I kneeled before an Ayhauscero on a Monday night in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
It was a warm night.
I love warm nights with a hint of humidity and a moon so bright and big it’s almost a dream.
I had just waited behind a line of people who have all carefully picked out what mattress they would call home for the night to kneel in front of a man who was about to blow rapee’ (raap-eh) up my nose.
The D.A.R.E program worked on me. I have never had any substance go up my nose before and I don’t do recreational drugs. I have never done a psychedelic before. But this was all ceremonial medicine.
The Rapee’ gives you an instant “high” tingle. It opens the mind, they say. (which now reminds me of my favorite movie, Midsommar, when asked what was in a drink, a woman answered “its to open you to the influence”)
I sat back on my mattress, a middle aged mom with 2 teen kids at home sat to my left. To my right, a younger guy that I didn’t particularly want next to me. In front me of me were 2 30-something male friends from Ireland, but living in NewYork.
Everyone was a stranger. Everyone had an ounce of fear and uncertainty. We all waited, sitting up, staring at our puke buckets and toilet paper. Waiting to be called to take the medicine.
After a ceremony and another anxious wait in a line. I had my first shot glass of tonights brew.
It tasted like an earthy chocolatey mix of throw up.
Sit up, they say.
Sit up so you don’t throw up immediately. Try to hold it down.
I read my intentions, my prayers to Mother Aya, over and over in my head. So, so scared of what this substance would do to me.
The lights dimmed. The music started. The glow of the fire and moon eerily entered the space.
A soft warm breeze blew in. “She’s Heeeere” entered my mind (in the voice of the young girl from Poltergeist) as I started to feel “drugged” I physically felt her enter the room. Or what I thought was Mother Aya. SOMETHING entered.
My mind panicked a bit. Shit. Was I the first one feeling “drunk” on the medicine? It’s literally been 15 minutes. No way would I be the first one to puke.
I heard someone else vomit. Whew. Ok Now I can relax.
I tried to calm down. Tried to breathe. I laid back on my mattress and closed my eyes.
The colors and patterns started. Those exact neon geometrical patterns you see in psychedelic paintings. Crazy patterns formed. I breathed. “It’s ok Jessie, just let it flow, look…its showing me neon colors! Spirit must know that I do love NEON! This is fine, its fine. Just relax” were my exact thoughts.
Then, I made the mistake of opening my eyes. And guess what. I still saw the patterns, everywhere. I could barely see the room I was in. I almost couldn’t tell if my eyes were open or shut.
Now I am freaking out. I sat up a bit and raised my hand to call over Brad, the main medicine man of the night. He walked me to the bathroom, as I whispered “I can’t do this”.
But of course there isn’t a magic “stop it now” pill. The medicine has you for as long as you need it. And she knows what you need.
I went in the bathroom and just sat on the toilet. FUCK. I am so dizzy. I feel so “drunk” on it. I was terrified of pee’ing or poo’ing on myself so I made sure I tried to go to the bathroom often, I made sure I kept myself conscious.
Sitting on the toilet, I gagged a bit in my bucket. And realized I started to hear my own gagging on a 3 second delay. Where am I? Who am I? Am I even in the bathroom?! My god.. I guess I was and I mustered up the strength to leave and to my dismay Brad was not waiting for me this whole time. I was on my own.. gently walking back to my mattress.
I laid back down to a myriad of intense, vulgar at times, terrifying array of images being shown to me. It was calling me names. This… this is actually hell. This is a nightmare. It was like I was being taunted, bullied. Flashes of the most annoying visuals. looping, looping, looping.
And my mind jumping in, what if I have to pee? Can I walk? Do I have to pee?
The voices were horrible.
“You want to embarrass me, don’t you? You want me to prove to you that I can surrender, and the only way to prove that was to pee in my pants right? So fuck it, fuck this, fuck you, you want me to pee on my mattress fine!”- Were my shouting inner thoughts to the Ayahuasca.
So I peed, I felt the release of my bladder, I heard it spray everywhere. I heard the whispers of the people around me. And if felt so good to release.
The medicine ebbs and flows. When that flow was over- I woke up a bit to find that I did NOT in fact pee, at all.
She ebb’ed back in. The medicine came back strong. I laid back down. But then I ended up sitting up and throwing up a lot. Visions of baby birds birthed out of my mouth. Black birds. Brad came over. I had no idea if my eyes were open or shut, he was a huge Crow-like man. His feathers were broad. He spat a mixture of alcohol and water into my face and body to calm my energy and waved his feathers around me. I threw up A LOT.
The timeline of visions is now unclear, but whole night felt like a nightmare. I was taunted by the medicine. It was clear that this was the devil, if she/he existed. This was evil. So evil that for a good portion of night, it kept asking me to prove myself to it. Proof that I can surrender. It told me if I kept breathing, It would keep the nightmarish visions going. So I held my breath as long as I could, over and over and over.
And although my head was on a pillow at the end of my bed, chin resting softy, on it- it felt like my face was being jammed into the corner of a brick. The pain I felt was amazing.
Finally a helper came over (apparently my mattress neighbor to left watched me all night and kept calling over people who took my pulse multiple times). The helper told me to just lay on my back and breath, that I must breath.
Finally breathing.. the madness stopped. I took the deepest breaths I could, and the devil went away.
Around 3 AM they turned on lights and said whomever wanted to join in the center for a closing could. I sat up, and there was no way this was over for me. I was panicking again. I had 1 shot, HOURS ago, how has it not stopped yet? Will it ever? The right side of my lower lip was numb too, why?
I was told to lay back down, then was later helped to my room, and it finally wore off once I fell asleep.
The next morning I cried like someone had died. I made it to breakfast where I saw the owner of the resort and with a stuttering cry said it was a nightmare. I WAS NOT OK.
I saw the people who laid around me that Monday night at breakfast this next day. I must have a been a wreck last night, they asked if was ok. Most hadn’t felt anything really after doing multiple shots throughout the night.
The owner tried to explain that I had an ego death.
I cried like I was in mourning, because a part of myself had died.
Was that the bad part of my ego that taunted me? Or was that Mother Aya? Is she cruel?
This experience was in early 2018. And now sitting here in April 2020, reflecting on all I have learned in these years. I am almost certain that was not my “bad ego”, that was not “Mother Ayahuasca”. I believe that the space was not protected enough. I believe a dark spirit was let in and tortured me for a night.
I went on to do 7 more ceremonies that year, with he belief that my ego still needed to transform. With the belief that what happened was “a good thing”.