We were gathered together to begin our plant medicine ceremony in the Andes Mountains with Machu Picchu towering overhead .
Our leader Shaman Kucho slowly and powerfully asked us if we were here to eat or to smell? Kucho was giving us a double fold message. On a broader scale he was expressing to us that many people walk through their lives only smelling what life has to offer instead of grabbing it with gusto and eating of its fruit.
On a more intimate level he was addressing our group of 12 who had come to Peru for a sacred journey of change and transformation. In a subtle and yet powerful way he was asking each of us to decide at the start of the ceremony if we had come to smell the change and transformation or to eat it and be fully engaged in the experience.
A little voice inside of myself shouted, ” I am here to eat Kucho. I am here to eat.” For this is why I had come on this shamanic journey to take my being to a whole new level and fully participate in the adventure.
And yet as I sat in the jungle for hours during ceremony it became clear to me that many times in my life I have sat on the sidelines smelling rather then eating.
As the plant medicine took hold of me opening my understanding to new levels of awareness and consciousness, I clearly saw the areas of my life where I have been holding back.
Sure I take risks. Absolutely I love adventure. Of course I jump into the joy of life. But there are certain areas in which I stand in the shadows. The plant medicine flashed across the screen of my mind an image of me peaking out from behind a stage curtain unable to step out fully into the spotlight.
I gasped and thought to myself, “That’s me holding back from shining my light even more brightly. I don’t want to do that anymore.” The curtain closed. The plant medicine had done its job of revealing to me where change is needed.
Quickly I recalled a ceremony in the Amazon jungle just a few nights before when I left the ceremony room to use the bathroom and then hesitated going back inside. For about an hour I sat outside on the stoop convincing myself that I didn’t want to go back in because I might have to run to the bathroom again. But deep down I knew that a part of me was terrified of the healing going on in that ceremony room and was preventing me from entering. This part of me wanted everything to stay the same.
As I sat on the stoop the plant medicine showed me how I often position myself on the outside looking in. I could hear the sounds of my fellow journeymen receiving their healing and thought, “Why not me? Why am I sitting outside when all the juicy stuff is going on inside?”
The clarity of my pattern and the immediate situation struck me deeply and I knew I needed to fight the pattern and the part in charge; march back into that ceremony room and participate. I rose to my feet, the door swung open. The Maestro’s were calling me inside, meeting me halfway knowing that a shift in my awareness had just occurred. I never left the ceremony room again before it was time, although at times I fought the urge to flee.
Up on the Sanctuary at Machu Picchu, Kucho took us to what he believes is the gateway to Machu Picchu, the portal, the vortex. I started the next plant ceremony in the shade tucked away from the front of the gateway telling myself the sun is too hot. A bit of consciousness peaked out and I knew I was positioning myself on the sidelines again.
I scrambled back to area of the gateway and sat off to the side allowing the plant medicine to do its work, listening to the icaros Kucho was singing. I noticed that while I was now at the entrance to the portal I was slightly off center so I picked myself up and positioned myself right in front of the gateway. My arms opened wide above my head. My inner voice shouting, ” I am here to eat. I am ready to eat.”
Two days later on a free day my travel friend Darcy and I decided to head down to Mandor Falls because Kucho told us that behind the falls was a powerful vortex. An hour hike into the jungle of the mountains and we found what we were looking for. The waterfalls was small but mighty and I could feel the force of its power.
Darcy was ready to scramble down to the bottom and sit at the rocks being splayed by the gushing water. I was content to sit and watch from above. And then I realized I was doing it again. Smelling not eating.
I made my way down the slippery rocks to the base of the falls and sat in meditation with my face to the falling water asking for healing. Ten minutes later my ears were cold and my butt was numb. I moved back to the top.
As I leaned against a boulder I said to myself, “You did it again Esther. You smelled the healing, the energy, the change. You dabbled but you didn’t eat.”
I sighed in acknowledgement, resigned to break the pattern and gingerly made my way back down to the rocks and the force of the water and vortex. I sat there for a long time. Absorbing the energy. Allowing the healing. Basking in the act of eating. Only when I intuitively felt the time was complete did I make my way back up to the top.
I smiled as we hiked back to our lodgings for I knew that a life long pattern was breaking and quickly. No longer was I just going to eat in certain areas of my life and smell in others. I am going to eat in all areas of my life.
Because this simple teaching was so profound to me, I put the same question to you.
Are you here to eat or to smell?