Sunday, October 14, 2018

A hint at what I stand for

A friend of mine and I often disagree on fb. She puts up bad memes that spread lies and hate and says it's up to the reader to discern what's true or not, for instance, and I really don't like people who do that. Today she accused me of worshipping at the altar of the democrats. This was my response:
As to worshipping Dems, I'm so far to the left of Bernie Sanders it ain't funny. I think we should all get paid about equally: I worked kitchens and drove cabs and did painting in NYC apartment buildings and carried lumber 10 blocks to get it to site and no brain surgeon should make more than the people who do those jobs do. AND NO writer like me, semi famous or not, should make more than a good dishwasher. And certainly not idiot insurance CEOs or lawyers, or paper pushing people on Wall Street, or elected officials. Hell, those jobs are for generally stupid people who are afraid of real work because they know they'd never measure up. I've met lots of dishwashers who went on to become doctors, but I never met a doctor who would be able to wash dishes in a restaurant in New York City. And no, I do not believe you should be able to inherit anything more than the house your parents had and enough money for its upkeep. Every thing else goes into the pool and we get it to poor people, or people who cannot fend for themselves because of physical or mental disability, and we bring them up to the level of everyone else. And I want nearly every prison shut down because while their job is to educate and rehabilitate, we use them as punishment and that is not their description. So yes, some people need a time out from society, but our system ain't it. And I do not believe one single person would work less hard if they knew they couldn't become millionaires. They either like their work or quit. I don't care. And if you want to drink too much or do drugs, hell, let's put that stuff on every street corner, with a notice: You will not be assisted if you over indulge. So no, I do not worship at the alter of the dems. I liked Obama because he was a straight shooter, a regular guy who interacted with regular people fairly often for a president. I liked Ike, though I was young, because he did not like the idea of a military buildup despite being a General. I hated Johnson for the buildup of Vietnam, but loved him for THE GREAT SOCIETY and civil rights work-- even if he had to be dragged kicking and screaming. So you and doc got me all wrong. You know me and know that I am all about sharing and trying to make the best of things for everyone, from my team in the Amazon to my family, even if that means sacrifice for me. That's okay. Sacrifice for the betterment of others is a good thing.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Sapo/Kambo and your arteries

Someone was asking about sapo/kambo and it's effects on the human body. People were discussing temporary blood pressure lowering. I disagree. Here's my simple argument:
I'm going to go out on a limb--because I am not a medical doctor--and contradict George M a little. I see the vasodilation very differently than most people. I picture a balloon that you blow up for your kids and let fly around the living room. You blow it up 20 times and it flies and flies. Finally, it disappears behind the couch, and nobody finds it for a month, until you are doing a deep cleaning and move the couch and your kid sees the balloon and says "Dad, here's that balloon! Blow it up!" Of course you can't because the sugars and so forth in your breath have dried and made the balloon taught. To blow it up you have to stretch it out, vein by vein, until the sugars have dropped off because of the stretching and the balloon can be blown up and sent around the room again. Your arteries are like that balloon: Garbage gets stuck on them and it dries and cakes and shrivels little portions of your arteries, allowing less and less blood flow to your vital organs. Now you add a good dose or 10 of sapo/kambo and the peptides blow those arteries wide open and that garbage, stuck in the corners, starts to fall off into your blood stream for elimination. Not all at once. I have no idea how many times it takes but if you blow those arteries open enough to lose one percent of the accumulated garbage--like stretching that dried out balloon--you wind up with a permanent one percent more blood and more oxygen going to your vital organs. Do it again and get them open a bit more. Remember that it took your entire life to clog those arteries, so when you stretch them and the crud falls off, it will take another lifetime to replace that crud. After a number of sessions you might be getting a permanent two, three, four percent more blood/oxygen to your organs, which means you will permanently see/hear/smell better, have your kidneys and liver working more optimally, have your heart and lungs functioning at a higher level, have your stomach digesting better. And you will have permanently lower blood pressure because your arteries are a bit more wide open than they were.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

More Joy, Less Pain -- the movie

My friend, Mike McCoy, is nearing the finish of a full length documentary called More Joy, Less Pain. The title comes from an ayahuasca vision I had during the breakup of my marriage: I realized that at every moment I felt pain or my buttons being pushed I responded badly and caused more pain. Then I woke one night with the words "more joy, less pain" etched into my brain. It took a couple of days to see how that phrase could be useful to me, and then I had another squabble with my wife/ex-wife and in the middle of it I realized that if I responded angrily, I would cause more pain for myself, and especially for my kids. If I chose to respond cheerfully -- and that was flippin' hard -- the argument defused and the kids didn't hear us screaming, which produced more joy and less pain. I have tried to infuse that into all aspects of my life -- at least when others are present, because I still allow myself an occasional primal scream in private -- and it has really made a difference for me.
I'm very proud that Mike McCoy has chosen that title for his pretty wonderful movie about northwest Amazonia, medicine, and to some extent, me. He's done such a good job that my daughter Madeleina, on seeing a screening of it recently, noted: "Holy shit, Mike! That was great. And you even managed to make my dad look cool!"

How long will ayahuasca last?

Someone posted on a forum page the question of using ayahuasca that was a couple of years old. This was my response:
I always recook ayahuasca even if it is being used just two days apart. If it is thick, add water to thin it and then cook and smoke and reduce again. If it tastes clean, regardless of the age, I use it. If it has a sour or fermented taste even after recooking, I toss it. But I generally find that if it is cooked well in the jungle, then recooked two days later for a second use in the jungle, then recooked in Iquitos, then recooked the day I return home, that it lasts for years in the fridge, with full potency. The last recooking, the fifth, is saved for the day it is being served. All recooking is done with full attention, mapacho smoke, and singing. It's also done in stainless steel pots and stored in containers that are cleaned, dried and smoked.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

It's Fall, so time for pumpkin soup

When the Gorman's were kids, mom used to grow pumpkins, rhubarb and other things we thought were fairly disgusting, until the rhubarb pie or the salted pumpkin seeds were ready. But she also made a pumpkin soup, in the pumpkin, that I'd never eat as a kid but love today. And it's getting time for it, so here goes:
Take a good sized pumpkin with a flat bottom and evenly round or fairly straight sides. Figure 4-6 pounds.
Cut the top off one inch below the stem.
Clean the seeds out of the pumpkin and set aside or wash and salt them and put into the oven at about 300 degrees until baked dry and edible.
On the stove, saute 4 cloves of garlic, chopped, with one sweet red onion, chopped, in a bit of olive oil. When the onion and garlic are nearly done, add three diced roma tomatoes, sea salt and black pepper to taste.
In the empty pumpkin put one pint of heavy cream, two quarts of organic vegetable broth, and the garlic/onion/tomato mix.
If the pumpkin shell is not near full, add more broth.
Stir all ingredients in the pumpkin.
When the pumpkin seeds are done, raise oven temperature to 350 degrees
Place the pumpkin on a baking tray and place it in the oven.
Bake for about 90 minutes, or until the pumpkin meat is soft.
Add minced parsley or thyme or basil — whichever you like — to the pumpkin mix and allow to cook, with the oven off, for another 10 minutes.
Remove pumpkin from oven and allow to cook for 20 minutes.
Gently scrape the meat of the pumpkin into the mix, pouring it off as necessary and blending it.
Continue scraping until most of the pumpkin meat is blended with the stock and cream mix, then put onto the stove. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Add sea salt and cracked black pepper as desired.
Serve soup with a spoonful of sour cream.
Bon appetit!

Fake memes

Sometimes people I know and like, post things that get to me. Fake memes, for instance, bother me. If your truth doesn't back up your political stance, a fake meme ain't gonna get it done either. But the fake meme might get through to people who don't bother to do any research. The fact that they are seeing the meme on the internet, and could therefore check its veracity in a matter of minutes, doesn't get a lot of people do do that checking. And posting fake memes — lies to make a point — makes the person posting them a liar. You post it, you own it. No excuses, though my friends will always say something to the effect of "Well I just post intriging things. I don't vouch for them. It's up to the reader to check their truthfulness." BS on that. Again, you post it you own it.
So in the last couple of weeks, a couple of my friends have been coming down on Colin Kaepnernick and LeBron James, asking where they are and what they're doing about alleviating hurricane Florence damage in South Carolina. I don't know how either is helping with the hurricane. I know LeBron helped immensely with Katrina, paying to have homes rebuilt and such, and I think he's awfully busy with his "I Promise" public school that he opened with his own money in Akron, Ohio. The school that guarantees free college for all of the at-risk kids in his school that graduate.
Kaepernick, meanwhile, just finished up donating the $1 million of his own money to an array of fantastic charities. And a million coming from a guy who has been out of work for a couple of years is a great deal of money. Now he might be making a killing on the new Nike ads, but the million came out of his football savings.
Trump doesn't like either one of these guys. He called LeBron dumb and he's called Kaepernick a host of insulting things in light of the former quarterback's protest of police brutality/killings of unarmed black men.
My question to my friends is where has Trump been during the hurricane? He wasn't there for Puerto Rico, and he has not been there for Florence: not one dime of his money has gone to help anyone. The people he vilifies, however, seem to share a great deal of their wealth.
Trump did say he "liked Mike", meaning Michael Jordan. Jordan, who just last week donated $2 million of his own money for Florence relief, does not like Trump. And Jordan thinks sports pros who use their position to protest peacefully — like Kaepernick — are doing the right thing.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Another explanation of water with sapo/kambo

Thought I just wrote about this but then today someone asked if it was necessary to drink a gallon of water prior to sapo/kambo use. This is what I wrote:
If you do the medicine Matses style, Sapo style, there is no drinking of water beforehand. But the Matses were hunter/gatherers when I met them, still eating tree barks for carbohydrates because they did not have fields. They would put pineapple tops down to make them grow on hunting paths and such, but they were not yet agrarian. What they needed sapo for was to clean them out, steady their hand with a bow and arrow, allow them to walk several days with little sleep, little food, and little water. Now the Brazilian groups that we subsequently learned about who used sapo, did it Kambo style: The Katukina and Yaminawa were more agrarian and fishermen and less depending on hunting. So it might be--and this is only my hypothesis--that they suffered more stomach ailments because of their diet, and so needed the Kambo to clean their stomachs out. Their style emphasised drinking water--one or two liters, never a gallon, which could kill a person who weighed under 100 lbs--to help produce vomiting, which would clean out the stomach of rotten material. So your question is "is it necessary to drink lots of water prior to sapo/kambo use" and the answer is: IF you want to concentrate the medicine on cleansing the stomach, drinking a liter of water will ensure vomiting, and probably vomiting bile. If you want a full body detox and reset, do not drink water and do not worry about vomiting, because the Matses never thought of that as necessary for the medicine do do the work.

My friend John passed

So I got a call a few days ago from someone I did not know. He said that my friend JOHN had died and that I was on the list of people to inform. I thanked him and hung up.
John came on my trip to the jungle about 4-5 years ago. He had signed up for it a year earlier but never showed up in Iquitos. I called to find out what happened and his sister told me that John was in the hospital: He weighed over 400 pounds and had gone on a starvation diet to get down to 300 to do the trip, but when he reached 300 his body went into shock and he wound up sick. So he was fine, but would not make the trip.
A year later, at about 300 or just less, he came. My trip is not physically difficult but there is a lot of climbing in and out of canoes, some walking, some hiking. He did the parts he could do, and he did them well. For a real softie he was a tough ass motherfucker. I liked him.
After the trip he'd send me cards for Christmas, Thanksgiving, my birthday, St. Pat's day. He was a wonderful gentleman in the old school style. If he read a good book he'd write me a postcard suggesting I read it. When we occasionally spoke he was always engaged.
He had colon cancer when I met him and though the person who called me about his death didn't go into it, I suspect that's what killed him.
Good people come in all sizes and shapes. He once wrote the lyrics for a song for an up and coming music person and they were wonderful. He'd laugh like nobody's business. He was one of the good guys and today I sang for him to help him cross--though he probably did not need any help--and my friend Drew, who ditched this plane about 18 months ago and now helps people find the bridge to cross to get to the other side, had him well in hand, so I think he's good.
Good bye, John. It was my pleasure to know you. Thanks.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Sapo/Kambo: Similarities and differencies in use

Someone asked me about the difference between the frog medicines Sapo and Kambo. They are the same medicine, but used differently by different indigenous groups. This was my response, after which he had a follow up question that I also answered.

Kambo and Sapo are the same medicines, but generally applied differently. Sapo, utilized by the Matses/Mayoruna indigenous group (which includes the Matis, Marubo, Matsis, and perhaps others) is moistened with saliva--from a strong person with a good heart--to impart that person's spirit into your blood stream along with the medicine. It is taken as a rule before meals or a couple of hours after them, with no special preparation. The burns for sapo tend to be fairly large, about half the size of a cigarette, and made from tamishi, a jungle vine.
   Kambo is moistened with water as a rule, with the recipient drinking 1-2 liters of water before the session to help produce vomiting to eliminate bile. The burns are quite small, often made with the end of an incense stick or something equivalent.
   Kambo is not generally considered successful unless there is vomiting.
   With sapo there might be an urge to vomit, but most people don't, or if they do, it's just the elimination of bitter orange bile.

The person writing to me then asked why there were different ways to utilize the medicine. This is what I answered:

Different indigenous groups do things differently. In Brazil, kambo style was used. In Peru, where most of the Matses are, and where I first discovered sapo (I didn't discover it, the indigenous did. I just happened to be the first person ever to publish an article about using it) they have their own style. In Brazil, among the Katukina and Yaminawa and others, they have a different style. It might have to do with the fact that the Matses, when I ran into them in 1985, were still primarily hunter/gatherers, so they needed the medicine to work a certain way, (which involved a complete body clean up to aid in hunting, long walks with little food, steadiness of hand when shooting bow and arrow), while the Brazilian groups were more agrarians and fishermen, so maybe they needed the medicine to clean out infections in the stomach, so used the medicine in a way that focused on that. All speculation, but in my experience, the indigenous generally do what is needed for them and no more. So my explanation makes sense--though I cannot swear it is right, just an hypothesis.

Monday, September 17, 2018

On leaving the space during ayahuasca ceremony

Someone on FB posted recently that during an ayahuasca session they decided to leave the space and return to their room. The people running ceremony did not permit that and the poster saw that as a sort of imprisonment--if a temporary one. I disagree. This is what I wrote:
On my trips we make an arcana outside of ceremony space that people can use. They an look at the stars, lie on the clay, just get out of the intensity of the ceremony space. But they cannot go beyond that arcana until the circle is opened. Beyond that space, which is beyond where you can hear the curandero singing, are thousands of spirits who wanted to come to the ceremony but were not invited. If someone rents a tear in that invisible wall those spirits enter and though each only has a tiny bit of energy that we can feel, tens off thousands at one time will knock everybody flat on their backs and cause hell to break loose. So I make it clear before ceremony: If you are here for ceremony, whether you are drinking or not, you are staying put. You can go to sleep, you can sing to the trees, you just can't put the rest of us at risk by leaving.