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Alone with Aya: The ayahuasca sessions, part three

From Old French Fairy Tales, Virginia Frances Sterrett

I requested an extra session with Aya and drank by myself tonight. This plant has a mind of its own. It could last two hours or it could last eight hours. You could be clutching your guts half-wishing you were dead the entire time or you could feel like a walking orgasm for six hours straight. It might be both at once. Whatever the experience, one consistency is her essence. There is an intelligence in it, a presence with a very distinct identity, a voice, a sentient intention. She’s cheeky, like a mischievous fae of the jungle. Loving and sapient, shrewd and unflappable. Far, far cleverer than you. I went into this session humbled after the last one, free of questions and ready to embrace whatever experience she saw fit. My intention was to know her, to explore her spirit for once, instead of mine.

I tried listening to Shpongle, and when the DMT hit, the combination triggered such an intense purge that I never even thought about finishing the album, or the track. I was doubled over on the toilet with my face in a bucket, drenched in cold sweats and then so sweltering that I couldn’t manage to get my clothes off fast enough. All of this with the Universe humming in every single nerve ending so insistently I thought I’d go mad. Should you ever have the privilege of drinking ayahuasca, be aware that the DMT in the chacruna is only one of several psychoactive compounds in the tea. It should hit within the first hour and a half—it’s incredibly intense and very short-acting. So when the magnitude is such that you might rather die than feel this way for three to six more hours, take heart, it will only last about twenty minutes before it morphs into something very different.

Post-purge, it seemed clear the only music I could handle was that of my good friend Daniel Katsük. I croaked out loud, “I need to hear Daniel sing,” and immediately chose A Leaf’s Journey. Best decision I ever made. What other soundtrack could be better fit for a vision quest into the mind of a vine? The album is literally a thematic exploration of the lifespan of a leaf. And it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever heard. Every sound that Daniel makes is like home to me in some capacity, and full of a profound, wordless understanding that transcends time and explanation. The sound of his breath between flute riffs must’ve been the most beautiful sound in the entire 70 minutes of lush, intricate soundscapes. (Seriously, D-booger! All you have to do is breathe—you drive me crazy. ;))

Out of the ether, Aya sent me two names: Hadrian and Ÿnnéz. When she spoke the name Hadrian, I was so intrigued that I started to question without thinking: Who is he? A lover? A child? She backs off when you clutch at her, I’ve learnt that, and so when she began to recede from my grasp, I bit my tongue and called off the questions. It’s interesting to me that I never questioned Hadrian’s maleness when the name could go either way phonetically. I couldn’t get a clean connection, a static-free resonance with any frequency I landed on about him (yeah because you don’t know him yet, Aya smirks) but the closest I came was the feeling of a son. Because that seems so unlikely at this point, I wonder if he might be a character that I am meant to write—a creative baby instead of a genetic one.

Hours later, I read that the historical Hadrian was a homosexual Roman emperor, the third of the Five Good Emperors, who was celebrated as a humanist and built Hadrian’s Wall, which marked the northern boundary of Roman Britannia. Interesting. I’d put myself through a bit of a ringer over Hadrian, so when Aya said the name Ÿnnéz, I just accepted it, no questions asked. Apparently the name has both Celtic and Old Greek origins, the Greek meaning pure; chaste and the Celtic meaning hunger; lamb; one. Maybe Aya’s telling me my vegetarianism is over—it’s been a long three weeks. :P

© Ali Cavanaugh

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