I was sitting at a booth in the neighborhood bar eating supper when my anthropology professor friend plops down across from me and excitedly says, "Larry, Larry have you ever heard of Ayahuasca?" I said yes I had been reading about ayahuasca for a long time in the Shamans's Drum magazine but this is the first time I had ever heard it spoke, and I didn't know how to pronounce it. He went on and told me his incredible experiences at a ayahuasca ceremony in New Mexico. He asked if I would be willing to do a ceremony if he could bring the medicine man to Fort Wayne. I said absolutely and I could help with finances getting him here too.
Over a year went by and I was sitting at a booth at the neighborhood bar eating my supper when he plops down across from me and says, "Larry, Larry the medicine man will be in town and there will be a ceremony!"
The ceremony was on a Friday and I prepared all week for it. I did fasting and stopped getting high and stopped taking my medications. My purpose or intent for the ceremony was to ask the spirits how is my intuition doing. In my twenty years of schizophrenia most of the time all I had to go on was my intuition and I needed to know how I was doing.
I got to the ceremony that night and met Allen, the medicine man. He was at the stove stirring the brew, smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer. I felt completely at ease. He made sure we all knew he was just another human being and schooled us on the ceremony. We sat in a circle ready to drink when he pulled out a prescription drug manual and asked us what medications we were on. He looked up my medications and said sorry your medication is contraindicated to MAIO inhibitors. I was crushed. Then he said, "Do you have any mushrooms?" I realized why yes I have a piece of chocolate at home. Why I had that piece at home is a long story of coincidences. I haven't done any chocolate for 11 years and thought I would never do them again. But there it sat. I went home and came back. Allen explained how they were kindred spirits.
When I stepped into the room of the ceremony it was like stepping through a threshold. The place felt so safe and sacred and I was filled with bliss. Before when I did chocolate I would battle the world and I would be totally destroyed so I wouldn't do them. This time I went to the peace created inside of me and flowed with healing energy. At one point a deep breath filled me with the smell of the dream and I was swept away with the spirit of the vine entering me through my nose. When I asked the spirits about my intuition, I heard an enormous stadium cheer roar in my head. After twenty years of madness I had finally found peace.
I have been writing poetry most of my life and wondered if I could write about the spirits so I asked permission of the spirits to write poetry about them. I thought of writing poems as windows to the spiritual world. I asked permission and yet did not expect a reply for some reason. The next day I talked to Allen for quite some time, filling in the missing pieces between what I had studied about ayahuasca and what I had experienced. Ever since the ceremony my spirituality has just blossomed. I am totally amazed that I was able to experience a ceremony in Fort Wayne, a very conservative factory town in the Midwest. Every thought about the experience just fills me with joy. I no longer consider myself mentally ill. I now consider myself spiritually challenged. And yes, I still take my medication.
I started thinking about my large family of friends and how those that have taken the dream have lives that have also blossomed in some magical ways. Why can't there be somebody in this region of the USA who can do ceremonies. I thought seriously about how I could do an apprenticeship in Peru.
In May I got a call from my Dad that my mom, who has been sick for many years was dying and I headed to Florida that night. I was driving through Alabama as the sun was dawning when I had a profound mystical experience. I have had many, many, mystical experiences. This experience brought two past experiences together. In 1990 I had my most severe psychotic episode. I was scared I'd be warehoused in some back ward of a Veterans Administration Hospital for a long, long, time.
I started noticing birds would fly directly overhead. It happened a lot. I was sitting on a ward looking out the window and it happened. This gave me great strength and faith that everything would be alright. Ever since then when it happens my faith is renewed and when it happens a lot in one day I know to be alert for something really significant is going to happen.
So, I was driving though Alabama at dawn, just driving along with the radio blasting, reacting to the road, in the long distance cruise mode of thought when all of a sudden "medicine man" pops in my head. It wasn't a voice or a thought, more visual than any other sense. At the same time a bird fly directly overhead and the radio is blasting a verse of "mother is it only a dream, mother is it only a dream, mother is it only a dream".
Well, I've had the thought-bird thing before and I've had the song-thought thing before but I've never had this type of thing though and I've never had everything happen at once like it just did. I was stunned. What happened next is the jewel. In 1993 I was writing a series of poems about my red road path, Native American mythology type writings. I had just finished a poem and closed my eyes to rest. I saw a mountain range far in the distance with a wide valley between the mountains and me. Way off there was like a speck of dust that was getting bigger the closer it got as it came directly at me. A Native American rode up bareback and handed me a stick.
I've been trying to figure out the meaning of the stick for years. My research led me to the custom of the medicine bow and maybe I'll be the keeper of a medicine bow someday but it wasn't a bow it was a stick about 12 inches long with a gnarl near the end.
So, I'm driving down the road stunned that bird-thought-song thing occurred when next I have the same vision of the rider handing me the stick. I know what it is this time-the stick is a length of ayahuasca vine. I was totally amazed. My mom was put in a nursing home and I stayed with her for three weeks before going back to the Fort. When I got home I e-mailed Allen in Peru. I just reintroduced myself and simply told him something mystical had happened that leads me to believe that I should ask him about apprenticeship. I asked if I could open a dialogue with him about becoming an apprentice, with no elaboration. My mom passed away and I drove back down to Florida for the funeral. I was driving back to Indiana after her affairs were in order, I was just south of Louisville, KY, when I started writing an e-mail in my head to Allen. I wanted to send him a book of my poetry and follow up on the apprentice idea. I was just wondering what to say and what questions to ask. I write in my head a lot.
Everything I was wondering about I was getting the answer to and every question I thought of was getting answered when I finally realized that Allen was talking to me in my head. Nothing in my life had ever prepared me for this possibility. I was utterly astonished. Allen just laughed. It was like watching someone who doesn't know what a hot pepper is take a big bit of a jalapeno.
Allen said now you know the truth you are totally insane and totally free. The most beautiful feeling overwhelmed me. Far greater than any bliss I could ever imagine. All I could do is cry and cry. The first thing I thought of was to ask if I should tell anybody and the shouted, "TELL EVERYBODY!"
I had a great big smile thinking about telling my Social Security and Veterans Administration psychiatrists that I am talking in my head with someone 6000 miles away. I will be assured my disability for life.
Allen said I have been chosen by the spirits to reveal them through your writings. Allen said I was very gifted. He said the spirit is manifesting. I went to turn down the stereo so we could talk as a courtesy but Allen said leave it loud, he wants to hear what I'm listening to. My biggest question about my apprenticeship is my contraindication of my medication so I asked Allen what if I couldn't take the dream because of my medication. He said interestingly, it is your chore to keep yourself in chemical balance. My apprenticeship name is u-can-do-it. I asked him if I could tell my soul sister what we talked about and he said, "SHE'S NEXT!" When I realized I was driving again I was 12 miles south of Indianapolis. I had driven over 100 miles with absolutely no recollection of anything other than the conversation with Allen.
I have been writing poems about my journeys since then and have been posting them on this bulletin board as voice songs.