In the Cradle of Mother,
Sher, the following text is half testimony half stream of consciousness exploration of my experiences during the winter solstice 3 day intensive spiritual gathering. Perhaps less about the experiences themselves this account is more about their interpretive fallout in the days following. These were the days during which i was piecing myself together after the spiritual supernova of the 3rd night, all the while trying to make sense of what happened to us. I find that doing so has been useful in helping me root the experience into everyday awareness. Feel free to share it with anyone you feel appropriate.
And thus the story goes…
I have no words to describe the events that transpired in those three days when we departed from ordinary consensus space-time and entered sacred dream time with the group. Words are not meant for that reality, they’re barely the finger pointing. They define by confining, and what revealed itself to us cannot be defined or confined. All i can really say about it is that it was “real”. “Real” as everything else we call “real”, tables and chairs including, which is to say that it was as imaginary as everything we call “real”, tables and chairs including.
The Mother is a powerful living intelligence. I no longer mean this merely poetically and metaphorically, yet i do not mean this literally either the way a true believer might. Whatever it is, I perceive Mother to be a tremendous horse, ancient, wise and sentient, with a remarkable understanding of the human bodymind system. If you are looking for “alien” contact, this is likely as alien as it can get. And it is right here, inside you and all around you, a synergistic union between your nervous system and the plant world we inhabit. I think Terence McKenna was right in saying that the challenge of so called alien contact is not the matter of finding the alien, but recognizing it when it is right in front of us, so alien it is to our unaccustomed gaze.
I see now that the realm that shamans and healers traverse is this “alien” that many of us are looking for. It is not what any of us interpret it to be. We each only receive a narrow slice of it and refract it through the prisms of our own individual perceptual mechanisms. Yet “it” is there. Oh so there. I understand now how the reductionist-materialist paradigm leaves it out completely, investigating only the immediately tangible level of our reality. This is something it does remarkably well, and i give it due credit, yet it leaves out more than it includes.
I understand now also how strongly held beliefs in religious deities are perhaps not mere “delusions” the way this reductionist-materialist paradigm may see them to be. Atleast no more than other kinds of strongly held beliefs. There really do seem to be entire worlds of sentient energies in the universe. However, they may often be not what they appear to be. For example, a religion that claims to have access to the “one true God” which dispenses “His” oppressive “commandments” is likely nothing more than one of the many malevolent entities that takes the form of blind obedient faith. Its intent, if it has any independent of our own, is to entrap human minds into submitting to it our power and independence. A skilled shaman can avoid such trappings, for a skilled shaman knows that in the “other” world things are not what they appear to be either, and the entities encountered there are not necessarily what they claim to be nor have our interests at heart.
Whether these “entities” are entirely creations of our imagination or have some kind of autonomous existence outside of it raises the following questions: What is the imagination, and what isn’t the imagination? What is “inside” our heads, and what is “outside”? Where do we draw the line, and why? I’ll leave it to philosophers to debate over these kinds of ontological worm cans, for i am more interested in the pragmatic impact of said perceived-believed “entities”. From this perspective, all beliefs and ideologies can be seen as “entities” of different kinds; vast psychic organisms, colossal patterns of mental energy, many of which seek to propagate themselves by colonizing as many of their human hosts as they can.
Thinking of scripture based religions, i am reminded of Maria Sabina, the Mazatec curandera who introduced the modern “Western” world to magic mushrooms through mycologist Gordon Wasson. She said that when she enters the mushroom spirit world, the beings there show her books which teach her how to heal. Yet when she asks the beings if these books can be taken back
to her world, they strictly forbid her to do so, telling her that such books do not belong in our world. This to me exemplifies the essential difference between authentic shamanism as i understand it and the various religions that imprison people into their false interpretations. Interpretations all too often vested in patriarchal domination and control.
Shamanism, in my own cultural interpretation and application to myself, is a set of techniques, a technological vessel of consciousness that can travel into the transcendent. It is in many ways the opposite of blind faith and dogma. It does not seek to define and confine the transcendent for political ends, but rather to have direct experience of it for the purpose of solving practical problems.
Using the descriptors “transcendent” and “other world” here once again reminds me of the inadequacy and divisive nature of words, for what Mother revealed to me was neither of those. This “transcendent” “other” world in fact was to my inner eye my own world seen from a shifted perspective. The normally invisible became visible. It is around us, in us and we are it at all times, but we don’t know it until the medicine or any other type of access code shows us, the way holding a deep breath to feel one’s heartbeat does. And when the medicine shows us, these subtle layers of reality that are normally hidden beneath our daily struggles reveal themselves, and we see the fine dancing fields and filaments that make us what we are.
Contemporary physicists have discovered through their instruments and formulas that reality is not the crude solid construct it appears to be. Mother and other allies can show this to us directly, our bodies being the instruments and Herself the formula. My friend a.t. called this magical act of perspective shifting “entering the backstage”, the place where those pulleys and levers that put stage props and us the actors into their places become apparent.
It is clear to me after the spiritual gatherings that what we experience, every thought and feeling, extends far beyond the perceived boundaries of what we think we are. What we experience exists on infinitely many levels and is interconnected with everything else. Every act of emotion, every act of intention reaches out of us, enveloping engrossing infusing everything and everyone around us. Our mentation has a tangible substrate in which our bodymind systems swim, and we ourselves are oceans in a stream, coursing through a yet greater ocean, ad infinitum.
Healers like Sher work on this level. They are the surgeons in this layer of the human organism. Again, I don’t mean this merely metaphorically. Unlike many reductionist-eurocentric anthropologists may have claimed, the surgical manipulations of energy performed during are not mere “symbolic” gestures meant to impress the gullible. Sher and her colleagues are working with something “real”gatherings, and under the guidance of Mother something very tangible. This something just happens to be perceived from a different perspectival point of the energetic spectrum of our reality, one we normally do not perceive. Instead of interpreting these perceptions as something isolated happening inside our heads, I see them more as our nervous system being retuned by Mother to receive a different wavelength of emanations that comprise reality.
I am reminded of ethnopharmacologist Jonathan Ott’s words when he was asked to sum up what he thinks the main impact of visionary medicines is. His reply, which I am paraphrasing from memory, was that they allow us to see reality as fluid streams of energy. I think this is one of the many concise ways of summing up our symbiotic relationship with these plant teachers. I would also add that this relationship is far from mere abstract philosophic speculation, although that can certainly be an important part of it.
Based on my experience of Sher’s work, both the crucial first step and the final purpose in perceiving reality as streams of energy is healing. Healing that is down to earth (literally), pragmatic and applied to the here and now. Physical, emotional and spiritual healing. Shifting of consciousness and perception can not occur without what Daniel, one of the brothers participating in the gathering, called a “dusting” of one’s luminous filaments. This dusting comes in the form of Mother cleansing and purging our personal baggage out of us. I would add here that to me this dusting felt like being blasted inside out with a cosmic water cannon the size of our solar system.
As for the spiritual gatherings themselves, I will not say much detail about them in order to preserve their inexplicable translinguistic numinosity, but I will give a general outline:
The first night for me was what I called a clearing of cobwebs. I was mostly in a lot of pain in my stomach, my intestines in knots, feeling a great sadness and melancholy. My intestines tend to be a place where I carry a lot of these emotions, and I felt that Mother was beginning to stir the darkness I carry in my guts in order to clear it out. Eventually the journey transitioned to a deep sense of gratitude to all the remarkable people in my life that nurture and support me.
The second night was a journey of activation. With Mother as midwife, the ferocity of my spirit was beginning to make its first birth pangs. Birth pangs which at one point actually made me hang on to my socks, so strong they were that I felt like i might blast out through the ceiling. At onother point, i was performing what felt like energetic surgery on myself with tools made of light. In many ways this gathering was similar to my very first meditation circle back in the summer solstice of this year. I felt like I was treading familiar ground. There was a very visceral sense of tremendous psychic amplification, followed by a period of relaxation and gentle euphoria.
The third night… Oh the the third night…
She was the night I dare not say much about…
It was the Omega Point. The Event Horizon. The Great Revelation.
It was an Ecstatic Communion with the Transcendental Alien Other. A level beyond all levels. Philosopher’s Stone uncovered, Mystery unveiled. A close encounter of the 5th kind. A direct confrontation with the full horse of the Mysterium Tremendum. What happened to me that night was largely unprecedented.
As a group we became a single organism, each one of us a synchronized organ performing a vital function of energy and entity transmission. Sher’s role in this circle was extraordinary. She said at the beginning of it that after the previous two nights we are now “squeaky clean”. Because of this, she was able and willing to apply her powers through direct touch of our bodies, which she later told us was the first time she had ever done. This unleashed in me a process far beyond my wildest imaginations.
As a result, that night felt to me quite literally a thousand times stronger than any other time I have experienced. Its power began showing itself when Daniel, the only other man in the gathering that night other than myself, began unleashing what felt like a threatening entity into our space by retching it out of him, at which point Sher proceeded to assist him. What happened to Daniel afterwards must be heard from Daniel himself, if he will ever be willing to talk of it, for it clearly was one of the most intense, terrifying and profound events of his already eventful life. To me it felt like our unforgettable journey
that night began with him.
On my end, as Daniel was trying to purge, I felt pain and sadness in my stomach similar to that of the first night. Eventually Sher came to me and began massaging my back, telling me not to restrain myself and let out what needs to be let out. The work she was doing with her hands and her permission to let go began unraveling something I from here on can not speak about. It was a power, a horse, a healing sentient consciousness of proportions that my words can not go anywhere near. I was completely overtaken overpowered overwhelmed by something so immense, so mysterious and transcendent that any attempt to confine it to our puny monkey chatter would only do it injustice. I resist the urge to pontificate and theologize about the nature of such an experience. It isn’t necessary. In fact, I think it’s counterproductive. All I can say is that it is there, whatever “it” is, if we are willing to humble ourselves and be courageous enough to receive its healing, its teaching.
I want to mention the powerful presence of my fellow sisters who were one with myself and Daniel that night. Sara, Lala and Eireann felt to me like roots of the earth, strong and grounded. They held our circle together, transducing healing energies while we men were flung into the outer reaches of our great beyonds. Again and again I am amazed and humbled by the power of the sacred feminine, its wisdom, its rootedness, its completeness of itself. It is the feminine that I believe we need most in the world to bring us to balance and sanity. That which has been banished, abused and suppressed for so long must come back to revivify our suffering humanity.
It’s been four days now since the gathering as I am writing this. Seven days as I am typing it into my computer. I still feel waves of goosebumps run all over my body when I think of it. Just what on earth happened to me, to all of us that night? I see Sher’s calm gaze, the gaze of someone who has been into the deep canyons and over the great mountains of that world. Her hard work during these circles was indispensable in guiding us through potential chaos and oblivion towards clarity and rebirth. It was with this guidance that I was able to release so much of what I held within into the earth, through tears, through anguished wails and cries. I rolled, I quivered, I gasped. Contorted trembled and howled. Through battle and surrender I emerged purified into the light.
I am convinced now, being largely a skeptic and an atheist in my daily life, that the Mother is indeed something I can call (while remembering the limited metaphoric nature of words) a living sentient intelligence capable of providing us with unimaginable transformation. It can do so when invited into us with diligent intention and discipline and with the guidance of a skilled healer.
I want to thank from the depth of my heart all my fellow voyagers who participated in this 3 day intensive. Daniel, Kat, Simon, Lala, Sara, Eireann, you are my cosmic sisters and brothers. I feel like this was our communion of souls, and I will carry it with me as far and wide as I can. I look forward to bringing back some of what I have glimpsed together with you that weekend back to my life in Peterborough and beyond.
Sher, I also want to thank you for inviting me to sing and chant in the sharing phase of the spiritual gathering. When I was much younger, one of my intentions was to become a vocal performer of some kind, and when I was older, one of my intentions was to become someone who works with visionary medicines. I feel that chanting in your gatherings have allowed me to accomplish both these goals in perfect synergy. I feel that especially on the 3rd night, my chants came from a place far deeper than the ego. They were not attempts to “perform” or impress, they were a bringing forth of something other than what I as an ego usually identify with. I reached into the well of souls to scoop out their sorrow and light with the ladle of my voice.
Lastly, I want to send a supermassive tidal wave of love and gratitude to all the remarkable shining souls in my life who warm me with their inner fire. My extraordinary and supportive family whose work in this world I must continue; my brilliant Peterborough tribe who make me feel appreciated and loved in this foreign land no matter how eccentric I get; and all the others of you who have at one point or another taught me, loved me and inspired me to become my becoming. There are too many of you to name, but you all know exactly who you are. Your light carries in me.
Dec 29, 2013