by Patrick Haize
“African Spirit Medicine”
They attacked in sharp swoops, diving from every angle. One by one the demons challenged me, striking my soul with their eyes just inches from my face. Each pair of eyes had a unique glow, radiating an explicit shade of terror. Fear penetrated my energy field through my dilated pupils, clouting me with a collage of bone chilling scourges. Finally, I noticed that these demons seemed to be personifications of my own suppressed fears. “They can’t hurt me,” I kept telling myself between fits of sheer horror. I knew they couldn’t hurt me…well, at least on the physical plane I knew they couldn’t, but I was uncertain about the extent to which my non-physical, spiritual self was being threatened.
There was a cylindrical portal open in the room. It ran vertically from theceiling through the floor and into a seeming infinity. It represented my soul’s evolutionary path: progress stretched upwards and regression stretched downwards. The present moment met me in the middle, acting as the doorway to an ever-present choice of which direction to take with each thought, emotion, and action. By the agency of this portal, my present self was in mental contact with both my higher and lower selves. My lower self took the form of a child, about 4 or 5 years old. He was infatuated with fear and suffering. He kept screaming that things were hopeless, that these evil demons were infecting us. My higher self didn’t assume a specific form; he was more like a presence composed of light energy. He began coaching me through this circus of demons, and offered a useful technique for gracefully handling it all.
The technique was simple: to consider the demons my friends. This was difficult, as there was nothing friendly about the way these demons were approaching me, their eyes sucking at my soul. I found however, that when I followed the guidance of my higher self and simply refrained from fearing them, their faces would transform, revealing a friendly expression. If I let the fear creep in, the demons would remain evil until I let it go again. I began to get the idethat this was all a game, like a training ground for facing my fears.
My lower self was not exercising the friendship technique; he was convinced these demons were evil. When I attempted to reason with him, he would instantly respond with hostility and ignore my explanations. Fortunately, my higher self had a suggestion for handling this situation, too; He began sending energy down to me from the upper end of the portal; it came down into my crown and accumulated in my aura. It was a vibration of love, blissful serenity, and worry-free excitement. As this energy built up within me I was able to transfer it through my hands into the aura of my lower self, the child. He slowly emerged into a higher awareness, snapping out of his panic, though only for short intervals at first. It was like he was waking up from a nightmare and didn’t remember why he had been so afraid; he would sit there puzzled for a minute and then snap back into panic, teetering back and forth for what seemed like hours. During his calm moments, I was able to get through to him and reason with him. Finally, after gaining and building his trust, we came to an agreement that he would take guidance from the higher energies with regard to the interpretation of nature. He agreed, simply because it felt so much better to relax and stop worrying. The situation gradually dissipated with time and I watched the room fade back to normalcy.
My introspective experience with ibogaine was a wild 12-hour time period,to say the least. Despite how torturous and grueling it was initially, in the end it was far more rewarding than it was painful. When you encounter such an intense experience, everyday struggles become laughable. It’s as if the weight of your regular problems dramatically decreases by increasing the mass of your existential awareness. After my experience with ibogaine, it became obvious to me why indigenous tribes use the plant to mark a rite of passage; it’s like a cosmic father who teaches the ultimate tough-love-crash-course-life-lesson.
Ibogaine is derived from the root of an African plant. It was originally used during religious ceremonies over a thousand years ago by Bwiti tribes in Africa. Their entire societal structure was based on the wisdom received during communication with the plant upon eating it. Today, it’s used medically for a wide variety of treatments from intestinal cleansing to psychotherapy. The most well known medical use for the plant is to treat substance abuse disorders. Its ability to reset neuro-pathways in the brain gives the subject an opportunity to change his or her thought patterns.
This proved extremely helpful to patients with mental disorders and/or addiction problems, particularly opiate addiction. Opiate withdrawal is a severely painful and even potentially deadly endeavor; it involves the shakes, cold/hot sweats, diarrhea, vomiting, crippling body pain and immense psychological torment and depression. I learned from an ex-opiate addict that Ibogaine can completely attenuate opiate withdrawal with as little as one dose. The fact that something can completely override such relentless withdrawal symptoms with just one dose is baffling.
Many prescription drugs such as Methadone, suboxone, subutex have been prescribed for the same purpose; however, aside from inducing their own unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, most of them require a minimum of 2 weeks of treatment and have little to no psychological benefits. In fact, a large number of addicts end up becoming addicted to the very treatment that was prescribed to help their addiction. Ibogaine, due to its psychedelic properties, was declared a schedule 1 substance in 1967 as part of the U.S. government’s strong response to the rise in popularity of psychedelic substances. My personal interest in ibogaine was inresponse to its purported spiritual properties. I’ve been intrigued by shamanism for years and when I heard ibogaine being referred to as the masculine form of ayahuasca, I immediately wanted to know more. Ayahuasca, a more commonly known shamanic tool than ibogaine (at least in the western world), has comparably intense effects, as well as its own miraculous healing qualities. Interestingly, these plants are native to opposite sides of the planet: ibogaine being from Africa andayahuasca from the Amazon. The correlation I made between these medicines and the cosmic eb and flow of nature is what inspired my deep fascination with them.
During the Dec 21, 2012 Convergence at the Chichen Itza ruins in Central America, I met a Dr. Martin Polanco, an ibogaine treatment provider from Baja. He was actually the first person in Mexico to open a clinic. It’s called “Crossroads Treatment Center” and is located in a gated community on the beach in Rosorito. I was back in the states for less than a month when I decided to take another trip to Mexico for an Ibogaine vision quest at Crossroads Treatment Center. The treatment left me with an incredibly quiet mind; any chatter that was dancing around in my head beforehand became muted. I felt calm and serene. The peaceful environment provided at Crossroads reflected a well-versed understanding of ibogaine’s psychological effects. Upon my arrival at the facility, I was given a private bedroom on the beachfront property with my own fireplace, a full bathroom and even maid service. I woke in the mornings to home-cooked breakfast, thoughtfully prepared each day by one of several beautiful Mexican grandmothers who also blessed the food. The main living room had a glass wall and a door to the back yard with a cabana and hammocks overlooking the ocean.
ßBetween the bedrooms, in the courtyard, there was a large outside fireplace and seating area where the guests and staff could interact. There was a movie/video game room and a pool/ping pong table in the main living room. It felt more like a vacation resort than a treatment center. Beyond the beautiful ambiance of the property, what I found most magical about Crossroads was the synergy of the staff; they were like a huge, welcoming family and I could tell they genuinely enjoyed being there. A number of times during the trip, the other guests and I acknowledged how lucky we were to have such an awesome group taking care of us. There were several yoga classes and therapy sessions provided during my week-long stay and a beautiful young masseuse even came in for three of the days. I have to admit, I developed a bit of a crush on her by the end of my stay. Through my acquaintance with this facility and the plant itself, I have come to whole-heartedly advocate the medical and spiritual use of ibogaine. My personal belief about plants is that each has its own unique spirit and intelligence. Therefore, when you consume a plant, your spiritual and physical intelligence have an opportunity to learn from the plant. Some plants are subtler in their effects, like kale or spinach; others, like ibogaine, tend to affect you more intensely. A plant’s ability to influence your consciousness is a form of communication between you and the plant, and the nature of that influence is determined by the plant’s characteristics and your reaction to it. It has even been discovered that plants grow stronger and healthier if they are spoken to and interacted with. Indeed, the plant and animal kingdoms can speak to each other in ways previously unimagined, if not simply ignored, by the west.
We need plants to survive, and the fact that you are alive and able to read this article means that plants are presently affecting your consciousness. The idea that communication with nature is crucial in reveling deeper realms of consciousness and insight has been understood by the indigenous for centuries. I think that somewhere along the path to western industrialism, most of us forgot how to communicate with nature and benefit from the wisdom it has to share. Imagine howmuch they could help us if we were more perceptive to their messages. I propose that we rediscover this lost relationship with our planet and open up the dialogue between humanity and plants once again.
Patrick Haize is an Artist / Writer, and Creative Director at Vision Magazine. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.