Yet, so many have shared their South American plant medicine experiences on YouTube, on Facebook, and even personally with me, and I am deeply grateful for how they bared their souls, shared their process, and trusted that their sharing would touch just the right people in the right way.
The profound and meaningful nature of my Ayahuasca, San Pedro and Kambô experiences over the last year have changed my mind - if my experiences can inspire and help even one person along their healing path, that is much more important than keeping it all private.
My Three (3) Kambô Experiences – September 27, September 28, September 29, 2016
One of our newer and very dear friends had recently done Kambô, and highly recommended it. I was especially attracted by the claims that it would strengthen the immune system, and help purge toxins both in a physical and emotional way.
From Kambô Spirit of the Shaman:
“But to the native, the main cause for taking Kambô is to fight ‘panema’. ‘panema’ means sadness, lack of luck, irritation: ‘bad aura’ – as someone once well translated. The person is with “panema” when nothing goes right and nothing is good.”
“And that, however difficult it is to the Western thought to accept, is the main purpose of Kambô: it establishes a spiritual ‘management chock’ in the life of people, a ‘chakra realignment’, a mark for organic and psychological reorganization, from which the person changes attitude and change their future patterns of health.”
From Kambô Scientific Research:
“During a treatment, kambô immediately scans a person’s energy field and starts to work exactly where it is needed. The process is different for everyone and the course of treatment should be planned accordingly. I have witnessed some people getting healed in one treatment, especially those with eye or ear problems. For people with addictions, results can also happen fast. Complicated cases may take longer. We may call this frog secretion a medicine, but it doesn’t actually work as a typical medicine nor as a drug. It simply wakes up the body’s organs, endocrine system and defense systems to their natural functions.”
I felt immediately “called” to Kambô. Unequivocally, without hesitation, with total clarity, I knew Kambô would be right for me. Also I was thrilled, during the same trip, to have the opportunity to experience San Pedro again, in a different ceremony style. My husband, Michael also wanted to experience Kambô and San Pedro, so we booked our ceremonies and arranged our lodging and travel. Each Kambô ceremony was $30 per person.
We currently live in Cuenca, Ecuador, so getting to Vilcabamba would be relatively easy. We took the van from a Cuenca hosteria to the Vilcabamba Izhcayluma hosteria. Before leaving, Michael enjoyed a bite to eat – the bill came to $5.55. It’s an auspicious sign that your guardian angels are communicating with you when you see repeating number. These were numbers that would repeat through our week-long trip of Kambô and San Pedro.
After getting back home, I looked up the meaning of 555 repeating numbers, and it signifies change, a time of preparation, and a new wave of energy.
Spiritual Meaning of 555
http://www.intuitivejournal.com/spiritual-meaning-of-555/“The energy of 555 sweeps and flows like the tides of the universe. It is the ever constant change that prepares us for the next new thing. You are seeing the repeating number 555 as a way to remember what you were put on this earth to do. You are all healers of one type or another. You are needed to usher in the new wave of energies. Seeing 555 is point of remembrance of this change.
When you are vibrationally aligned with this change, you will see 555.”
It was a beautiful 4 hour and 44 minute drive, (there’s the repeating numbers again: 4:44) through gorgeous mountain scenery, passing through Loja, and many rainbows. And the beautiful birds! Especially I appreciated the “icaro” sounds from one bird – so that’s where the shamans get their icaros or ceremonial songs from!
We both decided to do three Kambô treatments, on three consecutive days. It’s highly recommended that you complete your Kambô sessions within one lunar cycle. We arrived each day about 7am and completed the formal ceremony on most days by about 10am or 10:30am. Preparation required fasting for the previous 12 hours. We brought 6 liters of water with us, but it turned out that we needed 6 liters EACH (for both Michael and myself), so the very clean and healthy river water was provided as well by the shaman.
I had written out my intentions, which included a desire to heal from various medical conditions – balancing and healing my thyroid, healing a persistent cough that I’d had for the last 3 months, clearing up a skin condition, and dissolving the remaining “panema” and emotional distresses from my past so that I could seize life with even more joy and purpose.
Please note that these are MY experiences and everyone will have their own unique experience. Michael had a very different experience (see his blog post here), and our experiences were exactly what we needed and were tailor-made to each of us, as it will be for every person.
We chose a shaman who provides both Kambô and Ayahuasca ceremonies. He’d just completed an Ayahuasca ceremony on the first day we arrived, and we met the participants and got to chat with them briefly. Immediately I was comfortable with the shaman – he expressed so much love, compassion and kindness! And calm competence and confidence! Michael talked with him about his previous Ayahuasca experiences which had been rather traumatic and puzzling and received many answers, for which he (and I) were enormously grateful. (You can read about his Ayahuasca (4 posts), Kambô (1 post) and San Pedro (TBD) experiences on his blog.)
Two other women were also going to participate in that first Kambô ceremony. We walked over to the teepee area where the ceremony would be taking place. Inside the teepee, the shaman shared information about Kambô and explained the process, and we began drinking water – we were to have finished at least 1 liter before he applied the Kambô medicine.
Michael went first. I went second. I wore my sports bra and an easy-to-remove top. I decided to have the Kambô applied on the top of my left arm, so I pulled my arm out of the sleeve. He cleaned the area. For my first session, he recommended 4 “dots” or “points” (I chose the large versus small point size). The shaman took an incense-like stick, put it in a candle flame, blew it out and blew until a hot ember formed. As I took a breath, he burned a spot on my arm. This was repeated until 4 points were burned in. He cleaned the area again, and then applied the sticky, waxy-looking Kambô from a stick.
Immediately I could feel a burning sensation. I took a mat and my water outside, and prepared for the upcoming purge. And continued to drink, drink, drink the water provided. I noticed myself getting a bit warm, but not very much. I positioned myself on my hands and knees. Almost without warning I purged, similar to projectile vomiting, a huge volume of liquid into the grassy area in front of me. Again, and again, huge volumes of liquid were expelled. I kept drinking and for the next 40-60 minutes or more, it’s hard to tell just how long it was, there were repeated sessions of purging. Mostly it was clear water at first, but as things progressed, I could see a light green tinge to the liquid, then a distinctly yellow tinge. I believe this means that toxins are being released from the liver and gall bladder. Also, I had uncontrolled urges to go to the bathroom and experienced massive diarrhea during each of the purges.
The purging action was much easier than what I experienced with Ayahuasca. It comes on quickly, and is very automatic and reflexive in nature, without as much emotional content. With Ayahuasca, it felt like “emotional” toxins were being expelled and I could feel the emotion being felt within, sometimes struggled with and then purged out; with Kambô, it felt like “physical” toxins were pouring out. At least, that’s how it felt to me in this first ceremony.
The shaman supported our ceremony by singing a Kambô song, and coming to each of us, and brushing bunches of leaves over us. He also watched over us, and kept filling up our water containers and encouraging us to drink.
I kept drinking, and there were more sets of purges. Finally the process stopped, and the shaman came back, cleaned off my arm and applied the “sangré de drago” or “dragon’s blood” to the points to prevent any infection and speed healing. We gathered again in the teepee. At this time, the shaman offered either liquid tobacco or Rapé. Michael took the liquid tobacco, and I declined. When he closed the ceremony, we rested some, and then walked back to his house and chatted more about our experiences.
We walked to Izhcayluma hosteria along the river walk, picking our way carefully along the dry and wet river stones. What fun! It took about 10-15 minutes, about the same amount of time that a taxi ride would take. And went to eat something light, very light – fruit juice mostly. And then promptly fell asleep for about 2 ½ hours. We ate a light vegetarian dinner that evening, and went to bed early, still processing and recovering.
On the second day, it was just the two of us doing the Kambô. And for both of us, we received 6 points (large size) on the same arm. From the start, I was finding it difficult to drink that second day, although I tried drinking as much as possible. I think my throat may have been slightly swollen, and I’d noticed it was slightly sore.
After the Kambô was applied, I took my mat outside, and kept drinking, although I was finding it increasingly harder and harder to do so. I also felt enormously weak, and could barely lift the container of water. All I wanted was to lie down and do nothing. I felt like I was indulging this weakness and I didn’t want to indulge in it, but at the same time I was feeling an insistent and relentless urge to give in and give up.
In this second ceremony, there seemed to be an additional emotional content to finding it hard to drink. I resented being told what to do, perhaps even being told to drink more water than I was comfortable with. I found myself getting angry at the shaman, even jealous of and angry with Michael, who was drinking twice the water required, and being a real trouper about it. The shaman even said Michael was a “great example.” All of which simply grated on me. I felt very infantile and childish, and terribly weak. And very annoyed and angry.
On some level, I knew this was the medicine working in a good way and bringing up “stuff” to be released, but it was very challenging to realize that in the moment when I was overwhelmed with the weakness, lethargy, and overwhelm. It felt like I was having a negative reaction to the medicine, that it was too much for me, that I was reacting badly to it, rather than it working on my behalf. It’s like when a drowning person is being rescued and they fight the rescue; you should know that you are being helped and allow that help however on a primal level, all you know is that you are drowning and you fight frantically rather than recognize and accept the assistance. It was also like being drugged or hypnotized and being told to ‘sleep, sleep, nothing to see here now, sleep.’
I tried encouraging myself by cheering myself on. I spoke aloud to myself, but it came out in a very negative, condemning way. “Come on, Deb. Don’t be a baby. You can do this. Just do it! Drink, come on, drink!” And other words like that – I wasn’t very nice to me, and tried to rally myself but I just sounded mean. And I was so angry at myself too – I didn’t want to waste the opportunity, yet I was so weak. I tried picking up the water container, but often just had to put it down as it was too heavy for me. I tried drinking, but it was hard to gulp and swallow the water, as I felt like I was drowning in the water with each swallow. My fists were clenched and at times I was almost hitting or slapping myself in frustration. My hands were also shaking quite a lot – I knew that meant energy was being released, so at least I was able to allow and welcome that.
Imagine the worst flu or sickness ever, where you can’t lift and finger or even lift your head to sip water, and you are simply exhausted with no will to rally to take care of yourself in even the simplest ways. In that state, if there’d been a fire in the house, you literally couldn’t have responded to save yourself. That was a shadow of how I was feeling now.
I so resented when the shaman reminded me to continue drinking, and he filled my container AGAIN and then AGAIN with water, and then asked me if I wanted to feel better, and to drink so I could purge and feel better. I was in such a lethargic state that I really didn’t want to feel better, I wanted to give up, and it took every ounce of my strength to pick up the water, then to force myself to drink more and continue the process. I continued to feel that I was drowning with every sip and gulp. Oh, was I feeling it fully! What a battle I was having with myself.
The shaman was being as supportive as he could, with my situation. I was resisting his offered assistance, at every point. Perhaps, it is better explained that I was unable to accept and integrate his directions into my experience. At one time, the shaman said that the word, “laziness” had come to him, regarding me. That made me even angrier, as I am not a lazy person. Not one person in the world would say that I am lazy – oh, shaman you are so wrong! How am I being lazy, when I’m so weak, so sick, and so unable to rise to the occasion in drinking that needed water. Is that “lazy” – no! I’m not lazy, can’t you simply help me when I need it and can’t help myself? Why are you asking me to do all this drinking when I can’t, why can’t you help me through when I’m so tapped out, so destitute of energy, so powerless? Other people get help when they are weak and can’t help themselves. But not me – this is so like when I was a child that was rewarded for her over-the-top competence and giving, but made to feel so guilty and abandoned when she was sick or couldn’t rise to yet another occasion. So unfair! Others get help, why not me, me, ME?
Lazy? Me? Really? That just made me angrier, upset that I was being asked to do more than I felt I was capable of, and felt trapped because it was vital that I drink enough to purge the toxins rather than keep them inside and suffer the horrendous discomfort building up. I tried lying down but barely started reclining on my side and realized that it was making it 10 times worse. So I couldn’t just rest. I had to rally, but I couldn’t. I was really pissed as I realized that I was in the experience for the duration and needed to help myself through it somehow. I was being very childish, even throwing a tantrum, and finding it hard to summon the will and strength to continue the process. How do you ask that of a 2-year old?
So I kept on; not happy about it; struggling the whole way (that water container was VERY heavy), and drinking as much as I could manage. And as soon as I emptied the container, the shaman refilled it again, and AGAIN! How did he know I’d just taken the last sip! Grrrr… I believe that I did drink quite a bit, perhaps as much if not more than the previous day. And I experienced several powerful sets of purges, including the diarrhea every single time. Perhaps even more than the day before – I lost count at some point but I know there were as many sets of purges as previously, and they were quite intense.
I felt so bad that I wasn’t able to follow the shaman’s directions cheerfully and felt so angry at him, even though I knew it wasn’t really him with whom I was angry. I felt guilty too, as I felt he shouldn’t have to take the brunt of my frustrations with my inabilities to manage myself and my immature reactions. Even those emotions were similar to when I got sick as a child, and needed my mother’s help, but her response was, “Not you too…”, and that loving care was not forthcoming, as she was overwhelmed with taking care of the other children. So I felt abandoned then, at times even guilty for getting sick (if I’d been a ‘good girl’, I wouldn’t have gotten sick), yet I didn’t want to add to my mother’s burdens by adding myself to her load of responsibility. So I often masked how sick I was, how much I needed someone to help me and attempted to take care of myself in the best way I knew. All I needed from her was to write that note to the school excusing my absence, because I couldn’t do that.
It’s interesting how the healing of this emotional pain comes in stages. Many years ago, literally days after getting married to Michael, I got sick with the worst flu ever in my life. I couldn’t get out of bed, needed help to lift my head to drink water. Physically and figuratively, I couldn’t even lift a finger to help myself. Michael was there for me, taking care of me when I desperately needed it, not being repulsed, not providing perfunctory care but truly loving, gentle and sweet care. It was the first time I’d been cared for that way, and I felt myself letting go and allowing him to take care of me, without second-guessing how he was helping me, without micro-managing it, and without attempting to rally to help myself (even though I would have probably failed at the attempt.) I felt cocooned in the sweetest unconditional love.
The shaman was truly trying to help but I found it difficult to accept his help. At one point he asked me, “Would you like me to drink the water, and purge for you?” Which caused me to laugh. That was good. He also took my hands, and pulled on each one of the fingers, which I figured was helping the energy to release.
Finally we reached the end of this grueling Kambô session. I decided to do the Rapé as did Michael. This is a powdered substance that is blown into each of your two nostrils.
From “What is Rapé”
“The intense blow immediately focuses the mind, stops the chattering, and opens the entire freed mindspace for your intentions. Furthermore, Rapé helps releasing emotional, physical, and spiritual illnesses and eases negativity and confusion, enabling a thorough grounding of your mind. Likewise, shamans use Rapé to re-align with their energy channels and with their higher self, and to intensify their connection with the world and the universe. In addition, Rapé paves the way for detoxifying the body and cleans out all excess mucus, toxins, and bacteria, thereby, assisting in fighting colds and snuffles. Moreover, Rapé stimulates the mind with its nicotinic content that in turn releases a.o. epinephrine, acetylcholine, and dopamine (Wolk et al. 2005, Cryer 1976), supporting an increased focus, presence, and intuition. Interestingly, their are many rumours that Rapé could decalcify the pineal gland (1), which is involved in melatonin secretion, circadian time perception, and drug metabolism. Furthermore, calcification of the pineal gland has been associated with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, and fluoride exposure (Luke 1997; Luke 2001), which further stresses the importance of a healthy pineal gland.”
The shaman used double-ended bamboo-like tube bent at 90 degree angle in the middle. He put the Rapé in one end, and then would blow it out the other end into my nose. He counseled me to take a breath, hold it, and when he blew the Rapé in through one nostril, to breathe out through my nose. There was an immediate stinging sensation that felt like tiny brilliant star-points exploding in my head. I regained my composure quickly, and we repeated the application on the other side. Then the shaman brushed his hands down over my head and shoulders, and snapped his fingers several times.
Holy shiz! The Rapé came on very strong, and knowing Michael’s experience from the other day, I went back outside to my mat, in case I felt the urge to purge. Very quickly, I experienced a huge purge of copious quantities of water, even though I couldn’t believe there was that much water still left in me. I became very dizzy and weak again. Really out of it. Initially this was very disconcerting to me, after what I’d just experienced with the Kambô but I knew the Rapé was doing its work well, and I concentrated on breathing and resting and simply allowing. At least I didn’t have to drink more water.
After awhile, I went back into the teepee, and tried to rest more, but I realized that I wasn’t recovering quickly and I wanted to simply go back to the hosteria and rest there without interruption. We decided to take the taxi to Izhcayluma as I knew I could barely walk much less navigate the river rocks. Michael was a great help in steadying me as we made it back. Even the taxi driver seemed a bit concerned and asked if I was OK. I must have looked really out of it, and quite wiped out. The Izhcayluma kitchen wasn’t open, so we couldn’t eat as recommended, and I really didn’t want to eat. We decided to not wait another 30 minutes for it to open. I needed sleep NOW – we both did. We went to bed for another 2 ½ to 3 hours.
My sleep was very unusual. I was aware of everything going on around me, yet it felt like my body was asleep. I could hear the birds with their precious “icaro” songs, hear the breezes, hear Michael get up, hear neighboring guests talk and open/close doors, and even hear myself breathing and snoring. I believe this was an effect of the Rapé where my awareness was completely conscious, but my body was resting and asleep. After this long rest, I did feel amazingly refreshed and myself again.
That evening, I wrote out my intentions for the next Kambô ceremony, as I was quite concerned that I wouldn’t be able to manage it well. I was tempted to cancel my ceremony, and simply accompany Michael, but inside I always knew that I would do that last ceremony. So I wrote out:
“I love and cherish myself. I respect our shaman as leader and teacher and shaman – he knows Kambô well and knows how to direct me well. I will follow his directions. I have the inner strength to do so. My little child is scared and even angry at being told what to do but I choose to step into me as adult and the adult is the one running the show. I will love her and cuddle her in my heart and even let her sleep during the session, however I will drink lots of water with ease and I will have effective purges and healing. This is what I came for – to cleanse, revitalize and heal liver, kidney, gall bladder, thyroid, cough, menopause issues, tiredness and to get my vim and verve to move forward. I have great love and support back of me and I easily and gratefully accept their guidance and help.”
We had a nice vegetarian dinner again, and enjoyed viewing the brilliant stars down at the pool before retiring again, rather early. Sleep was SO restorative, and so necessary. We knew the Kambô was still working within us, so we took care of ourselves by drinking and staying hydrated, eating well, resting and sleeping as much as we could. The hammock was a lovely treat!
On the third day, as per the shaman’s recommendation, I took the same amount of Kambô which was 6 points and Michael moved up to 8 points. I was tempted to feel “less than” at this decision, but recognized it as old undesirable self-talk, and trusted his recommendation. He didn’t want me to overdo it, and wanted me to be safe.
One of the women from the first day came back, and she brought her 14-year old son with her. I was impressed that he’d done both Ayahuasca and Kambô before, with his mother’s support and encouragement for this physical and emotional health and well-being. He seemed remarkably mature and self-aware and willing to do the “work” involved. Working with the South American plant medicines and other medicines seemed to be a normal and accepted process for them, yet it still takes a commitment and willingness.
I was still concerned how to work with the Kambô effectively, and talked with the shaman about it. He explained more about what he meant about “laziness.” It wasn’t that I was lazy in taking care of others; in fact I would do anything and everything for others. I was “lazy” when it came to taking care of myself. Ah, that rang a bell. I’ve had such challenges in being able to simply take time for myself, treat myself kindly, and even care for myself in a loving, compassionate way. Instead I would drive myself hard, overextend myself, burn myself out, and even refuse to take much needed rest, even when both Mother Ayahuasca and Grandfather San Pedro had previously insisted that I take time every day to simply breathe and drink in the love.
The shaman and I talked further, and he encouraged me to take my power back, to pull on my inner strength to do this upcoming Kambô session, because this was truly doing something magnificent and wonderful and essential for myself. Do this for me – don’t be lazy when it comes to caring for me. Doing Kambô is healing me. So don’t shirk from the opportunity to truly care for myself.
I asked if he would simply cheer me on today, but he declined! The shaman took a tough love stance and said he would not remind me to drink water today; he would not be cheering me on; he would simply fill my bucket and I would pull on my inner strength which was there, and I would CHOOSE to drink or not. Well, OK then! Onward!
This third ceremony was initially hard but I did it. My self-talk changed. When I found it difficult to take big gulps of water, I sipped slowly, and if I had to I used the two straws I brought. (The shaman was rather amused that I had brought the straws. I had tried to figure out how to get the water in me no matter what, and had thought that might be a good strategy.) And after sipping some, I would go back to drinking more quickly, coaching myself to do so but respecting when I couldn’t and encouraging myself to rise to the occasion to get all that water down in good time. I felt extremely weak again, but I managed it differently. I simply told myself that this was essential for me and that of course I could summon the strength to care for myself. I was worth it. I was doing something wonderful for myself, and I had the will and inner strength to complete it in good order. In my mind’s eye, I did put my little girl to bed, and told her that I would be handling this and for her to simply sleep through it.
At the start, I did ask for assistance in getting to the jungle toilet as I felt very unsteady on my feet and the diarrhea was coming on again. But I made my way back to my mat on my own. I noticed that this third ceremony only, I got extremely hot, and my arms and hands turned bright red. I experienced many sets of purges, and felt victorious. This last session wasn’t as intense physically or emotionally even though I was definitely purging as much as before, and I knew that more toxins were being purged from me both physically and emotionally. I probably could have pushed the experience even more and drank even beyond my newly and massively expanded comfort level, but it felt right to encourage myself to the level that I did, and not overdo and push myself to unreasonable levels which would have been more hurtful than helpful. I hope that makes sense – I experienced a wonderful breakthrough, but also didn’t milk that breakthrough to pie-in-the-sky levels just to match what Michael was doing, or to assuage any remaining guilt that I wasn’t doing it good enough.
After awhile, probably 30-40 perhaps 60 minutes (again it’s hard to tell exactly how long as time is very fluid and hard to measure while experiencing this medicine), I felt really good, amazingly good. It was as though I’d come through the vicious storm and out the other side to peace, joy and quiet. This was a first with my Kambô ceremonies, to experience this release and sense of peaceful completeness. I asked the shaman if I needed to drink more or was I done. He said I’d done really good work on the other two days as well as today, and if it felt like nothing more needed to be released, then it was OK to stop. I checked within, and confirmed that I was complete with my last Kambô session, and dang was I feeling good! And so grateful!
I chose to do the Rapé again. This second experience was not as blindingly intense, and there was only a small purge. It was as though instead of expelling as much, that instead I was receiving and anchoring in the good feelings and taking in the beauty, the stillness and dynamics of the precious nature all around me, and oh so much love.
At the end, as we were leaving, the 14-year old boy said to us in Spanish and English that he respected us very much for doing what we had done. So sweet! We returned his sincere compliment with great appreciation for his process. I so love the Ecuadorian culture that respects and allows the South American plant and other indigenous medicines to be used by all people. What a good mother he has that has encouraged this healing modality for both him and her. And his maturity and presence of mind for taking on the Kambô experience. There were heartfelt and loving hugs all around as we said good-bye.
I felt good enough to walk in town with Michael, rather than take the taxi back to Izhcayluma. We both were feeling pretty good and energized. We’d done excellent work!
We explored the Vilcabamba town center some, and enjoyed a light lunch of green salad and veggies, and coconut water right out of the coconut. They gave us the coconut meat afterwards. One of the coconuts was very young and had a very soft coconut jelly; the other coconut was firmer and they cut it up and gave us the coconut meat to take with us. Such a treat!
We took a taxi back to Izhcayluma and enjoyed our afternoon and evening. It felt great to eat a little bit more, and our dinners tasted great!
Then to bed, and off to San Pedro in the morning.