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Inspiration for healing, for life, and for the soul!

By Travis Bodick, May 23 2017 04:17PM

Hoop magazine which publishes some of my articles just released a free special addition of their magazine today. The topic of this special edition is "What is Shamanism?" This is a great resource for helping people understand what shamanism is and isn't and I hope many people share it to better educate our community about this topic.

There is a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about what shamanism is and I hope this collection of articles can help clear that up for some people:


By Travis Bodick, Apr 14 2017 05:48PM

We are so excited to share this new book with you!

How The Earth Saved My Soul is both a story and a nature based system of healing and self-discovery. While drowning in the ocean Travis was saved from death by a mysterious spirit and experienced visions that forever changed the course of his life. Trying to make sense of this experience he found himself on a spiritual quest of self-discovery that started with meditation, psychedelics and occult mystery schools and eventually led him to indigenous shamans of the Amazon and Andes of Peru. Along the way there were challenges, mistakes and many great discoveries. The most beneficial practices found within the story are described so that the reader can experience and benefit from them personally. By returning to nature and learning to follow his heart Travis found a new level of fulfillment in life. These practices helped him greatly, and perhaps they can inspire you as well.

You can purchase the book through Amazon or through our website in the store here.


By Travis Bodick, Feb 22 2017 01:19AM

As a friend scorched holes into my skin with a burning stick I prepared myself to receive the medicine. My friend is a kambo provider, and kambo is a venomous secretion from an Amazonian frog which is traditionally applied directly into the blood stream via open burns in the outer skin. These burns expose your capillaries directly so that the medicine can go straight into the blood – peptides in the venom then carry themselves directly across the blood brain barrier and cause a profound reaction. Sweating, increased heart rate, body heat, intense tingling through the body as well as throbbing in the skull, body aches or pain, cramps, shaking, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fainting, swelling of the hands and face…. Reading the list of common reactions you may wonder why someone would ask another person to apply this venom directly into their bloodstream, or why someone would call it medicine… Isn’t medicine supposed to be some easy pill you take to make you feel all better?

In our culture we have been taught to look for quick fixes. We want things now and we don’t want to work for them or sacrifice to get them. If we are sick we often just want whatever makes us feel better the quickest. But the short cut is not always the best way. Take cold medicines for example – your body is trying to push toxins out through nasal mucous but since you don’t like having a runny nose you take a medication that keeps the mucous and toxins in your body. Or in the case of heartburn and indigestion – your stomach acid is not acidic enough to properly digest food so you take an antacid to stop the burning sensation even though this antacid further basifies your stomach acid and makes your future digestion even worse. These are just two examples of ways we use medicine to run from our problems instead of solve them. We want medicine to be easy and quick, so we sacrifice our future health for momentary comfort in the present.

This can create problems in all areas of our lives, and one of the most noticeable areas this affects us is in our mental health. When difficult emotions arise or we experience traumatic events our culture teaches us to bury these emotions and keep them to ourselves. Put on a happy face and buck up! This type of emotional repression does great harm to us as individuals and communities and the effects of these habits accumulate overtime which leads to the mental health crisis many modernized countries are experiencing these days. It is difficult and scary to face fears and emotions or to talk about them with others and ask for help, so we take the short cut and just ignore our problems… But in the long run this makes everything harder as the problems do not go away when ignored but only fester and accumulate. Eventually people can become overwhelmed and overburdened by stress and worry which can lead to nervous breakdowns, mental illness, and even physical illness as the body does not function optimally when under great stress.

More traditional medicines often looked very different then the quick fixes we have today. If your digestion was poor you wouldn’t take an antacid for quick relief – instead you would change your diet and put some work into your healing or maybe even try fasting to let your body’s digestion recover. If you had a cold you didn’t fight your body’s immune response by taking cold medication but you let it run its course while strengthening your immune system, or maybe took a sauna to help you sweat it out. People were taught to deal with their problems and face them head on rather than fear and repress them – and this created greater long-term health and inner strength.

In many cultures not only do people work through their problems directly, but they may even use ordeals as training to help them be strong and hard working. So we have ordeal medicine as a way of treating illness, and also as a way of training and preventative medicine. In indigenous cultures when young men go on a vision quest they are learning to face their fears as well as the discomforts and challenges of fasting alone in the wilderness. This teaches inner strength and courage which manifests itself in all areas of life and it helps people develop into strong members of society. When you get sick this strength helps you choose the healthiest way to work through your illness, and when confronted with emotional problems or traumatic events it helps you face and work through the discomfort rather than repress it. These habits teach you to strive for what is in your best interest rather than just what sounds easiest in the moment. Doing what is right is not always easy in the moment, but it almost always ends up being easier in the long run because of how many problems it helps you solve (rather than avoiding the issues which just makes problems accumulate over time).

In the case of my experience with kambo I had to confront my fears of physical discomfort. I knew I was about to be burned and that the venom applied to those burns would make me experience extreme discomfort and even pain – but that discomfort only lasted about 30 minutes, and afterwards I felt great. Kambo is known to strengthen the immune system, remove toxins from the body, increase energy, focus and awareness, and even align the spirit in a way where you feel more connected to your personal flow and life. It is hard to describe how beneficial this medicine is, but my experience was well worth the short time of discomfort that led to all these benefits.

In different cultures around the world there exist many different medicines that could be considered ordeal medicines. In some cultures tribal members will fill gloves with bullet ants which have the strongest sting of any ant – they then wear these gloves for an extended time while the ants bite their hands causing them pain so extreme that many people will feint. The people do this to teach themselves to embrace discomfort and be strong – this teaches you then to not avoid hard work, not avoid unpleasant medicines and not avoid unpleasant emotions. It teaches you to be strong and courageous. In other cultures people might practice vision quest or difficult pilgrimages. People may expose themselves to sleep deprivation, fasting or extreme weather conditions to help themselves build strength. Many people use cold water immersion as a way to strengthen the immune system, or try sweat lodges for healing, or eat unpleasant herbs and foods for health reasons. All of these practices involve facing discomfort because you know it is good for you. This is doing what is best for you and others whether or not it is pleasant and it leads to benefits in every aspect of life.

Ordeal medicine is a test of your equanimity. With the kambo there is a natural inclination to resist the discomfort and react to it, but that is not how you actually want to respond. If you try to hold down the nausea or fight through the discomfort or repress it you will get overwhelmed and the experience will be much more difficult. If you instead face the discomfort and embrace it while trying to relax as much as possible you will get the best results – the experience won’t be as painful, you will have a deeper and more effective purge, and you will be more aware of the experience and how it relates to you personally. By embracing discomfort that is good for you your experience changes into one of alignment with your highest good. When you run from discomfort that is really in your best interest you end up fighting yourself and resisting your own benefits and success.

How you show up in ceremony is often how you show up in life. When you show up to ceremony determined and strong it becomes easier to show up to life the same way. Ceremony in many ways is training for life, and in this way life can become one great ceremony. If you practice facing the discomforts of ritual and medicine with equanimity you can teach yourself to act the same way on a day to day basis which will benefit your physical, mental and emotional health. And not only will this help you show up better for yourself – but everyone in your community will benefit as you become more present and powerful in your own life. By healing and empowering ourselves we heal and empower the world together.

By Travis Bodick, Feb 21 2017 07:03PM

When you are new to the medicine and looking for the right person to drink with... Take your time and choose wisely. This is a very important decision that will greatly impact the outcome of your ceremony.

Traditional apprenticeship usually lasts 1-3 solid years (the whole time spent in apprenticeship, not just how many years ago they started drinking - that whole 1-3 years is often spent in dieta for the whole time or at least most of it). In some cases people spread the apprenticeship out longer over many years and do it in little bits. 1-3 years of not working or making money and living in the jungle hardly eating food is hard - healers need this hard training to make them strong and so they have enough time to develop the right relationship with their spirit allies. A lot of people take short cuts and either skip the training all together or try to substitute shorter training like just 2-3 months of work instead of 2-3 years.... There is no substitute for the work, and the lack of work will show itself in the ceremony.

So far we are lucky in the USA that the government is not prosecuting Ayahuasca medicine even though it is illegal. This could change at any time though. Right now only 2 churches (UDV and SD) have gone to court and have set a precedent to protect religious freedom within those churches. These rights have not been extended to other churches or individuals yet, and this precedent could be turned around quickly if the wrong person went to jail. By having high standards for the providers we support we give ourselves a better chance of protected religious and medical freedom.

It is really up to the seeker to make the most informed decisions about who to drink with. I know many people do not have easy access to medicine providers and it is tempting to settle for the first person you find... But if you really care about the quality and safety of your own ceremony and the future legality of this medicine please take the time to look into your medicine providers. Take the time to make sure they are fully qualified and also ethical and thoughtful about how they provide the medicine.

For those new to the medicine who want to know good questions to ask potential ceremony leaders, here are some good questions to help you learn more:

How long was your apprenticeship and how long have you been working with the medicine? (Usually apprenticeship is 1-3 years of formal apprenticeship and most providers will work with the medicine for a few years before apprenticing - often there is at least 1 full year of dieting if not more. Most qualified providers have sat in a few hundred traditional ceremonies before offering medicine on their own.)

What is your ceremony format? (Do they sing icaros? If they do not that should be a red flag in most cases - at the least they should have learned how, even if they found another method that they now prefer. Do they play recorded music - this is a big red flag. Do they allow socializing - this is a red flag. Ceremonies are usually very focused especially in a group setting.)

What is the group size? (This may be more about personal comfort.... If there is more then 8 people the facilitator should at least have an assistant. If there is more then 15 people there should be multiple shamans facilitating together. Some people dont like group sizes over 6-8, and some dont like it over 20.... Some people sit in groups of 40+. This might be a question of personal preference and comfort, but make sure they have more healers and assistants present if it is a larger group.)

What is the cost? (In USA $100-200 is a common price. If it is much more then that and especially if they have a large group and a high price - you might ask why, as this could be a red flag.... Larger groups should be more affordable, and if it is much over a $200 or so price tag you should probably be either in a super nice and comfortable setting that you want to pay extra for, or you should be getting a small group private ceremony, or at the very least they should be a super experienced healer who can provide a deeper ceremony then a newbie. A fake church in WA was trying to charge $2000 for a single ceremony, and this is a good example of someone taking advantage of the medicine.)

Location? (Location should be private and secure and comfortable. Does not need to be fancy, but more then anything should be somewhere private, safe and not distracting. There should be somewhere to sleep after the ceremony.)

What is in the brew and why? (Usually this is Ayahuasca and chacruna and sometimes other plants.... Sometimes it may just be Ayahuasca but most people add either chacruna or chaliponga. If they add a different MAOI or DMT containing plant besides Ayahuasca, chacruna or chaliponga then they are not using traditional plants and you should ask them why. Sometimes people add other plants to the brew - you may want to know what these plants are, why they are added, and if they are safe. Many of the admixture plants are safe, but some like tobacco or toe' can be dangerous if not used correctly or for the wrong person.... If the brew doesnt have the Ayahuasca vine itself it is not Ayahuasca, but something else.)

Other questions might include: What are your philosophies on healing with plant medicines? How do you support integration of the ceremonies? Do you recommend any diet or preparation? What types of successes have you had with healing? How has the medicine changed your life? How did you decide to pursue this medicine work? How do you protect the ceremony space? ect....

At all times the healer should be open and honest about their answers to these questions. If they do not answer openly and honestly that can be another red flag. If they put in the time and work necessary these questions should be easy for them to answer.

After seeing some people I know dont have enough experience to host ceremonies marketing their ceremonies all over I thought this information could be helpful to some people... BTW - after 5 years with Ayahuasca, and 10 years with plant medicines and hundreds of traditional Ayahuasca ceremonies (plus thousands of other plant ceremonies) - I still do not offer Ayahuasca ceremonies even though people ask me to. I know good people to sit with, and I also know that it takes a lot of specific training to do this work right, and if you dont take the time to do it right, you shouldnt be pouring for others yet. Simple as that.

If you are new to the medicine and trying to research who to work with, I hope this information is helpful for you.

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