Part 6: Join the tribe.

Medicine ceremonies were front and center in ancient mesoamerican cultures. Indigenous people, who were much more in balance with their environment, were wiped out by Empire and that legacy of repressing the natural human practice of shamanism is still felt today.

Niles: In terms of the resurgence of shamanism in the industrialized first world, this practice is being rediscovered, reapplied and reworked. So in the 60’s revolution for example, with LSD, where people are just taking an entheogen without a shaman, can you talk about the difference between what it is to take an entheogen just by itself versus taking one with a medicine person?

Rak: Some of the many important points about this shamanic resurgence is it’s not just about the medicine itself. It’s about the context and the container and the lineage, and the protection and the integrity of how you approach these things.

In indigenous cultures that had shamanic works that were done, there were times to shamanize and then the shaman would do it. In some cultures like the Shipibo in Peru, they would often take the medicine on behalf of their patients so the patients would not drink the ayahuasca. In other Mesoamerican and South American tribes, the entire tribe would drink or partake of their particular medicine and journey together for their group healing.

Some of the many things I’ve learnt over the years through ayahuasca and my relationship with it, is that it’s not just about the medicine and drinking it on its own. It’s more like, are you in a protected space? Are you in a ceremonial space? Is the container you are doing the work in safe and protected? Do you know how to protect yourself? Etc.

Because what you are opening yourself up to, not just the ayahuasca or the entheogens, but all of the psychedelics essentially, is that you are sort of peeling back, I guess like an “astral condom.” In the sense of your protection from all these entities. If you go swimming in a lake which is filled with microorganisms then you might get sick. If you go to the astral, as above so below, there are energetic organisms which exist according to indigenous shamanic cultures on these scales of being, and we are just thrusting ourselves into alien territory and we don’t know what is happening.

Jewelli enjoying her time in the sun on the boat ride over to Tiburon Island. There are massive sensitivities from indigenous peoples regarding white Westerners co-opting shamanistic practices as legacy of Empire. However, we were once a global shamanic culture and we will one day return to being a global shamanic culture.

In the West there’s been this idea that people can just take these substances like they were going to take a tab of acid or a drug and it’s not like that. You can, but there are consequences and the recommendations from medicine people and elders is that these things are sacred and they must be done in the right way and with the right relationship.

And because of that sacredness it’s really important to have lineage or connection to someone who can teach us the correct ways to do this. Because we are opening ourselves up to a vast ecology of energetic entities which may stay with you after the ceremony.

There’s been many documented cases in the Western ayahuasca tradition of “passengers” or things that come in that need to be cleansed and gotten rid of later. Also, we are going into their space and we’re invading their space. It’s sort of like some astral imperialism and it’s like here come the humans. You may have the keys to a car, it doesn’t mean you know how to drive. It doesn’t mean you know the safest places to drive. It doesn’t mean you know what all the things on the dashboard dials mean.

This is an incredibly ancient art: shamanism. It’s what most of the people who hold the responsibility of being a shaman trained for decades to master.

You need to be protected and to be integral in doing the work and some Westerners are just being infantile about it. There is a quest for exploration. There is a quest for an excitement to be part of this expanded consciousness and awareness which I share. That’s understandable. But do it the right way. Do it protected. Do it with integrity. Do it with help.

Rak and Octavio embrace Dave after his extremely trying toad medicine experience. Your fellowship in this realm is a key component to your development and growth and that’s why it’s important to find the others.
Outreach to other people, other communities, and other people that work with indigenous lineages because if you’re really feeling this call to work with these substances, join the family. Join the tribe. Become part of this movement that is happening and you will get more out of it this way and you’ll be safer, more held, and contained.
Octavio and Seri village elder Don Pancho shake hands.

Niles: Yeah, and indigenous culture has kept the lineage of that shamanistic practice which was done over a long period of time and practiced over a long period of time. I don’t want to say more or less, perfected over a long period of time, but understood. So people taking LSD in the 60’s, in a culture that’s new to rediscovering a sacrament hasn’t had the actual time lineage to discover it’s shamanistic capabilities or practices yet. However, should that sacrament continue to be used in that culture, they would in fact surely end up shamanizing with it and getting more out of it.

To be continued…

WATCH Episode 1: Dr. Octavio Rettig and the Sonoran Desert Toad

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