Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Psychiatric Memories: Yvonne


 Yvonne was bipolar. She was not bipolar like you and me; she was Bipolar with a capital B. When she was depressed, she would sit all day long on a plastic chair in the doorway… She would stay there for months. She was forced to go to bed at night and get up in the morning. Her head was just falling down on her chest, her back was without any strength, and her legs stayed the position they fell in when she collapsed on the chair… She was heavily empty, she was immensely sad…

 When she was somehow stabilized she was an upper class lady on the brink of third age, not very tall with a bit of a pot belly. She was very knowledgeable. Once she gave us a little lecture about the different varieties of champagne which astonished us.

 When she was “up” she couldn’t keep her clothes on. She ran about in the ward in a state of extreme agitation, sending her clothes away, pissing and shitting on her way to nowhere without even noticing… Yes, I remember following Yvonne with a scoop, a bucket and a mop… She had to be locked up in a room and could tear up a whole mattress into little pieces without leaving a single piece bigger than a walnut, along with a pile of magazines she turned into confetti… 

 Then she would be down again, squashed by sadness and shame on her chair, and she would remember everything…

 It happened that the psychiatrists found out a particular dosage of chemicals that seemed to prove effective. Yvonne’s moods were much more even than they used to be, for months. A christening was planned in her family a few months ahead, it was agreed that Yvonne temporarily leave the hospital to join the family celebration the weekend it was planned. Yvonne was really looking forward to it. Nobody knows what looking forward means but Yvonne. 

 Unfortunately, as the time was drawing closer the expectation and anxiety about being able to go was growing more and more compelling… and another manic crisis broke out in the weeks before… The emotions were too strong…




 Mental health is not only a personal problem. It’s not all about an unfortunate combination of genetics, early childhood and family history… I have my theory about it, which I will explain with precautions, lest I end up sitting on a plastic chair next to Yvonne in the doorway. For a start, I need to talk about concentration camps.

 In the camps, when the prisoners in charge of emptying the gas chambers after the sinister job was done opened the doors, they found the victims piled in pyramids, the weaker at the bottom, the strongest on the top. The gas was heavier than air and filled the chambers from the bottom and in a desperate attempt to keep breathing just a little bit more, the victims struggled to climb on each other…



 We are still behaving in the same way, at a psychological level. Our suffocating egos all too often build their self esteem by mean of comparison. If we are first of the class, if we belong to the winning team, if we’re told that we are a better lover than the previous one… we feel reassured… The philosophy is: “I am better, therefore I am good” It is warped. We keep climbing on each other’s back. The result can only be a hierarchy of self esteems piled in a pyramid. At the top, there are stars and powerful people, able to manage to be looked up to by many… but always threatened to fall down. At the bottom there is a wide range of egos suffering from inferiority feelings and dissatisfaction with themselves. 

 And underground, the outcasts, the ultimate scapegoats, the sacrificed ones. Those who bear the whole weight on their shoulders…


No, Yvonne did not suffer only from her own suffering…

 

Monday, 29 August 2016

Do I feel like talking about my sexual life?



Do I feel like talking about my sexual life?




Huh....No. .... Yes! ... No.


No, it's embarrassing.


Yes, the truth heals. As a healer, it might well be my job to contribute to healing sexual confusion.






It's time to break a few taboos. Taboos about sex are not taboos anymore. The taboos I am thinking of are about emotions and feelings. Bathrooms have to be cleaned, and it belongs to those who inherit the stench to do the job. In the process, the most wonderful flowers might bloom.






Allow me to ramble a bit, I need preliminaries if you don't mind. My romantic and sexual lives really didn't work out as I would have liked them to, and as a result, instead of focusing my energy on studying, learning a trade or a craft, earning money and bringing up children after meeting the possible one, I looked for all kinds of remedies to my feelings...






Emotional needs do exist, and when they are treated like there are not supposed to exist... they rebel. They disturb. They trample on the delicate stuff that was aspiring to unspoken perfection.






I am speaking about fear of private speaking here. I am talking about emotional avoidance. Maybe this is a form of impotence... I am scared of sharing intimacy. Scared of not being able to behave "like a man". Scared of expressing feelings or emotions and being treated like an object of disgust because of them. Scared... to see what happened to me as a child repeat itself, as it does, again and again, until you die, until you heal... Whatever comes first...






My last partner, that's now about 12 years ago, was abusive. She didn't hit me, no! I was much bigger and stronger than her, no doubt. I didn't hit her either. Physical violence was not part of the game between us. You know what? When it's clear that your physical strength weighs nothing in the balance of power, it's just like you don't have it. At psychological level, you're equals. You not bigger and stronger anymore. And when I say "you are equals" I don't know really. Let's say we are.






Pascale was abusive. She had no respect for boundaries. She had no idea that boundaries are things that do exist and should be respected. And she wanted a lot.






One night I jumped out of bed, put my clothes on and went out for a walk to calm down. I needed to be left alone, I needed to be left alone, I needed it. She ran after me. I can still see the picture in my mind. If our story was made into a movie, this picture would be on the poster. It was winter and freezing cold. The sky was dark. A few lampposts lightened the deserted street. She had only a white bathrobe on. The bathrobe and her dark hair were floating around her as she was running. She was bare feet.






I ran away from her. I needed to be left alone. My body. My limits. My right not to be touched when I don't want to. My right not to make love if I don't want to. My right to feel safe and respected by someone who can wait. We had sex every evening, and many afternoons as well. It's a bit too much, especially when you are not given time to desire.






"But desire comes as you go along!" she used to say to dismiss my protestations. This was physically true. I could get aroused by physical stimulation, and the thing worked. Love, when done like that, is no better than when you masturbate just because you can't sleep and you hope it will help, and not because of irrepressible fantasies. It's like pouring yourself what could look like a good glass or (of) red wine, but once you drink, it tastes like swimming pool water.


She was using me to protect herself against a terrible void that I could feel behind my back...






There are many reasons why I stayed with her for six years. All kinds of reasons. I'll talk about them later. One day I would leave her (finally rather than eventually) eventually. I know that the way I leave women when I leave them is especially painful: I don't leave them to be with someone else. I leave them to be alone.






I am scared to share my intimacy. I love life, and there are days when I am in bad mood.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Magma and compassion

 If I could say only one word, I would say… “Compassion” 

If I was allowed just a few sentences, I would say… Dear fellow human beings, some amongst us are trapped in a different world. The social codes are irrelevant to them. They can’t make sense, they are cut off. What can we do?  

 I have got enough time so I will tell  stories. 

When I was twenty, I found a job in a psychiatric hospital.   I worked there for two years as an auxiliary nurse. Auxiliary was the lowest rank in the hierarchy. Lower than that you’re just ill!  I am still thinking of the people I met there… Let me introduce them to you.


  Mauricette was about thirty years old but she looked sixteen, the age she was trapped by schizophrenia.  She wore that kind of dull clothing you wear when you’re an inmate in a psychiatric hospital, she wore socks but no shoes, she had shoulder length dark and untidy hair and she was perpetually possessed by acute anger. She spent her days walking to and fro in the doorways or turning round the tables- always anticlockwise. Her fists clenched or her arms crossed, she was churning out an unceasing string of the angriest and crudest words you could imagine… Her anger is my anger. Sometimes I would like to tell the whole word off…

 One day Mauricette stood in front of me in the middle of the path, hands joined over her head, on one leg as if practicing a yoga stance called “the tree” She glanced and at me and barked: “I am a Christmas tree, you turn me on!” I looked at her and replied: “Mauricette, first thing it’s not Christmas, it’s Easter soon” She said: “Shut your fucking mouth, I am the one in charge in here!” she dropped her arms and resumed her speed- walking to the other end of the corridor… 

When I declare my love that way I am rarely understood. It’s a shame; it’s a beautiful way…

 Sometimes she stared right into my eyes; she was an ocean of aggression. I used to hold her gaze…. It was a challenge, a game for me but it was also a way to get in touch. 

 It happened once, only once. I took her in my arms, to help her cross the yard outside. The soil was wet she wore socks… I held her like a child, she cuddled up in my arms with a happy smile… and I let her go on the other side…  

 One day a new resident arrived. She was a beautiful Granny with long white hair falling in two plaits… She was called Philomene. She came from a retirement home. She had lost her mind long ago and the reason she was now admitted in the psychiatric hospital was that she had become incontinent. 
 Philomena did not talk.  She looked intensely lost. I have never ever seen anybody look as lost as Philomena did. In the retirement home they used to tie her to the radiators. We found this unacceptable, and we let her roam about freely like the others, but she was annoying. She kept trying to grasp people’s arms in a perpetual quest for support… She even tried to cling to Mauricette! Mauricette swung round sharply and sent her off violently: “What do you want?” 

 Philomena was extremely surprised, she lost her balance, moved two or three steps backward, hit the wall and fell onto her bum! We hurried to her rescue, she was ok, aghast but she was always aghast anyway. We sat her at a table, gave her some fruit juice, we stroked her hair… She was fine, but ten minutes later she was dead. She started to look drowsy, her head was falling on her chest as if taken by sleep… and that’s how Philomena died.
 It was a cold winter, it was already dark outside; we laid her on a bed in a single room…Her pale skin had turned yellow. A group of inmates tried to look inside…. Nobody said anything to Mauricette. She was howling in the doorways… Whoooo…… 


  This time I spent working there had a deep influence on the way I see life. Mentally-ill people, like poets maybe, are in contact with the other side of reality, the side that  “normal” people manage to smother... 

Under the social fabric, under the masks of appearances, under the earthy crust, there is magma. Magma is stronger and this is reality. 

Earthquakes, volcanoes and madness will always erupt wherever the fabric is weaker. The rigidity of our prejudices, our moral principles, and our theories will always be beaten by madness…. 

 Please, give love! Please give understanding….  

Friday, 1 July 2016

I have seen the devil!


  In shapeless overalls, she was lighting a cigarette with the butt of the other. She had beautiful dark eyes and hair, a pretty well shaped body and something in her expression that seemed to defy the whole world…

 She was bipolar. She could be so squashed by her depressive state that the cigarette would burn all by itself between her fingers; a long chimney of ash would rise above her motionless hand until the ember burned her…  But when she wasn’t depressed… I was impressed!

Beauty has such a power…

 However, it didn’t occur to me to enjoy more than a bit of conversation every now and then. She was mad, she was an inmate, and it was my job. I was an auxiliary nurse. We were in a psychiatric hospital. There was a dividing line…

 Some questions were going their way in my little mind… Do we really help? Take your pills, become quiet and get any chance of evolution frozen along with your symptoms! How about listening and understanding? Would I settle in the cuckoos’ nest for my living? Is madness an infectious disease?

I resigned. And I started to dream…


 If life is not a fairy tale as they say, that’s only because we haven’t got the guts to live it like a fairy tale! Life is a fairy tale and in this tale, people have been cursed. They believe in a bunch of illusions that they called reason. Only poets tell the truth!

 I was mad. I was 22. My dream sounded like this:


 "Once upon a time there was a Kabyle princess locked up in a psychiatric unit. She was hanging on to the billows of smoke from cigarettes rising up to the ceiling like prayers of hope, dreams… Nearby was a young man.  He believed that he had to be a hero… "


I went to the wing and I brought my Berber princess back to my flat, determined to cure her with love and love only.

 Princes in fairy tales have shining armors, spears and swords. I had none of these things.

 Once home we started to make love. Would you abduct a consenting Berber princess and not make love to her as soon as possible? However, the way she behaved… huh… her body language could translate as “I shall lie down on my back. I shall do nothing and I shall see !”

I hate taking exams. I would have felt much better in a non-judgmental and cooperative atmosphere. I couldn’t do much...

 She started to insult me, with cutting words I am not going to repeat…

 A charming prince is not supposed to be sensitive, delicate and thoughtful at all times.  A charming prince is supposed to take his pleasure without a hint of self-consciousness, with animal energy and shameless crudity. Otherwise he was just a charming counterfeit.

I believed in love… I may not have understood everything about mad princesses…

 She would stay at my flat for about two weeks, showering me with insults. I had a theory, a simple, simplistic theory inspired by the communicating vessels principle. The evil, the pain had to get out of her, and for this to be possible, I had to be there to take it in me.

 I listened to her; I applied myself to feeling whatever she wanted to make me feel. And it was harsh…When I put on music , my choice was obviously the worst, the most insensitive and disconnected choice but if I was asking her to choose it was even worse not to be able to take such decisions… Every single word I would say, every act I would do or not do, every silence would be uncontestable evidence of my stupidity, of my worthlessness …  I felt what she was passing on to me, because that was what she was feeling about herself, inside. I did my best not to defend myself…

 One day we were both sitting at the table behind a cup of coffee. We kept silent. I could physically feel the state of tension that was stretching my mind to a point where I was afraid it could get torn apart… I felt I was on the verge of becoming mad. I may have disowned the church of my education, at that time the instinctive call for help was to concentrate on Jesus’ name and think of nothing else. I was just thinking, with intensity “Jesus, Jesus…” My mouth was shut but she heard. She suddenly turned round, looked everywhere and asked in a harsh tone: “Who is talking about Jesus here?” She saw nobody but me, silent, she softened a bit and said: “Yes, sometimes I hear voices like that…”

 Sometimes she hallucinated. She saw fish turning around above her head. She often talked in a strange metaphorical and cryptic way…

One evening, night was falling and she put on every single light in the flat. She kept going about, singing or whistling out of tune. It was actually worse than out of tune. Usually when someone sings out of tune, the result is a pathetic mix of bits in tune and bits out… She was perfectly out of tune; every single sound was jangling… It was fascinating,… She was making noises, shaking drawers, and slamming doors… She asked me “Do you know what it means when someone puts the lights on?” I knew that any answer on my part would be wrong so I didn’t try to make up one… I said no.

  She went on with zombies. “Zombies do exist, you’re going to see one, you’ll run yes you’ll run, just wait a little bit…”

 She was terrifying. Not that I’d ever thought about zombies or feared to meet some, but the intensity of the hatred in her tone  made it worth seeing zombies… She kept on and on with jangling sounds, noises and threats…

 I had read Castaneda. I remembered a piece of advice given by the old sorcerer to his apprentice: “Find your place of power” I had elected the tip of my bed. I was thinking… As long as I am sitting there I am protected. It helped me. She actually didn’t approach me…

 And I’ve seen the Devil.

 The way she was moving wasn’t her way of moving anymore. The sound of her voice wasn’t the sound of her voice anymore. Another being was there, moving this body. I immediately thought it was the Devil. It was just dancing, moving, making sounds there, for a few moments, seconds or minutes I can’t say…


Towards dawn she put off the lights and told me: “When someone puts the lights on, that means that they have something to share”


 Then she left the flat. I had never locked the door. I didn’t try to hold her back. I had a feeling I’d done everything I could. The firemen or the police would find her and bring her back to the hospital…

 I felt drained and peaceful. I went for a chat at a friend’s…

A few days later, I would come across a book on the ethnology shelves in a great bookshop… The author was Aissa Ouitis and the title, Possession magic and prophecy in Algeria. I spotted her case. It was not a curse, it was not the bad eye… The use of cryptic metaphors, the unpredictability of her behavior, it was as clear as a well: It was a case of possession by a jinn. I had seen jinn! And an angry one…

 I knew very little of Muslim beliefs. However, reading this book, it appeared that the right cure for Srira might well have been an ritual exorcism with readings of the Koran and possibly balls of cotton set on fire pushed up her nostrils: a way exorcists use to burn the jinn who do not easily accept leaving the body of a person they possess…

  I spent a few months in a kind of exhilarated state before going for the worst bout of depression of my life… I have been struggling with the Devil…

 What happened?

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
Forever….

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.
0
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: http://www.medicinecards.com/


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
Love


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...


Jean-Marc
http://jeanmarcpierson.com