The following words are probably the most difficult — and at the same time most easy ones I ever wrote. I thought about writing this article so many times, years passed by without it being written. Now the time has come for you to read what I have to — and need to — say, because health is a very serious topic.
The following words describe my very first contact with plant medicine:
We arrived in Guatape, Colombia on a sunny summer day. We stayed in a beautiful hostel where time seemed to stop — full of hippies, animal lovers and artists. I was part of a small group of travellers from all over the world, searching for adventure. One day in paradise, we decided to take a trip to the nearby rivers.
We met a guy from Italy, who enchanted us with his story. He used to live in a hippie community in the mountains, exploring plant medicine and human psychology. This was all completely new to me. I have never before taken any kind of plant medicine and honestly had no idea what it did or meant.
That night was a full moon night, and we wanted to do something special. So our new friend had the idea of sharing a plant medicine with us called San Pedro. We all had no idea what could happen and in our childlike ignorance, we agreed to do a ceremony on that magical full moon night.
This is what happened:
Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? These are the original words I wrote in my diary to describe my experience. An experience — that is exactly what it was for me.
But I want to make something very clear. Plant medicine is not for having an experience. It is not another drug, another rush, another adventure.
When I read my words today, I can see very clearly what this night truly was: an illusion of perfection. This beautiful hippie idea of being connected with nature, feeling unconditional love and riding a wave of wonderful feelings.
Yes, the medicine is pure. But we are not.
That is why these kinds of ‘experiences’ are simply illusions.
It is not for nothing that it is called plant medicine — medicine exists for the sick to heal. And in order to heal, you will have to face your illness, your demons, your shadows. And trust me this isn’t a fun ride. It’s hard work.
Sadly, many people do not understand the real significance and purpose of plant medicine. They are using it for a trip, to feel good and forget their reality. They may think they are connecting with nature and pure love, and the medicine definitely can cause these feelings, but we have to be really careful with not falling into the trap of illusion.
Love is not something to be played with.
It is not a timed state you reach by taking something. It is our truest nature. It is always here, there, everywhere. But we cloud our true state with traumas, problems, ideas, concepts, emotions, thoughts, desires and more. The medicine is here to assist us in the process of cleaning up and thus revealing who we really are.
But before realising this, I had to step into a few more holes. My ‘experience’ was only the first of many to come. Later that year I went to a community that lived in the mountains of Colombia. Then I went to a hippie festival.
People were taking plant medicine like there was no tomorrow. They didn’t eat and rarely slept. They lost themselves in a fanatic idea of service. But what they really did was helping their ‘patients’ to be more lost.
Ceremonies were announced like spontaneous evening events. ‘You have nothing to do tonight? Why don’t we do an ayahuasca ceremony?’ Shocking. I found a full jar of San Pedro standing next to a camp. Someone had left it there for everyone to share.
The argument ’the medicine belongs to everybody’ is absolutely dangerous.
Yes, the medicine grows in nature and nature is under no ownership of anyone. But some things are fact: The elders who collect the medicine spend hours of energy preparing it in a way it truly serves the people. It took them almost a lifetime to study the plant in order to be able to heal through them. This knowledge they receive from generation to generation is thousands of years old and has been protected with the blood of many elders.
There is so much more behind a cup of medicine than we assume.
So if we do not have the knowledge, experience and skills to share the medicine, let’s trust the ones that have. Not the next door hippie or self-acclaimed spiritual master, but the people who respect, protect and study the tradition for many many years.
I know so many people who make a fortune with the medicine. And I know even more elders who are struggling to feed their community. It makes me sad.
If you are willing to invest the blood and tears to learn from the ones who know, it is only fair that at one point you will share the medicine to help others to heal. But if you think that after a course or a few ceremonies or a retreat you can be a self-acclaimed shaman and make good money by sharing medicine, and not even have the consciousness of giving back to the territory and communities — you are on the path of self-destruction.
The experiences I had 3 years ago left me with a lot of serious consequences. It actually made me more lost. It opened processes I didn’t understand. And yes, I could excuse myself because I didn’t know better at that time. I could go into the role of a victim. But ignorance is no excuse for irresponsible actions. I didn’t show respect for the ancient tradition, the precious knowledge, the sacred medicine protected by many elders who have given their lives for this.
And because I did it, accepted my mistakes and learned what really lies behind the use of medicinal plants, I feel the responsibility to share this. Don’t make the same mistakes. It isn’t necessary.
Luckily I have had the chance to get to know a real medicine man who sustains a territory and a family. I have seen real spiritual people taking care of their relationships and nourishing their land.
I have taken part in a lot of plant medicine ceremonies that made me face my own fears and darkness. It wasn’t always easy. Actually, it was pretty tough. But not because of the medicine, solely because I made it hard.
We make our lives hard — that is what we humans do, isn’t it?
I don’t know more than others, but I know what life has taught me.
- First, you need to make mistakes.
- Second, you need to feel the consequences of your actions.
- Third, you need to accept and forgive that which has already happened.
- Fourth, you need to get up and do it better.
That is how I learned, and this is how I can share this tiny piece of advice with you.
If you resonate with it, that is great. If you don’t, that is great too. Sometimes we have to make the mistake ourselves in order to learn.
I am writing these words for you, for me, for the elders and the guardians of the medicine. I cannot put into words what the medicine has done for me, nor will I ever grasp or intend to understand it. All I feel in my heart is pure and utter gratefulness. For almost all my life I was lost, searching for something to fill the dark hole I was feeling.
Through the medicine, I found the answer.
And all I want for each and every human on this planet is to get the chance to find all the answers they are so desperately looking for.
We all deserve to find ourselves.
If you are interested in knowing more about my experience, the projects I work with in Colombia and the medicine men I am connected to, don’t hesitate to contact me — I am always happy to share.
The organisation I work with is called Uba Sua, indigenous language for “Seed of the Sun” ☀️
Thank you for appreciating my art!