[DISCLAIMER None of this information is suggesting that you should try Ayahuasca, Kambo, San Pedro, hape or any other type of plant or sacred medicine, or that I endorse it in ANY WAY or that I think it’s the only way to develop personally or spiritually. It’s risky and dangerous, ESPECIALLY if you just book on the internet, don’t know the Shamans and/or they even call themselves Shamans. My crew wouldn’t trust anyone doing this in the US or even many in Peru itself, some of the Shamans have been bought off and there is some dodgy stuff going on, DON’T work with anyone with less than 10 YEARS experience, I am also not available to make any recommendations as it’s not my place to do so, I am NOT an expert or a Shaman…PLEASE be VERY careful and considerate to the plant and the traditional people!!! All I share is MY journey and MY experience, MY decisions, because I want to be open with you about what’s really going on in MY world, we’re all on our own journeys! X]
It’s Sunday morning and I’m sitting in a cafe in Clovelly, Sydney having brunch and a chai, and wondering how the heck I can sum up what the heck happened in Peru the last 2 weeks (this will be a pretty long post!)…I’m still integrating back into reality and it’s actually much harder than I thought….I feel a bit like i’m on a different planet.
Everything has changed.
Yet nothing has changed….Yet…
I’ve been on another spiritual adventure…and as I wrote that my phone flashed us as 11.11am and it’s the 11th of June! Spooky!
I went to Peru with a group of 20 adventurous entrepreneurs, a little nervous, but with an open heart, ready to embrace whatever happened and surrender into the experience. I knew one person, as i’d met the organizer once…and then randomly bumped a guy I met 2 years ago at a Tony Robbins event…it was kinda funny as the last time I’d actually seen him was 3am, drunk in a Casino…we’ve both had huge spiritual awakenings since then and our priorities have changed big time!! 😉
I met the group in Cusco airport having only just made my connecting flight from LA by running through the airport in San Salvador, spending an interesting 3 hours asleep on a bench in Lima airport and then another 3 hours on a bench in Cusco with my bags wrapped round my arm, as my flight landed at 5.30am and I’m meeting the crew at 9.30am! Oh the glamorous side of this digital nomad adventure!
We all piled into mini buses, where we were accosted by a lady selling Coca leaves for 1 Sol…we welcomed her and stocked up…Coca leaves come from the same plant as Cocaine…there is no drug involved but the locals chew them to help with the effects of altitude and ward off altitude sickness…everything is harder at altitude…just walking up a flight of stairs can feel like a work out and it can even make you nauseous. I remember one time in La Paz, Bolivia, literally getting out of breath just turning over in bed!!! You never know who it’ll effect, often it’s the slimmest, fittest people who suffer the most and and they get even more frustrated at being incapacitated as they’re not used to it. The best cure apart from the coca leaves is copious amounts of water (it’s H2O after all), there was one girl in the back of the van sucking on an Oxygen canister!
Everyone introduced themselves and we set off…2 bus loads of strangers would be getting to know each other VERY well (think deepest darkest fears and insecurities and being at our most vulnerable) in the coming days…they feel closer now than almost anyone else I know…going through something like that together brings you close very quickly!
We arrived in Pisac an hour later, after a quick stop to take some pictures of the view and get an obligatory #alpacaselfie…
Our accomodation was simple, but we were constantly reminded that it was the most luxurious place in town, with hot showers (well some of the time anyway-my first shower ran cold as soon as I put the conditioner in my hair- burr), and very intermittent wifi…if you stood outside near the office!! But i needed a complete break and barely had the energy to take photos never mind think about Instagram!
Our first night, we got introduced to our team of Shamans (who don’t call themselves Shamans, rather Maestros, healers, students of the plants or ceremonialists). Our leader had assembled a dream team of well respected, legitimate, Shamans with between 10 and 40 years of experience, if you EVER decide to give any of this stuff a go I HIGHLY recommend you do your homework and don’t put your soul at risk by working with anyone less qualified or legit. There is a lot of #spiritualtourism going on down there (and all over the world), that’s wrecking the culture and the jungle and you can put yourself if some tricky situations.
We opened the week and our sacred circle with a Flower ceremony and setting our intentions, a few started to well up already, I knew it was going to be a powerful week…
I was in Peru 10 years ago, I did the whole tour, hiked Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, the Amazon jungle, home stay with locals on an island, and although I loved it (except the jungle- I hate bugs and especially spiders) I never thought I’d be back…I’d ‘done Peru’!
I went back to Peru partly out of curiosity, partly a promise, partly to get some clarity, partly a commitment to myself and my clients to become the best version of myself, no matter what it takes! (Oh and partly because my friend saw me during a ‘journey’ she went on two years before and knew she had introduced me to this work…that i’ve been doing for 15 months now!)
I believe it’s my duty to go first, to expand, to let go, to grow, to explore new concepts, to learn, to remember! As I expand my consciousness and my raise my vibration, then everyone around me is lifted higher too.
If I am a leader then I must go first.
One of my fav quotes is ‘you can’t take your clients deeper than you have been able to go yourself’ Rich Litvin.
So I will go to the depths of my soul and the far reaches beyond my comfort zone to be the best leader I can be, and having explored nearly every modality in personal development it was time to remember some Ancient Wisdom and become an even more authentic version of myself.
If you are a leader, what are you doing to expand and push your comfort zone??
On the second day, we were told there would be a documentary of our adventure made about Ancient Wisdom in Modern times, although my old hiding tendencies popped up, I knew I had to volunteer, if they needed extra people I was in. As we sat down to film the first part of the interviews it hit me…I had literally put this on my vision board…I wanted to be in the next documentary a bit like Origin, that’s what I’d written, and here i was having effortlessly manifested that exact opportunity…Wow!
They are talking with Netflix and other outlets about it, so we’ll see where it ends up!
I shared my intentions…
To let go of anything blocking my health, love or abundance
To get fully into my body
To heal my wounded masculine
To embody my divine feminine
You know… keep it simple for week! 🙂
Intentions are EVERYTHING….
I set an intention for each ceremony…
I set an intention for everything…
Our second ceremony, was the first with any ‘medicine’.
Before I go any further I want to note…I have NEVER (knowingly) done any drugs, never even smoked a cigarette, and only once got high after accidentally eating 2 hash cookies! (I did however drink myself stupid on a weekly basis during my 20s.)
I DID NOT got to Peru to get high. And funnily enough even though some did, I never really did…
And only a few years ago i thought anyone who did any of this was pretty much off their heads and I would have sworn I’d never have done it!
I don’t do any of this for fun. I pretty much hate every minute of it. It’s not fun. It can be beautiful and profound. But it’s generally hard, painful, uncomfortable, scary and takes a heck of a long time, so patience is a huge factor in this world. This is not a quick or easy fix. I presume there are easier, cheaper more fun ways to do that!!
Hape is a sacred, powerful, profoundly healing tobacco.
Having never smoked a cigarette, this might seem like an odd choice, but if you go to these type of things you have to go ‘ALL IN’, i’d done it a few times before.
Tobacco gets a bad name, what the West has done to it, has made it cancerous and poisonous. But in it’s purest form it is very healing.
It’s best known for opening your heart, re-aligning your chakras, grounding you, releasing any physical or emotional issues, opens up your third eye, removes entities and improves your spiritual connection and intuition.
We all sit in a circle, bundled up in layers as the temperature started to drop…
I’m about 5 people away from the Shaman, she says she’ll do one round, if anyone wants a second or third serving they can have it. I vow to just try and make it through one, and decide that will be just plenty for a first go!
As she gets closer I watch the others be served, she taps the pipe on each shoulder, the top of their heads and heart, and then fills her pipe, tobacco is blown up each nostril one by one and you must do both sides or it will imbalance your brain!
I watch as the ones before me shudder and the tears roll down their faces…their buckets sit at their feet…just in case…why am I here again?
Just one…I can do one…
She gets to me, I take a deep breath and try to relax…I really don’t want to do it…twenty sets of eyes watch me…I really don’t have a choice.
She blows it up one nostril…I shudder…my head feels like it might explode…it tingles and burns- not in a good way…and the last thing I want is more…I have to have more…if i refuse…they would literally hold me down and force it in…so i decide to surrender and not prolong the agony…shhhhhooop…gah…it’s awful…those first few seconds are the worst…she taps my head and I hold my hands on my heart as the tears roll down my face…why am I doing this again? Then a heat and tingle floods my body, all the way to my toes, I feel a profound sense of love for myself, for my body, for being here, for facing my fears, for getting really uncomfortable…
I lie down, exhausted and open my eyes again only to see the girl that went first getting her second serving, gah, people are having more? Shit! I don’t want more. The girl next to me grimaces and says she doesn’t want more either. I close my eyes and check in. Should i have more? I get a yes! Shit!
The girl on my opposite side refuses more and that would actually be the end of her whole journey. She opted out from the rest of week. That’s another story.
I am so done…
I lie down again…
I wake up again to see that first girl taking her THIRD dose. Shit.
I close my eyes to check in. No. Phew. I get a No. Amen.
I lie down…
I awake again as the ceremony is coming to a close…
We hug and pull tarot cards…I feel a huge amount of love for everyone, 5 HOURS have passed and our first medicine ceremony is over…patience is a virtue in South America!
We go to eat and swap stories of our first of many experiences,
I slept so well…tomorrow we try the next thing…
As i finish writing this it’s 1.11pm on June 11th…
Are you enjoying the story so far?? Do you think i’m crazy yet? LOL
It’s only Day 3…
My alarm goes off at 5.30am…
We are leaving at 6am and will be fasting until dinner!
I’m apprehensive to say the least. We’ve been told to dress in layers, and bring as much warm clothes and blankets as possible, we’ll be outside all day.
The unknown feels ominous…all i know is we’re going to a mountain to meet Grandfather, San Pedro cactus or Wachuma as it’s also known.
We drive for about 45mins along bumpy roads into the middle of nowhere, we pile out of the mini buses and load up with all our supplies, blankets and firewood, one guy offers to take one of my bags which allows me a free hand, I’m immensely grateful.
We start to walk, we have no idea how far we’re going.
The path starts to get steeper and rockier, I’m sweating already, I’m wearing so many clothes and can’t take anything off as i have nowhere to put it. We stop and gasp for breath, this altitude makes walking so hard. We cross a river and continue on up.
It gets steeper, i’m not in the best shoes, i slip and slide as I scramble up the mountain, and mentally note that getting down without landing on my ass or breaking an ankle will be a challenge, but remember that we’re being protected by Grandfather. I say a silent prayer for all our safety.
We finally (probably only 25mins later) after many stops to catch our breath, come upon a rocky cave with a small ledge (maybe 5ft by 15ft), it looks way too small for all of us to get a seat, 20 of us plus 3 Shamans, and I’m shocked this is our destination, we’re due to be here all day…WTF? I put my bag down in a small corner, with my head half in the cave, I’m convinced it’s full of bats, dust keeps falling on my head and my vertigo makes me feel nauseous, it’s a pretty sheer drop down…oh God how will I go to the toilet? I decide i’ll hold it all day.
They get all set up and i try and get as comfy as possible. I strip off a bunch of layers and finally allow myself to take in the view, from as far back from the edge as I can…breathe Jo, just breathe.
It’s stunning, we’re in the Sacred Valley, the mountains around us make me feel tiny and insignificant. The light dances and shifts across the valley and I’m awe of where we are.
One of our Shamans starts to beat a drum and sing…she’s announcing our arrival to the spirits and the world below.
Condors soar in the valley below us and the sun beats down. I’m so thirsty, but we’re not allowed to drink for the rest of the day. I say another silent prayer. ‘Please don’t let me die from dehydration or fall off this mountain trying to pee. Please let this journey be gentle.’
The ceremony starts and one by one we go up and kneel before the Shamans, the first guy up is a huge man, he’s an ex stunt man and built like a tank, he’s dressed like he’s ready for battle. (He’s done a recce of the area and given us a safety briefing-just having him there makes me feel safer) they fill what looks like a giant shot glass with a yellowy green liquid, he downs it and they hand him another straight away.
I’m up fourth, kneel before them in the dust and down my glass, just one thankfully. I go back to my little spot and wait until everyone has been served.
Then one by one we each take a spot in the middle of our little ledge share our intentions.
We’re still basically strangers but everyone shares vulnerably, I feel more love and connection to everyone and settle down to see what happens.
I feel nothing, it’s a bit of an anti-climax. I wait…and hour or so passes and nothing.
Then the second round is offered, I look scared and the Shaman asks ‘Are you high?’ No, I reply, she says ‘Second cup for you’. Shit.
Again nothing, but my body betrays me and I need to pee. Ahhh…
Gingerly I stand up, wobble a little and immediately regret it, I tell them where i’m off to and take a few steps down the hill, moments later the giant stunt man is by my side, he’s like a mountain lion and takes my hand and guides me down the mountain to the ‘ladies toilet’ a designated bush (pun intended!) that will protect my dignity. I reemerge a few minutes later and the stunt man is sitting a respectful distance away waiting to help me back up the mountain. I’m relieved and take his hand. He breaks into the Beatles ‘I want to hold your hand’ and delivers me back to the cave. I perch on the edge and take in the scene.
Another lady starts to walk down the hill and the stunt man jumps up and takes her hand.
Then the tears start to roll down my face. I get it. I finally get it.
I am in awe. In awe of the Divine Masculine. I feel a deep reverence for it.
Grandfather is finally teaching me the lesson I came here for.
Despite teaching about the masculine and feminine in my work, there was still a part of me that needed to heal my relationship to the masculine.
I had been hurt so many times. Taken advantage of so many times. Tried to be someone I wasn’t. I had closed myself off from the masculine to protect myself.
But now I got it. The Divine Masculine literally just wants to be in service to the Divine Feminine. He was there with his gorgeous wife, it was nothing predatory. He literally just wanted to serve and keep us all safe, no woman was going to fall on the way to the toilet on his watch.
I needed to see it in such an obvious way. He was so huge, he could have been terrifying.
But I knew deep down there’s nothing to fear and the Divine Masculine can be pure and loving. He wasn’t just a mountain lion, he had a lion heart. In that moment he represented all men. It was beautiful.
Those tears started a deep unfurling of emotions and I cried and cried for the next few hours. Other women cried too and we lay on the ground sobbing and holding each other.
As the ceremony closed we again, one by one shared our experiences, everyone was again vulnerable and open, I cried for each person, their pain and releasing was for the collective, men got on their knees and apologised on behalf of all men for the pain they had caused the Divine Feminine, I cried for him, for me, for all of us.
A girl got on her knees and apologised on behalf of the Divine Feminine for emasculating the men, I cried. We all cried.
There was forgiveness and declarations of self love. It was healing. It was beautiful.
We then blessed our water, we shared our water.
Then the woman sat in a circle around the fruit we had brought. The men surrounded us. We blessed our fruit. We shared our fruit.
We all hugged and one of the Shamans whispered in my ear ‘I feel your liberation coming’. I didn’t know I needed to be liberated, but in that moment I knew he was right- who might I be on the other side?
Feeling exhausted, content and still slightly high, we slowly made our way back down the mountain just before night fall.
Our mini bus made it’s way back to our accommodation, dodging sheep and pigs and stray dogs.
Once back was sat round a campfire and were offered another round of hape. I checked in and despite feeling super fragile, I got a yes. Shit.
As I sat in front of her, I asked her to be gentle, she said she’d serve me like a 9 year old. I’m like, ‘they do this to children!??”
I sat on the grass and allowed the hape to flow through me. An incident from when I was 9 years old that I hadn’t thought of in years came to mind, I threw up, it needed to be processed and healed, I sent love to 9 year old Jo.
Exhausted and emotional I went to bed, a little anxious about the next day.
So by now you might have guessed I’m not just in Peru to take Hape and San Pedro!!
Today is the day, we’re going to meet Mother. Mother Ayahuasca.
I’m scared. You can feel the nervous energy in the group.
So far what we’ve done has been pretty mild. Non-hallucinogenic. And that’s my biggest concern. I’ve heard the horror stories and feel a bit nauseous all day.
In the afternoon, we attend an introduction and initiation ceremony with the Shamans and more plants. It’s a talk on what to expect, how to handle things, and a reminder to maintain ‘noble silence’ throughout the ceremony, to allow everyone to be in their own journeys.
We’re given 4 top tips;
*Remember it’s all from love.
*If you think you’re dying, don’t fight it, let it happen.
*If you hear a voice telling you to go to the toilet, even if you don’t need- just go!
*It will pass and the morning will come.
This advice strangely makes me feel much better.
We have a couple of hours off to relax and set our intentions, I land on ‘love, wisdom and clarity’ and repeat these words over and over…
We skip dinner and rendezvous at 8pm to again board the mini- buses. We’ve been told it’s happening in an outdoor temple, to bring warm stuff. We’ll be outside all night. It’s June and this is winter in Peru, temperatures are due to drop to zero overnight. Despite being from Scotland, I don’t do well in the cold, I think my blood has thinned from 13+ years living in warmer climates. I’m almost more concerned about freezing all night than the medicine! Several of the worst moments of my life involved being very, very cold for long periods of time.
We travel for about 30mins in the dark along more bumpy roads, there’s a quiet uneasiness in the group, everyone in contemplation of the journey to come. All of my worst moments are running through my head, trying to preempt how bad it could be.
I could have stayed on that bus all night, I didn’t want to arrive, be we did, piling out of the buses with blankets, pillows, wooly hats, thick alpaca ponchos and our buckets.
We walked through the pitch dark, down to the temple. It was a round concrete structure, with a wooden struted canvas roof, open door, and window and a mud floor, The roof had a hole in the middle to allow for a fire in the centre. We each claimed our spots round the edge and I was excited to be met by a reed mat and a long thin piece of foam that acted as a mattress. We also make ourselves acquainted with the ‘dry’ toilets out the back. We’re told this is luxury for a ceremony!! I’m already freezing.
We get as comfy as possible and sit in the pitch dark waiting for it to start. It becomes more obvious why we’ve been told to wear white, as you can barely see people in the darkness. I’m in black. Doh.
I just about make out a shadow in the darkness…it’s the Shaman making his way round the circle with the Aya. He gets to me and I take the cup and it’s only half a mouthful, I’m grateful for the small serving-but really have nothing to compare it to. I lie under the covers and wait for it to kick in. It will be around 45mins to an hour i’m told.
It’s cold, so cold. I lie in the dark silence…waiting…
After what feels like ages I hear some groaning and someone throwing up…and then some more…I keep waiting…
There’s a loud buzzing in my ears…I jump…then nothing…
A while later I jump again, this time there’s a red light spinning and a siren sounding next to my ear…it’s like an ambulance …waaa….waaa…then this heavy energy, like a steel sheet starts to descend on my whole body, it’s starting to squish me and compress the air out of me…
‘I must be dying’ I think…I’m ridgid…my body turns to cement…I can’t escape even if I want to and I hear the words of warning…’If you think you’re dying, let it happen’. I say ‘let it go, let it go’ over and over and eventually it ends…
I lie waiting for the next installment…expecting it any moment…
When it starts, I’ll sit up…
I listen to the Shamans singing their ancient songs.
I open my eyes and for a moment I wonder if I’m outside, I can see the whole sky. No roof. And a voice tells me… ‘The stars are always there you just don’t chose to see them.’
And the next thing I know I hear a flute and it’s morning.
WTF, was that it? I’m kind of relieved and annoyed at myself for not going and getting a second cup, but I didn’t realise the time. Apart from the dying there was nothing profound. Just cold.
We make our way back to accommodation and everyone is in a stunned silence.
Once back we convene on the grass to get out plant shower. A bucket of freezing cold water infused with plants and flowers, we are to pour it over our heads in the shower. They announce we won’t be having any breakfast today (to respect the flowers), there’s an audible groan. We hadn’t eaten since yesterday lunch time.
After our showers, we met back on the grass for integration and to share our experiences from the night before.
I vow to go for it the next time…luckily we have 3 sittings…
When they first presented the schedule each day was pretty choca block, ceremonies, talks, excursions, workshops, etc…and the Aya happens overnight, outside (did I mention it’s Winter in Peru and we’re in the mountains at altitude?) …I was like when are we going to sleep? A very Western question! The answer, whenever you can find a moment in between activities! The reality, hardly at all! And I funnily enough I didn’t really feel like it after our first journey. We had a pretty chilled day and explored the local market and I booked in a massage for after dinner. I slept like a log after that.
The following evening was Aya #2, we had a talk on it all in the morning and some time to journal and set intentions in the afternoon, followed by a beautiful sound healing by some local guys to get us into a good space for the coming journey.
We gathered again around 8pm, this time the feeling was a little lighter, we knew where we were going (the outdoor temple) and roughly what to expect (in terms of set-up and how it worked anyway- you NEVER know what Mother will dish up for you, it’s different every time!), plus it was a cloudy day, so it was a few degrees warmer and I was more prepared. I had 3 pairs of leggings on, 7 layers on top and a new white poncho! Yay!
I was determined this night not to waste the opportunity (i’d been oscillating between beating myself up for only having had one cup on the first ceremony, and trusting that it’s all perfect and Mother knows best!)…so I decided i wasn’t going to lie down at all and I was going to have as much as I could. Warrior Jo was ready!
I also have a great spot in the temple, far away from the door but near the Shamans, so I won’t miss any of the action- or opportunity for more Aya!
It’s pitch dark again and this time the Shamans call us up in groups of 5, this time instead of a big cup, it’s shot glasses, but these are no ordinary shot glasses, they have been soldered with some sort of metal, and don’t even think about getting weird about sharing cups with people, there is no space for Princesses…or basic hygiene concerns…I say a silent prayer to Mother as I know one girl thought she had a cold sore coming on! We have bigger things to worry about!
After I drink, I go and sit up to wait, it feels like everyone has made the same decision, no one is lying down tonight.
We sit in the dark…waiting, contemplating, meditating…
I was the 2nd last to drink, so when I hear the movements and groans starting i know mine probably isn’t far off…
The girl next to me starts to burp…she sets me off…although we’re in Noble silence (no chatting) we acknowledge our synchronised burping!
Since getting deeper into energy work in the higher dimensions, working with Goddess energy, sacred medicines and the Akashic Records my body has been processing energy by burping (ugg!), deep extreme yawning, coughing, crying…and if it’s really bad deep purging…and it’s not just mine…I seem to process the collective pain, my clients and whatever is going on in room. This is something I’m also working on to release, especially if it’s not my responsibility to do so… as an empath this has been a huge part of my coaching journey, learning how to protect myself but the medicine adds a different dimension.
One of the interesting things about Aya, and the group you do it with, are the synchronicities that occur and the collective processing, we weren’t just healing ourselves, but each other and the planet!
And then It comes, almost from nowhere, the purging starts…
I can’t quite explain the taste of Aya, it’s nothing I’ve tasted before, but curiously I could taste it days after in another ceremony…it’s earthy, bitter, a little like wheatgrass but way worse…and when it was coming back up, it felt a bit like the worst hangover in the world, like i’d been doing shots of different liquors all night! But I was stone cold sober.
During the purge, and all night really, I felt pretty neutral, not emotional at all. And almost clear thinking…I decided to get up and have a pee…and empty my bucket…
When I emerged I could see another figure, standing looking at the sky. The temple was surrounded by the most majestic mountains in the Sacred Valley, and I could see these clouds as shining bright green behind them, almost like what i’d imagine the Northern lights to look like, I was awe struck by the beauty, I stood still trying to process where I was and what i was seeing… (the following morning I asked the guy i’d seen if he thought the sky had been green- he said no- that must have been the psychedelic effect!)
I walk back to the temple door, take a deep breath and walk back into the darkness and straight up to get another cup. I kneel in the mud in the dark and wait until they’re ready (the Shipibos are singing their songs to individuals and to Mother to help in their journeys) . He comes over and prays over my cup/shot glass, I down it and go back to my spot.
Then it comes again…the purging ….the girl next to me is doing the same…I feel a deep connection with her…
In between the purges I start to see shapes, they’re neon, rainbow outlines of Sacred symbols against the black sky, a bit like the Nazca lines, plus feathers, birds, people, and when I close my eyes it’s almost kaleidoscopic, swirls and patterns coming in and out, it makes me feel nauseous and I purge again…
When I’m done I decide to repeat my little journey, pee, empty bucket, (this time it’s much darker, it’s brown, the first was kinda yellow, and from my work in Kambo I know the darker it gets the deeper you’re clearing, our emotions, stories and memories are not in our mind but rather deep in our bodies, in the cells…whatever I let go of was deep even though I have no idea what it was!) stare at the stunning sky, take a deep breath and go in for my 3rd cup.
I kneel in the dark and wait…this time there’s a moment of light, they spark a lighter to fill the shot glass without spilling it, I see him in deep prayer over my cup, this time it’s longer, I down it and go back to my spot…
The girl next to me is now curled in a ball and on the other side the girl is having a huge night, she’s been sitting rocking and the Shaman is singing to her and cupping her head. I find out later she was birthing the cosmos from her yoni!
It starts again…my head hardly leaves my bucket, it’s a pretty small bucket and the circumference is probably the same as my head, as I purge I get the strangest sensation that I’m far out of my body, I’m on the edge of space, looking in, and that my bucket is endless, bottomless and i’m observing the whole cosmos from this place. I literally don’t want to take my head out the bucket. (!?)
The Shaman is doing his rounds, he comes to me, blows his plant liquid concoction (something special to them-they work on long dietas with different plants to become at one with the spirit of the plant, e.g. a YEAR of strict dieting, working with plants, mediating and ONLY talking to their Master!!!) on my head, taps my head, and pours a liquid in my hands, I think thisone is Agua de Florida (A cologne used in South America by shamans for cleansing, healing, ritual feeding and flowering.) I love the smell and effect so much I now have my own and use it daily, i actually think i’ll give up perfume completely!
Another Shaman comes round blowing sacred, clearing tobacco smoke in my face. Many smoke the Mapachos, little cigarettes, but i cough way too much so decide not to.
The purging finally ends…this bucket is pretty much black…I get a weird satisfaction from this knowing the releasing was very deep and most likely past life stuff.
Once the main journeying has finished (for safety reasons) tonight they light a fire in the temple, it’s a welcome sight and ushers in the morning light. I sit up, I still haven’t slept I don’t want to, I watch the flames, mesmerized, and realised that fire isn’t ‘angry or raging’ like it so often gets tarred with, it’s beautiful, warm and just doing exactly as it’s supposed to and just needs a huge amount of respect.
My next realisation, I was still journeying, is that I was a Druid, the scene feels ancient, people sitting in a circle around a fire, cloaked in blankets and ponchos (not a North Face micro fleece or puffy jacket in sight!) it’s so familiar, I have a realisation I’m remembering. Remembering my past life, my ancestry. In January in another ceremony, while working with Merlin, I had the same message and I have been called to revisit sacred stone circles- I will know which ones to go to and here I will receive the download that will be my life’s work. I had no idea he was, according to wiki, probably the last druid, a Celtic Shaman, living in southern Scotland. This will be a whole other adventure and a trip home next year- if you haven’t heard me talk you might not know I’m Scottish!!
As morning dawns, we get up and instead of piling back in the mini-buses, we have a simple breakfast outside by the fire, swap our experiences, integrate and start to work on the land. To give back to the land and owner of the temple and property, we help to clear some land to create a flowerbed and plant a tree. It’s very grounding in every sense of the word.
Forever changed we venture back to our accommodation.
The day after the night before we have a reprieve on the intense work and have a day trip to visit some sacred sites, Moray, the original Incan GMO site, where they tested crops (mainly corn) to make them optimal, and then distribute throughout the Incan empire. Next stop was the salt pools and then the best lunch I’ve possibly ever had, after a month of a fairly bland diet and restriction it was the best thing ever!
When we got back I skipped dinner and opted for a seriously early night, I had signed up a seriously early start, my alarm was set for 5.15am. When we arrived in Peru, we got a surprise option of a Kambo ceremony. Kambo is a tree frog poison and the main medicine I’d been working with for the previous 15 months, it one of the things I attribute to my accelerated spiritual awakening. However, I will give the same DISCLAIMER as I did for Aya. I DO NOT suggest or endorse this medicine. It was introduced to me in a very organic way by a friend and it tends to find you if you’re ready for it. It’s not fun or easy and again you need to be very careful who you chose to do it with, if you do. It can be dangerous if not respected and worked with in a safe way with an experienced Shaman. It’s actually thought of by some to be more intense than Aya, and many will avoid it altogether. It’s not for the faint hearted. And you should avoid it and Aya, if you do have any heart conditions.
That said it’s an intensely healing, strongly detoxifying, immune boosting medicine. It’s been an honour to have been working with and learning from my Shaman and have been assisting in ceremony with it.
This ceremony has been limited to just 10 of us, we have our last Aya ceremony tonight, doing both in one day is HUGE by any standards, but I really want to experience it with a different server, and we’ve been told the two medicines are really complementary, and doing Kambo will help us in our last Aya journey, I’m all in for this trip and just accept it will be a huge day.
We set off at 6am for the temple again (about 30 mins away), it feels weird to know I will be back again in only a few hours…
Most of the crew are Kambo virgins, just me and one other girl have journeyed with it before, there are some serious nerves going on. I share some of my experience, and the words of wisdom that helped me with my journeys.
We set up camp on half of the temple and our Shaman explains the process and assigns us the order we’ll go in and the amount of dots we’ll each receive. First time men always get their dots on their left shoulder area near their hearts, and women on the left or right ankle, so it travels past and clears our lower chakras. You get fewer dots on your first time to see how you react to the medicine. As you get more used to it the dose can increase and you can begin to have targeted treatments. I’ve had them all over my body, from ankles to centre of my chest, ears and all the way up my back at each chakra. It’s obviously not a competition to see how many dots you can get, but I do get some funny looks and questions from masseurs and when getting a pedicure. Now i can spot other Kambo kids in public, it feels a bit like a tribal marking and a rite of passage! I’ve been told I’m going through an initiation of sorts!
The Shaman asks how many dots I’ve had before and where I want them today. I’ve done up to 9 dots before and tune into see where I need them, I’ve always done left ankle and only had one dot on my right before, considering that, and how effing cold it is, I don’t want to strip off and sit in my bra for the next 3 hours, I opt to roll up my trouser leg and stay warm. She tells me i’ll have 7 dots. Considering we have Aya tonight, that feels like PLENTY and I trust her judgement completely.
We start..with no #1, Kambo is delivered very differently to Aya, first you have to quickly down 2-3 litres of water in like 2-3mins just before it’s administered. It’s horrible as you feel full, a bit sick and like you’ll gag if you have another sip, but it’s an important part of the process (during ceremony you have to drink a bit more, but there’s a limit, definately no more than 3.5-4 litres, especially if you aren’t purging it up fully- this is the riskiest part as you have to be careful not to drown yourself!! It’s generally totally fine, just follow the directions of your Shaman, just part of my disclaimer! You can’t OD from Kambo as your body has a shut off point when you reach your limit.
To have it administered you sit before the Shaman and they take the end of an incense stick and burn off small dots of skin, I know I’ve probably lost most of you here…if you don’t already think I’m positively insane already! It doesn’t hurt too much, it stings and you might wince a bit, but if you’ve ever had a bikini wax this is nothing! 😉 They then apply little tiny dots of Kambo, smaller than a pea to the exposed skin…
The first few people are starting to feel the effects and everyone is expected to do some major purging (It can happen from either end!), to get rid of all that water, plus whatever cleansing; physical, emotional or Spiritual that needs to happen.
One of the girls before me gets up to go to the bathroom, we all know we’re not to go alone (just in case you faint, fall and hit your head) but you’re not always thinking in the middle of it and she makes a bid for the door, I jump up and take her arm, I wait for her as she purges and give her water, then help her back into the room, and sit with her as she continues to purge and handing her tissues and water as required. Taking care of her feels good, being in service, plus it takes your mind off your own upcoming journey. As she’s coming out of it, another girl is starting, I sit with her until it’s time for my own journey…
I start to drink my water and already feel ready to purge.
This time as the Shaman creates the dots they were deeper and bigger than any i’ve had before, she accidentally gives me 8 dots not 7, and says, ‘oh looks like you’re supposed to have 8’, I internally wince but trust the process, she applies 8 and then the last one falls off…I’m only supposed to have 7! Phew!
I retake my seat and grab my bucket, from experience i’m quick to process it, some people take ages, the heat runs up from my leg to my head, it feels like your face, head and lips are swelling (because they are- and it can looks like you’re had lip injections for up to 2 days!), it can also feel hard to breathe and if you’re not warned you think your throat will swell and close, the best (and really only) option is to fully centre yourself and breathe, knowing the horrible sensation will pass, panicking won’t help…I do what I usually do at this moment and ask myself what the fcuk i’m doing here and vow to never do it again-this time I mean it!
…it takes a little longer than normal, and i’m willing the purge to come…this moment always signals to me the end will come… Viva…it starts…I purge and purge, I’m sweating, I strip off some layers, I feel like I need to use the bathroom, so i get supported outside, luckily it’s a false alarm, i take some time and come back in…my small bucket can’t handle the volume so i transfer to a second one…someone comes up and blows a huge amount of sage smoke in my face…I purge again…it seems longer and more intense than i can ever remember, uggh…please let it be over…
It finally feels safe to lie down, but for the first time ever I’m overtaken by an intense itching all over my body…I wonder if it’s an allergic reaction, I’ve never seen it happen before (I ask after and it’s not that unusual!) it’s so annoying and i wonder again why I am doing this!?
The rest go after me and one by one come out of it, one poor guy has a really rough time and just can’t purge, the Shaman gives him 2 lots of hape (very strong doses of tobacco up the nose to facilitate purges- it’s worse than normal as it has to be so strong- this happened to me twice before- you want to die) and then even more dots of Kambo…he was put through the ringer.
We start to pack up, i decide to visit the bathroom again but only make it outside, I feel really dizzy and have to sit down in the pathway until it passes…I feel so weak, It takes all the energy i can muster to get back up and gather my stuff and get back up the hill to the bus, a girl takes me arm and guides me up. I’ve never felt so weak or vulnerable. Someone hands me a tiny piece of stale bread, it tastes like the best thing I’ve had in ages, oh the simple things in life!
We get back to our accommodation for lunch, I’m in another world, we all are, I can hardly eat but I know this is my only opportunity before the last Aya tonight as we never have dinner before the ceremony, and I need the strength.
It’s already been a long day…
After lunch I lie on the grass in the sun for an hour on my own in a vain attempt to process what the heck just happened and then head to bed where I stay until about 9pm, I manage a hot shower and try and gather all my will to just get on the bus. Tonight we’re starting late and the buses take off at 10pm. A few people comment on how well I look, I assume it’s the froggie facelift in effect as I feel like sh!t and very fragile!
This is it, last time at the temple, it feels weird, glad it’s almost over but already knowing I’ll miss it, i know that sounds insane, especially if you’re read the rest of this post, but there’s obviously a reason people keep going back time and again!! And there’s a certain bonding that happens after you go through experiences like this with people- nobody else could quite understand.
I had ‘baggsied’ probably a Scottish way of saying reserved or ‘shotgunned’ my spot by leaving half my gear/blankets etc in the temple after Kambo, partly because i didn’t have the strength to take it back and partly because there wasn’t much point and it was a good place near the Shamans again.. But someone wanted my spot so he could sit next to his mate and I let him have it, my plan foiled. A little pissed off but trusting there was a good reason for it, I found a spot, unfortunately it was near the door and tonight was the coldest of all, but it was next to my burping buddy, and we were in for another night of synchronised burping and purging, I’m supposed to be sitting here.
I’m super layered up again, but it feels like I could have on 20 layers and still be cold tonight, plus maybe because I’m so tired and feeling so fragile it makes me less able to cope, in general.
I decide i’ll do as much as I can, it’s my last chance.
This time we go up to the Shamans individually, I wonder why it’s different each time, but I assume there’s higher purpose.
This time it’s a different style of glass, this is like a double shot glass. Umm… ok…
I down it and take my seat.
I sit up waiting…
What will tonight bring? I’ve heard stories of others having their whole lives flashing before their eyes, past lives, crazy journeys and I kind of feel I’ve missed all that, it’s been intense physically but not necessarily emotionally…
The purging starts, it’s more intense than the previous two nights, I cling to my bucket. It feels like the edge of the universe again, a nice comfort and at least one benefit of putting myself through this.
It’s so cold. My bones feel the chill.
I think it’s finally over, ok I’ve got to take another cup, i did 3 last time after all, I consider it. No one else seems to be going up like last time. I decide to lie down for a quick break and to regroup some strength. Then I’ll get one for sure.
I lie down and the journeying begins… it feels a bit like a roller coaster, falling in and out of visions, but i feel neutral, no emotions. I vaguely remember thinking ‘oh yeah, that makes sense’ and getting some ‘ah has’ but i basically have NO idea or memory of anything, except one flash of a baby in a high chair (i wasn’t not sure if it was me or my ‘future’ baby) and it went on for hours…
I didn’t sleep, but the next thing I knew was a Shaman shaking me telling me i need to get up. I have no energy or will to move from my spot, even though i’m still cold.
I can still hear someone purging and wonder how many glasses they must have had, grateful that at least it’s not me.
The first bus has gone already, but i’m not ready or able to leave just yet.
We sit round the fire in silence, taking it all in and saying goodbye to the stunning mountains.
A few people are still out of it, I ask how many cups they had, just one, i’m told, I can’t quite wrap my head around that, but then I’m told, that especially after the Kambo, the Shamans gave us one strong dose and set the intention that we’d all just need one cup that night. Ahh phew, I feel better and stop judging myself for my lack of medicine taking. Clearly all my self judgement hasn’t completely disappeared! I still have more work to do!
Back at the ranch, we’re all moving very slowly, but my appetite is back and there seems like nothing better than bread, eggs, avocado and tomato. It’s again the best thing I’ve ever had. I’m glad to be appreciating the simple things in life.
We have a special guest coming to the retreat this morning to help us integrate, only about 8 of us show up, the rest are in bed, but he’s a Master and been doing this work for 40 years, I don’t want to miss it or be rude and no one shows up, he’s talking in Spanish and they’re translating, I’m mortified but I can’t stay awake, my head starts to nod and there’s nothing i can do, I’m fighting it hard, it’s such a small circle. Ahh…then the guy opposite starts the head nod too and then another girl and another…two people walk out…we’re all falling asleep on this guy…I pretty much miss the second hour, but buy his book as an apology, and to catch up on what i missed.
As exhausted as I am, I have my eye on some things in the markets and decide to go on one last trip before we leave the next day.
Cusco, Integration & Learnings
We wrap up the retreat with way too many goodbyes, it’s felt like forever, but also way too short. I haven’t really been online in 10 days and and it think that helped!
We take a shuttle to Cusco, it’s been 10 years since my last visit, but I’m impressed how well i remember it, the Sacsayhuaman or ‘sexy woman’ ruins, the square etc… nothing has changed, except a Starbucks and KFC in the main square!! But i had forgotten how big it is, we’ve been in Pisac with a population of 10,000, and Cusco has almost 1/2 million and is by far the biggest city in the Sacred Valley.
I get settled into my hotel and go for a quick explore, I find more markets…with the funkiest shoes, I didn’t see them in Pisac, so I got me a pair of patterned Andean hi-tops (i’m wearing them right now), a smaller pair and some suede boots, I’m obsessed, I’ve never seen anything like them, i literally left my old boots in the shop.
I’ve arranged to meet some of the girls from retreat for dinner and a few other friends who’re in town for dinner, they’re struggling with altitude sickness so only just make it.
As one of them said ‘Cusco is popping’ it’s so busy, full of well heeled tourists, mainly a fair bit older, and a younger scruffy crowd. I briefly wonder if I could actually live here.
I’m up again at 5am, this time, for my flight, mixed feelings, ready to get back to reality but dreading it at the same time.
30 hours later I arrive back in Sydney, I’m determined to stay up all day to try and skip jet lag, i go out for brekkie in Bondi with my friend that picked me up from the airport, then we have a second brekkie, then go for green juice, then a burrito…lol…a full day culinary tour of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs…I’m full but it’s nice to be back and eating normal food again.
Staying up all day does me no good and I’m wide awake at 2.30am for the next 5 days!
I was feeling kind of weird all week, struggling to concentrate and work. Resisting my emails and messages although i knew I needed to get through them. It all felt kind of unimportant and banal after what i’d been through. I also was feeling super ungrounded, flying can do that to you, never mind 10 days of ‘sacred medicine’.
The latest sensation has been feeling like a bit of an alien in my body and trying to leave it…but i actually think the opposite is true (and so my mentor tells me) I’m probably feeling ultra human and reintegrating into my body. It’s just new and I’m not used to it.
The other thing that was happening was that I was feeling a bit lost, I had gone to Peru, expecting a lightening bolt of inspiration and clarity to strike. To show me my life’s work and ultimate truth, to face every fear and be completely healed of all issues and blocks I had, to know exactly what the rest of my year will look like. I had HUGE expectations of Peru and Aya.
I realised I had been waiting for months for this trip, putting off decisions, expecting everything to change and not even allowing myself to sit and think, i thought it was a waste of time because I was expecting it to give me all the answers. Respecting the medicine is super important, but I had given my power away to it…
Hahaha…oh the naivety!
You don’t get it if you put that kind of expectation on something. I felt like I was in the same place as I’d started and I was kind of frustrated! But that was the whole point!
I had something else to learn. If you try and get too much from something, sometimes you get nothing-until you get the learning that is.
I had to take my power and responsibility back.
The ONLY place I can get all the answers is within. I have all the answers already.
It would be like working with a coach for 3 months and expecting to be given all the answers and your direction and be completely healed for life and have no more issues to work on ever! Haha. (that’s unrealistic BTW!)
Funnily enough since this ah-ha, I’ve gotten more clarity and breakthroughs than I did the whole trip!
I’ve already decided i’ll be doing more Aya in the next few months, an opportunity has come up that will only take a little tweaking of my plans to make, but I’ll be going into it with NO expectations, intentions sure, but I won’t put my life on hold for the next two months waiting for a magical download of clarity or direction. I know I’m on track already. I need to stop doubting myself and just go for it. Fully.
And like I tell my clients, it will always evolve we just have to roll with it.
The adventures will continue, but the Peru chapter has closed for now, by the time you read this I’ll be in Thailand…
To be continued…
We’d love to hear your comments or questions, post below and if you want to chat with Jo’s team, click here
(Note: We help female entrepreneurs bust through their blocks and upper limits to create a BIG impact, biz and life they love, through personal and spiritual development, Via group programs, live events, Masterminds and very limited 1:1 coaching. We are not Shamans and/or Sacred plant advisers.)
[DISCLAIMER None of this information is suggesting that you should try Ayahuasca, Kambo, San Pedro, hape or any other type of plant medicine, or that I endorse it in ANY WAY or that I think it’s the only way to develop personally or spiritually. It’s risky and dangerous, ESPECIALLY if you just book on the internet, don’t know the Shamans and/or they even call themselves Shamans. My crew wouldn’t trust anyone doing this in the US or even many in Peru itself, some of the Shamans have been bought off and there is some dodgy stuff going on, DON’T work with anyone with less than 10 YEARS experience, I am also not available to make any recommendations as it’s not my place to do so, I am NOT an expert or a Shaman…PLEASE be VERY careful and considerate to the plant and the traditional people!!! All I share is MY journey and MY experience, MY decisions, because I want to be open with you about what’s really going on in MY world, we’re all on our own journeys! Xx]