One of the great recurring themes one encounters when speaking with people whose lives have been changed by natural medicines such as ayahuasca, ibogaine, and kambo is that material success very rarely equates with true happiness. It seems absurd to the conventional way of thinking that someone would find misery in a highly successful career but find meaning and lasting joy through a ceremony involving frog venom, root bark, or a jungle brew that causes an intense ordeal of physical and emotional purging—yet this is absolutely the case.
One such refugee of conventional success and pioneer of helping people find their authentic self through natural medicines is Simon Scott. Simon is one of only a handful of master kambo practitioners as listed by the International Association of Kambo Practitioners (IAKP). Although he once owned a highly successful special effects company, today, Simon facilitates kambo ceremonies and runs the website Kambo Cleanse, which offers a wealth of information about kambo and its proper use. Psychedelic Times had a chance to speak with Simon about his personal story of discovering kambo and his many years of experience introducing people to this powerful medicine. To be clear, neither Simon Scott nor Psychedelic Times are making any medical claims about kambo; we are simply sharing anecdotal experiences.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, Simon. When did you first encounter kambo, and what was your life like before then?
I had a spectacular career in Hollywood, but I was miserable. I started out coding in my bedroom as a teen, and years later, ended up owning my own visual effects company. You have to be careful what you wish for, of course, because I wanted this successful company that was winning awards and making lots of money, and I had that—the company, the awards, the Porsche, the girlfriend—but after years of doing that, I ended up being very sick. I was depressed, not sleeping well, and just overloaded. One day, I just didn’t have the energy to get out of bed, and I realized this wasn’t the life I wanted. I went into a deep depression, and I was stuck in this loop in my head—“you have done this your whole life, there’s nothing else you can do, your life is over.” I’d been talking with a friend for quite a while about going to Colombia to drink ayahuasca, but I could never find the time nor the courage to do it. But at this point, I had nothing to loose, so I went to Colombia and drank yagé. My experience was profound, and I continued to go back to Colombia on a regular basis.
During one of those trips to Pasto, the shamanic center of Colombia, friends invited me to drive out into the countryside for kambo. On a whim, I jumped in the car and we drove for what seemed like hours. There was a sense of excitement and trepidation; it started raining heavily, there was thunder, lightning, we ended up pushing the car, and finally, we arrived at a remote farm house in the middle of nowhere. I opened the door, and I’ll never forget the scene I saw. All these people were laying on the floor in different states of pain, emoting, vomiting, holding their stomachs. It was carnage and I was terrified, but about thirty minutes after we got there, I had eleven points of kambo on my arm. I had a very strong experience—I passed out and went to a healing white space. In that space, there was an emptiness, but it was also very healing. When I woke up, I vomited violently and had to lie down for a good hour under a blanket. That was my first experience with kambo. After that, once people started to recover and speak with each other, there was a great warmth in that house. People were feeling really good about what they just did. I did kambo a few more times over the next few days, and it clicked for me. This is difficult medicine…but on the other side of this ordeal there is great clarity. That’s when I fell in love with kambo.
How did you evolve from experiencing kambo to facilitating kambo ceremonies for others?
In the beginning, I didn’t realize that I was training. As I was going down to Colombia regularly, I started to assist an ayahuasca shaman who was administering kambo as well. I was emptying buckets, helping people, and observing ceremonies. He was not formally training me, but I was soaking up a lot.
Eventually, I took some kambo back to the states and started to share the medicine with family and friends. It was a very organic process. I have to admit if someone told me that was what they were planning to do as a path towards being a kambo practitioner, I would not encourage it, but that is how I began. Today, it would be better to receive a proper training, but at that time, there was no such training available. Over time, I made an effort to connect with other people who knew more than I did about kambo, other practitioners and native groups such as the Yawanawà and Katukina in South America, and that’s what lead me to where I am today.
What have you learned about kambo over the years that was not immediately apparent?
I have goosebumps just thinking about this—it is the beauty of the human spirit, the desire of each person to heal. Kambo really does help people to purify and find their true path, it helps them to remove their distortions or those things which block them from their higher consciousness. Kambo helps people to awaken and to blossom into a higher expression of themselves. Simply put, Kambo acts as a catalyst in the development of the human spirit.
Kambo itself is not psychoactive in any way, but it is often compared to psychedelics in its capacity to transform lives. How would you compare kambo to entheogens such as ayahuasca, psilocybin, or iboga?
I don’t really like to compare kambo to psychedelics, because they are all so unique in their own ways, but kambo is most certainly a powerful transformational tool. I believe kambo is a multidimensional medicine, and you can see that clearly in how the kambo works. For people who are physically blocked, they will purge a lot; for those who are working on mental blockages, there will be a lot of shaking and work on the nervous system and mind; and others who are ripe for spiritual transformation will cry and emote and let go and rediscover their connection to source after kambo. Through my personal experience and through the people I’ve worked with, I’ve seen that kambo can catalyze massive positive transformation on the physical plane, the mental plane, and on the spiritual plane.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to try kambo for the first time?
I would give the same advice to someone using kambo for the first time and someone who has done it one hundred times, and that is that every time you do kambo, it’s the first time. If you approach the medicine with a beginner’s mind, it’s a much more beautiful experience than bringing your ego.
Before approaching kambo, I suggest that people take a little time for introspection so that they arrive with a sense of what they wish to work on. Sometimes, people approach me and I guide them to do other things before doing a kambo ceremony. For example, if someone is physically frail, kambo would not be the best medicine until they can build up their strength enough; cleansing, after all, takes energy. Undertaking a strong medicine like kambo is best discussed with an experienced practitioner.
In terms of finding a qualified kambo practitioner, there’s a blog article I wrote to help with that. Beyond that, people can visit the IAKP website to find a certified kambo practicioner in their area, or if someone would like to work with me, they can contact me via shamanicsupply.com and we can go from there.
We are very grateful to Simon for his dedication to providing information about kambo and facilitating kambo ceremonies.