12 April

Saturday Night Fever

 

It’s Saturday night and while my better half is out at a local restaurant eating some overpriced farm to table dinner, I’m in our back house projectile vomiting across the room. I have just snorted some yopo snuff I brought back from the Amazon and my mind is doing back flips off the stage I usually call “reality.”

Doing yopo in Sebastopol is not the same as doing it in the Amazon jungle. For the thirty odd years I spent in the jungle, yopo was my means to speed up the adaptation process. When I would first get back out in the Amazon after some time away, my fishing, foraging and hunting skills were not honed in. But I still needed to eat, so the yopo would speed up the acclimation process, moving my brain right back to the primordial bush. All my stalking abilities would come back to me, in a “grunting, green snot dripping from my chin,” kind of way. Snorting yopo does not make for a pretty picture.

So by now you might be wondering, what the hell is yopo, anyway? Yopo, a snuff of many wonders, is made from a combination of psychotropic plants, including virola and ayahuasca. Some Amazon tribes use yopo as a means to communicate with their ancestors or to do what we would call “witchcraft,” for lack of a better term. No, they don’t use it for self-discovery or enlighten-mint. These concepts only came when “Funky Shamans” figured out they could use the plants to get money out of gringos. But don’t get me wrong, there are many gringos, who, like indigenous people, successfully use psychotropic etheogens to heal their body or soul, but I sometimes wonder if something might have been lost in translation?

Last night I snorted yopo to heal myself, but the social and political world that seems to be crumbling all around us kept creeping in. Needless to say, Trump would constitute a “bad trip, ”or at least a twisted cartoon, so I let that vision pass with a questionable fart and moved on with the flow.

The next thing I knew, I was on my feet, dancing and chanting the songs I had learned in the jungle, inviting the xapori spirits down from the rafters of my “Sky Temple.” Surrounded by the sacred objects of people I once had the honor of calling my friends, I was moved by the spirit (and the yopo.) I watched as these masks, rattles and amulets came alive, all of these gifts given to me by my friend’s family members after their death, for the sole purpose of taking them very far away.

The Sky Temple

After years of bringing these tribes medical aid against epidemics of introduced diseases, I became a trusted person to pass the objects on to. But I don’t hoard these sacred objects, instead, I actually use them for the purpose they were created. They, like me, are transplants, living in the backcountry of Sonoma County and wondering how we got here. I can blame that one on another psychoactive plant of this region, but that’s another story.

The craziest part of all this is that science is actually catching up to what these Amazon practitioners have known for centuries and figuring out that something extraordinary can happen to people under the influence of psychotropic plants. These plants appear to allow us to tap into their sacred world to find out what they know and we have forgotten. Yes, “Talking Plants” are a very real thing. I don’t mean that a carrot can speak or hugging a tree let’s you get intimate with it, but there are specific plants that appear to have the ability to communicate with us if we go through the long arduous task of learning their language.

But the fossil fuels industry doesn’t seem to want to hear what plants have to say. Instead they appear obsessed with eliminating plants through vast deforestation projects and reducing their importance to nothing more than background scenery and hedges. However, if you notice, plants are still here,  tenacious creepers that they are. Could it possibly be that the plants have their own agenda and are creeping back into our reality to help us through this troubled time? After all, everything we are comes from them. The air we breathe, the food we eat, the climate we live in and even what we are made of started with plants. In fact, entheogens might very well be what sent us on this long journey of civilization as we race towards an unknown future. Sitting in the dark listening to the rain, my own future seems uncertain as the realm of yopo starts to fade. I can’t help but wonder, am I really on to something or am I completely out of my mind.? Then I laugh. I like my doubt, it keeps me grounded.

 

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