Category Archives: Peru Journey

Kambo: Frog Healer of the Amazon

Dreamer and amara profile squareAt Wildheart we are dedicated to providing a space for children and adults to explore their wildness. In today’s culture, so much of our reality is centered around staying in our comfort zones, keeping our minds occupied, working hard within societal constructs, and dissecting the world around us to extract what we believe will offer us relief from our suffering. I am passionate about expanding beyond what feels easy into the wildness of life. Therein lies the potential for true healing, peace, and happiness.

I would like to make a confession: Being a role model isn’t always easy.

There are times when I want to curse, spit, scream and cry. There are things I perceive to be very out of balance in the world around me and I have to be careful in addressing these topics so as not to offend others. It can even feel like I’m being less than authentic when I can’t appropriately share my feelings. Sometimes, that is the reality of what it takes to be a compassionate mentor. 

MarcawasiToday, however, I am confronting that belief. If there is anything that a role model ought to represent, it is Truth. In that spirit, I would like to share a story with you about my own truth. In full disclosure, telling this story makes me a bit uneasy. Some might consider the topic taboo and others might find it strange or bizarre. Regardless of what your opinion may be, I’m sharing this story because it reveals a deeper insight into the truth of my path and how I am expanding my work with adults.

When Amara and I met eleven years ago at Prescott College, we were both fascinated with natural healing methods practiced by indigenous cultures.

First Peoples all around the world turn to nature for their food and medicine. In Western culture our bodies generally do not experience the environmental stresses that many indigenous people face on a daily basis, such as prolonged exposure to cold, periods without food, loads of insect and snake bites, and many more. Manageable doses of exposure to harsh elements can lead to hardiness of the mind and body. This hardiness is what Amara and I were deeply interested in understanding.

Modern medicine is highly effective for physical trauma related injuries. If I were to break my leg tomorrow, there is no place I would rather be than the emergency room at St. Charles. When Amara and I met, however, we were both experiencing health imbalances that Western medicine did not have answers for.

We were also looking to see if our health issues could be addressed with non-western modalities of healing.  

Macaw squareShortly after we met, Amara and I did an independent study through Prescott College in the Amazon rainforest. There, we studied plants used for a variety of illnesses. The indigenous people shared with us a very different view of healing than what we had previously known. Their modalities tapped into a web of energy that could be influenced by song, prayer, smoke, flower water, and much more.

We had the opportunity to dive deep into our own healing, question our belief systems, and soak up the vibrant energy of the rainforest. That initial journey to Peru build a solid foundation for our future work with nature connection and environmental respect.

From that point forward, our view of reality felt markedly different from the culture in which we had come.

Pisaq marketThree years ago, Amara and I traveled back to Peru for our anniversary. The journey was, like all of our Peru excursions, profoundly memorable. We visited sacred sites, gushed over the myriad of textiles found everywhere, and fumbled through many broken spanish conversations. Every day was a new adventure (our beloved ‘stuck-on-top-of-a-mountain-in- Peru’ story also happened on this trip).

We spent the last days of our voyage in the town of Pisac along the Urubamba River in the Sacred Valley. There, we met a fellow traveler who was staying at the same hostel. He was a kindred soul and we spent several afternoons in his company. One evening, while cooking dinner together, he informed us about his plans for the following morning.

His intention was to partake in a ceremony where he would be administered a frog secretion, called Kambo. The ceremony would involve burning his skin, putting the frog’s secretion on the burns, and then swelling, pooping and vomiting for some time after. His motivation for putting himself through this hardship was to experience a detox and profound healing.

Kambo SquareThrough listening to our friend and by summoning the powers of Google, we learned that Kambo, also known as the Giant Monkey Tree Frog or Phylomedusa bicolor, is an amazonian frog that has been used for thousands of years to heal a broad spectrum of illnesses. Traditionally, tribes people treat infections, snake bites, and malaria with Kambo and also use it for hunting, strength, stamina and removal of ‘panema,’ or bad luck.

Over the last several decades, this amazonian amphibian has become more widely recognized for its incredible healing potential. Pharmaceutical companies are actively studying the frog’s secretion in the hopes of making medical breakthroughs. Some of these companies have taken the frog out of the jungle for study. Unfortunately for these companies, the frog will not produce the secretion in captivity outside of the jungle. There seems to be something important about the places in which the frog lives. Anthropologists have been scrambling to document its origins and traditional uses. Practitioners working with different tribes have taken the secretion (not the frog) out of the jungle and into the lives of the mainstream public. Kambo is legal in every country in the world. 

Amara at ruins squareAfter hearing this colorful description of what our friend was about to willingly experience, Amara and I looked at each other with the most serious FOMO faces imaginable (FOMO is Fear Of Missing Out). Neither of us wanted to be rude and invite ourselves to his vomit party, but neither of us wanted to miss out, either! I took the heat and casually asked if there was any way we could get in on this amazing opportunity. To our delight, he expressed how much he would love for us to join (in hindsight, he was probably very scared to be alone in the experience and was fishing for friends to join, but that’s beside the point). My mind was reeling and asking for some kind of assurance of safety, but my heart was dead certain that this was happening.

Sometimes, you know when you’re called.

The next morning we awoke early, skipped breakfast, and meandered down the dirt road to the practitioner’s house. He was a bit of an eccentric human, but the same could be said about many of us traveling in Peru. We were given the crash course on what this medicine does, how it works and what to expect during the treatment. The more information I received, the more nervous and excited I became. Apparently, when done correctly, Kambo is extremely safe, albeit a bit uncomfortable.

The after effects, however, can be profoundly beneficial and last for days, weeks and months. It has been reported to successfully treat depression, chronic pain, anxiety, Lymes disease, candida overgrowth, arthritis, high blood pressure, and many more illnesses.

Kambo simon pic edited

Photo with our kambo practitioner, Simon, in Pisaq, Peru

We all had one last chance to back out, but none of us did. The experience was intense, quite painful at times, and utterly disorienting. There is nothing psychoactive in Kambo and no one I know would ever describe the experience as ‘psychedelic.’ The sheer discomfort and bizarreness of your body reacting to the secretion is all that’s necessary to put you in a different state of mind, much like the immediate moments after serious bodily injury. There were times when I genuinely regretted my decision to partake in this event. The rest of the experience I couldn’t think of much because I was too busy vomiting in a plastic bucket while simultaneously trying not to poop my pants (harder than it sounds, let me tell you). To be frank, there wasn’t much about the experience of having frog secretion put in my skin that I enjoyed. That is to say, nothing in the first thirty minutes or so.

After my final purge and having had all of the secretion removed from my burn points, something deeply significant happened.

First, I felt calm. Really calm. A calm I’ve never felt in my adult life. Second, I was happy. Wholly and simply happy. Every memory that came to my mind made me smile inside. I could find earnest love and joy for painful memories that arose, easily able to glean a simple lesson from the challenges. This state of mind was so natural, humble, and fulfilling. It was as if someone turned on the ‘positive’ switch in my brain. I had never experienced anything quite like it.

Kambo AltarThe glow of the experience lasted for weeks, and I became a dedicated student of the Kambo frog. I found it to be one of the most potent and effective tools in my growth. I do not make this statement lightly, as I have a fairly heavy bag of tools that I draw upon frequently. Kambo stands alone, however, as being uniquely capable of bringing me back to the simple truths and how I’m choosing to live them. I love that it doesn’t alter the mind, so there is no running from one’s thoughts. I love how it clears the body and purges it of toxins. I love how it resets the emotions and allows one feel the calmness that is our natural state. There was a time when I disliked (maybe not strong enough of a word) the physicality of the medicine rushing through my blood and making me feel like death, but I’ve grown to even love that.

I’m sharing this with you now because it is one of my deepest truths. It is something I am called to work with myself and to share with others who are called.

Dreamer with kambo altarAs such, I just completed my practitioner training with the IAKP (International Association of Kambo Practitioners). The IAKP is a group of practitioners who seek to support and encourage the safe, responsible, and legal use of Kambo through training, awareness raising, knowledge development, research, professional behavior, and best practice. They are a non-profit organization that works closely with the indigenous people who care for the frog and land upon which it lives.  Amara and I have dedicated ourselves to connecting people to local nature and we stand firm in this practice as a foundation for all other nature connection/healing work. At this moment in time, however, we are a global village in need of the most powerful healing tools that our planet has to offer. What is incredible about the Amazon Rainforest is the vast biodiversity that supports unique lifeforms, like Kambo. Many of us have deep emotional traumas, toxins, and ways that we run from ourselves.

We are passionate about providing a natural healing modality that has the potential to root out some of our deepest pains and reconnect us with the vital force of nature.

Marcawasi lightingCompleting the training was a huge accomplishment for me and I am so happy for the opportunity to learn amongst experts in the field. Thank you for hearing my story of discovering Kambo and thank you for seeing me. As a mentor, I am committed to following my passions as I so readily advise others to do. My work in these realms has has informed so much of my journey and helped immensely along the way. If you are interested in Kambo, please join us at Hawthorn Healing Arts Center for our free talk, Kambo: Frog Healer of the Amazon. The talk is November 2nd, 2017 from 7pm – 8pm.

Kambo AltarIn this free talk we will be exploring and offering:

  • Kambo’s healing potential
  • History, traditional use, and Western influence/use of Kambo
  • What a typical Kambo treatment looks like
  • Who would be a good candidate for Kambo
  • What contraindications exist
  • Supporting amazonian medicines such as rapé and sananga
  • Kambo songs
  • Complimentary healthy macaroons and tea

 We will also be posting about upcoming ceremonies on our Kambo page. 

Thank you for reading,

In Joyful Service,

Rainbow Dreamer

Dreamer profileFounder / Instructor
Wildheart Nature School


Epic Adventure in Peru

Amara sitting at ancient door in PeruDear Friends and Families,
As many of you know, we have been in Peru for the last few weeks, celebrating life, making many ceremonies and filling up our souls with the amazing magic of the Andes. It was a most spectacular journey and we are feeling so blessed that we can return home to this beautiful land we call Central Oregon. Truly, we’ve come from one paradise back to another!

We have so many stories to share and we actually spent most of the journey home recapitulating our time in Peru, officially making it our longest ever ‘story of the day.’ One stood out, however, as perhaps the most pertinent for our Wildheart work. This was because we were placed in a situation that forced us to practice what we teach: Emergency Survival.

Monument to Humanity 2It all began with our sincere desire to visit one of the strangest places in Peru. It is a destination that many attempt to reach, but many also miss due to random happen stance or seemingly bizarre interference from the universe. With all of the allure and intrigue surrounding this place, we had hoped, if not expected, at least some adversity to meet us. And meet us it did.

The initial travel by taxi and bus to get to a small town near the site was nothing outside of ordinary travel for Peru: everybody tells you a different bus schedule, anyone is willing to take you themselves for the right price, and somehow you end up where you want to be. We slept in the small town for the night, and woke up early in the morning to meet our porters (two donkeys) to take us up the mountain. As a bit of background, we traveled from sea level to over 11,000 feet in less than 6 hours, and still had to climb another several thousand by foot to get to the top of the mountain. Put another way, it felt like we were missing a lung and a half, the air was so thin.

Walking up the mountainThis is when things started to get weird. Despite arranging it the previous night, we were informed in the morning that there were no donkeys to take our stuff. This was terribly unfortunate, as we had not packed light, knowing this was the only few days of our trip that we’d be camping. After a bit of hustle by the towns folk, a lady who must have been in her 80s came down the road with one donkey. We packed what we could on the four legged friend and carried the rest on our backs, which totaled about 60lbs for me and two heavy day packs for Amara. Despite her age, the woman was some kind of freak of nature and was seemingly unaware of the reality of inclines and slopes. She maintained a grueling pace up the mountain and refused to rest or wait for the lagging gringos (white people) behind her, save one time to talk to a passing acquaintance and another to go to the bathroom. Occasionally she would glance behind at us and mutter something in quechua, then turn without emotion and keep walking. Hours and hours later, I felt my body cursing me and threatening to vomit my lungs out my mouth if I didn’t stop (this was not a thought, but a feeling. Conscious thought had long been abandoned, as it required far too much energy to maintain). By some miracle, we reached our destination at the top and collapsed in relief. Our painfully fit grandma unloaded the donkey and said she’d be back in four days to get us, at 7 in the morning, no less. She disappeared in a matter of seconds and we were alone on the top a mountain in Nowhere, Peru.

SunsetWith no food in our systems (we didn’t have time to eat that morning) I quickly began preparing some rice and canned fish, ignoring the onslaught of bodily pain that was tightening its grip on my awareness. And this is when it all came apart. As Amara was setting up camp and I was helping make the area look nice, she noticed our stove was melting. I rushed over to investigate and tried to turn it off which ended it the gas can exploding gas everywhere (thankfully, I had the sense to snuff the flame out first). Amara and I ran for it and managed to escape the flying can of gas without harming ourselves. Our largest gas can was totally done. On the plus side, we had a second smaller can and another stove. Lucky us! Unluckily, however, that one malfunctioned immediately and we replayed the exploding scene over again. Super bummer, as I like to say.

Now we were way up on a mountain, all alone for four days, with only a little fruit, a couple cans of fish, raw green beans, two plantains, and tons of uncooked rice. Effectively, we had enough food to make it through two or three meals without fire to cook, and then we are looking at eating raw rice and raw plantain. Yuck.

Dreamer at SunsetSo, we went through our options. It was just like during class when we do our survival days. We played out every scenario we could think of: hiking down the next day and calling it a wash (hopefully taking the right turns in the trail on the way down and not getting lost), rationing our food and fasting for much of the time but still enjoying the heck out of our location, eating raw rice and seeing how it went, etc. I then spent several hours trying to make a makeshift rocket stove out of some cans I found laying around and some extra foil we had. It was very hopeful and lifted our spirits, but in the end, the rain, fog, wet sticks and wind dampened any attempts at the stove functioning correctly. We finally munched on some fruit and fish and hit the sack. I might mention here that the sunset this night was perhaps the most incredible I have ever seen.

CookingWe finally settled on a plan of rationing our food and staying the course, as we both knew we wouldn’t starve in the four days, and fire was still a possibility with predictable sunshine in the early mornings. We slept in late the next morning, more out of necessity for life after the previous day, rather than laziness. Fire didn’t happen that morning as the rain and fog moved in early. We did collect sticks and placed them in our shelter, to at least give them a chance to shed a little moisture during the day. I also took to splitting the larger pieces with our kitchen knife, as it was the only sharp thing we had to split wood and larger pieces didn’t stand a chance of burning in this foggy, wet climate. On the third day, I got up very early and put every prayer and hope I had into getting a healthy fire going. After several failed attempts, I gave it one last shot. The flame took, and kept going with plenty of encouragement. After half an hour, I had some decent coals and was able to cook rice, green beans, and plantains before the fog rolled in. It was one of the best meals I can remember in a long time! We ate this for the rest of our meals, which were only a few, but it was a blessing that we did not take for granted.

SunburnOur porter did indeed arrive at 7 in the morning on the fourth day and she mercilessly herded us down the mountain and into town with only one break to go pee. At this point, all we could do was laugh, and cry a little because our faces and hands had third degree sunburns. In all of our blissed out survival doings we didn’t realize that sun penetrates fog with a fiery vengeance that is exponentially aggravated by elevation. So we burned. Badly. So badly, in fact, that Amara’s lips swelled to super model status and she couldn’t smile. My lips were bleeding so we covered our faces in a healthy layer of zinc-oxide and together we laugh-cried our way down the mountain, looking like sad, swollen ghosts. Somehow, it was still one of the greatest memories we’ve ever created. That’s Peru, for ya! So the moral of the story is that unexpected things can happen in nature and it’s good to have some knowledge to make informed decisions when they do happen. Another moral of the story is that challenging situations in nature build character and make great stories.

We are feeling refreshed and very excited for everything coming up this spring. We hope to see you at one of our next events. Thank you for reading about our epic adventure and there will be more stories to come, we promise.


Dreamer and Amara