You are what you drink
A couple of days ago I drank half a large bottle of Cusqueña blond beer and later a small bottle of their dark, sweet malt brew. In my opinion, Cusqueña is the best taste of all the different Peruvian beers. It is brewed industrially but its advertising tries to create a sense of a craft-brewed beer linked to the fine artistic traditions of the Incas and other ancient peoples in Peru.
This was the first time I had drank alcohol since coming back from Mexico at the end of July. Not that I had been heavily indulging in my three week stay in Mexico either – just a couple of glasses of good red wine more or less every other night. In August, I did a thirty day dieta, and another ten day dieta at the end of September so drinking alcohol was ruled out for almost three months.
Typically, a ten day dieta has a post dieta period of twenty days without alcohol and sex, and forty days without eating pig. So following the prohibitions of the post-dieta (which despite other, in my view, ill-founded opinions about dietary restrictions being unnecessary) I believe it is important to follow, my post dieta ended on 22nd October and I celebrated with the already mentioned Cusqueñas on the following Saturday
Much as I like good wine, I don’t tend to miss it or drink it in Peru – partly because of the hot, sticky climate which does not make me think of opening a bottle of good claret or burgundy and partly because of the prohibitions on alcohol whilst drinking ayahausca and doing dietas.
I enjoyed the beer. Deliciously cool, tasty and a great complement to the wood-oven cooked pizza in one of the few good restaurants in Pucallpa – Chez Maggie, (which made it to my list of seven things to like about Pucallpa).
The next day, however, I could feel its effect. Nothing like a hangover, just a subtle but pervasive sense of grogginess and that my energy had been dulled. As a friend said to me: “you can feel its energetic signature”. Whilst I have found that the effects of la Madre Ayahuasca and other healing plants in general have been to wake me up, and each has its particular energetic signature and effect on my body, emotions, mind and spirit, the effect of alcohol is to send me back to sleep.
Because my energetic system was so clear as a result of the dietas I had been doing, I was able to feel and track the effects of the alcohol much more closely.
Actually ‘dulling’ seems the perfect word to use for the effects of alcohol. I don’t think you have to be a conspiracy theorist to see how the anesthetizing, depressing effects of alcohol – it is a depressant after all – function to numb people as to what is happening in the world around them. Put this together with the fact that drugs which expand consciousness are banned and those, like alcohol, which restrict consciousness are promoted, and its easy to see why people like Graham Hancock refer to the war on consciousness.
Additionally, the negative impact on health of alcohol is well-known. A 2011 WHO podcast said that:
“As many as 2.5 million deaths all over the world can be because of alcohol use. Alcohol now is the third leading factor for risk to health and it is a major contributor to deaths and disability.”
Compare this with the fuss caused by the very occasional death from the use of entheogens.
I wrote the above about ten days ago. Since then, I was fortunate to be able to visit Buenos Aires and sample the pleasures of some very good Argentinian wine in restaurants there. But again, I noticed that whilst I loved the taste of the wine and the way it enhanced the food I was eating, the following day I was slightly stupefied. I could see that the place which the path opened up by alcohol led to was flat and uninspiring.
Fortunately, I have never been attracted to the addictive qualities of alcohol. I find it hard to see what its benefits are when consumed regularly and in large quantities, though I know there is a tradition of painters and writers who have effectively been alcoholics and produced great works of art – Francis Bacon, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jackson Pollock come to mind.
But now, Madre Ayahuasca is calling me again. As my friend and mentor here says: “Western medicine feels good in the short term but damages you in the long term, whilst indigenous medicine can feel terrible in the short term but leads to healing and well being in the long term.”
Tomorrow I head off early to a Shipibo community downriver where I will be doing another ten day dieta with my Maestro. I suspect that reporting restrictions will be enforced.