In 2016 I had a vision to go to the Peruvian Amazon to be initiated as a shaman. It said, “It’s your time. You must come”. With restricted cash flow, I put my house on the market in November and sold it in 90 days. I sold everything I owned. A deep challenging, stripping down process. I gave up my life, followed my heart and my calling on an adventure of a lifetime.
On 26 May 2017 I flew to Sao Paulo with 20 kg in a large (loaned) backpack and 7 kg in my carry-on bag on the first ever passport issued to me by the government. Like many in the Apartheid era, I was denied a passport.
From Sao Paolo I flew to Brasilia and by taxi to Abadiania, my home for the next 3 weeks to see John of God, a world famous healer who facilitated intense physical, emotional and spiritual healing in me at the Casa De Dom Inacio.
Instructions? Ask or 3 things you need help with. I asked for healing of my neck, right shoulder, right hip, left elbow, left knee and my eyes. I can count! I had instant healing. My knee took a week and my eyes, 2 months. On 21 July, I stopped wearing glasses.
Next stop, Buenos Aires, to visit my friend Federico. BA was a mix of emotions and experiences. I had some of the best pizza close to the home of the Pope; saw the balcony where Evita Peron greeted the masses and visited ESMAS, the centre of imprisonment and torture in the 1970s. I cried when I stood in the cell of women and children, blood spatters still visible on the walls. Cry the beloved country. May this never happen again. In Argentina nor South Africa. The parallels are stark.
From Salta I crossed the border into fascinating Bolivia. A long, freezing bus ride from Villazon to Uyuni, 4086m above sea level and -15 degrees at 4am in mid-July where I had my first bout of altitude sickness and learned from cholitas (ladies dressed in traditional full skirts and bowler hats) how to make coca tea. A day at the stunningly beautiful and sometimes eerie Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat is indescribable. I celebrated my birthday in Potosi at hot springs.
La Paz, the capital is crazy. Probably the poorest country on the continent, yet there are one stop centres for women. Women get grants for organic food to sustain healthy pregnancies and their babies get the same for the first two years of their lives so that the health system is not clogged with unhealthy people.
Organic farming gets priority attention. Public health is closely monitored. When the numbers of thyroid statistics decline again, the decree to add iodine in salt will be revoked. The president’s home in the suburbs is normal, like any ordinary house in Berea or Vincent. No large grounds or swimming pool. Citizens knock on his door to talk to him. The Teleferico is a cable car public transport system which functions like clockwork. It is affordable. If it is not, Bolivians will take to the streets. I was shocked at the numbers of demonstrations daily. We would not cope with the level of public expression of discontent.
From La Paz to Lake Titicaca, the world’s largest highest navigable lake, I visited islands on both the Bolivian and Peruvian sides and did a home stay with a Peruvian family. Then on to the ancient city of Cusco, the start of the Sacred Valley, Peru. On 12 September 2017 I went to Machu Picchu to honour and celebrate the life of my 103 year old great aunt, Mrs Frances Rutgers. Words fail to express how I felt walking these ancient ruins.
A shaman took me to an Incan ruin rarely visited by westerners. I walked the Rainbow Mountain – all 6km from 4477m – 5100m asl. I saw the ancient Nazca lines. From Lima, the capital by plane to the jungle city of Iquitos, where on 15 October, with my worldly belongings, filled with a mixture of excitement and apprehension with 11 others, I set off into the jungle to start a journey of a lifetime to be initiated as a shaman.
Only 12 people worldwide are chosen and I, the 3rd South African woman and the first black South African woman to be initiated into the Shipibo tribe. 6 weeks’ initiation is not for sissies. Neither is the jungle. Noisy at night so ear plugs were necessary. Initiates are given medicines by the maestro for all sorts of ailments. Cancer. HIV. Memory. Hair growth. Contraception. Pain. Hormone issues. Mosquito bites. And of course plant medicine ceremonies 3 nights a week, all on a bland diet free from red meat, oil, sugar, salt, dairy and any processed foods. No showering with soap and shampoo. Purgatives galore. I had to learn Shipibo icaros (sacred songs). It is dark by 6pm and headlamps essential. Plenty of flying insects abound and it’s hard to plead vegetarianism!
I’m proud that I made it through my rigorous training. Back in Lima I cleaned up everything in preparation for entering bio-sensitive New Zealand for 3 months where Maori people embraced me as family.
Along the way I ate cuy (guinea pig), drank amazing organic coffee, learned how to use my phone and tablet and aps on tem and used Rooibos teabags as instruments of trade, and made lifelong friends!
I returned to SA 9 months to the day with R6200 in my account, a completely transformed woman.
Biggest lessons? Deep courage. Learning to ask for help. Facing my prejudices and fears. Digging deep into my psyche. Living authentically and out of my comfort zone. Integration is very uneven.
I offer shamanic energy healing, intuitive counselling, psychic readings, Transformation Game facilitation, natural health and well-being workshops and plant medicine ceremonies and look forward to serving motivated clients. Daphne Chonon, +27 (0) 60 404 1387