After my Ayahuasca retreat came to an end, the second half of my 15-day retreat at Spirit Quest Sanctuary was about to begin. I would soon start working with the sacred plant, Huachuma (San Pedro Cactus) in 3 shamanic ceremonies.
Whereas, I brought plenty of expectations with me to the Ayahuasca retreat, I really didn’t know what to expect from Huachuma. All I knew was that it would be a very different experience.
The ceremonies would not consist of us sitting in a dark room, without moving from our assigned space, like with Ayahuasca. These ceremonies would start during the day and we would actually being going out on excursions, while working with Huachuma.
Huachuma is referred to as the wise grandfather plant. The Spirit Quest website describes the Huachuma experience as such…
“This unique experiential shamanic retreat, progressively advances the initiate through three profoundly instructional Huachuma Mesada ceremonial experiences, integrating ancient shamanic technology of healing and consciousness, with the powers of nature and cosmos.”
“Through coordinated interactivity and multidimensional experience, we attain deeper understanding of ourselves and contemplate the future of mankind and life on Earth, and our role in it.”
Don Howard spent the first morning of the retreat, setting up the Mesa, which would be an integral part of the ceremonies to come. When the process was complete, the Mesa was covered with power objects and ancient artifacts.
The first ceremony of the retreat was the Water Mesada, which celebrates the Mother of the Water and explores the lower shamanic world. As we sat in a circle, around the mesa, I felt very excited for what was to come. Don Howard opened the ceremony and we took turns stepping up to drink the medicine. Huachuma tasted even worse than Ayahuasca, but I forced it down.
We spent some time out on the deck, outside the maloca, until the medicine started kicking in. I could start to feel the energy of the medicine flowing through me. It became hard to sit still, so I paced around, looking out into the surrounding jungle, until it was time to hop into the boats. We were off to visit a local indigenous tribe.
The village we were about to visit was off the beaten track and not one that companies would typically bring tourists to. Don Howard said that the only visitors they regularly receive are people whom he brings during Huachuma retreats. Therefore, the people of the village only ever interact with people whom are under the influence of the medicine. They must believe that all westerners are extremely happy, energetic and loving people.
By the time we arrived to the village, the power of the medicine had increased. I could feel intense energy flowing through me. My senses were greatly enhanced. I felt really good. I felt confident. I felt connected the earth and to the people around me. My mind was clear and my heart was open.
In the beginning, I took a seat on one of the benches and observed as we were introduced to the tribe. Similar to the previous tribe we visited, these people also shared their story and then their tribal songs and dances with us. Again, we were invited to dance.
One of my intentions for the day was to take action any time I felt the desire to do something, especially if I would normally be delayed or stopped by fear. Therefore, I immediately took the opportunity to join in the dancing. I was still a bit self conscious while dancing, but it was as if I ignored that part of my mind, and had fun anyways.
We were then given time to hang out and spend time with the tribe. They only spoke Quechua, so we could not communicate verbally, but this did not matter. We didn’t need to speak to communicate and connect.
Marc had already attended retreats with Spirit Quest in the past, so he was prepared. He brought toys and balloons for the kids to play with. As I sat and watched the kids play with the same kind of toys I would have played with as a child, I realized that it doesn’t matter where I am in the world, kids are kids. They want to play and have fun.
I started really reflecting on, at a very deep level, the idea that people are people. That we are all one and the same. Whether we come from a big city in the western world, a small village in the Amazon or somewhere in between, I believe that deep down we all want the same things. We all want to love and be loved. We all want to be happy, healthy and live a good life.
I also believe that, as people, we share another quality. Which is that none of us are perfect. We all have light, but we also all have darkness within us, at some level. We all have flaws and weaknesses. We all have insecurities. We have all made mistakes and done things we are not proud of. Our imperfections are nothing to be ashamed of. They are what make us human.
One of the reason I am willing to share my weaknesses and vulnerabilities in this blog, is because I understand this. I know that behind the walls and facades that society teaches us to hide behind, we are all human and we all have our own issues that we are dealing with in our own ways.
I know that there are people reading my posts that can relate to the same difficulties that I have had to overcome or that I am currently working through. I want to show them that they are not alone. I think that one reason that we feel the pressure to always look good, is that we look at the parts of us that we are not proud of and we somehow believe that we are the only ones that have these flaws. Therefore, we hide them.
I have been to courses where we have had to share our deepest insecurities in front of an entire room full of people. There were multi millionaire business owners. There were people with amazing family lives. There were people who had accomplished amazing things.
And you know what… You know those people who we look at and say, “I wish I could have their life?” They have insecurities, just like the rest of us. Nobody is perfect.
As soon as we stop hiding our flaws from the world and start sharing them, they lose the power that they once held over us, which is another reason I share so much about myself in my writing.
At one point I decided to give some money to one of the older men in the tribe as a gift. He then offered me a necklace, which I let him pick it out. I didn’t see this as a purchase at all. I gave him a gift, expecting nothing in return and then I was given the opportunity to gratefully accept a gift from him.
As I watched the kids play, I decided that I wanted to go play with the them. In the past I probably would have just remained sitting, stopped by the fear of what others would think about me. I had told myself I wouldn’t be controlled by fear that day, so I got up and played with the kids, which paid off big.
Playing with those kids was one of the most fun and fulfilling things I have ever experienced. At one point, as you can see in the photo below, the kids started playing and taking photos with our phones and cameras. They were naturals with technology. The kids also kept asking us to pick them up and swing them around in circles.
There is one moment that I can remember clearer than anything else that day. One of the little girls ran up to me with a big smile on her face, arms in the air, wanting me to pick her up. I remember thinking that what I felt in that moment was better than anything that material success could ever provide.
This was one of the best days of my life and it was really sad to leave. The hour long boat ride back was very humbling. As we traveled through the jungle, along narrow river channels, I felt that the Amazon was allowing us to pass, but that it was such a powerful force that it could have swallowed us whole if it wanted to.
As we traveled through the night, with my enhanced hearing, the noises from the jungle sounded like beautiful music to my ears. I felt very connected to the jungle around me and the other people within the boat. I was quite impressed with how our driver was able to navigate our way through the jungle, back to the sanctuary in complete darkness.
Huachuma continues to get stronger, as time goes on, so when we finally returned to the maloca that evening, the strength of the medicine was at it’s peak. As I took my seat, facing the mesa, I felt relaxed and at peace. I felt completely confident and clear.
It seemed to me like we were in a spirit world, as we sat in a circle around the mesa. I sat there and felt like I was preparing for a great battle. The battle to bring a higher level of consciousness to humanity on a global scale. I saw myself as a general in the war to lift the darkness from the world. A war to end all wars. To create world peace and save mother earth.
I looked around at the other people that were in the maloca with me and saw them as my fellow generals. Then I started to see the faces of all the people from my life, passing through my mind and I realized that we all have an important part to play. Each and every one of us has our own unique gift to share with the world.
Our gifts may all be different, but no one is more important than any other. What matters is that we all start sharing our gifts with the world. When we all step up and start shining our light on the world, we can lift the darkness from the world.
As I thought about how it’s so important for people to stop shying away from their gifts and start embracing them, I realized that it was time for me to do the same. I had been shying away from my gifts for too long. Ever since I was humbled at a leadership course I attended last year, I had shied away from sharing my gift of inspiring others because I was afraid of being seen as arrogant.
I decided that in that moment it was time to embrace my gifts once again. My gift of attracting and developing leaders. My gift of inspiring people to make positive changes in their lives. And my gift of being able to believe in others before they believe in themselves.
A quote came to my mind from an old Apple commercial, “It’s the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, that usually do.” In that moment, I dedicated myself to sharing my gifts to serve humanity and the planet.
To close out the ceremony, Don Howard invited us all to step up to the mesa. He handed each of us one of the objects from the mesa, all of which could be used like a whistle. As we blew into the ancient devices and I listened to the unique, high pitched sound that we created, it was an interesting experience. I thought I could feel energy radiating from the mesa.
As I lined up for food later that night, for a late night dinner, I made the decision to be vegetarian once again. I was vegetarian last year, mainly because my energy level increased significantly and I felt a lot healthier eating that way. This time, however, I decided to start eating vegetarian because of the moral and economical implications as well. Two months later, I still have not eaten meat since.
Since it was the water mesada, I felt that it would be appropriate to end the night by jumping off the dock, into the river. Steve and Scott were up for joining me for a midnight swim as well. I was really glad I had company.
I was quite nervous to jump into the water, where my imagination was telling me that there could be caymans or anacondas lurking beneath the surface. However, I wasn’t going to let my fear control me, so I took the leap.
I felt so great afterwards. Not only was the water refreshing, but it felt empowering to know that I felt the fear, and did it anyways. It was an amazing way to finish off an amazing day.
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