This is the story of my journey from leaving a stable mainstream job in the US to being a caretaker three years later at an isolated rainforest property in the Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil. There, with the invitation of a shaman, I regularly drank Ayahuasca without his supervision. In short, this is the story of radical transformation, or as the subtitle says, this book documents my initiation into plant medicine. SMMM is much more than just a story about me though, which brings us to my intention for writing it. The book serves as a source of information for beginners to Ayahuasca and other sacred medicines. It gives practical guidance that I wish had been given to me before my first ceremonies. There are also many teachings included from my shaman that will benefit a more experienced person.
There are already books available that talk about the healing potential of Ayahuasca. What makes mine unique is the focus on going Beyond Healing. What happens when a person is healed of their suffering, but continues to drink the medicine? I propose that they will continue to awaken, evolve and grow at an accelerated rate. And what happens when a large number of people do this? In my honest opinion, that is the only way humanity will solve the current crisis we face. Politics and technology are simply not enough. To solve problems like environmental destruction, poverty, war and disease we need to transcend our rational minds and access our higher selves. The modern mind is a powerful tool, but inappropriate use of it causes more problems than it solves. My book demonstrates how Sacred medicines can allow us to put the rational mind where it belongs, as servant to the higher self.
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Art by Samuel Farrand, courtesy of Samuelfarrand.com
Two years ago I had the great honor and pleasure of visiting one of the lesser known archeological sites of Peru. Having just spent nearly 5 weeks in the Sacred Valley, my partner and I were discussing where to visit next. As anybody who spent time in the Sacred Valley knows, the decision of where to go next is not an easy one as this beautiful region is quite difficult to top. Fortunately for us, Peru is full of historical treasures and if we could simply choose a direction to go then we would probably not be disappointed. We had recently attended multiple Huachuma (San Pedro cactus) ceremonies in Pisac and prior to that I had attended multiple Ayahuasca ceremonies in Iquitos, which got me thinking. Many people fly to the Amazon to drink Ayahuasca in her native environment, yet you rarely hear the same for Huachuma. Ayahuasca basks in the spotlight while lesser known, but equally powerful Huachuma sits quietly in her shadow. If people are flying into Iquitos to drink Ayahuasca then where would we go to imbibe the sacrament of Huachuma? As Pisac sits high in the Andes where the cactus grows, you might answer that we already found the place, and you would be correct, but we still wanted to explore this idea a step further. I recalled a Joe Rogan podcast when Aubrey Marcus discusses his experience at the SpiritQuest Sanctuary, where founder Don Howard explained the history of Chavin. According to Howard the Chavin people existed 3000 years ago and their culture was thought to revolve around the Huachuma sacrament. Furthermore, Howard said this society lived in peace for more than one thousand years, an amazing claim given the violent history of humans. I found this idea very intriguing and knew that listening to a podcast would not be enough, we would need to see this with our eyes, and hopefully feel it with our hearts. The decision was made and we planned to leave the Sacred Valley and begin this next adventure from Lima.
Amazonian ceremonial maloca. Photo by Sattvic Planet.
As I mentioned in my last article about Kambo poison frog medicine, I am currently visiting Peru for the primary purpose of improving my health. If you haven’t already heard, in recent years there have been increasing numbers of Americans traveling here in search of plant medicines that can’t be found in the US. Much of Peru is covered by the Amazon rainforest, regarded by many as the plant pharmacy of the world. Some Americans come here as a last option when they face a serious condition that western medicine is unable to treat. A couple nights ago I watched the documentary Sacred Science which shows the results of bringing eight westerners with various diseases to the rainforest in search of relief from their suffering. While some of the people did have life threatening diseases, I don’t think this is a requirement for coming to the rainforest seeking better health. In one way or another even the best among us have some sickness, it is nearly impossible not to in this society, and there is always room for improvement. In my case, my intention was to eliminate some challenging food allergies that had been bothering me recently. In addition, I wanted to work on some trauma that I accumulated during my military years.