The Origins of Bufo Alvarius Toad Medicine


Talking points


Where it all started?


We are designed to connect


The emergence from emergency


Experiencing your divine nature


A global toad community

The medicine of Bufo Alvarius toad in modern times is essentially less than a decade old. There are Mesoamerican carvings of toads and anthropologists and academics say that they're fertility symbols because of the rain. Still, there's also a lot of iconography with the toad next to the jaguar next to Quetzalcoatl, their main god of light. It's a shamanic archetype that they may have had a shamanic relationship with the medicine, but we don't know. It's been lost to time. Science first knew about the Bufo Alvarius toad in the '60s, and it sort of leaked out into the underground of the underground in Arizona in the '70s and '80s. But there's never been a community on any scale appreciable until now.

The modern ground zero is around 2011 or so in Mexico, and a few certain individuals experienced the medicine and became practitioners and started to disseminate and serve the medicine, and we've had a modern lineage spring up around that.

Discover the inner landscape
of the visionary state

So, the toad is native to the Sonoran Desert in Mexico and across into Arizona. It used to be up into California as well. It's called the Bufo Alvarius, Bufo Incilius, or the Colorado River Toad – it's had different geographic regions. But the point is the modern lineage when it started was in the Sonoran Desert on the Mexico side, which is tempestuous. It's drug cartel territory across to the Mexican border. A lot of the indigenous tribes of Sonora have been affected by drugs by crystal meth and crack cocaine, and they've been flooded to disempower them by the cartels to allow more permeability of the border for their drug trafficking.

Bufo medicine has returned to that area in awareness largely through the efforts of Octavio Rettig, who's one of the originators of this medicine in the modern lineages. He treated one of the tribes of the Seri Comcac Nation with bufo when he lived in this area for two years as a doctor. The Seri Nation, you know, they used to be the larger caretakers of the land in that area in Sonora and greater area, but they've been displaced to a reservation for over 100 years, they have no running water, they're very impoverished, they're drug affected, and now this medicine of the toad has come back into their communities.

The neighboring communities in Sonora, the Yaqui, the Tahonoan and other tribes are discovering toad medicine because it's becoming very popular. One of the things it can do is it can alleviate breaking that addiction cycle and it can help alleviate the addiction of crystal meth – maybe not neurochemically on its own like other substances like iboga – but in resetting the system and breaking that addiction pattern.

So, the point is this medicine – which it is, it's not a drug per se, it's native to the toad. The Bufo alvarius spends nine months of the year under the ground in darkness. There are 484 toad species in the world; the Bufo alvarius is a cousin and identical to the Bufo Marinus, the Australian cane toad, which originally came from South America, but it doesn't go underground, and it doesn't have 5-MeO.

This is the only one with 5-MeO DMT and about 17 other alkaloids. So, it's essentially like a national treasure, and a gold rush has begun to harvest the toad medicine, and the poor, impoverished communities of Sonora have this gold, not all of it on their lands but in the general geographic region.

So, there's an emerging cultural narrative around the re-empowerment of the indigenous tribes at the same time as collectors of the medicine who have, in some senses, opportunistically or just been in the right place at the right time to have toads on their land, or to be into the toad experience, have started to commercialize the medicine of the Bufo alvarius toads.

So, like ayahuasca, another recognized medicine in the shamanic paradigm, it's a living creature, right, and the toad spends his time under the ground and comes up for three months in the monsoon season in the summer. There are also issues around the sustainable harvesting of toad medicine and political issues around money and the medicine, around impoverished communities and Sonora, indigenous rights and empowerment.

Neuroscience is exploring 5-MeO, both synthetic or toad, but only in small amounts, because it's still so new. We know the medicine of 5-MeO; it’s believed we create 5-MeO in our lungs and our cerebo-spinal fluid. 

It's called the “God Molecule”, and it's most likely the catalyst for the mystical experiences being reported all through time.

So before the 20th century, before artificial lighting affected our natural rhythms and connection to the planet, degraded foodstuffs and modern living, people quite often reported having spontaneous mystical experiences and not just the Buddhas and Jesuses and Mohammeds, the William Blake's, the Saints, etc. It’s like people were designed to connect to something larger to themselves, not just nature but what's behind nature, this sense of the unified field as they might say in quantum physics, or Source Consciousness, you know, or Nirvana or Samadhi, or the Big “G” word.

Every culture across the earth has experienced a sense of belonging to some originating power, and it's only been modern, dishevelled, disempowered, corrupted humanity, which is traumatized and living in its trauma all over the world, distant from nature, creating a planetary ecological catastrophe, waking up slowly through this crisis.

And so, the Toad Medicine appears on the scene at this exact time, in a way piggybacking on the ayahuasca traditions as it's come out into the world over the last two generations. And an awareness in the West, which is very ego-driven, and the ego is what separates us from that divine connection.

So, neuroscience says that 5-MeO DMT lowers the parietal and the frontal lobes of the brain, where the sense of ego and identity partially reside. There's nothing wrong with the ego. It's needed to navigate and survive the world, but we've inherited 12000 years of species PTSD. Many mythologies and cultures like the Aborigines in Australia say we used to have a connection to dreamtime consciousness. We used to have the capacity to function, thrive, repopulate, live, and be connected at the same time. And then somewhere not that long ago in history, we had a fall, and it was severed. And that heartbreak, if you've ever been in love and felt that connection, that warmth, that oneness, and when it goes, you go into shock. So, imagine that happened on a species level around 12000 or more years ago when history started.

What I'm getting at is the ego has calcified and taken on the responsibility in flight and fear of protecting us for so many generations now. We think it's normal, but it's a response mechanism from being cut off from our full capability and our full connection to ourselves to nature and to what's behind nature or Source consciousness, which indigenous tribes sometimes mediated through plant medicines, Eastern cultures, whether that's through breath work, meditation, other modalities like that, also connect to those pathways and center themselves.

So egoic Western consciousness has created and is culminating in a planetary catastrophe and there's a potential for an emergence from the emergency. The psychic pressure is like six million years of coal being turned into a diamond in our generation. And at this exact time around ten years ago the toad resurfaces, right, with no proven ancestral background. I mean the timing is impeccable. There's a bit of a retrofitting happening with some of the indigenous communities of Mexico who are arguing they do, but they have a spiritual connection. That's okay. It's all good.
You've seen some different calligraphy showing a toad and showing the potential of inhalation of some...

Learn more about Amazonian hallucinogenic shamanism

No inhalation has been proved in previous cultures. The modern toad culture started around 2011-2012. I mean, back into the 80s with the Church of Toad in Arizona and White Dog. That's Arizona hippies in the 70s and 80s. So, the modern Mexican lineage started around 2012. Right? Through Corvus, an American guy who knew about the toad and gave the medicine to Dr. Gerry and Dr. Octavio, who are two of our Old Testament figures, and it is pollinated from there. So, the medicine has become a commodity. So, as it's spread around the world and there's been, I would say by now, at least 100,000 or hundreds of thousands of people that have experienced the Bufo Alvarius medicine.

In Mexico, where it is not criminalized, not illegal, it's unscheduled, 5-MeO can be culturally advertised, and there is a mestizo grassroots organic evolution of a Bufo toad community. Drawing upon ancestral lineages of shamanism of curanderos, of healers, who are working with song and dance and spirit and connection to serve the medicine and it's just pollinating everywhere across Mexico like an algae bloom and across the world as well.

5-MeO is technically, I believe only illegal in around seven to nine countries in the world and remember, 5-MeO DMT is in us. We make it in our lungs and in our cerebrospinal fluid. It's endogenous; the God molecule allows us to have mystical experiences.

It cannot be criminalized, it should not be, and it cannot be because human law is actually, if you go back in maritime law. The last 500 years of the globalization of sovereign nations, it goes back to the kings and the king is the representative god on earth and there is no higher power than the divine source. Legal arguments but the point is there is a higher power at work here. The medicine has been pollinating for the last, you know, six, seven, eight years. It's been spreading around the world through practitioners, people who are called to be servers of this medicine, and it's a big responsibility, and in some sense, we're making it up as we go along. We're self-organizing. 

We're a community who experiences the power and the sacredness of this medicine and it is calling us together as a community, as a bufo nation around the world, to create best practices, to create protocols of understanding of how the medicine should be served, how people need to be taken care of, pre-screening, integration after the experience.

Once you've had a full awakening on 5-MeO from the toad or a synthetic source, you have open pathways that are endogenous and can continue with meditation and breathwork in a divine state. So, to return to its original point, the medicine has become almost like the new oil or a new commodity in the areas of Mexico. I first met Mario Garnier, a media maker and documentary filmmaker, and he's a good man. And as this community has been recognizing and finding each other, I met Mario in 2017. I had my first toad experience in 2015, and my first synthetic 5-MeO experience in 2006 in the jungles of Peru, which was documented in my film, AYA Awakenings.

And in the book, if you read the book, there's two whole chapters about 5-MeO, which most people say is ineffable and is beyond the ability to describe, but I give it a good shot. I mean, it's an emotional response. It's a feeling. It's a knowing. It's a downloading connection of something that's bigger that the mind is not designed to hold, but the heart already contains.

And if you've never had an experience with 5-MeO DMT and you try to conceptualize it in the mind, which is what I did before, it's quite mind-blowing whenever you go into the experience and you realize... It's definitely mind-blowing. It's not of the mind. The mind is designed to navigate the terrestrial vehicle.

The soul if you will, is designed to experience your divine nature. So, the Sufi poet Rumi has a great phrase he says – and you know Rumi was either endogenously high on tryptamines or the Sufis with their acacias (they have an acacias they used to dye the magic carpets which the Syrian Rue the Eshunga which may have connected them to the same spaces).

But here's a great phrase he says, "You are not the drop; you are the ocean in the drop." So, this is the perfect metaphor. It's like we think of ourselves in the modern world as seven and a half billion people, separate, right? But we're one species, we're one organism. It's like the planet of Gaia is the mother. She's the macro-organism, and she has a biome. We're like one strand of a species within the Gaian biome.

And we think of ourselves as separate as drops, but we're in an ocean, but we don't feel connected. This has been a historical separation of the egoic mind coming to the fore from species trauma, I believe. 

What's happening now in this cycle of time with all the pressure that's coming on this awakening moment happening around the planet through multiple modalities and pathways, not just psychedelics or entheogens.

This is pressure to wake the fuck up because you get one life and at the moment the planet the crucible of life that we're holding is poisoned by us. Global warming is running away with itself. The ice age is also coming on the tail end of the global warming, and we have an opportunity for this species to awaken and whatever that means previous cultures have done this before and they've left us maps.

So, this awakening is endogenous, it's natural, it's happening whether we like it or not and toad medicine is a very powerful catalyst and activator for this and it's self-organizing as more people come into the community and have this experience they find the others because we're an ocean, we're not a drop, we're one mind finding itself. As we lower the mind, that source connection is the same within everyone. And part of our vibrational field stays on.

And there's a great camaraderie and belonging and sense of home within the toad community globally. And there are pros and cons. There have been practitioners who either wittingly or unwittingly through not having done their own shadow work and development, project energies into ceremony; people have gotten hurt, there are better ways to do things, and we're learning in the public eye as we go.

So there's been a new website just launched called <>, it's a group of ethical practitioners I believe who are global, who have wisdom pooled their resources and their knowledge together to help the community who has been asking on the social media pages for some type of consensus on best practices for working with a medicine of 5-MeO, for integration advice on working with 5-MeO, for pre-screening advice, for ethics, for support. And they've just launched their website and that documentation is up there. And what I'm seeing in the Buffo Nation globally is this self -organizing community which sees a need and fills the need.

Learn more about Amazonian hallucinogenic shamanism

It's like... like a species bit-torrent. Everyone has a little bit of the puzzle and everyone has something to contribute. So here at WBAC, the World Bufo Alvarius Congress 2019, this is our second year. I met Mario Ganier, the director of WBAC in 2017 and we worked together. I came to Mexico and worked with a lot of the practitioners working here in their lineages and styles. and was greatly impressed by the Mexican Toad community and felt that there was time in the global populace of working with toad to create a platform for us to find each other, to recognize each other, to hear each other, to share with each other.

So, this year at WBAC, we have run a very successful program drawing people from all over the world to speak about the bufo alvarius medicine, 5-MeO, the missing mystical state, the science behind it, the integration and the health benefits, the cultural aspects. We've had a panel of collectors from Sonora who have agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding, or a mission statement called the Union of Collectors Mission Statement, agreeing that a herpetologist has devised a set of best practices for handling and milking the toads to keep it safe, sustainable not to overmilk all six of the paratoid glands.

The glands are connected to their immune system if you milk all of them, they're defenseless for the rest of the season. It takes six to twelve weeks for them to replenish the seasons only twelve weeks. We're helping support the collectors to create a union of collectors to agree to best practices and then for those best practices to be something which is witnessed by the community, and for the community to use a hashtag #KnowYour5ource, hashtag with the number five for the S, to share their thoughts, hopes, dreams and concerns around the ethical handling of the toads, because you may have a beautiful mystical God experience.

But if your medicine was harvested from 20 toads in a bag in piss and blood, and there's blood in the medicine in they were all stressed out, then that assembly line of spirituality has a flaw at the root. So the collectors are stepping up and the only way to verify that is with a new organization that is formed in Mexico City, Fernando Suarez is the executive director of and it is the oversight sort of board working with the collectors to ensure that if they do best practices for handling toad and the toads are handled in an ethical and sustainable way and their environments are sustainable and the medicine is the best quality then it can get an imprint of fair trade toad to be sold on only to ethical practitioners.

There's an organization here in Mexico City called the Association of Therapists of Bufo Alvarius, who are public and are serving the community, and there's the Conclave and other regional organizations who have also agreed to practice the best practices. So, the community is self-organizing to create an infrastructure for the sustainable and ethical harvesting, delivery, and experience of the Bufo Alvarius medicine as it blossoms into the world. So, we have a beautiful future to look forward to.

Now this medicine is not for everyone we're not pushing it right, we're holding space and we're being moved to recognize the healing potential, the science potential and the potential to know our own spiritual nature and there's an emerging culture which is blooming around the world which is helping channel that medicine out into the world in safe legal ethical way. ways. If you want to be part of that, there are ways to connect.

There's a growing international community and time is short, right? We have great potential for transformation into what we can become, and we need to use every modality at our disposal and trust the process of our own becoming.

Thank you.

Key takeaways

  • Bufo Alvarius medicine originated in Mexico around 2011, spreading from the Sonoran Desert to indigenous communities.
  • Bufo Alvarius is revered as a sacred medicine facilitating profound spiritual experiences and cultural resurgence.
  • There are serious concerns that revolve around sustainable harvesting, commercialization, and the need for ethical guidelines.
  • A global community is forming around Bufo Alvarius, advocating for responsible use and establishing supportive infrastructure.