I felt it important to tackle this topic as it’s been an area of deep study for me of late. It’s also one of those ‘trendy’ things happening in the spiritual and psychedelic community and there’s a lot of messy info out there.
This is a collection of highlights from a practicalist perspective; fluff-free, extrapolated from a series of tweets I originally put out a year back. It’s narrative flow is a bit messy and I enjoyed sharing what I could within it.
IS PLANT MEDICINE THE MAGIC BULLET FOR EMOTIONAL HEALING?
I’ve found most common motivations behind trying plant medicine are inspired by the idea that plant medicine is a much faster solution to hit the deep spots than therapy or medication.
This idea of it being a fast track to getting a deep wisdom on what ails you isn’t wrong, but it’s not the whole story either.
WHAT IS PLANT MEDICINE? SURELY IT’S JUST A HIPPIE EXCUSE TO TAKE DRUGS?
The common names you might hear include Psilocybin (Magic) Mushrooms, Ayahuasca (aka Uni, Nixi Pai, Caapi, Cama Rampi…), San Pedro (indigenous name is Huachuma), Peyote (indigeneous name is Hikuri), Rapeh / Rapé / Hapé (tobacco-based snuff), Sananga (eye drops that burn like a motherf*cker) Ketamine and DMT. Lesser known but gaining popularity is Iboga / Ibogaine (a super-strong African medicine that re-awakens your entire past in a days/weeks cycle), Yopo (plant based DMT), Coca (not cocaine, but an ingredient in it that chewed in its natural bayleaf-like form is a health booster for people living in the mountains of the Andes) and Tepezcohuite (multiple versions of DMT derived from a tree in smokable form).
Tobacco and Marijuana are also plant medicines, but far less scrutinized. Technically, beer would be considered one too, as it’s dervied from a plant and alters your state. The Peruvians have a form of corn-based beer called “Chicha” and it’s definitely got some kick. I wasn’t a fan of it, but it is popular there.
Other names you might hear confused as plant medicine would be Kambo and Bufo; both amphibian secretions, ergo, not plant. Both are considered very powerful medicines. Kambo is said to clear a bunch of toxins from the body – this is hearsay from personal accounts – and Bufo is an intensely powerful psychedelic.
All of these when taken as a brain-toy or curio have the capacity to shock your system in an unpleasant manner to wildly varying and potentially traumatizing degrees. When taken ceremonially, with the correct guidance, they can be enormously transformative, even tobacco.
NOW WE GO DEEP…
Here’s what I’ve learned from a few years of exploring. Strap in.
The current most common form of plant medicine for the purpose of insight and personal growth / healing, other than weed / ganja / marijuana is Psilocybin, aka ‘magic mushrooms’.
It grows all over the world which tackles the regional issue. In the 60s, it was made famous through a lady called Maria Sabina culturacolectiva.com/history/maria-. but has documented roots traced back to Siberia to when the Sami people used to imbibe the Aminita mushrooms eaten by deers… through drinking their urine.
Thankfully, you don’t have to break that comfort barrier to try a modern Psilocybin ceremony. If you want to experience a ceremonial of the Psilocybin Mushroom, you can hit Central Mexico and Oaxaca to seek out practitioners aka Curanderas to help you.
Ceremonial means doing it in a space that is entirely undisturbed by outside sources, and focused on an intention. Creating a space that feels special, enclosed and to entirely provide context to deal with any personal stuff that comes up. Basically, not while sat on a London train at 10pm on the way home after a night with the lads/lasses.
Conversely, think about the flip side of ingesting ‘shrooms in the middle of a chaotic event. It might enhance your senses for recreational use, but if anything in that event triggers an old wound or otherwise, then you’re likely to trigger what is known as “the bad trip”, which can cause a person to be traumatized.
Clean, peaceful, safe, comforting.Light a candle, incense, whatever…
A key note for you; Bad Trips are mis-perceived. A bad trip is often a ceremony where some deep repressed fear-based energy comes up to be experienced, but without the proper guidance to pass through it. This is why doing plant medicine is best with experienced medicine people.
A trained medicine man or woman will be able to guide you through such a trip. Often, these are incredibly powerful experiences of transformation. When they lead to someone being traumatized, it’s because they had no skills in self-guidance, which can take years to develop.
Generally, the whole point behind plant medicines is to induce a healing ratification – this is a fancy way of saying “an experience where you have a realization that leads to a healing transformation”. The most effective shamans / etc are ones that lead you to yourself.
Meaning, they lead you to having an experience where you meet a deep part of yourself that empowers you to meet another part of yourself. It’s life changing, perspective-exploding stuff, and every plant medicine has its relative strengths and weaknesses, but is mostly guided by you.
So the strengths and weaknesses of Mushrooms to me were the ability to expand my perception and align me more closely with who I really was under the hood. I didn’t know this at the time, and felt depressed for a month thereafter. I was inexperienced and bought a 1 gram bag in Camden Market, during that period of time where it was legal to buy and sell.
I had a mind-altering experience, I also felt a connective experience with nature and stared at the sky on the top of Primrose Hill for 3 hours. But I had no wisdom, guidance or pointers. It was recreational and became spiritual without my awareness of such, and without an ability to navigate the aftermath. I felt lost and confused for months after.
This is another reason why I don’t recommend doing plant medicine solo, at least when starting out. Go to a medicine man or woman. Learn about the traditions, why they are the way they are, and be picky with environment and facilitators. Learn from the experienced users and servers. Otherwise, you won’t connect with the benefits fully as they require guidance.
You know the horror story side of the Ayhuasca stories you hear? Aside from dodgy fake shamans, sex pests and other unethical issues born of flawed humans, a big cause is a lack of integration practices. Some people come out more traumatized than went they went in. Be careful. These aren’t toys.
If you can grasp why people prescribe powerful pharmaceutical medicines with warnings, think of plant medicines similarly; they should be treated with respect and care. Be picky, be careful. Now onto Peyote.
Peyote, indigenously named “Hikuri” is native to parts of Mexico. A part of Mexico that survived the Spanish invasion has a huge concentration of Hikuri-centric tribes. The plant takes 30 years to grow into a football size (English – not that weird American Egg). It isn’t popular, probably because of this, but thanks to a few movies mis-representing it, it is “known”.
I sat with peyote twice. It’s another cactus medicine, often served as a bitter powder rolled into a paste ball (yuck) or rarely served in its fresh cactus meat form, resembling pineapple chunks. It’s more palatable as ‘fresh’ but…
…tasty it is not. When I experienced it, it was served with grapes and other fresh fruit to help it go down. The experience was uplifting yet grounded. It was not hallucinogenic. It is NOT the scene in Beavis and Butthead Do America. NOT Peyote -> youtube.com/watch?v=cjo6V1
It wasn’t what I signed up for. However, a friend who had two Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer tumors at stage 3, on his heart and spine – he did not know at the time – asked the medicine to relieve his back pain, caused by these unknown tumors. He had an epic 25 chunks of Hikuri and it took that pain away easy.
My experience with it was physical also. For me – and not everyone else it would seem – it was the only medicine I’d taken that addressed and targeted physical issues, in a purely physical experience. It relieved what I assumed was gunked-up emotional energy causing my heart to feel tight. My heart was lighter after and I felt kinder as default. Less pissy.
It was not psychedelic on both occasions I sat with it. Some combine ceremonies of Hikuri and Ayahuasca. I’m uncertain where this tradition started as Hikuri is a desert cactus and Ayahuasca grows in jungles as a vine mixed with other plants. Regardless, this is a combined use gaining popularity where the practices are legal.
Also, my friend with stage 3 Hodgkins hadn’t had this level of pain relief in ages. He had no idea he had cancer. It was shocking to him when he discovered the source of his pain, but he was so grateful for the experience with Hikuri and he was very happy at the time to relieve the pain.
San Pedro / Huachuma is the other cactus. I sat in 8 ceremonies with it after my divorce. It’s known as the “heart medicine” and was amazing at assisting me with processing the grief and loss I was carrying. Cactuses are often referred to as “grandfather” medicines, as they are wise and considered masculine in polarity (pointy and cock shaped?).
As a side-note on polarities… Indigenous traditions and shamans don’t refer to masculine and feminine as “man” or “woman”. These buckets are used as qualifiers for attributes and qualities that serve energetic polarities in the subtle energy realms. Example; Force and focus is considered masculine. Flow and surrender is considered feminine.
Natural elements are often modeled around both properties. When a flame dances, it is considered feminine. When it burns something, it’s considered masculine. When water flows, it’s considered feminine. When it pushes through a barrier, it’s considered a masculine energy. See what I mean?
The value of these ideas is to relate the energies in a way that can diagnose a person’s source of problem; all sources being considered as unprocessed emotional trapping. If you have too much masculine energy in your problem solving, you are considered imbalanced. And this will show up in your body.
Injuries happening mostly on the left side of your body are considered telegraphing issues in the feminine polarities of your personality. An inability to “receive” compliments or gifts, masking as pride or chivalry is considered an injury in the feminine aspects of your personality. An inability to receive care without resisting it is another. And so on… In my experience, this system is spot on accurate, and remedying these issues and the underlying cause through habitual change and direct work with the originating belief system regularly follows with a clearing of the physical symptom.
In my experiences, the ‘gender’ of each plant medicine’s forces aren’t always felt the way as described. Huachuma is forceful, but also loving.
Ayahuasca is called “the Grandmother”. My experience with ‘her’ went DEEP, forceful, loving and relentless. It never felt abusive, but the medicine man and woman were there to assist how it plays out. It still kicked my arse in the way it needed to be kicked. Which is certainly a description applying to many of the Earth’s living human or anima; grandmothers.
Anyway – back to Huachuma. A ‘grandfather’ cactus… it was powerful and effective. It got me in my heart. It was incredibly elevating, deep and brought me to a sense of love for myself and the challenges I was facing internally. It helped me get over some rough shit.
Without the personal details, the divorce shook me hard. There was betrayal, dishonesty, massive life change, intensely powerful shell-shock and grief from 3 dead pets I loved as if my own human kids in a short space of time. I was a fucking splatter on a wall. Lost identity, etc… Huachuma helped me process a lot and come to terms with my new life. To say I credit it with a lot of assistance through that time would be an understatement.
For the sake of assisting others, I’m happy to provide recommendations via private message (see contact form). This was undertaken in Peru, in the Sacred Valley; an inspiring, astoundingly gorgeous place to visit.
So far we’ve covered Magic Mushrooms (Psilocybin), Hikuri (Peyote), Huachuma (San Pedro) – both cacti (mescaline). Next, Ayahuasca and Tepezcohuite.
Ayahuasca was exclusively available in the jungle until the mid-2000s when one of the key Brazilian tribes ventured outward to offer this medicine to our struggling world. “We” didn’t see it at the time, but they knew we were back-to-front, inside-out and in need. Two tribes led this; I believe Brazil’s Huni Kuin and the Yawanawa tribes were the leaders of this (I may be wrong about this). The Shipibos of Peru joined in on this effort as well, possibly later.
We’ve been taught in schools that tribal and indigenous tribes are backwards, primitive, knuckle dragging potential psychopaths.
Toward city dwellers, some might be, and I can’t blame them really… survivalinternational.org/tribes/unconta – And there are WAY more examples than this…
Anyways… like many things taught in schools, indigenous tribes being hostile, savage lunatics is utter bollocks. The heart of indigenous living is to have a symbiotic relationship to nature. This means useful benefits like knowing where to plant crops so their process of growth benefits the surrounding crops, or knowing which nearby crops you can plant to attract certain pests that keep certain animals from eating your main crops. Knowing natural cycles in animals, humans and plants. Knowing when rainfall is likely to come. Knowing how to build harmony with your community using the wisdom of tribal dynamics. And so on…
The indigenous tribes are masters of being in harmony with the natural cycles of nature. City lifers have lost touch with this. It’s not just beneficial to farming but also deeply transformative to relationships, personal development, overall health and connection with self.
If someone told me years ago that my over-use of computers and lack of time in nature was blocking my ability to feel present and connected to the world around me in a way I’d feel and experience physically in my system, I’d call them deluded fantasists. Turns out I was numb.
I was so saturated by electrical waves and being hunched over on a computer or immersed in VR, I had no idea how disconnected I was. A healer couple “plugged me back in” and I fell over, buzzing and dizzy the moment they did. Turns out we’re an extension of a larger energetic field. Like nodes on a massive, connected circuit.
It sounds like utter madness. And I wouldn’t have guessed it, as I seemed to be emotionally sound (somewhat) and mostly rational. The qualifier of ‘numb’ was that in nature, I would feel agitated. Eventually, I’d enter hikes and feel relief like the kind after a shower, or after stretching from days of no physical activity.
Many who are emotionally numb are easy to spot. But how many of you are energetically numb? And how would you know if you’re not connected, or have a point of reference? That’s the point. The indigenous know this stuff inside and out. City dwellers lost this knowledge.
A real shaman can look at you and tell you your emotional problems and their sources in fine detail using their emotional and subtle energetic sense. A clinical therapist can do it with body language, and using other intuitive tools if they’re developed or aware of them.
A real shaman can touch your wrist, feel your pulse and tell you from that singular point, all your physically manifested health problems, where your bones are weak and so on. A Western doctor can scan you with machines. Imagine if we combined these wisdoms together?
That’s coming by the way. But before that, back to Ayahuasca. Aya is so unique because it’s not a consistent experience in the way people describe. There are three huge factors that dramatically guide the experience: The Shaman, The Individual and The Scene (Setting+ Group).
The Shamans, or in some cases, Medicine People (not the same as a shaman) set the pace of ceremony, prepare and serve the medicine, and sing “icaroos” which are a type of song carrying what can be described as an energy transmission with a narrative. To explain that easier, here’s a game on Nintendo DS called Bangai-O…
In Bangai-O, you create levels and can share them by playing a sound file. The sound file holds data that the friend’s Nintendo DS can hear through a microphone and then construct the designed level from: videos.sapo.pt/iKiIChpyARtfaC Turns out, people have similar technology!
A shaman’s “Icaroo” carries data that opens up a person’s energetic system to receive a deeply intense influx of energy that connects with the plant in the person’s body. A person then feels an intensely orchestrated experience that is led by the shaman and the individual’s needs for emotional healing.
The energy can get so relentless that you can be paralyzed with intense physical energetic vibrations – as I was – to where you are powerless to move. Ayahuasca is more than substance; it’s a tool that bridges powerful energies. Imagine drinking a liquid that can connect a wire to a power grid, bypassing the resistors on your current circuit. It was one of the most intense experiences I’ve lived through.
No two experiences are the same. Even if you have the same shaman for 50 ceremonies, the key factors are rarely static and they each lend a powerful influence. Ayahuasca is best treated as a spirit you ingest that can bring you through a powerfully transformative journey.
It’s as dangerous as it is abusable. Be incredibly picky. And absolutely make sure you have a facilitator who knows integration in depth and can guide you with experience through your experience. For more on Aya, this is a great piece : doorofperception.com/wp-content/upl
Now DMT. 5MEO DMT is often lab derived. There are two “natural” sources. The secretions of the Bufo toad, native to the Sonora desert (Arizona and Mexico), and Tepezcohuite. Possibly Bufo too, but I’m not sure if it’s 5MEO. Both have mixed data about their history and Ancestral Medicine claims being false.
Both medicines, in the right dose will bring you through an intense ego death. It can be terrifying, and for me, it was. I experienced a movie-style hallucination experience through Tepezcohuite a number of times. It is no joke. There are claims this was the Ancient Egyptian “Ayahuasca” and also the “Mayan Ayahuasca”.
I have seen proof of neither, but I’ve seen no proof of the opposite either; so for me, it’s still an open idea. The tree that sourced Tepezcohuite is the Mimosa Tree, which grew natively in Brazil and a variant in Egypt. The discovered evidential history is still against these claims. Regardless, it’s intensely powerful.
It took me a month to re-integrate after those ceremonies. It is insanely stupid to do outside of a ceremonial healing context without integration help. It can shock your system so hard, it can be a journey to come back.
Joe Rogan’s famous podcast on DMT… youtube.com/watch?v=E-TZKi is nothing like it… I thought I was dying. That this was it. Goodbye. And then I wasn’t. I experienced a form of presence that was super connected. I disappeared. I was a proverbial hair on a giant head.
I experienced that “time” is a feature of this dimension. I saw the clothes of my ceremonial shamans change in a blink as if I traveled in time to my first ceremony. I saw nature alive and communicating with me. This was with open eyes, right in front of me.
It’s not something I can do justice in a tweet thread. Just know that Bufo and Tepezcohuite are not to be considered casual experiences. I did not experience Bufo, nor will I. For me, medicines secreted from animals have a path ahead of them I don’t want to contribute to.
Bufo and Kambo are different. Bufo is the shorthand for the Bufo Alvarius toad whose secretions provide the medicine referred to as “Sapo”. Kambo is the name of the frog sharing the same name as that particular, non-psychedelic medicine. It’s delivered through burned ‘gates’ in the skin.
To deepen your personal research on all of these, Tim Ferris wrote a great piece here : tim.blog/2021/02/21/urg
My journey was inspired by stories of people healing cancer on a specific regimen of Ayahuasca and Yopo. And separately Iboga. And one on mushrooms at double the ‘hero’ dose of 6 grams. These stories are common in the jungle. I’ve met three direct cases who told me their stories.
I’m still on that learning journey and aim to share the fruits of it publicly when ready. For now, may this long-ass thread be a help to all of you seeking.
A few more details. Yopo is a Columbian plant snuff blown up the nose and another nature-derived DMT-based medicine. It is not particularly popular, possibly due to supply reasons (I haven’t gone deep on it), but it’s ceremony requires hunching uncomfortably over a stump. Friends who serve medicines explored it and spoke highly of the result. I may explore it. If I do, I’ll share. It sounds deeply unpleasant. A two-tubed pipe blowing snuff up your nostrils, which burns then shoots you out of your body on a DMT trip out of your body and into the void… Doesn’t sound fun to me…
Original thread : https://twitter.com/DanlikesJuju/status/1407795163834073093
Anyway – thanks for reading this far if you did. This was originally a stream of consciousness in tweet form, and strange to write. Important nonetheless.