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Evolver Spore: The Future of Psychedelics

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A lecture given on March 17, 2010 to the Sydney cell of the Evolver network (www.evolver.net) as part of its community "spore" discussion on the future of psychedelics. In which experiential journalist Rak Razam discusses the state of psychedelic culture, where it came from in modern times with the advent of LSD in 1943, the legacy of alchemist Albert Hofmann, and why the psychedelic movement is so important to a sustainable future. Acid opened the mind in the 60s, ecstasy opened the heart in the 80s, and in the 21st century ayahuasca and entheogenic plant sacraments are opening the soul of the West, guiding us back to a cooperative Gaian partnership. As the "second wave of ayahuasca shamanism" sweeps the world in a slo-mo r-evolution, the psychedelic movement is reaching out to the elder indigenous cultures around the world to bridge the gap of our own psychic and spiritual understanding, and is becoming a global entheogenic movement. Can this new wave reach a critical mass of its own understanding, as well as a purity of intent to truly be ready to join the galactic community? Join Razam and the Evolver community to find out...

 to listen to the blog click here.

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In A Perfect World > Digital Networks & Social Media > with Rak Razam and Jenny Ryan

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On the road to Burning Man in a Toyota Prius with Rak Razam and radical cyber anthropologist Jenny Ryan (aka Tuna Bananas), research assistant to media pundit Howard Rhinegold (The Virtual Community and Smart Mobs). Jenny discusses cyber literacy, smart mobs and virtual communities with experiential journalist Rak Razam... How do we use technology to form communities and conduct virtual everyday social interactions? Does social networking keep the drones sedate and make us good workers? Or does Super-poking and quiz sharing provide a social glue for online communities? Where does the drift towards hive mind collectivism in the human matrix being able to laterally recognize itself – an ambient awareness – lead us? What role does the ego play in blogging and lifestreaming? And as social tribes grow, does it increase our pool of knowledge and ability to draw upon the wisdom of the collective? Or is it all an Orwellian marketing wet dream? The intent behind technology makes all the difference... *warning* some scratchy wind muffles about 20 minutes in... the perils of experiential podcasting...


For more information see: www.jennyryan.net/

Find more podcasts by Rak Razam here.


In A Perfect World > Blotter Art & The Institute of Illegal Images > with Rak Razam

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An illuminating interview into the world's first edible art...

In conversation with Mark McCloud, acid blotter art historian and 60s archivist in his home in the Mission district of San Francisco, August, 2009. In which experiential podcaster Rak Razam learns from the master about the colorful and mind-expanding history of blotter art, from the early acid chemist oufits like the "Ghost" and the underground crews that ran the business of enlightenment.

 

Discover who first put artwork on blotter and how the process of dipping the chemical on artwork was evolved. Acid was originally dipped on string, sugar cubes–even underwear, in the case of Michael Hollingshead (who wrote the book The Man Who Turned On the World) before blotter paper was hit on as a mode of transportation. And then the artform really took off, originally with the chemists themselves choosing the art that would grace the minds of a generation of trippers. But how does the art influence the trip? Did trips like the "Gorbies" with Mikail Gorbachov heads help tumble the Berlin Wall? Why did the infamous Mickey Mouse Sorceror's Apprentice tabs terrify the Disney corp? Like the host in the Catholic mass, is blotter art a holy artform?

Listen to the podcast here.

This talk was transcribed and printed in part in Juxtapose magazine online.


IN A PERFECT WORLD 14 > SPIRITS OF THE VINE, LEAF & FLOWER >Podcast with Rak Razam

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Jitunes picoin passionate plant heads sharing their experiences with psychoactive plants and their relationship to the Gaian matrix. Behind the chemistry are there active intelligences in the plant world, and if so how do we best interact with them? How can reclaiming our human-vegetal partnership help us become a sustainable culture? Why do we need to connect to the plant world? If plants can be teachers, can humans be students? What is our historical and bio-chemical relationship with plants? What does Nature have to teach us? What is the Australian plant kingdom’s place in the global entheo blossoming?

Panel discussion held at EntheoGenesis Australis Nov 7, 2009 (see entheo.net) moderated by Rak Razam, featuring speakers: Jewelli Dollman, Dan Schreiber, Margaret Cross, Michael Bock, Julian Palmer, Rob Bruce and Mulga.

 

In a Perfect World 14: SPIRITS OF THE VINE, LEAF & FLOWER
In A Perfect World

 

WORDS ARE MAGICK > with Rak Razam & Levin A. Diatschenko

WORDS ARE MAGICK PODCAST

Interview with magickal realist writer Levin Diatschenko, Australian author of "The Man who Never Sleeps" and the recent novella "Meta-Detective". Levin expounds on the act of writing about magical thought, the power of words themselves and the similarities between practising magic and writing with experiential podcaster Rak Razam. Conducted at the Rails Hotel, Byron Bay, mid-Oct 2009.

For more on Levin's work see:  www.levindiatschenko.com


IN A PERFECT WORLD > Experiential Podcasts with Rak Razam

Rak Razam, co-founder of Undergrowth.org and author of Aya: A Shamanic Odyssey hosts a regular series of "experiential journalism" podcasts exploring the changing world around us and the evolution of the global paradigm.

"In a Perfect World" will chart his meetings, musings and collective dreamings amongst the cultural creatives of the global tribe; the Ultraculture of the 21st century.

These recordings are raw snatches of Beatnikian immediatism, unedited downloads from the tribal journey of remembering...

Come anchor the vision and spark the new paradigm alight...

http://in-a-perfect-world.podomatic.com/


Cosmovision – an Aya Odyssey

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The following is an excerpt from Aya: A Shamanic Odyssey now available from Icaro Publishing.

 

"The vine has spread her tendrils across the world and a genuine archaic revival was underway. My bags were packed; South America beckoned, and the ancient mysteries of the rainforest awaited. I wanted in on it..."

 

Iquitos, Wednesday July 5th., 2006

IQUITOS IS ELECTRIC WITH NOONDAY HUMIDITY as Vance, John and I wade through the horde of locals hustling trinkets outside the Parthenon gates and join the other ayahuasca gringos amassing by the pool. It's Bowman's birthday -- he's twenty-four today -- and drinking with Guillermo is going to be his present.

We're waiting for Alexis, a blond, twenty-ish dude from Washington D.C. who's going to help translate the interview with Guillermo I've lined up. Alexis is a Princeton dropout who's backpacking around on a spiritual path, drinking ayahuasca with shamans and asking critical questions to deepen his own understanding. He's drunk with Guillermo four times now, and calls him "a fucking Jedi." When he turns up an hour late, wearing a Corey Feldman School of the Arts t-shirt, I know he'll fit right in with our media crew.

Vance wants to get out to the Espiritu de Anaconda, Guillermo's ayahuasca retreat to take some shots before we lose the afternoon light, so we pile into two motorcarros and speed away from the front of the Hotel Parthenon before the touristos bus has even arrived. But our motorcarros get bogged down on the dirt road turnoff from Km 14, a long undulating strip of mud from recent rains, and we get out to walk. The local villagers are busy building a concrete footpath to run from the highway past their village and towards the ayahuasca retreat a few miles in, and part of me wonders if this will facilitate t-shirt and refreshment stalls springing up wherever the gringos go, like mushrooms after a fresh rain.

Before I'd left Australia I'd watched a pirated DVD of the hard-to-find psychedelic Western Renegade, which shot Guillermo to fame, and a little of the Hollywood spin had rubbed off. In the Hollywood feature, co-written and directed by French filmmaker Jan Kounen, an ayahuasca drinker himself, Guillermo plays a master shaman who initiates the lead character, Mike Blueberry, a Civil-War cowboy, into the world of ayahuasca and spirits.

It cost US $34 million to make and flopped at the box office, mainly because of bad marketing. The special effects were as accurate a copy of Kounen's own ayahuasca journeys as the digital rendering could replicate, triggering "flashbacks" amongst many of the ayahuasqueros who watched it and unsettling revulsion in others.

When I'd interviewed Kounen last night, after the screening of his documentary Other Worlds, which tells the story of his own apprenticeship to Guillermo in over one hundred ayahuasca drinking sessions, he said that it was vital for him to make films about spiritual reality, and ayahuasca.

"There is... a tremendous knowledge that we cannot imagine in our culture, you have to make a bridge to that to make people consider, just consider. The culture protects itself from these concepts. It's like a philosophical issue but it's also like a keeper that doesn't want you to go outside of your own culture."

Kounen has bright shining blue eyes and the calm and grounded nature of a man in his forties who has found inner peace. This French music video and feature film director has carved out a career specializing in bringing aspects of the spiritual world to the screen. As well as Renegade and Other Worlds, he has also filmed a series of one-hour documentaries for TV called Another Reality, and his latest docu-pic was on Amma, a modern day Hindu saint, who purportedly performs miracles.

"Cinema is a great tool to deal with modified states of consciousness and different perceptions, [just as] shamanism, or meditation, or other ways, help us to understand how the creatures that we are work," Kounen said. "If you start to think of [perception] as separate channels, then you start to know how to work the channels, all relative to the information." And if you shatter the channels, which is what he believes ayahuasca does, it can "reveal information... going to the deep meaning of what it is to be human."

In essence, media itself is an altered state of mind, Kounen said, where the director can close-up on an eye or change the sound, and thereby change the perception. This might explain his transition from Hollywood director to ayahuasca drinker, and also the synchronistic fit with the casting of Guillermo as a master shaman playing the master shaman, art mirroring life.

Bowman, Vance and I feel like media ayahuasqueros ourselves as we walk under the blue sky and marvel at the giant cumulonimbus clouds billowing overhead, and take some panoramic shots with our cameras, capturing everything but the spirit of this place. We're in a funny position here as Western media reporting on these spiritual realms -- no matter how many mediums we record in the essence of the ayahuasca experience can't be replicated, only approximated. And even then just crudely.

It's translinguistic, as Dennis McKenna would call it. The shamans say that nature speaks in signs, in the overlapping coincidences and resonances of the natural world and the beings in it. Walking down the dirt road through the cleared jungles, awash in a sea of grassland, it's speaking to me now.

After a few kilometers we reach a sign, which reads: Espiritu de Anaconda. Walking over wooden bridges we pass the lush cultured rainforest and enter into a sprawling multi-unit complex designed to cater to Western standards. The central maloca is about 30' in diameter with a conical roof that reaches almost as high again and houses over two dozen people.

It's booked full tonight with conference attendees wanting to drink ayahuasca in this Amazonian cathedral, fully mosquito-proofed, leave your shoes at the door, please. Add a dozen smaller malocas, guesthouses, the dining room and toilets with porcelain bowls and doors and this starts to feel like the "Club Med" of ayahuasca. I half expect Elle MacPherson to come out of the jungle clad in a leaf bikini, offering a selection of fruits and nuts.

Guillermo moved here from his native Pucallpa and built the center only two years ago, after money from Renegade gave him the capital to expand. "It's safer here, you know," says Carlos, a native Iquitian who works here and meets and greets us ayahuasca gringos. "We have the army here, and the police -- and there is nowhere to run. Pucallpa has the bus to Lima and many exits -- someone can kill you and never be caught, they could get out of town in any of a dozen ways."

It's an oft-repeated urban wisdom and there may be some truth it, but I imagine Guillermo might have been a target himself down in Pucallpa. Despite being a respected healer his expertise has also brought him fame and fortune that most locals can only dream of, and other curanderos have been targeted and blackmailed before.

We've arrived early but there's no sign of Guillermo himself as we have a look around and Vance sets up his photography equipment. Rama, a tall, beautiful black woman with a large afro introduces herself as an anthropology student from France, who has been studying with Guillermo as part of her work documenting indigenous cultures for her fellowship in neo-shamanism.

She films one of Guillermo's helpers who's boiling up crushed ayahuasca vine and other plants in a giant soot-blackened cauldron in a wall-less hut behind the main maloca. As the flames lick up and spray into the air it resembles a witches pot, with the attendant in his shorts, t-shirt and baseball cap looking like a mestizo Beverly Hills pool-boy.

A plume of thick gray smoke billows out, stinging my eyes, and when they clear I can see the jungle medicine, ayahuasca, brewing, bubbling, writhing with life in the boiling phlegm-like green brew. A giant witches cauldron full of snot, and around the thick, brown vine bark are chakroponga leaves that contain the active DMT.

I get a whiff of the brew and it makes me want to vomit. A surge memory of ayahuasca washes up -- the taste of my last experience catching in my throat. I struggle to force it down. They say it takes a few years for the ayahuasquero's body to get used to the brew and properly acclimatize. But the soul? That takes longer -- sometimes forever...

Ayahuasca is not a drug ­-- not in the Western sense. It cannot be abused like recreational chemicals because the taste and experience are so demanding, and the hallucinogenic effect is never the same twice. Rather, it develops a relationship with the drinker, sometimes healing the body, other times illuminating the mind, or deeper still, taking the soul on journeys beyond.

But it will do none of this without the participant putting effort in -- it's not just "pop the red pill and escape the Matrix." Serious students have to give up their Western ways and embrace a rigorous diet low in foods containing tyramine, a chemical which can react badly with the MAO -- inhibiting properties of the vine. No red meat, pork, salt, sugar, fat, caffeine, acidic foods, alcohol or sex, all of which affect the body's sensitivity to ayahuasca. But tell that to a bunch of Western thrillseekers looking for some jungle kicks.

The dark clouds that have been gathering on the horizon all afternoon finally break and a late downpour cleans the air as the other conference gringos start to rush in. They take off their coats and shoes and leave them by the door and pass into the main maloca. We all form a concentric circle hugging the wall, a spiderweb crisscross brace of poles supporting the high cone roof above.

We're an eclectic bunch -- I spot Jay, whom I drank with at Percy's, dressed in a one-piece vomit-proof ayahuasca jumpsuit, and Frank the professor and other familiar faces. Dennis McKenna's here holding court, his bald head gleaming in the late afternoon light as he sits on his mattress and puffs away on his pipe, chatting about altered states. "A lot of psychologists are into science fiction," he says, "it's the closest we can legally get in the West to other worlds..."

Next to him is his seventeen-year-old daughter Caitlin, who's going to college in the fall and is taking ayahuasca tonight for the first time. She's reading a fantasy novel in the dim light like she's in an airport departure lounge waiting for take-off. With her hair back in a bow, glasses and soft, mellow energy, she looks like she'd be more into ponies and horses, maybe some Christian rock.

"I haven't done any psychedelics before, I haven't felt it was time," she tells me with the honed nonchalance of someone who's father is one of the planet's most pre-eminent legal psychedelic researchers. "This is my first ayahuasca experience. I have no expectations, y'know. I'm keeping it open."

Everyone waits patiently and swaps ayahuasca stories and travelers tales, letting our collective energies mingle in the flesh before they meet in the spirit. After my previous problems letting go around the energy of a group, I wonder if this many people all in one maloca, on ayahuasca, will turn me into a psychic pressure cooker ready to explode?

"The word on the ayahuasca forums is that Guillermo's brew is one of the strongest in town," Bowman tells me with a wry smile as he sets up his recording gear down by the edge of his mattress. "And the crew who drank with him on Saturday night say he's definitely loaded the brew to kick gringos' butt!"

"I haven't really seen any spirits or anything of that sort," Alexis chips in excitedly beside us. "But it's really ... I've felt it, like, going through every crevasse, on a sub-atomic level of my body and my spirit... And anything it finds that's dead... or not life and movement... it gets rid of, or fixes or makes me vomit. I remember the first time I drank I vomited, and each time I vomited it would show me a picture of all my bad habits and my life that I was vomiting up and getting rid of."

Great. Everyone seems to vomit up easily but me; it's going to another interesting night. And as the rain keeps falling down and the sounds of the jungle come alive, I start to feel the fear. Fear of the real, of the deep ayahuasca experience and the madness it can bring.

When Jan Kounen apprenticed with Guillermo to make his documentary, Other Worlds on Shibipo shamanism, he went mad for a time, temporarily schizophrenic when he failed to respect the diet and ayahuasca. He says the difference between a madman and an ayahuasquero is that the madman can't communicate what he's seen. Trapped in a recursive psychic groove, the hapless psychonaut doesn't have the guidance, or the ability to escape, and sometimes when he does, not all of him returns.

The trained ayahuasquero, on the other hand, can navigate the abyss and integrate it, even bring a bit of it back and ground it in this realm. This, Kounen told the conference audience before the screening of his documentary, is the role of the artist and the magician. I guess that tonight will be the test of my magic.

There's still a while before the ceremony, so I meander out to the main dining room with the thatched roof and meet Kathleen, a fiftyish American woman from Denver with a blond bob, blue eyes and the warm, nurturing appearance of Carol Brady.

She looks like somebody's mum doing ayahuasca -- and in fact, she is, but she's also a clinical psychologist who's here for her own healing. Kat's drunk the brew once before, ten years ago, and the thought of going back into that raging dimensional flux has gotten her all nervy. She gets out her rosary beads and says prayers over the dining table as I fix us a cup of herbal tea.

There's a half dozen other ayahuasqueros milling about, and Guillermo himself walks in casually, followed by Sonia, his wife and Rama, who at six-foot-two towers over the others.

Guillermo's got a very down-to-earth air about him, and as heads turn and everyone looks he doesn't react, just sits down at the table. With his broad face, graying hair and mellow vibe, he looks like a Peruvian version of Lorne Green on the Ponderosa, tucking into his dinner of chicken, rice and vegetables. Apparently he's not worried about a strict diet before drinking, but I guess he writes the rules. Only the Timex watch hints at his affluence, and there's still no hint of the mystic who will lead the ceremony tonight.

One of the gringos asks about the mix of the ayahuasca brew, and Rama translates Guillermo's explanation that the DMT-containing chacruna that he usually uses still hasn't reached maturity in the new gardens. Instead he's using another plant analogue -- chacropanga, which is native to the Iquitos area, but is just as powerful, he promises. This worries Kat, who doesn't want an overwhelming experience.

"Will you help us, Guillermo, if it's too strong for us? Will you look after us?" she pleads with her big blue eyes. "Francisco said he would at Sachamama, but when I cried out for him he was overwhelmed helping others, and he wasn't there for me."

Guillermo assures her he will look after everyone, and because of the big size of the group tonight his wife Sonia, who has also been trained as a shamana, as well as another apprentice shaman, will be brought in to help facilitate the circle. In today's tourist market with different sizes and physiologies, the curanderos control undue effects by measuring the dose of the brew they give their customers, and they also claim to be able to psychically tune in and help control the journey while it's happening. Nobody wants to see Carol Brady freaking out on ayahuasca, nobody.

"I drank three times, then no more," Rama says as she tells me more about her own ayahuasca experiences. "The brain has the memory of the plants so I am still connected to the visions. After [ayahuasca] I had flashbacks in my dreams and when awake."

She's known Guillermo since she worked as a translator on Kounen's Renegade film, and tonight she will also help facilitate the ceremony. She's not the only French speaker here at the center -- probably because of the fame of Kounen's movie and documentary in his native France, there is a disproportionate number of French seekers here, and French Canadians. Perhaps to stave off the rapidly spreading interest by French front-runners, in 2005 France became one of the first countries in the world to ban ayahuasca usage outright, regardless of religious considerations.

Back in the ceremonial maloca, Tobin from Denmark is tending the altar with a small Swiss/Peruvian boy with a bowl haircut who's in his pyjamas, while his mother rests nearby on a mattress near the door. The boy has a sweet, confident spirit as he melts the bottom of one candle and joins it on top of another, like he's at an adults' pyjama party and he knows the drill.

"Will you be drinking tonight?" I ask him, and he shakes his head calmly from side to side.

"No. Tonight I just watch," he says, and I wonder how old he is -- seven? Nine? It seems natural and right that he is here with his mother and family, participating in an ayahuasca ceremony, witnessing the healing that the medicine brings. It makes it feel more real, like the way native South Americans have been taking ayahuasca for millennia as part of their village life, no War on Drugs or war on consciousness, just plant medicines connecting to a greater spiritual whole. How can you hide this from your children, this secret from the jungle that unlocks the world?

At sunset, we drink. Yet again I learn that when you spend the night in pitch darkness with a large group of people and take ayahuasca, purging, sweating, dying and rebirthing together, you get to know each other pretty well. You might not remember their names, but afterwards you remember their face and the sound of their suffering, and they yours, and there is a special bond between you.

To my left, Bowman darts forward and crouches by the round plastic bowl placed at the end of his mattress. Gripping it with both hands he makes a swift, sharp gurgling sound and vomits quickly into the bowl. I can see his shape and the outline of his back in the diffuse moon light as it shines through the thick mosquito nets that surround the maloca, heaving over and over.

Around the circumference of the room another drinker scrabbles for their bucket, as if set off by Bowman's vomiting. Dry wracking heaves and the choking of dry bile reverberate through the dark as the drinker gets caught with nothing to bring up. The vomiting goes on in successive waves across the room and through the night, for three, four, six hours or more, and just when you think you've kept it down, or purged as much as you could, the spirit of ayahuasca finds another dark crevasse and helps bring it to the light.

I find I'm a bit lighter than the first time, but I still have blockages. I'm sitting cross-legged on my jaguar-spotted blanket with the heels of my feet tucked under me, spine straight, chakras aligned and my crown pointing up to the stars.

Ayahuasca is a fickle mistress -- she likes it when you put out for her, make a show of it and put some effort in. Ayahuasca is also a plant medicine, and as such she reads you and what you need, and that changes every time, both as you progress on the path and as new issues come to light. Like a high maintenance girlfriend, the relationship with 'aya' can be hard work, but the rewards far outweigh the sacrifices.

I'm starting to come on slow, a warm billowing headspace enlarging to take in the whole maloca and the spirit zones phasing in. My head is awash with the psychic detritus of my own mind: Past loves, mistakes, issues from my life all flash before my eyes, but I'm not sure if my brain's just hyperactive or if there's something deeper going on...

Like last time, there appears to be some subtle interspecies relationship in this fugue where ayahuasca is reading me as I re-experience my issues and my head pours out my subconscious into my conscious mind. The vision/ dreams don't stop, they plague me all night long in wave after wave of emotional torment, little things blown out of all proportion. Maybe this is part of the healing, that as I remember I also let go, for la purga, she is coming, I can feel her building...

In the Amazonian "cosmovision" everything on the earth has a spirit animating it and the bridge between the earth and the spirit world is us, the living things. Guillermo says that there is a unity between everyone and everything, an "ecological bridge between the living systems." And this extends beyond the material plane to a multi-dimensional universe, he believes, where the shaman has to work on a superior level to accomplish his will.

Working with the plants is the first level, he says, and the second is to "control the occult elements of the spiritual world." The third is a purely spiritual level that affects the physical, for example: The knowledge of how to become invisible, or how to travel in the innerworlds, the sub-aquatic world or the cosmic world. The other dimensions you go to depend on the person drinking ayahuasca and how they want to work, he says. Spoken like a true Jedi.

The candle goes out and it's pitch black. A heavy stillness hangs in the air like a burlap curtain -- maybe it's the spirits. Everyone is quiet, moving around slightly, the silence of the moment punctuated by the inevitable promeathean heave of another drinker vomiting. And as they vomit up come all their hurts, their pains, their suppressions and ills.

There's no point of focus in this darkness, no sense of time progressing. To the unprepared this could be hell. Possessed by a strange spirit, your body wracked by wave after wave of nausea, vomiting up green bile in crushing waves.

And in the darkness my mind is up to its old tricks, trying to imprint form on the primal chaos. I want to see the snakes, the alligators, the jaguar totem spirits, and I want it so much my mind is doing its best, grabbing at the shadows and seeing eyes, slithering obsidian dream snakes. It's as if the world of spirits is playing itself out as shadows on a black canvas, tantalisingly beyond reach. It must be the chacropanga Guillermo's using in this brew, it's less full-on visual than the chacruna after all.

The flash of mental thoughts continues and at times it's impossible to tell which bits are me thinking, which bits the ayahuasca speaking and which bits the ayahuasca making me think I'm speaking. The voice of aya is soft, subtle, and yet again it has the emotional nuances of a relationship. She speaks in concept-images, in that post-McCluhan symbology where you become what you see, and in the overlapping you know it, message/medium as one.

On the dark of my vision I see a flash of a seed snaking through the void of space, coming from beyond. The funny thing is, as I see it another bit of me is sifting through the mental dialogue and saying: "that's not one of your thoughts."

"Whoo hoo hoo" Guillermo's staccato breaths punctuate the dark, short, pitched breaths that strike like compressed air darts and cut through the heavy atmosphere around us. It is one of the most eclectic sounds I have ever heard. Distinctly sentient, with an intelligence behind it, but at the same time insect-like, alien and just beyond the reach of the conscious mind. The sound is his icaro, the first wave of his bag of tricks to piece the veils that separate the worlds.

"Whoo hoo hoo ooo" his icaros cut through the dark, tuning in my consciousness as something cracks along the back of my skull, some slight tweak as the muscles tighten and now I'm feeling lighter, different, but it's hard to place. Guillermo's tuning us in, sinking us into a shared phase space and voila: the curtain is pulled back and we're smeared across the invisible canvas. We've arrived.

Outside the maloca a wave of insect consciousness is resonating back a whoo hoo hoo pitch that matches Guillermo's icaros, and as the two meet and cancel each other out I feel as if I'm breathing in a dreaming universe...

By the moonlight I can see the wooden beams of the roof shimmering like a vast spiderweb, the central pole flashing with mythic resonance like the World Tree of Norse myth, connecting the axis mundi with the worlds above.

And suddenly around the circumference of the roof a billion, billion eyes come into view like a shimmering peacock tail, all veiled behind a dark lens. They drink me in, blink and stare again with a reptilian coolness, images warping one into another rapidly. I feel like I'm looking into some sort of hyper-dimensional mirror and that the thing on the other side is experiencing what it is to be human through my eyes, all our eyes...

Sometime in the dream Guillermo comes round and blows mapacho smoke down our necks and backs. He beckons me to lower my head, not out of respect, but to cleanse my crown chakra, and his touch has a gentleness and a collected strength. Then quite suddenly the darkness erupts with a thundering growl, bigger than us all, big enough to hold the world in its jaws. Snakes, crocodiles, writhing anaconda spirits and jaguar eyes imprint from my subconscious onto the canvas of the night, all my fears spewing forth with them.

The ayahuasca makes urgent rumbles in my belly and as a wave of nausea washes over me I muster the fortitude to stand and grope my way through the dark to the door. Mercifully, it opens as I push it and stumble out into the night, punch-drunk with the spirit of the vine in me and threatening to come up quick.

The silhouetted jungle is bathed in a silver spectral light as Peruvian helpers stationed outside the door point me towards the toilets, a shimmering ball of light only twenty metres away that seems to skip in my field of vision. My whole body feels like it's underwater, that the consciousness trying to drive it is doing so from very far away and under challenging circumstances.

After an eternity on the path, lost in the trees, I finally find my way to the toilets and an empty cubicle. The porcelain bowl and seat is a miracle, as is the fresh toilet paper, and as I am bathed in the bright artificial light the ayahuasca in me judges all is ready. With some secret psychic trigger I'm not in control of, a violent rush of vomit erupts from me and into the basin next to the toilet, then another and another, my whole body gripped with peristalsis and squeezing out sickness.

The lightness of my body post-vomit feels wonderful. As I cough and splutter over the sink and try to hang on to the shifting space-time coordinates around me, a trick of light draws my attention to the warm sick backed up in the sink.

It's still bubbling like a fizzy drink, this ayahuasca-cola, but it has a curious opalescent film to it, like oil rainbows on water, or the eyes from the other side of the mirror. A magic mirror, perhaps, created from my ayahuasca vomit. As I look into the magic mirror the eyes become spots, and the spots move with the shape of a large cat, a jaguar stalking the jungle.

He stops in front of a grandfather tree with thick snakes of flowering ayahuasca vine twining around its frame and looks back, as if he can see me. Suddenly he pounces, muscles rippling and claws extended, and shreds the thick vine into shards and starts nibbling on the leaves. Then he starts tripping out, rolling around with glazed eyes, and then he's vomiting too, and I realize it's me, me in the jaguar skin, and it's me who's vomiting once again into the sink.

I meet my fears and they devour me, and with another roar of the jaguar-god melts the realization -- it's the thunder of a jumbo jet overhead -- the 10:00pm flight back to Lima, back to civilization. And as the hallucinogenic jungle envelops me I start to wonder if I can ever come back from this, ever return to civilization as I left it, or if something inside me has now changed forever, and the jaguar is the one who stalks the world in my skin...

But there's no turning back now, no off switch, just me alone with the universe and the jaguar in the forest, two crazy cross-species trippers sharing a cosmovision that says we are both one.

 

Photo by John Bowman

 


Mind Wars> by Rak Razam

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Forget the war on terror: global military has been engaged in a decades-long campaign to find chemicals that can control the mind, and 50 years after their first experiments it seems the battlefield of the brain is once again front and centre, writes Rak Razam...



According to the US Centre for Strategic Command, the US is presently engaged in a campaign of "Full Spectrum Dominance" in all fields of existence – land, water, space, cyberspace, etc. – and now the realm of the mind itself. Yet the military's interest in psychoactives has been long and sustained. During the height of WWII the OSS, the wartime precursor to the CIA, began the search for a truth serum they could use in intelligence interrogations. In 1945 the US Navy Technical Mission reported that Nazi scientists experimented with mescaline on subjects at the Dachau concentration camp. After the war the U.S. Navy began investigating mescaline itself under the guise of Project Chatter, and for the next three decades they engaged in experiments with mind-altering drugs in an attempt to crack the secrets of the brain.

A 1994 report by the U.S. General Accounting Office says that between 1940 and 1974, the American Department of Defense and other national security agencies experimented on thousands of people with mind-altering substances. The CIA reportedly gave hallucinogens to "volunteer" soldiers in 149 projects throughout the 50s and 60s. Most of these experiments were part of the MK-ULTRA program, which was formed to counter supposed Communist advances in brainwashing on U.S. prisoners of war in Korea, as later dramatised in the film ‘The Manchurian Candidate’. The Army was largely interested in using LSD as an incapacitating agent to disable enemy troops without bloodshed, but a bizarre culture of acid experimentation soon ensued as the game got out of control.

There's a video on YouTube: "LSD Military Experiment", which shows LSD being given to British troops in the 1950s. Around 25 minutes after ingestion signs of the drug become apparent. Whilst on a mock military exercise the men begin to relax and giggle, while others start to trip out. After 35 minutes the radio operator takes off his communications backpack and looks around with a huge grin. The efficiency of the rocket launcher is also under some doubt, and "ten minutes later the attacking section had lost all sense of urgency" the narrator decries. As well trained military soldiers roll around in fits of laughter and climb trees, the true power of the mind-altering drug becomes suddenly became apparent: here is something that can undermine the nature of the war machine itself.

LSD and mescaline were just two of a host of specific psychoactive substances experimented with; others included tetra hydro cannabinoids (agents injected highly-concentrated liquid THC onto cigarettes) and a wide array of pharmaceutical agents. In 1962 the U.S. Army added Quinuclidinyl benzilate, a "superhallucinogen" code-named BZ) to its neurochemical arsenal, after noticing very small doses produced stupor and delirium that lasted for days. By 1964 the Army was using BZ in Vietnam, and stockpiling huge quantities of the gas for anticipated use.

Many compounds were unknowingly tested not just on soldiers, but on the civilian populace as well. Perhaps the most infamous was an intelligence project wryly named "Midnight Climax", where prostitutes were enlisted to give their unwitting clients LSD. The CIA also seems to have partly-funded and promoted the use of LSD throughout the 1950s and 60s, in part to do to the burgeoning anti-war movement what it had done to soldiers both in England and America.

Now in the 21st century, in a growing climate of urban unrest and resource scarcity, military officials have been funding an increasing number of projects exploring non-lethal weaponry for crowd control. But restraining an unruly populace on a physical level is redundant if you can control their mind, which might explain the current resurgence in medical and military interest in hallucinogens.

The lesson learned from their Cold War mind experiments wasn’t, it seems, that testing drugs on unsuspecting people is ethically wrong. Instead it appears to be that the level of scientific knowledge back then made the drugs administered unpredictable. But since the 1990s modern assay techniques have allowed greater understanding of the workings of the brain and how chemicals bind to neuro-receptors there. And now, as the war on terror funds an unprecedented military budget, neuroscience can finish what was started all those years ago.

If you think civilians are protected from such experimentation, think again. The 1925 Geneva Protocol was the first international treaty to ban the use of chemical weapons, and it was backed up by the 1975 Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention and the 1995 Chemical Weapons Convention. While all modern nations say they are against such neurochemical warfare, loopholes exist for use in cases of "law enforcement, including domestic riot control". And the development of calmative agents, dissociatives and "equilibrium agents" by military scientists for urban use, is on the rise.

In 2002 during the Russian theatre seige at Breslen, the Russian army used a knockout agent – most likely the opiate derivative fentanyl – against Chechen rebels that also killed 120 hostages. Not long after, in 2003 as the US went to war in Iraq, the then US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, announced the US was interested in (bio)chemical weapons. Rumsfeld charged the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD) and the US Army's Soldier Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM) to lead research into drugs that affect things like the sense of pain, consciousness itself and emotive states like anxiety and fear. Fentanyl, ketamine, diazepam and a swath of other anaesthetics and anti-depressants were on their list of drugs of interest.

As the pharmaceutical companies line up for the growing military budgets to explore these new wave of mind weapons, a whole new market is opening up for the military-industrial complex that threatens to change the way we think – one way or another.

For as William Burroughs said in 'Nova Express': "This is a game planet. All games are hostile and basically there is only one game, and that game is war. Research into altered states of consciousness – which might result in a viewpoint from which the game itself could be called into question – is inexorably drawn into the game."

It's your move.

 

 

 

* this article first appeared in Australian Penthouse magazine, July 2008 

 

 


Surfing> by Rak Razam




LA ROSACITA, IQUITOS, PERU
FRIDAY JULY 7th, 2006



Ron Wheelock stares at me with cloudy gray-blue eyes ringed with hardship. He's practically bald on top with a shiny forehead, just a light scalping of thinning hair and long side hair that falls down past his ears. He's in his early 50s, with a worn-down, weather-beaten look, faded denim pants and a Western style t-shirt with a picture of a Navaho Indian on it. It’s like he's just stepped out of a John Steinbeck novel, the have and the have nots, the raw, all-American salt of the earth trying to make good and struggling against the system.

And it's not just the system, it’s the responsibilities he carries being a single dad and with his mother back in the States and all his furniture, or the roof that leaks in his house that he never gets to fix because it’s Iquitos, y’know, and here in the jungles of Peru it’s like, raining all the time, or threatening to, and even the chicken coop got fixed the other week, but he's still suffering in that ramshackle house of his out by Kilometer Nine. It’s a simple two-story log cabin not far past the Quistococha Zoo and lakefront. He brought the property off his maestro, don Jose Corale Mori, and there’s an abundant supply of thick, mature ayahuasca vine sprouting round the back that Ron uses in his shamanistic ceremonies with gringos.

Then there’s his ex-wife, whom he met at an Americana burger joint in the Plaza one night and has been sapping him of all of his money, all his mojo, and she knows it and he knows it and everybody knows it, but he's a nice guy, you know, and he tried to make it work for as long as he could. Her parents pushed her to marry him and she’s been draining him ever since. She killed his fighting chickens, she almost killed his maestro and she neglected their son. When Ron was called back to the States unexpectedly he left her with the responsibility of their son, Quetzlacoatl, and don Jose Coral Mori, his teacher, who’s now 99 and in an old age home here in Iquitos. Ron pays his bills and looks after him as best he can, but when he came back to find his wife hadn't been looking after him properly and Mori was almost dying from malnutrition, that was the last straw. He checked Jose into the hospital and has tried to look after him as best he could ever since.

So many responsibilities, and he's doing the best he can. And his first priority is to his boy, his beautiful lil’ Queto. "He’s not even my blood, y'know – I had a vasectomy in my 20s, but he’s my boy,” he says with a fierce pride, the unshakeable bond of a father and his son. The two are inseparable, and for the entire last week of the shaman conference I would see them walking around, Queto playing with the smattering of other kids playing near the pool. The two are like the Lone Wolf and Cub, taking on the world together. But who knows, Ron’s mother reckons he looks like him, and that connection they have… well, they’re like two peas in a pod.

But it’s not even all these things, which might be burden enough for a man to shoulder in this world. It's that other world, the world of spirits, of brujo and witchcraft, of shamachismo, competing energy and egos and the black magick that every seeker on the path comes across eventually, that finally gets to him. "Why last week I did a circle for these folks that came out to my place, and I've done like hundreds of circles before," Ron explains in that Southern accent, like he’s about to ask you ever so politely to pass the apple pie and cream sauce, m'am, and tip his hat and smile an old-fashioned smile and burp at the pleasure of a well cooked meal and your company. "But shit, I don’t know, something happened this time, and I went to take a shit in the outhouse and I swear I couldn't get back up the stairs to my own home. I was crawling on my hand and knees and I could feel some real brujo hanging on me.

"Around Y2K I started doubting what I was doing, you know. I had nine people that were meant to come out and drink with me and one by one they all made excuses and canceled. I was like, what am I doing, man, this shit is crazy. I'm going to throw it all in and get like an 8 to 5, clock on, clock off – a normal life, yeah? So I started internet dating and I just wanted to settle down, to give up this crazy path and have a normal life. But I couldn't give it up." It’s still funny to think this ‘hillbillyuasquero’ is a shaman, that it’s possible to just pack up your bags and train with indigenous curanderos in the jungle and do an intensive dieta, and learn with the spirits of the plants. Ronald Joe Wheelock first came to Iquitos ten years back, but around the time of 9/11 the spirit in the ayahuasca told him to stop doing circles in America. "I had a calling, you see… [Ayahuasca] told me to come back here to Iquitos, and it told me not to charge for what I do." He shrugs good-naturedly, his big round eyes bulging out like fish eyes. "Well what can I do? The spirit, it calls me and she hasn’t let me down yet. I've gotta trust her," he says.

Early Friday morning Ron drives me out to his house in his three-wheeled motorcarro, along with his friend Juan Acosta, a bearded, hawk-faced scientist and ayahuasquero originally from Mexico, now at the University of Washington in Seattle. His speciality is doing mobile QEEG (quantitative electroencephalography) scans on people with proprietary software on his laptop, a classic mad scientist on the frontiers of consciousness who’s traded his castle for a thatched hut and his lab coat for Bermuda shorts and beads. He reads the brainwaves, and shaman Ron supplies the smokeable 5-MEO-DMT that catapults seekers into the deep reaches of innerspace, like a tag-team that unites the modern with the archaic, science and shamanism. Juan’s been getting readings off dozens of gringo tourists coming through Ron’s place and collecting the data for his own private research into consciousness. I’m here to interview Ron and experience firsthand the raging torrents of DMT space, where Dennis McKenna has already worded us up on the joys of being smeared across creation.

Queto rides in the back with Juan and I, the wind in his face, loving every minute of it, and as Ron turns back, aviator style goggles on his face and smiles, it all feels so “Easy Rider”, cruising down the Iquitos-Nauta highway in search of the ultimate mystery. As we get out at Ron’s place I notice a carved sign above the gates adorned with wooden flowers that says “La Rosacita” (the Rosy Cross), with a little red loveheart dotting the “i” in “Rosacita”. Maybe it’s having young Queto here, or the good vibe I get off Ron and his down-to earth manner, but this place immediately feels like home – where the heart is. By the time Bowman, Vance and Oren, a shaven-headed Israeli friend of Darren and Crystal’s all arrive in the second motorcarro, driven by Ron’s Peruvian friend who’s also called Juan, I’m already settling in on the porch, admiring the flowering psychoactive datura lilies in the front yard.

The smell of ayahuasca wafts through the house as we all drop our bags inside and take stock of our surroundings. There’s two jaguar skins across one wall and another on the ground, army camoflague curtains and chains for the dog, a small black creature curled up in the kennel outside but making itself known by its barks. The walls are long, thick planks of untreated wood that give the place a rustic, down-South Civil-War-re-enactment feel, decorated with hand-carved wooden idols and knick-knacks. Past the living room with its skins and trappings is a thick wooden picnic table in the dining room which doubles as an altar space when Ron conducts ayahuasca ceremonies, and beyond that is the kitchen with its Western refrigerator and appliances. The ayahuasca is boiling in a big shiny chef’s pot on the stove, its dark, dark surface bubbling a green froth. Ron grabs a wooden spoon from the sink and begins stirring as Queto runs around his legs.

Seeing Ron and his son here in the kitchen with the ayahuasca reminds me that this is not just a business for this gringo shaman, it’s also his home. Queto usually sleeps beside him or goes off to bed by the time a ceremony begins. He's dipped his fingers in before but he's been taken back by the laxative effect of the brew and doesn't like to do it no more. As he darts around the kitchen I remember he’s a bit niggly this morning because he saw his mom last night and he misses her, and he’s got a cold, but he’s still full of beans and excited by all the visitors.

“Let’s go upstairs,” Ron says, leading us up to the second floor, “there’s mattresses up here if you need them and room for the computer and all your equipment.” It reminds me of suburban crashpads across the free world, except it’s a log cabin in the jungle. Light streams in through mosquito-netted windows as Queto jumps on a mattress and digs out some paper and crayons to draw with, tracing my hand and his on the page. Bowman sets up his video camera and plays with me and Queto as Vance positions his own photography gear in the light. Juan sets up his laptop loaded with five grand of proprietary software that analyzes EEG readings. To capture the data he’s going to strap on a skullcap laced with 19 electrodes that are wet with gel to conduct the brain’s own electrical activity and pipe the data through a rainbow buscord that will connect me to the computer. Full on.

“This is my first time – I hope I don’t electrocute you,” Juan says in a deadpan tone, getting me to sit in a seat and fitting a blue plastic skullcup over me before discarding it for a red one that’s tighter. Before I know it he’s sticking in a long, prodding instrument and squeezing in the conductive gel. Juan claims to be a professor from Washington University currently doing neuropharmacology research, and to be honest, as he wires me up it never occurs to me to question otherwise. He’s been working on consciousness issues throughout his career, he says, and was previously involved in harvesting frog eggs and injecting them with purified RNA from rats brains, and then measuring receptor site activity. The leap to measuring humans whilst on ethneogens (which is Latin for “evoking the Divine within”) seems the next logical step, so sure, wire me up and fire me into the mind of God, it’s all in the name of science, after all.

“It’s like a multi-track recorder of the brain,” Bowman quips from across the room, shooting me a look of concern. Queto waits till his dad’s not looking and puts a mapacho smoke in his mouth and puffs away before Bowman grabs it off the cheeky little monkey.

“The gel’s cold, huh?” I wonder out loud, trying to remember everything, the adrenalin in my body feeding the mind, the ego as it prepares to be ob-literated.

“It’s last night’s semen…” Ron jokes, a broad grin across his face, his front gold tooth shining. I can tell he’s trying to keep everything calm and light-hearted as I’m wired up to all this technology and the expectation of the unknown builds. I’ve smoked DMT before, and the results have been as alien and profound as most other psychonauts report, but here in the Amazon jungle, in the very, very odd circumstances of our current “experiment at La Rosacita”, everything seems exaggerated.

“That smell in the house – you think it’s ayahuasca, but it’s not – it’s fried brains!” Ron says with a guffaw, as he starts cleaning a glass pipe and packing it with an orange crystalline powder – the DMT. There’s something curious about this psychedelic neurotransmitter, also known as N,N-dimethyltryptamine, which is found throughout many of nature’s creatures in a swathe of plant and toad species. Renowned pcychedelic chemist Alexander Shulgin claims in his book TIHKAL: Tryptamines I Have Known And Loved, that “DMT is…in this flower here, in that tree over there, and in yonder animal. [It] is, most simply, almost everywhere you choose to look.”

As he mentioned at the conference, as well as ayahuasca ceremonies, Ron also works with smokeable 5-MEO-DMT (Dimethyltryptamine), the man-made chemical cousin of N,N-DMT. Despite its powerful psychedelic effects, 5-MEO-DMT’s chemical properties are significantly different under analogue drug acts from that of other psychoactive drugs like LSD that it is not technically illegal in Peru. It’s also much more fast-acting and intense than the orally-active DMT present in ayahuasca brews, but also quickly recognized as native to the brain and rapidly metabolized.

The mechanism of DMT is believed to be intimately connected to consciousness itself, where its similarity to the neurotransmitter serotonin allows it to bond to serotonin receptors in the brain and trigger hallucinogenic activity. Some medical researchers, like JC Callaway, of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Kuopio in Finland, believe it may be involved in producing the visual hallucinations we experience in dreaming. Dr. Rick Strassman, who wrote the book DMT: The Spirit Molecule about his legal research with volunteers taking DMT at the University of New Mexico in the 1990s, also suggests that a surge of DMT is released from the pineal gland at peak experiences like birth, the point of death or a near death experience, which may also explain spontaneous “contact” experiences throughout the West, whether that be with angels or aliens.

Drug information portal Erowid states the effects of smokeable DMT include: “A powerful rushing sensation; a change in the perception of time; an experience of the ‘void’; profound life-changing spiritual experiences; internal visions; muscle jerking, twitching, abnormal vocalizations; sensual enhancement and occasional euphoria; fear, terror and panic; disassociation and even unconsciousness.”

Entheogenic advocate Terence McKenna said that DMT is utterly idiosyncratic in that the experience is so bizzarely alien it is almost beyond our comprehension, yet it is beyond our comprehension precisely because we don’t have the words for it. In many of his taped talks about the DMT experience that have helped fuel a generation of shamanauts, he said that the more attempts we make at languagizing it the more possible it becomes to share some of the content of the experience, and the more we culturally integrate it into our species skillbase, as we did with other shifts of consciousness like art, or language itself.

“And then, if you've taken enough DMT (and it has to do entirely with physical capacity: Did you take, did you cross the threshold?) something happens ... for which there are no words,” McKenna says. “A membrane is rent, and you are propelled into this "place." And language cannot describe it - accurately. Therefore I will inaccurately describe it. The rest is now lies.”

So just for the record – everything I say here is a lie, too, an approximation, a paltry word-shadow patina of concepts, a multi-level linguistic smattering of emotional responses to something so alien and profound that we don’t have words for it. That’s the thing that both Terence and his brother Dennis tried to convey about the DMT space, too, the sense that it was beyond language, or “translinguistic”. It makes me think of Ron’s bible downstairs on the dining room table, which I’d flicked open earlier at a random page – John, 1, 1: “In the beginning was the Word."

Juan’s finished fitting the skullcap and I’m all wired up. “The cap has 19 placements and they cover the frontal temporal central and occidental regions of the brain...” he explains. “It’s a bit noisier than the rest caused by muscle tension... we’re filtering at 60 hertz to get rid of any noise…”

“You have a rainbow coming out of your brain,” Oran jokes as he points at the BUS cord connecting me with the computer in inter-species symbiosis. Juan puts little foam circles over my eyes and lowers the blindfold, reducing eye movement and "artifacts”, the noise that each tiny muscles of the skull and jaw creates in the EEG readings. In the pitch black the screen of my mind calms down and the EEG readings even out.

"A perfect reading” Juan says, calm and collected. “There’s a lot of alpha.” He’s watching the streaming waves of peaks and troughs on his laptop screen and recording at 50 microvolts ...

“How you feeling there, Rak?” Vance asks, and it’s good to hear his voice here too, shuffling around with his camera gear, and lil’ Queto crying out for his Papa from the mattress as Ron shushes him. There’s a group intimacy that is the complete opposite of the previous ayahuasca circles I’ve done, a trust I have for my groundcrew around me that lets me open up on those emotional levels I’ve held back from before. That, and being around Queto has activated my heart chakra and awakened the unconditional love I have for my own daughter back in Australia.

“I feel like that first monkey they fired off into outer space back in the 1950s!” I say, trying to hold still and not create any ‘artifacts’ on the readouts.

“He was from my hometown, Independence, Kansas,” Ron says, which seems an appropriate resonance. And it strikes me again how odd this all is, to be in the jungles of Peru about to smoke a synthetic version of the plant extract responsible for deep spirit journeys, administered by a Western shaman, wired to a computer reading my brainwaves and the whole thing filmed for posterity like the launch of a manned mission to the moon. Our DIY jungle psychonautics into the innerspaceways have the low-budget, cutting edge feel of the Apollo missions, of the days when astronauts were exploring new frontiers and changing the world with their discoveries. And I’m the lucky chimp.

Queto is running about, offering me water and helping me drink it, the water boy to the space monkey. Ron's saying "Queto don’t be doing that," chastising him... "We need silence now..." In the dark of my mindseye I can hear the sound of chickens in the yard outside, and I know it’s time. We’re ready to launch.

"Ron and Oren and I are going to be here watching you and holding you if we have to, just making sure that you'll be fine," Juan says paternally. Ron passes the glass pipe to my lips and I grip the smooth weight of it. He lights it and I toke slow and strong, letting the DMT smoke enter me. A soft numbness comes into my mouth like the taste of burning plastic as my reality grid starts to melt into another space. I can hear the call of parrots and the skwawk of chickens and the shuffling of little Queto around the room...

"Get it all in?" Ron asks as I fall backwards into the pillows and the smoke curls down my throat and the rabbit hole falls away under me. I can feel the hot jungle air all around as a wash of N, N-DMT rushes to the synaptic pathways of my brain and from here on in it's all words, yeah...



As I go under kaleidoscopic images fill the screen of my vision, and I have a feeling I’m inside a spherical womb-mother space. And as each overlapping geometric shape overlaps each other I’m grokking the vibe, it's reading me and I'm reading it, both of us melting into each other in that sacred space where the heart of all consciousness resides…

This space fills me and it feels like I’m drowning, but it’s not water it’s… something else entirely… energy… a consciousness independent and larger than me… And that consciousness is drinking me in and getting inside me at the same time, or filling the negative spaces with it’s essence, or stripping away layers of illusion to reveal itself always within me…. Part of my mind is still on automatic pilot, experiencing all this and deconstructing and processing it as best I can while the other part just hangs on for dear life at the rushing cannonball surge into this thing. It is as 60s Hippie scientist, philosophizer and author Alan Watts described, “Load universe into cannon. Aim at brain. Fire."

Last night during his last conference presentation Dennis McKenna said that if the brain is a receiver of consciousness, than perhaps consciousness itself is a singularity point much like black holes, where energy is compacted so densely in on itself that it collapses. That collapse in the brain may be what causes consciousness. So adding an injection of N, N-DMT to the endogenous levels of DMT already in the brain may act like the collapse of a star into a black hole, and as the brain receiver tunes into an ultra-dense state, reading deeper than ever before. It's the raw heart of creation here and it recognizes and absorbs your consciousness back to the Source.

The Hindus believe that in the beginning was sound, a pure vibrational Ohm, and as I surf these wave emanantions I feel like I’ve locked onto the fundemental frequency. Seconds go by on the outside but inside it’s eternity, outside time and space and back where it all began...


00:20

Twenty seconds in the first stirring of interspecies communion register... It's like a lover... A smile breaks across my face as I recognize where I am again, holy mother of God, I'm melting into it, tilting my head back, falling, I can't go deep enough it just goes on forever and ever, amen... I'm groaning now, the energy is melting me like liquid on liquid mixing with the other, our waveforms overlapping... And there is no fear, no holding back, just pure consciousness merging back with where it came from, the Godhead, the Overmind, mother-matrix union...

I’m in the rocking chair all wired up and I’m leaning forward, into the God-space, pushing through the dimensional envelopes... And as I break through the space like the skin of membrane a little “ugggh” escapes me and a feeling like a popped blockage releases... and I’m in...

Somewhere within this organic hallucinogenic space I can feel the broadcast of a pattern signal, a cosmic heartbeat like the pulse of life from a baby within the mother. The feeling keeps flowing as I break through layers and pop dimensional membranes. Wave after wave of energy and I’m breaking through an infinite kaleidoscopic matrix of pure unadulterated consciousness...The current of life is streaming through me and it’s like a brainwave of God and I'm surfing it... surfing God's wave...

And as I go with that energy I melt further into it and the signal gets stronger, it becomes me, and I make the sound back at it, a broadcaster myself as well as a receiver. I'm groaning like I’m coming, but on the inside where it's outside and where it’s all IT, IT's IT... and as I break through each layer of illusion the lesser bardos peel away and I’m just melting into the heart of the GOD-consciousness... And each groan is a sacred-sound-vibration recognition and it’s whispering in telepathic union to me yes, yes sound that’s it, make sound. I’m sound it’s all sound you’re swimming through sound and the groan starts to become a reverberating waveform, an insect-like repeating stacotto carrier wave that connects me to the Overmind and expresses it on the outside...

UUhhhhooohooouhhhooohhoooohhuuuooohhooohoohohohoyuoooooooo
long syllabatic strings until I'm singing-coming, channeling the vibrational wave of God... and the sound is coming out of me in pure liquid translinguistic magic mirror form, but I’m inside it now, I’m IT and IT’s me…

01:54

Juan comes and puts a reassuring hand on my shoulder... I'm starting to shake as the vibrational energy builds and courses through my flesh body, my mind far above outside space-time, my spirit totally abandoned in the heavens...

02:00

Two minutes in Godhead and I'm still surfing the vibrational waves of bliss... I’m shaking, trembling, my legs vibrating like those of cicadias as they make their high-pitched waveforms in the night and Ron and Oren both hold me down as my flesh body rolls about... It's insectoid consciousness... The same vibrational patterns that are shaking my body connect the insects to the Source and the sound you hear from them every night as they sing their song of creation is the sound of God coming through them... The insects know, they hear, they receive the signal and transmit it on...

03:46

Over three minutes in…

And my head kicks back and I let out a long central breath as I rise inside and it's like cosmic orgasm, a total interface with the Godhead, merging overlapping becoming IT, IT becoming me, full telepathic union – no separation, no fear, all the levels of Maya and illusion and noise stripped away and this is IT and IT is all there is and all is love... On the video my throat elongates, stretches and a deep guttural sound emanates from somewhere deep within me... The shamans song being born, throat chakra activation....

AHHHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.... AHHHHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOoooOooooooOOOOOooooOO



Primal glossalalia pouring out of me like water, riding the waves of sounds, channeling it through sound and vibrational waves... I'm spewing out sound...

04:10

They're still holding me down as the energy courses through me like electricity, a cosmic orgasm into the Overmind... And the Overmind likes the sound, it’s agreeing with it, echoing it back, yes, yes it says, and this makes me laugh a jagged glossalalia laugh, ha ha ha ohh ohh oh...

Still riding the primal OHM wave, and I’m smiling I GET IT now, I've locked it in, I know what to DO in this space - you make SOUND, that’s how you navigate in here...... Ahha ha ha ha hah ha I'm beaming, held down my Ron and Oren... Ohh ha ha ha HA HA HA ha the voice rises up and down, recognizing sub-modalities traveling on the carrier wave, getting the grip of the steering wheel...

Five minutes in I start circling my index finger around, making a circle, a loop, I can FEEL the current, the wave, how to ride it in here, deep in the Godhead, how to use SOUND to bodysurf the emanations from the Source, the vibratory waves that make up this heart of creation...

And once I’ve GOT it its got me and we harmonically lock onto each other... Aha ha ha ha he hee hee hee I’m still circling the finger round and round riding it, riding the wave... And then I start to experiment, I'm tapping my finger up and down and on the inside, still endlessly surfing the vibratory waves, the brainwaves of God...


04:34

A chicken crows and and I’m pinching the air, making the OK symbol... ha ha ha ha hee hee hee hokay dokey dokay riding sound as we ride each other, voodoo dreaming in the drowning universe... Si Si Si I’m saying to IT, to the me that is IT and US all, Si, I understand you my creator, my God I understand what we are in this space, Si and the flash of it sets me OFF, and I’m rolling my fingers round and round and like a bandmaster calling for a windup, and then I pitch forward and WHOOOP the air, piercing the moment, crying out in primal recognition of that code that is life, screaming it to the raw face of the day...

04:49

Bililililililililililiboo boo boo blulililililililil bili bili bili bilib boo boo BOO BOO! Im pitching the sound now, using rolling sonic mantras to express the energy and let it come out through me... Bub bup bup bup up bup billlli bOOO! I'm crowing like a chicken, purging/ expressing raw naked sound, my DMT icaro... On the video I look like a mental patient being held down, about to foam at the mouth and expressing pure ur language...AAEEEEEEIIIIIIIHHHHHHHHHHHHH I cry, letting it out of me, heaven on earth pouring out of me like molten sound...

OOOHH I’m jostling around now sqwarking like a chicken, pitching short snippets of sonic sound like a monkey screaming in the jungle... Ron's exerting firm pressure to hold me back as I flail around possessed by the sound-God, screeching liquid language, monkey man peaking on the Godwave... OOOHHHHHH my body goes totally erect, straight as an arrow as I let off sonic steam and ride the wave in. I’m surfing. My fingers are waving like I’m playing the sound…

5:16

Ohhh AHHH aayyyiieee ahhha hah OH Thank you mamamama and I’m clutching my hands over my heart, the sacred and the divine... kissing my fingers that have been at play with the Lord...

05:40

RE-ENTRY

I’m coming down, spluttering language, the wave is coming to shore and I'm grounding it, spitting it out in sonic mantras and somewhere a dog is barking and I can heart, the parrots and the people and I’m riffing off their energy and vibrations with my melting raw glossalaia... I feel like I’ve barreled through a 100-foot wave and skimmed back to shore to do a few loops. I’m in total control, harmonic lock of this experience. No more blockages, no more layers of Maya and illusion, as I lean forward and something in me pops, I’m pure liquid mental quicksilver, liquid intelligence overlapping and interfacing with the GOD consciousness as it absorbs me back into the womb matrix...

The Buddhists and other holy men state that the whole purpose of being alive is to cultivate consciousness and lock in the ability to remain lucid in the after death states, to transcend the body and be born into the lower bardo frequencies where the larger cosmic playground begins. And the more I be, the more I sit back and melt into the Godhead the more it melts into me, like cosmic interspecies sex of pure unadulterated consciousness, and I know a brief glimpse of what they mean ... It builds, it melts, it becomes deeper, deeper, deeper like a wave... The Sufis say there are 50,000 veils of illusion or Maya between you and God, and right now I know with a certainty that all of them are alive, and they’re not veils but filters that sift the soul, stripping it of heavy vibrational frequencies and purifying it enough to be able to interface with the core, the Source.

05:50

And I’m shouting, I'm thanking Los Dias Madre, the saints and the mother, the mother mind of us all and whoop whooping liquid quicksilver glossalia words all melting out of me. My head is ballooned out, I can hear and understand everything in the cosmos at all times, the language of nature, the trees, the animals, the mad trippers holding me down in the room as my legs shake with the energy and I’m grounding GOD into the matter world with my language... Thanking him/IT… “It's IT!” I say and there are no other words to suffice. We are all IT, IT is IT, the dense heart of a star in our heads and it knows me and I know IT. I have to shout to the heavens above to honour the connection I still feel, fading fast within me now as I return, Tarzan cries and insect icaros, I'm living language, the WORD made flesh…

Ron and Juan and Olan are around me and maybe they're talking I don't know... But I feel the spirits, I can SEE them, I can see spirits for the first time in my life, and I still have the blindfold on, white silhouette outlines of people, brother shamans spirits that are there whispering to me, guiding me back into the body, pressing down on me here, letting me rise up there, and their voices are like whispers, like the caress of the icaros, of the helping sounds... They are layering me back into the world in a hundred Photoshop layers all spliced together to make four-dimensional space, and I'm tuning into all the separate levels as my shamans guides protect me and guide me back home to my body for re-entry.

“Whhsss sss hsss mmmaa" they whisper, and over to the left I can feel the spirits watching me…

"whhss mmaa ma sssee"

"mmee hasss nooo"

They caress me with their voices, wrap me in their sonic protection, bring me back to this world safe and sound. There's no fear, they bathe me in their soft supportive light and love, they lay their spirit hands on me and readjust my energy, they help me back into the flesh…



5:55

I’m back down enough for words. "OKAY…" And I’m putting on the brakes, fluid translinguistic creature that I have become. "John, I hope you're getting this... " I say to Bowman, hovering out there with his camera, but of course he can only film the outside experience, and the inside is where the miracle is as fresh as a new day, all the things on the inside that can't be put into words because they are word, the WORD, vibrational essences...

"I got it,” he laughs... Holy shit...."

"Okay. I’m ON: Thank you, oh, I don’t know the words,” I cry I feel like I've just been hit by lightning, liquid language lighting, the WORD of GOD... I can’t stop tapping my leg up and down, moving my fingers in fluid mantras, vibrating, singing, translinguisticizing like a baked potato hot out of the microwave, still radiating the frequency of heaven.

07:05

"OH MY GOD." And I’m back... laughing, ohmygoding, bathing in the afterglow of cosmic union... Jesus Christ almighty... The groundcrew are all laughing, too, the nervous bubble of tension broken.

07:43

"It's IT,” I say definitively, trying to ground it in words, to bring something off it back for the tribe, then realizing the impossibility to capture it in lower sounds.

08:00

“It’s fluid it’s IT it’s IT it’s IT there’s nothing BUT IT... It’s self-reflexive code but how does it get to be self-reflexive code? And GOD - YEAH!!!” I’m gesticulating wildly, still connected to the bus cord and the electrode helmet, and at one stage I nearly pull the whole laptop down with me. Crazy monkey. “I LOVE IT. IT LOVES me. We’re it... I’m coming down, it’s all words now... It was fluid …IT’s the mainline... It's scary going in losing all your cultural imprints and layers, all your YOU melts away till there’s nothing left but IT and you ARE IT and IT is IT and on in perfect radiating superunion.... But the weird thing is how is it IT without NOT being IT...? “

08:56

The blindfold comes off and my eyes blink back the light with the wide-open innocence of a babe. “What’s the context…? I LOVE IT… It’s IT, IT’S IT - there’s nothing but IT... that’s the weirdest thing of IT…” I say, shaking my head back and forth, wires and cables spilling around me.

“Thank you for being there with me...” I say with raw emotion to my friends around me. “But you know what? We're ALL IT...” and I laugh.

"Everything is ONE" Ron says, a gentle smile on his face, the room still full of a diffuse light like my eyes are reading more of the UV spectrum.

“But there’s no context to it, how does IT GET to be IT?” I can’t get my head around IT; I’m covering my eyes, clearing my vision and head, trying to make sense of that which is beyond the monkey’s brain... I love it, it’s scary but I’ve gotta go back there... And once you’re there, there’s nothing to do but BE... It’s like floating in an amniotic ocean of the cosmic womb, you just be and the more you just be and tune into the BE-ing, the more the waves of energy come and come and come and the more IT you become, and it just goes on forever, deeper, deeper into IT, into just BE-ing...

"Surrender, nothing to do but just be, yeah," Juan agrees, reading my mind... “In that place of everything... Full oceanic bliss, right... There’s no room for anything else...” He knows. And I realize that while he’s done readings on dozens of gringo seekers here in the jungles of Iquitos, he’s also done it himself, and he knows what we’re going through as the remembrance takes hold, as the hyperspatial memory of self surfaces from the noise of ‘normal’ consciousness. Which makes him either more of a mad scientist than I first thought or the world madder for this great cosmic game we’re playing with each other.

“I don’t know if you got anything I can work with, " Juan says finally, pouring over the spikes and troughs of the EEG readings on his screen. "You went in too deep, too high and strong a frequency. All that convulsing won’t be good for a clear reading, which is a shame, because if you don’t get a good data set it’s not worth doing.” I’m still seeing holographic imprints on my field of vision and radiating the vibrational wavelengths imprinted on me by the Godhead, so an accurate data set is about the last thing on my mind. Fuck me, what WAS that I just went through? Amazing.

As Juan points to an unusual spike on the EEG readings I can feel the bit where the new signal is coming from, directly above the right eye and in, the frontal post-orbital section of the brain. The vibrational wavelengths are still strong; I can not only feel them but tweak them all around. It feels like the wings of a hummingbird fluttering over me, my eyelids trembling and eyes rolling back as my perenium muscle tightens and I try to squeeze that bit of the brain that connect me to the Source. A signal flares up on Juan’s screen, splashes of delta amongst the alpha.

“You keep on saying “IT”, can you explain?" Bowman asks, his concerned brown eyes peering into me. I’m so raw.

"There’s nothing in English but it... IT’s IT... It’s GOD... You're surfing God, it's the groove... It’s the wave, a tsunami, but you’re not surfing it you ARE it, are the wave... the ALL….”

"Hence the liquid… ‘cause your movements were very liquified..." Bowman says, stroking his beard as he tries to grok the translinguistic Other in words.

“I couldn’t hold back once I got It, I had to ride IT, BE IT…” I laugh, eyes downcast, still reeling from the infinite splendour all around.

“But what the FUCK is IT?"








slideshow photos by Juan da Acosta




This has been an excerpt from the forthcoming book by Rak Razam "Aya: A Shamanic Odyssey", a gonzo travel-memoir of the author's travels on the spiritual backbacking circuit in Peru, and the curanderos, shamans, ayahuasqueros and seekers that inhabit it. To read more and help support the book, click here.




Rak Razam's blog.
Log:
Copy of the revision from Wed, 2008/01/09 - 7:17am.

Magick Man> by Rak Razam



As they begin their magick rite, the sky clouds over and darkens. A cold wind sweeps the top of Glastonbury Tor, the legendary British power spot where ley lines converge and primal dragon energy is concentrated. Four altars are set up with wooden poles forming triangular spaces, littered with talismans. Inside the circle between the altars step 12 people, a ragtag collection of pagans, gypsies and travellers that represent the source races of humanity. As a brilliant zig-zag flash of lightning breaks the clouds, Orryelle Defenestrate-Bascule steps into the circle followed closely by two others, their six arms waving like a spider, spinning, measuring and cutting the thread of life. The initiates are pierced through their chest and sewn together with a string web, then anointed as they sing a range of tones to activate their chakras, the energy centres running up their spines. This was the ‘13th Tribe’ weaving, a boggling ritual to unite the warring races of humanity and connect to the earth, and you haven’t seen anything yet…

What the fuck, you’re probably thinking? Here’s the deal: the world is stranger than you believe. And one of the strangest of the strange is Australia’s own Orryelle Defenestrate-Bascule. He’s a ‘chaorder magickian’ who dabbles in invoking Godforms, mutating his own body, travelling the astral realm, and manifesting his will in any number of exotic rituals across the world, from Uluru to the pyramids in Egypt. But tonight we’re sitting round an open fire in a concrete backyard in a dilapidated share house in Brunswick, in the suburbs of Melbourne. There are ley lines here too, but the power lines overhead are more evident. A life-sized, hand-carved clay statue of the Goddess Kali is here with us, terrifying Kali with her eight limbs and long rolling tongue, adorned with skulls round her neck and a belt of human hands.

But wait, let’s step back a second and take all this in. If you can suspend your cultural disbelief, this is all about magick – and it’s heavy stuff, indeed. None of that garden variety smoke and mirrors that celebrity magicians like Harry Houdini practised, this is the real deal, the ancient deal for a new age. This is the knowledge that witches and warlocks, medieval magickians, alchemists, and generations of occultists have kept alive, and one of its leading modern practicioners is sitting opposite me now. A lean man in his 30s, Orryelle’s got a long face with a broad nose, his hairline shaved back into a sharp triangle at the crown. It makes his head seem elongated, like it’s been stretched. There’s a collection of esoteric jewellery and charms around his neck and dangling from his ears, which have an elfin tweak to them. His blue eyes are piercing, mischievous, matching the cheeky smile he radiates.

“Magick is … a direction and focusing of will and intent,” Orryelle says, handing me a cup of coffee he’s just made. I can’t help but notice the serpent head tattooed along his thumb and forefinger, jaws open wide and about to strike. “To do a ritual or a spell is to manifest your desired intent or result… [But] magick isn’t necessarily all about spell casting and looking for deliberate results. Magick is something that's alive in our existence.” He sits down cross-legged by the fire and gazes deeply into the flames, flickering shadows dancing across his face.

Since the last peak of magickal interest back in the Victorian era, when the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn had wealthy and famous initiates like the poet W.B. Yeats, the idea of magick has been on the decline. Reduced in the public mind to Harry Potter special effects and Hollywood glam, or stage magic, illusion and sleight-of-hand tricks, magic has become a pale shadow of its true origin. That’s why Orryelle and many other ‘Chaos Magickians’ have upheld the tradition of spelling ‘magick’ with a ‘k’, which was originated by the infamous Aleister Crowley in the early 20th century to set it apart from the sanitised version. As they see it, everything is magick, and life itself is a spell we’re all under. When you have the eyes to see and the will to connect, it’s like reaching out and plucking ripe fruit off a tree.

“You have to look at things differently and see the magick in things, hear it, be aware of the flow of synchronicity. You need to be aware of the patterns of fate, of the Gods and spirits that are around us all the time, and be tuned into them,” says Orryelle , the Trickster-magickian in the moonlight. The fire swirls around and casts light on the Kali statue to my right, as if on cue. Kali’s one of the allies that Orryelle works with in his magickal rituals, along with the Egyptian lioness-headed Sekhmet, the ‘demon’ Choronzon and others, an astral posse handpicked from the religions and mythologies of the world. Orryelle made the Kali statue himself and has used it in his ritual performances that he and his band of magickians in Metamorphic Ritual Theatre Co. have conducted to take theatre beyond its usual bounds of ‘acting’ into the realm of Becoming. You see, in their modern blend of ancient magick ritual and public performance, they don’t just act out their characters, they become them, invoking Gods and archetypes of many mythologies and grounding their attributes.

 

"Sometimes it can feel quite strange, like you're not yourself, you're possessed or whatever,” Orryelle explains. “But a lot of the time I feel like it's all something within me anyway, something within us all. Even scientists acknowledge this now with the whole DNA thing, that everything we've all experienced is within us as a potential, it's just a matter of accessing it. If it was completely outside us then how could we experience or know it? [So] invoking different deities or archetypes is like expressing different parts of us that we might not normally acknowledge or tap into, a more complete awareness.” Sounds all above board, doesn’t it? Just slip into a nice, comfortable Godform, take on its attributes and use them to enact your will. Well try this on:

“The spirit of Black Eagle came as a great black silhouette - a living shadow of sorts – and alighted on my chest, where its talons sank deep into my flesh, melding into my skin, until I had absorbed the entire shadowy bird within. Then the wings burst out my back, as my head morphed into that of a goat, great horns spiralling up and out from my hairy black forehead.” That’s how Orryelle described the time he ritually invoked the Templar deity Baphomet a few years back. The transformations might all be on the astral level, but the results are reputed to bring forth material from both the subconscious, and the supra-conscious beyond the individual. Knowledge of events and people, ideas, secrets; glimpses of beyond. As Orryelle explains: “Fantasies and astral journeys, or dreams are magickal in their way, but real magick is bringing those fantasies or visions to the physical world so you can then share them with other people. It's all about manifesting things in this world.”

And what better way to ground the realm of ideas than in the canvas of the flesh? Orryelle has been pushing his body to new forms of magickal expression, using it like any artist would a tool. As part of his performance art, which has taken him from the streets of Fitzroy to the Edinburgh Fringe and the world stage, he’s had small bird’s wings sewn on his ears, and wedge-tailed eagle wings sewn onto his back, sutured into the skin and a dozen other bodily mutations each more shocking than the one before. “It's all about focusing on yourself to go beyond the pain for temporary transformations. It's focusing of the will to demonstrate your mutability,” Orryelle tells me. “The [eagle wings] were so large and heavy and were sewn in quite deeply; it really felt like they were part of me,” he sighs. They only lasted 48 hours before decomposition, pain and the logistics of having real wings embedded in his back made it too difficult to continue, but it started a phase of extreme body modification as a magickal act. “The actual body, the human form, is more mutable then we may think,” Orryelle laughs with an impish grin, stoking the fire with a stick.

Ha, it sure is. I remember when my English mate, Tom, first met Orryelle in the middle of Australia back in 2000, on an eco-activist convoy celebrating the Winter Solstice out back of Alice Springs. He’d just conducted another one of his group chakra workings, this time at Uluru, ‘the solar plexus of the world’. He was also taking estrogen, the female growth hormone, as a magickal act, and as he came over the lip of the dusty claypan where we were camped and walked towards us, his top off, a pair of small, pert girl-breasts jiggled on his chest. Tom tried to keep his eyes off his puckish man-woman’s assets, but understandably, his jaw dropped.

“I've always been attracted to the hermaphroditic [both sex organs] Gods/Goddess forms and I love the idea of becoming more feminine in an actual physical, manifest way – but without becoming less masculine,” Orryelle explains when I ask him about his man-boobs, which have receded since he stopped the hormones, although an increased sensitivity has been retained. “But then I found, as I have with any kind of physical transformation that I've done, that… the physical journey began to create spiritual changes. I went further into recognising aspects of my femininity on emotional as well as physiological levels. [Then] nine months or so of taking the estrogen and invoking this inner hermaphroditism, to become as female as I could without becoming any less male, I began to realise I was getting to the end of that process... I couldn't keep doing this without it affecting my masculinity.”

The ‘Crying Game’ maneouver culminated in his own ‘Alchymical Wedding’, where he married himself, first dressed as a bridegroom, then bridesmaid. Then in combined regalia s/he threw a bone boquet with flowers attached and engaged in some spontaneous glossalalia, or speaking in tongues. It was just perfect. Oh sure, so you can imagine him possessed by Baphomet, all tails and horns, but not a wee pair of boobies? Get a grip. No door must go unexplored for the serious magickan. “What we think of as our identity or what we present as our identity is just the surface, and underneath is a more central essence. And that's a scary thing for a lot of people in itself because they identify with the social masks,” Orryelle says.

It makes sense then, that he called his magickal group the ‘Hermaphroditic Order of the Silver Dusk’, both as a counterpoint to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and his own mutational experiments. Orryelle describes it as “an art movement [in which] we totally immerse ourselves in magick. We plunge ourselves into the abyss if need be and see what's really there in the deeper recesses of the subconscious. We use art to do that and to explore the deep self. We don’t just explore a bit of magick symbolism in our artwork. We actually use art to fully explore magick and the untapped and unknown – that's the true meaning of the occult, the hidden.”

The Silver Dusk is the hidden face of his Metamorphic Ritual Theatre public performance troupe, which became famous for their ‘Labyrinth’ art-installation pieces at Confest in the mid-90s. Rather than just being a performance in a theatre, the Labyrinth installations were large mazes woven through the forest, creating paths with string and rope in-between trees. People got totally lost in them in more ways than one. Within the space was a whole world where the Metamorphs took on the roles of different characters and archetypes, mixed in with performers invited in to do their own thing, and punters who were drawn into the act, totally blurring the line between performer and audience. “A lot of people received some kind of transformation or initiation from it, by wandering into another world and becoming absorbed by it. It gave them a realisation of the possibility of creating their own world,” Orryelle says, poking at the embers of the fire.

Indeed. One of my fondest memories of the whole thing is getting zapped on the nipple by a raven-haired beauty with an electric cattle prod. Very arousing, and that’s all part of the magickal theatre, to enagage the senses. Which might be where Hollywood has gotten confused about magickal groups being all some type of Satanic sex orgy. That isn’t always accurate – the truth is that sexuality itself is a very powerful magick force and it can sometimes be used in a group setting if the participants agree. “Kundalini energy is a raw creative fire that can go into sexuality or other types of creativity and expression, arts or ritual,” Orryelle says. “Or it can go into several or all of those things at once. Why not use it for all simultaneously? It's the same basic energy. They can fuel each other.”

That same kundalini energy is also what Orryelle’s been helping raise with his global chakra workings on both a personal and global level. These group rituals “help activate the kundalini of participants and open their chakras at the corresponding sacred sites which are the Earth's charkas in ritual microcosmic resonance with it’s own rising Kundalini,” the magick man explains. He’s led five group workings so far: The first working was at Mt Shasta in California – the base chakra; Lake Titicaca, on the border of Peru and Bolivia, is the navel chakra; the solar plexus chakra is Uluru in the centre of Australia, and Glastonbury Tor, in England is the heart chakra. And most recently, just last year, he performed a group throat chakra working in Giza, Egypt that took him deep within the pyramids themselves for an amazing ritual. “Vissudha is the chakra of sound, vibration and communication so the emphasis was upon harmonic chanting and Words of Power, rooted in Ancient Egyptian magick and mythology to resonate with the site of activation,” he says. Just imagine:

The colourful troupe rides across the desert sands on decorated camels and horses, bells jangling and magickal garments blowing in the wind. The Great Pyramid of Giza crests the horizon, they disembark their rides and enter. Cutting through the herd of tourists, the magickians ascend the long, dark, narrow shaft up to the King’s Chamber in a somber silence. Taking deep breaths together, the crew begins chanting the tone of the base chakra, which grows and resonates through the ancient chamber. “When we reached the throat chakra tone itself, the volume and power of its open-mouthed 'Eeeee...' resonance set the guard off again, but his now high-pitched cries were barely audible, and soon ceased. This was the Vissudha Chakra wide open:unsupressed, unstoppable,” Orryelle recollects.

“[We] continued this primary Vissudha tone for as long as possible, wave upon wave of it resonating throughout the pyramid and beyond until we felt to finally shift on up to the third eye's more inward 'mmmmm' humming vibration, then the wyrd harmonics of the tongue-turned-back 'nnng' of the Bindu chakra in the back of the head. The subtleties of this then blasted up into our crowns, voices and spirits exultant in the ecstatic high 'Ohhh' tone of the Sahasrara. We were open to and at one with the Universe, even the guard's last futile and wavering barks now just a speck in this all-pervasive bliss. Grounding back to the low base chakra tone, we paused for a few moments silence, released each others hands and turned to leave, our work there complete.”

Wow. Heavy. Duty. Shit. What strikes me most about Orryelle is the sheer audacity of what he’s doing, of the magickal life he’s living, beyond the realms of everyday perception. He’s brought his magickal self to the internet via his extensive 'Mutation Parlour' site and now his myspace page, which he uses to network the global magickal community for future ritual performances, and is the editor of a printed magickal journal, SilKMilK MagiZain. He’s also a prolific visual and sonic artist, and has recently launched the second edition of his BOOK of KAOS Tarot Deck. His artwork on the tarot cards revels in a raw, elemental energy that captures the images of the Gods and spirits he works with on the astral level and grounds them with ink and paper, often with erotic imagery. "A lot of erotic art touches upon the realms of esoterica, since 'occult' means 'hidden' and there are many realms of sexuality still taboo.” Orryelle calls his art ‘Esoterotica', as it “displays the inner kundalini energy which propels eroticism, rather than just the exoteric or outer play of forms.”

Orryelle’s ultimate goal with the global chakra workings is to culminate the work at the crown chakra (in Tibet) by Solstice, 2012, because there's a large collective vision that there's going to be some kind of mass transformation in or by that year. And transformation is what he thrives on. “It feels like the planet’s kundalini, her fire, her collective energy as an organism is transforming and awakening as a natural progression, perhaps as a response to what's going on in the world,” Orryelle muses. And as she wakes, the magick is returning, or maybe it’s just that more of us are able to see it once again.

Finally, our audience is over. Orryelle stands up and stabs at the dying embers of the fire with his stick, sending a skinny plume of smoke trailing up, stinging my eyes. And when I open them again, he’s gone...

Just like magick.

 

 

 

* A truncated version of this story first appeared in Australian Penthouse Nov 2007. Photos courtesy Orryelle and co.