I just kept thinking. “Get it out.” “Get it out.” “Do your work.” “Do your work”.
There's a saying amongst those who work with plants as healers, and that saying goes something like “hearing the call of the plant medicine.” During the new moon of February 2023, I decided to undertake an ancient Kambo experience. In my case, I heard the calling of a different medicine- frog secretion. It's not psychedelic. It's also not fun.
The spirit of the frog medicine cut through the noise of my everyday life as I sat scrolling through social media. It appeared to me through the vessel of a medicine worker here in Vancouver, Alicia Lucas.
Her website Sapospirit.ca popped up in my feed, and I was instantly drawn into her world. I intuitively knew I would seek her guidance as I took my healing journey to the next iteration. This next iteration included an ancient Kambo ritual. I messaged Alicia and said I'd like to partake in a Kambo experience, and she called the next day.
We chatted about my reasons why. We spoke about intention and some of the things to expect. Alicia said, ” Once you decide to work with the medicine, it begins to work with you before the ceremony. Don't be surprised if you start having strange dreams or dreams of frogs or other insights.”
With 70% confidence and 30% trepidation, I signed a waiver outlining some of the possible side effects of Kambo that I should expect:
I spent just a few moments Googling ” Death by Kambo” and saw that there had been a recent rise in concern. As the practice increases in popularity, so do the risks. There was also a warning of the more severe side effects, such as increased heart rates and drastic drops in blood pressure. Yes, heart attacks are a possibility.
If you've felt the calling to undergo Kambo or Sapo, as it is sometimes called, you have a longing to remove toxins, or stored trauma, anger, or stuck energy from your body. It is literally not for the faint of heart, and you must feel ready to purge and let go.
Kambo is a traditional ceremony practiced for centuries by indigenous tribes such as the Mayoruna, Matses, Marubo, Amahuaca, Kashinawa, Katukina, Yawanawá, and the Kaxinawá in the Amazon Rainforest.
From the earliest of origins, we've heard that many tribes performed Kambo rituals before a great battle. Early historical accounts tell us that the indigenous used Kambo as strong medicine to strengthen the body's natural defences, to ward off “panema” (bad luck), and in “rituals to increase successful hunting outcomes.
However, if you dig a bit more, you'll find some historical gold on sites like this! Here’s a quote I swiped from them:
“This Kaxinawá legend tells that the Indians of the tribe were very ill, and their medicine man (Pajé in Brazil) had done everything possible to cure them. All medicinal herbs known were used, but none helped. Under the effect of sacred plant medicines, he entered the forest and, whilst there, received a visit from a female spirit of the forest. She brought in her hands a frog, from which she took a white secretion and taught the Pajé how to apply it. Returning to the tribe and following the guidelines he had received, the Pajé was able to cure his brothers and sisters. From then on, he was known as Pajé Kampu or Kampum.”
HOW KAMBO IS PERFORMED
During Kambo ceremonies, practitioners use a thin stick to create small burn marks or welts on the participant's skin, usually on the arm or leg. In my case, these burns were placed on my back. One right behind the heart chakra, where I was holding onto anger and resentment, and one on the opposite of my womb, where I was holding onto a lot of trauma from the past. These are traditionally called ‘Gateways’. Kambo is then applied to these open wounds and allowed to penetrate deeply into the body for healing effects.
Now, this is cool. The man who was the first to analyze Kambo in a lab was also twice nominated for a Nobel Peace prize and the first to discover the neurotransmitter Serotonin. Yep, Vittorio Erspamer.
Vittorio Erspamer, an Italian pharmacologist and biochemist, discovered in the 1950s that Kambo was unique among natural substances for its ability to contain peptides. Peptides are small molecules made up of amino acids, which have a wide range of biological activities and can cross the blood-brain barrier. Vittoreo's discovery opened up exciting possibilities for using Kambo as a therapeutic agent with powerful healing properties.
Kambo neuropeptides are a group of proteins derived from the Phyllomedusa Bicolor, the Giant Leaf Frog or Monkey Frog, with many potential medical applications. Kambo neuropeptides are known to be beneficial for treating a wide range of conditions, including depression, migraines, blood circulation problems, vascular insufficiency, organ diseases, skin and eyes issues, fertility problems, hepatitis, cancer, and brain diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Scientists continue to research Kambo neuropeptides to unlock this natural remedy's potential for various conditions. With further study, Kambo could become an important tool for treating multiple disorders and improving overall health.
MY ANCIENT KAMBO EXPERIENCE
During my ancient Kambo experience I ended up working with two other plant medicines, Rapéh and Sananga. I will get into what those were like throughout the next few paragraphs.
I was asked to dry fast the night before and to cut alcohol and junk food days prior, and that is precisely what I did. I stayed away from alcohol for an entire week and limited my intake of fried foods and snacks.
It is here where I want to add a side note, and I am curious if it has anything to do with Kambo or not. It likely has nothing to do with it, but I am leaving the door open to possibilities. A few days before the Kambo experience, I had strange intestinal cramping, almost like mild food poisoning. This continued for three days leading up to the ceremony day. Could it have been the spirit prepping my body? ( It felt very similar ) Also, I did have a dream that I developed an old woman’s face from the kambo experience. I learned later this was a real thing that happens temporarily.
I arrived at Alicia's house at 10:00 am. She had prepared a spot on the living room floor for me, which included a mat, a chakra blanket, two buckets, and a box of tissues. I came with a pillow, my pajamas, and an extra blanket for comfort. I was the only one receiving Kambo medicine that day. I felt lucky to be experiencing a focused one-on-one session. Alicia handed me two large jars of water. “You’re going to need to drink all this” I drank as much as I could.
The ritual began with sound healing and Sananga! According to Alicia's website, ” Sananga has spiritual properties that release our blocked energies emotionally, spiritually, and physically. The more we work with the plant, the more benefits we will feel from it. Sananga can seek out the root of our blockages or diseases and begin to work with our mind, body and spirit to guide us. “
As I lay down, with soft music in the background, Alicia applied two drops to my eyes while they were closed. She then asked me to blink. Instantly I felt what they describe as lightning through my eyes. Tears flowed, and my entire body shuddered in sobs. Don't ask me why, but the sobbing just needed to happen. I am sure Alicia was saying some things, but at that moment, it was just me and what was being expressed through me. Everything else was just background.
Suddenly beautiful resonant frequencies of singing crystal bowls washed over my entire body and soul. Alicia's voice rang out. I was being bathed in a healing sound bath. I felt safe. I have no Idea how long this went on for. Perhaps a good 10-15 minutes.
After I sat back up, we chatted a bit. Alicia checked with me to ensure I was ready to work with the Kambo medicine. I said something like, “Ready as I'll ever be.” I half laughed. Just like my intuition pulled me to this place, I knew I wasn't in for an easy ride here. This was going to suck a lot.
After granting permission, Alicia applied the two burns to my back. She suggested we start “low and slow” since it was my first time trying Kambo. Many folks typically open four gateways, and more seasoned practitioners will open eight or more. But for my un-indoctrinated nervous butt, we're going “low and slow .” I am absolutely fine with this.
The First Five Minutes Of My Kambo Experience
After about 60 seconds, I felt my hands heat up. I could hear my own heart pounding. I instantly put my hands over my heart and forced some slow breaths. After another minute, my groin also heated up, like a seeping saturation moving from the center to my thighs. I half thought I had peed my pants. This happens. I thought I might check and see, and just as I was about to open my eyes to look and touch, I felt the most intense rush of pulsing vibrations move to my head through my neck. Like an instant worst-ever hangover, an instant migraine, like a balloon about to pop. My face was swelling, possibly turning into a frog, I don't know.
“Screw checking”, I thought; “that's not happening now”. I must mention that interweaving this internal dialogue was a lot of moaning and some tears.
The Next Five Minutes Of My Kambo Experience
I could hear Alicia saying things like… “let the medicine work with you….” I had no choice. This medicine was moving through every part of my body like a super-highway trying to find exits. Which makes sense, I just took poison. My body is trying to get it out, and fast! But It was also scanning my blockages at a rapid pace. This is medicine.
I just kept thinking. “Get it out.” “Get it out.” “Do your work.” “Do your work”.
My body went into turmoil. Alicia appeared right beside me with a rattle singing something like “Kambo, Kambo, Kambo…” I have no idea; I am just glad she's there! The cramping was next level. The nausea was also on another level. Then came the first hurl, a violent vomit session, into the bucket, followed by a few more. There was mild and instant relief, but this medicine was on a mission! I couldn't open my eyes. Time did not exist
The present feeling was like that scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, where Violet eats the blueberry gum and proceeds to float away. This is exactly how I felt; I was floating away, my intestines were on the mat, and I was about to lose consciousness.
All I could manage to communicate out loud was a faint… “I don't like it.”
Suddenly Alicia was in front of me, holding salt. She poured the salt on my hand and told me to lick it. I did. This saved me from passing out!
The Last Five Minutes Of My Kambo Experience
Now I just want to poop myself. No jokes. I mention it to Alicia, and she tells me I have 4 minutes left. Okay, I'll hold on. My head is no longer exploding, the highways inside my body have slowed down a bit, but my intestines want to leave me.
After a few more minutes, we close the gateways, and I am allowed to go to the bathroom by myself. After that it's nap-time.
I lay there for about 15 minutes. I was ready to chit-chat, but I felt like crap. While the Kambo had worn off in intensity, it was still giving my stomach a hard time. That is when Alicia asked If I would like to now try some Rapéh. She mentioned it would calm my stomach right down. She also mentioned that it was a bit of a journey, so I needed to be prepared for that. I was. I love Journeys.
As I sat there on my mat, Alicia explained what would happen next. According to her website:
“ Rapéh is a psychoactive snuff used by the Indigenous people of the Amazon and is prepared by blending roasted leaves of mapacho (variety of tobacco) with ashes of the mocambo tree bark (a member of the Cacao family) – both of which are ground to a fine powder.
This snuff is then blown into both nostrils of the recipient using either a bamboo or bone dispenser. Rapéh can cause burning sensation of the nasal passages and eyes, and can cleanse the sinuses cavities with the release of phlegm. Blood rushes to the head and visions may occur. Traditionally Rapéh was used to experience the future in these visions and communicate with the spirits of plants and animals.”
Alicia asked, “ Are you ready to experience the medicine of Rapéh?” After I nodded, she blew the snuff up one of my nostrils. The burn. Oh my god, the burn! I was holding my head, rocking back and forth, when Alicia said, “ I need to do the other side! “ Okay, okay, I nodded again, another whoosh up the other nostril. Oh my god!! My nasal passages were on fire, pure fire.
I felt it dripping down the back of my throat. I coughed dry ash. Then she disappeared. I was left with the sound of a steady drum and the voice of a wise woman chanting. Suddenly I could hear a forest. “Was it in the soundtrack?” I thought? I don’t know, but I was immersed in what one could only describe as Mother Nature’s Cradle. Billowing around me were lush evergreen and emerald green plants, palm leaves, dark jewel tones of nature, and that woman’s voice; she was communicating with me on a deep level. She was beautiful. I said out loud, “She is beautiful!” She sounded just like my grandmother, who had passed on just over 20 years ago. I wondered “ Was my granny communicating with me through the portal of Rapéh?” I am open to it!
My body felt like there was a cool liquid passing through every limb. Re-aligning and calibrating me after the fire of the Kambo. Soothing sensations, and an overwhelming feeling of love flowed right into my chest. Tears of gratitude came with a smile. I felt a healing I didn’t even know I needed. I felt a hug I didn’t even know I missed, and I felt a power I didn’t even know I had the ability to tap into.
A MOMENT OF ETHICAL CONSIDERATION
There are many who believe that the extraction process stresses frogs out, because their legs are temporarily tied, and in this state, they secret the medicine we use. I dug around and found an interesting defence article in which a representative of the International Association Of Kambo Practitioners states: “The overwhelming majority of native people treat the frogs with great care and respect. Firstly because they believe that to do otherwise would anger the animal spirits and secondly because it would not be in their interest to harm such an important and valuable source of medicine for them.”
For me, it’s hard to throw stones from a glass house considering most of my online activity is aided by a smartphone device that is made of cobalt, which is sourced from slave labor camps in the Congo. I am also not saying Human Rights are more important than Frog Rights. In an ideal paradise, we’d be living without fear of scarcity amongst the plants and animals, and we wouldn’t be stressing out cows for milk, slaughtering baby calves or wearing silk. We are the flawed top of the poop pile.
For those seeking spiritual elevation outside of the material constructs that bind us to this hell, I salute you.
WOULD I DO IT AGAIN?
The ancient Kambo experience is something I would definitely do again. I did feel a boost of energy and assertiveness over the next few days. I’m not sure if all trauma has left me entirely, but I do know that I have made some initial breakthroughs with this practice. The main breakthrough is the realization that the universe is holding me with love, that I am on the right path, and that I am called to work with different or alternative healing modalities. I also believe that these medicines put us in touch with our ancestors.
Do your research when vetting the right healer and check in with your intuition. If you live in the Vancouver area, or want to come visit, I highly recommend Sapospirit.ca