The day I arrived in this mountain village of northern Oaxaca (Mexico) it started raining. This meant that even though it was out-of-season, fresh hongos popped up, mushrooms. If it weren’t for this, the options were old miel mushrooms, honey preserved from last season. There are 2 main mushrooms the Mazatec work with; Derrumbe (Psilocybe caerulescens ‘the Landslide Mushroom’ which is considered stronger) and San Isidro (Psilocybe cubensis ‘Gold Tops’, not as strong as Derrumbe). I’d be eating cubes. Lots of cubes. Psilocybe cubensis are like the workhouse mushroom, good to get you back to work, for the average complaints of life. They can be eaten as a natural medicine for many forms of healing.
Sierra Mazatec cloud forest
I sat down in the journey room at 8pm, which was a simple, private room with an alter table, 2 plastic chairs, and a bed and toilet attached. The altar had this strange picture of a baby, like an American baby Jesus from the 80’s… I placed my offerings on the table; a beeswax candle, a white candle, copal, cacao beans, and a white 4-layered Brugmansia flower. I’d soon feel the choice of my flower selection..
Felicity, my Abuelit (grandmother) curandera, lit the copal and blessed the mushrooms in the smoke. She dropped a towering handful of mushrooms in my hands, I counted 20, and repeated the process for herself with 6 mushrooms. They stacked up like a pyramid rising out of my two hands, cupping them together to not fall. They were ridiculously delicious. She then rubbed green tobacco powder on my wrists, ankles, neck, face and chest, for protection and said some prayers. That was the end of Catholicism and Spanish. “Ahora solo Mazateco,” Felicity was very stern about that;’ Now, only Mazatec’. It felt like a strong part of her, an ancient part of her.
As I munged down mushrooms I thought to myself, “Ahhhhh, so this is a lot of mushrooms…” Nom Nom Nom. “Never eaten this many mushrooms before….” Within 10 minutes I felt a peaceful heaviness overcome me. Down down down to mushroom town… I never had any fear. I don’t know what it is about mushrooms, I just really like them I guess. But then again, I’d never eaten a fresh pile that required 2 hands to hold.
The ceremony alter; the plants tobacco, copal (as resin), and rue were used throughout. Cacao was eaten to ground, pity I couldn't formulate formations of hands&mouths&cacaos to partake in that one.
The candles were blown out, and I realised the room had blackout curtains. It was 100% dark. This is how the Mazatec travel, in the void. So in this empty womb of space, to the sound of an ancient language, I lost myself with only song to guide me. Felicity hypnotised me with her Mazatec music. I felt the medicine of the landscape downloading into my being. I could feel the song as it hit my skin, then like crossing an osmotic vibrational membrane that was ‘me’, dissolve into my awareness. It carried messages of the mountain land. For the first part of the journey I tripped on the concept of water. I felt the land hungry, the roots diving deeper into the soil searching. I became a tendril hunting for water. I became the cactus, fine tuned and perceptive. The H2o hunter, the water watchman. I became the mushroom.
I’m a kinaesthetic learner, so these lessons weren’t so much visions as feeling states. It were as if my nervous system would entrain with a certain conceptual experience, and a process of calibration & understanding would play out. I could linger here for eternity, or move through it. That was in my hands, and how I played with my consciousness.
The next lesson was about energy […man]. Energetic exchanges more precisely. I was shown the cost of every interaction between life. A universal budget analysis of sorts. It left me with a sobering cerebral weight of realising how taxing living actually is. Consumption at all moments. Life eating itself to survive. There’s no exit strategy it seems. Buckle in.
“Deep within the soil, symbiotic relation.
Mycorrhizal communication based on nutrient exchanging.
A neural network that’s interconnected, to all the cellular information.” [arcana]
I became fixated on the notion of nutrient exchanging. With allegiance to my Hippie heart, I was sure I could generate energy from my heart to liberate myself from the notion that life is a fixed system of rotating chaos. I had to prove I could create energy from nothing to outwit the mushroom teacher. Muahahaha, then I would be the Sensei! Alas, twas I the wit. And it turns out mushrooms are smarter than me. Certainly mushrooms hijacking my consciousness are super duper way smarter than the little young grasshopper that I am. So I CAN generate heart energy, *cosmic high five*, but it takes energy. To beat a heart. On a less dense note, it requires not that much energy, so by residing in the heart chambers I was able to kind of sleep in a restorative state, which became a welcome respite from the relentless hunger of life that was this section of what turned out to be the start of a 9 hour trip.
And so with this knowledge I was forced to forgive humanity for being so very, very messed up & make-me-feel-sick-consumptive. I saw underneath all of this madness a desperate need to survive at all costs. Lost in the getting. The taking. The needing. Check-mated by the selfish gene. It became apparent once more that man’s fear & bias to turn away from death and favour towards the light, clinging to hope & delusion, is a root cause of competition & isolation. What are you giving? And where are you drawing that energy from? In this realm of giving & taking but mostly taking, the land felt angry. For exporting our waste to the ocean & skies. For growing fat with stores of unused energy reserves, so stuck in attachment that we rather lock our rotting bodies up & make sure nothing eats us, than give ourselves up. Than give ourselves over to the life that is living us anyway.
This first section of the trip was a trance of the land. The content was heavy in ways, but I was wrapped in a bubble of curiosity and sedation. I knew I heard the mountains calling me from so far away, and I was here to witness their teachings, to embody what they know. The mushrooms were still coming on though. To go deeper, I would need to unhook a few hindrances, and I as being invited to go wayyyyyy deeper by these natural medicine teachers.
READ PART TWO to continue the journey.