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All About Ayahuasca

The first time someone told me about Ayahuasca, I thought it was spelt Iowaska.  I also heard that you throw up every where and get super dizzy.  I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to get such a ‘high’ from taking drugs.   Upon researching further, I understood that no one takes Ayahuasca to get a fun high.  Ayahuasca is not a drug. Ayahuasca is a plant medicine with a wide range of holistic healing and teaching qualities. Ayahuasca’s revelations require a sufficient degree of purification and concentration to realize the fullest benefits.  It’s a deeply respected shamanic ritual, with an entheogen (the plant that connects you to God) for deeper healing.

If you’re being called to take this medicine, then the first task for you is to find out who is a positive, healing, trustworthy shaman to do the ceremony with.  Do not do this with just anyone.  You must choose a shaman who has done this pretty much his or her entire life.  Even for generations of shaman in the family.  Because work with Ayahuasca is predictably unpredictable. The nature of the Ayahuasca ceremonial experience is highly mystical and highly variable, ranging from very mild to overwhelming, and everything in between. There is no way to predict the kind of experience you will have for any given ceremony, much less through an entire cycle of work. In a cycle of work, you are likely to have a wide spectrum of experiences.

Our utmost recommendation is Spirit Quest in Peru, but please do your own research on which shaman jives with you.  Everyone has a different energy.  You “work” with Ayahuasca – and it is definitely work! – is not a singular experience or event. It is a process. An Ayahuasca cycle at SpiritQuest typically consists of 4 ceremonies throughout the course of an 8-day retreat.


This is an excerpt from Graham Hancock, the reknown historian author and TED Talk speaker on Ayahuasca.

No guarantees, any decision is your own responsibility entirely and I urge you to do the most thorough research before you go anywhere. Ayahuasca is a very serious matter.

That being said, to consider Peru first,  I have drunk both Ayahuasca and Wachuma (San Pedro) with Alan Waugh, a brilliant English shaman and healer who trained in the Amazon and who has a lovely, solid down-to-earth energy, with no pretensions. Alan lives in the US, by Mount Shasta, and from time to time leads expeditions to Peru.

Concerning other retreats in Peru:

I have heard good things about the Temple of the Way of Light near Iquitos and about Terra Vida in Pucallpa. For Tierra Vida see this video on my Youtube channel by Alexander Ward.

My son who has spent longer in Iquitos than I have, speaks well of Carlos Tanner, an American who has been living in the Amazon and studying with a number of shamans for many years. He runs ayahuasca retreats with local shamans, and does shamanic initiations where you can study with a local shaman and learn the arts. The only downside I have heard (recently) concerns reports of group members being asked to sing songs as a way of breaking the ice. One of those who did not wish to do so told me that she felt she was then made the object of “uncomfortable” peer pressure. Carlos Tanner’s website: http://www.ayahuascaassociation.org/.

I have done most of my own Ayahuasca work over the last 10 years in Brazil, here: www.wasiwaska.org. Luis Eduardo Luna runs Wasiwaska.

Another good friend of mine, Dennis McKenna, brother of the late, great Terence McKenna, is offering Ayahuasca retreats in Peru’s sacred Valley at the Willkatika center. Dennis hosted a retreat from 13-20 Aug 2016, and another much more recently.

In Costa Rica close friends highly recommend: http://www.guariadeosa.com/. I believe Guaria de Osa also do retreats in Ecuador.

Last but not least the Brazilian Ayahuasca churches, the Santo Daime and the Uniao de Vegetal (UdV) , both have Supreme Court exemption for their members to drink Ayahuasca as their sacrament in a number of US states. Again you’d have to research this yourself, but I think New Mexico and Oregon, and maybe some others. Both the UdV and the Santo Daime know what they’re doing with the brew.

Here is a review site of Ayahuasca retreats:  http://ayaadvisor.org/



What does the word Ayahuasca mean? In the Quechua languages, aya means spirit, soul, corpse, or dead body, and huasca means rope or vine. Combine those together, and Ayahuasca means vine of the soul, vine of the spirit, or vine of the dead.

Ayahuasca – also known as Mother Ayahuasca or Grandmother Ayahuasca – is regarded as the Mother of All Plants. Mother Ayahuasca communicates with and potentiates the energies and different healing qualities of other plants. Ayahuasca additionally potentiates the setting in which it is taken as well as the people in that environment. Ayahuasca creates an opening for the companion plant medicines in the Ayahuasca brew to be more effective. The Ayahuasca vine serves as an inhibitor of a digestive enzyme allowing, among other things, DMT in the companion plants to be taken up in the stomach via oral administration. The companion plants, much like Ayahuasca, are agents of consciousness, and together they facilitate holistic healing, spiritual healing, and create a channel for people to access realms of higher consciousness.

Ayahuasca is a sacred plant modality that presents itself as a difficult path lined with tests. The tests go specifically to your weaknesses. The whole point is to strengthen your weaknesses and grow from that point on, turning those weaknesses into strengths. That results in an exponentially fast pace of personal development and evolution of consciousness. That process is facilitated as much by how you do it, where you do it, and why you do it as by the plant itself.” – Don Howard


For further information about our work and Ayahuasca, we recommend that you watch the video documentary,  Ayahuasca: Drink the Jungle by Aubrey Marcus, or watch or listen to Amber Lyon’s interview with Don Howard.


“Ayahuasca gets in there and unlocks memories that you don’t even remember that you remember and allows you to process them in a matter of hours. And that’s why Ayahausca is so incredible. It knows what’s bugging you. That’s why some people call Ayahuasca 10 years of therapy in 1 night.” – Amber Lyon

Additional resources for Ayahuasca may be found under Sprit Quest’s Resources tab, or on their page Ayahuasca: A Deep Dive.