Plant Medicine

The Teachings of the Forest

 

In all of my years of study into the different mystery schools, I have yet to encounter a spiritual path that is as integrated, as wholistic and as direct as with the study of plant medicines and their supportive traditions. As with other paths that I have studied,  I have chosen to deepen my practice and devote myself fully to the exploration of this field in utmost depth. To limit the study of this realm to plant teachers alone will be like studying only a few poses of Yoga, and assume you comprehend the vastness of the Hindu culture. The study of plant medicine is a journey of profound exploration and integration of body, mind, spirit, and soul. While walking this path one is required for utmost courage, sincerity and a lot of perseverance.

The first stage would be to find the right shaman, Pajé or facilitator that truly encompasses not only the know-how of the plants but also the understanding of the therapeutic nature of approaching a spiritu-religious practice. One must approach this journey with utmost sacredness and the willingness to follow through with dedication and study. Coming in contact with the medicine world takes preparation in all levels – physical, mental, and spiritual. It involves dieting, meditation and the willingness to transform in every way imaginable.

Primarily, walking this path means working with entheogens – sacred master plants which are used as a sacrament in a holy ceremony leading to the expansion of consciousness and a deep journey of self-inquiry.  Once you partake, in a ceremony, with a master plant, your life will never be the same. Your concepts of reality and the possibility of what you can come in contact with are going to be challenged, expanded and lead you to an endless journey of transformation.

There are infinite ways of exploring these realms. So many types of plants, so many forms of ceremony, so many different facilitators and numerous approaches to accompany you on this journey. In this section, I will attempt to explore and bring out to light the different approaches, different schools and the deeper spiritual practices that accompany the study of this path.

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Ayahuasca – The Path of Spirit

In India, ancient scriptures divide spiritual paths into two main roads. The path of the monkey and the path of the cat. The path of the monkey implies, that similarly to the way the baby monkey has to reach and cling to his mother when she moves around, the practitioner has to make his own efforts in order to reach the peaks of spiritual experience. It is the aspirant who has to practice, meditate or in other words work towards his spiritual goals. The path of the cat on the other hand is the path of devotion. The kitten walks about the playground and when in danger meows loud enough for his mother to come and pick her up by her neck. Bhakti, or the path of devotion seems somewhat similar. The devotee chants, or “meows” to the divine above asking to be rescued. In other words, the effort, the salvation comes by the grace of God.

Hape – Sickness Happéns

Somewhat reluctant, I make my way and sit in front of her. She is serene, centered, peaceful and quiet. She hears me approach and opens her eyes, nodding in approval. A slight fear creeps in, “What if it hurts? What if I purge? What will I feel?”…

She picks up a small glass vial and a beautiful hand made Tipi, a tubular Amazonian bone, and resin weapon. She pours the powder out of the vial, measuring the grayish grains in the palm of her hand, tapping the bottle with her fingers, and flattening the medicine in a neat fashion. Tap, tap, tap, I observe as more of the powder makes its way onto the surface, and with it, my fears increase and my breathing quickens.

Ayahuasca – The Resurrection

There are many ways to sit with mother Ayahuasca. There are ceremonies of light and ceremonies of darkness. Circles of singing and circles of silence. Religious ceremonies and those of just dancing and happiness. In many ceremonies though, the theme of death and resurrection is almost always present.

The first cup signifies the choice and willingness to face the dark. The courageous act of closing our eyes and facing our inner world. Be it what may, we are choosing to visit the darkest recesses of our subconscious and bring them out to light.

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