A Fantastic Love Story

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Plantspeak:

It is speculated that the visions experienced by shamans and their clients resulting from the intake of psychoactive plants like Salvia divinorum and ayahuasca are subjective, as they happen exclusively in the mind of those under the plants’ influence. Could the supernatural entities shamans claim to communicate with be nothing more than the product of a healthy imagination? Or even a delusion of some kind? The following true story depicts how these so-called hallucinations can sometimes take on a life of their own and express themselves in our world, by crossing from the “subjective” realm to our collective objective reality—if only perhaps to make a point.

January 2002, I was at LAX en route to a retreat in the Brazilian Amazon. A year earlier

I had self-published my first book, which discussed various combinations of psychedelics and mind-modifying technologies. This research revealed that the ingestion of psychoactive compounds during specific mind-machine-induced brain states—theta reverie, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, or deep delta sleep—produced drastically different experiences than when psychedelics and mind machines are used independently of each other.

A psychologist named Lydia who was organizing ayahuasca retreats invited me to the Amazon rainforest to lecture at an experiential seminar. Little did I know this trip to the jungle would lead me to create a new and never-before-experienced altered state of consciousness resulting from the combination of ayahuasca and Salvia divinorum—nor did I have any idea what would eventually result from this particular experiment.

Lydia and I had met previously at a consciousness conference in Berkeley, California, where I’d been invited to speak about research presented in my new book. We began dating shortly thereafter. During the conference, Lydia asked if I would be willing to sit for her and a group of friends who had recently purchased a Salvia divinorum smoking blend. Lydia had previously read in my book that I had achieved some good results with it. It is customary that someone experienced with a particular entheogen facilitate for someone who has no experience with that entheogen. I agreed to take care of Lydia and her friends. As usual Salvia divinorum provided weird experiences. Gary, one of Lydia’s friends, had a powerful voyage wherein he suddenly disengaged from his body, and found himself stuck to the ceiling, looking down at himself. All of the other friends were similarly awed at their experiences in the Salvia divinorum mindscape. They remained motionless with eyes and mouths agape. And everyone but Lydia had taken relatively small doses.

Lydia had waited for her friends to meet the spirit of the plant, before she smoked a significant dose of Salvia divinorum herself. When she felt the effects, a big grin spread across her face. She remarked, “Umm, yes, I like it here.” Lydia later revealed that during this, her first full-blown Salvia divinorum experience, she returned to infancy where she became a toy she used to play with in her crib. As an amateur consciousness researcher, I found this to be an interesting comment. This entheogen often appears to enable the user’s awareness to enter his or her memory banks where access to scenes from one’s life are stored. In other experiences, usually with higher doses, one’s awareness appears to enter into the actual “storage vaults” where memories are contained. However, the user’s awareness can surface anywhere inside the recorded memory sequence, not necessarily just inside the body that is experiencing that recorded instance. Hence Lydia’s experience of “arriving” inside one of her childhood toys and viewing said past event from that perspective, as opposed to from inside herself as a child.
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Since Lydia was the last to smoke and everyone else had returned to baseline consciousness, I decided to take a couple of hits. Lydia also took another large hit. Within seconds the effects began. I found myself focusing intensely on Lydia’s mind, as well as her voluptuous body. It felt as though we were communicating telepathically. I began to impress upon her my obvious attraction and at the same time she began to sense that attraction. As happens with entheogens, Salvia divinorum amplified our thoughts. We met in each other’s minds and began to “interact,” shall I say. It was as though we had somehow transcended the space and time of our reality. When we finally fully opened our eyes, we found ourselves alone. After Lydia and I had made out in our minds, we continued to do so in the physical realm. And we fell in love.

A few months later, upon arriving in Brazil to lecture, Lydia introduced me to her plant ally, ayahuasca. During my first foray into the full-blown ayahuascascape my body temperature apparently came down considerably. I began shaking uncontrollably, while my teeth chattered—even though I was in the hot and humid Amazon! I was somewhat concerned, as I’d never experienced anything like this before with any of the entheogens I had experimented with up until then. The ayahuasca felt like something foreign that had “entered” me and taken over. I breathed deeply to try and calm myself, as the effects continued to increase. I could feel this “something” inside of me wrapping itself around me like a vine, constricting my extremities and torso. Strangely, this began to make me feel relaxed and comforted. I somehow knew that whatever was inside me was a benign form of intelligence. It felt as though it was “reading” me on many levels by interacting with my neuroreceptors. I was sweating, but the sweat was ice cold. However, I was no longer shivering. Behind my eyelids I saw spirals, morphing fractals, wave-like forms, and tunnel-like structures. These images were all bright—seemingly electrified—in most of the colors of the rainbow. I decided to briefly open my eyes to observe the ayahuasca’s effects on my visual field, and the room came alive. The walls were breathing: expanding and contracting.

The visions reminded me of a snake engorging itself by swallowing its prey, slowly digesting it through its length. As I witnessed this scene, a number of bright shimmers of colorful light flashed before my visual field, appearing out of nowhere. These lights formed into intricate, organized, pulsating lattice-like patterns, which began to cover the room including me. I felt as though I’d entered into the domain of an ancient and powerful shamanic entity. A deep sense of respect came over me. This wasn’t at all like any psychedelic experience I’d had up until then! At this point, I must have been at the peak of the experience. It was eerie that with my eyes either open or closed, I could still see the same effects. They reminded me very much of imagery that I had witnessed when I smoked pure DMT in the past. However, with my eyes closed they were much more pronounced, beautiful, and at times even terrifying! A couple of hours later I was returning to baseline. The following night I engaged in another plant ceremony. Given my curious nature, I considered the idea of mixing ayahuasca with another entheogen to determine how they might interact within my mind. Coincidently, I had some extract-enriched Salvia divinorum with me. From previous experience, I knew that Salvia combined very well with assorted mind machines, as well as with most other entheogens. However, there was a catch. Although I considered the possibility of doing this combination prior to traveling to the Amazon, when I had asked around if anyone else had ever tried it before—to ascertain if there might be
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any dangerous contraindication with these two entheogens—to my surprise, no one had heard of anybody combining ayahuasca and Salvia divinorum. I would be at risk of having a scary experience at the least, or causing neurological damage at worst! I had already learned a harsh lesson when I overdosed on 5-MeO-DIPT and wound up in an emergency room. So I had some trepidation. At the time I was considering trying this combo (back in early 2002), no one even knew which neuroreceptors salvinorin A bound to. And I didn’t know anything about reasonable dosages for this particular combination either. So the possibility for danger seemed heightened, due to my lack of knowledge in several areas. Yet on some level, the potential risk associated with venturing into the unknown appealed to me. I was about to walk on new ground. What type of mental effects or visions would result from this novel combination? Since I was all the way in the Amazon, I figured that if I was ever going to experiment with the combination of Salvia divinorum and ayahuasca, this was probably the place to do it. So I did. In the moments prior to my first combination of ayahuasca and Salvia, I recall chuckling to myself, “I wonder what the first shaman who mixed the two plants needed for the ayahuasca brew thought when he drank it and began feeling its effects?” Indeed, what would I think of the effects of this new mixture of mine?

As I was waiting for the effects of the ayahuasca to come on, I strapped on my Nova Pro brain wave synchronizer, dialing up a ninety-minute session targeted at 1 hertz, which would put me in the delta range. I wanted to explore the ayahuasca effects in this particular window of consciousness, as it is associated with deep sleep. Most scientists believe that there is no dream activity in this state, and that it may be used by the body to undergo cellular repair. DMT molecules are believed to help engage a theta (dream) state, while allowing the user to go into this state in full awareness. And because of this belief, I reasoned that the DMT molecules might also enable this same type of awareness when I induced a state of deep delta sleep via light and sound hemispheric synchronization. This would allow me to “see” whatever was “in there,” in that “window” of brain activity.

Right after the delta stimulation session ended, I took the headphones and goggles off. My brain felt as though it was throbbing from the sonic pulses. Now, instead of hearing the pulsing frequencies of my brain wave synchronizer, I began listening to the soft, spacey music that was playing over the speakers of the large ceremony room. I welcomed this change and it made me relax even more. I was yawning heavily and frequently. I fell into a reverie, and was beginning to feel as though my connection with waking reality was about to become “extinguished” like the flame of a candle. When this happened, I intuitively knew that a kind of “super awareness” would replace my conscious awareness. An extreme sense of deep sleep continued to come over me almost by the second. And then I heard a “voice” in my head that said: “Mix me with Salvia.” “Hmm,” I thought, “Yes…” By this point I knew that if I didn’t smoke the Salvia soon I would be unable to do so, as I was approaching the peak of my ayahuasca experience. I decided to make a go of it right then and there, as I struggled to remain awake. I felt drugged. My mind was lucid, but my body and eyelids were about to give out. I noticed that the altered state I was under—ayahuasca together with delta hemispheric synchronization—felt quite distinctive from my
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ayahuasca experience the night before. It was almost as though I was using an entirely different entheogen.

My body felt ice cold again. By this time I was hallucinating heavily and feeling as though I was about to lose my connection with waking reality. As with my prior experience, the pulsating lattice-like patterns, wave-like forms, and morphing fractals once again enveloped the entire room, including the people in it. “Stay awake,” I thought to myself. I then came out of it a bit and asked Lydia to turn on her small flashlight while I dug out of my bag a vial of enhanced Salvia leaves, a pipe, and my lighter. I timed it so that I would smoke the Salvia right at the stroke of midnight, as I got a mental “message” in the form of an impulse to do this. Coincidently it was almost midnight. I filled my pipe with a capful of the enhanced Salvia divinorum. As I took a large hit of Salvia divinorum smoke into my lungs, a bird began to crow. It crowed three times right at the stroke of midnight. After I held in the smoke for about thirty seconds, I recall thinking: “Fuck! This is strong!” I felt my disembodied consciousness spiraling through a tunnel-like structure that was suspended above me. It reminded me of a birth canal. I could have never fathomed what came next. Before describing my experience, let me digress a bit. Following my initial experiment, I eventually learned that there were at least two other individuals who had done almost what I did: combine ayahuasca and Salvia divinorum.

The first time I was told about someone who had made a similar combination was back in 2002, a few months after I had taken these two entheogens myself. I was hired to speak at a biennial rave in Portugal. Immediately following my presentation, I was approached by a few people who had questions or comments for me. One of these individuals confided in me that he had been friends with the late D.M. Turner. Turner was the bold psychonaut who penned the underground classics The Essential Psychedelic Guide and Salvinorin: The Psychedelic Essence of Salvia divinorum. Apparently right before Turner died, he had been experimenting with a combination similar to the one I had discussed during my talk. However, rather than using the fairly simple extractions of raw plant material that I had combined, Turner had employed pure DMT crystals (the visionary chemical in ayahuasca) together with extracted salvinorin A crystals (the visionary chemical in Salvia divinorum).

The second person I heard about who had made a similar combination was Jonathan Ott, author of Pharmacotheon, Ayahuasca Analogues, and other books on entheogens, whom I first met at one of Lydia’s retreats. But according to what Ott told me, he did not use the Amazonian brew prepared by ayahuasqueros that I was working with. Rather, he used an ayahuasca analogue in combination with Salvia divinorum. When I asked him to speculate why no shaman or researcher had ever previously thought of combining the two entheogens, he remarked that it was probably because these plant species grow in different regions of the world. After hearing about the experiences of Turner and Ott, it seemed to me that all three of us were tapping into “something.” Or perhaps this “something” was actually tapping into us! It appeared that these plants were trying to nudge us into combining them. They wanted to merge their essences with one another, they needed a human to do this, and I was one of
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the people who the plants chose. At least it appeared to me this way. As fantastic or strange as this might have seemed to some, having experienced paranormal phenomena throughout my life, I was comfortable with the idea. So there I was in the Amazon jungle at night, in awe at what I was being shown during my first experience with this potent alchemical plant combination. A blindfold was being ripped from my awareness. The reason I had engaged in all of the experiments researching consciousness that I chronicled in my first book was to prepare me neurologically and psychologically for this moment: to withstand the awesome raw power of these two ancient plant entities coming together to deliver information of what had taken place and what would unfold. It was revealed to me that the individual required to fuse the energetic essences of these two entities had to fit a particular psychological and psychic profile. This person must not only be a hands-on entheogen researcher, but also a writer who would be able to tell their story. This messenger needed to understand and accept that paranormal aspects of reality—communications with non-human and discarnate entities, explorations of alternate realities, and experiences with other fantastic phenomena—are not only plausible, but valid and real. This acceptance had to be more than a belief—it had to be known, resulting from personal experience; this was key. Since these plants affect the brain and mind, they needed the imagination of a human being with the above-mentioned neurological and psychological profile as a “space” for the gestation of their offspring. Someone who was too vested in “logic,” for example, wouldn’t engage himself with any of it in the first place, thinking that “this stuff is not possible and therefore not real.” In that regard the plants needed someone “different,” so that together with Nature, the supernatural could be manifested. However, just as important, the magical fusion of these entities’ essences had to be the result of them coming together through an unconditional and true love.

It was explained to me that there is an intrinsic intelligence that permeates all of Creation, including Nature. And this intelligence had arranged for certain synchronicities to take place between Lydia and myself, so that we could meet and hopefully fall in love with one another. I say that the intelligence “hoped” for this, as it could not be forced. Rather, it had to come about naturally, like the budding of a flower. For you see, the two plant entities had to be introduced to each other in a manner similar to the courtship that two human beings might participate in. Although these plants interact with a human being’s mind, for this particular task they also needed to interact in the arena of the heart as well—the emotional realm. As you may recall, I had introduced Lydia to Salvia divinorum, when we first met at the Berkeley conference. And she had recently introduced me to ayahuasca. And we were in love. The merger that had just taken place inside my mind as the result of these two plant entities coming together to “make love” happened for a specific purpose: so that a new species could be manifested. And after I completed a series of particular magical rites (that would be described to me by the plant entities shortly), a hybrid species would be spawned. Not as a biological life form, but rather as a psychological/energetic one resulting from the magical fusion of plants and man.
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The most important facet in the creation of this hybrid entity was love. And because of the intense love that Lydia and I had for each other, both the ayahuasca spirit and the Salvia divinorum spirit could ride this particular love “frequency” to come together for this purpose.

It was then impressed upon me that this entity, as the non-physical “psycho-energetic species” that it would be once it was born, would exist much like a concept does: in the mental realm. Therefore, the only way that the creature could be “seen” is by peeking into someone’s imagination, where it would exist. It would behave like a meme, in that it would seek to propagate itself by adhering to as many human minds as possible. Whenever someone told another person about this hybrid, a copy of it would be passed along to that person’s psyche. The hybrid would thereby “jump” into another psychological environment: the mind of a new host. And when that person spoke to someone else about it, the hybrid would again be copied into the next person’s awareness. And so on. The hybrid’s method of travel would be through communication wavelengths. The reason for this is that its essence is light, which is simply another term for information. And information, by nature, is distributed through communication. As all this data was being processed in my mind, I began to regain my normal awareness and felt as though I was waking up from a dream—which, in a way, I was. My senses, especially my hearing and sight, were still being “modulated” by the ayahuasca and Salvia divinorum. I looked around and realized that nothing bad had happened to me; I’d simply had another experience. Everyone in the ceremony room was asleep on their mattresses except for Lydia and the other facilitators. I called Lydia over and asked: “What happened after I smoked the Salvia?” “Not much,” she replied. “You remained very still and peaceful. You closed your eyes and fell asleep. So I left you to your experience. What did you experience?” Lydia asked. I told her, and after hearing what I described, she was as perplexed as I was.

The next day following breakfast, the retreat participants began painting their ayahuasca visions as part of the seminar’s program. In the afternoon, a couple of hours after lunch, there was a group sharing of the prior evening’s experiences. I did not describe my experience to the group, as I was still processing it. I didn’t know what to make of it. Later on that evening, while looking for Lydia around the retreat’s grounds, I wandered into the room where the lectures and painting sessions take place. A few participants were there working on their paintings. Since Lydia wasn’t there, I was going to leave to look for her elsewhere. However, a few of the participants there made eye-contact with me, so I went up to them to chat and check out their paintings. As I made my way around the room, I noticed one of the participants in particular, “Kay Dee.” I asked to see the painting she was working on. What I saw left my mind reeling.

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If you look closely at Kay Dee’s painting, you’ll see that on the left side there are two large faces of humanoid creatures. The one on the top resembles ancient drawings from the Mayan or Incan cultures, similar to Quetzalcoatl, headdress and all. The one below this is a cat-like creature also sporting a headdress, which reminded me of what the Salvia divinorum entity might look like. (Poet-ethnobotanist Dale Pendell has described the effects of Salvia: “It’s like cat paws, soft cat paws pressing…”) Both these faces, especially the headdresses, felt familiar to me when I first saw them. Both faces are floating in the air. Near these two faces, between them, there is a smaller white head, that looks unfinished (as opposed to the other faces on the painting, which have more detail). The unfinished face reminds me of a lamb. Across the top of the painting is a row of heads floating in the air that appear similar to the infamous “gray aliens.” At the bottom of the painting there is a “warp” or portal in the environment that is opening up. Guarding the entrance of this portal is a large green snake.

A BRAZILIAN DREAM by Kay Dee

When I asked Kay Dee what she had painted, she replied that she didn’t really know. She had just painted whatever came to her from her experience with ayahuasca. She added that it was almost like she was automatic painting (similar to the phenomenon known as automatic writing).
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She’d painted “grays” across the top, and a reptile at the bottom, as well as larger faces on the side. She called these faces “shamanic entities.” But the thing that startled me was what Kay Dee said when I inquired about the smaller face between the two entities. “Oh, that is what I call the little baby lamb of love,” she said. I was stunned. My gut told me that the “shamanic entity” on top represented ayahuasca. And the one on the bottom, the cat-like creature, was the Salvia divinorum entity. And what about the “little baby lamb of love” remark? Could this “baby” possibly be the ayahuasca and Salvia divinorum hybrid?

The next day I slept in and missed breakfast. I was still overwhelmed from my experience the night before. I didn’t feel like talking to anyone, not even Lydia. I just wanted to be alone and sleep. During dinner, the participants sat together and socialized as usual. I sat by myself, still trying to work things out internally. After dinner, I returned to my room and began reading, hoping to ease into sleep.

After a couple of hours, since I wasn’t feeling at all sleepy, I decided to get some fresh air. During my walk around the lodge’s grounds, I went to see what was going on in the lecture/art room. Upon entering the room, I saw a small group of participants and other staff members laughing and having an animated conversation. The subject of their discussion was a television documentary an instructor had watched a few years back about a man with unusual psychic abilities: he could impress his mental images onto photographic film. Simply by focusing in his mind’s eye on a building, or a car, or what have you, and intending the image to be sent into the camera, he could transfer that image onto the photographic film. While casually listening in on their conversation, I began feeling a bit dizzy; kinda like when ayahuasca begins to take effect. I left the lecture room and walked toward my room. I found Lydia in bed reading, and told her that I wasn’t feeling well. The sudden dizziness continued to get worse by the second, and I felt nauseated to the point I thought I would vomit. I told Lydia that I’d be a minute, and I went to the bathroom. I shut the door behind me and positioned myself over the toilet. Then things started to go wrong. A chill of terror washed over me. I started trembling, shaking, and got ice cold. Feeling extremely nauseous I also began gasping for air and thought I would faint. The room was spinning. All my senses were on overload. The bathroom’s normally dim light bulb was a bright sun. The evening’s gentle jungle sounds transformed into a roaring cacophony.

Psychologically, I felt similar to how I have previously felt following some of my experiments with psychoactive drugs in large doses. It was as though I was a tightrope walker. When balanced on the rope I was sane, but if I started to swing either way I would “taste” insanity. But this time I felt as though I had lost my balance and was beginning to fall, which I knew would result in a psychotic break or worse. When the overwhelming feeling came over me to scream at the top of my head, I repressed this urge, instinctively knowing that I would not be able to stop if I began.
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What was causing this horrifying mental state? I suspect it was the result of my new experiments combining ayahuasca, Salvia divinorum, and photo-sonic mind machine stimulation. I couldn’t vomit, nor force myself to do so. So I waited, hoping the intensely bad feelings would subside. I was sweating profusely and began hyperventilating. Memories crossed my mind about my experiences in the Amazon jungle: the voice in my head telling me about the ayahuasca and the Salvia divinorum plant entities coming together inside my mind to mate and create an offspring; the fantastic imagery produced by this alchemical combination; the supposed fact that I now had this thing, this “baby hybrid,” gestating inside my head. While considering these and other ideas that were bouncing rapid-fire through my mind, I suspected that I had possibly gone insane. Maybe these shamanic entities’ purpose was to drive me mad to begin with! Was that the whole idea? Was any of this even real? I was confused. I stumbled out of the bathroom shaking and crying. The room was spinning. Lydia immediately came over to me, told me to take it easy, to breathe deeply and slowly, and that everything was going to be okay. As she held me for a while, my thoughts and feelings started to return to normal and the terror and anguish began to subside. Feeling very drained and tired, I shortly thereafter went to bed.

A few days later I was back home in the United States. One night, in a dream, I was given information describing how the plant entities would spawn their hybrid offspring. It is as follows: I was advised to engage in at least eight ayahuasca ceremonies as well as in eight with Salvia divinorum. Then I was to partake in eight additional ceremonies combining these two entheogens. Once this was done in a particular way and on certain dates, a magical process would be completed resulting in a new “consciousness species” that would, according to the dream message, manifest fully-formed before my eyes.

While back at home, I began working on my second book. During this time, I came across The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. This book immediately interested me, as it delved into the possibility of plants being able to read one’s thoughts. And the person described in the book whose discoveries left the biggest impression on me was a man named Cleve Backster. Backster was one of the world’s leading lie-detector examiners in the mid-1960s. Using his polygraph equipment, Backster ran some tests on the plants adorning his laboratory and through these experiments found that plants seemed to be conscious entities, capable of emotions and decision-making, much like humans

When monitoring a human with a polygraph to detect lies, electrodes are attached to the subject’s fingers and a small amount of electricity is passed through them to create a resistance, which is then recorded by the device. Backster anticipated seeing a decrease in the plant leaf’s electrical resistance because of the moisture associated with the plants. But instead, he got the opposite result, which was odd. While Backster was checking out this particularity, the polygraph paper recording showed another reaction pattern—one characteristic of a human subject experiencing the fear of being detected in a lie while being interrogated.
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Intrigued, Backster went on to perform a series of experiments to see if more reactions could be generated. With the electrodes attached to the plant’s leaves, he dipped the leaves in hot coffee. There was no reaction. Similar experiments to harmlessly “harm” the plant produced only responses akin to those of a human subject who was bored or tired. At this point, Backster was not really intending on harming the plant in his experiments. So he paused for a moment and pondered the ultimate threat that a life form can have: death. But how might he accomplish this with the plant? Backster saw in his mind’s eye the image of his hand holding a match and burning the leaf of the plant. Incredibly, just at that moment the polygraph’s recording pen moved to the top of the chart! This time Backster had truly intended to hurt the plant by burning it. And the recording denoted a sudden reaction—comparable to human fear—on part of the plant.

Another experiment that Backster devised was to see if a plant could display memory traits. He gathered six of his students (some of them veteran policemen) and two plants. The first plant was wired to his sensory-recording gear, while the second one wasn’t. These students were made to each randomly draw a piece of paper from a hat, one of which had instructions to terminate the first plant. This student was to follow the instructions on the paper in secret; neither Backster nor the other students knew the identity of the “plant terminator.” The only witness to the crime would be the second plant, which was being electronically monitored. Backster then had all six students, one by one, come near the remaining plant. When each of the five students who had not destroyed the first plant came near the surviving plant, the graph showed no activity. However, as soon as the sixth student—who had destroyed the first plant—approached the second plant, the polygraph’s reading went off the chart. My friend Pablo Amaringo, the shaman-turnedartist whose paintings are featured in the book Ayahuasca Visions, once expressed to me that plants are indeed sentient. Humans and psychoactive plant species often times work together, he insisted. Pablo explained that this is how shamans learned about the various medicinal and magical properties of herbs millennia ago: the spirits of the plants taught them through stories while the shamans were engaged with them in an altered state of consciousness. In biology, when two organisms work together in a mutually beneficial relationship it is called symbiosis.

COSMOLOGIA ESPIRITUAL (“Spiritual Cosmology”) by Pablo Amaringo

In Pablo’s case, even though he no longer practices shamanism, the plants still work through him. Since they have no hands, they cannot grab a paintbrush and express themselves via art. So they seek out individuals who resonate with their desires and intent, by sending out a call through what Pablo calls, the “grid.” And someone—in this instance an ex-shaman like Pablo—can pick up on this call, and go on to paint the plant entities’ “stories” based on
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the messages they give him. The plant entities and Pablo share a mutually beneficial symbiosis, since the entities get to express themselves through the artist and the artist gets to earn a living selling paintings. Pablo’s paintings also act as an inspiration to others, bringing them joy and maybe even causing them to think differently about the nature of reality.

After a few months of being back home, I was invited to the Brazilian Amazon again. During one of the last ayahuasca/Salvia divinorum plant ceremonies at one of the retreats Lydia hosts, after I drank the ayahuasca, I donned my techno-gear. Gentle pulsing sounds emanated from my brain wave synchronizer, while a play of lights danced inside my closed eyelids. Once the mind machine session was over, I felt quite relaxed. I sat back to wait for the ayahuasca effects to come on. When the effects had almost reached their peak, roughly fifteen minutes before the two-hour mark, I took an eight-dropper dose of Salvia divinorum in sublingual form. When the effects of the ayahuasca peaked, the Salvia was also beginning to come on strong. The two ancient shamanic entities met once again inside my mind. They did not look anthropomorphic. Rather, they appeared as eddies of electrifying energy. The energy circulating through them at times made patterns reminiscent of Aztec or Inca designs. In mere moments, the majestic entities seemingly “embraced,” and together their effects reached a crescendo. Although I sensed that what was happening was ecstatic for “them,” it was terrifying for me to watch! I was in a state of awe and shock. I could not believe my eyes, yet I was not imagining any of this. What I was witnessing was real! Or was it?

So there “they” were once again, “making love” in all their intensity and raw energetic prowess. “Fuck! This is STRONG!” I heard my mind cry out in astonishment. Eventually, the plant entities reached a climax that shot my consciousness into infinity. Time had no meaning. “I” ceased to exist as “me.” How can I put this into words? You know the feeling that one experiences when suddenly surprised? For example, when the lights abruptly go on of their own accord in a darkened room and you realizing that it is a surprise party for you? Well, imagine that brief moment of astonishment elongated for eternity. But as opposed to being an “emotional” shock, what I’m talking about has to do with the expansion of one’s awareness, stretching from “one point of infinity to another” in an instant, and becoming infinity itself. That’s as close as I can get to describing what it felt like for me to experience the plant spirits’ love-making climax. While immersed in these visuals I was unable to move, similar to what I’ve experienced during REM sleep paralysis. I then noticed I was actually outside my body looking down at myself lying on the mattress, surrounded by Banisteriopsis caapi vines, Psychotria viridis bushes, and Salvia divinorum plants. They were all around me. But the plants had tiny mouths with sharp teeth in them. They were not only coiling around my extremities, but they were also devouring my flesh! The vines were snakes, wrapping around their prey, dozens of which engulfed me. In astonishment, I witnessed the plants gnaw chunks of flesh from my extremities. I wanted to scream, but couldn’t. Every time the plants took a bite, the resulting cavity would immediately fill in again with flesh that had grown back anew. However, this was not normal flesh: it was made of green plant material. And as each plant’s mouth swallowed my bloodied flesh, its plant/leaf “body” would in turn change into flesh—my flesh. While undergoing this metamorphosis, it was impressed upon me that my body’s cells and genetics were corrupted and diseased. Because of this, the plants were removing sick cells and rearranging
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me at a subatomic level. The toxic food preservatives and environmental chemicals that had poisoned my body were no match for the healing abilities of the plants.

After some time, how much I cannot say, the effects began to subside and I found myself regaining awareness of the ceremony room I was in. I remained motionless, processing what I’d been through.

A few months after completing the magical rites given to me, I was with Lydia at another retreat. Participants were sharing their experiences from the previous night’s plant ceremony. One of the participants, a photographer named Nancy, related that her ayahuasca voyage had been a trying one. During it, she felt as though she’d been giving “birth” (a comment that got my attention). As is customary at Lydia’s retreats, attendees are encouraged to draw or paint their ayahuasca visions, and Nancy had done just that. While folks in the group were describing their experiences, the drawings and paintings were being handed from participant to participant around the table. When Nancy’s drawing reached me, I nearly fell off my chair. It was like my experience upon first seeing Kay Dee’s painting, revisited.

FETAL INTELLIGENCE by Nancy Butler
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Nancy’s picture depicts a large human head drawn from the nose area upward on the left side of the paper. The top of the head is exaggerated like a cartoon might look—so as to clearly show what’s inside of it. Instead of a brain, the head contains what appears to be the fetus of a strange red/orange-colored creature. Meet the hybrid…

Let me note here that, much like Kay Dee, I had never met Nancy before this retreat, nor had I previously spoken to her. In her drawing, the creature has a prominent heart and brain. From my perspective, the heart symbolizes “love” (and perhaps “conscience” and/or “empathy”) while the brain symbolizes “intelligence.” From a metaphysical/archetypal perspective, the entity seems to represent a “loving and intelligent” life form. Also in Nancy’s drawing, around the head of the person who has the creature growing inside him, there are rays of energy emanating. Could these be depicting the wavelengths of thought through which the hybrid is supposed to travel? And could Nancy’s profession, a photographer, have anything to do with the fact that she’d taken a “psychic snapshot,” while under the influence of ayahuasca, of the creature that the plant entities claimed I had gestating inside my head? Suppose that plants are indeed sentient life forms, as proposed by Backster’s experiments. And suppose also that they have within them a “magical spirit” capable of fantastic things, as described in my friend Pablo’s stories and ayahuasca paintings. Could it be, then, that what happened to Lydia and me was, in its own way, an uncanny tale brought about by the plant entities themselves, so as to be shared with those willing to listen to them “speak”? I stated earlier that the only way the hybrid could be “seen” is by somehow being able to peer in someone’s imagination, where the creature exists. Drawings and paintings are two of the best ways I know of to “see” inside someone’s imagination. Could the hybrid’s depiction in Kay Dee’s water color painting and Nancy’s colored pencil drawing have been just “a couple of coincidences” then? I guess that’s for you to decide.

What do I make of this? Well, the way I see it is that, at “worst,” this writer received a gift in his imagination: a fairy-tale story from ingesting two powerful shamanic psychoactive plants. At best, however…

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