Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The Ultimate Raconteur

Zonka was a little village in the mountains  in Italy, not far from the Swiss border. Most houses were empty. They were beautiful, magnificent, huge stone houses with wooden balconies running around them,  facing the steep slopes covered with trees. Impression of dense power surrounded by immensity. The rooves  were thick slates, as grey as the walls.

One of these houses belonged to Karunesh, the guy with the grey hair and beard who was leaning over me when I was shouting to God and the ceiling, the first time I took Ayahuasca…

I found myself entrusted with the noble task of picking up flowers to ornate the room where the ceremony would take place in the evening. That’s a really enjoyable activity if you forget the boy code. Normally, men are not supposed to go about the meadows picking up flowers and enjoy it. There were loads of beautiful mountain flowers, like in the ancient times, before excessive mechanisation and chemical industry turned the countrysides into a gigantic open air factory, but I am not here to sing the complaint of the old fashioned ecologist but to tell stories of taking Ayahuasca. We didn’t call it Ayahuasca. We called it Daime. Santo Daime.

The room was big and wide. We were thirty or forty people feeling at ease, about to form the circle. There were no wallpaper, no plaster, just stone and wood. To go to the toilets, we had to get onto the wooden balcony, walk up to its extreme end, and there sit, facing the mountains. When your poo was done, it dropped 20 meters below, between the trees. Better not to feel dizzy.

It won’t be possible to follow a rational chronological order to evoke the exhilaration, the outbursts of consciousness expansion, the return to the lost paradise…  Bear with me, here a just a few fragments….

At the beginning I felt my intestines being untangled, which feels incredibly good. I didn’t know that there were so many knots. I realized that the state of belly I used to consider “normal” was actually knots, knots, nuts and knots…

I suddenly saw my belly being full of snakes - or maybe big long worms sliding against one another like in a big bag of happy compost, and that is the normal way of being: having free worms in the belly. It is difficult to remember how it feels, because to feel paradise, you need to be in paradise. Feeling it is being in it. But it’s so easily lost when you live like we live, stressful lives, and because we live stressful lives, we believe life must be like that and because of that, we keep creating lives under pressure, more and more pressure, and even more and we don’t know how to stop or we are too lazy, too busy, and we keep creating stress and more stress, concentration camps and genocides, century after century, wars and oppression of man by man, wasting of resources, torture of earth mother, again and again and it can go on like this forever, and it will stop only if we stop. Stop!

Hell is the hallucination we live our everyday lives in. This is the most dangerous and poisonous kind of hallucination: it is a collective one.

Stop! Breathe in, breathe out. Keep calm and Stop!

An incredible experience happened to me during a break. I lay down on the mattress set in a corner of the room for those who might really need one, it was my case and...I found myself drifting away and reaching the presence of the ultimate origin of everything. I don’t say “God” because it didn’t feel like “God”, it didn’t feel like a separate being with an individuality, it’s impossible to say how it felt. Now that it’s just a memory, I can’t even remember how it felt, really. It was the absolute origin of everything in which we all participate. It appeared to me that whatever happens to us is absolutely ok, that we have decided of it all, that’s our great adventure, and that ultimately, everything is absolutely alright. These are just words. This was an intense feeling as you may imagine.

Later I would write a story as the best way to evoke this moment of enlightenment. I called it “The Ultimate Raconteur”


Nowhere used to float a great feeling of happiness for nothing.
A magnificent love  was there before any presence of whatever to be loved.
A Being,
A Feeling,
A Sensation…

The Ultimate Raconteur settled down in an armchair, lit a good pipe for himself, and started to dream…

I would love to live a good story!

A love story indeed… A story with a happy ending, obviously. …. A story that ends up so well that it never ends! Here is a great idea! I am already delighted!

Alright. I need a few ingredients for my story. Events, suspense, catastrophes, last moments where everything looks lost… and at the last moment of the last moment… A wonderful magic!

My love story could be a story in which the characters try to meet the author, in order to collaborate writing the scenario. That’s a good trick that’s sure to work very well.

But to make sure they search and search without failing, they will know thirst. They will be lost, as lost as one can be, they won’t even remember that there is somewhere an Ultimate Raconteur, a magnificent love, a great happiness for nothing and everything… but they will be thirsty of it, whilst believing in solitude, suffering and death…

However, I will always be there, living their lives, laughing their laughters, crying their distress, dying their death… I’ll be closer to them than their jugular vein…

I think I’ve got the outline of a very good story there, said the Ultimate Raconteur to himself. I’ll sort out the details as it goes along, let’s now leave room to improvisation!
He poured himself a glass of Oblivion Beverage and in the middle of the sideral void, there was a big Bang!

The Ultimate Raconteur is telling you:
My loves, my darlings, my babies
I love you

Para siempre…

Of course, it is impossible to imagine or even to remember what you feel when you are suddenly realizing something like the absolute truth that can only be poetically recalled by a story like that. Just imagine anyway.

I had been given a glimpse out of the book of life. I had had an instant of awareness of the writer, and I felt intensely that beyond all suffering and death, all was ultimately, absolutely well… and I found myself back in the room, I sat on the mattress and made eye contact with a guy passing by. He had a little rejoiced smile on his lips. He looked as if he’d got the ultimate glimpse as well. I burst out laughing of a laugh of pure happiness....

...and my laughter banged and broke against the wall of a cemetery… or something feeling like that at least. I burst out laughing and just then noticed that nobody was talking in the room. Everybody was listening  to this Italian girl. She was singing with a beautiful voice the most poignant traditional funeral song. As poignant as the song she was singing I know only Mozart’s requiem. Everyone was in a state of communion with the eternal human grief she expressed from the depth of her guts, and I burst out laughing in the middle of it.     

Thinking of it, I could. I had just met the Ultimate Raconteur. She didn’t get it. I had spoiled her peak moment. She was deeply hurt. She told me, as talking to the deepest idiot ever, what her song was. She left the room and kept on singing outside, just for herself and the mountain, on the wooden balcony...

I felt so sorry for her. I didn’t explain, how could I have? I sat on the threshold, and listened to this girl’s pain. Next to me was an empty chair. I thought: “It would be great if Elizabeth was there to listen to her” Elisabeth was a very caring and very wise member of our group. She was the presence that soothe and make feel loved those who don’t…

As I thought this I had a one second vision of Elisabeth sitting on the chair, hands clasped on her lap and her head slightly tilted as to listen better… But no, it was just a vision, no one was sitting.
A few moments later, Elisabeth arrived and sat on the chair, in the exact position I had just seen her. You can think that all I am telling in this text is pure illusion, hallucination and intoxication, and I would have no logical argument against that, only the swelling in my heart. But for this little detail, no. It happened like that.

It’s good to listen gently to people in pain, even if their pain is due to illusions...

Saturday, 25 June 2016

The first time I took Ayahuasca....

The first time I took Ayahuasca was in France, with people belonging to the Church of Santo Daime. (At that time, there was no legislation on this plant).
The Church of Santo Daime was born in the Amazon in the 19th century, when Portuguese missionaries were converted to the shamanic practice of drinking Ayuhuasca (the vine of the dead) However, they added very Catholic songs to the rituals.

I met people belonging to this "church" and decided to experiment, even though I didn't really know what to expect. Ayuhasca is a very, very, very bitter beverage.

This is how I found myself dancing - two steps to the right, two steps to the left and again and again - among French and Italian people. Imagine the sound of maracas, guitars, lyrics in Portuguese...
I started to find I was very ridiculous when I started to feel sick. I felt a little bit like when you have ea ten and drunk far too much, and your liver isn't happy at all, but you still hope you won't have to throw up. The room felt like a merry- go -round, the walls weren't as vertical as they should have been, I crouched in a corner..
Normally when you eat and drink too much, at some point you vomit and then you feel better. But on that day, vomiting wasn't possible. The room felt more and more shaky, the walls were moving, I felt quite distressed.

Some guys helped me lie down in a corner of the room. One was leaning over me, talking some kind of nonsense: "Be open to the experience... accept something entirely new..." He had short grey hair, a short greyish beard. Hiis presence was better than nothing, but not much more...

I felt as if my life - my "sense of being myself" - was being sucked out of me by the top of my head. I felt I was taken out of my body, strongly, violently. I was extremely scared. At the same time, I noticed that I couldn't feel my feet anymore, I couldn't feel my legs, my hips... I was losing control of my body, trying to hold on like a dying man to life.... I realized that within a few seconds, I wouldn't even be able to cry out for help...

I shouted to the ceiling, atthe top of my lungs. I may not have ever shouted so strongly in my entire life.... or maybe the day I was born....?
"God! God who made me, can I trust? Can I TRUST?"

After some moments of intense panic, something strange happened. I thought of my partner and her little boy - a 10 years old with whom I had a very loving relationship - I had a vision of them in front of my grave and I felt their pain. It made me feel very sad for them. Without knowing it, without knowing how it happened, I had forgotten myself in the middle of the most intense panic. My next words were for them: "I am here to love you..."

The panic had disappeared. I felt extremely good, even though I had no control of my body. The man with the greyish hair and beard was leaning over me. Lying down, I could see his head upside down! He appeared to be as strange and familiar as a Dad might be to a new born who still doesn’t know his face.... The sound of the maracas and the female voices singing were like the presence of a mother a little bit further away... I didn't know how to move my arms and my legs.  I was like a baby, feeling safe and cared for...

A little bit later, I felt cold. I asked for a blanket. A guy told me briskly: “You can dance now!" I stood up awkwardly, surprised to be able to... and I got back into the dancing square. Two steps to the right, two steps to the left...

The feeling of ecstasy lasted the entire night. Apart from a subtle and deep deep craving that wasn't healed though......

Monday, 7 March 2016

The story of the Antelope

This is the narration of one of the most powerful Ayahuasca session of my life…

The group officially called “Association for the protection of the Rainforest” was settling for a prolonged weekend of Ayahuasca rituals in an isolated farm in the middle of the countryside. It belonged to the family of one of our members, nobody else was around, we were between ourselves, in the middle of vineyards in the South of France…

Emma smiled when I arrived. Emma was the kind of girl many men fall in love at first sight with. She seemed to enjoy being endowed with Aphrodite’s powers. She had a Yorkshire Terrier, Renoir would have loved painting her. She was also a kind and sensitive soul.

She had a disease, which I don’t remember the name of. She needed a crutch to walk. This was a kind of incurable slow evolving thing that has the power to get even an Aphrodite’s daughters to focus on non erotic issues such as the meaning of life.

Emma offered me to draw a card from a new deck she had acquired: The Animal Medicine cards: a collection of animal totems with a little book where you can read the teachings associated. This sounds awfully New Age but those who created these cards were Native Americans themselves, so there may be more to it than just air philosophy. These cards have become quite well known ever since, you can check them out here:

Anyway, when a woman like Emma offers you to draw a card from her deck, you don’t question your philosophical values, you just draw a card.

I got Antelope.

The associated keyword was (and still is): Action

The preliminary sentence was something like: “Because she knows the imminence of her death, Antelope acts”

And the story, which I have told a few times ever since, was an old Native American legend, which goes like this:

A long long time ago, people were in great danger. An ice age was about to happen. There were not many people walking the surface of the earth at that time, and the few of them that did wouldn’t be able to survive through.
Sent by Mother Earth, Antelope came to the people and told them:
“Cold is coming. Kill me, and cover yourself with my fur. This way, you will be able to survive. Kill me. Do it now.”

The people said thank you. They were deeply grateful. But then, they asked: “What’s the point? If we don’t die because of the cold, we will die from hunger..”
“You will eat my flesh, and you will live.” said Antelope.
It is said that the custom of eating animal flesh started at that time.

This was the teaching. Because she knew her death was imminent, Antelope lived with intensity.

I wondered if I would have the courage to ask the plant to give me the teaching of the Antelope. We were soon to drink Ayahuasca. You can do so without particular intention and welcome whatever is coming, or you can actually ask for something in particular. I was presented with this story…

The first evening I did not ask for it.
The second evening I had to be somewhere else.
The third evening, when drinking the last glass of the ceremony, I threw myself at the deep end and asked, mentally: “Please give me the teaching of the Antelope” … and I braced myself to go through a similar experience as I had when I drank Ayahuasca for the first time…
What you should know is that during the afternoon on that day, the atmosphere wasn’t as great as it had always been since I met that group. Some people had been criticizing other people for some reasons… In groups where you get so to speak drunk with love like in couples in love, the first issues that come up which confront perfect harmony are always a stab in the heart…
I did not criticize anybody on that day (not that I never do, but not on that day) nor did anyone criticize or caused me pain in any direct way. But I felt the sorrow of this waste of paradise which was happening around me. Nothing huge though, just critics, talking behind backs, not shining as usual…
What do children feel when their parents argue over their heads?

I was sitting in the second row of the circle. This ritual was a sitting ritual, not a dancing one. In the state of extreme sensitivity I was in, this sense of lost paradise amplified steadily…

I suddenly noticed the arm of the person sitting next to me. The colour. The texture. It was not a normal arm. I looked rather like… a prosthesis. It was summer, we were all wearing T-shirts. Other arms looked like prosthesis as well. The faces started to turn into rigid masks....

Have you seen the movie “The Wall” by Pink Floyd?  The moment all these people stand on a treadmill that brings them one after the other in the machine that will make mince out of them? They looked like that.

I was horrified. I found myself trapped in a terrible dilemma, which I felt with extreme intensity…
At first I thought maybe all these visions were just illusions, and that all I had to do is to cut through them by denying them any importance until I can tune in a better wavelength..    

Then I thought that maybe these visions were warnings about an imminent catastrophe in preparation in the astral plane, something like car crashes ending up with mangled limbs and damaged faces, and death and sorrow… and that something should be done, right now, to change what was already happening at this level of reality… So, just ignoring the visions and denying them importance was just the absolute wrong choice. I had to pay attention and find something to do!

Then a third option occured to me. Maybe I was currently contributing to create this horrible reality that would happen in a near future and that I had to stop it, I had to stop being fascinated and give my energy to create this immense damage…

Between these three options I was paralysed. Choice was impossible and I had to do the right choice. I was in a state of extreme anxiety. With Ayahuasca, there is no fire exit.

The only thing was Love - the need for love

I found myself asking for love
Praying for love

Begging for love

In the midst of these maybe soon to be mangled, prosthesis wearing, mask wearing fellows…

Not staying hidden Not keeping reserved Not keeping respectful of the ongoing sacred ritual - Stop being ashamed of what’s inside- - - -

De l’amour!

I started whispering, whining, with a little trembling voice

Again and again…. De l’amour!

One of the guys sitting around, one of the afternoon criticizers, suddenly turned towards me and said: “Jean-Marc, je t’aime!”

This surprised me.

I went on and on, with a louder voice, until I overtook the ritual
I was leading the ritual in my own way, begging, supplying, asking for

I remember vomiting in a bucket and surrendering in the process - I was not sure what and how I was surrendering, it was something about giving up the rigid armoured pride that keep up appearances but locks the truth inside….

De l’amour…

I was not asking to be loved, I was asking for love in the atmosphere.
Love for one another creates the atmosphere we all breathe. It was love in the atmosphere I needed.

I was asking for love without asking anyone, I was asking around and towards above

At some moment I asked, still toward above, toward the invisible presence “Please help me!”

A participant came up to me and said: “Jean-Marc it has a been a while we have all been here trying to help you!”

This surprised me. That was not what it was all about! I would have loved being helped by them in asking for love with me….. I didn’t say.

At that moment I suddenly felt I was back on earth, in an almost ordinary state. I looked at them and went outside the room. I let them carry on with the ritual. I remember catching an eye and a smile by a musician - an accordion player.

Outside, a guy who had preferred not to take part in the ritual had lit a bonfire. I sat with him. We had a little chat… a deep little chat actually but it was already another story…

This was the story of the Antelope: a story of Mother Earth, people and climate change...


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Have you ever been peeled by a banana?

Have you ever been peeled by a banana? It’s boring...   
                                                                                                                                                                               However a story-meal is a thrilling experience...