Ceremonial Listening: The Kambo Experience
Frogs are by far evolutionary miracles, they magically transform in front of our eyes, as we can witness their progress and growth, it's quick! In their one life-cycle, frogs change drastically in just 12 weeks, it will move from an exclusive all-watery tadpole to a jumping, two-legged land dweller. A frog totem is symbolic of immense and profound transitions within life, bringing changes that totally transform the inner and outer landscape and also for the higher good of ones will.
‘Kambô’ is the common name for the "medicine" that comes from waxy secretion of a giant, tree frog living in the northwestern part of the Amazon rainforest (in Colombia and on the border between Peru and Brazil). The scientific name for this frog is ‘Phyllomedusa bicolor’ or ‘Giant Monkey frog’. Originally, 53 tribes used this secretion for various medical treatments including getting rid of ‘panema’, the name they would give to bad luck, or as ‘hunting magic’ and a antidote against snake bites, malaria, yellow fever and other epidemic diseases.
Today, people are using the frog medicine in intentional settings to aid against the fight of cellular radicals, chronic acne and/or pain, gastrointestinal issues, cancer pain, and many other ailments that generally have to do with toxicity. It's crazy to think that you first must poison your body in order to combat these deep issues. But, that's exactly what must be done. The medicine is administered in transdermal application by burning holes in the skin and then setting chunks of the frog venom into the pockets. The whole process takes about 1 hour and generally includes purging, heightened heart rate, and swollen tissue. Once the poison is removed, then you rest. The four hour nap you take after the purging is one of the best sleeps you'll ever experience.
Once the poison touched my skin, I felt a burning sensation start in the tips of my toes and begin to ascend upward. I got scared and almost blurted out to the shaman to take it off my skin. But, something told me otherwise. I had friends surrounding me that I trusted. They assured me it was safe and a beneficial experience. After about 5 minutes, my face swelled up. I could see the protrusion of my lips from my own eyes. The size of my face increased with blood flow and everything felt puffy! I grabbed my water bottle and a bucket and leaned over with my head bent to counteract the pressure in my skull. Let's be real here! The process of letting things go is not very pleasant. Our body chemistry has its own agenda on what type of bacteria and agents it wants to keep around. And in many ways, our body adapts and becomes accustomed to habits that in turn excites hormones into reminding the brain that we need more of those things. For some people, the habit forming hormones have become addicted to toxins take over because of their immediate satisfactory qualities, but in the end, they don't fair well with metabolic organs such as the digestive track, liver, and pancreas. It's hard for our brains to locate which action, toxin, or habit is causing us pain. Kambo, is a transformative chemical that can disguise itself within the molecular structure of the body and mimic inflammation so it can point out exactly where the inflammation began.
The biggest role that the brain plays in all of this internal cleansing is the way it listens, and the way it helps you to set intention. Through an experience like this, you must make an agreement with your brain and your ego before you enter. It's job is to witness and listen, no judging the experience. The Kambo's magic is not something to be reconciled. It is hard to understand how it works. Also, this is definitely not a glamorous experience! And, it is certainly not hallucinogenic in ways that you will meet ethereal beings and be flying through clouds. No, you are definitely in your body and the frog is jumping through your systems, mimicking your dis-ease, and trying to locate the mother cultures of seeded, bad habits.
My intention going into this was to purge unwanted notions of the heart. It was to set free the space that has been disregarded and blocked to love. I prayed that Kambo would release me from the way I think I should be, and to stand grounded in my heart space when confronted by harsh situations. When the medicine entered my body, it created a tidal wave of heat through the center of my chest. My lips, cheeks, eyes, fingers swelled with an upheaval of energy through the gut. I purged from both orphuses of my body and slept for 3 straight hours afterward. I'm not certain what really occurred this this healing as it was so mysteriously guarded in the deep flesh of my organs. I didn't feel my third eye was activated during the experience, and it was hard for me to process whether the experience was beneficial to me that day. I continued to relax for the rest of the evening and felt like I had just gotten out of a 5 hour Rolfing session, where my muscles and stomach was sore and I wasn't moving or going anywhere fast.
The next day I did, however, notice I was using an incredible amount of metaphoric language and vivid stories of my past. Things I haven't thought of in years were readily available to share! Over breakfast, I became a storyteller. I recalled a familiar experience when I was on Big Island and compared the experience of seeing lava as an association to the elemental requirements of a successful and creative force of nature. That, to be sustainable within the forces of creation, lava can help us remember the rare, honest process of turning matter on fire and then stabilizing it as it transforms into earth. The force of lava is not to be messed with, as it is fierce and formidable. But, it is also slow and methodical. It is true to what it is and is anticipations its eternal and elemental changes to be as it is. It cools and transforms. It is both dense and spacious, creating areas for others to grow. When I think of what is needed to transform a dream into reality, to be the kind of person I want to be, it is all encompassing. Lava is a creative and metaphorical force to remember when I seek this medicine. I once asked the Goddess Pele to "show me what I'm made of. Pour it on and thick." After my experience of Kambo, I feel like the wisdom I was seeking from her was passed on to me, I just didn't know how to quiet down my brain processes to listen. If anything, the Kambo experience was a full day of shutting off the brain and letting nature go in and take care of things. And, if you give yourself the necessary integration time afterward, you might come to a realization, or metaphorical wisdom that helps you connect the dots on your road of self-health a little deeper. Again, the caveat is... you have to listen. Ribbit!