Plant Spirit Shamanism: A shamanic journey to the Amazon

We are delighted to announce a new, dedicated programme enabling you to experience authentic Plant Spirit Shamanism and Ayahuasca Ceremonies in the hauntingly beautiful Peruvian Rainforest.

This event is focussed on healing and self-exploration, and offers a transformative encounter with the magical powers of Nature through the ancient rituals of the Amazonian plant shaman.

On this journey we provide the orientation, conditions, and support for you to experience authentic jungle medicine, to receive the healing and insights available from Ayahuasca, the legendary ‘vine of souls’, and to benefit from the wisdom and teachings of Master Shamans, the mystics of the emerald forest.

There will be eight Ayahuasca ceremonies during our retreat – more than any comparable programme – as well as jungle walks to meet the spirits of the plants, the opportunity to diet particular plants and absorb their curative powers, workshops on shamanism and plant magic, and the chance to work with shamans of the plant spirit tradition. One-to-one consultations and healings can also be arranged for you with these experts on healing and transformation.

We provide transportation in Peru to the Retreat Centre, accommodation, food, translation services, ceremonies, shamans, workshops, and ‘medicines’. All you need do is be open to this magical event and the changes it might bring to your life.

Our programme takes place at a jungle Retreat Centre an hour and a half’s drive from the town of Iquitos. The people who run this Centre are from the Shipibo-Conibo ethnic group and are renowned for their kindness and hospitality. Your stay at the Centre begins with a ceremony of beinvenida (“Welcome”), followed by a sauna to relax and purify you as you leave ‘the outside world’ behind. It ends with a ceremony of despedida, where you will be given a special ‘gift of power’ to take with you as you begin your journey home. Between these two events, you are offered a chance for personal transformation:

• An opportunity to take part in 8 traditional Ayahuasca ceremonies for cleansing, release, healing, and spiritual realisation
• Flower baths (limpia and florecimiento) to restore balance to the soul, and for “flourishing”: good luck and success
• Explore the rainforest with our shamans and guides and gain insight into the healing powers of Nature
• Learn the wisdom of Plant Spirit Shamanism in workshops led by Ross Heaven, author of the best-selling book, Plant Spirit Shamanism
• Diet plants which can help your unique quest to understand life and your spiritual mission
• Learn more about the rainforest through a jungle walk to the beautiful Agua Negra (‘black water’) Creek
• Deepen your knowledge of the plants though a visit to Pasaje Paquito, a treasure trove of medicinal remedies from all over the Amazon Rainforest
• Get to know the rainforest people and their spiritual universe through exhibitions of Shipibo arts and textiles
• Work with some of the greatest Amazonian shamans, who are experts on healing and masters of the plants, in authentic rituals and healings to help you on your journey

THE AYAHUASCA EXPERIENCE
Ayahuasca is the jungle medicine par excellence of the Upper Amazon. It is made from Ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis Caapi) and the leaves of the Chacruna plant (Psychotria Viridis).

Both are collected from the rainforest in a sacred way and it is said that a shaman can find plentiful sources by listening for the ‘heartbeat’ that emanates from them. The mixture is prepared by scraping and cleaning the specially-chosen vines and adding the Chacruna leaves. The mixture is then brewed with water and reduced for several hours, attended by the shaman who sings his sacred songs (icaros) and blows his intention for healing (soplada) into the brew. When drunk in the correct ritual context, this mixture becomes a powerful ally that can help us step into the visionary world.

The ceremonial use of Ayahuasca in this way is as ancient as history itself. One of the oldest objects related to it is a specially-engraved stone cup, which was found in the Amazon around 500 BC, and proves that ayahuasca was used as a Holy sacrament from before the birth of Christ – at least 2,500 years ago.

The word Ayahuasca comes from two Quechua words: aya meaning spirit or ancestor, and huasca meaning vine or rope – hence it is known as the ‘vine of souls’. It plays a central role in the spiritual and cultural traditions of the indigenous peoples of the Upper Amazon.

Integral to Ayahuasca ceremonies are the chants and songs of the shaman. These are known as icaros, and they direct the ceremonial and visionary experience. The shaman has specific songs for each person’s needs, the vibrations of which summon healing energies, and the words of which are symbolic, telling of the ability of Nature to heal. For example, an icaro may tell of the power of a sacred stream to wash away illness or uncertainty, or of brightly-coloured flowers to attract hummingbirds whose wings fan healing energies.

You might see such things in your visions. What provides the healing, however, is the understanding Ayahuasca brings of what is happening in your life, allowing inner feelings to unblock so that sadness, anger, and other negative energies are transmuted into ecstasy and love.

During this trip, you have the opportunity to drink Ayahuasca and meet its spirit, to watch it being made and learn how to do it yourself, and possibly even to gather the vine. Perhaps you may even assist our shamans in making the Ayahuasca brews you will drink during your stay.

FLOWER BATHS
Baths to restore balance and harmony to the soul are known of and practiced in many shamanic cultures (though it is an art we have lost in the West).

By cleansing, ‘flourishing’, and bringing a new sense of balance, the spirit and body are able to heal themselves. These baths call in the powers of our allies in Nature and prepare the ground for our healing.

They are prepared by Master Shamans, using specially-chosen plants and flowers – perhaps like those above – which create particular energetic and spiritual effects, to which is added cooling river waters. The mixture is then poured over the body (you don’t need to take off your clothes) as a blessing or even a baptism of sorts. Our shamans will provide floral baths for us as a means to heal, centre, and cleanse our spirits.

PLANT WALK
The rainforest is your playground and you are welcome to explore it any time. Included in this trip is also a special guided walk with our shaman and translator who will introduce you to some of the plants of the forest and explain their uses in healing.

WORKSHOPS
As part of your programme you are invited to attend Circle Meetings to discuss your ayahuasca experiences, and to clarify your insights. There are also explanatory seminars and workshops with Ross to put your experiences in context as they relate to Plant Spirit Shamanism.

DIETING THE PLANTS
The ‘Shaman’s Diet’ is a journey of self-exploration and discovery, bringing greater self-awareness and knowledge of the plants. It also enhances the Ayahuasca experience. Through the ritual exclusion of some foodstuffs and activities (which we will take care of for you) and work with a particular teacher plant (or plants), the diet enables you to ‘take in’ the spirit or essence of that ‘jungle doctor’ and initiate into its powers.

Ajo Sacha, for example, tunes you in to the reality of the rainforest, sharpening the senses and making you more ‘plant-like’. Because of this, it is harder for the animals of the forest to detect you and, consequently, it has been used as an aid to hunting for thousands of years. In the West, of course, with our ‘fast food lifestyles’, hunting is less important but, interestingly, Ajo Sacha is able to accommodate for this and to transform its powers. What makes it really useful for Westerners is its ability to help us stalk our ‘inner issues’. It is still the plant of the hunter; but its hunting grounds have changed.

Diets are not invented by shamans, but are given to them by plant spirits themselves. They involve a state of purification, retreat, commitment, and respect for our connection with everything around us. All of this will be explained further when you book your course and, for the plant spirit apprentice, is one of the most exciting parts of this trip.

The main plants we will diet are:

Ajo Sacha: For Luck in Love and Business
As well as its abilities in hunting, this is an important planta maestra (‘Master’ or ‘Teacher Plant’) in the initiation of Amazonian shamans. It brings inner strength, acuity of mind, and the ability to overcome saladera (an inexplicable run of ‘bad luck’), rid yourself of spells and evil magic, and enhance your powers of healing, as well as heightening your ‘stalking’ skills, as mentioned above.

Pinon Colorado: A Defence Against Evil Sorcerers
‘Evil sorcerers’ are around us everywhere. Every time we get on the tube and sit next to someone who is radiating hostility because they’ve had a bad day, or argue with our wives, or have to confront our bosses, we expose ourselves to negative vibrations and bad energy. This has a real and physical effect, such as that sick feeling in our stomachs when someone verbally attacks us, and this energy can stay in our systems. Pinon Colorado is a defence against emanations like these, as well as more deliberate attacks by rivals, competitors, and black magicians in all walks of life.

Bellaco Caspi: For the Extraction of Virote (Evil Magical Darts)
While Pinon Colorado (above) is a defence against bad energy, Bellaco Caspi helps us remove this energy from our systems when we have already been exposed to it. Shamans see such energy (especially when it is sent with deliberate intent) as magical darts called virote. These stick to our energy bodies and can cause physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual harm unless they are removed. Pinon Colorado loosens these darts so our bodies can return to normal and our health is restored.

OUR SHAMANS
We work with a team of expert shamans who will be chosen according to the specific needs of our group. Among them are:

Don Emisael
A Maestro Esperitista and Palero Ayahuascero, don Emisael is a Shipibo shaman who was abducted by rubber barons to work in their plantations when he was a child. Through his experiences in the jungle and his work with shamans from many different traditions, he has developed an expert knowledge of plant teachers (plantas ensenanantes), vines (sogas), and perfumes like camalonga, agua de florida, and cananga, all of which have specific spiritual effects for “changing one’s luck” for the better. Don Emisael has studied with the shamans of the Shimaco, Bora, and Cocama tribes and knows the icaros of birds, plants, and waters.

Don Mariano
From the age of 15, don Mariano dieted many different palo maestros and plantas maestros (‘teacher trees’ and ‘teacher plants’). His icaros carry a beauty, sweetness, and relentless power that many find unparalleled in their ability to transform and transport the listener to other worlds of healing.

Don Cesar
A Cocama shaman, don Cesar receives and sings his icaros in a mixture of Spanish and Quechua, the ancient Peruvian language. He is a master of the songs of many different plants and power places.

ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD
Our accommodation is in cabins, which sleep two people, and in the ‘casa grande’, a new and larger development which has a more communal feel to it.

Some ‘Ayahuasca tours’ offer single accommodation at a premium price and promote this as an advantage, but staying alone in the jungle during Ayahuasca ceremonies on a retreat such as this is not always recommended. Shared accommodation – which we favour – provides an opportunity to support each other, to share experiences, and to reflect on the information you receive during your ceremonies, which is usually the best approach. It also avoids premium prices.

All of our rooms are natural, comfortable, and feature ‘NO mod cons’! (i.e. TVs, satellite, phones, computer sockets, etc). This makes your experience as real and authentic as possible and assists the diet. You are able to feel the jungle around you, with no distractions which might get in the way of your spiritual journey: a true retreat.

Meals are eaten together in the main lodge, the traditional meeting place, and all food is natural, fresh, wholesome, and fully in keeping with the diet. On days when we drink Ayahuasca in ceremony, it is a traditional requirement of the diet that the evening meal is skipped. On all other days you will be served with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is included in the price of your retreat.

The Cost of This Shamanic Adventure Includes:

• Collection from and return to Iquitos
• Accommodation and food throughout your stay at Onanyan Shobo, fully in line with the shaman’s diet and the requirements of Ayahuasca ceremonies
• Welcome ceremony and sauna
• Farewell ceremony and gifts
• 8 Ayahuasca ceremonies, including materials and services provided by our shamans
• Workshops, plant walks, Circle Meetings, floral baths, and the other events
• Trip to Pasaje Paquito medicinal remedies centre
• Individual consultations with our shamans (But please note: if you require dedicated shamanic healing or advice, this is not included in the price. It can be arranged for you, however, at a small additional cost which is payable directly to your shaman and is not a specific part of this event)

To make an enquiry about this programme, please email kate@thefourgates.com and we will send you more detailed information.