The subject had been circling me for a couple of months, suddenly Kambo seemed to pop up in conversations from my hair salon to coffee shop conversations with parents after school drop-off. "I purged BLACK" my therapist told me over a holistic facial. I was intrigued. I had gone through a couple of difficult, dark months in my personal life. I was craving a reset.
Deep in the Peruvian Amazon lives an inquisitive giant tree frog that is in high demand for its natural toxins which people use to poison themselves in what has become somewhat of the latest supercleanse trend. These nocturnal frogs have been used for centuries by Amazonian Matsi tribes for their powerful healing properties. When collected, the Matsi tribesmen carefully harvests the first secretion from the frog. This ensures the medicine is strong, and the frog has plenty of secretion left in case it needs to defend itself against predators. After the harvest is complete, the frog is returned to its natural habitat safe and sound. The frogs are calm when handled and treated with great care, being known to come back the following days when the tribesmen call them to come out by singing their songs. When the secretion is collected in this manner, it is considered ethically harvested.
The Matsés working with the frog have a strong connection to the Earth, including the animal spirits and the spirits of the land. They believe that to upset or harm the frog will bring negative consequences upsetting the spirits. An alchemical master, Kambo systematically removes energetic and spiritual blocks by washing away dense physical and mental energies standing in the way of a balanced and peaceful life.
I headed to a fasting retreat on a paradise island in the south of Thailand to do an 11-day fast, cleanse, meditate and have some well-needed time to myself. A few days into my stay I "bumped" into a shamanic medicine man radiating with the power and energy of fifteen Jesuses, holding a bunch of cards in his hands with KAMBO written on them. This was surely the last sign I needed. Yet somewhat hesitant to embark on what I had heard was an excruciating experience on what would be one of my last days on the island, I told him I would think about it. Was it legal? Would I perhaps DIE? Are they nice to the frogs? I needed about an hour to make up my mind- I was going to do it. I went to find the shamanic medicine man again.
That morning I dressed up in a bright green silk dress for the occasion "in honour of the toad" I told him when I arrived. I quickly remembered Kambo is not a toad but a frog, sweetly he didn't correct me, and embarrassed, I pretended like I never had said it.
Sat on the porch of the shaman's bungalow nestled in the jungle on the beach, I watched as he carefully placed sacred objects on an altar cloth that he brought out from his medicine box. With holy burning incense he made three marks on my leg, the burn marks are the gateway for the Kambo to enter the lymphatic system in your body. He applied a test to see how my body reacted. I could feel the medicine going up to my head, a warm sensation. "Ohh this feels quite nice!" I told him. The remaining burn marks were covered with medicine and the ceremony began. He started to hum beautiful prayers and softly played a drum while circling me. Suddenly it didn't feel so nice anymore. The medicine came on powerfully and I could feel it rushing from my head and out all over my body, working its way into every cell. What was I doing? Had I gone mad? Was I going to die after all? I had to lie down.
Then came the overwhelming sensation to purge. And purge i did. I grabbed the blue bucket next to me.Out came clear liquid with specks of BLACK. I felt an overwhelming and intense sense of absolute peace. The sky seemed to shift. It was as if a light dimmer had been switched on and I felt a hundred times lighter both physically and emotionally. What the hell was that black stuff? I was chocked. "Panema" he said, dark negative energy stored in the body. I looked again and saw my ex in the bucket. He dressed my wounds with Dragon's Blood, a dark red resin, gave me some holy tobacco and asked me to go and pour out the contents under a tree and throw the tobacco on top of it. I thanked him from the bottom of my heart and made my way through the jungle back to the retreat.
"What have you done?!" said a fellow fasting-buddy. "Your eyes and your face look completely different! Whatever it is I want to do it". I smiled. "I'll tell you later" I said and headed down to the beach with a newfound serenity I had not known before.
NOTE: It's been two months since my first Kambo experience and it wont be my last. My mind has been clearer, I'm filled with positive energy, my body feels lighter and I have been able to notice patterns in my relationships I did not see before. Life is unfolding in beautiful ways and the world looks slightly more beautiful. Is it the Kambo or me? Perhaps a combination of both, but I'm grateful to both the frog and the shaman who opened up this world to me