Ana: Were you and Chor aware of issues that needed forgiveness before you went on your iboga journey? Did you work with forgiveness as a practice prior to imbibing the medicine?
Elizabeth: It was Chor’s heroin relapse that first brought us to the iboga medicine, though the medicine ultimately healed so much more than that. Right before we went on our iboga journey, we were not conscious of issues that needed forgiveness. We were just both in extreme survival mode. All we could do was make it through each day. My target was to just get my love to the healing center alive—with myself still functioning.
Before Chor’s heroin relapse, he had been a very spiritual person. He was aware of the power of forgiveness, and yet prone to resentments sometimes. Daily prayer helped him navigate hard feelings. At a point, he says, he just stopped praying, and that’s when the drugs and toxicity crept back into his life.
Before I connected with iboga during Chor’s healing crisis, I had worked with ayahuasca. I had previously understood the concept of forgiveness as an ideal, however it was Mother Ayahuasca that really first showed me, in a fully embodied and intimate way, just how important forgiveness is to the great circle of life as well as our own well-being. I sensed that anger and resentment ultimately create poison in our own bodies and minds. More, we are all truly connected as relatives, and any violent energies we hold towards others only serves to harm ourselves on some level.
A: During your medicine journey, did you feel that the plant guided you to places inside you that needed forgiveness? Did you feel resistance and if so, in what way? How did the resistance show up? Did you let go on a deep level and if so, would you say it was on a soul level? How did that feel inside your heart, mind and body? What happened and did it change you in some way?
E: Absolutely! I needed to forgive myself for choices and harmful thinking patterns that had hurt my soul. I also needed to forgive Chor, and this was the most profound experience of forgiveness in my life. I had been completely devastated, going into that ceremony. For me, true forgiveness was not an intellectual decision, rather, it was a powerful full-body release of energy that felt like I was exploding into a billion tiny stars… It was my ego’s armor shattering. And I found that under all that anger and resentment was infinite oceans of love. Yes, it was on a soul level.
Chor had to forgive himself for harming himself. This was all the more powerful after he’d seen just how precious the gift of life and love is. He spoke to his own soul, face to face, in the medicine journey, which is a Bwiti practice. He had to apologize to his soul, and receive genuine forgiveness from within. The Bwiti people have understood just how vital it is to be in a good relationship with one’s own soul for eons.
Neither of us experienced resistance in this process. We were so ready, so hungry to heal… and so open to what the medicine and the Bwiti tradition was offering us.
A: After iboga, have you been able to integrate any forgiveness realizations into your every day life? If so, how has this changed, healed, or enlightened you?
E: Yes. For us, true forgiveness is rooted in the direct experience of unity with all things. Forgiveness has become so natural, yet it is also a conscious practice and essential to staying “clean” spiritually.
A: Both traditional forgiveness and expanded, radical forgiveness are available to us without any external substances. How do you incorporate your every day awareness of forgiveness now, without any substances to help you – both individually and as a couple?
E: Though we’ve had these deep experiences of forgiveness in medicine ceremony, they served as a powerful “imprint” that never left us, even long after the ceremony ended. Yet, a vital element in long-term healing is integration, and we were blessed to have good resources; I wrote a book, Chor painted, we speak out about our healing journey, and we connect with a beautiful global community of medicine people. Good integration has been key to incorporating forgiveness, along with other transmissions of the medicine, into our ongoing life journey.
Elizabeth’s book about the healing she and her husband, Chor, went through with the help of iboga is called Heart Medicine: A True Love Story – One Couple’s Quest for the Sacred Iboga Medicine and the Cure for Addiction. Find out more here: www.ebast.net/heart-medicine.html