All posts by tangle-foot

I worked in the corporate world until, mercifully, an existential crisis ruined my life. I then went about dissolving my tired, trembling bones in plant medicine in the hope that what remained of me would point in a meaningful direction. I got what I needed. In the years that followed I became a student of this crooked old path, hooked up with a plant witch and together we facilitated retreats for many crazy and lovable souls. Recently I re-entered civilization, where I hustle, hatch plans and search for meaning. I live with my partner and border collie in Australia. Our site is www.sensenya.org.

Back on boogie-street – returning from peru

O crown of light, o darkened one
I never thought we’d meet
You kiss my lips, and then it’s done
I’m back on boogie street

(Leonard Cohen)

It’s now been over 4 years since I returned to ‘civilisation’ from living and working in the Peruvian Amazon. I’ve been back now almost as long as I was there.

In Peru I studied the traditional healing system known as curanderismo with the indigenous Shipibos… and facilitated plant medicine retreats for many crazy and lovable souls… and did so under the aegis of a spirited gangster from Massachusetts whose brain was infested with aliens… and loved intensely, and fell many times under my own shadows, and remembered what the point of all this is, and forgot it all, again and again…

I will always think of that time with joyful bewilderment, cosmic ambivalence, gratitude, a little heart ache.. and the silent nausea of unreality. Don’t ask me what happened, it was too many things, it was everything all at once,
and did it even happen now —

?

— the darkness and fear and jubilation and tobacco smoke;

— the cheerful, shivering legions of humanity hungry to be saved from decay and heartbreak; the shape-shifting holographic shaman who sold them salvation; the salvation itself
(both real and imagined) —

THE PLANTS

— the weeping (at the horrifying beauty of remembrance, identity, dissolution), the joy (of being, of animism) —

— the generosity and heart and shadows of our indigenous teachers (and the odourless, colourless, bag of colonialism that I brought with me, and only really started unpacking when I returned) —

— chiggers on my nutsack, chiggers on my back, chiggers on my hat-rack, chiggers in my crack —

THE PLANTS

— staying up all night, night after night, captivated by meandering constellations of meaning, stars, an infinity of shooting-the-shit, and the stories of people’s painful, absurd, complex lives that helped me become more human —

— friends, projections, nightmares, fantasies, adrenal fatigue, and the bittersweet relief when it all dissolved —

— black magic, anaphylaxis, malaria (twice), shigella, giardia, salmonella, universes of vomit,
pant-shitting / nut-clutching / high-impact supernatural dizziness—

— singing into the shining dark, being sung by the Other—

— praying, the plants, the jungle, the Blue Morphos and orchids and snakes and universes of fabulously adapted insects and lichen and fungi,
whose spirits I fell utterly in love with —

THE PLANTS

— Cielita,
whose spirit I fell utterly in love with —

belonging to the world, and coming back to the life process,

and a sense that this is what you’re supposed to be doing with your life.

Postcards of another world.

And then it’s gone.

And never again will be.

I’m back now, back in the cities and bloated, beige suburbs of Australia, back on boogie-street, and I’ve been back for some time, about 4 years already, almost as long as I was away…

When I got back in 2016, my father picked me up from the airport and I got the re-entry welcome that my
brittle,
spiritually-inflated,
naive,
serotonin-fat
ego
deserved —

— check this out: this is a verbatim snippet of a real conversation I had with my dad minutes after reuniting:

Dad: I prayed for you son, for God to save you from the cult, from being greasy swinger, from being drug addict, and all the calamities, because you looked so skinny and lost, I prayed for your salvation. You’ve wasted almost 5 years of your life, but now you have the chance to grow up and get a nice job again, to secure your future. If you work hard and cut your hippy hair, you could be a lawyer again. Inshallah, I pray for you never to follow the devil way anymore, and to never get the white woman pregnant,
and above all,
to
not be the gay.

Me: Please don’t pray for me, dad.

Ayahuasca: Demonizing the cry for help


Love, light and the dark journey to relationship

Marooned on the floor of a cramped Thai bathroom, huddled in on myself, vomiting through the nose: alcohol, sleeping pills, curry. It was a good night out. There was dancing. I rose above. Now it is the end of the night and the dancing is finished. Continue reading Ayahuasca: Demonizing the cry for help

Ayahuasca: Black magic, demons and seeing clearly in the dark

Full of demons

(a true story on the meaning of darkness)

Why didn’t you tell me,” said the shaman, puffing solemnly on his pipe, “that you were full of demons.” I shrugged my shoulders, staring at the dusty floor: “I didn’t really know what was going on”. In that moment I was glad we were hidden by night, and he couldn’t see how I was wrung out as a dirty rag ready for burning because the mess it dealt with was too terrible. Continue reading Ayahuasca: Black magic, demons and seeing clearly in the dark

Ayahuasca: Humping the Antidote

***Note: this post forms part of a series which explores how our quick-fix fantasy affects the Ayahuasca process. This is part 2. Click here for part 1: The Antidote – an introduction.

There is no question that many of us have been imprinted with the psychological barcodes of corporate marketing, scientific materialism (including its medical profession), New Age spiritualism and religion. We have inherited from these systems habits of thought that subtly [ subconsciously ] pervade every aspect of our experience. These systems are so popular — and can so easily hook us — because they exploit three deeply-rooted human tendencies:

  1. to avoid pain, discomfort and darkness
  2. to chase and attach to the pleasurable, ‘feel-good’ or light aspects of life
  3. to make life meaningful.

In other words: being human is hard, painful and confusing and we want to make it easy, painless and comprehensible. So we manufacture and buy into this fantasy that there is a quick-fix, an angelic portal, an antidote to the condition of being human, to pain, darkness, boredom, emptiness, meaninglessness; and when we find something that seems to work, we cling to it, seek to repeat it until the merciless tendrils of reality coil again around our bony ankles and… down we sink, itching for the next fix. Continue reading Ayahuasca: Humping the Antidote

Ayahuasca: ¨The Antidote?¨ — how our fetish for a quick-fix affects the Ayahuasca process

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I can’t remember now how I heard about it. Online somewhere I suppose, probably in my perusal of websites made for people like me who were seeking to transcend the suffocating weight of a Saturday morning by inserting a canister of nutmeg into their anus.

Ayahuasca. Normally taken in liquid form, orally, that was good to know. Heals cancer, depression, PTSD, addictions, obesity, impotence, auto-immune disorders and schizophrenia. Website seems trustworthy. Dennis McKenna is a sponsor. Says it’s the real deal. Three-toothed native shaman shuffles about in hut, smokes pipe, says it’s the real deal. Guy with schizophrenia – one week in – grins like a newborn child, like this was a deal that went beyond the horny disassociation of a nutmeg attack… and into the main-line of the real: a substantive antidote to the condition of being human. Continue reading Ayahuasca: ¨The Antidote?¨ — how our fetish for a quick-fix affects the Ayahuasca process

Emotions — critical feedback in the information network of self

What is an emotion? Merely an unfortunate by-product of being human? A chemical malfunction of a dysfunctional citizen? The luxury of weepy failures and wet-toast hippies with too much time on their hands that drink psychedelic tea in midnight fits?

In her book The Molecules of Emotion, the scientist Candace Pert conceptualizes the human being as an information network, in which body, mind and emotions are inextricably linked with each other. Continue reading Emotions — critical feedback in the information network of self

“Grandma take me home” — relating to Ayahuasca

 

"I promise, by the time you finish that cookie..."
“I promise, by the time you finish that cookie…”

 

***Note: this post forms part of a series which explores how our quick-fix fantasy affects the Ayahuasca process. This post is part 3.

Here is part 1: The Antidote – an introduction

And part 2: Humping the Antidote

Some people reduce Ayahuasca to a bundle of chemicals, a wonder medicine that resolves imbalances in the psycho-physical information system known as a human being. Others regard Ayahuasca as a wise, divine discarnate grandmother spirit who operates independently of your will but has your best interests at heart. Either way, if these metaphors / theories are driven by the antidote fantasy (our desire for a quick-fix to the symptoms of our problems), we believe the drug or ‘grandmother’ either acts on the passive recipient, or it/she does not. The patient has little or no responsibility for their experience both during and after the ceremony. This can substantially affect your relationship with Ayahuasca and limit your potential for meaningful long-term transformation. Continue reading “Grandma take me home” — relating to Ayahuasca

Plant Diets — Reflections from Plumb Shack

Stumbling down the sweaty and tortuous jungle path deeply, you may happen upon Plumb Shack, an oasis for the curious, confused and quietly desperate wayfarer of consciousness.

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The bearded strolling weasel over there is me. Don’t be alarmed; I used to be civilized and can still pretend well enough. Continue reading Plant Diets — Reflections from Plumb Shack