From South American Journals, a collection of Ginsberg’s spiritual writing published last month by the University of Minnesota Press. This entry is the author’s account of an ayahuasca experience in Peru in June 1960. By publisher request, misspellings and other anomalies have been preserved.
Lay back an hour, waiting for something to happen, nothing did, I just went right on thinking, what was I looking for, anyway, Something Real about the Universe?
And slowly crept up on me that I was in a real Universe—and had been for many years now in this body—and that this body was changing, was isolated, but this isolation in the body of Allen Ginsberg which was my life up to now, would inevitably change—began to sense a strange Presence in the hut—a Blind Being—or a being I am blind to habitually—like a science-fiction Radiotelepathy Beast from another Universe—but from this series of universes in which I do temporarily exist—So temporarily that the presence of the Beast was a warning of the Future—my body began to shake slightly—I realized protecting it from mosquitos & sickness was only temporary remedy & unconsciousness of The Final Proposition of to be or not to be, the Death which will come to me one day soon, soon enough for me to think of it real as this life—and suddenly I felt nausea with life itself, my body quaking with fear & self-disgust at so temporary a Being doomed—I felt doomed to Futurity, doomed in Futurity, even if I escape it by poetry queer vanity sex assfucking riding around the world being Loverboy of Boys Allen all my life—sooner or later this lonely farce to be extinguished all this illusion dropped & the skull of Ultimate Reality with its Death rears its head—I staggered out on the porch and into the garden to vomit, began regurgitating up my sense of Permanence & Security, began vomiting up life—all around the noise of vomit, of the universe vomiting up parts of itself—the snake that eats itself vomiting itself back forth into Being—I was a vomiting snake, that is I vomited with eyes closed and sensed myself a Serpent of Being, or Serpent of Illusion, a Serpent of Isolation, the Serpent of Allen, covered with Aureole of spikey snakeheads miniatured radiant & many colored around my hands & throat—my throat bulging like the Beast of Creation, like the Beast of Death—to vomit forth my physical misery to Be—I heaved it out four or five times & remained standing in a trance horrified at my Serpent Self—meanwhile the Curandero was continually crooning to the thirty people dreaming entranced in the Universes all connected telepathically to this one being who expressed one of his aspects thru the tender plaintive Almost motherly Crooning—“Nu nu nu, nu nu, nu, nu nu nu”—I stood in the full moonlight with eyes closed feeling my skull vomiting forth in life knowing the vomit was a little death, only a sign of the frailty of this body, a Sign of What is to Come to the Body—the Great Death which’ll envelop it—and communicate itself to the Body, in Time, we can’t Escape Trapped, I am trapped in being myself—for tho I cherish myself now & protect me from mosquitos—take tablets to avoid vomit—one day Death will vomit me out of this body returning to my pallet after a kind word from Seraph Roman, who asked me how I was and if I were “marieado” (drunk enough yet)—I saw a man who was sitting against a post with knees drawn up to his breasts—covered with cloth against the mosquitos—like a mummy in Chancay Necropolis’s thousand year old sands—million year old sands—I was his white shrouded face, as if in Xray the hallucination for a moment of seeing thru to the Living Bone that he is, as all men, as I—going to die—and lay down (worried that I might hex him by dwelling on his skull, staring at it too long), I bethought me of my own skull to come & entered such a state of Mortal Misery as I had not ever encountered in conscious life—the realization that we are set here to live and Die, and all man set here set here together in different bodies in a web of realization of the same fate—and I gave myself more up to this mystery—until my head shook back and forth in resignation and defeat, and I gave my fate over back to God who made it—Questioned whether I was yet prepared to Die—The God seemingly discarnate but incarnate in the community of Beings all experiencing the same realization of their Dying Bodies in Strange & unknown spacetime fate—the gentle crooning continuing—I wanted to know if there were some answer, some way out of Fate, some entrance to Perfection which would include both Death & Life, both Allen & Allen’s dry indifferent skull—no answer—but saw Christ lifted on the Cross of Death, suffering—I felt Christ—we are all Christ—our Souls are all preparing to be Crucified—for real—“Let this cup pass from me?” but no it will not pass—and I lay there with arms extended for a moment, sighing giving myself up to my defeat, my ignorance of what is and what’s to be & who I am & the puny of the game of being poet laying with great Words when the Divine Fire is At Hand, so real, to Be, and to come, and to Die—and the sensation of a presence beyond it all—the void has a billion entrances, a billion deaths—and births—that Billion doored Not Paradise Not Known yet by me only myriad different glimpses of something afar—now Near me—all Creation alive—all beings perhaps the only part we can know—that God lives in us, not otherwhere—that we, here, are it, the great Presence, we are the great Presence of the Universe, our consciousness is the consciousness of the Last Thing—that God himself knows no more than we or I why he was born or where he is going, it is all in us to live or die, to change the Universe or leave it, to be or not to be—and I lay back with my near deadlike body & skull on the mantle and accepted the question there & then—to Escape Being Now! And avoided the question—a sudden fear realization that if I chose then to die I might be found by others a corpse in the morn, and news of Allen’s death in Drugs reach New York—and scars Peter & grieves Louis—who knows I am sick of Life—but who still thinks I will choose to live—or who still hopes I will come into contact with life again, with women & love creation—I get scared thinking then that I had the power to die then & there—tho I didn’t have the power, I was scared of that much power, I shrank back into prayer “In thy Will is my peace” and said “I don’t want to die” knowing that if I don’t want to die now, when will I ever and yet die I soon must someday & the Great Choice will again confront me—“to reach that Door”—(Hardy)—I began dreaming of all the living whom I knew—Peter afar, who looks on me for Help, for love, for Salvation, for Spiritual Knowledge—and I know nothing—God perhaps knows nothing, it is all up to us, he gives the life to us, his life to us as He, mysterious, without known origin and with unknown end—we are given the Woes of God, we are the God, in existence in the Universe—looking out with open eye at the bright nite sky—clouds a veil of Bethlehem over the Stars of other Sister or Brother Friend worlds of the same ancient and familiar mystery Universe—like one thousand or one million years ago the problem of the Soul of each Man’s existence was the Same, then to him with beast fur in the jungle under the proud planet stars—but not help.
Meanwhile the Magic science fiction feeling that all the human souls of the human universe where in now vibrant telepathy contact dreaming of this Problem of Being, what to Be, and what to do, and how to Die—in realization that the specific secret purpose of life is Death—And even those like Peter also know not in contact, doomed to be shaken out of their personal life wombs (such as security with me & My Promise of Heaven) to come into Terror—Contact with the Real purpose later—I felt I had been misleading him to trust the merely human fate with me, to last forever & not die but go hand in hand to Heaven—and this Skull for him, this crying radio-skull to face him?—Jack—in what contact was he? With Whom? And how deep? Lucien & Cessa—Cessa the Angel of Woman, She the Mother—Lucien wisely deciding annihilation of mortal vanity—and to be the Angel of News—“If Interplanetary news comes I’ll be the one to send it out on the wires”—and hearing more life—Continuing the life of God with his Babes—
Literally Spiritual Beings Ministering to Me. I see them as seraphs ministering to my queer isolation—my lack of knowledge, contact with birth—my fear to be and die—to bear life—They resolved their death by giving birth first and continuing the race of time—God in this sphere—in this world—How deep do they know?—or perhaps it is I who am not deep and know nothing of the Great Radio Truth they all receive and send—to me, to contact me in time—to help my helpless soul, lost, I am the lost soul not those I curse and envy and love from afar in my own lonely way, exiled from Heaven and on Earth. Naomi, dead, in Madhouse—my mother who I am afraid to (be) return to in sex—all Mother the same—Birth—yet what was she, and what am I that am her product and continue to live in the world of her madness? Is that my curse, which forbids me to live or die, to give birth, but to be neither woman nor man, fucked in the ass, or fucking poor Peter—I resolved to bear Babe, to bear Women, learn women—again—O (Natalie!) Grove Press secretary girl O Elise Cowan—I rejected them—they are my ministering angels—and they believe in me to save them??!!—Horror! They maybe are sent to save me and I not knowing in my ride act Prophet over them and withdraw from their embrace and copulation and vomit of new birth—What will happen to Peter if I leave him, if I change my life, if I die—and I will change my life and die—that means he will have to also—I have not let him prepare! I have promised too much and can I deliver?
All souls answered in the seance, with many sighs and thoughts of final deathheads and vomiting in the Jungle night. Experienced a terror that it was all Real, more real than I ever can know, and the great conspiracy has only begun to enter my consciousness—that all know except me—I am alone to die.
Ramon came and told me to vomit where I was if need be—I did again later, serpents in mind and the Little Death the Sign in the vibrations of the nominal world I felt as real for the first time Now I want to sleep—it’s all too real—Naomi’s death, and Louis to come, Eugene who knows best and marries—Grandma on the verge—careless—
“The Great Pan is Dead,” God the Father Dies too, for we are the God—and Ezra Pound, why does he hate the Jews? Hate me? Am I that lost, that much the Serpent?
Shit, when I came home, dropping out of my body another reminder of the ghostly state of decomposition and change—
The Height—in the Music of Infinity—my skull rocking back and forth as if settling in the pillow to a final still position, as will be my last movement of head before death—a NO sign, in Xray, or realization—No I was all wrong, No I am not ready to die—No, I resign myself to thee, Mystery.