Many years ago when I was apprenticing to an Ayahuasquero master in the Amazon rainforest of Peru, I met a Wizard and his dragon.
It started with a journey to a remote village on the Yanayacu river, an offshoot of the Amazon river, a days boat ride south of the bustling city of Iquitos, the capital of the Peruvian Amazon. I was accompanied by my Maestra and a friend from Brazil who had wanted to experience the Peruvian version of Ayahuasca. We had heard about the village of Yanayacu through a friend and how due to its isolated location, there was an abundance of wildlife nearby and some lodges with guides to show one around.
We found a simple lodge next to the river in the late afternoon, the cabin where we stayed was lifted up on stilts, to protect it from the rising waters during the rainy season. The small balcony in front of the cabin had some hammocks on it from where we could lay down, relax and observe the river flow by. Fishermen would glide down the river in their small canoes, as hawks flew over them, eager to see if they could steal a bite from their nets. Butterflies in vivid bright colors, swirled and twirled from flower to flower, enjoying the sweet nectar of a new day. The darkness of evening was heralded by the orchestra of nature playing a symphony in the key of Frog. It seemed like hundred upon thousands of frogs were croaking to the rain god that night, for as their song rippled across the jungle, a smooth and soft blanket of rain fell upon us, cleansing, nourishing and softly putting us all to sleep.
The next morning after a simple breakfast of fresh Pineapple and Papayas, we were taken on a tour of the area by the lodge guide Rafael. He led us down to the small dock where we boarded a small canoe with an outboard motor.As we headed down river I noticed a curving scar that traveled down his forearm, upon noticing my gaze upon it, he cryptically mumbled something along the lines that alcohol and piranhas don't mix. I mentioned to him that we wanted to see some old trees and without a word he veered left at the the next bend in the river and we entered into a majestic lagoon filled with little water lilies and surrounded by deep dense jungle.
Elegant white herons stood upon the long branches of trees that seemed to be raising their arms up to the heavens as swarms of little monkeys chattered away, excitedly jumping from branch to tree as they matched our boats pace. As we sped along the left side of the lagoon, we could see a clearing and in the clearing, a Grandfather of a tree. We all simuntaneously looked at Rafael and asked him to take us there. As the boat touched land and we we jumped onto terra firm, we could see the remains of an old campsite and and the ashes of a fire under the tree. Rafael said that the tree provided shelter to fishermen who came from the nearby villages.
Straight in front of us, up a little incline was a beautiful tree, not as tall as others but sturdy, thick and gnarled. It was a Renaco tree, an Amazonian ficus, known elsewhere as a banyan tree.
As we walked closer to the Renaco, our maestra stopped and looked at the tree silently for a long time and then reaching into her pouch, pulled out a mapacho, which is a jungle tobacco cigarette used in ceremonies, lit it and then proceeded to blow the smoke over the tree, she mentioned to us to do the same. As we circled the tree, recognizing the ancient being, we could feel an incredible energy start to encircle us as the lagoon went silent and even the wind stopped blowing. I could feel all the trees and elemental beings joining us in the honoring ceremony. The maestra stepped back and said to us" This is a very old Renaco tree, he is an abuelo, a grandfather to all these young Renaco's around us". As she motioned to the Abuelos branches, we could see how from some of the branches, a thick offshoot would grow down into the earth and come up a distance away as another tree. All of them beautiful like their grandfather and from them sprouted more trees, going around the lagoon, encircling us like a family holding hands.
The maestra proceeded to tell us that the Renaco trees were very powerful wizards of the Amazon that protected the forest and kept love alive between people. It seems that true love was very important to them and so, the shamans and medicine folk, would sing the songs of the Renaco to the broken hearted about love and hope, thus bringing in new partnerships or fixing existing ones, helping feelings of trust and gratitude to grow.
The maestra looked at me with a twinkle in her eye and said" I'm sure we will see more tonight in our Ayahuasca ceremony". I knew that she was referring to the elemental spirit of the Renaco. I had taken ayahuasca a few times as a young teenager as a right of passage with my father but had not seen many spirits of any kind. Many years later when I took medicine for the second time with the Maestra, I had seen several beings that I knew where elementals and they told me to stay and learn in the jungle with them and the maestra. I was excited for the ceremony that evening and hoped that we would be able to communicate with the Grandfather Renaco. As I affectionally hugged the tree goodbye, I whispered to him mentally, "please come join us tonight"
As we journeyed back to our lodge with the warm tropical wind blowing through our hair, I contemplated the thick cotton candy clouds floating above us, they seemed so close, it felt like I could reach out and grasp them with my hands. I thought to myself, these are the clouds that come from the trees, this is the oxygen that helps the planet breath, oh what a gift to be here and I wept with gratitude.
Returning to the lodge we purified our cabin with sacred smoke and flower waters for the evenings ceremony. We all had been touched by our mornings adventure and the excitement for the upcoming ceremony was building within us. As the afternoon faded and evening turned to night and the lodges candles and lamps were blown out and turned down, the Amazonian night engulfed us in its mystery, the wild music of jungle started its beat and within minutes, the frogs and insects started to weave their intricate mismatch of perfect union in harmony. The night was here and it was time to begin.
After drinking Ayahuasca, one usually needs to wait between half an hour or forty five minutes for visions to appear, yet this was night was different for tonight was to be guided by the Grandfather. As I relaxed into the medicine, I saw a canoe coming from the lagoon, it was crafted from the wood of the Renaco tree within it stood a tall and imposing looking man with long silvery hair, he radiated strength and sincerity in his white robe as he carried a Renaco wood staff. He alighted from the canoe and came towards me with giant strides. He looked deep into me and as he did, I felt him showing me memories of past ceremonies done at the base of his tree hundred years ago and how he was extremely happy that we had come and done the same, for he had missed being honored and loved. He materialized a glass bottle with a yellow retama flower in it and told me to find the flower and bath myself with it, for it would cleanse and bring me luck. Gesturing with his hand, he took me to where he grew and started to expound on the workings of the lagoon and how he was the grandfather of all. In a flash he took me through the lifetimes of trees and animals in the lagoon, from a fallen seed growing, to a tree falling over in a storm. Through visions he illustrated how spaceships would come now and then, placing animals such as crocodiles into the water and different plants into the jungle. It was an educational knowing from within and the Wizard was the teacher and I an eager and amazed young student.
As the master shamans songs grew louder, the Abuelos presence was incredible, here was a real wizard, full of love and amusement and all of a sudden, sweet laughter filled the room and eight or nine young birch trees appeared, they were all white with black stripes on their body and seemed like african tribal people. They looked at me and the Abuelo and called us over to what seemed like a high embankment, when we went over, to our surprise an incredible white fluffy dragon like Falcor from the never ending story appeared. As the abuelo Renaco sat behind his head, he hoisted me behind him and on jumped the company of birch trees and off we went, a bunch of kids traveling through the universe being led by our grandfather wizard.
We flew through the milky way past planets, flashing lights and passing comets. We then looked at earth from above and headed straight down towards the earth oceans, skimming the surface amongst the great whales, dolphins and orcas. Speeding onwards we visited the mighty Sequoia trees and could see their spirits as giant wooly mammoths grazing between them . Blue marble black stars imploded within us as we flew through light years of fun and wisdom. As we floated down into the Amazon after what seemed like hours and hours, I was placed back in the ceremony and have never been the same since. I had met the majestic and compassionate emperor of the rain forest. His court is vast and expansive, his kingdom full of medicine and gifts for all sentient beings. He handed me the key to wonder and acceptance of the elemental worlds. The Renacos and their friends, the elementals have been my constant companions ever since. This is but one of the stories of the Amazon's trees and they wish to share them with you, just as the mermaids, elves, fairies and dwarves of the Nature kingdoms surrounding you are calling out to be heeded, so that we may work together to help our Earth become a better place.