My Inner Worlds
Now that Matt and I are back from Peru and he's had a week working with clients in his office, we spent our Sunday morning meditating and setting our intentions for this new space. In the three weeks prior to our flight to Lima, everything worked smoothly for us to lease this office suite, for Matt and his friends to prime and paint the walls, and for us to order and move in most of the furniture seen in the following pictures. These aren't a true representation of what the office looks like for clients because Matt has been using these rooms as a studio to shoot video the past two days. However, I'm impressed with his taste in color and furnishings and am enjoying my morning here.
Matt’s and my final destination in Peru was the Etnikas Retreat Center in the Sacred Valley. When we first planned our trip, I had no intention of participating in an ayahuasca ceremony. While it is a revered and vital part of their shamanic religion, I don’t like psychedelic drugs or anything that causes hallucinations. However, I felt led to change my mind and signed up for the experience alongside Matt.
The Etnikas staff are wonderful and incredibly loving people. Matt and I prepared for two weeks before our first ceremony by eliminating quite a few things from our diet (alcohol, sugar, red meat, coffee—this was the hardest for me!). Not only is a medical doctor, a nurse, and a psychologist on staff for each ceremony, a Shipibo shaman and an Andean priest also guide us through the process.
We were asked to hold an intent prior to the ceremony. What did we want healed? Why were we there? I opened myself up to what was for my highest good, and also asked to have the need for control to be healed. I had no idea what to expect, so I figured this would be good enough.
The first night we drank the ayahuasca in a darkened hut where six of us participated with the shaman. The medical staff and the priest held the space as we traveled to our own personal place to heal. Nine years ago I ate magic mushrooms and had a bad trip that took me six years to process and integrate (one of the reasons I don’t do drugs). When Mother Ayahuasca hit me, I started right back at that bad trip. Panic squeezed my chest, but I breathed through it and tried to hold love. At that moment, I regretted my decision to take ayahuasca.
Chaotic colors and patterns danced in my vision for what felt like hours. An “evil” presence came in and tempted me like it did in my mushroom trip. This time I held my ground better than I did nine years prior. At one point Matt, who was in reality across the room from me, knelt in front of my body. He smiled and pointed to my heart, reminding me to focus on love. I’d gotten lost in the machinations of the story my mind created, pitting me against someone who was not a good person. After “Matt” helped me and I refocused myself, the trip shifted and I no longer felt the struggle.
The experience lasted for hours. I didn’t enjoy it. Not only do I hate hallucinating, I highly dislike throwing up, which is a guarantee with this plant medicine. The tripping eventually decreased, and I sat up. For some reason I was allowed to sit upright for what felt like a long time. The staff didn’t allow this the second night, so I either couldn’t tell how much time passed or they were busy with others. The most amazing vision opened in front of me.
Someone in the room, but not in the room, called me Inti. It was my name and it felt right. I’ve always desired to know what my true name is, knowing it isn’t Sarah. Over and over, Inti was reinforced in my being until I knew that was me. I watched candlelight flickering in the hut, aware of the others around me, but having my own experience. The light turned into a dancing alien fairy-like being. My son. He was beautiful and tainted. Twisted, no longer serving the purpose he was born for. Inti Son was the name that reverberated in my heart, and I, his mother, wanted to kill him. To end the taint I brought to this world. He and those he rules live behind a wall where they watch our human existence, but we can’t see them. However, I saw how they moved between realms and knew I could find my way to their dimension. I reached out to consume this son of mine, intending to take back into me what originally came from my energy. But something stopped me. He still served a purpose. A destroyer was still needed in this world. Because I knew how to find him behind the wall separating our worlds, I was content to wait. I’d kill him when his purpose was done, and then mine would also be finished.
That was all great. Since my mushroom trip in 2010, I’ve felt connected to a mother energy who had a twisted son. In some lives, she kills him and goes mad. In others, she searches for him and wants to consume his energy, ridding the worlds of his taint. This vision lined up perfectly with what I already knew, adding the element of how to find Inti Son. It actually felt good to know how to get to that alternate world, where I could finally end his destructive existence.
But then it shifted. A mirror warped between the beautiful, dancing, twisted light of Inti Son and my awareness. Suddenly I wasn’t so sure of my identity. I was no longer Inti, but Inti Son. Horror filled my heart and mind, and my world began to shatter. How was I that twisted, awful, almost-evil, beautiful creation?
I came out of that vision with dread, knowing I was a destroyer and a killer. To add an even deeper layer of despair, Mother Ayahuasca helped me with something I’ve tried to do for years. When I was a very young child, I experienced trauma and was raised in an environment that demonized my natural psychic abilities. I’ve been working to remove the protective barriers I built around myself at an age where I didn’t even understand what I was doing. It’s hard to lean into one’s psychic gifts when she has denied them most of her life. So Mother Ayahuasca gifted me with complete removal of my walls. All of them. Down.
I was the last person remaining in the hut. Everyone else had gone to the kitchen to enjoy a warm bowl of soup. I sobbed uncontrollably and couldn’t get my core body temperature to a normal level. The doctor finally helped me leave the hut, and it felt like razor blades sliced into my awareness with each step. As the doctor led me through the kitchen towards my room, Matt left his meal and the group conversation to help me, to hold me, and to keep me warm as I cried. My sobbing lasted for hours. Seriously, I may have slept for twenty minutes that night. I felt devastated and so vulnerable. I was an evil being and NOW all my psychic gifts opened??
My blog posts are usually short and sweet, but this one needs more words for what came next.
During our morning evaluation of everyone’s experiences, I waited until the end to share. I intellectually know that destruction leads to rebirth and a Kali-like death god isn’t evil. It’s a necessary part of natural force. However, when I opened my mouth to talk, I burst into horrible sobbing…again. Two very sweet, compassionate Croatian ladies sat next to me, and I regretted the traumatized expressions I saw when I was done.
The coordinator was fascinated that Inti came into my vision. I didn’t know it at the time, but Inti is the Incan Sun God, the creator of everything. (That is, according to the coordinator. I’ve since read elsewhere that Inti had his own creator, but religion gets complicated.) That day was one of confusion and processing, especially because I’ve always felt like the Mother, not a Father/Son type of entity. I didn’t know what to ask for during the upcoming evening’s ayahuasca ceremony, so I left my intent as “what I needed most, but with a gentle and kind delivery.”
That night as I drank my second dose of ayahuasca, I felt Pachamama (the Incan Mother Earth), Mother Ayahuasca, and Inti come into my awareness and surround me in their love. The plant medicine dance began and seemed to last for an hour or so. I learned during our earlier group session that the weird colors, patterns, and chaotic movement is just energy that our brains can’t process. Knowing that helped me to allow it and then move beyond it.
After the plant (and vomiting) ended its intense phase, my vision opened to a mountain top filled with golden sunlight. Inti, my Father, was on top of the mountain and held his arms out for me. I rose up the mountainside and hugged him, forgiving myself for I don’t even know what. It felt as though in a very ancient time I’d done something I thought horrific and atrocious, and I wouldn’t forgive myself for it. Father Inti didn’t feel that way, and his joy at my reunification with him filled my heart. As we hugged, I felt myself (Inti Son) merge into my Father, becoming Inti, yet not exactly. After merging, Inti blended with an energy above him, one I could barely see or comprehend. It was as though Inti could now leave his duties to his Son and ascend to something above the Incan Cosmology.
As you might imagine, this felt incredible. A fracture that has always been a part of me filled and healed in that moment. I felt complete, and I still do. While I haven’t practiced anorexia (self-starvation) in a very long time, I’ve struggled with emotional cutting my entire teenaged and adult life. Last year after Matt and I did intensive personal integration workshops together, the cutting eased to where I could see how I continually hurt myself. I now hope to see zero desire to harm myself in any way.
Mother Ayahuasca also gave me a couple of steps to take to begin integrating my psychic gifts into my life. The first step is to quit denying my abilities, to stop living separate lives so others won’t see the aspects I feel unsafe showing to the world. How will that work out for me? Who knows. I don’t have to “control” my life, trusting that only beautiful, kind, and loving experiences will find me and hold me as I allow the light within to shine brightly.
I love you, my friends and family.
Matt and I were opposites when we felt that first spark of attraction almost thirty years ago. He was erratic and unstructured, while I held my feet on the ground and valued logical process. During our twenty-five years of marriage, Matt and I have integrated the strengths of the other, making each of us more whole. I’ve learned to think outside the box and to free my creative self. Matt has learned the value of staying in one place for years, despite his craving to always move to a new location and experience that for a hot minute before moving on to the next.
In 2018 we intentionally pursued integration work, traveling three times to Arizona for intensive classes on how to defragment those pieces of who we are that get splintered off as we experience childhood and our adult lives. It has been more than worth the time, money, and tears.
Using this new lens of integration, I now view my world as reflections of me. If somebody irritates me, I now ask myself why. What is it within me that is not whole, allowing this irritation to enter my life? It’s been a valuable tool and helps me continue the work I learned in class.
Last month Matt’s brother came to live with us. He’s a sweet man, and I’m glad he can enjoy the love and safe haven Matt and I have crafted into our home. However, I’ve trained Matt for twenty-five years to do things my way in the house. He gladly humors me because he doesn’t care.
Enter another person raised in the same chaotic household as Matt…things aren’t going my way anymore. For instance, I have a weird thing with doors. They need to be open. My family didn’t close doors (even when they should have), and I feel claustrophobic without the air flowing freely from room to room. With another person in the home, naturally doors need to be closed. And I’m having a problem with it. Since Matt complies with my view of the way things should be, I never realized how big a deal a closed door is to my health and sense of wellness. While it seems stupid, I know there’s an underlying issue in my psyche that is gently telling me it’s ready to be seen and healed.
What is it? I don’t know yet, but I’m committed to work through this dissonance and to come out stronger for having seen it.
Have you noticed an issue that makes no sense in your life? If you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear about it. Together we can work on our integration and healing, bringing that much more wholeness into our world.
When Hurricane Florence became a real threat to the Carolinas last weekend, I pretended to not care for one whole day. Then a deep-seated panic gripped me, and I joined the throngs at the grocery store to find only empty shelves. We were still over four days from predicted landfall, and supplies had already sold out. I returned to the store every day at different times, buying what little had come in from delivery trucks since my prior scavenging. Were we prepared enough? How could you ever prepare for the unpredictable nature of a storm? Do we need to evacuate? We live in a flood plain and everyone says we should leave, so why doesn’t Matt seem affected? My incredible rock of a husband told me I could lean on him—that we’d be fine. And we are. My fear drained much of my energy this week, and I’ve determined it’s just not worth it to live like this anymore.
For the past four years, I have consciously worked on facing my fears. I stopped writing creatively at that time because a gripping terror waited for me two paragraphs into a new story. In order to embrace my writing, I had to leave it for a while. During this break I’ve used various tools to delve into my psyche to understand why I freeze in terror, like I’m that little girl again who can’t control the dangerous environment she hides within. Each method of self-exploration has been deeper, grittier, and has taken me to places that I couldn’t have touched without the previous tool that got me to the next level. I’ve made phenomenal progress in 2018 with integrating parts of myself that either fractured when I was a young child or that I just couldn’t have reached without doing my inner exploration. So why did I still feel crippling terror this past week even as the sun shone overhead in a clear blue sky?
My friend Sherrie Dillard posted the following on FaceBook two days ago:
I took the invitation and determined I would use Hurricane Florence to overcome this fear of inclement weather and storms. As the hurricane made landfall, a realization came to me that storms are like the void where I create. I’ve panicked for many years when I see that darkness where my writing takes me. It really looks like a void, an emptiness that is actually filled with possibility. The paradox where my creative being yearns to free herself, but my conscious self fears to enter, much less linger and play with the potential that exists there.
Knowing this creative void is truly what I have feared, and not a weather scenario, I hope the next opportunity to experience ice, a flood, or whatever else Mother Nature brings, will find a calmer Me, a more accepting emotional place. Maybe I will learn to channel the ferocity of a storm and weave a beautiful flow of delight and tension into a fictional place where many may find refuge.