World Bufo Alvarius Congress – Interview with Filip Zaruba

“I consider the protection of the toad and its territory as the most important issue.“


Filip Zaruba attended the World Bufo Alvarius Congress /WBAC/ in Mexico at the end of July, it was a three-day event dedicated to just one topic – the toad. The following interview will reveal to you what is happening with Bufo alvarius at the moment and who to follow. Stay connected, we will be posting more of these special and interesting interviews from now on regularly.

How it happened that the Sonoran Desert toad has its own Congress? And why it started right now?

It was about time for the toad to step out from the underground to face the world. Probably, it wouldn’t make sense few years ago as almost nobody knew about this phenomena, there were just a few facilitators who would work with Bufo and a lack of experience and scientific research data.

What is the goal of WBAC?

The goal is to gather all the people connected by Bufo alvarius, to get to know each other, enrich their knowledge and skills, discuss the actual topics and agree on a common practice for the future to work with the toad safely, responsibly and sustainably.

Filip Zaruba and Fernando Barba Castillo

Who were all those people connected by the toad topic?

The Congress was attended by scientists, shamans, facilitators, writers, artists, professors, doctors, psychiatrists, war veterans and people who dedicate their work to the integration of experiences into everyday life. Concerning the connection, the organizers did not leave anything to chance. Most of the speakers and organizers met one day before to get to know each other, to talk about next day’s agenda and then set in a bus that took us to a local yoga centre. The organizers told us that they do not consider this event as a classical congress but rather a ceremony and for us to be better connected, we shall all smoke from a pipe together. Everyone got their own pipe with smaller dose of Bufo alvarius secretion, we sat in a circle and eight shamans with lighters got around all forty-five participants in the room. It was the weirdest, and at the same time the most wonderful ceremony that I have experienced so far. The dosage was probably not as small as it was told, some people were undergoing through a quite intense process but after 30 minutes we felt really connected to each other – as one family. A family that was reunited from parts from all over the world. Mexico, USA, Australia and the Great Britain were the most numerously represented. There were also few participants from Germany and Portugal and there were three of us from the Czech Republic.

The list of speakers in the main programme

The list of speakers in the accompanying programme

Speakers and organizers of the congress

How did you spend these three days dedicated to the toad?

The programme was very busy. Every day, at 9am ongoing lectures in two halls started as well as workshops and panel discussions. In the evening, there were screenings of movies. The programme finished around 10pm and after that it continued unofficially. Due to presence of many shamans and facilitators ceremonies were set up every day. Everything what was going on was in a very specific and beautiful atmosphere with people who were all on the same wavelength. It was like a gathering of members of one global tribe. I am only sorry that the Congress was not longer and I could not spend as much time with everybody as I would like to. Each person was somehow inspiring and had many interesting information and stories to tell.

Which lectures and activities were the ones that left the biggest impression on you?

I was fascinated by a day that was mostly about scientific research. Dr. Joseph Peter Barsuglia presented results of his 5-MeO-DMT breakthrough research which is completely published here:

The epidemiology of 5-methoxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) use: Benefits, consequences, patterns of use, subjective effects, and reasons for consumption

 Dr. Juan Acosta-Urquidi and Michael Villanueva, Ph.D. presented their conclusion of the research with the use of EEG analysis, they recorded brain activity of people before, during and after the Bufo alvarius ceremony and they came to a very interesting results that confirmed the uniqueness of 5-MeO-DMT among psychedelics. From the presented graphs and EEG data record explicitly resulted that brain functions change quickly and radically during the ceremony, it leads to suppressing our common “alfa consciousness“ and radically increases activity in other frequency range. How and why it happens it’s still a mystery for the science. However, changes were present even after the ceremony and the most interesting fact for me was that 5-MeO-DMT permanently activates areas in brain that transfer the attention from ourselves to another beings. Therefore, egoist becomes altruist.

And the biggest “killer” was a neuroscientist Dr. Jack Alloccahe warned the Spanish translators beforehand and advised that they should take a little bit of amphetamine to be able to cope with his translation 😉 His speech was extraordinary, deep, fast and funny at the same time. Honestly, I really felt sorry for the translators. I have never come across with so many scientific terms in so little time before. The Czech research was represented by Mgr. Rita Kocarova from National Institute of Mental Health, Prague with her observatory research of the Bufo rituals and their influence on human psyche. She shared the first preliminary results conducted on ritual participants in real context that show the positive impact on mental health and human psyche. Hal Lucius Nation´s speech was also very inspirational, he is an American who established “church“ that works with the toad called Temple of Awakening Divinity – TOAD in the USA. It has approx. 5.000 members and due to a long time practice and spiritual knowledge they elaborated a great procedure how to achieve safely and reliably the deepest mystical experiences. Simply the perfect set and setting that was proven by scientific research of Peter Barsuglia and his colleagues. They compared people’s experiences from the TOAD ceremonies with others, the TOAD members were achieving mystical stages in greater percentage of cases.

T.O.A.D. manifest

Ralph Metzner – the author of the book “The Toad and the Jaguar” – attended the Congress remotely through his prerecorded lecture. And when it comes to the books about the 5-MeO-DMT the first one was written by James Oroc under the name The Tryptamine Palace. James has given an amazing talk including very wide spectrum of topics: from quantum physics of Amit Goswami, through Bose-Einstein condesates, Jeremy Narby, metaphysics of Ervin Laszlo, microtubules of Penrose and Hammerof to the mystic of Eckart Tolle or even Burning Man. I was also very excited from the possibility to try virtual reality codenamed Microdose VR from the accompanying program. The author is Android Jones – the famous artist who creates digital paintings illustrating the higher states of consciousness, which the virtual reality simulated – concerning their audio-visual side. And the simulations were very close to the real thing.

What is the most important message, knowledge or a research result that should, even those who were not at the Congress, get to know?

I could write a book about it as it is much to say. We will try to make interviews with individual speakers, step by step, so they could summarize their lectures. By the way, the use of word psychedelic is not very trendy these days, as well as hallucinogen or a drug. At the moment, the term entheogen is the coolest and it can be translated from latin as “God within” or “generating the divine within“.

What could be expected in the relation between people and the toad in the future?

I wish I know that. It solely depends on us. However, one thing will happen for sure – the number of shamans or more precisely facilitators is growing everyday as there are more people who are interested in the Bufo alvarius or 5-MeO-DMT experience. Therefore it is crucial to protect the toad and its territory. Discussions at the Congress led to a project called Fair Trade Toad. In this context I have to mention a discussion that draw Martin W. Ball with his proposal of “The universal declaration of human rights for direct spiritual experience“. It is public letter addressed to the UN member states and committees, which goal is to acknowledge the right for direct spiritual experience created by psychedelics as a basic and undeniable human right that cannot be restricted by laws of individual states. Presumably, this right would not limit other basic human rights and the point of the experience with psychedelics is not entertainment but a personal development or a treatment of psychical or physical problems.

Full text of the “The universal declaration of human rights for direct spiritual experience”

How did the experts react to Bufo Alvarius – The Underground Secret movie?

It was amazing. I did not register any negative reaction, everybody was excited and not only because of its content. They really liked the music, animations and the division of the movie into chapters that gave it clear and logical structure. I am thankful for this idea to Václav Dejčmar. One day after the screening had another movie about Bufo a world premier „OTAC & The Sacred Ancient Medicine Ceremony“- its authors are Octavio Rettig and Leonardo Bondani. It is great that the two movies do not compete with each other in any way, but they complement each other. The American movie is mostly about the fact that Octavio, with the use of the toad, treated the Indians from the Seri tribe from an addiction on hard drugs. It also features many traditional Seri songs and archaeological evidence that Bufo alvarius was probably used in rituals by the civilizations of Mayas, Aztecs, Toltecs and Olmecs long before the Spanish invasion.

The discussion after the movie at the WBAC had to be very special. What was it mainly about?

This discussion was different from all those previous discussions. People did not ask much about the toad as everybody already had their own experience. They were interested in the creation process of the movie, how did we do the animations and our plans for the future. Then the discussion shifted more to a scientific and philosophical level that led to many interesting questions and answers. It was a great pleasure for me to be part of such a crew on the stage. If someone had told me what awaits for me a year ago, I would not believe it.

Discussion after the screening of our movie: James Oroc, Jack Allocca, Filip Zaruba, Octavio Rettig and Yaspal Jayne

After the discussion an older discreet man, who was sitting in the corner at the back in silence all the time, recording the congress, came to me. He was thankful for the movie and congratulated us. He gave me two of his books with personal inscription and I found out that he is a philosophy, religion and math professor from Florida, Scott Olsen, Ph.D. One of his books is an international bestseller called “The Golden Section“ I recommend other books that he has co-written as well: “Designa: Technical Secrets of the Traditional Visual Arts“ or „Mysteries of the Amazon: Visionary Artwork of Pablo Amaringo and His Students“. We have many common interests so I spent hours talking to him about philosophy, math, astrophysics, sacred geometry and we agreed on a screenings of our movie at his university and in Miami. If I should mention any personal highlight of the whole Congress, it’s actually this meeting. I am glad that we still keep in touch since the Congress.

What are your plans with newly gained contacts and connections? Does it possibly lead to some interesting cooperation?

I got over seventy new friends on Facebook during the weekend, surely we will keep in touch and we will cooperate. I would like to mediate their piece of knowledge to the Czech audience as well. As I have mentioned, many of my new contacts agreed on an interview and we will be posting them on our website. Also, I am thinkink about a possibility to make second part of the movie that would be called “Back to Earth“ as we could not put everything in the first one and some information were not available at the time of the shooting. The sequel would be dedicated to the integration of experience into life, risks, set and setting, therapeutic potential, protection of the toad and scientific research. However, all this is a foretaste and a lot will depend on the fact if we’ll get back the money that was invested in the first part of the movie. Thanks to the Congress I know exactly with whom and what about I would shoot the second part. But first of all, I am going to finish a movie that has been shot already. I can reveal that the performers will be shamans from the Colombian Putumayo, Stanislav Grof, who is my personal favourite, Dennis McKenna who is an ethnopharmacologist, and a quantum physicist Amit Goswámí.

Georgina Piccione, James Oroc, Octavio Rettig and Filip Zaruba

It is widely discussed that the toad changes ourselves as well as our lives – have you changed after the trip to WBAC in Mexico?

Definitely. The toad changed my life quite radically and this was the top peak of my work on the movie. I have a feeling as I would have returned from the future. From future in which most of the people have the experience of absolute love and a sense of unity with the possibility for them to use these abilities in the way they work, talk and live. I have never experienced such an atmosphere anywhere else. It gave me hope that human race still has a chance to change and safe itself as well as our beautiful planet. By the way, after the final ceremony Rak Razam called upon the attendants to divide into several working groups, to use our new contacts and start working and cooperating with each other. Without any hesitation, I joined a group which aims to protect the toad and its territory as well as the local indigenous Indian tribes. As a result of the present Bufo alvarius boom, I consider this plan as the most important.

I would like to thank to Rak Razam, Mario Garnier and Sandra Gancz for organizing such a unique event and for inviting me and our movie to be part of all this. Let me also thank to all the speakers and participants of the congress, I hope we will all meet one day again.