My wife Sarah and I arrived in Oregon during the rainy season. As our taxi drove into Ashland, we passed restaurants, motels, and shops named for Puck, Oberon, Stratford, and the Bard. There’s an All’s Well Herb and Vitamin Shop. The annual Shakespeare festival begins next month.
We’re staying at Anne Hathaway’s B&B in a room that blends Victorian comfort with funky charm. Tomorrow morning, a representative of the local Santo Daime group will drive me to their church, which is about twenty minutes outside town.
I admit I’m nervous. Part of it is typical social anxiety that anybody might get from being the newcomer among strangers. On top of that, I’ll be participating in an unfamiliar religious ritual that involves consuming one of the most powerful psychoactive substances on earth.
I’ve taken psychedelic drugs before and survived and even enjoyed it. That was 40 years ago, however. The decades have drained my stamina and weighed me down with the choices of a lifetime. Plus, Ayahausca has a rep for causing nausea and vomiting. To members of the Santo Daime faith, this purging is part of the process of spiritual cleansing. To me, it’s one more unknown in a big day of them.
I have prepared as best I can. I have my blanket and pillow, my yoga mat and snacks of fruit and nuts. I am bringing as few expectations as possible. I will post again when I return from the journey.