The Ayahuasca Journey: Ayahuasca retreats with Toé and Camalonga, in the Amazon rainforest of Peru, near Iquitos.

Don Sixto in the jungle of the Ayahuma venue. Photo: C. Hoyos.

Don Sixto in the jungle of the Ayahuma venue. Photo: C. Hoyos.

Our Ayahuasca retreats are very intensive, with FIVE Ayahuasca ceremonies per week, alongside one Toé ritual per week. Guests wishing to enrol for the Plant Diet – be it pre-diet, diet with master trees or shamanic plant diet proper – will have instead a different schedule, with 1-3 Ayahuasca ceremonies (alongside one Toé ritual) per week, the during their staying.  The changing number of Ayahuasca ceremonies per week for those who are committing to the shamanic plant diet (dieteros) is intrinsically dependent on the type of plants/trees used during the diet (as a general rule, the stronger the plant/tree, the less Ayahuasca one may have) and also on the individual style of the Maestro/Maestra one will be doing the diet with.

Camalonga (Thevieta peruviana) seeds. Photo: F. Sammarco

Camalonga (Thevetia peruviana) seeds. Photo: F. Sammarco

Aside from Ayahuasca, Toé, and San Pedro, one may also opt to have one or more night ceremonies with the Camalonga (Thevetia peruviana), i.e. the Camalonga Dream ritual, which will be led by Don Sixto. Ayahuasca and Toé ceremonies are included as a standard in all retreats whilst the Camalonga ceremonies  are an optional extra which may be added to the retreat to complement and enrich your experience with plant teachers.

During the retreat, you may learn, assist and join-in the preparation of the sacred “Vine of the Soul” (or “Vine of the Spirit”), see how the Ayahuasca brew is made, pounding the woody Ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi) vine cuts first and then boiling them for long hours together with the leaves of the Chacruna or Chagropanga plants, over a traditional wood fire.

The Toé (Brugmansia suaveolens) plant is one of the most potent – and toxic – visionary plants of the Amazon rainforest. It must be prepared by an expert Toesero – i.e. a shaman or curandero skilled in the use of Toé, like Don Sixto. Usually, to drink the freshly squeezed juice of the Toé (a tropical relative of the Datura plant), one would require to engage into a very long and strict shamanic diet. However, in the context of a short Ayahuasca retreat that may not be usually possible, hence the Toé Dream journey will most of the time consists into the ritual smoking with the shaman, at night, of the dry leaves of the plant, rolled-up in form of a cigar.

The Ayahuasca – and, if reserved apart, the Camalonga – rituals take place also at night, around 8:00 PM, in almost total darkness (exception made for candle or lantern-light, right at the beginning of the ritual). The San Pedro rituals take instead part in full daylight, start at about 8:00 AM and end around 4:00 PM.

The healing treatments (“curaciónes”) will take place during the sacred (and magical) time of the Ayahuasca ceremony, regardless of whether you would be physically taking (or not) the Ayahuasca. It’s therefore important to attend all sessions, whilst the taking of the actual brew is entirely voluntary. That said, if you don’t feel like wanting to take parts to all rituals and prefer to skip a ceremony on one or more nights, that would be also possible (as long as timely notice will be provided for alternative arrangements).

Healing may take place in many different fashions whilst one is journeying with the “Vine of the Soul” and may well take the form of auditory – or even silent – revelations, sudden emotional unblocks, cleansing of negative feelings and – on the material plane – simply the expelling of toxins and/or parasites through bodily purges, and a sense of having been cleansed thoroughly.

Each participant is invited to focus on his/her own healing and/or concentrate on the revelatory and visionary elements that may bestowed upon him/her when accessing the unphantomable Ayahuasca realms.

The Ayahuasca concoction prepared may range from mild to extra-strong (with normal and strong grade of potency in the middle of the range) and has different uses according to individual circumstances of patients and participants. The paradigm within which we operate is and remains shamanistic, not psychedelic. We are firmly committed to the traditional use of entheogenic plant sacraments only and exclusively within the operative ritual framework that has been designed by the Amazonian shamans themselves.

Our beloved Don Mariano (an elderly Shipibo shaman) often recommended that the best way to go to the appointment with the Ayahuasca is to beg the spirit of the medicine, in total humbleness, to grant you visions. The Native American Tradition of “crying for a vision” may easily be adopted to the way one should approach the Ayahuasca experience. All will benefit, in one way or another, sooner or later, from this experience.

Ayahuasca – when taken properly, under proper guidance and following the necessary dietary restrictions – can heal our over-loaded neurons and can give sense, direction and purpose to our lives.