Johana Sand lives most of each year in the high Andes in Cuenca, Ecuador, where she serves as a “plant medicine” facilitator and guide. She has used a variety of plants as consciousness-expanding tools for over thirty years. The synergy she experiences with these plants points to that awareness shared by ancient enlightenment traditions like Advaita Vedanta, Kashmir Shaivism and strains of Buddhism. Modern quantum science and neuro-science similarly refer to the field from which everything emanates and seeing through the “illusion” of a separate self.
Her journeys with mind-expanding medicines arose in the late 60’s when she connected with the burgeoning community developing around Timothy Leary at Millbook and elsewhere in New York which utilized altered states as a vehicle to gain psychological and spiritual insights. At that time, the use and research into these substances was not illegal in the United States.
For the next 20 years, Johana was prompted by these insights and awakenings to delve into eastern thought. Among many experiences, she lived in an ashram in Vermont and studied Chinese medicine/macrobiotics in N.Y. and in Boston under Michio Kushi, who helped spearhead the focus on natural/organic foods in the U.S. Johana helped open and sustain three organic food restaurants based on the principles of Chinese medicine.
Johana remained particularly drawn to the non-dual or “direct” path promoted by 20th century teachers as Nisargardatta and Ramana Maharshi, which pointed to the underlying REALITY behind all appearances. With her partner, Jonathan Krown, she co-hosted a school for consciousness development in Los Angeles and shared this deepening realization.
Simultaneously, intensive research was undertaken during the 1980’s by Dennis and Terrence McKenna and others around the usage of native plants for expanding consciousness. Under the tutelage of the McKennas and others, she again utilized these medicines to augment self-realization. This inaugurated a period of travel to South America, Mexico and Central America to participate in conferences and ceremonies in many different formats, including working with traditional shamans.
In the early 1990’s, Johana and her partner moved to Minneapolis to help with the transition of her parents. During this period she raised her children and received funding to help develop the national charter school movement, which had originated in Minnesota several years before. She became a specialist in the opening charter schools and helped to launch over 20 innovative schools during the next decade. The last of these was Lionsgate Academy, a pioneering public charter school for high school student with autism that has become a national model.
Beginning in 1997, Johana began travelling to Ecuador where her connection to the land, people, traditions and ease of life encouraged her to spend much of each year. She holding retreats and classes in the Cuenca area with and without medicine for a number of years.
Johana has journeyed extensively using three different plant species: Psilocybin mushrooms, Ayahuasca and San Pedro. She currently focuses on San Pedro, a cactus indigenous to the Andes which is available in local markets. After working within a variety of traditional shamanic settings, her work has evolved into what has been called the “New Shamanism.” This creates a vehicle for the plant medicine to provide a portal into our essential or Divine Nature, which is then linked to and supported by our path/commitment in our daily life. She particularly focuses on empowering participants as equals to more fully unleash their inner being and their unique creativity.
Johana currently offers unique guided San Pedro Journeys in the Andes mountains at TOSA Blue Mountain.