During the month of August, when the sun is high and the days are generally hot in the Northern Hemisphere, the world south of the equator is just beginning to open up to Spring. It was at this time of the year that eighteen of us joined Charles Lawrence and Diana Winter for a trip to Peru, first to Lima and then three hours up the Amazon River by boat from Iquitos to the beautiful jungle camp of the Shaman and Ayahuascara, Don Augustin Rivas Vasquez.
As perhaps is true for many of you, we had heard a multitude of stories about Don Augustin and others who had journeyed to be taught by the Mother of all Plants, and our minds and hearts were filled with many expectations and much curiosity.
Nothing really, can prepare one for meeting “The Mother,” except perhaps the absolute openness of one’s soul and the total willingness to embrace the fullness of life, including pain, joy, ecstasy and utter disorientation, destruction and restructuring all at the same time.
Ayahuasca is called “The Death Vine” for a good reason. It is wise to go to her, willing to die, to be changed, and to yield oneself completely to the power of her mystery. Much like the experiences at the Sundance, one does not really know what to expect, and when what happens, happens, one does the best one can to stay absolutely present to the realities of the moment.
Every ayahuasca journey is different, and even though brightly colored anaconda snakes and jaguars show themselves to many, and various vivid technicolor “movies” of many varieties are experienced by others, some people experience absolutely nothing except the rhythmic wretching of their neighbors. Some of us experienced being taken to the heart of Creation while others listened to the deep, plaintiff cries of the world-soul asking us to remember all her children -two-leggeds, four-leggeds, plant spirits, stone people, water beings…… all her children. Some of us did not journey at all, but came for healing and the mother granted that gift as well.
During our two weeks in the jungle, we traveled four times with the Mother Ayahuasca, three times in the beautiful temple at Yushintaita, and once several kilometers deeper in the jungle at the Temple of the Jaguar in Otorongo. We spent our days bathing in the clear, clean jungle streams in the camp, sharing our journeys in sacred circle, resting in hammocks, and receiving healing massages and treatments from Don Augustin’s staff and one another. We all came back changed, shifted, different - lighter, more relaxed, more connected, happier, more in relation with ourselves, each other, and the incredible, ever shifting worlds inside and outside of us. Yes, we will go back! Yes, all the temporary pain and discomfort was worth it. And, yes, there could be opportunities for many of you to travel there as well. Do you have your passport……?