In November 2012, I attended my first ten day dieta with PapaM. and PapaG. in a beautiful center near Tarapoto, located in one of the few private nature reserves in Peru. In a typical ten day dieta, there are five ceremonies with Madre Ayahuasca occurring every other day. The dieta plant is usually taken on the evening of the second and fourth days when there are no ceremonies.
This was the first time I dieted the shrubby tree chiricsanango. As I commented in an earlier blog, this plant helps strengthen the central nervous system and is often recommended for a first dieta, as it then provides a solid base for further dietas.
One of the effects of chiricsanango is to offer clarity. This often translates into a vivid and more easily accessible dream life. I found this added sharpness immensely useful in ceremonies as it helped me navigate more easily what can often be the chaotic onset of a strong mareación – the term used to refer to the effects of Madre Ayahuasca. It seemed to slow the mareación down so I could see more clearly what was happening and have more time in which to direct my attention.
During this first dieta, I experienced three ceremonies – the third, fourth and fifth – in which I had what is best described as apocalyptic visions. At the time, I attributed these visions to the date of 21st December 2012, which up to that time I had not been paying much attention to.
After the third ceremony, I wrote the following poem to describe my experience.
Dispatches from December 21st 2012
Think of it first mathematically.
It’s almost inconceivable.
One point. A singularity.
An energetic coordinate, an interstice in the universe.
One vibration or series of linked vibrations,
Upon which our life on earth is based.
More fundamental than the Taliban.
Think of it then poetically.
The vital heart of the turning world.
I never paid much attention to the prophecy.
Too much shouting on the internet
And half-baked new-age philosophy.
Mostly codswallop, I thought.
But the point is real and it is changing to a different vibration.
Expect massive disorientation
We don’t and can’t know what will happen.
Darkness might prevail.
Tell your loved ones to be in safe place on the fateful day.
Help midwife the new world order.
In the fourth ceremony, I felt once again plunged into this apocalyptic realm. Again, afterwards, I wrote the following poem:
Further dispatches from December 21st 2012
This time the visions are much worse.
More detail is filled out.
The world is catapulted into a global emergency.
Barack Obama steadfast, strong, determined, humane.
Thank God he is in the White House and not that creepy Republican.
It’s like watching a constant news update on television
And all the news is bad. Barely believable.
Thousands of people waking up to a nightmare,
The possibility of millions suddenly extinguished
Without rhyme, reason or warning.
Although Gaia has been warning us for a while.
This time she’s serious. She’s had enough.
Millions suddenly discovering themselves dead.
Or better put, waking up and not believing they are dead.
Millions of ghosts looking for a bodily home, bewildered.
Some of us, also dead, have to help.
The work is enormous.
But this is not inevitable.
It is one of a number of probable realities.
Who knows how probable?
The only thing to do is pray (and maybe laugh, if genuine laughter can be found).
I was shaken by these visions which continued on the fifth ceremony. After my dieta, I wrote to two psychics and a well-known astrologer that I knew, sharing the poems I had written, and asking them for their opinion about 21st December 2012. I only received one reply. In this, one of the psychics told me that she understood my visions, in a similar way to the last few lines in the second poem, as one of a possible number of alternative realities.
Then December 21st 2012 came and went – quietly as far as I could see, reminding me of the final lines of the poem “Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot:
This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper.
So I was left wondering, as I often am with Madre Ayahuasca – as my mind jumps to the search for explanations – as to the meaning of these visions. Were they just drug-fueled hallucinations, as the rational Western mindset would like me to think?
I dug out and looked again at a book I had read a number of years ago by Michael Ortiz Hill, written in 1994, with the arresting title: “Dreaming the End of the World: Apocalypse as Rite of Passage” .
Like many writers following the path laid down by Jung and Hillman, Ortiz argues that we are in danger of acting out in the world what is essentially an inner mythic or psychological journey. That is, our culture is externalizing and making literal an imaginative, archetypal process, best dealt with, as many indigenous cultures do, through rites of passage.
“This and the previous chapter give a skeletal shape to the dream-at-the-end-of-the world in which we are entrenched: a dream prefigured and embodied in the Bomb and now, continuing as our unconscious positivism and rapacity, leveled against nature. The Messiah and the Beast, though of ancient origin, have awakened with a fury in response to the deepest psychic urgencies of a violent and confusing century…..”
Ram Dass said of this book:
“The depth of denial regarding the possibility of the end of civilization is so vast that it is almost impenetrable. Very, very few people dare go near this topic. This is a profound book.”
Flash forward now to the last dieta I have just completed. Before the third ceremony of this dieta, I was sitting on the wooden verandah of a school. Two small boys were playing in front of me. One was climbing the rails of the verandah shouting “Esto es Guerra” (“This is War”) a truly dreadful but disgustingly popular Peruvian TV program. His companion ran towards him, tripped and knocked his forehead on the railing.
Immediately, bright-red blood poured out from his forehead, onto his shirt and the floor. I grabbed the kid and rushed him towards where I thought his mother might be. Fortunately, as I got down the stairs of the verandah, I encountered a young woman I knew with two kids in tow. I asked her to take the boy to his mother. The following day I saw the boy and he seemed fine apart from a wide, vertical gash on his forehead.
This incident left me disquieted. In ceremony that night, I saw it as waking me up to the reality that the apocalypse is now – not connected to a special date such as December 21st 2012. It is happening all around us: species are being extinguished at a rate of between 1000 and 10,000 times higher than what is called the natural extinction rate ; the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere recently hit 4oo parts per million which many scientists see as a crossing a key threshold; the Shipibo people seem to me to be becoming seriously ill and dying at a rate that would raise alarm and cause panic if it were happening in a Western country.
There are many possible indicators. We just don’t really notice them. Or perhaps if we really noticed, it would be overwhelming. It’s easier to live in denial.
In the ceremony, I asked about what could and/or should be my response to this. I was told to wait and witness.