Kambo–The Release of My Light Body

I have sat with Kambo multiple times now and each time I document what is happening for me and have wondered when exactly, I will feel inspired to write about this medicine. Technically it’s not a plant medicine, though it lives amongst the trees. Kambo is a bright green tree frog native to the Amazon basin. These giant monkey frogs have a distinctive ‘song’ that healers listen for when they collect these specimens. Once caught, they are held down and stressed for the purpose of collecting a waxy substance from the backs of their legs. It sounds as if it’s harmful, yet it’s most beautiful and effortless single moment when the frog comes willingly onto an extended branch, as if to say: “hello, here I am offering give my gift of healing.” By laying down with his arms open, this little tiny neon green, earth camouflaged being offers this part of himself. Willingly, openly, and so honest that you are ready to ingest his venom, as if you know it will turn your own poisonous shadow, magically into light.

Julio Garcia, Kambo practitioner utilizes sound in the opening of the treatment session during Senanga

Traditionally Kambo is a way to boost the immune system, increase strength, and decrease inflammation. Overall it is known to revitalize the mind and the body. It’s not psychoactive like many plant medicines out there, so I had been trying to wrap my head around how this would be more beneficial than say, a water fast, which has been my go-to for clarity, in conjunction with yoga and mediation.

My quest for healing began with a calling to reconnect to my body, minus the understanding of how I became so disconnected, in the first place. All I know is that when I started down this path, my body felt so broken and poisoned from a lifetime of trauma and trapped energy. This disassociation was likely the cause of multiple complex injuries, years of addiction I am still over coming and chronic pain that I can’t get seem to get at, no matter how hard I try.

This won’t be the first article I am writing about my new found relationship with this little tree frog and its’ medicine. I am jumping ahead after six consecutive treatments since starting in the middle seems natural to illustrate how healing on such a deep level is far from linear, as is the nature of transformation.

“When I arrive at sessions, I usually have a ball of nerves in my stomach for what is about to happen. Sananga is offered (often administered at the beginning of Kambo sessions) for its’ calming effects.”

I didn’t understand the “calming” element at first since these little eye drops feel like eggs frying on your eyeballs, but combined with controlled breathing and the impressions from the practitioners’ sound bowls, I do feel my energy settle. Dropping into this experience can sometimes bring up strong thoughts and emotions. Since I had just returned from working with sacred mushrooms in the Mexico mountains, they, the emotions all came rushing forward like Niaguera Falls in slow motion.

I heard the words “you’re too much; you’re too intense; you talk too much; you need to be quiet; you take up too much energy, too much space.” I thought about what I had put my mom through when I was on drugs and homeless, I thought about countless interactions with people that were close to me and weren’t anymore. I thought about my mom taking her life and how I felt responsible. And then I thought the opposite of being too much is not feeling like I am not good enough and disappointing people I love, over and over again. On and on they went. Like a rolodex, I went through all the voices, the stories, that I have used to build my walls of my own cage. I felt tears streaming down my face and then the music stopped. The sound stopped. The tears stopped.

Julio, the practitioner, now my friend through this journey, sat next to me. He saw me–I felt him see me. And then he asked if I was ready to start my treatment for the day. I answered yes. And in my mind, at the same time, a different thought: was any of this really true? Was I ready to let it all go? Yes, yes, and yes.

Then out of nowhere, it felt like, I asked him where he thought asthma came from. He had told me before that he recovered from it after many sessions with Kambo. Then I wondered about really any disease in the body. Before he could answer, “is it the mind” fell out of my lips. He looked at me again with the same expression on his face as moments ago. It was a “Hell Yes,” we both acknowledged the idea that 100% of disease in the body came from the mind. That beyond the normal process of growing and aging, or accidental damage the body sustains, we perpetuate disease from the mind. Can’t we also heal ourselves in the same way then? When a tree grows and has an injury to it, it just keeps growing. It doesn’t ask what happened to it, where a broken branch went, or why it sheds it’s leaves. It just grows and moves through the seasons of life as all things in nature do. As we are meant too.

Now getting into what physically happens in the actual treatment. Those are the important details that will help us understand how this medicine moves from being a very, practical, physical medicine that relieves inflammation and toxins in the body, to one that is moving enough energy to release the walls we construct in the cage of our mind. The walls that can simply be removed by opening to what is pushing up against them.

It was time to sit with the medicine. The first thing you do after fasting from the night before is drink water. I was on my second liter when he asked me to drink a third to make my process easier. He said he thought about the water for me since yesterday. He has never had anyone drink more than two liters, but he sensed that I needed it. As I was drinking he opened what are called “gates” on my skin with an incense stick. The little tiny dots are how the medicine is administered. He added three more dots for a total of over forty that I have had during my time with Kambo. I say this not to boast, but to show how humbled I am by how much medicine I have needed to bring me to where I am presently.

Today the practicer, Juilo had a visitor, a young lady who would sit with the medicine later and had been relaxing outside on the back porch. We invited her in and I really didn’t mind her being there. She sat a little while as we chatted about the medicine. She had a quiet, relaxed presence and she was visiting from Mexico, where she lives off grid. We also spoke of my recent stay there on a similar property run with solar panels. She then kindly excused herself just before I finished my water and was ready to start my journey.

Drinking all this water on an empty stomach is meant to help you purge whatever debris or energy that is stuck in your inner body. As I sat down to receive the medicine, I said a prayer to of gratitude while Julio said his own prayer of thanks to the medicine. I said to myself, “I don’t know how this medicine actually works, but I trust that I am on this path for a reason, please let me accept it with honestly and the willingness to release what is not serving me so that I can move through this world freely and openly.” It’s almost as if I felt what the frog had been so willing to give of himself for those in need. I was in a place of receiving. As the medicine was applied, the venom came on faster than any session I had so far. I reached for the bucket, nothing was coming. My heart pounding, my body turning read, my throat was closing up. I had a moment with the medicine, on this day, that mirrored getting stung by a bee as a young child. Only this time I didn’t see the memory or even feel it. I only felt my airway shutting and could only relate it to this one incident when I was two years old–too young to make meaning out of any of it. Was it being all wiped away from me in the moment. The meaning? The story? What I had been holding onto?

At that moment, the medicine was off. I started to feel my body again, my breath, my heart and made my way to the bathroom. Then the purge. The release of what felt like I had been carrying all my life. Julio, my friend, knocked on the door a few times. Checking on me, but also giving me space to do my own work. He was a beautiful, safe container; a place, a person capable of delivering poison with the power of transforming the lives of many. I told him I was good. I got myself together and went to the other room to recover a bit before making my way home. As I lay there, with medicine music playing in the background, his lovely visitor came back out to the space I laid in. Juilo came and sat with us. We talked about all the journeys that have led us to this point. In particular the mushroom journey I had recently. We spoke of ancestors showing up when we need them. My mom has been with me this year more than any other time since her death. On my last mushroom journey; however she was not. It was if I had this inner knowing I didn’t need her to be there anymore. At least in the material sense.

Sharing about my experiences with mushrooms brought me the time I had my last recreational experience when my mom died. They brought me in contact with her at the time she was passing. At the time I felt something so powerful, I didn’t feel I could ever handle it again, but somehow when the opportunity presented itself to take mushrooms for healing, I knew that the thing I wanted to the least, the thing I was most scared of, was the thing that would indeed be my ultimate medicine. It’s also the thing that brought me together with my best friend that kept me from continuing a relapse I had twenty years prior. The relapse was with meth amphetamine the year my mother took her life. The last time I saw my mother, the looked in her eyes told me she was already gone and I relapsed soon after. My best friend had his own demons he was fighting with the same drug. I had come out of the same battle years before and thought if I could help him, I would be helping myself.

When I shared this story, our guest told me her own story. She had been addicted to meth for about the same amount of time I had. She thanked me for sharing opening and honestly about something that is so shameful for most people. It had been for her. At that moment all those thoughts of being too much or not enough just left me. A story I had guarded so tightly just disappeared–at least the heaviness of it. I said out-loud that I didn’t know if I had gotten to a place of gratitude for that time in my life yet, but as I write this story, this very different kind of story, all I feel is gratitude. Gratitude for a place to put all those feelings that we all have, but can’t move through. Those feelings that are too dense, too heavy, too much.

Sitting with this medicine is usually somewhat of a private affair. It’s unlikely you would share space with a visitor, at random, like we did today. I have come to believe this day wasn’t random at all, but a bit of magic that I am coming to know as common place in the world of plant medicine. As I got up to leave, I thought to myself, I don’t really know which one of these medicines or modalities got me to where I am now. They all did I suppose. What I do know is it doesn’t matter to me, as long as I can move through this world a little lighter and touch others with a bit of kindness. I have a little frog to thank; this planet we live on; the body I live in; this human condition; those sharing this path with me; this heart that feels full of light and a path forward that I can now see.

A special thanks to Julio Garcia, my friend and light worker at Kambo Medicine Miami


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