I can't say exactly what called me to the Peruvian jungle. Maybe it was talking to a friend, Lara, who had been working with traditional Shamanic plant medicine in the Peruvian Amazon. Or maybe it was a reoccurring dream that I was having of shrubs and vines, and a scent that I couldn't quite place. All I know is that as I listened to Lara's stories and experiences with the plants I could feel every cell inside of me nodding in agreeance and a month later I found myself at her medicine centre in Tarapoto drinking my first cup of tobacco tea, a purgative tea that would begin my experience with traditional plant medicines of the jungle regions of Peru.
It was here in the depths of the Amazon that I realised the vines in my dreams was the mother vine Ayahuasca, and the smaller shrub was Chacruna, the plant brewed with Ayahausca to make a hallucinogenic tea, drunk to heal the mind, body and spirit. The scent in my dreams was 'agua de florida', a perfume used by 'curanderros/ light workers' during Ayahuasca ceremonies.
In tradition plant medicine every element of nature has a spirit. Plant spirits can be used by humans to heal the mind, body and spirit and give power to the patient. When we connect deeply with the natural world around us we connect deeper into our internal nature, it is here we find equilibrium, and here that we heal.
I began a traditional plant diet with Chucuhuasi, one of the largest trees in the Amazon, a tree my maestro Hegner had prescribed to me through connecting to the plant spirits. In a traditional plant diet the student removes external stimulation so ones internal wisdom can be heard. For two weeks I ate only one meal of potato, plantain and rice, and sat in isolation in a tiny casita deep in the jungle. There was plenty of time for me to observe the wisdom in nature, to watch the hawks that would glide over the same patch of sky in search for food at the same time every day, to observe the ants that would follow the same path every day, carrying their offerings back to the Queen, to watch tiny buds of plant life shoot up and slowly unfurl toward the sun. These elements taught me about the importance of routine and following the path step by step, day by day to create my dreams. They showed me that everything in nature 'works' and so too we humans must work, step by step, little by little. The hawk does not give up when it swoops to collect it's food, and so must I persist. The ants shared with me that a Queendom is not built overnight and takes daily commitment to grow; and the plant bud taught me to keep growing toward the light even when I can't see the path ahead of me. There is an internal compass which will guide me and it is here I will experience beauty.
As I observed the microcosm day to day I observed the macrocosm in my Ayahuasca ceremonies. The veil was lifted on everything I knew and I was shown the connection between all things. How my internal landscape is reflected in my external landscape, how deep the collective experiences of my ancestors runs in my experience of life as I know it, how this life is all an illusion and we are all just love/God, (whatever you want to call it); how our thoughts create our experience of reality, how I am a tiny drop of stardust and infinitely connected to the cosmos, and if the universe is still expanding then so must I be; how our planet is a living organism and we must love and care for her as we care for ourselves.
My awareness of the macro and microcosms within me emerged as I sat in silence daily, connecting deeper with Chuchuhuasi. Aspects within me from past events, and personality traits arose to be observed, felt and sometimes transformed. I felt the gentle presence of the plant spirit within me and melodies and harmonies came through me as I'd sit on the rivers edge or stand amongst the trees. These songs were the songs of Chuchuhuasi. They became the hand that would guide me through the memories and emotions that would arise within me as the medicine took me deeper into the unseen realms of my existence. These songs became the guides that call me into my internal strength and wisdom in my day to day life now that I am apart from the jungle.
Traditional shamanic plant medicines are some of the most powerful teachers I have known. I have worked within many modalities to understand myself and the human experience more deeply but my experience with plant medicine has been the most potent. More important than the experience itself is what we choose to do with what we have seen in our day to day lives. The plants will open up doorways for you but they won't heal you. We need to actively make changes in our day to day lives to reap the benefits of our experience, this is where the true power lies. The plants are there to show us our power, but we must take the lead.
Ayahuasca is much more than a psychedelic experience, it is deep knowing and understanding and under the right guidance it can be an incredibly healing and transformative experience. It is most important to drink with an experienced guide in a physically and energetically safe space. Anyone can wear a robe and a medicine pouch, serve Ayahuasca and call themselves a 'shaman', very few can work with the medicine to transform energies for those in their care, that is true doctoring. Hegner, my maestro at The Garden of Peace is one such doctor. He has taught and guided me to much deeper places of healing and understanding than I've ever known. From the seat of his humble potency he has shown me time and time again the power that love has to transform all.
There are many paths to the same destination. I'm not exactly sure why I was called to the jungle, or what it was within me that sparked this interest to explore this tradition and practice of working with plant medicines. It's hard to say really, but what I do know is that I've received some amazing gifts from working with these incredible teachers (plant and human) and have a great respect for them. If plant medicine is sparking your curiosity, I encourage you to heed the call for much power and beauty awaits you. Do your research to know where you going, what you're getting into, and be prepared to have your world opened in a way that may be beyond imagining. If you'd like any suggestions, recommendations please feel free to be in touch.