Plant Medicine Part 4 of 5: Rapé

My initial draft about my recent Ayahuasca ceremonies came to seven pages, too much for a single post. Given that I experienced two different medicines while there, I’m extending this Plant Medicine series to five parts – Rapé and Ayahuasca each with their own entry.

The retreat was three days and two nights, with an Aya ceremony each night and an optional daytime ceremony on Saturday. There was also a Rapé (rah-pay’) ceremony late Saturday afternoon – another sacred medicine from the Amazon, a powder made of tobacco and other plant leaves, finely ground herbs, seeds, and ashes.

Saturday
With only traces of an Ayahuasca experience the night before, I was keen to partake in the daytime ceremony despite not originally planning for it. After all, I didn’t drive 12 hours for traces. While waiting for the ceremony to begin, I was talking with a new friend, who had his own Rapé and blowpipe. Though there was a Rapé ceremony on the schedule later that evening, he saw my curiosity and offered me some. I accepted.

He sat in front of me on my mat. He filled one end of the blow pipe with snuff, brought it to my forehead and we breathed together, then he brought it to my heart and we we breathed together. Next, he placed one end of the pipe into my left nostril and blew. I was immediately overwhelmed by energy, my entire body on hot pins and needles. We repeated the same ritual with my other nostril.

I got up to purge but couldn’t get my legs and stumbled around helplessly. He rushed to hold me upright. I was dizzy then lightheaded. Energy surged through my arms and hands then flowed quickly down through my legs and into my feet. I sat for a few minutes breathing and talking to him about my condition. He thought it should be dissipating, but it grew stronger with each second. He held onto my hands; he could feel the heat. I had to lay down.

A facilitator saw what was happening as it started to become a scene. I noticed everyone staring at me; I must have been ghost white. My hands locked up, and then my calves and feet. Someone brought me a cold pack and I continued to breathe, waiting out the effects. They  were massaging my feet and hands while asking me to move them, which I was still able to do with conscious effort despite their rigidity. Despite the drama, I was never scared. Everything passes. This I know. But I was incredibly uncomfortable as I continued to breathe through it.

I laid on my mat for a while until I needed to go to the bathroom. The Ayahuasca ceremony had started without me and it became quite clear that I would no longer be joining in. A facilitator helped me to the bathroom, where I was lost in my thoughts for a while. Eventually, I made my way to another mat nearby and away from the ceremony.

A few visitors checked on me. They were upset that I was given the snuff by another participant outside of ceremony. They knew from experience that one in a hundred people might react like I had and it should never be done for the first time that close to working with Ayahuasca. I was apparently in the one percent of highly sensitive people. They were all quite upset about it. I just wanted to be alone and eventually I was.

I lay on my mat thinking, everything unfolds exactly as it should. It was supposed to happen this way, but why? The answers came streaming in.

You weren’t supposed to work with Ayahuasca today. Two ceremonies in a weekend are enough for you. You always push it. You are always pushing it.

Slow down! You hit everything so fast and so hard. Look at your life. Look at your habits. Look at yourself. It’s too much. Slow down, Stephanie. You need to take better care of yourself.

You are sensitive. You keep learning this lesson. When will you finally learn, Stephanie? Honor Yourself.

I was uncomfortable and I was going out to space. I was fighting the sensations; I wanted to ground so badly. I thought, I’ll get up and eat something. Food is grounding; that will fix this. I headed to the kitchen. I walked five feet before laying back down. I returned to my mat for five minutes before trying again. After failing to make it to the kitchen for the second time I realized I needed to stay on the mat. The food would wait – I needed to ground by staying put. That’s when the lessons continued.

Stop resisting this. Feel what you’ve done. Feel it. There’s no numbing this time. No food, no weed, no more of your nasty habits. Feel what you have done. You are always resisting and you are always controlling. Not. This. Time.

I considered my life and how much I have been in resistance to it. How much I have numbed myself. I have been addicted to so many things – to food, to weed and other drugs, to relationships, to worldly approval, to all of it. All of it an attempt to numb the pain of disconnection. Disconnection from my own spirit and from yours.

I have been scared of being hurt. As a child I learned to associate pain with “love” and I have feared it. While I have so many beautiful friends, a feeling of disconnection has lingered. With fear inside, I have lived in self-imposed isolation. My challenge now is to find comfort in my own skin. To be open-hearted while standing on solid ground. I have needed to ground my spirit. I received,

That’s right, Stephanie. Your vibration is changing. There’s no room for you to force anything now.

It’s clear that I’m still in the thick of transition and my vibration has been shifting higher and higher. I’ve been dating here in Asheville, but it’s felt forced. I don’t want my next relationship to be like what I’ve already experienced. I want to be my most authentic self and to attract a vibrational match. So rather than looking, we’ll see what comes naturally.

Once my body and mind returned to normal, I got some food and went out to my car. It’s my cave, my womb. I love it because I can put down the seats and make a bed. I have two foam crates, pillows and blankets in the back that I can always escape to. It’s my private space where I can ground if necessary, in most any situation. It’s a way of taking care of myself. Sensitive and introverted, I like to cocoon in my own energy sometimes.

I had come for Ayahuasca, but unexpectedly learned so much from Rapé. It’s doubtful I’ll try it again knowing how sensitive I am to tobacco (and if I do, I’ll go slow!), but I am so thankful all of this happened. It put a lot into perspective for me and it set the table for my absolutely incredible Ayahuasca journey later that night, which I’ll be sharing here early next week in Plant Medicine Part 5 of 5.

Thanks for reading! I love you!

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