Our temple staff and group leaders
Following his first visit to the Amazon in January 2007, Matthew's vision was to provide an authentic traditional healing center where the focus was not financial gain but genuine healing, ceremonies with compassion and where the healers & staff all truly care for the guests.
Before setting up the Temple, Matthew was a successful businessman although was deeply dissatisfied with his life and unhappy with the "program" that he was living within. He had been searching for many years for a more fulfilling purpose after questioning the competitive and ego driven business world that surrounded him. When he first came to the Amazon, he discovered the beauty and wisdom of the indigenous people yet clearly saw the impact of the ensuing consumer/capitalist society that was destroying their traditions, way of life and connection to their shamanic roots.
Since January 2007, Matthew has immersed himself in learning about traditional medicine of the Amazon and recognizes its significant potential as a healthcare system. He has apprenticed with two healers and is committed to ensuring that the ancient medical traditions of the Amazon are honored and respected. He also believes passionately in "giving back" to the people and the land which is why he founded Alianza Arkana (Jan 2011) and The Chaikuni Institute (Jan 2013) – the NGO's that function as sister organizations of the Temple implementing outreach programs in Environmental Justice, Human Rights, Permaculture / Regenerative Development and Intercultural Education.
Matthew's wife and workshop co-facilitator. Klara became involved with the Temple in July 2008 when she came to apprentice with one of our previous curanderos. She is deeply dedicated to working with ayahuasca, the master plants and the healers at the Temple and is a wonderful example of the benefits that can be found when trusting the healing process. She is a great help to others on their healing journey and can compassionately guide people through the more difficult points of the healing experience, due to having been through many tough times herself.
Sascha joined us in the spring of 2011 after following a deep calling from the medicine to be of service and to share all the gifts and lessons he has received from the sacred ceremonies and plant diets he has experienced since starting to work with the medicine in 2003.
Originally from Vienna Austria, he has spent most of his adult life in Canada and Guatemala and speaks fluently English, Spanish and German. His extensive experience working in the Service Industry and running his own Tour Company in Guatemala has made him the ideal individual to manage and oversee all of the Temples functions.
Sascha is a wonderfully kind, caring and integrated person who has much experience with ayahuasca. He has a PhD in the 'University of Life' - having worked very hard on his personal development with the medicine for many years, he is a perfect guide to others. He walks his talk ;-)
Sascha runs all aspects of the Temple and also regularly facilitates workshops.
Yoga Teacher and Workshop Facilitator
Jennifer joined the Temple in the fall of 2011. From British Colombia, Canada, and has been working with the medicine since she began drinking in 2008. Her passion and commitment to the study and practice of yoga has been an integral element to the deep personal healing and transformations she has undergone in her journey with the plants. Having felt a profound calling to continue and share the integrated marriage of these two paths lead her to the temple, where she has been incorporating regular yoga classes into our workshops since she's been with us.
Jennifer began practicing yoga in 2004. Not long after, having gone through a back injury from a car accident, she began to redirect her yoga practice as a means of self-healing. This experience catalyzed a deep calling to share the benefits of yoga with others, and in 2006 she took her first 250 hour yoga teacher training in Victoria, BC. She then began to teach and continued to travel, studying and practicing various different styles of yoga, as well as meditation, Indian classical music and dance. Jennifer is currently completing a 500 hour advanced teacher training with the Insight Yoga Institute, founded by Ty and Sarah Powers. The main influences of her practice and teaching are the Insight Yoga Institute, which fuses principles of Yoga, Buddhism and psycho-spiritual work, Satyananda Yoga, and Chaya Yoga.
The classes Jennifer offers at the temple vary from Hatha and Vinyasa flow, to Yin Yoga, as well as Mantra and Nada Yoga. She also teaches yogic purification techniques (kriyas) which are fundamental to a yogic lifestyle. In her classes, Jennifer weaves a synthesis of asana, pranayama, meditation, mudra and chanting with an insight based approach. She is a lover of poetry and music, and these elements are certainly threads in the tapestry of her teaching.
Carolina joined the Temple in 2012. From a young age on Carolina took a strong interest in health and healing and became a Registered Nurse working for 4 years in an ICU at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. The pull towards natural healing modalities ultimately led her to study nutrition and cleansing and she went on to own a small healing center in Santa Monica, California, offering Colon Hydrotherapy, nutritional consultations, and produced a line of raw probiotic foods. After her first Ayahuasca ceremony in 2010 she knew she had found her teacher and began traveling to Peru to dive deeper into her healing journey, working closely with the medicine and other master plants ever since. She is profoundly caring and it is now her commitment to share this medicine with others and she feels honored to have the opportunity to do so here at the Temple.
Yoga & Qigong Teacher
Born in Sri Lanka and having traveled extensively since a young age, Jason has always had a curiosity for life. He began his martial arts training at a young age when he began studying Judo and Tae Kwon Do. After moving to New York City, a deep longing began to arise for many of the primordial questions that humans have, such as who we are, where we come from, and what is the purpose of life? This began a journey of sorts looking for answers. He began practicing yoga around this time and shortly after began studying Qigong with Jung-Ping Yuan. He also began studying Aikido as well. New York offered an amazing base to be able to have so many teachers to be able to choose from. With yoga he studied at as many places as he could trying to learn different styles, forms, and philosophies. With a deep curiosity he began reading any classical and contemporary texts he could find on religion and spirituality.
A few years later he felt compelled to leave and packed a small bag not knowing exactly where he would end up or for how long. His travels led him for about two years throughout Asia, much of time searching for answers and learning esoteric teachings. He spent many an hour in temples learning meditative techniques, with Vipassana really having a big impact on him. He ended up in Wudang learning the classical thirteen movement form of Taiji. He spent about a year learning and fighting Thai boxing in Thailand and continued his yogic studies there as well, also learning Thai massage and healing.
Returning to New York he became certified with Yoga Alliance. He also began teaching Yoga as well as beginning the practice of Brazilian jiujitsu, under the tutelage of Vitor 'Shaolin' Ribeiro and Marcos 'Loro' Galvao, which he currently is an avid practitioner. He left and traveled again for a year, this time throughout South America. Upon returning he completed an Ashtanga yoga training with Richard Freeman, after a few years of Ashtanga practice.
Working more and more with plant-based medicine, Jason came to the temple at the end of 2012 after feeling serendipitous callings to experience and work with Amazonian plants. Intrigued and moved by his experience here he felt a call return. A chance meeting with Matthew and an offer to return to teach and further learn about the medicine brought him back again to the Temple for an extended stay.
Bookings & Communications Manager
Nicole Bartzak was born and raised in New Jersey. She studied finance at Indiana University and was working for an investment bank in New York when she first visited the Temple in 2011 for a 12 day retreat. Shortly after returning home, Nicole decided to make a life change and left everything she thought she had always wanted to embark on the unknown. After a year of traveling and earning her certification as an Ashtanga Yoga Teacher and Chakra Healer, Nicole returned to the Temple to do a 3 month work exchange. Passionate about everything that the Temple stood for and the changes that she saw both in herself and the people around her, Nicole recently joined the team to handle bookings and inquiries for incoming guests and is enthusiastic to be a part of the love and healing that is the Temple of the Way of the Light.
Online Communications Manager
Reagan came to the Temple in September 2011 on a trip to the Amazon, through purely coincidental (but propitious!) avenues. Since then, she has been helping develop the online communications strategy for Alianza Arkana, the sister NGO to the Temple, and she is also working on Temple communications, helping with bookings and inquiries, and now expanding her focus to outreach on the Temple’s work, indigenous healing, and permaculture.She is passionate about human rights and the environment, and comes with experience in online communications in a New York human rights organization.
She has traveled widely, including work and studies in Paris, work on a development project in northern Vietnam, and other NGO experiences. Above all, she cherishes her family and friends. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Reagan is currently living in Lima, where her online skills are unhampered by Iquitos’s Internet! She speaks English, French, and Spanish.
Permaculture Coordinator - Chaikuni Institute
From the indigenous tribes of China to the urban sprawl of the Mekong Delta he discovered "People", from the depths of Lake Baikal to the heights of the World's roof in Tibet he discovered "Earth". Seeing the 'real' world and its true sharing, these permaculture ethics were set within him. Coming to the intentional community of Auroville, India in 2009 he first heard the term permaculture and discovered it matched with his new world views. He lived on the land there; observing, analyzing, researching, reasoning, designing and implementing permaculture systems to help people and nature live harmoniously. The five decades of broad knowledge in Auroville allowed him to explore the technicalities of sustainable practices from earth buildings to forestry, from community life to social work. Through facilitating land tours for hundreds to teaching PDC courses he started to share this knowledge. Accredited by fellow permaculture teachers Steve Whitman and Lauren Chase-Rowell he has now taught permaculture courses in India, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and soon in Peru.
He believes the Shipibo traditions and knowledge at the Temple, which he feels deeply connected to, will develop his permaculture insights further. His aim is to facilitate space for all people to heal and grow through this reconnection.
Jose was born in Iquitos in 1985. He studied at the Adventist College of the Amazon then subsequently gained a degree in International Business Studies and Tourism. He started working in imports then later concerned about the development of tourism and protection of natural resources in the region, he worked at the regional foreign trade and tourism offices of Loreto. In August 2011, he interviewed for a role at the Temple and has since then been working with us as our book keeper in Iquitos.
Jose deals with all aspects of day to day accounts, collection of payments and administrative duties in Iquitos and is an invaluable and much loved part of our growing team.
Local Workers Coordinator
Michal is from Cracow, Poland although has spent many years traveling. He arrived Peru in 2010 where he met Janeth in Iquitos and then, together with her experience, he started learning and immersing himself in organic farming and permaculture, which has become Michal's life focus. Besides developing permaculture projects he also helps coordinating the work-exhange guest program. Aside from his passion for the environment, Michal has a great love for music, especially drums and rhythm. In all his travels, he has never been separated from his Darbuka (drum).
Erlinda is one of our four local cooks. Considered amongst the team as the lead cook, she is a powerhouse in the kitchen and a very valued member of our community. Erlinda works extremely hard is very committed to her job.
She thoroughly enjoys working at the Temple and not being in the noise and pollution of the City where she is from.
Nelson comes from the local village of Cuyana and is one of the first local staff to meet and greet guests when our groups are on the way to the Temple. As our main boat driver, Nelson's role is transporting guests and supplies to the Temple so is based outside of the Temple grounds.
Nelson has a very gentle and friendly character and is a wonderful "first impression" for everyone arriving at the port on their way to the Temple. He is a family man married with 3 children and enjoys the security and permanence of working with us at the Temple. Before working at the Temple, Nelson was a 'collectivo' boat driver (the boats that ferry locals to and from their river communities to Iquitos). After buying his boat and occasionally hiring him to bring in groups for us, we decided that he would be a great asset to the Temple community and he gladly accepted the role - he then sold us his boat too!