Returned home about 3 days ago, and wow, Peru was even more incredible this year then last! Barely home, and glad to be home, but I am already planning my next visit for summer! (wink wink to those who wanted to come along and couldnt make it - I am planning a group outing most likely next July)
The biggest highlight was my wedding. I brought 11 family members and friends to attend, and was lucky to marry the most wonderful women in my world. We have been together 3.5 years exactly before our wedding date (I actually met her through a ritual working I did to bring true love into my life). The wedding ceremony was performed by our dear friend and San Pedro shaman Lesley Myburgh (commonly known as "La Gringa"). We also had a dispatcho ceremony (offering to mother earth and nature spirits) and wedding blessing performed by a Q'ero paqo (shaman) named Juan.
Our wedding took place at Lesley's house, which is in front of the Temple of the Moon (my favorite temple in the world), and we joined hearts at a close by throne made of stone where people have gotten married for thousands of years. Everything went smoothly and perfect, and it was easily the best day of my life.
San Pedro!!!! We drank lots of San Pedro at Lesley's house this year (we stayed at her house for a month). She really welcomed us in, and after this trip, I consider her maybe my deepest friend after my wife. This year, my San Pedro ceremonies went much deeper then they ever have, and I have confirmed that this is my main medicine. I focused heavily on connecting with my dead mother and my ancestors, as well as learning more about my personal role as a healer.
I often experienced a strange order of events around ceremony. Each night before ceremony, San Pedro would come to me in my dreams, and teach me about my intention. If I had any healing or cleaning or difficult work to do, it would happen in my dream. I would battle inner demons and outer demons. The next morning, as we were preparing to drink our medicine - I would start hallucinating and having full on San Pedro visions before even drinking any! One ceremony, I held my cup of cactus juice, and was praying over it, when suddenly Jesus, Archangel Michael, my mother and San Pedro surrounded me, and started singing to me with their hands on my shoulders! (I could see, hear and feel them clear as day) This was interesting, as I normally don't work with Jesus in any way, but wow, what a powerful experience to have before even drinking my medicine!
San Pedro also showed me my main healer form. I posted a article a while back which I wrote about merging with spirit allies: (older post in this blog about merging with spirit allies), and this experience took that to a whole new level. Instead of merging with a power animal, I brought forth my inner animal (if that difference makes sense). I saw who I am at a more practical level then before. I remember last year, Ayahuasca showed me who I was at a spiritual level, but here, San Pedro was showing me who I am here and now. Probably my deepest ceremony ever.
During this same ceremony, I received something I have been waiting to receive for a few years - my Q'ero mesa. The Q'ero are a tribe who lived so remote and high in the Andes, that they had almost no contact with the outside world until about 20 years ago. They practice spirituality and healing the same way the Inca and older cultures performed them before Europeans came with Christianity. The mesa is what they call their altars, and during this ceremony, a Q'ero paqo (paqo is what they call their healers) named Louis gave me a mesa, complete with seven chunpi kuyas (magical stones connected to the local mountain spirits). My mesa hasn't left my side in two months - I take it everywhere, and it has become a dear friend.
Spent a lot of time learning from the Q'ero this year at Lesley's - they have the most enlightend view of energy and spirit that I have ever encountered. Louis and his brother Juan (who did our wedding blessing) both were chosen at the age of 4 to become healers. It is the only work they have ever known. They are two of the warmest and kindest people I have ever met, and I can't wait to work with them more next year (they will be included in the tour I am planning for Peru next year- wink wink!).
Ayahuasca! This year we stayed at a remote center near Pucallpa named Santuario. We flew into Pucallpa, took a 2 hour taxi into the jungle, where we got on a small boat for 20 minutes, which dropped us off at a trail-head, where we hiked in one hour to reach the center. The center is beautiful, quiet, and nestled along a boiling volcanic river that lefts of a mystical fog all day long. The perfect place for quiet reflection!
We experienced a 2 week plant dieta, interspersed with 6 Ayahuasca ceremonies. This year, I dieted a plant called Macoura, and my wife dieted Chuchuwasha. Macoura is used for removing negative energy and spirits, as well as bringing good luck for business and other projects (it also teaches you how to bless others with these same benefits, i.e. removing energy intrusions/spirits and blessing with good luck).
We connected well with the plants we dieted, and learned some good things from Mother Aya, but my wife and I both decided this trip (and were both told by Aya herself) that Ayahuasca is not really our medicine at the moment. As great as she is, we resonate much more with San Pedro, and had much deeper experiences with San Pedro (at least for now).
Besides helping me connect with Macoura, Ayahuasca did introduce me to two new guides, for which I am grateful. One guide helps me perform psychopomp, and the other one is so mysterious, I dont even know what he helps me with yet! He just shows up in very mysterious ways, and makes himself known - we will see how this progresses in the future!
Besides San Pedro and Ayahuasca, I also connected deeply with Tohe this year. Tohe is a type of tree datura usually classified as Brugmansia. It is a nightshade similar to mandrake and belladona (or tomato and potato!). Every single San Pedro and Ayahuasca ceremony I had this year featured visions with tohe, and I spent a lot of time learning from this plant. I meditated under its branches, and also spent a few nights sleeping with leaves or flowers under my pillow (which produces lucid and prophetic dreams).
Apparently my mother loves tohe, and her family used to work extensively with it thousands of years ago. Tohe has been working in a number of ways to connect me more deeply with my ancestors, and with all my spirit guides. She has also been helping me improve my astral projection skills and dreaming abilities, which are her specialty. I still have not ingested even the tiniest bit of this plant, but wow, is she a powerful teacher!
(do not eat or drink this plant unless under the guidance of a master - it can kill you! if you decide to work with it, a flower essence is okay, or grow some next to where you live, smell the pollen, or sleep with 3 leaves or a flower under your pillow at night)
After a month in Cusco and two weeks at Santuario, we made our way slowly back into the Andes. Here, we visited more ruins we hadn't seen yet, worked with our mesa's and new energy work techniques the Q'ero showed us, and spent some time exploring the mountains.
The highlight of this leg of our journey was Chavin de Huantar. Chavin is the site of 3,800 year old ruins, which are also the oldest evidence of San Pedro use in ceremony. The ruins depict vivid carvings of a shaman holding San Pedro cactus, and then turning into a jaguar after he drinks it.
The ruins are mostly underground labyrinth type tunnels, where the shaman would give initiates San Pedro, before leading them through their underground journey. Their are tunnels of water that make trippy sounds, and polished rock mirrors which reflect candles in an attempt to shock and awe the initiate. There are also carvings, obelisks and carvings of deities which explain all the Chavin culture knew about the world and the spirits.
When we arrived to Chavin, we met a local healer named Martin, who performed San Pedro ceremony with us and took us on a tour of the ruins in similar style to how they were originally used. Martin grew up living in the ruins, and his house was located there until 2 years ago when they made him move to open the site more to tourism. His ceremony was incredibly beautiful, and I hope to visit him again in the future. I think the ruins at Chavin might be my favorite after Temple of the Moon (actually - they may be tied for me - both are incredible). Energy at the whole site is incredible.
Of course, there was much more we experienced in our two months of travel, but these were some of the highlights magic-wise. We met great friends, saw awesome ruins, ate wonderful food, and had an all-around great time.
I have come home with a ton of projects! Spirit and the plants really gave me lots to work on this year! I have notes for a number of new books I am writing (my next book is about a 3rd finished), and lots of other great projects. The next book I publish will be a practical manual on how to work with plant medicines and plant spirits through entheogens, dieta, and other methods.
I am also planning a new group tour to Peru in July next summer. Most likely this will be a 10 day trip focused on working with San Pedro (with Lesley/La Gringa) and the Q'ero. The trip will also include visits to Machu Pichu and other local ruins, as well as a few workshops and classes taught by myself. We will perform dispatcho ceremony, cleansing ceremonies, coca leaf divination, and much more! I may also include an Ayahuasca ceremony and/or salvia ceremony during this trip, though I plan on having the focus be San Pedro.
If I receive a ton of interest, I may also organize a group around this time to the Amazon to visit either Santuario or Nihue Rao (the two centers I have worked with - both excellent). I would love to visit the Amazon again, and I know most people are more interested in Ayahuasca because of media hype online and in movies lately. I think most people would go further and get better results with San Pedro, but Ayahuasca is a great medicine, so I love introducing people to this plant as well.
I am also working on plans to bring Lesley to Seattle for ceremony in the spring. Most likely I will try to organize two back to back ceremonies with her in Seattle, and these will be open to people I have screened first. These ceremonies are likely to include sound healing from a band I sometimes play with called CittaFlow/Yaima.
For anyone in Seattle, I am also starting a new monthly discussion group focused on plant medicines - the first one is August 23. Let me know if you would like more info!