Ava and I were invited to participate in a ceremony with the Santo Daime Church in Montreal last Friday night.
I’d first heard of their sacrement, Ayahuaska aka Yage a couple years ago when I read Breaking Open The Head by Daniel Pinchbeck. I’d also heard William S. Burroughs had looked for it in the 50’s because of it’s power to break heroin cravings. The active agent in Yage is a really powerful hallucinogen called DMT. The human brain produces small amounts of it naturally and releases a huge amount of it into the body upon death.
I found a copy of the Burroughs book on Yage earlier that day. I can barely speak french but it was too much of a synchronicity for me to not buy it.
Stava and I both had to wear all white, since we’re not members. I was surprised when we showed up that almost everyone else there looked about 20 to 30 years older than us. When the ceremony started, the women were on one side the room, the men on the other. The 2 sides lined up to take turns taking a drink of the ayahuasca and then returned to our seats. Catholic chants like the Hail Mary were repeated in Portugese, and the Lords Prayer was said in English. This went on for awhile and my feet and back started hurting from standing up too long. Once we sat down it was a big relief.
At first I just started thinking about my life a lot, and different ways of thinking of situations that’ve been on my mind. Then the visual hallucinations started, and I could see designs and images in the floorboards in front of me and the floorboards a few meters to the side of me looked like they were flowing against each other like water.
We all stood up and did a second drink after awhile, while I was peaking.
Then the Madrina started reading something out loud on her own, something out universal harmony, no disagreement, life being an illusion… I don’t really remember, because her voice sounded like it was being pitchshifted over an intercom and all I could think was “Holy fuck. This is it! I am tripping balls!” I felt like this one experience was enough to motivate me to happily live my life for the next 5 years.
Then everything was quiet. I don’t know how long we were quiet for, but the entire ceremony was 6 hours so I think it must’ve been an hour or 2. I felt like I was being shown a lot, like that the things I hate and am embarrassed about myself are from the same roots inside me as the things I’m proud of. I’m not like this and like that. I’m both at the same time, and I can’t have one without the other. I could go on and on but there’s no point, since it’s all about me, and the words don’t really mean much.
After awhile someone pulled out a guitar, a few other people had percussion instruments and we started singing songs. I tried keeping up with the song book and what was going on, but my mind kept wandering and every time I’d think about it, I was a song behind in the book. After awhile I started yawning and feeing really tired. I looked at the clock and realized we’d been there for 5 and half hours. They said something about the ceremony coming to a close and a few minutes later it was done.
We packed up, brought the folding chairs to the storage room on the main floor, and Stava and I went out for poutine.