ayahuasca retreat

ayahuasca retreat

Ayahuasca is a magical rainforest medicine made from ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and the leaves of the chacruna plant (Psychotria viridis).

The mixture is prepared by cleaning specially-chosen vines and adding them and the leaves to water. This is then boiled and reduced for several hours, attended by shamans who blow their intentions and good wishes (soplada) into it, make prayers to their spirits for good healings and singing icaros (sacred healing songs) into the brew during its preparation and in ceremony.

When ayahuasca is drunk it can open up a new world that is extraordinary, amazing and healing – and yet it is the same world we are part of every day; ayahuasca simply opens our eyes to what is really before us.

The experience normally begins soon after drinking with a feeling of warm presence in the stomach which spreads throughout the body. Most people describe this as very pleasant, like being in a warm, body-temperature bath.

Approximately 40 minutes later visions begin, which may be of “other worlds” or new perspectives on “this” world and/or recollections in words, sights, sounds or feelings of episodes and events from your life which need to be healed and which you can now approach from a position of knowledge and strength, aided by the spirit of ayahuasca.

Healing comes through a subtle shift in awareness, a deepened understanding of your place in the world or an increase in personal power.

 

Icaros, healing songs of the shaman, are integral to the ayahuasca experience and direct the ceremony and the visions which may arise. The shaman has songs for each person’s needs, the vibrations of which summon healing energies with words that tell of Nature’s ability to heal.

As the shaman sings you might even see these things in your visions (ayahuasca was once known by the scientific name telepathine because of its ability to work in this way). Another common experience is to see rainbows streaming from the shaman’s mouth as he sings to you, becoming white light or healing colours as they enter your energy field.

Healing takes place as the vibrations of these songs rearrange the patterns, waveforms and frequency of your energy system, also empowering and directing the ayahuasca you have drunk so it can act with greater intensity and focus on your behalf.

As a result of this shift in energy you become, in a sense, a new person who can see and understand life from a new perspective and sadness, illness, anger or other unhelpful energies can be transmuted into ecstasy, well-being and love.

THE HUMMINGBIRD RETREAT CENTRE PERU

At The Hummingbird Retreat Centre near Iquitos in Peru, healing with ayahuasca is also part of a process which involves other aspects of traditional purification and energy work.

The Centre is run by two Westerners – British author Ross Heaven who has written several books on plant medicines including Plant Spirit Shamanism, about ayahuasca healing, and The Hummingbird’s Journey to God, about healing with San Pedro, and Tracie Thornberry, an Australian addictions  release therapist – but works with indigenous rainforest healers. During your stay at The Hummingbird the shamans and staff act on your behalf as a therapeutic team and may also prescribe healings for you which might include the following.

 

TRADITIONAL CLEANSING SAUNA

Traditional jungle “saunas” help to cleanse, detoxify and “leave the outside world behind”. Participants are wrapped in blankets and absorb hot steam from a pot containing herbs which rid the body of toxins. The Centre is

 

also constructing a sweatlodge (not a traditional Amazonian method but nonetheless effective) and when this is complete purification ceremonies in the lodge will also be offered.

FLORAL BATHS

Herbal and floral baths are also part of the treatments. Special plants and flowers for cleansing and empowerment are added to cooling water from the Centre’s lagoon and the mixture is poured over the body to restore balance and harmony to the soul. By “flourishing” the person in this way the baths also prepare them for the deeper healing of ayahuasca. A series of floral baths are normally taken as directed by the shamans and people normally bathe after every ayahuasca ceremony.

HEALING CONSULTATIONS

Individual consultations with the shamans typically take place each day as an opportunity to discuss your ayahuasca visions and healing needs. Translation services are provided.

As a result of these meetings additional treatments and plant medicines may sometimes be prescribed which the shamans will freshly prepare for you. Occasionally there is a small extra charge for this (for example if you wish to have larger quantities of medicines made up for you to take home) but normally these treatments are included as part of your programme.

CIRCLE MEETINGS

In the morning following every ayahuasca ceremony there is a circle meeting led by one of the Centre’s counsellors so you can discuss your experiences and clarify your visions and insights. Participants usually find this very helpful but attendance at them is not compulsory and they may choose to rest or do their own integration work instead.

PLANT WALKS

The Hummingbird Retreat Centre is in the rainforest so the jungle is your playground and you are free to explore it every day. Some of retreats also include guided walks with the shamans however to introduce you to the medicine plants of the forest and explain their uses in healing.

The rainforest is home to many rare species which cannot be found outside this region and it is estimated that 60-70% of all pharmaceutical medicines are derived from its plants – yet Western science has still only explored about 3% of its healing potential. Shamans know thousands of plants and are experts in their uses.

SHAMANIC WORKSHOPS AND SEMINARS

On some of courses at The Hummingbird (for example, The Magical Earth and Plant Spirit Shamanism programmes) shamanic healing techniques are also taught and explanatory seminars and workshops are offered so you can put your experiences into context and learn more about the rainforest, its myths, legends and the approach of its shamans to healing. Previous subjects have included:

  • Soul retrieval and ‘spirit extraction’
  • The doctrine of signatures in rainforest healing
  • Ayahuasca, icaros and spirit songs
  • Making your own pusanga, the “love medicine of the Amazon”
  • Exploring ayahuasca visions
  • Ancestral healing and symbols of power
  • The journey of the spirit canoe
  • Shipibo art and the nature of reality
  • And, during one event, a special spirit journey and baby-naming ceremony for a participant mother-to-be

 

If you would like to know more about ayahuasca or the healing work of The Hummingbird Centre with this powerful jungle medicine visit the website at http://www.ayahuascaretreats.org or email ross@thefourgates.com for a copy of its brochure.

Tags: ayahuasca, healing, ayahuasca retreats, ayahuasca ceremonies, shamanism, ross heaven, peru, the amazon, shamans, curanderismo, pusanga

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THE HUMMINGBIRD AYAHUASCA RETREAT CENTRE, PERU

The Hummingbird ayahuasca retreat Centre is a rainforest shamanic healing Centre specialising in plant spirit medicines and traditional cures.

It provides a safe haven for contemporary seekers to find the healing and vision they need through the effective use of proven shamanic techniques and jungle medicines, leading to resolution, well-being, positive transformation and happiness.

The Centre takes its name from the hummingbird (el colibri) which in Peru is the guardian of healers and those who seek healing or wish to learn the shamanic arts and wisdom of the plants.

Located 14 kilometres from the jungle town of Iquitos within the Amazon rainforest, it offers healing retreats with some of the most respected and powerful ayahuasceros (ayahuasca shamans).

 

ABOUT THE CENTRE

The Hummingbird is a private retreat Centre owned and run by Tracie Thornberry and Ross Heaven.

Tracie is a counsellor specialising in drug and addictions release therapy who previously ran the Tranquilo Healing Centre in Iquitos. Professionally trained and qualified she integrates shamanism, plant spirit medicine and work with ayahuasca and San Pedro into her therapeutic programmes to provide a most effective way of leading people to wellness. She is very experienced with jungle medicine and has attended hundreds of ayahuasca ceremonies with many shamans, assisting in their work.

Ross is a psychologist, healer and the author of more than 10 books on shamanism, spirituality and healing, including the well-known works on ayahuasca and San Pedro, Plant Spirit Shamanism and The Hummingbird’s Journey to God. He first visited Peru to drink these medicines in 1998 and has worked with many of the country’s best-known and respected shamans both in the Amazon and co-facilitating workshops in Europe and the UK. He has drunk ayahuasca well over 200 times and led plant medicine workshops and ceremonies throughout Europe for several years. Since 2007 he has also brought groups to the Amazon and Andes to work with ayahuasca and San Pedro on his Magical Earth and Cactus of Vision journeys.

THE ETHOS OF THE CENTRE

The focus of The Hummingbird’s work is on vision and healing, a term which, in the Amazon, has a wider meaning than its Western usage and refers to an ultimately beneficial outcome brought about by the restoration of balance and positivity to the mind, emotions and spirit as well as the physical self.

It offers a pioneering yet ancient path towards these outcomes by blending its knowledge of shamanism, medicine ceremonies and the therapeutic arts with the expertise of indigenous healers who embody a compassionate, sincere and heartfelt desire to assist in healing and personal transformation.

Its aim is to make the profound benefits of ayahuasca accessible to all while at the same time preserving the wisdom of tribal people, their culture, medicines and methods of healing.

LOCATION AND ACCOMMODATION

The Hummingbird is set in 11 acres of beautiful rainforest well away from the noise and rush of city living. Some of its land is virgin forest which has remained pure for generations; some is open garden planted with trees and flowers where you can also see the blue of the sky (something of a rarity in the rainforest!) There are some lovely walks at the Centre, a lagoon and trees and flowers with brilliant blossoms.

Accommodation is in traditional palm leaf thatched huts called tambos or in the casa grande – the “big house” – a wooden longhouse which has been reformed to make individual rooms so that guests have the privacy and space they need for personal work and reconnection to nature but never feel isolated or alone; for some the best of both worlds.

All rooms are clean and comfortable and have a bed with a mosquito net (although mosquitoes are rarely a problem here), a lamp, a table and chair – and nothing else. This is authentic rainforest accommodation, used for centuries by indigenous people, and there are no gadgets, TVs, internet or other “mod cons” to get in the way of your experience so you can let go of the outside world and focus on your healing work with ayahuasca, the vine of souls

AYAHUASCA

The brew is made from ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and the leaves of the chacruna plant (Psychotria viridis). It is said that a shaman can find many sources of both by listening for the “heartbeat” that emanates from them.

The mixture is prepared by cleaning specially-chosen vines and adding them and the leaves to water. This is then boiled and reduced for several hours, attended by shamans who blow their intentions and good wishes (soplada) into it, make prayers to their spirits for good healings and singing icaros (sacred healing songs) into the brew during its preparation and in ceremony.

When ayahuasca is drunk it can open up a new world that is extraordinary, amazing and healing – and yet it is the same world we are part of every day; ayahuasca simply opens our eyes to what is really before us.

The experience normally begins soon after drinking with a feeling of warm presence in the stomach which spreads throughout the body. Most people describe this as very pleasant, like being in a warm, body-temperature bath.

Approximately 40 minutes later visions begin, which may be of “other worlds” or new perspectives on “this” world and/or recollections in words, sights, sounds or feelings of episodes and events from your life which need to be healed and which you can now approach from a position of knowledge and strength, aided by the spirit of ayahuasca.

Healing comes through a subtle shift in awareness, a deepened understanding of your place in the world or an increase in personal power.

 

SACRED SONGS

Icaros, the healing songs of the shaman, are integral to the ayahuasca experience and direct the ceremony and the visions which may arise. The shaman has songs for each person’s needs, the vibrations of which summon healing energies with words that tell of Nature’s ability to heal.

As the shaman sings people might even see these things in their own visions (ayahuasca was once known by the scientific name telepathine because of its ability to work in this way). Another common experience is to see rainbows streaming from the shaman’s mouth as he sings to you, becoming white light or healing colours as they enter your energy field.

Healing takes place as the vibrations of these songs rearrange the patterns, waveforms and frequency of your energy system, also empowering and directing the ayahuasca you have drunk so it can act with greater intensity and focus on your behalf.

As a result of this shift in energy you become, in a sense, a new person who can see and understand life from a new perspective and sadness, illness, anger or other unhelpful energies can be transmuted into ecstasy, well-being and love.

For more information on The Hummingbird Healing Centre visit http://www.ayahuascaretreats.org or email ross@thefourgates.com for a copy of its brochure.

Tags: ayahuasca, healing, ayahuasca retreats, ayahuasca ceremonies, shamanism, ross heaven, peru, the amazon, shamans, curanderismo, pusanga

javier-and-jergon-sacha.jpg

Planta maestras (plant masters or plant teachers) are key among the shaman’s tutelary spirits, his chief allies and guides to the worlds of health and healing. In ordinary reality, they are also considered the jungle’s most skilled and important ‘doctors’ because of their usefulness and relevance to the healing concerns of most patients. Through knowing these plants, the shaman can deal effectively with the diseases of his people.

 

It can be difficult to find discrete Western analogues for some of these jungle plants because plants grow where they are needed and the healing required by a New York banker will be quite different from that of a Peruvian farmer. The psychological and spiritual benefits bestowed by such plants, and their ability to restore emotional balance, banish negative energies, or open the heart to love, are desirable in any culture, however, so it is possible to find plants with equivalent or similar effects if we wish to diet them and understand their qualities for ourselves.

 

With this in mind, here is a description of some of the more commonly dieted planta maestras and (either singularly or in combination) plants of our own that will produce like effects.

 

CHIRIC SANANGO: FOR LOVE

Chiric sanango grows mainly in the upper Amazon and in a few restingas (high ground which never floods). It is good for colds and arthritis and has the effect of heating up the body. (Chiric, in Quechua, means ‘tickling’ or ‘itchy’, which refers to the prickly heat that it generates). Plant shamans often prescribe it for fishermen and loggers, for example, because they spend so much time in the water and are prone to colds and arthritis. The patient should not drink too much at a time though because it can lead to a numbness of the mouth as well as a feeling of slight disorientation. It is also used in magical baths to change the bather’s energy and bring good luck to his ventures.

 Used in the West, the plant has a more psychological effect, but still to do with ‘heat’. Here, it enables people to open their hearts to love (it ‘warms up’ a cold heart, but will also ‘cool’ a heart that is too inflamed with jealousy and rage) and identify with others as if they were brothers and sisters. In essence, it helps people get in touch with the sensitive and loving part of themselves. Another of its gifts is enhanced self-esteem, which develops from this more healthy connection to the self.   Chiric sanango can be prepared in water, in aguardiente (weak sugar cane alcohol) or made into syrup by adding its juice to honey or molasses. It can also be boiled in water and drunk, or eaten raw and is said to better penetrate the bones if taken this way.  For a Western diet, mint has some of the properties of chiric sanango and is a balancer of the body’s physical and emotional heat. It can cool you down on a summer’s day but will also provide warmth when drunk by an open fire in winter, and it has the same effect on the emotions, promoting the flow of love as well as alertness and clarity. For these reasons it has been associated with the planet Venus, which was named after the Roman goddess of love.  Good plants to combine with mint include lemon balm and chamomile. Lemon balm was known in Arabian herb magic to bring feelings of love and healing (Pliny remarked that its powers of healing were so great that, rubbed on a sword that had inflicted a wound, it would staunch the flow of blood in the injured person without need for any physical contact with them), while chamomile is a great relaxant and a perfect aid to exercises in meditation and forgiveness. Recent research at Northumbria University in the UK has also proven the beneficial effects of lemon balm in increasing feelings of calm and well-being, as well as improving memory.   Chiric sanango also brings relief from arthritic pain and if this is your concern, Western plants that could be added to mint include marigold and ginseng. 

To make a tea of any of these herbs, simply boil the fresh ingredients (the amounts you use can be much to your own taste, but three heaped teaspoons of each is about right) in a pint or so of water for a few minutes and then simmer for about 20 minutes, allowing it to reduce, and blowing smoke – which carries your intention – into the mixture as it boils. This will wake up the spirit of the plants and attune them to your needs. Add honey if you wish, then strain and drink when cool.

 For a mixture that will last a little longer, add the fresh ingredients to alcohol (rum or vodka is recommended), with honey if you wish, and drink three-to-five teaspoonfuls a day, morning and night. These methods of preparation can be used for all plants. GUAYUSA: FOR LUCID DREAMS

This is a good plant for people who suffer from excessive acidity, digestive, or other problems of the stomach and bile. It also develops mental strength and is paradoxical in the sense that, just as chiric sanango is cooling and warming at the same time, guayusa is both energizing and relaxing.

 Guayusa also has the effect of giving lucid dreams (i.e. when you are aware that you are dreaming and can direct your dreams). For this reason it is also known as the ‘night watchman’s plant’, as even when you are sleeping you have an awareness of your outer physical surroundings. The boundary between sleeping and wakefulness becomes more fluid and dreams become more colourful, richer, and more potent than before. For those interested in dreams or ‘shamanic dreaming’, this is the plant to explore.

In the Western world, bracken, jasmine, marigold, rose, mugwort, and poplar, will produce the same affect of lucid or prophetic dreams. The leaves and buds of the latter were often a key ingredient in the ‘flying ointments’ of European witches, who used it for what we would call astral projection. A mixture of these plants can be used to produce a liquid (either fresh or in alcohol) that can be taken in the same way as the examples above. It is also possible to prepare them in a way that practitioners of Haitian Vodou use for working with their native ‘dreaming plants’, by making a bila, or dreaming pillow, by taking small handfuls of mugwort and poplar and blend them together. Sprinkle the mix with neroli, orange or patchouli oils (aromatherapy oils are fine) as well if you wish and, as they do in Haiti, a little rum and water to bind the mix together. Put your intention into this as well – that these herbs will help you to dream more lucidly and gather information from the spirit world – then allow the mixture to dry for a few days. When it is ready, crumble it into a cloth pouch and place it beneath your pillow. Keep a dream journal next to your bed and, as soon as you wake up next morning, immediately note down your dreams and your first waking sensations.

 AJO SACHA: STALKING THE SELF This plant is a blood purifier and helps the body to rid itself of toxins (spiritual or physical) as well as restoring strength and equilibrium lost through illnesses that have an affect on the blood. More psycho-spiritually, it helps to develop acuity of mind and can also take the user out of saladera (a run of bad luck, inertia, or a sense of not living life to the full). It is also used for ridding spells – i.e. undoing the work of curses or removing bad energy that has been sent deliberately or by accident (in an explosion of rage, etc).  In floral baths, it will relieve states of shock and fear (known as manchiari), which can be particularly debilitating to children, whose souls are not as strong or fixed as an adult’s; a powerful shock can therefore lead to soul loss. The same phenomenon, especially regarding children, is known to the shamans of Haiti, where it is called seziman, and those of India, who take great care to protect children from frights of this kind and are often employed by the anxious parents of newborn children to make protective amulets for their babies.  Another key to ajo sacha is that in the Amazon it is used to enhance hunting skills, not only by covering the human scent with its own garlic-like smell (the plant also has a strong garlic taste although it is in no way related to garlic), but by amplifying the hunter’s senses of taste, smell, sound, and vision, all of which are, of course, essential for success and for survival. It is therefore a plant of stalking. 

In the Western world this stalking ability tends to translate psychologically, and the plant becomes a means of helping an individual hunt or ‘stalk’ her inner issues. To underline this, the Shipibo maestro Guillermo Arevalo adds that this plant also opens up the shamanic path and helps us to see beyond conventional reality – if we have the heart of a warrior and are prepared to live under the obligations of shamanism. For this, we will need courage, the ability to face the truth, and to know our true calling, and no fear of extremes or ‘ugly’ things.

 

It is fascinating that this plant which is used to aid hunting in the rainforest still posses this same essential quality in an environment such as ours where food is purchased from supermarkets and we do not need to track down game at all, but we often have work to do in stalking ourselves. It is clear that this plant has extraordinary qualities.

 

Western plants with equivalent therapeutic uses include valerian and vervain. The former has been recorded from the 16th century as an aid to a restful mind and, in the two world wars, was used to combat anxiety and depression. Today, it is still used for these purposes. It also brings relief from panic attacks and tension headaches, which are regarded as symptoms of an underlying cause arising from an unresolved issue or stress of some kind. By relaxing the mind, the psyche is able to go to work on the real problem, aided by the plant itself.

 

One way of dieting valerian (which will also aid a deep and restful sleep) is by adding equal parts to passionflower leaves and hop flowers and covering with vodka and honey for a few weeks, after which a few teaspoons are taken at bedtime.

 

Vervain, meanwhile, was well-known to the Druids, who used it to protect against “evil spirits” (nowadays, we might say ‘inner issues’ or ‘the shadow-self’). It is also used to help with nervous exhaustion, paranoia, insomnia, and depression. Once again, by relaxing the conscious mind it empowers the unconscious to go to work on (stalk) the more deep-rooted problem.

 Another protective plant that also has the effect of purifying and strengthening the blood is garlic. Nicholas Culpepper noted its balancing qualities and wrote of it as a “cure-all”. It has long been associated with magical uses, protection from witches, vampires, and evil spells, and as effective in exorcisms (i.e. psychologically speaking, in ridding us of our inner demons). Roman soldiers ate it to give themselves courage and overcome their fears before battle. There is also a tradition of placing garlic beneath the pillows of children to protect them while they sleep and defend them from nightmares.

One way of dieting garlic is in the form of garlic honey – which is not as disagreeable as it sounds. To make it, add two cloves of peeled garlic to a little honey and crush them in a mortar, then add another 400g or so of honey to the mix. This can be drunk in hot water or simply eaten, two teaspoons a day, morning and night.

 

Other plants that are good for increasing ‘wisdom’ (inner knowledge) include peach, sage, and sunflower, all of which can also be dieted fresh or in a little rum or vodka.

 

Continued in Part 2/…

 Join us for an authentic experience of ayahuasca, San Pedro, and plant spirit shamanism in the beautiful rainforests and mountains of Peru. Email ross@thefourgates.com for a FREE Information Pack or visit the website http://www.thefourgates.com and look under the Sacred Journeys section.