I left the post-modern consumerist, nicotine and alcohol infested society for a couple of weeks of full immersion into the alternative culture movement on Brazil. The annual meeting is a national event, traditionally set on a land eligible for the founding of a fresh community, to which all existing ecoprojects in the country are invited to share their knowledge. A kitchen, compost toilets and a children area are built in the weeks of preparation to host around a thousand campers for a week. Everyone can give a workshop or propose an action, as each day the program is improvised on a black board. This was an effective method and an interesting change from the timely arrangement of activities I have experienced through the WE festival!
I experienced ENCA fully as I stayed for more than two weeks and ran around helping and participating everywhere I could. I arrived to help chop wood and clear spaces in the days of the preparations, attending yoga, acro and handstand classes, learning about the sacred female at the women’s moon tent, and experiencing many spiritual encounters.
At night the new age hippies are called around the sacred fire to sing songs and play music until their bodies fall into the sand and take a few hours of rest. The incredible heat, characteristic of Cearà, is made bearable by the proximity to the Lagoa Paraiso, which owes its name to its clear and fresh waters, in which I would take a dip many times a day and smear myself with its clay.
Sacred rituals took place continuously, I learned to smoke marijuana as a medicine, taking the joint of Santa Maria with the left hand, holding it upwards, taking three puffs without letting the smoke out, the first time in meditation for the Sun, the second time for the Moon and lastly for the stars, before passing it on with my right hand to the right side. Even my friends who never smoke weed participated in the ritual which I found an inspiring way to respect the marijuana plant which is being abused and misused by all us stoners…
Another ritual I took part of was the application of rapé. I had tried the ground tobacco with Amazon seeds, cork or roots before in Venezuela, as a curious teen ager and again, in Recife. Each time it had hurt quite a bit as it was blown through a bamboo straw up my nostrils to reach and cleanse my respiratory channels and open my third eye. At ENCA, on the first day I was wrongly diagnosed with a bacteria called estefilococo due to many cuts on my legs which were mainly due to all the rough bush work I had been through in shorts. But at the cure tent they told me I should look after myself taking all precautionary measures to not infect anyone as well as to strengthen my immune system. Rapé was recommend as an excellent way to clean toxins and immunise the body. So I proceeded in applying the dusty substance up my nostrils. I would first usually talk with the applier, asking about the ingredients of the rapé, and I would always meditate before and after the application, asking the rape spirit to cure and protect me. Rapé was probably the most consumed native medicine at the meeting, I got to see that the substance is definitely abused of by many who apply it various times a day without any spiritual protection or reflection… On one of my last evenings I attended a really surreal experience; the moon tent was open to men to undertake the ritual of union of the sacred male with sacred female spirits. In pairs, we were asked to repeat to the man in front of us the phrases “Sinto muito, me perdoe, eu te amo, sou grato” (I am sorry, forgive me, I love you, I am grateful). As I looked into my pairs’ eyes repeating the words for what seemed like a lifetime, I had to fight hard against a strong desire to cry for all the gender-induced suffering across space and time…
During the magical and strong session, the sun had fallen. I left the moon tent feeling utterly delicate, reaching the shores of the lagoon with a strong desire to cry. I lay and did so, then I tried to meditate but I was feeling too emotionally altered, so I asked God for guidance. I stood up, turned around and saw a large tree trunk being magnificently burned in front of the Thè Maskal tent. I reached the light were only a few people were sitting in prayer. Eduardo, who was leading the small ritual, thanked his God who I believe was Krishna but to me it didn’t matter much. After a long session of prayers and mantra chanting, Eduardo applied rape to each of us in turn “do meu coração para seu coração”. The rapé shot up my nose and immediately made me hit the ground (not physically) all my emotions and fragile fears fell, leaving an extreme feeling of bliss, relaxation and gratefulness. We stayed a while longer watching the fire, then I took a swim in the lagoon and dried by the hot flames, applying ash on my bruises while I listened to the voices coming from the main fire getting louder and more excited, as the air prepared to dance the night past.
With my new clan we got into some philosophical discussion, three of the kids were only 16 and had appeared at ENCA in their search for an alternative way of living and of friends that could understand their already mature mind and their different way of thinking and their sexual preferences. We went on to join the crowd around the large fire, leaving only a blessed memory of the ceremony.
Sexuality was only a theme, in fact, the attendants were requested to refrain from any sexual activity to maintain the concentration and strength of the collective energy vibrating. Apart from the rules against the use of the technology which were one of the main reasons which attracted me to the meeting (and why I cannot share more pictures to this post), the request to fast from sex allowed everyone to purely love, share, connect make friendships as brothers and sisters. Hardly any couples appeared smooching in my face as would happen everywhere across my travels. As we reminded each other before each meal singing in a circle, the energy was focused on the family, on the cure of the planet and on unconditional love which makes us all one. Of course not everyone respected the requirement of abstention, but most of us did, especially the participants of the Ayahuasca ceremonies.
During my travels across Brazil I mentally collected stories of experiences with the DMT-rich medicine, the ancient indigenous remedy of Ayahuasca; concluding that I also wished to try it, if given the right opportunity and context.
Plenty was offered during the days at the meeting, I chose to first do the ritual- or work, as they say- in the moon tent in a shamanic ceremony with only women, consecrating womanhood. I asked the Ayahuasca spirit to heal me and allow my moon to regulate my body once again. After drinking the cold dense tea which I found delicious and reminded me of something familiar I still haven’t managed to pinpoint, I fell asleep. I awoke some minutes later to see golden branches moving about me, changing prospective… I sat up with my eyes wide open in wonder at the beauty of the candle-lit sprouts from the forest’s soil. Immerging my hands in the earth, I could feel it’s beat, the energy of nature and the power of the plant within me; I evoked all my guardians for their protection and then, for the first time in a very long time, I started to cry.
I never cry, especially in front of other people I guess I have a bit of a trauma from all the tears shed by my classmates in high school. The other women encouraged me to let everything out and cleanse. So while other girls wrenched, vomited, peed and shat in the woods, I was intensely and heartedly crying of sadness and sorrow, of gratefulness and joy, all at once. Then, I started to laugh and roll around in ecstasy, but my tears came back many times in the following days. At times I would feel like meditating, others like sitting by the fire joining in the chanting at the rhythm of the drums… I sat on the sacred tree of the red Moon and hugged it, watching its branches become art. The ritual was completely liberal, each woman a free member of the Moon clan. Many thought it a bit too much, to pagan, too crazy… Some girls felt afraid and alone, but I was completely at peace and looking inside me, feeling an intense connection with nature. I was glad when the ceremony abruptly came to an end, due to the shaman’s instinct to take a dip in the Lagoon, I left walking through the forest and danced in the water under the full Moon.
After hardly sleeping at all, the next day I enjoyed the festival and the different workshops. At nightfall I tried the medicine again but with a completely different consecration, participating in something a more popular and widespread Ayahuasca ceremony in Brasil, almost the Santo Daime. The religion has a strict and conservative approach to the medicine, however the ceremony in the forest I attended was still much more shamanic than the Santo Daime church itself, where the participants are asked to dance repetitive rhythmic paces and sing along. After an evening meditation session, I felt the call of the medicine and turned up a little late; this time I drank two cups throughout the night and I moved very little. The shaman spent the night trying to focus the energy, making sure no one would leave the premises and maintain their concentration. Perhaps greatly thanks to the Theta Healing therapy I had just received, I was easily able after waking up from the Ayahuasca shot to meditate with the Light, looking inward and feeling the silky, delicious essence of the Force, almost always unaware of my physical body and my surroundings. I sat in meditation all night, until, when dawn came, I opened my eyes to return to the present beauty of the sunshine filter through the trees… I couldn’t believe how fast the night had flown and how relaxed and at the same time full of energy I was feeling. After the closing of the ceremony with a combination of Cristian and indigenous prayers, while Feliciano the shaman was applying rapé, I found a friend’s dog, Betania, and played with her in tears, mentally asking her for pardon for all the hatred I have directed towards her species during my life. I went to the beach and swam across the lagoon, feeling the need to disperse my physical energy.
ENCA was a magical experience during which I met really amazing people, some too crazy for their own good, but mostly truly beautiful and inspiring. Many people I knew from the months travelling across North-Eastern Brasil, so the event came as a convergence of all the great vibes from adventures along the coast. With the culmination of the full moon, the energy also saturated the air, until one would often doubt the reality of it all, in the overwhelming vibrations of love and care. I must say it did get a little too much. The night after the rituals we formed a human tunnel, inside which we passed one by one, receiving a million-hand-massage. The morning I woke by the sacred fire to find yet another insane vision of a naked man shouting and running around in hysterics, seemingly incorporating a spirit. We trapped him into a collective hug, again my proximity to such a body gave me fear and need to cry. Everyone seemed to have reached a level of openness that left space for too many possibilities. I lay in my hammock high on the cashew tree and slept for about thirty-two hours. I woke to find the closing of the gathering, many people leaving or making plans to stay and work on the land and the permaculture projects. Yet, other people had got sick: is seemed like the feeling of conclusion had caused some laziness and carelessness, we had begun disregarding the essential hygiene rules.
We spent two healthy weeks asking the Gods for cure, finally we all got sick.