I remember the first time I drank Ayahuasca, I thought I’d never drink again in my life. The experience was incredible but so so intense for me, I thought it had to be a once in a lifetime thing.
As I floated back onto my mat and into my body I was swiftly pulled back from that train of thought and told in no uncertain terms I’d be back. I didn’t ever expect to be working for Ayahuasca and over the last eight years that path has taken many twists and turns. From an apprenticeship that left me ill prepared for the work, to finding my way with the traditional lineage with which I first drank and master plant diets.
One of the teachings that Ayahuasca impressed upon me that first night, is that us little humans are not running things. As much as we think we’re in charge, because of our assumed position of dominance over all living things on the earth, we are not. There are much bigger forces at play. We have a role to play for sure, and it’s completely up to us to decide what that role is.
In recent years I’ve seen so many articles and comments that discuss the abuse of Ayahuasca by westerners, the industry of Ayahuasca and where this whole thing is heading. With my initial teaching in mind, it is clear to me that the western world is not happening to Ayahuasca.
Ayahuasca is happening to the western world. It is the spirit here that has the guiding hand. The mindset that believes otherwise is still lost in the perhaps arrogant notion that humans are the dominant force on this planet. We are being tolerated at best, but we are running out of time and chances.
The timeline Ayahuasca has taken in reaching out to the world, directly correlates with the world reaching into the rainforest and beginning it’s systematic destruction.
The Amazon is one of many precious and significant natural resources we have on this planet, but as the largest and most diverse, it carries a symbology for mankind and our relationship with the nature all around us and within ourselves.
For the plants that make up Ayahuasca, it is HOME! As we too call this planet our home.
As the plants looked at the energies coming in and the places these energies are coming from, the call to action was clear… this needs healing. There is life and there is death, but this sickness of destruction is something else entirely.
I still to this day, eight years on from my first encounter, believe that the mission is to heal this destruction and protect its home. Such is the energetic intelligence held by these plants.
And so we turn our gaze back to the world of Ayahuasca tourism and the industry that has developed, not just in the Amazon but worldwide. It is certain that there are a lot of people profiting, and the intentions behind the work are not always purely for healing. Money is not a bad or good thing, it is a neutral form of exchange and can be used to house the homeless or to pay for hookers and meth. The responsibility lies with humans and that responsibility is a collective one. As humans are destroying the planet, so too can humans protect it.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a facilitator in Germany or an Onanya in Peru, if the energy generated from the work is not somehow being directed into protecting the Amazon, then are we so different from the loggers, miners and ranchers?
If there is no reciprocity in the work, if there is no giving back. Then are you fully aligned with the medicine you serve and drink?
From the moment I set out working for myself, with my own intentions, this lack of reciprocity troubled me. I pay a good price to the Quechua family that supplies my medicine, but what was I giving back to the plants that were giving so much. I toyed with the idea of setting up a conservation charity, but with the demands of the medicine work, that just wasn’t going to be possible.
With grace, I found the Amazon Rainforest Conservancy (ARC). A Canadian based charity working to protect a pristine and biodiverse habitat in Tambopata, Peru. According to many scientists it is the last intact block of tropical rainforest land in the world. The ARC currently owns and protects 1,416 hectares and is looking to expand upon that. They are a volunteer only organisation and employ no paid staff.
The money generated also goes into research and education, with plans to build schools within the local communities, so that the next generation can learn about alternative forms of employment, away from mining and logging.
After every retreat we donate a good chunk of income to the ARC and encourage all who drink with me to do the same if they feel called. I've been working with the ARC since last year and would like to extend that invite to the wider Ayahuasca community. It doesn’t need to be the ARC, there are many organisations doing great work, but please if you can, give back to the forest.
Energetically it is a win win for all involved, and provides clear direction for the medicine work, beyond our own immediate needs but in line with the long term needs of all who inhabit this planet.
To Donate, visit http://amazonrainforestconservancy.com/donate/