Transcendence: My #ProjectSoulscape Experience

Letting go means being willing to allow life to carry you to a new place, even a deeper more true rendition of self.

Jessica Schrader
Image courtesy of Soluna Collective

I’m currently streaming new sounds in Spotify, while the memories are still fresh. I joined last weekend’s #ProjectSoulscape by Soluna Collective and Ayahuasca Medicina Philippines held in Bulod, Tanay, Rizal.

Together with about 25 beautiful souls, we did not expect anything and we appreciated everything as we journeyed in our individual stories woven to form a beautiful tapestry.

#ProjectSoulscape is a shamanic spiritual retreat. For 3 days and 2 nights, we were immersed to the gift of nature, multiple sense-driven experiences, gaining higher consciousness lead by the shamans.

What happens in an Ayahuasca Retreat?

The closest thing to sharing what I am about to reveal is this article from Vox,

Show me who I’ve become.

Sean Illing, The Brutal Mirror, Nov 2019.

Is it an over statement? Not really. I am here for a definite purpose: I am ready to accept a higher consciousness. No, I did not research anything before this event. All I know is that there is a shaman that will facilitate the ritual and from there, maybe I will know if this ritual will tie up to my journey as a yoga teacher. I also am intrigued what would I learn here that might be different in my yoga journey.

Ever since I was clinically diagnosed with anxiety and PTSD, I have explored ways to understand what I am going through. Other than the regular psychotherapy, I took theta healing and even took the yoga teacher training.

I do not know anyone except Franz and I only knew him as a connection on Instagram and I use his oils as a potent aura cleanser when I practice or I read. It was the first time in many years that I am in my rawest state. I arrived in the meeting place, wanting to connect but I said to myself, “I wanted to keep something for myself until the time comes.” So yeah, I slept my way to the place until we reached Bulod Campsite.

Franz sent this photo and told me if I could teach yoga too. Why not?!

So, other than my intention, the longing for grounding through nature shouts in the picture, why should I say no to this?

Night 1: Purge and Discernment

That night, we had our Kakau (cacao) Ceremony. We were told that afternoon when other participants start to arrive, of the event.

We had our Despacho ceremony in the afternoon, offering a small token to Mother Nature (Pachamama).

Image courtesy of Soluna Collective. Kakao Ceremony lead by Hilom Artisan Collection.

I thought that there will be a mix in the cacao so yeah, let the paranoia start. It is my first time ever to take any herbal medicine and I imagined myself seeing images after drinking it. DEFINITELY NOT. The shaman whispered, “We will now facilitate rapé. There will be something that will be facilitated to your nose through tepi and this helps in clearing the blockages and will also help in cleansing. Please do not breathe through the nose until both nostrils are facilitated.” I nodded and just after I took my first sniff, I felt good at first. Breathing to the mouth, until I felt the tobacco powder went through my windpipe and I started gagging.

From then on, I immediately stepped out to go to the washroom and vomit! I could not stop from gagging and vomiting! Then after a few minutes, I tried blowing through the nose and I could not imagine myself with a lot of snot! My back is so heavy that I was afraid to fall head first and hurt myself so I stayed inside as one to four more participants joined in the toilet bowl party.

I was aware that I could not stop myself from throwing up, but I was so conscious cleaning around the bowl using the bidet and kept flushing as soon as the water is filled. I tried washing my face, my ears and my back, afraid if I might get my first high blood pressure.

Then I heard we were asked to return for the Sound Healing. As soon as I laid my back on the floor looking at the shaman, I immediately returned to the wash room and comforted myself with the toilet bowl and listened from there.

I felt so embarrassed how messy I was. I wanted to compose myself and have forgotten completely how control freak I am!

The sound healing ended as I stayed seated outside the wash room. One of the shamans stayed with me and asked how I was and I remembered talking a lot about my yoga experience. Recalling this happened, I also remembered trying to connect this as well with the parables from the Gospel. Yeah, I was a preacher that night.

Night 2: Transcendence

The next morning, we just had our laugh recalling what happened the first night. We continued our reflections with the dreamcatcher making lead by Weaving Sacred Dreams.

In the afternoon, we had our mud healing before the ceremony.

No we are not part of the Lord of the Flies.

That night was the main event, Sacred Plant ceremony. My heart was racing, I heard we have another rapé. I don’t think I am ready for another purge and honestly I do not want my experience just staying inside the washroom hoping to wipe my face off the mess.

We were made to lie on our backs and like the breath of fire, we were taught of exhaling to our mouths focusing on the breath tonight. Okay Allan, here is something familiar, do your kapalbhati pranayama!

Then one of the shamans, Rain, woke me to tell me he is about to drop a plant sap on my eyes that will help in kickstarting the visions and told me of the sting before the cleanse. My eyes twitched and I can no longer open my left eye that he has to initiate opening my left eyelid. That is when my visions started.

I offered black beans as my despacho.

I remembered offering black beans as my despacho and I placed black beads around my evil eye bead in the dreamcatcher. The six black beads doubled to 12, then 24, then 48 and everything was a blur. I see yellow and I thought it was just the light and I sailed away from my dreams.

Then another shaman (Koi) woke me to take a drink from the cup and finish it, “Think of your innermost desires and deepest intentions.” I made the chin mudra and told myself to focus in this journey as what they mentioned before hand.

As I was drinking bit by bit, here I will try my best to enumerate what I saw: several paintings like I was in MoMa (Museum of Modern Art) like Monet or Da Vinci’s, then Baroque paintings then Amorsolo’s even the ones in National Museum. I thought I was really longing to go to art museums but then there’s a shift of the scene like there are long streaks of gold and everything is bright.

I was suddenly in the cosmos and I remembered seeing it in one of the encyclopedia: horsehead nebula. Then I felt like I can hold onto this special gift so I thought of mixing cartoons but still ending like crystals and the vastness of the universe–the colors are just everywhere!

Horsehead Nebula shot by Ethan Roberts

And then I can almost hear the sounds they played just on my right side like the base is so clear that I was there. I tried opening my eyes to “wake up” from this dream and saw that everyone is lying down. I asked myself why am I still seated? I do not feel tired at all! Then I suddenly felt mirthful that I began to smile and maybe smirked a bit, until I started hearing voices from other participants. I wanted to comfort them but I could not stop this happiness, this light that I can feel, it’s too warm and I feel joyful!

Then I suddenly saw animals, I thought of willing to see the manta ray but it was quick. I saw a lot of eagles, I tried searching for others then the whole nature background becomes crimson red and I kept seeing this bird, the red cardinal bird. Besides the eagle, this lingered in my transitions of scenes.

I can see a lot of red but also gold streaks. I stayed seated. I rocked 3-4 times back and forth as Rain asked me 3 or 4 times if I wanted another drink but I told him I still am seeing visions and they are really loud and vivid!

Here’s the catch, like a 3D photo I can see Shiva on my left and I was trying to ask Ganesha to clear the path.

I opened my eyes one more time to look around, everyone is lying down! I told myself I have to rest or I might realize later on I was awake the whole time! I laid down finally and when I woke up I thought I already went to our tent to sleep only to find out we were all sleeping in the main hall.

Last Day

As I was heading back to the tent, I was waving to the shamans downstairs and I was beaming, mistaking them to my tentmates. I felt a bit embarrassed feeling close so I retreated to the tent and had our bonding talking about our dreams. I told them I will just take a walk to the riverside for the last forest bathing.

I grounded myself, grateful of what the visions have given me. I do not even have the slightest idea what they meant but while others compared their journey, I felt relieved. This is the first time that I feel elated.

As I meditated while the rain continued to shower us with grace, I gave my thanks and returned to my tentmates or what we fondly call as our coven.

Back to Reality

As we rode our way back to Manila, something that was clear to me: I am more aware, yes. But when you come back, everything is still the same. The people around will not understand you but does it matter? Do you want to justify your new profound discovery? I don’t think so, I told myself.

I am not finishing this blog for now. I will try to return after 3 weeks and read this again and will add what happened to me.

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