simply healing, 
Markus Drassl, 2018, ink on paper, 22in x 33in


Transformation and Healing as Art

The will to heal started with the illness. My journey of transformation began, with my depression in my mid-twenties, with the understanding of the need to heal but without tools to act. All the self-medication with marijuana and alcohol lost their power and just became as problematic as life itself. The flow stopped and the need for help became obvious.

I spent many years in search, looking for traditional healing as well as for alternative methods to cure my emotional, yes, emotional what? At this time I couldn’t get a handle on my problems, not knowing what was wrong, what might be the cause, so I went in search….

What happened, how did I end up here? What did I just drink? November 10, 2009, Iquitos Peru, in a roundhouse, I think they call it “maloka”, in the middle of nowhere. I drank this brew, just a cup full like last night, but there, absolutely nothing happened. Tonight it happens. I am in the middle of a psychedelic hurricane, feeling like an egg on LSD in a washing machine. My sister told me about this apparent miracle medicine, this juice you drink and it fixes your problems. Can’t see that yet. Now is all just about surviving and at the same time trying not to soil my pants. Squeezing my butt cheeks meantime I travel at the speed of light into a nightmarish hell of dreamlands, universes, and this overwhelming sense of unity with the entire cosmos, all at the same time. Never was so scared in my whole existence, never.

I let go, I surrender, I am ready to die. A strong sense of relief is running through my body and mind. I feel free. Now I can see my life, this abstract construct I call “my life”. What does that mean? I can see clearer, I see my blocks, my being stuck, my closed heart, my soul and my cluttered mind.

It’s over, I am going back to my hut. I am shaking. What wasthat? Nobody to talk to, nobody to explain, just the raw me and this intense insight that change will happen. In the morning I want to pack my stuff, leave this place. But where to go? Back to the same old? No, I can’t. I have this strong sense, under all of the fear, there will be change or even something they call healing. Still abstract to me, but there it is, hope.

“…ramakaya kayara ,enke cano abanon,……” shipibo language, unknown words, a song, powerful, a bit scary and melodic, unmelodic, beautiful, strange. January 22nd, 2019, Iquitos, Peru, in a roundhouse, we call it “maloka”, in the center of the Amazon. The lyrics are coming out of my mouth, I can hear them, I can hear myself singing.

The person I am singing to is focused, her head bent down, deep in “mariacion”, the trance, deep in her own vision.

Natalie is seeing her trauma, she sees her faults and the way they affected her loved ones. She is crying, meanwhile, she holds her bucket tight. The song is guiding her, the song is showing her, the song is cleaning her. I know how she feels, where she is, feeling empathy for this moment of truth.

From a patient, I transitioned to a facilitator and now to an apprentice curandero, shaman. It is a journey with no rigid borders or steps, it is a fluid ride.

What appears to be a linear journey, from 2009 to 2019 is an accumulation of overlapping circular lines, intertwined circles, ovals and glassy states of being, simply healing.

A dozen spiritual deaths, heavy trauma restoration, incredible self-discovery without bypasses or shortcuts, just forgiveness.

My work with the master plants and ayahuasca helped me to understand that I had a say in my life, that it was up to me to direct it and make the changes, to move from a place of negativity and despair to positivity and empowerment. So I began, with the simple things. Visualizing my transformation and who I wanted to become. Reconnecting to my inner self through nature and involving myself with community. Creating momentum by reigniting my passion for art. Thru drawing, creating and making art I am integrating my experience daily, my journey informs my art, my art informs my healing.

My healing has no start and no end. It flows, with ups and downs, with blocks and tests along the way.  Gaining knowledge, and letting go. The letting go of old beliefs that served me for decades and brought me through life. What I know to be true is that I am not my trauma. The trauma is a part of me. It makes me me. But still, it will not dictate my life, will not prevent me from showing up to be the best version of myself. By now I am comfortable with my trauma, I forgave, myself and others. So I set myself free. All of this was possible for me through the wisdom of Amazonian plant medicine.

And I am still in it. This is my healing journey. This verb “healing”, heavily loaded with meaning and expectations. For me, healing is my life’s path. Being present, doing the work, and inspiring others.

An article, by Markus Drassl


Markus Drassl has been working with plant medicine for the last 9 years. After his degree in visual arts in 2009, he went for a healing experience with master plants to an Ayahuasca center in Iquitos, Peru. From there he decided to dive deeper into this medicine work, seeking more healing and learning. In 2011, he began an apprenticeship with Maestro Ricardo Amaringo and began working at Nihue Rao as a facilitator and practitioner in ceremony. Markus works as a visual artist. His art is based on the connection between plant medicine, healing, transformation, and visual art.

Markus is co-facilitating a spring weekend workshop (with his wife Cvita Mamic) in June 8 – 9, 2019 entitled “Nature and Psyche: The Intersection of Plant Wisdom and Personal Transformation.” For more information on this workshop click here.