Words are always following me. They hang above, trailing me wherever I go. Constantly composing, re-forming, re-stating. Once I have a moment of peace or silence, they flood me like the deluge…. An onslaught of compositions, essays, poetry, and random statements.

I am used to this constant internal narrative. It’s been there for me all along, so it’s all I know. Constant and normal. But I do have to work to keep it productive and not obsessive. Once I open the gates to the flood, it is hard to retain balance. To find the prior equilibrium. I’m working on it, but it is an ongoing battle. A battle I enjoy, really, so I am at least thankful for that!

The more I write these thoughts and think things out in words, the more I find it’s not really about the words at all. The individual words, meanings, or technical skill. It’s not even about the literal story. No… it’s really only about conveying a concept. Communicating a feeling. Incepting pictures to the hearts and minds of others and to myself. The words themselves are meaningless, but together with intention and imagination they create, transform, and build.

Feeling these concepts in my writing, spirited and soulful concepts, is the goal. I hope I am on the right track. It feels good, and moves me passionately, so I think I am stepping in the right direction. The pictures of the soul are so much more communicative than any human written piece could aspire to be. Transformative, intimate, touching. These pictures are the ones I reach for and hope to glimpse.

Amazonian shamans have a distinct relationship with words. They talk and describe their spiritual journeys and ayahuasca dreams in far-reaching metaphors that seem nonsensical to the outsider – but they make perfect sense to them. They tell us that this is the only way one can know the unknowable and examine the unseen. To get close. To glimpse.

They describe this as tsai yoshtoyoshto, which means “language-twisting-twisting.”

In his wonderfully readable memoir about his studies in the Peruvian jungle with indigenous peoples, The Cosmic Serpent, author and anthropologist Jeremy Narby posits why they must speak in twisted language – the “language that is double and wrapped around itself.” The shamans use their koshuiti, or particular song they sing, during their hallucination dreams in order to communicate with what they are seeing. They say:

“With my koshuiti I want to see – singing, I carefully examine things – twisted language brings me close but not too close – with normal words I would crash into things – with twisted ones I circle around them – I can see them clearly.”

Here, we could infer that normal language does not let us know these concepts adequately. We need the metaphoric meaning, as this is the only real way to see. Mental pictures cannot be described in mere words. They are concepts, feelings, pictures that reach beyond and within the self.

I have been writing my poetry stream-of-consciousness style for a while now, and I am only just grasping the pictures and concepts that it conveys to me. When I write, I try to let it flow unhindered, and it naturally comes out in rhyme. I’ve decided not to fight it – indeed, maybe rhyme is the best way of seeing the universe?

I will heed to the “language-twisting-twisting” as it shows me what I cannot see in this rationalistic, brain-based world. It shows me the language of the heart…in singsong.


I want to know, but feel unrest.
I want to formulate the best.
And so I must take my time…

Pyramids are built in rhyme.

8 thoughts on ““Language-twisting-twisting”

  1. You’ve said a lot here, Amie. I’m thinking of the various types of meditation. In some forms, you calmly say a mantra in your mind to keep from thinking/talking. In other forms, you calm your mind and let any words or thoughts gently drift away. In some, you take note of the words or thoughts, label them, and gently dismiss them. In Dzogchen meditation you watch your words and thoughts like a movie. They are your friends and you observe them from outside. You might like that last type of meditation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are correct – the Dzogchen meditation is the most similar to what I already do when I meditate! I didn’t know that, thank you for mentioning.
      Usually I try to calm the mind, connect with the breath, and then open myself up to the “stream” of sorts, watching what comes and goes. Sometimes focusing on light, sometimes not. Letting the imagination go where it wants to in an uninhibited path and watching it coalesce…. Very like a movie. So intriguing!
      And my poetry is similar to that, in just writing fast and letting it go – trying not to consciously direct it. I interpret and edit the piece after I am finished.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the part about crashing into things with normal words. In my experience with certain altered states, words, whether spoken aloud or thought of silently, can create reality. It’s very tricky (like balancing spinning plates on sticks and never having quite enough arms), but when the mind is alert and aware, but unthinking, observation flows “through” the observer as opposed to being restricted to watching/interpreting with language. One “becomes” the thing that is experienced/witnessed, and therefore no words are needed to understand.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a beautiful yet mind-twisting description. I don’t understand it, but I do at the same time. Lovely.

      The ‘crashing’ into things stuck with me, too. Sometimes I feel that is how we get to the state of things as they are in the world right now. We’re crashing into things as we interpret life too literally.


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