‘Lucid dreams’, that’s what of friend of mine was talking about. Dreaming while you are awake. Some time ago he told me about his experience with the Ayahuasca ritual. This ancient old ritual is still being performed by Caboclos Indians in the Amazon and by millions of people in other regions in the world. Since then every now and then I had to think about it. May be once I would do it when it would come my way.
This winter I was in the Amazon of Brazil with my group of Capoeira. We stayed in a ecological centre (Samauma) of a local shaman, his name was Pajé. After ten days of eating nothing but fruits, nuts, tapioca, tapiocinha and tucupi and playing capoeira, swimming in the Amazon and hiking through the rainforest, I felt healthy and strong in a way I had never experienced before.
One day we walked together with our boatman Iná back from the boat to our centre. We had to take a different route, because the Tapajós river flooded. It was the rain season. And there we came down into an open space in the midst of the rainforest. Instantly I felt a special ambiance. I saw the mark of a big circle in a small valley with a stone altar in the middle. On top of the hill was a wooden barn covering 3 big kettles. The air seemed to thicken and stand still, the birds and other animals were quiet as if they were waiting. Something had occurred or was about to happen.
Our boatman Iná told us that this was a sacred place for Ayahuasca rituals. I felt like being struck by lightning. We walked back via Caminho das Pedras and appeared to be very close to our centre. Once home Pajé told us that our neighbor Diana was the master of the Ayahuasca. If I wanted to know more she was the one to talk to.
That same afternoon I decided to pass by Diana. After a long story she said: ‘Bom, amanha é possivel com a lua nova.’ Tomorrow with new moon. She would find out if others wanted to join as well, because normally the ritual is performed with a group. The next day we would gather in the afternoon after a breakfast of only fruits and tea.
The next day. In the mornings it rained cats and dogs in which I collected and chopped wood to dry for the ritual. That night we all gathered, all nine of us were dressed in white and carried one sleeping bag and a candle with us.
Diana explained what the ritual was about. We all got a piece of cotton to unwrap. The found seeds we would plant the next day. With the piece of cotton that was left over we washed our bodies. All our negative thoughts and memories we washed off and threw in the fire with the piece of cotton. Then we were invited to drink the Ayahuasca tea. The tea was thick, brown and sour. We swallowed. After which we had to wait 45 minutes to let the tea incubate.
A cat jumped into the middle of our circle and had a frog in his mouth. The frog escaped and began to jump against me. I closed my eyes and saw myself lying on a boat drifting the river. On the back of my boat set a beautiful Indian woman with a blue feather. We left to enter a new world.
Then I walked around down the valley to join the others, everybody was moving slow gazing inwards like zombies. I saw a hand reaching from the earth inviting me to lay down and then it really started. I lie on my back with my arms and legs pointed to the sky, I was dead. My carcass was being transported by a colony of ants. They ate me and broke me into grains of earth. Then, from those grains I transformed into an ant myself. With big eyes I saw everything in black, orange and green. As an ant I entered my own body. Then I lost it. In a moment of clarity I saw a network of ants. In a halo of red and orange with white connections running up and down all ants were interconnected by antennas and little feet.
Now, a few months after the ritual, I’m still amazed by the vision of ants of that night. The vision I still feel in my bones and I practically integrated it in my life here in Amsterdam. When I was a kid I had a phobia for ants, but now I’m no longer afraid. Indeed ants are my heroes now!
They became the symbol of our new social enterprise Urban Tribes. As a community engineer I realize now that the way ants build tribes, organically and bottom-up, is the key to a sustainable world in which ego’s are subordinate to a bigger whole. With the ant as great example Urban Tribes now helps to build communities in Amsterdam and beyond.