It was near midnight in the White Bear Medicine Lodge and I lay in the dark on my mat attempting to breathe my way through extreme discomfort. The ayahuasca seemed to be dangling me over the edge of what I could tolerate. Only later was I able to name the pain for what it was: fear. At one point I wondered if I might start screaming but I knew that it would do no good. The only way through was to remain calm.
My faith in the medicine allowed me to hold such a space. Even amid the discomfort, it was an honor to be there. It was my last evening of an eight-day stay at the Tonkiri Integrative Wellness and Learning Centre in Manitoba, Canada. The centre’s maestro, Jim Sanders, and his assistants were putting on an inspired performance of icaros—the shamanic songs that are at the foundation of ayahuasca ceremony. I could hear the plant spirits work through them and lift their chants to new heights. My intuition told me that there was more at work than just the healing of the 24 people in the longhouse. A holy force seemed present during that ceremony at the center of the North American continent.
I had come to Tonkiri this time more for training than personal healing. A challenging phrase in the history of human consciousness evolution is here and the ancient Amazonian practice of ayahuasca ceremony will help see us through it. In other ceremonies that week, I sang as part of the round of singers, but that night I was mostly silent. Yet I still felt like an integral part of the ceremony. The sickness of our civilization ran deeper in my being than I knew. The ayahuasqueros called up the spirits to dig it out and it was my job to take the pain. To participate in sacred ceremony was why I came to Tonkiri. I didn’t know it was going to be so hard.
It is natural to greet the apocalypse with fear. In ancient Greek, apocalypse means revelation, or unveiling. As our understanding of reality fundamentally shifts, we are all going to have to change. As the filters come off, it will feel like death to our ego structures forged in the fear and materialism of the old world. Those who resist will experience the fire next time to which the Bible alluded. Those who surrender will be reborn on a new earth.
The defining theme of recorded history is fear. Kings and billionaires build temples to their egos in a futile effort to escape death. Governments manufacture scarcity and conflict to keep their subjects in fearful submission. Yet prosperity on earth has never been a zero sum game. Our planet is a paradise waiting our reawakening as its destined caretakers.
In the modern era, the conspiracy of fear has only escalated. Materialist science compartmentalizes into narrower and narrower spaces so that the big picture remains hidden. Culture creation is sold off to corporations who profit most from unhealthy and disoriented consumers. So-called religious people find messages of hate in teachings of love.
Meanwhile, we remain as we have always been: spiritual beings in a reality of consequences. Linear time is an illusion. There is only the present and change. When the present is met by unconsciousness and fear, change is for the worse. By seeking awareness and practicing love, the present changes for the better, or at least becomes more meaningful.
Words are not enough to untangle thousands of years of fear. It will take what the prophets predicted—a theophany, the visible manifestation of deity—to unveil to humanity its true purpose. We may be so close now that some of you are reading this after the lightning strike—the divine sign that illuminated the whole world—has already come.
An event as momentous as the apocalypse naturally reverberated across time to be perceived by the prophets. In this age, more and more of us have the intuition that humanity is a story headed toward a climax. Yet our consciousness is collective. With so many minds shackled, it is difficult for any of us to see clearly.
The plants have already shed the blinders of time. In our world, they are often mistaken for simple beings. In fact, plants have more genes than animals do and engage in complex cognitive processes—including learning, decision-making, memory, and altruism—all without a mind. Ayahuasqueros believe that the spirits of the plants travel freely between the material realm and the eternal, bringing us divine knowledge like the ancient messenger god Hermes. The plants view us as their children and they wish for us to finally flower, so that the earth may be healed and we may journey with them into the stars.
I traveled to Tonkiri to learn from the plants and to prepare for what will come. Jim runs his center closely following the model of his teacher, Juan Flores of Mayantuyacu in Peru. Maestro Flores has known from a young age that he was destined to bring Amazonian plant healing to the world. The founding of Tonkiri three years ago was an important step toward fulfilling that destiny.
This was the third summer in a row that my wife and I have visited Tonkiri for a week in the Manitoba wilderness. It is our version of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which was the annual rite held at Eleusis in ancient Greece that took initiates into the underworld, perhaps with the aid of a psychoactive substance. Tonkiri also feels like summer camp, with many of the same, friendly faces there year after year and our days spent admiring nature, lolling in hammocks, and canoeing up the Whitemouth River.
We have had the privilege to watch Tonkiri grow and establish itself on the land. It is becoming indigenous in the strict definition of the word—immersing itself into its environment—becoming native. This is being achieved by following the Amazonian model of Juan Flores and also of the First Nations people who call this region home. It is not cultural appropriation but cultural healing, with the blessing and support of those who have carried the indigenous flame through the long night of history. It is time for all of humanity to become indigenous again and live in balance as natives in the matrix of reality.
This summer saw the opening of the Jupiter Lodge, an octagonal building for Tonkiri’s guests. In addition to being a healer who works with plants, Jim is a synchromystic. The number eight, which symbolizes infinity, balance, and completion, resonates strongly with Tonkiri’s mission. Alyssa and I took room number five, and esoterically the number five stands for the development of the will. Jim reminded us that Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun.
The next night, we sat down in the White Bear Medicine Lodge for the first ayahuasca ceremony. I focused on remembering the words and melodies of the icaros I’d learned, but also found space to speak with the plants. When I first discovered ayahuasca five years ago, the plants and the spirituality they awakened inside me was so alien that I perceived the plant spirits as stereotypical extraterrestrials—little grey men. Later, this mask faded away. Now the arrival of plant spirits into my ceremonies is announced by rainbows. I asked the plants questions about my health and they responded that my well being depends on seeking balance.
Two nights later, we returned to the lodge for the second ceremony. After we drank the medicine, we sat in silence waiting for Jim to begin the first icaro. As the summer evening light faded, the howling of wolves just up the river broke the silence. We all smiled at this synchronistic greeting from nature and then Jim began to sing. When I last went to Mayantuyacu, I perceived how the icaros of Juan Flores altered the geometric visuals that are common with ayahuasca, seeming to bring them to greater order and beauty. At this second ceremony at Tonkiri, it was the same with Jim. A trembling grove of trees appeared around him as he sang forcefully but with great love. He is a man on a mission with a wide world to heal.
For the third ceremony, we set up outside on a hill overlooking the river. It was a still night and the icaros reverberated off the far riverbank as if the landscape had been designed for the purpose. It was a ceremony with nature. A struggle with the mosquitoes ended and a fire was lit in the center of the circle as Jim and his assistant began the soplado healing. I was sufficiently in control of my faculties to take some photos and video including the shot of Jim at the top of this post.
For my fourth and final ceremony, I resolved to go deeper by taking a second cup of ayahuasca no matter how much I felt the first. The night before, a friend brought out a tarot card deck and I pulled a card to represent the ceremony. It was the five of swords, which the deck labeled “Self Destruction” and described as a warning card for avoiding pain and discord from an ill-advised decision. For an ayahuasquero, it was a good omen. An ego must die to be reborn.
As I dressed for ceremony, I put on my pair of “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” socks that I bought at the Strand bookstore in Manhattan. They showed a cheeky, green alien with “DON’T PANIC” written in large red letters on the soles. As the ayahuasca swept over me in relentless waves that evening, I did my best to follow that advice.
While managing to remain calm, I resisted the self destruction that the medicine offered to me. It is difficult to let go of ego structures that no longer serve us, even when we know better. I found myself turning my face from the icaros sung by the ayahuasqueros, even as I silently thanked them and the plants for their healing.
Mind-splitting synchronicities reverberated in my awareness. Healing consciousness brings perception of synchronicity and the ceremony seemed to pull the veil away completely. It showed a reality perfectly calibrated and interconnected—a magnificent, sacred geometry of people, thoughts, and events. The truth is so far removed from what we are taught in modern Western society that it is self-destroying to witness. The shattering of my old, cynical ego was painful, but I knew we were doing it for love. With the help of the plants and the ayahuasqueros, divine awareness found a foothold in human consciousness.
For a time I felt very far away, as if I had finally made it to the underworld. Jim brought me back by visiting my mat to check on me and encourage me to sing again. I saw much love and courage in his face, illuminated by his flashlight. He has known where this is headed for a long time. Soon my fear departed and I felt only joy at being part of something so sacred.
I came home from Tonkiri healthier and happier. Many people don’t believe they have time for spirituality, but spiritual practices simplify life and create more space for what really matters. Enlightenment is a releasing—an untangling of knots. You feel that you are walking a path that was laid out for you from the beginning, and upon which you were just stumbling before.
It does not feel like a leap to imagine that a great, collective unveiling is imminent. My upbringing was non-religious and steeped in science, but five years of working with ayahuasca has opened my mind to new dimensions of awareness and exposed the materialist paradigm as reductionist—more a symptom of ego disorder and the suppression of feminine intuition than holistic science—good for making machines and wrecking culture.
Those awakening to a more spirit-oriented view of reality are like lightning rods drawing a divine spark to ignite the world. I suspect that the holy sign will involve a collective recognition of synchronicity. There will be a synchronicity or series of synchronicities that cannot be ignored and will be widely accepted as the intervening hand of God. Possibly, the event will involve the planet Jupiter. Yet synchronicity has always been present for those willing to look for it. Life is a series of improbable coincidences so statistically unlikely as to be effectively impossible, unless guided by a higher power. Soon the whole world will know.
Apocalypse is a loaded word, conjuring as it does fiery preachers frightening their parishioners with talk of judgment day. Their enthusiasm is not misguided. In addition to bringing the demise of the dominant world view, the unveiling will awaken new abilities of human perception. We will be able to communicate without speaking. Lying will lose its effectiveness. As collective consciousness evolves, our reality will transform with it. Karmic reaction will accelerate. It will be a global ceremony and inescapable.
There will be great celebrations but for some it will feel like judgment day. Minds will be shattered and without open hearts they will not recover. Sleepwalking through rituals will no longer be a comfort. When you of Christian faith take the bread and the wine do you truly seek anamnesis—remembering the Christ by entering his mystery? Do you practice love and heal the needy, as Jesus did, or are you filled with hate and obsessed with material wealth? If the latter, the bread will be like dust in your mouth and the wine like vinegar. God will no longer permit the sacrilege of hurting others. To be Christian is to be Christ-like—to wield the healing power of love and to seek gnosis with the divine.
We have the rare privilege of existing in two worlds—the world that has been and the one that will be. The path through the crucible is to remain calm, to take faith that everything happens for the triumph of love, and to be humble. The plants are here to help. They are angels who wish to teach us to forgive ourselves so that we may join them in paradise.
The central story of our lives is the journey toward our potential. Sometimes the step forward feels like walking the plank. Soon millions will be striding together as we aspire to what scientist and theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin called the Omega Point—the evolution of humanity into a unified consciousness that is also the Christ. As the process unfolds, the world will know peace.