TRANSCRIPT – Ayahuasca Test Pilots | Chris Kilham

[EN12] Chris Kilham
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LL: Hello visionary tribe of EntheoNation. You are here with Lorna Liana and today I have a fantastic guest, someone that I’ve admired greatly who travels all around the world in search of medicinal plants. His name is Chris Kilham and he’s also known as the “Medicine Hunter.”
LL: Welcome to the show today, Chris. Thank you so much for joining us.
CK: Oh, thank you, Lorna. Happy to be on with you and your tribe out there.
LL: I am so curious about what it takes to create an awesome career and professional path like yours. I’d love if you would start off our conversation today with your story about how you actually became the “Medicine Hunter.”
CK: Okay. I’ll try to keep it real and brief. I think what it takes actually is dogged persistence, I have to say. I was very fortunate to get interested in herbs and plant medicines in my late teens. It just became a little bit fascinating for me and over time working in the natural products sector and learning from herbalists and reading probably hundreds of books and traveling, I became more and more knowledgeable and expert about medicinal plants, their uses and traditions like Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, north American-Indian herbology.
In any case, I eventually became knowledgeable enough that I became known for this and I was invited to do a couple of projects and the second project turned out to be wildly successful. That really set me on a shift in my career to just doing this medicine hunting, traveling around the world, investigating medicinal plants, spices, super foods, psychoactivations of all different kinds, cosmetic ingredients all over the world and working with indigenous native people globally, and helping to make trade links between them and over the world and doing the way that’s environmentally sustainable and also fair in terms of wage and other working practices. It’s a big kind of complex activity and I’ve been doing medicine hunting for a living now for about I guess it’s been a little over 20 years. So it’s been a pretty fun ride. Pretty fun.
LL: Wow. I can imagine. In your travels then, you must meet a lot of traditional herbalists and herbalist healers and shamans if you would.
CK: Yes, a great many and they often inform me greatly wherever I am. If I’m in Malaysia, I want to meet with a traditional bomoh, their particular traditional healer; geez, if I’m in China, different parts of China, I want to meet with acupuncturists, herbalists; the South America meeting with shamans constantly. These people, they carry not only the traditional knowledge, but they also use these things, so they’re getting real time, real world experience with people, much the way doctors do in their practices. So I find it essential to learn from them and I always seem to be in their company when I do my projects.
LL: Fantastic. I’m really curious about your experience with the Amazon shamans. Do you primarily go down to Peru?
CK: I do. I started out however in Brazil. My first experience in the Amazon was living with natives on the Amazon river and Brazil for a month. That was a staggering introduction to the rainforest and native people who live there. I did that a few times, actually in Brazil and then shifted to Peru because I initially went to Peru to do some work in the Andes with Maca and I wound up going down to the Amazon a few times. That has turned into a probably 35 times now. I’m going [inaudible] going down there, so I’m often with traditional healers, I’m in traditional villages on a regular basis, I usually can catch an Ayahuasca ceremony or two. At the tailend of a project, I’ll contact one of the shamans I know say, “Hey, can I come drink tomorrow night?” “Yes, yes, yes. Sure, no problem. Come, we got room.” That’s sort of how it goes. My clients pay for all of this and they all know that I do this. They go, “Okay, that’s Chris and that’s what he does.” “Cool.” The work is good so they don’t really care that I’m down there drinking Ayahuasca and it’s just this interesting thing that we’re seeing now, this tidal surge of people from all over the world going down to Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil, but especially Peru and drinking Ayahuasca by the tens of thousands.
This is probably with the exception of how readily LSD was taken up during a certain period in the ’60s. We’ve certainly never seen this with any traditional medicines, such a gigantic psychoactive, such a gigantic explosion all at once. There are many, many, hundreds of millions of people smoking cannabis and using it in different ways, but that has grown steadily over time whereas this is like a flash bomb going off. Ayahuasca was not on people’s lips for the most part 10 years ago except for the [cognizant tea]. I knew about it in the ’70s but I didn’t get to drink for a long time.
LL: Flash forward to now and here is a video with you on
CK: Okay, here is the thing, Lorna with that and also I will want to mention my book, but I am doing a lot in media. I’m on Fox News. Fox as in like that Fox News and a hundred countries. I get millions of hits on my articles every week and I get to talk about natural medicines and I do a lot of stuff on psychoactive plants. Yes, it seems like an odd home, but I’m reaching the non-converted. I love the converted, I love the tribe, I love our people if you will, the people we sit in ceremony with, the people we run into the cafe, in the funky places way out on the hippie trail – all of those, but there are so many people who aren’t that yet. I’m going after them.
So Business Insider, I can imagine some investors got up the other day and they looked at that and they said, “I wonder if I should invest or put this Ayahuasca in my portfolio.” Yes, man, you definitely should put this in your portfolio, but not the way you’re thinking.
LL: Or at least drink it and come up with some real game-changing tech innovation solution to a major climate change.
CK: Right, yes. Exactly.
LL: I’d love to hear how Ayahuasca actually impacted your life and how it influences or inspired you to write this book, The Ayahuasca Test Pilot Guide if I’m remembering correctly.
CK: Yes. It’s called The Ayahuasca Test Pilots Handbook: The Essential Guide to Ayahuasca Journey. Yes, I’ll give you the back story on this. I’ve been drinking for about eight years now. Many people have been drinking for longer, whatever. But I went down initially to be healed of grief over my mother’s death and the grief had gone on way too long. The first night in my very first ceremony, that was resolved completely. That was amazing to me. The next night I spent pretty much the whole night having energy pounded into my chest by a gigantic luminous psychedelic anaconda that hovered over me the whole night, taunting me and just smashing the hell out of my ribs. I really thought I was going to have busted ribs the next morning. I was so surprised that I was okay.
Over time, I’ve had extraordinary healings, but very early on, I started bringing people down to Peru. I came back and I said, “Hey, listen, there’s this experience you got to go have. Come have it with me.” Very shortly after I started drinking, I brought my wife Zoe down and she wasn’t going to drink and I was like, “Yes, that’s cool. No problem. I would never want somebody to drink if they don’t want to drink.” Of course she wound up doing three ceremonies with nobody putting pressure, just the fascination of, “Oh, my God, I’m into this place. There’s this medicine. Everybody is having these experiences. I want to be part of that.”
Over time in the course of these years of drinking and now with about 35 or more different shamans, many at lodges and the guy is like [chicken shit] by a swamp – all different kinds of places and talking with now probably a couple thousand people about Ayahuasca because Ayahuasca really engenders a lot of conversation. You know how it is. People talk about their experiences in healing, there’s a lot of thought and speculation, so it’s a very conversation-heavy scene and it occurred to me that it would be wonderful to write a useful guide that would help people to know what is Ayahuasca? What are shamans? What are ceremonies? What are Ayahuasca ceremonies? What the heck happens? How is this stuff made? What’s in it? What’s the history? What’s the legend, the lore? What are the healing dimensions of Ayahuasca? What are some spiritual dimensions of Ayahuasca? Some of the things about the technology of it in terms of what’s going on in the brain and some people’s theories about that?
Basically the Ayahuasca Test is a guide, a basic guide, a basic handbook, you read this, you’ll get an understanding of what this thing is if you’re just embarking on it for your first time, or in the case of many, many seasoned drinkers who’ve already read the book they’ve said, “I learned a lot of stuff here and geez, I want to recommend this to anybody new.” That is really intended to kind of fulfill that niche in the scene and be that service.
LL: I think that’s absolutely needed because I’ve read a lot of books about Ayahuasca and some of these books get really heavy into the pharmacology of it and like the traditional, the history and others are psychedelic memoirs, so to speak. So it’s really kind of nice to have a book that just orients you what is going on, how do I have the best experience? But sometimes, a lot of the shamans that are holding ceremonies, they’re not going to sit down and orient the attendees. They may not even be a speaker in good English. So it’s really good to have some type of at least back story to understand what you’re getting into.
CK: Yes, you’re exactly right. There are some lodges – I think Blue Morpho comes to mind, but there are others. There are some lodges where when you go to them – I think Temple of the Way of Light does this as well, you get an orientation, “Okay, here is the basic download on what goes on here.” That kind of thing. I think it’s extremely helpful, but I would agree that at this point in time for the most part, if you go to a place for ceremony, it’s more likely that there won’t be some sort of an orientation and that just at a certain time of night, you’ll be advised to sit down and grab the glass and drink, and then fasten your seat belt.
LL: I would say especially with your drinking with the tribes, that’s pretty much how it’s going to be. It’s not going to be very well-structured, there may not be anyone who is going to even tell you what is going on. Certainly, the tribal elders and healers, they are unfamiliar with our western neurosis and all the pharmaceutical drugs that have emerged in the market to address these neurosis or mental imbalances that actually can be contraindicative to Ayahuasca drinking. That can be really dangerous, too, but they don’t know because it’s completely foreign to their world.
CK: Yes. That’s definitely the case. Obviously right now, we’re learning to weave. Most of us with North Americans, or Europeans, or Asians coming in from different parts of the world, going to these centers – some of these centers have a lot of Russians going through them. I’ve seen a lot of that. There’s a lot going on right now. I know sometimes people go down with folks who are familiar with the scene, but a lot of people just show up with their backpack on, wind up in a Maloca the next night and drinking Ayahuasca and eventually hours later turn into the person on the mat beside them and go, “What the hell was that?” So results vary.
LL: Yes, it’s true. Definitely. Even some cases that I’ve heard, especially the one fairly recently where there was the young British kid that died in ceremony in Colombia. What are the risks of just going down there not knowing what you’re getting into?
CK: I think that there are some risks. In Colombia and also in the case of Kyle Nolan who died at Shimbre outside of Puerto Maldonado in Peru, and who was buried, then the shaman denied that he’d ever seen him, it was all grey. In both cases, the shamans use Toé. They use Brugmansia, which is an added material to the Ayahuasca.
LL: Is that the same as Datura?
CK: It is the same as Datura, though the blossoms are bigger. But the compounds are the same and the physical appearance of the plant is very much the same. They used to be considered the same family, now they’re not, but in any case. Colombia is the home of Toé shamanism. That’s where it’s most heavily consumed and used, and Toé is in over certain concentration. It’s a deadly toxic stuff. It will kill you, it can be used as an agent of murder. We don’t have samples of what these people, who died took, but I suspect in one case – because I know the shaman in whose hands the kid died and then was subsequently – I met this guy.
I know that he was a Toé shaman because we talked about it in Colombia, I know this to be so, I think that these were probably Toé poisoning cases and not that the Ayahuasca banesteriopsis caapi, the vine and chacruna, psychotria viridis, the leaf together – that was probably not the cause and I admit I have no evidence to back this up, but if you look at the use of these plants among these people, it’s a pretty reasonable conclusion.
LL: Interesting. Do you address any of these considerations in your book?
CK: Yes, I address them all actually. Everything from how you need to find your dose, going to shamans who have good reputations and very well-trained and don’t have any known history of sexual molestation or any of that stuff – because there are a few people out there who have some problems [inaudible]. But yes, I really want people to be able to read this and go, “I probably at least don’t want to start out drinking Ayahuasca that’s got Toé in it.” I don’t think it’s that good of an idea myself. I’ve done it many times, I don’t think it’s a good idea.
Just safe basic practices and then also how to integrate this and how Ayahuasca is simultaneously a medicine. This addresses something you asked earlier, how is this particular medicine, Ayahuasca in my life and in other people’s lives helping to address some major global problems? We certainly have a major global problem with pharmaceutical poisoning of the general population. We do have this. This is a real thing and now it’s affecting public water supplies, they’re full of drugs, we’re drinking Viagra, Klonopin and all kinds of stuff in water systems all over the world now.
So [inaudible] and the beauty of Ayahuasca is that on the one hand, it is the broadest and most profound healing substance I’ve ever encountered or heard of in my life and I work in this field. Secondly, it takes people completely out of the conventional spiritual model which is you sit and somebody tells you about somebody 2,000 years ago who had a vision, “Moses saw a burning bush.” You’re going to see a burning bush in the first 15 minutes of your first ceremony and then you may see entire civilizations rise and fall. God may come and sit down in front of you and say, “How is it going tonight? Talk to me. Let’s have a conversation here.”
What happens is people have this revolution in their, “I’m not just hearing about this. This isn’t something from the dust of time. This is a right-here right-now palpable full-on 50,000 watt god experience. Yes, I’m all in.” So we’re simultaneously in addition to revolutionizing medicine in some corners anyway, also revolutionizing religion. Religion literally meaning remembrance of spirit. We’re having spirit encounters and that’s this inexhaustible treasure trove of extraordinary goodness, life in viewing joy, compassion, connectivity and that has huge effects in people’s behavior. It doesn’t mean that it’s going to correct all of our personality disorders all at once, but over time, it certainly does a good scrubbing down of them.
LL: One of the things that I like about Ayahuasca is that it has very much a feeling that there is a wise presence that is teaching you. That’s why the natives refer to Ayahuasca as a plant teacher and I think that some of the entheogenic agents out there that were made in labs like MDMA, or LSD, they don’t seem to have that type of instructional guiding sentience associated with them. I’m kind of curious to know, have you ever done LSD and what would your take be on the difference between Ayahuasca and LSD?
CK: Well, okay. In answer to the first question, a long, long time ago – now we’re talking the late 60s and the very early 70s. I took LSD 140 times.
LL: Okay.
CK: I had remarkable experiences with LSD, I also did the tail end of it, did it concurrently with meditation and yoga which was really interesting. Eventually gave it up because I felt that there was nothing more to learn from it. I can’t thank LSD enough for what it did for most of the people I knew at the time. It turned us onto natural living. It really did. It was the catalytic age that we all just went, “Yes!” So this brilliant lightbulb went on. I think as the nick of time during that period and into the early ’70s, it was astonishing. It was really, really brilliant. But I would say that Ayahuasca – and you could have some absolute screaming of best trips on LSD, there’s no question about it. I don’t want to see just that it’s some sort of minor league thing. It’s a bobsled.
Ayahuasca is still of a whole greater order of magnitude. There’s a thoroughness, there’s a complete immersion and I also experience as the shamans talk about, that this is a conscious living spirit, that there is a real entity here, which is not the case with LSD, which is not the case with synthesized Psilocybin or synthesized Mescaline versus Peyote in the case of Mescaline and the mushrooms in the case of Psilocybin, that these derive from real [inaudible] and that that is not a metaphor. I’m being very clear, this is not a metaphor. My take is that the reason that there is such brilliant healing and realizations that’s thorough and that’s an inexhaustible well with Ayahuasca is that this is a conscious being.
LL: And so what is your take on this tidal wave of people being introduced to the plant medicine? Is it a good thing or not so good thing? I heard from another Ethnobotanist, actually Mark Plotkin who is saying to me that Ayahuasca and Chacruna are being depleted from the jungle. Granted you have villages that are growing of these plants, but I’m curious what the pros and cons are of the sudden resurgence of interest in this plant-medicine tradition.
CK: Well, Mark is [inaudible]. I like his work a lot. I think that we do certainly need to be conscious of and working with cultivation of both copy and Chacruna. I think that’s a necessity and I see that happening out there, but it probably could happen more because the crowds are just growing, and growing, and growing. I think that Mark’s observation is real. On the other hand, all of the centers are still getting enough vine and Chacruna and that tells me that there are more and more people growing this stuff.
But yes, more cultivation would be a good idea and I’m sure they’re very, very quick to leap on trends down there from a growing standpoint. I’m sure that there’s an enormous amount of cultivation under way right now. I’ll be down there in a few weeks, I’ll be in some native villages, I’ll ask around and I’m sure I’ll be lead to some gardens of this stuff as I have been previously so far.
In terms of this as good thing, I think that for the greatest number of people, this is a miracle. There are people who suffer – as soon as I drank, I started bringing people down and I’ve had a friend I brought down, he had chronic fatigue for four and-a-half years. After two nights of drinking Ayahuasca, he didn’t have chronic fatigue anymore and it never came back and that was over six, seven years ago. Brought another friend down, he had been addicted to antidepressant drugs for 30 years, he hasn’t touched an antidepressant in almost four years, he’s fine.
[inaudible] disorders, traumas, sexual abuse, all of the things that can derail us in our lives, we see a lot of people getting resolution and then going further and also having really integrative spiritual experiences. While there always will be psychedelic casualties, there will be imbalance to people who engage with any psychoactive agent – cannabis, mushrooms, Peyote or Ayahuasca, but obviously Ayahuasca being more extreme. There are people that are going to go off the boards, they always do, there’s always somebody who will. I’ve seen some pretty wild stuff over the last few years.
One Russian guy stripped down to his jockey shorts and did muscle poses in the middle of the Maloca all night long and nobody could stop him because he was this like powerful muscular guy. “Oh, please no, man. Go back. [Inaudible]!” And he would turn absolutely stark-raving back shit crazy and deck a guy in ceremony and it took six guys to bring this guy to the ground, tie him up and hose him off for hours. Those are the extremes, but they will happen. But for the most people, this is a phenomenal thing and also something else that’s marvelous. I’m sure Mark would probably agree with this.
Shamanism has been a dying trade, if you will, and it’s not just a trade obviously, shamans have played important roles – at least as pharmacologists, and doctors, and healers in their villages and usually more than that. This surge in interest in and demand for Ayahuasca shamanism is now actually expanding once again surprisingly, something that was contracting terribly. It’s often been said that when a shaman dies, it’s like losing an encyclopedia [inaudible]. Oddly a stampede of gringos down to south…
LL: When a shaman dies it’s like losing an encyclopedia, did you say?
CK: Yes.
LL: I agree.
CK: But now we’re seeing more people sticking around instead of going and becoming taxi drivers in Lima, they’re staying in the forest, and learning shamanism, and learning plant medicines. For the first time in a long, long, long time, there are more shamans. That’s pretty good. That’s a good thing. That bodes well for the future.
LL: Yes. I have another conversation with Susana Bustos who is a wife of Robert Tindall, who’s second chapter of his then unpublished book The Jaguar that Roams in Mind opened up a whole world of experiences for me with the Kaxinawa tribe of Brazil and I’ve been going back there for the past 10 years and I would say I have life-long friendships with them. It’s interesting. She was saying to this she’s seeing a resurgence of Vegetalismo in terms of more people being willing to stick around and learn how to practice traditional healing with different plants – not just the psychoactive ones.
Then what I’ve also seen, too, personally in Brazil, after 500 years of persecution and just horrible from this genocide to enslavement on the rubber plantations, this whole international Ayahuasca movement is actually creating a cultural renaissance in among the tribes in Brazil. It’s just wonderful thing to see these tribes are reclaiming their heritage, trying to learn their songs again. This one tribe that I’ve spent with, the Kuntanawas, they lost their language. So what they did was they invited the other tribes in the panel linguistic group to come and participate in these cultural exchanges, and then they’re trying to learn their language and their culture back from these other tribes that didn’t lose it to the degree that they did. It’s just been a wonderful thing to see the healing that comes to these communities.
One community, the Puyanawas and he is actually the chief right now – he’s the son of the pastor who is also the chief and then he was also the pastor. So he was like evangelical. At one point because his daughter really needed healing, he turned and went back to the traditional ways, actually invited the Asháninkas to teach them how to work with the plants and brought back their ceremonies. Now they have them like twice a week and then basically about 60% of the evangelical church just gave up Christianity and went over. Now they’re practicing their biweekly Ayahuasca ceremonies and seeing their traditional songs. It’s a wonderful thing to see even [inaudible].
CK: Sure. This is mostly very, very positive.
LL: Yes. I did want to bring up something that you mentioned earlier, which was, “Okay, having to find the good shamans, the shamans that are not womanizers, are going to hit on the women, do any sketchy [inaudible] stuff. One of the things that I thought of having seen so much sketchiness go on in the Amazon, shady shamans, it would be such a great thing if there could be some type of Ayahuasca shamanic Hippocratic oath that the shamans take, or the sceptres take, and I understand that it’s a very complex issue that’s very difficult to enforce.
But when I came across an organization called the Ethnobotanical Stewardship Council, it sounded like that was kind of like what they were going towards. There’s a lot of controversy over their operations or over their missions, so I’d love to ask you about what your thoughts are on the ESC and what the controversy is all about.
CK: Okay, I actually for the briefest possible period of time was on the ESC board and I left basically because I disagreed with pretty much its premise. It’s a great, great name. I do want to say it’s a wonderful name, Ethnobotanical Stewardship Council sounds credible, and thoughtful, and very much oriented toward the protection of the environment and it’s a beautiful name. The concern that I have is that without just getting too personal, is that on my experiences, that it was founded on an utter lack of knowledge of the scene of Ayahuasca, of shamanism, that it was somewhat messianic reaction to a first time drinking vision, which has happened to a lot of people – lot, and lot, and lot of people go out after their first ceremony. They met with the Ayahuasca, this happens.
But in any case, they really want shamans and shamanic centers to participate as paying certified members on approval scheme according to practices and principles drawn up by the Ethnobotanical Stewardship Council itself, which doesn’t by the way have any Ethnobotanists on it, and has no native people, and has no shamans, and was not founded on any relationship with any of those people. So I am as it turns out somewhat sadly because it’s a horrific waste of time. I’m a vociferous opponent of the ESC and my opinion – and I say this with no anger of hostilities, that it should either be completely dismantled down to the last toothpick and twig, or they should gut any notion whatsoever of approving rated charge membership fees from or for, or in any way being the arbiters of good shamanic practices, overseeing the centers or the shamans in the Amazon. They have no business doing that, no experience doing that, this is not coming from people who have worked down there for 15 years and lived with native folks, and spent time with shamans, and drunk a lot, and seen things that could be corrected and been asked to help. Nobody asked for this.
That’s probably the harshest opinion to get on the ESC, but I don’t think it’s a worthy thing. I think it’s demeaning, and imperious, and insulting to the traditional knowledge of the shamans for the most part or multi-generational healers. I learned from my father, who learned from his mother, who learned from her grandfather, who learned from his – and it goes on, and on, and on, and on like that. You don’t drink ones and decide you’re going to be the visionary defender and protector of Ayahuasca and then go raging around trying to start a scheme that approves shamans [inaudible].
LL: Wow. Do you think there’s anything that they could do to actually make their work I guess more valuable to all its constituents? I guess to actually be the Ethnobotanicals Stewardship Council.
CK: Well, they could steward ethnobotany for a start.
LL: What would that look like to you?
CK: That’s not an organization-building activity. If it were me and it’s knocked and nobody has asked other than you, I would focus on exactly what you brought up and what Mark brought up. If in fact there’s potential for diminished supplies of Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis, then it makes a lot of sense to work with all kinds of entities, forestry experts, etc., to generate the cultivation of these things so that we [inaudible] cultural economies. That would be a very worthy thing. But rating and approving shamans, that’s not legitimate to me at all.
LL: Yes. I will be honest in that at one point in my journey with this plant medicine tradition. I kind of wondered, would it be possible to have some type of rating system? Because there are some shamans – how would you know exactly whether or not you got a sketchy shamans who’s going to hit on you if you’re alone and female? So, could there be a way to have some type of user-generated crowdsourced platform that says, “Okay, this shaman is legit and this center is legit.” But then being a business person, I like to think about execution – how easy is it to pull off this concept and it seems incredibly difficult because some of these retreat centers, they don’t necessarily work with the same shaman all the time.
Then secondly, how would you regulate [inaudible] as well? It’s all happening in the unseen world. You don’t know if someone is throwing a hex on you 50 kilometres away, shot some energetic arrows, [inaudible] at you and you don’t know. It’s hard to regulate.
CK: I think that regulating is not necessary. I think that communicating is and I think a lot of it is happening on the Ayahuasca forms. Certainly more could. In terms of rating, I remember I used to drive across country using the Rand McNally Road Atlases and the camping guides. You could look up a park for example that was 100 miles away and it would say it has showers, electricity, water, whatever, or didn’t have any of those things. For somebody to do a sort of travel guide, “Yes this lodge has whatever, notebook [inaudible] out there.” Yes, that would be fine.
LL: There is a dug out, a hole, a toilet. No hot showers.
CK: Yes. [Inaudible] compost, whatever, but that’s a different thing. I also believe that Ayahuasca, the nature of it is not about centralization, and control and regulation. It’s about expansion. If many, many people communicate what to look for – I do so in my new book and I’m not alone in that. Lots of people are communicating very well what to look for. Don’t just walk up to any person who’s got a stick of a pot shell and some sketchy-looking fluid in a plastic bottle and say, “Let’s do ceremony.” Do your homework. Find out who’s good and ask more than one person and find out if there had been any reports of the person going after sex that are actually can be found out fairly quickly.
So part of it is that people as prospective journeyers also need to be savvy the way they would be – I don’t want to reduce it to this, but if they were going to go buy an expensive TV, find out the features, ask the warranty – find out the features of the shaman. Is this some sketchy person who was totally unknown until a month ago and then all of the sudden started doing ceremonies out of a little hut? Is this somebody who’s highly experienced and very-well regarded and there are no scandals surrounding them? We have to find out these things, but I am vociferously against an approval system of any kind because we have no business approving the native traditions.
LL: Right. I agree with you on that. I think one of the challenges that arises that maybe this whole system was intending to address is how to really know beyond the rumor mill. With the case of a television, you could look in, look at the user reviews and do a little more research on Google and stuff like that. But when I think of the case of a particular Peruvian shaman who’s actually really well-known, he’s almost like a rock star shaman, he travels around the world, makes a lot of money holding ceremonies – I had a very weird experience.
CK: I drank with him 45 times. I know who you’re talking about.
LL: Okay, all right. So I’m not going to mention any names here, but I did have an experience and it was entirely energetic, of spirits coming out of a portal the day after the ceremony was over and taking my energy without my permission. That was totally weird and I couldn’t reach the shaman, I couldn’t reach the organizer of that ceremony, it was really just offering her house so she wasn’t even in a position to deal with this and later on I’d heard that the shaman also had some history with women. A bit nefarious history with women and at the same time I know some people that swear by the shaman. It’s a bit of a mixed vibes like who do you trust? The people that I know that swear by the shaman are men, the people that I heard of having weird experiences are women, so what do you do? Unless you’re plugged into the community and know how to ask and tie into the rumor of the mill and talk to people, it might be very difficult to come up with verifiable data.
CK: Okay. I kind of agree with all points of view, actually on this one. I know who you’re talking about and I will say that he is an individual of staggering shamanic talent, which is one of the reasons he gets away with what he does because he is so extraordinarily capable in ceremony. It’s actually just down right shocking. Doesn’t mean everybody has a good experience. Obviously you’re having the experience of your energy being taken away. That’s not a good experiment.
But many of us who drank with him for years, who haven’t drunk with him for years now exactly because of the difficulties that he has, and his center is faltering and all of that. I wish him no ill because I certainly benefited in extraordinary ways. I sat and I drank with him like 45 times. But if you go to a key toast and you talk with more than two people, you will readily get that information. The greatest majority of people if you mention his name, they will, “Oh, we don’t recommend that anymore.”
These things are difficult because people, you have to be sure and all of that, but there are enough good people offering ceremonies especially in the Akitas area, that if you go to a couple predictable restaurants and you ask more than a few people, you’re likely to get good information. That I think can keep most people on a good course.
LL: Fantastic.
We’re coming to the end of our segment here and I have really appreciated this insightful conversation. Thank you so much. So I want to leave you with the last couple of things.
CK: Thank you, Lorna.
LL: This is my favorite question to ask, Chris. What is the most far out experience you’ve had drinking Ayahuasca?
CK: The most far out experience I’ve had drinking Ayahuasca probably was the experience I had the second night that I drank when I was approached and overwhelmed by a gigantic anaconda. A huge and immense anaconda brilliantly psychedelic with that geometric matrix that is so part of the Shipibo tradition and the [inaudible], too. It hovered over me for hours [inaudible] energy and taunting me. It was hilarious. It was just hilarious. It was so overpowering and it would go, “So, do you think you can sit up?” I go, “No way.” It was just beating the hell out of me with this energy for hours and then I went up to the shaman in [inaudible] actually, who I call up and my entire body was on fire, my back was exploding with light and everybody in the whole Malacca was [inaudible] shamaning question was just all billions of points of light of these energy grids and that was probably, probably among many, many, many outlandish nights and being swallowed by snakes, and having snakes go in my nose to eat up dark matter in my body, crystal skulls, vomiting jewels down my throat – the whole nine yards, I would probably rate that night as the craziest most rock and roll Ayahuasca night of my life.
LL: Wow! Thank you so much for sharing that. That’s amazing.
Another question for you. What does it mean to you to evolve as a human being? Especially through tapping into the power of these visionary experiences, how can we use these visionary experiences to evolve as human beings? That’s my question.
CK: I think it means to evolve as a human being is to be increasingly immersed in love. It’s funny I had a funny experience years ago when I ask the Ayahuasca to show me my spirit allies and anyway, I wound up completely emerged in love and a couple of times, the Ayahuasca came to me in the middle of this immersion and said, “Would you like to see your spirit allies now?” “No, no, no. Go away.” I’m in this ocean of love and this happened several times and finally I said, “No. I don’t want to see my spirit allies. This is the end of the line. This is as good as it gets in the Ayahuasca.” “Good choice.” That was it. I think what it means to evolve is to be more, and more, and more infused with an emissary of love.
I think that Ayahuasca [inaudible], if you drink, you’re going to find yourself totally and completely immersed in love, and gratitude, and sending out love to the unlikeliest people that you’ve encountered in your life and just doing so with genuine compassion, and appreciation, and best wishes. This is the real promise of this stuff. It’s not to be able to say, “Yes, man. Whatever I was on a golden ship with pirates that spoke Spanish.” But to say, “Yes, I get that the only worthy thing is love. So, how do I engage in the world in a way that is most in that spirit?”
LL: Thank you so much for sharing that. How can we best stay in touch with you, Chris?
CK: You can go to my website,, which my wife Zoe has loaded a lot of stuff all the time, but it would just be like a, a sort of a wake behind me, but she has made a beautiful site. So and there’s contact information there. I would also say if you want to know more about Ayahuasca, pick up the Ayahuasca Test Pilot’s Handbook. It’s available basically wherever books are sold.
LL: Fantastic. Thank you so much, and you have a beautiful evening.
CK: Thank you Lorna.