This excerpt is from my book Counterpoint to Reality. It is just one of the amazing and mind-altering, consciousness-shifting events I participated in during my time in San Miguel de Allende.
Ayahuasca is a mixture of several vines and roots found in the Amazon jungle. Its main active ingredient is DMT and has been written about by Terence McKenna, Daniel Pinchbeck, Benny Shannon among others. When ingested, the participant is swept off into a journey of self-discovery lasting up to 6-8 hours. Often times the ritual is a physical and psychological hell but the rewards are exceptionally rich.
On one particular session, to attest to the power and benefits of this process and after finally coming to an understanding of Mother Daime, as the spirit of Ayahuasca is called in the Church of Santo Daime, I received a total and miraculous cure from serious skin cancer on my arms. I will post that chapter to this site on another date.
Please read and enjoy this adventure as it unfolds. I am very proud to be able to share this with you….
Into the Labyrinth of Ayahuasca
The following Saturday afternoon we, Maria Teresa, Palomita and myself, were off to an exceptionally beautiful and surreal hacienda located close to the pueblo of Dolores Hidalgo, about thirty-five miles from San Miguel. Maria Teresa had decided to drive, and Palomita and I were glad to see someone else would be responsible for accepting the challenges of driving in Mexico. The Hacienda was an old chili plantation, one of several that produced crops prolifically many years ago and afforded the owners an uncommonly comfortable lifestyle.
The owners of the plantation had been able to travel the world over collecting relics, art and furnishings from faraway places and with these enhance the hacienda in a way that would make Salvador Dali green with envy. There were Buddhas in the gardens, Chinese arches over the patios, pagodas and Indian deities placed strategically throughout, and even a barroom decorated like a medieval bordello, done with mirrors and red velvet curtains. Finding something like this in the interior of Mexico impressed me.
Upon arrival, a high wall and a correspondingly large, gated entrance greeted us. As our car approached, a young man opened the gateway into the courtyard. A long row of rooms, designed with a portico and decorated with comfortable chairs and small tables, adorned the left side of the parking area. Each of the ceremony guests received a room. Though the hacienda was lovely and quaint, the original owners had long been gone, and, unfortunately, the whole operation was in some disrepair.
It seemed that the grandson had inherited this wonderland in its relatively declining state, and had decided to put it into service as a sanctuary for the Temescal and well as the Santo Daime ceremonies. The Temescal, as I found out, was an indigenous sweat lodge, held in a covered dome. Extremely hot rocks were brought in and placed in a center ring, with the participants sitting on the ground around the heated stones.
Gustavo, the grandson, and our host, was a very hearty and focused person who had trained with the Bear Clan of the Lakota Sioux in the United States and Northern Mexico. According to what I investigated online at www.ucan-online.org about the Bear Clan, “The great teacher is the Bear. He is one of the most curious and omnivorous of all animals. A bear feeds on nearly every food available, from insects to grasses.
Bear Clan members have special duties in the areas of food storage and preparation, also medicine gathering and teaching, just as Fire Clan people have a particular calling to be fire keepers, fuel gatherers and carvers. Numerous pipe bowls show the bear standing and teaching before a seated pupil. The Bear rises and prays at sunrise, like the Indian.” Gustavo was a teacher and leader who assisted all those partaking in the ceremony and was our spiritual guide throughout the evening.
As the program started, Gustavo prepared the fire for the heating of the stones while everyone changed into their sweating attire. During the wait, I noticed the sky was quickly and unexpectedly darkening with gathering storm clouds. I was also aware that this was highly unusual for this time of the year. This was February. The rainy season was traditionally in July and August and in Mexico rain rarely occurs at any other time in this area. It was soon pouring hail the size of marbles and we were all freezing as we stood in line waiting to enter the Temescal lodge.
When we were finally inside the lodge, we sat in a circle on the ground and waited for the entry of the heated rocks. As each stone was brought in we gave blessings to our Abuela, our spiritual grandmother, with the verbal acknowledgment ajo´, pronounced ah-ho’.
The Temescal heated to an exceptionally high, uncomfortable temperature and continued to escalate as Gustavo brought in red-hot stones four more times throughout the session. I was doing everything I could to not look like a “gringo” wimp, while attempting to find some way to get fresh, cooling air so I did not pass out. I was fortunate to be with my daughter, Allison, who had assumed the role of my guardian, monitoring my ability to manage the heat, before I got into a situation requiring a doctor.
One highly intriguing and prophetic development in the lodge ceremony was when Gustavo had us reflect on our totems, our personal animal spirits. These totems are with us to guide and protect us as we travel through our earthly journey. My totems, I found out, were a birdlike creature with an owl face and a sandpiper’s long, thin bill, and a beautiful fox. Later, in the Daime ceremony, I realized the importance of discovering these spirit guides and the roles they were to play in an extraordinarily deep emotional healing that was about to take place.
The Temescal ended, and everyone refreshed themselves and changed into the Daime ceremony’s essential white garments. We then entered the sala. In Spanish, sala de estar means living room. We then assumed our positions around the table, decorated with the cross and the picture of the Padrino. The leader of the session was again Mauricio, assisted by the highly talented Gustavo. Maria Teresa and the others soon began the singing of hymns and the reciting of blessings while Mauricio prepared the first round of the Daime we were to drink.
Sitting next to me was a young lad from France who had been walking throughout Mexico volunteering at various spiritual retreats in the countryside. He asked if I had ever performed this ceremony and, if so, what was to be expected. In my typically arrogant manner, I continued to explain that probably nothing would happen and that he had no cause for concern, as my first session this past week was so uneventful.
Well, soon after drinking the first glass of brew, Daime made her presence known in a very, very powerful way. Little did I know this was the bellwether of all future sessions for me. This was where I would be shown the beginnings of my spiritual war. I was going to meet my hidden enemies, face to face.
The first thing Daime said to me was, “Do not ever tell anyone what I do in a session! Only I know what I will be doing! I am in total control! You are not!”
Boy did she set me straight! I owed an apology to the young Frenchman; I had no right, earlier, when I spoke to him, to think I could talk for Mother Daime.
Suddenly, and without warning, the room burst into swirling and pulsing swastikas. As I looked about, the ground seemed covered with scorpions, painted in varying degrees of neon colored dots. The air felt heavy, and I almost suffocated, while the leaders continued to sing and chant in, what seemed an unaffected manner. It was as though no-one else could see what I was seeing, as though nothing unusual was happening. I was barely holding on, whirling inside, privately spinning in an otherwise placid room filled with people.
Finally, I could not bear sitting there any longer and had to go out of the room, through the main door that led me to the garden. My only concern was perhaps fresh air would revive me and help make sense of what I was experiencing. The thoughts of the soothing garden, the cooling night sky and open spaces filled my mind and motivated me to undertake the difficult walk outside. When I got there, a shock beyond my imagination was waiting for me….
Waiting for me in the garden was a bewildering surprise, one I had not even imagined could be possible. Everywhere I looked there were dragons of all sizes, fierce and lizard-like, with tongues sticking out, and long multicolored tails. Some were twelve feet high, towering over the bushes and plants, others the size of small dogs. As I looked around the garden, human faces, writhing in agony, filled the tree trunks. This absolutely horrified me. I froze in terror, not knowing what to do next. This was the most disturbing sight I had ever witnessed. I had no doubt, in my mind, that there was potential for significant harm in this garden
I was in trouble, I thought.
Gustavo, watching me all this time, quietly came out and attempted to gently bring me back into the room. At this moment, the air in the hallway had become thick, filled with geometric grids of colored dots moving toward my face and splaying off to the sides of my head. My fear and sense of dread was so strong I thought I just could not go into that room under any circumstances. I also knew that I could not go back into that garden again.
Finally, against my desire, Gustavo got me to return to the seat I had occupied in the ceremony. Once I sat down, huge waves of emotion fell over me. Ali, my daughter, said later all she could hear was me repeatedly saying: “Oh God, no, no, please no!” Tears were uncontrollably pouring down my face. Then, Mauricio motioned to Gustavo to help me out to the fire-ring and see if he could get me settled and centered, knowing I was going through an extremely difficult journey.
Sitting near the fire was comforting and allowed me to reassess my position. All I could think about was the idea of the potential death of my wife through suicide. At the time, the emotional pain I felt was more than I could handle. Then, miraculously, during my deepest moment, a vision of my totems appeared before me. My bird with the long beak started killing and eating the scorpions, clearing a border around me to provide for my safety, while my fox came to me asking that I put all my grief on its back so that it may relieve me from my suffering.
Then the fox, burdened by an almost crushing weight of all my sorrow, ran off into the night. Unexplainably and almost uncontrollably, I had an urge to hold out my hands in front of me in a closed cup position. When I opened my fists there was a delicate and beautiful white, dove-like bird sitting on my palms. Amazingly, the bird then continued by taking the essence of my wife in its beak and flew off into heaven. My emotions were running crazy as I witnessed this miracle, for that is all I could believe it was.
Right then the entire row of trees behind me erupted into a cacophony of birds chirping and singing a joyous celebration of life like I had never heard before. Suddenly, as fast as they started, they just stopped. Only complete silence remained. It was utter silence – not a sound. I sat in peace for the first time that night, and just allowed my feelings to settle. I guessed the time to be around three in the morning. Finally, in a state of complete exhaustion, I returned, with the help of Gustavo, to the closing of the ceremony.
In all of my life, I had never experienced a more intense process. Indeed it was a ‘Dark Night of the Soul.’ It left me weakened, humbled and frightened. The whole way back to San Miguel I felt drained of emotion and was without words. For the next few days, I felt stunned by the proceedings of that night.
Slowly, throughout the following week I began to receive images and thoughts of wisdom that helped me in my efforts to unfold the previous events that were so mystifying. The demonic creatures in the garden were demonic, and, they were MINE! I created them through my suffering. They were there to help me suffer! They would remain part of my life until I decided consciously to let them go and not continue suffering. They were horrifying, but they were an integral part of my spiritual life back then. Now the task at hand was to purify myself and clear the negative energies that had maintained the level of pain I had been enduring. Unfortunately, I had no clue how to accomplish this task. This clue I would need would come at a later meeting with Mother Daime.
I am slowly discovering that all the chaos and calamities in life are, in their own way, joyous opportunities to help one work one’s way back to reintegration with Spirit. In Journey of Souls, by Michael Newton, PH.d., our souls make plans for ‘events’ to occur in our next life choice. These ‘events’ are meant to be corrective opportunities, ones that can be capitalized upon, to rectify and refine Soul Personality errors or flaws. Not only were the demons in the garden mine, they represented pivotal points in which I could make hyper-jumps in my soul evolution. Now, instead of fearing them, I can only be thankful for their presence, for as they helped me suffer they also helped me grow in ways I did not, at the time, recognize.
I could not help but think that the people we often see walking through the malls, assisted by oxygen tanks and wheelchairs and suffering immensely, are possibly also contaminated by their own demons. Maybe all suffering is the result of allowing, though unconsciously, these dark entities to gain access to one’s being and fulfill their goals of the destruction of the human spirit. These are the counter forces to Light. Being so, they can be fought with Light, with love and by turning away from the dark temptations that cause us to become addicted to alcohol and drugs, that cause us to be self-deprecating and weak, that cause us to harm others for power and greed.
As a sad footnote, I had a dream about a week after the ceremony in which my fox totem died, apparently run over by a car, squashed flat as a pancake. The weight of my grief made it unable to move out of the way of the vehicle.
Writing about this dream and the Daime session was extremely difficult for me. It was just too deep for comfort.
As I look back upon my life, I can trace moments when different animals literally ‘came’ to me to forewarn or disclose an event. Often, when these times occurred, I discounted them as random and insignificant. Now, I see the importance they played in my receiving messages from the other side, from my guides and guardians. When one pays attention to these gifts of forewarning and insight, one’s life can be lived fuller and deeper, with a sense that truly we are not alone.
About the Author
Stephen John O’Connor has followed his two main passions: music and spirituality. He has been involved with many organizations dedicated to the pursuit of spiritual knowledge and has been initiated into the following Spiritual groups:
- Knights Templar
- Order of Pythagoras
- Order of Melchizedek
- Rosicrucian Order AMORC
- Martinist Order
Stephen has studied and involved himself with Kabbalah, Numerology, Qi Gong, Yoga, the Western Esoteric Tradition, Shamanism and Mysticism.
He is an accomplished and well-known musician and has written music for Universal Studios, Warner Bros., The San Diego Symphony, The Republic of China, Toyota, Chrysler, Jeep, Disney, Sea World, The Atlanta Summer Olympics, World’s Fair in Seville, Spain, to name just a few.
As a jazz guitarist Stephen has worked with many popular and wellknown names in Music: Red Mitchell, Bob Magnusson, Charles MacPherson, Bob Mover, Jim Plank, The Joe Farrell Big Band (featuring ex-Chick Corea band saxophonist Farrell), Mike Wofford, Don Menza, Frank Rosolino, Russell Farrentes (of Yellow Jackets fame), Oscar Brashear and John Gurin of the L.A. Express and Joni Summers, plus many more.
Stephen John O’Connor was born and raised in Southern California and now makes his primary home in Mexico, in a small village north of Puerto Vallarta.
Stephen is the author of Counterpoint to Reality, available on amazon.com – in both paperback and Kindle version.