We were only an hour or two into the healing ceremony and already San Pedro – the visionary cactus of Peruvian shamanism – was proving itself to be more than what I’d bargained for.
The clouds had wrapped up their show, so I sat up on my rock to see what was happening below. The landscape seemed to have had a dress change since last time I’d seen it. Now a reality far more resplendent met my eyes. I wondered if it was going out somewhere special, dressed like that. Draped in colours pulled fresh from some heavenly wash, like that. Shimmying in hyper-maniac-super-charged-crystal definition, just like that.
As if this wasn’t brilliant enough, the earth seemed to be breathing. I watched with narrowing eyes how the once static surface of the ground now gently rose and fell with each inhale – with each exhale – and inhale – and exhale. I followed it like a kit fox. Waiting for the skipping rope to come around. Timing my own breath to align with its steady syncopation. Jumping into rhythm with its heart beat which da-da-dum-di-dummed in swing with my own. And, for what felt like the first time, I realised that I was living on something that too was alive. It was like waking up out of a deep sleep, rubbing your eyes and opening them to find that the mattress beneath you is actually the belly of a giant.
Being caught up in all this, it took me some time to realise something had been tapping on my shoulder, trying to get my attention. Expecting to find the Shaman, I turned to see who was there. Though who was there, was not a ‘who’ at all. It was a tree. The Eucalyptus that stood tall by the rock where I sat. Now, bending its trunk down as if it were coming to greet me? I froze. Bamboozled. Staring into the furrowed face of a spirit inhibiting its ironbark who was smiling at me as though it had found a once-long-lost friend. It stretched its palm of evergreens towards me like some warm Tolkien gesture and held it there. Waiting for me patiently to be done with my astonishment. I hesitated, realising what this might look like, eventually deciding I didn’t care anyway. But just as I reached out my hand to accept its hospitality a tiny voice squealed from behind me, “SHE’S HERE!”. I shot my head around the whole 180 degrees of my vista to see every tree, shrub, rock stump, flower, herb, perennial, bush and blade of grass erupting into a grand ovation.
“She can see us!!!” a Schnius Molle swayed its bejewelled branches as the winds kicked-up providing music for the surprise celebration. “Hey, look at me!” said a fern with a Dietrich husk down by the pathway. “Me too,” chimed in its dishevelled shrub of a neighbour. Every plant and rock populating my surrounds seemed to be vying for my attention, elbowing each other out of the way to show off their individual quirks and personalities. “I got it from my Mamma,” one cute sprig of Lavender shyly said while shaking its corollas sending the rest of its lot into a fit of giggles. I felt a tap on my toe and there was a starved thing I may have formerly described as a weed leaning from a crack in the rock coming out to meet me, “Hello,” it said so genteel and cultivated, “it is such a pleasure to have you here.” As I watched it bow, tipping over its invisible top hat, the rock beneath me began to stir, belly laughing, shaking me with its glee. “You can me fee-ee-eell me,” he said in his hoochie coochie baritone, “do you remember what it was like when you were little, Creedence?”
And I could. I could remember exactly what it was like, I just couldn’t believe that I had forgotten.
'The Ovation', Episode 5, The Sacred Plant Series: a collection of writing recounting my experiences receiving the ancient psychedelic plant medicines ayahuasca and San Pedro.
Words by Creedence
Photo by Flor Garduño