Join me as I was briefly interviewed as one of the speakers at the Health and Wellness portion of the Voluntaryist Conference Anarchapulco this year.
We talked about my work with Kambo, the Medicinal secretion of the Amazonian Tree Frog.
Catch the talk here: https://soundcloud.com/freetalklive/free-talk-live-2018-02-20
Skip forward to 1 minute 10seconds to get going!
Hope you enjoy
I’m sitting in Miami Airport en route to Jamaica, ruminating on my next adventure which is soon to to be upon me!
Mexico >>> Jamaica to spend 6 weeks assisting and Co-creating deep Healing Retreats using Magic Mushrooms. Honoured to head out to Mycomeditations Retreat Centre. These guys are the only completely legal mushroom retreat centre I know of in the World! Learn more at www.mycomeditations.com .
Yes, its no secret, I love Mushrooms, more specifically, their healing qualities. Research shows that they are highly effective for drug resistant moderate-major depression, PTSD and anxiety (especially end of life). With Mental Health positioned as the leading cause of disability worldwide according to the World Health Organisation, I was naturally inspired to learn more…
So, last summer I spent few months up in the Mountains of Oaxaca searching for psychedelic mushrooms and a local Mazatec Curandera (Medicine Woman) to hold Ceremony for me with these incredible Healers… At times, equally as strong and as revealing as Ayahuasca, I had been called to begin working with this Sacred Medicine the summer before. After a completely unexpected and rather dramatic entity extraction, performed by myself under the influence of the Mushrooms; I vowed to go to a Land where healing under their influence was Culturally practiced. Perhaps here I could find some answers as to what had happened… Here’s the first instalment of my story…
I knew finding a Mushroom Curandera would be hard. I was well aware of the tragic story of the legendary Mexican Mushroom Healer, Maria Sabina, and what happened after she shared her healing Mushroom Ceremonies with white foreigners… A peaceful Woman of God working with the Mushrooms for healing purposes, she was tricked into sharing her Ceremony by Author and amateur Ethnomycologist, George Wasson. Normally only ingested for Healing purposes he lied to her and said he had come to find God after which she allowed him to take mushrooms with her. Really, he was documenting the Cultural use of the Mushrooms for his own interests…
Abuela (Grandma) Maria Sabina
Despite good intentions as a genuine mushroom enthusiast, his subsequent article about Maria and the Mushrooms in Time Magazine in the mid 1950’s, lead to a massive influx of Culture-flaunting, free-love advocates from the States. The small rural town, with strong Catholic principles, was soon overrun and the entire economy upturned. Other recreational drugs could be found, prostitution flourished and kids stopped working in the coffee plantations in favour of selling highs to Tourists.
Stunning Mexican Mountains in the rainy Summer Mushroom Season.
Having realised what she had unwittingly done, Maria herself said “I realised the young people with long hair didn’t need me to eat the little things. Kids ate them anywhere and anytime, and they didn’t respect our customs.” The rest of the story doesn’t end so well, so i’ll leave it there…
So, you can understand why I knew it would be hard to locate a legit “Shaman”. With business booming in the Mountains it was guaranteed that every other “Shaman” would be a charlatan. Luckily, as chance would have it, a Mexican chap i’d couchsurfed with in 2012 had spent every summer in the Mountains where I was headed since he was 15 and he was happy to take me there and ask around on my behalf. A few days into our time in the Mountains, we had received the same message from all his contacts, no Shamans to be found here. The recurring comment was ¨the Mushrooms will tell you everything you need to know, no intermediary is needed”. Hmmm. Though true it was not welcome news.
Kittens and kiddies to pass time when you hit a dead end
My friend left and I went back to the drawing board. I decided to move to a town an hour down the road, a little more rural, and hold out there for a while, eating a simple diet, trying the mushrooms on my own and waiting for the Teacher to appear…
After 3 weeks, definitely wondering what on Earth I was doing with my life, I heard tell of a man who had discovered the mushrooms aged 14 and left his (wealthy and, no doubt, rather perturbed) family in Mexico City. All in favour of a life in the Mountains, following a Spiritual path in Meditation and peaceful Eco-community.
Despite having his details, for some reason one day I woke up and set off to find him unannounced! As is the way in the Mountains, what should’ve taken 45 minutes took 4hours. I finally arrived at his door on exactly the same footstep as an Abuela (Grandmother) arriving in the other direction. The door opened to the both of us and I was informed, very kindly, that he was on sabbatical and not holding Ceremony this year. “It is no coincidence that you arrived at exactly the same time as Maria” he said in a highly suggestive way. At this point she indicated for his to ´shhh´! He rolled his eyes a little at me and did as he was told. It was clear that she did not want him to disclose her Mushroom services.
After 20minutes of idle loitering, puppy stroking and smiling she softened to me and invited me to her little Ranchito (farmhouse) a few hours down a dirt road from where we were. Finally I was to sit in a Velda (candle lit night time ceremony) with the Little Mushrooms and a local Curandera!
Mexican Mountain Lilly, often painted by Frida Kahlo
The kindness of her facial features and inclination towards smiling gave the game away.. She was clearly so full of Heart and radiated such a humble warmth… something had told me to sit put.
We decided that I would get to hers the following weekend for a night with the Mushrooms on the eve of the full moon. A few others were also coming to partake. I set off on the long Journey home, exceedingly happy and excited for what was to come…
Next installment soon… With Love
Illustrators depiction of Maria Sabina
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Healing… What does it mean to heal? As a Medical Doctor is was pretty clear to me that healing was something that someone did as a result of a physiologically proven disease state or mental imbalance that left them distressed and unable to function within society. These, states, it was clear, require ‘Healing’. I will never forget my first Ayahuasca Ceremony, the Man who had brought me along proclaiming his need to heal this and that and this other thing… I remember gently asking him if he felt his need to heal was in fact pathological, as he was clearly in great physical Health with a wonderful social/work life. It is safe to say I was miffed by the whole concept or Healing within this context. I had so much to learn. I am still only just beginning.
As one begins to go deeper than merely the physical emotional realms it becomes clear that there is indeed a lot that warrants healing. The Healing Arts are called so as there is a Multidimensional quality to the process of healing that requires abstract thought, non-liner processes and, often, creative flair. Our minds are far more complex than just our literal ‘monkey mind’ thoughts. They also consist of our subconscious programming and default pathways, our psychosomatic wiring and our connection to the greater morphic field of collective consciousness… And that is before we get to other higher/external intelligences, thought forms and the realm of Spirit. From what I have personally seen and experienced I believe that we are part of an incredibly complex superimposed holographic Universe, and that what it means ‘To Heal’ is similarly as varied, fascinating and unpredictable. Some days I wish it was more simple, that I could go back to the 2D realm where everything was so, seemingly, straightforward. Blood tests, mechanical investigations, Surgical procedures. Black and white, yes no, easy peasy!
Well in truth the World of Healing is rather a grey one, or rainbow coloured should we choose a more energising metaphor! Even within individuals of the same species that same pathological diagnosis is expressed in infinite different ways. One does not experience depression, IBS, stage 4 lung Cancer etc in exactly the same way that any other person ever has. And in exactly the same reasoning there is simply no ‘one pill fits all’ cure or protocol to be prescribed. ALL Dis-eases have their deepest roots in different personality tempraments, lifestyle choices, genetic predispositions, and as such the treatment for each must be tailored for that individual. To not do so would be to bulldoze into the scene like an elephant in a china shop, often causing a lot of harm, despite good intention. Take Antibiotics as a prime example, sure you might kill off the offending pathogen but you will likely kill all the beneficial microbes too, weakening your gut and actually predisposing yourself to other disease processes.
This is where the ancient healing modailites are a lot more comprehensive. From the Hippocratic ‘humors’ of blood, black bile, yellow bile and phlegm; to the Aryuvedic Doshas of pitta, kapha and vatta, it is clear that there are delineating physiological dispositions we can be further subdivided into. Once allocated appropriately we are in a much better position to move off from, in the direction of Holistic healing. It really doesn’t matter which cosmology you opt for. What matters, is that you feel curious about it; that it genuinely makes you take an active interest in your Body and your Mind. Remember you, not the Doctor/Healer/Shaman/Therapist, is the one doing the healing, so you’d better become an active participant if you want to truly heal.
This means you need to drum up some enthusiasm and take the time to do some research, not simply submit yourself to “The Experts” opinion and prescription. If I could get a dollar for every story I have heard of how the patient/seeker/ailing wasted money, allowing serious diseases to progress to terminal because they didn’t listen to their own gut instinct or trusted that money would buy them peace of mind… i’d be rich. It’s sad but true. There are terrible Doctors, charlatans, egoically driven wounded healers who will not admit when they don’t know something… and then you’re in really dangerous waters. To minimise this risk, stay vigilant, stay present (yes that means putting your phone down) and follow this time tested piece of advice.. ‘If it feel off, it is’. Then take action. Seek out another opinion, do more research, whatever…
The term Holistic, is derived from the Greek ‘Holos’ meaning Whole, and describes a concept where multiple systems, in this case the physical, mental, social, community base and spiritual health of an individual; are all considered to fully represent the entirety of the person seeking wellness. This is something particularly important as part of my Coaching approach. Even if you come to me for Health related issues we will always take a moment to touch on love, finances, career etc because the truth is, how you do one thing is how you do EVRYTHING. Let that sink in… It’s quite a profound truth. When we begin to see how we operate in the multiple areas of our lives, patterns begin to emerge and it is then that we can hunt out the root cause for an habit or behaviour that you are ready to say goodbye to. This is the deeper work. We are simply a sum of our daily actions and habits and it is here that the magic of real transformation begins to unfold.
Now all this is well and good but what about those for whom the ‘Healing Journey’ has become all involving, a lifestyle of its own? We all have friends who have become fanatical in some way, be it Sacred Medicine ceremonies, dietary choices or submitting all life decisions to the dictates of their Guides. For some, the depth of pain, illness and mental suffering requires a deep, deep dive, and this naturally becomes a priority. Some are instinctively drawn to begin training in the Healing Arts as a result of their dramatic transformations. This is right and as it should be, and is indeed the journey of most Healers. Where I would like to draw special attention is to those to whom the Healing has become the identity. The Ceremony now, in truth, is really the social scene. The Processing, and the sharing of it publically, is somehow the validation of the experience they are having.
Yes we meet beautiful people along the way and yes it is natural we form new communities.. and, I have noticed that there are some to whom the process becomes the identity. The lure of the peak experience, the ‘Aha moment’, the attention of the group becomes the next way to gain energy from something external to the self. It is easily, and often completely subconsciously, slipped into. One could argue, that until one reaches enlightenment, the Healing ‘Work’ is never done. There are always more layers of the onion to peel away to reach our true essence. Yes this is true and also, it is important to remember what those enlightened beings taught.. The unifying teachings are ones of presence, joy and acceptance of what is. Giving too much of our energy, repeatedly time and again begs the question, “what are we looking for?”
If it is truly the definitive healing of the pain then at some point a slowing of the intensity in the process will naturally arise.. Here the illness resolves, the negative thought cycles cease, life begins to reflect back to us the work we have done and a sense of peace, balance and vitality suffuse our field. There is a saying, “if the door opens, stop knocking” and I feel the message of this simple adage is important to heed for those forgetting why they started the healing Journey in the first place. When you have received the final message adn you know what to do, it is time to do it and integrate it into your life. There is no substitute to action. It always speaks louder than words.
Please remember, if you have a friend you feel is consumed by their Journey, is important to address this with them gently and with extreme sensitivity, as I mentioned these new behaviours are often completely subconscious. We can never know what is really going on and they may indeed really need those few extra Sessions, but I feel it is always helpful to discuss our observations with loved ones if we have any concrns. It is up to them what they do with our well meant observations. Ultimately we are here to be happy, joyful creatures enjoying the gifts of life here now, in the present moment. Not endlessly focusing on the past and our wounds, while doing so, taking precious energy away from making positive changes to the World around us. There’s a million projects, bigger than ourselves, requiring enthusiasm, diligence and determination. So, get well, get inspired and get on with Living it!