“There is only one presence here -- it is LOVE. God is love, which envelops all beings in a single feeling of unity. This sanctuary is filled with the presence of love. In Love, I live, I move, and I exist. Whoever enters here will feel the pure and holy Presence of Love.” -- Consecration of the Space, In Ceremony with Grandmother
My first journey into the spirit world happened very suddenly about five years ago when I almost died from a full-body seizure. After pulling my spirit, or life force, back from what felt like a black, inky void, I felt this vibrating light energy flowing through me and was able to channel it by sitting in lotus and chanting ancient Sanskrit devotional prayers which I had learned from my yoga practice. My eyes were closed and my third eye started to expand into a light dimension without time or space where everything was connected as energy. The light energy circulated throughout my body along the chakra pathways, creating a sphere of white light around me. There was an overwhelming feeling of unconditional love and gratitude, which made my heart feel like it was expanding and overflowing, and I had this desire to wrap my loved ones in healing light.
From this near-death experience I realized that the power and energy of the universe is inside of us all, we are connected by these vibrations, and the light which makes up the world is unconditional love. I set my intention to learn more about this power inside of me, and how to harness it to help others connect to spirit and heal themselves. While starting on this path I came to Costa Rica for a yoga retreat with one of my favorite teachers, and serendipitously came across a shaman who invited me to join him in an ayahuasca ceremony. Although I didn’t really know about ayahuasca, I felt an incredible aura around the shaman and trusted that this was a gift I should embrace. I had heard in passing that ayahuasca was a sacred plant medicine used by native tribes in South America, and I went to the ceremony with an open mind and open heart, without doing any further research. I believe that it was because of my open heart that I had such a powerful and insightful journey in ceremony that night.
When we sat in a circle and the shaman consecrated the space, I felt waves of energy flowing out and creating a sphere of protection around the sacred space to protect us. I knew I was safe. After my first cup I sat in lotus in my little nest, expecting to have a similar experience to my near-death experience with the infinite power of the white light dimension, and I kept on trying to force that light into my body. It wasn’t until I finally let go of any expectations and stopped trying to force anything that I started to feel the medicine flow through me. It wasn’t a white light like before; it was a more subtle, feminine, intricate force dancing through my body, clearing out my energy pathways and opening me up. As the shaman sang and created beautiful music with his voice and tribal instruments, I felt him shaping and manipulating the energy in certain ways to allow different kinds of healing.
The energy undulated in waves through my body as I was brought back through my life with images and feelings, showing me the big picture and meaning behind all of my past experiences and relationships. I was shown the impact that I’ve had on my friends and family, both good and bad; the dark and light consequences of all of my choices and actions. Grandmother Ayahuasca brought me back to a trauma that I experienced about five years ago, shortly after the near-death experience, and showed me that it was not my fault. It was time to let go and learn to draw strength from it, to help others.
During this time the shaman came up to me and started doing energy work on me, actually lying on the ground next to me while playing drums, and I felt an overpouring of tears come welling up from deep inside, generating a supernatural release – a purging of the negative energy that had built up from this trauma, and possibly even from past traumas in other lives.
There were times when I laid down and saw beautiful, colorful visualizations of sacred geometry and I could not move due to the powerful force of the energy flowing through me along my chakras. During one of these times I felt my grandpa’s spirit come to me as a bright, loving energy looking over me and cradling me in his arms. He felt as bright and warm as the sun, and told me that he was always watching over me and protecting me. He said there was nothing I could do wrong…the trauma was not my fault, and he was sorry he couldn’t stop it from happening. As his spirit was shining over me, I saw a flash of all the memories we had together, and the feelings of love, family, and connectedness associated with them. I grew up on a farm where he had grown up, living off the land, and he taught me how to be one with nature...how to plant the seeds, harvest the fruit, make blackberry pies, jump off the waterfall, build tree-houses, and respect the earth. He was my biggest mentor, and I was being reminded of my roots -- the biggest source of my strength in this life.
Shortly after I saw my grandpa, a more bubbly and fun spirit came to me – an angel. It was my other biggest teacher, my gymnastics coach, Al Reilly, who looked exactly like Albert Einstein and was like a second father to me. He taught me how to be a good person, and what it meant to live a simple life of service and gratitude. He taught me how to surf - how to ride both the literal and figurative waves of life. He died exactly a year ago from throat cancer, and I was sad that I didn’t see him before he passed. I remember thinking when he came to me during the ceremony, “Of course you’re an angel,” and smiling. He also told me that he was watching over me, and there was nothing to fear - nothing I could do wrong. The universe is made out of love.
At one point I started feeling a strong pain in my lower back around my sacrum, and thankfully the shaman had warned us this might happen - we might feel an intense pain while the medicine is healing us of any physical ailments. Ever since I got into a bike crash three years ago I’ve had a terrible pain around my sacrum and all along the right side of my back due to my sacrum being tilted to one side, and I felt the medicine literally knitting my sacrum back together and straightening it out. After the ceremony I didn’t feel any of the normal pain around this area or the resulting blockage that occurs. I went to my week-long yoga retreat and felt so light and balanced, like my body was flowing through the air without any hindrance, totally connected to spirit and in tune with the energy both inside me and all around me. There was no barrier between me and the world, or between me and the people around me, but this didn’t overwhelm me like it sometimes did in the past -- it just allowed me to become one.
After the second cup I purged almost immediately through vomiting - and it wasn’t like normal vomiting; it was other-worldly, like I was purging all of the darkness accumulated over all my lifetimes. A couple experienced female practitioners came to help me with love, warmth, and kindness - offering me tissues and comforting words -- the mother spirits enveloping me with nurturing compassion, telling me it was healing to purge, although uncomfortable. Taking care of me. With their encouragement the shaman offered me a third cup, since I had purged the second one almost immediately after drinking it. Once again I purged that one through vomiting about five minutes after taking it, but I felt so much better afterwards - clear-headed, light, cleansed. The medicine was still flowing through me, and the journey with the second cup was much more light-hearted and fun-loving. I laid back and enjoyed the colorful visions of the sacred shapes dancing in my third eye, and let the love and compassion of Grandmother Ayahuasca wash over me.
I thank Grandmother Ayahuasca for showing me my path of energy healing, guiding me, putting me in touch with my protector spirits, cleansing and healing me... helping me to let go and truly be free. Just as the healing power of the plant medicine couldn’t flow through me until I let go of my expectations, so my path cannot become clear until I let go of my pain, suffering, and judgments. The medicine helped me to find my voice, connect with my higher self, which guides me through intuition. She is unpredictable, beautiful, wise, compassionate, and powerful, and I hope to continue to surrender to her, to learn to trust and have faith. The universe is perfect, we are perfect, and everything happens as it should – even the unfathomable trauma that I experienced needed to happen in order for me to find this path and help others. I am still learning to trust and let go every day, and let myself open up to the magic all around me.
“In the perfect communion between my lower self and my Higher Self, which is God in me, I consecrate this sanctuary to the perfect expression of all divine qualities which are in me and in all beings. The vibrations of my thoughts are the forces of God in me, which are stored here and hence radiated to all beings -- thus establishing this place as a center of giving and receiving of all that is Good, Joyful and Prosperous.” – Consecration of the Space, In Ceremony with Grandmother