Future Thinkers Podcast guest Don Roberto talks to Mike Gilliland and Euvie Ivanova about shamanism, medical plants, Soul Retrieval, and we also discuss our experiences with ayahuasca.

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Mike: This one’s going to be interesting. We wanted to do ayahuasca for quite a number of years and we got the opportunity to do it here over the weekend. We’re still kind of recovering from the experience. Euvie, why don’t you get into how we met Don Roberto?

Euvie: Yeah, we’ve been wanting to do ayahuasca for years. We’ve tried to find ceremonies to participate in but things didn’t really align [00:02:30] until, suddenly, about a month ago, a friend mentioned that he was going to participate in an ayahuasca ceremony locally, with a travelling shaman. We were kind of on the fence about it for a while, then we decided to do it. It all happened really perfectly, actually. The people, the setting, the organization. Don Roberto was a great facilitator, as well. I’m really happy we got to do it. It’s now been a couple of days since the ceremony and we have Don Roberto here with us today.

Mike: Thank you for joining us.

Don: My pleasure. A pleasure to be here.

Mike: [00:03:00] We had a lot of laughs over the weekend, too, it was really interesting to see the way you worked. I was really surprised the first night. I was watching you quite a lot, watching you work. I had such a huge respect for what you do. Maybe you can just give us a bit of your background to start and then we can get into a little bit more of the specifics of what being a shaman is.

Don: I come from a mixed background. My mother is Spanish and my step-father’s Indonesian. I’m Eurasian, basically. I grew up in England. I think my story really began when [00:03:30] my parents moved to Indonesia when I was six. I was spending a lot of time in my grandfather’s study. Being the tropics and the extreme heat and light, the windows were all shutters. These wooden blinds that you could just barely see out of. There was this amber light on the study table and this overhead fan. An incredible collection of National Geographic magazines from the 1940s right up to the 70s. I would spend every afternoon just pouring over those magazines.

Not necessarily reading [00:04:00] the articles but definitely absorbing the visual information of all the diversity of human cultures. I think that was where my interest was piqued in terms of wanting to know more about this planet and its people. The thing about moving from England, which is where I grew up as a child, to Indonesia was this translocation of cultures and moving between realities. When I think back on it, that was basically the beginning of my journey, being able to navigate these different kind of social constructs, linguistic constructs, ideas. [00:04:30] For example, thinking to myself, “It’s December, why is not snowing?” Having that reference then having to adapt to that.

That’s the beginning of my childhood journey into moving between realities, which is a feature of shamanism. Yeah. What was interesting about that is not just that one-way journey into Indonesia but the journey back into the UK, having been exposed to Indonesian culture at various levels then having to reintegrate. That going backwards and forwards was a theme that became [00:05:00] constant in my life as I grew up. Also, I spent a lot of time in Spain. The differences between Hispanic Mediterranean cultures and Anglo culture is quite immense in terms of how we handle ourselves, how loudly we speak, what we talk about, and even timings of meals. Everything’s very different. The ability to mediate and navigate that success is a key feature of shamanism in general, in terms of moving between realms and dimensions.

Mike: I can see a very interesting benefit that you have this childhood and background [00:05:30] culturally as a Westerner from Britain and that you can understand Western mind so easily and then bring over these older traditions and ways of thinking, bring over shamanism and make it understandable and palatable for people. I found that to be very helpful.

Euvie: How did you become interested in esoteric stuff?

Don: I’m not quite sure. I think it’s innate knowing that there was much more than what was being represented to me. Going back into England, you’re living in a culture where people are very [00:06:00] monolingual and also monocultural. They don’t realize there are other possibilities. I think there’s always been an abiding sense that there’s more that meets the eye and there’s other possibilities in the world, it’s a very big place. There’s lots to explore and discover. That innate sense of, “What else is there,” has always been resident with me. Growing up, I was very curious and I read a lot of science fiction. I read huge amounts. I think in one year I was reading nearly 300 books in one year. I was just devouring it when I was 13, 14. That desire to know, explore.

In many senses, [00:06:30] I had a very orthodox upbringing, private schooling, very straightforward English child growing up in a sense. There was always that sense, as I said, of something more. That really became more evident when I was hitting around the age of 18. Here’s the turning point. A relatively normal kid then grows up and is exposed to a magazine called Omni. Maybe some of your older listeners may remember this magazine, which was actually the sister magazine to Penthouse but was Bob Guccione’s endeavour to be a sensible human [00:07:00] being and do something interesting. It was science fact and science fiction mixed together. There was one article and it featured John Lily. You guys know about John Lily? Alright, you know about John Lily.

John Lily was a naval scientist who, in the 50s, was charged exploring the question whether the human mind if denied stimulus to find out what would happen. Would it go to sleep or would it basically start generating information on its own? He basically developed this tank that would isolate the person from stimulus. As little gravity as possible, [00:07:30] you couldn’t tell where your body began and ended, because the temperature differentiation was minimum, and darkness and no sound. He built the world’s first isolation tank, now known as a flotation tank.

What happened, what he was doing this self-discovery, he basically put himself there. No, the brain didn’t go to sleep. In fact, what happened is he jump started himself to the level where yogis have been trying to get to in all their training with no distraction, no survival mechanisms kicking in in terms of orientation, in terms of gravity, things attacking you. Just [00:08:00] complete absolute self-containment. Then the brain went to a whole different level. As he did so, he discovered that these portals opened up into different dimensions. I’m reading this and then also, at the same time, this is the period of LSD. He’s taking LSD in the tank and even more things emerge and kept him in.

I’m thinking to myself, “Hang on a minute, he’s getting paid to do this.” I’m thinking to myself, “They didn’t tell me this in career office.” Career office in school, it was a librarian or firefighter but never [00:08:30] weird mad scientist. That was really inspirational. My drug taking career really stems from these days. Not in the sense that I wanted to get high, I just wanted to see what the effects were and the parameters of how they impacted consciousness. I did explore but it was never really something that I had an addiction towards. I just took it very minimally in terms of finding out… In fact, sometimes I had to push myself to take things that people give me because I was at University and very busy.

It’s like, I’d open my draw and go, “I’ve got some marijuana there, [00:09:00] I must smoke it sometime,” then off I went to do other things. That was a very seminal turning point in terms of opening my mind to this whole possibility.

Euvie: But your interest in shamanism came quite later.

Don: It did. Actually, it wasn’t obvious that that was going to be a point of departure. Here’s what happened. I decided to do Chinese and Spanish and linguistics, I’m a language major. It so happened that somebody turned me onto something called NLP. Neuro linguistic programming. I read all the books and I actually then went back and [00:09:30] read the very first book that those guys had written, called the Structure of Magic. What was very interesting is that they were taking these ideas from Chomsky about deep structures in the brain in terms of generating language. But also, if you examine the surface structures of sentences that people are producing, you can actually spot the deviations in that thinking and the distortions in their thinking.

I thought, “Oh my goodness. We can use language to heal people by actually deconstructing what they’re saying and then pointing that out to them.” Then I got very interested in NLP as a phenomena. Then I got interested in [00:10:00] hypnosis. I then did training in hypnosis and I did a two-year training. At the end of that training, I got this thing through the post, a flyer. It was an amazing picture because it depicted a clam. It was divided into top and bottom. The bottom were all these scenes of childhood abuse, children crying, broken mirrors, that kind of thing. The top was beautiful, because it was transformation, children playing happily. It was called Hitting the Child Within, it was a presentation that was going to take a place in London with a guy called David Grove.

[00:10:30] This was just after I graduated. I’ve done all the traditional [inaudible [0:10:32], hypnosis, and blah, blah, blah. This looked very intriguing in terms of visually, it was very astonishing. I sign up for this and I had no idea what I was going to walk into. The person presenting it was a New Zealander called David Grove. He was very, very unusual, because he was not attached to anyway of working particularly. He wasn’t coming from a particular school, even though he had initially trained in [00:11:00] NLP, because he was interested in what the client had to say rather than porting in his own model.

When he was studying counselling, he read all these transcripts of all these very famous people, like Carl Rogers and Virginia Satir. They had ostensibly said, “We’re client focused,” or client-centred. Then he read the transcript and he noticed a very interesting thing that the client was saying something like scared. Then the therapist would say, “Yes, you’re frightened.” Then the client was just take a moment to say, “I have to reframe that to understand.” [00:11:30] The word that came out of the therapist, not their word. They began to notice that a word that his client generated scared might have completely different connotations to frightened.

They’d have to translate what the therapist said and create a break in the flow of their information as they had to mediate between different systems. David thought to myself, “What would happen if I kept myself out of the picture, if I didn’t impose my own words, if I just kept very closely [00:12:00] to what the client was saying and fed that back to them?” In order to do that, he developed a protocol of clean questions. A client would say something like, “A bubble.” “What kind of bubble? The shape and size. What happens next?” Questions that don’t impose in model but allow the client to connect sequentially with their own information and go deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper.

He was getting things like people saying, “I feel like a knife in the heart,” or, “Butterflies in the stomach,” or, “A blob.” Metaphors or symbols that traditionally [00:12:30] the therapist could say, “I know what that means,” and try and impose it into a system. Here, David would basically say, “I’m going to run with this, I have no idea what you’re talking about but I’m going to ask questions.” These metaphors actually started to grow and develop and actually emerge in space and time as a real living process that was connected to their internal universe. There’s this whole universe behind a knife. Let’s say there’s a knife in the heart. Is there anything else about a knife? There’s a hand attached to it. When it’s a hand, [00:13:00] what kind of hand? It’s a male hand. What kind of male hand is that? It’s an angry male hand.

Suddenly, this whole landscape emerges. The beautiful thing about his work is that these symptoms that were being presented because people said, “I want to stop this pain,” or whatever. When they started to explore the landscape, they would find the resolution or the solution to those problems or pains contained somewhere in the landscape. What he was showing us and myself was [00:13:30] that there’s this mytho poetic landscape that everybody has but is not normally accessible. In terms of working with the client, very often they would be presenting symptoms that contained trauma. The trauma was very early. The trauma was often childhood trauma.

Sometimes it was preverbal. They couldn’t actually get a handle or leverage about to talk about it, because it was happened at a time before language. The symbols and metaphors had a vitality and life and a logic to themselves. [00:14:00] He could question those symbols and allow them to speak for themselves. What would happen is that he would go into space, the actual picture would emerge and there would be the child and then he’d ask these gentle questions. It would then appear that the consciousness of the child had fragmented and had fragmented in the space. Let’s say a child is on a table with a bigger person above them doing something to them. Of course, the child hasn’t got the physical strength to escape.

What they can do is use that line of sight to escape into the curtains, [00:14:30] or escape into the weave of the wood and remain there. The physical thing is happening but their consciousness is not there anymore, it’s actually displaced. What he began to discover is that the fragmentation of this psyche could be invited to come back. What he was basically doing was astonishing, because it was what shamans call soul retrieval, recovering the parts that had fragmented through trauma and then bringing them back and integrating them back into the main consciousness. To watch this actually [00:15:00] play out in real time – because all he’s doing, he has no idea what’s going to come up, he’s just asking some very, very simple questions and this whole landscape emerges, this whole beauty and transcendence that’s inherently resident within everybody is there on display actually happening.

Then, at the final moment, the resolution of all the different parts… It was astonishing. I was grateful because when I watched him work, I thought, “This man is a genius on the level of Freud and Young.” The work he’s doing, the tech he’s doing, the simplicity, the inquiry of his mind was really inspirational. [00:15:30] Many years later I realized that what he was doing exactly was shamanic work, the shamanic work that is soul retrieval. Let me explain what soul retrieval is. In anyone’s life there’s going to be a moment where external circumstances are going to be a little bit too much for where that consciousness is. For example, you’re two years old, your mum’s in the kitchen, the door is closed, you’re behind the door.

You can’t quite reach for the door handle. The child is going to get anxious, maybe panic, and then there’s a moment where it’s just [00:16:00] overwhelming. Overwhelming and part of them can actually flip out in order to protect the mainframe of the consciousness, like a safety fuse. When the system gets overloaded, something has to shut down in order to protect the house electrics. We recognize what this is in western science and psychology, we recognize this as disassociation. A person comes in, they’re dissociated. The question that is never asked is, “When someone dissociates, where do they dissociate to?” [00:16:30] That’s what shamans do. They travel into these realms and find those missing parts and bring them back. David was also traveling into the consciousness of the person but allowing them to be the guide and allowing them to recover the parts and bring them back.

He was doing it in a very contemporary and linguistic way and the shamans are doing it in an obviously traditional way. That was really inspirational for me to see that happen, to see the magic that is resident and potential within everybody, and to see how it was done [00:17:00] and to see the healing that emerged from it. That was enormously powerful. It didn’t quite make me say, “I want to be a shaman,” because I didn’t recognize it as such, I saw it as a very powerful healing modality. Again, another milestone in that development to see the mytho poetic potential and to see how it could be done, to see the results. Once those parts come back, then what also comes back is the knowledge of a two-year-old that has its own wisdom, or knowledge of a five-year-old which is very different wherever you are at five.

Also, sometimes those parts took away with them and they [00:17:30] left the capacity to feel. All is left is this numbed or husk of a person that has no access to real capacity of feeling. To see that come back and to see the integration was quite astonishing, thereafter with David. If I’m walking in the big cities, I just look at people’s eyes. You can see that wholeness, it’s not there in most people. People often aren’t able to articulate what’s wrong but if something is major enough they’ll say, “This happened and I was never the same again.” They notice a juncture, they notice [00:18:00] the fracture without being able to talk about it.

Euvie: Do you think there are any modern western therapies that come close to this kind of work? Is this guy’s school or method being practiced currently?

Don: It’s evolved. The actual practitioners are not working so much in that field, they’re doing different things. It’s still effective. I think I’m going to reboot that and start doing that as a different way of working, for people who aren’t comfortable with the woohoo of the shamanism but who are more comfortable with the cerebralness. [00:18:30] Yeah, other ways, I think psycho drama would be a way of accessing certain… I think there’s various approaches. No one would actually consciously articulate themselves or present themselves as soul retrieval.

I hesitate because, for example, the work that I do in terms of soul retrieval, it really does go into some very, very personal and mythological spaces that I’m guided into but I don’t think is very easily accessible. Let me give you an example. I’m working with a client in South Africa and she asks me to do soul retrieval for her. The way soul retrieval works [00:19:00] is that I need to go into an altered state of consciousness, and I do that through drumming. I then take a journey into a space which I’m familiar with and meet my ally, which is a power animal. The power animal knows where these parts are. I don’t. I say, “Hey, we’re going on a journey. This is little Mary,” or whatever her name is. Not little Mary, this is big Mary. “Let’s find those parts.”

My power animal goes… And we go. In this occasion, I was taken [00:19:30] out into the atmosphere and further beyond. I’m finding myself in space, my consciousness is in space. I’m like, “Where are we going?” We land on the moon, I’m like, “Are you kidding me, we’re on the moon, right?” There they are, they’re the parts. Of course, this is not 3D reality, this is consciousness. You can reside anywhere in any kind of magical state and the normal rules of reality that don’t apply. I’m thinking to myself, “Normally I’d be in a vacuum dying and so would she, but this doesn’t matter. This is the reality.” We’re in the moon and I say, “Hi, I’m here on behalf of big Mary, would you like to come back? You like it here?” [00:20:00] They’re like, “We’re a bit bored.”

I said, “Yeah, okay. Would you like to come back and reintegrate?” “Okay.” Then I take their hands and then we pull like Peter Pan, we go back from that space, that Never Never Land of their consciousness back into this reality, 3D. I’m carrying the energy. Then the client’s usually lying down and then I basically kneel over them and I take my hands and make a little… I transfer the energy off their consciousness and their life force into the [00:20:30] crown chakra. I get them to sit up and then I seal it. Anyway, I didn’t want to lead them, so talking afterwards, “When you were a kid, did you like to look at the stars?” “You know, the moon, that was my favourite place.”

Mike: Wow.

Don: I do the reality checking sometimes and, very often, it’s just astonishing. I don’t go in with an agenda but I do like to check afterwards. There was a time, as well, I found myself working for another client [00:21:00] and journeying up this erie, straight up this cliff up to an erie and there’s this eagle’s nest. There are two little girls sitting in the eagle’s nest, but tucked underneath them is a boy. I’m like, “The girls I’m cool with but are you sure you’re meant to be here?” He goes, “Yeah, yeah, I’m meant to be here.” “Do you belong to so and so?” “Yeah, I belong to so and so.” “Alright, here we go. Okay, hold hands, down we go.” We do the whole thing. I talk to her afterwards. I said, “[00:21:30] So, I find two little girls but I also found a little boy.” She goes, “Yeah, that’s me.” I said, “Would you care to elaborate?”

“Yeah, I was a tom boy.” It’s this continuous checking in with the clients. Even though things get really strange, I’m not one to question because it’s not my… I’m just the visitor to that domain, to their consciousness, if that makes any sense. The effects, I think, just to wind up that point about soul retrieval, the effects can be [00:22:00] powerful in a sense that sometimes they just go, “I want to make a crazy sandwich the child would eat.” They just want to express that childish part. This other guy, you might relate to this, this other guy came through. He’s 35 and he just said, “I don’t know what’s been happening but I’ve been playing video games all week like a 15-year-old.” The most important thing is just integration of the younger self with the older self.

The younger self will often want to physically manifest their age and do things or act out in some way, then the older self will probably – in the dream space – actually [00:22:30] do the teaching. They’ve got valuable lessons to teach each other. Then integration. Sometimes what happens is that people around them react differently to them. Another guy came in, in [inaudible [0:22:40] actually, as it happens, he goes, “I don’t know what’s happening but no one’s giving me shit. My boundaries are really… I’m not taking it.” It’s really strange. People would just abuse him and just use him. He was like, “Something’s happened.”

Mike: Do you have any kind of an explanation from the materialist, scientist perspective of what [00:23:00] kind of transference is happening between you and the client and you and the spirit animal? It sounds metaphorical. I know from experience with these things, that it’s not totally metaphorical. There are potentially higher dimensions that you’re interacting with this person are. What is your explanation for what’s happening?

Don: You use the word transference, but I understand transference in terms of psychoanalysis. I’m not quite sure what you mean. What do you mean?

Mike: Transfer of energy between you or transfer of information, or something that allows you to interact with this person’s unconscious.

Don: When I speak to shamanism, [00:23:30] it’s entering the imaginal realms. Those realms actually have a reality. They may seem very ephemeral or, what’s the word… Gossamer like or unreal, but they do have a tangible reality of their own. As long as you are able to get behind it, as long as you are able to sit in that energy and that power and believe in it itself. If you asked for a materialist explanation, a physicist would say, “It’s just bunk, it’s just rubbish. You’re delusional.” [00:24:00] However, I’m very much focused on results. If it means that I have to imagine this whole process and imagine bringing this energy down and bringing it to the person and it yields results, then I don’t care really what a physicist says. Because these guys are playing with [inaudible [0:24:16] and all kinds of imaginary numbers anyway, so they’re off their tits.

Mike: Yeah, in a different way. You’re testing. You’re getting real feedback here.

Don: Yeah, yeah.

Mike: You know it works. it’s interesting [00:24:30] that it doesn’t matter, because you’re just doing it anyway.

Don: Yeah, yeah. All that matters is the client gets the result. It might be that when I had my very first soul retrieval, I was really blown away by it because I could feel this electric charge life force coming back to me. I was open to that, I felt that, that was my tangible experience. Other people, it’s very minimal, they don’t actually feel that. Then they report they have waves of crying and sobbing and grief, all that kinds of coming up. Something’s happening. [00:25:00] Whether we’re activating their unconscious in a different way, I don’t really want to get into the discussion of theory and dynamics of that. What’s important is, was it worthwhile? Did they come to some kind of interior alignment? That’s all that matters. Did we do some healing there?

When I work with clients, I don’t actually tell them the story. Sometimes I’m not privy to the story of why the parts are there. Which is great, I don’t want to know why they’re there, they’re obviously there for a reason, wherever they are. The second when [00:25:30] they bring them back, I just said, “Look, what was yours originally has been returned to you.” It’s up to them to integrate that and make the best. Minimal projection, essentially.

Mike: It was interesting being in the ceremony itself and watching you work. I’ve never actually… No one’s ever, as far as I know on YouTube of all my researching, has recorded the actual ceremony going on and showing what the shaman is doing. That was fascinating to watch, especially with the added layer of the ayahuasca. Part of my intention coming into it was just to experience joy and [00:26:00] fascination, and that’s exactly what I got just watching you. It was interesting to see all the different kind of journeys people were on and see the layers of what was going on, because of what I was experiencing on the ayahuasca. Then watching you notice the same thing, go to these people and then coax something out of them, it seems.

Don: Right. You actually saw that.

Mike: Yeah.

Don: Where your intention was going was where my intention was going at the same time.

Mike: Yes.

Don: Yeah, you were in the field, you see. You’re also sensitive to the energetic dynamics.

Mike: It was just amazing to watch. I would have been, before that… [00:26:30] Well, I’ve done enough experimentation with consciousness to be open to that kind of thing. To actually see it happening with someone else witnessing the same thing, it was a new experience for me completely. Maybe you can take us a bit through what you’re doing in the process. It’s interesting because, from my perspective just observing, it looks like you’re taking… There’s a lot of healing happening. It’s definitely healing. There’s a lot of difficulty that people are going through. [00:27:00] It looks like you’re going to them, pulling it out of them and taking it onto yourself. Is that what’s happening?

Don: Let me give you a run through the actual moment in time when I’m sitting in front of you to actually work with you. There’s a lot of other things that’re happening in the space. Again, we come back to this essential idea within shamanism that it’s not me, purely. All shamanism worth its salt is about partnership. Whether we’re working with a drumming tradition and power animals, or we’re working with the plants, there has to be an ally or partnership. It’s those experience that we work with [00:27:30] that guide is. It’s honestly as if I have an ear piece in my ear and the medicine, then it’s the actual experience of the plants, not just the ayahuasca but various plants inside me saying, “This person needs help now,” or, “This person will need help next.”

Even, sometimes I’m thinking, “I’m gonna sing this song,” then I open my mouth and something else pops out. “Oh, obviously we’re singing this kind of song.” It’s not something that comes from the headspace, it’s really something that is guide from a different source. If I’m going to sit in front of you… What I do is, you might have noticed, [00:28:00] I take some time to actually observe. I’ve got my eyes closed but I’m tuning into the energetics. I might be really saying, “There’s a lot of anger in the liver here,” or, “This [inaudible [0:28:11] carries some stuff from the ancestral lineage that is blocking you, because you’re carrying the trauma.” That’s the thing, that’s the whole vision changes, it’s not just the individual as an atomized self. It’s the whole extension in time and space.

I haven’t said this yet but I trained as a medical anthropologist. My masters was in that and my fieldwork was in Africa. [00:28:30] One of the interesting things about that work and that research was that when we get sick, we’ll go to a doctor, often, and we’ll get the prescription, the medication, then we’ll take it and we’ll get better. Then we don’t think about it. For the Botswana people in Botswana, they know the efficacy for certain biomedicines, for saying, “If this is happening, this is the best thing for it.” What’s really interesting is that they’ll then go back to the community and say, “Hey, I have this symptom, these diseases or this condition, [00:29:00] what does it mean for the social body? What does it mean for the community?”

The focus isn’t as an atomized individual that’s just happening to me. It’s actually a reflection or a symbolic commentary on why the sphere. In a sense, we tend to see ourselves as this container that is unique and not particularly connected to community, but also not connected to our genealogies. One of the most important things in this work… There is a definite appreciation and respect for the things that we carry [00:29:30] are through energetic lineage, in terms of what we are recipients for today. This is problematic because it didn’t happen in your biography, whatever trauma happened in the past, it didn’t happen in your lifetime. Therefore, you don’t necessarily have the resources to deal with it. You’re carrying this weight that you’re maybe not able to articulate what it is, but it might be a very indistinct feeling or a limitation. That’s why we’re actually sometimes doing the work have to go all the way back to where that stemmed and heal there, then bring it forward, [00:30:00] then help you release.

Euvie: I think this is a pretty esoteric concept for most people, that there is a memory beyond this human lifetime. Some people thing it’s super woo thing but, having done a lot of medication, and now having done this ayahuasca ceremony, it’s beyond doubt for me that we carry memory of all sorts. We carry genetic memory from two billion years of evolution or however long it’s been. Then there’s memory before that, as well, the chemical compounds that came before organic compounds [00:30:30] had some sort of consciousness or awareness of themselves. It’s funny, just an anecdote. I couldn’t sleep at all last night because I kept getting this information coming through about chemical compounds and wave and particle phenomena, the swarm intelligence and all kinds of stuff.

One of the things that came to me is that you see a bubble of molten metal or water, how it has surface tension. It knows where it ends and something else [00:31:00] begins, it has a sense of what it is. You see this with a lot of non-organic elements. Why wouldn’t this memory or information get passed down in some form? It’s probably just very, very buried and we don’t normally have access to it in waking consciousness, but then in these altered states or therapy sessions you can access it.

Don: Also, Indigenous cultures, they don’t come from the historical nature of science, that they are more open to actually seeing the world as a living dynamic organism in a certain right. [00:31:30] Everything has consciousness, even the apparently inorganic things or things like stones and plants. It seems a bit preposterous until you try that model on for yourself and say, “What would it be like if we actually… Matter is consciousness? Is it just energy in a different form?” Then you go, “Okay, how do I meet that? How do I respect that? How do I acknowledge it? How do I work with it?” For example, I’m going to come back to your original question, don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten.

The whole idea about ayahuasca is that in the jungle there’s 180,000 [00:32:00] different species supposedly. The possibility of connecting the two plants that work together is 1 in 6 billion. In terms of trial and error and scientific methodology, you have worked out whole generations of communities just trying to find out what this is. When anthropologists ask the Indigenous people, “How do you arrive at this perfect combination?” They come up with a statement, “The forest told us. The jungle told us.” Which indicates there’s another way of knowing, there’s an epistemology that’s not accessible to a [00:32:30] western trained mind. I’m the kind of person that would say, “Hey, if they’re saying this works, why don’t we try it and see if it yields results?” It’s very empirical.

Coming back to my early years when I was 18, I was reading a lot of books on unexplained phenomenon in the mysterious world etcetera, etcetera. There was this book and it said, “If when the native American Indians were tired, they would go to a tree and ask a tree for the energy to recharge.” I thought, “This is a very, very good idea. Let’s go and try and check it out. If it works, fantastic.” Under the cover of darkness, [00:33:00] lest anybody think I was completely crazy and a tree hugger, which I actually am… There was a park near my house and there was a beautiful oak tree. I approached it and I asked permission to get near it, then I came closer, then I asked permission to receive its energy. Actually, I don’t think I actually touched it but, first of all, I felt this huge wave of energy coming through me like a clean river.

I was like, “Oh my goodness,” that was the first thing. Secondly, [00:33:30] at a deeper level, my mind quietened down and then I connected with awareness of the tree. Very slow and majestic. Then I connected with the fact that not only was it slow and majestic and aware, but that it was aware of me. There was a meeting of consciousnesses that was really an epiphany for me. I was astonished because this thing then moved from the [inaudible [0:33:51] in the environment to living, noble being aware of our presence, doing its own thing and conscious and worthy of [00:34:00] acknowledgement as a sacred being. That was 18 and that was a significant paradigm change for me.

Like everybody, I took biology classes but they were just things that were objectified and dissected and analysed but not really connected with. That was very important for me. Makes sense? Yeah, what I was saying is is there are ways of knowing that are not necessarily accessible, because we’ve shut off – especially with a hypermasculine, logical, [00:34:30] scientific methodology, it actually denies a lot of ways of knowing that are intuitive, that are feminine etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. That’s the part of my part is to recover some of these ways of knowing and to also give space and voice to the quantum, because quantum possibilities are resident at every moment. It’s about making that wave particle – part of the wave, whatever it is – and that’s also part of the work we’re doing. We’re seeing possibilities emerge.

When I sit in front of you, I see you [00:35:00] what are the main things to work with. I have my eyes closed but I’m actually feeling and seeing it, and also getting messages. I’m going to talk about ayahuasca soul retrieval now. It’s a funny story because, normally, they’re very different domains and I do them at different times. I’m in a ceremony in Asia and I’m sitting in front of this Californian guy. Then the medicine says, “He needs soul retrieval now.” I’m like, “What? They’re completely different times and spaces.” “No, he needs it now. [00:35:30] He didn’t incarnate fully into his body.” “What? What are you talking about?” “Just do it.” “Okay.” In order to go into that state of consciousness, which is slightly different, I have to take my shaker like a drum beat.

I shift, again, into a different state of consciousness. Then I have to find my power animal. Then I find myself in front of him facing this alien being with multiple limbs that are shifting and changing all the time, dynamically, [00:36:00] retracting and pulling in and emerging, these pseudo limbs coming out. He’s also shifting in dimensions. I’m like, “What the fuck? Normally, I’m dealing with children.” “Hi, would you like to come back and see little Johnny? Little Johnny come back to big Johnny,” blah, blah. No, I’m dealing with an alien being that is face shifting in dimensionality and it’s changing its form all the time. I’m like, “Which bit do I grab hold of and how?” I sat with that problem and I said, “I’m going to become equal and opposite [00:36:30] to this being. When it puts its thing out, I’ll be the container. If it’s face shifts, I’ll match it in face shifting.”

Then I’m basically [inaudible [0:36:36] this energy and I blew it into his body. Top of the head. I’m like, “That was strange.” In the morning when we had a long chat, I said, “The medicine said,” I didn’t tell him about the alien being, but I said, “The medicine said you didn’t fully incarnate into the body when you were born.” He goes, “That’s really strange, because I’ve never really referred to myself in the first person. It’s, ‘[00:37:00] John thinks this. John says that.’” Like, “Okay, really some really strange stuff happens.” Coming back to sitting in front of you, I’m looking and I go, “Okay, this is where it’s going to go.” Basically, what I do is I trade that channel to the realms, connecting the energy of the plants, and I’m bringing it down. This is where I sing, “[inaudible [0:37:19].”

This is channel, I’m making a channel. I’m physically doing this. Then I basically open you at different levels, open your body and your consciousness, [00:37:30] your soul, spirit, aligning your chakras. Basically, the first thing is the opening and the alignment. Then we go into the actual cleansing part. It’s an invitation. When I’m singing, even though you don’t understand the language, the intentionality’s received by your consciousness. Remember, I didn’t say this before, but after I’ve scanned I think do some tobacco, which is a sacred plant teacher in north and south America. It has its own power, its own wisdom, its own teachings. [00:38:00] I sing to it to awaken the spirit in the [inaudible [0:38:03], their rolled tobacco. Then I infuse intention into it.

Then you sit in front of me and you put your hands up, fingers prayer positions, and I basically blow. The smoke goes in the outside but the energetic goes in the inside. I track that because I’m holding your fingertips, I track how it goes through your body and then I direct it. I go, “It needs to go just there.” I request – I’m working together with tobacco to position itself. [00:38:30] I work with your whole body, the top of the head. I look at different parts and go, “That’s a bit of energetic lacking,” so I direct the smoke there. Then tobacco’s in your body waiting together with the ayahuasca that’s already there. Then I sing this song full of quantum possibility and suggestions to align and cleanse, blah, blah, blah, taking out trauma, taking out shock, taking out fear, taking out blockage.

Then we finish and then, final thing, do you remember I actually blow again. I take your hands and blow. What I’m actually doing there is I’m [00:39:00] transferring the whole energetic of the song into you, like a capsule. “Here you go, that’s exactly what I just sang as a whole combined thing. Activate.” Then I leave and about three minutes later… Bingo. Even today, it’s still astonishing. I know tobacco’s like, “Thank you tobacco, good,” because I could feel it waiting. It receives all those directions and the suggestions and it goes, “Right, let’s go to work.” Yeah, then it does what it does. Look at your face. [00:39:30] It is magic, it is magic. It’s amazing. This is a wonderous world. Why can’t we have this level of wonder and amazement and magic and possibility? We are magical beings and art.

Euvie: This is so far outside of the realm of the paradigm of the western understanding that some people listening to this would be like, “Wow, this guy’s completely bonkers.”

Don: I would say fuck you. You need to read Thomas Kuhn, the Paradigm of Scientific [00:40:00] Revolutions, 1972. All science is ready to be updated according to new information.

Euvie: Yeah.

Don: If you don’t have that mindset, then you’re the crazy one.

Mike: That’s not real science, if you’re not willing to let it be updated.

Don: Exactly.

Euvie: There were so many moments in that ayahuasca ceremony, and now after, that I just… Things keep happening that I’m just like, “How is this a thing? I can’t. I can’t comprehend it.” I was just getting all this information about the structure of chemical compounds and magnetic fields. It was all fractal and how it relates to how societies are structured and how [00:40:30] people interact with each other. It’s like, I haven’t really read up on this stuff very much and I was getting all this information all night long, on a drip feed. Then also, there were a couple times where I realized that I could read dead languages or understand languages that I didn’t previously think I could speak. The logical explanation that I came up with is that all of the Indo-European language groups, they were all one language at some point. Before that, [00:41:00] old people spoke the same language.

It’s written in the genes somewhere and I’m still carrying it. There’s a deep part of me that can read any language on earth basically, to some level of proficiency. This kind of stuff, it’s just mind blowing. Then when you see it for yourself and it’s not just a concept, when you actually experience it with your whole being, it’s a paradigm shift for sure. It’s very intense.

Don: I’m very clear in the sense that I don’t want to present myself as an authority [00:41:30] or a guru. How I see myself is a facilitator of space. For you to do the discovery, I’m very much agnostic, I really believe that what we know firsthand, that we know for ourselves, is the most valuable source of information because it’s something you’ve empirically been through. So, it’s anecdotal. So what? It happened to you, that’s all that matters. You know it for yourself. Rather than having it second hand, somebody else tells you, it’s written down, it’s transmitted, or somebody believes this, it’s like you went through that. The important thing is what changes for you after you go through experiences [00:42:00] like that, what happens to your world as you accommodate this. “Okay, maybe we’re not in Kansas anymore, we’re somewhere else.” That’s my question, what’s happened for you in the sense of having had these experiences?

Euvie: I’m still integrating, to be honest. It’s hard to say, it’s only been a couple days. One of the things that we did in the ceremony that was really great is the sharing after, where everybody went in a circle and talked about their experience. Sometimes you can’t [00:42:30] put something into words, but other people maybe experienced something similar and they say something and something triggers something else in your head and you’re like, “Bam, I got it now.” That was really great. One of the things that I noticed is that I felt like my being was full, just so full during the ceremony. I wasn’t operating just on a sliver of possibility or of what I am, everything was just filled to the brim.

[00:43:00] The channel was very busy. There was so much coming through and it was an incredible feeling. While it was happening… I can’t imagine what it would be like to be alone, or sad, or incomplete, or unhappy. In that particular moment, it was just so full. Afterwards, it was a bit rough to integrate, because when I came down from it I was like, “I feel so empty, like a discarded husk.” While it was happening, it was so incredible. That changes a lot of things for me, because I was really depressed [00:43:30] as a teenager and in my 20s. Now, that’s completely flipped on its head.

Don: What I’m getting is it’s almost like being a member of our society and then, suddenly, becoming a member of the [inaudible [0:43:40] society, where they look at things as a community. As westerners, we’re quite atomized with all of us navigating our own ship, in a sense, but it can be a bit lonely. What happens, I believe in the medical experience, is you’re connected to a higher transcendence state where there is much more unity. You’re connecting with much more divine levels in a sense. This is your heritage. To come back [00:44:00] into that steering alone ship is very hard once you’ve been connected to that. It’s part of the challenge. We’re here to do our work. Also, what happens with those groups that work with medicine is that there is bonding and there is community spirit developed and interaction thereafter. That’s where the real work starts to play out in terms of that’s where you can make the difference in creating these conscious communities. That space to do so is very rarely found in our society.

Euvie: That was one of the things that happened [00:44:30] to me actually, I became so in tune with everybody’s needs. Normally, Mike and I are very isolated and we’re in our own bubble doing a lot of creative output and a lot of reading and meditation, that kind of stuff. We don’t interact with a community very much. This was such a… Like a switch was flipped for me. I was suddenly just aware of everybody’s needs. One guy had a very sore back, I just ran up to him and massaged his back. Another person just seemed really scared and sad, I came up to her and just hugged for maybe five minutes straight. Just hugged her and almost didn’t say anything, [00:45:00] then she calmed down. Things like that, I just felt an urge to help people and I knew exactly what they needed and I gave it to them in that moment.

Don: That level of connection’s amazing.

Euvie: Yeah.

Don: How about you Mike, what’s your experience?

Mike: It confirmed a lot of what has been intuition and experience through other psychedelic journeys and meditation and that kind of stuff. I had a lot of intuition about what is going on in higher levels of consciousness – and potentially dimensions. [00:45:30] I’m always interested in how it translates back, how can I communicate this to people. Partially, because of this podcast. I want to figure out how to take the most rational, hard nosed scientific mind and get them to open up to this kind of thing. I study a lot of sciences, I study whatever I can to explain these phenomenons, sci-phenomenon books, synchronicity books, anything like that.

There seems to be, like you say, there’s definitely practical things you can tap into right away and you can get results [00:46:00] and you know exactly that this thing works. I’m constantly looking for the explanation. I can’t say that I actually got one from this experience but it’s filling me in.

Don: What explanation are you looking for? Are you looking for unified theory?

Mike: Yes. I think it exists, I really do.

Don: That’s the fun. That’s the joy, that you’re on a quest to find out and see where you can connect, in your own way, a puzzle that makes sense to you. Talking about the scientists, I don’t think there’s any amount of [00:46:30] talking that will convince them. They’re rooted in a reality that they haven’t actually transcended.

Mike: Which is a huge problem in the scientific community anyway. If people aren’t willing to let their models be updated, they’re not doing science anyway.

Don: Yeah, okay.

Mike: I’m really looking for actual scientists who will update their model when evidence presents itself. There are certain things – I’ve repeated this a thousand times on this podcast before. Just because you don’t have proof that something exists doesn’t mean it does not exist. That’s not how the scientific method works. [00:47:00] You’re disproving, disproving, disproving until you can actually definitively disprove that something is not the way that it is. Otherwise, it’s all open.

Don: It’s all potential.

Mike: Yeah, exactly. I’ve had experience with precognition, I’ve told stories about this all the time. I constantly have insights into what’s going to happen in a few minutes, or a few hours, or days. I have visions sometimes from sleeping, dreams about what’s happening in other places. This is just happening more, I’ve grown to accept it. [00:47:30] I’m just looking for explanation of what’s happening. I already accept it, I just don’t know why it’s happening or how it’s happening.

Don: I think one of the most powerful lessons that working with ayahuasca can teach is these experiences itself reveals – if you’re thinking about it logically – if one can have access to higher dimensions and have multi-dimensional experiences, what does it make you?

Mike: A multi-dimensional being, for sure.

Don: Exactly. If you’re a multi-dimensional being, why aren’t we resident [00:48:00] more in that multi-dimensionality state? There are these kind of questions that I ask, because really, the bliss state should be the [inaudible [0:48:07] should be a constant, and accessibility between the realms should be easy. I ask myself, “What is it about society that gears us, locking us down into a certain kind of frequency? Why aren’t we fully occupying what is our natural heritage?” Ayahuasca’s a tool to leverage those kind of questions through direct experience. If you don’t know, at least you have a transcendent experience. You go, “Well, [00:48:30] it’s not quite what I imagined.” I have worked with psychiatrists and I have worked with physicians.

They do come away going, like I did when I first experienced, “Obviously, I don’t know quite as much as I thought I knew.” You’re in the presence of beings or spirit beings that actually say, “Hey, there’s much more to this world that meets the eye. It isn’t just materialistic, positivistic, 3D reality. There’s a lot more going on.” I have to measure myself, because certain stories will freak people out because they’re just not ready to make that jump. [00:49:00] What I try and do as a western and academic trained person who has the ability to just sit in those indigenous realities and try them on – I have the ability to mediate in terms that make sense to a western person. I don’t particularly like the new age discourse, because it’s just too fluffy and indulgent. Where’s your proof? Where’s your empirical…?

Affirming yourself into something isn’t necessarily the same thing as doing the work. “I am healed.” “Really? If you could actually see what’s going on with you, you wouldn’t say that.” [00:49:30] Anyway.

Mike: This is the danger with our podcast, too. We’ve attracted a lot of people who think that’s what they’re talking about.

Euvie: Because they have their own framework, right? They’re looking for a specific thing and they only hear what they want to hear, they don’t hear all the other stuff.

Don: This is not a joy ride. If you feel – and it is a buzz word, it is a trending meme in terms of ayahuasca – it is hard work, at the end of the day. It is for the strong of will and strong of mind and strong of spirit to be able to submit to an experience that goes beyond what you know. [00:50:00] To enter the unknown, to enter what, in Latin, is called the mysterium tremendum – the mystery that surrounds every single moment of our lives, beyond our wildest imaginings. To be able to really work with the darkness and shadow.

Euvie: This whole idea of love and light and, “We need to transcend our nature and become beings of light.”

Mike: Then you see them get into arguments in their daily life over the simplest, silliest things. You’re like, “You’re not observing these things.”

Euvie: Or have insane repressed sexual energy, which a lot of these new age hippies do. You just see it [00:50:30] walking up to them. So Zen… “No, you’re not.” Like Carl Young said, a tree can only grow to heaven if its roots reach down to hell. That phrase just keeps repeating over and over for me. It’s profound. Actually, Carl Young is one of the psychologists that I’ve been reading recently. He got a lot of the stuff. I don’t know how much experience he had with psychedelics himself.

Don: I think none.

Mike: He only really started getting into shamanism [00:51:00] way later in his life, then he put it down as something, “I have to study that at some point,” and I don’t think he ever really did.

Euvie: He had some very deep insights. One of the ideas that he had is that he kind of felt quite bitter towards Christianity. He thought that they got it quite long. He studied Pagans and then the alchemists. He noticed that they had this connection to the realms, to their animal nature, and also to their divine nature. They were very large beings in a way. Then Christians came in and said, “Okay, we’re going to just [00:51:30] cut that all off. Nature, you have to be in a relationship with it, it’s not you. Then God, you have to be in a relationship with it, it’s also not you. You’re just stuck.”

Mike: It’s like an ice cream scoop of what they think people are and they’re like, “That’s you. No, that other stuff is not you, only that.”

Euvie: Yeah. We’ve been talking with a friend, actually, and unpacking a lot of the history of Christianity and why it is the way it is, how it’s the religion of the oppressed and it’s a desert religion and originates from Egypt in many ways. The Egyptians [00:52:00] were sun worshippers and male-centric. It was very much different from Paganism that dominated Europe before Christianity, which worshipped nature and male and female energies equally. Young thought that it was almost Christianity’s fault that Europeans are the way that they are, that they’re so repressed, that they’re miserable, that there’s so much mental illness. When he went to visit the tribes, he didn’t see that. People were very [00:52:30] serene and connected. Even when they were warrior tribes, they didn’t have this angst and anxiety and depression that Europeans tend to have.

Don: Can I add something? Very often, these, not just Christian tradition, but the Semitic traditions, let’s put it that way, the monotheistic Semitic traditions where it’s Judaism, Christianity, and Islam… They’re very much obsessed with controlling the body, very specific domains. That’s something that is not so much a concern within Indigenous communities. In fact, [00:53:00] they’ve encouraged [inaudible 0:53:01], singing, and dance, this is the main thing. The Puritans focused on repressing singing, repressing dance, and repressing sexuality.

Mike: Defunding.

Don: Basically, yes. That’s got to have some impact on the human psyche, definitely. Whereas, if you have a community that supports that… When I was in South Africa recently, I was doing some training with a [inaudible [0:53:21] tradition, the Zulu shamans. The power of the drum close range when it’s a whole battery of people playing, it’s transcendent [00:53:30] and it completely alters consciousness very quickly. Then these beings can work through you and the ancestral connections and all that. That’s, I think, one of the things that people are looking for – they’re looking for that sense of rootedness in nature. If organized religion works for you, then you have my blessing, good for you. If it actually fulfils you.

A lot of people are finding that injunctions and way of perceiving the world is not reaching them at a soul level. [00:54:00] They want more, they want this authenticity we experience. They want this direct knowledge. They don’t want to be communicated about what they should believe, they want to have this knowledge emerging from their own experience basically. That’s partly what explains the rise in popularity in various forms of shamanism across the western world, because they want to connect. We’re so far removed from nature. We live 24-hour cycles that are not necessarily cycadean, do you know what I’m saying? All the technology around us and screen time. Goodness. [00:54:30] People are beginning to realize that they want a bit more.

Euvie: Yeah.

Don: And some popularity of Harry Potter with the children.

Euvie: Yeah.

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Mike: Let’s continue on that thread, actually, of what it’s like to be a westerner entering into the shamanic tradition and going through the training that you did.

Don: I think the key is an [00:01:30] open mind. To be able to say, “I’m willing to experience,” and then make sense of it thereafter. Gathering data and making hypothesis thereafter, rather than coming in with a straight, “This is how it’s gonna be,” and trying to squeeze all the… One of my inspirations was a guy called Lyall Watson. Do you know about this guy? He wrote a book in the 70s called Supernature. Lyall Watson was a South African and his grandma used to just drop him off at this hut for the whole summer with enough food and said, “Just go [00:02:00] amuse yourself.” He just spent a lot of time in deep nature. He was a white, English South African, but he bonded with the Zulu people of the land.

He watched their realities and he could see things happening that were magical that had no counterpart in the Anglo, civilized tradition. He saw that it was valid and he grew up and he became a zoologist. He bore these two different traditions and knew that they were both equally valid. His whole life was about it. I think he became a director of the London zoo basically, or part of it. [00:02:30] His whole life was about synthesize his experiences and his knowledge. The book Supernature was a cataloguing using authentic scientific research to create a picture saying, “This is what’s happening in nature, isn’t it fantastic? Look at the deeper patterns that are emerging like the quantum entanglement between animals or mothers and sons.”

You read this and it builds up into an argument of like, “Oh my goodness, the world is really infinitely much more mysterious than [00:03:00] it’s presented in the ordinary journals, the small facts that you pick up when you’re at school. If you start seeing the deeper partners, there is magicality to them.” He was a very big inspiration to me. The ability to hold two different realities and respect them – because he’d seen them working for themselves in different ways. I’m a bit like that. Does it work? Faith is not good enough for me. I do want to experience it. When I was doing my fieldwork in Kilimanjaro, my driver would always stop for the nuns, always. “There’s a nun, let’s give her a lift.”

[00:03:30] Then we’d have to spent 15 minutes while she does the prayer to protect the vehicle. After a while, I said, “No more nuns, we’re really done with the nuns here. Look, let’s face it, Jesus saves but your eyes are much more important in terms of driving.” That’s physics. No more nuns. It’s physics that sustains an airplane, not prayer. I’m quite clear about which domain works, but certain times there are certain ways of knowing and being and operating the consciousness that are much more effective than straight ahead logic and [00:04:00] linearity. If that makes sense.

Euvie: Tell us about your trainer with the ayahuasca shamans. How did that come about?

Don: I was really not looking for this path. Yes, there were signs. I finished my degree in Chinese and Spanish linguistics. Then when I graduated I thought the world was my oyster. Back in the day, when I started my degree there was eight of us studying Chinese. It was really early days. Now, everybody and their uncle wants to study Chinese but it was very few of us. I thought to myself, “I can get any job, [00:04:30] they’re gonna be clamouring,” but there was a recession. I couldn’t even get a job in a shop, it was that bad. I had to fall on my own resources. With a partner, I created a company called Stress Busters.

If you’ve ever been to an airport and you’ve seen those foldable chairs that people can sit in, we were the first people to do that in the UK. We got a lot of coverage with the media and Sunday Times, there was TV and all that. That developed. What was interesting is that I felt at the time I’d done enough academic work and enough cognitive work, I wanted to do something with my hands. That was an actual [00:05:00] outlet for that. While I was learning all that and teaching that, I also was doing a lot of work in terms of body work. Learning every weekend, doing training courses. Just a hunger to learn, because the more I worked through the body, the more it revealed itself.

Eventually, amongst my community of body workers, some people would start saying, “There’s this thing called body harmony.” I said, “What is it?” “We can’t explain it. You just have to experience it.” I kept hearing this thing and then finally I was doing a show in Bristol [00:05:30] and there was a practitioner. I signed up for a session with her. I’m there, I’m clothed on her table. She approaches the table and then she just goes, “Your body doesn’t like metal.” I’m like, “What the fuck?” She goes, “No, your body doesn’t like metal.” I look at her, astonished, because that wasn’t true. I’m like, “How do you know?” She goes, “I know because the same time I’m working with you, or my focus is on you, my attention is on you, my focus is on how my body responds to your body. [00:06:00] As I approach to you, my watch starts to hurt me, which is your body telling me, ‘Get the fuck out of here, don’t come near me with that watch, with that metal.’”

I just went, “That’s a whole different way of working on a whole different level.” That was my first introduction to body harmony. The next year I signed up with the [inaudible [0:06:19] in Glastonbury to train with him. I did a 10-day training. Basically, what it is is there’s no protocols. Normally, in body work they’re like, “You’ve got this problem. We’re gonna go in and work this, [00:06:30] do that and that.” There’s a whole sequence of things you got to do, “We know what to do.” The whole idea behind body harmony was every single body wants to tell us stories, but are you able to listen? Are you worthy to hear those deeper stories? If you’re a deep tissue worker, you’re gonna go… You’re gonna rush in and do the work, you’re not gonna listen.

Our training was about learning to listen. In terms of approaching the body, I can just go into [00:07:00] your shoulder but then I’ve cut across all these layers. At a deep level, the body goes, “You need to listen to me, fuck you. I’m not gonna open up.” If you actually start here, there’s an energy layer – maybe four feet or even six feet, I can feel it even drawing here. If I ask permission to you, your body, and you’ll say, “Okay,” and I’ve got permission to move forward. Then it’ll actually slowly guide me in, it’ll pull me in like a flight path, “This is the way to approach my body.” [00:07:30] It might take 5 minutes or 10 minutes of constantly for permission, permission, permission, permission… Then by the time you make physical contact with the first layer of skin, there’s such a deep connection, such a deep rapport with the body. It knows that you have respect and you can listen. It’ll pull you in deeper.

What then happens… It’s not really physical, it’s about consciousness meeting consciousness. Let’s say, I eventually met your shoulder, my consciousness [00:08:00] then has permission to travel within your body. Maybe, let’s say there’s an issue in your hip, in your left hip, in the inside of your hip socket. I can, with consciousness, travel down and work inside your body – as long as I, at every stage, again, ask permission. By day four of doing this, I went, “Holy Moses, this isn’t about body work, this is about being in the right place at the right time and asking permission and checking in.” Eventually, [00:08:30] the body opens up to such extent, it starts talking to me. The kidneys will say, “Help, we need more water.” I’m walking down the street and all these parts are talking to me, because I’m so hyper sensitive to it.

It’s brought up this whole new way of knowing. For example, when I was training, I was with my girlfriend. I woke up and our knees were touching, her knee against my knee. There was this flow of information between the knees. I was like, “Our knees are having a conversation but without us.” [00:09:00] Each body part is alive, it has an opinion, it has an awareness. Like you’re saying, everything’s aware. Our knees were having this – I could feel this flow. I woke her up and said, “Niccola.” I said, “Our knees are Having a conversation.” “Okay.” I was like, “Wow, that’s amazing.” It opened up this whole level. I remember David also opened up the mytho poetic, this whole level of concrete and physicality and this awareness that there was also lots of [00:09:30] emotions and memories contained within the various parts of the body.

It was amazing. The listening also brought up a whole level of knowing. For example, I was giving a session in Ibiza with a quite matronly 50-year-old woman, very conservatively dressed and all that. I was off her body, tuning in, listening. Then I just was around her tummy and I went, “There are two alien presences in her tummy that shouldn’t be there.” I was astonished. She had her eyes closed and suddenly those eyes open. She goes – without [00:10:00] any previous communication – she goes, “Yes, I’ve had two abortions.” I’m like, “Wow.” I could feel that, I could feel the energetic imprint. The body harmony and the body work training really enhanced my sensory capacity.

We all have it, it’s just a question of really becoming familiar with it. That really then comes into the shamanic work because, again, it’s about listening. One final story about this, how it’s connected is that a couple years later, I was hanging out a friend’s house in London [00:10:30] and this lady was quite astonishing. She spoke fluent Russian, she was a Russian language graduate. She’d done work for Greenpeace actually monitoring the nuclear emanations from reactors. Somehow, she found herself in [inaudible [0:10:42], right in the far, far east of Russia. On her bedroom table was this tusk, this ivory tusk. It was carved with these scenes of Inuit or Eskimo hunting. We looked at it and I thought, “Wow, I really wanna touch this.”

Having learnt, I thought, “I’m gonna ask permission. [00:11:00] Can I touch you?” Directly to the spirit or whatever it is in this awareness in this tusk. It just goes, “No.” I went, “Alright, I got to respect it.” I turn around and I continue talking to her. 20 minutes later I get this tap on the shoulder. I’m like, “Alright, okay.” I turn around and it goes, “Since you listened and you asked permission, you can now touch me.” I reach out and I touch this ivory tusk. [00:11:30] It was about three inches and then this whole energy went straight into me, jumped into me. I could feel this energy body descending, suddenly I had this new energy body. I’m like, “Okay, what’s happening here?” I begin to palpate the energy body around me, the aura.

I find that there’s a snout and some whiskers and here’s a tusk. Okay. Here’s another tusk. Hang on, it’s kind of broken and shardy. Okay. Then, in the true tradition of [00:12:00] empirical… I said to my friend, “Can you come here and check something out for me?” Am I really crazy? “Can you just feel my aura, just feel this energy?” She goes, “Wow, I can feel this snouty thing and whiskers and a tusk and another… Hang on a minute, it’s broken here.” I thought to myself, “Okay, good, we’re both crazy.” We’re dealing with that and then, suddenly, I’m like, “Okay, I need to go into the other room now.” Then I went into the other room and then the room became [00:12:30] really cold. This arctic cold descended into the room. I was suddenly bi-locating and I could see…

I said, “Okay, everything’s grey and here’s the shingly beach. It reaches into the grey water, which merges with the grey sky. There’s a split of land that is also grey and a lighthouse.” She goes, “That’s exactly where I was this summer and it looks exactly like that. That’s exactly where I found the carved ivory.” I’m like, “Okay. [00:13:00] You know what, Elena?” I said to her, “I just have this incredible desire to lie on the floor, on the side, and then flap my arm for a bit. Would you mind if I just did that?” She goes, “No, be my guest.” I was doing that for about 10 minutes. I’m going, “This feels really good but please don’t take any photographs of this.”

I got up and then I actually moved around the room. As I moved, I could feel that the sea water was coming up to my eyes depending where I was, because it suddenly was a sudden dip. Then I moved back. I was astonished. [00:13:30] I was like, “What was that about?” I rode the subway back home and then this presence just said, “Where am I?” This is 1995 or something like that. I said, “It’s 1995 and you’re in a place called London.” It was looking around at this crush of people in the train, like, “Do you live like this?” I said, “Yes, we do.” I said, “Okay, what’s your name?” It goes, “My name is [inaudible [0:13:58].” I was like, “Where did that come from?” I said, “[00:14:00] Okay, [inaudible [0:14:01].” That presence was with me for a couple of weeks until gradually dissipated.

Then I Googled this name and the only reference to [inaudible [0:14:09] is an abandoned, destroyed village in Israel in 1947. There’s no way that I could have researched that or found that. What I’m saying here is that the pathway to Shamanism was a slow thing and it was actually connected to experiences that opened my eyes to realities that were beyond what I was being taught, then direct experiences. [00:14:30] The body work is as direct as you can get. Sometimes I’ll be working with somebody and I’ll just have this rush. I know my emotional state is steady and I just have tears coming to my eyes, rage. I can distinguish. These realities are truth. From there on, it dissipated until I did various things like worked in the city of London, went into finance and stuff like that. Very boring Muggle stuff.

Then decided, “Hey, I’m done with London. I’m running so hard to stay in the same place, it’s useless. [00:15:00] It’s not working for me, the system’s not working for me. I decided to move back to Taiwan, where I did my year abroad. After a few years, I went, “You know what, I need to go back into cognitive mode. I need to stimulate the brain cells.” I decided to do medical anthropology because I was, since the days when I was a kid, looking at the National Geographic. I thought healing, anthropology, medical anthropology. Then I did that. Then I came back and I was living a nice little life doing photography and stuff like that then, suddenly, I got a knock on the door [00:15:30] and it was somebody inviting me to experience ayahuasca in Taiwan, of all places.

Mike: What was that like for the first time?

Don: The thing is, back in the days in 2007, Facebook was rolling out, social network. If you were interested in line up dancing with dwarves, you could find some freak who was also interested in line up dancing with dwarves. It was intra-specific in your city. They’ve stopped all that now. That’s probably how they found me. When I looked at their interests, they were living in the city 40 minutes from me. [00:16:00] Male, South African, then interests: shamanism and ayahuasca.  I think about ayahuasca 20 years previously, I’d read a book called the Way of the Shaman, by Michael Harner. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, maybe your listeners have.

In the 50s, Michael Harner was an anthropologist. He basically spent time with [inaudible [0:16:17] in Peru. They were very loathed to give a man the ayahuasca, they just thought he was a puny white person who couldn’t handle it. Eventually, he convinces them to give it to him. [00:16:30] Then he has these extraordinary experiences, very layered, and very specific. In the morning, the shaman comes to him and says, “Well, first you went here, then you saw this. You had this conversation but don’t worry about them, they’re always saying that, they’re always boasting.” The thing is, he was on point. Every single thing he experienced, he was being related back to him.

The thing that stuck with me was that this shaman was blind. I’m readying this going, 1987, going, “Okay, there’s got to be some kind of objective reality here.” [00:17:00] But Peru, I’m very interested in Peru but it’s too far, too expensive, too many mosquitos, blah, blah, blah. I’m really not into chasing drug experiences. I kept it in my head. Fast forward 20 years, 2007, I’m in Taiwan and this guy’s knocking on my door saying, “Ayahuasca.” I’m like, “Okay, what’s the story here? We’re in Taiwan, not Peru.” “But we have similar plants, they can do the same thing.” “What?” That same week, I met another guy from a similar city, [00:17:30] a straight up business, PhD guy, really normal conversation.

When he finished the conversation, lunch, he said, “I have something for you.” He reached down under the table, he pulled out this jar of brown liquid. I looked at that and went, “I don’t drink coffee.” “No, It’s not coffee.” I said, “What is it?” You guessed it. Ayahuasca. I said, “No way, no way.” Twice in the same week. It’s not been on my radar and, suddenly, boom. I said, “Do you know this person?” “[00:18:00] Never heard of him.” Hello. Part of shamanism is reading the signs. There’s the universe talking to me. The first guy, he contacts me. He goes, “Hey, we’re going to do ceremony in six weeks, do you want to come?” Fuck yes, of course. I’m being called, hello, I’d be stupid not to see this. I did all the preparation and the day arrives. It was a daytime thing.

The day arrives and I have the biggest flu possible. I’m thinking, “Are you kidding me?” Anyway, I drag myself down there. It was a daytime thing, strangely enough. [00:18:30] They gathered around, a few people. They warmed the medicine up and said, “Thank you very much,” then we drank it, then sat there in the kitchen. 30 minutes later my stomach is really saying, “What were you thinking?” I rush out into the garden and I purge in the flowerbed. Then I turn around and I look at this guy. He’s smiling at me. He’s smiling at me but his head’s on fire. The visions. His head is completely on fire and he has this Tibetan demon look. I’m like, “Shit, this is really strong.” [00:19:00] That’s never happened, I’ve done LSD and magic mushrooms but I’ve never had something, a daylight vision like that.

I’m looking and going, “Okay.” Then the energy hit me and it’s actually quite different to how you guys experience it or how I’ve experienced it since. It was really like I couldn’t stand, I was just convulsing. I was like, “Okay.” Luckily, they put tents in the garden. I could disgrace myself quietly in a tent. [00:19:30] I open the tent flap, plonk myself down, took my glasses off, closed my eyes, then the vision started. It wasn’t just visions. Normally the visions are in front of you. This is [inaudible [0:19:39] right behind my head, I was looking behind my head going, “Are you kidding me?” Surround visions. They were changing geometric figures and stuff like that. Then they died away and I was left in silence. I’m still convulsing like this but I just thought, “Okay, this is what it’s going to be.”

Then I felt that presence, [00:20:00] that intelligence that was just of a magnitude that I couldn’t even fathom. That’s when I had that realization, I just went, “Hang on a minute.” Then it scanned me, like a laser up and down, like, “Who are you carbon unit?” I was like, “I’m just me.” Then I had that realization, I went, “Oh my God, I didn’t just drink a liquid, I didn’t drink a chemical or a drug, I actually took in a living presence. Whether it’s a spirit or not, it doesn’t matter. A living presence, because I could feel it [00:20:30] resonate in my body. Then it said, “Let me show you what happens when you die, after you die.” I’m like, “Okay.” Then boom, my consciousness was then free of form. A consciousness free of form is infinite.

My consciousness was as wide as the widest sky. The first thing I said to myself was, “This is really serious.” Second thing, “The Tibetans really know what they’re talking about.” [00:21:00] Third thing, “I think I’ve found what I’ve been looking for all my life. This is the apogee of all my searching, it brought me to this moment.” At that point, in Taiwan, I was like, “What am I doing? I have a Masters, I’m teaching kids who don’t really care. Why am I here?” I had to be here to be in the right place at the right time. Prayers and spirit, the medicine, whatever it is, actually took me on a guided trip of the entire universe. Then I came out of that experience going, “I think I’ve found what I’m looking for,” and that’s where we have to start.

[00:21:30] What I thought I knew, let’s just throw that away. Compared to what I’ve just experienced, yeah, we don’t know anything. That’s how I started. Everything else was progressive and organic. There were various milestones and steps, but basically what I do today is I try and bring that teaching and make it accessible. It’s accessible in terms of costs because some of these, now, these people are charging [00:22:00] huge amounts of money and it’s not about that, it’s about the work. I’ve been gifted with this information, knowledge, and once you know you can’t unknow. To know is to serve. What am I going to do with this, unless I transmit it and pay it forward?

Euvie: This was 10 years ago?

Don: Yeah, 2008.

Euvie: I’m sure a lot of people are listening to this and thinking either, “This guy’s nuts,” or, “If he’s not nuts and there’s something to this, then I want to try it and [00:22:30] holy shit this is going to change the world if everybody did.”

Don: I’m not concerned about changing the world. I think it starts with the individual. Just do your own work and then pay it forward. Small things can grow from that. That’s too grandiose, “I want to change the world.” No, no, no, no. Just tidying up your room.

Mike: Channelling Jordan Peterson.

Euvie: Jordan Peterson, yeah, “Clean up your room, stand up straight.”

Don: “Stand up straight, tidy your room up.”

Euvie: Yeah. There’s this psychologist who is a [00:23:00] Canadian psychologist, who’s become very popular, especially with young men in the last couple years. He’s this father figure. We interviewed him on the show actually. He talks about that, “Just sort yourself out first.”

Mike: Stop with these ambitions of changing the world you 18-year-old, stupid, idiot. You know nothing. Go fix yourself first.”

Euvie: Yeah.

Don: Is he being condescending or is he compassionate in this?

Mike: He’s very hard but he’s right. A lot of young men [00:23:30] are really seeing that and being like, “I have to change this, I have to change my life.” He wrote this book called 12 Rules for Life, it was fantastic.

Don: Do you not think that’s a failure of our society in general regarding the masculine and lack of initiation?

Euvie: Yes, yes, I think that’s exactly what it is.

Mike: Yes. It’s a lack of mentorship and it’s also the hyper-femininization and taking away of how men naturally are and want to be.

Euvie: Yeah, like this, “No tolerance bullying policies,” in schools or safe spaces.

Mike: Yeah. [00:24:00] Even that’s too violent, they can’t be physical with each other anymore.

Don: Can I share something very risky?

Euvie: Yeah.

Don: I look at contemporary soccer and I go, “What is wrong with you people? He just tapped you and you’re rolling around like you’ve been murdered.

Mike: It’s disgraceful.

Euvie: Yeah.

Don: I’m like, “I’m a rugby player. People will pile on top of you. Just shake yourself down and go, ‘That was fun, let’s get on with it.’”

Mike: Yeah, exactly. Take a hit.

Don: Come on guys.

Euvie: We both did martial arts when we were younger and it’s like, yeah, when somebody kicks you [00:24:30] in the head you’re like, “That was a good job, my head’s going to be ringing for five minutes not. Yeah, that was good, that was a good one.”

Mike: Now they get the lawsuits and the moms.

Don: There’s that, it’s a bit silly in certain ways. Yeah, essentially, just begin with yourself.

Mike: Anything else you want to talk about?

Don: Yeah, the way this work has grown has been organic. People contact me and say, “Would you be willing to come here?” I do travel. It’s through organic connections. They say, “Would you work in my community?” I said, “[00:25:00] Fine, we’ve got to go with a certain kind of number, a certain kind of venue. We can arrange that and we can talk about schedules.” That’s how it grows. I’ll go where I’m asked and invited, basically. Yeah.

Mike: Where are you going to be next?

Don: Actually, next… It’s funny you mentioned dreams, pre-cognitive dreams, because 10 years ago I had a dream that I was walking around somewhere in the Caucuses, in the city in the Caucuses. Either Georgia or Armenia. The time has arrived where I thought, “Next week I’m going to Georgia to see if this is where I have to be or maybe next year to Armenia, [00:25:30] because something’s waiting for me.” You know that kind of dream? Why did I have that very vivid dream or very big dream? Because something has to happen there. Maybe a transmission or a connection. I’m going to Georgia for a holiday for a wee, to Tbilisi. Not Georgia, America. Tbilisi the city. Then to Bosnia to see the pyramids. Then onto the Middle East.

Mike: Are you back to the States and Canada, anywhere in the…?

Don: Hopefully next year I’ll be doing a Canadian tour [00:26:00] across all the cities for the first time. I’m looking forward to eating some, what is it, poutine?

Mike: Yeah.

Don: And some British Colombia product.

Mike: Yeah.

Don: The finest of the British Colombia, whatever that might be. Yeah, things are expanding in a very organic way. I’m not just going to parachute in. I want to build communities and serve those communities, regularly serve and develop. We can all develop. I was in South Africa and one of the most beautiful things I heard in sharing [00:26:30] was this guy said, “I’ve come to the realization that all we’re doing is we’re all walking each other home.” That brought tears to my eyes because I’m no better than anyone else. I have different experiences and different skills but we’re all here on planet earth. We’re all facing the same challenges at the end of the day. You in doing your podcast, you’re helping us listeners and transmitting information. I do what I do. I’m here now working with shamans.

Mike: If someone wants to experience the ceremony for themselves, what do they have to do?

Don: There are a lot of [00:27:00] ceremonies that are happening around the world. It’s possible to find a circle if you look hard enough. The caveat I would have is that some people think that just because it’s easy to make a brew, because it’s putting certain things together, that it actually qualifies them to run a ceremony or to hold space for a ceremony. It’s the equivalent of saying, “Hey, I flew a budget airline, I can commandeer a 747 or a 767. I can drive that, I can fly that.” No, they’re very different. Being a passenger is not the same as being a pilot. [00:27:30] Three are many, many things that can happen in ceremony space. There’s many levels of consciousness. Some people are there’s a releasing of trauma that needs to be handled properly. If they’re not held in space properly, they can itself be a traumatic experience. Catharsis can be very challenging. There can be a lot of physicality at times, even within our well held space – if somebody came in from the outside it might look like bedlam. They would call [00:28:00] psychiatric services and everybody would get locked up.

There’s an ability to shape in that flow of dynamic processes that is a requisite for somebody to hold and to keep calm, and to keep balanced, and to navigate that. If that’s not held well, it can be traumatic for the whole group.

Mike: Just watching it, just being there the first night, it was like a jungle swamp. That’s what it sounded like to me.

Don: Kind of. There’s a flow, there’s definitely a flow.

Mike: Yeah, yeah, just listening to all the sounds and there’s a lot of people [00:28:30] purging, there’s a lot of wet sounds, there’s a lot of moaning and crying and struggling.

Don: You’re not selling it, dude.

Mike: Still fantastic. The whole time through that, I was grinning because it was such an amazing experience. It’s just, you’re right, if someone came in and saw that it would be like bedlam.

Don: This is the thing. The training is just for a reason. It’s there. It’s not just, “I’ve concocted a brew and let’s go,” or, “I’ve got some [inaudible [0:28:59] playlist lined up [00:29:00] on YouTube. Let’s hit the ayahuasca and see what emerges.” Or, “I can play guitar, that makes me a shaman.” No. All these levels of perception and hubris exist. I mentioned earlier that shamanism isn’t about the shaman. Shamanism is about partnership and it’s about partnership with those guiding spirits in other realms. Within the Amazonian tradition, how do you get to have those partnerships with the plants? It’s a process called dieta, plant dieta. What a [00:29:30] plant dieta is is strict observance of dietary requirements and sexual requirements and also, social requirements in media.

No salt, no sugar, no spices, no fried foods. The blandest of the bland. No sexual activity for a defined period and often isolation. Often, withdrawal from books and media and stuff like that. When you open a dieta or when the shaman opens a dieta for you, it’s basically you’re creating a convenient between you and a plant. Let’s say it’s rose. You want to receive the [00:30:00] teachings and guidance and wisdom and technology of what a rose has. You have nothing substantial to give. You can’t give it money, you can’t give Bitcoin to a rose. What you do have is your sacrifice to show that you’re worthy to be a recipient of these teachings. This is a sacrifice you make from sensory pleasures, from the desire for taste, desire for sexual contact, their sexual, or even their connection with other people.

You’re thrown back on your own being. What happens is there is an energetic [00:30:30] connection that is forged between you and this plant, from wherever it comes from. It lands in your root chakra, in your sexual power. This is why the injunction against sex is very important, because your sexual reproductive power is also your healing power. That’s where it roots itself. Then it starts to grow as a plant would grow energetically within your body. We’re creating this symbiosis that this hybrid human plant relationship. Let’s say then when you finish, two weeks to a month, three weeks to a month, three months, some of them are even a year long. That’s a long time [00:31:00] of sacrifice. Then you have that deep connection with that plant, so that when this person is in ceremony and they sing – they don’t just sing by themselves, they sing accompanied by their vibration of that plant, the rose vibration. That vibration is actually the medicine, the highest frequency of that plant isn’t in the leaves or the roots – it’s actually its energetic imprint.

When I’m singing, I’m singing, yes, my voice, but my voice is a carrier wave for all the other plants that are resident within me, because I’ve done the dieta. [00:31:30] That’s the actual healing from those plants – they can do several things at the same time – impacting our body through song, together with tobacco, together with ayahuasca. That whole process of training and discipline is what defines somebody who is qualified to hold a space, because they obviously have… I can’t think of any doctors… Yes, their whole training – western doctors – is arduous but they don’t have to go through that level of sacrifice, which is the bland food for three months, [00:32:00] no sexual activity. This is a very demanding thing. If you’re going to be with a shamanic practitioner, ask them what their training is.

Have they done dieta? Very important. Do they have a lineage? Are they connected with an energetic lineage that supports them in their work, and what work have they done themselves? This isn’t just top-down, “I’m going to do this to you.” Have they done the work themselves? When I go to the jungle, the dieta brings up shit. It peels the onion further and further [00:32:30] and further, it reaches deep. The last time I was in the jungle, the plants were saying, “We’re dealing with stuff you don’t even know you have. It’s so deep in your operating system, you’re blind to it. Let’s work on it.” They just pull it out and it’s like… Where do you start? How do you leverage that if you don’t even know you have it? That’s their function.

My belief is that a shaman can only take you as far as they’ve gone themselves. If they’ve not done the work themselves, if they haven’t gone up and they haven’t gone down, deep, deep, deep, they can’t lead you. That’s why, when I’ve met [00:33:00] very powerful shamans, I’ve kissed their hand in gratitude because I know they’ve done the work. You can just see it, it’s a power they have. That’s my advice. There are many charlatans out there that are ding it for the wrong reasons. They’re doing it for ego, they’re doing it for financial gain. I don’t know what… They’re doing it because they have the God complex. Some people experience ayahuasca and it’s such a powerful cosmic energy that they identify with it and think they’re the root of it. This is how the cults start.

There are some thing that have gone on with ayahuasca that have been abusive [00:33:30] and it’s not right. To keep yourself in check… Does a person have discipline, as well? That’s another thing.

Euvie: There’s lots of other stuff that is fascinating. The information that people receive during their journeys, how it just pops out of nowhere seemingly.

Don: Yes. It’s resident either in the space, or within them, or as a group sometimes that energy emerges. A quick anecdote. I’m in a jungle and, suddenly, this window appears and I’m actually looking at an alien civilization. [00:34:00] I’m feeling into it rather than talking to these people, I’m actually observing like an alien family or whatever. I had this realization, I went, “They are on such a level that…” You know in science fiction movies there’s usually they come to earth and they’re looking to steal our women, or steal our gold, or our water, or our resources, just real mundane stuff. These beings are on such a different level that we’re [inaudible [0:34:25] to them. That really struck me. I was like, “Oh my God, we think we’re really…” [00:34:30] There are civilizations out there that are just infinitely more complicated and advanced.

A parting thing I’d like to share with you. Sometimes we get these messages. How do we know it’s me? How do we know it’s not you generating it? You get this insight, you go, “How do we know this is my brain working or my imagination?” For me, personally, when it shocks me by how amazing it is, or how unusual it is… Because my imagination, I’m actually not very imaginative at all, I don’t surprise myself with my imagination. [00:35:00] I don’t go, “Oh, I never imagined that before.” That’s quite pedestrian and quite limited. Sometimes these dialogues emerge. For example, one day in the jungle, training, ayahuasca, the spirit comes to me and goes, “You humans, it’s all about love. Love, love, love, love, love, love.” “It isn’t?” “No, it’s not about love.” I said, “What is it about then?”

“It’s about forgiveness.” “[00:35:30] What?” “It’s about forgiveness.” “What do you mean?” “Look, you can only love to the extent you can forgive. It’s inverse.” I’m like… Can you hear that? That was the sound of my jaw dropping. It was like, “Oh my God,” because it really resonated. I just suddenly went… Then it went on about… The thing is, human beings hold resentment at so many, many levels. They resent themselves, they resent their parents, they resent society, they resent God, they resent the universe. [00:36:00] These are all invisible poisons. We need to take those out, because they’re obstacles to forgiveness. Let’s begin, shall we? It actually physically said, “Here, here, here.” I’m like, “Oh my God, you’re right.” The thing about resenting God, I was like, “Wow, yeah, that’s really powerful on a very, very secret, solo.” Anyway. Other than that, I’m a normal person.

Euvie: [00:36:30] All this stuff aside.

Don: Seriously. No, it’s like if I’m on, I’m on, right? I can do my stuff. When I’m off, I’m like, “What’s on TV. I don’t know, let’s grab a meal together and have a laugh.” There’s nothing special really. Actually, it’s a disadvantage to be on all the time. You see the spirits moving through space and getting downloads 24/7. It’s such a pain in the ass. You know what I mean, right? [00:37:00] It can be so tiring. I have a friend, she had to go on anti-depressants because she just couldn’t handle it. She just had to numb herself from all of that. I’m lucky. Anyway, a pleasure guys, thank you so much. Hopefully the listeners will think the same way.

Don Roberto

Our guest in the following two episodes is Don Roberto, a medical anthropologist and ayahuasca shaman. He has spent his life learning different healing modalities, with emphasis on plant medicine. He has lived with various native tribes and studied their healing traditions, including Shipibo of Amazon, Zulu of Africa and shamans of Bali. Don Roberto travels the world doing presentations and workshops on shamanism, and holding healing ceremonies. 

In this two-part interview, Don Roberto talks about shamanism, medicinal plants, and various healing modalities he has studied.  

We participated in an ayahuasca ceremony with Don Roberto, and we discuss some of our experiences with it.

There is much more to this world that meets the eye. It isn’t just a materialistic, positivistic, 3D reality. - Don Roberto Click To Tweet

Opening the Mind to Possibilities

Throughout his early life, Don Roberto had a range of formative experiences which opened his mind to different possibilities. The turning point was a discovery of NLP (neuro-linguistic programing) and his studies with the healer David Grove. David developed a protocol of simple questions in order to work with a client’s language and metaphors and allow them to enter and explore their internal landscape where deepest feelings and memories reside. His process revealed a mythopoetic landscape that everyone has, but which is not normally accessible.  

David engaged in what shamans call Soul Retrieval, to recover the fragmented parts of the psyche which have split off from the main sense of self during a traumatic experience, and integrate them back into the consciousness. Initially understanding this process as a very powerful healing modality, Don Roberto only later realized that David was actually doing shamanic work.

We are multidimensional beings. So what is it about our society that locks us down into a certain frequency? Why aren’t we fully occupying what is our natural heritage? - Don Roberto Click To Tweet

Soul Retrieval

In each person’s life, there are circumstances that can be a little too overwhelming to process. When our system is overloaded, something needs to shut down in order to protect the main frame of consciousness, which causes a part of an individual to disengage and affects their spiritual wholeness. In psychology, this is called disassociation.

In the Soul Retrieval process, a shaman journeys into an altered state of consciousness, finds the missing parts of the person, and invites them to come back across time and space. This integration of the younger self with the older self has astonishing healing effects.

Matter is consciousness, it’s just energy in a different form. - Don Roberto Click To Tweet

Other Ways of Knowing

Indigenous cultures tend to be more open to seeing the world as a living dynamic organism. They see all matter as having consciousness.

In the Amazon, there are over 40,000 plant species, and the possibility of finding two specific plants that work together, as is the case with the ayahuasca brew, is 1 in 6 billion. Indigenous people say the jungle itself told their ancestors how to make it. This indicates that there is another way of knowing which is not accessible through the scientific methodology of the West.

Don Roberto wants to recover some of these ways of knowing, and works as a facilitator for each person to do this discovery for themselves.

If people aren’t willing to let their models be updated, they are not doing real science” - @MikeGilliland Click To Tweet

Becoming a Shaman

For Don Roberto, the path to shamanism was a slow process which involved a range of experiences that opened his eyes to realities that were beyond what he was being taught, from bodywork to shamanic training in the Amazon.

Ever since his first experience with ayahuasca in Taiwan, he has tried to bring that teaching and make it accessible to more people. As he explains, once you know you cannot un-know, and to know is to serve.

Ayahuasca is hard work – it is for the strong of will, strong of mind, strong of spirit, to be able to submit to an experience that goes beyond what you know. - Don Roberto Click To Tweet

In this episode of Future Thinkers:

  • Open your mind to the realm of possibilities
  • What is neuro-linguistic programming – NLP
  • The Soul Retrieval process
  • The possibility of having memories beyond our lifetime
  • The difference between indigenous communities and monotheistic traditions
  • A way of knowing that is different from scientific methodology
  • Openness as the only way for scientific revolutions
  • The experience of becoming a shaman
  • The role and training of a shaman
  • Ayahuasca and multidimensionality

Mentions & Resources:

Book Recommendations:

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