One of our Peruvian rituals centered around a psychedelic experience with cactus juice. It’s supposed to give you insights about yourself, and many participants have a vision of looking into the jaws of a serpent. I think someone said the serpent represents the kundalini energy that lies coiled at the base of your spine, but I might be confusing this ritual with another. At around 6 one evening, we adventure-seekers got into our pajamas and gathered in a large room with fluffy mattresses and comforters. We tucked ourselves in while the shaman prepared us.
His most emphatic instruction: if we had to use the facilities, we must not, under any circumstances, look in the mirror. I guess something goes haywire and people see ghostly visions and they freak out. No sooner was the ultimatum laid down, than a voice from my bowels said, “let’s go!” About an hour after we knocked back our shot-sized cup of “medicine,” the shaman gave us the thumbs up for a break. I headed toward the restroom, a little spangled and spacey perhaps, but otherwise, no insights, no visions, not much to report.
Once in the john, I decided the best way to avoid the mirror was to not turn on the light, and to keep my eyes closed. I oriented myself, kept my head down, and took a seat. Now let me explain about Peru’s septic system. Its ancient plumbing cannot tolerate paper, so used tissue is collected in a receptacle near the toilet. More than once during my visit, I had auto-piloted the paper into the commode, and stood there hoping I wasn’t going to back up the whole country’s pipes as I watched my forbidden tissue swirl down the drain. This particular restroom had a plastic canister topped by a dome-shaped lid with a swinging door.
I finished my business, pleased as all getout. I was not going to look in the mirror; I was not going to freak out. I was not going to forget to drop my tissue in the bin. Chuffed with success, eyes still squeezed shut, I deposited my paper through the bin’s swinging door. Okay, I admit: I slam-dunked it. I heard the little door spin crazily. Then I heard the lid fly off the bin, followed by a clattering that could only mean one thing.
I turned on the light and opened my eyes. Wads of pissy, crappy tissue lay strewn at my feet and about the floor. I pulled up, zipped up, grabbed a paper towel, and got down on all fours. In my mind’s eye, I saw myself crawling in a meadow of brown and white shitblossoms. As I collected and re-deposited a stinky bouquet, I realized this was my version of serpent vision. It was my lot to find beauty in the proverbial BM.
I rejoined the group, who had now gone outside to look at the sky. (The Southern hemisphere is upside down. Now that freaked me out.) Some of us laughed. Others of us cried. One of us barfed. The shaman’s mother brought out soup and cookies.
How about you friends? Ever had a moment where you experienced your soul’s true essence? Ever looked in the mirror and totally freaked out? What’s your favorite flower?