I, Ayahuasca Tourist

By Doctress Neutopia

August 2010


Note: The names in the essay have been changed except for my own. At the beginning on the tour, we were asked not use real names in our blogs and essays because of the sensitive nature of the Reality Sandwich tour. Reality Sandwich is an online journal devoted to cutting-edge, mind-expanding adventures. Its online community, Evolver, is planning ways to actually create real life sustainable communities.

In between the dream state and waking up, just before dawn, is the time when visions of altered states and voices of creativity usually come to me. It is as if they come as directives on how I should use the coming day. This morning was no different, even though I was back at my house in Arizona after traveling thousands of miles the day before. I had been in the rainforest of the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica, at the beautiful retreat center. Waking up to the sounds of the jungle birds, a flock of scarlet macaws, and white-faced monkeys climbing and swinging on the tree branches beside the off-the-grid tree house where I was staying—all this now seemed a dream of a tropical paradise.

The pure spring water of the forest was no longer available as I started my day, making green tea by boiling filtered effluent tap water from the Colorado River. This river is contaminated with perchlorate, a chemical used in Cold War rockets, and from 12 million tons of radioactive uranium tailings left over from the Cold War era that blow and seep into the river near Moab, Utah. The rainforest sounds were now replaced by the noise of the swamp cooler and the fan on high blast, directed at my hot body. I missed my new rainforest family, who were with me for the week-long journey into using ayahuasca, a psychedelic, consciousness-altering plant brew. A voice calmed me down and said, “You knew the trip wouldn’t last. It was only a glimpse into a more primal existence.” Or was it even that?

As communal as the week-long experience seemed, I couldn’t fool myself. I had simply been an ayahuasca tourist. The week trip centered on three all night ayahuasca ceremonies. Our leader was a couple, shaman and shamaness; he was from Columbia and she was from Germany.

I had traveled thousands of miles in an attempt to increase my self-knowledge. Money bought me the experience. True tribes have little money, and take care of people in their tribe forever. They live, work, build, breathe and worship the divine together. It’s not a week's adventure in the jungle. It is a way of life in a sustainable relationship with one another and with nature.

But here I was, back inside the grid of the global metropolis, alienated from mainstream society and isolated inside my nuclear-family-style house. Once again flying into Tucson, I witnessed from the air the lights of the urban sprawl that is destroying the Sonoran desert, an ecosystem that was once abundant with biodiversity. I have devoted my adult life to finding a way to stop the sprawl that destroys habitat for wildlife; habitat destruction caused by urban growth is one of the main reasons for species’ extinction. At my wit’s end as to how to stop the ever-expanding megalopolis, I had thought that maybe trying ayahuasca, call the Vine of the Soul, could give me some answers.

At the airport, a college-aged man was also waiting for the shuttle bus to carry us home. When we started talking, I found out he was studying political science and economics. He was from Pakistan. Driving to the house, we talked about K2, the second highest peak in the world, and the worst flood of the Indus River in human memory. Twenty million people have been affected, their crops ruined. The 2400 BC archeological site, Mohenjodaro, one of the world’s first planned cities, was threatened by the flood water. The student said that scientists suspected that global warming was the cause of the flood. How many more symbols of destruction does humanity need? The cradles of civilization were crumbling as jets spewing out more C02 gases into the atmosphere kept on flying.

I reflected on the words of Ms. Montreal one morning at the breakfast table in Costa Rica. She purposely sat beside me and gave me a scarf that she had brought with her from China. She wanted to give it to me so that I would remember her optimistic words: “There is no need to worry. We are already in the new Eden. Women have worked hard to establish the new world. The good news is that we, as women, no longer need to struggle! We live in post-feminism. I’ve made a list of all the good works women are organizing and it is huge! The energy you exhibited the other night at the ceremony is no longer necessary! You are behind the times. Rejoice in the new Eden!”

[Earlier in the week, I heard the story her partner, Ms. Blossom, related about doing LSD on top of a temple at Angkor Wat, Cambodia. What a sacred space to be tripping at dusk! After the last sun rays of day left the sky, as she climbed down a young Cambodian woman asked her if she wanted to buy a book. Ms. Blossom looked at the book’s title, The Killing Fields. Rejecting the book she said, “Why would I want to read something so negative?”

I had also been a tourist at Angkor Wat and had been on that temple at dusk, but I wasn’t on LSD. Coming down from the temple, I saw the maimed Cambodians who were begging or selling tourist items. They were missing a leg or an arm because of land mine injuries. One of the legacies of the three decades of war in Cambodia has been that nearly forty victims a week are maimed by land mine accidents. According to the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) there are over a half a million tons of unexploded ordinance (UXO), left over from the bombing on Cambodia in the '60s and early '70s by the United States. I couldn’t turn my head when I saw these people. It was the suffering of humanity. I give them what money I had in my pocket]

Back to the present: My feeling was that Ms. Montreal, Ms. Blossom, and others on the trip believed I was afflicted with negative fear energy. They were implying that I brought down the group vibration, because I had brought up the issue of violence on the third and final night of drinking ayahuasca during our tour.

I had not shown up for the second ayahuasca night because I realized, after the first ceremony, that the ritual wasn’t right for me. Before the ceremony began, I stood at entrance way of the ceremonial space deciding whether or not to take part when I received a memory of what happened a long time ago at the Delphi Oracle. Originally, the ruling deity of the Delphi Oracle was Gaia. Her divination came through people’s dreams. Priestesses, ordained to manage the Oracle, helped people over come personality disorders by analyzing their dreams, prescribing diets, fasts, and spiritual exercises to get their selves back in balance with the Cosmos.

The Age of Patriarchy took over the Delphi Oracle when the army of the God Apollo slaughtered the python that protected the sanctuary. He replaced the holy order of Gaia priestesses with his order of priests and the Pythia, a young virgin who sat on a tripod over a chasm in the earth. Intoxicating vapors coming out of the chasm was said to put the Pythia into a frenzied state necessary for her to received divinations. Apollonian priests would then interpret her babbles and relay them to the public. Was ayahuasca working like the hallucinogenic vapors at Delphi?

Unable to determine the benefits of the hallucinogenic drink, I went back to my tree house for the night. Instead of being at the second ceremony, I listened to the pounding sound of the ocean waves and the night creatures. I overcame my fear of being alone in the forest by meditating on what I personally could do to save the Earth. But the fear was intense. The waves were powerful as they hit the shore line. I felt as if at any moment I could be swept up and sucked out to sea. Images of the 2004 Asian tidal wave bounded around in my head making it impossible for me to sleep. Sensations of drowning made me confront my own mortality. I had to live through the vulnerability of being at the mercy of Gaia.

I got over my skepticism with the ceremony and took part on the third all-night ayahuasca event. After kneeling at the shaman’s altar, I took the hallucinogenic drink. After an hour or so of lying in a hammock, tripping out on my own cosmic consciousness as it related to others, I was wondering, “Is it possible for everyone’s Kundalini energy to arise simultaneously?” This question arose inside me as the shamaness gathered six of the men in our group into a circle near the front altar for them to take part in a water blessing ritual. Her organizing the men made me come out of my own conscious meditation and take notice about what was going on.

I began tuning into her words, directing the circle of men to go around one by one blessing pitcher water. I listened carefully to each of their blessings, but they didn’t seem to go deep enough into the problems humanity face to really be able to change our situation. The shamaness told them to go around the circle again for more blessings. Again, I heard only “positive” words, sugarcoated with love, peace and gratitude, as if they had been eating cotton candy while watching the New Age movie The Secret. [Read my reveiw of The Secret] Only one man, Mr. Jerusalem, went deeper, asking humanity to forgive what we have done to the planet. His voice was filled with sorrow. But the Vine of the Soul wanted a more collective profundity, more people to say things like Mr. Jerusalem was saying, so that we could all reach Gaia Messiahship. I knew this, and a voice within me started crying out to express this revelation to the men.

Using the Black Tourmaline stone I carried with me to pull out the toxins from the ayahuasca, I placed it on my throat chakra, hoping that it would pull out and absorb what I wanted to say, in order to respect the ceremony’s protocol by remaining silent. Instead, putting the stone on my throat caused a psychic eruption of spiritual energy as if I was drawing in the power from the nearby active Arenal Volcano. I sat up in the hammock and said, “Men, you must go deeper!” With those words, I broke shamanic rules of acceptable behavior and moved into an instinctive tendency which others usually deemed “inappropriate.”

Mr. New Orleans, who was in the position of assistant to the shamans, came to my side and told me to remain silent. I wanted out of the hammock and struggled to set my feet firmly on the floor. Mr. New Orleans didn’t want this movement to happen and pushed me back into the hammock. I swatted my left arm at him as I would do to an annoying fruit fly, and continued to pull myself out of the hammock. On two feet I metamorphosed into a Gaia prophetess. I boldly walked closer to the altar.

The shamaness, puffing on her ritual tobacco cigar, said, “I’m here peacefully smoking tobacco when you start disrupting the ceremony!”

I replied, “Tobacco is part of the problem!”

It had been a painful week, being with a group of young, beautiful, and intelligent people, many who were addicted to recreational tobacco use. I was in a place of very clean air, perhaps the cleanest air that had ever had the privilege to enter my lungs, but I was inflicted with the second-hand smoke of my travel companions. It was as if in order to feel at ease, the smokers had to inhale carbon monoxide from their cigarettes--the same toxic gas that was emitted in car exhaust. Were they exhibiting what Freud called the “neurosis of civilization,” even though they were far away from the city? Indeed, in today’s world of cell phones and satellite Internet connections, no place is truly far away from the capitalist megalopolis. Modern cities resemble cancer cells that are attacking their host, rather than a community of cells working in harmony to create a healthy planetary body.

Here at the ceremony I again began to challenge authority, because I was following the inner guidance of Gaia. Why did Gaia always lead me along these difficult pathways in such situations? Knowing that ayahuasca is considered an entheogen, a psychoactive substance that manifests the divine within, it seemed to be working in me! As if I had been electrified with truth, I enthusiastically yelled, “It’s time for a global Lovolution!”

The shaman warned me, “If you don’t sit down now, we will have you removed!”

“I need to participate in the water blessing. Women need to support men going deeper into the savior archetype. Women are the savioresses of men!”

She replied, “The men are doing what they need to do, using the vine to clean out their own pattern of abuse and suffering. So calm down, be quiet, and seek your own healing.” But instead of stepping backward, I stepped forward, dropping the Black Tourmaline, the healing stone that purifies and protects, into the pitcher of water. This caused a splashing sound that awoke the others out of their ayahuasca trances.

I didn’t have a chance to say much of anything else, because Mr. New Orleans and the shaman picked me up and carried me out of the ceremony, but not without my voice fully activated as I cried, “Violence! Violence! Violence!” As these words were spoken, images of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq ran through my mind, as if I was watching a television screen beamed directly into my brain from the Middle East and Central Asia.

At that point, my mind zeroed in on a memory at the Atlanta airport while I was waiting for the next flight to San Jose. I witnessed young soldiers in their desert camouflage fatigues, maybe one hundred of them, waiting to be deployed. An African-American soldier walked towards the group of soldiers, who were sitting at the gate. She, dressed in her military outfit, was holding hands with her ten-year-old daughter, who was on the verge of tears. Can you imagine how hard it would be for the little girl to let go of her mother’s hand and say goodbye to her as she was deployed to a foreign war zone? Can you imagine the heartache of the mother saying goodbye to her daughter? Mothers going to fight wars for Corporate America were instilling in their daughters that it is all right to kill. How sick is that! Is it any wonder why civilization is collapsing? Not only had it become a poor man’s army, it was now a poor woman’s army. They are going to the hell of war to democratize them and to protect our paradise. How fair is that?

Then my psychedelic eyes became like X-ray machines. I could see an invisible dust glowing in the water. Our holy water, even in the rainforest of Costa Rica, was contaminated with radioactive dust from the use of depleted uranium weapons that has now blown all over the world. As loud as I could speak, in a desperate plea, I yelled, “Help!” I had become the people of the rainforest. My cries were to save the creatures that needed an intact ecosystem in order to survive.

I immediately recalled the group hike we had taken a few days before. On the path, the shamaness who was leading the group started running in the opposite direction. A band of monkeys, eating fruit in the vines and trees above the trail, had frightened her. The monkeys didn’t want us disturbing them, and were letting us know by showing their teeth and lunging out at us. We couldn’t go around them, so we decided that if we banded together, then the monkeys would not bother us. It worked. We made it through without being attacked by them. But what chance did monkeys have to defend their forest against guns, bulldozers, and developers?

My cries for help didn’t work, though, as my body was flung in the mud outside the ceremonial space. The shaman was now on top of me. He was crushing one of my toes on my left foot. The shamaness covered my mouth with her hand, which really made me wonder how far the violation of my physical self would go.

To my surprise she whispered, “We are here for you.”

The shaman added, “We don’t like what is happening to the rainforest either. But you have to respect the ceremony. People need quiet and little movement.”

When the shamaness removed her hand from my mouth, I responded, “I’m a high spiritual being! My intention was to add my spirit to the ceremony, not to disrupt it. If you are really supportive of me, you would let the spirit within me speak without feeling threatened or afraid. All She asks for is a few minutes of self-expression when she has an insight that can be used for the public good.” Though they probably had little understanding of my words, they knew by now that I wasn’t dangerous or violent, and they released my body. They went back into the ceremonial space, leaving me outside.

I didn’t want to return immediately because I had to come to terms with the dawning realization that neo-shamanism is not my form of religion. Even though I respected their primordial rituals that were connected with the air, water and the soil, and while I understood the importance of honoring the differences between the sexes as they did during the ceremony, my religion goes deeper. The divine purpose of my religion, which honors Gaia, the Great Goddess of the Earth, is to build ecological cities, arcologies, on Earth and, eventually, in Outer Space. It was the only way that I can envision humanity being able to survive global climate change. I see the Gaia Religion as rooted in conducting rituals to the elements and their spirits—especially to the foundational, life-giving bacteria. I also see it as leading a necessary evolution of religion by transforming the American Dream--guarded by mini-nukes--into the Dream of the Earth disarming itself, so that social justice becomes the architectural foundation of the New World.

Shamanism is probably the mystical origin--represented in architectural terms by the primitive hut--that gave birth to all the great world religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. The sacred architecture of those great religions created the modern civilization of synagogues, churches, mosques and temples that have accompanied the building of an unsustainable global metropolis.

Gaia Religion goes back to our roots, involving a “direct mystical path” to spirit, and helps evolve culture beyond the fragmentation between secular and sacred architecture that is associated with urban sprawl. Gaia’s body-temple-- “arcology”-- is an evolutionary container for all the biological “kingdoms” necessary for us to eventually colonize Outer Space in peace. Its goal is to build a compact urban architecture that provides all necessary human needs, including agriculture, allowing the surrounding land to return to wilderness. But the key to arcology, the first essential step, is being able to live together.

As the ayahuasca ceremony continued, I sat outside. The healing I had come to Costa Rica for wasn’t individual healing. I knew that now. I had come for social healing. I had come to find others who had found their unique vocations so that we could interact on a level that changes the archetypal patterns that cause us to destroy the air, soil and water. Most of all, I needed a place where the prophetess within me could have a chance to evolve. One week and three ayahuasca trips wasn’t enough time to fully explore the transformation from individual woman to Oracle of Gaia. This power of change was just showing Her face when it was time for us to pack up and go back into the global metropolis.

Outside the ceremonial space, the first few minutes of sitting alone were the most difficult. Had I been ostracized for revealing to the group my inner power? Ms. Moscow came to my side, held my hand, and with her soft comforting voice soothed my soul by saying that I had none nothing wrong. I wasn’t a criminal. How grateful I was for her tender words that began to heal the bruises caused by the shaman’s brute force.

“When will I be understood?” I asked Ms. Moscow.

She asked, “What would it feel like to be accepted?”

As my mind time-traveled back to prehistory to the Palace of Minos on the island of Crete, I responded, “I would be dressed in elegant, sensual, but dignified clothes. My peers would know me as a good conversationalist who gets to the root of matters. Being part of a meritocracy—a government on virtuous geniuses and wisdom-seekers, we would guide the world’s cradle-to-cradle industries (envisioned by architect William McDonough) and a green labor force into an evolutionarily new direction. We would have the social power to transform the military forces into a “truth force” (what Mahatma Gandhi called satyagraha), necessary to get the funds to alter the global metropolis into a network of solar-powered arcologies. As I spoke, images of architect Vince Callebaut came to my mind, with his beautiful plans to build a Dragonfly-shaped metabolic farm for urban agriculture in New York City. I saw robots working to construct it, as visualized by Jacque Fresco in his Venus Project.

I continued, “No longer would I have to struggle to speak, but I would have earned the honor of expressing myself on stage and with a microphone. People would ask me to give my PowerPoint presentation on my vision of social architecture within the new urban model. After the presentation, there would be public discussion on the pros and cons of the model so that the people of the democracy would have a chance to perfect the model. This is what I called the democracy/meritocracy form of global governance and universal education.”

This image of my self with social status is certainly far removed from the reality of sitting in the mud outside the ceremonial space. I realized I am truly an outsider, just like the other billions of souls on the planet who are also outside the institutions of religious and spiritual power, lying homeless and starving for loving care. I am no different from other people who were totally neglected.

Other women started making their way to us. Ms. Atlanta asked what she could do. I answered, “Can you get the Libyan Gold Tektite that is on my bed in the tree house?” It was comforting to hold the Tektite in my hand. (Scientists are unsure of the origin of the material that makes it up. They speculate that the “desert glass” was created by the impact of a meteorite or by an ancient atomic explosion because it is very similar to the glass formed after the nuclear explosions in 1945. This glass was named Trinitite after the code name for the first nuclear weapons test by the United States iin New Mexico, Trinity. Some psychics say the Libyan Gold Tektite was formed after a lengthy Atlantean-Lemurian war that resulted in the use of thermonuclear weapons. The war eventually sank and destroyed these two highly advanced civilizations. However it was formed, Libyan Gold Tektite was a powerful stone. On King Tutankhamen’s funeral necklace was a carved scarab made from Libyan Gold Tektite.)

While Ms. Atlanta took a flashlight to fetch the Tektite, another woman appeared, Ms. United Nations. Before my eyes, her body shape-shifted into a Persian Goddess. I had entered the state of mind of kye rim in Buddhism, seeing people around me as divine beings. She told me to uncross my legs and sit up with a straight spine so that her healing energy could flow through me without being blocked. Placing her thoughts over me, breathing into my astral space, she blew away the social disgrace and humiliation I was feeling as a result of being carried out of the ceremony against my will.

A reflection came to me about the first night of drinking the ayahuasca brew. Walking outside the ceremonial space to vomit, I ended up talking with the spirits about the one- person boat that was outside the ceremonial space. For me, the boat became a symbol for the primitive nature of humanity at this point in its cultural development. The boat wasn’t big enough to take care of everyone, nor could it withstand storms at sea. It wasn’t a life boat. I looked back at the ceremony, listening to the songs of the shaman and shamaness, familiar songs that it seemed I had heard as far back as when the first humans moved out of the caves and into improvised shelters.

I started to argue with the vine about whether or not human beings deserve to live. I rattled off the names of geniuses and avatars who were examples of supreme creativity and ethical wisdom. We deserve to live because they lived, and there are many geniuses alive today, I argued. Looking at the simple boat and raising my hands toward the sky, I said, “We cannot create justice for all without building biospheric starships—ships that have a sustainable artificial atmosphere necessary for us to live at peace with the Cosmos.” My evolutionary eyes gazed in awe at the boat, seeing the magnificent starships of our future. If there was a future for humanity, it will be because we find the love and develop the technology necessary to build the new ships in time.

The word “ship” centered my ayahuasca concentration. The dictionary says it derives from Old English scipe; compare shape. Suffix forming nouns are: 1. indicating a state or condition: fellowship; 2. indicating rank, office, or position; queenship; 3. indicating craft or skill: horsemanship; workmanship; scholarship. Creating the “ship” or relationship is the key to building a morphic field necessary for the zeitgeist to emerge. “Morphic” is also about creating a specific shape. The paradigm shift that we have been waiting for is about finding a new social pattern or archetype to steer the ship. Yes, I had come to Costa Rica with to build the relationships necessary to construct the ships of the 21st Century.

Still tripping, I found myself looking back at Spaceship Earth from a distance, and it seemed as though males were still tadpoles, evolutionarily speaking. Even Mr. New York City, for whose writings I had a great deal of admiration, took on the shape of a tadpole. How could I help them evolve? How could me and others like myself transform their war machines into vehicles for interstellar space travel and peace?

I prayed, “Great Spirit, do we even merit evolution? What is the power that will summon extra-terrestrials—the crop circle makers-- to help us reorganize the human habitat using ecologically sound technologies, sacred geometry, and a design science that biomimics nature? How do we either gain or reactivate powers of telepathy, so that we have a more direct way to communicate with each other? Is it activated by communal love? How strong must our love be in order for You to hear our cries?”

My consciousness moved back to the present, I had moved from the mud to sitting on the steps outside the ceremony. More Goddesses approached us--Ms. Northern California, Ms. Somalia, Ms. Paris, and Ms. Philadelphia. Several Goddesses told me that I needed to respect the ceremony. But I was still questioning my role within the ceremony. Some of them felt I needed to control my anger. But anger wasn't what impelled me . . . it was freedom!” At that moment of speaking out, I was free of all restraints, rules, and codes of behavior imposed by civilization. I had been emancipated to create my own value system. I reflected on a quote by J. Krishnamurti,

The truly religious man [sic] is not the one who practices so-called religion, who holds to certain dogmas and beliefs, who performs certain rituals, or pursues knowledge, for he is merely seeking another form of gratification. The man [sic] who is truly religious is completely free from society, he [sic] has no responsibility towards society; he [sic] may establish a relationship with society, but society has no relationship with him. Society is organized religion, the economic and social structure, the whole environment in which we have been brought up; and does that society help man to find God, truth it matters little what name you give it -, or does the individual who is seeking God create a new society? That is, must not the individual break away from the existing society, culture, or civilization? Surely, in the very breaking away he [sic] discovers what is truth, and it is that truth which creates the new society, the new culture.

When Ms. Atlanta came back with the Libyan Gold Tektite, I held the desert glass in my hand and asked, “Is Gaia the new archetype, the new religion needed to build a new type of socioeconomic pyramid—one which recognizes and solves Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of social needs, so that everyone’s needs are met? I recalled an interview I conducted with artist Alex Grey in which he talked about the activation of the Third Eye on the American dollar bill. America’s destiny of ushering in the “new order of the ages” may be to figure out how to put the top cap down on the pyramid.

After all this outpouring of tenderness and healing given to me by the embodied Goddesses, the first man came out of the ceremony and invited me back into the ceremonial space. He deeply touched my heart when he said that I had been missed. Suddenly, within a nanosecond, a metamorphosis occurred. The tadpole became a biped breather! It didn’t take much for a man to evolve, only listening and acknowledging woman . . . not only for being mothers, but for their natural places as Queens of the sacred hive.

Following his kind invitation, Ms. Moscow and I went inside. I found an empty hammock and climbed in. Mr. Renaissance bought me a chalice of water and asked if I would like a drink. I took it and after one sweet sip, I felt like my guts needed to be cleaned out. Quickly stumbling out of the hammock, I made my way outside to vomit. Memories of being raped by a professional killer, a Vietnam Vet redneck, when I was twenty years old, oppressed my mind as the vomit continued until nothing was left in my stomach.

Climbing back into the hammock, it wasn’t long before Mr. Upper State New York turned into a Sphinx. He had declared himself to be the new man earlier in the week after he finished reading a book about the Magdalene of Christ. Now he was half-man, half-lioness, prostrating to the grace of the Great Goddess. I turned to Ms. Moscow, “Do you still have the Endangered Species condom?”

“No. I lost it,” she said. I had given it to her at the beginning of the week since she had declared herself to be a teacher of Tantra. She asked to be the keeper of this important treasure. The condom was special; it had come all the way from the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson, Arizona. On the cover of the condom package it read, “Extinction is Forever: Wear a Condom.” There was a drawing of a golden toad underneath the printed words. I brought the condom with me as a symbol of what we could personally do to save the rainforests of the world. If we wanted to protect our oxygen source for generations to come, women needed to vow to take a one-child-per woman oath. Part of the plan to build new ecological cities also meant population control.

My friends left for outside. I went in and out of Dreamtime until dawn, when the shaman peeked into my hammock. He was wearing a brightly colored feather headdress. He said, “I’m wounded. You shot an arrow at me last night. Now it is stuck in my side. In order to heal, I need you to remove the arrow. Only you can remove it.”

Was I responsible for his wound? In my heart I didn’t think so, but out of compassion for a wounded creature, it was my duty to remove the arrow regardless of whether I had caused the pain or not. I metaphorically removed the arrow and put my hand on the imaginary wound on the side of his chest. Then, I pointed out to him my bruised toe, which was hurting me as a result of his flinging his body on top of me. This was not a metaphorical wound. He gently rubbed and blessed my swollen toe.

The day after our final journey into the vine juice, the shamans called us together for a last sharing. During my time to speak, I apologized to anyone who was offended by my Sacred Activism. I explained that my intention was to co-create with the shaman/shamaness, not to disrupt their ceremony. I asked for forgiveness for stepping over the boundaries of being an ayahuasca tourist (a role of cultural consumer) to becoming a co-creatrix of shamanistic consciousness myself.

My apology was particularly directed to the elderess, another Reality Sandwich tourist, who had ostracized me. The morning after the final ayahuasca trip, she approached me when I greeted her with a friendly smile. She did not return the smile, but instead she sternly stated, “You violated the sacred circle. I want nothing else to do with you.” She turned around and walked away. I was prepared for the pain of ostracism, but not from her.

During our last cleansing ritual, the shamans passed out cotton. They asked us to place our memories of the week in the cotton. We were to roll our memories in the cotton and then walk to the ocean and cast them to the waves. But I didn't roll up the memories of my activist “mistakes.” Instead, I rolled up the ostracism and cast it out to sea. I rolled up all the fear of not being ready to see the Truth.

The reality that I was nothing more than an ayahuasca tourist was clear after a final sharing circle. The shaman opened a bag and placed pieces of beautiful beaded jewelry from his tribe in Columbia near the candle on the floor. After he laid them out, he didn’t say a word. Immediately, the Western women descended upon them like sharks to meat, grabbing pieces, looking at them, and then placing them back in a frenzy, meanwhile asking the shamaness, “how much?” The scene was fiercely competitive, reminiscent of a shopping mall during Christmas time when the competition for goods can be cutthroat.

There might have been enough pieces for everyone who wanted to buy one to have one, but because several women bought more than one item--as many as three--some people were left without a souvenir of the rainforest tribe to take home. But this is the way of capitalism. Grab all you can get and don’t think about others. It is an elitist economic system that doesn't think about the whole, and the need to share. Global capitalism is the unsustainable, extinction boat of narcissism in, on which we are all passengers.

After all the pieces were grabbed up, some of the women wanted to know if the piece that they bought had any tribal meaning. They asked the shaman, “What do the patterns on the jewelry mean?”

The shaman said to several women who had bought the long necklaces of many colorful beads, “This necklace is given to a woman as part of her initiation into the tribal plant medicine.” These words pleased the Western ladies and made their pieces even more valuable in their eyes.

Watching this grab for the jewelry made me think back to an anthropology course I took on indigenous art at the University of Massachusetts. In indigenous cultures, before the invasion of the Europeans, art objects were not made for the marketplace. They were connected with ritual and ceremony. They were beautiful objects that had a highly significant meaning to the tribe. It was only when art was taken out of the context of the tribe that ceremonial pieces began being made for the market.

The Western women who bought the initiation necklaces had not been inducted into plant medicine by a tribe. In the world of ayahuasca tourism, there is no tribe. Buying a piece of indigenous culture allows us to wallow in a mystical fantasy until the sensation of buying something new wears off. Buying cultural objects doesn't fulfill our longings for tribal roles, meaningful relationships, and true spiritual connections with others that are necessary to lead us out of the evil, greedy Empire of the fraudulent lifestyle that denies us the choice of our symbolic chosen vocations.

Ayahuasca tourism was also changing the shaman’s relationship with his tribe. In traditional societies, a shaman sometimes had other roles to play within the tribal structure; he might be a farmer as well as a medicine man. But with the rise of ayahuasca tourism, or plastic shamanism as it has been called, (you can pay for it with a credit card!) he can make so much money from the Gringos that he doesn’t need other roles within the tribe. Becoming a figurative part of the megalopolis, he is a professional, who can jet set from this ceremony to that ceremony and then fly somewhere else for his own vacation in a far-away exotic land.

Moving out of the role of healing familiar tribal members, he is now in the role of healing global customers, whom he never has to see again. He now has the power of the white man through the brew of ayahuasca. He has the power to work alchemical magic, turning the Vine of the Soul into gold so that he, too, can have the money necessary to see a doctor, to buy land on the edge of the rainforest, build a house, have an Internet connection, and send his kids to college. Since the customer is always right, the deep healing required to move all of us beyond the elitist economic system is impossible to accomplish here. As the American medical system has proven, medicine and money are not a healthy mix.

The spiritual addict in me began to think that I needed more ayahuasca. Maybe I didn’t do enough of it to really get the message from the vine. Maybe I should have taken that second and third cup during the ceremonies to really experience the total impact of the juice. Maybe I should sign up for another tour in January. Then the voice of intuition and reason said, “What moved me during the journey wasn’t the juice, it was the social interaction. It was the possibility of Evolver becoming a Beloved Community that opened my heart.

I reflected on every one of the faces I had gotten to know during the tour. I began to giggle at the thought of Ms. London’s very large suitcase being lugged into the wilderness eco-lodge. We joked with her about how, even with her large suitcase full of vintage clothes, she didn’t pack one pair of practical shoes suitable for hiking in the jungle. And I thought about my dance beside the Pacific Ocean with the shamaness. During one of our group hikes through the jungle to a place where a river flows into the Pacific Ocean, she singled me out of the group do to a dance with her in honor of the waves.

These were brave pioneering souls, “psychonauts” each, trying to heal ourselves from our collective guilt of being in the privileged class of the warmongering, forest-destroying American Empire. The trick is: how can we have authentic spiritual experiences required to lovolutionize the system without becoming an extension of that Empire? How do we embody the body politics of Gaia Messiahship so that we have the commitment to build a new kind of spiritual community? Where do we get the resources needed to build the evolutionary structure of the paradigm shift—toward an arcology of true love?

As we were leaving the peninsula, the paradise that Mr. New York City said only our gracious host of the retreat center, Robert, had been smart enough to call home, as we were walking out of the rainforest onto the beach, I initiated a conversation with the Prophet Motive. I said, “Have you heard about the new literary genre called “creative non-fiction?”

Uninterested, he replied, “The term doesn’t resonate with me.” We continued to walk in silence until I summoned enough courage to say, “Please, take this gift of the Libyan Gold Tektite with you that I held during the ayahuasca ceremony.” He took the stone without comment as we approached the Evolver group, who were waiting for the boat.


Human Extinction or Lovolution?