Healing with ayahuasca has already become quite popular in the modern world. Ayahuasca shaman Hamilton Souther shares his journey towards shamanism and how he transitioned from a normal person to someone who adheres deeply to the spiritual world. He narrates how he lived off-grid to be on a shamanic apprenticeship in the Peruvian Amazon and how he was introduced to the ayahuasca ceremony which allowed him to reconnect with nature and himself. Christian Gearhart, also a master shaman of ayahuasca, talks about meeting Hamilton who educated him about ayahuasca and shares his own experiences with the plant. Understanding that there are not so many researches about the plant yet, Christian cautions everyone who is curious about it to be careful about choosing the right ceremonies in their pursuit of healing with ayahuasca.
Listen to the podcast here:
Healing With Ayahuasca: Reconnecting With Self And Nature with Hamilton Souther and Christian Gearhart
I want to start by talking about being open to what’s possible because you can be inspired by anything. If you find yourself getting stuck out there, try something new. Be open to experimenting and be educated by your family, friends, doctors or shamans who can help you to move through your pain, suffering and emotional state at that moment. Not everything that modern science has is going to work for you. I had to step out of the box. I’ve tried CBD, the cannabis. I’ve tried CFR, the Cranial Facial Release by Dr. Adam Del Torto. This stuff works. If I am willing to put a balloon up my nose, inflate it, adjust my skull from balloons up my nose and feel the relief, I’m open to doing most other stuff.
It is going on an adventure in health. To make the analogy, imagine you’re Frodo from The Lord of the Rings. You’re trying to take the ring to Mordor. That’s a lot of times the scope of what we’re trying to create in our own lives in terms of healing. We’re trying to create this epic adventure where at the end of it, something magnificent has happened. It’s taking this analogy and running with it. When Frodo first left The Shire, he didn’t know what was going to happen in between. He was forced to surrender to this adventure. In terms of you healing from a stroke, you know your end goal. Your end goal is to create this full recovery in your body, but you don’t know all the steps to get there. Staying open-minded to the adventure, the possibility and whatever comes up opens you up to more than you could have ever thought imaginable.
The key thing is acceptance. Let’s go on an adventure with these guys.
Why we’re talking about all of this, being open to adventure and possibilities, is because of our guests. We have Hamilton Souther and Christian Gearhart. Hamilton does the first part of the story and Christian comes in on the end. He was getting a degree in anthropology and training and practicing to become a professional golfer. In meditation, he started hearing “voices.” They were telling him he needed to go to Peru and become a shaman. He went with it. The incredible part of this story is that he decided to go for it. I won’t give it away, but he ended up on this epic adventure in life because he was open to possibility.
I didn’t say a whole bunch on this one because I listened and learned. Check with your doctors, family and friends. Do your research before you do anything. There are openings everywhere. You just have to grab and take them.
If you find the story interesting and you think someone else in your life might find this interesting, send this episode over to someone you love. We do a lot of serious episodes. This is serious as well, but we’re a little bit more lighthearted and a little bit more on the healing modality side versus a story of someone overcoming. If you think this is a fun episode, share it with someone who is into this stuff. If you haven’t made it over to iTunes, make it over to iTunes and press that subscribe button. More than helping us, you’re helping to grow this community with us, spread the love and share the message. Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy this episode with Hamilton and Christian.
Welcome to the show, Hamilton and Christian.
My name is Hamilton Souther. It’s a pleasure to be here on the show. Thanks for having me.
My name is Christian Gearhart. Thanks for having me on the show.
I’m Sean Entin, checking in also.It’s really important to learn how to relax before ceremony, in ceremony, and after ceremony - just in daily life. Click To Tweet
We’ll start with Hamilton. Tell our audience a little about who you are and what you do and then we’ll go into your epic story.
I had visions that I needed to get involved in shamanism in my early twenties after I had graduated from university. I had studied anthropology and had heard a little bit about shamanism. I was looking for the next thing, something that was very real in the world of spirit and spirituality. I had heard of these amazing healers that were producing almost miraculous experiences in other parts of the world. I wanted to know if any of that was true. I ended up in the early 2000s, heading down into the Peruvian Amazon. I met shamans there and got invited to live and train with them. I entered into a traditional shamanic apprenticeship in the Peruvian Amazon, living off-grid, about 24 hours outside of the city of Iquitos. I went through a full indigenous apprenticeship and was considered a master shaman or medical vegetalista. I continued practicing in Blue Morpho Sacred Plant Center. In the early 2000s, I thought that this was an incredible experience and healing practice that needed to be shared with people. We’ve grown that center over the last couple of years, working with people from all over the world. We’re trying to help them and show them that there’s another way of approaching their own natural healing and their own personal growth experiences.
Before you went down to Peru and went on this quest of shamanism, who were you before you got this idea to go do this?
I was pretty normal in most senses. I was a student and an athlete more than anything. My favorite sports were golf and snowboarding. I was doing a lot of golf and snowboarding, studying and trying to be the best person I could be during that time. I had no focus on spirituality or any specific direction in that world. That came out of the blue. It hit me like a ton of bricks. All of a sudden, my consciousness was open to these understandings that people called spiritual. I started to look into it more. I was desperately afraid of being delusional or thinking that I was making something up. I was very scientific in my approach, in the nature of thinking. I turned to ancient arts that had been used for thousands of years as a means to try to explain the experiences I was having.
You said you were in your early twenties and you started seeing stuff, hearing stuff. What was going on?
I had gotten to a point in my life with very little direction. That’s probably pretty common if you don’t have a set path when you come out of school, whether it’s high school or college. The life that I thought I had planned disappeared through a number of events. I was left on my own. I got into a pretty dark place. I was complaining about life a lot and the pointlessness of being ego-driven through the totality of life. During that period of time, my mother had become spiritual. She said to me, “If you don’t want your life anymore, why don’t you give it to spirit?” I didn’t believe in spirit. I had heard the word, but I had no idea what it could possibly mean. I thought to prove her wrong. I would give my life to spirit and show her that nothing would happen. The famous last words and now here I am.
I had this moment that was very cathartic, but a very real declaration of disavowing my own egoic focus and this idea of giving something that I called my life back to this concept that others called spirit. There was no thunder, lightning or any massive happening at that moment. It was a very authentic moment. I cried a lot. I felt that my heart had opened up. I had this real moment of authenticity, where I expressed myself in a way that was meaningful and impactful in a huge way in its own right at that age. Within 24 to 48 hours, I started seeing what other people called spirits. That was shocking beyond belief because I didn’t believe in anything like that. What was more shocking was that the visionary experience I was having ended up being corroborated by other people. As this corroboration was happening from my experience, I couldn’t write it off as a delusion or happenstance. It required study and focus to try to understand what was happening.
Help bridge the gap and explain this idea of spirit to anyone who might not have had an experience as you’ve had.
It’s like the movie, The Sixth Sense. I was seeing people. They were translucent forms in the space around me. I could describe them as if you are trying to draw a cartoon or something out of what you were seeing. As I would describe them to people, other people would know who they were when I didn’t know who they were. That’s what I mean by corroboration. I would describe to somebody, “I’m seeing this person. It looks like this. It’s a lady with this height, this weight and this build,” going down the archetype of profile. The person I was describing it to would know exactly from their own life who I was talking to. Often, they were people that had already passed on.
Are you talking about some medium or psychic abilities?
It’s in certain forms. They turned on at that time. I had lots of psychic experiences over the course of three or four months that led me in those visions, to the idea that I was heading to Peru to find shamans and that I was going to study with them.
Where did that idea first come in? Why Peru? How did you get the idea, “This is where I need to go?”
It came from a journey I was doing. I had learned very quickly by reading shamanic texts and how-to books to put myself into a trance state. It’s deeper than a normal meditative state. You really go on a journey. In the journey, I had met with people called spirit guides. The spirit guide simply told me that I was going to Peru because there were shamans waiting for me there. I was like, “This is crazy. This can’t be. I have no money to go to Peru. I was out of school. I can’t just go off into the world. What would a 6’3” white guy going to do going down to Peru to try to find these shamans?” I had all of those doubts. I got very specific messages. I was told to go to Travelocity through Yahoo.com. That night at 8:00 PM, there would be a ticket that was half priced and I needed to buy that ticket. Just to test it, I went to the website. Sure enough, all the tickets were $800, $900 and $1,000. All of a sudden, there was a ticket for $411. I had to buy it. It’s like, “I’m going on this journey.” I figured that the worst-case scenario is nothing would happen and I would write a book about it. I ended up finding my apprenticeship, so I stayed and started training.
What happened when you got to Peru? Did you fly into a city or a town or did you go into the jungle?
It’s a wild story. I flew in on September 10th. I was flying to Cusco on September 11th right when the Twin Towers were taken down. There’s this massive shift in global consciousness and thinking taking place right when I was going off looking for this apprenticeship. I asked the guides rationally, “How am I supposed to go do this? There isn’t a map to go find shamans.” They said, “Do a journey to us every day and we’ll tell you what to do the next day.” Every day, I would do this meditative trance journey totally sober, utilizing drumming that puts you into a Theta trance state. In that state of trance, I would receive these messages that were very clear about what I needed to do. The first set of messages was simply, “Go be a backpacker and we’ll tell you where to go.” I followed a path through Peru. Day by day, I was being told the next place to go. I found myself in the Amazon after a couple of months, heading to the first place where I would drink Ayahuasca.
It’s almost like you’re doing this epic trust fall like, “I’m going to keep following this path because there’s someone in my meditation, or a spirit talking to me and telling me to keep going. At any point along this road, were you thinking, “This is insane?”
There’s not one moment I didn’t think that. You’d be delusional if you believed it all, without having the experience and time to prove that stuff is happening. There’s no science behind psychic phenomena or extraordinary experiences people have had throughout the course of human history. They just happen. In my case, I was a scientist who understood the scientific method but was having the experiences. I knew that had crossed a certain barrier of bias in terms of anthropology. It wasn’t something that I could just study. It was something that I had to become. I couldn’t just go to a university and observe it because I was having the experiences myself. It was, in a way, my own experiment on my own being to see if there was truth behind this. I desperately wanted to be truth behind it.
The whole time, I doubted that either I had lost the thread of consensus reality or I was being sent on a wild goose chase. There were so many experiences that lined up the journey that I had to go with it. There were times when I felt lost. Within days, there would be another sign that would say, “This is where you need to go. This is what you need to do.” I ended in that Ayahuasca ceremony where, at the end of it, everything in the visions was telling me that’s where I was going to stay and that’s where I was going to apprentice.
Was this a town or a city or is it like a tribe that you ran into in the Amazon?
Not everything was on the internet. The way we traveled and backpacked around was by taking guidebooks with us. I had this Lonely Planet guidebook. In the Amazon section, I was fascinated that, irrespective of the shamanism, the Amazon represented some idea of the great unknown. It’s tribes that had still yet to be contacted by the Western world and this incredible biodiversity and numbers of medicines that these mythological people wielded and understood. I was blown away by the idea of going into the Amazon. I would read that part of the guidebook thinking, “Maybe my journey would take me there.” I would keep coming across this one guide’s name that is listed. I kept getting told, every time I would come across his name, “You have to find that guy.” I didn’t know why. That message never came with a full-on explanation of why. It was just, “That’s what it has to be.”
I ended up in the Amazon finding that guide. I later found out that he and his family were the only tourism guides that guided to the area of the forest where the shamans were waiting for me. The shamans would have visions of me coming for about ten years. After a while, they asked me what took me so long to get there. I was like, “I was thirteen. What are you talking about?” In their Ayahuasca visions, they saw someone of my build, height and look, coming, being and learning with them for a ten-year period of time. They themselves wrote it off as a vision that was never going to happen. The day came that we all met each other and started participating in medicine ceremonies together. They took me through that incredible journey of being accepted, which is not just granted or gifted. You have to be accepted through a number of tests of virtue and the apprenticeship itself.Most people come away from the ayahuasca experience with the recognition that there is this incredible intelligence that’s being shared. Click To Tweet
How long did you end up being with this group?
I’m still with them. Alberto works with us still to the day. Alberto Torres Davila is one of the head shamans of our mesa. I was invited into their lineage. We still practice together. He and I have been in over 1,000 Ayahuasca ceremonies together.
To anyone who hasn’t done an Ayahuasca ceremony, can you tell them what’s going on as best as you can?
First, you want to start with what Ayahuasca is. It’s a tea made of jungle plants. Ayahuasca is a vine. They add leaves to it that have the visionary components associated with it. It typically goes by the name, Chacruna. Depending on the lineage of shamans that you work with, they may add other medicinal plants. In our lineage, the shamans are not just specialized solely in Ayahuasca. They are also specialized in the use of medicinal trees and other visionary plants that are called Sinango and Ojé, also the use of medicinal tobacco that’s called Mapacho. They make quite a mixture of the different plants in the Ayahuasca brew. That’s turned into a tea that’s usually reduced down, depending also on your lineage, to the viscosity or consistency of it. It’s either from very warm and light honey or thicker oil to something that looks very watery that might look like a cup of English breakfast tea. It’s different depending on the lineage. There isn’t a governing body of shamans. The shamans are all known by their individual lineages, which usually follow different bloodlines that go back to pre-Spanish conquest times. If you end up with a lineage of shamans that have been practicing these arts for hundreds, if not thousands of years, you sit down with them and have an Ayahuasca ceremony. That’s what they call it, the ceremonia de Ayahuasca.
You first go through a series of rituals of blessings where the Ayahuasca is blessed with these chants that are called icaros. After that, you’re served the Ayahuasca. It has a very earthy flavor. It’s very bitter. It has some sweets in it from the saps or resins of the plants that are caramelized through the boiling process. Most people find it to be not so bad on their first drink. By the second, third or fourth, they’re usually having a little bit more difficulty swallowing it. It has a very pungent flavor, very earthy. After that, the experience starts to kick off. That’s where you get into the visionary state that’s wide and huge in the variety of what people experience. In general, what happens is anywhere after ten minutes to half an hour, you start to feel this warmth go down your body. It goes to the tips of your toes. It comes up and rises all the way to the head, through the brain and mind and through the extremities of the body. Then you’re in the experience. Typically by that time, the shamans are playing percussive instruments. The real traditional shamans use rattles or chakapas, which is a leaf rattle.
When that starts to happen, something extraordinary and amazing usually takes place. The entire environment around you, including nature, starts to get into the ceremony itself. The insects change their rhythm. The frogs change their rhythm of when they’re croaking and making their own sounds. The birds start to chime in. This extraordinary connection with the nature around you starts to take place. As the visions come on, it becomes contextual. You can have the experience of it. You can see the energy in space and time take on geometric patterns and forms. If you would like to see the art of that, you can look at visionary art done by the Shipibo tribe. You can Google it. You can see the intricate designs and patterns that you typically start to see in the visions themselves. Those patterns open up as you get deeper into the visionary experience and become a much stronger level of vision in terms of psychedelic and interactive experience.
What makes it interesting is that in the presence of the shamans, you can have a real interactive experience with what they call tree spirits or the energies of the trees or animals. It even goes into visionary spaces that are truly extraordinary to the Earth itself and to other cities of light, seeing different light beings and mythological creatures or beings. You can also go into what I think is the collective mythological consciousness and meet figures from all different philosophies, mythologies and religions. In that experience of having this interaction while in this incredibly psychedelic gift and incredibly visionary state, there’s a transformation that takes place. The transformation is part physical, part psychosomatic and part psychological.
In the physical sense, you can feel very sick from the Ayahuasca itself in the sense of nausea and the need to purge, either physically from vomiting or from defecation. For instance, in our ceremonial house, we have six toilets, two showers and two sinks to make sure that the participants are well taken care of when they have the lower part of the body purge. That purge is an amazing psychological and psychosomatic release that happens. In the purge, a totality of what’s afflicting you in your life has the ability to be released at a speed and intensity that’s hard to describe. It would be like being inside a tornado and an earthquake at the same time, feeling nauseous and ending up having to purge.
When that happens, there’s usually a very clear psychological context to what it is that’s being purged, the lead up to it. It usually has a context from your life. It could be what’s causing you trauma. It could be problems that you had in the past. It could be anything that you’re holding onto in your consciousness that’s keeping you from being able to hold the vibratory state of the ceremony itself. Almost like magic, it comes out in the form of this purging. That’s where you see the real transformation take place. It’s happening at a speed and an intensity that is typically truly whelming. Some people have lighter experiences in terms of that intensity. If you’re going to participate, you have to be prepared for it being maybe the most intense experience of your life or one of the top ten for sure.
How do you prepare people? What’s your advice to someone who’s thinking about going into a ceremony? From talking to people, there’s a lot of misinformation. There are lots of people who might not be leading the most kosher of ceremonies. Do you have any advice like buyer beware?
It’s to do a lot of research into the group that you’re working with. You want to make sure that the shamans that are hosting the ceremonies have the same intentions you do. You want them to have a very longstanding professional record. That’s not just a Western concept. It’s also important in the indigenous community. You’re known by your reputation and word of mouth. The local shamans that are considered the best, like any other private doctor, know what they’re doing and have an extreme amount of training. You want to do research into that and make sure that the people are who are coming out of the ceremonies also are having the transformation that you’re looking for. You know there’s a benchmark there. You want to make sure that it’s well-organized to the needs of that experience. You want to be in a place where you have access to emergency care. You want to have a ceremony that has trained sitters or helpers to be able to help you while the shamans are also doing their work.
In our case, we think of it very much like the way you would organize a clinic or a field hospital. Even though we’re a tourism facility and not technically practicing medicine, we treat it like an indigenous traditional medicine form where people are looking for spiritual transformation and spiritual healing. You want them to have a pre-screening, so you know that everybody in the ceremony has been pre-screened to be of the right health and also off the medications that are contraindicated to Ayahuasca. If you put it all together, it boils down to real professionalism and organization around the understanding of the severity of this experience and the need to have a setting that’s appropriate to it.
We talked about one of your objectives. It’s to help to start to create a more grounded perspective to the world of how to use these sacred plants, teachers or medicines.
There’s plenty of mythology out there about it. There’s very little grounded understanding of the uses of them. Most of the comments that you get are amazing about the experiences people have. It’s also important to note that a lot of people don’t have those experiences. It’s a very wide variety of the outcomes of these ceremonies. Because of that, you do want to put the best possibility in your hands going into these ceremonies. The Ayahuasca, as well as all the other master plants or teacher plants are not 100% safe in the hands of anybody. It’s not just, “Take this and it’s going to be okay.” You do not want to treat it as a drug trip. It has no purpose whatsoever in being used in that form by the traditional healers. It’s held with incredible reverence and sacredness that goes beyond that of even dispensing Western pharmaceuticals. It’s considered as truly something that is sacred and part of the psycho-magical and psycho-religious practices of the forest that are tied into this idea of spirit and interconnection between you and the plants.
That teacher plant is being a bridge between you and this extraordinary greater state of consciousness and interconnection that you normally don’t experience. Considering that, it’s important to be able to have grounded information out there and to approach the plants from a very logical perspective. A lot of people are looking for a miraculous transformation, which is fair to wish for. To have that, you want to make sure that you’re also not opening yourself up to the negatives that can happen. It mostly comes from being unprepared or having people who are not professional or charlatans, in charge of the ceremonies themselves.
I’ve had one experience with Ayahuasca. It wasn’t anything wild or crazy. It was this very visceral or physical experience in purging. After that, it was almost like it was done with me. Is this common?
It can be. It also depends on the brew, the age of the brew and the shaman holding the ceremony. It’s also common in the ceremonies itself to get a message from the Ayahuasca that it’s done with you. There are interconnection and intercommunication that can become a give and take, where you can be talking with plants, with animal spirits and with what the shamans called light beings. Other mythologies call it angels and things like that. As wild as that sounds for an Ayahuasca ceremony, it’s normal as you start to get into the collective consciousness and what’s in the great mind or the great consciousness of this incredible universe. In that, there are lots of communications that happen including being told, “This isn’t for you. We can’t help you in the way that you’re looking for or you need to have a different intention,” or even, “Experience is over. You’ve had enough,” and then it shuts off.
Along that line, which is even more amazing, when people come to the ceremonies often with a very grandiose or an egotistical or arrogant idea, they want to drink a lot of it. They’re thinking that drinking a lot is going to make a big difference to the experience. Often they sit there, throw up and have nothing happened. That completely blows their mind, how somebody next to them could be drinking a thimbleful instead of three or four ounces of the same Ayahuasca or same plant medicine and end up having a completely different experience. Someone on a very small amount next to them could be having an incredible visionary ride and journey. The person who came with that other attitude is having none. Alberto and Julio used to say to me, “The plant spirits look at you and decide how they’re going to treat you that night.” All of those experiences are common. That’s why at our lodge, we offer five ceremonies, so that it’s not just hit or miss on one. It gives you an opportunity to adjust the dose and also have more time in the ceremony itself to be able to see what experiences Ayahuasca has in store for you.
The thing that stood out to me most going through an experience like this was that there’s an incredible amount of intelligence. That was a very eye-opening experience. I was going into it with this deep meditation practice and this belief that there is this connection between all things, but it was different when you experience it. There’s this very intelligent life force that comes into your body and starts animating and helping you to work through whatever you’re working through, whatever your intention is. It was this incredible moment of realizing that there is so much intelligence in the world that we’re not always open to, looking for or acknowledging.
I think that there’s intelligence in animal species and plant species as well. The ability to understand plant intelligence from the linguistics and states of consciousness that modern humans share is very difficult. The way the scientific method works to strip away the animus of the life form and to turn it into its component elements doesn’t give you access to that. It’s when you ingest the plants that are called these master teachers. It’s been proven over and over again why over the thousands of years of these practices, they have gained the name master teachers. They have intelligence, awareness and understanding that in many ways is advanced or even more advanced than what the majority of modern humans share. Most people come away from the experience with that recognition that there is this incredible intelligence that’s being shared. The plants are tapped into it or made of it like we are. Through that bridge that the ceremony provides, there’s a way to have a palpable and real experience of that intelligence and receive benefit from it. It’s a benevolent intelligence that wants to support and help humanity, which is a tremendous gift and something that’s great for people who are in need of healing.Science is a very early study of invention and human evolution. Click To Tweet
There is benevolence to it. I did experience that. When we first took the Ayahuasca, they have you sit for half an hour and go into your meditation and connect. I didn’t have many visionary experiences during this time, but I had one where there’s handholding. It’s almost like, “We’re co-creating or we’re in this together. It’s all going to be okay.” It was half a second but it was reassuring like, “Everything’s going to be okay.” I want to go on to helping to bridge the gap between talking about this the way we’re talking about because we’ve experienced this and people out there who might be skeptical. You said you come from a scientific background. In your experience or your studies since becoming a shaman, have you followed up on the backend of trying to bridge the gap between where science and spirituality meet?
Absolutely, that’s a philosophical pursuit. Science is a very early study of invention and human evolution. While it has been so profound and important to the development of modern societies, it’s still an infant in where it’s going. It’s in no way to speak down upon science. On the contrary, it’s learning and growing as a collective group. It’s a methodology. That methodology is a great way to explore. When you go into things like Ayahuasca, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed in the imaginary and the mythological. That’s a place where you can utilize reason and logic and real question to be able to fair out the different potential areas, to believe in things that fundamentally aren’t true. That could come also through the ceremonial experience.
In my case, it was a continuous study of these mythological shamanic philosophies, spiritual philosophies and religious studies, as well as going deep into the science to be able to maintain a logical and grounded perspective through the sacred plant ceremonies. I’d participate in ceremonies so often. It would be easy to be fully and only of that world and that way of thinking, but that denies a tremendous amount of the other part of the mind, which is to understand things through absolute logic.
In the case of the Ayahuasca practices, you heal people who can be healed. There’s a very clear distinction between whether a person can be treated by the plants or not. That’s one of the first things you learn in the training. That’s where you need to have that ability to reason and logic and use logic and not be in a state of delusion at all. On the other side of that, I’ve had many experiences in visionary states that showed me things about the universe that science proved years later. I’ll give two great examples of that. I would spend a lot of time in ceremony and visions of the astral. I love outer space. I can’t explain exactly why. It just felt very freeing and at home to me.
Whenever it was appropriate to do work from that visionary state, I would be out amongst stars and spiral galaxies. At that time, I saw in my visions a tremendous number of more galaxies than what science had mapped. Years later, Hubble Space Telescope took pictures of the galaxies that I was seeing and showed them via NASA to the world, which I thought was phenomenal. I had been singing of these galaxies, chanting them and showing them to other people in a vision. All of a sudden, we had another way to be able to see them that came directly from science. I thought that was absolutely fascinating and super important.
Another thing I used to do was called surf gravity. Gravity, at that time, was not considered a wave. It was theoretically understood as potentially a wave. In the last few years, Einstein’s theories were proven about the gravitational waves that exist in outer space. That was a force that we use to guide us in the ceremony. A way to navigate the universe in a vision was to follow the pull and the channels of gravity. To have both of those scientific discoveries come during my lifetime while I had experienced them in visionary states showed how there are this intermingled and intertwined relationship and consciousness between that of science and of mysticism and spirituality. I believe that at some point, there wouldn’t be a differentiation. There would be a way to philosophically unite these different fields of study and move through the barrier of all different kinds of assumption and delusion that expresses ideas that are fundamentally not true.
Thank you for that. Christian, how did you meet Hamilton? How did you guys start to do work together?
I’m considered a Maestro, Ayahuascero, Palero and Sananguero. I’ve been training with Blue Morpho full-time since the end of 2010. I’ve been here helping, learning how to guide guests through ceremonies this entire time. I do admin and office work, video editing and a little bit of everything in our daily operations. Hamilton and I met on my first Ayahuasca tour in 2007 at Blue Morpho. I got out of the Navy in 2005. It was an interesting experience for me as I was eight years in the Navy and I’d become my identity of a sailor. I was Officer Gearhart. I was good at it in the Navy and I identified with that. When I got out of the Navy, it was like jumping off a ledge. I’m not that anymore. “Who am I? What am I going to do with my life?” I was fearful of the future because I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life.
I ended up being unemployed for a little over a year and a half. It was the first time in my life where I had a lot of time of self-introspection. I was having a lot of internal psychological problems. I was depressed. I had anxiety. I had a lot of self-doubts. I saw that my mind was out of control and I couldn’t stop it. That started me on this journey of self-healing to try and fix my own brain. I began reading books on psychology and philosophy and doing meditation. I did this for a little over a year. It was working but it was too slow for me. I wanted it to be faster.
There came along a National Geographic article at the end of 2006 that was about Blue Morpho and Hamilton. After reading it, I immediately knew I wanted to come out here, try this Ayahuasca therapy and see if it could help me. I ended up coming out. A couple of months later, I was here for my first workshop. That’s where I met Hamilton. I did my first Ayahuasca workshop. It was everything that I had hoped for and read about. My depression and anxiety were gone. I was excited to get back into my life back in the United States. I went back to the United States and got a job immediately after. I started working and everything was good.
Little by little over the months, I began to notice that the depression, anxiety and overall fear of everything started coming back. I booked another workshop with Hamilton a year later. During that workshop, I saw that the Ayahuasca could help me long-term. I asked Hamilton if he would teach me. He told me he would teach me but I had to get my life back in the US in alignment and clean up so I could come out. That took me until the end of 2010 when I moved out here and started working full-time. Over the years, I’ve been working on healing my own different mental illnesses, PTSDs and traumas from life and working with guests and helping guide them. It’s been a real learning process and journey.
In your experience and from your perspective, how do you explain the Ayahuasca experience to people? How do you relate your experience with that healing to them?
It’s difficult to explain. It’s unique to each individual. No two people have the exact same experience. I try to look at it in scientific terms of the Ayahuasca molecules affecting your brain molecules. You’re going to go through a process that may be comfortable at times and uncomfortable at times. To not get too obsessed with the visuals and what’s happening in the visuals, what’s important is, “Are you and your life better after the ceremony?” It’s important in the ceremonies to learn how to relax in the space of the Ayahuasca. It’s different than normal, everyday reality. A lot of times, that experience can create anxiety and fear of its own and make the experience more difficult. It’s important to learn how to relax before the ceremony, in the ceremony and after the ceremony. Every day, we’re bombarded with fear-based propaganda, news and things like that that are not good for our mental health overall. If everybody learned to relax, people would feel a lot better overall in their lives.
Thank you so much for that. Sean, do you got something to say?
Are there any white papers, research or steps on helping people with a brain injury or stroke? I can’t recommend anything to anybody. I haven’t done this myself, but I do know that that plant is very healing. How would you explain it to people like myself who have been through the trauma?
Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot of scientific studies done on Ayahuasca yet. There are some here and there. First of all, you would want to get clearance from your doctor that you’re physically healthy enough to drink Ayahuasca.
In terms of our center, we have everybody go through a screening process. If there’s anybody that has had major trauma, brain trauma, other mental difficulties or if they’re on medications, we insist that they discuss with their medical professionals first that this is an inappropriate experience for them to have. In many cases, we require people to get a doctor’s permission, written permissions, to be able to be in the ceremony with us. The first thing you have to do is realize, “Is Ayahuasca an appropriate plant medicine?” Understand that there are lots of other plant medicines that may be appropriate that aren’t appropriate with Ayahuasca. There are molecular differences between all of the different plant medicines. They go by different names. They can be researched online.
There have been a lot of studies done via the Santo Daime Church. The Santo Daime Church was started in Brazil. It’s a Christian religious church that utilizes Ayahuasca as a sacrament. They have chapters all over the world that are holding ceremonies. They’ve done amazing work to be able to have freedom of religion and expression and the use of the sacrament as part of their religious belief. Our facility and organization is nonreligious. It’s purely based on this idea that spirit is not separated from ourselves and the plants and plant-based medicines. They are truly religious and indoctrinated in the nature of their practice. Because of that, they have been able to do a lot more scientific study over the years on the responses people have had.
The greatest response that we’ve seen scientifically is that, through the use of Ayahuasca, people become more receptive to their own neurotransmitters. If you’ve gone through traumatic brain injury or you’ve had different difficulties that have changed the nature of how your brain chemistry and the way the brain works, in terms of those neurotransmitters, the Ayahuasca has a tremendous capacity to help reset that and turn the brain back on in different ways. There’s the ability to go online and do veracious research, especially about your individual condition. That’s the starting point. This is very serious. It requires a tremendous amount of professionalism to be able to run the ceremonies.
For the participants, they also need to understand that they have an equal amount of personal responsibility in looking into the experience and not just believing in the idea of, “This is a miracle. This is going to help me.” On the contrary, through that research, you have the ability to discern for yourself the quality of the experience, the practitioners that are involved and the reasons for participating. Depending on the nature of your case, there is a teacher plant or a master plant out there that could probably work for you. It may require you to come off medications. If you’re on medications prescribed by a doctor, it would have to be under your doctor’s supervision to make sure that they’re in agreement with the nature of the treatment.Move through the barrier of different kinds of assumption and delusion that expresses ideas that are fundamentally not true. Click To Tweet
From what we’ve found in the world over the years, many healthcare professionals are embracing these alternative treatments, especially when they know that they don’t have a long-term solution or an answer. It’s not just a crapshoot. They’re not just saying, “Go do that,” because they’ve done the research themselves to realize that there’s a high percentage of people that are receiving a benefit. You can talk to healthcare professionals and make a very educated decision about what’s the right plant to use, the right people, the right location and at the right time for you. It’s also in terms of your own personal needs to make sure that you are on or off the appropriate medications to be able to make that a positive experience.
Heed the advice of your medical professional. Your physical and mental health is very important. It’s more important than just drinking a specific plant. There are many other different options out there for healing.
It includes method-based options that don’t require plants at all. One of the amazing things, especially with people who have worked with the plants, is they’ve realized that, while the plants are one gateway, there are also method-based gateways to these treatments. We created an online course to help teach people these practices. We’ve also created online method-based transformative practices to work with PTSD, depression and anxiety that help somebody center in their “I am,” and their self after a trigger, a traumatic episode or just a difficult morning. Teaching those methods not only is important for individual transformation and personal healing but also to be able to take in the sacred plant ceremonies.
How can people find those? Are those on your website?
We talked a little bit about another project you are up to, which has to do with blockchain. Do you want to jump into that and describe to our audience what you are up to in that realm?
We as a center have always been interested in the pursuit of knowledge. We considered the sacred plants a technology. Over the years, we had more and more people come from the technology sector, from coders to designers, entrepreneurs, CEOs and people from all different aspects of the tech sector. We started to see that there are real parallels between information technology and what we were doing. We as a center got very interested in technology. It’s also as a way to be able to share our own messages, very much like participating in podcasts and being able to use the internet as a means to communicate. It’s also the technology that sits behind it. We are interested in visionary experiences. We’re also interested in the plants that sit behind those visionary experiences, and the science behind those plants.
In the last years, blockchain technology has taken off. It took off out of Bitcoin. That is a much lesser importance compared to the idea of the blockchain and smart contracts as a new way of organizing agreements and peer-to-peer agreements between individuals. We started to study as a business group the blockchain and the potential for it to be an evolutionary technology. It’s not just a disruptive technology, but something that could help evolve many different locuses in the global economy that were undervalued simply because of the current state of technology in the world. We saw two sectors that we were very interested in exploring. One was the sector of digital entertainment, digital content creation and streaming video on demand, which affects social media sites like YouTube, Vimeo and all different sites where people are creating and sharing digital content. We are also interested in green energy and sustainable food production. We started to see how there were ways to be able to utilize these technologies to help evolve those sectors to being something that’s even more powerful, more valuable and fair in terms of the remuneration to the people that are participating in that industry.
We started a project called Source Independent Entertainment. You can check out our YouTube channel. It’s called Source Independent Entertainment. We created a production studio where we’ve created over 30 albums of music and music videos that have all different ceremonial tools. There are also relaxation-based music, study-based music, binaural beats for Theta, Alpha and Delta trance states as well as modern genres of music like EDM, rock and all different kinds, even hip hop. We have all different kinds of music there. We’re in a phase of coding our tokens and smart contracts so that we can bring this decentralized marketplace of entertainment to the people. It’s in a way that helps the content creators be fairly monetized for what they’re providing, as well as giving the viewer an aspect of the growth in the platform. We like the way smart contract simplified the nature of the agreement between creators and consumers and how they formed a complete biosphere together. It’s very much like in the ceremony, how the participants, the shamans and the plants all form a complete biosphere.
What I’m hearing is you’re taking a content creator. You’re putting them in charge of their own content. You’re giving them the ability to monetize it without having to go through a third party. Is that fairly accurate?
That’s a very fair way to be able to say it. We consider ourselves a creator network, where creators from all over the world are able to come and be part of a creator community. Instead of just being individuals and competing against each other, they’re sharing in the ultimate growth of the platform.
The beauty of utilizing the idea of a token-based smart contract or utility tokens is important to differentiate from cryptocurrencies. Even though they all get lumped together, a utility token is an instrument that can store and share value between people. It goes by the name token. Think of it as a Bingo token. Instead of it just being there as a token, it is a vessel to store and share the nature of this value. When you participate in digital platforms, you don’t get to typically share in the growth of that platform. What’s beautiful about the idea of this new technology utilizing the blockchain is it’s, first of all, transparent in real time. You can see exactly how your content is performing, the nature of its popularity and the nature of its upvotes. You can also see how much your participation is helping the nature of the growth of the overall biosphere. All of that value can be translated into the token instead of realizing a Fiat royalty from that.
In the normal entertainment, if you’re a content creator and you get monetized, you’re getting monetized in a Fiat-based currency like dollars or euros. That’s the end of the exchange of transaction. As the platforms that support the content creators grow, those companies centralize the control of that value and it doesn’t get ultimately shared amongst the content creators themselves. What makes our platform evolutionary and exciting is that you as a content creator are going to be able to get a fair share of your participation in the collective group. It allows the collective group to still be within democracy and competition, but to not be fighting each other within that competition. Instead, it creates a co-creative environment for the explosion of digital creativity.
On top of all the shamanistic work you’re doing, you’re helping to build some of this modern technology that is not well-understood yet, but it is coming. It’s like the internet in the late ‘80, the early ‘90s. It was a thing, but no one understood what was going on. Now it’s ubiquitous. Blockchain will be one of those evolutionary technologies that become ubiquitous but not completely understood yet. Are you officially live or are you still in the building phases of this project?
Our YouTube channel is live. You can go see us on YouTube at Source Independent Entertainment. Check out our own self-created content as a content creator studio. We have hundreds of pieces of content there. We’re launching our website in Beta as a minimal viable product to demonstrate to the world the general scope and idea of the platform. We’re going to be finishing our smart contract integration and the token integration into the platform. To simplify that and understanding of a smart contract, think of any contract between two people. What is different in a smart contract is that it’s operated by the decentralized platform. Instead of any one person specifically holding that contract and being able to manipulate the contract or having to go to court over the contract, if there’s a dispute, it’s the computerized system itself that maintains the validity of that contract. You have absolute transparency between all parties at all times. You have a system that is ensuring the execution of that contract instead of just the agreement itself.
With an overburdened judicial system that’s trying to maintain, organize and fix the disputes between people, this simplifies the nature of that process to get to a non-disputable contract. There’s no dispute in the nature of these systems. If you enter into the system, you understand from the beginning what you’re entering into and what you’re getting for it. It’s maintained by computers themselves and not by people. That takes away human error. It also takes away the idea of human manipulation, which is an evolutionary step in the notion of how people come to an agreement and share in business.
I got one more question. You two can both answer it. What’s your inspiration?
My inspiration on a daily basis is improving myself, evolving and helping to support our species. I’d like to see this species move away from the more separation mentality and begin to start working together and see that we’re all made of the same earth. If you look back in evolution, we’re all brothers and sisters in this thing. It’s just us, as we know right now, in the universe. We need to start working together in where we’re going with all this.
My inspiration is the idea of being conscious of our own evolution, individually and collectively. I like the idea of being able to be fully awake and conscious while alive of what we’re doing together and how that supports a collective group and individual group. We passed a true rubicon in human history when we globalized. The nature of globalization has changed the way we need to think about humanity in general and become truly co-creative in every way.
Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your stories and perspective on plant medicine, blockchain and everything we’ve got going on. Sean, do you have any last words over there?
You two are incredible. I love to follow up with you again on the experience and everything else. Thank you.
Thank you, Sean.
Thank you all for having us on the show. It’s been a real pleasure to share our ideas.
- Hamilton Souther
- Christian Gearhart
- Blue Morpho Sacred Plant Center
- Source Independent Entertainment
About Hamilton Souther
Hamilton Souther is a visionary leader, speaker, renowned master shaman, and a valued advisor to extremely successful and influential people worldwide.
He guides clients to peak states of consciousness and effectiveness, taking them beyond mere wealth and power to achieve their greatest ambitions.
He has mapped and codified consciousness, becoming a leader and international advocate for the use of shifting consciousness as a tool for healing and life improvement.
About Christian Gearhart
A U.S. Navy Veteran, Christian first began using shamanic practice with Blue Morpho in 2007, seeking relief from lifelong depression. Christian continued his healing work with us as a guest until January 2011, when he accepted his shamanic calling and became a member of the Blue Morpho team.
Christian’s highly disciplined practice is accented with his light-hearted, approachable demeanor. His practice fuses serious, powerful personal transformation with fun and humor, helping people release trauma from the past and re-connect with their “inner child” to experience the wonder, love, heart, joy and spiritual connection we all had as children. When not at Blue Morpho in Iquitos, Christian works with the Blue Morpho Foundation in Colorado.