Tracey Eller photographing ayahuasca being made. Photo by Chris Kilham

Tracey Eller
Cosmic Sister Plant Spirit Grant 2014
Cosmic Sister
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Photographer, Foodie, Traveler
Year born: 1964, Year of grant: 2014 (50 in ceremony)
Lives in Massachusetts

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 Magazine, LA Weekly, LA Yoga, Boston Yoga, Business Insider, AlterNet, Utne Reader, The Wisdom Daily, Vice, Broadly, Organic Spa Magazine, Organic Authority, Rebel Circus, Revelist, MassRoots, Civilized, Lift, Green Flower Media, Culture, Psymposia and The Saturday Paper.

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

THE SPIRIT OF REBIRTH

Tracey Eller (51), a photographer, had recently broken off a long-term love relationship when she drank ayahuasca for the first time. She was thrilled to be out taking photographs on the road again.

During ceremony, Tracey experienced a “burning freeze” despite being wrapped in three thick blankets in the hot jungle. On her way home, she woke up at sunrise on Easter morning following a dream related to her breakup and found a butterfly trying to get free through her hotel room window in Iquitos. “It was a whole metamorphosis and rebirth package-deal sort of thing,” she says. “It all felt like a magical omen, just that confirmation of spirit, saying, You're in the right place at the right time. You're doing the right thing.”

Tracey returned to Peru six months later to go deeper. In the medicine, she realized that she missed her mother, who passed away years ago. She grieved, and then she received a message of “self-nurture,” which she worked with during ceremony. She asked the medicine, “What is self-nurture?” The answer: part of self-nurture is being in nature.

Though she considers herself a “city girl,” Tracey is now exploring healing through nature and plant medicines in a way she never would have before she worked with ayahuasca. “Ayahuasca is plant spirit medicine,” she says, “and that's Earth medicine, nature medicine.”

Tracey’s message: “Part of self-nurture is being in nature.”

Read the full article “In The Spirit of Nature: Cosmic Sisters on Ayahuasca” in Boston Yoga

Cosmic Sister Plant Spirit Grant 2014
Cosmic Sisters of Cannabis 2016 / 2017
Women of the Psychedelic Renaissance Grant 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2018
Ayahuasca Retreats: Nihue Rao / DreamGlade / Ayahuasca Foundation

May 2015