I arrived in the town of Itacaré in Bahia, Brazil at 2:30am. I met my roommate Jay, who oddly enough turned out to be a bit of an Integral geek and a Ken Wilber fan himself and went right to bed. When I woke up in the morning there were some people outside at the communal table on the porch of the building I was staying in.
The grounds are beautiful. Silvia has purchased 40 acres in the middle of the jungle and is transforming it into her own Shangri-la. There are cabins and paths, vegetable gardens and beautiful flowering shrubs and trees everywhere. There is a pond with a gazebo overlooking it where I got a massage from what may be the most beautiful woman I saw in Brazil. A 6 foot+ goddess with very little English who is apparently married to the surf instructor in town.
Itacaré is a cute little surfer town, the heart of which was a short drive from Silvia’s place. It occurred to me that much in the same way that the artists in cities such as New York are the bleeding edge of gentrification, the sentinels sent out to begin bringing money and white people into an area that many would otherwise consider undesirable. Surfers can often be the intrepid souls who make peace with the natives and encourage hotels, coffee shops, internet cafes and kitschy souvenir shops to open or begin speaking English and catering to foreigners.
Though I envisioned spending a good deal of time traveling around the area, Silvia’s land was so beautiful, peaceful and serene that I ended up spending most of my time there reading, hanging out with my new friends, ‘knitting on the dock of the bay’, reading, doing yoga and just being.
Surrounding the ayahuasca ceremonies Silvia engaged us in a couple of different therapeutic activities. We were taught different relaxation and meditation techniques. We worked with childhood regression techniques. We also were shown films on ayahuasca, shaman, healers, channels and a couple of more mainstream films. Silvia’s partner in all of this is Zoe 7. From their site:
Zoe Seven is an international lecturer, author, and cartographer of altered states of consciousness. He is the author of the books, Into The Void and Back From The Void – an on-going trilogy, which depicts his experiments fusing psychoactive plants and compounds together with computer-based neuro-technology devices (a.k.a “mind machines”). He has written for entheogen and neuro-technology related magazines including The AVS Journal, MAPS Bulletin, and the Entheogen Review, and has also been interviewed on radio and television programs.
Zoe gave a lecture with a power point slide presentation on much of his work and also armed us with images that can be used as visualization tools to promote healing energies during our ceremonies.
While there we ate a diet of locally grown organic food with no salt or sugar.
The ceremonies themselves took place inside of a building built specifically for this. The bottom floor is a dormitory which was flooded at the time and the top floor is where we did meditation, therapy and ceremonies. It is a large hexagonal (some number of sides, but almost round) room with a high open ceiling and lot of natural light.
The ceremonies, three in all, with a day of rest following each one, took place at night starting at 8 or 8:30. We all came to the center of the room with our cup of ayahuasca (it’s prepared as a drink) to state our intention and place it into the drink. We were each asked to state one intention for each ceremony. We then drank and returned to our mats. We were each given a mattress which were placed around the edge of the room. Mine was between Cida and Nara a mother and daughter whom I became extremely close to during my time there. It was very powerful being between them during ceremonies and I fell in love with them both within days of meeting them.
Silvia set up a few ground rules for the ceremony. We were asked to stay on our mats and to be as still as possible. We were not to speak to our neighbors unless spoken too. We each had a pillow and a blanket and a trash bag lined garbage can to vomit into. Silvia asked that we do our best not to vomit for the first hour. At the one hour mark she walked around the room and said ‘one hour’ to each of us. She then did this again at the two hour mark. At this time and for the next few hours we had the option to take a ‘boost up’ of more ayahuasca if desired. I didn’t want to be thinking about taking more during the experience, so I simply tried to get as much as they’d allow me down in the beginning.
Silvia played music throughout the ceremony and luckily she has great taste. It was beautiful and peaceful at times and challenging at others. At times she played nothing and we could hear the cacophony of wildlife outside; mostly frogs and crickets.