“Humans are a part of creation and shamanism is our way of connecting with the whole.”
Lately, I have been reading different articles regarding “psychedelic therapy” to treat depression. It is indeed an interesting topic that many may think of it as unusual, wacky or simply not credible. A recent article from BBC News, mentioned that a powerful hallucinogenic drug known for being used at shamanic rituals is being tried as a potential cure for depression for the first time. How crazy is this? Perhaps not too crazy. This new treatment could offer an alternative for some that don’t respond or can’t tolerate regular prescription medication for depression. The drug is known as the “Spirit Molecule” because of the way it alters human consciousness and has the active ingredient of Ayahuasca, a popular plant from the Amazon region used to bring spiritual enlightenment and freedom from depression and anxiety.
Allow me to relate my story. In 2005, I was recently divorced. I was young, very much in love and divorce was something that I never thought would happen to me, but did. We grew apart and it was very difficult. I changed my entire life for my then husband, I left family, friends, my country of Colombia and my career to build a life with my husband in the United States. Just when I thought I was getting used to things, everything went south. I have always been a very outgoing and happy person, but divorce really hit me hard and I became severely depressed. After my divorce, I left Reno and when home to Colombia to be with my family. At the time I thought my life was over, I was deeply sad and nothing seemed to give me any hope. I spent endless days in bed, crying, feeling sorry for myself, I was not eating and stress was taking a severe toll on me. My parents did everything in their power to help, but nothing seemed to work. After about a month with my family a friend of mine returned to Colombia from Europe. He was going through divorce as well and together we were the perfect combination for disaster at the time. His family was having a hard time with him, just like as my family was with me, he was devastated and nothing was working for him either.
That is when the idea of a Shaman ceremony came in into the picture. His family told my parents about this Shaman, that was coming from the Amazon jungle to a special ceremony just hours away from my home in Bogota. I know my parents were reluctant to even consider such a thing, it was something that they were not familiar with and my sister, being a doctor married to a psychiatrist, thought it was a ridiculous idea. I honestly didn’t know what to expect but, I was tired of feeling depressed all the time so my friend, his family, my parents and I decided to embark on the crazy adventure to participate in the Shaman ceremony hoping to get healed.
It was a Saturday at the end of January in 2005, we woke up very early and hit the road for about 3 hours. We got to a little town in Colombia called Sesquile. Friends of the Shaman were waiting for us downtown and we started our journey of hiking for about 3 hours, uphill all the way! The Shaman’s friends looked like regular campesinos from a little town. They were dressed in jeans and t-shirts. We finally got to a little village in the middle of nowhere. There were about 20 people and we were all seated in a circle in a place that looked like this.
There were a couple of natives that welcomed us. The natives seemed from another town and were dressed in beautiful dresses with colored feathers and different collars made with animal skin. They explained that before the Shaman appeared they had to make sure that our souls were clean. In order to do that, they said we had to inhale some natural plant and that even though it was going to feel that we were dying, they assured all of us everything was going to be ok. There was no way out at that point, so we all went for it. I noticed there were many buckets around and I did not understand the purpose. After everybody inhaled Yopo, a plant similar to Ayahuasca but less powerful, I understood what the buckets were for as everyone who inhaled got sick and vomited. The way to clean the soul was more about cleaning the body, and certainly not fun. After everybody was “cleansed”, the natives started singing in their dialect and waving different plants in the air.
They then started to play some musical instruments that I have never seen before in my life that looked like flutes, then Shaman finally appeared. His name was Carlos, he was very tall and looked like a shaman from a movie, I should say the whole thing looked like something from a Hollywood set! He was wearing a super nice dress and he had a crown with different colored feathers. He was smoking a cigar and then he danced with the other natives for a while spreading all these different plants around everybody. Of the 20 people, only five of us were there for special healing, the other 15 were just family that came for moral support. Carlos started calling the five of us one at a time, and that is when the real fun began…. Stay tuned for part 2!