I would like to share with you all my experiences with my most sacred personal plant-spirit. It's kava, sometimes called kava kava. It's considered the drink of peace or the drink of the gods by the natives of the Polynesian islands including Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua, Hawaii and other islands which all have their own native strains of kava.
One of the anecdotes on it has to do with the island of Vanuatu where during European colonialism it was banned by the missionaries because it was linked to traditional 'kustom' popular religiosity and as a result of it being banned, the men started to drink alcohol instead. The drinking problem evolved into a crime and violence problem and finally the elders gathered and decided to reinstate the sacred nakamals, sacred trees where the men gather to drink kava socially and to settle disputes. Once kava was brought back, the crime and violence problem subsided and now kava is what men drink daily again.
Xavier Hawk also shared a testimony in the video I am sharing below about how the local nakamal (kava bar) transformed a frivolous and superficial community in Florida into a loving, spiritual community in a matter of months through the sharing of the kava cup.
Kava is considered therapeutic, it's a natural alternative to the anti depressant INDUSTRY. Big Pharma has thousands hooked on so called 'medicines' that are all synthetic and have so many dangerous side effects that when we watch the commercials, sometimes the side effects sounds scarier than the original symptoms. People who have anxiety, heart problems, sleeplessness or just general stress can benefit from it.
There are MANY people out there who are depressed, or just going through tough times, and end up in the hands of Western medicine HOOKED on synthetic drugs that destroy their relationships and their sanity. Nature has given us kava, raw cacao, yerba mate, fruits and berries, raw tomatoes and many other REAL mood boosters that can work wonders and are scientifically proven to help people feel better. Exercise is also one of the best and healthiest mood boosters. I'm a firm advocate of kava as one of those medicines because I've seen the beauty it has brought to my mind and to my moods and my life, especially when shared with close friends with whom we can blend our minds.
On its sacredness:
The islanders have diverse beliefs surrounding kava, including this kava origin myth. The basic belief is that it's a shamanic drink that gets one closer to the spirit world, it opens up the doors and bridges the spirit world and this world. Its psychoactive effects are beautiful, it's considered the drink of peace: the mind is alert and awake but the muscles and heart are relaxed. It's also perfectly legal.
The drink itself is made as a tea from the roots of a tree whose Latin name translates as 'mystical pepper tree'. The flavor is kind of peppery and pungent. The aroma is very strong. Once one develops a relationship with the sacred kava, however, one's reaction to kava changes. It becomes a familiar energy and plant. The body recognizes it, and knows the aftereffects that it will give and the body is happy to meet kava again :)
The only taboos associated with kava are:
1. Never mix with alcohol.
2. Never mix with MAOI's (these are the active ingredients in many anti-depressants) or with harder drugs (they often have MAO's also).
The rational or exoteric explanation behind these taboos is that it may mess up your liver. Also it's better to drink kava on an empty stomach: it makes kava's effects stronger.
3. I would also add a final taboo to use it with purpose, not in a frivolous manner. Kava is a gentle teacher, but only if we have mindfulness in our relation with the kava plant.
My personal testimony:
For many years I've developed a relationship with kava and it has had a huge effect on my spirituality. I usually drink it late during the day, or at night, and it sometimes gives me very interesting dreams. Some of the dreams have been recurrent and power animals have shown up in very intense dreams and concurrently over several weeks. Some of the dreams had to do with the changes going on now on Earth, some took place in a jungle and river similar to the Amazon. And so I think spiritually speaking, kava is and earth spirit, very relevant in our day and helps us to tune in to what's going on globally on Earth.
There are many cultural traditions tied to kava. They vary and every community develops their own with time. There are traditional big bowls that are tribally decorated and used to mix the kava, and then the drink is shared communally in a coconut shell. I have two coconut shells for kava consumption at home, but use a normal large kitchen bowl to mix it (for now, until I find a more suitable affordable mixing bowl).
I've developed my own recipe that I've shared with other kavaheads, only to find that some of them have also been doing it: instead of plain water I like to use yerba maté as the base for my kava (but I only do this with Tongan kava, because the other strains of kava have too strong a flavor). Yerba maté brings out the medicinal qualities in other herbs (according to South American curanderas) and it also takes the bite off, making it more pallatable.
I also add coconut oil for better aroma and flavor. Adding oil to one's kava is recommended because oil helps to activate the kavalactones, which are the psychoactive molecules in kava. I add all these in a blender to ensure a good mix and then I allow the kava to rest for about 15-20 minutes (to let the kavalactones activate) before I begin consumption.
I buy my kava from this kava bar in Boca Raton, Florida. As far as I know, it's the only nakamal (kava bar) in the US. I've also purchased from Hawaii through ebay, but always keep coming back to the Boca Raton source.
Don't expect a pleasant flavor. This is a sacred medicine. It takes like mud, like drinking Earth itself. I hope some of you try kava at least once, and when you do, toast by saying 'BULA' in celebration like they do in the islands. This is the kava tradition. Peace!
The following is a neat introduction video to kava drinking by Xavier Hawk, an award winning young Native American musician who incorporates kava (and hip hop) into his music and spirituality:
WOW! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences! I have herd many good things about Kava and my girlfriend has also spoken highly of it! The story of it's original use that you shared seems so much like many others in which the western world put down it's good name and forced the people to turn to alcohol thus leading to a more angry and confrontational civilization. It is so good to know that so many old ways are resurfacing and helping the western world come to the reality that natural medicines are much safer and more effective than big-pharma.
Thank you so much!
Blessings and love!
And welcome to the GIC!!!