There is only one constant in life: Change ……and thank heaven for that.
written by Darryl Guy
It was about 6pm on a Monday night and I began feeling the onset of a very, VERY bad cold coming on. As most things of misfortune it was happening right when I couldn’t afford it to happen. My plan was just about to start on getting all the to do’s done in the final preparations for 3 days of back to back ceremony for a visiting Shamaness which were to begin on the following Friday, less than 4 days away. I had left the week open so as to knock off all the things that were needed to get done, one by one. Now here I knew it was me about to get knocked off. So buying up on the ginger, lemon and honey on the way home I planned to nip it in the bud so to speak. Well best laid plans and all, I was to discover there were other plans made for me.
A few years earlier things had begun when I had been on a type of sabbatical of healing, a getting back to my roots so to speak. It led me across Europe and also on a grand adventure across South America. For what seemed like a half a decade but what was in reality about two years I had been suffering from grief and loss of my parents dying. The ensuing battle with my only living sibling was awful, that had led me down a path of hurt, mistrust, anger and resentment amongst all the other turbulence of losing family and the only home I had ever known. I was waking up into a daily nightmare where my life was becoming bitter and I was becoming very twisted. It had cost me my four year relationship, my job, respect from people and myself. It was exacting a cost that I felt was being paid for by my fractured soul piece by piece. The time away was to try to change this living hell. For me to right my inner wrongs so as to get re-acquainted with techniques and teachings from my past and to also be introduced to something that was to be a foundation of my future. Plant Spirit Shamanism.
Whilst in Spain I had spent time with Ross Heaven a shaman, author and future friend. It was there he taught me a technique for asking nature questions and how to inteperate the answers. I was told very plainly that I needed to go to the Amazon and the Andes. So about four months later I found myself looking out the window of a small jet watching the lightening show as we flew through the night between thunderheads heading deep into the biggest jungle on Earth.
Getting off the jet was absolutely wonderful.
After coming from the chilly beginnings of a Scandinavian winter feeling the humid warmth wrap around me like a gentle blanket was like a tonic straight up. I felt like I was in the top end back home. Collecting my bags and finding a ride in one of the ever available moto-caro I found myself careening, in typical hectic second world traffic, along the streets of Iquitos. It was a crazy ride into what seemed a crazier strange little town In the Amazon. Here I was at last, doing what nature had told me. From Iquitos it was into the jungle where I was to spend time in Ayahuasca ceremonies and learning from Ross and the other shaman and more importantly with plant dietas. Dieting a plant means partaking of the plant over the period of 4 -5 days then for a week at least basically fasting of sorts, eating simple food that has no personality such as beans and rice. Food that has very little taste and for me drinking just water with nothing else like herbal teas. This is an Amazonian method for spending time getting to know the spirit of plants, so as to try to understand their healing powers; how they would benefit me in my much needed healing. It is a very interesting way of learning, as I was told by the shaman there; “It is the only way to learn about the plants, it is from the plants.”
Going to sleep in the jungle was almost impossible. Not just the excitement of being in the middle of the biggest rainforest in the world but because it sounds louder by night than by day. Waking up the first time to the sights, sounds and smell of the Amazon is incredible though. “This is the best alarm clock in the world.” I said to myself listening to the multitude of life all around me. Laying back I felt that I had truly begun to gently erase the pain I had been dealing with, giving me the feeling of being a million miles away from my problems was a great shot in the arm for my soul. There was a real feeling of elation because I could sense that my time in the jungle would begin to unlock, what I considered to be, my very own personal private torture chamber. Here I was about to undertake what was the commencement of great relationships with who I now consider some of my most powerful ally’s. It was time spent putting myself back together, mending the energetic fractures and exhausted emotions. Moments of ill ease, discovery, fearfulness and safety all mixed in, laying a strong foundation to my healing.
Weeks later on the morning when I was to leave my tambo in the jungle for the last time I found myself sitting on the step taking in what was around me then began to say a prayer. “Thank you Mother Ayahuasca, thank you Amazon for opening your heart and mine, for sharpening my senses and clearing my mind. I will never be the same again. Thank you so, so much, Pachamamma for everything.”
After my time in the Jungle it was off to the Andes. After spending weeks in the low lands of the jungle environment now I was heading to what seemed like the exact opposite end of the scale, the mountains of the Andes. The ceremonies in the jungle with the plant medicine the vine of souls; Ayahuasca are pretty intense; a wonderful teacher/healer plant she is for me a very inner thing, showing the potentials of life and the paths it can take. Like a mother caring for the future of her child she explained things about my life I had never suspected yet understood to be true. I was in the Andes however to connect with another plant medicine, the San Pedro cactus.
Flying to Cusco was mesmerizing, watching the landscape below change from thick jungle to the coast of Lima then the mountains of the Andes. Such a profound change in environment is the magic of Peru. Upon landing it was apparent from my first breathe that change was in the air, just from the simple fact that there was less oxygen to begin with! After weeks in T-shirts and shorts it was time for the long sleeves and long trousers to come out. Cusco is the old capitol of the Incan empire. It was built in the shape of the puma. When the Spanish invaded it they destroyed the temple of Virocacha and built a basilica on the site. Inside said basilica has to be the strangest painting of the last supper I have ever seen. There are the usual suspects in the usual places around the table, however on a plate in front of Jesus on a silver platter lays a roasted guinea pig!
Many reading this may find it cruel that Jesus and the lads would be eating such an adorable pet. Yet the guinea pig is one of the animals on this planet that has the least cholesterol when eaten. It is very oily meat and is like eating a skinny chicken. My lips and skin were drying out fast from the altitude but the local’s skin was flawless and glowing so I understood the significance of the cute little morsel. They can also be kept in the corner of the kitchen fed on grass and vegetable leftovers so are perfect for Peruvians. Even though I did eventually partake of a tasty little thing I wasn’t in Cusco to eat guinea pigs, I was there to drink cactus.
So there fate again found me with Ross fulfilling the final stage of that answer given to me by Mother Nature in Spain. Between ceremony days I would often find myself walking the streets looking at the colonial Spanish architecture, marveling at the old style megalithic walls so expertly placed together, smelling strange scents, enjoying being away from my old life and starting to see there are no coincidences in life anymore. I was understanding that there is a plan if we are willing to see it, with all the happiness and all the pain, it is our paths back to ourselves but only if we are willing to let the change of ourselves take place.
San Pedro has the consistency of very thick aloe vera. It goes down relatively easy and compared to Ayahuasca, also it was very easy on the taste buds. Not bitter at all, almost inviting infact. The shamaness leading the ceremony was La Gringa. A beautiful woman that is so full of love and wisdom it is a pleasure to just be near this angel in human form. Her quietly spoken words are laden with the gift of insight, experience and magic. Hearts cannot stay closed around her I am convinced. Wachuma or San Pedro medicine is very different form Ayahuasca too. It is not so intense, a seemingly patient father who waits with an open heart and offers strength and wisdom with insight. San Pedro shows the beauty in one’s environment, in one’s relationship to the self and all the people in one’s life. It is a very profound medicine that heals the mind, body and soul all at the same time.
After my ceremonies with Ross and La Gringa I was stronger emotionally, mentally and physically. Body aches and little ailments I had carried were gone, the ways I perceived, the ways I reacted to any given situation were different and more importantly my emotions were rock solid, so solid in fact I knew I was able to step back into my power to be able to give in all the ways needed to go forward, lighter and not fractured anymore. I had also been given a very strong vision for life. San Pedro had shown me how seemingly inconspicuous moments in my life were in fact pivotal points of change that had led me through years of pain into the garden of La Gringa where I would be set back on my path of healing of myself.
Life was given back to me, the nightmare was over. I was bigger and better than I had ever been before. Insights showed me there had always been a major force in my life, supporting me when I didn’t feel it or know it, really understanding that plants are a major ally for the future. The work was beginning; it was time for me to get my nose to the grindstone of life once again. So years later, I find myself organizing, and being the assistant to La Gringa in ceremonies in my new home in Scandinavia. This was part of the vision given to me by San Pedro and it was genuinely manifesting. So how come now was I getting sicker than I had been for ages I wondered?
I would be a sham not a shaman if I took some man-made pharmaceuticals to get me through plant medicine ceremonies I began to think. I really needed to get better and fast. The symptoms were getting worse hour by hour. Drinking liters of Guayusa, lemon, ginger and honey drinks I started to do what I needed to do such as liaise with the venue and participants making things as easy as possible for the folk who would be attending, to buying all the food needed for nearly sixty people for three days. All the time pleading to my plant ally’s asking why now I was getting so sick when I needed to be strong. There were all these people as well as La Gringa depending on me to get my shit together.
Oh how inconvenient learning experiences can be.
Though my symptoms were full blown and the feeling was one of exhaustion there was also some kind of energetic respite going on, being too busy to notice I put it down to the tea and food I was making myself eat. It got me through all of my tasks I needed to complete right up to meeting La Gringa at the airport the evening before our ceremonies. “You look really well Darryl.” She said. I was worried because you sounded so ill. “Yeah well I need to get to next Monday yet.” I said nervously looking for some wood to touch. “We have three long days ahead of us.”An aboriginal elder I loved to be with back home in Australia often told me funny stories like “If and But – when they get into the making of plans it is a nightmare…..they talk and talk. If this and But that….nothing ends up getting done” or my favorite “That fella hindsight is a funny fella, a real funny friend. When the shit goes down he is nowhere to be found but after it’s all been said and done there he is telling you everything that happened!” Well I didn’t listen to It and But, I just rolled up my sleeves, drank my tea & got on with it. Though that funny fella Hindsight well he came later as usual to tell me what really went down.
The people that attend these kinds of ceremony are broken people. They bring with them all kinds of problems, from ailing bodies, to burnt and dead emotions, grief, loss, abuse, addictions, loneliness and hurts. Fracturing of all kinds and sizes. Souls lost in a nightmare life. You see it in how they hold themselves, in how they speak or not speak, in how they respond emotionally. Though for me it’s most apparent in their eyes, all the hurt, pain and fractures show here. It is no coincidence tears come from the eyes, whether they be tears of pain or joy. The eyes are indeed the windows of the soul. It is all there on show and it is there I try and gauge the depth of where it will all go in the time spent with San Pedro. The wonders and the terrors, as a teacher once confided to me, they all live behind the eyes. As I began to meet the participants it was becoming apparent that it was going to be a powerful 72 hours ahead.
Looking out the window at 5am the morning of the first ceremony I was witnessing one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen. The mist had been creeping up the valley through the trees in the woods then out across the fields. The sky began to lighten until a burst of gold stretched from the horizon illuminating the mysterious wood and burning away the mist till there was the clearest view possible. The beauty that I witnessed was incongruous to how I was feeling. I hadn’t slept one wink since 6:30 am the day before. I was agitated, cranky and questioning just what in blazes was going on. It was just a couple of hours before the ceremonies were going to start. Three days of back to back work. I was more than a little worried by how I would be able to perform. How in that state was I was going to help so many others when I felt so shit. So I took myself away for a hot shower and some meditation time in preparation.
As soon as we began the first ceremony it was as if nothing was wrong me. It was three days of the deepest and profoundest healings. Folk that were broken in pieces emotionally, mentally and even physically all received the healing they needed. It happened in so many varied ways, very personal to the people, for what they were seeking. Problems that were as many as there are wild flowers in a mountain clearing were dealt with. I always feel humbled by this, by the profundity of it all. A lot of very hard work gets done in ceremonies like these. I know this first hand because I have been on both sides of that fence as a participant and as well being an assistant a tool of healing. It is attained with an intensity of feeling that to put in words would be like putting a bird in a small cage, robbing something beautiful. It is the great mystery manifested; it is the wonder of existence that lays beyond hope and understanding. One of the greatest joys for me though is to see their faces when they leave.
To see the relief and peace on the folk’s faces instead of the pain and suffering is truly wondrous. Seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter where before they were crying and confused. Watching beautiful souls regain their lives and their happiness is indeed a blessing. Yet for me the true essence of change I look for is looking into their eyes as they hold the gaze, where maybe before they couldn’t hold a gaze, to be able to see the windows of their soul devoid of the clouds of torment become as clear as en endless blue sky, to see the wonder not the terror lat lays behind the eyes. This for me that is one of the greatest gifts to get from these ceremonies, being a part of giving the joy and love for life back to those that truly need it and have the courage to find it. Enlightenment isn’t all lotus flowers and smiles; it is painful and deeply uncomfortable going through all the darkness and awful things we carry around sifting through the bad experiences one can hold onto before being able to find peace and the happiness in and around us.
As for me I ended up getting about 8-10 hours sleep over a 96 hour period. My good friends old Hindsight & San Pedro began to explain to me after it was all done and dusted that it was the plan for me to be totally exhausted mentally and physically, to be a total wreck. This was so that I could fully understand exactly how much the spirit of San Pedro supports me, how it can prop me up and gives its power flowing through me so I am able to do the work needed for these ceremonies. I was initiated over 72 hours of ceremony by not drinking one drop of the medicine. I was able to become the medicine. As La Gringa said to me before she left to return to Cusco. “You worked with the spirit and it worked with you without your needing to drink, drink, and drink. That is one of the greatest attainments in itself.” I had wondered if I had it in me to become a Wachumero – San Pedro shaman. Now it is obvious it is definitely something I must follow.
A lesson taught to me by a cactus is simply this. We can become who and everything we are able to be. We can be more than we think we are. To do this we need to embrace the one thing that can either exalt us or frighten the wits out of us: change.
In his ‘Three Worlds Shamanic Practice’ he works with clients in Scandinavia and Europe in a one on one capacity as well as with his Soul flight journeying group to obtain healing and re-connection with the Self and the environment. In the last 20 years he has had the honor and privilege to have sat with and to learn from elders, wisdom keepers, shaman, healers and medicine men and women from: Australia, New Zealand, Europe, USA, Tibet, Peru & Uruguay. He currently lives in Sweden.
You can connect with him on Facebook – Threeworlds Shamanic Practice