She looked like a female version of Yoda, old and wrinkled. She sat cross legged on a blanket, her back upright and fierce. In her ancient face I saw both the grief of generations and the playfulness of a little girl. She was absently eating sunflower seeds, spitting out the husks on the floor, not in the least bothered by what was coming. I was nervous and she felt it. She looked at me and smiled.
‘You have nothing to fear’, she said in Spanish. ‘The Mother will never show you more than you can handle. You are strong.’
I had done about 10 ayahuasca ceremonies before, enough to endow me with a deep awe for the mysterious powers of this sacred medicine. Most ‘curanderas’ (healers) call her spirit ‘The Mother’. From the very first time I heard this it made total sense to me. There was something distinctly motherly about her undeniable power, her overwhelming presence, her boundless love and her uncompromising rigor. This was my first ceremony with a female curandera, Manuela. Somehow it felt different – more powerful and yet safer. I knew she looked straight through me and I didn’t mind. In fact I enjoyed the feeling of being seen and understood by her on such a deep level.
Without further ado she handed me a small clay cup with the dark liquid.
‘Kausepa!’ she said. ‘To life!’
I cringed. Nothing tastes more foul than ayahuasca. Drinking it demands courage and determination, but after that you can relax. Drinking the medicine opens the portals to other realms, to the mysteries that are usually hidden behind the veils of consciousness. There’s nothing else to do but surrender to the forces that will surge through you. And purge, but that also happens by itself. Once you’ve drunk there’s no turning back.
I drank the syrupy liquid and handed the empty cup back to Manuela. She chuckled at my grimaced face while I sank back into the cushions, relieved that it was done. I closed my eyes and meditated, waiting for the medicine to come on. Almost straight away I felt a deep relaxation come over me. This was usually how the Mother introduced herself. She would embrace me, cradle me, lull me into a state of surrender. I was often fooled into believing that was it: a few hours of blissful relaxation, as if my work was done, nothing to go through, nothing new to be revealed anymore. Oh, how wrong I was, time and time again.
This time the visuals came up very rapidly. They were deeply disturbing: demonic faces, claws and reptilian bodies that seemed to attack me, trying to scare me, moving almost too fast for me to see them clearly. It felt as if part of my consciousness was moving through different layers of hell, childhood nightmares, while another part was present and still, meditating, observing it all. I wasn’t scared, as I knew what to do.
I kept saying: ‘No, thank you. Go away.’
Every time I spoke these words the horrible image would disappear, only to be replaced by something more horrible. It was hard not to get carried away by the rapidly changing visions of monsters, bleeding children, torture, dying women, battle fields and war zones. Every possible scene of suffering tried to overtake my consciousness, but I kept saying: ‘No, thank you. Go away.’ I knew these visions were somehow real, but they were of no use. They were the realms I had to travel through in order to reach the Mother. It was hard work and I’m sure it was hard work for her too. It felt as if we both were traveling vast distances at high speed in order to finally meet each other.
My body was going through fits of nausea, but I had yet to vomit. The toilet was outside and at a certain point I had to hurry out to avoid shitting my pants. It’s said that purging from the mouth releases conscious trauma, while purging from the butt releases unconscious trauma, sometimes from several generations earlier. I had to purge from both ends, so I got up and somehow managed to move through the intense visions of demons, leave the room and eventually find the toilet. There I sat, bent over, embracing a bucket, vomiting violently and having diarrhea at the same time. It made me laugh and cry simultaneously.
‘Why am I doing this again?’ I said out loud, knowing the answer.
It was worth every bit, because I was going to meet the Mother.
After the purge I crawled back to my place, where the violent visions finally subsided.
‘Thank you, thank you, thank you,’ I sighed.
It was such a relief. I was maybe two hours into the journey and there she was. I felt the Mother’s presence as distinct as if she was a real person sitting next to me. I knew the real work would now begin.
Immediately a powerful vision entered my consciousness. It was my father.
‘No, please,’ was my first reaction. ‘Not my father. Not again.’
But I knew there was no way of negotiating with her. She made the decisions here. She knew what I had to work on. I didn’t like seeing my father. His presence felt urgent and dark as always.
‘You have to see this,’ he said and visions started to emerge.
‘You have to know what happened to me, so you understand what happened to you. You have to forgive me!’
I hated his pushy energy.
‘I don’t have to do anything’ I replied, but there was no way of stopping this.
I knew where he brought me. I was in the camps. My father spent 4 years of his early childhood in several concentration camps in Indonesia under the Japanese occupation during World War II. They were women camps: only women and children. I saw the desolate sites, the barracks, the sand and the dust. I could feel the intense heat, smell the stink. I saw emaciated women moving slowly, without purpose, their hair fallen out, their faces marked by unbearable grief. Tears welled up in me at their suffering.
Then I was forced to zoom in. What I saw shook me to the bone. Everything I had seen before I had known, from books and testimonies, but this was worse. I saw Japanese soldiers raping children, raping my father. They were beaten and forcefully taken. It was as if something else was controlling the soldiers, forcing them to do things they would normally not be able to do, as it was so against their nature. The children, including my father, were in such pain and fear that they seemed to physically separate from their souls.
I was just in time to grab my bucket and vomit again, even more violently than before. A flood of memories came back from childhood. I relived the immense fear and dislike I felt for my father back then, for his coldness, his sarcasm, his condescending demeanor. And again, like so many times before, I remembered the devastating powerlessness I felt when he would have another fit of violence. It had always felt to me as if my father wasn’t really there when that happened, as if there was something else in there, something cold and sinister.
I started crying, but at the same time I was grateful for this revelation. I felt lucky to somehow have escaped experiences like this. I thanked the powers that helped me through the challenges in my life. I thanked my mother, my sisters, my teachers, my children, my soulmates and somehow myself. I realized how I had been challenged several times in my life, being pushed to the limit, suffering so deeply that I was tempted to give up. But I had never given up and I now realized that it was real: that one can truly give up one’s soul.
My father’s voice startled me again.
‘Now you know what happened,’ he insisted. ‘And now you have to forgive me!’
His presence annoyed me. I felt anger rising.
‘Enough already!’ I said. ‘Stop telling me what to do. You lost that right long ago. Yes, I forgive you. I forgave you years ago. But now I also tell you: leave me alone! I don’t want to have anything to do with you anymore. I’m not responsible for you. You take care of yourself. I forgive you, but now leave.’
He struggled, trying to resist my strong intention. I asked the Mother for help. I felt how she started to pull energetic hooks out of my body, my mind, my heart. It hurt, my body writhed. Dark, strange sounds came out of my mouth. It was as if I was finally pulled away from the underworlds, from the realms where demons linger and my father too. I hope he will find peace.
Joy and sadness
After a while I felt the work was done. I felt cleaner and clearer than ever before. My father was gone.
Again I was overwhelmed with gratitude and I muttered: ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you,’ over and over again.
I rested for a while, reveling in how I felt. I owned my body, as if for the first time since I was born I truly and fully owned every little part of it. I felt so alive, so vibrant, fresh and clean, it was amazing. But then, from deep within, grief came up. It was a sadness so deep I could hardly breathe. It was simple: I missed my mother. I realized that I had missed my mother ever since the first time I was truly afraid of my father. The devastation of my mother’s apparent absence, not protecting me while my father was acting out his darkness, threw me back into a state of desperation I had suppressed since those early years. I started crying again, this time from such a deep, long hidden place that my sobs actually sounded like the cries of a little girl. In my altered state I still felt amazement about this fact.
‘Where were you, mother?’ I cried. ‘Why did you allow this pain to happen?’
As my vision opened up, I saw how millions of little girls and young women were abused, raped and tortured at that very moment, all over the world. What I had been through in my childhood was nothing compared with this. I was grief stricken.
‘Where are you?’ I kept repeating, my sadness mounting.
‘Where are the mothers? Why do you allow this to happen? Why don’t you come forward to save us?’
I felt so much grief that I almost drowned in it. I thought I couldn’t bear it anymore, it was too much. I actually longed to die. I just didn’t want to be here anymore, on this planet where everything of value, once embodied by the human race, was crushed. I curled up in fetal position, softly whining like a dying cat, praying that somehow it would stop, that somehow I could leave.
Suddenly I felt the presence of Manuela. I realized she was sitting in front of me, singing with a clear voice. It felt disrespectful not to get up, so I got up and positioned myself in front of her, cross legged, my back straight, my face wet with tears, surprised that I actually was capable of doing that. I opened my eyes for a moment and saw her. She sat there glowing, radiating a love that was so big that it seemed to embrace every living creature on earth. I realized she knew. She knew everything that had happened in the history of mankind. She had seen and felt all the suffering. I felt deeply humbled and held by her presence. I instantly snapped out of my self-pity and listened intently. She had something important to say.
She spoke to me through her Icaros, her sacred songs, in a language I didn’t know. But it didn’t matter. Her message was crystal clear, without the intervention of words. She spoke straight to my heart.
‘Do you remember you chose to be born?’ she asked.
‘Yes’, I said.
‘Do you remember why you chose to be born?’ she continued.
I kept silent as the memories flooded back. I remembered myself before I was born, feeling such a powerful love for the people that were going to be my family in this lifetime, such love for humankind that I asked to be born, begged to be born so I could help, knowing exactly what would happen to my family, being fully aware of what would happen to me as well, but determined to overcome it, one way or another.
‘Do you realize you chose this life?’ she asked again. ‘Do you see there is no one to blame?’
‘Yes’, I said.
‘So you ask where the mothers were when their daughters were raped, humiliated, abused and suppressed in the past few centuries,’ she said matter of factly.
‘Yes’, I said. I really wanted to know.
‘They had to step back’ she said. ‘It had to do with the gravity of the situation. The only way to deal with it was by seemingly sacrificing their daughters. It is the hardest thing women have ever been forced to do in the history of mankind. That cold, sinister energy you encountered in your visions is real. It doesn’t care about human values like love or compassion. It enters our consciousness and overtakes our instincts and minds, manipulating us into horrible crimes against humanity, like raping our own children, inflicting pain to a degree where people actually no longer want to live, no longer want to sustain this human realm.
The time is now
The mothers realized that the only way to eventually heal this was to wait. They never left though, but stayed in the background, energetically soothing, praying and waiting until the moment would be ripe for them to come back without being broken themselves. That moment has now come. This is the generation where the mothers have become strong enough to come back, reclaim their power and bring their daughters home. The time has come where the abuse of women and children will no longer be tolerated, where the power of love will disarm every other intent and where the souls that have been lost will be reclaimed. Not by force, but by love. The power of love has become so underestimated throughout the ages, but it has always been the biggest force of the human realm. No one understands this better than the mothers.’
‘You are a mother yourself and you are a daughter,’ Manuela continued through her song. ‘You have experienced how it feels to be abandoned by your mother, but you have also experienced her love. You know how it feels to be unable to protect your own daughter, but you also know that deep in your heart you would do everything to protect and save her. You have been through the motions. Now you know how it feels to overcome a childhood of violence and abandonment and not lose your soul. Now you know what it means to be a woman, a powerful woman, a mother and a daughter. You know which values you hold and how to protect them. There is no greater gift you can give to humanity, to the world, to your children and sisters, than this. You made it, as one of the many women who are now reclaiming their power and are changing the world. So be happy, get up and get to work. You did it!’
Manuela stopped singing and waited. I opened my eyes and they met hers. Her whole being was beaming. I saw the Mother, the Mother of All, the pure love and compassion for the human realm, this precious, beautiful species. She, at this moment, in this little body, embodied it all. I was in awe. There were no words to describe my gratitude, so I said nothing. I looked at her, smiled and bowed my head in a gesture of deep respect. She smiled back, suddenly looking mischievous, as if we shared a funny secret, and quietly moved away.
We can never know how real or complete the visions shown during an ayahuasca ceremony are. We simply lack the means to check that. To me the visions are myth: they hold the truth in a symbolic, archetypal way. I don’t know whether what I saw is the truth and I do realize I only saw it from a female perspective. But what I do know is that since that night my despair has left me – forever. I know it will never come back, because I have gained a deep understanding of why I am here. I have no doubts anymore as to whether we will succeed or not. If I can do it, you can do it. And if we can do it, everybody can do it. This is the dawning of a new age and I feel honored to be a part of it. The mothers will save the day. The time is now. We are back!
Sanne Burger (1966), mother of 2 children, is a writer, healer and teacher. She is originally from the Netherlands. At the moment she lives and works in Pisac, Peru.
Sanne offers coaching for people who need guidance and clarity on the path towards more freedom and happiness. For more information: email@example.com
Paintings: Helena Arturaleza Schotman