What’s in the Brew?
Shamans…believe that the information given to us… by other teacher plants or in non-ordinary states such as dreams and meditations is as valid (or more so) than that received from ordinary perception and thought. Furthermore, such information is given to us to be used in daily life not to be ignored, denied, or seen as lacking in merit or purpose. To deny our dreams, after all, is to deny a large part of our human and spiritual experience. Thus, for San Pedro shamans, the visions and insights gained from the plant are there to inform our everyday behavior in the ‘real world’ so we can make changes, heal, or do what is necessary to improve and enhance our lives.
“San Pedro: The Gateway to Wisdom” by Ross Heaven
*This article is an excerpt from the book “Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing” by Jennifer Engrácio
Shamanic practitioners the world over know that there is a matrix of creation that infuses all of life. We humans can tap into it for guidance and wisdom if we choose. When I connect with it, it looks to me like a spider web weaving all of creation together in an energetic fabric that forms a tapestry. I remember the first time I saw this with my own eyes. Near the beginning of my shamanic studies, I participated in an ayahuasca ceremony with an ayahuascero (ayahuasca shaman ceremonialist).
Ayahuasca is a sacred plant of the Amazon that ayahuasceros call “the vine of death.” It is called this because it supports the transformation of all that is untrue inside of ourselves in the particular ways we have each created our inner worlds. For centuries, this plant has been used in ceremony by the tribes of the Amazon rainforest to support people in connecting with their Dreamer and with this fabric of creation often referred to in [indigenous] traditions of North America as Great Spirit. Other faiths call the matrix by other names: God, Allah, the Divine, Yahweh, the Source, the Goddess, and so on.
I’ve sensed this web with my intuition my whole life but my mind had done a good job of creating serious doubts around what I was experiencing. I have never experienced such fear before a ceremony. I now know the fear was simply my ego’s grip tightening because it knew some lies were going to be revealed, thereby lessening its power over me. The ceremony itself was beautiful and powerful. The icaros (medicine songs) that are sung during the ceremony sent me to a place deep inside that I’d forgotten. The ayahuasca spirit sent me on a journey of seeing what was really real and helped me to peel away layers of falsehood I had bought into and built up around myself as forms of protection in a world that largely believes that Spirit does not exist.
Part way through the ceremony, I began seeing bright lines of light appearing all around the room. They were strangely familiar to me though I couldn’t place where I had seen them before. I noticed that the lines were connected to every living thing in the space–including the plants and the crystals. Everything with consciousness in the room was infused with the energy of the matrix. I traced those lines back to myself and I was shocked to see my luminous egg stretch in front of me. I put out my hands and watched this energy expand outwards. The auric field was a real thing! I don’t know how long I watched all of this in awe, but when I came out of that ceremony, I was never the same in the best way possible. Many years later, I was holding a swath of fabric made by Peruvian artisans and I recognized the matrix pattern I saw in their designs! I won’t say that it was an easy ceremony for me. It was probably the hardest one I’ve ever done and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who is simply “curious” about plant medicine. I learned the power of going into ceremony with a strong healing intention for myself. [This is something I highly recommend folks do before entering any ceremony.]
As I went back into my everyday life, I began seeing how often I slip out of that [Spirit] stream…My journey with shamanism has been all about learning how to co-create with Spirit from the magic and connection I feel with every fiber of my being. In a world that does not respect the spiritual aspects of life, this is a daily challenge in some ways. As someone living in an urban setting, I stay connected by getting out into nature every day. I pray. I attend group ceremonies. I work my medicine tools and practices. I ask for guidance. I listen to what I hear deep inside myself. Then, I put this wisdom into action in my everyday life…Since I began listening, I am able to support myself through mistakes more easily. I am more willing to let go of lies about who I am and what I am capable of. I am able to be neutral with other peoples’ energy and just be in the moment as it is. I can see more clearly what my role is in events and can shift into more positive ways of interacting with others, the Earth, and the world.
*“Spirit Plant Realms” art by Yvonne McGillivray
About the Author:
Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic coach, reiki master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.
Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:
“The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within”
“Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life”
“Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing”