January 28, 2023
From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/hamilton-souther/
[00:01:11] Podcast Sponsors
[00:06:38] Who is Hamilton Souther?
[00:13:30] Coming to Peru and experiencing Ayahuasca ceremony
[00:23:30] Is the practice of Ayahuasca use among wider population a new phenomenon?
[00:29:18] Interacting with spiritual world and other entities
[00:33:02] Podcast Sponsors
[00:35:59] Shamanic Battles
[00:44:09] Is there a risk for people whoa re coming to experience plant medicine?
[00:48:32] Music and chants
[00:50:35] The malpractice of Shamanism and how to be safe
[00:55:50] Hamilton's spiritual practice on daily basis
[01:00:16] Where is the future of plant medicine?
[01:05:33] Closing the Podcast
[01:06:50] Upcoming Event
[01:09:03] End of Podcast
Ben: My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.
Hamilton: We've explored a tremendous amount around entities and what they could possibly do. Sometimes they're malevolent and cause tremendous problems and harm for people. I've seen full-on demonic possessions where exorcisms are done to be able to release these kinds of entities from people.
Shamanic warriorship is a tried proven thing in the Amazon. It's been going on for thousands of years. People go into these altered states and ultimately have battles in consciousness. And, you're literally fighting for your life. There's ultimately no way out of it other than to fight your way out through the other side. The shortest battles we were ever in could have lasted five to ten minutes and the longest ones 10 to 15 hours at a time. That went on for many, many years.
Ben: Faith, family, fitness, health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and a whole lot more. Welcome to the show.
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My podcast guest today, Hamilton Southern, he's Shaman, but he's no ordinary Shaman. He's the guide and founder at a place called Blue Morpho. And, there at Blue Morpho, he's a master Ayahuasca Shaman. He has been studying in Peru since his early 20s. And so, he's been down there for a couple of decades immersed in mysticism and shamanism and is actually one of the few non-native men down there to ever be initiated into the traditional ways of ayahuasca shamanism. And, he'll be able to fill you in more on what exactly that is and why that's meaningful on today's show.
But anyways, his healing center, like I mentioned, is called Blue Morpho based in Iquitos, Peru. And, that's a place where he holds traditional healing routines. He also does a lot in cyberspace as well helping people out online. And, he and I have a few mutual acquaintances. And, he's really got a unique approach to this whole plant medicine piece, so I thought he'd be a really interesting guy to have on the show.
All the shownotes for everything we talk about are going to be at BenGreenfieldLife.com/Hamilton, BenGreenfieldLife.com/Hamilton. So, Hamilton, welcome to the show, man.
Hamilton: Thanks, Ben. It's a pleasure to be here.
Ben: Yeah. So, you're down in Peru right now.
Hamilton: Yeah, absolutely we're here in Peru. I'm here in Lima actually at this moment.
Ben: Okay, cool. Now, do you live down there permanently in Peru?
Hamilton: Yeah, I travel around a lot, but really, our home base is here in Peru.
Ben: Okay. So, I would love to hear your evolution because you're obviously not Peruvian or a native Amazonian. How'd you come to be what's called a Master Ayahuasca Shaman.
Hamilton: Yeah. So, in my early 20s, I had an opportunity to come down to Peru, really interested in mysticism and medicinal plants and kind of what was beyond the scene or visible reality.
Ben: What interested you in that?
Hamilton: Well, after I graduated from the university, I studied anthropology and I heard stories about this extraordinary reality, had never experienced it myself. I actually had a spontaneous awakening. I had a shift in consciousness where I started to have extraordinary experiences. And, as part of those experiences, it was very clear that I needed to actually train or develop the capacities that were sort of naturally manifesting on their own.
Ben: Wait, was that before you went to Peru or after that you had this spontaneous awakening?
Hamilton: No, it was before I went to Peru. It's actually what sent me to Peru in the first place.
Ben: Okay. Now, what exactly is that? And, sorry to already start rabbit holing as you go into your history, but what is a spontaneous awakening?
Hamilton: It's like you're living your ordinary life and everything's basically completely normal, and all of a sudden, you start having extraordinary experiences like prophetic dream experiences or deep inner knowings or feeling like a calling or a direction that you need to follow or visionary experiences in their own right through meditation, breathwork, stuff like that. And, in my case, it was all very natural like just one day to the next, I started to have these very lucid dreams and prophetic experiences. And, ultimately it told me that I needed to go down to Peru.
Ben: Did you have any family history of stuff like that or did you talk to your parents or grandparents? Is this something that you think was naturally built into you or that you genetically inherited? I mean, did you think initially that you maybe just ate a piece of funky cheese? What was your perception of the whole thing?
Hamilton: It really all started after, I mean, I fundamentally gave my life to spirit. And, didn't really know what that meant at the time, but I was kind of over-trying to lead and guide everything on my own. And so, I thought there had to be something greater than just us or just ego. And so, I dedicated my life to that, I gave my life to it hoping that there would be some kind of intervention or some kind of support, guidance, direction that I could be given in my early 20s. And, luckily in my case, it actually happened very quickly. And, there wasn't really any family history of that of any kind. I came from a western medical family, complete science background, but there was this idea that there might be something greater to this universe. And so, we tapped into that.
Ben: Yeah. So, a spontaneous awakening and these lucid dreams, do you remember any examples of something you experienced or even like the Peru thing with a voice in your head that said, “Go to Peru” or what was that like?
Hamilton: Yeah. I mean, in the prophetic dreams, it was like having dreams where I would become very lucid, I would become aware of myself in the dream, could start to guide and direct myself in that experience. It was actually very healing. It allowed me to move beyond certain kinds of fears and phobias and certain hang-ups I had or blockages about the past, things like that. So, actually things that we could all relate to. They're really helpful in that sense. And then, I also heard a deep inner voice or a deep inner awareness. It's kind of a intuition on steroids. It's super intuition and it just said you're going to go to Peru. And, in my case, I said, no, I'm not. I kind of denied the whole thing at first. I'm like, “No, I don't think I'm going to Peru.” And, I was actually told the website to go to at the time of night to go to it that there would be a ticket there that would be half the cost.
Ben: Now, when you say you were told, was it a vision that you would then write down, or was it channeled through you vocally? What's that like when you're told?
Hamilton: Well, I think if you have a really strong intuition, only now it's is coming from a third-party source.
Hamilton: So, it's not you telling it to yourself, but it's inside you knowing it. It came through meditations. So, I know meditation, deep meditation, and trans meditations can alter your perception in a way. And so, it just sort of sounded in my own mind this greater definitive direction saying you're going to go to Peru.
Ben: And, it's more than just a Jiminy Cricket conscience thing like maybe I should go to Peru. It feels a directive from something outside you.
Hamilton: Yeah, for sure, 100%. Literally, “You're going to go to Peru.” I mean, those were the words. It's like, okay, I said no. And then, the same thing said, “You're going to go to Travelocity through yahoo.com at 9:00 p.m. tonight and there's going to be a ticket there that's half price.”
Hamilton: And, I respond back, “Okay, I'll go. I'll at least I'll look.” And, certainly, there was a ticket there that was half price. And so, that's how I ended up going to Peru.
Ben: Okay. So, you get to Peru and then what happens?
Hamilton: Well, I kind of [00:13:33] _____ to that same voice. I said, “What do you mean I'm going to go to Peru? I'm 6'3″, white guy from the States, from California, what do you mean I'm just going to go to Peru and I'm going to travel around?” Like, “What am I going to do?” And, same intuition, it was like, “Well, just go backpacking.” So, I had a backpack and I flew into Peru and I started backpacking around, really looking for mystics and looking for people that could guide me or help me understand the direction that I was supposed to go at that time. And, I was interested in potentially finding medicinal plants and kind of having an anthropological adventure in its own.
So, I was just traveling around. And, every day, I would do a meditation and every day, I would get clear guidance on what to do the next day. It was literally that simple. And so, I literally went around Peru for about 50, 60 days and ended up in the Amazon and then went deep into the forest and ultimately had my first ayahuasca ceremony. And, it was in that ceremony that I was shown in visions–now, this was obviously extreme visions, not just deep intuitions, but this is now unbelievably strong very clear visions that I actually needed to stay in that part of the forest and that that's where I would live, learn, apprentice, be accepted by the people, and ultimately start a life.
Ben: And so, at what point did you get interested in becoming a shaman yourself?
Hamilton: The term “shaman” is sort of imported. And so, there are these people in the forest that have this really interesting belief system around medicine, which is that spirit is interconnected and interlinked with medicine. So, the doctors of the forest are called medico vegetalistas or plant doctors. You got to think you're in the middle of the forest. There's no hospitals, there are no other people, and there are lineages that have passed down this tribal knowledge of the use of the medicinal plants of the forest of which there are documented hundreds and potentially even thousands. And, they have this knowledge, they know how to heal with it, a variety of illnesses like you'd think about 80 to 90% of the western illnesses that are covered by hospitals they're able to cover in the Amazon with these plants. And, they have this belief that spirit, and to them, that is the total energy, the total energy, the universe, the total energy of the forest, the total energy of Earth, that this idea of spirit is interconnected with their medicine. And so, that was just very interesting to me. And, it was at that point that I realized that I wanted to study it.
Ben: So, when you say it's used as medicine, I think the perception of Ayahuasca probably by a lot of the people listening to this podcast is it's something that people will sometimes go to South America to experience or occasionally experience in the United States or elsewhere as kind of a mind Journey or a mind-expanding plant medicine excursion or something like that. When you say it's used as a medicine, it sounds to me you're implying that it's used perhaps more traditionally for things like chronic diseases or injuries or something like that?
Hamilton: Yeah. I think these hundreds of medicinal plants not just ayahuasca, but literally hundreds of plants are used exactly the same way that western pharmaceutical drugs are used. So, there's a process of meeting with somebody who's respected as a doctor and then there's a diagnostic process to come to a diagnosis of the illness. And then, there's a treatment that is created and a variety of medicinal plants would be used. And, in a traditional practice, ayahuasca may be used one-tenth of the time. And, it's not the way that it's portrayed in the west, it's portrayed that the medicine out there is ayahuasca, but that's not really true. Ayahuasca has used maybe one-tenth, maybe one-fifth of the time. And, it's used to treat the spirit, not typically used to treat the physical body unless there is an illness that it's really good at healing, which includes gastrointestinal illnesses and other kinds of psychological and psychosomatic illnesses. It's considered incredibly good for healing.
Ben: For the piece about gas from intestinal illnesses, that's interesting because I've talked to a few people who have used ayahuasca for the spiritual purposes but reported that a lot of gastrointestinal issues that they've had have been resolved. And, I always hypothesized that maybe it was a gut-brain access thing and that perhaps they'd release nervousness or anxiety or trauma or something like that and that that had an impact, the vagus nerve or whatever else on the gut. But, is ayahuasca actually doing some other things you think from a microbiome or a gut standpoint?
Hamilton: Yeah, I do. I think that, one, there's a kind of brain regulation that takes place on a chemical level. Not just a spiritual level where you get over some things that you would maybe think of in psychology. This is much more psychiatric. So, I think there's one, a brain chemistry phenomena that takes place in the treatment with ayahuasca, but I also think that there are other aspects of the plant itself that are incredibly good for clearing the intestines and giving the intestines an opportunity to heal themselves. And now, if you add other plants that we know that are really potent for treating both different kinds of parasites and other kinds of just gastrointestinal inflammation, you can also have a tremendous positive effect on the ability of the body to heal the intestines.
Ben: Interesting. Now, I should probably just so I don't put the cart in front of the horse here, some people might be listening in who might not fully understand what an ayahuasca experience would actually be like. How is that medicine actually served? And, I realize it's a super basic question for some people, but I know that some of my listeners might not really know.
Hamilton: It's phenomenal because while it's been talked about a lot, fundamentally it's so unique in the administration of it. First of all, it's a tea, so it's, in essence, simple to make because it's the combination of our variety of plants that when combined form ayahuasca, there's the vine of ayahuasca that's Banisteriopsis caapi, there's Psychotria viridis, which is called chacruna, and then a variety of other admixtures can be added depending on the lineage and their practice. But really, you combine those two plants together and you get the base of ayahuasca itself.
Pharmacologically what's really interesting about it is that ayahuasca has a substance in it called harmaline. And, harmaline deactivates an enzyme in the stomach which allows dimethyltryptamine to be absorbed through the stomach and ultimately go to the brain, which is what causes the visions. And, for those who don't know, it's considered an extremely visionary plant or one of the most visionary plants there are. And, in a western sense, visionary is called hallucinogenic. We question the idea of hallucinations associated with the plant directly because these visions that people have transcend kind of the traditional definition of a hallucination. There's this merging with a greater shared reality that takes place inside the experience, which is called a ceremony.
So, instead of it being administered in a clinical environment, it's administered literally in a ceremony. And, there is a ceremonial leader, and that is your medico vegetalista or your shaman. And, they know how the shamans have learned how to guide the trans experience and the visionary experience that people have under the influence of this medicine while it's working, just like a western medicine like you take it and the chemicals go through your body and they have a process that works, but then there's also this visionary component to it which can last anywhere from two to eight hours. And, during that period of time, there's this very unique consistent experience between participants that they go through a mentalization and journey associated with the healing that's taking place physically. And, that can also provide psychological healing, psychosomatic healing, as well as sort of this extraordinary spiritual healing that can take place.
Ben: I actually want to delve into the spiritual component of it a little bit more, but back to the physical medicinal component, if it's served in a ceremony type of format especially the spiritual purposes that you've just outlined, is there also a practice of ever serving it, I guess, in smaller doses almost like a microdose for people who might come in with gut issues or SIBO or parasite or something like that? And, the reason I ask is, I actually have and it's somewhere up in my pantry, someone had sent me a couple bottles of what is like an ayahuasca extract that is supposedly for micro-dosing purposes and I never really even used it. I wasn't quite sure what the use indication would be. But, is it ever served like that as well?
Hamilton: It can be. Traditionally what you're going to find is that it's served in a dose that is measured for your needs. And so, that could be a smaller dose and given over a number of days or it could be a much larger dose and given one time. And, we actually have examples of that and lots of other kinds of parasite medications as well.
And so, a traditional treatment is typically two or three experiences with it but then they're all–so, these tribal uses which now go beyond, again, just the concept of the western medical, and they have different mixtures of the plants, still using the same base vine. And, sometimes they'll use only vine and they'll make it very watery and they'll drink cups of it and really flush their system with it. I really do think that the western concept of micro-dosing is something that has been created in the west and isn't really shared in the traditional cultures. So, there's a number of different ways to use it, but micro-dosing really isn't one of them.
Ben: Okay. Alright, got it.
With ayahuasca, and I could be wrong here or misinformed, but I've heard that shamans traditionally would be the ones who would use the ayahuasca and that the practice of it being widely disseminated to the general population is a somewhat new phenomenon. Is that the case?
Hamilton: Yeah, for sure. In the traditional cultures, only the practitioners use ayahuasca regularly and the patients only use it when necessary. Now, there are tribes that use ayahuasca where only the practitioner or the doctor or shaman is the one who actually ingests ayahuasca goes into visions and they use it as a diagnostic tool and then they perform different kinds of energetic or spiritual healings. That's kind of now steps outside of the science and you kind of have to go on that journey yourself to understand. But, yes, there is that phenomena where the practitioners are the ones that drink it. And again, like I said, they use it for diagnostics. Then, patients would drink it when necessary. But, you got to also think that in the Amazon during this period of time, they didn't have MRIs, they didn't have blood tests, they didn't have laboratories to be able to get more data. And so, the way that they got data was by going into this extraordinary visionary state or altered state of consciousness and being able to get factual information that they would be able to come back with from that visionary state and then ultimately use that to prescribe different kinds of medicinal plants.
Ben: That's fascinating. Can you walk me through what something like that, actually, because I assume as a shaman you've experienced that yourself or gone in as a diagnostician using something like ayahuasca? What's that actually like?
Hamilton: Yeah, I can give you a really great example about six years ago, seven years ago, we had a gentleman come to us had this incredible terrible limp in his right leg. He came into our ceremony and I was going to do the diagnostics on him. And so, during that night in the divisionary state, I actually started to have a vision of what it looked inside his hip itself as if you could have an ultrasound or an MRI. It was as if I was literally inside it.
Ben: For the setting, was he in the room with you and then you administer the ayahuasca to yourself?
Hamilton: Physically, yeah. To myself, correct.
Hamilton: Yeah. And, he didn't drink, he's just lying there. He wasn't a patient to drink ayahuasca. They were trying to understand what was wrong with them.
Hamilton: And so, he just has this terrible pain in his hip. Has this terrible limp. He's lying down on a cushion on the floor and he was in a group of another 20 or 30 people who are all there for different reasons. And so, I participated in the Ayahuasca. I drank it. And then, as the vision started to come on, you start to see this kind of matrix of patterns that's in the air. It's literally between you and everybody else. It's very common to be able to see these really intricate and beautiful geometric patterns. And then, from that colors kind of form and appear, and then in that state, you can focus on the patient. And, in this case, I focused on the gentleman with the hip problem. And, all of a sudden, it was as if I was looking directly inside his hip.
And, what I saw was that the hip was actually intact, he had an inflamed hip socket, he had a huge abscess on the femoral head, and it had spread into the middle of the hip socket itself. It looked like he had a deep infection. And, what he needed was to be treated by western medicine. And so, I came out of that vision and I said to him, “Look, you need to be treated by western medicine. It looks you have an incredible abscess in your hip. You're going to need a surgeon to look at it.” And so, we sent him to the hospital in the city the very next day and he got diagnosed exactly that that he had an abscess in his hip, he needed to have surgery. They cleaned the head of the femur. They cleaned the acetabulum. And, they were actually able to save his leg and save his hip.
Ben: That's fascinating. So, it's almost you had X-ray goggles on or something like that. That's really interesting. So, when you're doing something like that, have you ever hypothesized as to what's occurring like how you're actually able to see that?
Hamilton: You get pretty accustomed to the idea of moving beyond the reflection of light off the physical. So, I think most people consider their vision to be a vision that is created by the reflection of light, and that that's what their eyes see. And, you kind of learn through these experiences that even though it looks like you're seeing everything outside of you, you're actually seeing it in your brain. So, where you have this vision of, I don't know, the kitchen around you or your living room or wherever you're listening to this is actually taking place inside your brain even though it does look outside of you.
And so, we get used to being in these states where we understand that that vision is going to kind of disappear and you're going to have what looks like this deep dream. And, you kind of go into this understanding that what sits behind all of this physical matter is a kind of quantum reality or kind of energy that has been talked about by different traditions for thousands of years. Call it the dao. Call it qi. Call it prana. Call it the subatomic and the quantum of the air itself that we're currently studying in science. And, you learn how to not only relate to that kind of energy and that kind of subtlety but also to be able to glean information from it. And, it's just fundamental to the diagnostic process. Very few ever actually learn it anymore. The practices have sort of drifted to being more kind of psychospiritual, but the real deep medicine practices are really about this idea of going deeper into consciousness where you're going to an energetic reality that is part of the physical.
Ben: Do you have a belief in, I would imagine this as the case as someone who's practicing this spiritually as well that when you're in that domain is the potential to be interacting with a whole different what something we might call a fourth dimension or a spiritual world? And, if so, do you encounter other beings when you're in that dimension after having served ayahuasca or some other medicine? Is it all just you up inside your head interpreting light in a different way or are there other entities or beings present in your opinion?
Hamilton: Yeah, I think that that's a really interesting question. You're in your own vision. And so, you have to always take that into consideration, but there certainly is a collective of now experienced reports that people have said literally millions where there is the shared reality. And, it could be a higher dimensional state like you described. It could be aspect of consciousness itself that people are pioneering and learning about and being able to discuss and talk about. It can also be what's beyond the western traditional mind.
But yes, it is a shared space. And, in it, there are these other kinds of energetic beings or energetic shapes. And, some of them reflect our mythologies, our religions, and our ancient traditional cultures. And, some of them don't. And, the ones that don't create their own mystique around them, et cetera. And, there is also discussion about the ability of these things to be able to communicate with you, interact with you, what they are or where they come from, if they're in essence something that's benevolent or malevolent, what the possible consequences are of that. And, it's something that I think needs to be taken very seriously when people consider participating in these experiences.
Ben: Have you ever encountered anything like that?
Hamilton: Yeah. I mean, I've encountered stuff like this all the time. It's part and parcel of what is described as part of the forest and the mythology that the locals live with is that the forest is alive and that the beings that live there in the form of beings in the sense like trees and plants, and animals, and all the things that we would see in a forest also have this other spiritual component associated with them that they call it spirit and that you certainly can interact with that. That was the first kinds of interactions and contacts I had. But, in working with people from all over the world and really now from over a hundred countries with all the different kinds of ailments and beliefs that they come with. We've explored a tremendous amount around entities and what they could possibly do. And, it's really interesting. I mean, sometimes they're malevolent and cause tremendous problems and harm for people. I've seen full-on demonic possessions and where exorcisms are done to be able to release these kinds of entities from people. I've also seen where there are benevolent kinds of healing visions.
This is a great story. There was a lady who came who is blind from Lyme's disease, so she was fully seeing, got Lyme's disease and went blind and then was diagnosed blind, was legally blind. And, she saw in her visions that these jaguars, these little jaguars were actually eating the blindness out of her eyes. I don't relate to that myself, I don't exactly understand what she was exactly experiencing, but this is what she says she saw. She saw jaguars come and literally eat blindness out of her eyes. And then, over the next six weeks, she became fully seeing again.
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Ben: When you're in that state, I've heard it might have been from you that this idea that some sometimes one shaman will have certain entities at their disposal and another shaman will have other entities and they'll almost have these battles over certain individuals or certain villages or something like that. Is there something to this idea of a shamanic battle?
Hamilton: Absolutely. Shamanic warriorship is a tried proven thing in the Amazon. It's been going on for thousands of years. And, people go into these altered states and ultimately have battles in consciousness. And, in their consciousness, you're literally fighting for your life. It's a life-and-death fight. There are no rules. There's no referee.
Ben: You mean, like your physical biological life?
Hamilton: Yes, absolutely. It's over your physical life. And, the way they try to prove these great mystical powers is to actually manifest things physically from great distances. And so, there's this massive culture throughout the entire Amazon of trying to war and battle through consciousness itself. So, the people and the participants are separated by great distances. But, to make it real, they all declare verbally at different places and different times in different little towns and stuff like that, kind of the old west duels and stuff that this is actually happening. So, there's a collective community component to it that knows what's going on. And then, there's the actual nights where these battles take place, sort of a declared state of war or conflict between different groups and different people. And then, instead of going and attacking each other physically in a conventional sense, they actually try to attack each other through this psychomagical entity experience that you're describing.
Ben: Holy cow.
Hamilton: And, it can be incredibly harrowing and something I think that needs to be watched out for, for sure, even though I understand that it is really hard to relate to or believe in unless you've experienced it. I did not believe in any of this at all until I experienced it for myself. And then, when I came out of it, I sadly realized how real it was and realized I had bitten off more than I could chew.
Ben: Tell me about the experience.
Hamilton: There's a number of them. I mean, ultimately, I became part of a lineage that healed what are called the dark arts or these kinds of warring arts. So, people use them in the Amazon in a kind of retribution or they use them in a kind of way to create justice. And, sometimes they're also just real psychopaths that are just completely malevolent in their own right and they learn these kinds of arts and then use them too. We think of them all as demonic and ultimately something that's obviously very harmful and very negative.
So, we were part of a lineage. I actually helped people get past this or heal from this or be able to move on in their lives after this had happened to them. And so, in that case, ultimately there's lots of different ways it manifests, but you go into vision and all of a sudden you realize that there's an attack upon you and the visions that you have are of something that looks out of the akin of “Lord of the Rings” or it could look like “Matrix,” it could look like “Star Wars,” it could look, yeah, like something out of a fantasy sci-fi kind of an experience where you're in an altered state, you're in an altered reality, you can't get out of it, and now upon you coming at you are these negative kinds of forms of energies or entities. And, you hear it, smell it, see it, sense it. And, if it actually comes in and reaches your physical body, you experience the effect of it literally in the moment, it becomes a completely psychosomatic state. There's ultimately no way out of it other than to fight your way out through the other side. And, the shortest battles we were ever in could have lasted five to ten minutes. And, the longest ones 10 to 15 hours at a time that went on for many, many years.
Ben: So, when you're in this state and there's another shaman who might be at a distance who you're doing a battle with, do you actually see them when you're in this altered state, or do you see certain entities that they're directing at you?
Hamilton: You see both ultimately multiple visionary fields open up, so you get one field of vision that is what's happening physically where the origin of this attack's coming from.
Ben: But, wait are you are your eyes closed or open?
Hamilton: It's an interesting state because with your eyes open or closed, you see exactly the same thing.
Hamilton: So, you could have your eyes wide open, but this is happening at night, so you're kind of in the dark anyway. But, yeah, you have a field of vision like that, you have a field of vision of the attack itself, you have a field division that's what's happening right around you, you have a greater field of vision like what could be it, like 100 yards, 500 yards, a kilometer away. And then, you can also have visions of multiple fields at the same time like something that looks like outer space, something that looks like Earth, something that looks kind of otherworldly, it's hard to describe. And, all of those could be playing out at the same time depending on the kind of person you're up against.
Ben: Wow, that's really interesting. So, is this something that you had to be trained to engage with or experience, or you just get attacked one day and have to deal with it?
Hamilton: I got attacked one day and then had to deal with it. Yeah, it was not something I was trained for at the time. The first person I actually ever participated in ayahuasca with turned on me a number of months after that experience and was the first person to really come and attack me in a very direct way. That was ultimately corroborated, the townspeople asked him if he had done it, he admitted he had. It ended up becoming kind of a thing.
Hamilton: So, it wasn't like I made this up or was delusional at all. Actually, this guy really did turn on me and he really did go tell the whole town that he was going to do all this really negative things to me.
Ben: And so, what was that like being attacked? How did it was happening?
Hamilton: I ultimately saw him in the vision and then I was attacked by all of these voracious animals. So, in the visions, it was just thousands of different kinds of every kind of attacking animal, predator animal you could imagine like wolves, and lions, and tigers, and jaguars, and big snakes, and small snakes, poisonous snakes, and all these different variety of them all at the same time in these multi-colored psychedelic visions all trying to come at me. And, I was just asking, “Where is this coming from? Where is this coming from?” And then, I saw him in the vision, his body was all covered in these black cloaks and he had these big red demony looking eyes. And, he just looked faded and kind of miserable and really nasty and dark and scary. And so, that's how I knew it was him, it was just ringing through my head, oh, my god, it's coming from this guy.
And so, ultimately, I started trying to defend myself. I don't know. Block, use your mind for whatever you can. You start asking like, “What do I do? What do I do?” in the space. And, you just kind of get guided and directed, intuition kicks in. Ultimately, I lasted about four and a half hours before I lost the battle. I had no experience, so I didn't take it too hard in that sense like I should have won. I mean, I wish I could have because I was ended up getting very sick. I ended up becoming very, very ill through that process. I ended up finding the people who trained me. So luckily, they healed me of that and then they ultimately started to train me. So, yeah, it was in a very intense experience. And, when I say sick, I mean high fevers, vomiting, and diarrhea for no reason. You can't find a western medical diagnosis for your problem, it just kind of gets worse and worse and worse and stuff.
Hamilton: All of that came from that first attack.
Ben: Oh, my gosh. So, this kind of begs the question like if there's those type of people or shamans or folks who know how to direct that energy. For example, you're at in the Amazon and then you've got some western ayahuasca tourists showing up to have medicine serve to them, are people at risk when they're coming down and doing stuff like that?
Hamilton: I think any time people use these substances or these plants, there's a kind of risk associated with it. And, you want to make sure that if you're going to do something that's risky like drive a car, you want to make sure that you have good safety measures in place and use the seat belt. And, if you're going to go on an airplane, you better hope that the airline and the entire team behind that airplane has everything set up for you to be safe and to get from point A to point B. And so, in the case of coming down to the Amazon and experiencing this, you have to find really credible responsible people with Integrity to be able to host these kinds of experiences for you that also have a long track record in holding a very safe place who know how to keep all of that kind of stuff out of your space and out of your experience.
Ben: What's it been like being down there and seeing, at least from what I perceive, the massive increase in popularity of people wanting to come down to the Amazon and do medicine? What's the impact been like either environmentally or societally or what have you witnessed over the past several years as far as the increasing popularity?
Hamilton: Yeah, there's tremendous positives and negatives around the increasing popularity. The positives are that this aspect of this culture, these cultures in the Amazon is now interesting and it's gone, it's kind of popularity, which is actually really important to preserve the cultures. So, when I first got down there, the cultures were dying and people didn't want to go through the training processes anymore to really learn of the plants or they didn't understand why you would want to go learn this versus to get some aspirin from the medical outpost or something.
So, the positives are the propagation in their own culture of keeping their own cultural heritage alive, keeping their medicines alive for the people, which actually have global benefit. So, I think that there's tremendous benefit there. The negatives, of course, are what happens when you have an unregulated industry and all of a sudden everybody's an expert when in reality very few are. And so, you get a tremendous number of charlatans and you get a tremendous amount of expansion of untrained use of these plants and these kinds of healing techniques.
And, in reality, to learn, you have to go through at least a five-year, maybe 10, possibly 15-year apprenticeship, which is the equivalent of undergraduate education, med school, and then residency. So, same concept sort of the real practitioners. It's a 10 to 20-year process to really take it to the top level of what the communities respected and also needed. And, you just don't see that anymore. So now, you have a situation where charlatans are going around like glorified bartenders saying “This is ayahuasca, just let the ayahuasca do it. You're losing all of the practices, all of the safety, all of the ancient techniques that have been handed down for thousands of years.” And, I think that's really the concern.
Ben: What's an example of an ancient technique passed down over thousands of years that folks might just not know about?
Hamilton: Truly being able to continuously guide the visionary and trans experience to the purpose of healing so that your group of people there if 5, 10, 15 people who are all seeking this kind of actual positive real transformation need to have a leader there who knows how to take them through that experience literally step by step and take them from a place of illness to a place of healing. And, it's not a crap shoot, it's not hit or miss. The trained practitioners know exactly week in, week out, how to create that for people just like western medical doctors know how to practice their medicine.
Hamilton: And, if you just serve Ayahuasca to people like a glorified bartender, it's a crapshoot and something that I consider to be dangerous.
Ben: Now, does everybody use song and music as a part of the experience for healing? Or, is that also one of the more ancient tactics that you have to be trained to know how to do?
Hamilton: No, that's definitely an ancient tactic. The ikaros or the chants that you hear associated with the practices are both passed down generation after generation and have been proven to work and have a very specific purpose. You can think of them individual apps that actually do something. They run a certain kind of code through that ceremony. It's not just listening to nice sounds or music or even dissonance sounds and it's actually purposeful.
The training associated with learning that craft or that art to be able to know how and when to use different kinds of ikaros and ceremonies takes years, takes years of training and dedication. And, it's a true art form in its own right.
Ben: How come a shaman wouldn't just be able to, let's say, do a digital recording of an ancient ikaros and just play that even if they hadn't been trained to do it? Is there a difference?
Hamilton: There certainly is a difference. There's a difference in being able to create the sounds in real-time. Then, there's a transference of consciousness and energy in the room itself. When you digitize sound, you lose a tremendous amount of the fidelity. And, I think that's just a nuance to the nature of it. I tried. I spent many years studying how to be able to digitize this and be able to expand the practices and share it with people in a positive and healthy way.
On the other side of it, you also don't know when you're supposed to use each different ikaro or each different apps. So, if you just create a playlist of it and you say this is your experience, it's very different than somebody live offering an understanding of why this one versus that one. What's going on right now with everybody in the room or this one person that they're working with to make sure that that is the appropriate invocation or the appropriate ikaro to be using at that time.
Ben: Yeah. Is it true that certain shamans are able to–I don't know if possess is the right word but almost influence someone or have influence over them even after they've left the experience let's say someone travels to the Amazon and comes back because I've had friends who have discussed even publicly the idea that they feel like they have been possessed by an entity or that they almost need some exorcism-like experience. Is that something that occurs?
Hamilton: I think rarely. I think more typically is that there's a culture of some kind of foul play associated between the energies of the practitioners and the participants. And, the participants often want to allude to the practitioner some kind of extraordinary value or extraordinary power. And, I think that that's exactly the wrong idea. I think that you're going to somebody looking for support and help. You are 100% unique and intact to yourself. And, somebody's going to help you. You can be very grateful for that. You could even feel a tremendous gratitude for that. But, ultimately that person who is there to help you, that's what they're there for. And, I think there's this hybridized scenario now where you get a little bit of guru worship or there's too much given over to the practitioner. And then, the practitioners, some of them may take advantage of that.
And, in the worst-case scenario like you're describing, yes, they try to use spirituality, they tried to use energies and entities to be able to influence a participant, which we consider to be a complete lack of integrity and malpractice.
Hamilton: So, it's important to understand that that would be the equivalent of a western doctor doing something that would make them lose their license. That'd be the same thing as a lawyer doing something completely unethical and then losing their license. So, if we heard about that ourselves, this shaman practitioner used some kind of magic over a guest and then the guest went home and now felt like they needed some kind of exorcism or some kind of possession scenario to be released from them, that would be considered malpractice, that person should no longer be allowed to practice. But, because this is unregulated, there's no way to then ultimately be able to stop them.
Ben: Do you have any other thoughts about staying spiritually safe and protected in that space or when people are engaged in the use of ayahuasca or other plant medicines? Are there things that you've witnessed allow people to be more protected in that space?
Hamilton: Sure. The protections that people can use, the ones that you really have innate to you. The first one is your heart. And, your heart is a center of love and tremendous power. And, it's something that gets awakened within the experiences.
The other is to go to the plants themselves and ask them for their protection. And, to think that the plants have the ability, pardon me, and the experience to be able to offer that. So, you want to be able to go to your heart as a safe place, a place of absolute protection and love for yourself and then you want to ask the plants for the protections that they can bestow on you within that experience. I think the most important though is your connection to source. No one can take your connection from source from you.
Ben: What's a connection to source?
Hamilton: Your true faith and true belief in God or your true faith and true belief in the power of this universe. I kind of equate the idea of source and God as exactly the same, so this idea that there is something powerful and greater that is the Creator of all and the creator of this universe and that that Creator can give you extraordinary safety and protection.
Ben: And so, for you, what's that look like? Is that prayer or song or is there a practice that you engage in on a daily basis to maintain your connection to God?
Hamilton: I think prayer is a great one. I think how people pray is obviously a question of what you relate to, but I really believe in the idea of direct communication and that when you go into deep concentration and focus and you express yourself with absolute honesty and truth to God that you are heard, I believe that a 100%, I have absolutely no doubt about that. And, that as you establish that connection through that practice which could be deeply meditative, it could be prayer in the way that religion teaches it, it could be your own style, as long as it is pure and true to God and to source, to this universe, to this immaculate creation that you have something that is truly magnificent. And, in that magnificence, you can grow that connection. And so, a daily practice of it is to practice it daily. It's to take anywhere from five minutes a couple times a day to 15, 20 minutes and establish and build that connection to God.
Ben: Yeah. What's that look like for you? Do you wake up in the morning and is that one of the first parts of your day or for you is it throughout the days in evening practice? What is your own spiritual practice look like?
Hamilton: Well, my spiritual practice on a daily basis is really broken up into very small chunks of time because I'm very busy with the activities that I have. So, I'm involved in a number of different projects and stuff. So, I think a lot of us, I have a very, very busy day-to-day life. And, in that, then I get these brief moments, I get five minutes here or two minutes there, ten minutes in other place. And then, I use them when I get that opportunity to reaffirm that connection, but I've done this for so long now that I feel like I'm a living experience of that connection. I never feel the connections lost or broken. And so, I reaffirmed the connection. So, it's not I have to reconnect, I'm always connected, but I want my mind to know it because I've been doing a bunch of things on a computer or I've been going somewhere in a bunch of meetings, et cetera. So, I just go back to that connection and express my unbelievable gratitude and love. My practice is based in absolute unconditional love for Divinity.
Ben: Yeah. That kind of reminds me of a guy, a faith healer who I interviewed a couple years ago named Issam Nemeh who lives up in Ohio. And, at one point while he was treating me, he just kind of this mix of intention setting and electric acupuncture and prayer and hands-on healing, so obviously kind of a unique practice. There's a whole book written about him. I forget. But, I'll link to my interview with him in the shownotes if folks go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/Hamilton.
And, I remember he was working on me, he commented and said something like basically his life is prayer and his life, his connection to God. Meaning he doesn't separate his work hours and his client hours and his patient hours and his family dinner hours or whatever else from his devotional practice or his spiritual life, it's just all one constant connection to God and listening to God and passing the love of God through his hands when he's working on patients and being in constant daily prayer and union with God and not considering time with God to be something that is simply what you do during a morning devotional practice or during an evening prayer and that instead life is prayer and life is connection to God.
And, I certainly won't deny that I think the importance of carving out an intentional almost liturgical set and setting each day to connect with God, but then I think that if you consider that to be the connection then you step away and hang up the phone and walk away and maybe come back up and call God up later on that evening that that's a really almost pitiful way to be in constant daily union with God versus basically expressing the love of God and your connection to God through everything, every step that you take during the day. And, I think that if you can do that, then you can really better sense God's voice in your conscience and better sense God's intention for your life and better sense God's calling and better sense God's warnings and better be able to identify what is and is not the voice of God. And so, yeah, I think that's a really beautiful way to live.
Hamilton: Yeah, I appreciate that tremendously. The idea of that kind of flow with God leads right into then the ceremonial practices.
Hamilton: And, in my case, I said this part of my healing work with people also part of the coaching work that I do that ultimately I experience that for the kind of focused devotional practice that you're talking about at different times from anywhere from four to five hours kind of every other night. So, it's about 15 times I would say, anywhere from 12 to 15 times a month. I'm in this kind of very intense environment where we're calling upon God and divinity in all of its different forms to be able to ultimately help and support everybody and keep them protected and safe while they go through these transformational experiences.
Hamilton: So, I think the flow state goes right into the devotional practice and from the devotional practices right into that flow state again. And then, you can really keep that extraordinary lens in your consciousness awake to that guidance and support that's always available to us.
Ben: Yeah, I fully agree.
Now, you're obviously pretty involved in this whole world of plant medicines and in ayahuasca and the other things that we've discussed so far, Hamilton. I'm curious where you see the future of all this going. I mean, we obviously have everything from spirit tech, right, people combining light and sound stimulation machines and haptic sensations with the use of plant medicines. We have companies say like Field Trip Health delivering ketamine trochees to people's homes and having them sit with an app and do ceremonies in their homes. And then, of course, we have people taking the traditional route of traveling to the Amazon.
And then, others, I certainly carved out this path over the past year who I've distanced myself from a lot of the deep journeying with plant medicine just because of my own combination of fear and deep respect for the spiritual world that one can step into and my fear for many people who just have no business being in that space or just using it very casually coming back and getting harmed. And so, there's all sorts of different things going on in the whole industry.
But, I'm curious for you what you're most excited about or interested in as far as the future of where plant medicine or ayahuasca is actually going right now.
Hamilton: I think the most interesting part of the future is where science and plant medicine come together. And, this incredible explosion in science that's happened over the last 20 to 30 years gets to be guided and directed to plant medicines. And, I see that happening completely in the clinical sense like the studies that are happening at John Hopkins and stuff like that. So, I see that on the complete clinical side psychedelic-assisted therapy. There will be purpose in that, but there will also be this hybridization of science and traditional plant medicine practices. And, I've also heard of a lot of groups very interested and going into that and studying that.
And, I think that's what's really interesting is to actually move beyond the way that the indigenous people described the experiences and the way these spiritual travelers who've experimented with this and have experienced it as a form of healing can actually now describe it in a way and in a common language that everyone will be able to understand and that we could get real statistics and data on what it does very well, which ones do exactly what incredibly well from the psychological mental healing stuff to the physical healing capacities of it and then really find the benefits from it. I think that's really most exciting.
Ben: Now, related to that whole scientific aspect, what about, like I mentioned, Field Trip, I know they're developing an analog of psilocybin that interacts with the 5-HTA receptors in the same way but has a much shorter onset time and a shorter peak time with ayahuasca. I know that there's the pharmaceutical version, Pharmahuasca, which I think has been around for a little while as a more kind of targeted synthetic version. What do you think about a lot of these synthetics versus the natural plant medicines?
Hamilton: I think my biggest concern about the synthetics are what you're losing from the plant if you're only focused on the psychoactive properties and then the tweaking of those psychoactive properties to the kind of experience that you're trying to create. So, I think that that has a purpose and I think it has merit going forward, but I don't think that that's the only study that needs to be done. I think we need to understand all of the different chemicals that are inside the plants and the kind of chemical interplay and cocktail that's created and ultimately study them to try to understand from the trace molecules all the way to the most pronounced psychoactive ones, how they all work together and have evolved together. And then, from that, understand what combinations of those are very potent and important to the transformational process or transformational healing that someone's looking for. And so, I just think we'll have an opportunity to expand upon that.
Ben: Yeah, it is interesting. I think it's an entirely different experience with synthetics versus the natural plants at least in my own experience it seems the synthetics are a bit more predictable kind of in your head a little less spiritual and almost wild compared to some of the plant derivatives. Have you ever thought about or experienced anything like that?
Hamilton: I think that the plants are unique in their own right because they're part of this incredible evolution of life. And, they've had a purpose including the purpose that they have to propagate themselves. And so, they have their own energy, they have their own spirit. And, when you use psychoactive plants, people talk about interacting with the plant in a consciousness-based way, not just an interaction on a chemical basis. I think that when we talk about the chemical-based ones, the synthetic ones, or the pharmaceutical ones, you typically don't hear of that same kind of reverence or interaction associated with the substance itself. And, it becomes more about the experience that's being triggered. I don't think one's better or the other, I just think that they both pose different kinds of risks and then you need to understand the best way to be able to protect against those risks so that you can always have the safest experience.
Ben: Yeah, interesting.
You're just a wealth of information on this stuff. And, I know that you have a new book coming out too what's called “The Mystical Secrets of Ayahuasca.”
Hamilton: Yeah, “The Mystical Secrets of Ayahuasca” was published yesterday on Amazon actually. So, yeah, we just finally released it.
Ben: Cool. I'll link to that in the shownotes for people to check out. And then, Blue Morpho is the name of your place. And, is that also in Peru?
Hamilton: Yeah, Blue Morpho is in Peru. We're located out of the city of Iquitos. It's a beautiful place in the Amazon. It's really a sort of a gateway into the entire Peruvian Amazon up in the northeast of the country. And yeah, really incredible place to be, truly magical.
Ben: Cool, cool. Well, I'll link to all your stuff. And, if you're listening and you have questions for Hamilton or myself, things you want to add to this discussion, topics that you would like to see visited in the future about this, you can leave them all at BenGreenfieldLife.com/Hamilton. That's BenGreenfieldLife.com/Hamilton.
And, Hamilton, thanks so much for coming on the show, man, and sharing this stuff with us.
Hamilton: Ben, it's been a pleasure. Thanks so much for having me on the show and always look forward to talking with you.
Ben: Awesome. Alright, folks, I'm Ben Greenfield along with Hamilton Souther signing out from BenGreenfieldLife.com. Have an amazing week.
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During our discussion, you'll discover:
-Who is Hamilton Souther?…06:39
- Ayahuasca shaman
- Blue Morpho Retreats in Peru
- Helping people online
- Becoming a master Ayahuasca shaman
- Interested in mysticism and medicinal plants
- Studied anthropology and heard stories about extraordinary reality
- Spontaneous awakening and shift in consciousness
- Extraordinary experiences
- Prophetic dreams or deep inner knowing or callings
- Spontaneous awakening led him to Peru
- Started after giving his life to spirit
- Inner voice calling to Peru came through meditation
- Came from a western medical family and complete science background
-Coming to Peru and experiencing Ayahuasca ceremony…13:44
- Backpacking and looking for mystics and spiritual guides
- First Ayahuasca ceremony in Amazon forests
- Clear vision to stay, live, and learn there
- Shaman is an imported term
- People in the forest with an interesting belief around medicine; spirit is interconnected and intra-linked with medicine
- Doctors of the forest are called medico vegetalistas or plant doctors
- Studying tribal knowledge about the plant medicine
- Hundreds of plants in use for different illnesses
- Diagnostic processes and treatments
- Ayahuasca is used to treat the spirit
- Also treating gastrointestinal issues
- How is Ayahuasca administered
- As a tea, it's a combination of a variety of plants that when combined form ayahuasca
- It's basically the combination of these two plants together that is the base of ayahuasca
- Pharmacologically, ayahuasca contains harmaline which allows DMT to be absorbed and cause visions
- Administered in a ceremony by a medico vegetalista or shaman
- Shamans guide visionary and healing experiences
- Micro dosing is something that has been created in the west and isn't really shared in the traditional cultures
- Tribal uses go beyond medical
-Is the practice of Ayahuasca use among wider population a new phenomenon?…23:14
- In traditional cultures only shamans use Ayahuasca regularly
- Altered states of consciousness provide medical information
- After diagnosis, they prescribe plant medicine
- Hamilton’s personal experience on diagnosing with Ayahuasca
- Hypothesis on how diagnosing occurs
-Interacting with spiritual world and other entities…30:20
- It’s a shared space with other kinds of beings
- Many serious unanswered questions about them
- Hamilton’s experience with spirits
- Shamanic warriorship in the Amazon
- Life and death fights in altered states with no rules, no referees
- Conflicts of different groups and people
- Hamilton’s experience with shamanic battles
- Helped people to heal from these battles
- You're in an altered reality you can’t get out of; you hear it, smell it, see it, sense it
- There's ultimately no way out of it other than to fight your way out through to the other side
- The shortest battles we were ever in could have lasted five to ten minutes
- The longest ones 10 to 15 hours at a time that went on for many, many years
- Many visionary fields open up at the same time
- You see entities and shamans you fight against
- You see what is going on around you
- With your eyes open or closed, you see exactly the same thing
- Hamilton’s first attack – very intense experience
- Vision of various predatory animals
- Vision of a person that have attacked
- Lasted 4 hours
- Lost and ended up very sick
- Seeking people who healed him of that and then they ultimately started to train him
-Is there a risk for people who are coming to experience plant medicine?…45:17
- There's always a risk associated with it anytime people use these substances or these plants
- Need to find credible and responsible people to host these experiences
- The impact of the increasing popularity of these things
- Positive – preserving the culture
- Negative – unregulated industry with a tremendous number of untrained shamans or charlatans
- 10-20 years of learning process needed to get to the highest level
- The true purpose is healing that requires a skilled leader to take a person from illness to healing
-Music and chants…49:50
- The ikaros or chants associated with the practices are both passed down generation after generation and have been proven to work and have a very specific purpose
- Knowing how and when to use different kinds of ikaros and ceremonies takes years and is a true art form in its own right
- Digital recording lacks energy and real presence
-The malpractice of shamanism and how to be safe…51:59
- Some people report a feeling of being possessed after their experience with a shaman
- It is possible and represents malpractice of shamanism
- Similar to a western doctor doing something unethical that would make them lose their license
- How to stay spiritually safe in that space
- The first protection is your heart and love; your heart is a center of love and tremendous power
- Ask plants for their protection
- The most important is connection to source – your true faith and belief
-Hamilton’s spiritual practice on daily basis…57:24
- Very busy daily life
- Uses short moments to affirm the connection
- Express love and gratitude
- Ben’s story about his experience with a healer
- Maintaining a relationship with God
- Intense devotional time 12-15 times a month
- Hamilton's practice is based in absolute unconditional love for Divinity
- Podcast with Issam Nemeh:
- Miracles Every Day by Maura Poston Zagrans
-Where is the future of plant medicine?…1:02:05
- Field Trip Health
- Science and plant medicine coming together
- Scientific studies of healing capacities
- Synthetic vs natural plant medicine
- The concern is what you lose with synthetics
- Synthetics are less spiritual
- The Mystical Secrets of Ayahuasca Part 2 by Hamilton Souther
- The Mystical Secrets of Medicine vs Sorcery: The Untold Story of Ayahuasca Part 1 by Hamilton Souther
-And much more…
- Six Senses Retreat: February 27, 2023 – March 3, 2023
Join me for my “Boundless Retreat” at Six Senses from February 27th, 2023 to March 3rd, 2023, where you get to improve on your functional fitness, nutrition, longevity, and the delicate balance between productivity and wellness. Complete with a healthy farmhouse breakfast, yoga spa sessions, and sound healing, you learn how to live a boundless life just like me, and I'd love to see you there. Learn more here.
- Keep up on Ben's LIVE appearances by following bengreenfieldfitness.com/calendar!
Resources mentioned in this episode:
– Hamilton Souther:
- Blue Morpho
- The Mystical Secrets of Ayahuasca Part 2 by Hamilton Souther
- The Mystical Secrets of Medicine vs Sorcery: The Untold Story of Ayahuasca Part 1 by Hamilton Souther
– Other Resources:
- Can You Get Healed By Someone Praying For You & “Laying On Of Hands”? The Story Of One Physician’s Inspiring Faith And The Healing Power Of Prayer, With Dr. Issam Nemeh.
- Miracles Every Day by Maura Poston Zagrans
- Field Trip Health
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Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Hamilton Souther or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!