This Easter, when the world is in relative isolation, forced to look within, my thoughts go back to last year’s Easter. I was in The Netherlands, readying myself to join about fifty other people of all ages, all dressed in white, in communion.
The sacrament that we were about to imbibe was not the blood of Christ, but Ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is a Quecha word meaning Spirit Vine and plenty of people have written about what it is and what it does. I won’t go into details about the composition and history of this entheogen, but I will speak about the journey. A journey that I can best describe as diving into the realms of myth. Or the realms from which myth originate. For thoughts on how I view myth, check out Just a Myth?
This was not the first time. Six months previously, in October of 2018, I had been sitting in the same hall. At that time my feelings were all a-jumble. I was consumed with anxiety, wondering whatever had convinced me that this was a good idea. Still, in the core of my being I knew, somehow, that this was the step I was meant to take. A calm undertow of knowing below the wispy foam of fear.
Just before coming here, I had had a dream.
I am biking along a solitary highway, row of concrete buildings on my left. No people, no cars. Daytime. Suddenly I hear knocking on glass. I turn to the left, and in a 2nd floor window I see two women looking down at me. The one on the left – red short hair and an orange Indian dress. The one on the right – long black hair and a bluish-white dress.
The red-haired woman says: “Don’t you remember me? It’s your old friend Arunsat!” I don’t know anyone by that name, but it occurs to me it could be an old aquaintance hoodwinked by some guru into a sect and made to change her name, as both women look European. “Come down” I shout. They do. And as they come down to my level, I recognize them. “I do know you”.
I wake up. And immediately google “Arunsat”. I don’t find it, but I find references to “Arun” as a name. It’s sanskrit and means “Dawn”. What about “Sat”? Lo and behold, it’s also sanskrit. It means “Truth”.
Arun Sat. Dawn of Truth
I take the glass offered to me with a sense of deep reverence. I empty it. The taste that I had heard described as awful and nauseating feels to me like ambrosia. I think of the soma of the Vedics. The entire experience that followed over three days was held beautifully by the ceremony keepers and helpers. They have my eternal gratitude. But now, let us go. Within.
I have always lived on the border between what we tend to describe as “dream” and “reality”. In these borderlands you find poets, mystics, madmen and dreamers. Eidetic, intuitive visions of great detail are commonplace for me and is a source of inspiration for my profession as a writer and performance storyteller. On the other hand, I suck at materiality and practical skills. For the RPG players out there, that’s my dump stat. This rich, inner world was further cultivated by a lonely childhood. I had a gallery of secret friends which I would have conversations with to, among other things, alleviate this loneliness. For me, there is no clear, defined border between wakefulness and dream, the conscious and the subconscious mind. It’s more of a Yin/Yang-situation. I would soon learn that this perspective was immensely helpful in navigating what was to follow. I was entering a territory that I thought was unknown (and therefore to be feared), but which turned out to be immensely familiar, like coming home.
Because what the spirit vine did was, in fact, just that. To merge the conscious and the subconscious, dream and matter. And so it is hard to describe the journey in a…well, linear fashion.
A giant mantis appearing in my mind’s eye, blowing dust into my eyes. A high pitched whine, a ringing in the ears, increasing in frequency. My actual vision becoming multifaceted, like the eyes of a fly. A fly in a spider’s web in the ceiling above. Is this how flies experience life? This high-pitched existence? An image – I am sitting on a throne, like a dark Egyptian god, in an endless hall of floating sacred geometric shapes. There is no time. KLONG – a merged sound of a bass drum and a gong. For every KLONG a shift, a movement, as if I am weaving time into existence, yet every shift that seems to take a second is a thousand years or more. A gate of similar design, out of it flows two tall and narrow beams, one light, one dark. Without wondering, I know – this is the gate of polarity, of duality, a prerequisite for anything at all to exist. I start to whoop, to snarl, to coo, to chitter and to crawl. It is as if the Tree of Life itself and I am one. As if the evolution of all life runs through me. I am the wilderness. I am Nature. It is glorious.
I remember that I had asked a question before the ceremony began. It was a twofold one. I wanted to know how to deal with the impending climate crisis and my horrible anxiety regarding it. And I wanted to be able to embrace my own power, aspects of my masculinity that I had repressed for most of my life.
And, here, right now, it occurs to me that consciousness is a spectrum, and I am all over the radar. I make involuntary sounds of insects, birds and predators. I am a gorilla surveying his domain. I am everything and everything is me.
I sit up, and I am a shaman.
A crotchety, old, raw and spiteful man who doesn’t give a fuck. He has a wolf skin on and somehow I understand that it is 40.000 years ago. I have been him before. I know. And now he is both me and instructing me at the same time. He is the teacher that I need. There’s something in the side of my throat, scrabbling to get out. A mantis. They do get around. I start to bite, to chew, to work my jaw like a hungry wolf, biting on flesh, tearing, sundering, ripping, rending. “This” says the shaman in a gruffy, meaty voice, using my vocal chords, “is what you miss. You have to take a bite of life and not let go. You have repressed your animal nature for far too long, cutting yourself off. Time to bridge the gap, mate. A shaman has to heal himself.”
“Remember this” he says, referring to my chewing jaw, “it will help you.”
People around me are dancing and singing heart-felt songs of connection. The shaman won’t have it. “Fuck those people and their love and light. This is what you need.” I start to feel doubt. Am I just making this up?
“This is not fake. This is as real as you’ve ever been”
He pushes me to the floor, he is inside me. I am, for lack of a better word, possessed. My body is stretching, bones adjusting, cracking. The Mantis and Shaman take turns. The Mantis chittering and joking like a trickster god, delighted to take a spin. They are doing an interdimensional good cop/bad cop routine.
“It’s so easy with you. You’re borderless, man.”
“This isn’t your first rodeo.”
“Order the light, mate”
“You know this. You do. You know.”
“This is who you are.”
And I know. I am them as well as being ridden by them, like worshippers in Afro-Caribbean religions being ridden by their gods. And then, I’m giving birth. To myself.
Fuck. My hands pressing against the wall, my legs opening. I grunt, I yell, I push. I am exhausted. My hands rise up. They remind me of serpents. The right one is trembling. Its name is fear. The left one has a crooked bent. “Shame, that old dragon”. In the center of their field, around my genitals, self-punishment. A black hole, a wound stretching all across my lower abdomen – the absence of power.
“You did not kill that part of yourself. You excised it into your imaginary friends. No wonder you are fond of masks. Time to re-integrate. We want to come home.”
I am the Creator. His masculine aspect. The waves of reality emanate from me into infinity. Shades of dark violet. It is Everything. Absolutely Everything. Forever. And ever. And ever. Alone.
“This is Divinity.”
“This is the loneliness of God talking to himself.”
“This is the Unbearable Everything.”
“To bear it, we begot you. So we could bear you.”
“That is why children exist.”
I lift my child from between my legs and put it close to my chest. It merges with my heart.
And I know. The loneliness of Being. Of being the only being. Cue Creation. The great Cosmic Joke. Forgetting it all, again and again. Descend into darkness as multitudes, ascend into light as One. What else to do? What else.
Time runs in a loop. Squiggly lines run vertically through the room, like stitches of reality breaking at the seams. The flower pot is dancing a mesmerizing dance. It is too much to bear. And yet it is born.
It is born.
The Cosmic Snake
We dance, blindfolded by strips of blue cloth. The vine opens me up. I am entered. Or I expand. Both, I think. I become an archetype. Shiva, Lord of Destruction. My movements are not my own. Yet they are. I am Myth. Then the blue field before my eyes become what can not be described. Deeper this time. Shapes and forms for which there are no words. The high-pitched whine, I ascend. The endless blue becomes an ocean. And I am Vishnu, Lord of Creation, reclining on his bed of snakes in infinite stillness, infinite grace.
“This is Divinity” with equal parts self-importance and taking the piss.
I laugh. Infinite pride. Infinite self-irony. I didn’t expect there to be so much laughing around.
My spine starts moving, like a coiling snake. I didn’t know it could move that way. The shape of the snake appears in the field of blue. Like a mirror. The Cosmic Snake.
The being I coin The Mantis returns. Who is this entity? Newsflash: It’s you.
Creation. Destruction. The Rainbow Snake.
“This is what you love. The beginning and the end. You love it.”
I grab myself with loving hands.
“This is important. It is glorious to be you. To go from Nothing to Everything. To be lost in darkness and find the light. It is the only story worth telling.”
“To be You, to be Flesh, that matters. This is more glorious than Everything. This specificity. This avatar. Know your choice. Be it. Fully.”
Yet I can’t. I resist. Why? And somehow it is linked to my anxiety for the end of the world. My issue with destruction, the work of Shiva.
I lie down. My energy is fading. A laughing hairy giant of wonderfully weird proportions stretches out his hand, grabbing my abdomen, my right side. There is a wound there. Something to figure out. A root cause.
I enter a realm that it is impossible for me to recall. Part of me wonders if it’s because it is a realm outside the constraints of time. Without time, how can there be a memory? I go there every time I drink, and when I am there I know it, the essence of it, it is deeply known to me, but after returning to normal consciousness, it is lost but for a faint murmur, as if something on the very edge of my peripheral vision. The only thing I remember is this statement “You will forget this. It is impossible to remember in the world of matter. But you will remember that there is something you can’t remember.” And the way to this realm is through fractals of infinite beauty.
I return. I take off my blindfold. I crawl to my mattress. Time to heal, baby. Find the root of the problem. I am a god again. Or something like it. A version of me in a higher state of vibration. A doctor and a sleuth combined, descending into the matrix of time. “Where is the problem?” Hmmmm….I create intricate symbols with my mind, sending them out into the unknown like words of wind. Symbols are stories that inform the world, the building blocks of Creation. I know this.
Let’s look at the past, perhaps? And it appears. A network of bubbles in a breathing void, the journey of my soul. We go back, way back. What feels like millions of years ago, a planet in the Sirius star system. I am a being, male, a humanoid feline, a lion. I am something akin to a general. Or admiral. A warrior, but also a poet. I lead a fleet of starships, I fight what I perceive to be the good fight. I am prideful, knowing that I am in the right. We are in the middle of a conflict that ravages worlds, galaxies even. It is a war of religion, or philosophy. Concerning the idea of, I’m not sure, God? The purpose of the Universe? I know that all beings are fragments of the Creator, the primordial being. Everyone does. Like a mirror in a mirror in a mirror. Even the enemy. So how can there be a war? And my pride blinds me. I don’t see what’s coming. The destruction of my home planet and everyone I love. I have survivor’s guilt. I see an Ark of sorts, a ship to traverse the stars with seeds and DNA. Am I on it? It seems so. Filled with a guilt that doesn’t let go. For eons.
Mars. A new bubble. A civilization. A long time before humanity flourishes on Earth. Can I really trust this? The shaman appears. He reminds me: “This is as real as you’ve ever been.” I give in. I receive. This is a story. I know story. I am story.
There is a conflict. A planetary war. A conflict of religion, of philosophy. A mirror of the last one. I become flesh in the midst of it. I try to wake people up, telling stories of remembrance, of understanding, of laughter. Making people laugh at themselves. See the great Cosmic Joke. Why battle against yourself? But it happens again. One side wants to divorce beings from their heart, a technocratic, robotic civilization, seeking the answers without, through science and knowledge. The other side goes within, towards spirit and wisdom. This is the main conflict. Between Yin and Yang. The game of duality. What is the answer to the Universe? Shouldn’t it be somewhere in between? A weapon fills the sky, a horrible sound splitting reality asunder. Mars immolates, all life gone in seconds. The planet is a red gaping wound. I catapult out of my body, I feel remorse and guilt. I didn’t do enough. I didn’t do enough.
Another bubble. I am a shaman. The shaman. Sitting apart from the rest of the community. Looking at the sky. The Dog Star of Sirius. The planet of Mars. He knows. He remembers. I remember. And I am bitter beyond belief. I sing the songs of stars, they are sentient beings. Everything is sentient. Because there is nothing but Consciousness. I know this. I’ve always known.
Again. What are these gleaming towers? Ah. Atlantis. Of course. Or whatever culture informed the legend. There are two. Civilizations. During the last Ice Age. Again the same conflict. Yang and Yin. One going without. One going within. Now I am in the knowledge camp. The ones looking outside for truth. I don’t want to face this life. Or who I am. I feel I did something terrible. I feel I somehow caused the destruction, the light from the sky, the deluge. The end.
“No wonder you can’t handle destruction. Oh, all that guilt. Tsk, tsk, tsk.” The Mantis and I. What a beautiful creature he is. He chitters, fingers dancing like a myriad of insects over my flesh. “You have two problems. Falsehood and Destruction. You can’t abide them.” Now he is my surgeon, digging through layers of lives, event upon re-traumatizing event enlarging the Wound. And now, he implies, the world is on the verge of destruction again. The same conflict. The mirror of the mirror of the mirror. Funny that I chose to come back at this time. Eh?
The Mantis has a feminine aspect. Or perspective. Or maybe he just gets out of the way. Does it matter? The Mother. The Insect Queen. It is her. Ayahuasca herself. The spirit of the vine. I know her too. She knows me. Intimately. Like a lover and a mother. But not a daughter. No. She is in charge. She is a white being of endless chitinous legs, caressing my face. “I love to be seen in this way” she whispers into my ear. “But this is not my true face, only one of many. Many.”
“You tried.” she says. “You tried.”
“It was not your fault. You took that upon yourself. The destruction of worlds. You learn every time.”
New bubbles, closer to home. I am an Essene in Palestine, close to the time of Christ. I speak my truth and I am stoned to death. The horror, the pain. Again, I try. I speak my truth, the nature of the Universe. They kill me. Every time.
I am a Cathar, a troubadour, a Minnesinger. I am at Montsalvatge. The Catholic Church can’t let us live. Our truth destroys their power. We preach escape, we call this world a prison. I loathe my body, despise matter. They come with their crusaders, we stand tall in the face of death, pacifists at the core, because how can we lift a hand against our own mirrors? But all my resolve disappears the moment a spear runs through my stomach. The spear draws back, I stumble, turn and fall on my face. The malice on the face of my assailant is indescribable. He thrusts his spear into my right buttock, an act of disgust and degradation. At that very moment, filled with shame and fear and shock, I leave. And I make a vow never to speak my truth. Ever again.
Then there is darkness. Lives of rage and forgetfulness. Of disappearing from myself, my true nature. I want to forget what I know, because knowing it is dangerous. I hide it deep within myself, lives of servitude, of being controlled, of fighting for causes that are against the core of my being, the killing of innocents, the anger, oh…I don’t want to go there, please. My true self becoming smaller and smaller and smaller. DO NOT REMEMBER. Oh…Let that black door remain closed. Or just keep it ajar. For now.
“For lifetimes you hid. For when you show your power, you get killed.”
And now – this life. This avatar. This being, growing up as an atheist in a safe Norwegian household. With…a birth mark on his right buttock. Ah. Exactly. A soul whose history is wracked with guilt and has lost all faith in the Universe to keep its back. Choosing parents to reinforce that feeling of unsafety, symbolised by this one bubble. My young father coming home in the eternal dark of a northern winter, crushing a guitar in frustration and pent-up anger. A crying mother. And me in the darkness, barely months old. I don’t know what is happening. I don’t know what is happening! It feels like…the destruction of the world. Ah, yes. That old wound. I disappear into myself. The world is dangerous. The world is dangerous. Poetic. Terribly sad. But poetic.
I see this from outside. I understand the origin of my fear, my unsafety. I absolve myself of it. And my parents of any guilt. They are forgiven, for there is nothing to forgive. We’re all just human.
And here I am. Lying on a mattress, experiencing the divinity that I scoffed at as a child. But there is no bearded man in the sky. There is only me. And everyone else. The hall of mirrors. I see the story. No wonder I always loved Plato’s parable of the cave. The one who is killed for saying that the shadows on the wall is an illusion. It was a parable of me.
The wound. My abdomen is a lake of black ice. Underneath the surface lies an infant child, a boy frozen by experience. Do not let me out. Sorry. It’s time to come out, baby. Out of your cave. Just like the songs of Finnish wise women from ancient times – to heal a wound you must know its origin. Ok. I know. Of this life and beyond. Let’s go.
They call it The Purge. When your work with the Spirit Vine leads to letting go of bad energy, stuff you don’t need, that hold you back. You purge through your anus or your mouth. By puke and shit shall you be cured. There has been plenty of shit, but I can’t throw up. There is poison, I feel it, but I can’t let go of it. It’s like a story I have written. What happens when I give it up? Still, I try.
Let me go into darkness. As you command. Into the darkest depths, below the earth. The insect realm, the worm, the lowest of the low. Inside my womb, the dark child cries. It does not want to leave. I squeal its pain. I lie in the centre of the room. A helper sits there, next to me. I see his spirit superimposed on his physical form – a Native American chieftain. And then she appears. In her full glory. The Mother.
A queen bee, irradiant with otherworldy colours, holding a scepter, wearing a crown. “Can I enter you?” she asks. I accept. I surrender. I let myself be penetrated by her unending Love. As she melts into my being like honey, her essence transforms into a colony of golden ants, scurrying all over my body, diligently trying to heal. Part of the poison is rising. It works, I want to puke.
There is a bucket, I throw myself over it, but the poison’s stuck. Nothing comes out. My field of vision bends, swirls, I become a big cat, snarling, growling, yowling. A thought that’s clearly my own: “This is shamanism!” People surround me, help me, hold me. But no. I lie down, she enters, I get up, but no. I lie down, she enters, I get up, but no. The struggle is everything. I feel failure. I have to get this out! The insect queen of Love strokes me with her appendages.
“That old dragon. Won’t let go. Blame. Fault. Shame. It’s a process. It will happen. Eventually.”
“This is a delicious problem. Runs deep, so deep. It’s ok if you don’t fix everything now. Come back to me. I want to see things through. Come back to me.”
So I do.
It is Easter. Long Friday. Christ is hanging on the cross. I am hanging on the spirit vine. The wound. I need to go deeper to let it go. I know.
The right side of my lower abdomen. The soldier piercing the side of Christ. Odin impaling himself with the spear Gungnir, fixing his form to the World Tree. Nailing himself to space and time so that Creation could flow. Suspension torture makes the world. Cave paintings of shamans pierced by spears. It is here. It is here. It is here. This echo.
The story of God through the filter of Christianity. First – I am special. “I am the Creator, worship me, worship me!” Judgement – don’t eat the fruit and all that jazz. Then – I must save them! Becoming flesh and taking all their sins. Haha, God has parenting issues. But now, something else. The divine is alive in everyone. And it is awakening.
At the pinnacle of creation’s pyramid, I am a three faced being, surrounded by the void. Each face emits AAAAAOOOOOOMMMM, a sound wave with a beginning and an end. The A the birth, the O the existence, the M the death. They disappear into infinity. Each wave a Universe being created and destroyed. Forever. To my human aspect, this is deeply unsettling.
I AM. That is the origin. Of the wound of Creation. The primordial being, The Dreamer, in a moment of self-realisation. I am. There is a split, a sundering, a shock of understanding both wonderful and horrible, the mirror cracks, the head splits open, realities are forged from the exaltation/trauma of the Self. The Big Bang, an eruption of Consciousness into Being.
In the beginning was the Scream. Ymir, the Norse god whose body became the Universe. That’s what his name means. Scream.
And ever since, since Time began, an aspect of the All has wondered – is this all really a good idea? An aspect with which I resonate, me, a fractal of the source. The problem of the Self. A mirror of a mirror of a mirror.
The Creator afraid of Creation. The self-doubt of an impending father a split second before ejaculation. Accept Creation. Accept Creation.
By accepting Destruction. There can be no beginning without embracing the end.
Accept I AM.
I am. And who am I?
You are the Supreme Godhead forgetting they are a God
COMMIT TO CREATION
Trying to escape yourself
Yet you are The Self.
Again, I go under. I lie in the center of the room. My Native American friend is here. There is no time. This is always happening. This healing. This entanglement. The Mother and the Mantis both watch over me. An interdimensional hospital. The Mantis has donned a surgeon’s frock to amuse me. Or himself. Probably both.
The poison is rising. The bucket is near. But I can’t let it go. This story. This trauma. It has made me who I am. I am everyone and noone. Everything and nothing. A fragment of the Self. An echo of the primal scream.
I try, but it is stuck. In my throat. “It’s ok” says the Insect Mother. “You don’t have to let it go, if you don’t want.” I relax, and she pushes when my guard is down. “Haha, I have to try. It’s ok, it’s ok.” This game goes on, for ages. Then, finally, before I know it, I puke. Just like that. And it’s gone. Only a tiny sliver of the wound remains. Like a thin band of distorted light at the level of my waist.
“You are not mine. You are not mine.” I say to the contents of the bucket, elated. And now to wake the body. This body that I have forsaken for so long, repressed, hated, pushed down.
“This is it. It is glorious to be you. This being.”
My hand is grasping my body, my thighs, my legs, my chest.
“This is the Ultimate Trip”
The Mother returns. Descending from the skies. She is a stone age idol of the Earth herself. And she straddles me. My hips move in rhythm with the music. I have no choice. She is in control. “You like it rough”.
I growl. I yell. My energy is rising. I am a man. A beast of the wild tempered by the goodness of his heart. Don’t push me down. Embrace me. I feel the outside world again. People are elated, they dance, they yell, they whoop with joy over the resolution of their own journeys. We are connected. All of us. We are one.
I stand, joining in the revelry. I am crack cocaine. I am language, symbols, spring. A lion king. I adore these people and their love and light. It is Easter Sunday, and we are all part of the same communion. The blood of Christ is running in our veins. I am not alone. I am manifold.
We have risen.
As I dance, I see a pillar in my mind’s eye. It stands in a blue emptiness. On top of it stands Shiva. He dances as I dance, painting worlds and universes on the canvas of the void, destroying them in almost the same instant. It is Creation and Destruction both. It is the Glory. It is the Glory.
A humongous Eye watches me from the void. I tip toe to the edge of the pillar, and I dive down. Into the darkness.
To take part in the game. Again.