Monday, January 2, 2017

Hiking in the Magical Forest in the Ecuador Cajas National Park

Recently, Michael and I had the pleasure to be on a gorgeous hike exploring the magical forest in the Cajas National Park with our friends, Bill and Darby. And it truly is magical, even enchanted.

Our ride to the Cajas National Park was the first step into the magic, even as I realize that I see our new hometown of Cuenca as pretty magical. My husband and I moved to Cuenca from the USA back in May of this year and we are still in awe with the beautiful skies and clouds, the stunning views of the mountains surrounding Cuenca (translated from Spanish as "basin"), the rock-filled rivers where many wash their clothes daily, and more. Now, traveling just minutes from Cuenca, we had gorgeous scenery as we drove through towering mountain peaks and relished the blue skies with puffy clouds.

For those without a car, it's an easy bus ride - go to the bus terminal and get a bus going to Guayaquil and ask to be let off at the Cajas National Park. Coming home, flag down a bus going back to Cuenca. We've heard it's an easy trip. 

I loved the Cajas National Park Visitor Center - small but packed full of wonderful snippits about the Cajas, done in a very tasteful way. 

We started on the hike, and immediately descended upon a lake that had me oohing and aahing. We're high up - over 13,000 feet above sea level. There were teeny tiny flowers on the ground, and you could tell from the gnarled branches and tree trunks that the weather is rugged here, and nature had adapted well. Especially, we loved paying attention to the tiny instances of floral beauty hidden under foot and to the unusual quality of the trees' and bushes' growth. I was enthralled with the variety and individuality of the natural wonders. What a treat!

The scenery was constantly changing, and around this bend, up a slight incline or simply a few steps more, the scene changed completely, again and again.

I remember saying I wish I could take a few steps, then sit for an hour and appreciate the gorgeousness, then take a few more steps, and sit for another hour, and do that again and again. I'll probably come back and do just that. That's my idea of meditation - to breath and drink in all the beauty, in nature's silence.

You can see the breathtaking scenery in the photos - in person, it's even more amazing.

Everything felt so primal and vibrant. I remember appreciating some of the plants, flowers, trees, clouds, etc. and saying silently to them, one at a time, as my gaze rested on each one, "You are beautiful!" And I could swear I heard from each one back to us, again and again, "You are beautiful!" It felt like they were appreciating us and our recognition of them as much as we were appreciating them. And yes, I did feel as though I'd been transported into another universe where those conversations seemed perfectly natural.

We were aiming for what's known as the highest forest in the world. And as we entered the forest, the stillness and grandeur stunned me. It was like entering the aliveness of the Avatar's movie, the magical fairy tale landscapes of Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz, Lord of the Rings and more, as well as the vibrancy of the Redwood Forest and the best of National Geographic specials.

I knew I was seeing in 3-D, after all our world is in 3-D. But as I closed my eyes and opened them again, the 3-D effect seemed magnified as the landscape leaped towards me. I felt deliciously enveloped by the aliveness all around me.

The energy here is profound. There seemed to be a buzz in the air. There are fallen trees and branches everywhere, and trees that are almost growing horizontally, until they twist again in another direction. Eons ago, boulders had crashed into the forest, and some are partially submerged, and more are camouflaged by trees and foliage, and yet others form the foundation for hidden caves and crevices. Perhaps as a possible residence for the Wawa Grande (South America's name for Big Foot or Sasquatch) and family. There's a gorgeous sponginess to the forest floor, like many layers of moss and leaves all compressed.

There was one tree in particular that my husband, Michael called my attention to. As he was hiking past the tree, he felt the unmistakable energy of the tree and was drawn to it immediately. Connecting with this magnificent wise quinoa tree essence was a treat. Like in Avatar where they show the interconnected source energy, it felt like this magnificent tree was that source. In connecting with the tree by first with my hands, then arms, then full body hugging, the energy coursed through me. Looking up towards his branches and leaves above me, they waved in unison and synchronization, seemingly delighted to feel us and be with us in such connection. I felt literally energetically, almost magnetically glued to this beautiful tree and his energy and when I tried to disconnect, it felt like I was a layer that had become attached to the tree that didn't want to be separated. I felt almost sucking noises as we pulled apart reluctantly. I could barely remove myself to continue our trek. As I was disengaging from this precious tree, it felt like I asked his name and he told me his name was "Tomas", and as I turned away, he continued, "Or Tomasina, if you prefer." I turned back in amazement - had he really spoken to me?  Again, another magical spot where I would like to luxuriate for an hour or a day, in silent communion.

Once we got into the forest, the path took us in a straight line out to other vistas, but that was not for us. We climbed over tree trunks and branches, tested the sponginess to make sure there was solid footing underneath, avoided holes to the right and the left, climbed up and down on rocks and basically made our own path. We knew we couldn't get lost and we were on an adventure!

I'll have to admit that at times this part of the trek felt beyond me. Sure footing was essential as one didn't want to have one leg sink into a deep endless layer of moss, or slip on a rock going up or down hill and not be able to navigate the next steps safely. I was grateful for the offer of one of Bill's walking sticks (ski poles), everyone's encouragement, and even a helpful shoulder or hand, and I simply went slowly and surely. Everyone was very understanding, and perhaps they were experiencing much of what I was. Anyways, it was enormous fun and I'll do it again. I kept remembering to drink and breathe in all that beauty, and finally we emerged out at a lower level right by a lake.

And it was quite marshy in spots. This is where Bill was leading the way, and all of the sudden he sunk in up to his knees. That would have been a great photo op, and later on, when he removed the boot and poured out the murky black water.

We continued along the lake, being careful to avoid any other quicksand-like spots. Our socks and shoes did get soaked as we squished our way through. Such childlike fun!

Coffee, water and snacks stops were so appreciated. Bill had brought coffee (even with milk and sugar, as we desired - such luxury!), delicious Ecuadorian dark chocolate found in the mercados, and nuts/dried fruit. We rested, munched, sipped, and onward!

We identified our way back, knowing we had plenty of time before sunset, but would we make it back before the rain? At this point, we were going uphill a lot, and I found that short frequent rests were helpful. My legs were a bit jelly-like - even though we walked a lot around Cuenca, I hadn't exercised like this for a while! Even though we were at high altitude, I found that I had pretty good breath, but my legs were needing to process more oxygen like they were used to at lower elevations.

I've probably bored you with my descriptions of the scenery, but just because I haven't mentioned it much on that way back, well it was just as glorious and delectable! Copy, paste those appreciations here!

As we completed the last leg of our hike, it was starting to sprinkle lightly. Perfect ending to feel the cool wetness - so refreshing. And we ended up at the delightful cafe, where Bill's recommendation of the "best hot chocolate ever" was so appreciated. And at Ecuadorian prices, it was a bargain at only $2.00 per cup. We tried their empanadas as well - I can highly recommend the $1.50 "pollo" one - with a flaky fried crust, it was a delicious handheld chicken pot pie. We had brought some "cachitos" or croissants which were perfect for dipping in the hot chocolate.

This is exactly the type of adventure that Michael and I love! Getting off the beaten path, creating our own adventure, and discovering the hidden treasures. We were grateful that even though we were pretty tired at the end, that we slept well, and barely had any soreness the next day. If you ever get close to Cuenca, Ecuador, visiting and hiking in the Cajas National Park is a highly recommended treat. It's not always easy to get out of your comfort zone, especially in a new country, different language, and we loved joining Bill and Darby on this amazing day!

We'll be back often - so eager to be in the forest, and with Tomas and other beauties of nature again!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

San Pedro Ceremonies in November 2016

Manifesting The Perfect Space For Our San Pedro Ceremonies

Michael and I recently experienced two sessions with San Pedro at Steve Eagle Sewell’s “Eagle’s Nest” in San Pedro, Vilcabamba (see my blog posts for ceremony #1 and ceremony #2, and knew that we wanted to continue our processes with the Grandfather San Pedro sacred plant medicine. Instead of traveling to Vilcabamba, we explored how to invite Steve to Cuenca and even extend the invitation to friends. Thus started a delightful process.

We’d need a beautiful, “tranquillo” place close to Cuenca to host the ceremonies so we put out the request on some online forums. We looked at a place close by in Nulti, but it didn’t seem right for the planned retreat. It was a beautiful yet small space, full of charm, and Steve loved the photos we sent him. He felt an immediate connection with the home. The owners were beautiful Ecuadorians and were very open to the idea of hosting San Pedro ceremonies there. We felt very blessed to have met them.

One evening, we were talking with some friends into the wee hours of the morning, and the energy generated from our passionate conversation about sharing San Pedro, experiencing San Pedro again, and the vivid possibilities for future offerings to people that could really benefit from the healing opportunities was truly inspiring and rich with intensity. The next morning, I received a call from the people who offered their country home in beautiful Yunguilla Valley. We saw the property the next day, and it was perfect, in every way! Talk about synchronicity in opening up our desires and wishes to the universe and the universe responding back so immediately!

We scheduled the retreat. Later Steve found out and shared with us that he needed to move from Vilcabamba within the month and really wanted to move to Cuenca and create a “conscious community” there. So now the planned retreat was serving two purposes – the retreat and an opportunity for him to explore Cuenca. While much of this was unsettling at the time, as the universe was definitely closing many doors while opening others, it was very apparent that things were unfolding in beautiful ways.

Unbeknownst to Steve, I’d already reached back out to the Nulti home owners, and they were willing to rent their home on a monthly basis. I messaged this info to Steve, just before he was going to message me with a request to reach out to them. He’d already envisioned himself living there and continued to have a heartfelt connection with this precious home.

The retreat was magnificent and the healing energies felt individually and collectively by all were very evident over the two days. We returned to Cuenca, and went to see the Nulti home. Wow – the lovely energy in that place was beautiful and so appealing! Steve was able to complete securing the Nulti home for his residence, and enjoyed exploring beautiful Cuenca. 
Preparing for the San Pedro Ceremonies

Over the last year or so, much beautiful healing had already occurred in working with the various plant medicines, Ayahuasca and San Pedro, as well as Kambô. I’m so grateful for the gentle yet persistent unfolding that has been occurring.

Recently I had the experience of seeing how persistent the ego (or the protective part of me) can be in placing roadblocks to my ongoing healing processes. I’d done an Ayahuasca ceremony in June 2016 and created an audio recording of my experience the morning after. Several months later, I recounted that same experience to my husband Michael, which included many descriptions of horror, terror and frightening aspects of my journey. The next morning, I re-listened to my initial audio recording of that ceremony and was shocked and amazed at the dramatic differences between the two accounts. My audio recording included many examples of strong and beautiful revelations, direction and healing, and the love expressed by Mother Ayahuasca was hugely present all throughout. My later recounting to my husband focused on dark terrifying images and experiences. I had received some negative feedback (later realized it was untrue and unjustified) about my participation in the ceremony and it felt like I was making that person’s opinion my new truth about what really had happened. If I believed that revised horrifying account, then it would be a slam-dunk decision that I would NOT be working with Ayahuasca again. Why put myself through such trauma?

It also became very apparent to me that this was only one example where I (my ego or protective part) would put out roadblocks to prevent me from going any further in my healing processes. It seemed as I would get closer and closer to identifying and dissolving root issues, I would put the brakes on, in supposedly legitimate ways.

One example is in my recent Kambô experience. I did three Kambô ceremonies on consecutive days. I had a powerful first ceremony, and then experienced this resistance during my second ceremony, so the final third day I chose to receive the same number of Kambô points rather than an increased number. While I had a powerful experience on that third day, now I feel that I didn’t break through completely because I was too much in control. I did appreciate the shaman's attention to my safety though, and I'll agree it's wise to err on that side.

Another example of putting on the brakes is in my previous Ayahuasca and San Pedro experiences during my first 12-day retreat last year, when I declined additional cups of medicine, so I stayed within my comfort (control) zone while still having very powerful experiences.

Yet another example is during the last set of San Pedro ceremonies last month. When everyone else drank more San Pedro on the second day; I asked for the same amount and therefore my journey was not as intense yet still justifiably powerful. And I had refused the opportunity to work with Steve with some powerful healing processes while in the medicine. Thus far, no further, please.

Yet in all these ceremonies, it was apparent to the shamans / facilitators that I was working intensely with the medicines therefore couldn’t be faulted, only commended. Only I knew that I hadn’t seized the full opportunities, and often after the ceremonies I would express my sadness that I hadn’t gone further. At times, it felt my dismay was my ego talking. Which was it really?

Another example, during my last San Pedro ceremony, towards the end of the day when the medicine was wearing off, I heard a message that I wasn’t to be doing more plant medicines until I had put a daily meditation into consistent practice for at least 30 days in a row, not skipping any days. I thought this was San Pedro speaking and it seemed quite reasonable that first I should do my part in order to receive more guidance from him later. However the harshness of this demand insisting on 30 days of consistency or being required to start back at day one did not seem to ring true and it felt punitive and contracting rather than inspiring and expansive.

When the upcoming retreat was scheduled a month later, I was hesitant to participate. I didn’t want to be disrespectful of San Pedro’s directions and perhaps incur his wrath. I knew I had made huge strides in being quiet and appreciative every day, but I hadn’t attained that perfect meditative record of 30 days in a row. It was at this time, that I realized how warped my memory was around my June Ayahuasca experience. So I questioned the legitimacy of this command and wondered if it was from San Pedro or perhaps it was my protective part / ego speaking so I wouldn’t progress further with ceremonies and healings.

I have heard it said that once we've taken these plant medicines, that they remain within us. I have often felt the presence of both Mother Ayahuasca and Grandfather San Pedro, when not in ceremony. So I asked myself (and San Pedro) whether I should participate in these upcoming ceremonies and the answer was, “Of course.” I also made the commitment and intention to myself that I would go as deep as possible with the medicine, now that I had identified my protective mechanism that had apparently been in operation for some time. Also I shared my insights with my husband and with Steve, so they would be aware and could support me if I started to back away from a full experience.

San Pedro Ceremony – The First Day – November 14, 2016

We held the first San Pedro ceremony on the day of the biggest and brightest Super Moon in 70 years. There is much mystical significance to this including powerful alignments regarding letting go, forgiving, transformations, intuitions and synchronicities. I liked the online information here
My intentions for these upcoming San Pedro ceremonies were very similar to past intentions. I asked for San Pedro to show me / teach me / heal me of issues around making myself “big/small” and believing what others say about me, so I end up becoming that, and even recreating my past to accommodate their imposed truth about me. For example, if I have a powerful experience and feel “big” and good, and someone else contradicts that, then somehow I tend to respond by negating my truth about my experience, and feeling “small” and fading inconspicuously into the background. Somehow, I seem to do that automatically, and don’t seem to realize that I am doing that, as it feels like my response is on automatic pilot rather than following a conscious intention. So I would make “them” right, and refute my own truth since it contradicts their opinion. My desire was to get at the root of that behavior and heal it.

My intentions also included asking who to work/team with in future endeavors, and how to most effectively help people integrate their plant medicine experiences into their “real world” scenarios. I asked which plant medicines I should be working with, and how often and with whom. I asked for direction and/or healing for various physical issues. And I simply was open to going as deep as needed in allowing San Pedro to assist me in exploring and healing whatever was necessary.

Our retreat space is located in beautiful Yunguilla Valley, and the historic home and well-kept grounds are warm and welcoming, and the expansive vistas are breathtaking. After opening with a heartfelt prayer, and everyone sharing their intentions and drinking the San Pedro medicine, we chit-chatted some, then each of us chose our place to be as the medicine kicked in.

For some reason, I couldn’t find a place to be comfortable. I moved around from spot to spot, and was upset that “I can’t find my place” and “I want to go home.” I realized that the medicine was already communicating with me in bringing these frustrating emotions to the surface. Alternately, I found a shady spot outside and went upstairs to lie down on my bed. I got quiet, allowing the sacred medicine to work within me.

Apparently people can resist the medicine and thwart their experience. San Pedro seems to be most effective most of the time (not all of the time) when you simply relax, lie back, and get very quiet and meditative. If you’re being physically active, and mentally agitated and combative, then you can block the medicine. I have found it best to get into a very still space, and allow the medicine to take me to where it chooses. It does come in waves though, and periodically I would be impelled to get up and move to a different location, or to talk briefly with Steve or another participant. But always, I resettled down quickly, to continue the experience in the most powerful way possible.

The messages from Grandfather San Pedro came to me in a different way this time. Some people hear a voice, and sometimes I did too, but not often. Usually, it was a telepathic communication or feeling, and I would write down the essential message in word-form, then go back to my quiet state. Later, I would knit the messages together, and see any connections, continuity and insights.

The mood music being played was annoying to me with the same monotonous beat in the so-called soothing and relaxing song. When I requested that it be changed, and when another participant said he liked it, I found myself rebelling. I could hear my thinking clearly, but didn’t articulate it aloud. Was this San Pedro communicating with me too? “I don’t want to be told ‘this’ is relaxing and ‘that’ is soothing. I call bullshit on the lot.”

“I am not a conformist.” Just because music (or anything else) is supposed to create this mood or produce that feeling, doesn’t mean that it works for me. So I went where I could be quiet and allowed the others to have their desired music experience. No big deal.

During the morning hours, I wrote down several messages. But mostly I was unaware of where I was going with San Pedro, what I was thinking or not thinking, what I was feeling or not feeling. I seemed to be lost or absorbed in a process outside of time and space because mostly I couldn’t articulate what was happening within me. Apparently that’s a good place to be when in the medicine, however for me it was challenging and I wasn’t sure if the medicine was truly working without lots of outward evidence.

“You can’t trust appearances. It’s not what it seems. It’s all ENERGY.” This was repeated throughout the day, and the importance of seeing our actions, our thoughts and feelings as energetically-based was super important. I felt a strong sense of self-acceptance, self-love, and self-appreciation within myself, and this energy was beautiful and rising magnificently within me. It felt very important to be that self-absorbed and loving towards the beautiful creation that I am.

“It’s not what it seems.” There’s much going on in this world that is not what it seems like on the surface. Don’t be fooled. I could think of many examples relating to our world’s current social, economic, and political environments, and how important it was to see what was truly going on energetically.

“Cause and effect are reversed, skewed. It’s not what you think.” This has generated much food for thought since then. There are so many examples where cause and effect are actually reversed, according to San Pedro. For example, being in relationship doesn’t “cause” various negative behaviors to be created; instead we bring those negative behaviors with us to the relationship. We think that an activity will “cause” happiness; instead it is because we are happy that we enjoy the “effect” of the happiness in an activity. What we often think is “cause” is actually “effect” and vice versa. It’s important to know this. I’ve had some fun playing with this idea since then.

“It’s all energy.” I had a vivid sense of feeling my energy merging with the Gaia Earth energy, and in her every breath, she was creating and recreating herself in every moment, and I was a part of that action. This was not about Gaia Earth going through a rebirth into another dimension, as has been talked about by others, rather I sensed that Gaia Earth was inhaling and exhaling, and contracting with the creative energy and in every moment she was a new creation. Since my energy was at a sufficient level to participate, I felt myself break through and join the collective energy in breathing her new life in each moment. It was because I was so “full of myself” and appreciative and loving of myself that I was able to join in the collective ongoing birthing breath of Gaia Earth. And in so doing, while I was a part of the collective whole, it was as a fully realized individual set of loving energies that I joined and I remained aware of my individual self while being an integral part of the whole.

“You make it a reality when you fight it. So let me ask you again, ‘Why are you fighting.’” Oh this one is generating a lot of thought and re-thinking and being open to a paradigm shift. San Pedro was quite adamant that my fighting for causes, focusing on various issues, could be rather counterproductive and having the opposite effect of making the non-desired reality even more real and more resistant to correction, from an energetic viewpoint. I’ve come to the conclusion to stop fighting myself, and when tempted to fight the good fight with various causes, to first look at what energy is being created. And to create the best energy possible in my responses. I know what that feels like, and I know that I can shift my focus and correct when necessary.

“I don’t need permission.”

During the morning, one of the participants was in quite a “process” and I felt quite compelled to go over and offer assistance. I fought with myself over this instinct for a long time, knowing that our facilitator Steve was handling it and it probably wasn’t my place to “interfere.” Yet I still felt compelled and realized that the battle within myself was that I had constantly been thwarted in being allowed to follow my instincts in the past. I knew that I had good instincts, and knew that it was important to act on them, and not suppress them, while still honoring another’s wishes. Eventually, I did go over and offer to listen / support, whenever and if desired. San Pedro’s message was important to me for then and all time. I don’t need permission to follow my instincts.

After a few hours, I checked in with Steve. I wasn’t feeling strong emotions around anything as I was mostly in an unaware haze as the medicine was working within me. Therefore I felt that focusing on resolving any childhood issues would simply be a distraction from working with San Pedro in the most effective way. Thank goodness that Steve didn’t fall for that, and he asked me if I was willing to waste 30-60 minutes in doing a process with him. How could I refuse?

I had already done 5-6 hours of forgiveness work during my first Ayahuasca ceremony over a year ago, with 5-6 hours of purging and intense communication with Mother Ayahuasca around the depths and breadths of what was necessary to truly forgive and move on. I felt that I had already forgiven my mother (and many others). Intellectually, I knew the power of forgiveness. Emotionally, I could feel compassion for her, and I felt freed in many ways, but maybe there was still some residual anger and resentment. Perhaps I hadn’t allowed that little girl to fully feel all that she needed to feel, and therefore let the hurt go. I really did not wish to entertain ingrained old thought patterns and revisit old hurts and emotions that had been healed and thereby bring my past reality into a present reality. Oh, who knows what was really going on. I decided to take the leap and see what else might be revealed in working with Steve.

It was a 4-step process. I remember 3 out of the 4 steps, and will update later on that missing step. The essence is all here though.

The first step was expressing all my anger, frustration and feelings at my mother. I didn’t want to do this. I wanted to take the higher ground and simply express love and compassion to a very hurt person who had been incapable of loving and caring for me. Steve encouraged me to let the little girl have her say. Her full say. Out loud. And he had me write it down – all the horrid words, terrible accusations and hateful truths.

Many of my phrases started with, “You had no right to…” I found myself resisting expressing the grotesque feelings and needed to let the little girl within me have free rein to finally say it all. No filters. She didn’t want to love, she wanted to rage, she wanted to hate, she wanted to maim and kill, she wanted revenge, she wanted to pound on her mother and scratch her eyes and face out. She wanted permission to feel what she felt without being told it was not proper. Previously, I had put the brakes on her expressing her raw feelings, because I didn’t want that to explode into creating more bad feelings, or into opening Pandora’s Box that would unleash an unquenchable and non-restrainable rage – after all, shouldn’t love and compassion predominate? Hadn’t I already forgiven?

This little girl had every right to be angry. Between ages 1 and 5 especially, she (I) had been abused, and no one had heard her nor protected her nor controlled their own urges so she wouldn’t be hurt. She had been put in the position of being “mother” to her siblings and even the emotional caretaker of her mother and father. She had loved and taught and given of herself, but it hadn’t been enough; her mother always wanted more. She had loved and contributed beyond her years but always had been beseeched to do more. She had been ignored and abandoned when she needed help, guidance, or caring, and consequently she rarely dared to ask for that help. She had been belittled and shamed when she couldn’t heal the family problems or take care of herself. She felt the shock and abandonment of having her needs rejected whenever she got sick, and felt the pain of being guilty that she would want to be a burden when her mother was so overwhelmed, but still she cried for being abandoned when she needed her mother the most. She had been overwhelmed by the responsibility imposed upon her and stunned when she was later betrayed, rejected, ostracized and excommunicated from the family.

So she (I) raged, calling her (my) mother all the horrible vile, violent, viscous, vindictive names (her name is Vi, so there is a play on words here), and wishing that her mother were dead. Yet crying futilely for the love that she had wanted so much, and never received fully. She was very conflicted in her instinct to love and desire to be loved, yet at the same time be extremely angry at the hurts and hatred piled upon her. She cried for her contrary feelings of wanting to love her mother, yet fearing that if she expressed her true feelings she would never have that love. She cried for how that sweet innocent little baby that she’d been had been raged against, been jealous of, and not recognized for the beautiful being that she was – she cried out in pain thinking that if that sweet baby couldn’t be loved, then how could she deserve love when she was no longer so sweet nor innocent. And she cried for that emptiness and for futilely grasping for that which she had never had. And for the contrary feelings of how she could possible love someone who was so despicable, who was the devil incarnate.

Yet how could she not love, when she saw the hurt and inability of her mother to be a true mother, yet that was the mother that hurt her, in so many ways, physically, emotionally, and more, and had told her that she was the one at fault, for not being spiritual enough. The mind fuck, the manipulation, the lies, were incredibly real/unreal to her, and she cried for not wanting to believe them, knowing that she would never have the love of her mother if she openly rejected the insanity of her mother’s beliefs and actions. She cried for how her brothers and sisters and children had been badly influenced too, and how they had been told they should no longer be around her nor love her. She cried thinking that she was undeserving of love from anyone.

I’m not sure what the second step is. Continuing on, in spite of and because she endured such bad “stuff” from her mother, this little girl had responded with good defenses and developing a variety of positive coping skills and talents. The third step was all about, “Mom, you taught me…” 

-          I am a survivor, and a thriver.
-          I am innocent.
-          Nothing gets me down. I’m resilient.

At this point, San Pedro interjected, “You are NO THING.” This statement was from my last ceremony, where he had told me I was “no thing.” And I have puzzled over that since then. Perhaps it meant that I felt I was nothing, or worth nothing unless I excelled in my various “roles.” Today I took exception to being told that I was nothing, or no thing. And I rose up against the “authority” of San Pedro, in the moment, and declared quite vehemently, “Fuck you! I AM!” And slammed my fist on the table in emphasis of that fact!

No one was going to tell me, based on their authority who I was and who I wasn’t. It became apparent to me, in that moment, that San Pedro had been baiting me, telling me that I was “no thing” and trying to get me to rebel, to refuse to be played with that way. And I had conveniently forgotten that he’d also showed me in the other ceremony that I was a “star.”

Indirectly, in rebellion to my mother’s examples, I learned not to kowtow to authority, her authority or any other authority. She was a perfect example of being an authority figure that should not be respected or obeyed, because she did NOT have it right. That was very obvious to me as a child, so I learned to be my own authority. I learned to discern the truth and reject authority when it was not speaking truth. I learned that it was OK to judge and reject lies. But I learned to often hide these awarenesses, and not be outwardly expressive of my truth too. It wasn’t safe to do so at home, usually.

I remembered so many examples in my childhood where I resisted authority. In math class, we were working with new textbooks. The answers were listed in the back. I would work the math problems and then check in the back. When I found that their answer didn’t match my answer, I would take the case to my teacher, who would then work the problem, and confirm the book’s answer. Then I would show the teacher how I had arrived at my answer, thus proving to her that I had worked the problem correctly, not her, and not the book’s author. This happened repeatedly, and while I was open to revisiting my work, I was usually right and the book’s answers were wrong.

Steve’s response to my retort to San Pedro’s, “You are NO THING” and my response, “Fuck You!” was that those are the two most powerful words in the English language. I responded, “Yes: Fuck You!” Of course, he meant, “I AM!” Both work.

So that interchange led to articulating the next things that Mom “taught” me:

-          I am my authority.
-          I can discern and reject lies.
-          I don’t trick people.
-          I don’t manipulate people.
-          I inspire people to rise up and be their best, knowing it doesn’t take away from me.
-          I don’t take other people’s energies.
-          I tell it like it is. I call a spade a spade.
-          I don’t abuse people.
-          I don’t lie.
-          I don’t put people down; instead I champion people.
-          I don’t take shit from anyone.

The fourth step was identifying who I am. As I did so, Steve would respond, “And your mother wasn’t/didn’t.” This was very eye-opening to me.

-          I have integrity.  (and your mother didn’t)
-          I have a big heart. (and your mother didn’t)
-          I have innocence. (and your mother didn’t)
-          I am strong. (and your mother wasn’t)
-          I never give up. (and your mother did give up)
-          I never lose sight of my divinity. (and your mother did lose sight of hers)
-          I never lose sight of your divinity. (and your mother did lose sight of others’)
-          I always love. (and your mother didn’t)
-          I always teach. (and your mother didn’t)
-          I attract wonderful people. (and your mother didn’t)
-          I am willing to do my inner work. (and your mother didn’t)
-          I am COURAGEOUS. (and your mother wasn’t)
-          I wish to recognize my voice. (and your mother didn’t)
-      I doubt/question/rethink. (and your mother didn’t)
-          I love. (and your mother didn’t)
-          I love myself. (and your mother didn’t)
-          I allow myself to be loved. (and your mother didn’t)
-          I don’t hide. (and your mother did hide)
-          I am very important; my contributions are important. (and your mother wasn’t)

We burned the papers with all my negative outpourings on it. So that’s why you are not reading all the gory details, because they are resolved and burned up, and not to be revisited. The little girl has expressed herself fully and is happy to have been heard.

During the middle of this process, there was a commotion outside the property. A little boy had been hurt, and needed to be taken to the hospital. Steve acted on his responsibility to our group to maintain the “container” or the protective space of our retreat and not have his assistant leave with the car to go to the hospital. Fortunately someone was able to take the little boy to the hospital quickly, so it all worked out well. However, there was such a temptation within myself and perhaps with others to ignore the fragile process that I was in, and tend to someone else’s needs and not mine. Or for someone else to have other valuable insights on how to handle the situation that would have resulted in stopping my process to take care of the emergency differently. I’m grateful that all worked out well, and that a different scenario played out – that I was taken care of for a change, and it did not result in someone else being hurt by the attention to me. It can be inspiring yet puzzling at times to see how San Pedro is working in different ways, with different messages, to different people, yet all through the same incident.

We enjoyed some fruit salad mid-afternoon, which created that “bounce” or the second half of our San Pedro ceremony experience. Apparently in the morning, we take San Pedro on an empty stomach and experience the first set of sacred medicine effects; then when we eat, our digestive enzymes start working on the San Pedro, and more medicine effects are released. I recall mostly being quiet that afternoon, and purposely staying with myself. Once again, I couldn’t recall much of what San Pedro might be saying to me, or what I was feeling. I simply was in the medicine without conscious recall or access to normal brain functions. Mostly, I zoned out but did not sleep. I did notice that my body, especially my legs were shaking. And my hands felt electrified.

Dinner was delicious and the vegetarian soup was most appreciated. We shared our experiences of the day, although often it was hard for most of us to articulate that which is challenging to put into mere words. The “glitter” tradition continued with all of us being anointed and sprinkled with glitter.

We drew Doreen Virtue Archangel cards that evening. The card images and meanings are from her website. I chose to draw 3 cards and they were:

Card #1: Take Back Your Power

Archangel Raziel: “Use your God-given power and intention to manifest blessings in your life.”

Additional Message: “You are a luminary: a sage, a wise one, a high-priestess/high-priest, a wizard, and a supreme manifestor. Now is the time to summon up your spiritual strength and power and put your authority into action. Lovingly and firmly transform your intentions into reality. Say prayers about your intentions, and ask for guidance and signs to shape your manifestations to the highest possible level.”

Working with Archangel Raziel: Archangel Raziel’s name means “Secrets of God,” and this archangel will help you understand esoteric spiritual ideas and apply them in practical ways. Call upon Raziel to assist your alchemical work—to turn ideas into gold.

Card #2: Spiritual Understanding

Archangel Raziel: “I’m bringing you esoteric information and symbols, and helping you understand spiritual truths.”

Additional Message: “Your spiritual understanding is rising to another level, as you open up to new ways of looking at life. Keep an open mind, and let go of limited thinking and illusions. Pay attention to signs—information that comes to you three times or more. Notice geometric shapes and symbols in your physical and psychic vision. Know that your increased awareness may shift your relationships and career goals. I’ll guide you through these changes so your life mirrors your inner experiences.”

Working with Archangel Raziel: As the wizard and alchemist of the archangel realm, Raziel helps us understand ideas that defy normal logic. He expands and challenges everyday thinking in ways that ultimately have healing effects. If you hunger for deep spiritual understanding, ask Raziel to enter your dreams. You’ll soul-travel with him to classrooms where he’ll help you uncover truths and secrets. Upon awakening, you may not fully remember or understand Raziel’s teachings, yet this knowledge is permanently imbedded in your subconscious, where it guides you throughout each day.

Card #3: Passion

Archangel Haniel: “Trust and follow your renewed passion in your love life and career.”

Additional Message: “Playing it safe can lead to staleness and depression. You’ve asked for more happiness and definite direction. I’ve lit the flame of passion in your heart to lead and guide you. It’s safe for you to take risks and follow your heart’s desire. Ask me to be your partner along your path of passion, to guide and nurture you. When you feel a strong knowingness, alongside a burning passion, pay attention, as this is my way of giving you information about your next step.”

Working with Archangel Haniel: Haniel’s name means “Glory of God.” Haniel can help you give glory to God by living at your highest potential. She’ll groom your hidden talents, and help you polish your skills. Then, when you apply your masterful ways to your true passions, Divine magic occurs!

These three cards meant a lot to me, as I saw the precious gifts of the messages as they related to me, and felt very empowered, even as I wasn’t quite sure what had happened during ceremony that day. I felt that I had taken back my power when I completed the process around my mother. I felt very connected with the Divine that day, and sensed lessons and healing were occurring on other levels that I might not always be aware of, but didn’t need to be. And it was beautiful to have the reminder to follow my passion. I had replaced the focus on “life purpose” with “passion” as that seemed to more accurately provide a barometer as to where to place our life energies. Such a sweet reminder. And I had felt the touch of the “passion” magic with how this retreat had manifested and come into being!

San Pedro Ceremony – The Second Day – November 15, 2016

I wasn’t sure what to expect on this second day. The first ceremony day had been very unusual, to say the least. I had written a lot down, but more so, I had simply laid down, and allowed San Pedro to work within me, and really couldn’t define what had happened with me that first day. I simply didn’t have the normal cognitive activity happening. I felt emptied out, and filled up, but wasn’t truly aware of what I was now filled up with.

So I revisited my intentions, but kept them mostly the same. For me, it took about an hour longer for the San Pedro to “kick in” and others had the same experience, although for one person, San Pedro kicked in practically immediately.

For me, all throughout this second day, it was mostly a surreal experience noticing all that nature had to offer.
At first, I talked with one of the participants, and it was obvious that my hands were still buzzing, fizzing, and full of energy. Soon I laid down and relaxed, allowing the medicine to once again work within me in the best way. Occasionally, I wrote down some thoughts, although once again they were telepathic impressions received from San Pedro, not verbally communicated.

“Who are you?” San Pedro asked me this question. I had been wondering myself who I was, now that I’d emptied out childhood “stuff” and was filling up with different “stuff.”

“I am consciousness, creating and recreating, always.” This is an important message from San Pedro, continuing the messaging from yesterday around my experience with being part of the creative breath of Gaia Earth, and affirming simply that I am consciousness, that that is my identity, and my activity is in creating and recreating, constantly in every moment.

“Treat him as if he’s awakened already. Speak to his true self. Don’t be fooled.” This was in response to how to communicate with others. Good advice.

“Revel in pleasure.”
“Take great pleasure in all you do.”
“Laugh at it all.”
“Delight is your meditation.”
“Laugh, frolic, be happy and full of joy.”
“This is your contribution to the essential energy of Gaia.”

It was emphasized that the regular meditation practice was not for me – that my “meditation” or “daily practice” was in recognizing all the delights around me. This was to be an active, ongoing, joyous recognition. Nothing serious, seriously. And that this is what is contributing to every breath of our precious Gaia Earth as she creates and recreates herself. It was emphasized how important I was, and that my contribution needed to be my unique contribution and was very valued. And that to the extent that I raised my energy that way, through reveling in pleasure, laughing and delighting, that I (my energy) would break through and merge with the collective energy and contribute.

The best contribution is unbridled joy and experiencing true pleasure. It was demonstrated that even a dog pooping spontaneously is a great example of pure unadulterated joy and valued. So no judging on what is an important contribution or not.

“Be very still and drink it in. Because that is what matters.”

At one point, I was simply drinking it all in, the beauty, the vibrancy, and truly reveling in it. I loved being in nature, simply being quiet, simply enjoying it. I can do THIS! It’s such a pleasure! In response, I felt San Pedro communicate:

“That was a lesson – Ha! Did it give you pleasure? Yes. Score!”

I guess it’s a good idea to do more of that! And I will! It’s not a waste of time at all. In fact that is EXACTLY the energy that Gaia Earth is able to receive. And it’s delightful for me to contribute it as it is so satisfying to be so fulfilled individually, and at the same time be so connected with the collective consciousness.

Eventually I asked the question about why sometimes I make myself “small” or “big” and heard San Pedro’s question in my head, “Who do you think you are?” I recognized this as my mother’s voice, and realized that my past actions had been in response to that question, when I’d feel belittled and need to make myself “small” in order to survive, when really I was “big.” I heard my new response to that question, “I AM magnificent; I am unblemished; I am unfettered.” And I knew I had let go of that old patterning.

I asked some questions about the health issues and heard, “You know the answers.” I knew that I could trust my instincts and follow the right direction to healing. I was being asked to step up and participate as a fully functioning intuitive and powerful being who could take care of herself, and knew she could trust herself. I felt myself as being shaky or unsteady at times, but still definitely stepping into this power.

I asked about working with various people, in different ventures. And again, I heard the response, “What would give YOU pleasure? Do that!” And I knew the answers, as I questioned myself about each potential partner. It was very clear. I appreciated that very clear direction – what gives you pleasure? And I wasn’t locked in and could change direction as it felt right.

“Courage is being willing to follow your heart.”

I also asked about which plant medicines to work with, how often, and with whom? The reply was, “You really don’t need any more right now. You’ve got so much connection already. Practice. Use it. Bring it into play.” It was emphasized that I could make those decisions in the future, when I felt the calling. I felt really good that not only did I now have the information and communication needed from Mother Ayahuasca, Grandfather San Pedro and Kambô, but at this point I was in an excellent place to integrate effectively those messages into real life actions. I didn't feel locked out of future experiences and right now the emphasis will be different for me.

There was such a gentleness and kindness to his message, “Come visit but no need. I’m always with you.”

I asked some questions about my desire to help people integrate their plant medicine experiences into their life. Would he share his insights please. I heard clearly, “No, I want to hear YOUR insights.” So I went through a few ideas, and he responded, “Sounds good. Start.”

I heard his emphasis that I was important, that my contributions were very important, and that it wasn’t always about me listening to his directions, his instructions, his insights. That I had the ability and even the responsibility to contribute myself in my unique way.

In fact, when we are full of ourselves, we are contributing much needed resources to the world, to Gaia Earth. So what are my unique and special contributions and ideas?

“You have been given so much. Use it.”
“Be nice. Be aware. Slow down.”
“What gives you pleasure? Do that. That is what contributes to Gaia Earth the most.”
“I am enough.”

He reassured me that, “It makes no difference who you reach, that it’s all about energy and the energy you bring to your moments. It’s important to be thoroughly self-full, self-loving, self-appreciating, and reveling in what pleasures you, as only then are you a part of the breath of Gaia Earth – and each breath is a new birth. We need you – you are important!”

“I am part of the breath of Gaia – each breath is a new birth.”


“That’s being close to Grandfather San Pedro.”
“That’s how you commune with me.”
“You already do.”

“Stay childlike, even childish.”
“It’s all such innocent fun-loving play.”
“Laugh, love, play, delight.”

I noticed that I couldn’t wear anything that day but PINK. It is important to wear colors, hot, vibrant, rich colors, no drab for me. Shine in colors! Celebrate!

I wrote down different aspects of who I am.
I’m so magnificent, it’s wonderful.
I’m powerful.
I’m insightful.
I’m caring.
I’m loving.
I’m full of heart. I AM heart.
I’m INTUITIVE – very! 
(This is apparently a big one as I put a box around it and an arrow pointing to it.)

“It’s all energy.”
“Put your good energy in the activity and it helps Gaia.”
“There is no need for outward activities. Energy is key.”
“What energy do you put in your thoughts and actions? That’s what counts.”
“When we are full of ourselves, we are contributing much needed resources to the world.”
“It makes no difference who your efforts reach; it’s all energy and that’s what counts.”
“I am enough. I get to do whatever gives me pleasure. That is enough.”

Throughout the day, and ever since then, my hands especially are fizzing, buzzing with energy, and feel totally electrified.

Throughout the day, I felt like I was being given a course in manifestation – how to manifest effectively, and what might not work as well. The key was to focus single-heartedly, coming from my heart and love on what was desired. For example, don’t try to un-create something that is unpleasant by sending it light – that might work eventually but is rather inefficient; instead focus on what you truly wish to have instead. It’s like in the Matrix movie, where they talk about bending the spoon – the key is to realize there is no spoon. So you aren't putting the focus on the spoon.

Another example was don’t try to correct a physical health problem, since the focus on the problem encourages the persistent ongoing reality of that problem. Instead focus on the experience of excellent health and better yet, focus on something totally different that takes your mind off of the problem or anything remotely reminiscent of that problem.

And if we are trying to resolve a water shortage problem, concentrate of celebrating the abundance of water, rather than the contracting energy of having to conserve every drop and revering that action. Let’s manifest abundance, not conservation. Of course, this is not about creating the energy of wasting water either. Again, it’s a fine line – where is your energy, what is your focus?

What we resist persists. So eliminate the resistance by allowing and reveling in abundance, joy and goodness. We create that upon which we focus.

Now I do get that this can be a challenge since there is such a fine line in differing energies, focuses, and intentions, yet the insights provided in how to effectively manifest were extraordinarily powerful and San Pedro kept it very simple. The slightest re-focus, and re-adjustment can be powerful and effective. So stay conscious of where/what the energy truly is!

The energy – enthusiasm, delight, pleasure and love that we bring to our thoughts and actions is key and that is all that is important. And the right focus is essential. We don’t even have to worry about who will benefit; just focus on the purest and best intentions, know that the energy produced is working in wondrous ways, and allow the magic which is truly what is “normal” to unfold.

In the afternoon, I continued to be as quiet as possible. At times, my eyes were closed. At other times, my eyes and ears were open to the magnificent expressions of nature. And nature was performing indeed!

I witnessed the buzzard hawks squawking, circling, and soaring; sometimes a baby was following the mama/papa, copying their flight path with minute adjustments of their wing tips. Magnificent white egrets majestically and powerfully swooped across the sky. This was combined with the trees rustling and blowing in the wind. Many birds were singing, each with a different song and cadence. One seemed to be singing, “Three Blind Mice.” The Pacific horneros were chiming with their distinctive icaros, so reminiscent of what is sung in Ayahuasca ceremonies. One brilliant red bird continuously perched on a ridge pole and left momentarily, immediately coming back, taking great delight in his constant coming and going. The bullfrogs, cows and sheep also contributed melodiously. Even the joy of teenagers roaring by on their scooter blended harmoniously. There were bass elements to the nature sounds; there were treble elements chiming in and everything in between. Perfection in delicious chaos and varying cadences!

The purple / pink / blues / whites of the sky, along with the changing shadows, colors and textures of the mountains and clouds were gorgeous. The changing patterns of the wispy and puffy clouds were in each moment perfect, and in each moment fresh and new. The green foliage swayed in free-form dances buffeted by the gentle breezes and wind gusts.

For one to two hours, the only thing I did was thrill with delight with this ongoing nature symphony and I reveled in every moment. It felt like one of my favorite Tchaikovsky symphony masterpieces where the genius composer had imaginatively set it up so all the orchestra instruments were talking back and forth with each other, in true playful form and having a glorious conversation through their music. What a show!

Nature is glorious in and of herself, and on the San Pedro medicine, it is breathtakingly spectacular beyond anything one could describe. I highly recommend this sublime taste of heaven to all.

“Nature is a pleasure symphony of sounds and colors.”
“There is a continuous orgasm of pleasures creating and recreating.”

And I was told by the dear Grandfather that this was no waste of time. Rather my act of delightfully enjoying nature’s symphony was contributing magnificently to Gaia Earth’s breath as she continued to birth each of her creation moments.

Our evening was so pleasant, with a dinner of delicious vegetable soup and enjoyable times with good friends. We were “glitterfied” once again with sparkly white glitter and indulged in some Amor wafers as a special dessert.

We drew Doreen Virtue Archangel cards again that night. I drew 3 cards which are:

Card #1 - Crystal Clear Intentions

 Archangel Michael: “Be clear about what you desire, and focus upon it with unwavering faith.”

Additional Message: “After praying for guidance, be bold enough to admit what you truly desire. Know that you (along with everyone else) deserve the best of everything, in all ways. Prosperity and abundance are God’s wishes for everyone. You stake your claim on your share of the inheritance by forming a clear mental picture of your desires. Allow yourself to imagine that this desire has already manifested, and experience the emotional and physical feelings of your manifested desire.

Don’t worry how the desire will manifest—the infinite creativity of the Creator will bring it to you in very clever ways. Simply follow any inner guidance to take steps to co-create this Divine desire, and allow yourself to receive good as it comes your way.”

Working with Archangel Michael: Michael’s aura is royal blue mixed with tinges of royal purple. When he’s nearby, you may see cobalt-blue sparkles of light. The crystal stone sugalite is aligned with Archangel Michael’s energy. If you wear a sugalite pendant, you may find yourself channeling profound and loving messages from Michael when you speak.

On a personal note, I have included a picture of this beautiful crystal stone sugalite since the colors so resonate with me, and are some of my favorite colors!

Card #2 - Gifts From God

 Archangel Sandalphon: “We angels bring you gifts from your Creator. Open your arms to receive.”

Additional Message: “Heaven is expansive and ever-increasing. One of the ways in which Heaven expands is through giving and sending love continuously. This love is sent your way in many forms, and your only task is to be willing to receive. Right now, the answers to your prayers await your willing receptivity. Open your arms to these gifts! Your Creator wills that you be happy, healthy, secure, and that all your needs will be provided. Release any fears of receiving to me.”

Working with Archangel Sandalphon: One of Sandalphon’s principal roles is to deliver and answer our prayers. Sandalphon says that every prayer is heard and answered (although the answer may come in a different form than we expect). All prayers are of equal importance in Heaven, and there are plenty of angels to help everyone on Earth. Call upon Sandalphon when you need help in allowing yourself to receive.

Card 3 - Clairvoyance

Archangel Raziel: “I’m helping your spiritual sight to awaken fully so you can clearly see Heavenly love.”

Additional Message: “Your clairvoyance may come in different forms: as fleeting mental images in your mind’s eye; as dreams; as recurring sights in the physical world; as auras and energy; or as apparition experiences. All of the facets of clairvoyance are beautiful and varied. Enjoy and trust them. Hold the intention of seeing only love, and that is what you’ll see.”

Working with Archangel Raziel: Raziel’s aura holds all the colors of the rainbow, like a beautiful prism of light. Working with clear quartz crystals magnifies clairvoyance and helps you feel closer to Raziel.

While I could have chosen more cards, I decided to “stop while I was ahead.” These cards were so amazingly positive and powerful. I felt incredibly and beautifully blessed. The best way to manifest is to have Crystal Clear Intentions and then let go. I’d been seeing vivid royal blue and purple star bursts against a black background when I closed my eyes that day, so I loved hearing about the sugalite stone which has the same colors. I felt showered with the promise to receive Gifts from God, and prayed that I would be able to receive them. I had received the Clairvoyance card previously and it was a timely reminder to recognize clairvoyance as one of my gifts / talents. I felt blessed, elevated to a new level of power and awareness of who I really was, and at the same time, humbled as I was still taking in the magnificence of it all. It’s all part of that new programming of, “Who do you think you are?”

The next morning, as we were coming home, I felt like I was still experiencing nature and my environment as though I was in the San Pedro medicine still. Last time, I had felt a letdown and sadness as we traveled home; this time I was joyously reveling in the beauty of it all. My hands continue to vibrate, and at times it’s been even hard to type this. I’m allowing time to process and integrate this, and know that all works well in good time, as I will be guided to the right time and right place and right actions with the right people, naturally.

Addendum: These past two months, my hands have continued to buzz and fizz, especially as I was thinking of ideas, thoughts that were more in the metaphysical, intuitive arenas. At times, it has been quite intense - I have felt there needs to be something supporting this new "energy release" or whatever it is, so I'm taking those steps in working with an energy worker.

Also I feel that I have not left the medicine, nor has the medicine left me. It took at least 3-4 weeks for me to feel mostly "settled" back into "myself" and my life has been colored and imbued with beautiful enhanced experiences as though I was still fully in the medicine. Whether it's simply taking a walk and enjoying nature, or doing an extensive hike to the Ecuadorian Cajas mountains to experience the "magic forest" and visit with an ethereal spirit of an ancient quinoa tree (see my blog post here), or any another "normal" activity, I'm experiencing it all in a completely different way that is precious and beautiful. In some ways, I feel like I have shifted into another world or dimension or time-shift. This feels rather surreal at times, but hey it also feels quite natural being in my new "skin."

I have felt very impelled to work with a holistic doctor team and energy worker to bring my body, mind, spirit into better working order. The cleansing and healing provided by the plant medicines, both emotional and physical, have been amazing, and I have become very aware that I need some expert integration support so that I can repair and prepare my whole being in a complete way. It's a beautiful journey in loving self-care and I'll say more about that in a later post.