I’d already decided that before I went dashing off too blindly down the yellow brick road, I’d sit back and contemplate things, listen to the trees and birds twitter for awhile. I decided to start seriously investigating things like the nature of reality and the cosmos and my place in it, as well as things such as old hippies retirement communities and the like. That mostly involved wandering around with the trolls and smoking weed. I figured maybe I’d even do something drastic like “work on myself”, you know, improve the diet, revisit my yoga practice, get back into Zazen, all those things we do during life’s transitional times. WTF, Robert sure had started kicking off a nice shade of turquoise blue, no pukey yellow green on him any more.
Of course Robert had quit drinking.
It suddenly occurred to me one day as I was out enjoying the pure animal bliss of a 65 degree New England spring day that since I no longer went to some soul sucking job that dominated my every waking hour, I didn’t feel nearly so inclined to kill my brain with alcohol. Go figure.
Hale Brook was lovely, babbling along gaily, and I’d started building raised beds out back for food production. Teaching environmental sustainability for the year I was at the nunnery had taught me far more than I ever wanted to know about the horrors of what industrial agriculture has done to our food supply and the land. This is a happy story, so it won’t be included here; that other one is way, way darker than witches and dragons and ghosts. The voodoo woman ain’t got nuthin’ on Monsanto.
Truths like environmental devastation, never ending war, and the unending spiral of the culture in which I found myself down the drain of dumbfuckery induced destruction had always made my choice to be a low grade, fully functional in the world alcoholic seem reasonable. Those things and the various careers I’d tried did anyway. A good portion of our culture does get by in this life only with low (or high) doses of alcohol or other medications.
But then, I like beer. Good beer, not that watery corporate swill sold by big breasted women on TV, but real beer. I also like wine; good wine, red and white; pink, not so much. And tequila. And scotch. A nice Canadian blend with water is pleasant, and vodka goes well with darned near anything. Eating Mexican food without a Margarita feels like blasphemy. Gin never did a lot for me, nor bourbon, but in a pinch, I’d drink either one. You get the picture. But that thing about being a fully functional in the world alcoholic is the alcoholic part of it. I’d never been very good with self discipline and have always had my little vices. That and I tend to be a bit of an addict, the queen of compulsive behavior. I was never a hard core, falling down, can't make it to work, fuck up of a drunk. I just had 2-4 drinks every day, started contemplating which of the above libations it would be for the evening once I was released from the prison of the work place du jour.
For years I sucked on cigarettes all day. Up until a couple of years ago (part of this story, perhaps) I could still be talked into having one, even had to talk myself out of it very seriously every so often. It’s a filthy and loathsome habit and I have struggled with it forever. I don’t even bother to struggle with weed.
Weed and I have reached an understanding.
The Shaman helped with that.
Ayahuasca. The trolls were talking about it.
Ayahuasca. The Economic Hit Man had brought it up in his book about shapeshifting.
Ayahuasca. That book about the Shamans at the library that had called out to me had quite a big bit on it. It had drumming on CD as well, totally hypnotic. My iPod likes it a lot. In fact, it was quite well done, very informative, even had some how to sections.
“Ayahuasca. It saved my life. It transformed me into an eagle. It opened a door to another way of understanding the world. I talked to the trees.” The guy at the organic farmers meeting was telling me about an experience he’d had in South America. I hadn’t asked about it, he was simply volunteering the information. He’d seen the book I’d picked up on medicinal plants.
“An eagle? Really?” Of course he had my attention. Of course I believed him, he was clearly telling the truth. Besides, the trolls had been telling me very similar stories for weeks by the time I met Jason. “Shapeshifting?” Giving him the opportunity to pretend he’d been being metaphorical.
“Yup. Cellular level. Flying, a bird, over the jungles of the Amazon basin. Fucking awesome.” He was grinning.
Far out. First Goldilocks and now Jason. Two totally normal human beings who apparently visited realms I’d not been familiar with for very long at all. It’s always nice to talk to fellow, more seasoned travelers when entering new territories.
“I was down in South America. You can get it in the states, but it’s really not wise to mess with such things without a Shaman on hand. It’s powerful stuff.”
Ayahuasca. The plant that was growing under the lights in my closet whispered it as I knelt down to admire her beauty.
I ordered the two main ingredients for the brew online as soon as I found what looked like a reliable source. WTF, I’d flown with eagles. I'd done Orange Sunshine when I was just a kid, made that intentional leap into the infinite long, long ago. Besides, I had a how-to book. I didn’t need no steenkin’ Shaman, and travel to South America looked like a major pain in the ass, and expensive, too. I didn’t like the looks of the Shaman’s for sale online. I was done with the old story of my life, ready to throw caution to the wind. Besides, from what I'd read, it was the Banisteriopsis that was the actual spirit guide.
Plants I already knew how to talk to; I'd been doing it for years, did my time long ago talking to plants. Even though they'd only recently started talking back, they knew I held the proper respect for them.
I started planning my surrender to the Higher Power ritual, scheduled it for the day of the Winter Solstice. I cooked up a witches brew of South American botanicals, the stuff of Ayahuasca I added some of the sage wisdom I’d traveled with before and happened to have on hand, a brew with lots of lovely homegrown Mama Ganga and red wine and Grand Marnier. I had to do something with the alcohol in the house, it added a nice touch to my ritual and took some of the edge off the foul taste of the potion.
It simmered on a low boil for days.
On the day of the Solstice I got up before sunrise, as always, put candles in the holders I happened to have on hand, those holders that were so perfect for the occasion, and shut myself in the upstairs bedroom with my brew, a gallon of water, and a five gallon bucket, in case I needed to purge. The book suggested that purging is common. For an old drunk like me? No problem, purging I know how to do. No purge was needed, it was easy.
I got naked and did a series of salutations to the rising sun.I surrendered myself to the light as old Sol started blasting through the Glass Onion of a prism that hangs in the window of my bedroom, scattering rainbows all over the room. I drank the Strange Brew.
I shape shifted.
I was ready to set off on my own personal evolutionary journey.
Linda Brooke Stabler, Ph.D.