In Search of Sweetness ~ Reflections on Peru


I recently returned from Peru.Though I have been back for over two weeks I felt like I actually 'came  back' (to earth) a few days ago. I was not there long but I may as well have been on the moon with the amount of time it has taken me to re-acclimatize. We spent most of our time  in the Andes working closely with shamans and priests experiencing numerous ceremonies and healings and blessings.I was completely transformed by the experience. So much so that it has taken me a while to process everything. They were experiences I will always treasure.Tmaria&manuel'13he shamans we worked with spoke Quechua. It is the Incan Andean  language. Many also speak Spanish but the majority of people from the mountains or smaller communities  only speak Quechua.Our guide was explaining a few years ago Quechua was dying out, not that many people spoke it. Today it is coming back. Most children will learn Quechua during their first few years and then they learn Spanish. He was very happy about this because he loved the language.(With Maria & Manuel ~ Q'ero Paccas (priests)He said it is a very Sweet language. He said this with such depth of feeling, we all took notice. I had never hear anyone describe a language as 'sweet' before and he was so sweet saying it. It was a moment that has stayed with me.After spending 15 days with people speaking Quechua I can say with certainty that our guide was absolutely right. It IS a Sweet language spoken by Sweet people.The people who speak it do so with love in their hearts; for their people, for their culture, for their brothers and sisters, and a reverence for the earth, and all of nature. The language is exactly as they are. Heartfelt and True.We learned many things on this trip but the love and the sweetness is what has stayed with me the most. Juvenile Ruby-throated Hummingbird (archilochus colubris)Just as the hummingbird that collects the nectar from flowers, we all went through our own journey collecting our own sweet experiences and memories.Even in the Despachos (offerings for mother earth) there was always sweetness present in the form of flowers, sugar, candies and cookies. These are always a part of the offering because the people believe Pachamama (mother earth)  is similar to a little girl and that she enjoys sweets.Reflecting on my past experiences with Pachamama I have never experienced her as a sweet candy loving young girl. In ceremony I have felt her as a loving mother, stern mother, wise teacher, healer,  but I  never as a little girl excited to get a treat. The image that conjured up made me smile. Why not? Aren't we all children at heart. Why would the earth mother be any different?childflowerjoySo many experiences on this trip, but right now what stands out the most is the connection I made with the earth, with the people, with the sacred places we visited, and with myself.ALL parts of myself but especially that little sweet child inside. The one who loves to throw her arms in the air on a sunny day and twirl. The one who says yes to everything. The one who springs out of bed at 6am because she is so excited what the day will bring. The one who loves breathing in the fresh air and being outside all day. The one who gets lost in playing. The one who loves everyone and everything. The one who sees the bright side of any situation. And much much more.I connected with my inner little girl  on this trip and it feels really really good.Since I've been back I've been playing more, laughing more, creating more, and am more patient and loving in my relationships with others.childjoytwirlI think that Peruvian sweetness has rubbed off on me a little and it's all good. I find I am loving myself more-ALL parts of myself.This experience has changed and blessed my life and transformed my approach to life, and my goals and dreams for the future.They are as large and colorful as a Koricancha (Quechua for Rainbow)I have much more to share but have been at a loss for words to describe the depth of experiences I have had on this trip. I know! Me! A loss for words?! LOL. I will post more about Peru in the near future but for in the meantime a Very Large Solpayki, (‘thank you’ in Quechua) to my soul brothers and sisters who accompanied me on this sacred journey, the beautiful healers and teachers we met, our Amazing guides, Pachamama for holding us lovingly as we laughed cried and healed, the sacred Apus(mountains) for sharing their wisdom and magic and becoming a very large part of us, Inti (the sun) for shining every day we were there, and all of you reading this right now. Peru is Truly magical!I promise I will blog more about Peru once I integrate everything a bit better. : ) in the meantime I feel the pictures speak for themselves and you can see more HERE.If you are feeling you would like to have your own Peruvian experiences I will be taking another group next Spring and will have details soon. Email me if you would like more information.With Love,Kerri

Nature Heals All

Every tree, every plant, has a spirit. People may say that a plant has no mind. I tell them that a plant is alive and conscious. A plant may not talk, but there is a spirit in it that is conscious, that sees everything, which is the soul of the plant, its essence, what makes it alive.—Pablo Amaringo, Peruvian ayahuasqueroWhile I was in Peru I was aware that the above quote is absolutely true. The plants are very much alive and conscious. Not conscious as you and I are, but conscious just the same. Something else I realized in Peru on this last trip is that Peruvians treat their natural spaces with deep reverence and respect. The outside world is their church, their sanctuary. They do not retreat within 4 walls as we do in the west. They live amongst nature...inside of it. And it is inside of them.Here we have many beautiful natural places and we may make time to enjoy nature, but many of us do not respect, revere it or worship it as a wise source of council or even attempt to really understand it.In Peru nature is often consulted for the solution to a problem. It is considered the wisest of teachers. For every illness and imbalance in the body, there is a corresponding plant remedy to heal this. The jungle is the pharmacy. The visionary plants will often let the curanderos (healers) know which plant is required to heal the illness or imbalance. There are no such thing as doctors in the jungle.Being in nature-as they are there-you slow down. Your heartbeat slows it's rhythm. It stops beating to the beat of all of our electrical devices that it is entrained too and moves back into sync with the earth mother..the heartbeat of the earth.That in itself can provide miraculous healing.My first day in the jungle after I unpacked and settled in, I noticed this right away. I found myself looking for something to do. I asked Marta(the cook) if I could help. She said no. I hauled water for her instead. I offered to work on building a hut the men were working on. I reluctantly retired to my hammock. I had trouble with the ultra slow pace of the jungle. By the second day I noticed, I was walking slower, breathing slower, I was becoming the land.As I was in the jungle they were preparing things for a group that would be coming after me. They had created a schedule of activities to satisfy their needs of knowing & doing. They were creating an 'experience' for them because in their eyes they knew North Americans needed to be 'entertained.'It was interesting, and ironic to be from North America, to recognize the need for this, while having become so much the jungle at that point I found myself wondering if the group really needed all of that. Wouldn't it be better to just let them acclimatize and become the just Be?I knew I had appreciated that experience. I am by definition North American , and yet by this time I was so in sync with the place I felt I was more the jungle than anything else. As though to confirm this, near the end of my stay, 2 outside visitors thought I lived there. I laughed, as my Spanish was terrible. I did not understand how they could be so mistaken. But on another level they were absolutely right. The jungle had become my home. I was in harmony with that space. I had become it. It had become me.I think this is why I had a difficult time returning here and reacclimatizing to the busy-ness of north America. I could feel the energy of it when I got off the plane. The buzz of activity, with an almost underlying panic to it.Is it any wonder why so many people are on anti depressants and anti anxiety medications here?Peruvians tend to be slower, more methodical. I also found them to be honest. What you see is what you get. Here people spend so much time and energy and money on the illusion of image they are needing to create. It can be exhausting to watch.Many South Americans believe in North America that we have a sickness. One that is fueled by our need to consume...and all of our 'stuff'. In Peru many people have next to nothing and yet they are happy. They are content.Most do not want our wealth (although they recognize money and resources bring convenience)They prefer a simple life. They do not want our life because they do not want our 'sickness'I love North America. This is my home. Yet I think we can learn a lot from these beautiful people. We have the benefit of financial resources here. Most of us do not live in poverty. Not financially. But there is a real poverty of spirit. We need to reclaim our natural spaces in our world and within ourselves. Spend some time outside. When was the last time you laid on the ground andfelt the heartbeat of the earth? When was the last time you went for a walk in the woods by yourself and it was so silent you could feel everything around you? When was the last time you sat still without a feeling of a need to be somewhere or do something? Nature is talking to us and communicating to us all the time. We need to remember how to listen. She offers us medicine, wisdom, and harmony of spirit. She is always there. Welcoming and waiting for us to take the first step into her embrace.

Into The Great Unknown...The Journey Continues

Before I found myself on the plane returning to Peru, Ayahuasca had 'magically' helped me complete my homework (from the last ceremony) by bringing the people and opportunities into my life right up until a few days before I left. So I went to Peru ready for the next phase in my journey. I trusted 100% and knew everything was going to be wonderful.At the airport my good fortune resulted in my bumping 3 lines. I do not know why, but airport staff moved me a few times to a faster line or had me bypass lines altogether. (I was not flying first class either) My 'too heavy' bag was tagged without a comment. (I had envisioned myself with bag open, articles all over the floor attempting to repack) I was trying to go on this trip with one checked bag. I knew I was allowed two, but I was attempting to travel 'light'. So the ease of checking my luggage was a relief and I gratefully acknowledged all of the 'airport magic' I experienced. I thought to myself, if this continues this will be the best trip ever!My flight left around 6pm. I had been up since 5am for bootcamp, so I was tired but I do not sleep well on planes and slept maybe 30 minutes total. Arrived in Lima at 12:30am. Had to wait in the airport until 7am to take my second flight. I tried to sleep in the chairs with little luck. It was my birthday and I felt like I had been partying all night. I had now been awake for 24 hours. I arrived in Pucallpa around 9am, was picked up and had a motor taxi ride. That was fun. Pucallpa does not have many cars. The main form of transport is motor car-a kind of buggy attached to a motorcycle that seats 2 comfortable or 3 squishy. We were 3. The luggage goes on a small rack on the back and you need to hang onto your bags so that they do not go flying into the street. The motor cars are loud and they are zooming everywhere. also Pucallpa is hot. around 33-35 degrees. I was melting most of my time there. I was then taken to the casa I would be staying at. I thought we were going to be taking the 6 hour boat to the jungle right from the airport, but learned that we would be staying in Pucallpa for a couple of days first. At first I was not too sure about that (Pucallpa is noisy and hot) but it ended up being a good thing as the ceremonies in Pucallpa were excellent.So I arrived, got organized. I was beyond tired at this point and it was so noisy I knew I would not be able to sleep. So we went to the market to get hammocks for the boat, some fruit and then to the internet cafe.When we returned I learned we would be doing ayahuasca that evening. I was not sure what to think about that. I was beyond exhausted and Ayahuasca ceremonies are traditionally done in the evening. This one was to start around 10pm. Needless to say I did not nap. I tried. too noisy. So I ended up staying up till around 3am....about 46 hours without sleep...a new record for me. In Pucallpa they have a tradition that you stay up all night on your birthday and do not sleep. I did not find out about this tradition until a few days later but am happy to say that I followed it just like a local would..and not by choice. But I survived and the ceremony was fantastic.(photo-Ayahuasca being prepared)The place we were at was near a church that had service every night from 8:30 -9:30pm. It was loud. They had microphones(that sounded like megaphones). You soon learn Spanish words for 'light', 'holy spirit', and so forth. Apparently some nights it could get very loud. That is also why the Ayahuasca was done after 9:30pm.There was a ceremony house used for the medicine ceremonies. Around 9:30 we gather inside with a mat or blanket or cushion to sit upon, water and whatever else you wish to bring. I had a few ceremonial objects with me.You are then given a bucket just in case you purge. They place the bucket right in front of you but (seeing as I believe your mind creates your reality), and I did not want to look at 'such a bucket' in ceremony, I put it behind me. I have been lucky so far that I have never been nauseous or had any ill effects from Ayahuasca.The maestros are rarely sick unless they have been working on someone who is really unwell and they often purge on their behalf. The maestros are very clean and clear from working with the medicine so often.The more you do the medicine, the cleaner your body becomes and you no longer become sick, or purge. That is what I was told.Having said that, vommitting is quite common on Ayahuasca and is considered normal, and encouraged (as your body is releasing toxins). To give you an idea, out of a room of 10 people at least 6 usually vomit. Some people get diarrea that same evening or the next day.Regarding visions some people can have violent or terrifying experiences. Ayahuasca is wanting to clear you of all negativity. If you have traumas or illnesses or horrors in your past all of those come to the surface to be released. The clearer you become the lighter your experience with this medicine becomes.The maestros sing healing songs during ceremony called icaros. They are designed to lead you on an inner journey and to facilitate healing on all levels of being. They are incredibly powerful. The icaros on their own are powerful healers. The Ayahuasca on its own is a powerful healer. The two together create a formidable team in which illness and imbalance does not stand a chance. Nor does the ego. This medicine will lay you down to your base level in seconds. The icaros also calm you if any fears come up. They give the mind something to hold onto, as an anchor to this reality, if the medicine is too strong and the person becomes lost and frightened. They are beautiful calming, lulling songs. I love the icaros. The first time I heard one I remembered my past. The same way I felt when I smelled sage for the first felt like real home.When I heard my first icaro I wept with joy that I had found it again. It was like discovering a long lost best you forget about until you see them again and upon recognizing them all of the old memories of how much you love them come flooding back.More to come.....(picture above-sample of the colours in an Ayahuasca vision)

Into The Great Unknown....The Journey Begins

The Beginning....My intention is to Blog to a degree my recent experiences in Peru for thosewho are curious, and for myself to help remember the ancient wisdom that wasunearthed.However I cannot even begin to share this recent experience I had inPeru without some background information as to how this came about. I was recently in Peru this past April and had opportunity to participate in anAyahuasca ceremony. I did not know much about this plant medicine. I had not researched it ahead of time. I went into the experience based on intuitionand blind faith alone. I did know one person who had tried it in the pastand when I told them of my intention to try it they were very negative aboutit. They then went on to tell me horror stories of frightening visions andbody purging...severe vomitting and diarrhea. So although I recognized thatwas 'their' experience I started to doubt myself and wonder if I was making the best choice for myself. Although I did feel my experience would be uniquely my own, going into the ceremony, I was a mix of excited and apprehensive. Well truth be told, part of me was terrified and thought I might die, but at the same time I knew from deep within my soul it was something I needed to experience.I had another friend who had never tried it but had researched it andencouraged me to do the same to 'prepare'. I heard them out but that did not seem right to me. I wanted to go into the experience clean with nopreconceived notions. They thought I was being naive.I can say this now with 100% absolute certainty after having experienced this plant many times. You cannot prepare for ayahuasca. You just can't. The thought that you can is your mind wanting to control the experience, and if you go in with a 'controlling mind she will tear you apart. You are not in control of the experience, the plant is. You must surrender to the plant. And breathe. A lot.Now I just want to let you know (and this is especially for those of you whothink I have gone wandering like a fool into the jungle to fry my mind on psychoactive drugs) that I live a pretty 'clean' existence...other than chocolate... and coffee(when I drink it). I rarely consume alcohol and rarely take medications....not even Tylenol. I try to heal with natural or homeopathicremedies or energy work first. I did try marijuana in university and although interesting never felt the need to continue. I have never smoked and Itake pretty good care of myself for the most part.My first experience with a plant medicine was December 2010 and was 100% an intuitively guided decision to participate. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. I had a vision in which I saw myself drinking a 'tea' with a shaman who sang songs and rattled over me. So when I was invited right after having this vision to a medicine ceremony(in a completely unexpected and random way) I found myself accepting the invitation not understanding what that meant.So my very first plant medicine experience was actually not Ayahuasca but with Huachuma (San Pedro). The experience and visions were incredible and unforgettable and very helpful in terms of personal and spiritual growth but I found the experience itself overwhelming. I went so far out of my body I almost did not return and the physical effects (nausea and low grade paralysis) I was not prepared for. I promptly decided that although I received valuable information I would never do it again. I did not regret the experience of that ceremony as I did receive a lot of valuable information along with the strong feeling that I needed to travel to Peru. That feeling never went away and continued to become stronger, so I trusted it and went to Peru in April 2011.You have probably noticed there seems to be a fair bit of blind faith and 'following of intuition' in my choice making process so far. That is because I have learned over the years that my best choices are made in this way and so I trust those feelings-more than anything else, and as a result am never led astray.The April trip to Peru had Huachuma as part of it but after my lastexperience with this medicine I was very hesitant to try it again. My body is extremely sensitive to everything. That ceremony was almost too much for me. After speaking to the shaman on the trip about my concerns I decided to take his advice and give it another go. I am so glad I did as it was an entirely different experience. We were outside. We had personal space (in the last one too many people were crammed into a small room-I was feeling my 'stuff' and everyone else's-the joy of being empathic). This ceremony was vastly different. It was beautiful, expansive and enlightening.On the April trip Ayahuasca medicine was an optional choice. I was not sure if I was going to try it. I wanted to but was not sure if it would be a good idea for me (being so ultra sensitive). I knew I needed to approach working with Ayahuasca with deep respect as a medicine teaching, and I realized it was a very serious choice. I must have been feeling intuitively already the large degree in which it would change my life.When it was offered on this trip, I knewthat I had to overcome any fears I may have because it was very important that I experience it.I had been told Huachuma was the masculine plant and Ayahuasca was the feminine. I was also told Huachuma was gentle and Ayahuaca was very very strong by comparison. This concerned me a little as I had very intense experiences and visioning with Huachuma. I could not imagine anything stronger than that. This also added to my existing concern that I may not survive the Ayahuascaexperience.Ayahuasca is not a plant you can become addicted to. In fact it has ahistory of helping people overcome addictions. It has also helped heal mood disorders like depression and anxiety as well as heal cancer and other major illnesses. It has had such good results that many people are now making the trip from the west to try it out.It is not only the Ayahuasca that does the healing. It is paired withpowerful healing songs (icaros) sung by the curandaros (trained shamanichealers). The icaros and the plant medicine work together for a completehealing. Although they each have healing merit on their own- together-any illness or imbalance can be addressed.Everyone's experience is unique to them. Some people do have a purge from the medicine(gentle or violent) while others do not.I am lucky in that my body recognized and loved Ayahyasca the first momentit touched my lips. I heard loud and clear in my mind. 'Be at peace. This isYour medicine. You have done this before.'The medicine was warm as it entered my body and I felt an energetic heat spread to my heart. It felt wonderful.This made me relax . I was aware I was going into the vast unknown and had no idea what to expect. I welcomed it with open arms. Once I had emptied that cup I knew I had jumped off thecliff into the abyss.We were seated on the floor in total darkness for the entire ceremony. You could not see anything.Huachuma is traditionally an outdoor daytime ceremony and Ayahuasca is traditionally done at night in the darkness because you are meant to go inwards...into be in face it and acknowledge it...and to heal from it.So once drinking the medicine we sat in our spots in a circle and waited. We were in a dark, cold mountainside cave like structure. You could not see anything but the lit end of the sacred tobacco the curandaro was smoking. Ihad a continuous internal voice speaking to me from the moment I drank the medicine. I was receiving continuous information. It came on like a slow blanket of relaxation andinsight. I thought to myself...this is ok...I can handle this...and I relaxed into you would relax into a warm bath.Then it hit. And when I say hit...I mean hit. Right in the frontal lobe. Floodedwith colour, sound, light information at such a rapid fire pace like a massive computer download into my brain. It was like receiving separatestreams of fast motion information and pictures from several differenttopics and sources all at once. Like watching 20 TV screens and beingpresent and aware with the information on each one even though the movieswere fast forward. It was also like being on a high speed roller coaster. I became dizzy. I thought I was going to faint so I got into child'spose(a yoga pose where you are essentially on your knees. Head on theground. Like a seed or fetal position) this made me feel less faint but itdid not stop the flow of information. I think I stayed in that position forat least 3-4 of the 6 hours. I no longer had a concept of body, or time. I had surrendered to the medicine. I waselsewhere.I proceeded to be heavily educated by the plant in a very short period of time.I have to mention that to me, Ayahuasca is  a person, a live being. As real as you or me. I experience her as the Great Mother of all.  She appeared to me this first time as a strong and (almost terrifying) Kali-like feminine energy (equally capable of giving life or taking it away). She was seated in a cave surrounded by snakes. At one point during the information stream, I asked a question, and the realized my error. She just gave me a 'look' (you know that look? The one mothers use on their children?) and she said very sternly to me 'Pay attention. I'm teaching you'. She scared me a bit. I will be honest.She was like a stern mother. But I can see now how she had so much information to give to me and limited time and she wanted me present patient and focussed. I was shown the history of humanity from the beginning of time forward into our future and beyond. I was shown my entire life, plan from pre conception to death. I got to see and experience my future death. This was a beautiful comforting enlightening experience which was to this day one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. I was shown absolutely everything about myself & my life. Everything had ever done in my life that I was not proud of, every time I had lied. Every time I had hurt someone either intentionally or unintentionally. I was shown my fears and insecurities. It was like meeting the person who had made be and she knew everything about me even the things that were hidden from myself. I got to look at all of it. I got to see people in my life right now who thought I was upset with them (even though I was not & that was their misinterpretation) I got to see itall. I was then given homework. Very specific things to clear, heal and balance. And this is only a small sampling of what was given to me. And then near the end when the information began to slow down she said, 'The next time I see you will be in the will come to my home and we will continue this great work.'I did not think anything of what she had said, until the following day when I was invited to the jungle to do Ayahuasca. It was such a weird random thing.(and I am used to weird random things....but the way this happened so fast still surprised me). My first reaction was to say no. I thought it was impossible. I can't return in the busy life won't allow for that. How would I get the time, the money, etc. Not to mention I was not sure if  I could handle doing it again. It was so intense.I decided to surrender the whole idea  to the universe. If I was meant to go, then I would find myself there. Once I did that, everything came together for me to go easily. It was literally a series of mini miracles. And so on July 18th (the day before my birthday) my journey back to Peru began. I was going to work with the Auahyasca plant in a remote jungle location just as she said I would. In her home of over 2000 years with Shipibo medicine healers. I was going home. And I knew I was going home. I recognized the Amazon in the same way a mother knows her own child. Intimately. I had such a fierce connection with the land right away that it took my breath away. It was a homecoming for me in every sense of the word.More to come soon....