• Ursula Vari

AWAKE WITH THE TOAD OF DAWN -a personal account meeting the Bufo Alvarius-



It’s been a long time coming. As someone who has worked with energy, plant and frog medicine (Kambo) for quite some time now, it was a natural progression on the path of learning to explore Bufo Alvarius, the legendary toad that lives in the Sonoran desert and some parts of Arizona. As with all the psychoactive medicine I have explored and worked with, I needed to go to the source- a sort of divine pilgrimage to honor the medicine. Over the years, I have ingested Ayahuasca in the Amazon jungle 12 times and that experience has reprogrammed my DNA yet with some current, significant losses in my personal life and a cunning ego, I knew there was more work to do.

The difference between Ayahuasca and Bufo is the type of DMT each contains. Bufo contains 5-Meo-DMT and Ayahuasca our good old DMT, which we humans produce in small amounts in our bodies, whereas the 5-Meo-DMT we don’t. You drink the Ayahuasca brew, but you smoke the crystallized sap of the Sonoran toad. To give you the layperson’s explanation: an Ayahuasca journey lasts 4-6 hours and is filled with endless lessons, messages and intricate visuals, whereas with Bufo it’s more like you get an instant perspective shift with an experience that lasts about 20-45 minutes. As for me, Bufo was 20 years of therapy condensed into 20 sublime minutes.


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On a cool February afternoon, I found myself on Conca’ac territory facing the tremendous Isla de Tiburon. The wind so strong it took a sizable coat to protect the blowtorch heating the glass pipe. Dr. O stood in front of me, focused and stoic. “Are you ready?”- he asked. I nodded yes and hit the pipe. My lips touched the cool glass five times to inhale the medicine. And I could already feel reality fading. As if from a distance, I heard Dr. O’s voice “One more”- asking me to take the last hit. With all my strength-which by then I had none left of- I grazed the pipe, and I could feel my ego fighting and judging the entire experience, “What are you doing?” “You are getting high!” “You just slipped!” voices from my distant 12-step program echoed in my head. “Get me out of here, let’s stop this whole thing.” – I heard my mind say and I wanted out. With the last conscious cell in my body I realized there was no stopping, there was no way out. The only way would be to surrender, to give in and see where the medicine takes me. I heard myself let out a liberating sigh and with that I went.

To some from the outside, it might have looked like I was high as fuck but the truth is I was having a spiritual experience like no other.

All that I ever thought I was, all the fears and pains, all the uncertainties, all the trauma, all the grief, all the opinions condensed into a tennis ball sized orb spinning counter clock wise catapulted into the cosmic consciousness, moving forward in a vortex so fast my eyes could barely follow- spinning in the void - toward a portal. The very moment it crossed the portal, the ball exploded into thousands of particles , all that I have ever was or thought I was, and what I identified with scattered in the starry black sky. There was no more separation perpetrated by the imprints of life, its dramas and innumerable let-downs. It was a complete dissolution of the ego. Then all went quiet. Before me lay the black night with millions of sparkling lights and I was one of those lights. I was floating in the cosmic consciousness, being 1000% a part of it all, being nothing yet being everything, being nowhere, yet being everywhere. I was finally one with…the kind of oneness one can only feel once completely surrendered. And surrendered I was and I could feel my heart opening. My breastbone parting and making way to my giant pulsating open heart welcoming the world, the sun, and the love for the moment. As I laid in the sand, at times I opened my eyes with my whole face smiling - my mind no longer labeling the experience as “you are higher than a kite “ for I had no mind - it was a pure heart experience. Then I heard a voice - “It’s a cosmic joke” - and I smiled to the heavens and back and continued drawing sand angels with my whole body in the sand beneath me.

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Sometime later, I sat up never taking my eyes away from Father Sun, smiling at his kindness. Dr O’s 12-year-old daughter came to me as if we had known each other for thousand of years then she embraced me. We hugged for some time and I held her head in my hand, and for the first time I understood that I have been avoiding human connection most of my life for the wounds I collected through the years. There on the beach, embraced by this angel a motherly instinct was awoken- something I have NEVER experienced. It was effortless and natural. I also saw that my burning love and great passion for dogs was a simple avoidance mechanism to “protect” me from potential injuries I might experience once my heart was open to humans. There on the beach I understood that we need people to learn our lessons through, spiritual lessons, so we can go grow and step into the next phase of our spiritual, soul-level evolution. Not long after Dr O. came by with all the lightness in his being and wrapped his arms around both of us, cradling my shoulder. “I am home”-I uttered. “You are home”- he whispered. The sun and the feelings of my open heart churned tears out of my eyes- beautiful tears of growth and openness and love, so much love that I could embrace all 7 billion of us with my meager arms.


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Dr. O and his daughter walked away at some point and I was left with a great appreciation for the wind, Father Sun, the grand waters with their translucent color stretching past the horizon, the sand beneath me and love in my heart.

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Later, once I was standing, Dr. O appeared again and put his arms around my shoulder. I laid my head on his heart as he started singing. Singing a song that I never heard before, yet I knew. His body morphed into mine or mine into his- it’s hard to know. We had one body. One voice. I started singing with him and we were one with the sun, the waves , the salty air, one with the primal sounds his lips uttered, one with all. The only time I got reminded of my body was when I felt tears roll down my face, tears of gratitude for all that IS. Gratitude for the moment and gratitude for the essence of everything. We stood there for quite some time, blinded by the Sun but I didn’t care.

In my mind I am still there, on that beach with the wind so loud and strong it carries our voices to the Gods. In my mind we are still singing and the Sea of Cortes is our witness. In my giant, open, pulsating heart I feel the love for all, and I am smiling for I finally understood that we take life way too seriously, with all its dramas, the he saids and she saids, the victimhood, with all the fears, with all the separation the conditioned ego mind creates - yeah, we take life way too seriously. For me the message was clear. IT’S ALL A COSMIC JOKE –I remind myself in my West Hollywood apartment as I put the seashells against my ears so I can once again hear the wind of Punta Chueca.

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