KAMBO – More Than Cleansing…
After experiencing Ayahuasca and learning not to judge and not to have expectation, it was still hard for me to overcome the voice in my head about the thought of Kambo.
I had just arrived with my wife in Rotterdam to take part in an Ayahuasca ceremony… it was still winter, it was February, it was freezing cold outside. We entered a yoga type building which offered yoga type classes on the ground floor, a floor higher and we entered an area with toilets, a kitchen and a communal area with a grey sofa and some chairs. People were congregating here and we introduced ourselves.
The topic of conversation was Kambo, I was fascinated about it… to take such a risk, to come so close to death… so you can what?… puke??? Cleanse your insides??? And afterwards try to function as a normal human being while your body is on strike, as it still tries to understand beyond its own belief that you’ve just tried to poison and kill it!
I sat opposite a man on this middle floor of this yoga building, who was preparing to take part in this Kambo experience, he sat on the grey sofa, a jug of water to his side and a large glass that he poured this water into and consumed it as if he had crossed the Sahara. He rolled his t-shirt up to his shoulder.
The shaman in her always calm and bright way, commenting off topic about the gratefulness she had that this man had no hair on his arm, so she didn’t have to burn it on the way to burning his arm??? BURN??? What do you mean burn??? What is this… some kind of treatment indoctrinated into the amazon shamans culture by Catholic missionaries who had once ventured into the Amazon and then added their idea of a real cure and treatment for mankind?… you must not only be poisoned but also have your hair burnt (if you have any) and then your skin! I was on the understanding that you just put the poison on the skin, right??? Nooo… it needs to enter the blood system a bit quicker than that, and the best and least agonising way is, yes, to have little dots burnt into your skin and then the Kambo put there… I am fascinated… I am intrigued… “May I stay and watch” I asked the man who nodded yes.
The shaman applied several white dots of pasty, gummy looking material to small burnt dots of skin on the man’s arm, slowly, watching, his reactions, watching more than his reactions, her gaze more concentrated on what I can only surmise as the ether… his ether… his energy, and from this place she makes her decision… I start to understand a little more now as I watch the shamans masterful practise of Kambo-ing and persistent reminding to “drink water, drink water”.
Not long after the application, I see a change in the man, his body seems more aware and his white pale face now taking on colour, as if he’s just entered a bar and the music has stopped and everyone’s stopped talking and looked around at him. His eyes open as if to suggest an imminent moment is on the horizon… The man calmly stands, lets the shaman know he is visiting the bathroom… gets up and visits the bathroom and stays in there for a while. He comes out 15 minutes later and calmly tells the shaman he will go upstairs and lie down and he walks calmly upstairs.
I’m amazed… I want to know more… what happened in that toilet… I want to ask him… but he looks a little spent… he looks as if the last thing he would probably want to do right now is answer my questions.
I speak to the shaman about Kambo and start to understand that it’s not just for a physical cleanse but sometimes people have visions during this period, that sometimes, people find they are able to shift energy blocks or pain in their body. I am amazed… I have entered the realms of Ayahuasca a few times now and I understand a little about death of the ego, death of energies that we do not need… can Kambo really facilitate this as well? Can Kambo cleanse in a 1-2 hour session close to Ayahuasca???
I find the courage… I ask the shaman if I can Kambo! She looks at me… with her special gaze… and then tells me I can tomorrow morning… after tonight’s Ayahuasca session. I am quietly pleased (and anxious), so glad I have my wife here with me. The shaman reminds me to drink a lot of water the next morning, approximately 3 jugs or more, until I physically cannot drink anymore.
Tomorrow comes and I am a little tired from the Ayahuasca ceremony and also a little cold… I forget that people in Rotterdam don’t find February cold, it’s like spring time to them, they love to open windows and even turn down the heating… me… I’m from England… it’s not as cold there… but still we certainly do not open windows in February. Apart from feeling a little tired, I’m good, I’m ready to do this! I’ve drunk 3 jugs of water and have a glass next to me that I’m sipping from.
I sit on the grey sofa, roll up the sleeve of my t-shirt, The shaman takes a chair beside me and starts to prepare her Kambo. She looks up at my arm and says ‘OOOOO’… I’m disturbed by this comment.. what’s wrong… do I have a mark of some sort on my arm… some sort of sign that says to her not to do it??? I’ve been getting myself ready for this all morning… saying to myself… ‘c’mon… you can do it’. She nods her head down as not to look through her glasses, staring at my arm and says… “you’ve got hair”. “I’m going to have to burn through it”… To me this is a welcome relief… I thought maybe some occultist sign had appeared on my arm and I was dammed. Ok… hair… I can handle… no problem… lets burn through it.
She burns dots down my left arm a few times, these are small quick stings, less than a second of pain, once the lit wooden stick is taken off my arm, the pain is gone… it’s my first experience of this and so I’m not going to need a lot of Kambo as my body is not yet resistant to it.
She applies the Kambo… how do I feel?… fine… hey… this is ok! My wife brings me a bucket and sits next to me. Bucket? I’m going to walk to the toilet like my calm friend… some people from last night’s ceremony ask if they can sit and watch, sure I say. (As I have experienced through the man yesterday, there will be not much to see).
All of a sudden I feel a slow warmth in my body from inside outwards… the cold is not bothering me anymore… leave the windows open… actually would you mind opening another… its getting hot in here. I feel my face is flush red hot. I look at the shaman as if to telepathically say to her ‘what happens now???’ She asks if I feel sick… “No” I reply… She gives me that energetic gaze again… “I think another one for you” she says, “ok” I say, “drink water, drink water” she says… I am totally in her hands, in her trust, I feel at this moment a sense of worry lifting from me, a sense that is usually always there, I don’t have to be in control in this moment, I can let go. I also feel an energy inside me that is always heavy inside moving… somehow dislodging in a fluid way… I start to crack some of my usual funny comments around the room, this I do when inside me, an impending nervousness is rising.
I can feel my breath in through my nose and out my mouth start to become deeper, I am aware that I am feeling a little shaky and a little weaker than a minute ago. I am aware that I am not going to make it any way to the toilet. But that guy yesterday was so calm, so composed… I’m feeling… I’m feeling… “bucket please” I ask my wife, who picks it from the floor, I clamber my hands around it as if it’s a part of my body that’s been missing.
Then come the waves of nausea, and finally I open my mouth and release this fluid that has built up inside me, not only in my stomach, but from my gut and lower. This release is so powerful that I fall from the sofa to my knees on the floor, bucket on the floor, arms resting on the floor either side of the bucket, my butt in the air and I puke with great thrusts, aware that most people from this angle can probably see the crack of my arse, however, for some reason this for a split second is on my mind.
My body is shaking, I am weakening… I find a moment of pause, the shamans persistence to drink water continues and so, unnaturally I do. Again waves of nausea consume me and more release but this time, the colour changes from clear to yellow, the thoughts in my mind shift this time and I wonder about the energy I am releasing, I am aware that as with Ayahuasca, this is not just fluid that I am releasing. The release is so hard and from such a deep place I now start to worry that my guts are going to fall out through my mouth and my might have to ask my wife to shove them down my throat after I’m done. Ohh what am I doing… my body complaining about its suffering by sweating and shaking. I have no control, I realise not just about the puking, but I have no control in life and it’s taken this moment to make it plainly obvious to me that worrying in life will only make you sick, I am fortunate that Naysha is here helping people like me to facilitate this sick out of my body, as not to allow it to manifest. What must I do after this… stop worrying… about…about what… about everything.
I am done… there is no more inside me… finally I start to catch my breath and the shaking starts to subside. I lay on the sofa in my wife’s lap… so appreciative of her warmth and love that she offers to me, as I lay there like a baby in a fetal position.
I notice around the room, many of the “can we watch” people have been either disturbed by my experience, felt embarrassed for me somehow or have wanted to give me some sort of privacy that they have tried to subtly go about doing other things such as Facebook, or make themselves useful in the kitchen opposite. Bless them.
I contemplate the experience I have just gone through, I am humbled by the Kambo and the Shaman who has administered and facilitated this medicine. Just the right amount, just enough to help me to lift out not just toxins from my body but also help me release these energies from me that have been clinging on for many years, by thought, by physical means, by disruption of my own energy, it’s starting to all make sense now… I can start to see once again.
I notice that in just over an hour since I stopped puking that my body is not just finding its strength, but I’m finding a type of energy in me that is youthful, I’m aware that this energy has always been here inside of me, but been blocked someway somehow. I want to pack up our things and go outside for a walk and breath the air, so I do! It’s a glorious day… and cold… but now… I am enjoying it… that beautiful cool fresh air. Welcome to the Kambo club!
My first Kambo experience! – Maq Umaqe