Crawling From the Ashes


Editor's Note: The following is taken, word for word, from my journal entry after my 4th Ayahuasca
ceremony: Saturday, November 8, 2008


Two hours ago, I didn't know what the fuck I was.

It was the interminable night. Everything I have ever known or loved was shattered into a trillion pieces. I
didn't know who I was. I didn't know if my family was real, try though I did to piece them together. I didn't
know if I had a job. I didn't know what words were. And what the fuck was a writer? I couldn't grasp the
idea of sitting on an airplane, though I was having flashbacks to sitting on one at some point. The game of
hockey seemed completely absurd, and I couldn't imagine having ever played it. I didn't know if my arm was
real. I kept having visions of a shower door, although I couldn't explain what it was. I was feeling these slices
of energy leave my body, going somewhere else.

Nothing existed in my world except for this one fucked up scene, with the lights out and these people chanting
and shaking these leaves, and I could barely lift my arm and I felt like my life was disappearing. I had no
recollection of how I'd gotten there and what had happened to the life I thought I knew; the life that was
flashing before my very eyes that I couldn't remember or even begin to explain.

For 7 hours, I was convinced that the entirety of reality consisted of my laying in this fucked up place and
flashing back through these inexplicable tunnels of memory, where I'd follow one sequence of what I thought
were events from beginning to end, only to be sucked all the way back up through it; back into this fucked up
scene. And every time I came back to this scene, I became more and more convinced that those visions were
simply that: visions. As if they hadn't occurred at all. As if they were simply dreams, and that the entire
universe was swirling around outside of this one fucked up room in the middle of God knew where, and all of
the life I thought I knew was nothing but figments of my imagination.

There is nothing more terrifying than to believe that you have lost everything. I know what it means to die.

It was my worst nightmare. And I kept waking up to it over and over and over again. The interminable night.

I've never felt more alone in my life. I just wanted my family. I wanted to be back in the place I could have
sworn was real. Flashbacks to the apartments I used to live in. To my parents' place up north. I wanted
someone to hold me.

One of the ladies in the room was puking violently and I couldn't see her. I thought it was my mom. But how
did she get here?

I wanted water but felt like I'd never again be able to feel it in my throat; that the people chanting in the dark
wouldn't ever let me drink water. I was never coming out of this.

And they just kept saying: "Take a deep breath... It's just a little ayahuasca..." Was this life? Was this all there
was? I didn't even know what they were talking about.

I would wake up and be in a completely different position on the floor than I had been previously, with
absolutely no recollection of how I'd gotten from there to here or how much time had elapsed. By now the
lanterns were lit, but it didn't matter. I needed Albert beside me but he was gone. I kept seeing Hagen on the
other side of me but I couldn't call out.

The group stayed in the ceremonial house long after everything was over. They stayed with me. I eventually
vomitted prodigiously into the abyss of a bucket I couldn't even see. I still didn't know what the fuck was
going on. I was laying there twitching, trying to bring myself back into the world of the living.

I eventually stumbled back to my cabin at 3:30 in the morning, unable to keep my balance, falling into the
jungle bushes lining both sides of the path. The stars above were the most brilliant I'd ever seen.
This Piece Originally Appeared in The
Sean McCallum.com Blog