Ayahuasca: A Skeptic’s Notes (or The Shortcut to Eternity Leads Through Hell)

Eye-Uh-Waz-Kah I was drinking coffee in the courtyard of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art when I finally mastered the pronunciation of the word “ayahuasca.” Redmond Blake, who was sitting across from me in dark shades and a baby blue painter’s jacket, was explaining the Medicine to me. A few days earlier, he’d returned from a weekend-long ayahuasca ceremony in Ojai led by disciples of a powerful shaman from Peru. Under the protection of the Mother, he had taken an astonishing journey through a beautiful and frightening spirit land. As I listened to Red’s stories in the cool shadows of LA palm trees, the earthy fragrance of the ancient tar pits bubbling around us, his words sounded as fantastical and strange as a tale from the Arabian Nights. On his journey, Red met a goddess that took his hand and propelled him into the heavens. Among pillars of swirling cosmic dust he surveyed the universe and was overwhelmed by the beauty of creation. He soared through illuminated clouds and from these sublime heights he studied the people and places of the life he’d left on earth. When she whispered secret wisdom into his ear he began to feel a deep trust for the will that was within him. The rapture he felt was so profound that he told the goddess he did not want to return to his life on the planet below. But go he must. And his journey down from these heavenly heights was filled with Inferno-like … Continue reading Ayahuasca: A Skeptic’s Notes (or The Shortcut to Eternity Leads Through Hell)