I have been feeling artistically and spiritually stuck for a while now. The way I would describe it is a deep soul-block, as though I have all of the pieces of the puzzle but not entirely sure how I’m meant to piece them together or where to even begin. Do you know what I’m talking about? You’ll do ALL the “right things”: journal, meditate, go out for a walk or attempt to exercise, but nothing seems to be falling into place... Spiritually. My soul has been seeking a serious refix. With the opening of the Lion’s Gate portal on 08/08 this year coinciding with the new moon, I decided it was an excellent time to engage in a ceremony of some kind to realign. My ceremony of choice? To undergo a Kambô ceremony.
What is Kambô anyway?
Kambô is a psychoactive (not psychedelic) milky secretion from the Giant Monkey Frog in the Amazon. The frogs themselves are very docile and easily handled, and the secretion is ethically harvested by knowledgeable Shamans. According to the Kaxinawá legend, there was an illness among the tribe that was proving difficult to cure. Their medicine Man (called a Pajé) exhausted all of his options by way of sacred plant medicines. One sacred plant medicine however, directed him into the forests where he spoke with the Female spirit of the forest. The Frog secretion was presented along with instructions on how to provide it. He returned to his tribe as a Pajé Kampu, curing his tribe with the plant medicine. This beautiful legend reflects the wonder of nature and spirit, and how by working with nature instead of against her, we are able to cure dis-ease. Today, as then, Kambo is used to cure ‘Panema’, which is described as a dark fog of energy and negative thoughts surrounding a person’s aura. In Kambo ceremony, you may purge by crying, shaking, sweating, vomiting or using the bathroom, this reaction is said to expel the Panema from the Auric field.
For a while, I had been following @cutieheals on Instagram run by Natalie, a Kambo practitioner, healer and overall wise woman. My choice was certainly the right one. Before making my way to the ceremony, we had a video consultation discussing the traumas of my childhood. Natalie has a warming aura and her trauma-informed approach is exactly what is required of her noble work.
As I arrived at her abode I was greeted warmly, invited to remove my shoes and promptly smoke cleansed before making my way into the ceremony space. The space itself had been purposefully curated in such a way that magic was invited into the space before the ceremony had even begun and I felt slightly nervous about the spiritual surgery I was about to undergo. I was greeted by James and Helen, practitioners assisting Natalie through the ceremony.
After some light chatter we were all informed of the process before Natalie opened the space by calling in the elements and spirit. We then set intentions individually and as a group. There was a noticeable change in the energy, readying us for what was to come.
We were each invited to take Rapeh if we wished, a Shamanic snuff medicine that is delivered by a blowpipe, always starting with the left nostril and then the right. My eyes stung and watered as I attempted to hold back the feelings of discomfort. Tensing your face only makes the experience more difficult, we were told. I rode the feelings of discomfort instead of trying to hold them back, and leaned into the experience. After taking the Rapeh medicine, I felt a sense of clarity and preparedness make its way through every cell in my body.
The Kambo was to follow.
To take the Kambo, it is placed on a small, open wound made by lightly burning the top layer of skin. I opted for three dots in a triangle formation, representing the Chalice and Divine Feminine Spirit; I am continually seeking to heal the trauma that had set up camp in my pelvis, and manifested itself in dis- ease, so opted for the dots to be placed on my leg, where I was told would provide the greatest impact.
I laid down, patiently waiting for the medicine to set in. Some others around me began to purge- crying, vomiting, shaking. It was to be that my time would be a little while after. While I waited with everyone around me audibly purging, I felt me getting very angry at myself, confused as to why I was not experiencing any purging effects. As I stayed with and followed the train of thought, I realised how cruel and impatient I often am with myself. Growing up, I often noticed how cruel or impatient some of the adults around me could be and a light bulb went off in my head.
As Natalie made her way past me sounding her rattle and I observed my own self-cruelty, my whole body began to vibrate as though something was being ejected from my core. I cried a little, but also as though I had nothing much more to give. I felt empty, drained, spent.
I pulled a blanket over my head, wondering what might be next. Helen, James and Natalie made their way around the room with singing bowls, bringing their soothing and hypnotic sound into the space. I felt compelled to close my eyes and journey. I had the vision of myself in an ancient temple of sorts, dancing before a Goddess. As I opened my eyes and sat against the wall, I noticed that others around me were waking from their own meditative states.
To close the ceremony, we were offered Sananga, a sacred medicine used to clear the spiritual dis-ease related to eye problems. A drop in each eye, I was warned, would be more sting-y than the Sananga I had previously tried from Natalie. As I blinked the drops into my eyes, my whole body tensed up in agony. Helen, James and Natalie encouraged me to breathe through the intense burning as they physically held me. My entire body returned to a sense of relative normalcy, keeping in mind I had undergone hours of spiritual surgery. In the burning was a lesson: If I’ve been through this much pain and thrived, I can apply this to other areas of my life.
Natalie closed the ceremony calling the spirits once again and had prepared a feast at the end of the journey, reminiscent of good ‘home food’ of the Caribbean. It was GOOD good! Comforting and nourishing, and much needed after such an exhausting journey.
On our way out, we threw out our bucket ‘purges’ (mine was empty as I only shook- no vomit or spit for me) we said a prayer and a goodbye.
If I’m being honest, as I made my way out of the space, I actually felt very angry and confused with myself, that I didn’t discover anything new or interesting about myself or the trauma I experienced; this was short sighted and quite frankly, wrong.
It’s been a week on and every night I’ve experienced astral travel that has been oh-so-healing and necessary. For the first time in a very very VERY long time, I’ve been able to structure my time efficiently, undergo daily spiritual practice without it feeling forced, and have returned to dancing- which is such an important medicine for the soul. I’ve been more patient and empathetic with those who really grind my gears with their petty gossip and celebrity talk. It’s like my traumatised inner child isn’t leading the way, as though she’s given room to the curious and joyful inner child instead. Even my art in this last week has been reinvigorated with clarity and a new lease of life. I can only imagine that, as time goes on, I will continue to integrate what I have experienced.
I will definitely be creating #spiritualart inspired from this profound journeywork, and in the coming weeks and months invite you to view and share your thoughts about your medicine journeys.