I did drugs in college; LSD, pot, and shrooms. I mostly was fascinated with the idea of LSD and mushrooms. I never had any desire to try cocaine or heroin. My interest in drugs at that time was all about the mind. I wasn’t all that interested in uppers or downers. I wanted to explore the outer reaches of my own mind.
I remember the last time I did acid. I’d been convinced that LSD made into a different person. I believed that I was better, that I was more creative on acid. But a friend watched over the trip and when I asked her if I was different, she said, “No, you were just like you are now, Jen.” I didn’t believe her at first, but she insisted. “No, seriously, you were just exactly like you are now only you couldn’t concentrate as well.” I never did it again.
I met John shortly after this and suddenly, LSD seemed immature. My interest in it disappeared.
But several years ago, we traveled to the Amazon in Peru. At the lodge where we stayed, they offered Ayahuasca ceremonies. Ayahuasca is a sacred medicine used by shamans throughout Latin America. People who take the medicine (which is a mixture of plants) experience hallucinations, vomiting, and visions. I’ve never done Ayahuasca, but we watched a ceremony while we were there and it was mind-blowing. The icaros were magical. My view of the world was forever altered and we hadn’t even taken the entheogen.
Since that time, I’ve done a lot of reading about Ayahuasca, Peyote, and another sacred medicines like Iboga (recommended by a Rolfer I went to several years ago). After my own personal experiences watching and after doing much research, my views on psychedelic medicines have evolved. For example, I’m not a big believer in LSD although I have to admit that doing it in my college days did broaden my mind. It made me realize that my reality isn’t as solid as I’d thought it was. Things were much more malleable than I realized. But LSD is a recreational drug. People take it in recreational settings. And sometimes, things don’t go as planned.
Toward the end of my undergraduate degree, for example, I did an internship under the psychiatrist Dr. Louis Martin at Lincoln Regional Forensic Center. My first day there, a man who’d killed his best friend showed me around the place. He introduced me to all the residents there (most of them murderers or pedophiles). He had schizophrenia, but he was medicated and he seemed mostly normal, friendly, and totally coherent. He told me that after dropping acid, he’d developed schizophrenia. LSD can trigger schizophrenia in people who are predisposed to it. [
In 2012, I studied hypnotherapy for several months in Denver, Colorado. Trance is a part of many healing rituals in part because it’s such a powerful thing. Hypnosis grants us access to deeper layers of ourselves. I’ve been infatuated with hypnosis and hypnotherapy for years. Some socially sanctioned version of trance-induction exists in all the cultures we’ve seen so far and there’s a reason for it. Working with personal symbols that exist on the unconscious plane of reality creates a cascade of effects in the conscious mind.
When we travel, I spend a lot of time looking for healers and facilities that promote healing. It’s not about “medicine” per se. It’s about healing. How do people heal themselves? What I’ve found is that often, plant medicine plays a big role. And trance.
Last week, on a Thursday, while Lydian was teaching an English class, John and I sat at a table outside discussing the possibility of driving through the Darien gap with our FJ Cruiser.
“It hasn’t been done since 1972.” John said. And then he added, “But remember, this is the place where there are plants that are covered with bacteria. If you get scratched, you’re instantly infected and you only have hours to live.”
I laughed at him. Were we really serious about this? We kicked the idea around, just for fun joking with each other about the craziness of it. We imagined presenting the idea to Lydian and how she’d react to it. We laughed.
It was time to meet Lydian at the Plaza Baratilla so we got up from our table, paid our bill, and started walking over there. We were still laughing about the Darien Gap idea. John went in to the fruit vendor to buy a papaya while I stood by the stairs that emerge from the tunnels under Guanajuato to watch for Lydi. I squinted toward the street Lydian would be coming down after her class watching the locals talking with each other in groups, smiling. As I looked toward the steep hill, Karolina walked by in a colorful bandana. Karolina is a fascinating person who offers temazcals in Guanajuato. She’s a healer. I’d never seen her outside of the temazcal setting.
Just then, John joined me with the papaya. Karolina stood at the curb, her back facing us. I stared at her.
“There’s Karolina.” I said to John.
“Do you wanna go talk to her?” He asked.
“No…” I said, “She’s going somewhere. If she turns around, I’ll wave.”
And then, she turned around. We waved at her timidly, not really expecting for her to recognize us (usually when we saw her, we were covered in mud). At first she didn’t recognize us. And then she raised her eyebrows. She knew who we were. She came over and hugged us and then invited us to a “Ceremonía de medicina con sapito” on Saturday night.
At first, I thought she said, “zapito”. Then, I started calling it “saponito”. The name just didn’t stick in my brain even after I’d looked it up online and learned that “sapo” is the word for “toad”. Sapito is harvested in Sonora Mexico. Indeed, the shaman who did the ceremony in Guanajuato is out harvesting Sapito right now. Bufo Alvarius toads are strung up on sticks and “irritated”. Their irritation causes them to secrete the stuff used in Sapito rituals. The toads are then released, unharmed, just irritated and the sapito is brought back and either applied to sticks for Kambo ceremonies or it’s smoked.
Lydian joined us as we talked with Karolina. I told her about the Sapito ceremonía de medicina. Karolina walked away from us. It was a trip that would last only 20 to 30 minutes, but it sounded more frightening (and interesting) than the one we’d considered doing through the Darien Gap.
For more information about Sapito in Guanajuato, Mexico, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sapito: The Sapo Frog Medicine Part II — By Jennifer Shipp