Patience is not taught, it is lived.
Here's my story:
When I was born, my world was populated by many spirits with amusing and colorful appearances.
For me it is natural to talk to each thing, because everything is alive, conscious, funny and with complicit eyes. I spent a lot of time laughing, chatting with trees and everything around me.
Then one day, a great person bitter, having extinguished his own dreams tells me that all I perceived was the fruit of my imagination, that all this was wrong and did not exist. I didn't even have time to say goodbye to my friends that everything disappeared. My world crumpled in an instant, it becomes gray, sad, meaningless and I also at the same time.
Then, through a blank sheet, where everything is possible, I discovered a way to find my comrades, even if it was still tinged with my fears. I used to draw them every day to see them again and again. Driven by the memory of this strong complicity, I wished to go further.
One day I went to see the great leaders of the unseen, the shamans Shipibo-Conibo, Guardians of the secrets of the spirits, to help me to find my friends. In the heart of the Amazonian rainforest, accompanied by their knowledge of the healing plants, they helped me to wake up from a long sleep.
Here is the story of this encounter, of my shamanic initiation.
Finally... This is the slightly romanticized version, but it didn't really happen like that, I went to see them just because I was not well. This is the real story of my history:
I went to meet them after years of debauches in Belgium, to abuse fully my adolescence, to be really bad year, psychologically psychically, until touching the bottom.
At that time I began a long journey of health that began with the meeting with traditional healers of Peru, more commonly called shamans; Great Guardians of the secrets of nature and spirits, masters of the Unseen, filled with an ancestral knowledge in particular known for their art of healing.
So I went to Peru to meet in particular Guillermo Arevalo aka Kestenbetsa, which can be seen in the documentary "Other Worlds" by Jan Kounen, so that they help and heal me without being really aware of it.
The first time I saw Guillermo, I was sitting in the office where he was receiving his patients. He looked me right in the eye, I felt naked in front of him. I had the feeling that he could read, decipher and know much more than I knew about myself.
While piercing me with his gaze he then asked me slowly, quietly why I had come to see him.
I remember that at the time this simple question had completely destabilized me without understanding why.
I replied, excited as a teenager, smiling to the lips and carelessly that I came to learn.
A long silence fell, I suppose, to let me see by myself, the strength and validity of my request. Then he replied very calmly and very clearly:
"Here... You're going to learn mostly... Two things..... Patience..... and humility. "
I remember the first night of ceremony with Guillermo and Ricardo his former right arm. Almost all night, tears fell on my cheeks in front of the beauty of the songs, the depth of the melodies, their vibrations. All my body, all my senses, my cells, to the depths of my soul, cried together in front of such beauty.
Here are all the drawings made before, during and after my meeting with the medicine of Shipibo-Conibo.
I stayed in his center more than a month and a half to Dieter the plant of tobacco, to drink their medicine Ayahuasca almost every evening, (2-3 glasses of this juice highly concentrated to the unworld taste). Between strong sessions and soft sessions, between laughter and crying. Beginning thus to give me little by little in question, bathed and lulled by the songs and benevolence of Guillermo.
Back in Belgium, I gave up my art studies to go directly to Australia to think about what I wanted to do with my life. Something important happened in Peru and the mighty Australian nature was just perfect for meditating and integrating this experience.
I mean, yes! After a year I was sure of myself: I wanted to learn this wonderful ancestral medicine of the Shipibos-Conibos, to sing like them, learn their language, learn their art, learn to care for people...
Without going back to square one (Europe), I moved directly from Australia to Peru, thinking that I was going for a month or two,... LoL.
First year of learning
Arrived in front of Guillermo, so a year later, a little less excited than the first time, I announced to him quite determined that after thinking well, I came back to learn. He looked at me and said: "All right, if you want to learn in a traditional way, then it's a year alone in the forest. It's fine, I'm going to open a new center specifically to pass on the medicine of my people. So you're the first apprentice to go. »
I answered without thinking "Ok Let's go !!!" but in the end I went by myself,... LoL.
How can we really get to transcribe and share the experience of a year in the great Amazon rainforest? Alone, without seeing or talking to anyone, if only rarely with the shaman.
An imposed, very strict, very skinny and monotonous diet for one year: fish cooked in wood fire without salt, without oil, without spice and green plantains cooked with water, nothing else. Morning, noon and sometimes at night.
A wooden hut called "Tombo", equipped with a roof of dried leaves and walls made of mosquito nets. A bed, a hammock, a small table. Anyway, naked in the forest. I think it would take a whole book to actually convey what I've been through there, a year is long!!!
Shipibos-Conibos Medicine is learnt directly from plants. They teach the art of treating the long-term diet of so-called ' masters ' plants.
The shaman is there as a tutor; he verifies that the seed planted during the diet, germinates and grows in the right direction, somehow.
This first year I followed the diet with the plants Marosa and Ajo Sacha.
A great love story with these two plants, believed me.
Dieting: It is to learn from one or more of the master plants that are drunk and the shaman connects us to them at the heart of a ceremony. As already mentioned, one follows a very strict diet which has the effect of drastically lowering the physical energy, increases at the same time the sensitivity, the senses and the feeling. So, so we better capture the energy of the plant, a fine but powerful energy that teach. I could feel by far the approach of someone in the centre. Very sensitive, by my senses so sharpened, I was sensing that she had been the mood of the cook while she was preparing my meal, for example.
Everything vibrates: Every movement in the forest, every particle communicates, everything comes to life. Everything we thought we knew or knew about life fell apart. The spirit world is palpable.
In everyday life, in the West, when faced with a difficulty, there are a bunch of stratagems, often unconscious to flee or circumvent the problem. Go play a video game, call a friend, go walk, snuggle up in front of the TV...
So in isolation... There's nothing!
We are alone in the face of even, without being able to flee, without being able to escape what appears. Physically weak, the feeling to the skin, one must cross every fear, every emotion, every difficulty that arise. Alone, naked in front of oneself, constantly, for a year.
In time, I learned to laugh at myself.
A year is long, very long, very very long, beleve me. I often say that it equates in comparison to three years in the west. I remember the exact day I arrived in the sixth month of my diet. I was on my knees, let's be clear. But I felt both the pleasure and the excitement of having already done halfway! At that moment, looking up, I literally burst in tears with the prospect of the last six months, facaità what I still have to live and cross.
During this diet, I had with me a drawing book that I literally covered with sketches on every available space. I drew a lot and it was very liberating. I was also offered wood carving tools and two marshmalbards that I used well. I still play it a lot.
The complicity that has settled with Guillermo during this year of diet is indescribable. It should be known that during this year of isolation he only came to see me physically a dozen times on more than 365 days. Most of the time, he was working in his other Western care center.
On the other hand, I could feel it every day, every moment, every second with me, accompanying me in My Learning, observing me without ever interfering despite my cries and the difficult moments. He was always there, benevolent. A bond of heart to Heart has been created, something profound and authentic.
After so many hardships during this diet, so many difficult but also unforgettable moments, tears of sadness and joy burst to vibrate and revive each of my cells, to eat patience every second for a year, to taste the forces of nature humility, laughing, often laughing at myself, that's what saved me many times from madness.
Came the end of my diet.
Finally Guillermo during a ceremony closes learning, places the knowledge and energy of plants inside my body; tears flow, the intensity of the moment is strong. A sincere bond with nature is inscribed in the deepest part of my being for life.
Here are all the works made during my insulation in 2008/2009.
Then back to normal life. Well not so easily.
Hands in the pockets. Skinny as a cuckoo, dark circles under the eyes, holes in the clothes. A year has passed and it is visible on me.
The after diet is difficult, the return to normal life takes time.
There is a necessary adaptation time at the food level to slowly reintegrate each food, have a simple discussion, regain a rhythm of life.
Guillermo offered me the most beautiful gift I could give me to thank: his shaman Pipe, one of the essential tools of the healer Shipibo-Conibo.
I went back to the west to rest, to see my family and friends, to draw, to practice from time to time and to regain the rhythm of Western life.
Second year of learning
A year later, I went back to see Guillermo and Ricardo.
Guillermo was on a break and took no more apprentices. Ricardo then opened a new one-year learning diet that I had to do at home.
It was not expected that I would go back for a second year of insulation. A year is already a lot and enough, but Ricardo told me about the new Centre that he was going up to Peru and offered to come and tell me to continue my treatment and practice at the same time. I did not hesitate, as much to be in Peru, to practice continuously in a care center.
But once there, they made me build a "Tombo", a special little shack for diet. If you are going to diet, better do it well! LoL.
That's how I ended up doing a second year in isolation.
Ricardo took the opportunity to pass me to the Karcher (as they say) to clean me from my darkness, I discovered while I liked the color.
During a diet, it is important not to let information in itself in order to give way to the teaching of plants. So discussing, reading, watching a movie, is not recommended. On the other hand let go of things of self, Yes. Writing, drawing, singing, playing music in this instance for me of the Jew's harp, Yes. It's even advisable.
So I drew much more during this second year. I was better prepared, I had watercolor and a completely blank drawing book.
This year was also difficult, the trials were different, but having already lived it I knew what to expect. Eventually, she seemed to be moving faster.
Ricardo has closed my diet and to thank me for organizing an "Ani-Sheati", traditional Shipibo festival that takes place in rare occasion. During this feast they cut my hair and gave it to the spirits to thank them. Shipibos-Conibos from neighbouring communities came for this occasion, we partied from morning to evening. It was a great gift.
This medicine requires a lot of patience and humility. Integration is a slow but inevitable process. Whatever we do, the knowledge of plants slowly integrates into everyday life. The seed that sprouted during the diet continues to grow and over time the guardian is let go; Here the shaman, it becomes little by little, a tree, a tree of knowledge.
My art has changed dramatically. Greatly influenced by these experiences during these two years of diet in Peru it opened the doors of the Invisible Worlds, the worlds of spirits and my drawings were fully impregnated.
Like an anthropologist, I transcribed on paper the essence of my experience. I learned to consider the other dimensions in my daily life in the west.
I also realized some projects and art orders.
Little by little, I became aware that I had greatly opened and plunged into the world of the invisible and the spirits-"energy", see a little too much even. I started wanting to plant my roots, to grow better, to start a family, to have children, a stable job, in short an ordinary life.
I met my current wife who at the time had two young children, which greatly helped me to land and change the pace of life.
I wished then to rebalance a lot of things: energy/matter, subtle/concrete, spirit/body, for a more fulfilling life. The traditional medicine Shipibo has indeed taken a place too important in my life.
I had gradually stopped practicing the traditional medicine of Shipibos, while continuing to give healing but without consuming plants, especially in the context of personal development. Then it all stopped naturally too.
Today I am a father and I teach in Switzerland art to adults and especially to children, where I fully flourish. My art is still influenced by this experience.
My name Shipibo is "Sangue Rono" which means:
"The beautiful visions that heal".
© 2019 Teddy Ros. All rights reserved.
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