Citation: Samanthe. "(Teddy) Bear Totem: An Experience with Ayahuasca (exp9762)". Erowid.org. Oct 2, 2001. erowid.org/exp/9762
Background: This begins with exerpt from an autobiographical sketch (answering 16 questions if I remember correctly) that I wrote around the time of this trip. I was asked to write the autobiography by the sitter whom I approached to facilitate the LSD/mushroom session
described in a separate report. The sitter did this to gain an understanding of my set and context going into the trip, to begin establishing trust/rapport, and to help recommend dosage. The issues I had going in are all predictable stuff.
Part of me is afraid that I'm not going to have the courage to go through my issues but I deeply want to. I'm scared I'm going to lose it, and I'm not going to recognize myself once I've surrendered and gone through them, like I'm afraid of being fully human. Experiencing false-self death/ego loss is my biggest issue. It's been so important for me to 'grow up and deal' and not cling to my 'stuff.' I¹m nervous about being in a group session because I haven't had that ego-loss healing experience and I don't want to 'show my ass' ...I feel I'm a pragmatic person and the spaces I have just touched upon when I've been high before have made me a little bit afraid but at the same time exhilarated because each time I face my fears a little bit more. I want to have courage and to not be a chicken. At the same time I'm proud of how far I've come and the courage I've had in facing my issues, considering how much anxiety I usually experience. I want to integrate the parts of myself that I unconsciously reject and that thus have a strong unconscious influence on my life. I want to learn how to accept love more. I want to gain clarity in my self-image and identity. Right now I feel out of touch -- who am I? Yet I have a very developed sense of ego, so surely I'll be all right, right? (I tell myself).
I imagine and expect I could have a classic 'being in the Void' 'losing one's sense of self' 'ego-loss' experience -- and if I don't have that I'll be some kind of failure. ('Performance' is obviously a big deal for my ego) But that's silly because a person gets just what they're supposed to and can handle the things that comes up or else they wouldn't come up. I try and remind myself: 'trust the process' and yet I have doubts because secretly I get paranoid that somehow I'm fooling myself that I'm part of this tribe (i.e. trippers). I just want to be a conduit for the Universe and be in synch and do the right thing. I don't want to be coddled but I also crave the kind of emotional reassurance I didn't get as a child. I'm scared of 'not coming back' and of just losing it and getting stuck 'out there.' I have a deep longing for my 'Spots' (the tense spot in my back, the tense spot in my abdomen, and tenseness in my solar plexus) to experience catharsis and resolution. I feel like they are little whirlpools or black holes of emotional energy that I want to have blasted. At the same time I try to take to heart what the Secret Chief
said about accepting your pain and not just desperately wishing it would go away. That in itself has helped me to live more with my back pain. Sometimes I feel like I have a bunch of stuff to just vomit out. I hold my breath a lot and am working on that. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to go with a process in such a loving and safe context (i.e. with career sitters)... I don't take to these spaces too easily, they are work for me.
So that was my mindset as I went into the next couple of weeks.
One Saturday in Spring 1999. -- 65 ml ayahuasca, mixed-gender group setting, two sitters, nighttime, excellent music, in the dark (one candle), eyes mostly kept closed.
At the onset of sensations, about one hour after taking the tea, I told myself that this was not going to be the journey where I would 'go through' my stuff. So then I felt a sense of utter dread, an 'uh-oh!' because I knew I was going to keep it at bay, like it was not the right setting. And this was nearly comical but also painful and annoying because I knew that I still had the medicine in me and I was going to go somewhere anyway, for at least three hours. My bodymind felt like I was at the high point of a giant roller-coaster, just before the plunge.
Within half-hour, it felt like, I was suffused with intense DMT visions. The space I was in was cartoony elf-land, no jungle at all. Very early on, I saw them beckoning me towards a place up and to the left, and I felt they were indicating, in a friendly, taunting way, that if I would just surrender, that all my pain would go away. And I could believe it but I couldn't give myself permission to actually go through with it. I felt that if I did that it would be accompanied by physical release of some sort, which I was not willing to exhibit in a group setting. I also felt a sense of longing as I thought fast-forward to the session I knew I would be having in private 12 days later. Since for where I'm at right now, allowing myself to feel things has been a big issue, I felt that the more private session would be the one where I would give myself permission to 'let it out.' Before I got too intoxicated to walk, I got up to get my teddy bear which was not yet near me. I realized I would want that kind of comfort.
Since I refused to surrender, I instead went through a repeating cycle of self-reproach, only it wasn't as harsh as self-reproach, it was more like realizations and self-knowledge. I questioned whether this path (medicine/'drugs') was my path. [At one point I think I even 'promised the Universe' that if I could only just get through this, I would settle down, do the white-picket-fence thing and never touch drugs again.] I was shown that there are many many ways to get through the difficult stuff (i.e. through other paths like meditation, breathing techniques), and this gave me relief. I thought on the fact that being a sovereign being, feeling fully adult-human (in the good sense of adult), is an awesome responsibility. I wondered whether I would still feel like 'myself' once I reached this fully human state. This lead me to realize that my spots of physical pain are reference points for me, that I've had them and been conscious of them for so long that to not have them might be disorienting. I felt like they were like the rope that keeps the boat moored; the boat has its place where the rope holds it, but the flip side is that the rope is preventing the boat to either drift away or to purposefully sail away. In this journey, I was still questioning my ability to purposefully sail on.
I felt that the sheer awesomeness and power of being really present and sovereign was almost too much for me to be able to ultimately handle. This was one part of the cycle I was going through, another part was being offered again and again the chance to surrender (in my inner-visual field, it was still to the upper left hand side, like a wormhole or shortcut). These cycles felt like they were accompanied by the very same sequence of gestures and body movements each time (I was sitting in the lotus position during this part of the journey, the movements were: holding my head in my hands, feeling hot like I was going to purge, rubbing my eyes/ears/side of my head, tilting my head to the same side each time, whimpering, a specifil new tic at the right corner of my mouth, leaning to the side as if in resignation). It felt like it had the quality of an obsessive-compulsive's behavior. Not surprising since I've considered I might have had mild OCD during childhood.
Eventually different things started to come through. Whereas the taunting I was feeling was coming from the left side, my attention would sometimes go to the right, where I saw a more forgiving path (this is where I saw that there are many ways to get through the issues I was thinking about). And interspersed I saw/felt childlike elements of my own personality being joyfully paraded in front of me, like a reassurance that all the things that I have put into creating this ego/personality that I identify as my own are good, strong, anchored, and totally OK. [In a paradoxical yet perfectly logical way I needed to be reassured that my ego was great the way it was before I could eventually experience an 'ego-death']
On this right-side forgiving path, I saw representatives from the family of women, and I felt comfortable and grateful with having them as teachers. Whereas the explosive, blasting quality (wormhole!) of the left side vision felt bewildering and scary, this slower, gentler message from the right side felt 'more my speed.' As the medicine began to play itself out, the information I was getting was more about God/Universe and death. And what I was getting is that after death there's nothing. We just die. But the way this information came was exquisitely nuanced and detailed. The message I was experiencing loud and clear is that the energy/love that we give to one another are what create God/Universe and heaven and life, that the preeminent dynamic of Relationship/Participation is what makes us human and is the supreme reason for being. To hold out on Relationship (in the broadest sense of the world) is folly. Maybe since I don't have a religious background this came as no big surprise? The way it was shown was so beautiful and loving. I saw this network of human interaction (like I saw visions of interlocking bodies handing things to one another, gesturing in interlocking ways, etc.) like a cloak around the planet, constantly in motion, well-oiled, irrepressible, tender and true.
Whenever I would check what might be 'out there' outside of this network, I 'heard,' 'not up there, down here' (as in 'turn your attention back to the network') -- I felt clichés like, 'you're all you've got (but not in a scary negative sense),' 'this is all there is' (i.e. 'there's no secret behind-the-scenes goings-on or conspiracy you're not privy to' -- this was a HUGE revelation), 'there are no surprises' and 'see? there's nothing to be afraid of' (i.e. there really does not exist a big bad monster that's going to pop in and scare you). It felt like this message was communicated over and over again in many ways, in order to show me that it was true. This was alternated by autobiographical messages -- of how my boyfriend G needed to move to [my state] from [his state] because that's an important relationship to us and it's pointless to not develop it (as in 'why wait -- there's no time like the present'). I believe during this phase of the experience that I addressed (but didn't totally resolve) at some core level one of the concerns from the autobigraphical excerpt above -- the terror I've associated with exploring deep inner space.
Another aspect of this phase -- or of the next one, this was in there somewhere -- was visions of ingesting. I saw myself ingesting the tea to learn the plants' message, and I saw myself 'ingesting' images of a person I have had an unconscious fear response about. In ingesting her, I was taking in the message of the archetype she represented for me, and making it a part of myself (rather than feeling that that is an archetype that is outside of myself and thus unattainable.) Since this vision I do not have a fear reaction when I think about her. This phase [of the trip] of 'ingesting' images in order to try and integrate their messages lasted for a while, too.
I have poor vision in my right eye. At one point in the visions I saw my eye socket as a 'treasure chest' to keep stuff in -- as if I sacrificed my eye/eyesight in order to have another kind of gift, kept for safekeeping in place of the eye.
After I learned the reassuring messages for a while (or maybe it was before it, I don't remember), my journey took a definite turn. Instead of resisting and being physically uncomfortable and cycling through gestures and tics, I began to really BREATHE. I got into a breathing that was deep with amazing exhalations. I felt like I was exhaling to four levels beyond what I had ever exhaled before. I linked this in my mind with the tides, and pondered the tides for a while. 'The tides don't stop, the inhalation and exhalation, the in and out of the tides, are circular, like a wheel, not back and forth like a swing on a swingset.' The visions took on a bit of a non-populated elegant, nighttime landscape twist. Somewhere during this phase, I began to have many new insights into the spiritual dimensions as mapped out by the Enneagram. [I recently began studying the Enneagram and had been listening to Enneagram audio tapes earlier in the day so it was fresh in my mind.] I saw how the Enneagram could be a useful map for me at this time in my life, I was grateful to have it as a mental hook or grid on which to hang the information that I was receiving viscerally via the medicine.
I linked the wheel of the Enneagram back to the wheel of the breath and tides, and to the network of the human family. It was also something back in 'non-trip' space that could act as an anchor or touchstone for the information that was otherwise so rich and so detailed that I couldn't possibly bring everything back with me to consensual time/space. Someone had mentioned totem animals earlier in the day -- saying the tea could be useful for meeting them -- and I had the [ok, kind of silly] impression that my own teddy bear that was lying on my chest at this point was my totem animal. This made me smile. It was an ego-anchored reassuring thing.
As the medicine wore off, I was tired but my mind was still so busy that I had trouble falling asleep. I felt forgiving of myself the next day (forgiveness was part of the session's lessons), instead of feeling like I had let myself down by not 'completely surrendering' to where the medicine could take me. Just because it could take me on a wild ride didn't mean I had to be swept along with it. This was part of the lessons I can learn that speak to where I am right now.
[Two days after this journey I added this addendum to my autobigraphical sketch (mentioned above): addendum -- this weekend I did 65 ml of the tea in a group setting. I didn't surrender to it, though I deeply want to. At one point I questioned if this was my path, out of fear. But I got some deep loving messages. A major issue was that I was on the brink of full personhood/womanhood and I just needed to step through to the next level. Not be a 'girl' because that phase of my life is ending.]
A major theme of this experience -- ambivalence about 'growing up' or entering a new phase of womanhood -- is continued in the following sessions of 1999. Basically I felt ill-equipped to move on, hurling towards 30 but feeling like a kid, and reluctant to give up youthful traits, preferring maybe to hold on to them past the point of it being healthy. But images I saw during this trip paraded before me the very things I was worried about giving up (i.e. youth culture stuff, images of cutesy stuff, represented by my 'totem animal', the teddy bear), and celebrated them as a firm foundation for my ongoing growth and maturation. This allowed me to move on without feeling I was losing something forever. It was a really cool, confidence-building thing to witness.
This (eventually) reassuring trip was a good springboard for a 'oh shit I think I'm going to go crazy or die' session twelve days later (see the LSD/mushroom combo
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