Psychedelic Stories

“‘The violet place’: My experience of compassion with ayahuasca”

This post is one in a series of real-life psychedelic stories, where fellow psychonauts share their experiences of personal growth, psychological healing and self transcendence.

One of my most life-changing experiences with ayahuasca took place in February 2016.

I’m in a three-day workshop. On the second day, I receive a profound vision of being in a strange, otherworldly place that defies description, but is somehow a “violet dimension,” or “violet place”.  There is a quality of memory attached to this vision. With closed eyes, I sense that I am somehow remembering the moment just prior to my own conception in this life, my entrance into this body from some other dimension. In the memory/vision, I know that in that time (which really is not time at all, or transcends my earthly sense of time) I have to (or am choosing to) go back to Planet Earth, to be embodied as a human being once again. However, perhaps like some who have near-death experiences and don’t want to “go back” to their bodies, I am conscious of the fact that in this pre-conception moment, I really did not want to leave the violet place. I am unspeakably saddened at the thought of returning once again to earth—it feels as though I had done this many, many times, and was crying “I don’t want to go back there again!”  But in the memory/vision, there are invisible others around me, who belong to that strange, unearthly place. They comfort me and support me—they help me to remember that I chose of my own free will to come here, that I had to come here, because there was work to be done.

The phrase ringing through my mind is, “It’s hard to be here. It’s hard to be here. It’s so hard to be here.” And by “here,” I mean this planet, in this body, this experience of being human. And in that moment of acceptance and acknowledgment of a difficult truth (“it’s so hard to be here”), I feel a tremendous outpouring of compassion for all beings and creatures on the earth: my heart cracks wide open and I suddenly can feel the suffering of everything, but not in a way that was crippling, more in a way of being able to hold a greater degree of compassion and grace. It’s hard for all of us to be here. With tears streaming down my face in huge release, I allow myself to feel not only my own pain in being human, but the full spectrum of all pain on the planet.

Later, another workshop participant shared with me that the quality of my weeping, which was audible throughout the room for a time, made her think that I must have lost a child.  I have never lost a child, but indeed, it seems that it was this exact nature of the pain that I was feeling: the cry of the mother who has lost her child, the deepest, most consuming grief possible for a human being to experience. Yet at the same time, once my weeping was spent, there was a sense of purpose and mission attached to the vision. Indeed, it is hard to be here, hard to be human, but there is meaning and purpose to be found. This life is not in vain; I came here for a reason, and this reason must be allowed to manifest itself.

Around the same moment in which my vision was unfolding, in an example of the many synchronicities that frequently occur in ceremony, the ceremonial musicians began to play an exquisitely beautiful song,  the words of which spoke directly to what was transpiring for me:

Blessed we are, to walk on this ground

With the rhythm of saints, to carry the sound

We hold a prayer for the earth,

For the ones yet to come.

May you walk in beauty, and remember your song.

Remember why you came here

Remember this life is sacred

Remember why you came here

Remember your life is sacred.  (words and music by “Peia”)The song chosen in this moment was so specific to the content of my vision that it provoked an intense sense of resonance and gratitude, providing further context, meaning, and resolution to the emotions of grief and world-pain. With the easing of sorrow came a strong sense of gnosis regarding the beauty, joy, and meaning of life. Beneath the pain, there is true joy.

I was, and continue to be, so grateful to plant medicine for this experience, and for the many profound teachings the plants offer.