I always said, I’d never go searching for it, but if it came to me, I’d do it.
I’d heard of plant medicine before, but had never considered it seriously until about two years ago. To be perfectly honest, it freaked me out. Why would I want to see little green leprechauns running around, right? I had smoked pot in university, sure, but that was the extent of my experience with any mind altering substance. And yet there I was, laying down in my first ever plant medicine ceremony, thinking to myself, I should have tried mushrooms first.
Maybe it’s the journalist in me, but I just want to know things. Even if it were our first time meeting, if I found out you had done a psychedelic, you’d better believe I would be asking 101 questions. What does it feel like? Did you see anything? How much did you take? Who was there? Was it at night? Were you, ‘you’ after?
I’ve read books, heard stories from friends and strangers, and watched documentaries to try to understand what it’s like, but the only thing that seemed certain was that every single person has their own, personally tailored experience.
Now it was my chance to find out for myself.
I said the medicine came to me and it did, but I remember starting to ask close friends about it a lot about two years ago. I was in a really rough spot in my life — sad all the time, quick to anger, depressed, disappointed, and dejected. I was feeling so lost. I don’t think I was ready for the medicine back then, but I sought guidance and received it from a friend who helped me neutralize some of what I was feeling. Things got better after that, but were still pretty up and down.
Fast forward to last month, and I’m given an opportunity, through work, to go to Rythmia Life Advancement Centre in Costa Rica, if I choose. After exploring their website I was really taken by everything they had set up. There was no chance I was passing up this opportunity. Rythmia is the world’s first fully medically licensed plant medicine health resort. I could relax, eat healthy farm to table food, check out beautiful beaches, do yoga, meet cool people, receive massages and cleanses, attend workshops/meditations, and do plant medicine ceremonies in a safe, clean, and traditional yet modern way. The medicine had come to me and I was ready for it.
It’s Not For Everyone
I say it’s not for everyone because if you’re expecting a complete cure-all, you will be disappointed. The plant does a portion of the work, but it’s up to you to do the rest. Going in with a level of seriousness and respect for the plant medicine makes a huge difference. Following certain diets, protocols, and meditations are all really good ways to hone in on why you’re doing this and what you’d like to receive from it. The more clear you are on your intentions, the better.
But listen carefully: This is not a party drug. It’s not glamorous, and it’s not even fun a lot of the time. There were moments in the ceremony when I thought I was straight up in an insane asylum, yet it was also one of the most beautiful nights of my life. How?
I followed the diet for two full weeks before I was to go to Rythmia. Although they offer ceremonies every night, for some reason, Wednesday was my day (we got there on the Saturday). I feel confident in saying that the medicine started working the moment I really took it to my heart and realized Hey, I’m doing this, like, for real! and began following the guidelines. I started thinking about my intentions but not so rigidly that I was stuck to them. They say for your first time, pick something ‘easy’ like, “I want to receiving healing.”
All week I was chatting with people who had been participating in ceremony night after night at Rythmia. Every day at the same time they hold a plant integration Q&A for those doing it the same evening, which was really helpful, as I wanted to know everything about the ceremony before actually being there. I got to hear people’s experiences from the night before and I realized everything I had read about the experience, how it affects everyone differently, was true.
Because it is a medically licensed facility, one of the first things you do upon arrival at Rythmia is visit the ICU and meet Dr. Jeff Mcnairy, Psy.D., M.P.H. He wants to meet you one-on-one to see how you’re doing and if plant medicine is something safe for you to take part in. If it is, he wants to make sure you’re ready both mentally and physically. I thought this was such a good way to start this healing week.
I ended up doing two ceremonies and having two completely different experiences. I can confidently tell you, they were the most profound spiritual experiences I’ve had, so far, in my life, and I’ve done it all — Landmark, reiki, NLP, sessions (lots of practitioners), sweat lodges, 10 day Vipassana sit, The Artist Way, journalling, leaving the country, retreats, regressions, and cleanses. I was ready for it. I love learning more about myself and the mystery that is life and why I’m here. I guess I’m my own greatest subject. I was open to the healing and respected the plant very much. The day of my first ceremony I wrote the medicine a heart-felt letter stating my excitement and intentions.
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The plant is a divine, living, benevolent entity that you can interact with, and it knows exactly what you need to heal. This is coming from Taita Juantio, a Columbia Shaman who comes to Rythmia every few months to do ceremonies. I was lucky enough to be there when he was and did my Friday ceremony with him. He explained that there is a wonderful cosmic party happening and every single person has a seat with their name on it at this great cosmic gathering. The plant medicine helps us see truth in whatever way it knows we need to see, hear, feel, and experience it.
If you want to do plant medicine to see pretty colours and shapes, I’m going to suggest you watch television instead. This medicine will teach you, it will cleanse you, and it will show you what you need to see, but it won’t do the work for you. Sometimes, it straight up kicks your butt (which I definitely felt my first ceremony), but it’s all for you to heal — from years of conditioning, past traumas both remembered or forgotten, physical, spiritual, or even ancestral.
According to Taita, overthinking is a disease for humanity. Thought was supposed to be a powerful tool for us to live on this planet, but now it has taken over, way over, our lives, and people are hurting and suffering because of it. It causes a stress in the soul and it’s this dis-ease that is being reconciled in ceremony.
If you are interested and committed to healing yourself, to understand yourself and the mystery of life, and to continue with your spiritual growth, then you might be on the right path by doing plant medicine. It has been about a month since my ceremonies and I can honestly say doing it was a game changer; my behaviour and, most importantly, my attitude has completely changed, and the people closest to me have noticed it, too. I was so afraid I would go home and revert right back to those same old patterns, because that’s what as always happened in the past.
So what changed?
Well, I wanted the medicine to show me everything I couldn’t see about myself, remove any blockages, and allow me to have full soul reconnection. Something traumatic happened to me when I was four years old (which I had actually blocked until I was 22 and had a breakthrough in Landmark), and a part of me left that day. It wasn’t safe to be me. For years and years there was a vacancy or void that couldn’t be filled, a part of me that was simply missing, in a way. And I felt it. That’s probably why I almost ricocheted from one healing modality to the next, always searching, but never finding.
But I’m happy to report, she’s back and never leaving again.
I experienced so much between the two ceremonies, and both were so beautiful in their own ways. I’ll be posting a video that goes into greater detail, but for now I will just give high level points.
The setting was just unreal. The ceremonies are held in a beautiful Shala on the resort and equipped with bathrooms, fans, candles, lots of windows, and a fire pit outside. I went early the first night to choose my spot. There were clean comfy mattresses with our own buckets beside them. Seeing the beds and buckets freaked me out a little, but I was still resolved to continue on, and for some reason didn’t think I was going to throw up. Maybe, just maybe, I would luck out. Purging is a big part of the release that comes with the medicine. Some experience vomiting, while for others, purging involves diarrhea, crying, laughing, sweating, writing, or nothing at all.
I purged big time my first ceremony. It came in the form of vomit. It took a long time for me to close my eyes and go inside because I couldn’t stop looking around at everything. What’s everyone else doing? Oh look, someone’s throwing up. What’s the Shaman doing? Where was that person going? This went on for a good 40 minutes until I heard a calm female voice say, “It’s time to close your eyes, Rajie.” Almost everyone who has done plant medicine has warned me, do not resist. So I closed my eyes and I was gone.
The music really helped my journey — as it changed, so too did my visions. I started feeling really sick and knew I had to throw up, but I was ready. They prepare you by showing you the most efficient way to purge — get on all fours over your bucket — so I did. Lots of ‘stuff ‘ came out. I couldn’t see exactly what was coming out (you have to stop eating at lunchtime), but it felt like blackness. Like, years and years and years of anger, resentment, jealousy, depression, and sadness were all being squeezed out of every vein in my body. I remember saying, “Get out. Thanks, but I don’t need or want you anymore.” I sat back, kneeling, feeling so much better.
Later, I experienced an epic ego death and saw a huge, beautiful white snake, which showed up at different points in the journey and through which I could understand the medicine. I asked questions and it answered. The medicine said I could present anything I didn’t want and she would take it. I experienced love from Mother, like I’d never felt before. I cried really hard.
The shaman called for a second round and I was feeling good. I sat up and one of the helpers came over to me. She sat in front me and asked, “How are you feeling?” and I said, “I’m good, but debating if I should drink again. I feel good but… what do you think?” She looked at me right in the eyes and asked, “Why are you here?” We stared at each other for about two full minutes (no joke) and I said, “Okay. Yup. Got it. I’m doing it.” I figured, I’m here to heal, so let’s go in deep.
I suddenly became fascinated with the idea of computers. What is a computer? Why is a computer? What is computing? I came to realize that we are the ultimate technology. Our brains are the ultimate computer and we just made a replica of our brain in the material world. The program recognized itself (thought). Self awareness is the key. I had already known that, but never at this experiential level. After that, things in the journey became very ‘digital.’ I was taken back to an instance in my early childhood that totally shaped the harsh, judgmental, and critical tone I often took with myself and that undoubtably came off to other people, too. I saw it and I heard it.
But now, all of that has changed. I have become so loving, kind, and gentle with myself. I never thought this could be possible, to have this level of self-love.
The second ceremony was with Taita Juanito, and it was completely different. From the brew to the healing to the actual experience, it was an entirely different night. There were 60 people doing the ceremony, with about 12-15 helpers/shamans, live music, and a fire pit. There were countless stars out in the sky and more beauty than words can properly convey. This ceremony ended at about 8am, and I did not sleep a wink.
I drank once, at 10pm, and have been ‘drunk’ ever since. I have a different perspective on life now. I see things with a childlike innocence and wonder, but I’m an adult, so it’s pretty awesome. I connected so deeply with my purpose here on Earth and downloaded so much knowledge on the fabric of life and how we are all co-creating this reality. All of it. I actually wrote 10 pages during the ceremony. I was so present and awake; I bore witness to it all, and would love to tell you what I saw. Please, watch my video if you feel inclined.
One of the greatest gifts I received from the ceremony is the constant hum of joy and happiness that I now feel, even while experiencing other emotions like anger, sadness, or suffering. It’s been over a month since the ceremonies, and that’s still happening.
Before You Take Plant Medicine
If you’re thinking of doing plant medicine, please look into the facility and shaman you are hoping to work with thoroughly. We’ve all heard the horror stories of ‘shamans’ giving bogus brews, people being psychically attacked, and other cautionary tales. Please do as much research as possible.
That’s why it was so nice doing it at a place like Rythmia, where everything is completely taken care of and designed with your best interests at heart. Plant medicine seems to have taken the Western world by storm these last few years, and while it can help everyone, it seems to offer some of the the most profound changes for people with depression and addictions.
We are all unique beings. Everyone will have their own experience with the medicine, and that’s part of its beauty. It can tear your ego to shreds and show you your worst fears, all while helping you feel the infinite love that radiates throughout everything in this universe.
Rythmia did a wonderful job of providing support post-ceremony, since integration can be difficult. Keeping your practice, whatever it is, is so important afterwards. I still think about my ceremonies every day.
You can find me at www.houseofrajie.com or on Instagram @HouseofRajie.
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