I’ve been purposely reticent about ceremony the four months I’ve been in Peru, for a lot of reasons. I feel like now is the time to shed some light on those choices and to also open up a bit about plant medicine.

When I came back to Peru, I had a lot of inner work to do and I knew it. I was in a sad funk, fighting the same old battles with myself regarding work, money and life. It seemed like I had almost everything I wanted: living life on the road, in love, traveling with a great boyfriend, seeing and doing so many exciting things every single day – but it was like I couldn’t appreciate any of it. I was all plugged up mentally and spiritually and didn’t even know why.

I was still carrying the same old stories. I was still in shock from the whirlwind that had been 2008 – temporarily leaving Venice Beach, quitting my job, living in hotels with my cat, bouncing around for eight months. I was so stressed out that the hair on the back of my head began falling out at an alarming rate. By November of last year, I had a smooth bald spot beginning on the nape of my neck that extended halfway up the back of my head. And the hair wasn’t growing back. I was concerned. Stress releases lots of toxins into the body and mine had become a wasteland.

When I began taking part in ayahuasca and San Pedro ceremonies in Peru again I did not want to write about the details of my inner healing. I did not want to diminish the power of the process – and I felt like my very life and health depended on it. I didn’t want my innermost healing on display for the entire world wide web to read about. I didn’t want the pressure of having to blog about any of it or analyze it in a public forum. I didn’t want to worry about what my or Matt’s family might think about it.

Ceremony for me isn’t about sitting in the dark, puking while hearing some pretty songs and seeing some cool visuals . . . man. It’s hard work, sometimes frightening, often cathartic. I wanted my healing to unfold naturally, without being rushed, judged or critiqued. I needed an indefinite amount of time to focus on nothing except my own health and healing – and so that’s what I have been doing. Now here I am, four months later, and my life is completely changed as a result. I’ve rid my body of the toxic stress – that habitual underlying current keeping my insides agitated. I’m no longer in a funk, my writing arm doesn’t go numb anymore, I’m excited about life, my hair is growing back and I’m well on the way to writing as my full-time career.

I’ve thought about all of this long and hard and the bottom line is that plant medicine has saved my life – literally. There are lots of first-person accounts written by people from around the world – click here for my own 2006 article published at Perception Engine. Do I want to become a shaman and facilitate other people as they work directly with plant medicine? No, but I do have a very real pull to write about it in a new way.

Plant medicine is such a big subject – the politics involved (both locally and globally), the huge spectrum in modalities of use, unspoken controversies, and a new emerging feminism within the movement. My goal is to facilitate an in-depth and well-rounded understanding for those with an interest in the subject, particularly those focused on their own inner-healing.