A battle with cancer led Margaret De Wys to Ecuador for traditional Ayahuasca ceremonies. After miraculous healings Margaret started an apprenticeship and began a life-altering romantic relationship with the shaman who healed her.
Adam Elenbaas interviewed author Margaret De Wys about her memoir, Black Smoke.
What led you to Ecuador to work with Ayahuasca medicine healing?
Ayahusaca brought me to South America. Pulled me down there. If I'd had a real choice, I might never have made it to Ecuador. I had no knowledge of ayahuasca in the beginning. I didn't choose it. Ayahuasca chose me. The pretext was cancer, and I believed I was dying. Carlos a Shuar uwishin (healer) came into my life in Guatemala. He'd seen the cancer inside me and said he could cure me. I followed him into the jungles of the High Upper Amazon. I had some crazy faith that what I was doing was right. Fear threw me out of the nest. It was like a big fireball, this big explosion yelled at me. Move.
Describe your first experience with Ayahusaca.
At the time I didn't know where the journey was going to take me. I was going into the unknown, into the jungle, into the soul, into the center of the earth, and my journey became much more than just about me getting healed. Healing included arduous, intense purifications, difficult initiations, and drinking plant medicines. Carlos told me I was choosing my path, my destiny to live.
The first ceremony took place in the jungle outside Puyo, Ecuador. Deep in the forest I sat quietly among the Shuar and the Quechua waiting for the affects of the medicine. It felt funereal. The only light came from the fire burning in the center of the room. The floor was pounded dirt, the overhead palm thatch, the sides of the longhouse open to the elements. Some of the locals began vomiting, others passing out. I hoped the medicine wouldn't have an affect on me. When it hit, a cold tingling rose from my feet through my core, and the floodgates in my brain opened wide flushing out images and sounds. Time expanded and receded as my pupils dilated in order to see more. The cells in my ears could hear a twig crack hundreds of yards away. My nasal cavity vibrated and I began to shake violently.
During healing Carlos drew black smoke from my flesh, where the cancer was. I looked inside. My cells were alive, pulsing, beating the rhythm of the cosmos. Some were spontaneously regenerating, sending live signals to others beside them. The dark spots in my breast were black holes sucking energy into another sphere, one in which living things were doomed. Carlos pressed hard swirling his fingertips deep into fleshy parts of me where the black smoke lay. I cried in pain as I watched his hand magnetized the black smoke. It spread like army ants in file and followed his motion away from my body.
Did you know after your first ceremony that it was possible to heal yourself with Ayahuasca?
During the ceremony I could feel the sickness being sucked out and something seemed to shift on a cellular level. The ayahuasca brought spirit doctors, and I could see inside my body. I could see the cancer moving out. I knew I would continue drinking the medicine. It or Carlos or both were curing me.
The book is about healing and also about love. When did you and Carlos start to fall in love?
I don't know. For me it just sort of naturally came into being. But later in our relationship Carlos told me Nunqui (Mother Earth) formed a pact with us, marrying us in Guatemala. He said he thought it strange because we didn't know each other. "But I knew we should be together. Now I understand why. The sickness of the earth, the sickness of the tribes, and the sickness in our bodies is linked. Nunqui wants you to help me in my work. She wants you to heal the people and the land with me," he said.
Read more of this article?
Black smoke site
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