A video narration of my spiritual journey with sacred plant medicines.
In october of 2015, my life started to fall apart. I was under tremendous stress. Struggling to keep my self financially afloat while pushing hard to get my new startup business off the ground, I was exhausted. I was dealing with roommate drama, romantic complications and financially struggles. Then suddenly, our landlord decided to sell the house I had comfortably lived in for almost 5 years. We had a month to get out. It was the worst timing possible. I had hit an all time financial low, and was utilizing a lot of the space in the house as an office and storage facility for my inventory. I felt like everything was falling apart. After a series of bizarre experiences, I decided that for some important reason, I needed to take a trip to Ecuador and participate in an intensive retreat consuming sacred hallunicogenic plant medicines almost daily for several weeks.
January 5th, 2016, I took off to Ecuador and began what would be one of the most profound adventures of my life. I documented my experience in videojournals and have posted them to share with those interested in following me on my spiritual journey with the jungle medicine.
Here is the initial video I posted explaining the strangley compelling signs that led me to embark on this journey.
Pre-Trip Video: Journey to Ecuador. Because the Plants Told me So.
I arrive in Quito, Ecuador’s capital. I stay there for a couple of days exploring the city. I went mountain biking around Antisana, a reserve at the base of one of Ecuador’s many volcanoes. A few days in, I fly to Loja and meet up with my new family of strangers that I will be with every waking moment for the next 17 days. We take a truck 1.5 hrs up a mountain and arrive at a beautiful home nestled in a unique microclimate environment of mountainous jungle. For the next 17 days, I would participate in traditional ceremonies almost every night, consuming sacred plant medicines such as Natem (ayahuasca), San Pedro, Tobacco, Natemamu, among other medicinal plants.
The first video is after the first 2 nights of Natem (ayahuasca) ceremonies. It shares my experience with purging unexpected residual pain and trauma around men and relationships, performing healing work on loved ones, and having a conversation with my unruly microbiome that has been contributing to autoimmune symptoms in my body.
Video 1: Natem, Healing Others and Conversations with my Microbiome.
After 2 consecutive nights of ayahuasca (Natem) we did a waterfall ritual the next night followed by a tobacco ceremony.
Video 2: Waterfall Ritual and Tobacco Tea Ceremony.
The next night after the Tobacco ceremony, we participated in 2 consequetive nights of Natemamu ceremonies. Natemamu is unique to the shuar tradition and is the bulk consumption of a brew that consists of only the ayahuasca vine, not cachruna or any other DMT containing plants. The ayahuasca vine is the one that contains the harmala alkaloids that act as MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors). Normally combined with a DMT containing plant, the enzyme inhibitors block the degradation of DMT and other neurotransmitters (such as endogenous serotonin and other tryptamines)
As opposed to the regular Natem (ayahuasca+DMT) ceremonies where you drink a small shot glass of a thick, syrupy condensed plant brew, in Natemamu, you drink liters and liters and liters of a less concentrated brew of the vine. Everyone lines up on the egde of the jungle in their spot. Everyone has a bowl that holds about 1/2 a liter. There are 5-6 helpers who’s only job is to keep filling your bowl with the brew and encourage you to keep binge drinking, no matter how uncomfortable it becomes. You alternate vomiting into the jungle and guzzling more of the brew. You get progressivly more altered as the drinking goes on. It gets harder and harder to make your self drink. The helpers yell “mate mate mate!” which is the Shuar word for drink. Eventually your visual field becomes distorted. You see sound waves reverterating across the plants of the jungle. Your gut is bursting full of liquid, despite the 40 times or so you have vomited at this point. Your hands that are holding your bowl start to violently shake as you force your self to continue drinking.
Eventually you get to a point where you can no longer stand. Then one of the helper brings you a chair, and promptly fills your bowl and tells you to keep on guzzling. This goes on for about 45 minutes. the drinking is not finished until the 4 large couldrons (holding about 20 gallons each) are completely empty. There are about 25 people participating in the drinking. Once the vats are empty, the drinking part is finished. A singing bowl goes off. By the end of it, everyone has drank somewhere between 5-20 liters of liquid. The helpers assist us as we all stagger like drunk pirates to our beds and allow our selves to experience the psychoactive effects for the next 5 hours. We do this 2 nights in a row.
Video 3: Natemamu-The Shuar Frat Party.
After the 2 back-to-back nights of Natemamu, we get one night of rest (THANK GOD). We then resume the retreat and do 2 more Natem (ayahuasca) ceremonies in the next 2 nights. I am starting to become malnourished, exhausted and very low energy. Despite this, I continue to receive a lot of insight.
Video 4: Suffering of others, Business insights, and connecting to insects.
11 days in, we participate in a San Pedro cactus ceremony, followed by 2 more Natem (ayahuasca) ceremonies. That concludes the 12 day main retreat in Loja. Being on Dieta mens no masterbation, sex or sexual energy. This brings up interesting reflection around sexuality.
Video 5-San Pedro, Sexual Expression and Energy.
The 12 day retreat has ended. Half of the group goes home, and the other half stays for the 6-day after program. I stay for the after program where we travel and stay with 2 different Shuar shamans families and do nightly natem ceremonies. First we hit a town called los encuentros for 2 nights, then to Macas jungle town for 3 nights.
I start to hit a wall health-wise and am very much struggling at this point from sleep-deprivation and malnourishment. I decide to skip the 2nd ceremony of the after program to rest. I feel close to dying for exhaustion at this point. There was some very dark and weird energy happening at the first Shamans place. I am feeling very uncomfortable.
Video 6: Dark Ceremony, The Shuar Village and Deteriorating Health.
The after program ends and I make it out feeling barely alive. I continue traveling around Ecuador for another 11 days, recovering and integrating. Below is the final video on my ending reflections around the trip.
Video 7: Ending Reflections.