Many of you might ask what would drive me to fly to the jungles of Peru to spend 10 days taking part in an ancient native healing ceremony involving hallucinogenic plants. Believe me, it wasn’t for fun. You should know that this recounting contains a lot of deeply personal information and things that may be difficult for my loved ones to read, and TMI for everyone else. You have been warned.
A little back story: I have wrestled with suicide many times in my past, and even when I wasn’t actively thinking about it I always felt like I would prefer being dead. In fact I can say with certainty that if it weren't for religion and fear of eternal damnation or some other cosmic punishment for suicide, I wouldn’t be here today. My ex-wife, Rachel, thought my propensity for doing dumb and dangerous things was because I had toxoplasmosis (a sound theory), but really it was because I just didn’t care about being alive. Also for as long as I can remember I’ve had self esteem issues. I just flat out didn’t love myself, as any well off person should. I’ve always carried around a lot of fear, anxiety, and shame as well. While the marriage was a mutual failure, my mental state was a large contributor to it’s demise. I had absolutely no respect or love for myself, so it was foolish to expect her to have any.
When our union was ending we briefly saw a councilor and while it did nothing to save our marriage, it informed me that the abusive history I had with my stepfather was likely the root of a lot of my issues. I was encouraged to see a therapist that specializes in trauma. I took the advice and saw a wonderful woman who treated me with EMDR therapy for 6-7 months. While I did find it helpful, progress was slow and it was quite expensive. Eventually it got to the point where I felt we had plateaued and I was just wasting money, so I stopped.
Around this time I saw a post about a miraculous native medicine called ayahuasaca on Facebook and started to research it. I discovered that it allegedly had the ability to heal people of trauma issues way better than any western medicine or therapy. Feeling like I really had no other option at this point, I decided I would find a way to make it happen. Luckily I was told by a good friend about a presentation by Dr. Joe Tafur on ayahuasca, and the healing center he helped establish in Peru called Nihue Rao, at a bookstore in Mesa. I went and he further convinced me that this was something I NEEDED to do. The following is the journal I kept throughout my journey. May it inspire you.
If you’d like to skip straight to the ceremony stuff, it starts on DAY 4.