One of my recent journeys crossed international lines and took me into the jungle of the Amazon where the heat rises with intention and where the soil grounds your existence. For two weeks, I resided on the edge of the Amazonian rainforest near the banks of the Ucayali River (a major tributary of the Amazon River). I went with spiritual objectives and pursuits of internal mending and ascension after experiencing a cycle in my life that reared shadows in and around me that I felt needed to find the light of recognition and release. I desired to assimilate with my power instead of my insecurities and other issues with trust. I received an experience that denoted answers to my deepest queries with attentiveness to my most passionate desires.
let's say you won the race and the prize
there was another race you didn't savor the wine of victory but your own salt you never listened to hurrahs but dog barks and your shadow your own shadow was your only and disloyal competitor
Blanca Varela (Peruvian Poet)
(translated from spanish by Ilan Stavans)
Pachamama's Temple + the Shipibo Tribe
Upon arriving to the temple, we immediately got acquainted with each other and the maestros. My group, that I grew to love deeply, was an intimate circle of about 8 people from all over the world such as Russia, the United Kingdom, The Netherlands and some parts of the US such as Mississippi and San Diego just to name a few.
Our first group excursion involved preparing the vine for the first ayahuasca ceremony. Ayahuasca is an entheogenic brew made out of Banisteriopsis caapi vine and other ingredients. The brew is used as a traditional spiritual medicine in ceremonies among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin and is known by a number of different names. The indigenous tribe that I communed and practiced with was the Shipibo tribe. The Shipibo-Conibo are an indigenous people along the Amazon rainforest in Perú. Formerly two groups, the Shipibo (apemen) and the Conibo (fishmen), they eventually became one distinct tribe through communal ritual and are currently known as the Shipibo-Conibo people.
(Banisteriopsis caapi vine we prepared and broke down with mallets for the brew)
(Aya brew pot)
Every morning, there was a full itinerary of classes and traditional/ceremonial rituals between our meals. One of the rituals involved the consumption of indigenous plant blends. Mama Rosa would have our flower baths and plant medications ready in the morning like clock work. We would drink the herbal brews that were intended to open the mind and heart.
I felt her. Mama Rosa. She would put her heart & soul into the herbal blends she prepared for us. The blends encouraged the loosening of my grip and the softening of my mind. I felt welcomed and greeted with patience, understanding and supportive love.
(plant medications: mariko+ tantiro)
I didn't want to come to Peru empty handed so I brought some essential oils with palo santo wood to encourage grounding and uplifting energies. Sandalwood and Douglas Fir worked beautifully in conjunction with ceremony. These plants grounded me and soothed me. They weren't a necessity but a nice addition and I kept it very simple.
One thing this experience introduced me to was a deeper importance of making self care ritualistic and sacred. Instead of mindlessly dabbing a few drops onto my forearms or forehead; I brought notice to the energetic properties of the plant extracts while placing them onto my body and charged them with my intention while doing so. It makes a hell of a difference and opens up the chemistry to much more ability, in my opinion.
If you're interested in perusing the selection of essential oils and other holistic products available, click here.
The flower baths were very special to me because they involved intimacy in maternal love and purifying grace; something my depths seemed to crave. And they were pleased.
Video caption reads:
" Good A.M - We were just given a traditional flower bath with mother maestro.
There are petals in my hair and I feel loved. Hope you're all enjoying your day "
- an är note
I was being neutralized and purified in love. I was stripped down and emerging raw in my divine femininity.
Plant s p i r i t s
We had a total of 7 ceremonies. The first night of ceremony was more of an auditory experience as the shamans engaged the plant medication, ayahuasca, and performed the icaros as we observed in the black of the night. This is where I was introduced to the healing potential and power of the icaro. Icaro's are "songs of the plants". Take a listen below:
The icaros work in combination and cooperation with ayahausca to purge negative energies as well as fill the body with plant medicine. The icaros given over the duration of a workshop become like allies, working closely with each participant for a much longer period of time in order to bring about gradual transformation. They can be considered the “seeds of change” that are sown into the system of each participant at the Temple, which then grow into trees over time. They support us, lay down roots, and branch our lives outward to unify and connect us to the sacredness of all life.
Traditionally, sound has been used for healing in many cultures. Throughout the indigenous tribes of South America, plant songs are an integral part of the healing process. The Onanya explain that all plants have their own songs and these songs, the icaros, are taught to the healer during dietas – extended periods of time in isolation adhering to strict dietary conditions designed to receive the healing energy and teachings of the plants. Each different master/teacher plant possesses songs that are given to the apprentice. The apprentice carries out numerous dietas while in training, typically for a minimum of four years and then continuing to diet plants throughout their life as an Onanya.
-Temple of the Way of Light
As an artist and musician, I have never met with the core presence of music + sound in the way I did engaging the icaros. They were potent and brought my consciousness to worlds majestic and unknown. The icaros led and guided my journey with the plant medicine. They purged me and brought forth the maternal consciousness of ayahuasca. She is direct, loving and primal. There were points where I felt her conscious spirit cradle my entire existence, embracing me; imploring that I release the necessity for control.
Much of my journey the first few ceremonies revealed the need I had for control and how it has gone against the current and flow that the universe encourages for my highest and greatest good. It's a stream that leads to abundance, peace and every wish, dream and desire come true - and here I was working against it and fighting & blocking it. It's a fight induced by fears, many of which I discovered imbedded in my subconscious mind. She revealed my fears to me by holding them in front of me in their true form; showcasing their petty purposelessness. There they were, just dangling there with no true power on their own. They were as ghouls and ghosts that I conjured up with my own mind with false concepts and ideas. She showed me how they don't truly exist outside of my own mind. And she helped me weaken them in ceremony until they eventually perished.
"Like a snake shedding its old skin, my former self withered away; taken away, by her breeze in the wind." - thank you, Mother Aya
Photo by Willie Burton (IG: @williesees)
Ceremony grounds: The Maloca
(The Maloca. This is where we held the Aya ceremonies. These photos and videos do not capture the true presence but you'll get an idea.)
I look up in the maloca one night and I am blissful. My body is soar from the fight but my mind is free and consciousness touched by the highest hands. Bliss. This is where I began to open my heart like a flower blooming. And this is where I saw its contents flash before my eyes. I found my purpose here.
"Love is here"
My soul had been freed from tremendous burden. I found power and spiritual guides who came to me in multiple forms. I met with beings that only memory without words can explain. I ascended and stretched myself into multiple realms. And Aya told me, "You're coming back home" as she whisked me away into other worlds. I felt her un-cuffing programmed chains of fear, trauma and destructive ego parts. She showed me my truest essence and I have fallen into the deepest love with myself.