Ayahuasca and the Flowering of the Seed

A powerful message from one of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers

Maria Alice Campos Freire is a highly respected member of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. She is a healer with plant medicine, leader of Umbanda ceremonies, founder of Centro Medicina da Floresta, and co-creator of the Flower Essences of the Amazon. She has developed research and healing methods with plants of the Amazon, as well as educational programs for children, on the preservation of nature and sustainable development. 

Her story, as shared in her chapter in How Psychedelics Can Help Save the World, is important for the rest of us. She offers herself as an example of transformative healing with the assistance of the plant medicine ayahuasca and the support of Mother Earth herself.

Note: For purposes of economy, I’ll use “Grandmother” throughout this piece.

In this deeply wise and heartfelt chapter, Grandmother speaks of the boundless generosity and the almost indescribable beauty of Mother Earth, “despite the great attack and terrors” inflicted on her. In her encouragements she stresses that “this beauty, this generosity, and this same resilience is also within us”, though far too many of us are forgetful of our true nature and have become lost and sick in soul.

As has been the case with indigenous people all over the planet, Grandmother’s own journey of resilience and regeneration required overcoming great difficulties. I hope most of us are now aware that in traditional societies around the world, the aggressive, callous intrusion of foreigners, primarily from European nations, ruptured their cultures close to or completely beyond repair.

In the chapter in How Psychedelics, Grandmother describes her childhood as a period of bliss “in which my being grew along with all of life. Between heaven and earth, there was an infinite world of experiences and discoveries, which naturally led me to understand myself as a very small part of a greater being.”

But then came the harsh and heavy hand of the authorities during the time of military dictatorship in Brazil. “There was an incomprehensible hierarchy. Those who occupied the highest positions were not luminous. They did not resemble the sky, the moon, or the stars. They were stern and imperious. They taught separation, silence, obedience. “That’s why I shut up” she writes.

For Grandmother, this was a time of deep pain and humiliation, But driven by her intense will to live and to heal, her voice began to return. At first it came out as a scream of anger and hate toward these enemies, until she realized that “the enemy is oblivion, and it is within us.” When she started to tire of the battle cry, as she describes it, “the voice of Spirt, of the ancestral root, whispered in my heart” and she was “guided to the sacrament of the forest.” The battle cry was transmuted into the “Cry of Peace! Cry of Life! Cry of Freedom!.”

For Grandmother, the particular ancestral root that guided her healing journey was ayahuasca. The sacred drink reconnected her to herself and to the beauty and generosity of Mother Earth. In many ways hers has been a classic journey—from childhood innocence and bliss, through deep suffering and confusion, and back toward the light, to what Buddhist teachings call authentic presence

Grandmother’s life offers an encouraging lesson for all of us on healing paths. As she says, we too have the resilience of our great Mother Earth. We don’t need to be condemned to a life of confusion, a life unrealized. 

As always with these essays based on chapters in How Psychedelics Can Help Save the World, this summary of Grandmother’s chapter falls far short of conveying the depth and breadth of the story. I encourage you to read the chapter itself. In the meantime, I’ll bring Grandmother back in to close this piece. 

“And so here are we—humanity, submerged in the dark. We have forgotten, we are inside out. But within us we can observe the germination of seeds, the blossoming of buds, the promise of flowers. And all of this experience can be transformed into living knowledge, capable of

recovering the thread of life.” 

May it be so.

~ ~ ~

Next episode in this series.

Our task: To carry the light back from our medicine journeys 

and keep our hearts open.

featuring Chris Kilham.

Chris Kilham has conducted medicinal plant exploration in more than forty-five countries. He has taught yoga and meditation since 1971, has appeared on over five hundred TV and two thousand radio programs worldwide, and is the author of fifteen books including The

Ayahuasca Test Pilots Handbook and The Lotus and the Bud.  

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