The Watchful Shadow

One of the most amazing things I discovered in my first contact with Ayahuasca was the reality of spirits! Here’s an example of one such ‘being’ who passed through our hut, at the tail-end of the first night.

***SPOILER ALERT: What follows is an excerpt from my book*** (AYAHUASCA! – Terror and Miracles in the Peruvian Amazon)


I gazed at the ground in thought, seeing only Maestro’s legs in front of me while he still worked tirelessly overhead. That’s when something unusual caught my eye in the corner, by his mat.

I turned my head and saw something impossible.

There was Maestro’s empty mat, bathed in the dim light of the candle at the other end of the room. Covering half of the wall next to his shamanic tools, there was the unmistakably clear sight of a large human shadow! The life-sized shadow of a man sitting, as if by a fire, was clearly being projected there!

It had a peculiar shape, very thin and sharp-angled around the cheeks and shoulders. It almost seemed a caricature but was very reminiscent ­­of the tall-and-thin builds of certain African tribespeople. It even appeared to have a shaved head and its arms seemed wrapped snugly against its torso by some kind of blanket. Astonished, I followed the shadow down the wall and across the floor where it inexplicably just ‘ended’ right beside Maestro’s mat!

It was as if there was an invisible man sitting there, only revealed by that shadow.


In the moment, I accepted it as ‘another spirit’, its presence so potent on the air that it cast a shadow without having any form. Whatever the undiscovered physics behind it all, I was definitely looking at an ‘impossible’ shadow while it sat motionless against that wall. I blinked and squinted but it didn’t fade or change – It remained solidly there. Without my glasses on, it was even just as blurry as every other ‘real shadow’ in sight. It was there!

I addressed the thing with my mind, just as I’d done with everything else that night, beginning with “What … are you?” Its answer came immediately, through external thoughts injected into mine. This is what the faceless shadow told me in answer to my simple question:

A lesson from the watchful shadow

Ever since primal humans began living in caves and in groups, there has been a need for someone to keep watch over the night, while all others slept … This person was tasked with sitting at the cave entrance, by the edge of the great open wild, staring into the black night, facing dangers and fears both real and imagined. This had to be done to watch for threats: Snakes, predators, spiders, scorpions, anything entering the cave … The people appointed this task were the watchmen, watching over all of humanity even while it was still very small.

The watchman had to be a brave soul, while strongly loving of their peers. They were respected and appreciated by others, but most importantly they held the tribe’s trust. A watchman held in his hands the fears of every single sleeping person, who in turn fell asleep wrapped in trust.

Sleep is trust!

Then, if there ever came any threat, the watchman knew to sound the alarm even though it meant waking his beloved tribe from the bliss of sleep. That is the bittersweet relationship between the watchman and his people: Silence when necessary just as disturbance when necessary … This relationship was so useful to the survival of mankind that even to this day, in every new generation, a certain percentage of humans are still created to fill that same role.

There have been watchmen in every era of all human societies the world has seen since the dawn of man! What you see before you is the amalgamated soul of all watchmen passed.

I am the noblest soul of human ancestry.

I am the silent guardian that loves and protects mankind.

I am your watchman.”

Absolutely mind-blown by the perfect logic of the answer, I found myself overwhelmingly honored to be in the presence of such a solid manifestation of pure human benevolence!

Before anything more, I mentally thanked it for gracing us with its protective presence. It never moved a muscle while it gently swayed with every other candle-cast shadow in our space. It silently continued to watch over our space, ever-unflinching … The perfect watchman, locked in eternal vigil … Even with its cold and black appearance, in its watch I felt calm and safe. With Maestro and now this most-powerful human spirit, I was in the warm embrace of pure human trust. What an amazing sensation it was!

Suddenly, I connected the dots: That thing was next to Maestro’s mat, as if assisting his efforts … That made obvious the fact that Maestro was also a watchman for humanity, absolutely! Then I realized it. “Wait – I’m a watchman, too!!” I’d carried those same innate predispositions all my life! Obsessed with knowing the truth of things, never shy about speaking harsh truth when necessary, even if it made me unpopular… All those years of being made to feel like an ass or enemy for saying the inconvenient truth, I wasn’t an ass after all! I was just being a watchman! I realized that all other good-hearted ‘activist’ types must also share the watchman-stripe! I realized that every great revolutionary or champion of human rights must have also been watchmen!

It was the rest of society that’s forgotten our value, forgotten to trust our alarm rather than trying to silence it so they can lazily sleep-on!


Mother Ayahuasca’s intense presence was long gone from the hut. Wild spirits of Nature were well-at-bay. In that lingering moment, it was clear that the hut had become a completely human sanctuary. Between the three of us, the room had been claimed for humanity – not in an aggressive way but a powerful and respectful way. In the same way your body claims a space in the universe while you’re alive.

While we maintained it, a wholly ‘human space’ had been erected like a tent, among the wild things. The steady power of the watchman silenced the world outside while we all basked for a little while longer in that warm, enveloping sense of rest. It was peace, it was beauty, it was safety.

I spent the time gazing right into the face of that soothing shadow, while Maestro finished rebuilding me.



So there you have it.  An encounter with a very concrete (although invisible) spirit. Now, it can be argued back-and-forth whether this thing was really there, and actually sentient. But since I was there, witnessing it, I can add some thoughts to that debate.

First, the spirit’s complex answer came immediately, and without a moment of thought as it told me its tale. I’d been expecting a simple one-line answer like “I’m a healing spirit. Next question.” There hadn’t been any inkling in me that this spirit might be connected at all to ‘the first humans’, either. It was a completely surprising concept. I also had no idea where the long story was going as I listened, which suggests it wasn’t coming out of my imagination but from an external source. The feeling of “what’s happens next?” was no different than sitting at the feet of an elder and listening to fables one has never heard before. Just as real, was my increasing sense of amazement as the beautiful truth of it all grew, layer upon layer. In my view, there’s no mistaking that I received this information from a very ancient, external human spirit!

But is it really that unbelievable, that such a spirit could exist? How often do we refer to “the human spirit” as if it’s a real thing? If it’s just a fairy tale, why do we do all kinds of grand things and battle against all kinds of horrible things, in its name? “Well that’s just a word we use, the ‘human spirit’ is really just an idea” – one might say…

I’ll let you in on a little secret: You’re just an idea, expressed in flesh. A spirit is just an idea, expressed in energy. The whole material universe is ‘just an idea’, expressed in matter. Every single one exists, each in its own way.

So as it turns out, the ‘human spirit’ is a real, conscious thing! What a discovery it was! I was blessed enough to be visited by it, on that first Ayahuasca ritual, in the pitch black jungle night. Only one of many spirits I encountered, each one as real as the last. What can I say; it was (insert every ‘amazing’ word here)!

But that one spirit in particular holds a special place in my heart, because it was ‘my’ spirit! The human spirit! It belongs to all of us just as we belong to it, most of all to those who work in its good name. The ancient order of watchmen, still alive-and-kicking. Sacred. I can’t mean that word enough when I say it, about this spirit. Sacred! And I don’t mean white-robe-in-a-church sacred, I mean real-sacred – Life-sacred – Jungle-sacred! What a moment, to realize that behind all our confusion and our current madness, the human being is a watchman – a noble guardian! How beautiful a gift is that?! To go forward from that moment knowing for certain that humanity is not a parasite, a greedy plague on the world, a conqueror, a natural disaster – at least not at its heart. It’s another spirit that drives that illness: Fear. It makes us lose our way, and become traitors to who we really are – Watchmen of the Earth.

The good news is, returning to that healthy state is simple: Just stop hacking-and-slashing in fear – Human nature will reclaim, as Nature always does.

Ayahuasca, amigos. Ayahuasca.

••• Please support the author by purchasing his book and leaving a review! •••

Comments are closed.