Citation: Sam. "Two Ceremonies with Kaxinawa Shamans: An Experience with Ayahuasca, Tobacco, Sananga & Kambo (exp104030)". Erowid.org. Apr 17, 2017. erowid.org/exp/104030
Experience With Kaxinawa Shamans
I recently had the very good fortune of partaking of two ayahuasca ceremonies with two indigenous master shamans, spiritual leaders of the Amazonian Kaxinawa tribe. They were hosted by my very good friend who has been working with ayahuasca under a number of Amazonian shamans for 14 years and who is a highly experienced shaman and healer herself. The shamans would also have two other Brazilian shaman apprentices who would act as their translators for the weekend.
The setting was on a beautiful rural estate outside London, in a large room with windows and glass sliding doors on all sides, looking out over beautiful rural surroundings, with a river in the garden with a bridge, and over this bridge a lake with a fire pit by the side. It was a stunning location to be in for the weekend, and it was nice and sunny for the most part which only added to the aesthetic spectacle, and it sure did make a nice change from where I am currently based. I was feeling good, excited to be there and connecting with friends new and old, and prior to this I had been paying more attention to lifestyle in terms of diet, and exercise and sexual abstinence than I had previously, in the hope of bringing a little more to the table than with my last encounter. Ayahuasca tended to be gentle with me so I felt it couldnít hurt to follow some of the dieta guidelines in an attempt to increase my sensitivity to the brew.
This would be the largest group of people I had ever drank with before, at around 40 people, with slightly more the second night. It was an interesting mix of people, all walking their own paths, a number were healers, shamans and mystical people of one kind or another, and a few I recognised without having met them before.
I got a lift in with a lovely lady friend, an older, very friendly guy, and a great Colombian guy who was a drummer and ran ceremonies with cocao. We arrived when there were a few others already there with more arriving all the time. We found our places, made ourselves cosy and met and chatted with people. Everyone seemed very open and friendly, it was nice.
I took in a bit of nature outside for a bit and sat by the fire pit and lake, and spoke with a shaman I recognised who works with movement and dream work. I speak to another nice guy, it would be his first meeting with ayahuasca. Prior to the ceremony I had some rapť (mapacho) snuffÖat this time it was quite gentle with me, more so than I had experienced previously, but I could feel energy buzzing in my head. Despite all the snuff in my nostrils it cleared up my airways and I felt grounded afterwards.
As darkness fell on the Friday eve we all gathered in the room, and the shamans welcomed us. They told us of some of the Amazonian ayahuasca legends, and then discussed the medicine itself and how their lives had entwined with the vine. After the talk, with the night encroaching, so began the first ceremony. Measures were poured, and interestingly to me it seemed that everyone got more or less the same quantity. This was some of the nastiest ayahuasca Iíve ever drunk, it was very viscous and thick and incredibly bitter and was hard for me to get it down. It was touch and go whether Iíd purge immediately for the first minute but I managed to keep it down. The shamans held silence for 20 minutes before starting to sing amazing icaros, while playing guitar which was a very nice addition, and there was drumming alongside. Iíve never experienced icaros of this power and majesty before, it was an amazing spectacle.
After some time, I felt myself slip into a dreamy embrace. I felt content, at peace, it was a soothing feeling, pleasant and benign.
I felt content, at peace, it was a soothing feeling, pleasant and benign.
For some time, this is all that happened. I was a little annoyed at myself and cursed my hard head. While this was pleasant I certainly wasnít getting any work done on myself. Sometime later I purged. The offer of a second measure was announced. I decided to partake. I drank it down, but almost immediately after sitting down on my mat, I purged it right back at out, much to my annoyance. I thought at that time that I had misfired, and this ceremony, for me at least, would not really be going anywhere. How wrong I was!!
Iím not sure if I managed to absorb some ayahuasca essence in those few seconds it was in my stomach, or if the act or purging induced the experience to deeper levels. But I remember shortly after purging, I started to feel anxious, and the trance I was in deepened. I canít recall feeling anxious like this before with ayahuasca, when in fact there wasnít that much going on...it seemed like something big was in the pipeline...
The experience began to build...and build...and build. I found myself in deep water, MUCH deeper than I had ever experienced before with ayahuasca. Iíve experienced ayahuasca a few times over the years, Iím no spring chicken, but this was many times stronger than I had experienced. The visions were powerful, but they did not relate to anything in the real world. I did not see objects, or animals or plants, or people, or spirits or entities or anything like that, I saw many colourful abstract moving colourful geometric forms, and this compromised the visionary architecture of all my ayahuasca experiences.
At the same time though, I was having a very hard time. All my life experiences, my memories, my relationships with other people, all the fundamental aspects that make up my humanity; all were spinning around in a vortex or blender and slapping me in the face with incredible force. I was vibrating, particularly my armsÖmy lady friend had felt this previously, then I was, like a tremor going through me. I had felt something similar on iboga before, but this was distinct; I canít recall having felt this so tangibly on ayahuasca before. The experience was harrowing and very humbling, and I felt very tangibly what it is to be insane; insane in a total and unhinged way. It was an experience of darkness and of shadow, not of love and light (not that this is in any way a bad thing). Insanity can come in many forms I think, but this was certainly a form. I got from this a sympathy for schizophrenics and the mentally ill that will stay with me for the rest of my days.
I purged again, and could only lie next to my purge bucket. I told the ayahuasca I wasnít afraid of it, but it didnít seem to help very much. Iíd experienced the DMT terrors before, but these were always fleetingÖthis experience had me on the brink of panic for a good few hours. I feel lucky I had previous experience with ayahuasca before this, but this was beyond other psychedelics in terms of raw power. It was like a psychic tsunami of raw power. Up to this time, ayahuasca had always been quite gentle with me in some respects, and this experience really introduced me to its power, and taught me a profound lesson in respect. It really, really kicked my arse, in a way it has never ever been kicked before. It was almost too much to process, and my mind was slapped with a number of pressing life issues that needing addressing.
I just stayed with the icaros and the drumming and did my best to ride it out, and after a good few hours, its grip finally started to release me. One of the shamans helpers blessed me with Agua Florida, I smiled at him and told him thanks; he smiled back and we embraced each otherís shoulders briefly with our hands. Speaking to my lady friend she said I should have asked for healing or help, but I was unable to move during that time, and I felt like it was my own experience and my own issues and I needed to take it on myself. I spoke to my lady friend later and she said she felt weird energy coming off me. Later that night we closed the ceremony, we all gathered round in a circle and held hands and sang, and afterwards we went to our mats and got some rest, followed by some sleep. Amazing the conditions the brain can adapt to when it needs sleep!
I was feeling a little drained on Saturday and my lady friend remarked I looked pale. It was a really nice sunny day, so I ate some good food and spent a lot of time outside in the sun talking to people. I had some good chats and it was nice to connect with some interesting people. In the evening, I had some more rapť, this time a different batch, and it was very powerful! Iíve never felt so inebriated off tobacco before. I felt woozy, in a nice way, but also a little sick! I was surprised as prior to this, the rapť had been quite gentle with me, and Iíd come to quite enjoy it, even it was a bit intense straight after the snuff.
Unfortunately this nausea would linger a little, and I didnít feel like I had much energy. Night fell and the second ceremony commenced. This time, effects took less time to manifestÖagain, I would get my arse kicked, but in a much more gentle fashion, more resembling mental kung fu than a psychic tsunami. The ayahuasca gave me some very valuable insight on how events of my past have led up to the events of my present, and how these will affect my future, and how Iím the right person for the particular role Iím in right now, I was made for this and if I donít find a way to do what is expected of me, nobody will. And if I was to give up, I will have failed and let myself down. This was a strong affirmation for me, it made very clear and obvious logical sense to me, is something I already knew, the ayahuasca just served to highlight this in my mind.
Other measures of ayahuasca were offered, and I was umming and arring, but felt I would very likely be sick immediately after drinking (I hadnít purged yet) and waste it, and I felt like I had got a very valuable insight already that night. I did have a few rounds of rapť when offered, and this helped prompt me to purge (I had been feeling sick for some time). Interestingly, when I purged, I only purged the food I had eaten previously that day, and not the ayahuasca. There were sounds of laughter, and of wailing, both extremes of the emotional spectrum, and while I seemed to be pretty quiet when purging, some people ROARED when doing so, I have never ever heard purging like that before. Despite feeling a bit sick, lots of people were dancing to the icaros and the drumming so I got up and joined them and danced for some time and sang. Later that night, we all sat in a circle and the shamans and their helpers went around blessing every one. In the early morning, we closed the ceremony, and I was feeling quite drained and a little faint and feverish
After a little rest, it was time for the sananga. One of the shamans went around one way, and one of his helpers went around the other. When the sananga drops were applied to the eyes, some people screamed and writhed about. The shamanís helper got to me and I put my head back and help my eyes open. The sananga definitely burned, but I did not feel the need to scream, and sat still with my eyes closed breathing through the pain. A little later, the shaman approached me, and as he did our eyes met and we exchanged a smile. Special how something simple like this can cut through any kind of language or cultural barrier. It looked like I was in for round two for the sananga so I surrendered once again to the drops...I was still feeling the first round so didnít seem too much of a big deal.
Following this, it would be time for the kambo ceremony. We were instructed to drink two litres of water prior. It would be my fourth time with kambo and I didnít have much anxiety. We lined up outside on the wooden steps next to the room we had drank the aya in, overlooking the river. The shaman came around to me, again our eyes met and we exchanged a smile. He burnt three little marks on my right arm and his helper came around and applied the kambo venom. I had been feeling quite cold outside, and the first thing I noticed was a surge in internal heat, which given the circumstances, was actually quite pleasant
the first thing I noticed was a surge in internal heat, which given the circumstances, was actually quite pleasant
(for a little while). Then a knot began to rise in my throat, and my insides felt like they were being wrung out like a dirty sponge. These feelings began to build along with the nausea until I began to purge. This was a pleasant release of the water I had drunk.
As I expelled this water, the vomit became increasingly bitter, as the proportion of bile increased. Some people wanted the kambo venom to be removed not long after application, but I did not feel the need and kept it on until the shamans helper came round to wash it off with a little water. This was a powerful experience but had nothing on my second and third kambo experiences which had literally floored me. I was feeling a little nausea still when I decided to partake of some rapť that was being offered. This assisted me in purging again, and this time it was very thick yellow bile, MUCH more bitter and foul tasting than any ayahuasca Iíve ever drank. I went and emptied my and a friendís purge bucket in the bushes afterwards. Itís funny, as prior to this, Iíd been feeling a little faint and my lady friend and a few others remarked I was looking pretty pale. But after the kambo I was feeling better. Funny how the thing that picked me up was a little highly potent frog venom!
After this I slept for a while. On waking, someone remarked how radiant I was looking, and others said some very nice things to me; I was touched. I got ready to depart, still tired, saying my goodbyes to people, lots of hugs were exchanged, and new friendships were formed. It was a long journey back to my lady friendís abode in London, and I had a long sleep that night. I flew back home the next day, and noticed that when meditating on the flight it was much easier to stay mindful and present, with much less distracting thoughts coming into play, and I felt refreshed afterwards. I also didnít get sleepy on the plane like I usually do and was happy to just be, and had a nice chat to the guy sitting next to me. I had a deep and restful sleep that night after arriving home in the evening.
This was a special weekend for me. It was very hard work but of great personal value. It gave me a lot of hope for the future to see all these people of different nationalities coming together and showing each other compassion and fellowship. There were no barriers due to race or age or gender, everyone was united as one people, and this gave me hope for the future. This stood out to me in such incredible contrast to what is going on in other parts of the world, where people are killing over people over differences in religious or political views. Anything that has the power to bring people together in this way should be embraced I think; obviously ayahuascaís power transcends this effect alone but it is definitely one of its most special and important facets in my view. It is now up to me to bring the insights I gained and act on them.
Haux hauz!! :)
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