HEALING PLANT MEDICINES
At Finca Ambiwasi we work with many healing plant medicines including Yagé (Ayahuasca), tobacco & hapé, Amazonian nettle, and mambe.
Our primary work is with the Yagé (Ayahuasca), but other plants are our allies in all of the healings and ceremonies that we do. We invite you to take a moment to read about these medicinal plants and how they may help you on your journey.
The Grandmother Plant
The reason Yagé (Ayahuasca) is seen as a purgative is because in this tradition they focus on cleansing the person deeply, clearing the past, the emotions, the traumas, the dark energies and just leaving the Light, comprehension, and clarity behind, bringing out the Art of each person through the Yagé (Ayahuasca).
Another very important aspect of Yagé (Ayahuasca) in this tradition is the source of the plant itself, where does it come from? Who harvested it? Who transported it? How healthy is the person emotionally, mentally, physically? Who and how and where is it cooked? How is it handled? Where is it stored? What type of containers are used for storing? Who prays on it? etc. This is just as important as the plant itself.
Yagé (Ayahuasca) in this particular tradition is cooked by the Healers themselves in the jungle in particular clean sites or locations, with high quality plants and for several days in a row.
The Healers are extremely important, because they use Yagé (Ayahuasca) as a means or route to reach the Super Conscious of the person and understand what is going on within the person's and direct the purging in that way to cleanse and then bring understanding, clarity and direction that the person needs in life.
People often ask what an Ayahuasca experience is like. This can only be known by directly having the experience. Even after drinking Ayahuasca there are parts of the journey that cannot be fully translated on a conscious level. No part of the journey is ever lost, but is more like seeds that are planted and continue to grow in your life over time. The effects of Ayahuasca medicine continue months afterwards as this new vibratory state grounds and integrates into your life.
An Ayahuasca ceremony in the traditional sense is a time when the tribe would gather together in an evening to drink the medicine for its healing, visionary and spiritual transformation effects. Each person's experience is highly individual and is a direct communication with the deepest parts of who they are. The heightened sensitivity created by the plant unlocks a state of consciousness where the person is fully awake, yet aware of their inner subconscious mind. The Taitas refer to this state as ‘dreaming while you are awake’.
There is a natural detoxification process or purge that begins when working with Ayahuasca medicine. It is known for its properties of physical cleansing of the digestive system and whole body, removing stored mucus, killing parasites, and other impurities that rob energy from the body. Part of the way Ayahuasca medicine works is by literally purging out of us anything that is imbalanced and not in harmony with who we really are. This purge can come in the form of sweating, crying, laughing, diarrhea and vomiting. This is considered a benefit of the plant as it uses your body's natural responses for cleansing itself.
For some people the heaviness that is felt in their life is the weight of old emotional baggage. These memories can often be brought to the surface, confronted and released during the work with the plants. It is in this clearing process that we allow the space for new creativity and vibrancy to enter back into our life.
Mambe & Ambil
Opening the Heart
Mambé & Ambil are sacred plant medicines that are used together
in a ceremonial way, with intention,
to open the heart and bring sweetness to our words.
Ambil is the liquid form of tobacco that is placed on the tip of the pinky finger, the finger of humility, to be eaten in prayer.
It is prepared by taking fresh tobacco leaves and cooking them in fresh water over a wood fire for 12 to 20 hours. Finca Ambiwasi’s Tobacco healer, reader and elder, Florentino Caicedo, prepares the Ambil that guests consume.
Ambil is often used in the presence of coca leaf or mambe, and the union of these two plants clarifies and sweetens communications, and makes us more sincere in our dealings with one another. The combination of ambil and mambe represents the sacred union of the Father Creator, represented by tobacco, and the Mother Earth, represented by coca leaf. Ambil alone also realigns our chakras, grounds us emotionally, and encourages positive, insightful conversation.
In the picture above, Master Florentino is playing his Harmonica to the Ambil which he has been cooking for hours, and Diego has been helping him. During the cooking process there is a lot of prayer and healing given by the person preparing the Ambil. Whenever there is a request for guidance, advice, ceremony, or taking from the plant, animal, or spirit world, tobacco is always offered first.
Mambe- The Sacred Mother
Coca leaf (Erythroxylum coca) and mambe, or pulverized coca leaf, have been used ceremonially in the Andean and Amazonian regions of South America for millenia. The earliest record of ceremonial use of the plant can be traced to 2500 BC. Since then the plant has maintained a central importance in indigenous communities’ offerings to Pachamama, guardian spirits of the surrounding forests, trees and mountains.
This plant is also used as a tool for promoting productive conversations amongst community members, and for making decisions that affect the well-being of others. When taken along with ambil, or a tobacco paste, the two plants open our throat chakra, sweeten our words and lend transparency and directness to our speech. This tradition of conversing with coca is called to 'mambear'. These traditions which connect us to each other and to the land are what is considered by the abuelos, taitas, curanderos and healers of Colombia and South America to be master plants, along with Ayahuasca (Yagé) and tobacco. When used intentionally these plants connect us with the spiritual realm, open a space for self-reflection in our lives, and heal.
In addition to oxygenating the blood and mitigating altitude sickness, coca helps to overcome fatigue, hunger and thirst. It has also been used for centuries and an anesthetic to alleviate the pain from headaches, rheumatism and wounds. Its high calcium content explains why it was used for bone fractures, and because coca constricts blood vessels, it also serves to oppose bleeding. Coca has also been reported to treat malaria, ulcers, asthma, and indigestion, and it has been credited with improving longevity.
Tobacco & Hapé
Cleansing the Spirit
Tobacco is used to cleanse deeper, to go to the root of the problem. It can be also used as a purgative to cleanse stuck energies.
It is a very powerful and sacred medicine.
A Word on Tobacco from the Regional Leader of the Red Road in Colombia:
Throughout all of the Americas, tobacco is associated with the elements.
”Tobacco is the mother plant of excellence in all of the original communities
of the Americas, and in all ancestral ceremonies it is present as an ingredient
that accompanies other sacred medicines. Tobacco leaves take the form of the
tongue, and this characteristic helped the first grandfathers and grandmothers
of the original communities to deduce that it was to be used for prayer and
communication, and this is exactly how it has always been used. When used
intentionally and for prayer, tobacco smoke carries our words, thoughts and
intentions to the Superior Consciousness, God, The Creator, or The Great Spirit.”
It is said that when the conquerors came to the Continent of America, that they found the indigenous people using Tobacco and that they loved it and took it back to their homelands. The only thing missing was all the sacredness behind the plant that requires years of practice and also a very important aspect which is that is has to be given to you by a teacher or holder of the energy of tobacco. Somehow this means that the Teacher/Holder already has a sacred relationship with the Spirit of the Plant and is opening it for the student as he passes it along, so the student can start the learning process and relationship with the plant himself.
When a Sacred plant like Tobacco is used without this referral then it becomes highly addictive and poisonous. Otherwise when used correctly, it is a great vehicle of healing and clarity.
Hapé is a powder that is blown up the nose to clear the passages and bring clarity and healing. Tobacco is one of the plants used at Finca Ambiwasi - the Hapé used is very powerful and beautiful, it is a combination of several plants from the Amazons that work amazingly well alongside with ceremony, yagé, tobacco and everything else that is done during these retreats.
Ortiga (Amazonian KingNettle)
Ortiga is a very powerful plant, traditionally this plant is used in western herbology and in other types of herbology as a hemostatic (cleanses and heals the blood), it cleanses the pancreas, the GI tract, it cleanses the respiratory system, heals the anemia and even hepatitis. When the plant touches the person it is said that it helps with paralysis and with pains. This would be the traditional plant that is used in Western herbology.
The type of Ortiga used in the Amazon is different but still an Ortiga and in the same family. First it is used during ceremony, when the person is already under the effects of Yagé. It is know as the acupuncture of the jungle, since it has amazing thorns that when touched to the skin stimulate the flow of energy.
Spiritually speaking, Ortiga cleanses the Ego, cleanses heavy energies that otherwise could not be cleansed. Clears the mind, clears the energy field of the person. Calms the heavy and disturbed emotions. When used alongside with Yagé, during the healing sessions, it clears the strong, dark, negative energies that the person is removing bringing the person to a state of groundedness.
Ortiga it always used alongside with the Chanting of the Taita and is given during the healings. It is a great experience and during the retreats at Finca Ambiwasi, they use freshly cut Ortiga grown in the farm.
This special kind of Ortiga is a huge blessing for the participants and something to look forward to.