Enthogens: An Intent-ful Ceremony

Breathe… and Breathe again… This is an invitation to breathe into the space in your naval, bringing your consciousness into the area around your belly, considered the seat of our soul in many traditions. Connect to that place of humbleness and surrender within yourself. Know that this is our home and from here, our work begins…

We often hear the phrase “(Grand) Mother Ayahusaca doesn’t necessarily give us what we want. She gives us what we need”. For those working with the plants (or any of the ethogen’s) we can attest to this simple, often, difficult truth. I’ve sat in ceremonies with people who have had very difficult journeys, simply because they were in a resistance with their process. When sharing afterwards between ourselves, I can hear the person curious about their experience; they had entered the ceremonial space with clearly thought out intentions, so; why the difficult time?

When working with the plants and doing your research, listening to the many amaz-ling beautiful stories of deep connections to the divine, stories of people having felt the interconnectedness of all life, the heart aching wondrous visuals that have left people gasping in beauty, we can be left disappointed when not experiencing similar experiences. Perhaps we didn’t ‘get it’, we wonder…

Well, I say let go and embrace it all. We are given exactly what we are needed when drinking and if visions didn’t come into play; perhaps there is some deeper spiritual or emotional healing that took priority over the grand visual performance that she, Mother Ayahuasca sometimes entertains us with.

When we transcend into our body consciousness, we can trust that our soul will deliver us to what it is that it requires most at that time. It is a most active process that we engage in too surrender to these wisdom’s and work with what is. Within the ayahuasca/ethogen community a great deal of talk about the importance of setting your intention can be heard, and whilst this can be considered a matter of semantics, I invite you to explore the idea of setting an Intent and Intentions, of which this post will explore in greater detail.

So, what’s the difference?

Leary conceptualized this importance in “set and setting” and to me, it is of profound importance in order to embrace my total experience. Intention, in this day of age has come to represent a needing to find our way, to gain answers, to arrive somewhere we can possibly understand. And whilst I am not dismissing the importance of attending ceremonies with a clear and formulated expression of why you are sitting, I feel we can be more in alignment of the whole journey if we submit to the notion of “Intent AND Intentions”. 

We cannot control the ceremonial space, we rarely can control who sits with us, we cannot control the experience and by setting an Intent, we are moving closer to the unfolding that is serendipitously happening before us. We have to let go that where we are, who we are with, everything that will happen, is exactly as it should be. We can only place our trust in the shaman’s skill to hold space, their integrity to journey with us in that strange communal sharing that is an Ayahusaca ceremony.

By agreeing to unfold with the intent of all that is shown, we lessen our resistance to what could be conceived by the mind’s eye as good or bad. This is in the spirit of Ayni; reciprocity or mutualism — an essential element of amazonian culture which honours natural law. We acknowledge in working with the plants and in receiving their wisdom’s, we arrive to a place of reciprocity. This allows us to give thanks for the gifts bestowed upon us, knowing that we are always safe and allowing all that is, to happen. It is a most active process. Ultimately, letting go to all that is. That is the Intent part, and then from this deep understanding, we are able to layer our personal intentions throughout this. An Interweaving of surrender to the Plants for all that is shown and then the layering of your personal story; For why are you sitting in Ceremony?

To travel in your optimum psychedelic experience, spend time on your intention so you can get clear or clearer on why you felt the call to Ayahusca. Prepare yourself before entering ceremony through grounding and centering. Devote yourself to inner explorations as to what you are looking for. Are you seeking therapeutic or spiritual insights? Are you looking for clarity as to some behaviours that you feel don’t best serve you? Is it physical healing you are seeking? Integrating psychedelics with spiritual energy work is a process of consciousness expansion and allows people to take responsibility for their own brain functions and consciousness. We can engage in this work without plants too, but they are the fast track to this liminal space and place.

As with any of the enthogen’s, it can be really difficult to qualify the experience of ayahusaca – how do you differentiate according to vastly qualitative questions such as “How did your life change as a result of Ayahusca? “In what ways did you grow from your experience?” but those who enter ceremony, simply know. That’s the power of intent and intentions (Or set and setting as Leary first conceptualized it).

It is through the long work of bringing the power and beauty of the plants back to our lives, in the behaviours after the ceremony; the integration is shown through the power of being. It is within the 3D world that we truly show up and manifest the changes.

Yes, it is a wondrous experience if you were given VIP access to the full spectrum of the universe’s colour’s and felt the pulsating love contained within all, but if we don’t align those peak experiences with love to ourselves and to other in our daily, non-altered states of consciousness, can you say if you did really gain anything from your ceremony, other than a brilliant light show?

I’d suggest we get clear on why we are sitting in ceremony. Each and every time will be with different intentions as life continues to move, our healing will flow in different areas. Psychological healing or spiritual healing? Psychological or emotional healing can arc back to our childhood wounds and a re-framing of our experiences; the facts don’t change; be clear on that but our relationship to the story will reflect our growing development as we release the emotional charges around these stories.

Emotional cleanses can open one’s heart, diving deep into self knowledge and personal learning and a spiritual or mystic experience leaves us with connection to the divine, bestowing upon us spiritual gifts, knowledge or guidance exactly as we need it.

What type of experience we have will majorly differ from person to person. There truly is no one experience as the plants act as an amplifier of whats on and occurring in the psych; current conflicts, deep unconscious issues, past hurts or traumas, mythic revelations right through to past lives.

Our emotional and and spiritual lives are so deeply entwined; as we unravel and untie our emotional knots to receive spiritual openings; moving seamlessly between psychological healing and spirituality. We are never the same again after drinking. It is very similar to embarking upon a spiritual path. We enter a previously hidden dimension, not accessible to most and through the continued journey of working here, we go about a sort of refinement process as we learn to navigate the worlds, staying with our heart, our organ of perception, to uncover and cleanse, in a journey deeper inwards.

If we so desire to know the nature of the universe and to explore consciousness, it has to be said that this works better if we are doing the work in our day to day lives and often this is reflected in a meditative practice. If we come to Ayahuasca to calm our running monkey mind; then yes, our mind will slow and we will feel more grounded and centred in the days, weeks and months after our experience, but we can be just as sure that once we re-enter life with its many fast paced activities, monkey mind will swing right back on in. Ayahusaca lifts the veil on certain aspects, but we ultimately are asked to do the inner work to bring about the profound changes. What happens in ceremony is a inner shift of virtue, outer to inner and back again. Continually. Through engagement in the art of uncovering ourselves, what is isolated within the body would not be able to remain there, it becomes available for contemplation and reflection within waking consciousness.

So it is within the liminal space right after ceremony, likened to a window of opportunity where we are softer and have a greater degree of fluidity to stay inwards, and are easier able to access healing states within ourselves following these intense entheogenic experiences. We are able to sit with our pain and our truths; there is a heightened sense of it ‘just being okay’, an acceptance of what we were given and what it is that we must work with. It is during this stage that our old patterns are interrupted and we are able to create new connections and alternative ways of being within the world. We are open to a new way to Be as the architecture of personality comes up for review.

As we may attest, words cannot convey the essential experience of ceremony; Ayahusaca feels sentient, noble in its working and healing as we host this foreign friend in our bodies. But ultimately; without the work of integration, there can be no spiritual rebirth. We long for another reality but we cling to who we think we are. The whole experience can become seeped in duality as we long for positive but won’t allow ourselves to the embrace the totality of the experience.

The pre-work is fundamental to be able to access your edge comfortably, and to be able to go beyond it. Psychological, mental, emotional and spiritual edge. There are gateways to cross through. Let go of attachment of who we think we are to liberate beyond. Surrender your beliefs so you can see your truths. Liberation points to a level of honesty that is not provided throughout education, society or etc. Empower yourself and ensure your value system is in alignment with your truest intentions.

How to define your intention? 

Some people find it difficult to narrow down their intentions to a particular healing intention or they are just “called” to drink, others don’t feel a healing intention is clear. Healing intentions are so very personal and are expressed in a multitude of ways, yet, what I find time after time is a recognition of Self Love. The need to cultivate, it being the key.

From the ancient scriptures of the Bhagvad Gita through to contemporary or modern day mystics such as Eckhart Tolle, the highest form of Love is Love for One’s Self (Some may resonate with Love of God here). They are referring to the self/soul/atman, however we name it, that is connected to all of life. I am not debating this concept, I accept it with my experienced truth. Without this love of Self, how may we quest to Love another? If we don’t have Love of Self, how may we connect to our divine Goddess’s and God’s, if not from a place of Love? If we don’t have Love of Self, how may we Love our neighbors and strangers? If we don’t cultivate this Love of Self, How can we proclaim to Love our Earth?

It is during this process of aligning with Love that we can encounter its polarity, a rising of ego and its distrust. This is perfectly OK and is a sign of growth; growth in this path is signposted by these fears as we surrender over and over to our highest self, but be sure the ego will fight its death to the very end. As long as we work with whatever is rising to our conscious awareness with a sense of compassion, the distrust can melt and dissolve under its energy.

When we start out on the work of psychedelic, energetic and spiritual work, it is embarking on a journey, often without a map or compass of where we are actually headed and similar to a spiritual teacher, a setting of intentions can serve as this map or compass. This further helps when purging; we can get clear on what exactly we are purging as we release into the experience. By acknowledging this what is to be cleared and giving the sign to Ayahuasca, you may carry this healing intention in your heart. As the energy builds, we may feel feelings of anger, fear or a deep uneasiness rising, trust this is the physical manifestation of the spiritual energy that is being carried. Use your intention as an anchor.

Without this all being grounded within the intent to release to all that arises and your specific intentions of healing, the ceremonial space and afterwards can be experienced as an incoherent swirl of emotions, memories and fragmented information and it is harder to integrate the experience as the mind has failed to understand what has happened, leaving confusion. This does not mean that ceremonies with a healing intention are always crystal clear to the mind, but at least you’re able to surrender and trust that whatever happens in your ceremony is for your highest and greatest good and most likely related to your intention.

I often work within the following structure and I invite you to go with what most freely resonates with you:

Choose one of the following:

May You Show Me…

May You Teach Me…

May you Help Me …

In combination with a difficult emotion (such as fear, shame, anger, guilt) or an essential quality that we might have become disconnected from, (such as compassion, love, peace, joy, connection to self) often through traumatizing experiences.

So, for example:

May you Show me my Shame

May you Teach me about Compassion

May you help me to experience Joy

The process of transformation is a long and winding path and by being clear; we can start to visualize our potentials and paint the picture that we imagine our life to look like in the coming weeks, months and years as we move beyond our small self and we give the universe full permission to deliver it to us.

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