All I could share with the eager group of strangers who were sitting on the floor in front of me was, “I know my name, Itzhak, but I no longer know who I am and I’m no longer sure of what reality is.”
My throat was dry, and I was choosing my words carefully. I was in a shamanic workshop at the New York Open Center that was being run by Nan Moss and David Corbin. I took a big deep breath and shared with them that a few months prior I had returned from a trip to Ecuador and that this trip had challenged my whole identity and the beliefs I held about myself.
No longer could I consider myself a “normal” person, artist, advertising man and atheist. Nothing had prepared me for this turn of affairs, even though I had already taken a basic core shamanism course with Michael Harner and had participated in another shamanic workshop with John Perkins.
It all came down to one Ayahuasca ceremony in the High Andes Mountains. I witnessed many amazing teachings and visions that night, but one in particular is worth telling, because it really changed my life.
We had just drank the sacred brew, and I lay on the hammock waiting. After a while my stomach was beginning to churn. I needed to purge. Held by my friend, we crossed the three-log fire in the center of the lodge, passed by the shaman, and went into the bushes in front of our communal lodge. I bent forward toward the bush’s large leaves and a huge gas bomb blasted out of my mouth.
At that moment I heard the bush telling me, “Look deep inside me.” I held its leaves in my hands, brought them closer to my eyes, and looked at them intently. To my disbelief, I started to see from the inside of the leaf. I witnessed its internal composition. I saw every cell and every vein of it; they were radiating golden-green light, and darker shades of green veins ran through them. I felt how the sun’s energy was being absorbed in it. I was surprised to see the intricate tube architecture and construction of the inner plant, to see the water drops flowing inside it, feeding every cell.
Each cell had thoughts and feelings and wanted to communicate them with me. I started to talk to the plant through my heart. I knew we understood each other on the deepest and most intimate level. “You humans don’t recognize that we are also a complete living being with wisdom, thoughts, and feelings just like you humans,” it said, and then added, “We are truly happy to be here on this Earth to serve you with all your needs. All humans have to do is to ask us for help properly.”
They went on by saying, “If you want you can always easily communicate with us directly by focusing your intentions and your vision deeply into our essence.”
My wide-open eyes were hurting and I felt exhausted. I fell on my knees, bent over, and took in the rich smell of the jungle soil. I opened my eyes and there he was, a small moth on the dark ground, an inch away from my nose.
I studied him carefully. He was brown and hairy, with two large gray-and-black eyes painted on his wings. in an instant, he grew huge and, to my surprise, I merged with him—becoming the moth itself.
Soon I was hovering silently above the jungle canopy. From above, I saw the jungle in full daylight, as if it were high noon. The jungle spirits continued to communicate with me. “Watch this view carefully, and take it in deeply.” They went on, saying, “You came here to help protect the jungle and all the enormous life-forms it holds.” and in urgency, “Time is running out, we need all the help you can give us.”
With tears in my eyes I promised to do all that I could possibly do to help. I felt a huge sense of personal responsibility, pain, and fear, which brought me back down to the jungle’s dark soil.
As I opened my eyes again I noticed that the trees in front of me had shape-shifted into three huge well-sculptured Shuar warriors, like the presidents’ faces carved on mount Rushmore. They looked straight at me, talking, winking, and having fun amongst themselves. I was in awe. “We trees also have individual faces and distinct personalities, just like you,” they told me before I drifted into a light sleep.
Back in New York, I didn’t have anyone to share my experiences and thoughts with. I decided to meet similar people by joining a shamanic workshop at the New York Open Center, and, together with a group of participants, we founded the New York Shamanic Circle, which now hosts almost sixty events a year.
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Through my teachings I hope to spread the shamanic message around the world. This article is part of that message. I hope it will encourage you to spread your own shamanic wings and fly.
Founder, Shaman Portal