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Ever since I heard her name, I was called to Ayahuasca.
When I was 21, after facing a terrified mind to travel alone, I was rewarded with flow energy, inexplicable synchronicities, and sudden certainty in a higher power. I went on a quest to know my True Self and experience a direct non-dual meeting with God – the mystic’s glimpse of Nirvana, if you will – traveling down many paths into Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Vipassana, through Israel, India, Nepal, and home in Canada.
Naively, I thought one sip of Ayahuasca might induce Enlightenment, but I didn’t want the easy route, I wanted to work for it! At age 31, aware I wasn’t meditating my life away in a cave in the Himalayas, it was time to take the plunge into plant medicine.
That first magical journey humbled, humoured, and enamoured me with the medicine. I laugh now at my ignorance, for those who partake of this sacrament know Ayahuasca is no easy route, it is Work. In that Sacred Work, I recommitted deeply to the goal of God Realization, to meet my Father.
I didn’t drink Ayahuasca for another two years, but in the background began manifesting the stage for as full an immersion as possible. I solidified plans for a year-long trip to South America, thinking and saying aloud to anyone who cared: “I plan to volunteer as a yoga teacher for four months at an Ayahuasca centre in Peru.” This from someone who had yet to even do her yoga teacher training! But I never once fretted the difficulty of landing such an elusive position. One day, upon hearing these words, my uncle responded, “I know the owner of an Ayahuasca centre in Peru.”
Come May 2019 I was a newly minted yoga teacher offering a daily Hatha practice on a dock over the brown muddy waters of an Amazonian tributary at Refugio Altiplano – an idyllic Aya-oasis of self-discovery and integration in the jungle outside of Iquitos, Peru.
To paint the full picture, I also scooted over to the Sacred Valley where I drank very strong Ayahuasca at Maha Templo. I went from working in a small circle with a Shipibo shaman to sitting in large groups with talented “New Age” shamans performing full-blown concerts, rounded out by one unique ceremony led by a witch at her house.
In total, I participated in 54 Ayahuasca ceremonies in a little over four months. The medicine crept up and into me. First, it hovered around my knees, then my waist, then my neck, until finally it was over my head and I had reached full saturation. There were times swallowing that sickly sweet cup of putrid elixir was the most hardcore thing I’d ever done. There was a time I couldn’t do it. I would dread the act of drinking hours before a ceremony; for me, it was the hardest part. Once I had gagged it down, whatever came next – be it spitting, puking, or tunneling into my psyche – was my happy place.
I love Mother Ayahuasca and honour her as the great divine feminine Spirit that she is – a Bodhisattva serving on this planet for the benevolence of all beings, especially humanity.
I love being high on Ayahuasca. I love the first glimpse of fractals zigzagging across my eyelids, the extra energy coursing through the body, the heightened emotions, the visions and the understandings. I even love the nausea, the purge, the tears, and the release.
One thing I’d like to address is the criticism surrounding participating in too many ceremonies without taking integration time in between. I say, to each their own process. I won the birth lottery: two parents who love me well, a gentle childhood playing in nature, privileged whiteness, educated, safe and free. The factor of one’s upbringing cannot be overstated when working with any medicine that brings trauma to the forefront. I offer the utmost respect for those brave enough to peer into their private darkness with the ruthless light of Ayahuasca.
Many “little t” traumas arose to be seen, felt and healed: seeing my mother’s innocence in an early childhood abandonment wound, lighting up my solar chakra to repair damaged self-worth, releasing shame around certain parts of my body, balancing an overabundance of pride with humility and humour.
One recurring theme throughout all of my ceremonies was healing a broken heart. The love I felt for my previous flame was inextricably interwoven with grief that we would not be together. Without fail, ceremony after ceremony, I shed tears over this loss… there was no end to the cavernous grief. I accepted this gloriously beautiful ball of enormous love and enormous sadness as a part of myself and learned it was in my power how close I stepped to the cavern’s opening. Even so, my final ceremony, there it was, a single tear.
When I was ready, with self-worth and self-love intact, I called in the quality of man I deserve in a romantic partner: a divine masculine doing his own Work, who is sexy, big-hearted, witty and wise. I wrote a manifestation list and to this day I’m grateful I got greedy and added handsome (he is, very). We now have a beautiful baby girl and a thriving, loving partnership.
I explained my overarching intention in drinking Ayahuasca was to directly experience God and to know my True Self. Cup after cup, transcendence remained out of reach. As my familiarity with the medicine deepened, I realized she wasn’t going to launch me out of duality, not even out of my body. Ayahuasca showed me I am prideful – it is one of the things I came to work on in this life – and told me I would eventually need to purge every aspect of my ego/identity to realize God. I settled in for the long ride.
The epiphanies abounded (although what was a truth for me then is everchanging). I saw Service – albeit a vehicle for good karma and rewarding incarnations – as attachment and the reason many beings are reincarnated. I saw for every brilliant Angel born an equally powerful Demon created; the light is ever balanced by the dark, and there is no winning this eternal game as long as we choose to play. I cultivated detachment to the human drama, specifically to Service as a reason to reincarnate.
I became aware of and sensitive to the Laws of Polarity and Rhythm: I could go from euphoric in the maloca to sobbing in my cabin an hour later. After a lifetime of indulging in the roller coaster of emotions, I finally understood the importance of the Middle Path and focused my practice on moderating the highs to mitigate the lows.
My previous concept of God was masculine: Great Spirit, Our Father. Notably, my quest to experience God was quite masculine in energy and arrogant in attitude. The word “quest” implies action. I was moving ever towards the next exploration, always doing, instead of being in my feminine energy where it’s possible to receive, with humility.
The “limitation” of Ayahuasca to grant me communion with God was a great blessing as it redirected me to the feminine I was missing. As I accepted (begrudgingly) I am here to do my Work on the earthly plane, the fearsome power of the jungle introduced me to the feminine principle of God: Our Cosmic Mother, Creatrix of all Matter in the Universe – embodied by the aliveness of the Amazon surrounding me.
I became a devotee and student of Mary Magdalen through the channeled text The Magdelen Manuscript and connected with past lives in Ancient Egypt as a Priestess in the Isis lineage. In post-ceremony meditations, I would draw the lunar and solar kundalini snakes through each chakra to meet at the third eye – a sacred teaching that strengthens one’s life force / spiritual body.
My other master teacher was Eckhart Tolle. Slowly I absorbed his simple, expert directions and committed myself to the Present moment through breath, mindfulness, listening, connecting with nature, giving attention to painful emotions, and observing sensations. Opening the senses of the body to whatever is in its immediacy, or following an emotion to its root, is being with the Goddess.
Each person’s path to God is unique. It was during my Work with Mother Ayahuasca that mine was revealed through the Cosmic Mother and the wisdom of the eternal Now. When I find myself yearning to meet Father Spirit within me, I remember my teachings and first turn to revere Great Mother.
My True Self is child of both.
About the Author: Carly O’Rourke is a psychonaut – an explorer of altered states of consciousness – yet whenever she seeks cosmic expansion she is redirected back into her body to better understand herself and humanity. After a decade working in the non-profit realm, she is thrilled to pursue a calling to become a psychedelic therapist and is personalizing a trauma-informed approach using Compassionate Inquiry, Internal Family Systems, Somatic Therapy, and other modalities. Carly is devoted to Mama Gaia and one of her greatest joys is absorbing the beauty of nature. She is in partnership with a sexy scientist and together they have a beautiful baby girl.