There is a bush that grows deep in the heart of West Central Africa in the country of Gabon. It grows in a forest that is as difficult to penetrate, as it is to fully comprehend what effects that may have on its ecosystem. This mysterious rain forest’s indigenous plants and wildlife have remained virtually undisturbed for who knows how many untold thousands of years. The small tree is called Tabernanthe Iboga, and the native African tribes who call this dense forest home consider consuming its root bark nothing short of a receiving a sacrament. The root of this perennial shrub contains a fascinating alkaloid called Ibogaine whose effects range from mild stimulant in small doses to powerful psychedelic with dissociative properties in high doses. For these tribes who hail from West Central Africa, Iboga is more than a tree, it is a timeless ancestral spirit, a sacred plant, which can help you pass from one world to the next before your natural time. The spiritual practice of the people who hail from this part of Africa is known as Bwiti. Bwiti is comprised of animism, ancestral worship and a unique slice of Christianity. The belief held is that Bwitis are the real true Christians due to the God-like, ‘Christ consciousness’ they gain in the ‘dream state’ of the 36-hour hallucination brought on by a flood dose of Ibogaine. In Bwiti, the Iboga bush is known as the plant that ‘enables men to see the dead’ due to its unworldly powerful visionary agent. The pharmacological effect of this powerful natural psychedelic are visions of your ancestors, passage to the spirit world, angels and demons, a glance at your pure true self and ultimately, God, depending on your definition of course.
Young African boys in the forest dwelling tribes of Gabon would typically consume Iboga in a coming of age ceremony. They would normally vomit afterwards, which was considered a good sign because Bwiti spirituality suggests you cannot accede from one world to the next without purging all Earthly matter first. Some tribes hold communal Iboga ceremonies where everyone ingests the plant medicine following the passing of a loved one, so that they can communicate with the deceased in the afterlife as they pass through to the other dimension. In low doses, the plant is a stimulant that natives use for enhanced endurance in hunting or long canoe journeys. In higher doses, Iboga is a psychodysleptic, which causes paralysis of the repertory muscles and evokes a considerably strong hallucination that can last for upwards of three days. Traditionally only men consumed Iboga and it is widely accepted that the spirit of Iboga is masculine in nature. This is an account of my experience with Ibogaine and how I came to know my true self.
In late April 2014 I traveled to the southern Thai island of Koh Sumui to meet my modern day shaman and undergo a weeklong ‘rite of passage’ ritual that would culminate in my consuming Ibogaine. First I would engage in a lengthy preparatory period filled with spiritual healing. I would have my chakras assessed and balanced as well as my energy read and strengthened. I would undergo a period of neuro-lingusitic programming designed to stimulate the subconscious mind by symbolically associating behaviors and memories. I would learn about quantum jumping or the visualization technique of accessing parallel realities through deep meditation. I would focus on emotional freedom techniques and the practice of self forgiveness and manifesting positive attitudes and lastly I would set my intent for what I hoped to achieve from my summoning of the spirit of Iboga, or the ‘Grandfather spirit.’ The idea was to fully prepare my mind and body for sizable cognitive shifts, which would occur deep in my subconscious from the consumption of Ibogaine. By supporting this mental atmosphere with persistent preparatory affirmations, positive neurological mapping, confidence boosting and deep self reflection, I was in a sense carrying out a ceremony much like the tribes of Gabon do when they paint their bodies red and white, stick feathers in their hair and pound on drums to induce certain states of awareness. Several of these practices of psychotherapy can seem a bit silly at times; however, when I removed my ego and allowed myself to move through these various processes patiently and openly, they proved to have a tremendous calming effect. I was so nervous about taking Ibogaine that I was grateful to find some peace of mind in that 48 hour lead up to the moment I would wash back the capsules; the actual point of no return.
For a little over a week leading up to the experience I had also began to prepare my body through my diet and supplement intake. I avoided fatty foods, processed foods and pork. I am not sure what the true issue is with pork but apparently enough people have learned the hard way that the spirit of Ibogaine does not take kindly to red meat in your system. I took 3,000mg of vitamin C and a B complex pill every day, as well as a multi vitamin specifically for its calcium and magnesium. I ate as much green leafy vegetables as I could and I exercised regularly. The one thing I didn’t do, for some strange reason, is research Ibogaine. I felt little desire to actually hear anyone else’s account of the experience and found myself being lured in a strange seduction as I inched my way closer and closer to the ‘First.’ This is what I call the transformative day I experienced Ibogaine, which coincidentally was the first of May. Since consuming Ibogaine, when I look at the calendar, the number of each day is also the same number of days that have passed since my awakening. I am six days old today.
The man that once occupied my body, just a little more than one week ago today, suffered tremendously from fear, anxiety, depression and addiction. He constantly battled demons deep inside his head. He often saw the world around him through an extremely negative prism, which affected almost all of his outward behavior. An infectious dark energy surrounded his physical being causing him to cast shadows in the light. Years of drug addiction gave way to depression and an ever-plummeting self-esteem. An inability to forgive or forget dominated his cognitive landscape. Hopelessness and sorrow seemed to follow him everywhere. Nothing seemed to bring him peace for more than a handful of hours, not exercise nor eating well, not time spent in float tanks nor saunas. Mind cluttered with noise, there was no way to put into practice any of the insight gained from podcasts, books or film. It seemed even his extended periods of success were always overshadowed by devastating moments of weakness. His overwhelming self-hatred poisoned his ability to love others fully. Powerfully negative words would pour out of his mouth and pervade his thoughts, continuously perpetuating a cycle of self-destruction. Lust, desire and compulsion were as commonplace as breathing in air and there lied beneath the surface a restlessness that could not be quelled.
On May 1st, 2014, at roughly 10:30AM in the morning, that man sat on my bed, which I would later reference as an altar, with 8 capsules of Ibogaine and a bottle of spring water in front of him. He wrote his intent in his notebook and he read it out loud a number of times. He then swallowed the pills, one by one, with an indescribable blend of fear and excitement coursing through his veins. He then placed an eye mask over his face and he laid back on the bed for what seemed like an eternity. The anesthetic quality of the Ibogaine slowly began to pin his arms and legs to the bed as a coldness washed over him. The faintest hint of psychedelic activity danced in the shadows of sunlight fighting their way into the edges of his mask and he experienced a sensation of relief that he “felt something.” He had no idea those were the last thoughts he would ever have; had I known then the transformative process which I was about to experience, the initial excitement of feeling the effects would have been replaced by overwhelming uneasiness.
“I want to be a positive light in the world, and shed negativity. I want to gain control of my emotions and control my anger. I want to be free from addiction. I want to gain self-esteem and become more confident.” -My Intent, which I wrote and spoke out loud several times just moments before taking Ibogaine. May 1st, 2014 at roughly 10:30AM
The dream state is the first period following the consumption of Ibogaine; this is the journey. This phase typically lasts upwards of 6-8 hours and is known for being less than enjoyable. This was not a fun and happy drug experience where you feel ‘high’ in any way. What is happening here is the spirit of Iboga enters your body, assuming you have properly prepared yourself, and guides you to take its hand and follow it through space and time. It confronts you with the truth about yourself through high definition visions, powerfully authoritative inner monologue and the gift of enabling your mind to make connections about your behaviors and relationships at an alarmingly fast pace. It is similar to a lucid dream in that you are not asleep; you are somewhere between worlds, between dimensions, and traveling.
I have a vivid memory of being aware of my hallucinations prior to sliding into the dream state completely. I began to see a spiral pattern that was seemingly pulling me down a wormhole; further and further I drifted while noting every new sensation and just following the moment I was able to say to myself, “hey man, you are really in it now” I encountered the most powerful hallucination I ever experienced. All of a sudden I felt a darkness and a coldness to my surroundings, and although there was no discernable audible experience, there was an omnipresent heaviness to the environment; a density that almost sounded eerie in its quietness. I quickly realized that I was somewhere scary, only I had no idea to what degree for I was about to encounter a part of myself I could only ever feel prior to this moment. I was about to see. From out of the shadows in the corners of what seemed like a room, although I could see no walls or ceiling or floor, came a shape that took form slowly and deliberately. All of a sudden a demon materialized from the shadow and as it came closer and closer it became more high definition until ultimately it was so close and real that it took my breath away. It was terrifying. The creature was pure evil, in an ancient way. I was absolutely paralyzed with fear. I could see the hair on its neck, thick and black, as it enveloped my personal space. I closed my eyes tightly and prayed it would disappear, which it did, only not for long. It kept coming back and something deep within me told me that the only way to get rid of it was to stand up to it and face it. I looked it right in the eye and I saw all of the world’s evil in that one glance; pure unadulterated evil, concentrated evil. It taunted me and told me I was no good and I couldn’t escape but I fought back, insisting I was “done with him!” I remember it trying to seduce me and convince me to take its hand, that I didn’t really want to walk away from him. It curled its finger and motioned to come with him, to follow. Before it was almost too late I realized my hand in real life was slowly rising and extending upward from the bed. I fought back, screaming and crying in my dream, insisting I was no longer scared of him although I knew I wasn’t fooling myself, or any of the versions of myself conversing in my head. The demon gave me a look that let me know it would be back, and it did come back, several more times throughout the next couple hours. In addition to this demon were countless others, some strong and powerful and evil beyond anything I have known and others small, annoying and pesky in nature. Some would try and shock me and surprise me and some simply wanted me to understand how powerful they were. Some were sneaky and clever; some were clearly very dumb and juvenile. One took the form of an enormous anaconda type snake with a dinosaur-like body and some had the body of a man with a monster’s head. If there was one thing in common with them all, it was the evil in their eyes; they all seemed eternally ancient. Later in my dream state I would have a vision of the same eyes I saw on these demons on my own face and I would see myself acting demonically in visions of myself in real occurrences throughout my life. I could see real scenarios that played out over the years, and I could see myself possessed by the same eyes from the same demons I was now encountering.
During this parade of demons, all of which I had to face, was another powerful entity, which I learned later may have represented my inner spirit. I had a vision of a powerful jungle cat, a psychedelic Cheetah, who was equally as ancient as the other entities, but wiser. He was insistent that I look deep into his eyes as he stalked past me on several occasions. I can remember the trance-like feeling of being locked into a stare down with this creature; it was among the most haunting moments I can remember. Somewhere within this stage of my dream state, the most profound of all the experiences I would undergo was preparing itself from deep within me. I grew overwhelmingly nauseas and painfully uncomfortable, for quite some time I pleaded with myself to fight back the urge to vomit. I tried to convince myself I had the power to control this with my breathing; laughable in hindsight. I ripped off my eye mask, fumbled for the bucket that was placed near the bed in anticipation of this likelihood, and I purged violently. The thing I remember the most, besides how scary it was to be this sick in the state I was in, was the sound my throat made when I finished. There was this abrupt finish as if a portal were closing, locking down the hatch to my very being as the last wind escaped me. I purged out my demons that morning, on May 1st 2014; I purged them out forcibly and aggressively. The Bwiti would say had I not, I could have never passed onward to the dimension that followed. This was nothing short of an exorcism.
As I slipped back into the dream state following the harrowing ordeal of facing the realities of sickness and contemplating the force of which I was hallucinating, I began to undergo a very long period of contemplation whereby I would remember or recall instances from my past in the form of visions that ranged from vivid projections like a screen showing myself in the actual moment, or in the form of cartoon-like animations acting out various scenarios. It seemed like once I processed the message I was immediately led to a distinct understanding of a deeper lesson to be learned. When I made the connections between my visions and my true self, there was a sensation that the knowledge was acquired and I would progress forward. Always forward, throughout this process, there was a sensation of a journey the way a Lord of the Rings movie leaves you with the feeling of traversing long distances. This stage of the dream state began with my floating deep in the cosmos where the brightest stars and constellations existed. It was a defining moment for me and a realization of how unworldly this experience was; I was clearly experiencing time and space far beyond the parameters of Earth and our regular consciousness.
During this 3-4 hour period I remember a powerful vision of myself behaving in a less than desirable way. The spirit of Iboga showed me a split screen image, and what I thought about myself was on one side and the harsh reality of my actions, including an understanding of how I was outwardly being perceived by the third party I was interacting with, was on the other. Such insight and knowledge, such clarity…who was I talking to the whole time? The inner monologue was clearly just me talking to me; however, it was also clear my thoughts were being guided. How was I so sure about right or wrong? Would I remember all of this? Was that real? I am not sure what, if anything, the following submission shows; however, this was the first communication I sent later that evening about three hours after I emerged from the dream state.
“Hello there boys. I turned one day old todayJ More to come soon but just to let you know I am through the dream phase, it lasted 7-8 hour-ish and was intense, awe-inspiring, so far beyond our world, etc., and it was equally as challenging and frightening to the core. I am now in the post reflective phase that will maybe end late tonight. I’m a bit paralyzed as it’s got some natural anesthetic in it that’s overwhelming but dissipating as the hours go on. POWERFUL, son. Basically, in no uncertain terms, there is the possibility that I just underwent an exorcism of sorts. It’s not fun, that’s for mushrooms, this is seriously grandfather wisdom. I walk away from the experience leaving one word: knowledge.” -Text sent at 19:07PM on May 1st via Whatsapp to a group chat with three of my closest friends
Following the dream state is a 24-36 hour integration and reflection phase. I found myself in a wonderfully euphoric state where I was no longer deep in the throes of the hallucination but still clearly under the influence of the plant spirit. I noticed it ‘scrubbing my thoughts’ and purifying them with every event that would occur. My girlfriend was with me now, finally allowed to come back to the room now that I was through the other side, and as we interacted I noticed my inner monologue guiding me through various aspects of our conversation. If I even dared to think negatively, it snapped me back into the light with a consciousness that was deeply empathetic, tremendously compassionate and warmly caring. I could not bring myself to think in a bad way about anyone or anything, nor could I even utter a bad word. I could feel the plant medicine working on me well into the night and all through the next day until I ultimately fell asleep roughly 30 hours later. My neural pathways that led to the fear and anger emotions, which had grown to become super highways for my thoughts to jump onto at the first sign of an on-ramp, were being dismantled brick by brick. It was all happening right before my eyes in a consciousness ripe with understanding and forgiveness. I felt remorse and sadness for the old me, and that often took the form of tears several times throughout the next few days. Here is one notable account I managed to scribble down when the moment hit:
“I just cried so deeply. It was so cathartic and emotive and powerful. I was just telling Joy how euphorically happy I am experiencing the bliss of the new found freedom and how deeply scared I am that I can wake up tomorrow and it be gone. I suffered waves of the most intense remorse for the pain and suffering I caused in this world and the dark energy that I have infected all those I love and cherish with. I want to talk with my mom, but I am so scared because I don’t want t worry her, but I have to, soon, tell her I am sorry and apologize deeply to her, and thank her for never ever ever giving up on me. I cannot go outside at the moment. Only because I don’t want to cry in front of strangers, but I am crying the hardest tears of joy that I’ve ever shed. Profound relief, heightened appreciation, deepened inner calm and a curiosity: did I just experience the Christ-consciousness? Something I need to learn more about but it goes without saying in no monotheistic religious connotation; simply all it embodied when the world was created and the first seed was planted for this tree of knowledge to grow in Africa who knows how many millions of years ago…could it be billions?” -Text sent at 16:32PM on May 2nd via Whatsapp to the same group chat with my close friends
I spent the rest of the next day extending my arms like a bird as I paced from one end of my room to the other. I literally glided around, huge smile adorning my face, brain firing rapidly, body moving slowly. I was just continuously thinking back on the dream state, recalling forgotten visions, making connections, feeling love and happiness and exhaling deep sighs of relief, often accompanied with the uttering of the sound “whoooooooaaaaa” as I wrestled with the fascination of what I just experienced. There was a distinct feeling of being occupied by a spirit; I certainly did not feel high on drugs per se. The spirit was compassionately guiding me through conversations with my deep self, helping me to realize that I was experiencing something I have never known, true love and forgiveness for that ‘other guy’ I used to be. I could sense the same spirit that was coursing through my very being was also filling up the room, taking residence in the artwork on the walls and was just ‘present’ all around me and through me. Over the next few days I noticed how clear and sharp my mind felt, how I was able to go to sleep on my own and wake up with motivation, feeling inspired. I expressed my gratitude in written and word form several more times regarding the freedom from negativity that I was experiencing. I began to understand that I wasn’t changed, I would still feel the same feelings the old me felt, but how I processed the feelings seemed to change. I was be tested by the universe, but I quickly learned it was okay to make mistakes as long as I was able to let them go, and move forward positively, for then it would become a lesson from which I could grow. I was truly reborn and learning how to think for the first time. Here was my take away from the experience the day before I packed to leave to come home:
“I’m now finished, entirely, with the program. It was made clear to me that thousands of years ago there were no psychologists, there were no rehab centers, and man looked to nature to teach him, heal him and provide him with guidance. I’ve never been more in tune with my existence than I am now. I saw the yin and the yang of life and found my spirituality while leaving behind my ego. Most important of all is that I learned to forgive and love myself for the first time, perhaps ever. Tomorrow morning I step back into my life with fresh perspective, filled with gratitude. I’ll be leaving a few old friends on this island however…cant say they’ll be missed. Thanks for letting me spew into this thread, especially when I was in the euphoric throes of the spirit of Ibogaine those first 48 hours; thanks for being my friend all these years while I struggled. I am so sorry for any time I have caused you pain or anguish during the course of our friendship due to my inability to see through my own eyes.” -Text sent at 17:47PM on May 4th via Whatsapp to the same group chat with my close friends
I sit here and type this sentence one week from the day I was freed from the prisons I created for myself in my own mind all these years. I feel a deep, pervasive inner calm, and I finally feel centered. I notice that I can look people in the eyes now without feeling squeamish. I no longer focus on what I am not happy about and gratitude comes easier. I can see a dramatic improvement in my relationship with my girlfriend that I attest to my having a deeper capacity to love. I no longer walk around with an aura of negativity permeating from my body and infecting the space around me. I feel compassion for the people in my life that I used to ‘hate’. I am still human, there are people I don’t love being around, only now it’s easier to feel sorry for them. I notice I do not take things so personally. When I do, I can reflect on the thought and scrub it clean. I feel optimistic about the future, confident in myself, not concerned about anyone else’s realities and what’s more, I realize that people are motivated by their own desires and suffering and its selfish for me to think that other’s actions have anything to do with me. I feel no desire to smoke a cigarette and there is no little voice deep in the recesses of my thoughts wondering when the next opportunity will be to score drugs, be alone and let my depression out into the back yard to run around free like a dog whose been trapped inside all day. I eat slower, I take my time and I don’t feel rushed. I am eager to get back into doing the things I like and no longer have that voice doubting my intentions. I feel free, reborn and alive. I am so very thankful for the friends and family that I have, especially those who stood by me through my darkest of times and always saw my light, even when it burned so faintly. Now that my bulb is shining brighter, my number one goal is to tip the karma scales back in the opposite direction and infect as many people as I can, only this time, with love and not fear. Thank you for letting me share, and please contact me without hesitation if you want to ask me anything about my experience, or, to help yourself decide if Ibogaine is right for you. I will leave this final thought: I cannot imagine the life I was living prior to this experience and I do mourn the death of that man, for he was never able to really see through his own eyes.