Guest Reviews of the Temple
My journey to the temple marks my third trip to Peru in order to do some work with ayahuasca. Selecting a place to do this deep and important work can be a bit daunting considering how many options that are available, just from doing a quick internet search alone. Also, is it possible to know if you are choosing the right place to go to just from looking at a website? Doing your research is very important. On an ayahuasca retreat you are trusting that a lot of people whom you have never met before are going to look after you and take care of you when you are in potentially vulnerable states of mind. You want to be sure that you aren’t just spending time with people who are there to take your money. I have previously had some pretty traumatic experiences with some impostors posing as healers, who let me down when I was at my weakest and most fragile. They had received their money, and were only interested when my journey was going well. Experiences that were difficult were my responsibility to deal with. I was desperate not to have a repeat of that type of experience ever again in my life. Ayahuasca kept telling me to continue to work with the medicine even if the delivery system previously was horribly flawed. With all of these factors in mind, I fully and most enthusiastically endorse the work that is taking place at the Temple Of The Way Of Light.
The Temple is truly a healing center, first and foremost, not just a pretty place to have some DMT experiences. Ayahuasca is a powerful medicine that operates on a fundamentally different level than that of Western medicine. When you are open and receptive towards ayahuasca and respect it for the medicine that it truly is, some incredibly powerful healing can take place in your life. Ayahuasca can help you to heal physically but even more importantly it can help you to heal psychically and emotionally as well thus promoting dramatic and positive changes in your life. It can even make you question previous beliefs you have held, and show you that they no longer serve you any purpose. Ayahuasca allows you to re-enter your life feeling a greater sense of direction and focus, as well as love and respect for those around you. In order for all of these changes to transpire, the location where you are doing your work is fundamentally important. It is my personal belief that ayahuasca needs to be taken in its home which is the rainforest. It should NEVER be purchased online and consumed alone at home! The Temple is one of the most beautiful places you could ever wish to spend a couple of weeks of your life. You are surrounded by a lush rainforest, a lagoon and thousands of animals every day. It is impossible in your daily walks along the grounds not to see dragonflies, butterflies, birds, and lizards. They are everywhere. There are many other animals there too if you observe carefully. The Temple is a sacred place where time can slow down.
From my first day, I welcomed the setting of the sun, knowing that I would be reliant on flashlights and kerosene lamps in order to navigate my way around the grounds. On cue, at 5:30 in the evening the frogs would begin to sing a glorious concerto that would take us into the night, where they would be joined by other animals as well. Their song stayed with us during ceremony and also while we slept. At the Temple you are enveloped in nature and are reminded to respect and love her, and to live closely to nature. You realize what a sacred and gorgeous organism the rainforest is, as well as the entire planet, and how we as humans are just one small part of that organism, and yet are deeply responsible for its health. One is reminded that there is a simpler existence out there that can be even more fulfilling than the hectic life that exists in big cities. It’s a reminder of how little you need in life to actually be happy. In my time at the Temple, I did not miss electricity, television, the internet or other comforts. I was grateful for the silence. Not only are you surrounded by the dreamlike and beautiful surroundings of the rainforest, but you are also welcomed into the lives of the beautiful and highly dedicated Shipibo people. I have a deep reverence for nature and indigenous cultures, so I can only express tremendous gratitude to every single maestro and maestra that I had the opportunity to work with and learn from during my time at the Temple.
When I first visited the Temple website many months ago and read about the Shipibo people and the loving testimonials that people left on the website, I had a visceral response and wept. This continued to happen to me every single time I visited the website, even though I could not explain it fully at the time. How is it possible that I was having an emotional response to a website? I could not explain; I only knew that this was where I had to go. It wasn’t really an option. My heart and spirit were being pulled there. What I was responding to was the overwhelming feeling of love and safety that I knew I would experience at the Temple. It was something I craved very deeply on a subliminal level, which was being shown to me. I was being invited and told that everything would be o.k. In my daily life and in my dream work, I was continually receiving messages telling me to come to the Temple. It was beautiful and I felt honoured. My heart and my spirit said yes. It was also the feeling of recognition that I had finally found the right place to do this work, that I would be protected, that I would never feel abandoned as I had felt in the past when working with other so-called shamans.
When I arrived at the Temple’s gates, I saw them shimmering and begin to disintegrate before my eyes, reminding me that there was more to the universe than the present world I was living in. I could feel ayahuasca’s energy everywhere. Moments later, I was greeted with warm embraces and love and laughter from all of the Shipibo medicine women. I was finally home. From that first moment and for my entire stay at the Temple, I was in an environment of love. There was never a moment where I was unable to get the help I needed. Everyone at the Temple cares deeply about the work they are doing and they do everything they can to ensure that everyone’s experiences are positive. If I needed an extra blanket at night, it was provided. If I needed a kerosene lamp replaced, it was provided. If I needed assistance getting to a washroom during an ayahuasca ceremony, it was provided. If I was completely falling apart and needed someone to talk to me and help me work through my emotions, it was provided. Time and time again I was protected, loved and never once did I feel like I was alone in my journey. The Temple is a center where profound healing can take place.
It is a beautiful thing to watch people blossom in an environment of love. In our group of twenty to twenty-five people, everyone slowly let down their guard and began to trust themselves, one another and the medicine. We released a lot of emotional garbage and became ourselves; open, trusting and free to love. We all quickly became mindful of our conduct towards others and bonded as brothers and sisters on our journey together, in an environment of mutual respect and love. Stripped of our defenses we returned to our true selves, loving and joyous. While we were all pretty serious about our ayahuasca work, there was always time to laugh. The Shipibo, the coordinators, the volunteers, the employees and the participants; all of us laughed every day. We were reminded not to take ourselves too seriously, for there would be plenty to laugh about. The Temple creates the environment where this work can happen.
Soon after my arrival to the Temple I had a consultation with the maestras and the maestros as well as the two co-ordinators Becca & Mateo, who thankfully facilitated the translation process. Here, I laid open why I had come to the Temple and the wounds I was hoping to heal in my being. As I spoke, I cried openly. It’s amazing the level of pain we store in our bodies and in our hearts that we aren’t even consciously aware of, and yet we carry with us every single day of our lives. This pain eats at us, leaving us with feelings of unease, emptiness, sadness and helplessness and eventually even disease is possible. All the while, we are not even fully cognizant of it. Before Mateo could even begin the translation, I knew the Shipibo had heard me and understood me. There was some sort of universal language operating here. I could feel their energy and power and they could feel mine. They knew my heart, they knew my pain and with great determination and love, I felt and knew that they would do everything they could to help me. Thinking on this even now, also moves me to tears. I was just one of many strangers that these beautiful people were dedicated to helping. The consultation was beautiful and promoted a deep catharsis in me. My healing had already begun.
Everyone is actively encouraged to arrive early to the malloca (ceremony space) and to prepare and relax for the upcoming ceremonies. The maestros and maestras arrive around 8:30 p.m. and shortly after, the ceremony begins. Firstly they ensure the safety of the space and of all of the participants. Then in groups we drink the ayahuasca. When you are holding the ayahuasca in your hands, it is important to set a focus for your ceremony. What is it that you would like to explore and work on this evening? Even a focus as simple as “help me to heal” is useful. The ayahuasca is very intelligent and once inside of you, with the help of the maestras/os she knows what to do and what you need. There is the famous saying, “Ayahuasca does not give you what you want, it gives you what you need”. I have never attended an ayahuasca workshop where I did not get what I needed from the medicine. After everyone had drunk, the lights go out and then silence for over an hour until the maestras/os begin to feel the effects of the ayahuasca, or are in a state of mareacion.
On the first night, every participant is given a small dose. This is to allow us to have a gentle introduction to the medicine and for our beautiful doctors the maestros/as to be able to diagnose us. At no time at the Temple was I ever pressured to drink larger amounts of ayahuasca or to even drink at all. I was even invited to sit in on the ceremonies if I chose not to drink. Even in the ceremony where I chose not to drink, I could feel the effects of the medicine still working within me and I still managed to get some healing done. I was glad to be given such a small amount on the first ceremony. It allowed me to see the understructure or the skeleton of how the ceremony was run with open eyes. Once the maestras/os begin to enter a state of mareacion they all sing a beautiful and ancient icaro (healing songs dictated to them by the ayahuasca).
I feel like I have travelled back in time. My heart opens and smiles. Afterwards, our doctors move about the room and sit in front of individual participants in order to do some one on one work. Here they feel our energies to see where they are flowing smoothly and where there are blockages that need to be worked on. They sing to us, encouraging us to heal. They work with the ayahuasca to align the energies in our bodies and to move the damaged parts of ourselves into our digestive system so that it can be purged out of our bodies, so that we can be free of negative energies and impurities and begin to heal. As the effects of the ayahuasca are extremely mild tonight I watch with eyes open the events that transpire over the next few hours. I am deeply moved by the dedication and determination and the urgency with which the maestras/os do their work. At times they are literally crawling on hands and knees to get to us, to work with us, to heal us and to give us love. I love all of these beautiful doctor/soldiers of ayahuasca who have dedicated their lives to the work of healing us and making us well. When we are healed, we are able to share this love with others. Every single participant in the workshop comes because they are in pain of some kind. This is the universal quality we all bring regardless of our country of origin or the circumstances of our lives. Every single participant is given the love and healing we so desperately need. I am told over and over again by ayahuasca in my first couple of ceremonies that the Shipibo at the Temple are true healers, and I know now that I have at last found the place where I can experience deep and profound healing.
Once the maestros/maestras have finished their icaro they do a bit of body work. Agua de florida is placed over our heads, face, neck and upper torso. Energies are gently moved around in our bodies. Positive/healing energies are moved into our bodies and negative/harmful energies are slowly being dislodged so that we can release them. I had a particularly strong connection with Diogenes, one of the beautiful, gifted, wise and humble maestros at the temple. Every time he came over to work with me, I experienced my deepest and most powerful healing. We giggled together in the darkness in a space happiness, mutual understanding and respect. Afterwards, I would always be left in a state of awe, joy, gratitude and the feeling and knowledge that I was blessed. To close the ceremony the maestras/os reassemble together in the center of the malloca and sing a final icaro for everyone. Cries of “gracias”, “irake” (thank you in Shipibo), applause and laugher fill the temple. Over the next twelve days I work hard, I purge and I begin to heal.
At all moments during an ayahuasca ceremony, we are protected and our needs are attended to. I cannot emphasize this enough. At every ceremony there are seven healers, two assistants for the healers themselves, a workshop co-ordinator and two or three volunteers as well as someone specifically posted at the washrooms for additional assistance. Of these people, the only ones who drink are the maestras/os and the participants. If you need anything at all at any time, there is someone there for you. If you need help, ask for it and someone will come. If you are unable to ask for help because the effects of the ayahuasca are really strong, merely turn on your flashlight, and someone will come quickly. When you need someone to talk to, someone will come, and the maestras/os will also be called over if need be. How does one navigate their way to the washroom during an ayahuasca ceremony? Merely stand up, and turn on your flashlight in a way that is not obnoxious for other participants. Immediately, a volunteer will guide you to your shoes, you will be guided down the stairs to the washroom and back again to your mat. This is vitally important. Getting to the washroom can be surprisingly challenging otherwise! At the Temple, they fully understand all of the aspects of the ayahuasca ceremony and are dedicated to ensuring that everyone is comfortable at all times. I always felt protected and safe and free to focus on my healing.
The Work Between – Interconnectivity & Serendipity
A surprising amount of work can happen between ceremonies. At times I have done more work and purging between ceremonies than I have during the ceremonies themselves. It’s as though you’ve done the preparatory work before the ceremony and once you are there, you can purge and release your demons more readily. There are also meetings in between ceremonies where everyone has an opportunity to share their experiences and to process them, as well as to learn from one another. On countless occasions I heard someone else in the group say something that I needed to hear right in that moment, or was able to articulate something that I could not. We continually learned from one another. We experienced interconnectivity. Also I would be remiss if I did not express my sincere gratitude and heartfelt thanks to Becca, one of the workshop coordinators for her continued work with me over the course of the workshop. You along with Diogenes were vitally important to my healing. Thank you so very much.
In moments where we needed to let our hair down, we sang, we danced, we laughed and we encouraged one another. Beautiful times.
Ayahuasca requires bravery. Making changes in our lives is not always easy and is not always comfortable. I have been fortunate enough to have experienced tremendous breakthroughs in my life via ayahuasca. One powerful ceremony has had the ability to heal me so profoundly that I doubt seriously whether ten years of dedicated psychotherapy would have had the same effect. My psyche and soul are more centered, calm, joyous and far less obsessed with stupid worries and fears. In this workshop alone I was able to: begin to address wounds from my childhood, learn how to live fully in the present instead of worrying about the past or the future, being made aware of the inner dialogue in my mind and how this directly affects the realities of my life, learning how to begin to heal myself, tapping into my personal power, learning to speak up for myself, how to negotiate fear, to believe in myself, learning to live fully and to take risks. I was even shown my divine lineage in my past lives, which is something I had not asked for. I even felt one of my past lives living inside my body, guiding me during one of the ceremonies. This knowledge was given to me via visions and messages from ayahuasca, through the icaros and healing work of Diogenes and even through the visions of other participants in my group.
All of this beautiful knowledge, just to remind me of my own personal power and strength, that I had long felt divorced from. “Ayahuasca gives you what you need, not what you want”. Take a chance and be willing to make changes in your life, when things aren’t working. It is scary and uncomfortable, but you will end up in a better place than where you began. Ayahuasca is a challenging but ultimately loving and beautiful medicine. In my life, I have never seen anybody be worse off than where they began for having worked with ayahuasca. The Temple is a wonderful place to begin such work.
Regrets? None really, only that wish I was fluent in Spanish so that I could be able to speak with the Shipibo with greater ease. I’m now studying Spanish, for one day I shall return. I am filled with gratitude for everyone I met at the temple and if I could be, I would be there now. I feel gratitude for being able to experience the medicine once again and to be able to work with and learn from the Shipibo in such a sacred place. I will never drink ayahuasca anywhere else again but at the Temple.
My experience at the Temple of the Way of Light was delightful, deeply healing, and totally inspiring. The program was brilliantly organized and lavishly realized, featuring a broad range of healing interactions with 10 indigenous doctors (Maestros / Maestras) all of whom were most energetic and loving in their support.
I was deeply moved by that energy and love the indigenous healers continuously showered on all their patients. Despite their small size, the Maestros / Maestras possessed extraordinary physical strength and stamina, though in fact their worldly prowess may have been just a surface reflection of their even greater inner abilities. They wonderfully healed us using many remarkable treatments. The floral baths were amazing, both instantly uplifting and profoundly healing. Also impressive was the cure by sucking that Manuela provided. Even more powerful was the healing by Icaros and darshan during ceremonies. I consistently had wonderful experiences with Jorge, Horatio, Celestina, Manuela and others I could not identify in the dark.
Charlotte and I were newcomers to Shipibo tradition and found the Temple ceremonies wonderful. The simultaneous administration of Icaros/healing to specific individuals by a number of shamans in a common space where collective sound and psychic interactions built powerful waves opened new dimensions in our sense of what is possible in ceremonies. We were also delighted to be in the sacred space of the Temple’s maloka and to participate in each ceremony’s beautiful ritual. The intimate bonds that formed between the participants greatly enriched the entire experience. Matthew and Klara’s overall concept for the entire retreat and of each ceremony within it, special presentations, attention to every detail, and Becca’s selfless support of individual experiences enabled us to feel comfortable journeying as far as our minds and hearts could go.
The medicine was very powerful and effective, yet harsh and hard to take. Though I greatly appreciated Michael’s remark that the taste of medicine is determined by one’s relationship with it, during my stay at the temple, though the taste improved slightly, the Temple’s medicine was the worst tasting I have ever had. It was also the most powerful purgative I have yet encountered. I purged perhaps 30 times during both the first and second ceremonies. Though this was quite unpleasant, because I had read that extreme deep purging is the royal road to progress, I didn’t mind in the least. After Michael mentioned that it is not necessary to purge so much, I was able to easily limit my purging to a few smooth brief expulsions, after which I enjoyed the ceremonies much more.
In contrast with the deluges of flash-frame images instantly lost to recollection I sometimes experience with other medicine, often what I saw and/or felt seemed remarkable, especially these visions of the first, second, fourth and seventh journeys:
1) An opening occurs. Like the famous medieval image of a man stepping out into the cosmos into the realm of the celestial mechanisms that control the heavenly bodies, I sense an opening at the back of my head, a channel into another dimension behind the third eye. I can see in this space, though I find it is quite black and empty, like perhaps the night-time dark side of the earth on which I was situated. This expansion complements my sense my subtle anatomy gained from my experience with San Pedro in Pisac a few days before, namely seeing my nervous system as a luminous line stretching from the depths beneath the earth upward into cosmic realms. Now this luminous column has an appendage, a channel reaching back out of head rearward into outer space. This is all known to inner vision, a vision that doesn’t require the eyes.
2) In light of Michael’s suggestion that my ethnicity might have created a genetic propensity for the “bad dream” in which in which I became a sacrificial victim during my first journey, I found myself shifting from the urban setting of ancient rituals and contemporary mass murder to a primordial pastoral setting, seeing a segment of a rural footpath I had walked many times with grass and gravel near a gate, and nearby, on a hillside a lamb and a sheep. The lamb was frolicking but then a hand reached out to grab the joyful creature, presumably to slaughter and eat it. Then the scene was abruptly regressed so that lamb was still frolicking on the hill – I went back to a time before the sacrifice took place.
This seemed to model regression – going back to a time before a problem arose in order to exchange the current state for the pre-problem condition, a mode of healing. Having established this strategy, the medicine took me back to a pre-vertebrate cellular state in which there was no thought or language, just sediments with tiny, semi-animate organisms beginning to glimpse conscious. I remained impacted here, as if crushed between layers of geological sediments: vast inorganic layers in which life was brewing. Though I stayed in these depths, I was aware that many Maestras came to me and sang. Whenever I was drawn out of my deep regression into prehistory, almost pre-life, I found my tongue (which was hyper-activated from purging and rinsing) trying to form words like kindergarten, nursery school, etc. This regression to infancy led to many recollections from early childhood, possibly including my crib with rattles.
4) Sat up during wonderful Icaros sung in unison by an array of Maestras along the round wall at my left (probably the Icaros were being sung to individual participants sitting in the circle to my left). I moved off my mattress onto the floor, spread my legs, and took delight in the contact of my bones with the thick boards of the floor. Sensed that the Maestras were inviting all of us to become self-sufficient, our own Shamans. Then sensed that my enjoyment was from outside my body that my consciousness was out in the room, looking into my body from the outside.
7) Just before Manuela, who I had noted treating my neighbor, arrived, I saw a vividly colored, highly detailed, huge plain of rectilinear Inca stonework skewed at perhaps 45 degrees, outside my body, in front of me, passing through me and the room. Other images exterior to my body may have followed but I don’t remember them. Manuela began to sing her Icaros to me. After a few minutes, I find myself reclining on my backrest and awakening into a cosmic ecstasy that looked like waves of scintillating light, vast, and possibly infinite. I recognize this revelation as the laughter of the universe. I am overwhelmed – my awareness cannot contain the vastness of this incommensurable, gently rippling luminous bliss, all outside of my body, in front of me in the room. The bandwidth is so extreme for me that my stomach contracts violently, though I do not vomit. I think that I may be encountering the 5th dimension that Stephanie mentioned. I recognize this event as the most wonderful experience of my life, an opening of into the universal consciousness of the cosmos through which I might be able deepen union with the universal self and its manifestation in all existence.
Then a huge angel, 15’ tall and quite substantial, descends vertically onto the floor to my right. Again I am overwhelmed and my stomach contracts. This celestial being glows with soft white lights over its complex body – the huge wings, and perhaps multiple legs that are moving very gently. I sense that Manuela is either evoking these experiences for me through Icaros or else inviting me to join her in a realm in which she has already established her presence. I intuit that a very positive transformation has occurred for my health and whole life.
Manuela moves on. She cannot slip away without big hugs and kisses from me. All night I am filled with immensity: spaciousness, bliss, openness, transcendence, clear light. New hope, new mental clarity, a new optimism for life unfolds throughout the night. This experience was the perfect happy ending for 7 sublime days of revelatory and deeply healing ceremonies. I sense that all of the negativity and fear that I have been sensing about human existence on our troubled planet has lifted and that I will go forth reborn.
I returned home from my retreat at the Temple of the Way of Light turned around. My long standing pessimism regarding the future of humankind (due to the seemingly irresolvable problems of over-population, wrong economy, spent technology, corrupt governance, depleted energy, collapsing ecosystems/climate, and ultimately human nature itself) was transformed into optimistic acceptance. I realized that, as conscious beings who are just beginning to wake up, humans are not only playing out the last dark expressions of our rapacious nature destroying the garden in which we were intended to thrive, but are also co-creators on the verge of a cosmic awakening into harmony with the divine will that brings the efflorescence of energy and intelligence to life throughout the universe. Instead of seeing every development as another nail in humanity’s coffin, I found myself loving everything as it is, sensing in every mundane passage a glorious liberation; an ascension into synergy with an emerging perfection of human experience through which we will transform ourselves into vital, actively contributing citizens of the cosmos.
I feel that I experienced huge emotional, psychological and spiritual healing during my stay in the Temple, all of which I have to situate in the context of my ongoing 1.5 year encounter with entheogens and my 15+ year effort to heal through alternative means. I find the efforts I made at the Temple and elsewhere inherently delightful and thus an end in themselves, regardless of outcome, for they are all part of my larger project of aligning me with cosmic process as long as I am alive.
As suggested by my many positive comments above, the Temple of the Way of Light is a marvelously conceived and brilliantly realized world-class facility for entheogenic healing and exploration with a unique indigenous focus. There are other high-end facilities with exalted goals like Silvia Polivoy’s psychotherapeutically oriented Bahia Center or Eduardo Luna’s research oriented Wasiwaska (House of the Vine), but these institutions seem highly eclectic. The Temple of the Way of Light is a comparably elegant and beautiful, superbly managed community distinguished by its total commitment to authentically sustaining a single indigenous tradition – the Shipibo tradition.
South American shamanism is undergoing huge changes, in part brought on by the fact that a tradition which was perennially rooted within a gift economy as community service has become a huge, highly capitalized tourist industry. Furthermore, the embrace the First World, which has introduced theories and practices that have arisen around newly discovered psychedelic chemicals, as well as shamanistic and spiritual practices from around the world, has greatly influenced indigenous shamanism. This complex mix ensures many changes and developments in the immediate future and underscores the importance of maintaining the purity of indigenous teachings within traditional frameworks.
Changing conditions are also typified by the fact that The Temple of the Way of Light, founded by an inspired British citizen, has gone through many changes during its initial years. The current focus on traditional Shipibo healing arts is particularly laudable, both because the tradition is particularly rich, effective and less well known than other forms and also because the Temple’s mission reaches beyond making entheogenic healing available to westerners to include creating biodynamic sustainability for itself, then for surrounding communities, and ultimately for the entire Shipibo tribe and all their territories.
I have personally recommended the Temple to everyone I know who is visiting Peru for healing and/or exploration. The unique angle of its retreats and the excellence of all aspects of its operation require that everyone seeking physical, emotional, psychological, and/or spiritual regeneration and growth in Peru in the vicinity of Iquitos make the Temple a primary destination.
This was my first experience with Mother Ayahuasca and I only had the written works of other people to use as a guide line for what I might expect. I had also spoken with a few people who had experience of their own. My experience at the temple well exceeded any expectation that I my have arrived with. There is a tremendous amount of support offered during your journey. The staff Tracy, Lucine, Becka and Mateo are amazing. Each excelling in their own talents. We were also blessed to have some of the most loving and attentive volunteer staff that I have ever seen gathered. I can't say enough about the level of work and dedication that is offered by the large and attentive community of Shipibo Healers that have been gathered at the temple. The staff of locals attend to your every need so that you may concentrate directly on your personal healing.
Having been involved in Shamanic studies for more than 20 years, I have interacted with many others who are also on a path and I have never heard anyone describe the amount of support offered at the Temple being a part of their experience. Often you hear of one or two shamans working with a group but rarely 8. The consultations at the beginning are though and open the door to daily healing and plant medicine that go beyond the evening ceremonies. What you offer is unique among your community of Ayahuasca facilities. I was also thrilled to see a self sustaining community coming to life there with the use of Permaculture. My personal visions were so very deep and involved that I am still gleaning and learning from them two months later.
I am a diabetic and after going off my meds and starting the diet my blood sugars began to become more stable. After beginning plant daily medicines my sugar normalized and remained normal through my journey. Arthritis in my hips (another issue worked on while at the temple) Has not been an issue since my return, even though (here in Florida) we are in our rainy session. This is usually when I suffer the most. Two weeks after returning to Florida, I had to get blood work done before my regular doctors visit. My doctor was so blown away by the drastic change from my last blood work to the present, that she wanted to know what I was doing differently. I told her my story of the jungle visit and the healing work that is done there and she asked me if i would ever consider moving to the jungle. This is a western trained medical doctor recommending an ayahusasca life style based on my results. My blood sugars have once again spiked after returning to work and my life here in the states. But I now have new tools in dealing with health issues.
By the end of my journey I learned many things about myself. I am in a place of healing physically, mentally and emotionally. I have returned ready to change my life. The temple is the only place I would trust to take me through future Ayahuasca Journeys.
Thank You for the experience. John
Amanda Joy Rubin
I feel so blessed to have found this amazing place and to have been a recipient of so much love and healing from the staff, the volunteers, the maestros and maestras and the folks who joined me in ceremony.
I was invited to join a friend who was going to a well known shamanic center headed by a male shaman. As I researched going to the jungle to take this sacred medicine, I discovered on the internet and through word of mouth the dark underbelly of aya and that there are unscrupulous people and shamans, people who use black magic and I heard from women who had problems with inappropriate sexual behavior and machismo from some of the shamans. I soon learned that it is crucial to choose to drink with people who are clearer and have good intentions. Sounds like a simple thing but I had unearthed some scary stories and wanted to really choose wisely because this medicine takes courage to face things and the outer world has to be safe in order for one to go deeply into the inside world.
On my own with an internet search I found the site for Temple of the Way of Light. I was drawn to the mostly all female maestras, the divine mother love and the mission statement. I felt pulled to this place and thankfully was able to convince my friend that we should change directions and go to the Temple. Good thing I was able to convince her because she cancelled the afternoon before I left and I heard some scary stories of the place we had originally been slated to join! I felt guided.
From the meeting in Iquitos, to being with the 21 men and women who also came to the Temple for healing, to meeting the extraordinary, powerful maestras and maestros with their pure love and good energy, I felt blessed and with deepest gratitude for being able to be part of it. Everyone got along beautifully, the staff and the volunteers were phenomenal always giving support, love, good advice, great classes, reminders of how to remember the important things with aya like staying with our intentions, breathing with mindfulness, giving thanks and gratitude for the lessons given and learned, surrendering to the power of the force of the divine, and even just a strong hand to guide me back to my mat after an intense purge.
I felt so supported. I found a extra mat in the maloka in my space to make me more comfortable. I asked to be close to the bathrooms because I tend to purge southward and my mat was placed closest to the door leading to the toilets. I asked if I could have a table for my tambo, and the next day one was made. It was a profound experience in love and care and nurturance to support going into some scary realms of the psyche and made it so much easier that the outer life was cared for so well by the folks at the Temple. Thank you all!!
The maestros and maestras sat with me in ceremony, and all of us, through our pain and fears and joy and purging. There was one night when Oracio sat with me singing the beautiful icaros until my last tear, sob and moan left my body and I felt tranquil and at peace. Every maestro and maestra sang for each of us and gave us the gift of their years of healing arts and study and ability to help us transform ourselves with this potent medicine. I had a deep connection with all the curanderos and curanderas there. I saw them reach out to all the other members of our group and if someone had a hard time, they would all circle around that person and sing them through their pain. It was so deeply moving and profoundly beautiful. Imagine six healers working for only 21 people!
I asked my boyfriend who had not joined me there how he thought I changed from my experience at the Temple. He feels I changed a lot. He feels I'm more physically intimate both in and out of bed. He feels I'm more relaxed and much more tranquil. He is happy that he feels I am able to see things from his point of view rather than staying stuck in being polarized. I am not always conscious of my own transformation and hearing him speak about it has made it easier for me to see it all.
I am a real city girl, a New Yorker, used to the creature comforts and was really surprised (as are all my friends) that I could survive living simply and enjoy it. Everything was clean and in good order. I didn't miss the lack of electricity, a regular flushing toilet, the dearth of mirrors (there is only one small one outside the bathrooms at the maloka) or the cool showers. I think the only thing I really missed is salads and more green vegetables. The staff is working on a new garden so there will be more greens available. The bland diet, which is what one must do when one partakes of aya, is a bit tough for a foodie like me but I was able to do it with only a little complaining.
There wasn't a time I didn't feel cared for and that my healing wasn't of the highest importance. We had steam baths, floral baths, vomitivos, private and individual consultations with the staff and a translator and the maestras. There were daily massages by the maestras. If you asked for a healing about an issue or an ailment that you had, you visited the maestras up to three times in a day for treatment,received special medicines they would prepare from plants or special massages to target a problem area. It was a place to take time to heal, to take time to review and to look at our lives.
For the ladies, I'd recommend bringing a sarong, a light dress or two and flip flops.
I had very strong connections with some of the other participants at the workshop. I already have plans to see some of them when they are in New York. There were two people out of the 21 of us that thought the medicine could be stronger, for me it was perfect. On the intense journeys I couldn't have handled any stronger and on the more gentle ones, when I reread my diary, I saw that things moved, shifted and changed then too. Aya for me was the mother in her gentle voice and her strong voice and it was all beautiful.
I attended the January 2010 workshop at the Temple. This relatively short testimonial represents only a glimmer of the totality of light that has come to me from that experience. In addition to attending the workshop, I also worked as a volunteer at the Temple for two weeks. I spent a total of a month at the Temple and hold it to be one of the most significant and inspirational months of my life.
The Temple is a place like no other. It exists inside its own dimensional reality. The voyage by boat and by foot is like an extended journey through a portal to the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. The temple is an atmosphere of core healing and human values. It feels uniquely warm, welcoming and the transformations that take place there are an inspiration to all living things. I chose the temple as the appropriate place to shed my skin – dreadlocks I had been carrying for 17 years. I didn’t go there with that intention, but the eventual transformation of my physical being unfolded naturally and in alignment with destiny. The shamans helped to guide my journey, as did the especially experienced and insightful temple staff.
It was my first experience with Ayahuasca and, after my 13 ceremonies, I feel absolutely thankful that I went to the right place. I entered the temple with the unfaltering intention to do my work and to transform and evolve my energetic relationship with the world around me. The ceremonies themselves are like a trip to another world, or perhaps back in time. The Icaros of the shamans (mostly female) are powerful and, for me, life changing. I received much attention from the female shamans, known as maestras in all aspects of healing that I needed. I tend to suffer from chronic sinus infections (showed up with one) and the maestras cured that quickly. As my experience unfolded, I felt like I was at a place that represents a powerful center for the evolution of humanity. The symbiotic relationship between the shamans, the staff and the participants is infused with a level of openness and glowing light like nothing I had experienced before. The temple functions as a community based psycho-spiritual healing center that exists inside what I experienced as a higher vibrational reality. It is essentially “behind the curtain”, like from where the great Oz works his magic. It is hard to describe, but the feeling is that if the modern world is indeed under mass hypnosis… the Temple is functioning as an essential piece to wake us up and realize what it actually means to be a living, breathing human. It is redirecting the impulses of the participants and sending them back into the world more sensitive and aware beings. The level of depth that I explored inside myself and my perceptional reality of inner emotions, spiritual awareness and the nature of being sentient, was undoubtedly existentially transformational.
The variety of shamans at the temple (4 women & 2 men, during my workshop, sometimes there are more) helped me to explore different extremes of energetic being. They each have specialties of a sort and together function as an organic unit representing a wide spectrum of holistic healing potential. Beyond all this existential transformational talk… I thoroughly enjoyed the terrestrial aspects of the Temple as well, such as the food, yoga, social interaction, tambos (jungle huts), jungle walks, and more. I felt very safe and comfortable at all times. I felt like the ceremonies themselves were run in an astonishing way. Sometimes I felt overwhelmed by my privilege to be a part of such a unique and powerful experience. At times, when all 6 shamans were singing in the Maloca in ceremony, the beauty and power of the experience itself was just beyond belief. It was actually like existing in another dimension devoid of all that I came to detoxify myself from. Throughout all my own intense transformations, from the most challenging to the most ecstatic, I felt that the Temple created an environment that was focused on true healing and transformation and I could surrender to the process because all the surroundings were in alignment. I found my work/volunteer experience to be rewarding as well, by learning different aspects of survival in the jungle and contributing to helping a community achieve aspects of what is necessary to function.
I couldn’t recommend a workshop at the Temple highly enough. I think the Temple is serving a function of planetary evolution that is essential and irreplaceable. I am sure that the energetic work that is happening there will have a great impact on the transformation of the human form as a whole. I made many sure-to-be lifelong friends there and felt comfortably “at home” in a way I never have before.
Dr Paul Roberts
I participated in the workshop at the Temple of the Way of Light from January 9th to 20th 2010. Overall, it was a wonderful, magical, profound, intense, liberating and hugely insightful experience. It was my first time drinking ayahuasca and I was glad that I found an environment that was safe, supportive and stimulating to initiate me into this experience.
I came to the Temple to drink ayahuasca for a variety of reasons. One of the principal ones was to try to understand better a powerful, overwhelming and terrifying experience I had had with LSD over 35 years ago. Another was to help me understand better the work I wanted to do in the world. Another was for help with a sense I had that the energy was stagnant and blocked in a particular part of my body, and was leading to certain symptoms. Another was to understand why the relationships I have had with women in the last twelve years have not lasted. At the end of the workshop, I felt that the questions underlying these reasons had all been clearly answered.
I felt I had been cleansed on every level – in my body, mind, emotions, spirit and soul. I was amazed at how much insight the experience with ayahuasca gives – unlike my previous experience with LSD which just launched me into other realms without anchors or ways of being able to assimilate the experience. As I had read, ayahuasca is a powerful, subtle and gentle teacher. I was delighted by how much I found my intelligence activated as well as having intense emotional experiences and being offered access to other dimensions of reality.
The Maestros and Maestras who work at the Temple are extraordinary people. They are partly extraordinary because they are so ordinary and human. They are wonderfully lacking in the trappings of the western ego and are dedicated to healing. They worked with such love and compassion as well as boundless energy to help and be available to people. I just hope that when I am the age of some of them, I can do half what they do.
I experienced great care in the way the overall environment at the Temple is set out to help the healing process. The two facilitators helped provide an appropriately minimum structure and process to help individuals assimilate and integrate their experiences and to help us develop as a group. When individuals had difficult experiences, they, as well as other volunteers and participants, were there to help people through them. One of the pleasures of a workshop like this is meeting and talking with such a diversity of interesting people and nationalities - from Russia and Paraguay, as well as the US, Canada and Europe. I met some people who I hope will now be friends for life.
There is a great natural pool made by damming a stream to wash and swim in - I regretted not bringing my goggles. The cooking, cleaning, security and washing staff are all very friendly and helpful. I was pleased I can speak Spanish which meant I could talk with them and they were responsive to all my questions and interests. There is now a group of volunteers working at the Center who are all intriguing individuals and offer all kinds of help and resources to the participants on the workshops - from sharing their experiences of ayahuasca to offering advice about what to do in Cusco.
The overall setting of the jungle is magical. I now understood why people love and are drawn to the Amazon so much. There is a sense of abundance and wonder that just being in the jungle evokes and which profoundly enriches the experience of drinking ayahuasca.
I have no hesitation in recommending the Temple of the Way of Light.
Where do I begin? My time at the temple was, in a word, life changing. I am eternally grateful for the experience.
I came as a volunteer due to budgetary restrictions and a strong desire to spend more time than the 12 days of the workshop. I also took a strong interest in the permaculture program. Upon arriving, I immediately felt welcome. The staff felt less like staff than fast friends. I both enjoyed my time with the local and foreign members of the group, including the kitchen staff with their warmth, kindness and amazing food!
The volunteer aspect of my stay worked out quite well and I see it as a more than fair exchange for the experience. The six hour day was a good amount and I think that there is a major potential for the program. It still is in need of some organization, but this is an essential part of the growing
experience and evolution that comes with any new program of this nature. It, like me, is a work in progress!
I generally found that the work was quite pleasant and often aided in my healing experience, allowing me to be conscious while performing my daily tasks and to interact with the plants and nature of the Amazon region. My fellow volunteers, like the staff, are amazing people and good friends. The
temple is a magnet for wonderful people in search of self betterment and realization.
As for the shamanic side of the experience, the maestros were amazing and the actual process incredibly life affirming, but I won't get into that. It has to be experienced to be believed. I will simply do my best to state the impression it has left on me.
I came in search of meaning. I was hoping to alleviate some of the worry and general concern that I felt in my day- to- day life because of it. A general feeling of disconnect that I feel permeates our modern culture also ran through me. I needed some roots.
Within my first week, I started to feel more grounded, grateful and present. By the end of my first month, I found it somewhat trying to recall the problems I had upon arrival. A process of self discovery began. The spiritual world became, and remains, tangible, not far off or removed. It is a friendly, loving, welcoming, and healing place.
I learned (amongst so so much more) that there is a triptych that comprises the present moment which consists of Awareness, Appreciation, and Awe. Each leads to the other and each balances upon the other. Every breath is a thank you. Every step is a call to awareness. Every sight, sound, taste, feel, and smell is a sense of wonder and amazement.
I have so much more to work on and so many challenges to face, but I see it as an adventure and something to be grateful for.
So my journey goes a little something like this....
Just getting there is an adventure! A bouncy bus ride down dirt roads, slipping and sliding in mud, tossing back and forth through a little village till we reach the water. A long boat awaits on the wide river which seems to trail off into this beautiful abyss. At some point we turn right into the jungle and continue traversing on a windy little arm of the river...now I know this is no joke, we are going deep...will I? Eventually we reach the shore and are greeted by 20 or so local villagers to carry our belongings the rest of the way to the Temple. A beautiful hike through the jungle delivers us to this pristine place of wonder. We are welcomed with warm hugs and kisses from these little ladies laughing and giggling. These little ladies, we will later find out, are more like towering mountains of magical power and love. We all get a tombo...we can have one alone, with a friend or be connected with another traveler we just met. They are spread out over beautifully maintained grounds, some surrounded by jungle for complete privacy and some in the open area overlooking the pond and maloka. There is a tasty meal, talks and rest. The overall feeling is one of calm, peace and being wrapped in a blanket of love.
By the way, the food here is great. Mostly vegetarian with fish at lunch. Baskets of all kinds of fruit are always out for snacking.
The following morning is begun with steam baths or vomitivos...we do both, one the first day, one the second. This serves as our initial cleansing. Is is a good sign that when the Maestra wipes my forehead during my steam bath she vomits in the corner? Oh crap, I knew I needed to come here.
We also have the opportunity over the next couple of days to meet with all the maestras and maestros to talk about or intentions...three of them. They discuss what we tell them, come up with jungle brews, baths and massages we will receive during the day....special icaros at night, specific to our needs.
The Maloka is huge..a massive round building. Everyone is assigned a spot in the circle formed around the perimeter of the maloka with all the mats in the center for the maestras and maestros. By 8pm all the people have found their mats and the magic makers are arriving..."buenos noches" each one greets us as they enter...am I really here? Did I volunteer to do this or was I called by something beyond my will? Either way I am about to drink this sacred brew...just a little tonight, lets see how strong it is...play it 'safe' tonight. They hand out mopacho to everyone and then we start to approach the maestras in groups. We drink. After everyone has had their medicina we sit in silence and wait for the icarros to begin...it is a long wait. We can not talk, only focus on our intentions. I already know I should have drank more, it is going to be a mellow night...I have work to do and I chickened out. I have a little experience with Ayahuasca and I had the option of how much I wanted to drink. I make the decision to have the rest of my time here be kick ass. No more of this cautious BS. The rest of the ceremony I listen to the icarros, they come to my mat and sing just to me...followed by hugs. I can let myself go here I am sure of it. They will care for me as a mother cares for her child. They will care for me as a doctor does for the most gravely wounded. They will care for me no matter the circumstance of my presence...I have nothing to fear.
Ceremony day two.
Tonight I will drink much more and kick this crap out of me that has to go. I am not so sure I know exactly what that is. I want to heal my thyroid that no longer functions, learn all about love and paint and sell my art freely. How do I get there?
Purge fear....oh holy shit...so much fear, energetically puking in this realm of red and black chaos. It is so intense, but I know the beauty of the medicine through the violence of the insanity fear is. Really? I know how wonderful it is that everything is going? I know this is because of the incredible love in the maloka from all the maestras, maestros and everyone who traveled here. The purging subsides and I travel to this place where I am shown the spirit of all who are here...we all know each other?! The Spirits called each of us to be gathered because of the roll we will lend in healing to one another both in ceremony and out. I experience the essence of many in my group, some come to me with issues. Then I am shown how some of the physical issues I have had come from my inability to let go of my role as a healer in another life. I was brought back into that life as a shaman, I got to see all my fellow healers and had it explained to me that it was my time for healing. I had to let go of that life completely. I was taken through that existence all the way to my death and instructed to let go. My new job as a mother teacher needed to be taken on with all I have and now I can.
Cosmic orgasm...I rocket off before the icaros even start and indeed have a hard time containing the insanely intense pleasure exploding in my body. Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes...!!!...!!! Did I say that out loud?
Well from there I get the gift of experiencing the giving and receiving of love between a man and a woman. I don't mean sex, just the exchange of compassionate caring in and unconditional way I have never experienced. I was able to see many examples of my own human 'errors' within life and still receive unconditional love from another person. This is the way it is supposed to be. Mother Ayahuasca is setting the bar for me. Showing me they way it was meant to be, the potential for love within a relationship. While all this is going on I am also aware of massive downloads happening in the back of my mind. Evidently I am going to need this when I get home. I was then taught how everything is love. The trees, my coffee cup, money, dirt....everything. Everything is just an energetic vibration in different density all composed of love. Even the stars, even the air. I understand that now I can sell my art because receiving money for what I create is just an exchange of love in different forms. Two different vehicles for the same thing. Now I know I never have to look for love again because there is nothing but love. It is the contortion of its vibration due to evil influence I can now vividly recognize. I will be able to navigate through this human existence now without as many 'wrong' turns I hope. I am blessed.
During the day we are blessed with our individual medicinas in the morning and evening. Floral baths at noon and massages around 3pm. Do the maestras ever sleep? Not only are they in the maloka till the wee hours of the morning but they then go back to their house and sing till what feels like dawn. The only explanation is love and magic.
Our breakfasts are of eggs prepared different ways, fruit salad and different types of porridge and fresh squeezed fruit juice. Tea and water are always available. If you sit out of ceremony on any given night they will make you a nice dinner as well. They see to it that we are well taken care of at all times.
There are group discussions where we share our experiences from the night before. Two facilitators guide our talks and lend support and comforting words. The same women help us during ceremony through the hard work by sitting next to us, holding our hand, helping us to the bathroom (along with some other fantastic volunteers) and reassuring us we are doing great. They hold an incredible space for deep work that is not chaotic or loud, only peaceful and loving. You know you are loved every second no matter what is happening. For me this allowed for deep deep work to be done.
OK so now that mother Ayahuasca eliminated my fear and set me up with the understanding of all the love of the universe....time to exterminate the demons.
Oddly enough it started with me not feeling any effects of the Ayahuasca, at least physically. A demon started talking to me. Saying he was not coming out, he was stronger than the maestras and maestros, he was going to take them down and so on. I told one of the helpers and she sat with me till the maestras could come over and do some work. As soon as one came over, the ayahuasca came on like a freight train. Soon I had several maestras working on me all at once. The pain was excruciating. Like being torn appart. I thought purging was supposed to come from an open exit point...evidently not when it is stuck in your belly. They sucked from every orifice I know and ones I didn't even know I had. They pulled, squeezed, and massaged. They all sang icaros for what felt like hours. During all this I saw all the trauma and abuse of very sort I suffered as a child. I did not have to relive it, just know what happened and who did it...then they took it away, all of it. Away went my anger and resentment towards those people. Away went the demons they gave to me. Away went the pain and suffering I had been living for so long. I was taken through the visions of my disintegrating marriage and what needs to be done. How I will give love to my husband as we part and love to my children to help them through. I was shown what to expect from others...the anger that will be thrown and how to deal with it. This took till 4 in the morning....but I was able to end with peace, knowing I was going to be OK.
Again....releasing agony. Agony of the contorted forms of negative attention I encountered through my life that I thought was love. All the negativity that had entered me and was destroying my ability to receive love. My debilitating attachment anxiety that kept me holding on to everything and anything that I experienced even a little joy from. The maestras worked over my body tirelessly as I spent another night in agony. Finally one dove her head right into my belly with a massive set of teeth (she really does not have many) and didn't come out till she had in her gripping jaws a huge, snake like, green glowing evil energy. I could feel it being pulled from my intestine and relief as it was finally out. Calm followed....then labor pains! I birthed both my sons again so I could fully be in that moment with love. I was shown their path and how they chose to come to me. Not satisfied with knowing I am to leave my husband from the ceremony the night before, I was shown what I need in a partner. I wanted it to be my husband but the feeling is that it would not be. I mourned this loss with long heaving cries. I thought I was done....then the aliens came. I was transported out of the maloka on a blue grid and they scanned my body with light. As they were discussing what they found I became irritated in my perception that I was some kind of experiment. They stopped and I was in suspended animation until I realized they were bringing more healing. Once I accepted their presence they proceeded to open me up and replace all the burnt wires and shorts I had. Did I mention the massive downloads that continue during this time? I think I must have had all my old files replaced.
Yes there is more.
Love. All love and all its levels. Demons were hanging out around me trying to lour me away but I told them to fuck off. When they finally went away, I had the most beautiful love making I have ever experienced. What felt as a male energy, it shared with me what making love was all about. How to move my body, know my body, know the possibilities of what making love can be. Being caressed and cared for while experiencing extreme pleasure and intense love is the way it was intended. I was taught how there was no pain, selfishness, manipulation or control when making love to the right person. Again setting the bar for what I can have in my life, what things should be. I was shown by the spirits all the evil that has come from humans making love taboo, unspeakable, restricted, bad, and a sin. Of this has been born the evils of sexual energy....it has been turned into an act of war, child abuse, rape, and so on. It was never meant to be this way and the spirits are so baffled as to how we could have taken such a beautiful gift and screwed it all up. I am so blessed to know this amazing gift we have been given, the pleasure of energetic bliss within a physical embrace, the beauty sexuality can bring. I wish the rest of the word could know too.
Just a little more.
Nothing much. Just a pleasant rush through my body. I even went up half way through and drank more. A nice way to end an intense beautiful time with Ayahuasca, the healers, my fellow travelers.
The Temple of the Way of Light is a place to do some really deep healing. From beginning to end I felt so loved and cared for which is what needed to transcend through so many levels in such a short time. I loved having a tombo to share with my friend and have such a beautiful oasis to relax in. The laughter that would erupt from the maestras all through the day was so uplifting, the healing so incredibly powerful yet gentle. The energy between all the travelers, staff and volunteers there was extremely supportive. The kindness and compassion flowed like a constant gentle river. To anyone hoping to transform their heart and mind, the Temple serves as a beautiful space in which to do it.
The Blood of Gaia/ The Breastmilk of the Goddess…Experiencing Ayahuasca
I had drunk the medicine vine once before at a Western shaman’s home in England. It had been an intense experience but my over-riding feeling was I would not drink it again unless I was in nature, preferable where it grows and with the shamans of its lineage.
This May, 2010, I had that familiar feeling— I needed yet another revolution to kick start my evolution. I didn’t want to go in through the ‘head’—though I have been blessed to encounter some extraordinary transformational modalities taught and facilitated by masters. This time I wanted to go right to the core….the core of experience, the core of who I am, the core of my psyche and what is still holding onto me.
When the pupil is ready, the teacher appears. In this particular case the master teacher of the planet herself, surrounded by the maestras and maestros who have been called to devote their lives to assisting her in healing humanity, for there is no doubt it is we who need to be healed and not the planet.
My research led me to The Temple of The Way of Light. I chose this place over others because of the amount of female shamans and my desire to work closely with the feminine principle as well as wanting to support the founders’ dedication to protecting the rainforest and the welfare and rights of the indigenous people.
Founder Matthew Watherston, his partner Klara, coupled with Brian - head of the permaculture project - and Becca Dakini – one of the Temple coordinators - were, with the shamans, the main anchors of this amazing place during my 12 day stay. Matthew and Klara see the Shipbo as similar to the ‘Navi’ in the film Avatar with regard to the depth of their knowledge and sympathy with the earth. As well as developing the Temple and a permaculture project that aims for them to be completely self sustained by 2018, their vision is rooted in ‘giving back’ to the healers and local people; to implement community projects within the neighboring villages and in the Shipibo villages on the Rio Ucayali where the healers come from. They have a lifetimes work ahead of them to achieve their ambitious goals of which include waste management and water purification projects, medical posts, agro-forestry and sustainable farming projects and improving education (combining national curriculum with re-stimulating the youth with classes on their traditions / culture and the encyclopedic knowledge of the vast pharmacopeias of the jungle that an ever decreasing number of Shipibo shamans hold).
On the day we arrived at the jungle paradise (think orchids, hummingbirds, electric blue butterflies and beautiful holistic food), we were greeted by international volunteers, workshop facilitators and the shamans themselves; beautiful glowing eyes, ageless faces and the traditional colorful outfits worn by the Shipibo women. Over the next twelve days, between exquisite flower baths, growing camaraderie, talks and walks in jungle, culture and permaculture, we experienced 7 carefully orchestrated full on ayahuasca ceremonies led by extraordinary shamans of the lineage of the sacred vine; Luzmilla, Manuela, Celestina, Olivia, Inez, Rosita, Papa, Jorge and Michael, a Western shaman.
In my ceremonies…I have to resort to clichés…life changing, sacred, literally mind blowing…I was able to communicate directly with a vast non-human super intelligence that was at first utterly terrifying. I was able to understand that ignorance of this intelligence has created the arrogance in mankind. I experienced an explosion of my fear based ego throughout every element of my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual being which was so extreme I was unsure I would survive, held in sweetness and safety by the able guardians Klara and Becca. I was able to see clearly what was leaving me and what was being drawn out by the shamans and am so grateful for this massive clearing. I could see the exquisite healing icaros, the individual unique songs of the shamans as they wove through me, healing me and protecting me. I was able to experience love from the human family in a way I had never before, a oneness that in another ceremony allowed another’s tears to pour from me and broader perceptual awareness and understanding of connection to be laid down causing healings and revelatory experiences to occur through my own heart and love of others in the web of oneness. And finally, the experience of my own kundalini, guided by Aya and her spirits, truly opening my own heart and uniting me with the Sacred Heart of the living Christ that waits to unite all humanity and all earth’s kingdoms.
Well, you could say the product of a heightened imagination. However, two months later as I write this I am finally assured and in full understanding of my ability to create my reality through feeling, frequency and vision. My sense of purpose and my humanitarian impulse has greatly expanded and become more grounded and the knowledge of how I might manifest these visions is coming to me in a practical way. I have gained a deep visceral understanding of the necessity of bridging all kingdoms in the heart of humanity as the precursor to building ‘heaven on earth’ and evolving mankind. My assurance that bridge has been created in me has given me a deeper confidence than I have ever experienced. I am much more comfortable with all different types of people and situations as I just feel better in my own skin while my former challenges of external nemeses has shifted to a perception of external teachers who simply signify the last residues of my own duality. I no longer criticize myself. I just learn and move on. It’s as if ayahuasca was the missing piece of the puzzle.
What is the purpose of life? As well as learning to love, learn, appreciate, share and to manifest our visions into concrete reality, surely one of its main purposes is simply to gratefully experience as much as we can of what life and earth have to offer. This has been one of the most deepening and wonderful experiences of my entire life and I feel compelled to share it an encourage others to experience it, ideally in circumstances such as those provided by the Temple of the Way of Light.
There is a great deal of literature about DMT, the spirit molecule, the healing properties of this plant medicine, etc. but I would like to add that to one day have advanced centres providing micro-doses of this medicine to open vision and reconnect humanity as well as schools and research centres to explore its physical, mental and emotional healing abilities is a dream worth of nurturing.
Stephanie Sinclaire ©
London July 2010
The Earth is my religion and what I love the most. As I walk, I often feel my feet kiss Her, sending love, in gratitude for her love and having me here. I feel very connected to the Planet and am very sensitive to where I am and to particular energies of specific places. My mind however is highly symbolic and visual and I see myself as something of a spiritual explorer, largely through my art, which is my language. As I go on and grow in understanding, I am always generating a current “working reality” until it is ready to be disposed of, as a new one takes place. The newest, but truly ancient reality is to do with giving precedence to my heart, as the heart is really what manifests all our reality anyway. The sooner we consciously use our hearts wisdom and intelligence, the sooner we’ll be able to live the reality that we desire and that is the challenge we all face at this special time.
I first heard about Ayahuasca about 10 years ago and started reading everything I could about the subject. When by a combination of synchronicity and determination, I discovered the website of the Temple of the Way of Light, early this April, I knew that I had finally found the place for me to experience this Medicine. I went there in the second half of May and experienced a twelve day retreat that included seven ceremonies. The location, the energy, the colors, the sounds of the critters in the jungle are all magically beautiful and made me feel at ease and close to the Earth as I’ve always wanted to live. The overall vision of the Temple, to be self sustainable by 2018 through application of Permaculture design and volunteers input resonates and does justice to Mother Ayahuasca and her guardians and emissaries Maestras and Maestros. These people are from the Shipibo tribe, a very special people who have been guardians of this tradition and it’s secrets probably for some thousands of years and need to be cherished and protected by all of us. I felt that these are some of the gentlest yet most powerful people on the Planet that we have the good fortune to interact with. I knew I had to go to the Temple because of the number of the female healers. The overall long term vision for the Temple includes ways of protecting and reviving Shipibo culture and heritage, educating the young people to be proud of their tradition, etc.
I feel that the Temple of the Way of Light is a very special place on Earth where the Goddess is very much present and is re-birthing those that visit and are willing to go through this birthing process. The qualities of forgiveness, inclusiveness, nurturance, kindness, compassion, partnership and community with all Life, and many others are the domain of the Goddess or the feminine nature of God. Since I’ve been seeking and following the Goddess, this has been the most affirming and deepening experience and I feel that I can gradually let go of so much programming, trust that I am loved and guided, and create the life I really want. I’ve been told that back home I have work to do with “healing relationships”. I’ve been shown many things, and I experienced myself, a human being, as just one of many forms of life, and was totally humbled. I met or intersected with many other forms of life, as shown by the mother Ayahuasca, such as Plant, Insect and Animal intelligences, Gaian soul, all intermingled, together, merged into one, kaleidoscopically dissolving into many, and then traveled through the Cosmos together with my family, saw how it is all merges and distinctions are hard to make, everything is so fluid and ever-changing.. There is nothing linear at all. Multiple dimensions are ever present when we perceive them and when we don’t. It all intersects in the now through the lens of the heart, and the mind’s ability to clearly interpret heart’s messages. In fact, there are many dimensions, and many worlds, but there is one reality, one truth: LOVE
Ayahuasca makes you suffer as she demands your complete and honest surrender, and in that suffering teaches you to have compassion for yourself. The compassion is imprinted in the nature of the suffering. It is like a meeting of seemingly not so complementary forms of life. Imagine that all of a sudden you and all the cells in your body are fused with some albeit compassionate plantoid-insectoid-yet-cosmic-deity, which is painful to your programmed human responses and your predictable monkey nature and monkey brain. There is naturally some resistance there, that’s unavoidable. This is where the mystery comes in. She works on every level, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. In fact, all levels are actually one, while you are in this body. What ties all the levels together is the energy, as we are energetic-spiritual beings and all imbalances are at their core energetic and spiritual. On the physical level, she makes you purge on both ends, or you could say, on all ends, since the skin is actually the largest organ of detoxification through sweating. Emotionally she can often make you face your deepest fears or lift you to unimaginable heights. All kinds of things can surface, seemingly out of nowhere, the pain of so called past lives, or flowing as one with all Life. Mentally she illuminates the contents of the mind so that you yourself can see just how crazy they are or recognize what works or what doesn’t and can be disposed of. Spiritual dimension ties it all together.
I felt very safe, protected, loved, and guided at the Temple. I totally trusted the Maestras and Maestros and felt that to be the most important element that allowed everything else to unfold. I felt the power of the group energy and the way Maestras can direct it like a river current. We were all in it and hopefully riding this current, and that allowed the individual healings to be so effective. The current was sometimes quite swift or sometimes more gentle. There were some ceremonies that were incredibly intense for all involved and sometimes we all needed a break and pleasanter journeys. Most of the time I felt like I was being sung back into life and into remembrance of who I am and of the promise I made aeons ago, to wake up. At first the whole experience was too overwhelming to notice the ikaros or the songs as something distinct, but as the journeys progressed I was able to see or hear how the ikaros completely directed my journeys and triggered the experience to be more intense, more cleansing, more peaceful or more uncomfortable when purging was the only option. The beauty and awe of the singing is impossible to describe, these must be the most ancient songs that can ever be vocalized, and totally piercing through the veils and illusions, there was no way to hide from them. They guided me to be re-born, so my shell, my cosmic egg finally cracked. I was a star-seed and now I am a young hatchling.
I don’t know if the dying-birthing process has to be so difficult every time, but I have to say that it was. And I will do it over and over again. Except that this time learned something by direct experience. That is, the energy you put out is basically what you’ll get back. If I am aggressively pushing for some kind of change in my life, the nature and quality of this change is going to be aggressive and harsh and may prevent me from experiencing the softer side of life. If I treat myself with gentleness and respect, it will determine the way I experience life and relate to the world. I feel that I got in touch with more of my true nature that is in fact gentle, kind, peaceful and feminine. I embraced my inner child, the one that still hurts (sitting in some hospital lobby waiting to be punched in the vein and the blood sucked out). I have felt that I did not have a normal childhood, regardless of being in a loving supportive family, due to early and long childhood illness. It’s clear now that this “illness” has been more than just physical, and served a purpose when I needed it. I felt my mother’s presence like a soft angelic light as supportive as she had always been in life. She crossed over five and a half months before I went to the Temple and going here allowed me to feel more at peace about this. I have much grieving and integration yet to go through but I feel that my family and I are not alone and I am grateful for all the help I received, and am receiving.
This is a powerful catalyst for spiritual transformation, and so all the other spiritual and self-help skills you’ve ever learned become extremely useful when exposed to it. You have to do the work before, during, and after this experience. I think it is not for everyone and it is not to be done all the time. You know when it’s the right time. There are many approaches to personal growth, and I believe in seeking a balance between the ones that resonate with me.
I would say that if for any reason, you are intrigued, curious, or hopeful about what this experience can provide for you, consider the possibility that there are some very large forces at work and that you are being called to this place to work with these amazing healers and sacred medicine. It’s also best to drop all or as many expectations as possible and to try to surrender to the mystery before you even embark on the trip. The magic is always here.
Ayahuasca is a powerful healing medicine for many levels of the being. From my personal experiences with it there are a few important components that make the journeys healing experiences or just another psychedelic trip.
The fundamental distinction is combining good medicine and “real”, experienced healers. By taking Ayahuasca on its own (of which is potentially dangerous and not to be recommended) and without a good healer (or with someone who isn’t actually a healer – ie has carried out many years of plant dietas) then lasting healing will not be effected.
It is essential to understand that a true healer will work with Ayahuasca and the plethora of plant spirits to clean out the dense negative energies, patterns, programs, traumas, etc that exist in participants. Ayahausca on her own, without a healer, will generally only touch surface issues and deal with some bodily detoxification through the purge. It is the combination of healer, Ayahuasca and the medicinal plants (the rao in Shipibo) that brings about deep and lasting healing). True healers learn to work with Ayahuasca and dominate the medicine, guiding her to work in places that the plant spirits are indicating need attention.
The tribal shamans consider Ayahuasca one of the most powerful plant spirits who can teach us many lessons. The native Incans world view states that all of nature is sentient; that every living organism on the planet from plants, trees, water, stones, and animals have spirits that can communicate with each other and with humans too when the human is in the receptive state of consciousness through the use of Ayahuasca.
The general view is that Ayahuasca is considered a female spirit and a hallucinogen with many healing qualities. She is considered a doctor and a teacher as well as a nexus that brings together the rest of the plant spirits into ceremony. The Shipibo shamen (Onanya in Shipibo) believe that Ayahuasca is a spirit that guides the seeker toward the issues that they intend to address. That seems to be the common experience among all participants in the sense that whatever one wishes to address or work through, that experience will often appear during the ceremony. However, it is also clear that one actually experiences not necessarily what one wants to experience but what one needs to experience. From my personal journeys I can say that there is clearly another consciousness that one meets when drinking Ayahuasca that is accompanied with sound, color and movement as the medicine presents herself to you.
One of the main purposes of healing with Ayahuasca is the breaking down of old physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual structures that one holds which are the primary cause of inner and outer conflicts that often result in dis-ease states. It is well known that over 90% of disease symptoms are caused by emotional and mental imbalances. Working with Ayahuasca could be considered as critical preventative medicine to alleviate problems that may arise in the future if emotional and mental issues are not address and cleaned from the body. Ayahuasca also helps to break down the ego barrier so we can honestly tap into the source of the problems, gain clear insights and heal them.
Amazonian Shamanism that works so intimately with Ayahuasca is an ancient form of medicine that requires dedicated training and by individuals with innate talents to work with and communicate with nature. Sacrifice, discipline, determination, courage, perseverance and patience are required in order to learn from the plants and become a true Amazonian Shaman. In addition, true Amazonian Shamanism is generally passed down through the generations and lineages of healers. To be able to become a true Onanya is often a gift and not everybody can learn this form of medicine.
The female shamans of the Shipibo tribe spend many years on various plant dietas in order to connect with the plant spirits that reside within the plants – the ibo (in Shipibo) or the dueno (in Spanish). Fundamentally, they carry out strict ‘dietas’ to prepare their bodies for the energy that is passed to them by the plants. Sexual activity, alcohol, sugar, salt, spices and pork are strictly prohibited and they live only on small fish from the river, yucca and un-ripened plantains for many months, sometimes years. Total isolation and solitude (except contact with their Maestro) is also essential whilst they are “dieting” the plants - by macerating the particular medicinal plant in liquid and drinking it every day with dietas ranging in time from one week to 6 months (and in some cases years). The plant spirits eventually pass on their energy, healing knowledge and wisdom to the apprentice communicating in dreams and then eventually in Ayahuasca ceremonies (typically after the plant dieta) showing the apprentice how to effect different types of healing; how to see and feel energies, how to suck out energies, how to straighten the bodies of their patients, etc, etc.
The backbone of working with the plant spirits is through the ikaros – the healing songs that are given to the healer by the plants. The ikaros are pure medicine; pure sound (puro sonido) from the plant kingdom that carries healing energy into the bodies of the patients. They will learn to “sorplar”; to blow the plant spirits energies summoned during an ikaro and given to the patient at the end of chanting – often into the crown chakra and along the meridians of the patient. They will also learn to chupar; to suck out negative energies from the patient using their “mariri” which is the shamans’ phlegm that stops the bad energies of the patient from entering the body of the healer.
The retreat I attended at Temple of the Way of Light had six female shamans and two male shamans. These eight individuals are beautiful beings who are sincerely concerned about the healing process of everyone who comes to them. Their skill level is amazing as I can attest to later on. The retreat center located deep in the Amazon jungle is a great hybrid of western style service in terms of lodging, food and sensitivity to individual needs and the healing offered by the Shipibo shamans. Some of these women until recently have never worked with Westerners.
We began the first ceremony the night after our arrival. The temple (called maloca in Peru) is a round structure made traditionally with local woods, palm leaf roofing and wood plank flooring. Over twenty mats and vomit buckets were laid in a circular fashion for each person who went on the journey. We all were on the Ayahuasca diet two weeks before, during and two weeks after the ceremonies which consisted of no salt, sugar, oil, red meat, alcohol and sex so our bodies could assimilate the healings from Ayahuasca and the plants spirits. The ceremony started by drinking Ayahuasca at 9 pm and lasted until 3 or 4 am. The Maestras start and end the ceremony sitting in the middle of the circle singing opening ikaros protecting the space and calling in the spirits. During the ceremony they would shuffle their way around each of the participants working with each participant individually. For hours Horacio would chant the ikaros also for specific healing and guidance for our journeys critically providing a balance of male energy to gentle and loving energy of the female Maestras. Then they would sing the closing ikaros to finalize their work and the ceremony.
The ikaros were the way in which the healers regulate the amount of energy to give to the individual or group, to guide peoples journeys, to clear obstacles working in combination with the medicine to pull out the negative energy in the participants. The songs were sung in their native tongue of Shipibo with very specific intentions according to the needs of the individual and the group. The ikaros are really being sung by the plant spirits who work through the healers to effect change in the participants. The whole ceremony is like a dance starting with the initial silence to allow Ayahuasca to work – for the mareacion (the effect) to begin - and the chants begin as participants enter their inner journeys. The healers were at all times in tune with all the different journeys and were there to guide each person regardless of which world, dimension or realm the person entered; whether past, present or future.
The effect of the medicine on individuals varied and so were the experiences. We had circle meetings every morning after each ceremony where everyone shared their visions and experiences. The meetings were always very supportive, honest and positive with the Maestras listening to everything sharing their insights, interpretations and often their joy.
The first couple of ceremonies were a bit challenging as some people did not have obvious experiences or visions so there was a certain sense of self doubt but at the same time everyone was learning about their body and understanding their relationship with Ayahuasca. Nevertheless there was much purging and that is one of the strengths of the Ayahuasca journey; to purge the bodies of emotional and physical toxins. For one to move forward much of the old energy and sometimes negative entities have to be purged from the body.
By the third and fourth ceremony everyone had experiences and visions. From the meetings the stories varied although there seemed to be a consciousness that guided each person to work out whatever the blocks were that prevented them from moving forward in their life. One person met the little girl of one of her past lives that had experienced great suffering which was affecting her present path and was able to work through that trauma and let it go. Another had beautiful visions of the universe and time travelled to the past and future. Another met his ex-wife and son and resolved some family issues. Others gained insights into their life and inner paths. Some worked out their fears, some talked to the spirits of the trees, water, stars and moon, some became different animals such as anacondas, jaguars, birds, centipedes, bees, etc…and a couple worked out their relationship conflicts, and many more stories…
By the end of the retreat everyone either felt more peaceful, somewhat changed for the better, gained new insights and enthusiasm in life, became softer, and were motivated to make positive changes in their lives. The group had a strong bond as we shared our life stories with each other.
The common theme of the Ayahuasca experiences is one of surrender; trust in ourselves and spirit, overcoming our fears and to be more loving and receptive to all possibilities. The one powerful aspect of Ayahuasca is it helps one to break down the whole reality structure that one creates. No matter how balanced, loving and spiritual one may think one is Ayahuasca will lead you down a different path by breaking the old mental and emotional structures.
One very important aspect about Ayahuasca that I cannot mention enough is it is not just a plant but a spirit. It may be difficult for the western mind with all our modern Darwinian ideologies to think of the power of plant spirits, but once one touches Ayahuasca one generally cannot help but be filled with respect for the healing power of her spirit. The experiences are personal and very difficult to convey in words unless one has personal experiences with her for during the journeys the limited five sense reality is expanded or eliminated to allow in a greater reality of the invisible; the paranormal became the normal and the natural became the super-natural…
I saved my personal experiences for last because I feel those who are not familiar with the workings of Ayahuasca and the healers needed information and context in which to relate to my experiences. To put the crux of my experiences into a few words, I died and came back. Ayahuasca worked fast in my system and had a tremendous impact. The feedback I received was my system is clean and the last ten years of self cultivation had provided me with the opportunity for such a profound experience with medicine.
Within minutes the plant overtook my whole nervous system, my brain and all my organs. I lost all sense of consciousness except for a very thin thread. Ayahuasca brought light and geometric patterns, a monotonous sound and hypnotized my consciousness pulling me deeper and deeper into the trance. My body lost control of all its functions to the point of not even sensing there is a body! My body went through a process of convulsions or intense unwinding, shaking like it was about to die as it fell deeper and deeper into another dimension. My whole being was enveloped within and without by a blackness that felt constricting of which there was no way out. My body felt cold even when the evening was warm.
The ceremony facilitator came over as soon as I entered the state, and called Maestro Horacio to help and guide my journey. Horacio started to blow tobacco smoke – of which is called mapacho; a jungle tobacco that is used so critically in ceremonies for healing in conjunction with Ayahausca), and rubbed floral water into my face. At one point I gripped the facilitator’s hand for dear life because that was my only connection with this reality. The experience of being in another realm was intense, so much darkness and so many entities, although I have since learnt that this was me facing my shadow self. There is really no word to describe the sensation of experiencing your body and consciousness drifting into ‘apparent’ death. The only thing I have left was faith and trust; faith in the Divine, in Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, and in the healers, to bring me back into this world. I heard Horacio chanting to me as I was drifting in and out of consciousness. Later on I was told that he was with me for a long time guiding me through the journey.
Struggling for consciousness was futile, the being that my senses related to as ‘me’ was gone, there was no more ‘I’. The only way out of that darkness was to let go and die. The whole reality structure that I created and identified with at the emotional, mental and even spiritual levels had to be surrendered. What I had believed as to who I was up to that moment in time was no longer relevant.
As I let go my children crossed my mind and I also thought about my friend Katie who was lying in her place next to mine. I literally felt that she will have to go home by herself. Eventually my being floated into the light and the last prayer I remembered was “I am OK with dying and not coming back”. Then I passed out.
When I woke up it took a few more hours for me to have some control of my body. As I was laying there I became an anaconda with anaconda eyes/vision to boot. I have to say that was a very cool experience! Then I became a lizard, a bird, a bee, and a dragon fly – symbolizing transformation. With the experiences I gained some insight into the workings of other dimensions outside our “normal” limited realm of existence and appreciated certain aspects of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s work.
It was clear after the experience that I was in very safe hands and that my “death” experience was symbolic and the necessary pre-cursor to my re-birth. I had to face the darkest parts of my being that were holding me back from truly awakening and remembering my purpose in life. Through the suffering, I was forced to let go of my old “self” and the new me was born bringing with it more of my inner light and revealing to me an even deeper sense of connection to the Universe.
I can honestly say that Ayahuasca and the work of the Maestras at the Temple of the Way of Light have affected my life in a more profound and positive way than I could ever have imagined!
I learnt that courage to face one’s shadow self, patience, determination and faith are really the essential elements needed when coming to work with Ayahuasca and the Onanya.
These experiences reaffirm my belief that if one wishes to drink Ayahuasca then one must do much research and work with Amazonian healers that are masters of their art who offer sincerity, experience, good intent and compassion in their work. Being in the jungle really enhanced the experiences.