Azarius experiences: kambo

In the new series 'Azarius experiences', one of the indomitable Azarius employees shares his or her experience with a psychoactive substance or product related to psychonaut or stoner culture. In today's episode, kambo:

"When a friend of mine shared his kambo experience several years ago, I decided never to undergo such an ordeal. You have to know that kambo is a poison secreted by the giant monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor). The monkey frog is a tree frog and lives in the Northwest of the Amazon, where shamans scratch the poison of its back, to put it on the skin of their tribesmen, but before they do this, they first burn the upper layer of the skin, so that the kambo is immediately taken up into the bloodstream. The idea of voluntarily scarification doesn't appeal to me at all, but that's just the beginning, because within several minutes of applying kambo, you will experience an overwhelming sickness, which will result in heavy vomiting.

Needless to say, this didn't sound like a pleasant experience. Yet still I was a curious, because it seemed that kambo would have a deep detoxifying, cleansing effect and also stimulate the immune system. The Indians believe that it removes the panema (this is the word that the shamans use for 'what troubles a person'; all the negative aspects of life). The panema withholds a person from being himself. So kambo could bring you back tot your core. This would explain why I heard increasingly enthusiastic stories about kambo sessions. After a session, people felt more energetic, cleaner and mentally stronger.

One day I decide to just give it a try; I wanted to experience kambo. One week after my decision, I found myself in a living room in Amsterdam, where I went with my boyfriend to undergo a small shamanistic ritual. After a short introduction, the ritual started. We drank two litres of water and were treated one by one. I was polite enough to let everyone go before me, because the idea of getting extremely sick in just a few minutes, made me a little bit nervous. When I saw what happened with the other participants, I wished I'd have been the first one...

One by one they became extremely ill. The whole content of their stomach ended with great pressure in the buckets and there faces became, well, orcish. Eventually it was my turn to sit on the chair before the shaman, who started burning the upper layer of my skin. They told me that it wouldn't hurt, but let me tell you, that was a vicious lie. After the shaman put the kambo on the small burning wounds, it hurt even more, but once I got past that it actually started to feel nice. My whole body warmed up and there was a light pressure in my head. It took me back to my puberty, when I was using poppers. This was quite fun. I waited, a little bit nervous, with the bucket between my legs, but nothing happened.

After several minutes, I still wasn't sick. In this situation this was not favourable, because the shaman decided to also tattoo my other arm. In the end I had thirteen burning spots and still I didn't feel like vomiting. Instead I developed a heavy stomach pain. I was frightened it would come out the other end. Unfortunately the girl who was before me was already sitting on the toilet for at least fifteen minutes and it didn't seem that she was planning on leaving any time soon. This situation turned dire. At long last, the toilet was free. I ran with the bucket in my hand. I was just in time, the kambo was leaving my body from two different sides, but the bucket wasn't deep enough, so I messed up the whole toilet with my colourful vomit.

At that moment it didn't bother me, because I really thought I was dying. Constantly questioning what I had done to myself. After a while I struggled back to the living room, where I finally understood the purpose of the little mattresses on the floor. I laid down on one of them and decided never to do this again. Fortunately after fifteen minutes I felt much better. Then the shaman told me we would do a second session, but I refused. Call me weak, but I didn't like the idea of being terribly sick, in an unfamiliar environment without access to a toilet. The shaman tried to convince me, but I blatantly refused.

In the end, as scary as it was, I cannot deny that I felt deeply healed. When I recovered from the treatment I felt clean, light and bright in my head. I consider the whole experience as something positive, but the next time I would prefer to bring my own toilet.