~ Kambo frog, Phyllomedusa bicolor, lives in the Amazon basin ~
KAMBO – the secretion of a poisonous frog, applied these days to burn wounds on the body in ceremony for medicinal reasons (namely detoxification, purification and clarification).
Madness, I hear you say! Upon my first hearing about this wacky ritual, my thoughts were similar. I was intrigued but nowhere near enough to ever imagine trying it out. Yet here I am, a few months down the line, having just participated in my first Kambo ceremony and lived to tell the tale.
Originating in the Amazon, Kambo has been used by hunters in the rainforest for centuries as a means of gaining high mental acuity to aid them on their hunt. The story goes that it was found by a medicine man (Kampu) of the Kaxinawá Tribe of Brazil – most of the Tribe had fallen extremely ill; the shaman had tried all remedies possible, so he went to the forest in prayer to communicate with her. She brought to him a vision of the frog, showing exactly how to call the frog to him from the trees, obtain the poison from its skin safely and how to apply it to his people to heal them. The Tribe was cured overnight and went onwards with them as a ritual to continue enhancing their physical strength before the hunt.
~ As bizarre or cruel as it seems; the frog goes away unharmed ~
We of the Western world have adopted this practise to use it still as a means of overcoming impurities in our bodies, building stamina and improving health. And also in seeking, like the hunter, but more in the way of clarifying the intention of our lives to then give us the energy to act upon it. What to expect: purging, pain and purification.
What lead me here is mostly alignment, alongside feeling the need to really flush some shiza out of my system that no longer needed to be there. It seemed right and after hearing so many stories, I felt comfortable with enough insight to go into it feeling ready. I was mentally, physically and emotionally prepared for it. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been more ready for anything in my entire life. COME AT ME FROG!
In all seriousness, I set some deep intentions going into the ceremony… All natural medicines need to be treated with utmost respect as the powerful tools they are to aid us in our growth. Going in with an idea of what you desire to gain out of such intense experiences is always wise and indeed, necessary.
~ Altar for our sacred space ~
My dear beloved friend Mike, having just completed his Kambo administering training and undergone a total of 60 applications over a 5 day period (!!!), gave 3 of us the opportunity to be a part of his first ceremony. I felt truly honoured to be in the presence of such a safe spaceholder, knowing I would be taken care of and supported as I underwent this challenging and vulnerable process. I doubt I would have let anyone else guide me through my first experience. For me, it’s super important to connect to the facilitator of any similar healing ceremony you partake in, in such a way that you feel you could trust them with your life.
1ST SITTING – 3 dots
We made ourselves comfortable in a beautiful space overlooking the garden, buckets and toilet roll nearby in each of our own little nests. To begin, we were guided through a grounding embodiment meditation. Drops of Sananga (a shrub from the Amazon used as eye drops for energetic cleanse and heightened vision) were then offered for the eyes, followed by rapé (sacred shamanic snuff) to clear the way for the upcoming medicine. *These can both be uncomfortable/painful if unused to the methods.*
Next was glugging the gallon or so of water, which is necessary to help with the upcoming vomiting and considered by a lot of people the most difficult part. I sent incantations into it as I drank it down, willing the water to help the Kambo in it’s process purify my body. Cura, cura, pura, pura… Preparing the incense, SoulSoilAlchemist commenced to burn the standard 3 sharp dots on my skin at the ankle (ouch). He placed the initial tester on my abrased skin and at first I felt a stinging sensation, then as the rest of the dots went on, I welcomed the frog spirit into my being and a warm glow of recognition arrived – the loving vibration entered my heart. Fiery prickles began to tease my foot… then the medicine seeped up through my veins and I felt a slight pressure increase in my head… followed by a heart rate increase, gradually then all at once, until my head was pulsating immensely, throbbing in waves… I realised it was the heartbeat of the frog synchronising in tune with mine, together as one, the heartbeat of Gaia… this pulse I felt resonate through my entire body… the pressure increased some more and suddenly my throat became tight and dry, my eyes swollen (a common happening known as frog face). I was concerned about my airways but was reassured by Mike that this was all normal. I did my best to setttle into the medicine – there was only a slight area of comfort I could find in my body. I was in agony. I took some deep breaths for a while as I felt the medicine doing it’s exploring around my body… Mike began to sing Icaros which soothed my soul and at the same time seemed to activate the Spirit of the Frog to do what it came here to do… It took a little while, then a gurgling in my stomach told me it was about time then – SPEW! After 3 lots of retching puke, green bile came out. I realised as I looked down a heart had formed in the splurge. That made me feel a little better. My throat was dry like a wretch. I was heaving, nothing was coming out and I didn’t know what I needed. I banged my first on the floor in frustration. Mike encouraged me to drink more water and I refused, thinking there could be nothing worse. I lay down, allowing my stomach to settle and my body to rest. I was completely wiped. Under the covers I huddled until I felt better. After a deep rest, 30 minutes later, I was no longer aching. We had some wholesome snacks waiting for us as we slowly came back around from the experience. I felt like the pounding in my head had been the frog working it’s way into neuron pathways; undoing all those that no longer served my highest good and preparing me for future rounds of its medicine. The rest of the day, I was in full power mode, my mind focused, my energy super high and my motivation on a boost. I felt incredible. (Note: the effect is different for everyone. My two compadres were still feeling considerably wiped out from the intensity).
~ Icaros; medicinal music for soul healing ~
2ND SITTING – 5 dots
Day 2 – we were undergoing 3 sittings one day after another, in one moon cycle as is supposedly most beneficial, increasing our applications as we went to boost the inner workings. On this day, my intentions were simply to go super internal and explore the heart space. I was burping before the poison was even near me, which made me laugh. I sounded like a frog and it was already there in me.
This day I had high anxiety, already knowing what to expect. We commenced the process and this time, it was super heavy. Apparently the closer the applications are to the heart, the more intense the process (I had 5 dots on the upper arm). I went very deep, felt very dark and did a lot of shadowwork.
Mike cried out, “VIVA!” whilst drumming as I barfed, celebrating the medicine doing it’s thing. I wanted to punch him in the face at this point (love you dude) as he did this with me in my pain. My thoughts – why the fuck do people do this to themselves? What was I doing here? This was insane and the way I felt made me want to die. Then I acknowledged that the pain I was feeling was nothing compared to the chronic pain people go through on a day to day basis and the general suffering in this world. What was the point in it all? I was honestly ready for death at this point, liberation from this physical form.
Once the purge was done, after I’d forced what extra water I could manage down, I settled into my nest to recuperate and crawled up into a ball in my dark space. At one point, my friend looked over, laughing at his own frog face and wanting to share the joke with me. I was not in the mood. I wanted to punch him in the face too (love you dude). Instead, I pulled the covers over my head, succumbed to the dark and tried to soothe myself back to fullness.
Later on, after snacks and a fair amount of time, I was energy boosted once again. I realised in hindsight that we come here to feel it all, to learn, to remember. Pain deserves to be felt and serves as a balance to immense pleasure. I was happy and blessed to be alive, healthy and well.
~ Applications & Matt’s frog face… “Look at my Angelina Jolie lips” ~
3RD SITTING – 7 (14) dots
After my last experience, I wasn’t all that looking forward to this final one. Truth, I was scared for what was to come. The other two were diving in and having the last large applications on their backs – working through cleansing the chakras (energy points throughout the body). Whenever I thought of this for myself, the thought filled me with dread as I knew how sensitive I was, convinced that it would floor me. I’d be going in super deep and my intuition told me this wouldn’t be best for me to jump to right now. Slowly felt much more reasonable. The space on my forearm underneath my elbow felt most right, so that’s what I went for. I did a strong meditation beforehand where I completely let go of all the fear I was feeling – my intention was then to embrace the experience and surrender to the pain as it came again.
Preparing myself, I sang my spirit mantra in my mind as Mike blew some beautiful rapé my way, then as he neatly applied my warrior wounds I tuned in with Kampu and imagined his tribe and others to this day, sitting in the jungle preparing for the upcoming hunt. I was sat in true Warrior stance, hands on knees, back straight, ready and willing to surrender to the entirety of it in all its intensity. As the blobs of poison arrived on my tender burns, I breathed, welcomed it in and joked “Hello Old Friend”, then chuckled to myself, imagining myself 60 years down the line in my 100th sitting, saying the same after a longlasting relationship. As I breathed, focusing on the breath (something that helps any situation!), the frog spirit came to my heart and there it was. I felt so strong in my chest. My heart rate increased, yet it was different this time. The frog didn’t overwhelm or take over me. I felt this deep respect for my Warrior essence, from the frog – the feeling was mutual, and it was beautiful. I breathed – our heartbeats synced – there it was, the tribal drumming. The Icaros began and I felt the cells of my body, the frog, recognise and almost jump to the tune to bring my purge about. My relaxed state of prepared surrender allowed it to remain calm and so we sang along to the tune in my head… the pounding was gentle in my ears. To my surprise, I realised my throat and eyes had hardly swollen. I was truly sitting with the frog in harmony.
I was feeling a whole new level of intimacy with this dear creature, who allows us to work with its protection mechanisms in order to gain our own. As the next Icaros came, I felt the expectation of a purge. As I sat there comfortably with a minor rush, nothing much stirred up and I honestly thought I may not have to purge (a kind of rarity). Really? Could that be? Nonesense, I told myself. Yet – I didn’t feel the need. I knew I must still have to release things still. I’d come from a sick society. Although granted, I’d done the work over the past few days and yes, I realised with affection, I am a pure soul – albeit not perfect – nevertheless, purge I knew I should. Mike finished his song and then flipped over the dots on my arm, giving another 7 fresh points as we waited for my purge. Still, nothing, but I was adamant that I should use this as an opportunity to release more of whatever lurked not to be needed. I felt a gurgle in my tummy – the frog asked me what I wanted – then I lent forward to give it a hand. I braced myself as I felt my stomach become slightly unsettled – back arched and ready, hands splayed out beside me. I noticed my fingers had swollen to almost twice the size, as though they were webbed. Here I stayed for a moment with still no upheaval until the 3rd Icaros came around and I breathed in, heavy and deep. A minor movement, it took it’s time, then SPEWWW. Here we go… Clear liquid frothed and then bile. I was done. I felt majestic. This time,I was ready to LIVE.
I knew I’d reached some new level when Mike looked at me and said “Good fucking work Coco”. The reassurance wasn’t needed, but to hear that from someone I hailed so much for his own deep work was welcome and brought tears to my eyes. I was more than proud; I was harmonious. I had my warrior wounds to wear in honour of where I’d just been. I lay down, this time with no aches, only a sigh of relief to be in my body as this soul. I lay there with a smile on my face and felt true peace. It was wonderful. (All that could’ve made the moment better was some cucumbers over my slightly swollen eyes). I saw myself going to find and meet the frog in the Amazon; back to it’s origin, it’s home. Sitting in jungle ceremony and going further down the Frog way…
~ Quite the ribbeting journey ~
So – was it all worth it? HELL. YES. I came away having been reminded of just how strong I really am, to the very core of me, heart powerful, booming energy, full of life, Warrior Spirit enhanced, Frog ally gained, showing me what I’m made of, capable of anything I set my heart and mind to, ready to emerge to the world in advanced activated action to do exactly what I need to do to on my path to keep the Tribe Spirit revived, alive, in full thrive.
Thank you Soul Soil Alchemist for offering this incredible opportunity to me in such a beautiful way. The growth and backing it brought is invaluable, life changing and quite simply astounding.
Fellow Kambo Warriors, I chest-pound salute you.
Potential initiates; may you tap into the Warrior within before you even delve in…