What a Kambo Ceremony is Like

Getting burns scarred into your arm by a witch, shaking, sweating, vomiting, shitting your brains out, convulsing, and getting to a point where all you can think is “what has my life come to, why did I do this?”

Sound like a nice way to spend a birthday?

I had been interested in doing a Kambo Ceremony ever since hearing about it during my first Ayahuasca journey through Peru three years ago.

The people who had done it raved about how it brought them new levels of clarity and spiritual refreshment.

It sounded intriguing, especially because Kambo (or Sapo), is the poisonous secretion that comes from a large frog that is native to the Amazon.

This badass has no natural enemies.

When I was living in the rainforest in the Atherton Tablelands in Australia, we had tried to get the effects from Cane Toad poison, but the taste was so disgusting that none of us could handle it and nothing happened (yes, I have done some incredibly stupid shit in my life that I do not recommend).

So I was interested in getting some actual results from a proper form of administering the power of Frog Poison.

Frogs have always fascinated me, they are such humble creatures, and I have never known anyone to be afraid of them. You look at one and think “hey, a frog…cool. I hope he eats all the bugs around here”. Innocent animals with pure eyes like a baby.

Atherton Tablelands, with Red-eyed Tree Frog, 2002 A.D.

I got in contact with someone who was a certified Kambo practitioner–she was also a self described ‘witch’ and claimed to have serious psychic powers.

We arranged to do the ceremony on my birthday, I was told to refrain from eating for 24 hours prior, and that evening I took the bus over to her house in New Jersey.

I arrived at 7pm, she came to the front door, and the spacious look in her eyes proved that she had dabbled in the occult. She was wearing white flowing gowns, had a purple bandanna wrapped around her head, and her long hair was pure platinum.

We passed through the kitchen and entered the living room.

It was arranged in a circle with pillows everywhere and looked like the sort of place where a seance would be conducted. The lights were red, it was cluttered with little sculptures of frog idols, and incense was burning.

Before we got started, I went into the bathroom to change my shirt–the shirt I changed into was sleeveless, she had mentioned that men traditionally get the poison administered through the top of their left arm.

I sat down on a pillow on the floor and a large cat came over and started rubbing his head all over me and jumped in my lap.

“He loves men, he’s a male and loves your smell”

The cat was sniffing me all over the place and tried to bite the hair in my armpits.

I chatted with the witch for a while about my experiences in South America and how the only purging I did was during one ayahuasca ceremony.

“Oh, we are going to get you to purge tonight honey. I’ve done 250 of these ceremonies and only 2 people didn’t purge. One was a veteran suffering from severe PTSD, and the other was a victim of child abuse–they both had a lot of stuff bottled up.”

Its very rare that I throw up, and when I do, its usually a big, painful ordeal that takes a lot out of me.

The witch told me to stand up in the center of the circle where the ceremony was going to happen.

She took a large hunk of burning incense and said she was would purify the area before we got started.

Smoke from the incense was blown all over my body, especially under my arms, around my crotch, and on the bottoms of both feet.

She also scattered the incense all over the pillows we would be sitting on and the rug on the floor.

After that, she stood up to say a prayer that summoned the Great Kambo Spirit to bless the ceremony and guide me afterwards.

I had to drink a half gallon of water before we began in order to make the purging easier and help the Kambo surge through my system.

While I was drinking, she asked me if I had ever taken Rapé (pronounced ‘ha-pay’), and I said No.

Rapé is a mixture of strong tobacco, herbs, and other plants from the Amazon and prepared by Natives.

She said that one mixture was prepared by all females and held feminine energy, and the other was prepared by men and contained masculine.

She tried to push the feminine mixture on me but I told her No, I wanted the one made by the men.

Then she took out a long pipe that was made of bone and curved up on one end.

She was putting the Rapé into the larger end of the pipe and explained that the smaller end would be inserted in to one of my nostrils and she would blow the mixture into my sinuses.

I was to take three deep breaths and on the third, hold my breath with my mouth shut and my head back.

I prepped myself as she kneeled in front of me, took three breaths, held the last one, and she stuck the pipe up my left nostril and blew hard.

Now I’ve taken cocaine a few times in my life and had some so strong that you get up from doing a line and start yelling in tongues–the Rapé hits harder.

Tears started streaming out of my ducts and I fell backwards feeling like I had just been punched in the face.

The witch asked me if I was ready for the next one and I struggled to sit up and said “lets go”.

She hit my right nostril with another and my eyes bugged out while the tobacco did its work on my brain.

The tears were still streaming down my face after a minute, then things got clear again and I was as alert as ever.

My nose was raped and I was ready to go.

A little dried vine from the Amazon was taken out of a box, it was about 6 inches long and had a thick stem that got narrow towards a tip that was cut into a perfect circle.

She took a piece of incense that was flaming and used it to light the circular end of the vine until it glowed orange.

Then she warned me that it was bad luck to look at her while she made the burns in my arm.

I looked away and she pressed the lit end into the top of my arm to burn the skin away.

There was hardly any pain, it didn’t hurt more than getting a shot, and she did this three more times so I had a total of four open ‘points’ where the Kambo would enter.

3 days later…the scars will be visible for a few years.

I sat there intently playing with the cat while she prepared the Kambo. The secretion was crystallized on a piece of tree bark–she sprinkled water on it and scraped together four balls of the poison.

She brought the Kambo over, took one of the balls, which looked just like a large booger, and placed it directly on top of the first burn in my skin.

I looked at it with curiosity and thought about the frog, marveled for a second on the miracles of the evolutionary process, wondered how my body would process everything, and then felt my temperature start rising, fast.

My face went flush while the witch administered another ball of Kambo on the second point, and when she put the third one on I could hear my pulse pounding in my head.

After the fourth ball was put on, I started sweating hard, with big drops rolling down my face, and when the witch started fanning me with a fan I wanted to slap it out of her hands but couldn’t move.

I mumbled to her “please stop” and tilted my head back to look at the spinning ceiling.

After 5 minutes the entire room was in a blur and I had trouble sitting up, she kept asking if I was going to purge or not and encouraged me to drink more water.

My heart was beating faster and faster by the minute and I did everything in my power to stay calm.

I kept taking in huge gulps of air and slowly blowing them out, and I visualized the poison leaving my body with each breath that came out of my body.

Then I looked over at my arm again and saw the four boogers of Kambo that were firmly attached and still seeping into my lymphatic system.

The witch kept asking me if I needed to purge and I told her I wanted to, but didn’t feel it coming–this worried her a bit and she lit some more incense, waved it in front of my nose and gave me more water.

My face was very swollen and there was so much blood being pumped through my head that it felt like there was a butterfly fluttering in my ears.

The feeling of nausea was strong, and I kept grabbing the side of the bucket, but every time the witch asked if I was going to purge, my body got tight and kept everything in.

I wanted to be away from this witch, away from fucking New Jersey, and by myself, in a forest, lying on a bed of Pine Needles.

When I closed my pulsing eyes I was transported to a grove in the forest behind my grandparents house I used to go to when I was a kid. There was one spot in the grove under a giant evergreen tree that was covered in pine needles which prevented anything else from growing there.

That was my favorite place to escape when I wanted to read for hours and get away from everyone. I laid down on the bed of needles and inhaled deeply–the scent of Pine filled my nose and my body reacted instantly.

My eyes opened again, a grumbling started happening in my guts, and I told the witch I was going to have to use the bathroom.

She helped my wobbly legs get up from the floor, made sure I didn’t fall over on the way to the toilet, and when I sat down, she left, and I finally relaxed.

First the bottom end released and I sat there feeling like my intestines were being wrung out like wet towels.

As soon as that was finished, it felt like a plug had popped from the top end, and I grabbed a bucket that was next to the toilet and spewed a torrent of bright yellow liquid.

I felt like a dying man straining to stay alive while balancing on a toilet, and when I heard the witch say “Goldmund, are you okay in there?” I puked up the second batch, which had the tint of lime-green.

The panting that was coming out of my mouth was exactly like when I had purged during ayahuasca–a desperate strain of heavy sounding sex-breaths that fill you with oxygen to keep your body teetering on the right side of the cliff of life.

The next purge came quick and was the color of bile.

My eyes were watering like mad and I was angry that I still hadn’t had a chance to clean myself.

The bucket was almost half-full of liquid and I didn’t feel like there was anything left in me.

I wiped thoroughly, got off the toilet, and went over to the sink.

When I looked in the mirror, I immediately took a step back.

I did not recognize the person in the mirror.

Hair wild and matted with sweat, face swollen, skin just a few shades away from purple–and the most disturbing thing–the eyes weren’t just bloodshot–they were 100% crimson like fresh blood.

There have been a couple times when I haven’t recognized myself in the mirror before, but I was so high during those times that it made sense. Kambo doesn’t get you high one bit, it does the opposite–you are thinking as clear as ever and feel everything with an extra sensitivity.

I stared for a minute in the mirror, not believing what I saw, and then washed my face vigorously with cold water.

After taking one more curious look at the freak in the mirror, I went back to the circle in the living room to ride out the rest of the Ceremony.

I sat down and felt my body slowly coming back to order. The sweating had stopped, there wasn’t any more pounding in my head, my heart rate was down, and I just wanted to lay there, listening to the chanting indigenous children singing happy songs through the witches iPod.

When the witch started asking me if I was okay, it brought back a deep sickness, like I was helpless and drowning in pain that came from another planet–I asked her to be quiet and slumped over again to stare at some incense burning.

This was the low point of the ceremony and I started questioning myself, my reason for existence, my rash personality, why I would put myself through such misery, and when I caught a glimpse of the cat staring at me, I swear he communicated that one day my curiosity was going to kill me.

The witch came over and asked if I wanted her to ‘flip’ the Kambo balls over so I would be exposed to fresh poison–I told her “Nope, I’m done” and she took the boogers off and washed my exposed points with Dragons Blood.

45 minutes had gone by since the first bit of Kambo had been applied, and as soon as it was off, I began feeling an incredible sense of peace come over me like I was bathing in sunlight.

My body started to feel incredibly good, my muscles were tight, and after I drank the hot ginger tea with honey the witch had made for me, the strongest feeling of grounding took over.

I was THERE, completely in the moment, seeing everything with innocent frog eyes, and aware of every detail.

The witch brought me more tea, a banana to eat, and some toast with vegan butter, she asked if I ate gluten, and I just looked at her pleading face.

She wasn’t really that annoying, she really did want me to get the most out of the experience and was used to having people ask for assistance during the ceremony.

It was me, and my fierce independence that got me so agitated with her when I felt she was interfering with my personal struggle. This was an attitude that has pervaded throughout all my relationships with women–as soon as I feel like they are attempting to interfere with my self-sufficiency, I push them away.

Its an issue that stemmed from being born with rebel blood and growing up with a mother who tried to overbear my will. Even though she wanted the best and didn’t want me to bring harm to myself, as was the case of most of the girls I’ve resisted, I just need to be left the fuck alone sometimes.

I recognized this fully, with complete cognizance, chuckled, gave the witch a warm smile and said “Thank you so much for the tea, it was perfect” and then ate the banana.

We chatted for a while after that–she did most of the talking, and I sat there petting the cat and enjoying the warmth of coming back to life after a near death experience.

An hour went by and I kept feeling more and more relaxed, and at the same time a strong energy was racing behind my eyes.

Then she asked in a mischievous tone “Have you ever heard of Sanaga?”

…To be continued


If you want to read more about Ayahuasca, go here.

And to read my description of doing acid in the desert, go here (nice photos with that one).

About Goldmund

Goldmund grew up a wild-child and was constantly being disciplined. Using ancient rituals and game, he broke free from the shackles of his mind and the norms of this backwards society. He frequents bars in Brooklyn, mountains in Mexico, and retreats to the desert. His passions are nature and women.

4 comments on “What a Kambo Ceremony is Like

    • Then you can tell it was a very vivid experience. Things like that (and seduction/sex) produce strong memories that are especially easy to recall.

      Glad you enjoyed it.

  1. Fantastic. “I feel like they are attempting to interfere with my self-sufficiency, I push them away.” Can relate to this. Cant wait for more.

    Also, that cat may be right, but that doesn’t mean your curiosity wrong. :* all our days are numbered.

    • That cat was certainly on to something. I got along with him better than the witch, thats for sure.

      Its great when core reasons behind your personality come up and confront you head on. Allows the world to make a little more sense.

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