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The Kambo Ceremony

Updated: Jan 3, 2021

Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember those feelings you have when you’re new to Kambo, when you’ve got all those unknowns and questions. So I wanted to address the question: what is a Kambo ceremony?

A Kambo ceremony, or Kambo ritual, is a ceremony developed in South American tribal societies in which a Shaman or healer applies a secretion harvested from the Giant Monkey Frog to small burns on the skin of the participants. This causes the participants to purge, cleansing the mind and body of bad elements and negative energy referred to as ‘Panema’. It is used by the tribes-people to increase physical and mental performance prior to a hunt, and to treat various medical conditions. Today Kambo ceremonies are practised throughout the world by trained practitioners for a variety of beneficial purposes.

Let’s dig into exactly what you can expect to happen during a Kambo ceremony.

Preparing for the ceremony

To make the most of your experience, there are a number of things that you should do to prepare for the Kambo ceremony itself:

  1. Ensure that you are safe to engage in the ceremony - that you aren’t in one of the categories that it is not advised that you should take part in a ceremony due to safety reasons. These include: expecting or breastfeeding mothers, those with previous medical histories involving blood or heart problems, and those that have taken various medications close to the day of the ceremony. A good practitioner will take you through these before allowing you to attend the ceremony!

  2. On that note - find a reputable practitioner. One that demonstrates experience and strong concern for your welfare.

  3. Fast for at least 8 hours prior to your ceremony, and where possible, try and eat clean in the days leading up to the ceremony - try and avoid alcohol, dairy, sugar and spicy foods.

  4. Try and get a decent amount of rest before attending the ceremony - Kambo takes a toll, so have something in reserve.

  5. Get some physical exercise in before the ceremony, get the blood moving - the boost in circulation will help the process.

  6. Pack for the ceremony - some water, loose and comfortable clothes, a change of clothes, hair ties, a drinking vessel, tissues and/or kitchen roll for clean-up.

The link above goes into more detail about preparing for the ceremony. Your practitioner should also provide you with some information and make sure you ask questions if you’re unsure - they should be happy to help and guide you.

Experiencing the Kambo ritual

What happens during the ceremony?

You can break your ceremony experience down into 7 parts:

  1. Opening your gateways

  2. Drinking your water

  3. Applying the Kambo

  4. The rush

  5. The purge

  6. The ‘hump’

  7. The calm after the storm

Opening your gateways

The first stage is opening the gateway. Your practitioner will make a series of small burns on your skin - usually 4 or 5 on your upper arm for first time participants - using an incense stick, or small vine. This is just to remove the very top layer of the skin. It really doesn’t hurt as much as it sounds like it might - it only touches the skin for a very brief moment. This is to open the gateway for the Kambo.

Drinking your water

Next is drinking your water. This is purely to make sure that you’ve got something in your stomach that isn’t too unpleasant to purge. Your practitioner will guide you as to how much you should be drinking, but, expect it to be at least 1 litre of water.

Applying the Kambo