This story originally appeared on AZmarijuana.com
The Magic Kingdom, My Sister’s Wedding Prep, & A Tragic Ending
I took my daughter to Disneyland every October break for a vacation. I couldn’t allow my financial insecurity to impact the magical and wonderful time she and I had every year. Particularly not after she had just seen me ordering so many things online in the month before Burning Man. I didn’t want her to feel like she had to sacrifice her fun annual vacation so I could go on one alone. I cashed in some cryptocurrency – at a huge loss from when I bought it with the proceeds of selling my house – to take her. I’m glad I did.
Waiting outside the gates on our first day, the line to check bags was much longer than it had been in years past, and it was moving much more slowly. Someone from the line told me that very recently, someone had overdosed on heroin inside the park. I looked it up that day, and there were lots of videos about it, but I couldn’t watch them to find out because I was at the park with my daughter. Months later, it appears as though all reference to the incident is buried. Disney is good. Anyway, I felt a chill run down my spine. I thought of my brother. I hadn’t talked to him in almost a year, but I had mailed a letter to him at his rehab center that morning.
Sofia and I had a wonderful time at Disneyland. It was a fun, family vacation and everything felt good. When we returned, I was still stressed out. My sister’s bridal shower was the next day, and I was responsible for the decorating – which I always take very seriously. Over at my sister’s house, my mom went to the store to stock up on supplies. I received a text message from her now ex-boyfriend and my brother’s father (a long story about a modern family that I can’t tell here).
“Joshua is dead. Please don’t text me back.”
RIP Little Brother
I nearly collapsed. I called my mom.
“Who is dead Nik? Josh who?” – my mom asked.
It was a fair question. There were a lot of Josh’s in our unconventional and large family.
“Josh-Josh! Our Josh! Joshua Eberle!” – I think I screamed in reply.
It didn’t feel real. She began to sob. We got off the phone. I called my boyfriend. He offered to come get me, but my sister’s party had to happen the next morning, so I kept decorating. When I returned home that afternoon, I was in shock. Alternating between hysterical laughter and inconsolable crying, I had no idea grief felt like that. I thought of myself as an empathetic person, but I had no idea that range of emotions existed. I had experienced high-highs and low-lows, but nothing could measure up to this.
A week or so after his death, I was still paralyzed. I couldn’t sleep. I was having anxiety attacks. I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t understand: he was dead, but where was he? Was his spirit scared and alone wondering in the dark somewhere? Was he among the exalted, shining down on me from the heavens? Was he communicating with us through nature? Had he been reincarnated?
I began crutching on MJ hard. I had relied upon her guidance in the past, but not like this. Never like this.
Finding Ayahuasca Closer to Home
I told my boyfriend that I needed to know what happened to people when we die, and I believed at the time that DMT – the chemical component that is released by Ayahuasca – was the same as the one that is released in the human brain at birth and death. Although that is the most widely regarded theory, DMT has never actually been found in a human’s brain. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist in one, only that it has not been detected, probably due in large part to the fact that it is illegal and unethical to study a living human’s brain. Scientists have found DMT in brain of a rat. I was going to order some DMT on the dark web.
My boyfriend encouraged me to book travel to Peru and an Ayahuasca retreat instead. I started looking into it. Pricing them out. Trying to figure out how I could make that work in our schedules. My family was planning a move from Phoenix to Boise in a little over two months. I had my hands, and schedule, full. It would be at least four months before I could get to Peru, and that was a best-case scenario. I felt better having made the decision to do it, but the time was a real issue for me.
I was desperate. I googled “Phoenix Ayahuasca”. Much to my surprise, I found a group on meetup called “Insights” and they were meeting in two days. I was going to that meetup, come hell or high water.
Urban Icaros & Meeting My Destiny
Urban Icaros is the name of the group I met that night. Anyone in the Phoenix area looking for more information can find them at their website, contact via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or look them up on Facebook. Outside of the Phoenix area, many groups and retreats also exist in more local settings. A good place to start for finding those is on meet up or using social media.
The guides of Urban Icaros – Demi & Brian – were knowledgeable, experienced, compassionate, and well-equipped to deal with the host of issues that can arise from psychedelic drug use. During that initial meeting, Demi said one thing that really sealed my comfort in doing Ayahuasca outside of the Amazon. She said that although Mother Ayahuasca started in the Amazon, she was reaching out into the world to spread her healing gifts.
I decided I wanted to do it as soon as possible. I contacted the co-facilitator to ask how soon I could participate. She told me the December group was already fully booked, but they had an opening in January. That wouldn’t work for me. My family and I were moving from Phoenix to Boise on December 27th. I wrote back, asking her to please let me know if any spots were to open up in December. Just my luck! Two spots had just opened up. I nabbed them for my boyfriend and myself.
Dieta Preparations & Tripping While Sober
My boyfriend and I had to start food and medication prepping almost immediately since we booked the trip within 3 weeks of the date. We needed to first cut pork out, then red meat, then all meat. Cut waaaay back on dairy and all animal byproducts. I had to stop taking Adderall and Ambien, and I had to stop ingesting marijuana. That was the part I had the most difficulty with.
As I said, I had bad anxiety. I felt a physical weight on my chest most days. I would wake up and fall asleep crying. I couldn’t imagine why I would need to stop treating such debilitating anxiety to take something that was supposed to help me. There was certainly no chemical explanation like there was for the negative reaction that can occur when you mix Ayahuasca with SSRIs and MAOIs. There were even tribes in the Amazon who smoked MJ in concurrence with Ayahuasca ceremonies. But Demi told me it would muddy my journey, and most of the dietas for the Amazonian retreats actually stipulated that MJ should be out of the system for at least a month, if not longer.
I searched high and low for an answer, and though it’s not scientific, this article made the most sense to me. I couldn’t risk my trip so I stopped using MJ right away. The week before my journey with Aya, the mother had already started to enter my system.
Three days before our Aya experience, my boyfriend and I traveled to northern Arizona to hike the Grand Canyon. This was going to be difficult for me because I would have to do it all without taking Adderall, eating an edible, or eating meat. Keeping my strength up was going to be challenging. Also challenging was that I hadn’t been to the family cabin since Josh died, and we were going to be staying there the nights before and after our hike.
What Dreams May Come
The night before we hiked the canyon (which I had done at least a dozen times before), I had my first communication with my brother since his death. In my sleep, during what some will likely interpret as a “dream”, my brother told me I didn’t have to worry about him anymore. He showed me where he lived now, and what everyone there does. I saw people who I knew who had died, and many many people who I had never met. Josh showed me everyone just doing their own thing, whatever that might be. He explained that people don’t depend on each other here. They like each other still and spend time (which is not so much even a thing there like it is here) together, but since they never had to exchange currencies or worry about food or running out of time, there was no reason for anyone to ever depend on anyone else to go anywhere or do anything. So everyone just does whatever will make that person happiest at that moment. It was eternal presence. I woke myself up giggling several times. The next morning, all three of my friends commented on me laughing out loud in my sleep.
As we hiked through the Grand Canyon, I felt a wave a relief flood over me. I cried, and I laughed. I sketched Josh’s initials into a heart I drew on the sand of the banks of the Colorado River, and then we hiked out. One more night at the cabin, then we drove back to Phoenix and said goodbye to our friends. We slept one more time before doing Ayahuasca.
To be continued in part 4…