Psychedelic Marine

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Royal Marine Commando Alex Seymour needed a way to cope with the extremes he experienced in war. Through ayahuasca ceremonies he discovers the power of direct experience of the sacred, which allows him to release his fears from the war and set an inspiring path for the future.

Psychedelic Marine

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A vivid portrait of both the traumas of war and the shamanic healing ceremonies of ayahuasca

• Explains how our culture lacks rites of passage and how shamanic ritual can fill this gap

• Reveals how ayahuasca frees your consciousness from inherited beliefs, fears, and traumatic experience, allowing healing from PTSD, alcoholism, and addiction

• Details the author’s experiences in Afghanistan, sailing on the Amazon river with a shaman, and the many ayahuasca ceremonies he experienced in the jungle

After returning from a tour of duty during the war in Afghanistan, Alex Seymour needed a way to cope with the extremes he experienced as a member of the Royal Marine Commandos, losing 7 men in his unit, and having his best friend critically injured by a Taliban bomb. Drawing upon his pre-deployment experiences with DMT and psilocybin mushrooms, Alex knew that entheogens could help him release his fears and traumas. But he also knew that simply taking psychedelics wasn’t enough--he needed ceremony, something sacred to draw meaning from his experiences, to help him reassess not only the war and his role in it, but his entire life. So he set out for the Amazon in search of the hallucinogenic brew known as ayahuasca and a shaman to guide him. The result is a crazy, page-turning adventure where he journeys deep into the jungle and himself.

Alex soon finds himself deep within the jungle on an incredible adventure, sailing on the Amazon river with an ayahuasca shaman and his troop of 8 female shamanas, whose ethereal songs help guide participants during the nightly ayahuasca ceremonies. Accompanied by others seeking wisdom and a redemptive experience from their First World professional lives, Alex finds his core beliefs fundamentally challenged, replaced by the power of direct experience of the sacred, which allows him to release his fears from the war and set an inspiring path for the future.

Painting a vivid portrait of both the anguish of war and the transcendent world of shamanic ritual, the author shows how young people often enlist in the military to satisfy our human need for a rite of passage into adulthood, a ritual sorely missing in our culture. He explores how ayahuasca can offer a way to help soldiers prepare for war and help combat veterans heal from war and overcome PTSD--as well as alcoholism and addiction. From Afghanistan to the Amazon, the author shows how ayahuasca frees your consciousness from inherited beliefs and fears, offering a truly transformative rite of passage.

Additional Information

Release Date Aug 22, 2016
Edition No
ISBN 1620555794
Author Sort Order 2214:1
Author Alex Seymour
Contributors List No
Illustrations Note No
Excerpt Twelve

Power in the Jungle

Richard surprised us by announcing that the first ayahuasca ceremony would happen that night. Prior to our arrival, he had asked us to reflect on our intentions for the visit. Mine were simple: recover. After months of anxiety I needed to re-learn how to be content. I was lucky not to have PTSD, and I wanted to use this time to reflect and send out good intentions for the families of the men in my unit who had lost their lives or limbs. Furthermore, following the war, I wanted to know how I could integrate back into society and be inspired. With all the intensity of the last year, slotting back into previous roles might be challenging, and I was concerned I’d be hampered by the hum-drum aspects of modern life.

The ceremony began at 6:30 p.m. It gets dark quickly in the jungle with its thick canopy, and it was already twilight as we gathered in the maloca, a huge wooden, circular hut with a domed ceiling. The shaman was already there--Humberto was youngish-looking, maybe mid-thirties, about five-seven, with wide shoulders and taut build. He had been conscripted into the Peruvian Army and had risen to become its youngest sergeant. Certainly he looked like he was physically capable of handling himself in a tough spot. I was apprehensive. I had heard that the hallucinogenic brew tasted foul and knew that it was a purgative: thirty minutes after taking it, it’s common to have bouts of vomiting

When my name was called I crawled forward and accepted the proffered cup. Three or four gulps and it was down, the brown liquid gloopy, disgustingly bitter.

Humberto began singing an icaro and the ceremony began. Icaros are songs to call in the spirits from the forest and luminal realms. I was feeling disoriented, aware of the near absurdity of my being here, sitting with strangers in the dark in a circle in the jungle, being serenaded by an ayahuasca master, knowing full well that in a few minutes something extremely strange would be happening.
 
Within twenty-five minutes I started to glimpse the merest tickle of something at the edges of my peripheral vision. I tried to ignore it, deny its creeping inevitably. Two minutes later hallucinations came on in full force. I felt a strange energy moving through my body that made me nauseated. Humberto was singing with increasing vigor, his voice growing louder and clearer, feeding off the ayahuasca energy coursing through him, channeling it.

Geometric shapes swirled kaleidoscopically behind closed eyes. They took on a more deliberate action, swooping wildly into my center of vision and away again like a swarm of bats, so clear and real that I flinched. They morphed into sleek angular reptilian creatures, swarming, popping out of nowhere, then just as quickly disappearing only to be replaced by even more bizarre-looking creatures. I still felt lucid and began to hope that it wouldn’t get any more intense--it was already beyond strange and who knew where it was leading.

After half an hour I was in the full grip of the ayahausca. All the while, the icaros had been getting louder and more forceful, and Humberto was shaking two schacapa leaves. The effect was a rhythmic swishing sound that became unbelievably loud, adding to the texture of his singing. How on earth could a bunch of shaking leaves sound so loud? It filled the entire room. All senses on every perceptual level were heightened--maxed out.

An unexpected sense of empathy was growing that became so strong it felt like a door was opening into a whole new and separate sense--as important and relevant as sight or sound--so powerful it scythed through all other emotions. There was so much more to perceive than just the content of this three-dimensional world. Incapable of resisting any longer, I opened my eyes.

Ka-Boom! The entire room was full of alien life interwoven with a multicolored geometric mesh. Everything everywhere was made of throbbing neon electric grids of energy. The grids entwined with writhing sharp-toothed creatures that scuttled with dazzling, slinky agility. Fractal centipedes and millipedes possessed bodies that trailed off into infinity. They encroached in iridescent high definition, their bodies glistening, heavily armored.

The visions were overwhelming. I was surrounded by fantastical alien beasts, spirits, entities--who knew what the hell they were. No time for introspection or to rationalize any kind of philosophical interpretation--scenes shifted and morphed with incredible intensity. I struggled to maintain my grip on any kind of ordered thought. How on earth could this ever be interpreted as therapeutic? Confusion reigned, and I sought some semblance of comfort, unconvincingly forcing myself to think, Everything will be fine.

The sounds of the jungle--insects and frogs--were loud now, and they interwove with the swishing of the schacapa-leaf rattles until they reached an all-consuming crescendo that swept me up to ride the waves of a clamorous alien-sounding symphony. Oh my God! These Indians know exactly what they’re doing! They had had thousands of years to perfect it. I was journeying through a grotesque, carnivalesque world, and the icaros and rattles were the pilot and navigator. Sounds were things, and these things shaped my consciousness, which became as unnavigable as a termite caught in a tornado.

In Afghanistan, the mantra after each patrol as I lay in bed was don’t think. Over and over I’d repeat this to myself in an attempt to meditatively anesthetize myself to sleep. Here I was invoking the same technique: Stop thinking, trying to make sense of it. The message was surrender--the exact opposite of everything the military had taught me--yield and allow the visions to flow. Sublime surrender--now I see. Don’t fight it, feel it--submission was the solution, ego the enemy. It couldn’t get any worse than Helmand, surely? That thought became my
grounding rod. This was the connection to an alternative LIFE FORCE and I had jacked into the main vein.
Back Cover SHAMANISM / MEMOIR

“Excellent, thought-provoking, important, and gripping, it’s the best book on the ayahuasca phenomenon in a very long while. A truly original and authentic account.”
--GRAHAM HANCOCK, author of Fingerprints of the Gods

“I saw my life and my own path from the marines to the jungles of the Amazon in every page of this book. This infantryman approves! Semper fidelis!”
--Cpl RYAN LeCOMPTE, former USMC 0311 infantryman and founder of Veterans for Entheogenic Therapy

“This book offers crucial insights into how psychedelics can both heal PTSD and facilitate the universal mystical experience that breaks down the ‘us and them’ dichotomies that often lead to war. Highly recommended.”
--RICK DOBLIN, executive director of MAPS

After returning from a tour of duty during the war in Afghanistan, Alex Seymour needed a way to cope with the extremes he experienced as a member of the Royal Marines Commandos, losing 7 men in his unit, and having his best friend critically injured by a Taliban bomb. Drawing upon his predeployment experiences with DMT and psilocybin mushrooms, Alex knew that entheogens could help him release his fears and traumas. But he also knew that simply taking psychedelics wasn’t enough--he needed ceremony, something sacred to draw meaning from his experiences, to help him reassess not only the war and his role in it, but his entire life. So he set out for the Amazon in search of the hallucinogenic brew known as ayahuasca and a shaman to guide him.

Alex soon finds himself deep within the jungle on an incredible adventure, sailing on the Amazon River with an ayahuasca shaman and his troop of 8 female shamanas, whose ethereal songs help guide participants during the nightly ayahuasca ceremonies. Accompanied by others seeking wisdom and a redemptive experience from their First World professional lives, Alex finds his core beliefs fundamentally challenged, replaced by the power of direct experience of the sacred, which allows him to release his fears from the war and set an inspiring path for the future.

Painting a vivid portrait of both the anguish of war and the transcendent world of shamanic ritual, the author shows how young people often enlist in the military to satisfy our human need for a rite of passage into adulthood, a ritual sorely missing in our culture. He explores how ayahuasca can offer a way to help soldiers prepare for war and help combat veterans heal from war and overcome PTSD--as well as alcoholism and addiction. From Afghanistan to the Amazon, the author shows how ayahuasca frees your consciousness from inherited beliefs and fears, offering a truly transformative rite of passage.

ALEX SEYMOUR enlisted in the Royal Marines Commandos as a teenager, serving for 6 years and completing 2 tours of duty on active service. Twenty years later he returned to the service as the oldest frontline commando in Helmand Province in Afghanistan. He is currently the Technology Account Director for a global technology company and lives with his wife and children in Buckinghamshire, England.

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