by Old Leafy-Tooth
Originally published in Salvia Magazine, Summer, 2003 issue
The Shepherdess and the Clown
by Old Leafy-Tooth
edited and updated from the Salvia Magazine, Summer 2003 issue
Slava, our editor, asked me to offer something for this issue of Salvia Magazine, although in terms of Salvia experience, I'm a relative newcomer. La Pastora only introduced herself to me early this current year after a 22-year fast from all consciousness-enhancing substances. As a spiritual enthusiast attending a self-taught seminar in comparative mysticism, I remained a dedicated pot and entheo head for more than fifteen years in the Sixties-Seventies, and definitely consumed more than my share. For one brief summer I studied with a teacher - Ouspensky's gardener, Robert de Ropp (author of "Drugs and the Mind," which I think he wished he had never written because it brought an endless stream of hippies to his Tibetan teahouse - including me). At that time I was living in an open-door commune, Morningstar Ranch, which gained a certain notoriety as 'the Digger farm' until Sonoma County bulldozed it and its sister community, Ahimsa Ranch, out of existence in the early Seventies (the full story can be accessed at http://www.diggers.org/home_free.htm).
By the late Seventies, I wasn't receiving any new information unless I truly blasted myself off-planet with substances I wouldn't offer a rabid walrus, so when I returned to urban living in 1980 and re-met the woman who would become my wonderful true life-partner, I decided to clean up my act. I dropped all my previous usages and addicted myself to her instead. Also it seemed time to treat this aging physical form more kindly and devote myself to whatever awakened states my body could provide naturally - as long as it did not require vigorous exercise with barbells or riding unicycles. I was not to be disappointed, although it took twenty years.
During frequent garden meditations, I tried to surrender to the "divine descent" described in Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga, and continued my own home-grown variety of Mother Sun adoration-yoga, which at some point deserves its own essay. By late 2001, I began to experience moments of what can only be described as 'amazing grace,' subtle energy flows that came out of the blue during my work day. I called it 'the one o'clock high' because it seemed to descend from that quarter of the heavens.
I embarked on a study of Shakyamuni's facial expressions as depicted in various paintings and sculptures, and began to formulate a theory that the Buddha was creating a slight vacuum between his upper tongue and his soft palate. Various traditions confirmed that tongue placement is crucial if what Taoism calls 'the Microcosmic Orbit' of chi energies is to come full circle. Placing the tip of the tongue against the roof of the mouth allows the energy surging up the spine to close the circuit and flow down the front of the body. A short phrase in the Bhairava Tantra ("suck and become the sucking") also encouraged me to continue gently clucking on my soft palate and uvula in time with my heartbeat.
Then in late 2002, I found my spiritual teacher, David Spero, who sits on the Divine Mother's lap in effortless 24-hour sahaj samadhi and emanates great waves of her oceanic love (http://www.davidspero.org). Merging heartbeats with David in a darshan hug boosted me towards a deeper dissolution into Source. I also had found two other teachers extremely helpful: Master Aziz Kristof of the non-dual, advaita tradition (http://www.azizkristof.org) and the Zen Buddhist teacher Adyashanti (http://www.zen-satsang.org/. God, how I love the Internet!
Although I now felt endowed by David to melt away layer-by-layer into Her radiance, I was not quite ready to lay down my research into Eudaemony - a Greek word meaning "the philosophy that views the goal of human happiness and prosperity as the highest virtue," now revived in the new psychological field of Hedonics. I've always had the feeling that an easy and natural portal exists into what I call 'Mother's Ocean,' Her Pool of All Possibilities. When I hesitated at the edge, dabbling a toe in the waves, I told myself it was because I wanted to bring everyone else along. Is that the ultimate grandiose delusion, or just the Bodhisattva's vow not to enter nirvana alone? I continued my mouth-position yoga and wrote a second essay that introduced a meditation-assistance device that I named 'the Donkey Gruntler.' It's sort of a one-note harmonica that loosens up lateral chest tensions of the type that Wilhelm Reich, the discoverer of orgones (another name for 'chi' in my opinion), called 'armoring.' (Note: the Gruntler is currently out of production because my parts manufacturer is moving their factory).
Also, I realized how very easy it is, once these energy experiences fill me to my bliss-tolerance level, for that stubborn old mule, Ego, to latch onto and claim these awakened states as his own. "Down, boy, down!" I kept saying. "You're just the wrapping paper around Her presence in your heart of hearts." Of all the various ego-inflations and circus-horse 'glamours,'("Ah! They're playing my entrance music!") the beatific pomps and circumstances of spiritual pride are the hardest to unseat. I felt that I needed to check my cosmic coordinates from the oh-so-democratic, entheogenic point of view of my hippie experiences. After all, how could my ego stake a claim to an enlightenment that anyone else taking the same substance could access? I wanted something organic like Father Peyote, always kind to me in previous decades, although Mescalito tended to take me on male rainbow warrior quests. The ayahuasca vine reportedly required projectile vomiting, not my favorite pyloric reflex, although the visions and intensely altered states sounded intriguing. So when I learned of Salvia and the plant's gentle Shepherdess ally, I felt Mother calling to me through her.
La Pastora proved a true blessing, and each of the times I've contacted her reassured me more. It's almost as if I've had a 'Salvia deficiency' all these years and didn't know it. As a long-time worshipper of the Divine Mother, I found her presence in Salvia both extremely welcoming and totally overwhelming. She affectionately plastered me, more than symbolically, to the woodwork in an all-encompassing embrace. It reminded me of my effusive Auntie Jane who, when I was five years old, used to sweep me off the floor into her enveloping arms and smother me with kisses.
For the first session, I took two eyedropperfuls of tincture and, ten minutes later, experienced the 'descent' of a very beneficent, divine female presence. She promised me that if I could prepare 'the seat' more adequately, perhaps an even more fulfilling 'descent' would follow. I had experienced descents on LSD that resembled the fluttering of dovelike wings. As they come closer and closer, they matched my heartbeats with a certain enstatic (Mircea Eliade's word) breathless nearness. Hard to describe, but again with Salvia I felt certain that the Great Spirit Self was drawing near. The name of this entity seemed related to the heartbeat mantram "THA-THA" gradually changing on my tongue to "THOU, THOU..."(in the 1960s I received a chant, "Only Thou," that I am told is still sung in Native American Church ceremonies - and I'd be glad to share here.).
A second encounter with Ska Maria Pastora - 2 eyedroppers followed by a third an hour later - was equally marvelous. I spent the whole three hours listening to the ocean surf and seagulls on earphones (Mind Food 'Surf' with Hemisync, Interstate Industries, Inc.). I took some notes and offer here a deciphered version because my scrawls resemble the trail of a lop-sided spider crawling through a puddle of ink.
Great Divine Mother name: (exhale) "Thaw-wa-wooosh-nee" (inhale): "Hahhhhh..." The Goddess arrives with such great love and nobility - and an amazing retinue of attendants. I found myself begging her PLEASE never to leave me again! NEVER! She smiled lovingly and benignly, and again repeated her previous offer to remain if a proper 'seat' was prepared for her - or perhaps 'caballo' would be a better term. Or 'burro?' (Back to the donkey essay I've been polishing!)
The third session again was like a glorious death, with breath and heartbeats merging into a panting: "tha tha tha tha tha - thou thou thou thou thou." My notes read: "Peu - eeeeeace.... An Absolute Mother Descent - Touchdown. Don't grab for it. That helps. Great Aunt Emma's hiccup cure: 'Walk around the house not thinking of a fox.' No grabs - no fox - SURRENDER - You do hold on during the 'rush,' Ramon. Let goooooo. Total relaxation IS buddhahood! Just SURRENDER to total relaxation..."
Out of these sessions evolved a "Peace Thou Now" meditation exercise that places 'The Eight Auspicious Symbols of the Buddha' on the face with my own interpretations in parentheses: the vase (chin/hara), the lotus (mouth/heart), the endless knot (breath), the blue ribbon curls of the Sage Smile (upper lip flattening on teeth), The Red Victory Banner of Ringing Silence (for me the pitch is g-a 3 octaves above middle C), The Wheel of Absolute Stillness - relaxation, The Morning Star, The Two Golden Fish of chi/prana moving up the flared nostrils to the Third Eye. (Eye muscles crinkle in a complete smile, forehead muscles slightly raised). The White Conch of the Ajna chakra ("mind 'blows' here," my note reads), The Seven Rays (horses) of Her Radiant Retinue, and finally the overarching umbrella of Her protective love and absolutely awesome presence. THANK YOU, MA! (No fox, no grabbing), At Your Lotus Feet we place the 'mule' on the inhale (mule-ah-bandha) the Kegel clench plus tightening the buttocks. Thumb-to-index fingertip gesture, raise it like a conductor on the inhale. When you reach your bliss tolerance, you 'drift,' lose awareness - 'fall asleep'.
OKAY, conduct ten inhales and then up the Symbols we go, saying "Peace": pursed lips say "Peu", slowing widening the mouth isometrically tensing against the 'kiss muscles' to verrry slowly say "ehhh," widening to "eeee." Lost it again! I just drift away! Once more: (just inhale from soles of the feet, up through legs, the 'mule' inhale, the "Peu," the two-fish smile widening to Peuu-ehhh-eeee- (balancing isometrically the "peu' muscles with the "smile" muscles). Very hard to keep awareness going...
Summing up, I think the 'balance point' for which I'm searching may be one foot in the traditional meditation community and the other in the Archaic Revival culture. Each cancels out the possible self-donkey-fi-cation of the other. Salvia melts the hubris of what a dear new friend and Salvia co-devotee calls "the Spiritualentsia, those Oh-So-Holies" - the guru-shop and experience-hop crowd. At the same time, meditation and yoga practices help evaporate the serious delusion that may accompany the ingestion of any entheogen - that its use is necessary for a permanent awakening. For an 'additive' not to become 'addictive' one needs to remove the letter 'c' and 'see' that Salvia just gives a taste and, if you're lucky, a lingering roadmap when you're back, to Clear See-ing.
One example: During my third besagement, while listening to surf and seagulls, I truly 'disappeared' for a few precious moments into the sound and just became ocean and sky. It seemed to occur when the stereo balanced perfectly in the center of my head, perhaps assisted by the Hemisync technology on the tape. For those who habitually listen on earphones, this may be a common occurrence, but for me it was awe-inspiring. My sense of any "I" truly dissolved into the sound and vision of a vast ocean. This was accompanied by a total liberation from the small self and a freedom that I had never experienced before. What relief! What bliss! I was the boundless Self that inhabits all and everything! I could have shouted the joy-filled words of the Ashtavakra Samhita, "How wonderful! In me the shoreless ocean, the waves of individual selves arise, strike each other, play and disappear, each according to its nature."
Of course the moment passed, and despite efforts to re-invoke it - always a mistake because the donkey begins to bray - I could not return. But now that I know how it feels, perhaps I can focus on that same space in the center of my head and perhaps the ocean will dissolve me again.
I don't know how often I'm going to need to invoke La Pastora via Salvia, but I'm very grateful to have found her. Sometimes it feels to me as if we need some sort of ceremony to wrap around this experience similar to the Native American Church or the Ayahuasca folks. But then, there's something truly wonderful about just letting it be. I'm also determined to find a way to evoke her presence within daily Consensus Reality while I continue my cross-country sprint into the embrace of She Who Always Manifests First From The Unmanifest - and cleans up last.
May we all be forever so blessed,
Postscript: Having now read about the six levels of the S-A-L-V-I-A Experiential Rating Scale, I must in all honesty admit that I find it difficult to map my experiences to it. I always have been a hard head regarding halluncinatory-vision states, mostly involving myself over the years with solar light energies. But I welcome the nighttime as sacred to La Pastora, and with Salvia I have experienced the beginning outlines of a face of the Goddess emerging out of the deepest purples and dancing brilliance. Others speak of the common oddly twisting body motions and pushing-pulling through a membrane of sorts, which I too have felt. These could be regressive memories of the birth experience, or some sort of re-birth pulling-through into a new vibrational dimension. Perhaps I have only accessed the first three levels and, if so, I anticipate learning much more. Thank you, Mother!
A final quote from the amazing American Zen master Adyashanti,
"In order to be truly free, you must desire to know the truth more than you want to feel good. Because, if feeling good is your goal, then as soon as you feel better you will lose interest in what is true. This does not mean that feeling good or experiencing love and bliss is a bad thing. Given the choice, anyone would choose to feel bliss rather than sorrow. It simply means that if this desire to feel good is stronger than the yearning to see, know, and experience Truth, then this desire will always be distorting the perception of what is Real, while corrupting one's deepest integrity.
"Enlightenment means the end of all division. It is not simply having an occasional experience of unity beyond all division, it is actually being undivided. This is what nonduality truly means. It means there is just One Self, without a difference or gap between the profound revelation of Oneness and the way it is perceived and lived every moment of life. Nonduality means that the inner revelation and the outer expression of the personality are one and the same."
And a final-final quote from my spiritual teacher, David Spero (hhtp://www.davidspero.org):
"Through innocence, the mind is led down into the interior of its being and merges into an ocean of Divine Silence. This silence is not an experience. It is what you are. When this experience becomes complete, you have a profound peace that permeates event he cells of your body.
"This silence is love. As you learn to feel yourself as that, you become empty. In that emptiness you become nothing. Your identity merges into that silence.
"There is also an energy that comes out of this nothingness. This energy is not in space or time. It's the energy of Life. The whole creation comes out of this energy. Therefore, the whole creation is empty. Life is moving in this emptiness just the way a fish moves in water, with no conflict."