By Shawna Boyce
In October 2013, I had the opportunity to check off a box on my bucket list. I had the good fortune to take a journey to Peru. The intention of the tour was to work with several Shamans to learn and experience their native medicines. As an acupuncturist and energy medicine practitioner this was a dream come true.
We started our experience in the rain forest where we met our first Shaman. Here we would be learning about Ayahuasca, the vine of the dead. We spent 5 days in the jungle and did 3 ceremonies. It was an interesting experience but one I found very difficult both physically and emotionally.
Once we left the rainforest we headed for Cusco and the Andes to meet our next Shaman. Leaving Cusco we drove to Ollantaytambo. The next morning we had had a light breakfast of fruit and tea and headed out early to our location in the foothills of the Andes to meet with Sergey Baranov. We were to spend 3 days doing ceremonies with his medicine. Sergey is not your typical Peruvian Shaman. Not being born into the medicine like other Shamans we met during our time in Peru, Sergey was called by the medicine. His life mission brought him from Russia/Israel/United States to Peru to work with the sacred medicine Huachuma, a.k.a San Pedro.
Our ceremony started with Sergey setting up his altar and blessing the medicine. We each came to him individually and he checked in with us to see how we were feeling about taking the medicine and based the amount accordingly. We drank his dark brew and then he blew smoke over us. Afterwards Sergey served us some coca tea and a piece of chocolate. Although our first day was forecast to be cold and rainy, it ended up being beautiful. The view of the Andes was awesome. There was something special about these mountains. I truly felt I was in a sacred space.
After everyone had taken their turn, Sergey spoke of his journey to the medicine and some of his experiences. As the medicine started to move within me I had this urge to get away from those around me and walked off to find a nice shady area by a big tree. As I sat, my mind began to wander towards my family. One of my intentions for the trip was to find some direction in my life. During the afternoon I wept until an amazing vision came to me through the medicine. In that moment, I felt nothing but unconditional love and had this knowing that this was the message I had been seeking;
“IT’S TIME TO TAKE BACK YOUR POWER!”
The rest of the afternoon I spent lying under the tree in a maze of color unlike any I had witnessed before. I felt I was flying and truly wanted to stay in this sensation of love and beauty. However, we needed to catch a train through the Sacred Valley that evening, so the beauty then continued on the train… it was the most amazing journey! Being in the medicine and seeing the magnificence of the Andes as we travelled through the valley, I was in awe.
The ceremony the next day with Sergey took place in Machu Picchu. It was a completely different experience from the day before. It was still beautiful especially being in such a powerful, sacred space. With all the people around, however, it was a difficult to relax into the medicine. It ended up being a playful day for our whole group with lots of joy and laughter.
Our last ceremony was back in a rain forest environment. We walked to a waterfall after taking the medicine. I felt the waterfall so powerfully I couldn’t stay close so went to sit in a stone circle nearby. The medicine took me on an incredible journey of visions and colors once again. I found relaxing into the medicine on my own gave me the best experiences.
After returning from Peru I had a difficult time going back to my daily routine and interacting with people was difficult. I wasn’t the same person that had left 12 days ago. What I soon discovered was that much of the experience and teachings of the medicine do not occur in that moment. Within four months after my return I opened my own business. I mended my relationship. I grew in ways that I never expected to.
I have done six ceremonies with Sergey and Huachuma since 2013 and each time is unlike the last. Sergey is very clear that Huachuma is the teacher, not him. What he offers is guidance; an intuitive ability to know when to assist with the journey and when to give space to those who are able to find their own way through it. He knows through his own intimate relationship and respect for the plant that whatever the medicine needs you to see, experience or feel is what comes. The message that is given is up to you to interpret. It is a gift given by the Grandfather as our healing must come from within.
Releasing all expectation and enjoying the journey is what seemed to give me the best experience. Sometimes it is just the playfulness of the medicine that brings joy and love to your life, sometimes the medicine teaches you some hard lessons and releases trapped emotions. But every time it shows the beauty of the world around us. My heart has been opened and my connection to nature enhanced so much more because of my work with this sacred plant.
I am so very grateful that I had the opportunity to meet Sergey and be introduced to the healing gift of Huachuma. If you are a spiritual seeker looking for a gentle way to get in touch with the wisdom of nature’s healing, this is definitely the right PATH.
Love and many blessings,