite is, then Depression and its symptoms would be healed as a byproduct.

This is a subtle but significant difference. I’m going to dedicate my professional life to learning how to help any kind of human move towards this higher psychological state, and the natural byproduct will be a system that can help those who are depressed.

I get goosebumps even now writing about this. This insight feels so right. This clarification feels so true. It all feels noetic.

My poetically inclined mind believes that because I made such a pure promise to the psychological symbol of my future family that I was gifted this extra slice of clarity on my life’s mission from some deep part of my psyche; that this was an archetypical psychic event that produced an intervention from my soul to guide my ego.

But the rationalist still lives in me, and he offers that this idea, to subtly change the focus of my life’s mission, is something I had already thought, but that my ego seized the feeling of significance this night and Huachuma provided in order to imbue the idea with some sacredness, because with the added sacredness would come greater enthusiasm and discipline, which would make my ego more effective at getting what it wants.

I’m frankly okay with either perspective because the pragmatic effect on my life is the same.

I’m a man who knows exactly what he is aimed at in this life, for at least the next 20 years. It’s a goal I’m happy sacrificing too and even dying for. I think it’s the most powerful contribution I can give back to the world before entropy swallows me up.

As my mind flowed in and out of this reverie, I noticed a large cloud that seemed to only be around the moon, for the rest of the gaping sky was clear. And I felt my mind begin playing. It wanted to turn the cloud and the glowing orb into a shape -- a figure -- and I let it.

My mind chose a falcon. The moon was his right eye. His left wing was up and extended, half a mile long, and it felt as if he was looking into the future, and pointing his massive wing in the direction of his gaze.

My mind didn’t try creating a story around this figure in the sky, and I felt no direct download or instruction from apprehending it. I just watched. I simply observed this massive psychologically manifested creature in the sky -- seemingly beckoning me to boldly go into the future.

I guess, in a stern masculine way, he was saying that the lesson was over. That I had received what I needed, and it was time to move on.

I happily listened.

Other things happened that evening, but from a psychological perspective, nothing was as important as this. I barely recall anything else.

I had been able to step out of my mind for a few hours. I had clarity on my mission. I felt like I met my family. I was grateful to Huachuma for this Earth Mesada.

Day 6: Air Mesada and Vilca (Day of the Soul)

One of the beautiful souls I traveled with shared something about the 3 Mesadas that really resonated with me.

She told me that Don Howard said there is a kind of meta-structure to the week-long ceremony.

She said that the 1st Mesada shows you where you’ve been psychologically, the 2nd shows you where you are now psychologically, and the 3rd shows you where you are going, psychologically.

I thought about that a lot.

The first Mesada showed me where I’ve been the last 10 years --all the way up in my fucking head. Since my physical and emotional trauma, I had retreated to my logical mind and built a fucking fortress.

When I was 21, I fell in love and choosing to love a human, and really trying to understand her, started bringing forth my heart.

From age 21 to now, I’ve slowly but steadily cultivated my heart. I’ve learned to love in ways and to depths that the younger me could not have fathomed -- would not have dared too -- out of fear.

That is what the 2nd Mesada showed me -- that I’m capable of climbing out of my mind and living in my heart.

The lesson of the 3rd Mesada was absolutely the hardest. It seems that where I am going, the lesson my secretly massive ego must learn is -- how to let other people help me...how to accept other people’s medicine.

Because, on the morning of the last Mesada, the day we would not only take the strongest dose of Huachuma, but also snort the most potent psychedelic on the planet, I woke up as sickly as I’ve been in years.

The Illness

I’m not sure what caused it, but I awoke with a strong need to go to the bathroom. Everything came out completely liquid, and I hopefully thought that whatever was in me had been cleared away.

I tentatively ordered a light, simple breakfast. Ate one or two bites and ended up back in the bathroom. All liquid again.

Fuck.

It was a few hours before the ceremony began, so I went to a hammock and tried to just relax.

I started feeling a fever coming on. It was nearly 90 degrees outside and I was shivering. As the ceremony approached, I asked some friends for medicine. I was given some oregano oil and strong probiotics, and the moment I took them I vomited it all up, plus extra. I didn’t know I had this much inside me to expel, but my body was fucking evacuating everything.

Eventually, I made it to the maloka, and all I thought about while we waited was to ask my body to please keep the Huachuma down. I didn’t want to projectile vomit the medicine in front of everyone.

As Don Howard did his Soul Stare ritual, a weak part of me wished he’d notice how sick I was and not give me any Huachuma, but I’m grateful that my psyche has shown me, that when it comes down to the moment, my best self shows up.

So, when Don Howard locked eyes with me, I didn’t have a choice. I gave him my strongest and most confident smile. This was the only day he didn’t break out into a huge smile when we did this eye dance. He looked at me sternly and solemnly. Gave the soul in me he was looking into a small nod, and poured my cup.

I stepped up to the mesa and gave my offering:

3rd Mesada Offer

“My life’s mission is to help western culture ascend.”

And I made my request

3rd Mesada Request

“I ask to be shown the connection to my Soul”

*And I asked to not throw up the Huachuma

I then drank my Huachuma, and surprisingly, knew I would not throw it up. It was odd how sure I was, but I knew I wouldn’t.

As the rest of the ceremony proceeded, I sat in my chair, relieved. I was glad I did it. I was glad I wouldn't throw up, and I knew I had a long and difficult day ahead of me, because I could feel my body getting weaker.

As we were waiting for everyone to get ready for the boats, Aubrey and a few others began to play a song. I felt my first test of the day emerge.

I could sit here and marinate in my illness, or I could join them.

I did my best to add a rhythmic clap every 4th beat, and while I did that, all sensations of weakness, fever, and nausea left me. For a few minutes I was shown that, even if the body wails in self-pity, the mind can enter the present moment where suffering cannot exist.

Boat Ride Out

The boat ride out was the most difficult part of the day (Vilca was the most difficult part of the night...and of my life, but more on that later.)

I sensed a weird thing happening in my body. I was sick. Even sipping water made me gag and I had to fight off the will to purge. I stopped drinking for the rest of the day.

But the weird part was that, as the come-on waves of the Huachuma splashed on my consciousness, I would feel relief from my physical symptoms. But because Huachuma comes on in waves, at the lulls of the medicine, my physical ailments would return.

And so it oscillated for the next 8 hours. Waves of clarity, love, and brilliance, matched by waves of weakness, nausea, and self-pity.

The only gem I can recall from this boat ride out was that my discomfort pushed me back into my meditation practice that I have dropped the last couple of months since starting at Onnit.

I stepped back into the calm center I’ve discovered with meditating, and I could manage my symptoms from that place. It was effortful, and I was low on energy, but for maybe 10 minutes, I simply observed my physical feelings -- sensed and didn’t judge my ego’s lamenting and complaining about my physical feelings, which was the real cause of my suffering -- and I just loved it.

It helped -- a little.

The Beach

Don Howard’s plan for this last mesada was for us to go to a beautiful beach that no one else goes too, where we would be able to just be in the grandeur of the sky, and after a few hours we’d get to experience one of the most beautiful sunsets we’d ever get the chance to see.

Well, chance gave us something else.

As we pulled into the beach, it was packed with people. There were fires, tents, blaring speakers, jet skis, and food trucks.

Don Howard said he’d never seen the beach like this, and after some mental calculations, he realized that it was some kind of national holiday, and it was Saturday. The locals were out in full party mode, and they would now be a part of our medicine. It was as it needed to be.

As soon as we docked, I walked to the edge of the beach, near the shade of the jungle, and laid down near Don Howard.

I had not a single fucking ounce of energy. I felt pathetic but wasn’t lamenting myself. I needed to just lay down, and I did.

Allowing Others to Share Their Medicine

It was at this point that today’s main lesson started arising.

All sorts of people from our tribe came up to me throughout the afternoon and evening to check on me, ask me how I was, and to offer whatever their love medicine was.

For some it was a hug or a loving hand on my shoulder, others offered actual medicine or medical advice. One beautiful soul did energy work on me for almost 20 minutes, and another actually started talking in a way that brought forth my inner psychologist to help her -- which in it’s own weird way gave me strength and helped me.

I realized that this was my lesson today -- to accept other people’s medicine.

As a child, I very quickly learned to be the helper. At the root of this was the feeling that, if I’m not extraordinarily useful, I’m not worthy of love. So, I have a deep problem letting other people help me. And it isn’t out of pride, it’s out of fear. Some young part of me fears that if I need help, it means I won’t be worthy of love.

Huachuma showed me this, and it was difficult.

It got me to thinking about the meta-structure of the Huachuma Mesada; that the 1st day was about where I’d been, the 2nd was about where I am now, and the 3rd about where I was headed.

The night of the 2nd Mesada, I was shown with mythic clarity where I’m going, and it seemed that the 3rd Mesada was showing me the new skill I’d have to learn if I am going to succeed getting to the place I’m trying to ascend to.

I was grateful, and I apologize.

I was on that beach for hours, but I’ve got no other landmarks for you. I was having a hard time, and I don’t remember much more.

Well, I do recall mustering up the energy to get in the water, and although it was worth it, once I got out, and as the evening darkness grew, I became a cold shivering mess, which set the stage for the ride home.

Boat Ride Home

The boat ride home was weird. I was in the kind of headspace I was in the 2nd Mesada -- which is to say, no headspace. It was as if the illness reduced all blood flow to my prefrontal cortex and so, I literally could not think. I was just existing in the raw feelings of my body.

And the feelings weren’t good.

I felt hot inside, yet I was shivering. I felt completely void of any energy, like one bump of the boat could send me off the edge and I’d have no will to swim. Nausea rolled in waves whenever the Huachuma had one of his lulls.

But my friends were looking out for me. One had his huge arm wrapped around me for warmth, his wife held my hand to let me know she was there for me, and another, who sat in the row on the boat in front of us would lean back ever so often to touch my arm or leg to let me know she was with me too.

It was beautiful, and if I had had more energy, I would have cried, but I had no energy, so I just sat in the shivering love.

I did have some interesting visions. One I can share, and the other, while I’d share if it only concerned me, will have to be kept confidential because I don’t know if the people concerned would be concerned about it being shared.

The one I can share has to do with my friend who had his arm around me and my dad. My friend next to me is about 10 years older than I, is a father of a boy I love, and is frankly a fucking savage of a man.

I was in awe of how loving he was, and how this level of loving can only come from a man who is not inhibited in fear or an over-active inner judge. It got me thinking about my dad. I got to thinking about how my dad had never wrapped his arm around me like this. Because of his programming and his personal trauma, he just didn’t know how to love me like this.

And it got me thinking about my own children, and how I never want that to be a thought they can claim to have. I’m aware of the fear and programming I still have in me that inhibits my giving and receiving love, but I will do the work to metaprogram these barriers for my children’s sake.

It was a beautiful lesson.

Preparing for Death

Once we docked, Don Howard told us that he had an hour, then we’d meet in the Maloka to complete the final part of the final day: snorting Vilca.

As I made my way back to the room, I nearly fell over a few times. Walking was hard. I asked Don Howard if I should do anything for my fever before Vilca and he said no -- that if I was going to do Vilca, I should wait until after to take anything else.

Even though I wanted nothing more than to leave the world and sleep for 20 hours, I knew I’d regret this choice for a lifetime.

So I drank a lot of water, took a shower, got dressed, and waited in a friends room until it was time.

I had a special moment with her. She was the one who sat in front of me on the boat ride home that evening, who turned around periodically to hold my hand and to reassure me that she was with me and that it’d be okay.

She told me that the entire ride home she couldn’t stop worrying about me. She said she, with the help of huachuma, stepped into a metaphysical place and began working on my body. She looked me in the eyes with a love and a confidence that I believed on a soul level, and told me that I’d be better.

I believed her, and I fell more in love with her.

A theme of this week with Huachuma that slowly emerged, (because there was no acute event to mark it), is that I found myself able to look multiple people in the eyes and say “I love you” with no psychological flinching.

This is new for me, because, if I’m being honest, most of the time when I tell someone I love them, I feel something happening inside my psyche that feels like a flinch -- like a mini-hesitation that is the product of fear.

It didn’t happen here, with her, as I waited for Vilca.

Vilca

This will be the hardest trip report I’ve ever written.

Firstly, because it simply is so utterly beyond language, that in order to share it, I’m going to have to reduce it so drastically as to render the actual experience impossibly different then the story I share, and secondly, because it was the most challenging experience I’ve ever had on psychedelics, and to rewrite it will be to relive it in a way.

There are two quotes I want to share to set the stage for the impossibility of describing this in language:

“You have to imagine a caveman transported into the middle of Manhattan. He see buses, cell phones, skyscrapers, airplanes. Then zap him back to his cave. What does he say about the experience? ‘It’s big, it was impressive, it was loud.’ He doesn’t have the vocabulary for ‘skyscraper,’ ‘elevator,’ ‘cell phone.’ Maybe he has an intuitive sense there was some sort of significance or order to the scene. But there are words we need that don’t yet exist. We’ve got five crayons when we need fifty thousand different shades.”

-Bill Richards, Psychologist on describing the Mystical Experience

“To put words to an experience that was in fact ineffable at the time, and then to shape them into sentences and then a story, is inevitably to do it a kind of violence. But the alternative is, literally, unthinkable.”

-Michael Pollan, Journalist on describing the Mystical Experience

As we gathered in the maloka, there is an eerie feeling. Everyone was nervous. Vilca was described as the plant that will kill you.

Don Howard, sensing the unease is the candle-lit room brought a little playfulness along with his Shaman King energy. He dropped a few one-liners that sent laughter rolling through every nervous throat in the room.

He’s a true king.

In his otherworldly grace, he explained how tonight would go. He explained that we’d be snorting a fine powder at the front of the mesa. That he’d stand there with us and make sure we got enough. He explained that if you feel your nose burning, you did it correctly.

He also explained that once you snorted it, you had about 8 minutes to get back to your room, so be quick. You did not want to be anywhere other than your bed when it began.

I didn’t have to be told twice.

He mentioned that we each would snort with our roommate, and we’d both make sure each other got back to our room.

When it was mine and my roommate’s turn, we stepped up to the mesa and looked at the sacred powder. Don Howard calmly explained that there were two devices we could use to snort the Vilca. Both were over a thousand years old pieces of shaman’s hands. One was a little more recent, and one was much older.

He asked which I wanted to snort with, and without hesitation, I asked for the older one. He nodded in approval and I began snorting.

My first 2 snorts were shallow due to my nervousness. He asked me to snort again, and I did, and felt substantially more dust enter my nose and throat.

As I stepped back to let my roommate take his turn, I don’t know if I hallucinated it, but I began to see the mesa move and pulse. I was seeing red and greens jump out of the tapestry. I think because I was completely empty of anything else in my body, the come on came on a little more quickly.

Once my roommate got his nostrils filled with the DMT powder, we headed back to our room.

The maloka we were at is on the far side of the retreat center. In order to get to our rooms, we have to cross a long bridge appropriately dubbed “The Eternity Bridge.”

It’s called the Eternity bridge because, when you are walking on that thing while Vilca is creeping into your consciousness, it begins to feel like a never-ending in-between world that transports you from waking life to the infinite void of Vilca.

Also, I’m drive-by vomiting over the railing as I speed-walk to my room. The Vilca is twisting my insides and I’m full Exorcist-mode at this point. My roommate sternly tells me to keep moving. We have only a couple minutes until all motor control stops, and that I have a purge bucket in the room I can die into.

Right before we get to the room I start vomiting again and he has to do what he has to do: leaves me and gets to his bed before Vilca consumes him.

I remember turning from my vomit towards the front door of our room. I somehow open it, get to my bed and as soon as I lay down, my body does the most violent dry-heave it’s ever done. I felt my entire digestive tract vibrate, and my legs and torso literally spasmed off the bed as my body contracted, trying to expel anything that may be left inside me...but nothing came up and I fell back to my bed.

Note: Here is where things get ineffable. Everything I am about to write is post-hoc articulation of memories, because during those 80 minutes, there was no Erick, there was no thinking, there was no language. But write we must, so here we go.

As I lay in darkness, I saw slithering movement -- as if the entirety of my visual field was the reflection of fire light off the smooth scaling skin of a mass of moving snakes. Then, very quickly, Erick was gone.

If you take a moment to connect with your experience right now, you’ll realize a couple things. One is that, everything you see, everything you think, is because they have edges; either physical or psychological. Every object, every thought you have, each of these words -- they are apprehendable to you because they have defined borders.

The 2nd major thing is that your ego, the thing in you that responds when you hear your name, the thing in you that judges, worries about the past and the future -- that thing is not the only thing in you. There is a thing in you that is aware of your ego, but it is not your ego. Some call it Awareness, or Consciousness, or The Witness.

Any readers of this section need to connect to this experience because what Vilca did was completely dissolve all borders. There was no object to apprehend, there was no thought that could be thought, there were no words that could be worded, and there was no Erick, because the ego is an accumulation of thoughts and words. With the loss of borders, there is the death of the ego.

But there was still Awareness. The light in me that witnesses my ego was still there...and it was witnessing The Void.

The experience I experienced, for the next 80 minutes can best be summed as The Void. There was no one Thing to perceive, but there was something happening. It was infinite. It was beyond comprehension. In hindsight, I realized I was confronting eternity.

The shadow of the dragon that haunted me as a child, was here now. I was here, looking into it. The Abyss. The Void. Eternity.

The true terror of this state was, while I was in it, the memory that Ego Erick had ever existed could not be remembered. This experience felt like it was forever. It always had been, and it always would be.

It was Eternity.

There was a peculiar sensation I remember now that I’m thinking about this.

Erick wasn’t completely gone. It felt like Erick was far, far away, in the back of my awareness. He was seeing this too -- and he was screaming.

He was terrified. If he had had control of the body (which I couldn’t feel), he distinctly felt the urge to get up, run as fast as he could, and shriek in the night.

This thing...this massive, eternal, pulsating, living thing was too much. It was awe-ful -- because it both felt like the kind of thing that induces awe, and was simultaneous the worse feeling I’d ever felt.

But there was the oddest juxtaposition in my consciousness.

While terror and despair oozed forth from the far away Ego Erick, my Awareness was at the forefront, and it was verbing something very different.

My awareness was still, calm, and whispering the one word that truly saved me during this experience.

“Love... Love... Love... Love...

Love... Love... Love... Love...”

While Erick, far back in the ocean of my mind was being torn asunder by the gravity of this state, my Awareness, with the stability of a full moon in the night sky, sung “love.”

Another very odd experience I had, is that I kept hearing my body say “mhmm,” as if some part of my mind that I had no conscious access to was aware and learning something interesting. Some part of me was in a graduate level course in “Studies of Eternity.”

It was so odd, hearing my mouth involuntarily say “mhmmm,” over and over and over.

I feel compelled to revisit the most significant thing about this experience. There were no borders, no edges, no containers. Without those, we cannot perceive, we cannot think, we, our ego, cannot exist or function. Our entire conscious life functions because of our borders -- in perception and thought.

Yet...in the wake of this absolute chaos...Awareness still existed. Awareness still functioned.

From an experiential standpoint...I think this is why people think this is preparation for death. The ego absolutely cannot function in this state. You, the ego, dies. And I think the experience of Awareness still existing is interpreted as the experience of the soul. You, as awareness, do not die in this state.

There was a moment, after 60 or 70 minutes of objective time, where I felt like I could think again. I, the ego, was coming back. I viscerally felt my brain rebooting the “there are objects and there are edges” program.

As soon as this program came back on, my mind did a thing.

I saw them.

Looming over me, one to my 3 0’clock, and one at my 11 o’clock, where two huge black figures. They were shaped like humans, but did not feel like humans.

If I added anything else here, I’d be lying.

I didn’t feel anything from them, I didn’t experience anything from them. I didn’t see them move or try to communicate -- but they were there. Huge, powerful, and they did feel like they were watching me.

Soon after that, I begin to feel my body again. I began to be able to think.

At first, I didn’t believe it. Every thought had a feeling of Deja vu, like the very act of thinking was creating and what was being created was what I thought, so everything felt like a loop.

I thought I was insane for a couple moments -- which is funny -- my mind came back to me just enough for my mind to be able to worry that it was going crazy.

I made my way to the bathroom and something about being sick grounded me. I was back, in my body, ill.

Even though I was beyond exhausted, totally fucking exhausted, I just wanted to be around people. So I drugged my body to the dining area and sat with my friends for an hour or so.

I don’t remember anything I said or did in there, I just remember how I felt.

I was so fucking grateful to be back in my mind that made sense. I was grateful to be around people I loved. I was grateful there were people, that there was love. And I was even grateful I had a body that could be sick.

Day 7: Feeling Like Lazarus

The next day, I did nothing but sleep. I think I slept for 18 hours that day. My body had been decimated. My mind had been obliterated. My soul had been liberated.

And I needed to sleep.

Day 8: Departure

Today we leave. I’m still sick. I still just want to sleep, but we had to pack, say our goodbyes, and travel.

I hugged every human there I could find. I loved all of them. I respected all of them. We all shared a single week-long experience that had brought forth my greatest love, greatest fear, and greatest clarity.

They were a soul family I’d be bonded to for the rest of my life.

And then there was Don Howard Lawler.

Never have a met a human like him. And this goodbye was different. I felt from him, a sense that this would be the last time he’d see us. He’s at the end of his human existence, and with his level of awareness, he seemed to know.

As I hugged him for the last time, he looked me in the eye and told me;

“You’ve got the warrior spirit, brother. You have all the tools you need inside you. And remember...the warrior’s heart beats as one.”

I’m never going to forget those words.

As we pulled away from Don Howard and his beautiful family, I wept. I wept because now I understood. With the end of the Huachuma Mesada came context, came an edge, came a border. And with that, came a sense of understanding.

The weight of this week, the lessons, the love, the trials, they pulled on my soul.

There’s a quote that beautifully captures why I wept.

“You get a strange feeling when you are about to leave a place. You’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place because you’ll never be this way ever again.

-Azar Nafisi

There is a piece of me that will live in that jungle for eternity. A piece of me died there. And the significance of this week will be known in the reverberations I make in the coming months, with what I do with the new mind, heart, and soul I’ve been shown.

---

As always, thank you for reading. If you have made it through this labyrinth of words -- I see you, I respect you, and I love you.

I hope you get the chance to step into sacred spaces with people you love. I hope you get the chance to meet men and women who have stepped outside of time and who have brought back sparks of eternity in them. I hope you realize all the ways you hide from loving fully, and that you drop those fears and beam light into every corner of the world we live in, a world that is so full of fear and darkness.

I thank you.

I love you.

Namasteezy.

Peru Trip Report: Part 1

This trip report is going to be the longest I’ve written because this trip is the longest I’ve experienced. This is part 1 of 2. I did my best to keep it as short as possible while conveying my experience. I also did my best to structure it and write it in a way that makes the reading as easy as possible.

Thank you for your curiosity and attention.

I love you.

Preface: Ritual

The ritual experience I was invited to partake in is called “The Huachuma Mesada.” It is a week long ceremony recreated from an ancient Peruvian shamanic lineage called the Chavin. The magician-masquerading-as-human who researched and manifested this ceremony for us goes by the name Don Howard Lawler.

The Huachuma Mesada is comprised of three “on days” where we drank the plant medicine Huachuma, with a rest day in between each, (for integration and recovery). At the end of the last “on day”, we snorted another plant medicine teacher called Vilca, which is 5-MeO-DMT -- the most potent psychedelic on the planet.

It cannot be understated -- witnessing Don Howard manifest this ritual and use it as a psychedelic container has forever changed how I view ingesting these plants.

I’ve be exploring altered states of consciousness for years now and none of them have had the kind of ritual sacredness I experienced at Spirit Quest Sanctuary.

In my wilder moments, I get to thinking about the alchemists and the philosopher's stone. The central myth of the alchemists is that, if one just got the chemistry right, one could create a stone that had the ability to transmute any material into gold.

Well, I think the human nervous system is the philosopher's stone.

I think ritual and ceremony is the alchemist’s chemistry.

And it is our experience that is the material we turn from ordinary to divine -- from crude to gold -- from profane to sacred.

And my week in the jungle has sparked in me a new desire to practice this kind of alchemy -- to find and create the rituals in my life that will transform the ordinary into the sacred.

The Teachers and The Structure

So this trip report makes sense, I’m going to introduce some plants and core ideas around the “Huachuma Mesada” ritual that Don Howard put us through so that you know what the hell I’m talking about.

Huachuma (wah-chew-muh)

Huachuma is the original name for the plant most know as San Pedro. When the Spaniards came to South America and witnessed the amazing changes in consciousness this plant could create, they named it after Saint Peter, who is the gatekeeper of heaven. Let that marinate for a moment.

The active ingredient in Huachuma is mescaline. It is consumed as an oral drink. We took Huachuma every other day for 6 days, totaling in 3 ceremonies. It lasts between 8 and 12 hours.

Vilca (Vill-kah)

The other primary plant teacher involved in the Huachuma Mesada is Vilca. Vilca literally translates as “The Sacred” and it was used by the ancient Amazonian tribe, The Chavin, for thousands of years as a shamanic teacher on how to die and move into the next realm of existence.

The active ingredients in Vilca are 5-MeO-DMT, N-N DMT, and Bufotenin. It is consumed as a nasal snuff. We did it once, on the last Mesada. It lasts between 50 to 80 minutes.

Mesada (May-sah-dah)

I’m going to be honest and let you know that my understanding of what a Mesada is still feels fuzzy, and I encourage any who read this who may know more then I, to reach out and help me fortify this section.

As far as I understand it, the Mesada is the spiritual theme of the day. We had three Mesadas (the three days that we drank Huachuma).

1st Mesada: Yacumama ~ Mother Spirit of the Water

2nd Mesada: Sachamama ~ Mother Spirit of the Earth

3rd Mesada: Huayramama ~ Mother Spirit of the Air

Mesa (May-sah)

Mesa literally means table...and Don Howard Lawler has the dopest table I’ve ever seen. The Mesa is where we started each Mesada, it is where we drank Huachuma each day, and it is where we snuffed the Vilca that obliterated my ego for 80 minutes. On it, he has ancient artifacts from other temples, the skulls of other shamans who’s lineage he carries onward, and it will likely be the table his skull will rest after he passes and his daughter carries on his legacy.

The Offering and Request

At the start of each mesada, as we are standing in front of the mesa, we are asked by Don Howard to offer our “Life’s Mission” to the Mesa and Huachuma, and that if we’d like, we may ask for something in return.

This is an important part of the ritual. It is where we get to clarify our life’s purpose, and it is where we get to set our intention. I loved this part of the dance, and I’m going to make it a pattern I carry on in all my future uses.

Day 0 - Awareness

There is a motif in shamanism that the medicine begins working on you the moment you decide that you will do it. For me, this was most apparent the day before leaving for Peru.

A bunch of my beautiful friends organized a large going-away dinner for this version of my Ego Story (most of them knew the reputation of Vilca for psychologically killing the individual, and they were there to say goodbye).

Dinner was amazing, and something very weird happened.

While having a conversation with my friend Clif, I recalled my most traumatic childhood memory effortlessly, and knew it would be what I’d confront on Vilca.

My Spiritual Trauma

When I was 7 or 8, after having a poor version of Christianity introduced to me, I began thinking about Heaven and it’s promises while I lay in bed at night.

I got to thinking about what eternity meant -- what it really was.

I imagined going to a place in the clouds, where all the best people lived. There was only love and happiness, and that we lived there forever.

I’d really try to think about what forever was, and I would cry.

I cried because of what thinking about forever made me feel. It is a feeling I still can’t quite wrap language around, but it’s a feeling that hurts. The closest I can get to it is a kind of divine futility. Maybe something like what a character in a greek tragedy feels if they witness that their fate is set.

The idea of forever wounded my young mind in a way I still don’t quite understand, and after I’d cry for 20 or 30 minutes, I’d pray to the God that I believed sentenced me to this fate to please help me stop thinking about it so I could sleep.

This happened a few nights a week for a month, and then it faded into my subconscious.

The insight at dinner however is how I never connected this fear to my adolescent atheism. It was so obvious now what drove my obsession with cultivating my rationality, logic, and debating skills.

As a teenager, I was an atheist on fire. I read the philosophers, honed the skepticism, and sought out any who claimed they believed and would debate them. The teenage Erick thought he was a grand illuminator of truth, but what I was realizing at dinner was that I was actually an existentially wounded 7 year old desperately seeking shelter from Eternity under the hood of my growing prefrontal cortex.

Something in me knew that my week in Peru was going to bring me face-to-abyss with Eternity again, that I’d need to put down my shield of logic, and stare the dragon in the eyes.

“The difference between a man and a King is that a King does not look away.”

-Lady of the Lake, King Arthur Myth

Then after dinner a second serendipitous pre-Peru departure healing happened.

My Physical Trauma

I ended up getting a ride home from a woman I had just recently met at dinner because my friends wanted to continue their night. Chance had it (and Carl Jung called chance his God), that she was a trained Gestalt Therapist, and to keep this brief, she helped uncover more core Ego Erick beliefs that became major themes on my trip to Peru.

She helped me see that since my sport injuries, I began to fear my body and retreated to my mind.

In highschool, I was just good enough at basketball, and just dumb enough about the state of the world, to truly believe I had the chance to play professional basketball. I dedicated my entire young life to this goal and as a junior, I tore my right rotator cuff and never fully recovered.

I resisted the evidence for a fear years, but slowly it dawned on my young ego that this dream was dead. It took years to realize that since my injury, I had condemned my body -- blamed it on some level for not being good enough.

It sounds cliche to write that now, but when I was in the car, and I heard myself say aloud “I’m afraid of my body.” Something significant shifted. It was like, now that I finally said it out loud, the healing process could begin.

My Emotional Trauma

She also, with surgical insight, helped me realize the major scar on my heart. She noticed that a motif in my self talk is the will to want to perceive or see everything (lol at the quote I dropped above), and she mentioned that may be a sign that “something hurt you that you didn’t see coming when you were younger,” and instantly the weight of the truth of her words caused a deep exhale to leave my body.

I thought about the girl I was in love with in highschool. On a summer night before senior year, after 4 years of a relationship swaying between lovers and friends, we kissed for the first time. It was one of the most emotionally charged moments of my life, and then she pulled away, looked me in the eyes, and spoke 4 words that destroyed my ability to love for a long time.

“I don’t feel anything.”

In hindsight, I love and respect her honesty, but in that moment, my heart had never felt that degree of pain. As she drove me home, I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t feel. I told her, for my own healing, I couldn’t talk to her, and for years, I didn’t forgive her.

However, eventually, I did. As life put me in her shoes in other relationships, after eating mushrooms a couple times, and as I developed a little, I understood her, and with understanding, came forgiveness.

But a scar had remained.

I’m very hesitant with giving romantic love. I overflow with love for my friends, but when it comes to romance, I tread very carefully, and I knew this would be something huachuma would bring up.

---

So in one night, the medicine brought to the surface my major spiritual trauma, my major physical trauma, and my major emotional trauma --- and also each of the coping mechanisms I developed in response to those traumas.

In the face of Eternity, I hid behind Rationality.

In the wake of physical injuries, I learned to suppress my body’s energy.

In the aftermath of romantic rejection, I become hyper obsessed with being able to read people and only loving when it felt safe.

The positive is that my rationality has taught me discernment, suppressing my body has connected me to my awareness that transcends my impulses, and my ability to read people has helped me become a competent psychologist.

The negative is that my rationality has made me blind to a great degree of the human experience, my suppressing the body has disconnected me from the primal masculine power I’m capable of manifesting, and my need to read people has kept me from cultivating love with others when reciprocation wasn’t certain.

Huachuma and Vilca, the great plant teachers I was going to visit, knew these were the classes my soul was enrolling in, and the curriculum was ready.

Day 1: Arrival

After a 3 hour bus ride from Austin to Houston, a 6 hour flight from Houston to Lima, sleeping overnight in Lima, flying for 90 minutes from Lima to Iquitos, taking a bus for 30 minutes from the airport to the river, then taking a boat 30 minutes down the Amazon river, we arrived at Spirit Quest Sanctuary.

The major theme of this full day of traveling arose on the 6 hour flight from Houston to Lima.

I had never flown on an international flight, and the one we were on had a television screen on the back of every seat. We had the ability to watch from a great selection of movies, and this presented an opportunity I’ve never had before.

I was able to see, in real time, dozens and dozens of people select the myths they wanted to step into. It was such a beautiful metaphor for how we all live our lives.

We each are like the human in the seat, peering through a very specific lens, watching a mythic slice of the world we all share. We project all our emotions and desires through the little lens we have onto the characters and stories we see.

I choose Interstellar as my in-flight myth. It reminded me why I do the medicine work I do. It all comes down to the children I hope to have one day. All this work, all this reading and writing and learning, I do it for my children. I’m grateful I got to be reminded of this as I descended upon the jungle.

Day 2: Water Mesada (Day of the Mind)

Today is the first Mesada. This is the first time I get to witness Don Howard in his role as shaman, and I was fucking blown away.

Outside of the ceremony, Don Howard does a good job pretending to be an old man from Kentucky. He is not that. Whatever he is remembers how to be that. Who he really is comes alive the moment you step into the maloka (the room that has the mesa we drink huachuma at.) When we are in the maloka, the timeless shamanic king inside him comes out in full force and he becomes the absolute epitome of ageless masculine grace.

As a part of the ritual, he has everyone sit around the mesa. All the women are on the left side of the Mesa, and all the men are on the right.

First he blesses the mesa with tobacco, then the huachuma. After this, he begins to pour the amount he feels fits each person, but before he does this, he pauses...slowly turns to the person he is going to pour for, and looks at them in the eyes with an intensity I have never encountered in my entire life.

No human has ever looked at me like this.

When he looked at me, I did not sense a man looking at me. There was no man. What looked at me was a force of nature, something ancient and powerful and massive. It was as if a legion of guardian spirits and shamans sat directly behind his eyes channeling their power through him (even as I write this, the rationalist in me feels I’m exaggerating and yet my heart knows I’m not even close to grasping the power of this stare.)

He saw what he saw in me and poured my cup. As I walked to the front of the mesa, my entire field of vision blurred expect for the jaguar poster that hung above the mesa. I looked into her eyes and offered my mission statement for my life:

1st Mesada Offering

“I’m trying my best to manifest the kingdom of heaven.”

(For more on what this means, I explain it in my Ketamine trip report here.)

1st Mesada Request

I had an elaborate plan for what I wanted to ask for, but as I stood at the foot of the mesa, it didn’t feel right to ask for anything other then “Truth.” So that is what I asked for...Truth.

It took about another hour for everyone else to get their Don Howard Soul-Staredown and cup pour, but once we all did, he told us to get our things and meet at the boats.

Boat Ride Out

Don Howard knows what he is doing.

Each Mesada, after drinking, he has us all get on motor boats that glide us along the Amazon river for 30 to 40 minutes while the Huachuma begins to enter consciousness. These boat rides became the place where my deepest thoughts and visions for the week occured.

This first boat ride out gave me a deep philosophical gift that I’ll offer here but may be interesting to only a few.

I’m obsessed in this life with understanding the nature of the human psyche as much as I can before I die. On this first boat ride I had an insight.

The primary “will” of the psyche is the “will to adaptation,” and as the stability of the organism reaches a certain point, consciousness is able to manifest. Once consciousness manifests, a second “will” begins to form, and its the will to grow (my mind offered the term “the will to ascension.”) This is the drive we all have to grow or develop.

A metaphor for this idea is that the psyche is like an anthropomorphic ship.

At first, it is only concerned with having enough structural integrity to float (this explains why the infant will learn any kind of programming if it helps it adapt at all, like fearing authority or hiding behind mother, etc), but once it does, it’s next “will” is to move towards some new point -- a metaphysically higher point.

As long as the structure is stable enough, the secondary will drives the organism, but if stability begins to breakdown, the will to ascend evaporates and the concern again is stability.

(As you can see, the first Mesada was a lot of thinking...I was defending myself from the experience by analyzing and thinking.)

We Arrive at the Tribe

Finally we landed. I found myself repeating “Will to Adaptation. Will to Ascension.”

Don Howard has brought us to an indigenous amazonian tribe, to see how they lived, to witness their traditions, and to buy arts and crafts from them.

I was feeling Huachuma very clearly now. The effects are hard to describe but I’ll do my best.

If you imagine your perception is like a movie theater goer, that the screen is what you visually perceive, and the person watching the film is your internal judge, who comments and judges what's on the screen, I might be able to explain.

Most psychedelics noticeably alter the way the projector creates the way the movie looks, and it can make the person watching the movie very giggly, or very afraid.

Huachuma is different. The movie projector seemed completely accurate, but it was a little brighter, a little cleaner, and a little more glittery. And the moviegoer...he felt much, much more clear. Like he’d been meditating, fasting, and hadn’t a need in the world.

Things felt clear, and I felt committed to try and uphold my request at the mesa: to witness “Truth.”

The Game

At one point, I begin playing with one of the tribe’s children. He was maybe 6 years old, barely 3 feet tall, and adorable.

He had a beautiful blue bracelet he had smiled off of one of the Westerners. He would walk near me, toss the bracelet up 2 or 3 feet, catch it then my eyes, and giggle. Without language needing to be shared, I knew what was happening. He was asking me to play.

After a few more tosses, I lunged and snatched the bracelet inches from his hands and he erupted in laughter. I’d give the bracelet back, he’d toss it again, and I’d snatch it again, and we’d both laugh, again.

Soon the game transformed. We began walking away from each other slowly, and instead of both competing for the bracelet toss, we began tossing it to each other at greater and greater distances.

There was something timeless about what was happening. We were two nervous systems, using what we had, to play. The reason we play is deep and old. We play to hone our nervous systems, so that we can hunt and fuck. That may be crude to some, but that is the core function of our meat suits, and I don’t think that diminishes the visceral joy that was coming from both of us.

Soon, another interesting transformation of the game occured. A 2nd boy saw our fun and walked next to the 1st boy and began competing for the bracelet toss. This boy was a little older, a little more athletic, and consistently caught the bracelet over the 1st boy.

After 2 or 3 tosses, something interesting happened.

The more athletic boy moved a couple feet from the 1st boy to allow us to each toss to each other -- to cooperate.

It manifested organically, and, in hindsight, it blew my mind how beautiful this gesture was. There wasn’t this will to compete here like there would be in the States.

But then I did something I regret.

I distinctly felt the moment where I realized the boy was offering us a game where we would all share, and I distinctly remember having the choice, and choosing to toss the bracelet equally between them...so they would compete.

And the moment I did that, the older boy dropped back to his original position...and for the rest of the game they competed for the bracelet.

I saw absolutely clearly, that within me, was something that chose competition over cooperation. I still am not sure what to do with this, but I felt it needed to be shared here if I am committed to being honest.

After the game, I began walking a path through the jungle back to our main gathering area when I noticed a much younger boy following me. He was maybe 3 or 4, and I felt that he had thrown something at me. I turned around and saw that the little boy had pulled some sticky plant “stuff” off a tree, clumped it together, and made a ball. He saw the game I had played with the older boys, and he wanted his turn.

Something about this made me cry, and I began tossing the sticky plant ball with him.

At one point he missed my toss and this sticky plant wad stuck to his hair and one of the most surreal moments of my trip occured.

I had to squat down and slowly untangle the sticky plant from his hair and I felt a timeless and primal program click in me. I was a monkey grooming the hair of another monkey, as our ancestors have done for hundreds of thousands of years. It was such a weird but satisfying feeling.

As soon as I detangled his hair, he ran off.

Thank you boys for your lessons.

The Dog

This was my saddest moment of my trip.

After my game with the children, I had returned to this tribe’s version of a town square. It was a large hut that served as the central gathering area.

I was sitting on a bench, just existing in the raw awareness of huachuma when I saw a small dog. Earlier I had noticed how this little guy was treated. You learn a lot of about a family by how the youngest human treats an animal they have power over.

This dog was not treated well. It was handled with the same care a 3 year old carries an old ragdoll that’s lost it’s magic. It’s coat was dirty, it’s ribs shown, and it walked at the edge of human engagement with a caution an abused animal learns.

I was sitting next to a plastic bag with banana peels in it. The dog, once it sensed I didn’t mean it harm, began to rummage in the bag for food. There were only banana peels, and the dog ate them with the intensity only something starving could.

My mind whispered “will to adaption,” and I just cried.

Did this conscious creature choose this life? Did I choose mine? Is there cosmic justice? Is this entire thing of God, and one with God, and is this animal’s condition perfect? Is it good?

I didn’t know and I didn’t care. I cried for this dog’s existence. I cried for my fortune and gratitude and seamingly god-like luxury.

I also cried because I had tough medicine to accept. I asked for truth and huachuma gave me truth.

It felt as if huachuma itself began speaking in my mind.

“You cry for this dog, but you will not save this dog. You will not care for this dog, adopt this dog, and heal this dog. You’ve claimed you are a bodhisattva, but you are not -- and this is okay boy. You are a human who is concerned with humans. In this life, you’ve chosen to help heal western culture.”

There wasn’t condemnation or judgement in this voice, it was just truth. It was showing me, and my ego, that I was, and am not, as noble as I like to think.

As this dog lay in the dirt, with slow labored breath, attempting to digest the fiber it wished were food, I continued to cry. As a child threw dirt on the sleeping dog because it seemed dead, I continued to cry. As the child began to yell to older children to look at the dog that had not responded to his dirt throwing, I continued to cry.

I had asked for truth, and truth I was given. I’m here to help in this life, but I need to not exaggerate, I need to be honest. I am not a bodhisattva, I am a human obsessed with human psychology, who is trying to help the psyche of western culture.

And that’s okay, boy. It’s okay to cry in the wake of the truth that you aren’t all that you thought you were.

Thank you little one for your teaching.

The Dance

At some indeterminate point after my spiritual class with the dog, the tribe we came to visit begun it’s presentation.

I grew up in Wisconsin for most of my childhood, and once a year at my school, the local native american tribe would come and show us it’s traditional dances and customs.

I was good friends with one of the boys who would transform from schoolmate to exoctic feathered drummer and dancer.

I’d watch his face during the ceremonies. I didn’t have the words for it then, but what I saw was the same face I’d make when my mom asked me to perform something in front of her friends while all I wanted to do was go in my room and play Pokemon.

As this tribe’s chief began sharing his tribe’s story, I saw passion and love and a man actively overcoming his fear of speaking, but as his speech gave way to the children performing their dance, the energy in their faces reminded me of my friend back in Wisconsin.

These children are in an impossible spot, one that has fucking consumed the West many years ago.

They have their culture, their tradition, and their myths -- but they’ve tasted cell phones, computers, and mainstream media’s myths. And there is something in our modern luxury that is a tradition devourer. The feeling of the Sacred has withered in the wake of Modernity.

These children are stark, shimmering symbols of Nietzsche's “God is Dead...and we have killed him.”

Most culture’s ritual, myths, and gods have lost their visceral connection, and I saw it in these kids.

All this being said, they enjoyed themselves. They danced, they sung, we all joined, and it was beautiful. Their tradition isn’t completely dead, it just is trying to compete with the techno-orgy the West has produced.

Worthy sidenote:

At one point in the tribe’s presentation, they began playing drums and Aubrey started dancing. What began as some fancy footwork and spinning turned into him ecstatically dancing in the center of all of us with a fervor I have never, ever witnessed.

The dance was legendary, and I have no doubt that when the final period is placed on Aubrey’s life story, he’s going to be a legend too. I’ve never met someone who has chosen to take on as many burden’s as he has, who gives as much as he does to as many people as he does, and who has a demon on his back as large as he does, that he’s learned to tame.

It’s an honor to get to witness.

Boat Ride Home

As the sun was setting, we started heading back to our boats.

The sky was gorgeous, and as we began gliding home, I couldn’t feel anything other than sheer gratitude. The weight of my experience was hitting me.

I’m in the fucking Amazon rainforest. I’m in the midst of Don Howard’s ancient plant medicine ceremony with some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met.

I got to thinking how could I possibly repay this fortune.

And the answer came effortlessly.

“Your medicine is to witness, articulate, and share the human experience as honestly as you can.”

This felt like huachuma talking to me, and it felt like a deep gift.

My mission, my what, is to create the most effective psychological system for treating depression, and I’ve known this for years.

But tonight I was given my Tao, my how. The way I, the ego Erick story, can best sing my song while I go for my life’s mission, is to be as clear and honest a communicator of the human experience as I can.

That’s what I think this -- this writing right now -- is. I’m Ericking.

And so, between happy crying, jamming out to my Peru playlist, and appreciating the divine feminine feeling of the wet curves of the Amazon river, I smiled at knowing my way.

And we docked.

Evening Mesa

As we were getting off the boats, Don Howard told us to meet back in the maloka in an hour.

We snacked, showered, and giggled the whole way back to the maloka for that evening’s closing ceremony.

It was jungle dark by the time we all got settled, and the only light was candle. The mesa, with all of Don Howard’s artifacts, looked like the center room of an ancient temple. It felt like one too.

The huachuma was still pulsating through my veins and consciousness. I felt light, full of love, and still in possession of a clarity that was uncanny.

Don Howard was back in his Eternal Shamanic King vibe, and he directed us to stand at the mesa, letting two fingers from each hand rest on the table, and to meditate.

We all took turns doing this, and the entire experience lasted about 2 hours. I had two very interesting insights I want to share while I stood at the mesa.

Both felt like they were answers that came outside of myself, but the moment I “received” them, my rational mind began judging whether they were legitimate or not.

First, I felt like I was told how many children I’ll have. Four.

Next, I was told that my first child would be a girl, and her name would be Aryn.

I don’t know what to make of this. My rational mind is a fucker, and he doubts these insights, but another part of me is very relaxed and calm, in the background of my psyche, grinning.

I suppose we’ll see.

As the evening commenced, we all hugged each other and headed to dinner.

Day 1 with huachuma, the day of the mind, was complete.

1st Mesada Summary

This was absolutely my most heady huachuma day. I was trying to be a writer, philosopher, and journalist all at the same time.

I truly enjoyed myself, but in the wake of what day 2 was going to be, I realized in hindsight that I was protecting myself from love and vulnerability by trying to think and analyze everything.

If you made it to this point, I fucking love and admire you. I hope this provided you value, and please, feel free to reach out and share your feedback.

Thank you for your eyes, minds, and heart.

Namasteezy.

Ketamine Trip Report

I can’t believe my life sometimes.

On a Tuesday evening, I’m seated in the living room of one of my mentors, along with 10 others he’d call family, all whom I respect deeply, while we each are injected with pharmaceutical grade Ketamine by a licensed physician.

Sometimes, my luck, and this life, feel like a lucid dream.

I sit like a child agape before his first Christmas tree. In this living room, is a tribe of people who love, trust, and explore their psyche’s with each other in a connected manner that I was never shown by family or culture. Before me is a model of how a family, bonded by blood or spirit, could be. Before me is a whisper of how homo sapiens are meant to be.

And beneath this beauty is something deeper.

These people understand the Sacred. In an age where depression and suicide seem like our culture’s Gods, the Sacred is something desperately lacking, and to witness this kind of gathering is enough to bring tears to my eyes now, while writing these words. The experience of the Sacred is something our culture is crying out for.

As I basked in the awe of the love this tribe exemplified, I let the Sacred cocoon my consciousness while the doctor injected me with Ketamine. As I began to lay back and dawn my eye-shades, I quickly repeated my intention:

“I ask for clarity, and to understand love more.”

Then it began.

Fear was my initial countdown operator.

I had never done Ketamine before, so my fear of the experience was fear of fear, and my companion let me know he was there by the excessive heartbeat I could hear pounding in my ribcage.

However, as I began to sense the shifting of consciousness, fear began to subside and I began to experience a warm, almost molasses-like, sensation fill my body. I felt warm, and safe, and clear.

As is always the case with altered states of consciousness, a linear recounting of the experience is only something the brain does after the fact. So while this trip report will betray the experience in structure, it is the best I can do.

And before we go on, so we’re on the same page, I think it’s worth touching on how I conceptualize the psyche. My bias of the mind is mostly a mix of modern Cognitive Psychology (very well researched, mainstream science) and Jungian Depth Psychology (almost entirely theoretical and subjective).

To keep things simple, here are the major landmarks of the experiential territory I traveled to:

Your entire mental life is referred to as the Psyche.

Your Psyche is broadly divided into a Conscious mind, and an Unconscious mind.

Your Psyche is roughly 1% Conscious, and 99% Unconscious.

The Ego is the story your conscious mind tells itself about who and what you are.

Awareness is the part of your conscious mind that witnesses.

Okay, with some mutual territory mapped, let's continue.

My first major experience was likely what people refer to as “The K-Hole.” I, the observing self (Awareness), felt like I was almost in space, and that Erick, the little ego story we’ve co-weaved with the help of everyone we’ve ever met, was miles away on the ground.

At this distance from Erick’s Ego, an interesting thing started happening. I began to hear him tell me what he was doing.

There is an idea in psychoanalysis, best captured by Carl Jung, when he said, “Man is an enigma to himself.” What he means is, once you begin to grasp the vastness and complexity of the unconscious mind, and you study how limited and blind the conscious mind is, a profound realization occurs…

We do not know what the fuck we are, what the fuck we are doing, or why the fuck we’re doing at all.

So this confession of the Ego Erick was intensely interesting...and absolutely surprising.

The phrase Erick kept repeating, in a mixture of singing and confession, was one that would have triggered an existential crisis in my 19-year-old self.

Erick kept repeating;

“I am trying my best to manifest the Kingdom of Heaven.

I am trying my best to manifest the Kingdom of Heaven.

I am trying my best to manifest the Kingdom of Heaven.”

...What?!

If you don’t know me, to give some background, I’ve never felt religious, was a staunch atheist through my adolescence, and have since been broken open to agnosticism thanks to psychedelics, but never have I felt a particularly Christian inclination.

All I could do was quietly laugh as tears slid from my eyes.

I was tearing up because I felt what he meant. I felt that he knew these words didn’t capture what he was doing, but that it was the closest he could get with the tool that is language. He felt like a wide-eyed, innocent child standing in front of a tsunami, trying to protect the sandcastle’s he and his loved ones have made in the yawning wake of entropy.

(Once I started coming back to baseline consciousness, I began exploring what I thought I meant by this phrase, but that’s for later.)

The next memorable experience was one of the most spiritually profound moments I can remember having. If I were not inclined to try and express these trip reports as rationally and empirically as possible, I’d say that I became my Guardian Angel, and got to experience how she saw and felt about me, but, I’m going to do my best to explain this as honestly as I experienced it.

The nightshades I wore had styrofoam on the edges to block out light. If I fixed my eyes on the foam, I could see little specks of light coming through. With this sense data, I could feel my brain wanting to turn these specks of light into a metaphorical symbol, and to project deep meaning onto it.

And I let it.

These little specks of light became a cluster of stars. My mind told me, “This is Erick.” It was a symbol for my psyche. Many blazing stars scattered about, but all orbiting a single gravitational center.

This is how Jung conceptualized our psyche. We each are a fragmented God in some sense, with multiple selves arising in the various life situations we find ourselves. Jung believed that the most meaningful task any individual could embark on was to explore their Psyche in its totality and to seek to integrate these fragments into a single collective whole. He called this the Individuation Process.

So the fact that I had awareness of my Psyche begged the question of what was experiencing Erick’s psyche…

It was Awareness itself.

When you start meditating, if you’re diligent, you can begin to become aware that your awareness is actually distinctly different than your conscious mind. It is the light that animates the movie of your Ego story.

In meditative traditions, this Awareness has been called The Witness, The Observer, or Consciousness itself. This Awareness is eternally calm, having no triggers, no story, no ego. It is pure, almost non-human consciousness.

However, this isn’t exactly what I felt.

I think the idea of the Greek “Daimon” or the Arabic “Genius” make more sense here. In both the Greek and Arabic culture, there is an idea that there is a force in our psyche that is apart from the Ego story, that tries to guide the Ego story. We can pray to it, talk to it, and listen to its advice.

In modern secular language we may call this our conscious, and in New Age terms we’d call it our Guardian Angel.

Whatever the name you find most fits your perspective, the felt experience was that my awareness stepped out of the Erick Ego, and stepped into this other entity and witnessed how it felt towards the Erick Ego.

It was repeating:

“I love you.

I want to help you manifest your dreams.

I love you.”

Tears streamed down my face. This felt like the sweetest kiss the universe could possibly give me. This felt like psychic harmony. I know I have a long journey ahead of me, and a lifetime worth of growing to do, but in that moment, I viscerally felt that I had an ally that transcended me, who loved me, and wanted nothing other than to help me.

I quietly cried and cried and cried.

Eventually, I started to come back into my body, and my mind kept trying to understand what I meant by:

“I am trying my best to manifest the Kingdom of Heaven.”

I don’t really understand how the answer came to me, but now that it has been introduced into my psyche, it feels matter-of-fact.

There is an idea from Jung, that he introduced late in his life, where he explored the stages of consciousness the individual goes through during the individuation process. He concluded that the highest form of consciousness is when the individual understands that their entire experience, both the objective and subjective, is a single reality.

Your experience of what you believe is the objective world is a creation of your nervous system. The creation that your nervous system manifests is always filtered by your subjective, inner world.

With that in mind, attempting to manifest the kingdom of heaven, to me, is a mode of being in the world (my experience), where I attempt to constantly, consistently, and compassionately bring love and truth into my present moment.

I believe that how I manage my internal world effects the objective world I experience. I believe that manifesting the Kingdom of Heaven is when I am in the present moment, in love, and in truth.

That was the answer that came to me as my Ketamine experience ended was:

“Truth in Love. Love in Truth.

Truth in Love. Love in Truth.

Truth in Love. Love in Truth.”

As I came back to my senses, I laid on the floor in awe of the gift that Ketamine gave me. It showed me just what the fuck Erick’s Ego is doing.

I’m trying my best to be in love, and in truth, with my experience.