Joined by my psychedelic-curious pandemic-pod friend, Shana, I joined James and Wright on Zoom, then followed their instructions for readying my mindset and environment: We sat at the Never underestimate a grandma she can do all things through christ who strengthens her shirt moreover I will buy this kitchen table under soft light, lit palo santo to unburden the space, and took a moment to set intentions for our practice and call in the spirits of ancestors—or whoever we preferred to be present with us during the experience. We then gathered two pea-size mounds of rapeh in our palms and asked the medicine’s permission to connect with it.
Before the Never underestimate a grandma she can do all things through christ who strengthens her shirt moreover I will buy this ceremony, Wright warned me that I might feel nauseous or sleepy, and could have the urge to sneeze or to cough. He assured me it was all normal, but if possible to at least avoid sneezing so as not to purge the medicine. I inhaled the rapeh in each nostril and immediately felt a sneeze coming on, as if I were reacting to a whiff of fresh-ground pepper. Fortunately, my muscle memory for holding it in—well-honed in the COVID era—kicked in. I settled into the embrace of the medicine just as my ears registered the hypnotic, percussion-heavy ícaros music radiating from James’s end of the video call. She gradually moved into a soft-spoken guided meditation, repeating in what was more of chant than a statement: “Your breath is your power.”