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Chief of the Bora tribe greets some of our group.



I’ve mentioned before that Ayahuasca is specifically interactive with each person and that it seems to give us exactly the experience or thing we need to see to heal and teach us. Some have said that Ayahuasca is like some kind of school that one enters. When a person takes the brew for the first time, it is like the first day of school with an initiation and the first course, titled “WHAT YOU NEED TO LEARN.”

Such a course in such a school can be quite intimidating, since we often do not know what we need to learn, and whatever that is, it may not be easy or pleasant to learn! In my case, I had asked specifically within my Intentions to be shown what I need to learn, and I now think this is exactly what the spirit of the plant is doing.

Like many people, I endeavor to keep my emotional life within a comfortable range: not too negative and not overly extreme in the positive either. I stay somewhere in the middle where things are safer and less threatening – less likely to upset me or disappoint me. This works, but it can lead one to miss out on some important currents in life by being too conservative. I’ve come to believe that my first difficult vision session had a purpose: to break me out of that protective stance and wake me up to a life with more emotional depth. It was as if Ayahuasca were telling me, “You’ve been asleep. Wake up. Now. Here is Fear. You must feel it fully.” Then, in the second session, I was given a respite from this, but also a point of reference of normalcy and peace. I had been shaken by the scruff of my neck, but then shown that this was not what my schooling experience was to be like going forward. The fear episode was not random and meaningless, but an important first step in an arc of experience. Here, in the second session, I was shown the other end of intensity in emotions, and allowed an opportunity to become situated within Ayahuasca’s dimensions.

I felt I was being led through a lesson of emotional contrasts. My first one could be titled: ‘Terror and Extreme Discomfort,’ and ‘Losing Who I Am in the Lower World.’ This second one could be: ‘Normalcy and Perspective.’ I have one more ceremony tomorrow night. Will I experience a full array of experience and be led into higher visions in the upper realms? It seemed a logical expectation, but I knew better than to assume it.

I told the group that I did not expect this result, but would remain observant and open. Howard nodded in agreement. One should always keep in mind, however, that it is wise to be careful what we ask for, for we may truly receive it, and the gift of the genii is never what it seems.


“She is, don Roberto tells me later, ayahuasca, the goddess, speaking to me. She has come to me before when I have drunk ayahuasca, in the form of a teenage Indian girl, in shorts and a white T-shirt, with long straight black hair and the most dazzling smile I have ever seen. I do not know why, but the spirits of the plants come to me as women.”
– Stephan V. Beyer, Singing To The Plants (Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2009) 23-24.



Today, we boarded the boats to travel down the Rio Momón and on to the true Rio Amazonas: the Amazon itself. We rode a short way downriver from Iquitos to take a longer jungle hike and meet the Murray Huitoto people. This tribe lives a couple of miles inland from the great river, so we landed at a rough riverfront town and hiked through the beautiful dense jungle to find them.

The tribe was happy to dance for us and invite us in to see their world. We also delivered some needed medical supplies. The chief was very welcoming, and although he spoke only Spanish to me, and I spoke none, we still had a very friendly conversation.

We swam in the small river here, enjoying the cool water and also the soothing mud from the banks – an exclusive facial and body treatment that would be costly in any big city salon! Rufus, don Howard’s red uakari monkey, joined us for some fresh jungle fruit and kept us laughing with his constant antics.

Back at the tribe’s camp, the matron of the group showed us their ayahuasca vines, planted at the base of certain trees and growing strong. As the vine is used, it is important to keep it cultivated.

Back at our lodge once more, it was time for our third and last ceremony.


The Amazon River – Rio Amazonas

HuitotoDance1 RiverSwim

Huitoto matron showing one of the Ayahuasca vines they cultivate.

Huitoto chief visiting with the author.





There is an ancient practice or technique in shamanism called “soul retrieval.” It is a healing for someone who has lost part of their spirit – their spiritual body. Perhaps they simply wandered away into a spiritual place and part of them did not return to our everyday reality. Perhaps someone stole that part of the person, or borrowed it and never returned it. Now the person is ill with a kind of emptiness or depression that cannot be cured by normal means. The shaman goes into trance state and travels off into the past or alternate realities, finds the part that is missing and invites it back. He or she recovers that spirit essence and reunites it with the ill person, making them whole and happy once more. This kind of healing is something a human shaman does, but it may not always be a human who heals.


“Anything will give up its secrets, if you only love it enough.”
– George Washington Carver


continued . . .



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