353. A Lion Tracker’s Inner Journey of Awakening & Inspiration w/ Boyd Varty

Boyd Varty

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

Lion tracker, Boyd Varty, opens up about exploring trauma and healing through the lens of a wild animal and talks about the lessons humans can all learn from nature.

The wildlife and literacy activist, Boyd Varty, author of the memoir “Cathedral of the Wild,” had an unconventional upbringing. Born to a family of conservationists, Boyd grew up on Londolozi Game Reserve in the South African wilderness, a place where man and nature strive for balance and where perils exist alongside wonders. Founded more than 90 years ago as a hunting ground, Londolozi was transformed into a nature reserve by Varty’s father and uncle, visionaries of the restoration movement, in 1973. But it wasn’t just a sanctuary for the animals; it was also a place for ravaged land to flourish again and for the human spirit to restore. When Nelson Mandela was released after 27 years of imprisonment, he came to the reserve to recover.

Since childhood, Boyd shared his home with lions, leopards, snakes, and elephants and has spent his life in apprenticeship to the wisdom of nature. Boyd survived a harrowing black mamba encounter, a debilitating bout with malaria, even a vicious crocodile attack, but his biggest challenge was a personal crisis of purpose. As a university student, he studied psychology and ecology, supplementing his education by learning martial arts in Thailand, hiking through the jungles of the Amazon, and apprenticing a renowned tracker from the Shangaan tribe, deepening his intimate knowledge of the natural world. Boyd grew up speaking the local language and learning the true meaning of coexistence between people and nature.

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

I'm still tingling from my in-depth, heart-opening conversation with Boyd Varty, a true man-of-the-earth whose book, “The Lion Tracker's Guide to Life,” I ravaged through last week in eager anticipation of this recording. 

Boyd Varty grew up on the verdant plains of a South African safari, within touching distance of the epic wildlife most of us only catch glimpses of on 2D screens. As a lion tracker, Boyd has studied the movements and mindset of the animal kingdom in a way I have never encountered before. He's articulately folded the truths from the bush into the human experience, using his background to explore trauma – both for himself and as a facilitator for others – in sacred ceremonies. 

Medicine flows through this man, and this raw, meaty, wild ride of an episode is as enlightening as it is emotional. 

10:38 — Childhood In the Bush 

  • Growing up with the land
  • Working in harmony with nature
  • The safari that changed his life  
  • The connection between tracking and trauma
  • Learning to listen to your inner-knowing

29:40 — Looking at Nature v.s Being of Nature 

  • Why there is no separation of self from nature
  • Becoming more present in everyday life
  • The third language of feeling

39:05 — Communicating With the Wild

  • Tracking in action
  • Energetic interaction with lions
  • Talking with animals while tracking lions
  • The purpose of tracking

49:13 — How to Track Your Life 

  • Working with the unknown 
  • Dialing down and following cues
  • Losing track and persevering 
  • Working with community
  • The feeling of “enoughness”
  • The awakening algorithm 
  • Unseen heroism 

1:12:10 — Exploring Trauma and Awakening

  • Kidnapping and near-death experience
  • A crocodile encounter and lessons learned
  • Creating shared presence through ceremony 
  • The gifts expressed from trauma 
  • Integrating 5-MeO-DMT 

01:48:09 — Facilitating Ceremonies 

  • Spontaneously facilitating during the first ceremony 
  • Unlocking shadow and weakness
  • Mentorship with a Peruvian shaman for five years
  • Redefining the meaning of ceremony 

More about this episode.

Watch it on YouTube.

[00:00:00]Luke Storey:  I'm Luke Storey. For the past 22 years, I've been relentlessly committed to my deepest passion, designing the ultimate lifestyle based on the most powerful principles of spirituality, health, psychology. The Life Stylist podcast is a show dedicated to sharing my discoveries and the experts behind them with you. Boyd, man, great to sit down and chat with you today. I'm so excited to get to know you and your journey.

[00:00:30]Boyd Varty:  Yeah. Thanks very much for having me.

[00:00:32]Luke Storey:  So, most of the time when I interview someone, I've been aware of their work for some period of time and stalking them, with Joe Dispenza, someone like that, right? And I'm tracing their work. I'm digesting everything they put out. And then, I manage to track them down for an interview. What's different about your case is I just found out about you maybe a week ago. We were at the same event, you had chatted with Alyson, and she's like, you got to meet this guy, he's incredible. I saw that you'd been on Kyle's podcast and Aubrey's podcast, and we have a mutual friend, and Cal, I thought, man, what's up with this guy? So, I got your book and I have just been floored. It is so epic.

[00:01:10]Boyd Varty:  Yeah. Thank you, man. I really appreciate that.

[00:01:11]Luke Storey:  It really is such a concise, beautiful examination of the human experience.

[00:01:19]Boyd Varty:  Yeah. Thank you. Appreciate that.

[00:01:20]Luke Storey:  Yeah, it's very cool. Because I had a limited amount of time, I've been listening to it on 1.4 speed, or yeah, one-and-a-quarter, then I went up to one-and-a-half, so I'm hearing you like in your South African accent [making sounds] just trying to smoosh it all in. I almost got to the end. I think I have a few minutes left. But yeah, the book is called The Lion Tracker's Guide to Life.

[00:01:44] And I think what's really interesting about the book, and you did this so beautifully, is there's a narrative of a story, and then microstories within the story, and then within that are all of these really simple yet profound teachings embedded within it. And I think that's such an engaging way to learn. So, God, I don't even know where to start in a way. Let's start, I guess, at the beginning. We'll get a little linear for a minute, and then we'll go off the rails, I'm sure. What was your childhood like, growing up around the bush, and tracking, and hunting, and all of this stuff that you were exposed to?

[00:02:24]Boyd Varty:  The book is a culmination of sort of coming together of multiple paths in my life. And I grew up in the wild eastern part of South Africa. I grew up on a property that my great-grandfather bought, it was a bankrupt cattle farm. And he bought it originally in the 1920s. And at that time and in the consciousness of that time, my family went there to hunt. And that's what went on there for three generations.

[00:02:51] And then, in 1969, my grandfather died very suddenly, and my father, who was 15, and my uncle, who was 17, were left with this sort of bankrupt property, and all of the family advisers said to them, well, step one, you've got to get rid of that place. You need to take care of your mother now, so that's got to go. Hunting lions is a dangerous and bad idea on the best of days, so it has to go.

[00:03:14] And this is sort of a part of the story, my father stood up, and from a place very deep inside of himself, he said to this group of much older captains of industry and family advisors, he said, we're going to keep it. And the family adviser said, well, how are you going to look after your mother? And he said with all the vigor of 15 year old brilliance and arrogance, he said, we'll make it pay.

[00:03:37] And that's how my family got into the safari business. And very soon after they got going, and it was a ramshackle piece of land, three mud huts, there wasn't a lot of game there, but very soon after they got going, they met their first mentor, which is this incredible man called Ken Tinley. And Ken said to them, if you want this place to work, you need to partner with the land, you need to think of the animals as your kin, and you need to make sure the local people participate in the uplifting of this landscape.

[00:04:07] So, that was like the first defining moment. And so, they did away with hunting and they set about restoring the land. And really, that's what I grew up into. I was born into watching people working on the land to begin to restore it. They would clear away the scrub, they restored the grasslands, they restored the microcatchments. And so, somewhere in my very young psyche, I watched people working in harmony with nature and the incredible way that nature started to respond.

[00:04:33] Suddenly, animals started to appear. A few years into the journey, a single female leopard allowed herself to be seen. And then, my uncle and my father actually driving home, they'd been working on the land, and the single leopard stepped out onto the road, and she stopped, and she turned, and she looked at them. And it was the first time a wild leopard that had allowed herself to be seen. 

[00:04:52] Up until then, leopards had been hunted traditionally, they were trying to get away from you. And as that happened, my uncle looked at my father, and again, from this very deep place inside of him, he said, whatever just happened, that's my future. And for the next 10 years, he teamed up with a Shangaan tracker. And every day, they went out and they followed that leopard. 

[00:05:13] And they built a relationship with her where she began to know that they meant her no harm. And at first, they'd see her at 100 yards, and then 50 yards, and then it got to the point where they were able to drive a vehicle up to her. And that leopard had a number of cubs, those cubs all grew up modeling their mother's trust of the safari vehicles. And word got out all over the world that there was a place you could go where you could see a wild leopard and people started to come.

[00:05:39] And to me, I'd always thought of, as the land started to heal, there was this incredible flow of energy towards it. So, that was the first part of my story, was this incredible growing up in this restoration. And the second part was I was mentored from the time I was very young by these incredible Shangaan trackers, men who knew how to follow the faint trails of an animal for hours across a landscape. 

[00:06:02] And so, I grew up in that mentality, too, watching how that artform plays out. And then, the third sort of thread in the story is when I was about 18, I had a number of encounters with pretty severe trauma, had a very scary incident when South Africa was going through a time of severe violent crime, a few months after that, I've got beaten badly by a crocodile in a river.

[00:06:29] A few months after that, my family went through a very difficult period. And so, by the time I was about 23 years old, I was pretty severely frozen in the way that trauma freezes us. And at that time, I was working as a safari guide and this incredible woman came on safari. And a buddy of mine who is another guide, he said, there's this woman coming, I took her out on safari last year, she's fascinating and she's a martial artist.

[00:06:56] I was passionate about martial arts, so I went into the guide room and there was a board where you wrote your name next to the clients who were coming in, who you would guide. Someone else's name was there, and I rubbed his name off, and I put my name down to guide her. And that moment absolutely changed my life. So, she arrived, and she was this remarkable, she's an ex-Harvard professor who had taught a course at Thunderbird Business School on how to interview well. 

[00:07:24] And she worked out that the way to interview well was to really care about what you were interviewing for. So, she developed this program for her students on how to like really get in touch with what you loved. And I took her out for three days and I felt a connection with her. Somewhere on the third day, we were driving along through this restored landscape, and she says to me, I can't remember what the conversation was, but she said, the restoration of the planet will come out of a radical transformation in human consciousness.

[00:07:52] And my 23-year-old traumatized self just felt something hit me, just inside of myself, I said, whatever you've just said, that's my future. The same day, we get back to the camp, and she looks at me, and she says, I can see what you're holding and I want you to know I'm here for you. I'm like, I'm 23, I'm South African, I'm the God, I've got my rifle, I'm standing next to the safari vehicle, sort of was a little taken aback by it.

[00:08:19] And she said, I can see how blocked your heart has become, I'm ready to talk to you about it. And there was something about the way, and later, I learned this, that when someone really sees you, I mean, so much of healing is just seeing a person truly. And as she said that, I felt myself just crack open. And that was the beginning of my healing journey. And she became my first guide. Her name was Martha Beck.

[00:08:43] She became my first guide into how a transformational process works. And as I went through my own transformation and learned the artform, and suddenly, my childhood in the restoration of a landscape and my childhood watching trackers all started to come together in this really weird way. And I started to look at the trackers and realized that the mentality and the approach of the tracker had so much to teach us about those moments in our life where we arrive at a place where we don't know how to move forward.

[00:09:17] There's something calling to us, but we don't know how to find it. We know that the way we've been doing things is no longer quite holding us and we need to set ourselves on a new course. And so, watching the trackers, I started to see that right there in front of me, in that process, was kind of everything you needed. So, those are these sort of three strange threads that have come together to put me in this place, in this work right now.

[00:09:38]Luke Storey:  Well, I think the thing that's so fascinating about your work is the overlay of those parallels, in the tracking and the attention to detail, embedding oneself within the harmonic field of nature, and then applying that outward journey in the bush to the inward journey of the emotional, spiritual, mental, physical landscape. It's such an incredible parallel that you've made there in your work. I think it's just so fortuitous that those particular things lined up. And like you described in nature and those of us that are innately in tune with nature to some degree know that, I mean, it's kind of a Vedic overview, but there's only one thing, right? Consciousness.

[00:10:30]Boyd Varty:  Yeah.

[00:10:31]Luke Storey:  And consciousness is expressing itself in the natural world, and also, within us and everything that makes us a living being. So fascinating.

[00:10:40]Boyd Varty:  I mean, what I've come to believe now is that inside each one of us, there is a part of us that is wild, that is truly of nature. And you could almost think of that part of yourself as the wild self, then overlaying that, we have this incredible density of socialization, all the things we have to do, and should do, and all the ideals of the culture, all of that stuff. And when you arrive at a point in your life where you begin to want to go deeper into the expression of your essence, a life that feels more like it fully supports the way you create meaning, your gifts into the world, well, you're going to have to go underneath the social self to that pure consciousness of the wild self.

[00:11:25] It's like that innate part of you that actually knows what you meant to do. And I call that innate part of you the track of your life. And then, you start to be able to attune to that and follow that like a tracker. It starts to pull you out of all of the rationales of what you should do and how you should do it into something much more authentic and just wild, really. 

[00:11:46]Luke Storey:  Oh, it's so great. In listening to the book, I'm driving on the freeway, I've got my EMF cap on, and it's like, I'm living in the outskirts of Austin, so coming from LA, I feel like I'm in the bush, really, but not enough. I'm listening to the book, going, man, I got to move to the middle of nowhere and just be in the woods, which I've been feeling this pull for so long, in not as a dramatic of ways, but I grew up in the country, in small towns, and spent so much time in the mountains and such. And any time I get out of the city and the construct that we've created externally, that then, as you said, reflects internally, I just leave the city and I go, ah.

[00:12:32]Boyd Varty:  Just a tremendous change in your nervous system.

[00:12:36]Luke Storey:  It's so palpable, and I think it's just so interesting going back. And I was thinking about this in your book, I'm sort of having side threads as I listen to your many threads in the book, it takes me back to the advent of agriculture, right? That was such a big turning point for humanity, where perhaps out of our laziness and just the inertia of wanting sustenance readily available, and not having to go track and hunt for it, that we all just started migrating towards, I guess they were kind of villages, and then settlements, and then towns, and then cities, and there are so many things about being in a city that make life seemingly easier, but with that comes this price of disconnection from who and what we really are.

[00:13:24]Boyd Varty:  And then, I think neuroses becomes a substitute for real suffering in certain instances, that the anxiety that comes with it. I mean, there's a few ways of looking at it. The one thing that I would say is nature is a relational field. You're always in relationship. You're adapting of the way the environment is speaking to you. And our society is more of a comparative dynamic. It's something about the way that the consumeristic society is structured.

[00:13:57] It's like in a society where the individual is disconnected from the greater whole, the whole search for meaning becomes, how am I doing in comparison? And so then, to work out how you're doing, you have to constantly be comparing yourself. And that sets up its own sort of really strange dynamic, because you compare yourself against these ideals that it presents you with, and the way where you end up, it seems to me, having coached many, many people now, is you either achieve the ideal, which in our society is something like the right level of wealth, and you realize, well, that's not actually going to take me where I want to go, or you live with this constant feeling of there's something wrong with me, I haven't quite made it, I haven't quite got there. 

[00:14:42] And what people have to know is it's structured into the psyche of that kind of a structuring of meaning, whereas in nature, last year during lockdown, I spent 40 days alone living in this tree house. And so, I was deep in this encounter, too. Nature is continuously relational. When you spend a lot of time, what you see is that there is an intricate pattern to it. And that pattern is infinitely intelligent.

[00:15:12] And the more time you spend there, you can't help but see that there is like a series of interlocking intelligences all touching each other. If you look at a tree, the tree is throwing shade, which is driving the grasses, which is creating great moisture around it, which is making the nutrients denser. So, it's pulling the sugars out of that nutrient-dense soil that's alchemizing it into sugar.

[00:15:34] It's creating fruits which are attracting in monkeys. The monkeys are being used as a transport system for that fruit. They ingest that. They go out. You just watch it unfolding. And as you watch that, what becomes impossible to put aside is not only is that intelligent, but I'm a part of that intelligence. It flows through me and I'm of that greater intelligence.

[00:15:57] And if I can attune, and that's really where the tracking metaphor comes in, if you can start to attune to that place inside of you that knows, and pay attention, and start to learn what the tracks look like to you, it will start to pull you into a full expression of your own nature. In the way that a tree knows how to bloom at the right time of year and a flower knows how to open, you actually know how to fully express your gifts. You just have to slow down enough and go a little deeper than the rational mind into a place inside of you that you learn to follow.

[00:16:32] Kind of like when we met the other day, and you said to me, yeah, I mean, I never thought I wanted to move to Austin. It was never on my radar. But we passed through here and something in us felt like maybe this could be it. It's not up here. There's something else that knows. And because of the work that you've been doing, you're able to attune to it. And so, the tracking model for me is just a very simple system that gives people the approach of the tracker to start thinking about how to attune to that place.

[00:17:01]Luke Storey:  Wow. So good. Yeah. I sort of just bypassed that part of our decision process, because there was a linear plan or criteria with which we were deciding where to go. And this fit some of the logical criteria, but yeah, you're so right. More than anything, there was just an inner knowing that this is where we're supposed to be. And the other night at the event at which we were both present, that became so clear, so clear. I mean, it was like a group of very awake, powerful beings in one room talking about current events, and where we're going from here, and how to navigate these strange times we find ourselves in. And it was like, I kept looking over at Alyson, kind of like, are you feeling what I'm feeling? I mean, I had chills the whole time. I was like, whoa.

[00:18:02]Boyd Varty:  But you said something very important there though, you're looking around the room, and you look at Alyson, and you said, are you feeling what I'm feeling? 

[00:18:10]Luke Storey:  Right. Not are you thinking what I'm thinking?

[00:18:11]Boyd Varty:  Exactly. And that becomes a core difference. And part of learning to live on the track of your life is being much more attuned to the way that feeling speaks. And like for me, I experience it as a kind of expansiveness, a physical feeling of expansiveness in the energy of my body, a feeling of wanting to step forward. And so, one of the things that we talk about as trackers is trackers live in their body.

[00:18:35] One of the things you see my mentor used to do in the tracking space is he would turn onto the track of an animal and he would start moving on it. And as I'm watching him, his eye is catching the track, but what he's doing is he's starting to move at the pace of the animal. And as he moves at the pace of the animal, he's almost letting the animal into his body. So, you can imagine if a lion is walking slowly or if a lion is walking fast, you can feel the difference in the energetic.

[00:19:03] And the track is certainly telling him the speed at which it's moving. When a lion is walking fast, the back paw lands well in front of it. But really, what he's doing is he's getting into the lion's mood. He's using his body to attune to the way that animal's moving. Is it hunting? Is it patrolling territory? What's going on? What mood is this animal in? And in doing that, he's starting to create an almost energetic resonance with the animal.

[00:19:27] And as I was watching that enough, I said, if you're going to start to find this thing that is calling to you, you're going to have to be in tune with your body. Just like a tracker, you have to start paying attention more to what makes you feel that way. And at the same time, like what constricts you? Who are the people who expand you? Who are the people who energize you? What makes you feel more alive? Who are the people who constrict you?

[00:19:50] What are the activities that, afterwards, you feel drained of energy? I mean, it's kind of simple. And what happens is that if you start paying attention to it, at first, because you're not attuned to it, you need to hit the big ones, like big movements. But over time, it refines, it refines to the point where you're constantly in what I call the following state, but constant creative response to that feeling inside of you. And so, it's a fun way to live, for sure.

[00:20:16]Luke Storey:  Going back to one of the points you made, which I think, it's like the most obvious yet most elusive is when we're immersed in nature, I find this really interesting how, okay, we've migrated into city, well, many of us have migrated into cities or urban areas, right? And so, in the planning of these cities, like Austin is a great example of that, the people that plan said, well, we need to create areas that are preserved in a natural state, right?

[00:20:46] And so, we call these places parks and we go there to recreate what has been lost because we built this infrastructure there. And then, we go there and sort of like going to a zoo, we often observe, oh, this is beautiful, look at that river, look at that tree, look at that mountain. I'm now looking at nature rather than the visceral experience that you're describing, wherein one has the acknowledgement of the truth that one is nature.

[00:21:22] And I think maybe it's the fact that we have—but then this is debatable. When you have a relationship with animals, I was going to say, we have a more developed brain, but maybe to a fault, that we're able to intellectualize our experience in such a way that I'm assuming animals don't, that they're just inherently in that felt a sense of oneness with the environment, whereas we, through the way that we've learned to live, I think, are often disconnected from that.

[00:21:50] And it's interesting, as someone, too, who, as I said, spent a lot of time in nature as a kid, I think I'm just learning how to be of nature partially with the assistance of a couple of experiences in which I took psilocybin out in nature. And I mean, when we'll get into medicine stuff here, hopefully, in a bit, but I just started looking at things so differently. 

[00:22:16] And just being in things, and just kneeling in a creek, and eating the herbs, I'm looking at just all the organisms and microorganisms, and just seeing what you described under the tree, and that cycle of life, and just immersing myself in it. And one of the beautiful things is that because of a couple of those experiences, now, the way that I interface with nature holds the memory of that knowing. And I don't have to go take mushrooms if I want to like really marvel at the beauty of an intricate flower, right?

[00:22:50] I mean, I just do it now. And it reminds me of this one particular day in which I had this profound realization that, Luke, you are not in nature, you are nature. This is the same as you. You are the soil. You are the tree. You are the squirrel. Like there's no separation, because it's all emanating from the field of consciousness or God creation, whatever one wants to call it, it's just that the way it's set up is that consciousness individuates itself as all of these parts and the parts like us tend to get tricked into thinking we're a part, rather than we're part of the fabric of the whole.

[00:23:28]Boyd Varty:  I mean, there are so many jump-off points there, by the way. It's like, I mean, one of the things you said that caught my attention early on was the oneness, right? So, what you see out in the natural world, particularly amongst the animals, when you really watch them, I think we do have very well-developed brains, but we also have a verbal mind, which they don't have. And the verbal mind projects future, oh, I got to go do this tomorrow, and it lives in the past, whereas if you watch the animals, they live in a wordless dimension.

[00:24:01] And so, there's no future or I always joke like you don't see lions thinking like, we missed that damn zebra yesterday, this team is not performing at the moment, who knows if we'll eat tomorrow? They're just present, always present. And as you spend time there, it's like the momentum of the human verbal mind starts to drop and drop. And as you go out of the verbal mind, you go into a state of presence and that is the doorway into oneness. And suddenly, you start to feel yourself as a part of it.

[00:24:31] Another thing that I've become convinced of is if you put your attention on life, like what you did that day down by the river with the plants to help you, as you put your attention onto life, where your attention goes, your life goes. You put your attention on life, you become more alive, you become more animated by that life force itself. So, that absolutely happens and there's no doubt that the sacred plants are teachers that, as you say, they teach us how to be aware of that. And then, you don't constantly need them, because they keep giving you a new normal of perception and connection. And then, that becomes your baseline ability to interact with that field.

[00:25:14]Luke Storey:  Wow. So true.

[00:25:16]Boyd Varty:  I mean, it's all of it.

[00:25:18]Luke Storey:  So true. I guess that's really the key to integration in these experiences, where you're going interdimensional and delving into the fabric of reality in ways that you wouldn't in a normal waking state. But when you come back is when the real work is, right?

[00:25:38]Boyd Varty:  Yeah. 

[00:25:38]Luke Storey:  Because you just get a little window into things being much larger than they appear to be. And then, when you come back, I think it's really sage advice that you're pointing to is it's about integrating that, so like you said, that becomes the new normal way of being, which I guess is what I just described, and that I go in nature now, and I mean, taking a bunch of mushrooms can be pretty harrowing even if you're having a good time. It's definitely jarring into the system and not something I would want to do on a regular basis.

[00:26:10] So, how can I take that experience and remember, in a felt sense, beingness rather than intellectually, oh, yeah I remember one time I took mushrooms, and I saw a lizard, and I realize we're the same. And that becomes a mental construct or belief system. But rather, how can I keep that visceral, innate, tactile experience alive, even sitting here with you? Not in nature, seemingly, although we actually are, we're just in nature, inside a building. But I think that's a really important part, not just of integrating any kind of sacred plants or medicines, but in integrating anything that comes to you in a state of reflection or meditation.

[00:26:49]Boyd Varty:  Yeah. I mean, I've been thinking for some time now that one of the things that the sacred plants teach is what I call the third language. First language is the spoken language. The third language is the language of feeling. So, it doesn't matter what we're saying to each other, what kind of feeling is there between us. And that comes out of your presence and my presence. And then, the second language would be like the body, being more naturally affectionate with all the socialized.

[00:27:20] So, those are kind of the layers of it. And that becomes paramount, as you say, as we start to love more and more in the feeling. And that's another thing about trackers, is this kind of sensitivity. It's weird. Like the guys who I grew up around, who spent hours and hours out there in nature, following lines, finding animals, their sensitivity to them was a total gift, the ability to be attuned, that kind of feeling awareness.

[00:27:50] And then, you also switch over to the masculine society, where it's like, feel nothing. People, guys, and I guess I'm speaking to the masculine men who spend a lot of time in nature, find that sensitivity to be an absolute gift. And particularly when you're tracking, you want that kind of awareness. And when you see an animal, it will communicate to you in that third language.

[00:28:12] So, as it looks at you, as its body moves, as it gazes at you, as it drops its head, as the tail starts to lash, everything, it's an energetic language that it's talking to you with. And you want to be able to be sensitive to what it's saying so that you don't get eaten, for starters. But it's an incredible feeling to see how everything in nature talks. And the language is very clear, but it's non-verbal. It's energetic. It's presence language. Yeah.

[00:28:38]Luke Storey:  Oh, my God. So incredible. So, say you come upon a lion, and you trackers and safari-guide-type folks, you're hearing what it's saying, right? How do you learn to communicate back using that same language?

[00:29:00]Boyd Varty:  Yeah. I'm going to move a little bit, so tell me if I get away from the microphone.

[00:29:02]Luke Storey:  Okay.

[00:29:03]Boyd Varty:  So, the first thing to know is that like the artform of tracking, what we want to do is normally, we want to find those animals, and we want to see them before they see us, and then find out where they are, and then move away from them without them seeing us. That's what we ultimately want. We actually don't want to disturb them ever. Lions can be dangerous on two occasions. One, when they have meat and when they have cubs. 

[00:29:28] Lionesses with cubs, that'll get your blood flowing. If you come upon a lioness, for example, with cubs, and maybe you surprise her, the first thing that's going to happen is you're going to get an audio cue. It's going to sound like someone started a dirt bike in the bush up ahead of you [making sounds] . And then, she appears and she fixes you with an intense gaze. And it feels like you can feel the energy and it's menacing.

[00:29:57] And then, the ears go back, and the whole body tightens, and then she starts to walk at you, and the snarl comes up, and you see intense teeth, and then the tail, and she starts to walk, and then she starts to run. Now, she's telling you very clearly, you're too close to me now and I'm unhappy with you there. In that moment, as a tracker, you need experience to have put yourself in these situations mentally before, to have been in these situations before, first thing I do is I breathe out [making sounds] . 

[00:30:28] So, I drop my energy. Can you imagine? [Making sounds] . So, that pulls me into present. Take a long breath out, then if we're more than one, we step very close together, and we stand. You have to stand. And that's it. So, now, we're saying to her, as she comes, we're dangerous, too. And we're communicating and we're working on thousands of years of her programming that the human is a dangerous thing out there. 

[00:30:53] As she comes closer, you look directly at it, and then you'd be a little bit aggressive. So, you push aggression back [making sounds] . You shout, you step forward, you stand, and then she'll usually stop, sometimes, two or three meters away from you, growling, and you feel your energy, like the energy field fills up, but you've got to manage that. And then, the second she relaxes a bit, you give her space.

[00:31:17] So, as soon as you can, you communicate, we're moving away, we're moving away. So, you have to meet the intensity first, and then very quickly start to back off from it. And you can use it for conflict situations everywhere in your life. As conflict goes up, you want to become more present, you want to listen, because she's communicating to you. And then, very quickly, you want to offer the highest outcome, which is to give space.

[00:31:51]Luke Storey:  When you're tracking, are you guys typically carrying firearms? I know you're not hunting, but what if said lioness is like, I'm going to call your bluff and keep coming?

[00:32:06]Boyd Varty:  We don't carry rifles. If guests are being guided, there's always a guide with a rifle, but just when we are tracking, no, we rely on really being attuned to that language. And I should say an encounter like that, normally, if you're getting the tracking right, the whole place is speaking to you. For example, towards the end of the book, I talk about we get onto the tracks of a lioness, and there's a pride, and we're following them, and then up ahead of us, a monkey starts to alarm [making sounds] .

[00:32:39] Now, that monkey is talking to us, 30 yards beyond that and a type of antelope starts barking. So, you're on the tracks, the tracks are telling you the speed the animals are moving at. The animals are talking to you in the brush up ahead. And then, you see the tracks of another female joining, and the tracks tell a story, and then you see a cub track. And so, now, you know another lioness has joined this pride and she's got the cubs with her.

[00:33:06] Now, if you're doing all of that right, you're telling yourself, we're close, these lions are moving slowly, the temperature is building, so they're going to lie down soon. We know there's water down here. We know they ate earlier, so their bellies are full, so they're probably going to drink some water and lie down. And all of that information and being able to catch all of that information means that we're not going to blunder down into the thicket there.

[00:33:32] So, I would say 99% of the time, being attuned to that information means, there's a lioness and cubs in that thick area, we're not going in there. But on the one occasion that you do get it wrong, they are not motivated to kill you. They don't want to eat you. Like everything on the Discovery Channel is like, death week, nature will kill you week, and like spiders that can—that's not how it is. With awareness, actually, it's speaking to you all the time and it's a very safe environment. In fact, it's more honest in some ways than the world of people. It talks to you all the time.

[00:34:06]Luke Storey:  And what is the purpose of tracking? Is it just to observe the natural phenomenon of these incredible creatures?

[00:34:16]Boyd Varty:  Well, I mean, what mostly allows us to do it there is we're tracking as a team who tracks for the safari operation. So, we'll find animals so that we can let guides know where they are on the property. And that's at one level. On another level, kind of for me personally, it's a martial art. It's a practice. And there are so many things that are happening when you're tracking that you can get infinitely better at it, and from novice level to master, master level. 

[00:34:47] It's dynamic. It's storytelling. Your skill level can improve. It pushes you and it creates a flow state. It creates a focus state. I mean, there's a thing that they call again, you can apply this to other places in your life, they call it developing track awareness. So, like when I was a little kid, my teacher would take me to a game path, and he would say, okay, walk down this path, come back and tell me what tracks there are.

[00:35:16] You walk down the path, and you come back, and you say, saw tracks of a herd of impala, antelope. And he would say in Shangaan [indiscernible] , say, young boy, go look again. I would go down there, and then if I look more closely, I would start to see where a mouse had crossed the trail, and a leopard had walked, and the antelope had walked on top of it, and covered it over. And every time you walk down that trail, there was more information there. 

[00:35:41] And that became a super important idea to me over the years, the idea that there's information, but you have to teach yourself to see it. And so, if you and I walk down a path together, I'm going to see radically more tracks than you. And over time, it's like you condition your eye to be able to pick up this very faint set of sort of like, they'll search images. And so, if we track the lion together, we start to move fast on that track.

[00:36:09] And I can see where the back pad is touched on. I can see where, as the lion has picked up its foot, sand has fallen off onto a piece of grass. I can see the way certain bits of grass have been pushed down. And whilst I'm following that track, catching all of those subtle signs, I start to vector of trees up ahead of me. So, I get a sense of how the lion's moving. So, I'm way pointing as we go.

[00:36:31] I'm starting to feel the speed of the lion. I'm starting to feel the way that it's moving. I'm trying to almost get into like a kind of resonance with it. And when you get deep into that, I'm listening for alarm calls. And my eye is picking it up. I'm moving. I'm orientating myself. When you're doing all of that fast to the point where you'd be doing it like you were driving a car, you're not thinking about it, it's just all happening.

[00:36:55] It takes you into this incredibly deep place and you're just moving through nature. And there's a creature out there, that's up ahead. So, you have to develop your track awareness, and the more track awareness you get, the actual artform starts to pull you into flow. And then, try and translate that into other places in your life. I mean, maybe for a second, I'll just talk about a few of the little like waypoints in tracking that you can apply. I don't know if that could be helpful.

[00:37:21]Luke Storey:  Yeah, please do. Absolutely. I mean, that was one of the brilliant things about your work that I discovered was the correlation, right? It's fascinating to just learn about something that's exotic. Wow. God, I can't imagine doing that. You're face-to-face with the lion,, there's that part of it, but that's really novel and entertaining in a sense, but I think what was so powerful about your book and the work you're doing, like any great master, is extracting lessons from one parallel and applying them universally. So, yeah, please unpack some of that.

[00:37:54]Boyd Varty:  So, just a few of them so that people can sort of land the plane on it. And like for tracking, it begins with us very early in the morning. And often, we'll sit around and we'll listen. And what we're listening for, for example, is lions to roar somewhere. When you hear those lions roar, you get a broad idea of where they might be, but really you don't know. I mean, it's a massive wilderness.

[00:38:20] They're out there somewhere that could be moving. You don't know where they're going. You don't know whether you'll even find a place to start or not. And so, all tracking begins with being very, very comfortable with unknowns. And all tracking almost begins with saying, with letting go of, we don't know what's going to happen this morning. We don't even know if we're going to find tracks. 

[00:38:39] And trackers, actually, if you watch them, they allow the unknowns to make them feel really, really alive.  I've coached many, many people now. And mostly, what they say to me is when I know exactly what my next move is, then I'll make it. And I said, these transformational journeys begin with letting go into being comfortable with not knowing for a while, not knowing how it's going to look, not knowing where it's going, not knowing what the outcome is going to be.

[00:39:11] The next thing that a tracker will do is they'll work on what I call first tracks. So, all you need, for example, is to find that first track of where those lions moved, and then the next first track, and then the next first track. And in this massive infinite wilderness, all you need is one moment of presence, and then one moment of presence. All you ever need is the next first track.

[00:39:35] And my teacher used to say to me as he was going, say, I don't know where we're going, but I know exactly how to get there, the first track, the next first track, the next first track. And he would produce outcomes tracking four hours a single lion somewhere out there. And we would find it, because consistently, he would be able to just get the next movement. And so, in our own lives, is to ask ourselves like, how do we dial down? 

[00:39:58] All of these possibilities, we don't know where we going, what's the next thing we know to do? What's the simple next thing we know to do? And as we do that, a strange thing happens. It starts to pull us towards this future, and yet fully defined, and that we don't know what it is, but normally, we can ask ourselves, what makes us feel a little more alive today? What makes us feel a little more expensive?

[00:40:20] Who makes me feel a little bit better? What is the activity that makes me feel just a little more myself? And if you work with that consistently over time, suddenly, something new starts to manifest itself. And it's so counter to our culture, where from the time we were kids, everyone was like, you've got to know, you've got to know exactly how this whole thing's going to go.

[00:40:40] And transformational processes are not knowing, but then suddenly realizing that you do know one thing to do, and then a next thing to do. You'll have to develop your track awareness and you'll need your body for that, right? What we were talking about earlier. So, part of developing track awareness is actually knowing when you hit that feeling and actually tuning back in to say like, okay, that feels expansive.

[00:41:03] That feels expansive. That's a no. That's a no. And just kind of doing, it's hotter, it's colder for a while. I mean, it's kind of like, it's outrageously simple, right? It's like work out what makes you feel better and keep trying to work out ways to do that. And at the same time, map what doesn't make you feel good and move away from that. That's the way your own nature will speak to you.

[00:41:25] When we go tracking, often, we lose the track. You'll be three hours into it, two minutes ago, we were dead on the track. We were right. We knew exactly how this was unfolding. Boom. Some hard ground, some thick grass, track is gone. And I always say to people, it's very important to know that part of tracking is that you will lose the track. Part of transformational processes is you'll be like, I'm getting this, this is going so well, I left the safe zone behind, cheers, safe zone, we're on fire here, oh, wait, maybe this doesn't work.

[00:42:00] Wait. This is not going anywhere. So, you have to know that, to say like, you will lose the track as part of a change in identity, as part of a transformation. When the trackers lose the track, they do two things. One is they'll go back to where they last had the clear track. They'll go back and get a clear sense. We were on here. So, you might ask yourself like, when was the last time I knew I was clearly on track?

[00:42:21] Who was I with? What was I doing? The other thing they do is they just try things. And I've seen this in the Shangaan trackers in particular, they're less settled by the Western need to know, and in a very dynamic, playful way, they just keep moving forward. They get a sense of where they think the lion was going. They estimate. They check some open ground. They give themselves the room to discover.

[00:42:47] So, I always say trackers live in discovery, rather than the need to know. Anywhere where they don't find the track, they call that the path of not here. So, even if you're not finding it, it's helping you refine where you do want to go. So, that's important to know. You're going to lose the track, play on it, give yourself room to discover. I always say never track alone as best you can, pull people around you who are also involved in that process.

[00:43:13] When we track together, we track so much faster. The track cuts right, you'll see one of the trackers clicks. He puts his finger down like this, he says, I'm on it. The animal cuts to the left, someone in the middle will pick it up. And so, together, and that becomes the community dimension of it. We take care of each other. We watch out for each other and we push each other to track better. And if you do all of that well, you fall into this beloved, what anyone knows who has a practice, the practice becomes the thing that nourishes you, and the outcome is we start to find animals consistently.

[00:43:47] But that's not really what we're doing. We're just so in the artform, letting nature speak to us, improving our skills. And same with transformational processes, if you can give yourself to the process, at a certain point, living like that, living attuned, living away, living in touch with that track inside yourself becomes the way to live. That actually never ends. There may be markers that you achieve along the way, but as you live in it, it's what nourishes you. And that becomes not full outcome, the place I'm going to get to, and then I'm going to feel like I've found the thing I'm meant to do in life. The living itself becomes the artform.

[00:44:26]Luke Storey:  So good.

[00:44:27]Boyd Varty:  Yeah. And then, the final piece of it, which I think is interesting to this time is, and in a way, I feel like I'm talking to a tracker, because you did this years before anyone else did this, like same as I was saying to Alyson the other day. There was no like course you could study to do what you have done. You bolted out of this very essential place. It was like communication, biohacking, spirituality, and you started to pull these essential places in yourself together into this offering that now is very unique to you.

[00:45:02] And to me, there's an activism in that, in these times, and this has become almost the most important part of this work for me now, people who find this thing when I look at them, and we touched on this a little bit the other day at the gathering we were at, people who start to touch this track inside yourself, the expression of your unique gifts, they have a few characteristics when you spend time with those people.

[00:45:27] One is they seem to have deeply embedded a feeling of enough in them. They feel like they have enough. They're enough. It's just this sense of enough. And the result of that is they're not trying to get a lot of external stuff into their life to feel like they're valuable. And that's powerful for nature. Many, many people finding that will change the dynamic of a consumeristic culture that keeps you hungry for things to feel okay.

[00:45:57] So, they have a deep feeling of enough. They have an inclination towards simplicity. It's the sort of natural sense of I want to just simplify. They deeply attune to nature. And if they haven't been, they start feeling this incredible pull to start falling into that field that we were talking about earlier, where I am this, it is me, and it nourishes me, and I nourish it.

[00:46:18] There's a natural desire to serve. And as you seem to be in touch with that phase, it's not like I want to do good work in the world. It just starts to flow out of you. There's a creative impulse that comes with it and there's a natural desire to uplift people around them. And I think that when that happens, we live in such a confused time, where people like-

[00:46:45]Luke Storey:  Perhaps the most confused ever, yeah.

[00:46:47]Boyd Varty:  And I think that that transformation of consciousness that I heard about all those years ago as a kid will come out of many, many individuals finding that place inside of themselves, and then doing the work. And it's work. It is not easy to let go of the structure of society, and actually try and live into this place, and see if you can do it, and handle the financial pressures of life.

[00:47:13] And it takes courage to like find that and work out how to express it in the world. But lots of people doing that, discovering that place, that is the collective awakening. And many, many people finding that, someone who finds that, it seems like they start to become like a tuning fork in the world. People get around them, and say, I don't know what it is about this person, but something about what they are doing is what I actually want.

[00:47:42] And so, just your presence when you're in that state starts to wake other people up. And it's so messy right now, but I think that there is an opportunity to fire an algorithm through this collective. And that algorithm is an algorithm of awakening. And I think we can't know what happens when lots of people start to fall into that place and touch that place. So, that's the mission now, is connect as many people as possible with a model, a system that allows them to do that for themselves. So, I'm getting on and off on a tangent here.

[00:48:18]Luke Storey:  Dude, I love it. Trust me, I would interrupt you if there was any need to, and I do so accidentally often as well. There's so much to unpack in there. I think one of the things toward the very beginning of that that is so important to explore is this idea of losing the track, right?

[00:48:36]Boyd Varty:  Yeah.

[00:48:37]Luke Storey:  And how important the perseverance is. And when you look from, you were talking about the parallels of the tracking, physically tracking, realm, but even in people that are deeply committed spiritually, you read about the apostles, and mystics, and saints, and sages, I mean, this very common experience of, God has forsaken me, right? I was at one with God. I was evolving and growing spiritually. I felt connected. My prayers seemed to be answered. I was able to meditate. I was reaching these higher levels of consciousness. And then-

[00:49:16]Boyd Varty:  The dark night of the soul.

[00:49:17]Luke Storey:  Yeah. And then, you lose the track, and you're like, God, I haven't even changed. I'm the same person. You know what I mean? 

[00:49:23]Boyd Varty:  I mean, anyone who's done personal work is like exactly that, making progress, making progress, making progress, oh, and it's still the same old shit, here it comes, yeah.

[00:49:33]Luke Storey:  So, I think it's important part of the journey to expect that and not in like a self-fulfilling negative prophecy, but just to know that there's kind of, I always think of it as a graph, as you're raising your consciousness, it's like it's this upward slope. And this could be said of humanity, too, I think. I think it's what we're in now. But on this graph where it goes up, there are dips.

[00:49:59] And then, in the dip, you think you're now headed back down to the depths of hell from which you came, but really, it's just a dip. But the graph is still climbing all the time. And I think that's such an important thing for us, too, those of us that are on the path of awakening to remember like, don't lose faith when it gets dark, thinking that it's the end of your grace period, right? I think so much of my life has been imbued with, I don't think I know, it's been imbued with just such a depth of grace.

[00:50:29] I mean, I should not be here doing what I'm doing from any logical standpoint based on experiences in my past, yet here I am, feeling, as you said, fulfilled to the point where, God, I'm so full, it just spills out. I have to share what I'm finding, finding people like you, and I can relate to you, and share your gifts with the world on my platform, and just things that I do interpersonally going into the bank, and feeling fulfilled, so that teller is not someone that's now annoying me, because I had to wait 10 minutes, but someone who is a human being that I can connect with and share a smile if they don't make me put on a mask.

[00:51:11]Boyd Varty:  Yeah. I mean, there's that moment when you've lost the track for a long time, and with great trackers, you can be off the track for 35, 40 minutes, and they're just trying things, they're working around the area. And then, when you get back on it, it's such an amazing moment, but also what you find is you get better a time at getting back on the track, and losing it and readjusting, and losing it and readjusting.

[00:51:40] And I think you get better in those processes, too, where you're like, sometimes, if you go off, that's it for a long time. But over time, you learn to course-correct a bit quicker, do the things you need to do to get yourself back on track, develop your practices, so you can get yourself. You shrink the time that you're off the track, for sure.

[00:51:59]Luke Storey:  That's so true. That's so true. That's a really great distinction.

[00:52:02]Boyd Varty:  Yeah. I mean, I'll pop out for a few days here and there, and it used to be a few weeks, and it used to be a few months. And then, it was like all the time prior to that, that now, it's a few days, and I know that my practices, well, the things that kick me can pull me back in. So, you definitely get better at it and I also think that, oh, man, the path of not here, trauma healed becomes medicine. As you are becoming, you become someone who's lost the track a lot and still been able to hold yourself with compassion. When people around you lose it, you've been there and you can be someone who said, in my journey, I've lost the track. 

[00:52:49] And so, we're doing this for each other is what I'm trying to say. And every time one of us gets through a period of having lost it and gets through it, we become a cheerleader for those around us who are coming along who are going to lose it, we can say we've been there. So, we're all learning how to do this together and we get to support each other with real compassion. And so many of the people in this awakening are defined by what they've done with the times where they lost the track along the way rather than by the successes and the things that our culture holds up.

[00:53:23]Luke Storey:  Oh, that's so true.

[00:53:25]Boyd Varty:  Yeah. I mean, I've been thinking a lot lately about unseen acts of heroism. I recently read Desmond Tutu. Archbishop Desmond Tutu is this incredible struggle activist in South Africa, the moral voice of the nation all through the Apartheid era, and just this eloquent, vibrant speaker, incredibly well-educated. Every morning, his mother would wake up in Apartheid South Africa and she would go to work as a domestic worker.

[00:54:03] She would cook, and clean, and sweep, and vacuum, and at the end of each day, she would be given 50 cents. She would catch the bus home. The next morning, she would give her son, Desmond Tutu, 50 cents, and he would catch the bus to school. And she would go off and work the whole day knowing that at the end of the day, that money that she earned would go straight to her son. She was running to stay in the same place. And when you look at Desmond Tutu, I mean, it kills me at the moment.

[00:54:35] You look at him and what he's done in the world, you don't think of his mother, really, when he's standing up there leading a country out of oppression and there are just so many acts of unseen heroism at so many different levels. And those are the people who are moving us into this awakening in so many ways that we don't even know about, because it's not up in lights. And I think we have to pay attention to that. And any time we lose the track, and we have the courage to stay in it, and not bail on our process, and just go back to something where it's known, and structured, and safe, and stay in this, man, we're a part of that unseen heroism in some way.

[00:55:16]Luke Storey:  Absolutely. It's funny, in my life, I've had the opportunity to, on a few occasions, share space with exalted beings, saints, teachers, et cetera. And that shaktipat left imprints on me that definitely were turning points in my life, unbeknownst to me at the time. Later on, looking back, ah, I was just in the presence of someone and it altered the course of my life. And there have also been times where I've been acutely aware that I'm sitting with a master who has no position as a master. 

[00:55:53] And it's that energetic, the subtleties of the way they move or speak, or just as you said earlier, that energy that you feel from an animal. And I mean, I think I've given the example before, when I was in Los Angeles, I had a housekeeper named Odilia. And it speaks a lot to perspective, too, of preconceived ideas we have. And I didn't come from money. I never had a housekeeper growing up, or you know what I mean?

[00:56:23] Like my mom used to clean my uncle's house, so he would babysit me. I mean, my mom was effectively a maid on the weekends. And so, I would look at her coming in the house and I would feel bad, like, oh, God, what kind of a shit job she has. I feel like compassion for her, kind of feel sorry for her in a way. And then, I started to realize as I'm on my computer, stressing out, trying to do the deal, and run the calendar and the things, and every time she comes in, she's just ecstatic.

[00:56:54] She loves her life so much, loves her job. And I would thank her, oh, thank you so much, Odilia, give her, her check, and she goes, oh, thank you. I love my job. I love my work. I love the pride and how clean I can make a house, and I get to work on all these beautiful homes. And it was such a great lesson to me in twofold, in that never sell the person in front of you short in terms of how evolved they are based on externals and also how one frames their experience of life creates their reality.

[00:57:31] I have what I think would be an easier life, and here, I'm all stressed out, not in all days, but there are moments, right? And I'm sure she has her moments, too. People die, people get ill. I mean, it's the human experience. But I've had so many of those teachers that have come in and haven't said a word to me about how to live life, but it's in their presence, right? 

[00:57:53]Boyd Varty:  The third language.

[00:57:53]Luke Storey:  Yeah, it's the third language, are going, huh, you figured something out here. And it might be just someone you pass at the gas station.

[00:58:01]Boyd Varty:  Oh, my God. In Africa, Africa is so rich with that heart. On the side of the road, you break down, someone comes and helps you. And Africa has its darkness, but mostly, what I've experienced is just an incredible outpouring of that kind of joyful aliveness. And it's a much more collective consciousness there. It's a much more of what I would think of as a we consciousness. I'm thinking of that game, what would it give you?

[00:58:27] Well, it's an old coaching game. It's like I need to get a job. Well, what would it give you? Well, then I would be more successful. Well, what would it give you? Well, if I was more successful, I would be happier. And then, what would that give you? Well, then I would be able to finally be at peace with myself. And you go all the way around to like, okay, let's just see if we can get to at peace with myself and start there. 

[00:58:53]Luke Storey:  That's so good. That's so good. Well, that's the thing with the Western-achievement-oriented mind is that I'll be happy when, I'll be happy when. And what I've discovered for myself is that until I was able to cultivate a sense of enough within myself, then I realize no matter what level of success outwardly I achieved, I would still be carrying that person that has the never enough, not there yet consciousness, right?

[00:59:25]Boyd Varty:  Yeah.

[00:59:26]Luke Storey:  And so, it's like right now, you could make me a billionaire, and yeah, maybe some things would be more convenient, probably much more complicated, really, but I would still be as satisfied with that life as I am with this life now, because I've learned how to build within my character satisfaction with what is. It's that exact thing. It's just, okay, so you trace it down and just start with the end goal, and how do we cultivate that end goal right now?

[00:59:52]Boyd Varty:  And I think people are redefining wealth in a big way right now. Those characteristics that I was saying earlier, those people in that awakening seem much more interested in experience than material wealth. And I think they've come to a place where peace of mind, like really going to bed at night without a body that is running so high with cortisol and stress hormones, I mean, that's not a way to live. And I think people are getting to that, too. So, part of this thing is we are really redefining what it means to live. And you can't give it all away for monetary value alone, seems to be a part of that.

[01:00:37]Luke Storey:  You were mentioning trauma, and this is something that eluded me for a long time, because as someone who experienced quite a bit of it early on, I just always had the sense that you could just go talk to a therapist a couple of times and bleed out those deep, dark secrets about which you were ashamed or hurt, and then you're just done, because you told someone about it or you verbalized it.

[01:01:07] And in recent years, having done so many interviews with people that really explore and heal trauma in many different ways, I see this as just such a core issue and I know that something that you touch on, too. I'm wondering if you would just, if nothing else, because of my innate curiosity, if you would go back to the traumatic experience that you had.

[01:01:33] I think it was around a kidnapping or something of this nature, if you feel like exploring that. And then, also, I have to ask, what was it like to be chomped on by a crocodile? And then, I'd like to go in some of the ways in which people can explore really deep healing of trauma, because the things we're talking about can be kind of lofty to someone who is still having that reflex continually triggered.

[01:02:00]Boyd Varty:  Yeah, for sure. I mean, when I was 18 years old, my family, it was a time when South Africa was going through a very difficult time. Violent crime had really spiked. And myself, and my sister, and my mother, and a woman who lived with us, who was a teacher of ours, were in a house on the outskirts of Johannesburg. And we were involved in this kind of home invasion situation, which, this is absolutely terrifying, I woke up at gunpoint. 

[01:02:33] And the woman in my life was tied up around me. And so, it's just a massive red line into fear. And at that time, those sorts of situations were not ending very well. It's probably a South African way of saying that, but it was just terrifying. And it went on for a number of hours. And between me, and my sister, and my mother, we were in this very deep third language as that was going on.

[01:03:00] And the people who had come into the house were obviously traumatized themselves. And you can't read a person's body language like you can read an animal's body language. And so, I just was totally at sea with the whole experience. And there were two parts to it. The first, just the blind terror of being in that situation, not knowing where it's going to go.

[01:03:21] And right towards the end of the experience, and this was, in some ways, the beginning of a very deep spiritual journey for me, right towards the end of that experience, they took me outside and they told me they're going to kill me. And so, we went outside, and they pushed me down onto the ground, and they put a gun to my head. And in that moment, something happened, and years later, I've come to have more understanding of it, but when the ego goes to a place where it's so afraid, it eventually stops.

[01:03:56] It reaches like a level where it can't go any more and right on the brink of being told you're going to be executed, it stopped for me. And I went across into some other place, the peace of God, that path of understanding, or whatever that place is, and suddenly, everything went very still and into deep, deep, almost like slow motion. And there was less I, I would only be able to talk about it in this way now, there was not really an I, and there was only love.

[01:04:33] And I looked at this traumatized kid who was standing over me, and I put my hand up, and we looked at each other, and the whole energy changed, and it became this like weird, the only way I describe it is like weird glimmer space. Everyone just sort of stood there and looked at each other. And I walked back inside and I got car keys. We had a car parked in the driveway, and I gave them the car keys, and just helped them into the car, and they drove off.

[01:05:09] And I like came out of it and I went back to the room where my sister and my mother were locked up, and it was like, I don't even know really. And for years afterwards, I was dealing with two sides of a coin. On one side, I was dealing with what happened in my body physiologically when you wake up in that situation. And I was also dealing with this other thing that happened, that I was 18, I didn't yet have the spiritual practice even to begin to know what that was.

[01:05:38] But something in me knew that trauma and awakening can go together in some way, that trauma and healing is somehow connected for me in my journey, these two things. And so, that was the first one. A few months after that, I had taken some friends down to the river. This was a way from Johannesburg. This was in the bush. And it was a clear day. The water was running over sand.

[01:06:07] And because the water was clear and I could see, I turned and I began to walk upstream. And everyone else had stayed down by the stream. My friend who was with me, a guy called Solium Shango, brilliant Shangaan tracker, he was walking on the far bank. And as I waited in the water, I was happy with the visibility, there was a place where the sandbank had fallen away, sort of in the river, but it had dropped down a little bit off of the sandbank.

[01:06:29] And as far as I was concerned, you could still see enough, but I was wrong. And I walked onto the edge of that where the sand fell away and there was a crocodile in the water there. And he came out, and he grabbed me by the leg, and he went to pull me in, and there was a branch overhanging. And I threw my arm up, and I grabbed the branch, and it went to bite me a second time, and I kicked, and my foot went down its throat, and it spat me out.

[01:06:53] And I pulled myself up into the branch, and as I looked over my shoulder, my leg was just mangled from the knee down. Pulled myself through the tree onto the bank and Solly was making his way towards me. And now, he was coming from the farther—we're on opposite banks. He's coming towards me. He got to the deep section where he knew the crocodile was, and he just came straight into the water. 

[01:07:16] And he waited across to get to me. This is this incredible act. And he picked me up, and he dragged me up onto the high bank, and I took my shirt off. I did first aid on myself, and got everyone together, called a plane that was flying over. But there was another moment where I was bleeding so much out the leg that that difference between knowing you're going to die one day, and thinking, oh, is this happening now?

[01:07:43] So, it took time to recover from that, and my awakening was stacked with a few traumatic experiences that pushed me into being ready for some kind of healing. It froze me. It froze me, I would say. But by the time I met Martha, who became my teacher, and helped me heal, and I'd had like three things. So, what do I think about that? I think that the things that happened to us, when we take the time to delve into them and move through them, firstly, the things that happened to us freeze us. 

[01:08:21] And they freeze us in a number of ways. Some of them, they freeze us in the way we hold our body. They freeze us in our nervous system. They freeze us in the way we tell a story and we make meaning. And unfortunately, talk therapy is incredible, because it helps people unpack and help to look at their story, but it doesn't always solve the nervous system issues. And so, you usually need some kind of body practices.

[01:08:54] And the body practices will also take you through into the physiological. So, trauma, those traumatic experiences freeze us, but they also fill us with medicine in some ways. And we have to know that from the beginning, the things that happened to us, as we process them—one more thing on that. They freeze us and what happens is it takes you out of presence. So, the nature of it is it orientates you in something that happened in the past or a fear of what might happen in the future.

[01:09:33] And so, what trauma work is, is it's the ability to help someone reconstitute the way meaning was made, the way story was told, the way the nervous system and physiology react in a way that starts to help them be present again. And a big part of that is supporting, creating enough safety and support that they are able to start to feel again, because feeling becomes the doorway into presence.

[01:10:02] You have to know that you're not probably going to do it all in one go. You have to know that built into your trauma is a gift, is a medicine. That's not to say it should have happened, that's not to say what happened was okay, but as you work with it, it will render a gift for you to pass on. So, how do we do that? How do we start to work with our trauma outside of just talk therapy?

[01:10:30] For me, that has become about ceremony. Ceremony is what starts to happen in a group where we start to create a shared presence, because if there are some people in a ceremony who know how to drop into presence, they will pull traumatized people into prisons with them. They will start to teach them, not like, now, I'm going to teach you, but by being there. They will start to teach them the third language, language of feeling. 

[01:10:59] In a ceremony, if it's well-held, the setters are good, there will be an innate safety in that space. And the psyche of a traumatized person will register that safety. They will feel it deeply, not, this is going to be a safe place, no, you will know it in your core, this is safe. And you will look at the people who are sitting and holding the space, and unconsciously, your psyche will recognize, that person can hold me.

[01:11:28] And so, as we do that work, that's been my context, we start to pull people into a different way of being. The final dimension of that is we remember how to be people again. Touch can be re-established in a safe way and more animal nature starts to come out. We remember how to be created as we become present together. So, ceremonies are containers that energetically reconstitute presence, teach people presence.

[01:11:57] And what starts to happen is a traumatized person who goes to a very well-held group starts to say, had this encounter with this present person who felt safe, who was able to open up and share, but I'm actually this person, because I've got to get through my life, and it's dangerous out here, and things happen. And then, they come to another ceremony, and then they come to another ceremony. 

[01:12:20] And slowly, more presence starts to take place. They talk about what happened to them. They witnessed in what happened to them. They're supported in what happened to them. They're also pushed to say, and now, what do you want to create? What's next for you? What is your gift? Show us. And it emerges in those spaces. And slowly with time, they start to realize like, wait, and this is what happened to me, that scared person is the shell of me, this is who I am. After two years of working in those spaces, it was like, hold on, all those things that happened to me mean I'm good with trauma.

[01:12:56] I know what it's like to certain kinds of trauma, I'm good with it, but wait actually, I have something to offer. So, the first part is, I'm sorry, and then I'm going to land the plane. The first part is understanding what happened, how it shaped you. The second part is re-establishing presence through being around people who know the language of presence and in a well-supported space. And the third part is, how do I start to express my gifts? And as you move through those, and particularly that third one, that naturally starts to happen, that's where things really start to change.

[01:13:33]Luke Storey:  Wow, dude. Mic drop. If these mics were droppable, I would drop it. This stupid stand in the way. Man, what an incredible articulation of that method of healing. And you might have noticed as you're talking, I just felt these waves of emotion just reflecting back to ways in which I was so stuck unknowingly, even 22 years of like very committed spiritual work before I sat in my first ayahuasca ceremony and ended up on the course of a couple of years doing about eight of those amongst a number of other different ceremonies with different medicines, but I was taken back to the initial experience with ayahuasca, and that's exactly what happened. 

[01:14:33] Exactly what happened. And it was so interesting, in that, I used to think this was—I mean, I'm a pretty woo-woo guy, but when people would prefer to like ayahuasca as a she that you talk to and it knows things, I'm like, dude, it's a plant, okay? Like maybe God designed these molecules and put them together in this way, put it in some native person's head to boil them up in this way, but it's just God using this tool to get through to you.

[01:15:00] And maybe that's true, but I have to say, in the first two experiences, there definitely was a personality present. Let's just say that. Not like some people have an animal come to them, or someone, a face, none of that, but just like the sense in my being was, whoa, there's someone here with me, and I think because I had been a drug addict in my prior life badly for a really long time, and then I had been 22 years without taking any mind-altering substances, sitting there, and waiting for that second cup of ayahuasca to hit me, when it came on, it was so perfectly orchestrated in the way with which it introduced itself to me, because it didn't take me into any trauma. 

[01:15:59] It gave me, it or she, and the people present gave me such a sense of safety and love. And also, it was so hilarious. It's like all the heaviness with which I had been carrying myself on this arduous journey of self-awakening and spiritual awakening, that it was like, oh, my God, all of this is so funny. And there was this just incredible liberation of my spirit, especially I think because of so many of the confines out of self-preservation that I had put into place. 

[01:17:04] There was no monkey business. There was no like getting "high", right? And as that overcame me, and I've shared this before, but the irony of it was just so massive, is that it's like a voice said to me in response to the following question, Luke, this is the most sober you have ever been in your life, because I really had to struggle with like the identity of someone who's sober, and in recovery, and all of this.

[01:17:39] I mean, it was not something I took lightly. That's like, my tether to life itself is based on that. And the question that I posed was, am I still sober? Because I was afraid to lose that. And that knowingness, not a voice, but just the knowingness was like, no, this is actually reality, where the veil of the limited spectrum of dimension that I'm able to perceive through my everyday senses was [making sounds] wiped away, and you know this, I'm now in this other grid in which there are multitudes of dimensional realities available to me, wherein I can play, I can work.

[01:18:23] It's kind of self-guided, but not. It takes me away. And then, I decide to come back to this thing and the whole thing. And there were two nights of that of just like, oh, my God, I'm home, I'm free. And not only that I could trust the experience, but there was such a deep trust of myself, that the track that I'd follow led me to that moment. And that was the beginning of a new track.

[01:19:02] There was a massive turn, and then that turn led to other turns, and other turns, and multitude of tracks. And in the past two years of my life, it's like it's unrecognizable, because of those experiences. And I want to be responsible when we start talking about plant medicines and things like that, because as you so clearly indicated, this is not just an automatic occurrence when you ingest a substance that has this effect on your biology.

[01:19:33] This is so much bigger and the care with which one has to go about exploring these realms cannot be overstated. But anyway, back to the trauma piece. It's funny, because I can see my ego like come back in, and go, dude, you're like crying like a baby on your podcast. It's not the first time. When I'm in the moment, I'm just like, I don't care, then I go, what did you just do? You look ridiculous.

[01:19:56] It's just hilarious. I love observing that phenomenon and just charging through it. But to the point of trauma, and there's so much more I want to learn from you on this, my introduction was like, it's safe, you can trust yourself, you can trust this experience, and I thought, well, this was fun. And then, the third night, it was like, hey, want to look at the wound, the big one? And not look at it, but feel it, the depth of it, the weight of it, the impact on your entire life and psyche, and every outcome that has been born out of every minute decision you've made are all traced back to this one event, which was in my case, a sexual abuse when I was a kid.

[01:20:47] And then, just all of the threads, and all of the nooks and crannies that I've been able to go into, and just transmute into, again, as you indicated, an awareness of those experiences as gifts, unnecessary in the process of becoming who I am right now, sitting here with you. Not to condone abuse, obviously, but I don't even know that I could say I wish some of the things I experienced never happened, because I don't think I really do. I mean, do you wish you'd never been bitten by a crocodile?

[01:21:26]Boyd Varty:  It's not uncommon to say that, actually, because what you're describing is such a reconstitution of meaning in such a fundamental way. And what I love about it is that what we know about working with those teachers is that it's not one plus one equals two. Certain plants have a certain nature, but like it's about your presence, the intelligence of that, the intelligence of the group, which constitutes something very different.

[01:22:02] So, for you, it immediately started to establish, first, safety, then a taste of the ridiculousness of everything, which is a part of it. And only once you had the trust could you then—so, the psyche, the space, it's all intelligent and it's not a formula, which is what's quite amazing about how those spaces work. But then, what happens is together, we start to reconstitute meaning. 

[01:22:30] The way it is structured, and it gets hard to talk about that, but meaning has a way of structuring itself into life, and into our psyche, and into the way we co-create with life. And when we become traumatized and frozen, part of what breaks is our capacity to recreate meaning with every moment in life. And so, what happens is the loop of trauma just repeats itself, because the meaning structure remains the same.

[01:23:04] Doesn't matter what you're doing, you go live somewhere else, the meaning structure is still embedded there. But somehow, when we work at a deeper level and we reconstitute the meaning, and that can be extremely complicated, but can also be very simple, like a person who has been incredibly physically unsafe finds themselves lying in a ceremonial space, the medicine is coming down, and actually, what is left is just a quiet presence and people casually lying a foot on someone, an arm on someone, just people sort of in the space, no one moving, but touching, and even if not touching, connected in the energy field.

[01:23:49] You know that feeling of being everyone in this room is somehow fundamentally in a field? Just nothing's happening. If you were to stand on the outside, you see this very still group of people who've been journeying or lying there, and in a much deeper level, meaning is being constituted, I am connected, I am safe, I am a part of a mystery. All of that is happening at deep levels, deeply conscious and unconscious levels, and that's restructuring the fabric of meaning inside a person.

[01:24:21] And there are so many ways in which that happens when we start doing all kinds of healing work. AA is an incredible way that meaning is restructured, starting with I am powerless, because most people are fighting using their own power to try and not do this any more, or try and do this, or trying to, I'm powerless, suddenly, the meaning starts to be structured. So, it works at so many different levels and it works with those plants, but it also works just starting for us.

[01:24:56] Each time, you must be present with each other. And it's a process. It does not happen quickly, how was the programming laid down, then that scary place where you start to take it out, and you're left with like a state of deep transformational tension, I'm not what I was, not what I will be. Well, I'm not that, well, what am I? But wait, I mean, add a few of those things back, but of my own choosing. But wait, I'm going to add a few new things. Oh, wait, there are some things that want to-

[01:25:31]Luke Storey:  Yeah. That's such an important point to that whole thing. And it takes me back to a very strange and unplanned, 5-MeO experience a couple of months ago in which I went to hold space for four friends that we're going to be journeying. And part of the facilitator's protocol, which I guess was optional, but I opted in, was that I wasn't a facilitator, I'm not trained to do that, so I'm just kind of hanging out in the room and just being quiet while they do their thing.

[01:26:09] But part of it is that you take a meditation dose to help drop in to the field with the person who's doing the deep journey as a means by which to create a conduit for them to do their work, right? And so, that was my intention. But what ended up happening was, and I'll try to keep the story short, because there's so much more I want to bring out of you, but that happened four times with four friends, it's before I left LA, and each time, my intention was to just do a small little bit, but no one was really monitoring me, it was just kind of, you inhale what you're going to inhale, and I had four full-on excursions.

[01:26:54] And needless to say, I mean, by far, the single most profound day of my life and probably all lifetimes, really, but what you described of having to kind of piece back a new version of yourself on some scaffolding that's been left behind is what took place in the days and weeks to follow. It was like at first, alarming the next day, because the mind came in, and said, oh, you've really done it this time, you're gone now, right?

[01:27:33] This is like, you broke yourself, you fucked up. And then, thank God, Alyson, the voice of reason was there, and I was courageous enough and trusting in her enough to say, like, I think I might have like gone too far. I might be gone. Like go to an institution type of gone, because I came to that morning just like feeling real weird, real weird. and not blissed out like I normally would be. So, anyway, she's like—

[01:28:02]Boyd Varty:  Well, I mean just one, I don't mean to interrupt you, but like as the ego dissolves more in ways and it can't hold, it starts to feel like it's dying. And then, what comes in underneath that is a survival pattern. And so, the survival pattern is usually, I broke something, we're going down here, and so that's a very sensitive place you were in.

[01:28:28]Luke Storey:  Yeah. And thank God I had such a goddess and mystic at my back and call that morning, and then there was the fear, she's going to be pissed that I was too extreme, which I have a tendency to be.

[01:28:44]Boyd Varty:  So, as part of that survival, you'll start to find a little paranoia there, too.

[01:28:46]Luke Storey:  Yeah. And I looked her in the eyes, and I said, I just got to be honest, and I told her that, and she just looked at me without flinching, and she said, oh, sweetie, this is just an initiation, I went through a bunch of these, you're fine. That's all it took. And I just [making sounds] kind of medicine sort of came back over me and it got all like [making sounds] , and I just, okay. But anyway, what so ensued were days and weeks following, wherein I could barely do any human functions.

[01:29:24] There was no chance of working, or doing on a computer, or anything like that, or my phone just looked like this foreign object. So, I would intuitively just go sweep up, and then I would go meditate for a couple hours. Then I would sit there, and go, I got to do something, so I would go do the dishes. I just had to do the most simplistic of tasks to just kind of remind my body and self that the orientation I'm in is a human.

[01:29:54] And then, as you so wisely indicated, since there was such a blank slate there, there was this canvas on which my personality started to emerge. Stroke by stroke, there was much more agency to determine which stroke and which color was to be sort of allowed back into the framework. And it was a really, really cool experience to actually be able to observe the Lukeness coming back, right?

[01:30:29]Boyd Varty:  The reconstitution of the personality. 

[01:30:31]Luke Storey:  Yeah. And just kind of learning how to be a me again. And also, in the realization that there really is no getting away from the true nature of your DNA code. Like I have the same sense of humor. I have the same preferences. Like they're still totally a me, but it's more like as I communicated with the personality that wanted to reemerge and kind of infiltrate, there was now an adult in the room that was creating the parameters by which that human self can come back in and reincorporate with the soul higher self. So fascinating.

[01:31:11]Boyd Varty:  And also, it's like people watching like, these two dudes have gone like way off the psychedelic age here, but not really. This experience that you're describing has been talked about for hundreds and hundreds of years through all of the mystical teachings, a satori experience, a samadhi experience. It comes by various different names. Eckhart Tolle, after his experience, when he sat on a park bench for a year, the great awakening was not constituted by [making sounds] , but it was like, he went to a park bench and he sat there as pure awareness for a year.

[01:31:52] And then, a knowing came that he should move to Vancouver. And so, just to say that I think that when you do glimpse beyond those veils, and sorry, the final point is that every great mystic who has been replaced, I guess you would say, of the awakening experience, like full enlightenment is replaced by pure awareness, in my experience, they have these characteristic hints of personality in them.

[01:32:24] There are things they do from like who they were before and certain styles of sense of humor. And so, I get it. But it's interesting, all of that transformational work is becoming aware of how I was programmed, and then like realizing that programming, because you've just been in it for so long that it was just who you were. And then, you start to see like, oh, that's where that came from. That's where that came from. That's what drives that behavior. Like people, like for example, the classic is like people who achieve, and achieve, and achieve to try and feel like they have value, oh, wait, what's driving that?

[01:33:04] Okay. Go underneath one level underneath that, oh, I was never, go one level underneath that, I was never allowed to [making sounds] , and it is. And then, you start to get awareness of it, and then some of that stuff's got to go. But the thing that's important to know about it, I think, is that awareness, the first movement of a transformation is always to see it. And that's why the shaman lived outside the village, never lived in amongst the people.

[01:33:36]Luke Storey:  Oh, really?

[01:33:37]Boyd Varty:  Because that was all going on there, everyone is living their life, the shaman comes in from the outside, so he's totally objective. And if you're in something every day, it almost becomes like wallpaper, he sees the movements, the patterns, the energetics. He sees it from the outside and he sees you. That's the first movement, here's what you're doing, boom. And that always becomes the beginning of a transformation.

[01:34:00] You become aware of this thing you're doing. I mean, I'll try and say it like this, like first, you're unconsciously unconscious. You don't know what you're doing, you're just doing it. Next, you become consciously unconscious. You become aware of this thing you've just been repeating for years, and years, and years, the same trauma loop you've been in for years, now, you realize, oh, I'm doing it again.

[01:34:27] I'm pushing people away. I'm turning to substances. I'm recreating the need for—whatever it is. I'm watching myself, but I'm still doing it. Number three, here comes transformational tension. I'm making a different choice, and it's hard. It's freaking hard. Like I want to do the thing I've always known to do, and these, in ceremonies, become super important, because some of what happens in a ceremonial space is other people who are in the healing space or along the journey start to provide options, different options.

[01:35:04] And if you've been severely traumatized, like if you've been severely shamed, usually, your only option is to isolate, isolate. If people are good in a space, as you go to isolate, because your shame's coming up, they'll catch it, and they'll say, hey, here's an option, why don't you share with me what's going on with you? Oh, I could never share with you. Try it. So, now, you get an option. Healing of trauma always involves the establishment of more options, more choices, then over time, you start to be able to say, my shame is coming up, I need to talk to someone.

[01:35:36] I need to reach out. So, now, you're getting a different suite of options to choose from, and you do that enough, and that you go stay in it, stay in it, make different choices, make different choices. I know the pattern, I see what I do, now, make a different choice, and then, finally, a new pattern establishes itself, and you don't even have to think about doing it. You feel shame, you call someone, it's become what they call unconsciously conscious. It's just what you do now. I hope it wasn't too all over the show.

[01:36:05]Luke Storey:  No, that's amazing. I've heard someone like kind of rattle off those different stages, but not elaborate on them. That makes perfect sense. Yeah.

[01:36:14]Boyd Varty:  The establishment of options becomes really big, and the reason that the group is that, sometimes, when you've been frozen, and how many people have I sat with who have been severely traumatized, you say like, I don't have any dreams. Like you're telling me I should like follow my dreams, like I don't even have any dreams. And I'm like, well, maybe you weren't meant to dream alone. Maybe we're meant to dream in the village. Maybe we, what you need is us to help dream for you a little bit until you get going.

[01:36:48] And it has to happen together. I don't know what else I would do if I wasn't doing this. Okay. Well, here's what I did, you might try this. Have you thought about this? Would it feel good to do that? That's the support that is necessary. And we don't have to do it alone. And there's a point where I'm not sure we can, that we can go a long way alone by tuning in. But at a certain point, I think part of what we're all doing as we heal is trying to, Terence McKenna's old thing, Find the Others. Find the Others, like that's why I think it's amazing what you do, is you put out such a frequency of Find the Others.

[01:37:27]Luke Storey:  Yeah, so necessary. How did you end up in your training or mentorship with this Peruvian shaman? How did that come about? And what was the process of your initiation that led you into facilitating ceremony?

[01:37:46]Boyd Varty:  The first ceremony I ever went to, I was taken there by a friend. And when my teacher walked in, who really taught me those spaces, I watched him look around the room. And in years of being around trackers, I saw a tracker. I just saw his energy was, to me, the energy of a tracker, like it was clear no one was going to tell him what to do. It was clear that he was a little bit of a rogue.

[01:38:14] He was like not going to be by the rules, by anyone else's rules. You could just sense it. And then, he looked around the room and he stopped on a woman that I knew immediately, and she was very nervous about the ceremony. And he said to her, I can see what you're holding right here, it's okay, I'll be with you. And she had talked to me a lot about how she was nervous, and he just picked it, boom, and he started to create a connection with her.

[01:38:37] And then, when the ceremony began, as the medicine came on, he was right next to me, and I looked across at him, and I'll just tell you the whole thing, he flashed a cat across his face, I saw this cat like a jaguar across his face, and then I just started facilitating. Immediately, just the way that we would do ceremony, it wasn't structured. The whole thing was that in this society, we've all been told what to do for so long that, actually, what you want is just people to learn to follow the energy rather. 

[01:39:12] So, it wasn't super structured and I just started working just instantly. It was like, I had such a sense of where the energy was, where the process was. And years around animals, everyone I looked at, I could see how their body was shaped, and I could place my body to create an energetic, and I could see how to play with people who were very shut down, it's just all there. So, I knew in that moment, this is going to be a part of my life, and I just thought, well, I'm the best at this, because I was in that.

[01:39:49] And of course, the fall came shortly after that. So, that first ceremony was just so I could really put me into it, and then my work really began after that. And then, it got very, very difficult for a period of time. And I was deconstructing so much and I didn't know what else to add back. I got into a real kind of limbo space for a while where I didn't quite know where I was. And about three years went past before the mentorship began.

[01:40:24] And eventually, I said to him, I was very guarded. I said to him, I want to learn this work, will you teach me? And he said to me, you're saying you do, but you're not asking it. I said, but I am asking. He said, no, not with a feeling. And he kind of left me with that, not with the feeling. And then, a little bit later, we were in a group, and the group had started, and he said to me, just as the group was getting there, he said, yeah, you have a very ambiguous relationship with your power, and then he moved on, because he's just a kind of sick shaman, he just seeded it.

[01:41:10] So then, later, once the ceremony is like really starting to get going, called him over, and I'm like, hey, what do you mean I have an ambiguous relationship with my power? And he put his arm around me, he said, do you want me to tell you? I'm like, yeah, I want you to tell me. He's like, you want to know now? But I should have known, and I was like, yeah, tell me. And then, he said to me, he like put his mouth close to my ear, and he said to me, you present well, but I can see you're frozen inside, and you can tell a good story, but you don't actually know how to create the life you're looking for. And as he said it-

[01:41:58]Luke Storey:  Are you on medicine at this time? 

[01:42:00]Boyd Varty:  It was just coming on.

[01:42:02]Luke Storey:  Oh, shit, here we go, start the engines.

[01:42:05]Boyd Varty:  As he said it, I felt like, I was like, get away from me. And we had trust, so he had waited for a moment to unlock something, and he was right. I didn't have true confidence. I was acting on some level and it hurts so much. And for me, I put that hurt into rage. And what I learned later is that almost always a rage is a kind of spiritual detox. And the rage came into, you don't know who I am, you don't know, all that, angry young man stuff, you don't know, I can—and it went for about two days.

[01:42:46] And there was so much shame, because it was kind of true. I couldn't quite move out of the things that had happened to me. It wasn't coming together for me yet. So, there was a lot of that. And then, eventually, the next day, I couldn't be around anyone. The next day, this voice would run through my head like, you can be quite pathetic sometimes, talking to myself, I was like, yeah, you can, come on in, you're weak and you don't know how to create the life you want. 

[01:43:20] Yeah, come on in. And the next day, there was compassion for all of those parts of myself that I was trying to keep out of shadow, trying to hold back, like the parts of me that didn't know what it was doing. It was weak and thought it should know and didn't. And it just started to let them all in, let them all in. And I just spent that day by myself in the garden of where this house was, where the ceremony was happening, just come on in. Come on in.

[01:43:43] And I felt it starting to subside. And I let in all my weakness that I have growing up in South Africa Safari. I let it all in. And the next night, I went over to him, and I said, I think I get what you're trying to say to me and I want to grow, I want to grow, there was the humbleness to actually finally said like, I want to genuinely grow. And he said to me, you can do this work, but we need to move through what's left of the self doubt, and that's when the mentorship began.

[01:44:20]Luke Storey:  Wow. How incredible.

[01:44:22]Boyd Varty:  And it became incredibly warm between us. And it was warm, but he never actively was teaching me. He would let me be in the space and watch him work, and then we got into the third language with each other. So, I could feel the energy and there's a very deep gift that was given to me, to have a mentor, to have a teacher, and to have a truly—shamans don't run like sages. They're not nice. They're shamans. And it's not the same, like it's different. They're in the realms of the energetic. Yeah. That was the journey, and then just started setting for people. And Alyson asked me, I don't call myself a shaman or anything, I just set for people, and try and be present, and support people moving through trauma.

[01:45:19]Luke Storey:  How long was the period with which you were traveling and doing ceremony with a particular shaman? 

[01:45:26]Boyd Varty:  It was about five years.

[01:45:29]Luke Storey:  Wow. So, hundreds and hundreds of individual awakening, people popping, ding, ding, ding, ding.

[01:45:37]Boyd Varty:  Yeah. It was amazing and there were a lot of rips there watching the different ways in which people came through and out of, and the way that those spaces started to work, and the community that starts to emerge there. That is so foreign to us in this culture.

[01:45:56]Luke Storey:  Yeah, sadly. I think it's more prevalent in this particular locale than in many other places, in terms of Western culture. Like the event we were present at the other night, it was just like, oh, my God, just incredible convergence of humans right here. And I think it's no coincidence that many of the folks here are, by and large, pretty involved in ceremony as well. I mean, there's definitely a community here that sees the value in that and participates pretty, pretty bigly.

[01:46:33]Boyd Varty:  I mean, I should say to anyone listening that my definition of ceremony is it does not have to involve any kind of plants. Any time you gather people and you go under pretense, you drop under the pretenses of modern life, and you can do that with a question that everyone is asked to answer. I went to an amazing dinner the other night with someone—the prompt was, for the dinner, one person talks, and the question was, tell a story that sounds like a lot, but it's actually true from your life. And as people went around, boom, we dropped. We dropped under all the socialized presenting.

[01:47:17] And so, you can make ceremonies wherever you are, just discover how to go under the deeper, go deeper. One of the great one that Martha always used to use is she would say like, okay, everyone, write down where you live, your relationship, and write down your work, write down your like husband, wife, brother, sister, family status, write down all the things. Okay. Now, introduce yourself and you're not allowed to use any of those. And those are like our social cues. Hi, I'm Boyd. I'm from South Africa. I work as—I'm on a journey to try and prevent more essence into the world and do what feels—yeah.

[01:47:58]Luke Storey:  That's funny, because the other evening, when we—I don't know, a lot of people, maybe there are 75 people or something.

[01:48:05]Boyd Varty:  There was like a hundred people. 

[01:48:06]Luke Storey:  Was there?

[01:48:06]Boyd Varty:  Yeah.

[01:48:06]Luke Storey:  Yeah. It was a pretty, pretty big crowd at this private gathering, and they asked everyone to briefly just introduce themselves. But I think it was indicated like not what you do, but who you are. And I try to stay present, and just listen to other people, and not ruminate on what I'm going to say that's going to make people like me the most, but I really couldn't come up with anything. It kind of got to me, I said, oh, I haven't thought about it at all, so I just said, I'm Luke, I'm an amplifier of truth.

[01:48:34] And then, other people shared what I perceived to be, back to that comparison, like much more elaborate versions of the same thing. And I was like, mine was too short. But in hindsight, I think actually, you might have said it the other day when I met you with Alyson, and you said, yeah, and we went around the room, and you were the one guy, I'm an amplifier of truth. And I thought, you know what, I think I'm actually going to stick with that, because it-. 

[01:48:58]Boyd Varty:  It's kind of strong.

[01:49:00]Luke Storey:  Yeah. I mean, it really is kind of what I'm most passionate about, is discovering the unknown and known truths of the universe, and embodying them, and applying them, and finding people like you that exemplify them [making sounds] and amplifying them, putting them out in all of these channels.

[01:49:20]Boyd Varty:  And what got me about that gathering is like it was not a fringe gathering. These people in the world doing amazing things and like it was amazing to hear how people were describing their work in the world. Because to me, when I listen to someone say, I'm an amplifier of truth, I'm an architect of new systems for agriculture, I'm a creative inspirer, all these different ways that people are presenting themselves, I could almost see the beginnings of the fabric of a different way that we're structuring our story and shared meaning. And that, to me, is a kind of village consciousness that I talk about coming out of this track inside of you. It shows, we're doing things differently. It's happening. It's really happening.

[01:50:10]Luke Storey:  Yeah, it definitely is. Well, man, I think two things. One, I could talk to you for hours. Two, I know I have another podcast here in a few minutes, so I think we'll bring it to a close. But, man, such a pleasure to get to know you. I'm so glad that I was able to catch you while you're here in town.

[01:50:27]Boyd Varty:  Yeah. Thanks for having me. It's been great to chat wide range of subjects.

[01:50:31]Luke Storey:  Yeah, it's great. I mean, I think the Life Stylist audience, they're going to really benefit from this, though, because of the diversity of thought and concept covered. So, thank you for having the bandwidth to be able to just go in so many different directions.

[01:50:44]Boyd Varty:  Oh, yeah. Thanks for having me. It's been amazing.

[01:50:46]Luke Storey:  Yeah, very meaningful conversation. And with that, I send you on your way.

[01:50:51]Boyd Varty:  Appreciate it. Thank you.



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