Peyote Meeting by Melvyn Stiriss

Stephen_Gaskin_at_the_Nambassa_3_day_Music_&_Alternatives_festival,_New_Zealand_1981._Photographer_Michael_BennettsPeyote meeting! Word spread quickly. After supper, as country-dark night fell, our fledgling tribe gathered happily on the wooded hillside. Three hundred intrepid trippers sat around a roaring, crackling bonfire that lit up a wide circle of golden light in the growing darkness.

Everything—the night, the fire, the people—the whole experience felt magical—a sacred initiation ritual we were making up on the spot. Three hundred of us sat on the ground, on blankets and bedrolls; meditating silently; digging the scene and falling under the hypnotizing spell of fire and woods. We were also waiting eagerly to hear what Stephen would have to say.

This was the Caravan’s first full meeting since landing in Tennessee, and it was going to be a peyote meeting—not a traditional, Hopi peyote meeting involving drums, feathers, Kachina songs and such. This was a hippie, freestyle peyote meeting, and Stephen served as road chief with all the elements—earth, air, fire and water in the form of peyote tea. Below our place on the hill, thousands of fireflies fill the air—a sparkling galaxy.

We sit. Six hundred ears explore exciting, new sounds—the music of the land. In true, surround sound, from every direction—pulsing rhythms of bull frogs—Ribbit, Ribbit; peeper tree frogs—peep, peep; myriads of merrily chirping crickets—regular crickets—chirp, chirp and super-loud, camel crickets—CHIRP, CHIRP.

A nearby, lone quail airs a series of loud—Bob-Whites! Whip-poor-wills whip-poor-will in ongoing, back-and-forth, call-and-answer conversations—Whip-poor-will! Whip-poor-will! Whip-poor-will!  An occasional barn owl hoots, and a jungle-sounding bird, like a kookaburra—makes a strange, loud warble that sounds like whacky laughter.

By telepathic agreement, led off by Stephen, we humans now make our sound. We OM-ed. Three hundred voices joined in a far-out, beautiful, impromptu choir—everyone belting out one, long-sustained syllable—the ancient chant—Aaaaauuuuuuummm.

The OM lasted several minutes, harmonizing with nature; then, subsided and drifted away into the night; etching into our memories and lifting everyone higher. Time seemed to stop. We felt cool, night breezes, smelled earthy forest and wood smoke aromas, and meditated on the fire. There was magic in the air.

Glass jars of warm peyote tea circulate along with many joints of top-notch marijuana. Good vibes energy. Happy friends, communing in nature. Many of us here this night were veterans of LSD and peyote trips and had been through a very unusual, exciting, sometimes scary, period in our lives—often beautiful and fun; sometimes chaotic and disorienting. A time that shook us up and changed us.

Over the past few years, many of us had experienced life-altering, mystical, some would say “enlightening,” experiences on marijuana, hashish and especially while tripping on LSD and magic mushrooms, and we were all figuring out what to do next with our new vision and expanded consciousness.

Psychedelics seemed to open a portal to higher dimensions and all that was sacred, profound and intensely beautiful. We had followed the battle cry of LSD High Priest, Dr. Timothy Leary—“Turn on, tune in, and drop out.” Then, many found ourselves way out on a limb, beyond the limb, with no clue how to come back down to Earth.

That was where Stephen came in. With no psychiatric training, Stephen was remarkably good at guiding people back to Earth, to sanity and focus attention on here and now, to manifest the best possible reality—to “make a change in the world.”

At nearly six-feet, five—Stephen stood out in any crowd. A combat veteran of the Korean War and former San Francisco State College teacher, Stephen was older, better educated, world-wise, and clearly more intelligent than average. He was also a very skillful communicator and had charisma. His students got high on his presence. Stephen seemed more highly-evolved than anyone I had ever met.

Accustomed to being looked up to and in the focal point of group attention/energy, Stephen was fun, entertaining and had endearing qualities of playfulness, which he used artfully to share intelligence, aphorisms and down-home wisdom—reliably raising group consciousness. We considered Stephen our spiritual teacher, and we were his committed students. We trusted and believed in Stephen, and, in so doing, we gave him energy and created synergy for us all to share.

Hearts and minds open, like people throughout history, everywhere—we shared comforting, wonderful, spirit-lifting energy that comes from being with like-minded people—such as in a church. And, that was what we were becoming—a wacky, freestyle, all-inclusive, peace, love and marijuana church.

I sweep the crowd visually, the way Stephen does—telepathically meeting souls. My eyes meet other portals to souls, and we gaze into each other’s eyes awhile, eye-vibing across the circle, feeling energy pass telepathically between us—warm, friendly energy. Time stops.  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I2EMLHQ

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