Recently I experienced a powerful and beautiful healing ceremony in Mexico involving the Bufo Alvarius Toad...whilst words can only partially convey my experience I hope you find it useful to hear what happened...
Business as Usual
Six weeks into our central and south american trip in Mexico and I was feeling anxious, depressed and constantly finding fault with daily situations and with my partner (Nisha). The internal dialogue of judgement and “pain talk” had not been left behind and instead travelled with me on the plane to Mexico..
A new start on a new continent?
The intention for my journey to the Americas was to lovingly let go of the aforementioned parts of me and embrace new ones. I closed my IT support business down so I could focus on being with my partner, become fluent in Spanish and ultimately pay attention to my journey and of course travel. None of this was happening!
Looking for healing
Over the years I have spent lots of time, energy and money on various therapies and healings, all of which have helped me and given me skills to embrace life more. While on this new continent I wanted to embrace some of the ones I had not experienced such as Ayahuasca, San Pedro and Kambo. Every place we stayed in it was in the back of my mind to search for healers and ceremonies - I remember when I asked a restaurant owner about where I could do these healing ceremonies he replied “Don't go looking for the plant, let it find you” - so I eased off needing to find healing and focused on my dramas instead!!
Two weeks after the advice given to me by the restaurant owner we were in Tulum, South East Mexico at a bar drinking yummy Margaritas and chatting to a guy called Raphael who for many years has been working with young people. Our conversations centered around the challenges they face considering their processed food diets,, lack of nutrition and the the onslaught of modern medicines and vaccines that are forced on them - no wonder conditions such as attention deficit order and diabetes were common amongst young humans.
The Mexican toad connection
The area of Mexico Raphael came from is in the Sonoran Desert, near the border with the United States of America.. Being next to the border a lot of drug trafficking takes place (remember Breaking Bad?) and a large proportion of the local community including children were hooked on them specifically Crystal Meth. I dabbled with this for a weekend back home in London and whilst the high was amazing, I couldn't sleep or eat for a week so I can't imagine what it's like to be hooked on the stuff 24/7!
There are various communities like the Seri in the Sonoran desert that remain independent to the Mexican federal state and have strong traditions of both a cultural and healing nature. In recent generations these traditions have been fading away especially with the onset of high drug addiction.
One of these lost healing traditions is using the secretions from the glands of the Bufo Alvarius Toad (Otac is the Seri word for toad) only found in this particular toad found only in the Sonoran desert. The toad lives underground for nine months of the year and only comes above ground to mate for the remaining three months. It's secretions contains 5-MeO-DMT and is used as a medicine by heating and inhaling the vapour which can produce a psychedelic experience of a short duration. Raphael has worked with members of the community using the toad’s secretions and has helped many heal parts of their journey whether physical or mental and freed them from their Crystal meth addictions.
I never did get to ask how Raphael had come to experience the Toad and at no point did he even offer a healing ceremony. However like the guy in the restaurant said - “let the plant find you” and it had so I asked him if he was free during our stay to run a healing ceremony and he was...
Hello Mr Toad!
Two days later we took a taxi with Raphael to a beautiful Cenote, water holes that are purified by the limestone rock around them. The land surrounding them is sacred and made the perfect spot for our ceremony.
We spent moments connecting and then quiet moments in meditation. Raphael suggested that if we were to feel fear to see this fear as excitement and to approach the whole experience like a child eating candy for the first time...this helped a lot.
My partner went first so I got chance to see at first hand how her physical body was reacting to the medicine - after a while I decided to close my eyes rather than to be dragged into what I was seeing and hearing.
Now it was my turn standing tall in front of Raphael, he held me through the whole process making sure I inhaled enough of the medicine.
Very hard to explain the process as I do not have any visual memories, however I did make lots of fart mouth noises and dribbled a lot. At no time was there any controlling thought or awareness of my body and therefore nothing to stop and instead everything to allow.
Singing and Joy
Towards the end of the journey lying down I became aware of myself making noises, sounds and then singing...I could feel the effects wear off as I opened my eyes and saw the trees above so I closed my eyes again and sank back into the bliss of singing without thought (imagine farting or burping without thinking you are about to do either!).
Rafael asked me to sit up and enquired if I was ready for more - I was shocked but apparently I had inhaled so deeply I had not taken all the dose. Sitting down this time I took the remaining toad and again more dribbling and farting mouth sounds - this was one hell of a purge.
Eyes wide shut
The final time I inhaled the medicine again standing up, Raphael encouraged me to keep my eyes wide open which I did. As the effects started to happen, looking into his eyes I saw his face morph into an animal and I saw a kaleidoscope effect and if you have ever watched Battlestar galactica when the space pods leave the mothership - that kind of effect. I felt like a medicine that needed to be kept inside me and I had the sensation of absorbing rather than letting go of it. The feeling was amazing only I saw nothing, I had truly left my body, brain and eyes. This time I really did purge and puked my guts up. The whole time I remained standing (I think).
All the way through raphael was very supportive and whispering, holding and talking me through - most of which I was unaware of but things my partner mentioned to me afterwards.
Its different for everyone
I am very aware that by sharing my experience of the healing to you may give you the impression that this is what it's like for everyone...it's not and my partner had a totally different experience, no physical purging and lots of visuals and light. I guess the toad works its wonders in different ways.
After the ceremony we dipped into the Cenote and the cool waters to me felt like a continuation of the healing ceremony. Unlike recreational drugs there was no come down however I felt much more present seeing the colours and hearing the sounds around me.
Nisha, Rafael and myself after the healing ceremony
So what has changed for me?
It's hard to tell what the lasting effects of the healing ceremony are and I do feel they may still reveal themselves .I certainly feel calmer and present and when the old nagging voices of fear and doubt enter my head I don't seem to give them much attention! Here are a few examples of how I feel I have changed:
On a long bus journey with lots to do (write blog, read guide book, learn spanish etc) which would normally cause me panic and instead I chose to do nothing and look out the window and listen to some calming music
Washing up after Nisha had cooked - she tends to use a lot of plates and cutlery which normally annoys me - this annoyance entered my head and quickly was replaced with laughter.
Had a sleepless night and ended up waking late, missing doing yoga and then had to do a few IT tasks - all of which meant we didn't leave for the day until the afternoon. Normally I would feel guilt (childhood upbring), I would project this irritation out onto Nisha and instead I accepted it and focused on the task at hand instead.
We plan to do another session soon before we leave Mexico so I feel there will be “Return of the Toad” second blog. In the meantime here are a few links and Rafael’s contact details:
Bufo Alvarius Documentary with the Seri people in Mexico
Love to all.