Yagé (/jɑːˈheɪ/ or /jæˈheɪ/)* has always been part of a deeper, darker and still foreign culture within my very own Colombian one. And although I had always heard of it, I knew such plant was nothing you just did or chose to do – the medicine always called you and not the other way around.
Living in Europe, especially in a Northern country like The Netherlands (where reason is king and everyone walks around thinking as Kant and acting as Spinoza) ain’t an easy task for a passionate being like me. Here, I lost connection with some sort of essence, with nature, with a kind of spiritual awareness. In such culture, everything needs a reason to be (See? it's reason, again), efficiency conquers all and pragmatism is the mother of the way people think, act and treat each other.
A shitty 2015 made me go back to my roots as the need to connect with myself, with who I was as a person and an artist was stronger than ever. Indeed, the plant was calling me and before I knew it I was chucking my battered bag in the back of a bus, going alone on a trip to a shaman a few hours away from civilization...
This was a trip to the first day of the rest of my life.
As the miles under my wheels increased, time was suddenly measured more by thoughts rather than minutes. I knew that things could go terribly wrong, but the mere fear of not knowing what was about to happen avowed the step that I was about to take.
Once I got off the bus, I ventured into the forest. It was pitch black, but the moonlight seemed to give me enough light to spot a vast unknown something – something that seemed to suggest I was cradled in the palm of some mysterious, immense spiritual wonder. The lush, humid, yet cold air was so dense it felt as if it were combing through my thick red hair. Under the guise of nightfall, the vast cold forest of the Colombian altiplano seemed untouched by the prying eyes of tourists. And at that moment I swear I was in an undiscovered ocean of foliage, of lights and colours that was neither East nor West. Eventually, I came across someone who knew exactly who I was and what I was coming for...
After going through the ritual and taking the medicine, I felt a sense of self-awareness and emotional intelligence. I breathed a certain air that cleansed so much than my air passages. I found a place in sounds and rhythms that I could call home, a place in imagery and writing where I could put the love that was once rejected by some. I was determined to reuse that love and put it somewhere else, in a place touched by nature.
Valle del Cocora, Colombia 2015.
And there I was, looking like a viking, speaking perfect Colombian Spanish and feeling as though every single chord, chant and cadence that was made at that point during the ceremony was exactly who made me as a person. I didn’t need a passport or a credential or a curriculum vitae to proof who I was. I belonged to them and to it all. I was a collection of songs and pictures and texts and that sufficed!
Morning light fell upon me and from then on I felt as if a lens had been dropped over my vision and as William S. Burroughs wrote to Allen Ginsberg: "it felt as if it was giving me a heightened feeling of serene wisdom so that I was quite content to sit there indefinitely.”
The music that I heard at that moment is what now propels me to create, to play and to dance música. Here's the result: