"Alright everyone... Tomorrow we're going to start our lovely San Pedro experience first with a tobacco ceremony."
Mal, the shaman from Australia, was explaining to us how our second day of San Pedro meditation was going to flow. I had never done a tobacco ceremony before - so I wasn't sure what to expect.
What Mal and his wife (a shaman in training) explained to us was that the shamans had traditionally used it to clear the head space prior to ingesting San Pedro and ayahuasca.
It made sense... I had seen the shamans in the jungle use mapacho (Peruvian cigars) to clear the energy around someone, similar to how people burn sage in their homes. And throughout an ayahusca ceremony it's common to see the shamans smoke mapacho after mapacho to help keep the energy of the room clean as people are experiencing their emotions.
So, a tobacco ceremony sounded like a lovely idea to me.
And then I found out what it involved...
A package of mapacho (pictured above) is left to soak overnight in a bowl with water.
In the morning, prior to us taking the San Pedro plant medicine, Mal would walk around to each of us. We would cup our hands, and he would then squeeze about an ounce of tobacco water into our hands.
Then the insane part came next.
We were to take the water and snort it up both nostrils, and then quickly tip our heads back... Letting the water run down our nasal cavities and into our throat.
Now, I had never so much as used a nasal spray in my nose, let alone snorted anything else up it. But I was told that it would provide a nice opening of the crown chakra... So I was game for it. And quite scared.
"Purging after tobacco is more common than purging after San Pedro," we were told.
"Great," I thought, "I'll be running for a spot to puke in the garden."
Mal's wife demonstrated for us first how you do it. Having done it a number of times, she jumped right in. Mal then walked around the circle, squeezing the juice into each of our hands.
I cupped mine, and thanked him.
Then I looked at the spicy brown color and knew if I hesitated for more than a second, I would chicken the hell out.
Me, before the tobacco ceremony.
So I bent forward, shoved my nose into my palm, and inhaled.
Right away it was an electrical charge to my brain!
Me, just after snorting the water up my nose.
The heat from the tobacco hitting my nasal membranes perked me up instantaneously. I felt the heat form the tobacco running down my throat and also trying to escape from the back of my head.
My throat and crown chakras were being open.
Also, my opened wide. So that chakra was being woken up as well.
Once Mal had gotten around to each person, he started his circle again, coming to each of us to squeeze more juice.
I only let him refill my cupped hands once. And both times I had the same post reaction...
"This is just lovely!"
And I truly meant it. I was feeling the power of the plant buzzing throughout my body. Others, however, had a different reaction.
I looked around the group and noticed that just after two rounds, people were puking. Just a little bit. But they were indeed purging. And then they'd hold out their hands to Mal to get another round.
They were brave.
My experience with it was - as most plant medicines have now proven to be - gentle on my body. The the medicine was laying out for me a meditative roadmap which would be concentrating on during the medicine songs sung by the shamans.
I understood the value of the ceremony. It freed up my mind space straight away. It lifted my mood.
It was magical.