The idea of being pushed through a Full Initiation in the heart of Gabon—home land of Iboga and the core of Bwiti tradition—can never be understood until one is in the middle of this life-changing ceremony.
It is an experience founded on the medicine. Initiates ingest more Iboga than they have ever taken in the West.
“The full initiation is going to be intense,” said 10th Generation Bwiti Shaman Moughenda Mikala of the experience. “And it’s up to every one of you how far you want to go. The only preparation with this medicine is your own mindset.”
In Africa, Iboga was administered three ways during the initiation. It was offered as dried root bark, fresh root bark, and as an Iboga tea.
For this deep ceremony, our group had the honor of working with Iboga harvested from a 34-year-old tree.
The Full Initiation begins late in the evening, and lasts through to sunrise. Villagers pour in from the region, packing the temple with racing heartbeats and pulsing rhythms.
Sweat shakes from their skin—covered in white and red tribal paint, masked and communing with spirit—as they dance furiously. It becomes difficult to tell where feet end and the temple floor begins.
One by one, Bwiti move to the center of the temple to perform. Dressed in full traditional frock of leaves and grass and shells, they wildly stomp and shake. Their hands flail around their dancing bodies, wielding flaming torches, sparks spraying the air.
And one by one, we are suddenly pushed to the front of the temple to dance the traditional Bwiti dance, shuffling feet and shaking hips back and forth in frenzied, heated twists.
We dance the dance of initiation, behind which lies deep intention.
The purpose of this ceremony is to be initiated into the Bwiti; to be two feet into the tradition. To be fully committed to it.
This means embodying their practice.
It is a practice of being committed to the truth, of loving life. The art of knowing yourself. Of opening your senses to connect with spirit. To listen to your inner guide, your intuition. To communicate with your soul; to bridge the relationship between your physical self and your spiritual self.
Our team holds these tools for navigating life in deep gratitude. The Bwiti way has shaped each of our lives, helped us release old patterns that no longer serve and accept life with simplicity and happiness.
And as we danced away the old and moved into the new, we became brothers and sisters of Bwiti. It is this tradition we hold in our hearts, and impart to those seeking healing.
The gift of the Bwiti is a gift we open at each ceremony, and share with our guests. From the Mother Land to our land, these sacred tools are passed to all hands who seek them.
By Deena DiBacco