Especially when you are new to the world of plant medicines or spirituality it can be a bit overwhelming thinking about where to learn more about the plants. There are so many sources of information and many of them contradict each other… Some of these sources are great, some are mostly good but sometimes misinformed and some can actually be harmful sources to get your information from. Imagine if you are getting information from someone going down a dark path – their advice could easily lead you down the same road before you realize it and you want to be thoughtful about what doors you open and what energies you invite into your life. Sometimes this can even be related to something called brujeria – dark sorcery, because people on this path sometimes don’t even realize how harmful the energies they work with are because they have lost their objectivity.
I have been studying and working with plant medicines for 10 years and honestly I feel like I have only touched the tip of the ice burg. Compared to the masters I meet in South America I still know nothing. I am learning all the time, and while I know my knowledge is still young compared to many others I do like to share what I learn when I can. It has come to my attention recently that there are other online posters within our greater online community who may be sharing some information which could lead you down a dark path if you are not careful. I don’t want to name these people but I want to share some clues so that you can better recognize warning signs that a path may not be the best one for you.
To me the greatest clue of whether someone’s teachings are valid ones to follow is whether or not the teachings have improved that person’s life and if that person has the sort of values that I want to emulate in myself. Also – the teachings should resonate with you and make at least a little bit of sense and they should not make you compromise your values in any way. If someone asks you to do something that doesn’t feel right or that compromises your values – they probably aren’t teaching you something that is good for you to practice and they may be leading you down a dark path.
I can share a couple examples of how this might look…. Maybe this “teacher” or person sharing advice with you claims that there are dark spirits everywhere attacking us all the time and all they seem to talk about are dark spirits. They see dark spirits everywhere all the time. Of course there are dark spirits out there but there are also compassionate spirits and there is a balance – if someone is always focused on the darkness and all they see is darkness in my opinion this is a big clue that they are seeing a reflection of themselves. When you work with darkness all the time it rubs off on you and you start to become what you work with – and the world will reflect what you are back to yourself and so you will see the darkness you have become all around you and this can be very terrifying. Seeing dark spirits does not mean you have this issue – it is just when you only see dark spirits all the time.
Another example is when the person is mean or cruel or inconsiderate of others, or when they cannot live with other people’s views that differ from theirs. This shows a need to control and a need to be right, but it also shows an inner cruelness or darkness in some cases. If someone gets mean at others who are just being polite with them, then there is a clue that the person has a lot of darkness controlling their emotions and thoughts. A true healer has compassion and understanding as much as they can – and they strive to live that compassion for others.
So how does one get on this dark path of brujeria? There are many ways it can happen, but a common way is either that they are taught by someone else who was already on the dark path, or they start to work with dark spirits. In any apprenticeship there is a phase where you start to find and gain more power. This is an important phase because it takes some power to help others, to be able to offer healing and support, and also to defend yourself sometimes. But there is also a danger here. There are good and dark spirits out there and when you start to build your own power there are other brujo’s or dark spirits who want to use your power for themselves and many people in apprenticeships will describe getting attacked by these spirits at some point.
When the apprentice gets “hit” by these dark energies this is their chance to learn protection and learn how to defend themselves. This is important because if they move on to being a healer they will need to protect the ceremonial space and their participants. But if the apprentice does not learn how to protect themselves or if they are tempted by the dark energies then those energies will sometimes start to influence or even control them. This is one common way people become brujos.
Now I don’t want you to get too scared here and think dark spirits are coming after you. This is something that specifically happens to apprentices who are in formal training or occasionally people attempting deep training to become healers on their own. When you work with the medicine as a patient the medicine does have a certain amount of built in protection and honestly most of these dark spirits are not very attracted to you yet. This only becomes an issue when you start to build power and are really training to be a healer or sorcerer of some kind. As your power grows you attract more spirits, but if you are just working on personal healing or development you are most likely pretty safe from this in my experience. In a ceremony the apprentices and the shaman are usually in much more danger than anyone else in the ceremony – because they have more power and attract more energy, but if they are on a true path to healing and have kept their integrity then they will know how to protect themselves.
So be careful who you take advice from. Be thoughtful how you practice and work with the medicine. Keep your values and integrity and look for the results of the practice to tell you whether you are on the right track or not.