Tea with Earl Grey

Amsterdam, 25-6-2011.

Here I am, sitting in broad daylight in the early hours of a late June Sunday night.
The sun is still out, I am in the shadow of the Unesco monument behind me,
called the Grachtengordel.
At my far left are the Zuiderkerk and the Stopera, at my right the Amstelhotel and
at its right but further away  there is the flash light on top of the Mondriaan Tower.
I had a great sleep last night.
The night before I found myself in a remote place somewhere between Rotterdam
and Bruxelles.
In a simple place they called a maloca. It was a  at least 100 m2 hut with a big
fire place in the middle. Along the walls, kind of in a circle, some 20 people,
lying and sitting around, waiting for the things to come.
It is getting dark already, meaning that it is well after 11 o’clock. There is this Dutch
man that I will speak of as the shaman, his educational roots being in Peru and Equador.
He wants to stay anonymous, so I call him, honouring the quality of his presence,
Sir Earl Grey, Earl for short.
Then there are his two helpers and there is a woman who I had seen do some preparations and she also hat lit the two fires, one inside and one outside.
The woman invites us, one by one, to stand up and she does what probably can be called aura cleaning: she sends smoke of burning sage over our bodies with a bunch of feathers, probably a bird wing. This takes about half an hour.
The atmosphere is calm and quiet. Earl speaks some opening words, explains the rules (about staying on the terrain, the outside camp fire, the toilets and the two vomiting pits) and says that one glass of ayahuasca will do for most of us, but if you want to go deep you can come for a second one. He serves everyone a cup of ayahuasca brew. This also takes almost half an hour, one by one going over to him, the brew being stirred firmly for each serving with a wooden spoon. A long silence follows.
Then music making starts. Simple, minimalistic. Then Earl starts playing a flat drum and sings along. Once the tea does its thing, the sounds turn into a majestic and cosmic 3D surround vibration.
Oh, forgot this: before the tea there was a bit of tobacco water serves in our hands, that was to be inhaled thru the nostrils. That’s what the toilet paper was for: to wipe our dripping noses.
It’s a use of tobacco that I years ago practice for a while as part of shaking, a work that comes from Ratu Bagus from Bali.
And the plastic bag is of course for when you can’t make it to one of the vomiting pits out there.
Being ready for going deep I go for a second dose. I can hardly keep it in, but it relaxes.
After some time, ah what is this music incredibly beautiful, the vomit reflex comes up.
I take the plastic bag and spit in it a few times. (I know by experience that hardly anything will come out, the stomach is empty.
After a while Earl suggests me to go outside. I stand up and grab a nearby standing pole that’s quietly standing there supporting the roof. One of the helpers helps me out and seat me along the path: this is your tree, take it easy.
Well, that was good advise. I remember flashes of people walking by, appearing for me as ghosts. Remember the surprise and the relief that is was apparently okay for me to sit there.
I have been vomiting like crazy a few times. Have been crying, been caressing the earth, put my forehead on it, heard cars pass by on the road some 200 meters away, realised me that I was there in this safe surrounding, experiencing the effects of this so called tea (Tea! The understatement of the year). And also that if I would stay in that state, I would be labelled psychotic and receive treatment. Went thru amazing layers and layers of worlds, one of them passing along being this one, but at that milisecond as unreal as all the miryad others, a faint fear of not finding this one back. And at the same time a acquiescence therein that to get lost in unreality is in itself unreal.

The earth was cold and wet and alive. I felt so happy to be out there and now I also remember the observation of this all to be so weird that the thought occurred that it was at least wise of this unreal Alice in Wonderland soft miracle world with all the possible black sides to it, to be happening in this few acres of forest, while the reality of the slightly recognized forest as the one where my car should be parked somewhere, was totally doubtful for a while. Even the ground where I was sitting on, was unreal. A few times I asked people who stopped by if I could hold their hands for a while. At some point Earl brought me a firm blanket.
Slowly, slowly the earth returned in its usual place, with me in it.
Or the other way around.
Some trees away someone was vomiting for at least an hour, on and of in waves. Somewhere during this time, laughter started to roll thru me. Later in checking I suggested someone that might have been roaring with laughter for half an hour.
Make that an hour, was the understated reaction. All and all the whole thing seems to have lasted a few hours. I was still laughing and laughing when a helper touched me with  his leafed feather thing and communicated me to go silent. The ritual was over, he said.
I was invited in, but preferred to stay with my tree. For hours onward I kept giggling and grinning. At some point I went in and also tried to sleep, but was fully energized and everything was fun and funny. After an hour I gave up and walked around, went for a pee and sat at the camp fire for a while. Against a tree was a man lying and it felt a strong pull to go there. So I picked up a blanket and a banana and went over. He could hardly move and was shivering. It was raining a bit. I wrapped the blanket around him and he asked if I was willing to stay with him. I picket up my own duvet and stayed with him for about an hour. He told me that he had sent out the request for someone to come over and here I was. After a multi stage kind of incarnation he was back in town and left. I felt like staying there and lay on the forest floor under my duvet with my head on a stone against a tree. It was already light and the rain increased after a while. The laughter kept going, more introvert now, more on my own. (The laughter before felt really as if the cosmos was having fun about itself and was coming out like a lion’s roar).
I was having my head covered with my duvet, a little hole for looking out.At a point I opened my eyes and there were this two pine cones lying there: it brought laughter like a surprizingly good joke does.  When the rain started to come thru the duvet, I went in and tried to sleep. (The first people were already packing and leaving). I went thru a  bright and early fully awake sleep for about two hours, still gigling once in a while, while having all this subtle bodily sensations and also heavy ones. There was a cramplike feeling (related to this cramp in my hand that I have/get when writing and this clenched fist that I find myself having while sitting at the computer) in my torso that was even associated with the collapsing on the beach of whales under the pressure of their own weight.
Around eleven that morning I went for some breakfast and some sharing with others. Often heard beginning: it is impossible to put into words what I experienced.
And then we try.
I felt clear, fresh and tired at the same time. Hung around, heard some stories, later had a nice talk with Earl. Yes, the tea was quite strong this time, he gave his helpers also a full dose and they also had a tough night, he admitted that he himself had been close to vomiting. He almost apologized, I supposedly convinced him that I had been ready for this and was totally happy about what happened. I shared with him my deeply felt feeling that finally this system had made up for being suppressed in its being happy about life.
Two memories that I have been connected with deeply throughout my life were this:
1) I was still fully religious and singing in church on the top of my voice with joy and hand my hand squeezed by my mother. (She felt ashamed for me doing that, I remember being aware of that too).
2) After a church service  I was laughing with joy and had my hand squeezed again. And the hissed: don’t you know where you are!!!

My religious upbringing, combined with this simple,incest infected, post war, scared and thus scary, protestant shame, blame and guilt ridden family/environment, meant kind of:Don’t have fun, goddammit, and don’t pull attention toward us, it is already difficult enough to keept the dirt under the carpet.
And as a good child, I became the opposite of course. Always trying to pull the rug from under their feet. No, I wasn’t popular in my family. Up till now.

During the last visions there were all this worlds. Also all the possible philosophic standpoints came along in milliseconds, I remember ‘ah, that was the Nothing Ever Happened confirmation’, as a preverbal thought flash. (There wa no time for normal
speed thinking). Twice that night a strong wave of sexual energy came along and ebbed away untouched. (Except for a thought and a memory, but that’s a too long story for now).
I’ll end with two observations that occurred while i was lying in the rain under this tree.
At some point I felt the ground move as if someone was stamping on it and I heard the sound of branches touching. I actually twice lifted my head and looked around. Somewhat later it dawned on me that some 15 meters above my head the branches of the trees where touching cause by the wind and I felt this thru my skull as a mini earthquake.
And the last one, even more subtle: at a point I became aware that with my eyes closed, at the inside of my eyelids, I felt invisible raindroplets fall on the surface of water, causing the most silent ripples you can imagine.
What a trip.


Note. There are some pictures of this happening here.

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4 Responses to Tea with Earl Grey

  1. barbara joseph says:

    deeply toutched
    a bit jealous..

  2. Bo Baden says:

    Very well written Hans..thank you for giving me an real inside in your adventure(s)..allthough we realise that words will utterly fail..the way you putted them now and here somehow gives a nice impression of where you went (trough)…
    Maybe you should do more with writing..cause you have skills!


  3. barbara joseph says:

    Bo is right
    you have skills to write
    I told you so..
    if he says so…
    you cannot avoid
    and yes you are writing all
    ready,, obvious
    but give us some more
    a day to day report will do..
    kind of “the world seen through HIS eyes”
    thanks for now..

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