In a world of travel bans, limited group activities, and the inability to go to medicine retreats, is it possible to receive the effects of plant medicine without ingesting anything?
In between ceremonies during a retreat, I once asked an ayahuasquero about connecting with ayahuasca energetically, talking to and interacting with the spirit of the medicine without drinking anything. He said that this is possible. I shared with him that I had been doing it for a few years, receiving guidance and clarity and even having fairly psychedelic experiences while being completely sober.
So, I asked him, “Is it necessary to drink ayahuasca to do the work? To receive what we need?” I was expecting him to reply with myriad reasons for drinking medicine and how important it is.
Instead he replied, “No.”
“Why do we do it then?”
He laughingly responded, “Because it’s fun!”
Sitting with plant medicines is fun (and sometimes not so fun). But the long-term work of the medicine happens after the ceremonies, when you connect to the wisdom of healer plants in our everyday life. You have the opportunity to integrate what you have learned and the healing that has taken place in sacred circle.
Since most of us won’t be drinking a mind-altering substance every day, and some people do not choose to drink medicines at all, there are ways to work with plant medicine in your daily experience. This consistent connection helps you focus on be-ing within our busy lives of do-ing. Once the medicine retreat is over and you go back to your regularly scheduled life, it’s easy to get busy and disconnect from the conversation you started with plant teachers. But the medicine is still with you, waiting for you to reach out.
Connecting with plants for support is about relationship. As you create a personal relationship with these healing teachers, you will find you are able to access them at any time. The plants are not concerned with the business of ritual and ceremony. That is something that humans need in order to prepare and be present to the experience, and it’s a wonderful thing.
But the plants are not interested in how spiritual you are or your ability to abstain from worldly things. The plants want to be in relationship with you, and relationship is a practice.
Ceremony is about communion. We commune with the plants in a way that we consider sacred. Each day you are offered the opportunity to commune with the world around you. But in order to commune you need to be willing and you need to make the time. When you have communed with a plant, shared and exchanged intimate thoughts and feelings with a plant, you have opened a dialog. This deep healing conversation can continue if you are intentional to do so.
If you’ve ingested a plant medicine, you know how it feels to physically merge with it and already have an idea of how it feels when you connect. If you have never ingested plant medicines, you can still connect in a personal way without having experienced them in a physical sense.
*Find a quiet space and pick a plant with whom you wish to connect. This can be a psychotropic plant, a healing herb, flowers, anything you choose.
*Set the intention to tangibly interact with this plant teacher. Be clear that you want to communicate. If you want the plant to be your teacher and guide, say so. Be pro-active.
*Communicate in a way that resonates most deeply for you: Start a conversation, sing a song to the plant, meditate on the image or the name of the plant. Sitting in nature often makes it easier to connect since you are surrounded by green beings.
*If you want to commune with ayahuasca or other psychotropic plant teachers, you can find medicine songs online (“icaros” in Quecha). Medicine songs invoke the spirit of the medicine, calling it in. You can also drum, rattle or play music to invoke the spirit of the plant in your own way.
*Find an image of the plant and keep it on your altar, honoring this teacher. Get to know the benefits of the medicine if it’s a plant you don’t know well.
*Find an essence of the plant that you can take daily. Essences bring in the spirit of the plant without the physical constituents and are generally safe for everyone. (They are usually made with water and alcohol, to keep it fresh.)
*Do this as a daily practice. Relationship is a practice. The more you talk to someone, the better you get to know them.
*Be easy on yourself and know that you can NOT do this wrong. There is no right way to commune with a plant teacher.
*Believe that you can link in with the spirit of the plant and ask them to be your guide and teacher.
You don’t need decades of training to connect with these plant spirits energetically, but you want to be open to listen and receive. Will you have the same experience as sitting in plant medicine ceremony with a trained indigenous shaman? Probably not. But you will find your own path to consistently working with plant medicine in a personal way and integrating the energy of that to create an intentional life.
When I sing medicine songs in ceremonies where we do not ingest those medicines, I receive consistent feedback from those who’ve ingested ayahuasca, san pedro, etc., that they were transported back to ceremony and they often have a potent experience with accompanying physical sensations. When I connect on my own without leading others, I will sing and rattle to call in the medicine and go into a trance-like state that the medicine creates. This allows me to work with plant medicine every day.
There are many reasons why you may not be able, or choose, to sit in ceremony. But the dramatic experience of the ceremonies is simply the beginning, the catalyst.
The rest is up to you.
Bloom Post is a freelance writer, ceremonialist, teacher, and author of the books Shaman’s Toolbox: Practical Tools for Powerful Transformation and Plant Spirit Totems. For more information: www.BloomPost.com