Tracey Eller photographing ayahuasca being made. Photo by Chris Kilham

Tracey Eller
Cosmic Sister Plant Spirit Grant (2014)
Cosmic Sister
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Documentary Photographer
Year born: 1964, Year of grant: 2014
(50 when received Plant Spirit Grant)

Tracey Eller, a lifestyle and documentary photographer, foodie and exotic travel lover, was 50 years old when she was awarded the Cosmic Sister Plant Spirit Grant. A visual storyteller who describes her camera as “a gateway to understanding myself and the world,” Tracey was in her element while on assignment with Utne Reader as part of a project sponsored by the Cosmic Sister Women of the Psychedelic Renaissance educational initiative and In My Element, a photo essay showcasing some of her many wonderful images from the trip, published in Utne Reader.

Since Tracey received her Plant Spirit Grant, her photos have been published in Bust, LA Weekly, Business Insider, LA Yoga, Boston Yoga, AlterNet, Organic Spa Magazine, Utne Reader, The Wisdom Daily, Vice / Broadly, MassRoots, Civilized, Lift, Green Flower Media, Culture, Revelist, Reset, Psymposia and The Saturday Paper, a major weekly newspaper in Australia. She was a featured contributor in LA Yoga, June 2016 issue.

Tracey's Story

Tracey went to the Amazon the first time still reeling from the end of a 15-year relationship five months earlier. She hoped to release the devastation that hung over her, reclaim the woman she’d been before the relationship, and find guidance. While there, she peeled back layers of grief like an onion and realized viscerally that it was time to stop apologizing for who she was. Since she returned in April, Tracey has moved into a live-in studio, where she’s writing poetic descriptions to accompany images of her rebirthing in Peru. Tracey returned to the Amazon in November of 2015 take more photographs and find more clarity through the medicine. She experienced a beautiful breakthrough on her last night with Shaman Estella at DreamGlade.

“I started to see this frenetic kaleidoscope of flashing plastic like color, weird color patterns that didn't make sense, flashing so fast it was almost dizzying… I didn't particularly like it... The colors I couldn't relate too ... hues slammed up against each other... I silently asked for a vision I could understand.... I slightly opened my eyes to see a neon-like grid pattern encircling the maloka almost like Christmas decorations.... I looked up into the dome of the maloka's thatched roof, and it looked like the night sky... a Milky Way of sorts... This helped to calm me down... Soon the kaleidoscope faded, and it was almost like a darkness settled in... and I dropped down into the earth’s tunnel to where the furnace of my soul lives... Except this wasn't a place of heat but of a chill I couldn't shake.... it was emotional, and I started to weep.” – Tracey Eller

Photo by Chris Kilham

May 2015