The first time I experienced Kava was during a holiday to Fiji. While I love luxury holidays, I also enjoy leaving the resort areas to have a very local experience. I like eating local foods (away from all tourists), drinking where they drink, and shopping where they shop. I am naturally inquisitive, and tend to find myself being invited to events where the locals want to show me part of their tradition, or experience their world. When you’re visiting an island country in the South Pacific, it is very common for the locals to be very friendly and accommodating. It is in their nature to be warm and hospitable.
Watch us discuss Kava Kava @25:15
So as it happens, after my resort dinner, and a little dancing with the girls, my new island friends came to pick me up to head off to a local event. With a couple of head nods, I was invited into what seemed like a few upturned wooden boats. Around 12 to 15 people at the time, were sitting around a large bowl of what look like dirty dish water. In the centre of this bowl (a plastic bucket actually) looked like a chunk of cheese cloth containing some substance. The individual tending to the cheese cloth, squeezed the water out into the bowl with their bare hands, repeating the process continuously. Small pieces of look like bark floating around in the liquid as well. It definitely did not look appetising.
People were in a very jovial mood. It was very clear everybody here knew each other well, and were sharing stories and laughing wildly at times. Others came and went from the circle, but overall the vibe from the entire group was positive and well-meaning. Unlike when groups of people are under the influence of alcohol, certain people can become rowdy or violent, and perhaps even inappropriate. Everybody in this group of people seamed respectful, caring, and above all relaxed.
When it came to drinking the kava, a small half-coconut type of cup was dipped into the bucket of substance, and shared around the group. People were not concerned about germs, and like in any type of witchcraft/wiccan ritual where one shares the chalice, here the local and new friends passed the cup with a smile. In Fiji, it would be considered extremely rude to make a comment about hygiene, as the preparation method is steeped in sacred ritual, dating back hundreds if not thousands of years. The criticism of unhygienic preparation methods, is a criticism of their culture and history.
The taste was definitely bitter. There is no comparison that I can share with you what you can expect Kava to taste like! But the numbing effect to me was almost instantaneous. And after a short time, I also felt quite jovial and relaxed. We sat there for what felt like hours, sharing the cup around the group, sharing stories, and laughing.
I would not say Kava Gets you high, but the feeling would be very suitable to perform Ritual work should I be so inclined.
According to contemporary descriptions:
Kava seizes one’s mind. This is not a literal seizure, but something does change in the processes by which information enters, is retrieved, or leads to actions as a result. Thinking is certainly affected by the kava experience, but not in the same ways as are found from caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, or marijuana. I would personally characterize the changes I experienced as going from lineal processing of information to a greater sense of “being” and contentment with being. Memory seemed to be enhanced, whereas restriction of data inputs was strongly desired, especially with regard to disturbances of light, movements, noise and so on. Peace and quiet were very important to maintain the inner sense of serenity. My senses seemed to be unusually sharpened, so that even whispers seemed to be loud while loud noises were extremely unpleasant.(2)
When the mixture is not too strong, the subject attains a state of happy unconcern, well-being and contentment, free of physical or psychological excitement. At the beginning conversation comes in a gentle, easy flow and hearing and sight are honed, becoming able to perceive subtle shades of sound and vision. Kava soothes temperaments. The drinker never becomes angry, unpleasant, quarrelsome or noisy, as happens with alcohol. Both natives and whites consider kava as a means of easing moral discomfort. The drinker remains master of his conscience and reason
My tip to travellers – I will add here, that my only precaution is to be careful where you visit and who you trust while you are under the influence of any psychotropic drug. I have travelled around the world for many decades, and I read the energy of individuals very well. I’m not saying that I am invincible, but I definitely know how to read a room. Before you “hangout”, always think of an exit strategy, and let somebody know where you are at all times. Most importantly, take off any jewelry or clothing before you head out that makes you stand out.
Some of you will be surprised to know that I do not ever let people know that I am a practising witch, as this can be offensive on the lighter side of the spectrum, and dangerous on the far side of the spectrum. In many parts of the world, the punishment is still death for the practice of witchcraft. Also, in some rituals or ceremonies I have attended, the local witchdoctor could be leading or in participation, and he/she may see you as a threat. It’s best that you always remain neutral. Just because somebody smiles does not mean they like you, and what they do to you may leave you suffering upon your return to your home country!
Traditionally, Kava is prepared by either chewing, grinding or pounding the roots of the kava plant. Grinding is done by hand against a cone-shaped block of dead coral; the hand forms a mortar and the coral a pestle. The ground root/bark is combined with only a little water, as the fresh root releases moisture during grinding. Pounding is done in a large stone with a small log. The product is then added to cold water and consumed as quickly as possible. (2) Kava prepared as described above is much more potent than processed powdered kava we have available for purchase.
Naturally the way they prepared the Kava for the Ritual I experienced on the island of Fiji is different from how we prepare the Kava at home. It is popular for Fijians to make “Grog” by pounding the sun-dried kava root into a fine powder, straining and mixing it with cold water. Unless you can get the Kava root directly, you will be only be able to purchase the Kava in powder form.
This is just a general guideline and you will modify this accordingly. (1 gram of kava powder to 10-15 ml of water depending on your preference)
The idea is to put an amount of the Kava powder into a strainer bag. The traditional Fiji style of straining bags, could include cheese cloth, socks, a cut up T-shirt, or even nylon stockings! For you today, I suggest that you use one of our teabags that you could fill with the Kava powder. If you use a sock, it might be a good idea to wash it first – especially if you are sharing the Kava socially with friends!
- Place the strainer containing the kava powder into an empty bowl .
- Next, pour warm water directly into the bag with the kava.
- Let this sit in the bowl for a few minutes to loosen the tougher fibres.
- Twist the top of your kava strainer closed and gently press out all the excess air.
- Begin kneading the powder that’s inside the bag in the water. Knead the bag in the bowl and from time to time twist it to strain all the water out. After a few minutes your water should turn densely brown and should start feeling a bit oily (that’s thanks to the kavalactones being released into your liquid). Use force, but be careful not to rip your strainer!
- Knead for a few more minutes (max 10 minutes in total) and then squeeze the bag to remove all water from the root particles while not letting any actual root into your ready beverage.
Your kava is ready
Boiling (and straining) kava root can result in a potent beverage, but also in an almost unbearable taste and consistency.
Kava Does not have a sweet taste and you will not like it on the first try. The best idea is to try again, and remember not everything is meant to taste like sugar!
Common Questions about Kava
What is Kava?
Kava or kava kava is a crop of the Pacific Islands. The root of the plant is used to produce a drink with sedative, anesthetic, and euphoriant properties. Its active ingredients are called kavalactones.
Why is Kava used in ritual or magick?
Kava is consumed for its sedating effects. All kavas are generally known for their ability to promote calmness, relaxation an a sense of well-being without diminishing mental clarity.
In magic practices it may used in spells for astral work, protection when traveling, success, and as an aphrodisiac.
Medicinal uses of kava
- Psychoactive properties
- assists with reducing anxiety
- weight loss (This could be due to the psychological benefits, where you are feeling happier and relaxed and don’t rely on food for fulfilment)
In 2003, products containing kava were banned in most European countries, because of concerns about its possible toxic effects on the liver. In Australia, all products containing kava were temporarily withdrawn, following the death of one person from liver failure.This restriction was withdrawn after a review by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in 2005. As a result of that review, products with standardised amounts of kava, such as in supplements and teabags, are available in Australia. (1)
Products with kava can be used for stress, anxiety and insomnia. If you are thinking about taking kava for medicinal purposes, be sure to contact a healthcare professional first – you want to ensure that the cover does not interact with any of your other medicines.
Problems from long-term use of kava
In the long term, kava use can cause a wide range of problems including:
- breathing difficulties
- visual changes, including sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- slight alterations to blood cells, including white and red blood cells, and platelets
- liver damage
- compromised immune function
- kidney damage
- contact dermatitis – causing scaly, flaky rash on the skin
- appetite loss, leading to malnutrition and weight loss
- loss of drive and motivation
- worsened symptoms of pre-existing mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.
Kava withdrawal risk is low
There is no evidence to suggest people who regularly drink large doses of kava become dependent. Because of this there doesn’t seem to be a risk of withdrawal if a person suddenly stops taking kava.
Kava is known for its well-documented “reverse tolerance” phenomenon meaning the effects of kava may not be felt fully with the first couple of times of use. Most first time users need to take kava for a few of days before its benefits become clear.
Many people think of kava as if it was similar to regular tea or coffee. Consequently, they believe that it needs to be either brewed or dissolved in water. What they are not aware of is the fact that kavas’ active ingredients, kavalactones, are not water-soluble. In other words merely pouring warm or hot water over kava roots is very unlikely to produce desired effects. Instead, when using traditional grind kava, root particles must be physically agitated, softened and hydrated in order for the kavalactone resin to get separated and suspended in water. This is the main idea behind most of the traditional kava preparation method.
Can I suggest that if you are buying it off Amazon, you don’t buy the capsules. You should experience it as a drink, especially if you’re using it for a more “magical purpose.” These are the two suppliers I would personally recommend if you are buying this product of Amazon.
This is my first choice, as I have researched the company, and know the product they provide is authentic, and used for spiritual practices as well as medicinal.
They also have the above sized powder, complete with the strainer bag. Personally I would invest in this product, especially on the first occasion to give you a complete island style Kava experience 😉
The second one I would recommend is the AAA grade powder. To be fair it is almost equal as my first suggestion, but I will tell you that these solutions are strong, and so you can totally expect to unwind and relax. Hence why they say it helps with depression and anxiety.
Don’t expect a psychedelic type of experience on Kava. Kava Kava is a psychotropic drug. To get a better vibe of what to expect listen to the Kava clap clap song while you’re experiencing your Kava “fade” 🙂
If you have another suggestion for Kava, I’m more than happy for you to write it in the comments section below, as I’m always open to explore other solutions and try other products.