Friday, November 25, 2016

Extracting venom from Giant Monkey Frog

At dawn, before the rain, you can hear the singing. Somehow, among all the intersecting signs and signals in the dense jungle, the small green frog knows that rain is on its way...and the frog sings.

You've heard the story before. If you haven't, there are plenty of wonderful online descriptions of Phyllomedusa bicolor, otherwise known as the Amazon's “Giant Monkey Frog.”

I won't retell the story that's been told. Instead, I'll tell mine. It's about an intense sacred ceremony of healing experienced by placing small amounts of the medicinal venom into small holes burned into my skin by a knowledgeable shaman.

A friend from Thailand was visiting Ecuador and he returned to Cuenca from Vilcabamba to describe his Kambo experience. Having received the benefits of an Ayahuasca purge of things negative or unserving to my spirit, I was intrigued by Kambo - a ceremony that entailed the ultimate purge experience. I wondered - how could violent sickness and vomiting episodes triggered by a terrifically potent jungle venom possibly result in better health across all spectrums of one's being - physical, emotional, energetic, spiritual? If I hadn't talked to someone who personally had just returned from the experience with glowing things to say, I wouldn't have been prompted to investigate further.

My research only fed into the subtle but pervasive call from the jungle to come and be a part of the healing, the insights, the awakened vitality the frog could offer to those who respected the process. Reading all that was known about the frog, its venom, and the way the native peoples were first told about the venom medicine by Mother Ayahuasca only reinforced the impulse to heed the call to take the plunge and submit to the healing purge.

Here are two links that describe the Kambo frog and the healing effects of the powerful venom it produces. What the venom contains and what it provokes within us is truly amazing:

LINK - Kambo-Scientific-Research-Healing-Treatments.pdf

My friend from Thailand was told by the shaman that the proper way to receive maximum benefits from Kambo was to receive the medicine three times within a single lunar cycle. It didn't matter how the ceremonies were spaced as long as three ceremonies were completed within 28 days.

The ceremony space was a five-hour drive from where I live in Cuenca so I scheduled three Kambo ceremonies in three days. The aggressive schedule not only was good to minimize travel, I figured it was also best to maximize Kambo's benefit. Added to this was the fact that I wanted to follow up the three days of Kambo with two days back-to-back with the plant medicine San Pedro. I figured that three days of cleaning out would position me well to really go deep with my conversations with Grandfather San Pedro. I wasn't sure how I'd feel after five ceremonies in five days but I followed my intuition that it was precisely what I needed.

LINK to my 2-Day San Pedro Experience in Vilcabamba
LINKS to my Ayahuasca Experience:   Part I  Part II  Part III  Part IV  

Kambo frog

1st Kambo Day
I arrived with my wife at the Kambo ceremony space before 7am to find that an all-night Ayahuasca ceremony was just winding down. It was incredible to think that our shaman was able to go right into a Kambo ceremony after leading the all-night Ayahuasca journey. We sat a while in the gardens and talked with the Ayahuasca participants. As could be expected, they were not completely back and ready to move into their day. The morning sun edged high enough to set some garden flowers aglow while birds sang in the tall trees. Nearby a large metal cooker pot of Ayahuasca brew boiled away. Our shaman joined us to check in on the Ayahuasca celebrants. His calm wisdom and compassionate humor was immediately apparent in the way he interacted with everyone. Everything about him instilled a safe confidence in going forward with the Kambo.

When the time came, my wife and I and two other women followed the shaman down the path to a large teepee hidden in the foliage. We carried large containers of water and other jugs and buckets to drink from. He showed us where the two jungle toilets were and then ushered us inside the teepee. There his soft-spoken banter and gentle smile set the tone for the caring and sacred ceremony to come. He sat cross-legged before the implements he would use and described the process. He told us to start drinking water - one to two liters to start. He took his time to ask if we had any questions and thoroughly answered in the way appropriate. Sometimes his answer was a story, sometimes an anecdote, sometimes a single word and a smile. When he was sure we were informed and comfortable with the sequence of what would happen, he lit a candle and invited us one-by-one to come to his side to receive the medicine.

The shaman had me come up first. He asked me where I would like to receive the medicine. I told him my upper left arm, near the shoulder.  He explained I could receive points in two sizes depending on the size of stick he burned me with. Did I want the large stick or the small stick? Wanting the most benefit, I asked for the large stick. He then asked me how many "points" would I like. Each point is a single application of the medicine. I answered that I would trust his judgement - he should give me however many he thought would be good for me. To that he said he'd start me with four points. He placed the large stick in the candle flame until the stick caught fire. He blew out the fire and continued to blow on the end of the stick to make the burnt end glowing red hot. When the glowing end was just right, he told me to take in a breath. I breathed in and he punctured my arm with the glowing stick. Again and again he got the end of the stick red hot, told me to take in a breath, then punctured a hole. He then cleaned and brushed open the row of four vertical holes in preparation for the medicine.

Evenly spaced in a row on a small flat stick were small, grayish dabs of venom. The shaman wetted them ever so gingerly then took another special stick to apply a dab of venom into the four burn holes in my upper arm. Immediately, I could feel a rush of fiery flush course through my neck and head. My heart rate jumped and as I had been instructed, I grabbed my water jug and a mat and hurried out of the teepee to find my purge space outside in the foliage.

By the time I got my mat and water jug down and managed to kneel down, a dizzying rush of a flu feeling shuddered through me. A churning nausea twisted in my guts. My breaths came fast and labored. As instructed I hurried to gulp down more water. As I did, my wife and the other two women hurried out of the teepee one-by-one and rushed in agony to their own purge spaces next to and behind me somewhere. It was impossible to be too concerned about anything else going on. Trying to cope with the enormity of the sickness convulsing through my body was all I could bear to deal with. The Kambo was like a hot dragon snaking everywhere within my body and spirit, rooting out anything that shouldn't be there. I remarked to my wife afterwards that Kambo was like someone pressure-washing your insides and spirit with hot water - water, that once it had found what shouldn't be there, raced in a death-spiral panic to exit the body using the nearest orifice

I drank the last of the water in my jug and the shaman's voice from far away was replaced by the motion of him at my side, filling my water jug, as if he sensed my need for more water from afar and magically shifted to my side instantly. And so it went for two hours. At the very moment I would empty my water jug, the shaman was there to fill it again. Drink. Drink more. The more you drink, the more the medicine has to work with to get the bad stuff out. Just when I thought I couldn't drink any more, the slosh of water filling my jug would implore me to take more. The shaman was relentless with the four of us, making us drink - the one thing we didn't want to do was the only thing we had to.

But all that water didn't last inside long. The Kambo had a perfectly good use for it. It's called violent vomiting. It's nothing like regular vomiting. It's like a purge one makes with sudden superhuman strength as a last desperate act before dying of distressed physical overload. I never thought so much could be discharged like a projectile so quickly and so repeatedly in such a short time. I was so sick, so tired, all I wanted to do was lie down on my mat. But every time I tried to lie down, the sickness intensified. Kambo wouldn't let me lie down. Kambo growled at me, "Try to sit this out and I'll hurt you! Get the fuck up! You need this!"

And so it went on, for two hours. Occasionally, at times when Kambo churned deep, the shaman would hover over me, singing an icaro and slapping my back and sides and air around me with a bound fan of leaves. I mustered all my strength and pulled myself back up to a kneeling position and sat back. I rolled my head back and stared helpless at the sky. Next to me, the shaman refilled my water jug for the millionth time. I felt out-of-body and tormented by my distressed body at the same time. I leaned forward into a hang-dog position on hands and knees. Kambo rocked me forward and back, forward and back again and again until another roar of vomiting sprayed the grass and weeds in front of me. This time a dark, viscous sludge of green ooze came out with the fire hose spray. I watched as the slime-green gunk puddled in front of me long after the water portion of the spray had sunk into the ground. Whatever the green stuff was, I gave thanks it was not inside of me.

Sensing when Kambo's work for the day was done, the shaman approached me and asked if I wanted to receive a handful of liquid tobacco snuff. This tobacco bears little resemblance to any tobacco contained in store-bought cigarettes. The type of tobacco and the concentration of the liquid form is a special brew only known by the shaman. I said yes, I wanted the snuff to help raise the culmination of the ceremony to another level. Kneeling back on my mat, I held out my hand. The shaman poured out the brown liquid into my palm. Right away I raised it to my nose and snuffed the liquid up both nostrils.

After two hours of being weakened and cleansed by the Kambo, the liquid snuff hit me with expansive wavers of bright awareness and faintness. I looked up through the trees to the sky and felt my energies surge and sharpen even as I felt lighter. I felt too light to remain in any position other than lying down. I crumbled onto my side and felt the lightness intensify. Soon the lightness became floating. I felt the Kambo and snuff mix in a passage through my emotional body. The higher I floated out of my body, the more I spontaneously started to cry. The deepening cry intensified with the spaceless height of my floating spirit. Without words I felt an emotional purge surging out of me. The tears were a joyous purge of gratitude for all the negative emotion, the "panema" leaving me. I closed my eyes and sank into the sweet relief of the healing taking place. I gave thanks to Kambo. I basked in the sweet relief of floating away from sickness and pain. Day 1 of Kambo was complete.

Morning Mountain

2nd Kambo Day
Once again, we arrived at the ceremony space at 7am. This day's ceremony would be attended by my wife and myself only. As the shaman prepared the water jugs and other implements, I asked about the Ayahuasca cooker still flaming away under the large metal pot. The shaman noted that today he was concentrating the brew. Then we were ready. Again we took the walk down the path, through the garden, by the stream bed, until we arrived at the teepee. Questions and answers were handled inside the teepee and then we were ready to begin. The candle was lit, the sacred ceremonial words were spoken, and one at a time myself and my wife received our points. On this day the shaman said I should have six points. He burned the holes in a vertical line next to yesterday's points, the points now covered by Sangre de Drago, Dragon's Blood, a protective mixture to help the wounds.

By the time I hurried my mat and water jug to the same purge space outside the teepee as yesterday, the Kambo had me in its death grip. It was a much tighter and hotter grip than the day before. The sickness clawed at me and made me dizzy until I wished I could crawl out of my skin. I had drunk close to two liters of water inside the teepee before receiving the medicine. And Kambo lost no time making ample use of it. Violent purging into the weeds by my mat was announced to the sky with agonized yelps. I heaved heavy breaths in between jet streams of my insides flying out.

Like a bad dream returning, there was no relief from the water jug being instantly filled over and over again by the shaman. How could I do this for hours again? What was I thinking to set the ceremonies on consecutive days? How was I ever going to do this for a third day in a row tomorrow? A rush of sickening thoughts rattled through my mind. But I had to abandon all of it. None of the thoughts, none of my aching desires for relief mattered a bit. Nothing but time and purging would even start to alleviate the agony. And nothing but water would produce the proper purge. I lifted my water jug to my mouth and guzzled it down as fast as I could. But there was no getting ahead of it. Whatever amount I drank, the shaman would instantly replace it. "Drink! Drink! More water!"

The sickness and the violence of the purging was the worst on the second day. It took all my strength and willpower to keep going. About half-way through the two hours, during a particularly aggressive series of purges, I witnessed a strange yellow mass come out of me. As the ejected water disappeared into the earth, the viscous yellow muck clung like liquid glue to the weeds. In the yellow puddle was something else, something lighter in color and firmer in texture. I had barely eaten in two days so it wasn't undigested food. I don't know what it was but I wasn't about to inspect it. I only had massive gratitude that somehow I had managed to expel it.

As the hours passed and the worst of the Kambo effects subsided, the shaman came by to talk with me. He sat down cross-legged close to my mat on the weeds and we got talking about some of my questions. A primary question had been nagging me for a year, ever since I had a horrific time at my first Ayahuasca ceremony. I explained to him how I watched all night as the whole ceremony was taken over by dark entities in a dimension that overlaps ours. I explained how everything they did was a negative, trickster inversion of the original ceremonial intent. All of this I have explained in great detail in four other blog posts. (See links below)  The core issue was the dilemma I was left with. Did the dark entities really exist or were they just projections I created - or were they created by Mother Ayahuasca for a particular  lesson, the meaning of which I still hadn't grasped? Shamans protect ceremonial space, so they must believe there is something real to protect us from. The dark energy after taking Ayahuasca was independently verified by other participants at my ceremony, even though I had not told them details of my experience. So how could I ever trust the Ayahuasca experience when I had watched the ceremony get completely co-opted by dark interdimensionals. "They call it the medicine...we call it the poison!"

The Kambo shaman took the time to engage me and my concerns. I felt such genuine, active listening from him. I also felt the knowledge of hundreds of Ayahuasca ceremonies behind his words. He was well-acquainted with the way the Ayahuasca medicine manifests itself in all its guises, always with the singular purpose of giving us what we need to heal and become truly aware, no matter how harsh or traumatic it may have to be. I never expected such an in-depth conversation with the Kambo shaman about my Ayahuasca experience. After all, it hadn't been his ceremony. But I felt his concern for me was real and so I told him the details he needed to assess if my dilemma could be solved.

At one point, when enough detail had been stated, I simply asked, "Do the dark entities exist or don't they exist?" It was the crux of my dilemma. Without hesitation, his eyes twinkled, a small grin turned up his lip, and he shot back in a soft but playfully firm voice - "They exist - and they don't exist. If you put your awareness there, then they exist. Your fear makes them real."

I could half see his point but I still wasn't completely satisfied. Before I could say more, he gathered everyone inside the teepee and asked if we would like some Rapé. I said yes. We sat facing each other and he said a few sacred phrases and loaded the v-shaped pipe. He told me to take a breath in and hold it. As I held it, he delivered the Rapé by placing one end of the pipe up my nostril and blowing the medicine up my nose from the other end of the pipe. My head reeled back with the crystalline snap of the sharpening substance flooding my sinuses and head. Before I could recover from the initial blast, the shaman had the second load ready for the other nostril. I held a breath and again the pipe shot hit my nose, sinuses and head. Immediately, he blessed me, quickly stroked his hands down from the crown of my head to my shoulders, then stroked down from my shoulders to my elbows. Then right away he snapped his fingers front and back, up and down around my head and ears. It was like fireworks popping off all around my head.

I sat back, dazed. Before I could gather my senses about what was happening, I started to purge. I gasped and almost choked, startled at the suddenness of the impulse and not wanting to purge in the teepee. I scrambled to my feet and rushed outside where the full purge erupted with an anguished sigh. After two hours, I thought my purging for the day was over. I never expected to purge so forcefully as a response to the Rapé. I only expected a possible cleaning out of the sinuses, which also occurred. The shaman came out to check on me. He smiled at seeing I was recovering and added, "Thanks for watering my garden." After which, he went back into the teepee to administer Rapé to my wife.

I was blissfully wiped out and needed to lie down. The late morning breezes had come up and gigantic puffy clouds soared by overhead. In the distance, I could hear the exotic calls of four or five kinds of birds. But first I needed desperately to visit the jungle toilet for a final round of purging. When I returned, I was more than ready to lie on my side under the sky and float with the feeling of relief and clarity provided by Kambo and Rapé working hand-in-hand.

As I lay there with my head on the thin mat on the ground, I was at eye-level with the weeds stretching out towards the stream bed beyond the trees. The more I settled into a buoyant meditation, the more the plant life all around me became more vivid in color and started to shimmer. My eyes caught one particular plant, a young banana tree no more than four-feet high. As I watched the breeze wave its long green branches, the sun came out from behind a cloud and lit it up magnificently. I thought - how beautiful. And instantly, I felt the spirit of the plant send love back to me. But with the love came a lesson. The plant acknowledged the beauty I was seeing but implored me to look around - the beauty was in the plant next to it, and the one farther over, and the tree behind it, and the grasses and weeds near its roots. Don't limit myself to its own beauty when its beauty was shared with all living things. All living things shared the same essence that I was recognizing in it. It was all the same living entity.  Indeed, I was apart of the same beauty, the same living being, the same wondrous energy of creation. I thanked the plant for the lesson and for helping me to see beauty in a broader sense. There is always more beauty to see. How wonderful and it can be accessed any time, any where, either with or without the aid of plant medicines. The medicines only allowed an enhanced experience of beauty to remind us of what we had all along, and will always have. And so Kambo Day 2 came to an end. The roughest day ended in the most beautiful way possible.

3rd Kambo Day
I had expected dread and fatigue when the alarm went off at dawn on the third day. Instead, I was amazed at the energy and fascinating anticipation I had for the day. Granted, it wasn't an overly pleasant anticipation - more of an energetic urge to jump into the process. I imagine it's similar to the way a long-distance Olympic runner might feel waking up on the day of the gold-medal run. You know it's going to be butt-dragging grueling, you may not survive, but in a personal best challenging way, you can't wait to get at it. This is what you came for so let's do it.

After arriving at 7am again and chilling out on the shaman's patio while he made preparations, my wife had a minute of reflection in which she wondered if she should sit the day out; maybe two days were adequate for what she needed. I would support whatever she chose but I knew I was doing the third day. If nothing else, it was joyously exciting that there wasn't going to be a fourth day! A couple hours through the wringer again and then it would be off to two days of San Pedro. She meditated on it for only another minute and then resolved to tough it out. She'd do the 3rd day too. I was happy that we'd be completing the entire three-day odyssey together. Plus, it would be within one lunar cycle, so according to shamanic prescription, we'd receive maximum benefit.

The Ayahuasca cooker in the yard was silent. A lid covered the gigantic metal pot. My wife and I walked over and took a look in. The entire bubbling mixture of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and the Psychotria viridis leaf had been reduced to an inch or two of potent entheogenic potion in the very bottom of the pot. Concentration had indeed been successful.

In only three days, the early-morning walk along the path to the teepee had become an entrained ritual that felt ancestral, endemic to the start of a proper day, and a reaffirming test of will that would put its stamp on the powerful way one could manifest the rest of the day. Once we got into the teepee, I was honored to hear the shaman say that I was a good example of how to approach the Kambo medicine. He smiled broadly and said everyday I drank twice the water that normally people took in. To drink water was giving the Kambo spirit the one thing it needed to help me. In that way, I had embraced the Kambo spirit and that respect would be rewarded.

This day my wife and I were joined by a woman and her 14-year old son. They too would be joining us for the ceremony. I was immediately taken by the natural seriousness and reverence both she and her son showed the medicine and the ceremonial process. It felt like something they hadn't acquired or been taught - it was a natural part of them. The boy also impressed me with his deep maturity for his age. There is no reason why anyone at any age shouldn't be that mature, I know, but after experiencing something far different most times in my own country, the appearance of such unaffected wisdom in youth was joyous to see. It's hard to explain and it may seem contradictory, but the shaman was particularly sensitive to the boy without being condescending to him and without treating him any different. We were all participants in a sacred ceremony and it was as if the shaman's expectation of proper action and respect drew out of everyone what was needed. There was no need for the shaman to expect anything different and his certainty was manifest within the teepee with a gentle force that held the space for Kambo.

As he talked to us with an easy banter, setting a relaxed, tranquil atmosphere to ease our anxieties, we were still prompted with the lightest touch to begin the drinking of water. The candle was lit and once again he brought me first to his side to receive the medicine. He asked, "How many points today?" After a moment's hesitation, he added with a knowing grin, "Eight?" I nodded. "Yes, eight." He set to work. The large stick was set afire by the candle. He blew the tip red hot and then made the eight punctures in my upper arm. One by one, a small gray point of Kambo medicine was gingerly placed in each of the eight wounds. After six had been placed, the shaman asked in a whisper, "Do you feel it?"
"Oh yes," I sighed. "It's coming on strong." He placed the last two points and let me go, "It is done."

I hurried myself out of the teepee with mat and jug of water. To my normal spot in the weeds I rushed. The sting of the Kambo points fed a growing burn radiating from my head and neck downwards in a race to consume my body. It was the strangest inconsistent thing but it seemed the effects of Kambo are something one could never get used to and yet feeling it come on even stronger on the third day had become a familiar strangeness. I now know this thing I can never get used to - and I know it so well. You think you're prepared for it until it happens again. Then you realize it's the one thing you can never get used to. My mind reeled away with the fractal inconsistencies and the Kambo seized on that to take me deeper - to purge the mind of fractal distractions, of endless self-talk that doesn't serve me. I realized what was going on for the last few minutes was actually a lesson. My mind sunk under the weight of its useless banter and my body ejected it with a fire hose blast of nausea into the weeds. Kambo had me and it was still finding deeper things to purge. It was going to be that kind of day.

There's no sense describing the next two hours in too great of detail. Such picturesque details of violent vomiting, death-like flu symptoms, and gut-wrenching refills of my water jug have been adequately covered in Day 1 and Day 2 details. Suffice to say, eight points of Kambo is more than six points - the understatement of the day. But surprisingly, what I found is Kambo strengthens you to take more if it truly finds you respectful of the frog. The more you respect and embrace the teaching spirit of the frog, the more strength you will receive to take more of the medicine. So, even though the third day was much stronger than the second day, and the second day was much stronger than the first day, developing my Kambo muscles got me up the increasingly higher hills of healing. Don't misunderstand - it wasn't easier to do the harder thing - it was just possible because the frog opened up more of one's innate strength to face the harder thing, a strength that "panema" held us back from integrating into our volition. I imagine it's the same reason why native Amazonian tribesmen take Kambo before going out on the hunt. It purges that which weakens them while opening up their body's natural methods of accessing its strength.

After the hours passed and the sounds of torment and vomiting had subsided, one could again hear the exotic bird calls, the buzzing of busy insects, and the breezes through the trees. I sat on my mat, a rag doll of ceremonial excess, and tried to steady my breaths with deep and slow appreciation of the healing taking place. The shaman came to me and asked me how I was doing. Hearing an affirmation, he then asked me if I now wanted the Rapé. I said yes. As before, we sat facing each other and he said a few sacred phrases and loaded the v-shaped pipe. He told me to take a breath in and hold it. I held a breath and again the pipe shot hit my nose, sinuses and head. We repeated the action with the other nostril. Then he blessed me, quickly stroked his hands down from the crown of my head to my shoulders, then stroked down from my shoulders to my elbows. He quickly snapped his fingers front and back, up and down around my head and ears. The fireworks popped off around my head and I thanked him.

Rapé pipe

No sooner had I turned back to face the foliage than a massive purge rose up from somewhere deep. There was no way I had anything left in me after the last two hours of action, and yet there it was, shooting out of me in a massive stream. A second, smaller purge followed a second later. I felt aglow and limp, stunned and super present. I crumpled onto my side, my head on the ground, my face an inch from the weeds. I no longer felt confined to the boundaries of my body even as I felt my body tingle and ache. A third purge flooded my head - it was a purge from my sinuses and throat only. I didn't have the strength to rise up so I rolled my head into the weeds and blasted the mucus and contaminants from my nose. What came out was ten times thicker than snot. It clung to the weeds like a living, brown silly string of  phlegm. It seemed to have independent motion, a twisting mobility that didn't take kindly to being expelled from its comfortable host. I gave thanks to the medicine for forcing it gone.

The next section of time could not be tracked. With my head on the ground, my perspective gave me a sideways view through the weeds with the trees and banana plants in the exaggerated 3D background. All was shimmering bright with a living energy one could see. Colors became a telepathic communication from the plants of their consciousness of themselves and me as one energetic field.

Unable to move, I watched as one-by-one, a line of CGI ants navigated the weeds before me. On a determined march, they were headed in a single direction but had to perform gymnastic stunts to manage a path up and down through the spiky weeds. I watched them with rapt curiosity even though they were not interested in me. They had their own agenda, the same autonomic purpose they had every day. I had merely dropped my head into view of what was happening underfoot of me all the time. It was a world that conducted its business without me paying any attention to it normally.   

And then it happened. The sideways world displayed by my laying-down view intensified in iridescent color and dimensionality. The ants became nothing more than a probability wave I had collapsed by my expectation to see them. I was shown they only existed as one of the infinite probabilities of creation until my awareness, my focus, my expectations brought that probability into being. There were no ants there other than what I expected.

And then it happened. I was given a thought. I knew it wasn't mine. The medicine was giving me a thought. It was a simple thought, but one I hadn't worried about until the medicine took me there. The thought was simple but it produced the profound. It was - "what if the ants came over here and crawled on me." That one thought was enough to trigger mind. Like at the beginning of the ceremony, my mind reeled off on the anxious possibilities that could transpire. Were they poisonous? What if they bit me? Did I have enough strength to get up and escape them? Maybe they were already on me! How could I be so out of it not to notice such a threat! Remember, I'm allergic to fire ants and bee venom. How much stronger is the venom of these jungle ants! These and a flurry of other thoughts triggered off in a split second. Just like two hours before, my mind reeled away in fractal troubled possibilities and inconsistencies and the Kambo seized on that to take me deeper into the distractions of endless self-talk that doesn't serve me.

And then it happened. Slowly at first, then ever stronger, each ant developed a growing shadow that projected out and back, away from it. The shadow of the ants blended into the trees and banana plants in the iridescent distance. The shadows were large and dark. The movement of the shadows were contorted and exaggerated by the crooked path of the ants through the weeds. The projection of the gigantic shadows were deformed and twisted even more by the way they fell on the various depths in the distant foliage. The shadows, looked at by themselves, grew ever more menacing. They seemed to shape-shift towards me and then retreat. The shadows would have been intensely frightening if it wasn't for the perspective I had of the ants in the foreground.

And then I heard the shaman's words repeated in my head, spoken in his soft but playfully firm voice - "They exist - and they don't exist. If you put your awareness there, then they exist. Your fear makes them real." At once, I saw the lesson clear and I felt it shiver through me. It was a deeper, full understanding of what the shaman had tried to tell me the day before, after I had recounted my difficult first Ayahuasca ceremony. The dark entities - did they exist or didn't they. Well, yes, they always exist as a probability of creation. Your awareness of the possibility and belief in it collapses that probability into a real thing. But it doesn't end there. That real thing can exist as benign ants if one so chooses. It is only our fears of them that projects them into dark shadows that can menace us. It is our choice. Our choice to create them. Our choice then to fear them. Even if we accept that they exist, we have the power to render them in our energetic field as ants or demonic shadows. As the shaman said so succinctly, "They exist - and they don't exist." There is no dilemma in that once you have seen the truth.

Kambo Points
Kambo Points with Sangre de Drago applied - scabs will fall off and wounds fade.

And so, the 3rd ceremony ended on the most important healing for me. It was a healing that reached back a year into confusion and fear and rooted it out. The medicine took me into exhaustion and surrender by purging what I didn't need and what was toxic to me - and then it showed me the way to keep clear of such things in the future. It was the deepest blessing of all. I left the ceremony space and took the walk back up the path, away from the teepee. I had gotten all that I had come for. And more.

Gratitude is the path to the most profound healing. Every day I feel gratitude for all that transpired. And even though I would never have guessed it in a million years, I know I can see myself communing with the frog spirit again sometime in the future. I will know when because its spirit is now inside of me. It knows what doesn't serve me. When the time comes to clear any new snares of panema, the spirit will call to me.

LINKS to my Ayahuasca Experience:   Part I  Part II  Part III  Part IV   

Red flower

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