On March 26, 2018 Katherine Brewster, a 27-year-old woman from England, walked into the dense forest of southern Brazil. She didn't come out, at least not until far past the point of concern. An international search for the missing woman was formed and she was found five days later in a remote part of the Brazilian jungle where poisonous plants are abundant and jaguar attacks are a real danger. Initially, she was reported as having simply got lost after going for a walk, and found in tears after having spent the last five days fearing for her life. These initial reports are false according to MailOnline, who conducted the first interview with Brewster after she was found. According to Katherine Brewster she was guided into the forest by a divine voice, spoke with plants, and went to learn how to "connect with the morphogenetic field." She says that this divine voice also taught her how to nourish herself with sunlight instead of food.
Katherine was staying with a family in the small village of Dom Jose in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil's southernmost state. She says that she had been receiving divine messages for a period of three months prior to her disappearance. This divine voice told her to prepare for a trek into the wilderness, she says, but did not tell her when that trek would be until the day of her disappearance.
Always interested in wilderness survival and increasing her connection with nature, Katherine became interested in the concept of the "morphogenetic field." She says:
I'd researched a lot about the morphogenetic field, how consciousness within form connects everything. We have access to the whole universe, all we need to do is to detach ourselves from the material. We are thus the intrinsic consciousness of the universe
She continues on to say that she was also in an extreme fasting state at the time:
I've been preparing for this experience for a month. I learned how to [be] nourished by the sun and not by food, and for 30 days I had managed to live without eating anything.
How did this woman, apparently on the brink of starvation, survive for 5 days alone in a hostile forest? She didn't hunker down in a safe place. She was apparently instructed by this voice (a voice beginning to sound like a bit of a jerk) to keep moving, and made it a total of 10 km on her pilgrimage. She was also found covered in wounds and insect bites. She says that she allowed mosquitoes, wasps, and ants to bite and sting her:
I didn't stop them from biting me. I let myself be bitten, so I could feel the pain and learn how to not suffer.
She also apparently broke her fast in the forest, presumably finding sunlight a poor replacement for calories. Or maybe it was too shady. According to Katherine, she survived on wild plants, made teas, and used herbs to treat wounds. How did she identify these plants? If you said "well, she's apparently interested in survival, maybe she researched the native edible and medicinal plants of the area," you'd be wrong. She says she talked to the plants directly and they told her which ones to eat and which were medicinal:
The plants were taking to me, telling me which ones I could eat, which ones I could make tea with, or to heal a wound with. The messages would come in words. It was more like having a conversation with the plants.
Taking to plants? How crazy can a person...Wait a minute, this sounds familiar. Right, it sounds like shamanic accounts of ayahuasca ceremonies and the secrets of Amazonian tribal medicine. Mysterious Universe covered some of this weirdness back in January, and Katherine Brewster's experience has some eerie similarities to shamanic medicine.
So was she just on ayahuasca when she went for a misguided walk? It doesn't seem like it. She said that these messages had been coming to her for three months, and if a wealthy British woman was on ayahuasca for three months in Brazil, that would have probably come to light. There doesn't seem to be an ayahuasca clinic in Dom Jose either.
Brewster had been living in Brazil for two years, however, and spent time in Florianópolis, close to the Amazon, where ayahuasca ceremonies do happen. So it seems possible that she might have experienced an ayahuasca ceremony at some point. Psychedelic drugs can cause schizophrenic breaks, but rarely are those schizophrenic breaks consistent with the 'normal' experiences of those drugs. Not to mention the deep oral tradition of a decidedly foreign and isolated culture. And of course there's the ever present question of "schizophrenic or shamanic?".
Is it possible that the spirit of the forest, whom shamans allegedly commune with, reached out to her without chemical aid? Or did she read about ayahuasca ceremonies and internalize the things she read, and then call upon that imagery during a psychotic break?
Katherine says she's going back, so we'll see I guess.