Whole Life Magazine

August/September 2013

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Page 36 of 51

and indescribable happiness surround ayahuasca. He explained that ayahuasca visions can bring transformation and enlightenment, and can change one's perceptions of life. To the beat of the maracas, he passed a small glass to each of us. he lavor was similar to chicha de jora, a fermented maize beverage typical of the region. Periodically over the 30 minutes or so of waiting to start the visions I experienced vomiting, diarrhea and intense anguish. My senses became highly sensitized, and all the jungle sounds—from the loudest animal cry to the sotness of a raindrop—became ampliied. I felt I was leaving my body and all its familiar sensations, spinning into another world. I breathed the light of the stars and with each exhale felt I died, only to be reborn with each new breath. When the shaman began to sing in Shipibo dialect, the jungle noises magically ended. He moved his head to the rhythm of the maracas, eyes closed and a smile on his face. I felt trapped by the sound, a progressive, ininite buzzing, like a stone thrown in the water emanating concentric circles of energy. But gradually I began to feel enormous pleasure, with a deep love for all creation. A tree entered my vision and I felt I understood its existence. Trees are important in the ritual, since from them come the spirits invoked by the shaman. Some are good, others not, but the shaman was there to protect me, so I didn't worry. Colors began to appear—gold, green, silver and a strong rosy hue. I could now breathe more easily and with my eyes half closed, I could see simultaneously inside and out—I was one with the Ininite! In that moment I felt dozens of snakes that slithered around my legs, then went to an enormous tree and descended to its roots, where I joined them. In my consciousness the roots changed into millions of ilaments that wound around all existing things in the world. Anything I thought became bound to these roots and the most insigniicant things had new meaning. When the shaman stopped singing, the visions vanished and the spirits returned to the trees. I was back in my former reality. We took a 15-minute break while the shaman put forth many questions, but soon the chants and songs began again, and along with them, strong visions and powerful ener- august / september 2013 37

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