I did the frog thing (kambo) yesterday. Yes, I’d recommend it, but with a few cautionary comments. Here’s how it went down for me…
Kambo’s been on my radar on and off for some time but it really didn’t “call my name” as they say until just recently. As I understood the homeopathy of it, you make yourself super sick with the frog secretion (originally I had "venom" here and got schooled that it's a secretion) in order to stimulate healing - and there’s something not that appealing about that folks. Anyway, a friend said she was doing it and did I want to as well. Without really thinking about it very hard, I said YES. In the weeks and days leading up to our appointment, I’d periodically google things like “kambo deaths” or “is kambo safe” or perhaps “benefits of kambo”. Everything I was reading was not encouraging me to do it in the logical sense. And yet, I continued to have a big YES on the inside.
Typically you do kambo first in the morning – reason being that you need to do it on an empty stomach. First thing in the morning is truly optimal having naturally fasted all night long. Just before my 6am alarm went off I was having a BIG dream, you know the ones. My orange kitty Lady Constance and I were in the back bedroom at my grandmother’s house. I was putting a little bell around her neck so I could find her if she wandered off in an unknown place. We started to walk into the living room and that’s when I saw the biggest, baddest most intimidating black panther ever walk out of my grandmother’s bedroom. She was calm, confident and powerful in her gait. I reached for Lady Constance (to protect her?) but she slipped through my fingers and ran under the sofa to hide. Thinking quickly, I slid out of the sliding glass door to my left, leaving this big cat in the house as I considered what my next steps would be… Right then my alarm went off. Related? Who knows. But the dream was totally profound to me and the timing seemed relevant.
I dressed in comfortable clothes as requested and headed out to the private home where this ceremony would be held. I packed a series of blankets and my meditation cushion as instructed. I’d followed all the pre-ceremony advisements: no hot yoga, no supplements etc etc for three days before (this also applies to after the ceremony too). I wasn’t scared, per se, but definitely a bit nervous. I met four other friends and we spend the next hour or so quizzing our practitioner about what to expect, where the frog medicine comes from, safety precautions and more.
Our practitioner explained that the frogs are lured down from the trees in the jungles of the Amazon through songs. Once down, they are splayed out and the glands of the frog are gently scraped to extract the poison, excuse me, secretion. They are released and the shamans know which frogs to extract from because once they’re released they have little scars on their wrists and ankles. Apparently they leave those frogs alone until their scars are healed. Our practitioner is a member of the International Association of Kambo Practitioners and they only work with specific tribes that do this work ethically and with as little harm as possible to the frogs. Another added benefit is that we knew we were working with someone who has been trained to give this frog medicine safely. She explained some of the magical qualities of this frog: it’s so poisonous that no other animals will mess with them and so they display extraordinary confidence in the wild. Also, these frogs mate face to face (very unusual) and they are incredibly helpful to each other. She encouraged us to consider these qualities as we took their secretions into our bodies.
Taking the secretion in is a whole thing. Little burns are seared into the top couple layers of skin with a tiny round point. Right ankles for women and left arms for men are the “traditional” placements. The burns didn’t hurt too much. She has clearly done this hundreds and hundreds of times - her own confidence and precision verified that for me. After the burn marks are placed, you're instructed to drink a TON of water. About 2 liters or so. Then the frog goo is scraped off a stick (where it had been collected and dried in the forest) to make what look like little "boogers" which are then placed onto the open burn marks, called points. This is the only way to ingest it. The original practitioner of this method (centuries ago) was “told” this method by the forest under the influence of ayahuasca. No eating it, no drinking it, no IV'ing it, just through burn marks, straight into the (what we now know is) lymphatic system. Other methods of delivery can easily cause death.
This is where it gets interesting. She did a test point to begin with on each of us - to get a preliminary feel of how each person will react. She watches the reactions closely before deciding how many more points to place. In the end I had two points placed even though she’d made three burn marks as her standard. The points burn like fire once the frog secretion has been placed and it takes about 30 seconds for it to hit your system. And when it does, WHAM! Heat began to circulate. My ears began to burn super hot. I felt incredible pressure in my head. My face felt like it got hard. And then the nausea started followed by a laughably huge purge. Purge after purge of clear water to start with, which quickly turned bright green with a little foam on top. It felt like it was scraping my insides with heat and poison to pull all kinds of gunk out: old residual pharmaceuticals, toxins of all varieties and more mysterious stuff we can’t articulate at all.
Everything about it sucked. It hurt, I thought I was going to die, all of it. About 20 minutes in, she wiped off the frog secretion from the burn points and it was only then that things began to settle down. I curled up in a fetal position under a blanket and just breathed for a little while as my friends finished their experiences. When it was over, we each had a little râpé (tobacco snuff) up each nostril to clear the head and we were complete.
We talked and processed our experience for a little while before leaving. It was wild to see the different colors of our poison purges. Our practitioner said she’s seen every color, even bright blue come out of people’s guts. It’s super mysterious to even her. All of it is.
I won’t lie – the rest of my day was tough. I went to a restorative yoga class at noon followed by a healthy lunch to break my fast. I watched a low grade headache set in. Intuitively I knew it was coffee-related because I hadn’t had my usual morning dose of caffeine. (Noted, frog, I’m addicted!) I took a couple of naps on and off and went to bed early.
And now today? I feel GREAT! Beyond great. One of the purported benefits is a healthy sense of stability and clarity. I feel these sensations, yes indeed. Something about me feels “cleared” and I’m finding it easy to get a deep breath in and feel the oxygen circulate. Something has shifted, to be sure. I just don’t know what – but I’ll be keeping an eye on this in the coming days. Tradition says that the hunters of the various Amazonian tribes use kambo just before a big hunt – for clear vision and one-pointed attention.
In the end, I’m glad I did it. I’m open to doing it again but I need a few weeks before I take the plunge again, if ever. There’s something about it that’s super traumatic and perhaps it’s the contrast of feeling like total shit just the day before that makes today seem brighter and clearer. Again, who knows, right?
Our practitioner works with people who have cancer, HIV, depression, and ailments of all sorts. She’s seen complete cures of a variety of illnesses – physical and spiritual. A quick poisonous shock to the system with a roving flash-fever seems to be the method of promoting self-healing via the frog. Which makes complete sense to me – how else do you deftly activate your lymphatic system to stimulate self-healing? The whole thing seemed extremely practical to me to work with the body I’ve got – one that has served me well and one that I want to continue a relationship with for years to come.
I’m a believer in the frog and I’d be delighted to share the contact information of this practitioner if you’re interested. Just shoot me an email. Healing yourself is a beautiful thing. May it be so.
Periodic updates from Aurah in the Field.