Bringing the now-age to life and serving as beacons of light, Brooklyn Musical Duo, Prince Rama, navigate and create from a place of love and unity. Being as vulnerable as an open fire in a forest to reveal the most befuddling dimensions of human existence, plant medicine has served as a rich healing agent that has created worlds within one-half of the duo, Taraka Larson. No question was off limits as I dove into the idiosyncratic mind that Taraka has cultivated, and it is our pleasure to share her perception of the healing power of plant medicine, her idea of a life of happiness, the healing power of music and more.
Exploring the Now Age with Prince Rama
JG: What is your perception of the healing power of music? If applicable, tell us about your journey and your discovery of the healing power of music.
TL: I’ve felt super connected to music ever since I can remember. I am pretty sure I was conceived to George Harrison! Whenever I’ve felt alone in the world, I could always count on music to be there for me like an old friend, reminding me of the beauty even in the heart of darkness. The older I get, the more I am realizing that music is not just some separate entity that we dip into with headphones on the subway every so often when we need a mood lift, but an operating system for the whole universe. I’m not saying it’s the only operating system, I am just saying it’s the one that makes the most sense to me. Another word for “making sense” is resonance. When something feels right, it resonates with you. That’s because your mind and body are sounding boards for the various frequencies around you. When something is out of balance or doesn’t resonate, a dissonance is created which can manifest itself as physical or emotional discomfort. When we forget to tune into ourselves or our environments, we lose our place in the music and instead get caught up by the dissonant hum of other lower frequencies which can create both physical and psychological distortions. Everything in the world emits a frequency. Plants, animals, rocks, water, colors, iphones, books, words, images, computers, architecture, clothing, etc. And because we all emit our own unique frequency as well, we all have different things that resonate for us. I think the trick to healing is just being able to tune in to your own unique inner song and trying your best to navigate life so that everything plays in harmony with it. And if you are having a hard time hearing what that inner song is, you probably just need to step back, press the pause button, and give yourself some space. Resonance is impossible without space. Think of a room stuffed with lots of dusty clutter versus a large open field. Living in Brooklyn the past seven years, I am learning more and more the hard way why things like meditating and taking long walks in nature actually help create a space to reconnect with that inner resonance. It is not an easy task– we are living in a world intentionally designed to fill up the bandwidth with lower vibrational frequencies that stamp out our inner songs and keep our reality stuck in a distortion loop pedal. I heard a quote while I was in the Amazon that a healer is someone who knows your song and sings it back to you. I think we all have the potential to be healers so long as we can tune into the music.
JG: Other than the environment within, what environments or places in the world have you found to be rich in meaning and invigorating for your creative endeavors?
TL: I find myself pretty naturally inspired by the landscapes of upstate New York and Scandinavia. There is a quiet wild energy in the mountains that I find super refreshing in all the right ways. New York City has its own psycho magic too, although sometimes it feels more psycho than magic. It was pretty special being down in the Amazon as well over the summer and experiencing firsthand the power of inner and outer environments coming together in a very literal way through the plant medicine.
JG: Give us the scoop on how plant medicine has served to guide you toward transforming your life experience and liberating your mind from suffering.
TL: Wow these are some serious questions! I can’t say that I have totally figured this one out yet but from my experience so far there’s not really a scoop to give– it’s more of a feeling. One that I encourage everyone to experience firsthand for themselves in their own personal way. Once you feel it, everything else becomes very simple. Some people like to use grandiose terms like “cosmic love” and “universal oneness”, but for me the closest way to describe this sensation is a feeling of overwhelming friendliness. It pervades everything, but our minds have gotten very expert at building cages to wall us off from it. Each experience we go through holds both the lock and the key– we always have the choice which side of the cage we want to be on. Everything has an inside and an outside. Many times what we perceive to be a cage is actually just a threshold space between our old selves and a totally new dimension of experience. I think a lot of our suffering comes from feeling stuck in this threshold space, not realizing that all we need to do to move through it is to just give ourselves permission to feel that feeling we are most afraid of. Even if you think the experience is going to be dark and terrible, if you just allow yourself to feel the full spectrum of it and trust the “friendliness” to guide you through it, suddenly the experience is transformed and you are able to see it for what it is. It is kind of like the architecture of old gothic cathedrals in Europe– the outside entrances are always lined with all kinds of flying monsters and grotesque gargoyle faces. Now imagine if every time we walked up to one of these churches we stopped at the entrance in horror and exclaimed, “Wow! I can’t go inside! Just look at all these terrible looking creatures!” and ran the other way. Just as the gargoyle faces on the outside of the churches seem dark and scary at first glance, once you realize they are merely guardian figures protecting what’s within, they become nothing but harmless fantastical figments of the architecture opening up to the inner sacred space. I think the inner chambers of our mind are designed much the same way. If you are being confronted with what appears to be a lot of demons in your life– congratulations! You are probably at the threshold of something new. Don’t be fooled and run the other way. Just approach with humble curiosity, trust, and surrender. Plants have helped me to recognize the dreamlike architecture and language the mind uses to disguise itself and have connected me back with this mysterious system of mischievous friendliness that underlies it all, constantly beckoning us closer– it is only our belief that we exist separately from it that keeps us locked out from accessing it. Plants are humble teachers of this feeling, sometimes nudging us playfully and sometimes kicking our ass but always reminding us in a gentle way of this oceanic friendliness that lies at the core of everything– that every experience is here to help us get closer to our inner cores and we are all here in this human experience to help each other see past the crumbling beasts and rekindle this boundless force of beauty and love that connects us all together. And this human experience is not without a sense of humor! 😉
JG: Can you share some insights from your interactions with plant medicine that you have learned in hindsight have awakened you to a new realm of creativity?
TL: Well, this might sound crazy, but I was really touched by the purge. It’s one thing to mentally come to realizations about fears or toxic patterns in your life, but it’s quite another to feel them tangibly welling up deep inside your body and letting them go like a landslide or the fiery eruption of dragons. In the Amazon, the locals have a system of spiritual reciprocity that they call ayni. I realized after many many purges that perhaps this curious medicine was subtly engaging me in this system of ayni through the act of purging. In exchange for all the lessons she was showing me, all she was asking for in return was for me to just let go. Sacrifice your fears. Your doubts. Your guilt. Your anger. Your sadness. Let it go! At first all this vomiting business really sicked me out, but towards the end of five ceremonies, I saw the purge as the highest form of beauty, a primal urr-substance from which to access all creation. It was beautiful because it was given involuntarily and selflessly. It was a gift. There is no ego in purging. No glory, no shame. There is no glamorous or artistic way to go about it. In a world of appearances, the act of purging strips you of all of your pride and false faces and puts you in touch with your most primal animalistic core. When I heard other people purge around me, it sounded like music. The sounds of cages being unlocked and gates opening. The quaking catharsis of old worlds being destroyed and new ones created. Whether we were aware of it or not, this was our bastardized human form of giving back. I made love with the purge. It was all part of the process. And this is one reason (of many) why I feel like Ayahuasca is unique to a lot of other hallucinogenic substances. Sure, you might drop acid and make a lot of crazy doodles in your journal and think you just tapped into some sort of inner creative vortex, but Ayahuasca goes deeper into the dark and messy heart of it all– the inner violence, the inner trauma, the inner agony, the inner ecstasy– and asks you to go there and give back. This reciprocal process is where the spirit of creation lies! True creativity requires you to fearlessly face your inner beasts and surrender them– and when you surrender them with love, they transform into beauty. If I could write songs in the same spirit in which I purged, I would be very happy.
JG: While you are on tour and immersed within stimulation, what practices do you engage in that aid in remaining mindful and grounded?
TL: If I’m feeling a little psycho (which is often) usually I go on a walk by myself and try to find a song that speaks to me and just listen to it on repeat, and when nobody’s watching, I’ll pretend I am in a fantasy stadium concert with an audience full of all my demons. I just sing the song to them karaoke-style and put on a fucking amazing show. This silly ritual really helps me to remember the world is just a stage and sometimes our problems just want to be entertained like anyone else. I find this makes it easier to stay mindful and present when the fantasy concert is over.
JG: What guidance can you offer others that are intrigued and interested in connecting with plant medicine?
TL: First of all, just forget everything you researched or heard about it. Don’t just do it for the hype or have any expectations. Listen to your heart and see if this is something you are really ready for. And if you are feeling the calling, trust your inner voice but also do your homework and really give yourself time to think things through. There are a lot of “shamans” out there doing ayahuasca ceremonies, but not all of them are necessarily doing it for the purest reasons. Take the time to really look into their backgrounds and see if it feels like the right fit. Also context is really important. Treat this experience as a journey, not just a trip. If you are thinking about going the casual urban route, ask yourself, do you really want to go do a super intense plant ceremony where you face death in some tiny apartment in Williamsburg next to a loud bar and stumble out at 2am with vomit plastered all over your hair and clothes looking for the L train? Personally, I surely didn’t. I was fortunate to have been guided to this place in the Amazon run by some really special people that have close, family-like ties with indigenous Shipibo medicine people who have been working with the medicine for generations and have a very deep relationship with it. I flew down to Peru and rode on a boat up the Amazon river, hiked deep into the jungle, and stayed in a straw hut for almost two weeks with no wifi, no electricity, and no touch with the outside world save for a few other curious souls who were crazy enough to make the journey down there like myself. This route might not be the one for you, but personally I was really happy I got outside my comfort zone and got to know this plant spirit intimately on her home turf. Other than that, I would say just surrender to the journey. Don’t try to control the outcome or make this process into some kind of story. Egos love stories. Once you let go of your “story” the journey truly begins. And the journey definitely doesn’t end when the ceremony is over. I am still learning more and more every day. Trust that these plants are highly intuitive and intelligent spirits and know exactly what your heart needs to heal.
JG: What is the most potent inner revelation that you have encountered over the past six months? How has this revelation shifted your current state of consciousness?
TL: I used to always be stressed out about “what am I doing with my life??” but meanwhile in the midst of this constant existential crisis I wasn’t taking the time to truly love myself or express love to the people around me. In recent months I have stopped trying to “figure things out” so much and instead am trying to just let go and love more. Basically shifting gears from using my head to trusting my heart. Fear can hide in the head, but the heart is where the magic lies. Magic is real, but as soon as we try to explain or rationalize it, it slips away as quickly as it appears. As I said before, there is an inside and an outside to everything, and we always have the choice whether we want to be tapped in or trapped in. To be trapped in is easy, but it makes life very complicated. To be tapped is not easy, but it makes life simple. It may sound cheesey but maybe the biggest revelation I’ve had is that there really isn’t much to figure out beyond just doing my best to live every day tapped into the path of love and trusting that everything else I need to know will be revealed within that. Easier said than done of course, but luckily we’re all put here to help each other remember. And that’s where the magic comes in!
JG: If you could have a conversation with either yourself as a child or yourself as a wizened senior citizen, who would you choose and why?!
TL: Definitely wizened senior citizen. I feel like I still bro down with my inner child pretty often, but I am super curious to know what I will be like as an old woman. I’ve learned so much in just the past few months alone, I can’t even imagine what sorts of crazy experiences I will have in a few more decades. Or perhaps I will have Alzheimer’s and have forgotten everything, in which case I could teach my current self a thing or two about being more present!
JG: What do admirers of your artistic endeavors have to look forward to in the near future? What projects are you currently working on?
TL: I’m in the process of writing a new album at the moment, trying my best to weave all these realizations into music. I’m also having my first ever solo gallery show in February so I’m making a bunch of paintings for that. I have never painted before in my life, so I’m very curious to challenge myself and see how that’s going to turn out.
JG: What is your idea of a life of happiness?
TL: I think a life of happiness doesn’t exist within an idea– happiness is what is left when we lose all our ideas. It exists in a space of feeling. A pure and honest space where every form is stripped naked and clean, every relationship purged of its complexities, and every spirit whittled down to its essence. It doesn’t exist yesterday or tomorrow– it exists now! It exists through this warm and tender love song the universe sings through us when we are all able to forget our roles and just be ourselves. Deep down we are already living this life of happiness, we have just forgotten how to tune in and dance. We attach emotions and wigs and masks onto each other to play out roles in each other’s cosmic dramas and trip clumsily across the dancefloor. But backstage behind the wings there are no costumes, no masks, no fear, and no pretenses. Just laughter, tears, and a big ol’ group hug.
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