Inner Reflections
April 8, 2024

Welcome to the Jungle Pt. 2

During my time in the Amazonian Jungle in the territory of the Yawanawá, there was a 10-day period where our group was planning on taking an expedition even deeper into the forest, to a very special and sacred site known to very few humans on this planet. The lake that I had heard stories about from my mentor, who shared just how special this site was to not only himself, but to people of the tribe as well.

Leading up to my travels into Brazil, and even upon our arrival into Mutum, it was not yet set in stone that we would be spending time at the lake, but it was on the radar. My anticipation and excitement had built more and more with every story that I listened to about the sacred secluded site. Another layer deeper into the heart of the Amazon and even further removed from society. Stories of synchronistic encounters with sacred snakes, boas and anacondas, that are so magical you would have a hard time finding them to be true. They were like fairy-tales, only these ones were real. The Yawanawá, and many ancient cultures have very special connections and creation stories that involve serpents. Not all serpents, but there are a handful that they connect with very deeply on a spiritual level and hold high as universal wisdom keepers of ancient and prevalent knowledge.

In the months leading up to journey into the jungle, I had multiple dreams involving serpents and the people of the tribe. If we ever meet in person, ask me about those dreams and I will be happy to share. We can look at many things in life as coincidences, that is one way to live. We can also look at the synchronicities in life as messages from God or our Higher-self, which is another way to live. No one is better than the other, and as I have gotten older, I’ve leaned more into the latter, into the awe of the mystery, just as I did as a child. Writing these words reminds me of the scene towards the end of the movie ‘Interstellar,’ when Cooper goes into the black hole and realizes that it’s been himself the whole time who has been consistently communicating to his past self and his daughter Murph. What if that were actually true, and happening all the time to and for us?

My favorite athlete of all time is Kobe Bryant, nicknamed the ‘Black Mamba.’ His first professional number was ‘8,’ the number of Chilis that I consumed to open my Dieta (more on that later). He wore the number ‘8’ for half of his career before transitioning and evolving into the next stage of his life both professionally and personally. For myself, the jungle was very much that. A death of the old and rebirth of the new. Upwards and onwards to the next phase of my life, both professionally and personally. There is a powerful archetypal symbol of cyclical continuity that represents the death and rebirth process. It is called the ‘Ouroboros.’ It is a depiction of a snake swallowing its own tail while forming a circle. The Ouroboros can be divided into three parts, each one of which symbolizes one of the three phases of a life cycle. The snake’s head at the top of the symbol represents the initial creation of life force. The middle portion (the body) represents the growth/maturation process of life force. Lastly, the point where the snake swallows its own tail represents the destruction or transformation of the forms of the life force. In Norse culture, ancient Gnostic culture and even certain tribes in Africa believe that the Earth is actually surrounded by a giant Ouroboros Serpent. As easy as it would be to dismiss those beliefs, which you might already have by now because as humans in our current society we are programmed to easily dismiss, disregard, and even belittle anything that is ‘outside of the box,’ or what we may have been taught to be true by our parents or in school, what if that were actually true and we just aren’t able to see it with our eyes because our human eyes in these bodies aren’t designed to and don’t have the technology to see those types of energies? I’m merely thinking out loud. I bring up the Kobe connection as an example of the choice in which we get to believe in coincidence, or in the synchronicities of something greater. More on that dynamic when I share about my initial calling to the Jungle in the first place, months before in 2021. For now, back to the sacred lake!

It was day 14 of the Dieta that our group packed up most of our belongings and all that we would need for our 10-day adventure. We loaded up and onto the boats, four of them, and left the Village down the river and began our four hour-long expedition through the jungle underneath the sun. Though much of the forest looked the same along the ride my eyes remained on the lookout with every straight away and every corner turned in hopes to see any and all animals. Though we only saw a few birds, huge trees, and some turtles, I was in awe of getting to experience the Amazon first-hand and up close and personal. When we finally arrived and parked the boats along a very small strip of sand beside the river, we thankfully had many hours of daylight left in the day. Driving along the river on boats you would have no idea that this area was even there, unless you knew, and there are few who do. You couldn’t see the space that had been cleared up top from the boats down below, as the ledge was pretty high relative to the level of water in the river.

The temple space had already been built by the natives. Our individual homes were made up of about 16 logs and palm leaves for a roof. Enough palms for shading during the day, but as we soon came to find out over the course of the following days, not enough to prevent water from seeping through as the rains rolled in and out throughout the week. We (I happened to be the one person from our group recruited by the natives to help with problem solving this situation) were able to solve this by walking through the jungle with machetes and cutting down branches of palms, dragging them back to where we were set up and one by one adding more coverage to everyone’s individual huts. This act was not a casual one. Walking through the thickness of the jungle you have to be paying attention to everything, all at once including every bit of your surroundings. Your surroundings below, above, in front, and behind. It’s no walk in the park, and far from it. I was very grateful for my father in those moments and all the time we had spent walking meticulously and mindfully while hunting. I felt a sense of relaxed-alertness.

Later, I will share in entirety about my 10-days at the Lake, for now, I want to share a story about a very special and profound experience I had one afternoon connecting with a wild red-tail Boa, supported by my mentor and the sacred Amazonian tobacco snuff called ‘Hapé’. Over the last several years I have had the privilege of having many profound experiences. Some, in my meditations and movement practices, some in solitude in nature, some in deep connection with my beautiful Queen and life-partner, and others in sacred ceremonial spaces with various plant medicines under the guidance and facilitation of highly trained Shamans. The experience at the lake that I am going to share about occurred on day four in the middle of the afternoon in a completely clear, centered, and grounded sober state.

To preface this story, a few days before our journey to the lake, a young Yawanawá man from the next village over had found and brought to my mentor a wild baby red-tailed Boa. My mentor had put out the word upon our arrival to the village to the men and women that if anyone were to come across a Boa or an Anaconda, he would love to have its presence in the space where (in our small group) the men were situated and sleeping, in hopes of opening a very special Dieta with the serpent and connecting to it on a deeper level. The Yawanawá believe that if a serpent wants you to see it and connect then it will allow itself to be seen, otherwise you would never know that one was nearby. So, the fact that my mentor consciously put that out into the field, psychically and through word of mouth, and a beautiful Boa allowed itself to be seen and carried to the village where we were staying was a beautiful sign. Coincidence, or synchronicity? ‘Santa Maria,’ was her name, and she traveled with us to the lake where we built and constructed a living area for her to be in comfort.

The afternoon was very calm, and later that day in the evening I was going to have my first opportunity to hunt with some of the men of the tribe in the jungle. This was something that I had been thinking about for months. I felt like a child again, filled with excitement and nervousness. Hunting and walking through the jungle is not the same as hunting in the mountains of southern Montana, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, or the rolling hills along the central coast of California. Completely different ball park, and one that was very unfamiliar to me. I gathered myself up from my hammock and began walking towards the community and temple space. My mentor was sitting in his hammock, beautifully plucking away at the strings of his guitar in harmony with the surroundings as we locked eyes and he called me over for a chat. He said, “You know Mychal, tonight the men are going to go hunting and if you would like to, there is an opportunity for you to go. They won’t be going until later tonight and will most likely be hunting through the night. So, as long as you feel like you’ve got the energy to go and be up all night, I will let them know that you would like to join.”

At this point in the trip my body and state of being was exhausted. Physically, I felt weaker than I had in a very long time due to the lack of movement and nutrition that I was used to, as well as the depths and lengths of the ceremonies that we had experienced in the days prior. I was at a threshold, and it would’ve been very easy and comfortable for me to pass on hunting and fishing opportunities, but that wasn’t an option. I knew I was being challenged by the Divine in a beautiful way and I was ready for it. ‘Will power, enthusiasm, endurance, determination, and confidence,’ was my motto and mantra every morning in conjunction with my daily Vishoka meditation practice. Even the simple thought of moving my body was exhausting. I knew that this was a part of what I was there to do, especially with the work I’ve been creating around sacred hunting retreats.

He then proceeded to say, “This might actually be a really good time to connect with Santa Maria, and put out a prayer to her for the hunting that you will be doing here at the lake. Serpents are very wise creatures, and not only that, they are the best hunters on the planet. They have the abilities to hypnotize their prey without their prey having any idea of their whereabouts until it’s too late. They can literally magnetize their prey straight into their mouths. They are very skilled hunters.” He then offered a way in which he was taught by his mentor to connect deeply with a serpent when you come in contact with one. He said, “If you’re open to it, here’s what you do.” I listened with laser-like focus, “Pour a large dose of hapé into your palm and separate it in half. One for your left, and one for your right nostril. Know exactly where it is on your palm because you are not to break eye contact with the serpent once you sit in front of her. Have your kuripé (self-serving hapé applicator) in your other hand. Make sure that the amount of hapé you pour onto your hand is a big amount, a very strong dose. A strong enough dose to make you question if you’ll be able to sit upright without having to lay down or purge.” At this point I’m quietly shaking in my boots a bit, and yes, I was literally wearing boots at that time. Hapé is a medicine that I’ve sat with before. Rarely in very strong doses, but strong enough. In my experience in working with hapé, it can be extremely grounding and sometimes nauseating depending on the dose and how it is being served. It is most typically a combination of dried and finely grounded tobacco leaves mixed with the ashes of tsunu, a bark. Some people apply it before dropping into meditation or deep conversation.

He continued with the instructions, “With the hapé and kuripé in your hands, take a seat in front of Santa Maria, as close as feels comfortable to you. Once seated, connect your eyes with one of hers. From this moment, until you feel complete you will not break eye contact for any reason. Once you’ve locked eyes with her, connect with her psychically, introduce yourself, and speak to her your wishes and your prayers. Then, when you have spoken, take your kuripé and fill it with a serving of hapé without breaking eye contact. Immediately take the second serving for your other nostril and remain connected. Sit for as long as you would like to afterwards, whatever feels best, you will know and I will be right here, brother.”

I could feel the depth of sacredness of this experience upon receiving instructions. It felt like one of the most beautiful and ancient ways to connect with the wisdom and spirit of an animal. What would my parents think? What would some of my friends think? What would society outside of the jungle think about all of this? They might think that I was crazy and ‘woo-woo.’ They might judge me heavily. They might think that this was absolutely incredible. They might think that I was worshiping an evil entity or that I’ve completely gone mad. ‘They might think,’ a lot of things that I could’ve honestly cared less about in that moment, and every moment passed. In that moment, this was the most important act that I could be doing, and I felt so authentic, so real, so true.

I asked, “When can I do this?” He replied, “How about now?” There is no time like the present moment, yiiiihuuu! I walked over to my hut, grabbed my bottle of hapé from a batch that our group and some of the tribe had made ourselves the week prior. I poured a large dose into my left palm, enough to seriously make me question if I was going to be able to stay upright without keeling over or purging, or both. “Here we go,” I told myself. With a big dose of hapé in my left palm, my kuripé in my right hand, a small roll over tissue paper in my pocket, and a heart full of courage I walked back over to the temporary home of Santa Maria and took a seat several feet in front of where she was perched.


If you haven’t already, make sure to check our Mychal’s Alchemy series which was influenced by his amazing travels!

By Mychal