Elan Vitae


  • J Bristol


The journey started over coffee with a dear friend. A harmonic friend, one I’ve known for many lifetimes. As he sat there recounting his experience with bufo alvarius (5-meO-DMT, considered the most powerful of psychedelics) in a remote natural sanctuary, I knew then I would be making my way to this place and this experience.

I had attempted several times to participate in the traditional plant ceremony, ayahuasca (DMT) many years before, but was always inhibited by a last-minute limitation. After several interrupted attempts, I finally got the message that it was not the right ceremonial experience for me. Ayahuasca soon became highly en vogue and by that time I had lost interest. Not thinking much more about it, I trusted I would be guided to the right experience and at exactly the right time.

This was it. This was definitely it. As I sat across from him, my whole body began to vibrate and I felt the connection to the process begin. At once I was connected to the place in the jungle where we would meet, the medicine man and his partner who would be my guides, and the medicine itself. I was excited, with full knowing this was the next step on my path. Unlike many who make their way to this type of ceremony, I was not seeking healing or relief from trauma, but rather an expansion of my awareness and my path, purpose, and place in the Universe.

We set out early toward a remote corner of fertile land near an active volcano in southwestern Mexico. Leaving behind the heavy, humid air of the pacific coast, we wove through the mountains and into the cooler, fresher air. The day began with a sweat lodge for purification before the ceremony. The Mayan tradition of this “temezcal” was different from the Native American Lakota traditions I was used to. It was fairly short in duration with the guide chanting the entire time. We emerged from the sweat and dowsed ourselves in cold water, clearing the release and sealing the self to move forward into the bufo ceremony with that newly gained clarity.

Next, we walked the foot path further beyond the sweat lodge site and deeper into the jungle, but on the same property. The narrow trail was barely a trail. It was thick with lush greens and massive, wildly-grown tropical flowers. Shortly, the path opened to a clearing and at the far edge of the clearing was a flat space with a thatched roof. Only those who were participating in the bufo ceremony and the guides were permitted to enter that space. My guides were clear that the medicine we would be using that day came from a trusted personal source who had ethically harvested the medicine himself from the bufo alvarius toad in the Sonoran desert of northern Mexico.

As this would be the second journey for my friend who accompanied me, he agreed to go first so I could see what his experience was like. After inhaling the medicine, closing his eyes, and lying down on the woven mat, he braced his body rigidly with his arms down by his sides, fists clenched, arms and legs both engaged and reaching long. A vast smile came over his face and it was as if I could hear his entire being scream, “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!.” as he barreled down some sort of shoot or slide in the ethers. Soon his body relaxed an