The day before I left for the Peruvian Amazon in January, the moon was full and in my natal moon sign of Cancer. As a native Cancer moon, I thrive in feelings. The logical doesn’t make sense, intuition does. My emotions constantly sway back and forth like the tides of the ocean. I took it as a sign that this trip was meant to be. It was one of the many symbolic connections I had been making since I booked my flights.
It was my first trip just for me. I was completely on my own, not yet acquainted with any of the beautiful souls I was about to meet. For one week, I would be deep in the jungle with these people with no phone service or internet. Here, we would help make the sacred plant medicine, ayahuasca, and drink the brew together.
(The ayahuasca vine seen on a jungle hike)
It was right before my first Saturn Return. If you’re familiar with astrology, you might know about this significant moment in life. It happens again in middle age and a third time if you’re lucky. It is when Saturn returns to the sign it was in when you were born. (It takes about 29 years.) Saturn is the planet of discipline, achievement, and responsibility, so the Returns are times in our life when we are really evaluating our goals, specifically career goals, and the steps we will take to reach these goals. It is said that the first Saturn Return is when one truly becomes an adult.
(Amazonian butterfly teaching me to spread my wings)
I noticed my outlook on life changing drastically over the past year and I was making significant changes, but what exactly did I want to do with my life? Something told me that I would find answers in Peru. I didn’t expect for my purpose to be revealed to me, but I was in need of a new perspective, a new way of looking at myself.
(Medicinal tree barks and roots that were added to our brew)
I went back and forth for a while, even after I booked the trip. Was I crazy to go by myself? My Cancer moon makes me a natural worrier and someone who is reluctant to leave her comfort zone. But perhaps it is my reckless Mars in Scorpio and Ascendant in expansive Sagittarius that makes me crave the unexplored. At camp, I roomed with an amazing woman who decided to brave the spiritual plant world too. There were couples, friends, and siblings, most of them trying ayahuasca for the first time. The more time I spent with them, the more sure I was that I had made the right decision.
(The ayahuasca brew boils before our second ceremony.)
When I drank more of the sacred medicine, all of my doubts and fears resurfaced in the darkness of the ceremony room. Colorful, geometric shapes and strange claymation images appeared with a force so intense, I began to panic. As the shamans sang and whistled their icaros, a special language used to communicate with spirits, I became lost in my mind and thought I was going to die. But maybe a part of me had to die.
To describe that second night and the other ceremonies would take pages and pages, and that would not even begin to scratch the surface of what I experienced.
In the end, I realized the only thing holding me back was myself. I was reminded of my natal nodes, Pisces and Virgo. Opposite energies. Instead of giving in to the medicine, I fought with it. I’m used to questioning and analyzing everything (Virgo). Ayahuasca taught me to let go and surrender(Pisces). The nodes of the moon are our lessons. The south teaches us what to balance and not overdo, the north reveals our path, the life journey we are meant to fulfill.
When the icaros quieted, the endless sounds of the rainforest flooded the ceremony room. It was easy to get lost in my mind, but the vibrations of the jungle always helped me find my way back to peace.
A couple of years ago, I never would have thought I’d be in the middle of the Amazon with a group of strangers. But I think my Saturn Return brought me there (via my Pisces North Node). I had to plunge into the unknown and not be afraid anymore.
This was the view from the top of the Mayan temple in Caracol, the largest archaeological site in Belize. All I have now are these wonderful memories to take me back…
If an adventure to some far away place presents itself, I usually jump at the opportunity. I have packed up and left when I probably should have saved that last bit of money. Luckily this trip didn’t burn a whole in my wallet at all and was mostly funded by Bronx Community College. Two days after I graduated, I was off to spend two weeks in Belize.
In exchange for our assistance on an archaeological excavation, two other students and I got to go to Belize for only $300. We stayed in Chiclero camp, a campsite down the road from Chiclero Hotel in San Ignacio. This mural was in downtown San Ignacio, where we’d go for dinner every night.
The much smaller and more mysterious site of Cahal Pech that rested right by our camp. Its intricate pathways were more unkempt than the vast site of Xunantunich (below) with the its famous temple, El Castillo.
Cleaning of the artifacts was a nice break from digging in the grueling sun all day. Discovering shards of pottery definitely made that and the pruned fingers worth while.
Walking through Caracol, we passed by what was once a reservoir for the ancient Maya.
Mercury in retrograde threatened our last day in Belize. A friend and I decided to escape to the island of Caye Caulker before I had to go home and made plans to go snorkeling, which fell through. Luckily, we met Ninja, a local fisherman who took us on his boat with his wife and others.
That night, we ate fresh caught snapper and yellowtail under the full Sagittarian moon on a Friday, the 13th of June. Perhaps it was the luck bestowed by Jupiter, Sagittarius’ ruling planet that helped everything fall into place.