Must be around 6:00am, I thought, but I better check the time anyway…
The last thing I wanted was to rush and essentially wake up and dive head first into yet another trial of physical and mental fortitude. No time to really prepare myself, we were out of the gate and walking by 9:00.
Inside the house I’ve entered many times before, but never for this…this time I found myself rather nervous. This of course, being because this was my first time with the Sapo
Sapo/Kampo is the venom secreted by an amazon native frog population. The venom itself, while toxic, administered in the right dosage, has a staggeringly long list of beneficial uses. From treating cancer to depression, from aids to anxiety, it’ll give you a boost to your immune system, stamina, or give you that much needed push toward your ambitions.
The venom is prepared by catching a frog, agitating it to the point of venom production, then collecting it from its skin before release. (The frog isn’t harmed even though it looks rather torturous).
The venom-based medicine is then directed into the blood stream through numerous points in the skin. Burning the flesh with the tip of a vine creates these points, and then the poison is rubbed into the wound.
I would be getting three points, and I opted to have my new “tattoo” on the inside of my right leg.
But before all of that, my first task and test, was to drink 2 liters of water in about 10minutes. That was definitely a mental game since I was ready to throw it all up around the 1 ½ liter mark. I’m assuming the water mitigates the venom in a way (?), and gives you something to throw up, cause if you’re retching on bile the whole time, you’d probably crack your ribcage wide open.
Water down. Time for fire!
The water bit was actually more painful than the tip of the smoldering vine he pressed into my skin. Sure it stung, but it wasn’t anything of real mention. (Mention worthy mention, this is where my nervousness sent the body shaking)
Water. Fire. Toxin. He knelt in front of me with a sharpened stick covered in the thick grey slime of the frog. Into each wound he massaged a glob of the grey matter before looking up with a grin and saying “Blessings on your journey my friend”
Before we got started he said it would take about a minute to take hold. I’m assuming it took a little longer because my burn locations were so far from my heart. And by a little longer, I mean maybe two minutes.
Two-minute mark and I was off. The pressure in my head was building, as if I was being filled with so much information it was making my brain swell.
I felt a spectrum of emotions/sensations/ideas/fears/doubts/truths. The way I act, the way I interact with others. The way I build relationships. All of my inner workings, right there in front of me. As if I was looking at a blueprint, and a blueprint that I was free to change and modify in that moment, that is, if I had the desire and courage to make the changes I was after. Almost like coding for a computer, or like a schematic for a complex machine, that surprisingly, had the most simplistic instructions.
The concentrated peak typically lasts from 15-30mintutes, and then the inner work can last a couple of hours. That is unless you take Rapé while you’re already in the sapo medicine.
What is Rapé you ask? WELL, I’LL TELL YOU
Rapé is a tobacco powder, mixed with ash from certain trees and it’s administered through the nasal passages of a person. The powder is loaded into a hollow “V” shaped instrument and packed into one end, similar to a cannon from the old days. One end goes in the nostril of the willing participant, while another person takes the other end and gives it a forceful blow. (Or if you’re good, and have the right instrument you can self-administer)
I’ve been hesitant about this stuff since I got here. Nothing about what I just described above sounds beneficial or pleasurable in any sort of way. However, since I already found myself in the room, with two people I trust, now was a better time than any. I didn’t come here to say no to new experiences, even, and especially, if they frighten me.
“Inhale deeply,” he said, as I complied.
“Don’t breathe…” he whispered…
There was a moment of silence, then the sound of air passing through hollow bamboo followed by a quick, sharp exhale that sent the powder upward and out. As if the gunpowder in the cannon was ignited, the rapé shot into my nose with a thud. The feeling, the sensation, was instantaneous… like an acidic, lightning-based fire that spidered its way through my sinuses and into my brain. Anything it touched was scorched by the intensity, and anything that remained alive after the initial blast seemed to be eaten away by its assumed corrosion.
Every nerve was alert and screaming as the powder seemed to blanket the interior of my skull like the fallout from a nuclear explosion. There was no stimulus to swat at, no means of removing oneself from the agitation. No escape. Not when it’s coursing through your own head.
“Now for the other nostril…”
Thankfully the second wasn’t as bad as the first. The initial reaction was debilitating, but I managed to take a breath and remove myself from the entirety of what just happened. The powder was loaded and shot into my nose for a second time.
Wasn’t AS bad, but it still wasn’t enjoyable by any means either. With both nostrils done, and the beehive that had seemingly been placed and KICKED within my head, my physical self wretched and purged in a desperate attempt at finding some sort of reprieve. My eyes were pouring, my nose dripped black, my skin was sweating profusely and my stomach emptied again and again into the awaiting bucket.
I’m not sure where the venom ended and where the rapé began, but together they formed this double helix of destruction as it worked its way through my body.
It was about here that I splintered into two entities out of necessity. I left the agonized physical body while my mental self became aware and centered itself within the chaos. Mental self has no nostrils, has no nervous system in peril, so it fluttered around analyzing the situation. “Man that looks pretty bad, but, we’re not dying or anything. The worst that can happen, is happening, and that’s still not really THAT bad. What are ya gonna do? Throw up some more? Hah, whatever man!”
The mischievous mental self floated around the darkness of my mind in a perfect calmness, lending an eye to the suffering physical body, but not for too long. “Yeah that sucks but, ah well, you’ll be fine soon.” it said before re-centering itself in a meditative focus.
True enough. In all actuality, the brutal physical aspect lasted maybe 5minutes? Time actually adhered to this experience in the way we’re familiar with, not like ayahuasca where 1 hour can equal about and entire lifetime (Ayahuasca wanderer entry)
What did I get out of this? Well, that’s for me to know. But it was profound enough for me to consider putting myself through all of this again. (And I did! This time I opted for 4 burns, 4 globules of poison and a location closer to my heart. Read it here: Four Point Kambo)
….maybe without the Rapé this time….
Willingly have my leg burned so that I could have an incredibly potent and poisonous frog venom coursing through my bloodsteam.
Participate in a Sapo Ceremony.