I’ve often heard the concept of darkness, evil entities and dark shamanic practices within the realm of medicine work and especially when relating to Ayahuasca. There is a common misconception that when taking Ayahuasca as a sacrament we open a gateway to the astral planes and without discernment attract dark beings that can affect and impact our lives. And so, the natural conclusion would be to stay clear from these types of practices and thus be more protected or shielded from such influence.
My own experience and what I have learned through my shamanic and Spiritism studies is that seeing the medicine path in that way is similar to sitting in a dark room with a deadly snake roaming about but feeling safe because the lights are out and we cannot see any danger. Burying our head in the sand will not make our lives safer. Ignorance, at the end of the day, is not bliss…
In many spiritual traditions we relate to ignorance as the core, foundational challenge to the process of awakening. Not stupidity, but ignorance – our innate ability or capacity to ignore. ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’, tell us the three mystic apes. Hide and you will not be sought. And yet… the snake is there if we like it or not. Darkness, fear, challenge and yes, even death is all around us, our unwillingness to see it does not affect its existence.
The reason we are more able to notice darkness within us and around us, is due to the simple fact that we have chosen to pay attention and ultimately turn on the light. My dearest friend and teacher Carioca sings – “If you don’t face the dark, you won’t let the healing start”. Facing darkness is the first step towards love and shining our own light.
Darkness is nothing more than the absence of light. It is a place within us that has been ignored. A part of our being that lacks awareness, attention and care. Those nooks and crannies of self-denial, self hate and ultimately – fear. Parts of who we are which hold false beliefs of lack, of not being enough or being too much. In other words of being unlovable.
I’ve often said that taking Ayahuasca as a sacrament is essentially walking the mystical journey towards falling in love with ourselves. Which in mystical terms is called walking the ‘Path of a Thousand Petals’. Unfolding layer after layer, blossoming into the realization of the miraculous nature of who we truly are.
But, in unfolding these layers, we have to sincerely face our truest nature, our tendencies and desires. Here among beauty and virtues we witness our darkness, our destructive tendencies and face our fears. In stepping into ceremony, and taking this mystical sacrament, we accelerate this process. We step into a powerful shining torch of a sacrificial fire, enabling us to see without any veil or hindrance what truly lies within us all.
The most important question is not whether we have darkness or not nor is it whether dark beings are real or imaginary; The most important thing to learn is what can we actually do with that energy and how do we grow from witnessing all that we get to see.
In studying Allan Kardec and the teachings of Spiritism we understand the nature of reincarnation and the process through which the soul evolves. A slow and gradual progression through which the spirit evolves in purity, understanding and love. Starting with a spark of intelligence that develops and grows, facing life through a multitude of corporal experiences in many shapes and forms. Learning about individuality, free will, self-desire and the connection to a greater whole. We learn that there are many kinds of spirits, some benevolent and kind and other more ignorant, selfish and acting out of despair.
We also learn how profound and powerful is the influence these forces; these beings and spirits have on us in our human form. We learn that many of our thoughts and feelings are nothing more than a “bad idea virus”, an entity, sometimes intelligent, sometimes just an automated function which results with poor judgment, self inflicted harm or simply a looping thought that goes nowhere.
With this understanding we are allowed a glimpse into the tremendous impact our lives incur from the unseen astral planes of existence. Back to the dark room analogy, we get to understand that certain pains and challenges we get to experience are actually due to dangers and “snakes” that roam about without our ability to identify and understand.
And so, you decide to shine a light in your darkened room. You take the sacrament and for a short while, the veil of ignorance is lifted. You get to see and witness what truly goes on. You begin to understand why things are as they are. You find out that you are not alone. That in this same exact room, there are gifts for you to receive and dangers for you to avoid.
This new landscape of experience might be overwhelming at first. Colors, shapes, spirits and other dimensions. In a way you realize you have been blind and deaf and all of a sudden there are so many colors, so many sounds. You learn that your heart has many more qualities and that you have a much greater capacity to feel and emote than you could ever imagine. But, in the same token, you get to experience pain and sadness you have either forgotten or have chosen to ignore.
This is where a Shaman is needed. The Shaman will take your hand and help you acclimate to this new terrain. You sit in the same room; you have the same capacity to see, its just that the Shaman has already acclimated to this new world and is more accustomed to seeing with their spiritual eyes.
They are not there to change or even fix you, they are there to help you shine your own light and ignite your own process of healing. They will offer their help, but without your permission and will to heal and transform, their efforts will be of no avail. In the process of a Shamanic ceremony, all participants undergo a profound journey of healing. The Shaman, the helpers and guides and everyone else. In a way, this journey is a journey of healing the healers. Innately we all have the capacity to heal self and other. Healing is an intrinsic skill we are born with. It is our birthright and a part of our nature.
As we evolve and reveal more petals of our blossoming selves, we are to encounter more facets of ourselves and with that face more virtues and more vices. We will attract different situations, spirits and guides that will try to either help us grow or tempt us towards devolution.
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, says Lord Acton. As we grow in spirit and capacity of heart, we will be discovering more power. Power of insight, of understanding, of compassion, but also, potentially of manipulation and harm. Power, as an idea is neutral. Like electricity for example, it’s neither good nor bad. But, we all know electricity can be used for great things but it can also be used to harm and destroy. What determines the direction this power will go is the sincerity and integrity of our hearts.
Walking any path, spiritual or material, can help us grow and expand or bring us to shrivel and collapse. The greatest of souls have fallen and the lowest of the low have risen. Your heart and you choices will either break you or make you. We need never forget that it is us who can, if we so choose, turn on the light.