That’s a selfie of me a few hours after vomitting from drinking a full ash tray.
Not my worst picture, if I say so myself.
I didn’t actually drink an ash tray.
I drank mapacho.
That’s a picture of the three cups the organizers had prepared for us.
To say that it tastes like shit is to put it mildly.
It tastes like you have just ground a pack of sigarettes into tiny little particles and then mixed that with vinegar.
They offered this ‘drink’ to us to put us in a state of letting go.
We were instructed to imagine our mind as a room with the window open.
Whatever we didn’t want anymore we had to imagine leaving us through that window.
My list was long.
A Malika formerly known as my Pain Quotidien who henceforth shall remain nameless. (= a woman who most strangely and most bewilderingly and inexplicably had me at hello four years ago).
Panic attacks. Anxiety.
The kind of fear one should feel if there are 40 drunk Vikings battering down your door. Except there are no 40 Vikings.
Maybe once a year there is a drunk Slovak homeless guy sleeping in front of my door, but no Vikings.
I shouldn’t be panicking at 3 am every night wondering if perhaps killing myself would be better than to have to deal with that terrible anxiety that makes my heart race like a cavalry horse that’s accidentally eaten oats laced with first class amphetamines.
Am trying to be funny, but it’s not funny at all.
Come see me at 3 am.
Ok, you wouldn’t even see it.
I look completely calm when everything inside is scrambling for cover as if 1,000 Lancaster bombers are spilling their load right above my head.
Right after drinking the mapacho I couldn’t move anymore.
I felt immobilized.
I felt tired.
Tired may be in my dictionary somewhere, but only in some apppendix with the pages glued together.
Imagine my surprise when I felt like sleeping for the first time in I don’t know how long…
I felt nauseous like never before.
I threw up three or four times.
The other participants also vomitted, but they didn’t seem to be tired at all.
Then the organizers made us eat.
The first bites felt like the biggest challenge, but then my appetite returned. I ate some bread with hummus.
I tried to eat the sour salad that was supposed to cleanse our liver, but I only finished half of it. (And it was a tiny salad, hardly bigger than an espresso cup).
They told us to go to sleep.
One of the other participants wanted to talk though.
Jakob talked for like four hours or so.
His life story felt like watching the world’s most intense boxing match.
I won’t go into it, but I vividly remember the scars he has on his arms from cutting himself.
The next day we were given almost no food.
I have been on a diet since July 2022, but getting almost no food was not so unpleasant.
They gave us some oatmeal for breakfast. Maybe one eight of the amount I normally eat. And some very thin vegetable soup for lunch.
That was it.
In the evening we got to drink Ayahuasca.
The organizers take preparation VERY seriously.
They explained everything in minute detail and trained us to ask the right questions after drinking the magic potion.
I won’t describe all the preparatory rituals, but there were many.
Some were interesting, some were a bit boring. Some felt like filler to drag the experience out to almost three days. Like when the shaman explained the legal troubles they had to face years ago before they were officially granted permission to organize ayahuasca sessions.
Life changing – and I used that term very carefully – was the ritual where we discovered our power animal.
To my great surprise it turned out to be a tiger.
I thought it would be a fox.
Nope, in the guided meditation a fox took me to a tiger and the tiger told me he was my power animal.
And immediately made fun of me for being so surprised.
The organizers explained that having a tiger as a power animal means:
You have boundless energy. You don’t like operating in groups. You have a lot of patience, but then all of a sudden you feel like attacking. You are restless. You can be aggressive. You can lash out, but you are loyal.You can be alone for long periods of time. You seek to accomplish stuff and get angry and impatient when things are going fast enough.
It all checks out.
We hadn’t drunk any drugs at that point, but this part was the closest I got to hallucinating.
I mean… I talked to a tiger.
The tiger savaged, really mauled the Nameless Woman and pushed her off a cliff.
While watching that I had to think of all those horror movies where the villain seems to die, but keeps coming back.
Still, the tiger really put his back into it.
The tiger then told me to focus on my family and to take really good care of them.
When I mentioned another woman he didn’t attack that one, but he attacked me. Playfully, but bad enough so it hurt. Then ran away. I took that as a sign that running after women might not be the answer. Or at least not that one.
I was told by the organizers I should learn to ride the tiger in order to be happy in life.
The tiger told me to visit him every day.
This may all sound completely insane, but am just relating what happened in my mind.
Oh, and the tiger has a name. He introduced himself as Reiko.
I have been talking to him every day ever since.
Yeah, he talks back.
I understand if you think I have really lost my marbles.
This trance where we met our power animal was almost as powerful as what happened after drinking Ayahusaca.
Ayahuasca made us all vomit… again.
It didn’t come as fast as with the mapacho. With mapacho it took like 20 minutes. With Ayahuasca it took about an hour.
I was disapointed when I had no hallucinations whatsoever.
My mind started formulated questions endlessly and getting instant answers to those questions instantly.
The questions seemed to come from somewhere outside of my mind.
It wasn’t the same as having an internal dialogue.
It was like some entity was communicating with me inside my head.
I also got images in my head of the tiger, but I can’t say those were hallucinations.
Damn, even writing about it now I feel bummed out over not having had any hallucinations.
Maybe I needed a much bigger dose for that.
This questions and anwers barrages lasted all through the night. It went on for at least six hours.
Halfway through I took a half hour break from it. I was able to stop it, but I didn’t want to. I wanted to ask the questions and I wanted to hear the answers.
I don’t remember all questions and answers now.
I remember asking what I should write about and the answer was ‘war.’
I asked what my dad was feeling the day he killed himself and the answer was ‘shame’.
I asked if I ever would be reunited with the Nameless Woman and the answer was ‘in five years.’
This was the only answer I was sceptical about and hurt me.
Central to the whole experience was the love I feel for my son.
During the day I had felt guilty for even being there in that shamanic centre and not being with my son.
They had instructed us to ask Ayahuasca what her message was for us.
Ayahuasca is often interpreted as being a woman.
Ayahuasca told me three things:
– I have no reason to be afraid
– I already have everything
– I am not grateful for the blessings in my life
– I should write, write, write
Earlier the tiger had told me to stop pretending am less than I am and to help and encourage kind, sensitive, fragile and vulnerable people. The exact message I got was to be a lighthouse to very sensitive people.
I had expected much more from Ayahusaca. Something more radical.
It felt anti-climactic.
The Nameless Woman was not gone. I longed for her just like before and saw her in front of me everywhere I went, just like before. This was the biggest disappointment.
Later I did start noticing a lightness that hadn’t been there before. A longing for innocence, a strong motivation to be kind and loving.
I still wake up at 3 am with a racing heart and the worst fear you can imagine, but my negative thoughts have been more than decimated. I find it easier to let go of them or to counter them.
Am also much more loving towards myself.
Am more present with people, including my son.
I don’t try to escape from pain so much as before and face my pain and also see the many things I can be grateful for.
The tiger is – and this is so odd… – with me all the time now.
All the suffering is still there, but it’s like I have learned to let that suffering be there while focusing on making things better, on becoming a better person.
I still don’t fully understand how I could land in such a world of pain. One that would push me to drink something that would make me vomit in front of other people. Me. Someone who feels absolutely mortified whenever I have to show any sign of weakness. Vomitting in front of other people… It may sound trivial, but the fact that I accepted that part is an indication of how desperate I had become.
Those were the hardest parts for me: Cancelling lessons and not working so I could go drink Ayahusaca (I limited my guilty feelings by telling myself I spoke German for three days non-stop with four native speakers who spoke a local dialect), going there and not spending that time with my son and the vomitting in front of other people…
On day one I was terrified I was risking permanent brain damage, but on the second day I felt completely peaceful and all fear left me.
The two nights I slept there were the only two nights in what feels like an eternity that I did not wake up in fear at 3 am.
What I have written here doesn’t begin to cover everything I experienced and learned in those three days.
Take it as a quick overview.
Just processing the things Jakub told me would take ten pages in a Word file…