Solstice, June 21st, 2015
By Frederic Meyvaert, Belgium
Being very much interested in the Shamanic path and ancient wisdom, I joined an expedition in Peru led by Dr. Alberto Villoldo. Alberto writes and speaks eloquently about the wisdom teachings of the master shamans of the Andes and the Amazon, anyone not familiar with the subject can read one of his books as an introduction. So I stayed in a beautiful lodge in the Sacred Valley near Cusco, met great people and made new friends, visited temples and archeological sites and participated in colorful rituals. These rituals are not superstition nor magical cure but like ‘planting seeds’. In order to grow those seeds and activate our own power we also have to cultivate wisdom and skills.
This wisdom is not an intellectual understanding that we can acquire from reading books, doing rituals, applying healing modalities or doing ‘spiritual practices’. I am not saying that intellectual maps and ‘techniques’ are not useful. I am just saying that they are invitations, pointers and supportive tools. Pointers are not to be believed, they invite us to look for ourselves. Those familiar with ‘direct or no-path’ traditions such as Yoga, Advaita Vedanta, Daoism, Zen or Dzogchen will have heard that there is really nothing ‘you’ can do to get IT (IT being truth, freedom, peace, bliss, awakening or liberation). Let alone that there is a real ‘you’ to get any real ‘thing’ in the first place. It is implied that we already are what we’re looking for. Their advice is to RELAX. So how can we relax into ‘non-doing’ and recognize or remember this?
Nature gracefully provides us with powerful tools to help us heal and shift our perception: sacred plants, like Ayahuasca and Iboga. No wonder the use of sacred plant medicine has been savagely suppressed and is still on a forbidden list in most countries, it heals us and grants ‘gnosis’ or direct knowledge. Bad news for the powers in place and their big business, they would lose control. Luckily, the native shamans have been able to preserve this ancestral knowledge. One of Peru’s best kept secrets is the San Pedro (or Huachuma) cactus. It is one of the four most sacred plants of Peru, along with Tobacco, Ayahuasca and Coca. It is related to Peyote used in Mexico and North America. The name San Pedro comes from the Christian saint who holds the keys to the gates of Heaven. I realize now how well chosen that name is.
During this trip some of my fellow travelers discussed the amazing virtues of San Pedro and that aroused my curiosity. One day, after visiting Machu Picchu, I visited a bookstore and my attention was immediately drawn to a book sitting high on a shelf. I had to stand on my toes to reach it, could not preview the book as I usually do because it was wrapped in plastic. I noticed that it written by a Russian, I do like Russians because generally they are authentic and street smart, I thought that it would be quite exotic and interesting to have a Russian-born shaman cast some light on the mystery and the mystic side of Peru. I read the book in one go and found out that its author was living near my hotel. We met on the eve of winter solstice amid fireworks and a dancing crowd and agreed to meet the next day to ‘taste’ the sacred medicine.
I was new to San Pedro but not to sacred plants. Three previous journeys with Ayahuasca and Iboga had taken me to heaven, the ordinary world and hell and convinced me beyond any doubt of their sacredness, their mind-blowing power and uniquely tailored gifts. Sergey propped our small group into his old car and drove us to a sacred place. We drank the bitter medicine and each one of us searched for a solitary spot under the trees. I was overlooking the temple, the surrounding fields and the mountains. I felt nothing during the first hour, did not feel sick, and then gradually the magic kicked in. I stepped out of time, perception, the heart and every cell in the body opened up wide and everything came to a radiant and vibrant aliveness, life was pulsing through my veins and it was shown or seen that the great mystery of life is one with or not separate from Nature and what we are in essence, our very own magical and mysterious nature. I will not bore you further with words that can never accurately capture this kind of experience.
I would like to invite you to give yourself that same gift and share this initiatory experience if you hear that call and feel ready for this. Don’t take this lightly. Read about that stuff and come well prepared. Read Alan Watts, Aldous Huxley’s “Doors of Perception” or whatever suits your path. Painful stuff may show up, not to punish you but because it wants to be held or met. What each one of those plant ceremonies meant to me was the equivalent of 10 years of reading and one year of meditating or therapy. A cellular ‘knowing’ occurs during these initiations that goes way beyond the mental/intellectual level. So if you happen to travel to Peru and feel ready for some real soul or spirit food after having read the menu and studied all the maps we have at our disposal, contact Sergey. One more reason is that what he charges is really fair and is also needed and welcome to support his beautiful little family.
I want to express my gratitude to Sergey, keep up the good work man. I am back home since one week and the cells in my body are still dancing, the ‘after-party’ won’t stop.
On a final note, I would like to stress the importance of integrating what one has seen during such experiences in daily life. It all boils down to what some would call the ‘Alchemy of Presence’: relax, breathe, feel and remain present whatever you experience. Mind will never get IT, IT gets the mind. And don’t be afraid that you will somehow lose your mind during such a trip, on the contrary, you keep all your mental faculties and you can still think, talk and walk. Your perception shifts and you will discover that you are much more than the ego-tunnel and your limited self-stories.