by Captain Bill


A guest post by an AIDESEP worker

For just as Iquitos was once enriched off rubber during the genocide of Native tribes, so today the foreign owned “aya” lodges enrich themselves off Native sacred ceremonies. First of all are you aware of the fact that these foreign owned ayahuasca lodges are in VIOLATION of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? Not only are they unethical as an affront to tribal dignity by commercializing for private gain tribal traditions, ceremonies, icaros, prayers, and other sacred rites; but they are against international law, by abusing indigenous intellectual property rights. Here, decide for yourself how one is to interpret indigenous peoples’ rights in reference to this. Article 31#1 “They have the right to maintain, control, protect, and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.” Article 8 #22 “Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identity.” There is more. What may be done is that AIDESEP, Peru’s national indigenous organization, may seek legal action against these bio-pirate foreign ayahuasca lodges.


How ironic that these places which claim to bring healing and higher consciousness are actually low life cultural criminals with no integrity for indigenous rights. So don’t be fooled by the fact that they may have a Native shaman. For rarely are these shamans informed or know anything about indigenous legal matters. For often they work like prostitutes doing their “tricks” out of poverty all at the enrichment of foreign owners. Let me put it this way. Grave robbing is rightfully condemned, but these foreign ayahuasca lodges are actually robbing living indigenous traditions. And while foreign mining on indigenous land is considered an unethical crime, foreign owned ayahuasca lodge strip-mine indigenous cultures and commercialize their tribal traditions.

WAKE UP WHITE PEOPLE and don’t be fooled ! Here we go again, the anthroposophagous white race consuming more indigenous cultures. For this is a”gringo” problem, not Hispanic or Nativo. And these foreign owned aya lodges don’t have an ethical leg to stand on and the apus would like to see them all be shut down. What gives them the right? Their white skin? Their will? The——- Monroe Doctrine? Or is that what the dimethyltryptamine jaguar throne taught them? It is surely not the indigenous tribes they abuse. Only in permissive Peru are these unethical lodges allowed to exist. So by paying these people one is actually participating in the unethical and illegal exploitation of indigenous peoples sacred traditions. Just like the beautiful tiled buildings in Iquitos were all once built off the blood of the indigenous, so do these foreign owned ayahuasca lodges enrich themselves off the exploitation of indigenous intellectual property rights. Just like with the buildings some people see the beauty and others see the blood. And just like during the genocidal rubber years, the money generated buys off the community all at the expense of the indigenous people’s human rights. Roger Casement once wondered if anyone here cared about the indigenous genocide. He didn’t think so. And now too this topic of abuse against Indigenous rights is not popular. For when the local English language paper, the Iquitos Times, gets paid for by the advertizements of some of the biggest indigenous rights abusers (like Scott Petersen’s REFUGIO ALTIPLANO), what can one expect? “Finance takes little account of the methods whereby its golden counters are produced,” Casement wrote. So I am sorry that the Iquitos Times continues to be a vehicle for indigenous abuse instead of a voice for indigenous rights. After all they are promoting a crime according to The UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights. It is hard to have it both ways. And things get really muddled when I read their articles about Roger Casement and then see adds by these abusive foreign owned aya lodges. You should try printing some three dollar bills.

So if people want to partake of ayahuasca NEVER GO TO FOREIGN OWNED LODGES! And if people are so self-centered to spend so so so much $$$$$$$$ on “feeding” their head, while so so so many people worry about feeding their stomachs, then they have really learned nothing. Go to a Native or mestizo, but NOT to some a foreign lodge.


A guest post by an AIDESEP worker

The views expressed by this author are not necessarily the views of Bill Grimes, Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises, or the Captain’s Blog.

{ 100 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Its about time November 1, 2012 at 8:13 am

Its about time we started bashing pseudo-shamans but I think we need to include the mestizos there too that make out just as good as the ¨white¨ or foreign owned lodges, please do not turn this into an Us and Them or Gringos vs Cholos. The reality is that %100 ¨white¨ and %99 ¨mestizo ¨ shamans are complete dicks that only care about the money! Taking advantage of the trust and ignorance of someone either seeking a cure or a thrill.

Seeing how there is no university for this subject, they all take a free licenses and jabber whatever comes to their demented head

I would like to see regulations taking care of the pseudo-shamans. I think there should be only a small portion of clinics in the country that are regulated. These clinics would not just administer ayahuasca, they would also use the 5000+ species of other medicinal plants for many other ailments.

To : The people looking to take ayahuasca recreationally- go eat mushrooms, you will have a better trip

To: The people looking for medicine- Ayahuasca probably is not the answer, but if you are going to drink, make sure it is ayahuasca and chackruna aka (yaje, Psychotria viridis). If they want to give you ¨Ayahuasca¨ and it has anything else other than yaje, get out of there, its a scam.

To: The pseudo shamans (foreign and mestizo) get a real job, work honestly. people like me work too hard for too little to watch idiots like you scam tourists out of their money.

You are too lucky that your client demograph is either half brain dead or desperate for a cure !!

To: AIDESEP worker
Lets hear some more about Refugio Altiplano please, it sounds like you may know first hand the abuses he has committed not only to indigenous persons but to people looking for a cure

2 Martin November 1, 2012 at 8:24 am

Great article, I wish the author had listed some places to go so people could avoid “gringo shamans”. I think he was a little tough on Mad Mic. It is the responsiblity of the Peruvian govt to control or shut these guys down. You can’t be too upset at a robber who steals your treasure, when your brother let him in the house. After all that is what robbers do, you expect better from your brother.

3 marvin November 1, 2012 at 8:59 am

I am in total agreement with the author ,other than the issue of the Iquitos times ,I am not sure,but knowing the editor, whom I consider a saint,in many ways,he does so much good,and you need to know that before you judge him, or his paper.
I attended a “shamanic: ayahausca ceremony earlier this year.
It was in an enclosed “maloca” no way for the tobacco to escape so for the gringo running the place,and his pals all regular tobacco smokers,they subjected the rest of us to walls of their toxic second hand smoke,with no consideration whatsoever for the others”at Scotts the smoke didipates, and he may have gone more commercial, and he is definelty eccentric,he so takes good care of everyone that he is maybe the only one,I could honestly recommend from the gringo aya’s,that provides a well rounded experience(although he has gone commercial to the extreme)andforgotten a lot of his original helpers along the way.
the real criminals are the ones practicing ,withought consideration ,and doing right by their clients,not knowing the health,and well being, or anything before irresponsibly doing ceremonies.it is an industry now ,and needs some healing itself.After 37 years working in the amazon I feel in tune with the jungles, and people,it has taken me a lifetime of understanding,maybe these so smart gringos are just so much smarter than me,
but I vote for more support towards establishing shabibo ceremonial centres where they could make money ,and really, really help all people, from all walks of life. they are also being ripped off by the aya gringo community,misinterpreting many aspects of their culture, for their own agendas,and you are right to say a lot of them “are” wanted criminals ,and not someone that outside of the enviroment of Iquitos that you would probably take on as your friend.

4 James Richardson November 1, 2012 at 9:06 am

Excellent article! There were a few instances in Canada wheeby non natives tried to commercialize the sweat lodge ceremony but they were short lived!!

5 Greg Reeves November 1, 2012 at 10:12 am

Great article, shame you kept your identity secret.
Everything you say is correct. Something needs to be done to stop these unscrupilous people not onlt ripping off the indigenous people but the tourists too..

Come on Peruvian Government do something.

6 Kate Hagstrom November 1, 2012 at 10:50 am

Great read. Thank you!
I was at Don Augustin Rivas Yushin Taita lodge 10 years ago.
I participated in the Ayahuasca ceremony there.
Before I started my journey to find Don Augustin, I researched many things trying to find out as much as possible about this Ayahuascero.
There were some good reads and positive feedback and then there were some not so good reads/feedback.
I had to decide for myself which way to feel. I read his book, I searched the internet, I emailed people that had gone to him.
In the end I went in search of Don Agustin with his book under my arm with his face on it and flew to Iquitos and found him at a local diner.
I went to his encampment for 5 days, he didn’t want to take me as he wasn’t taking groups at this particular time. I talked him into taking me as he knew a good friend of mine Pepe Mendoza.
I must admit that the “fees” to stay at the camp were quite expensive in my mind. But this man also does other things..he built a school, helps the local town….
After taking the medicine with Don Agustin, I came back from the ceremonies a different person, a better person. It really changed my life.
Ayahausca should be done with the natives, on native land, the money should stay in the communities. Be vigilant and check your sources.
I can’t believe how many people go to ceremonies in Canada and the USA and believe they “get” the experience….nothing is like being in the jungle, taking the medicine, the icaras, music and the ayahauscero.
Go native….it’s the only way to go!

7 Kevin Davis November 2, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Im laughing here as I read the responses. One guy has never done Aya yet he has plenty to say. Another guy who responded here…… I did ceremony with. He drank the medicine and threw up within 5 mim of drinking it(which is a sign that you’re a pretty fucked up person). Then he went into the bathroom and shit all over the toilet seat and made no attempt to clean it up. The next morning he stiffed the shaman ……which I ended up paying for……because there is nothing worse than a freeloader who doesn’t take any responsibility for their own actions.
The person writing this has no clue as to what is and has been going on concerning the culture of Ayahuasca. Had it not been for the gringo interest…… the Ayahuasca ceremonies would of probably died in Peru. To say that shamanism only belongs to the natives is like saying that western medicine only belongs to America and other nations that discovered it. I used to have the belief that gringo shamans have no power or gift to do ceremonies. Then I did a ceremony with Slocum that changed my mind. Ive done many ceremonies with Don Augustine and Javier…..even done some with shamans who rarely work with gringos. There seems to be no difference between gringos and native shamans as far as technique and culture.
I used to laugh at the notion of trickle down economy. In America its a farce. Yet in Iquitos and the Amazon I see it work on a society that relies on oil, mining and lumber as their only income. When a gringo comes to Iquitos and spends his money……that money spreads throughout the city fast. In turn what it has done and continues to do is allow income other than the gringos who come there to steal the natural resources.
So when I read this shit about how gringos have ruined the culture of the natives I have to laugh and the stupidity of the author and how little he or she actually knows. I look at places like the Temple of the Way of the Light and see their money go back into restoring the Amazon. I see people like Mad Mick who help bring tourism to Iquitos and have nothing but admiration for.

8 It's about time November 2, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Now I wouldn’t go as far as to say he doesn’t know anything about the aya culture, it is Quite obvious he does know but he is Slightly ignorant in his racist singling out of ” white people”, we could Eaisly say wake up little brown people and do something about it But we don’t.

You never know, he could also have a share in a native owned aya retreat, or maybe he voted for ollanta thinking he would boot the gringos out of Peru. none the less- 100% white shamans and 99%brown shamans are full of it,

white and mestizo are responsible for the degeneration of indigenous persons

The government will probably do something about it by 2020, until then, they (whites and mestizos) will be raking in cash in the millions

Kevin, you left out The # 1 export of Peru, that’s right …cocaine, so in the end who knows nothing? Don’t be naive, it’s only because you are a consumer who knows nothing and believes everything the “enlightened” shaman tells you, half of those assholes couldn’t identify fifty plants correctly let alone ten., but you will believe him when he tells you it’s soccoba , but its really chimiqua but you don’t know the difference so here is a root of yucca for you to sit on.
Maybe if you drink some ayahuasca it will tell you how to respond
(Thats a Shit stirrer)

9 Ken November 3, 2012 at 11:24 am

Exploitation? You bet it is ¡!!
I decided to contact one of these ayahuasca retreats. I chose a middle of the road gringo owned retreat, I will refrain from naming it, but they are not the most expensive and are not the cheapest.
I asked them by e mail about their services.
I was told;

They normally have retreats for 12 days.
Cost per day $180US
Transport to Iquitos is not included.
Transport to and from the retreat was by bus for 25 minutes then by river taxi for a further 20 minutes. (From Iquitos and back)
Accommodation; Twin bedded rooms. No running water, biological toilets. Bathe in stream.
Food; Only fresh fruit, rice, vegetables, some boiled fish, fruit juices and carrot juice. No salt, No sugar, No fat, no spicy food.
Shamans; Mainly women on a 5 clients to 1 shaman basis.
I have been told that these foreign owners pay their shamans no more than $20 per day and they are proud to announce that this was “good money” in these parts.
Now lets work it out ,
5 clients at $180US each is $900US per day.
Less $20US for the shaman.
Less say $40 for the bus and the river taxi.
Less food, say $75US (that’s generous) per day.
Total expenses is $116US per day
Total profit in owners pocket $784US AND THAT IS PER DAY!!!!
I suspect that all of the money is paid into the owners bank account in the USA so I reckon they don’t pay any Peruvian taxes.

A friend of mine told me that because he was a friend of the owner of another retreat he only charged him $80US per day.
So generous!

10 It's about time November 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Shit actually now that I think about it, it Is the mestizos who do worse, after all, they know how to take advantage of their own people. I know augustine Rivas treats his workers vey well, they are well paid and fed. But the majority of the other mestizo lodge owners constantly #**# their workers through not paying them what they deserve. At least with the gringo, the worker will get paid and than some…..

Lets do the math. 1200us per person
2400 us total 6144 soles
Food for 2 people drinking aya for 1 week
1 branch of bananas 20
Yucca. 20
Fish. 20
Other. 40
Workers, and cook 15 soles per day ( maybe less)
15*7*2=210 soles
Aya and other gags: 50
Less than 400 soles?
Wait a minute ……..

6144-400= 5744

(This is an actual list of things a swindler needs for your ayahuasca retreat, prices are not exaggerated, there may be a margin of error+- 100 soles still 5000 soles is a chunk of change for basically nothing)

The look on all consumers face when they realize they have been swindled by their shaman: PRICELESS

Holy shit I am going to turn myself into a shaman because all consumers are fucking re-tards!!!!!!!!

11 Kerry November 4, 2012 at 9:37 am

I just did not know what was going on there. These people really are exploiting the locals . I mean look at it, a foriegn owner of a shamistic lodge earns over $700 per day while his poor shaman who does all the work gets $20.
Based on Ken’s figures above i.e. 5 tourists at $180 per day.

12 Adrian Walker November 4, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Well reasoned and accurate piece. What a lot of people don’t seem to know is that Psychotria, the plant that produces the hallucinogenic effects, grows througghout the tropical world and is used bt native people in Northern Australia, Polynesia and a host of other Pacific islands, as a mild hallucinogen, invariably the tribal medicine man. Thus all these diverse cultures have also discovered the companion plant that unblocks the blocks the human body has to absorb DMT. These are simple facts that the ayahuasca gringos don’t know or wouldn’t admit if they did as it just might send gullible young folk off in search of something closer to home. By the way, none of the aforementioned countries have lodges or regularised use of DMT. Ayahuasca is a classic case of the “first lie” of advertising being well sold around 2 decades or so back and the growth of acceptance of the “truth” of that lie is the root cause of the gross profiteering going on. C’mon Peru, take a leaf from Brazil and regulate strongly.

13 Chullachaqui November 12, 2012 at 8:45 am

Having been coming to Iquitos for many years, I’ve seen the evolution of Ayahuasca in both the urban and jungle setting. What was once a trickle of believers has become a “Dr. Phil” type treatment program, with people seeking answers to personal problems that deal with finance,health, relationships, etc. As usual, the Gringoes have turned Ayahuasca into a cure-all for all our modern-day problems.

People are under the impression that a trip to Iquitos puts one on the road to becoming a shaman. I have seen programs in which levels of attainnment are controlled by the “shaman”. (I do know of some albergues that actually assign ranks to participants and give certificates on completion of the “shamanic study course”.)

And don’t forget about money, which is a very important aspect of shamanism. Now one can choose from any number of programs suited for one’s “goal”. Of course, the best are the ones in which the Gringoes have their greedy little paws involved. These retreats charge upwards of thousands of dollars and promise all sorts of revelations and spiritual advancement. Some of these albergues are generating a lot of wealth, but the wealth is the Gringo’s even though he may say his goal is to “save the rainforest, save the tribe, etc.” All of this is just another phony pretext for the Gringo to imbed his greedy self in the scene and create a money-producing investment. (Just check out the prices of some of these “centers for enlightenment”.) The kicker is that Gringoes flock to these charlatans and sing their praises to the power they have beheld and experienced.

I have spoken to numerous employees of the Gringo shamans, and I can say that most are not treated particularly well, and their pay is not at all comensurate with the prices being charged by the charlatans and paid for by the naive Gringoes.

This isn’t an accusation against all Gringoes in Iquitos, many of whom are true seekers, but there are those there who know nothing but money, even though they hide the fact well, or well enough to fool the Gringoes, anyway.

There is a humorous story about a “shaman” (read that as businessman) from a foreign country, who came down here and involved himself with building a center for “enlightenment”. After ejecting the local he took advantage of to build up his “empire”, this shamman announced to his eager followers that he envisioned himself on a golden throne, with his lady by his side, also seated on a golden throne. He works all the angles, employing female shamans and using gimmick of “feminine power”. All of this, of course, is about as phony and insincere as one can get. And this phony shaman charges a hefty price to impart his “wisdom and experience”.

And since what we call shamanism is in a very ambiguous arena, anything goes. The word shamanism is such a misnomer in itself. There is no “ism’ in shamanism. There are no tenets, no doctrines and no scripture. All of the teaching and learning come from the Plant itself. After establishing a relationship with Ayahuasca, the need for an intermediary becomes less necessary. But it seems few people are at this stage. Mostly they come here on a 2-week shamanic tour, leaving Iquitos as “qualified shamans-in-training”.

Ayahuasca is not about us.

14 Ernie Bomba November 13, 2012 at 11:47 am

Chinese, Irish, Hungarian and members other tribes having their origin in the developed world have as much right to practice as shamans and to open new age spirit spas as do indigenous shamans.
Likewise any indigenous person who feels a vocation may study for the priesthood, rabbinate or become a mullah by meeting the standards and following the applicable practices for each of the callings. They may open and operate churches, temples or mosques subject to secular regulation, collect fees, proselytize and distribute literature.

What undeveloped countries need is much like what developed countries need. Educated young people trained in science and technology able to analyse and manage complex problems and competent to make difficult choices, knowing why the choices are difficult and why they must be made.

The Healing Retreat/New Age Spa segment of the tourist industry generates some income. It is essentially a service industry. To the extent it discourages or distracts young people from the disciplined study necessary to flourish in an increasingly complex environment it has a negative effect. To the extend it provides opportunity through employment or tax funded education it is valuable. The color of the man (or woman) waving the chacaca or singing the icaro is not as important as the recognition that a quarrel over tourist dollars is inconsistent with healing wisdom the plant medicine if held to offer so freely.

15 Mark November 16, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Alright I’ve got to weigh in here. I can’t really see how White people are strip-mining the culture of the Native peoples here. Like someone said above, if it weren’t for the white people coming to the area, many of those tribes would be suffering greatly because of poverty. I believe the influx of ‘Ayahuasca tourism’ people is often the only thing that keeps natives living in the original village.

Just my opinion though.

16 It's about time November 18, 2012 at 6:28 am

Tribes surfing from poverty? Please explain to me how tribes can suffer from poverty? Or are you talking about the tribes that roam Iquitos streets. In the forest, there is no poverty especially here. No one dies of hunger in the Amazon except for a charlatan shaman lost in the forest

17 James Richardson November 19, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I agree with the implication of the comments in ït´s about time¨. Tribes become poor in spirit when the white man has interfered based on my travels across the globe visiting numerous indigenous tribes. One only has to look at North America to see the damage!

18 Joe Doe November 19, 2012 at 9:49 pm

I have been in and around Iquitos on and off for seven years, mostly to drink aya. I will only do so with my shaman, who happens to be Peruvian. It is my connection to him and his medicine that I value and trust above all others. I have no problem with a shaman being any skin color available, nor with gringos running center, although I sure am dubious of the motivations of most. But I will say this: I cannot remember the amount of times I have met women who have been molested by Scott Peterson of Refugio Altiplano. I don’t just mean “hit on”, I mean abused, forced, etc, often times right after aya ceremonies. I just wanted to add that, for the public record. That guy is bad news.

19 Lawrence Journeys November 21, 2012 at 10:16 am

Cant quite work out if this article was written or approved by AIDESEP or by an anonymous individual?

20 Lawrence Journeys November 21, 2012 at 10:30 am

So, John Doe…..You have evidence that Scott Petersen has committed sexual assaults on women?

21 Gart van Gennip November 21, 2012 at 2:07 pm

If anyone has evidence of any crime committed by anyone else, especially as serious as sexual assault, they should go straight to the cops. If you don´t, you are just as guilty of that assault as the criminal himself.
If you don´t have evidence but are just repeating other people´s gossip, especially anonymously, just shut the F up! Iquitos is the most gossipy town I have ever been in, and nobody needs you to perpetuate the gossip.
If Scott Peterson is indeed guilty of what you accuse him of, he deserves to suffer the consequences. So, get some those countless victims you describe to come forward and press charges!

22 Matthew November 21, 2012 at 3:34 pm

After reading this post by an “AIDESEP worker” I feel called to respond due to the many inconsistencies and a general feeling of suspicion about the legitimacy of the author as well as wanting to add some balance to the highly negative and angry position this post is coming from. There is in my opinion an element of validity to some of the comments although I also would like to share a perspective on solutions to the issues that are presented.

Firstly, due to the tone, attitude and content of the writing in this post, I am highly dubious that this has actually been written by a Peruvian, let alone an indigenous person or even someone from Peru. I question whether this person who wishes to make bold comments from an anonymous position has / does actually work with AIDESEP as well as whether AIDESEP actually know anything about this article, let alone support it. This is not an official AIDESEP announcement despite being written in such a way as to attempt to lull people into thinking that this is the opinion of AIDESEP or indigenous people in general. This feels much more like an a angry “foreigner” writing from a place of limited understanding. I feel it is important not to “throw the baby out with the bath water”…

For the record, I am Matthew, the founder of the Temple of the Way of Light – a healing centre that works with ayahuasca as well as the pharmacopeia of other plant medicines of the Amazon. I set up the Temple in 2007. I am the sole owner and passionately devote my life to working with traditional medicine as well as sustainability projects in the Amazon that I will come on to describe. I am from England so not a native to Peru although I am a Peruvian resident. I initially set up the Temple with a mestizo ‘curandero’ who I worked with for just over 1.5 years. That experience was incredible to begin with (primarily due to my initial experiences with the medicine) and then turned into one of the most difficult blessings I have had through witnessing and learning about much that isn’t acceptable when working with ayahuasca. Something wasn’t quite ‘right’ about his actions and behaviour so I also brought in other curanderos to work alongside him (many being his friends) searching for something that was ‘right’ – I didn’t really know what I was looking for at the time apart from a purity of heart and the best intentions. Working with 10 mestizo curanderos over the 1.5 years taught me about many issues that are faced throughout the Peruvian Amazonian within ‘shamanism ‘ – focus on profit, ego, control, deceit, drunken behaviour, sexually inappropriate behaviour eventually through to brujeria (witchcraft).

They were difficult times although the best lesson I could have asked for in order to develop the Temple to the quality and high standards that we now operate. In addition, I also brought in a ‘foreign’ (white westerner) partner who invested a small amount of capital into the Temple when I really needed some financial support (I spent 4 years in debt setting up the Temple). He ‘worked’ for 3 months with the Temple and then (with reason) fell out with the mestizo curandero. This partner also turned out to only have interest in making profit – not what the Temple stands for. At the end of 2008, I was then faced with an extortionate law suit from the mestizo curandero after I finalized our ‘relationship’ due to persistent lies, deceit, theft and highly questionable behaviour – what I saw behind the scenes was very different to the way he presented himself to guests. I did not want to ‘fight’ but then was forced to stand up for the truth and issued a claim (denuncia) against him for fraud. The legal process in Peru is lengthy although in the end the prosecution service filled a warrant for his arrest. I have since then not pushed anything (which is necessary in Peru in order for the case to move forwards). I never wanted and continue to not want any unnecessary difficulties for anybody – despite his extortionate and inappropriate actions.

The foreign investor initially wanted a 1000% return on his small capital investment (!) and despite his negative feelings about the curandero, then manipulated the difficult legal situation working with curandero to his financial gain. I had previously given away 33.3% to the curandero and 33.3%% to the foreign investor, leaving myself with 33.3%, after following rather naïve and altruistic notions that it would be best to operate as equal shareholders despite the fact that I had invested my life savings / most of the capital in the development of the Temple and was really the only person who was ‘working’ to develop the Temple. The foreign partner and the mestizo curandero were then able to extract a sizeable profit out of the Temple, in the clear knowledge that our focus always was and always will be to carry out community based work and never making profit.

The reason I share this level of detail is to show my initial experiences with both Peruvian and foreign people working with ayahuasca. The teaching from this situation was hard yet perfect and showed me that there is no difference in whether someone comes from Peru or a foreign country – it is about their intentions and often, the bottom-line – making money – this goes against my belief. However, I am left with gratitude for the foreign investor helping me out financially in difficult times and for the difficulties I had to face working with the curandero – in retrospect, both inadvertently taught me a great deal!

After resolving the situation, my wife Klara had the idea to work with female healers after experiencing the healing of one female Shipibo healer at the Temple in August 2008. I was then auspiciously introduced to 8 female Shipibo healers from Pucallpa in January 2009. We have been working with many different (male and female) Shipibo healers (around 20) now over the last 4 years, most of who continue to work long term at the Temple.

One of the key benefits of our system is that we only work with honest, well intentioned, experienced and kind healers, ensuring that guests are not susceptible to unscrupulous curanderos operating with hidden agendas, questionable intentions and unethical practices. Unfortunately in the Peruvian Amazon (and I am sure elsewhere), there are both good and ‘not so good’ curanderos. Money again is a key reason for the corruption of healers (as well as overt interest in sexual relations). We would not have grown to the size we are today without offering traditional medicine in a safe, protected and compassionate environment – this is essential and a significant factor in any well run healing centre.

Our work is focused on providing healing to foreigners (who pay), locals and indigenous people (who don’t pay) working with indigenous (Shipibo) healers who have come from villages across on the Ucayali River. We provide well paid, socially responsible employment for the healers who enjoy their work, are committed to the Temple and who through their salaries support often huge families through their education. They are paid more than local (conventional) doctors in Iquitos (3,300 soles each per month) and are thoroughly respected and cared for. An average wage in their communities is around 600 to 750 soles.

We have considerably improved the standard of living for many people in the 5 local villages and are the main local economic driver providing employment in an area that previously had very limited opportunities for local people to work. Through the employment of 50+ local staff, we directly improve the lives of around 300 local people (families of staff) due their employment at the Temple. The only previous hope for the future was the potential of industrial development projects in the area or the migration of all young people abandoning the villages to become taxi drivers, etc in Iquitos succumbing to the lure of ‘progress’ ie on the whole low paid, mundane jobs. We also sponsor a Peruvian teacher for the local school of which has grown from 4 students to 23 since our support began. We also sponsor a refuse collector who recycles waste in our local village as part of the integrated resource management project that we have implemented in our community and we are now developing programs to establish sustainability projects in all the local villages (sustainable agriculture, food forests, clean water and renewable energy systems, sustainable cash crops to develop economic resilience, etc).

The Temple is the primary funding mechanism for our NGO, Alianza Arkana, which we established at the beginning of 2011. We are blessed with distinguished indigenous Peruvian and international advisors on our board and in a short space of time have achieved an incredible amount of success. As a purpose driven organization, we operate with total social responsibility, have no focus on profit at all. We help empower local and indigenous people throughout the Peruvian Amazon to defend themselves against industrial development, provide indigenous communities with alternatives to the western socio-economic system that has enslaved them after having destroyed their traditions. We are bringing sustainable development and green technologies to villages with no alternatives to petrol, inka cola, degraded lands and contaminated water; developing intercultural education systems to re-stimulate indigenous cultures that are rapidly being lost; sponsoring young adults to train as intercultural bilingual teachers to help re-establish and bring back value to indigenous culture; working on academic research to support traditional medicine; supporting legal representation of indigenous people against billion dollar oil companies; providing funding for indigenous federations to defend themselves against a State that has licenced of their ancestral lands to foreign oil companies who then proceed to destroy not only the environment but the social fabric of village life, etc.

We are working in 3 key program areas: environmental justice and human rights, intercultural education and community based solutions. Some of our successes have been:

• Holding a historic and unprecedented forum where 13 indigenous groups from across Loreto came together to publicly announce their demands and proposals to the Peruvian government re oil exploitation,
• Supporting the fortification of 57 Kukama-Kukamilla communities on the river Maranon to legalise their positions within their local federation in order to move forwards with (more than 20) legal cases against an oppressing oil company,
• Implementing waste management projects in 8 Shipibo communities and now about to expand these projects to 16 communities in 2013 (developing in addition permaculture projects to include food forests, horticulture / poly-cultural crops, fish farms / aquacultures and water harvesting) that directly improves the lives of thousands of people across the communities,
• Developing a intercultural bilingual school in a Shipibo village with a visionary Shipibo educator with the intention to roll out this model to 33 villages in the river Ucayali,
• Sponsoring 8 young Shipibo people through a 5 year degree program (intercultural education) in UNIA (indigenous university in Pucallpa,
• Supporting a new movement of indigenous federations from the 4 main rivers of the Peruvian Amazon (Maranon, Pastaza, Tigres, and Corrientes) that have been affected by oil contamination for over 40 years who are now achieving significant and historic successes – congress people and officials from the Peruvian government have for the first time (very recently) visited the rivers, seen the devastation from oil exploitation and are now ordering further investigation,
• Founding members of the defence committee in Iquitos for the protection of the river Nanay (the main water source for 500,000 people) against planned exploitation from ConocoPhilips, who have this week announced their retreat from this project due to pressure from the people of Iquitos…).
• On-going sponsorship of legal representation for 4 key indigenous federations to defend their territories and rights (through financial support of a team of lawyers in Iquitos),
• Being awarded by the Peruvian government / Ministry of Environment a national award for environmental citizenship – in our first year of operation!
• And much much more…

Our work supports thousands of indigenous people across the Peruvian Amazon. For further information about our work, please see our blog site here – http://alianzaarkana.org/blog/latest

We are also currently developing another NGO which will be focused on permaculture in the Amazon. The bedrock of permaculture is its three ethics: Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share. These are its motivation and its heart.

At the core of People Care is an understanding of the power of community. We can change lives as individuals and make incremental differences and we can do even more in community. This is a decentralized, democratic vision of social transformation where grassroots initiatives can begin to plan for low carbon ‘energy descent’ on a community level. There is no time to wait for central government to act (or react).

Permaculture fundamentally rejects the model of industrial growth at the core of its ethics and aspires to design fairer, more equitable systems that take into account the limits of the planet’s resources and the needs of all living beings.

Our new NGO will be offering free permaculture education to indigenous people to then return to their villages to apply their new skills and develop permaculture projects with a view to (re)building resilient communities with viable alternatives to the current industrial development model.

We will also be offering permaculture design courses to westerners who will then also work alongside indigenous people to implement the projects. We are developing now a permaculture institute near Iquitos which will be an incubation, experimentation and education centre to train people in permaculture to then implement community based, sustainable development projects on the Maranon, Corrientes, Pastaza, Tigres and Ucayali rivers.

With regards to our healing work, our guests come to the Temple often to deal with serious emotional, mental and physical issues of which have they have not found solutions for in their home countries. We are not a tripping or tourist centre for people to come and experiment with what some people would pigeon hole as a hallucinogen – we are working with traditional healers offering deep healing. We welcome guests from all walks of life, who are far from being “tourists” – they are people who are genuinely seeking to address unresolved issues that hold their lives back who come to a healing system that is unfortunately not available in their home countries yet is a gift from the natural kingdom.

The conventional western biomedical system is in parts massively flawed. As many people know, conventional medicine is limited to focusing on the symptoms of dis-ease as opposed to the cause (often being energetic imbalance, blockages, trapped residual energies that have resulted from trauma’s, etc).

A healthcare facility designed for westerners needs to offer certain standards and spending 5,000 soles to come to the Temple to often change one’s life is significantly less expensive than spending up to tens of thousands on healthcare in the west, in a system that is not designed to truly provide healing, over long periods of time, often with little or no results. Western healthcare is big business and yes, is typically profit driven.

I passionately feel that plant spirit / natural medicine is a birth right to us as a species and something that has unfortunately been demonized and replaced by a medical system – a pharmaceutical investment business – that defines the human body as its marketplace. While presenting itself as the purveyor of health, the existence of this investment industry has primarily been based on the continuation and expansion of diseases as multibillion dollar markets for patented drugs. The precondition for establishing a global monopoly for this investment business with patented drugs was the attempt to systematically eliminate all non-patentable natural medicines / traditional healthcare practices fundamentally including the understanding that energy lies at the root of dis-ease.

Could the author of this post be moonlighting and actually be someone working for Big Pharma?!

True healers of the Amazon are a walking encyclopaedia of knowledge of the plants and techniques for healing all manner of illnesses. One of our objectives is to ensure that this system and knowledge is NOT LOST. We work with healers – young and old – whose practices are sometimes being ignored by local villagers and who have even previous to working at the Temple left with no option but to farm traditional crops or rely on family hand outs to survive. Traditional indigenous healers across the planet are record keepers of a system of working with medicinal plants (that cannot be patented) that has more or less been destroyed. We cannot simply sit back and watch this happen so are working hard to develop more understanding, credibility and recognition about Amazonian plant based medicine practices.

Unfortunately, this knowledge is being lost rapidly due to missionary activities, industrial development practices and the western socio-economic model focused on materialism that has ravaged through all areas of life in the Amazon. Money is the focus and many indigenous village folk now live as hostages to an economic growth model that totally disrespects and abuses their rights as well as brings severe social and environmental contamination. There is a siege happening in the Amazon and it is not due to foreign owned ayahuasca lodges. We feel strongly that solutions need to be developed. Instead of just talking about it, we are acting; inspired and driven due to our work with traditional medicine of the Amazon.

It is all well and good waxing lyrical about romantic and sentimental ideologies of how white westerners are “enriching themselves off Native sacred ceremonies” and proclamations that “these foreign owned ayahuasca lodges are in VIOLATION of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” but I would argue that this is not ‘always’ the case although sometimes sadly can be when profit is the sole motivation. The growth of ayahuasca lodges in the Amazon has met a demand from westerners who, desperate to find answers to health issues and spiritual questions that are not met anywhere West due to the very same issues that now are infecting the Amazon, are coming in increasing numbers to the Amazon often in support of traditional medicine and indigenous traditions – in most cases showing interest, respect and honouring the cultures of the Amazon. Ironically and sadly, many Peruvians, whether mestizo or indigenous, are turning their backs on the ancestral cultures, their old ways of life, their traditional medicine and even their indigenous identity. For example, many Shipibo kids that move to the city of Pucallpa from their home villages are embarrassed and often afraid to speak their native language. They attempt to hide the fact they are Shipibo wanting to “fit in”, wearing western clothes, speaking only Spanish, in fear of recrimination and racism from the westernized mestizo counterparts.

Due to the work of our NGO, the Temple has established close relationships with many indigenous leaders across the Peruvian Amazon, from community chiefs (apus), leaders of local / regional indigenous federations to the national indigenous federation of the Peruvian Amazon – AIDESEP. As an alleged AIDESEP worker, I am surprised that you are not aware that your President, Alberto Pizango (who is himself a curandero) has attended ceremony, at the Temple and is in total support of our work. He even contacts us when needing a bottle of ayahuasca sometimes when he visits Iquitos…
We work with many indigenous leaders as brothers and friends united together against the “real” foes – greedy mega corporations and corrupt officials – whether they are western or Peruvian. The issue is integrity, not race / color / creed / indigenous v gringo, etc. We are human beings and essentially all interrelated and interconnected – if you have worked with ayahuasca on a deep level you will understand this.

We have worked with indigenous leaders who had never drunk ayahuasca and have had no connection with or interest in plant spirits due to their communities being evangelised through missionary activity over the last 50 years. On their rivers, traditional medicine has been demonized and practically wiped out often leaving healers to have become legacies of the past or even killed. Please see here for a video from our NGO of the President of AIDESEP filmed at the Temple:

Also please read an article written by Alianza Arkana about the shaman killings discussed in the video – http://alianzaarkana.org/blog/entry/perus-top-indigenous-leader-says-industry-traffickers-behind-shaman-slayings

Alberto is clearly pointing out industrial development, missionary activity and ultimately capitalism as the reason for the killings – these are the real reasons for the demise of traditional medicine in the Amazon, not foreign interest in ayahuasca.

Traditional medicine has often been replaced – if communities are ‘fortunate to receive support from regional government – with “postas” (small medical posts filled with pharmaceutical drugs) or else they have to travel often for days to hospitals in the nearest large town / city. Indigenous leaders have attended ceremonies at the Temple, experienced awe at the beauty and healing potential of the medicine (the same experience as most westerners) and reconnected with their ancestors and the spirits of their forest. They now frequently come to the Temple for cleansing and fortification to assist with their roles as the defenders of their people and land against the real issue – industrial development and materialism.

I do not hear them talking about our work as “an affront to tribal dignity by commercializing for private gain tribal traditions, ceremonies, icaros, prayers, and other sacred rites” but instead I am regularly blessed with their gratitude and support for our work which values their medicine, has helped them to reclaim their ancestral plant spirit medicine culture at a (western owned) facility that deeply honors their traditions and supports them with their struggles to defend their rights. This is the move towards a true global community (common unity) which stands against the current system that divides, conquers and drives separation.

In addition, we are committed to developing credibility both in Peru and the West about plant spirit based traditional medicinal. If carried out with integrity and good intention, then traditional medicine of the Amazon offers profound benefit to many people – both Peruvian and Western – any good healing / medicine should be available to anybody needing it. We value the traditional healthcare system of the Amazon that offers hope to us as a species and should not be limited only to people who live in the Amazon. We are a global community. At one point in time, plant based medicines were used across the planet although this knowledge is practically lost. We are working hard to ensure that it is not lost here in the Amazon which is in direct opposition to what has happened previously with white man’s invasion of indigenous territories. It is important to note too that many healers (not all) want to share this knowledge with westerners in order to ensure the continuation of the practice and for their knowledge not to be lost.

Mental and physical dis-ease rates are increasing exponentially across the planet despite trillions of dollars being invested in (synthetic, drug based) medical research. Is it a coincidence that 60% of the consumption of psychiatric drugs is by the American population which represent 5% of world population? The Amazon contains more plant species and natural medicines than any other place on the planet. If a plant was found in Tibet that cured cancer, should this plant only be available for Tibetans or should anybody who needs the plant be able to benefit from its healing potential? Should following a Buddhist practice be limited only to people from Tibet or Nepal? Should practicing yoga be outlawed to all people living outside India?

Experienced healers – typically Peruvian although there are an increasing number of kind, caring, well intentioned westerners too – enter into a training / education that lasts for up to 10 years in order to become fully fledged “curanderos” (Onanya in Shipibo). They pass through different stages, classes, tests, etc in order to graduate to full healers. We respect this education as well as the fact that becoming a healer is a difficult, arduous and long term path that requires much dedication and perseverance – no different in the length of training to western conventional doctors.

The growth of interest in Amazonian traditional medicine can be a positive development provided it is managed with integrity. For many years healers of the Amazon have been demonized and their practices marginalised, ending up with many abandoning the traditions and their children no longer showing an interest in ancestral knowledge and the ways of the sabios (elders / wise people) of the villages. However, now within the current shift and with consciousness evolving, people from “developed” countries are realising that we need to return back to embracing natures systems and healing solutions. Amazonian healers are becoming recognised as offering a healthcare system with profound benefit. There is hope now that Amazonian medicine will not be lost and the rise in interest from westerners offers a way for this system and its practitioners to develop the respect and appreciation that they deserve.

As Wade Davis states, “Cultural survival is not about preservation, sequestering indigenous peoples in enclaves like some sort of zoological specimens. Change itself does not destroy a culture. All societies are constantly evolving. Indeed a culture survives when it has enough confidence in its past and enough say in its future to maintain its spirit and essence through all the changes it will inevitably undergo. ”

What is critical is an approach that is firmly committed to developing credibility, valuing this system as a valid and highly beneficial healthcare practice, ensuring that it is not exploited or used for manipulative purposes (as yes, is unfortunately sometimes the case…) and implementing a model that focused on the greater good of the community at large – throughout the Amazon. Essentially, a socially responsible, not for profit model that is purpose driven on affecting positive social change, preserving traditions as well as committed to the protection of the environment.

One of the net results of working with Amazonian medicine is the often positive effect on the person drinking the medicine (although not everybody – some prefer to remain in a negative space which is then amplified by the medicine to highlight their flaws attempting to “awaken” them from their illusion, judgement, blame, etc…). However, those who are willing to face their shadow side often develop a new ecological world view. They establish the right relationship with themselves, and people / the world around them giving rise to tremendous energy and commitment for environmental action. Such actions are peaceful and lead towards ecological sustainability. Connecting to our “ecological self”, an expanded sense of self that includes an identification with all beings and the biosphere as a whole, often precipitates passionate engagement in environmental action motivated not by duty but by love for the web of creation – this is what many people who come to the Temple are feeling which then gives rise to joy, which gives rise to involvement, which in turn leads to feeling committed to act and not stand by – extending care to humans and deepening care for all life on the planet.

Since the world’s resources are finite, we cannot continue to grow and multiply and consume without destroying everything and thereby destroying ourselves. So even from a purely pragmatic point of view, our behaviour and our ways of thinking need to change if our species is to survive. Only by changing the way we see the world and by changing the way that we have been relating to our fellow creatures and to Nature in general can we hope to prevent ourselves from damaging the planets ecosystems beyond repair and sending our own species – as well as so many others – to extinction. Working with ayahuasca helps us to open our eyes to the issues that we face across the planet and to see the planetary ecosystem as a whole (rather than humans) as being of central importance in everything and at all times.

I also feel that our species has a hunger for meaning and a deep sense of connectedness. Ayahuasca can offer this. Only when that deeper meaning is restored to our lives can we ever feel completely whole and happy. And only then can we do our part to change things for the better, working from the heart rather than the head, doing our part from passion and love of the Earth rather than from duty, fear, coercion or political correctness.

This hunger for lost connectedness can also find us looking longingly at some of the world’s last remaining indigenous peoples and hoping that in them small reservoirs exist of some primordial wisdom that we lost touch with a long time ago. We tend to sentimentalize such things – but at least we are on the track of something important. There is wisdom and knowledge of how to connect with Nature that has been kept by the healers of the Amazon although this is fast becoming lost due to all the reasons I am stating in this post.
However working with traditional medicine practices in the Amazon – ie learning from the plants – teaches ‘anybody’ who is willing to truly ‘see’ the truth ie through their own shadow, conditioning, mind concepts and illusions. The plants and true healers are not interested in what nationality you are. The indigenous wisdom that is left in the Amazon through the practice of the healers is about the bond between humans and the Earth. It is not about racism, them and us, etc. The plants themselves do not wish to choose who to heal and who to teach – they are willing to work with anybody who comes with the right approach to the medicine.

Times are changing fast and Earth based wisdom has been wiped out across most of the planet – if we don’t show an interest in preserving it then it will be lost for good by the system that has already destroyed our own ancient / indigenous knowledge. As a species, all inter-connected, those of us not in agreement with the direction we are moving in need to look at ways to reclaim our lost sense of the sacred to be used in a modern age working together, not isolated by colour or nationality, etc. Let’s not look back romantically at some imagined golden past.

Our species may have come dangerously close to destroying our world through our ignorance, our greed, our misunderstanding of our true nature, but finally we are beginning to understand what we need to do to put ourselves back on course and steer ourselves forwards to safety, to sanity, to right relationship with the planet / universe that birthed us.

Often people who work with ayahuasca experience for the first time a sense of being completely at one with Nature. That the ecosystem is conscious, intelligent and valuable. Human beings – whatever country they come from – can often experience feelings of tremendous liberation and expansion of consciousness, joy and energy – a truly spiritual experience breaking free from the conditions that have held us trapped in our minds due to the current mechanistic thinking that is destroying our planet. Ayahuasca offers the ability to experience the opening of our perception of what is ‘reality’ and to see Nature not as a dead machine there for the use of human beings but instead a pristine recognition of the vast being of living Nature.

Nature offers an extraordinary potential to teach us as a species in terms of how to live and relate to the world around us. It offers knowledge that can drive us towards the realization of new potentials. Ayahuasca in Shipibo is called Oni – meaning knowledge. Shipibo healers are called Onaya – those who have knowledge. This knowledge comes from Nature and can give us as a species – a biocommunity – the potential of resilience in times of crisis and provide the building blocks for future innovation, fundamentally through reclaiming natural medicines and an understanding of plant spirit healing.

The Temple and our associated projects are working hard to develop a new vision in the Amazon that offers the opposite to the capitalist model. It is through our work and relationship with indigenous healers and the plants of the Amazon that we have been shown this potential.

Human beings can either be the destroyers or the self-elected stewards of our planet. We have the capacity to put our ethics into action, to ‘walk our talk’. We can create the potential for a powerful, beneficial relationship with the Earth. We can become stewards for our world whilst still maintaining an openness and humility to accept Nature as perhaps our most powerful and wisest of teachers. What a culture we could build if these two perspectives were the bedrock of our civilisation!

We are witnessing many guests (western, mestizo, and indigenous) who come to the Temple awaken to a commitment to act against the destruction that ensues across the planet – specifically here in the Amazon. The Temple, in our own small way through both our healing work and the work of our NGO, is trying to do something about this and not stand aside and watch without any action. Ecological justice needs to take pride of place.

“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us ‘universe’, a part of limited time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest…a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of Nature in its beauty” – Albert Einstein

I therefore propose that the model that we are working with, which essentially is recognising the greater whole, embraces Nature, is anti-capitalism / anti-materialism and is focused on us all working together for the protection of indigenous traditions and territories – irrelevant of our nationality – is a positive step forwards in terms of working with ayahuasca. I feel that this is far removed from “grave robbing indigenous traditions”. I also feel that the nationality of the owner of a healing centre working with traditional medicine plays no part in its intention. I know of many mestizo or indigenous shaman, some of who own centres, whose focus is simply profiting from foreigners who wish to experience ayahuasca. The intention, integrity and focus on social / environmental responsibility of the lodge owner is the key – not their nationality.

To conclude, I suggest that a code of operation is written up, in conjunction with / by AIDESEP, for lodges that are working ethically and with a model of total social responsibility and that an element (all?) of their profit is allocated to community based projects working on sustainability. I would then recommend that this code is followed by all ayahuasca centres working with foreigners – irrelevant of the nationality of their owner. I also feel strongly that a set of strict safety protocols also need to be adhered to in all centres that are offering ayahuasca to foreign guests. It is of course not correct to impose modern protocols on traditional use of the medicine in the villages although due to various recent events and simply good medicine practice, centres for foreigners should be working with higher safety provisions.

Thank you for providing the opportunity for the important subjects in this thread to be discussed. Now let’s try to agree on peaceful and positive solutions to the real issues?

In Peace and solidarity with indigenous people of the Amazon,


23 Matthew November 21, 2012 at 3:38 pm

In response to Chulla ‘Chucky’ – otherwise known as Boo on other forums.

Once again you have decided to continue your long term vendetta against me although I welcome the opportunity again to respond for the last time.

I am as always rather busy working on many projects that actually focus on bringing positive change here in the Amazon so therefore can’t afford too much time responding to this post (which is saying nothing new to previous posts about me!)

Although the (repetitive) content of all of your numerous and repetitive posts from the last 2.5 years, over various different chat sites, is clearly coming from a very negative perspective with obvious intentions to cause harm to the Temple / defile me with slander and disinformation in an attempt to cause people to question our (hard and heartfelt) work, I have empathy for you. It is obvious you carry much pain although when truly working deeply with the medicine, it is made obvious to the seeker (who is ready to face their own shadow) that these type of emotions result from energies that have not been resolved / cleaned.

Therefore, it is best that I simply refer you and anybody reading your post against me to the same reply I have offered to all of your previous posts about me:

The only other comments to respond to that aren’t answered in my reply above to “the anonymous AIDESEP worker” (which could also be you 😉 are here:

“People are under the impression that a trip to Iquitos puts one on the road to becoming a shaman. I have seen programs in which levels of attainnment are controlled by the “shaman”. (I do know of some albergues that actually assign ranks to participants and give certificates on completion of the “shamanic study course”.)”

I can only speak for the Temple but my opinion is that a 12 day workshop or even our 3 month program is simply a (deep) healing experience. I have never made any assertions or claims that we offer a road to becoming a healer…

“And don’t forget about money, which is a very important aspect of shamanism. Now one can choose from any number of programs suited for one’s “goal”. Of course, the best are the ones in which the Gringoes have their greedy little paws involved. These retreats charge upwards of thousands of dollars and promise all sorts of revelations and spiritual advancement. Some of these albergues are generating a lot of wealth, but the wealth is the Gringo’s even though he may say his goal is to “save the rainforest, save the tribe, etc.” All of this is just another phony pretext for the Gringo to imbed his greedy self in the scene and create a money-producing investment. (Just check out the prices of some of these “centres for enlightenment”.) The kicker is that Gringoes flock to these charlatans and sing their praises to the power they have beheld and experienced.”

It may be time that you checked out the work of Alianza Arkana, speak maybe to some of the indigenous leaders that we work with or the international NGO’s that support our work (Atossa Soltani – the founder of Amazon Watch – may be a good start). I have nothing to defend and our actions will speak much more clearly than my words.

“I have spoken to numerous employees of the Gringo shamans, and I can say that most are not treated particularly well, and their pay is not at all comensurate with the prices being charged by the charlatans and paid for by the naive Gringoes.”

I am not sure if this is a reference to the Temple but we pay our healers and staff extremely good wages. All are happy, enjoy working at the Temple and assist with the work of our NGO. There will always be ex staff members who will carry grudges if they have been fired due to dishonest activity, getting drunk, falling asleep on the job, etc – it is a fact of life in Peru and anywhere in the world that running a large organisation always comes with its issues of which I deal with fairly, with integrity and my conscious is (very) clear about all decisions that have been made of the last 6 years.

“There is a humorous story about a “shaman” (read that as businessman) from a foreign country, who came down here and involved himself with building a centre for “enlightenment”. After ejecting the local he took advantage of to build up his “empire”, this shamman announced to his eager followers that he envisioned himself on a golden throne, with his lady by his side, also seated on a golden throne. He works all the angles, employing female shamans and using gimmick of “feminine power”. All of this, of course, is about as phony and insincere as one can get. And this phony shaman charges a hefty price to impart his “wisdom and experience”.”

This is clearly a reference to me and is rather amusing as well as filled with lies. It is the same defiling libelous angle that you have used in all your other posts. The link I previously added makes comment about this defaming addiction you seem to have although just to add a little more for the record here – I have never had a vision of myself on a golden throne with my wife by my side, I am not a shaman nor have ever stated I am to anybody, I employ no gimmicks, there are probably now hundreds of people (foreign and indigenous) who would disagree with you re my sincerity, any wisdom comes from the plants not me, my experience is offered as many people ask me how I came to the medicine.

“And since what we call shamanism is in a very ambiguous arena, anything goes. The word shamanism is such a misnomer in itself. There is no “ism’ in shamanism. There are no tenets, no doctrines and no scripture. All of the teaching and learning come from the Plant itself.”

Hooray – we agree 😉

“After establishing a relationship with Ayahuasca, the need for an intermediary becomes less necessary. “

It takes a maestro or maestra to guide the learning process – ie dieting with plants – in order to know how to prepare the apprentices system, protect the system, open pathways, etc. It is not possible to diet properly without a Maestro to begin with but after many years dieting, then it is. So we almost agree again – great 

“But it seems few people are at this stage. Mostly they come here on a 2-week shamanic tour, leaving Iquitos as “qualified shamans-in-training”.”

People who come to the Temple come for healing and to begin the journey to reclaim a primordial birth right to a connection with Nature that has been lost due to mechanistic and materialist conditioning as well as deficiencies in the western healthcare model.

“Ayahuasca is not about us”.

Ayahausca is about everyone and everything within the interrelated web of Life. It is about connection, truth, and love. The Shipibo word for ayahuasca is rather telling – Oni – which means knowledge; of ourselves, of our interconnectedness, of our true / right relationship with ourselves and Nature.

I would sincerely like to find a way to create some peace and understanding with a view to you releasing the vendetta you have against me and the Temple. Unless your motives are coming from a more sinister place working for the very same people who wish to see traditional medicine destroyed and the continuation of the depletion of our planets resources, then I ask you to kindly check out any aspect of our work. I truly hope that there is some way that you can begin to see that your lies are unfounded.

At this point I graciously bow out from any further responses to negative comments from you about me. My posts hopefully offer sufficient response to your comments. I welcome a change in your heart and I would appreciate positive support from you if your intentions are truly in the interest of the indigenous people / healers of the Amazon.

In Peace,


24 Matthew November 21, 2012 at 3:42 pm

In response to Ken and ‘It’s about time’:

Thank you for your interesting attempt at calculating the costs of running healing centre and providing me an opportunity to set the record straight – this is unfortunately an assumption that I have seen many people make over the years when looking to guess costs. I can only speak about the Temple and not for others although I can say your suppositions are way off for most of the larger healing centres that cater for foreign guests.

Running a sizable healing facility incurs considerable costs. If that centre is also focused on giving back to the local / Amazon community at large then it also needs to generate sufficient income above covering overheads.

A significant amount of funds have been invested (and continue to be invested) into the Temple infrastructure to ensure that we are able to offer the very best to our guests, our healers, our staff, the local communities, and indigenous communities throughout the Amazon. This is one of the reasons why we now have such a great reputation – because we care and we have much experience with knowing what are guests’, healers’, staff’s and community’s needs are. The Temple provides an infrastructure (physically and in terms of human resources) that ensures the very best healing experience for guests who visit us and very best “working experience” for everybody who is working at the Temple.

We are not a “luxury” resort – in fact I do not view our work as tourism at all – yet are able to offer a certain standard and level of service that is necessary to work with western guests. We also offer free treatments to local and indigenous people from throughout the Peruvian Amazon. Fundamentally and aside from the infrastructure, much of our monthly expenses are due to high staff levels (with excellent wages – we adhere to Peruvian employment regulations and are a socially responsible organisation) as well as cost of food and materials (which we currently have to bring into the Temple from Iquitos).

We work with a huge amount of ayahuasca due to the numbers of guests as well as a significant amount of other Amazonian medicinal plants – some of which grow locally but also many that we need to purchase in the Belen market in Iquitos. We have however planted hundreds of these plants and look forward to being able to start harvesting them next year.

In order to offer the level of care, service, safety and support that is available at the Temple, we operate with a staff of around 50 people including 12 healers (who are paid more than doctors in hospitals in Iquitos), 4 facilitators, 4 cooks, 5 cleaners, 7 maintenance staff, 2 gardeners, 3 permaculturists, a security team, 2 coordinators in Iquitos, a booking manager, an accountant, a book keeper, a lawyer, 2 boat drivers, 2 taxi drivers and a team of around 30 porters. Our team is spread between 2 separate centres that make up the Temple (one for 12 day workshop guests and one for 3 month work exchange guests), some are based outside the Temple in Iquitos and one overseas.

The Temple is comprised of 47 buildings spread over 2 separate centres (of which require regular repair due to jungle conditions), with comfortable sleeping accommodations, 2 kitchens using quality cooking equipment (we use steel not aluminium pots for example – better for health when cooking) and running water. We provide food for around 100 people (guests, volunteers and staff) per month (split between separate centres – the main Temple and the work exchange centre). Until our permaculture projects are able to supply sufficient food to become fully sustainable, we are still having to purchase and transport materials to the Temple which is 2 hours by mototaxi, boat and porters through the forest – this is a significant cost.

We are a serious operation and are passionate about the work we carry out, committed to providing a high level of care to our guests and deeply dedicated to affecting positive change in the Amazon.

There is absolutely no exploitation or profiteering happening at the Temple.

Thank you once again for the opportunity to set the record straight specifically re our costs.

In Peace,


25 Lawrence Journeys November 21, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Can I ask my question again?

Was this article was written or approved by AIDESEP or by an anonymous individual?

26 Matthew November 22, 2012 at 6:28 pm

I have just spoken with Alberto Pizango (President of AIDESEP) on the phone and can confirm that AIDESEP has not issued any such statement – officially or unofficially – declaring any of the comments alleged by the anonymous author. In addition, AIDESEP is not looking to take any legal action against any ayahuasca lodges.

I hope that this clarification clears up the legitimacy of the author and the statement.

I do completely agree with the author however that if foreigners (and Peruvians) are exploiting ayahuasca solely for profit with no true interest in the healing process of the guest, then this is highly inappropriate.


27 It's about time November 22, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Oh yea, this dude is no charlatan

28 It's about time November 22, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Please check this guys website, I have had the pleasure of never meeting him but the BS is sooooooo thick here I am going to need my high rubber boots to get through it.

five thousand soles for twelve days. No profiteering? Fifty percent money back if canceled. You should have just kept quiet Einstein .

There are luxury lodges that charge that much and have real costs,
fuel, buffet meals, outboard motors. municipal and federal Permits, fifty + workers with insurance and health benefits, offices in Iquitos

I hope you really do the permaculture projects because a lot of guys say they do this type of work but in the end they are just covering their greedy asses

Matthew don’t take this personally and don’t write so long it makes you seem desperate to hide your guilt!

The most important thing you do when you find yourself in a a hole is to stop digging!- warren buffet

29 James Richardson November 23, 2012 at 10:31 am

If AIDSEP did not make this declaration..then they are truly not representing the rights and well being of the indigenous peoples. Matthew, I have learned that a nod of approval or a smile does not mean that indigenous people approve..it is there way of avoiding conflict and being polite.

30 Matthew November 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Its about time – you are right that my post was too long. I have no experience or interest in writing on blogs – I have typically always avoided getting involved in tit for tat conversations on blogs where negative energies and bitterness run rife so I prefer to focus on working outside of cyberspace with people who are actually trying to do some good, not just throw bitter insults filled with judgement, assumptions, etc.

James – I have many indigenous friends, visit their communities, attend ceremonies together, spend time chatting until the early hours of the morning with them about their struggles, stand side by side with them in protects, support their legal representation (http://www.defensaindigena.org.pe – we fund ALL of the Iquitos operation) – this goes way beyond approving nods and smiles.

Indigenous politics is however complicated (like any politics) and I do not have a romantic view on what is happening here – it is not a black and white situation / “Indians v Big Oil”, etc – there is much corruption, under the table deals, games being played (with oil companies AND NGOS’s), etc. However, this is not a reason to not support the indigenous people who ARE genuinely trying to defend their people and land.

It seems it doesn’t really matter what I say; people in this blog are hell bent on remaining in an angry space, ignoring clear answers to their ‘concerns’ (which I doubt they really care about that much anyway) preferring to continue to hurl insults at people who are actually working hard to support positive change.

“You can lead a horse to water but you cant make it drink…”

Thank you for the lesson in this – my energies are better spent off this blog doing what I do best, working in the real world, with people who actually truly care.

31 Matthew November 23, 2012 at 1:27 pm

correction to comment above: not protects – I meant protests

32 James Richardson November 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Matthew, I am not trying to be negative and to hurl insults your way. I am sorry if you interpreted my comments in that manner. I was expressing my views on the original post from an AIDESEP worker…whether an actual representative of the organization or not I support those views and I detest those who intentionally profit from their cultural beliefs and practices.

I applaud you if you are supporting the indigenous peoples in their struggles.

33 Matthew November 23, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Thank you James – I appreciate your reply

FYI – Please see our latest blog – http://alianzaarkana.org/media-room/blog-latest-news/entry/catching-the-oil-industry-in-the-act-the-pathos-and-power-of-a-photograph

Aurelio Chino Dahua – leader of the the Quechua on the Pastaza – is a good friend who regularly visits the Temple.

34 Chullachaqui November 24, 2012 at 9:07 am

Couple of questions Matthew.

When your clients pay for one of your retreats , is it paid into a bank account here in Peru or elsewhere?

Do you pay tax on all of your income in Peru?

If you want to help the indiginous why dont you charge less for your retreats and allow your Clients to donate to a cause of their own choosing?

35 Matthew November 24, 2012 at 10:36 am


In Peru, yes and please be realistic – that probably wouldn’t happen that often / what other NGO’s are there in the Peruvian Amazon that combine working on environmental justice, human rights, intercultural education and permaculture? Some guests then also make additional voluntary donations to our NGO on top of the fee.

36 Matthew November 24, 2012 at 10:58 am

If you want to help the indiginous why dont you charge less for your retreats and allow your Clients to donate to a cause of their own choosing?

If we did that, then how would we be supporting indigenous people ourselves!?

37 AIDESEP worker November 24, 2012 at 12:35 pm

From the very start of the Conquest, from the first cinnamon expedition, to cinchona, to rubber, to logging, to ayahuasca, plants have always taken precedence over people in the Amazon. For when most people think of the Amazon they think of a river or a forest, but not the people in the forest. Here unfortunately most people can’t see the people for the trees. Where as on the contrary when most people think of China or India they think of people. And there unfortunately most people can’t see the trees for the people. So knowing the terrible history of this place is it any wonder that these opportunistic aya lodges get away with exploiting both their indigenous sources and their guests? And is it any wonder that these money minded foreigners unethically elbowed there way into shamanic circles here. Though Native Amazonian cultures have a history of their shamans using psychotropic plants as banisters (banisteriopsis) along borders of ‘other worlds’, this wasn’t something they commercialized or even shared with many tribal members. No, the gringos created that. And wh at lodge gives anything back to the Shipibo or other tribes? WHAT AN ABUSE!
When Casement wrote in 1912 that, “To be a trader in Iquitos is a very perilous occupation for one’s integrity or sense of right and wrong,” he could well have been talking about the foreign owned ayahuasca lodges in 2012. We all know how long a business would last if someone in the US or Canada started commercializing Native American peyote circles. But here one just needs enough money to start a web-site, hire a Native shaman for cheap, build a few shitters, and boil up some bark and you’re in business. Now isn’t that free enterprise for ya at it’s best! Enterprising yes, but free no. For there is a price, more than monetary. But tell me why do most foreigners here agree, I believe, that for anyone to commercialize Native peyote circles is rightly illegal and an affront to tribal integrity and dignity; but commercializing Native ayahuasca sessions is alright? I wonder if that thing called money has something to do with it? And why do we mostly all agree that it’s not ok for foreigners to come here and “rob” Native tribes of their, gold, oil, trees, graves; but to “rob”, or enrich themselves, if you would, off Native ceremonies is allowed? Perhaps just like Afrodite and other (mostly Canadian) foreign owned mining companies operating here on Native lands led to the morphing of the name Bagua and gave the lexicon a new word, ‘baguazaccion’; so here in this cultural strip mining context, these foreign owned aya lodges may give us a new word like ayahuascazaccion, i.e., the foreign commercialization of Native traditions. According to international laws these ceremonies belong to the tribe and forbid foreigners any opportunistic commercialization. I find it very revealing and interesting that foreign ayahuasca ‘pilgrims’ do not understand this. Only because of the ineptness of the Peruvian government and the tractableness and poverty of the Natives can these foreign lodges get away with what they do. And to use the excuse how ayahuasca lodges help the local economy was also said about the rubber business and we know what that led to. Nor does the amount paid to shaman, for it is irrelevant. And remember Arana acted like a real refined gentleman, so the excuse that some of the aya lodge owners are nice people doesn’t cut it. They are out of place. I would like to see them try to set up a lodge amongst the Jibaros sometimes, for they would find their heads hanging as shrunken tsantsas.
What we would like is a list of all the foreign owned ayahuasca lodges using shamans here in the Iquitos area. If someone could help provide this it would be very appreciated. Please post it here.These lodges will be reported to AIDESEP and other organizations for future action. Peru was a signatory to international conventions and the Native people here want to see that it lives up to it. Though we all know how justice has often drowned in a sea of signatory ink this continued abuse leaves no alternative but to condemn them.

by an AIDESEP worker

38 Lawrence Journeys November 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm

@ AIDESEP worker.

Im going to ask this question again and directly at you.

Are you posting this with the approval of AIDESEP?

39 aidesep worker November 24, 2012 at 2:33 pm

mr Lawrence of Ayahuascarabia,
You are barking up the wrong tree asking if I work with Alberto Pizango. It is really irrelevant who I work for. Remember that saying,¨The law is the law.¨? Will you kindly reveal your gross income of the Temple of Darkness since 1998 to us all please ? Then we will know how much you owe the Shipìpo tribe and the gov´t for ripping off their collective tribal rites and taxes. Why don´t you open a temple at Stonehenge?

40 Lawrence Journeys November 24, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Just for the record I have absolutely no connection to The Temple Of the Way Of Light or any persons connected to the Temple Of The Way Of Light.

@ AIDESEP worker, now that you’ve pretty much informed that you have no connection to AIDESEP and that you are an anonymous party who chose to imply some kind of connection to AIDESEP, without their permission or knowledge in order to make a private point I see absolutely no point in engaging in any dialogue with you.

The tree Ive been barking up is- I really question the owner of this blogs judgement in publishing your post on his blog.

Heres my question to you Captain Bill, did you check any of the facts or take any references before publishing this AIDESEP workers post on your blog.

41 Matthew November 24, 2012 at 3:53 pm

“AIDESEP worker” – yes it is relevant who you work for as the entire legitimacy of your post is founded on you stating you work for AIDESEP – which you clearly don’t.

Therefore, you are clearly just a rather unhappy and angry person making personal opinions masquerading as someone working for AIDESEP.

As mentioned, I have spoken with Alberto, the leader of AIDESEP, who knows nothing about this blog and confirms that the contents of this blog are not coming from AIDESEP.

I have also sent him a link to this blog. He may find time to add his points…

To further clarify this, if they had made any such announcement, then they would post any declarations on their own official website – http://www.aidesep.org.pe/ – not on a restaurant blog site…

42 James Richardson November 24, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Regardless of the ligitimate connection with AIDESEP, I agree with the points raised by the so called aidesep worker. Based on my experience here, there are very few people involved in the Ayahuasca business who are truly committed to ultruism. Rather, they are interested in the almighty dollar which they make by masquerading as experts on the culture of the indigenous peoples. For starters, to truly understand a culture you must speak the language of the culture.

43 Captain Bill November 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm

To Lawrence Journeys, and all concerned; please read and take note of the last sentence below the article in question; “The views expressed by this author are not necessarily the views of Bill Grimes, Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises, or the Captain’s Blog”.

When I read it, I felt his passion. The author printed an abbreviated version and posted it all around Iquitos. People are talking about this on the street and in the cafes. I provided a forum for Matthew to express the other side of the story which I believe he did admirably. I know the author of the article. I would have preferred he use his real name. I prefer for all people use their real names for guest posts and comments. For instance you Lawrence Journeys. Chullachaqui? It’s About Time? However it is common on the internet to disguise identity with a false name, and authors have done it long before the Gutenberg press, and probably before papyrus.

Matthew, my humble little blog is admittedly far below some “official website” but it is not a “restaurant blog site”, it is “About the upper Amazon River, the Amazon rainforest, Iquitos Peru, and Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises.” There are 420 articles on many subjects. One of the categories is titled Ayahuasca, with 20 articles, all are guest posts, expressing many different view points. Out of curiosity I just checked my Google Analytics, 22,074 page views in the last 30 days, 623 page views for What You Should Know About Foreign Owned Ayahuasca Lodges from when it was published on October 30 until November 24, and the average time on the article has been 6 minutes and 29 seconds. We have a small, but interested audience.

Thank you for your attention. Without you dear reader, this would only be another diary in the drawer to be read no more.

My best,
Bill Grimes

44 James Richardson November 25, 2012 at 7:56 pm

I rarely interact with expats here as I am totally immersed with family and friends in Loreto. Bill, your Blog allows me to keep in touch with what is going on…. I am able to feel a bit of the pulse of the expat community through your blog. It is interesting , well organized and your soft but firm hand keeps things under control.

45 Lawrence Journeys November 26, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Hi Bill

Yes, I saw your disclaimer right from the get go.

Bill, as you already know my handle “Lawrence Journeys” is an alias rather than a cloak. Theres a big difference, particually when the cloaked party mis-represents who they are.

Bill, are you familiar with Tribe.net? Where a similar anonymous party has been running a similar campaign to “AIDESEP worker’s”. In my opinion the anonymous campaign on Tribe has suffocated all activity on Tribe and I quite honestly resent these anonymous parties doing such things. If someone has something to say then have the backbone to turn around and say it and make it count by being honest and straightforward.

In 2008 I was on a return trip to the Ucayali, at the same time there was a woman who was organizing a craft and textile project with a group of Shipibo women. Although I wasnt involved I acted as a delivery man while on my travels along the river. I saw first hand how important this income was to these people. Again she was accused of exploiting native people, their crafts and traditions. I didnt agree with that judgement then and I dont think I agree with similar claims made here. The woman has since ceased with the project, although on my last return trip I must have had 20 or so women come and ask when she was coming back with more work and money for them. I cant help it, I just like projects that help people. Anyone who’s been here and Im talking going a bit further than Yarinochocha will know that this is a very poor region.

My suggestion to you Bill , if you dont mind….tell your anonymous friend to come into the light, as far as their true identity and then people like me may take them seriously.

46 James Richardson November 26, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I have no problem with NGO´s or ultuistic minded people passing on marketing skills, networking skills or other busness oriented expertise to aid the indigenous peoples. They then can use their new found expertise to generate an economy. I knew many people who have done that as individuals or through NGO´s such as a lady who helped women in a village up the Yarapa (Puerto Miguel) years ago market and sell their handicrafts. Nothing wrong with that. Indeed, it is far different than masquerading as an expert and making money off the cuture as many of the Ayahuasca tourist traps do here.

47 Joe Vaish November 26, 2012 at 10:24 pm

I have enjoyed reading posts on the Captain’s blog before, but this particular post really strikes me as arbitrary, capricious and rather simple-minded. I would hope in the future that Mr. Grimes will be a little more discerning in what he posts, regardless of any disclaimer.

48 James Richardson November 27, 2012 at 6:55 am

¨Arbitrary, capricious and simple-minded¨..Geez Bill, you now have your censor work cut out for you and must determine whether a subject fits the taste of Mr Joe Vaish. I personally found this post interesting as it touches on ultruism and provides a perspective on cutural proprietorship,,,but then I am simple-minded and believe that healthy rigorous debate, regardless of the subject, sustains democracy and opens your mind to new ideas and conflicting perspectives.

49 Chullachaqui November 27, 2012 at 9:11 am

Well said James.

Now in response to Lawrence . You say it’s OK for foriegners to go to foriegn countries, get the locals to produce there handicrafts, which you buy for pennies and then you return home and add 1,000% “mark up” on the goods and sell them, while saying “I help indiginous people”. That’s exploitation too.

I’m sure the poorly paid cocoa nut pickers in the Ivory Coast are very grateful to Cadbury’s for keeping them in work.

It’s explitation just like those foriegn owned ayahuasca lodges.

Thank You Captain Bill for providing this forum.

50 It's about time November 27, 2012 at 12:45 pm

And yet another simple minded individual with no clue to what they are talking about.
Vaish- this is a real problem with real people with a real substance that depending on the person who prepares it, has the fate of your well being in their hands.
There are documented tragedies such as death, rape and insanity of visiting tourists due to the consumption of bad ayahuasca and lack of responsibility of individuals that claim to be “shamans”
It is greatly needed an organization here in Peru that controls the consumption of this business. Not only for the security of people genuinely looking for treatment or a cure to an illness wether it be with ayahuasca or not but for the real medicine man who have learned from only the best when it comes to holistic healing.

There are real medicine men out there that cure terminal illnesses and for the mean time they are muted out by the overwhelming amount of wannabes and irresponsible charlatans

James, it seems that you know what you are talking about. How cool

51 Joe Vaish November 27, 2012 at 10:10 pm

“I am simple-minded and believe that healthy rigorous debate, regardless of the subject, sustains democracy and opens your mind to new ideas and conflicting perspectives.”

No. I have worked with Ayahuasca for several years, with shamans in Peru and Columbia, mostly Shipibo and Cofan, and studied many other modalities before that. The article is poorly written and inflammatory and childish. It wouldn’t be censorship not to publish a shitty article. Again, you and your “friend” go on about “fake” shamans but cite no real examples. Yes, there are curanderos who aren’t legit, including brujos/brujas, but they were there long before the “white-man” came. It’s patently obvious you have no real experience with the medicine, and if you did, well…you can lead a horse to water…

52 It's about time November 27, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Oh no, another that “works” with ayahuasca

53 Joe Vaish November 28, 2012 at 5:24 am

@It’s about time…
Oh great, another self-righteous defender of the helpless natives. Oh thank you oh great one. You are so wise and insightful.

Also, just wanted to, sincerely, thank Matthew for the well-reasoned, cogent response. It’s people like him that are keeping the dream alive.

54 James Richardson November 28, 2012 at 5:57 am

Well Mr Joe Vaish has gone from ¨arbitrary, capricious and simple-minded¨ to ¨poorly written and inflammatory and childish¨ ….oh and it smells too…golly Bill you really have to work on your censorship skills to also include a sense of smell!

55 James Richardson November 28, 2012 at 6:23 am

¨Oh great, another self-righteous defender of the helpless natives¨..those words say alot about one´s perspective!!!

56 It's about time November 28, 2012 at 8:51 am

Physical reaction to comment-
(sigh, shrug and an eye roll while at the same time shaking head slowly side to side)

57 John Doe December 21, 2012 at 2:41 am

These people have survived for thousands of years. Times have changed though, what worked back then doesn’t work anymore.

If they don’t adapt to change they won’t survive no matter what these “do-gooders on a mission to save the poor indigenous people” think or do.

It is brutal, but honest truth. That is the way things are and always have been. Numerous species have disappeared for god for numerous reasons.

I think these gringo owned lodges ARE good to local people there. I am currently saving up thousands of dollars, just to spend it in Iquito. I personally don’t give rats arse if the locals don’t get fair cut from what I pay.

I have no problem using this laptop or my mobile phone or car etc. buying food here in the big old west, KNOWING that there is exploitation involved at all levels of manufacturing and selling all these items.. It is just how things are, greed is part of human landscape, profiteering too.

You can cry crocodile tears all you want about that, but you CAN NOT separate yourself from exploitation and suffering of others. No matter what you do. Pain is pain, whether it is small or large.

How can some people be so naive as to think things wouldn’t change for worse eventually, if all stopped going to gringo owned lodges, and only went to natively owned lodges? It is impossible, as it is against the way things are. Eventually the locals would become influenced and corrupt by the influx of westerners and tourists, better let them be safe in their villages and let some of them work for us. Keeps their way of life a bit longer intact. But eventually their lands will be taken by the stronger, people die or move and things get lost forever.

Always has been, always will be so.

There is absolutely nothing we can do to stop it in the long run.

Just take off the rosy glasses, quit living in your cozy pink fluffy bunny world and join us in the REAL world. A world where people, animals and plants suffer constantly and we are not separate from or above it, no matter how good our intentions or actions might be.

58 fernando libreros December 28, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Reading all the commentaries, I felt vicarious shame. Except you, Bill and perhaps another one, the rest of forists abuse of the modern implicit right of speaking way beyond one´s knowledge. I thank you for your well balanced opinions and promise you that I will get in touch with your Temple of Light. Once I was about to follow the path you did. In an article on Coca, Yagé and the quixotic Plan Colombia, written in June 9, 2001 by Maria Jimenez for the Canada´s National Post and reprinted as a public information by Amazon Spirit Quest,”Transformative workshop retreats exploring the essence of traditional shamanic ayahuasca healing practices and ethno botany in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon”, I was referred to as Fernando Libreros, a Bogota businessman who is writing a book on yagé, plans to establish a non-profit centre in the city where shamans can come and treat patients. “I will help to bring yagé to the people. I believe it is the best and least well-known of all the medicinal plants,” Mr. Libreros said. “This sacred plant has been misunderstood.”  How curious that the “business”vector was the aspect perceived by the journalist when I was writing a book that is now, in perspective, one of the best documented text on the field, a kind of “All-what-you-wanted-to-know-about-Yagé-but-were-afraid-to-ask, with the biggest bibliography ever, about 370 books and articles on Yagé in five languages, bigger than the one collected by Garcia Luna (110 books, or 150, including the 40 collected by Hernando Garcia Barriga, the botanist who wrote “Medicinal Flora from Colombia” in 3 volumes. With ISBN but still unpublished, it has found its way into a top-notch public better that the hell-bent parrots that you got here. Eventually, if you want, I will give you a free copy. I also wrote a second book comparing the Yagé visions with other kind of visions, not just drug induced but also by hypoxia, by trauma, by inanition, by extreme exercise, by tumors, by ecstasies as reported by different religions and sects, etc. I also establish a parallel with visions some historical or legendary characters have had while awaken (Orpheus embracing himself from the sky, Archimedes seeing the infinite-screw at noon, Nicola Tesla seeing the Ac-Dc motor perfectly “painted” on the clouds) or while dreaming (Erwin Schrödinger seeing himself sitting on the sun with the planets around before developing his planetary conception of the atom, Kekulé seeing a snake biting her tail, like the Greek time-symbolizing myth of Ouroboros, before proposing the cyclical structure of the Benzene molecule,etc). A botanist quoted in the Wade Davis’ book The River read my Yagé book (listed on the book written by the New York Times ex-journalist Jimmy Weiskopf, “Yagé, Purgatory or Paradise”) and commented that that he would see the possibility for having it prologued by his colleague Raffauf, the present director of the Harvard Botanical Garden. By telling you all these things I just pretend to compensate your explanatory kindness for all the insults of the wild bunch which pretend to defend the indigenous wisdom without being a little bit wise themselves. By the way, if you want to establish a second temple among the five groups that constitute the Jivaro Nation, perhaps you could get in touch with Dr Josep Maria Fericgla, who wrote the marvelous “Ayahuasca and Cognitive Anthropology”during some years of the ten he spended with the Ashuara and Ashaninka in exchange for sending two of the smartest head-shrinkers to study overseas. This he told me during breakfast the morning when I took him to the Colombian Presidency for a conference on Ayahuasca, taking advantage of my congressial contacts as Chief for the Communitary Development of the Columbian Amazonian State before the 2000. I took Yagé more than 50 times with many shamans, from the Chocoan coast up to the Trifrontier Colombia-Peru-Brazil (plus some times in Cali, Buga, Bogotá, Manaus…) to write my book. The best ones, of course, were with Taita Querubin – the successful challenger of the Yage´s patent- and Jacanamijoy, the shaman pictured in the cover of the Weiskopf´s book, but I have had excellent sessions with very white and very black shamans (without a drop of indigenous blood) and, almost simultaneously, I have had to force in a semi-private way some measures against indigenous shamans (considered demi-gods by anthropologists and ignoramuses like the ones that attacked you) who have abused women while in darkness or robbed men while knocked out with datura-saturated Yagé potions, as can be told by the victims light amnesia and blurred sight the morning after. I agree with the wild bunch in the need of paying better the shaman´s work, helping the communities they belong to and keeping away from them all the scoundrels who try to cheat people pretending to be what they are not or collecting too much for what should be always –up to a point- a service for mankind, but for sure“motherfuckingness” cannot be related to a specific ethnical feature, or cultural background, or nationality, or business interest. Besides, there is more in Yage of what its silly defenders can understand

59 fernando libreros December 28, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Its not Schroedinger, sorry. It´s Niels Bohr. But I have seen Scroedinger´s cat in my visions, quite strong. According to Jacanamijoy. I am the white man who have used more Yagé in just one session: I throwed up with the sixth cup when everybody was throwing up with the first one. I wanted the seventh cup but Jacanamijoy´s wife, thinking that the indigenous people are the know-it-all about plants, denied me that chance. I do not tell you here what I told them about their unbearable ignorance regarding the white men´s way of enhancing the mind for knowledge, from Orpheus to Albert Hoffmann, passing by Freud´s Uber Coca and James´”Varieties of the religious experience”. From that moment on I promised I would never use that plant, which they pretend to be the sole ownners and believe is the only path to those worlds that “are in this one”, in Eluard´s words

60 Sol January 16, 2013 at 6:14 am

I’ve lived in Iquitos for 21 years and have been to every city and nearly every village in Peru.

To “It’s about time”, you’re just as ignorant as the rest of these idiots, “there is no poverty in the forest” please, yes, there’s enough bananas, manioc, and fish, but the infant and child mortality is high (two of my ten jungle kids died before the age of one). Diseases abound.

There is no slavery anymore. If an employment opportunity opens up for some guy pretending to be a shaman, good, more power to him, he can feed his family now.

The whole business about needing shamans or lodges to take ayahuasca is dumb. No ‘dieta’ is needed. Just go buy aya in Bellavista market in Pucallpa for cinco soles, take it in your hotel room with a trusted friend, and it will be the best trip you’ve ever had.

61 chris January 29, 2013 at 8:21 am

Hi Sol!

I was recently in Pucallpa, and spoke to the locals who said they pay like 15-25 sols for a ceremony with a Shaman. In the end i did a 7 day retreat for us$120, including 4 ceremonies, sleeping and 3 meals a day. I knew i was paying over the odds, but other gringos were paying more. I don’t agree with these rip off gringo centres charging like us$180 a day, no excuse for that, and i have no interest in their ‘giving something back’ bullshit. People that take Aya need only basic safe accomodation, a good shaman and the medicine. The rest is all unnecessary fuzz.

There retreat centres may like to say we help communities and stuff, but i think it’s just a marketting ploy. Peru is so fucked up with industry, that no aya centre is gonna save anything!

Reference to the 5 sol bellavista Ayahuasca, last time i checked, a small bottle was like 30 bsoles?

62 Sol February 11, 2013 at 7:07 am

Hi Chris,
Thanks for the nice post.

I personally don’t think a shaman is necessary, just a trusted friend. If you happen to have a cute, trustworthy girl to take care of you, it will be great. It may sound kinky, but having sex while tripping on ayahuasca will be the best sensation ever. It is like having sex with a rainbow/aliens/gods.

I believe the best ayahuasca anywhere is found at Don Javier’s shop in Bellavista market, Pucallpa. Buy it from either the old man or old lady that works there. Ask for the best stuff and a yapa. A large one night dose costs S/. 5 and enough for two or three nights costs S/. 10. Many of the ‘shamans’ buy their ayahuasca at Don Javier’s.

As for the ‘dieta’, it is unnecessary to eat certain foods. The only recommendation is to not eat anything a few hours before taking ayahuasca. Drinking water, juice, soda is fine.

63 Mr. Fawcett February 22, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Thanks, Bill, for speaking the truth, something that too many people don’t want to hear. Have you noticed the big changes in Iquitos during the past 10-15 years that have resulted from this greedy rush to profit from the ancient practice that should be under the control of the native population. A big problem is that these “users” hide behind the cloak of do-gooding, stating that it’s all about helping. A big lie. It’s all about profit making, and the gringos that use this strategy are the very worst, nothing but profit-thirsty pillagers.

Thanks again for putting the truth out there.

64 Make Diversity be your Guide March 15, 2013 at 9:54 am

I am sorry to say but $2000 is not acceptable for 7 ayahuasca ceremonies.
I would never pay that price. I don’t understand these prices. I am not looking for all the “luxuries” that you offer anyway. I am searching for another type of experience.

And Matthew, you talk to much. I am going to need a coffee after reading all that. You killed me!

65 Matilda March 22, 2013 at 6:50 am

As far as Scott Petersen at the Refugio Altiplano is concerned, there are plenty of people who have posted about his creepy behavior here http://forums.ayahuasca.com/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=31159

66 Matthew March 24, 2013 at 8:51 pm

Fernando – thank you for your kind words.

Sol – you clearly don’t have a clue about ayahausca!

Mr Fawcett and Make Diversity be your Guide – actions speak louder than words:

Here is the latest Alianza Arkana newsletter: http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/961753/d76cc74b6e/ARCHIVE#like

Here are the latest Alianza Arkana blogs:

Here is a new campaign we have just launched re the situation on the Pastaza: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/justice-after-40-years-of-oil-contamination/

Here is a petition we have running re the situation the community of Canaan are facing due to the oil activities of Maple Gas, now at over 20,000 signatures:http://www.causes.com/actions/1692174-clean-up-your-mess-in-the-amazon-after-7-oil-spills-in-4-years?ctm=home

Here is the new sister NGO to Alianza Arkana – The Chaikuni Institute – which is focused on Permaculture and regenerative development in the Peruvian Amazon: http://chaikuni.org/

67 Sol April 13, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Dear Matthew,

I hate to say it, but I probably have a better understanding about ayahuasca, Shipibo/Mestizo culture and interaction, and Peru in general than you or anyone else in this forum.

I have been in the Iquitos region since 1992. I hold a college degree from an American university specializing in Peruvian history and anthropology. I worked for six years at the UNAP. I own one of these “foreign-owned ayahuasca lodges”. For the past three years I have lived in the Shipibo village of Curiaca on the Caco River. I have wistora Shipibo ainbo, rabe Shipibo baku, plus pusaka Mestizo children in Loreto and Ucayali.

I personally know many of these ayahuasqueros we are talking about on this forum, including two of my brother-in-laws. Ninety percent of the ayahuasqueros in Ucayali and Loreto buy their ayahuasca at Don Javier’s in Bellavista, Pucallpa, or a similar shop. It costs five to ten soles. They then hold some Mickey Mouse ceremony for these stupid American tourists who pay hundreds or thousands of dollars. It’s what they do, and it’s what I do, unfortunately, because over the past twenty years I have thought and acted like a Peruvian. Or worse, like a Shipibo. Don’t try to hold many of these natives in high esteem until you have lived in the jungle alongside them for many years.

Don’t dismiss my ayahuasca suggestions before you have tried them. Get some strong stuff and take a girl to bed with it.

Buena suerte

68 Stace April 14, 2013 at 6:15 pm

I don’t normally partake in these discussions but after reading the above article i feel compelled to post a reply !!
I have lived and worked in Iquitos for over 5 years now, have just recently received my Peruvian nationality and i also have a 3 year old daughter with a local ‘Iquitena’.
I created and ran ‘Karma cafe’ for almost 3 years which is, arguably, THE meeting point for scores of these, according to the above author, ‘gullible’ hippy types that come to Iquitos each year looking for some form of healing or spiritual growth through working with the local medicinal plants, Ayahuasca of course being among them.
I myself have taken Ayahuasca on many, many occasions and in quite a few of the different centers dotted around Iquitos, be they run by ‘gringos’, local mestizo curanderos, indigenous shamans or a combination of any of these three. I have also spent periods ‘dieting’ in seclusion in the jungle on 8 occasions with different medicinal plants.
Through my work at the cafe i came into contact with literally hundreds of people coming here for the local ‘medicine’ and i am also pretty well acquainted with most of the people running the various shamanic centers, foreigners and Peruvians alike.
I think it is fair to say that i have a pretty valid opinion on this subject wouldn’t you agree ??
Upon reading the above article i was struck first but the anger and the condemnation of the author but also by the complete lack of understanding of what is really going on here in the jungle.
Have you ever actually partaken in an Ayahuasca ceremony ??
Have you actually visited any of the centers you are condemning ??
Have you actually sat and had an intelligent conversation with any of the evil, greedy people involved in this ‘heinous industry’ ??
Or have you just garnered your ‘information’ from the beer guzzling, gossiping expats who hang out on the boulevard each evening ??
(alcohol, of course being the most damaging, debilitating and lethal drug on the planet)
Do you actually live in Iquitos and for how long ??
I was also highly suspicious of your writing this article anonymously ??
What are you afraid of ??
If you feel so strongly about this issue, at least have the balls to stand out in front of your opinions about it.
I am also quite shocked that Bill allowed this article to be posted anonymously ??
Is it just to drum up more readers for your blog from the ensuing controversy ??
Has not your own business, ‘The Dawn on the Amazon Cafe’ benefited considerably from Ayahuasca tourism, quite a large number of those coming to and from ‘The Temple of the way of Light’ ??
Have you yourself noticed large numbers of angry, discontent and mentally damaged people coming from these centers ??
In the almost 3 years of working in the cafe i can honestly say that the vast majority of people who have partaken in Ayahuasca ceremonies have been literally ‘blown away’ by their ‘journeys’ and have returned to their home countries feeling considerably enriched by the experience.
Of course there have been casualties.
As there are casualties in all walks of life…… people get hurt, people get ripped off, people kill themselves all over the world.
Millions of people die from alcohol, prescription drugs, toxic food, contaminated rivers….. the list goes on.
To single out the ‘Ayahuasca Industry’ in some kind of witch hunt is irresponsible and extremely naive.
I am curious….. What exactly is your agenda ??
Is somebody PAYING to write this slanderous article ??
It is well known that ‘Big Pharma’ pays people to write bullshit propaganda, ‘www.quackwatch.com’ being one of them, in order to try and prevent people from encountering natural, clean alternatives to the toxic pharmaceutical drugs that they are trying to push on the world’s population.
Of course there have been casualties.
One of the reasons i decided to open the cafe in the first place was an intention to give my clients the benefit of my experience in this area, to give them as much information as possible about the various centers available and to steer them clear of the centers that i knew to be of dubious reputation.
I NEVER sent anyone to a place that i had not personally checked out first and i NEVER received any commission from any of the centers concerned either. I genuinely just wanted for people to have a positive experience and to avoid any kind of abusive treatment.
You also have to understand that many of the people who come to Iquitos in search of healing are quite possibly ‘at the end of their tethers’ so-to-speak. They have possibly had serious health issues for many years or suffer from mental illnesses that have not responded to traditional ‘Western’ treatments and come to one of these centers as a last resort. Not all of them respond to the treatment, some are maybe not ready for healing and on many occasions they have lied about the various prescription or illegal drugs they are taking that are known to react disastrously with Ayahuasca, despite being warned of the dangers beforehand.
Women have been raped. This is a sad fact and one that i find personally very upsetting.
The truth is, once you leave the city limits it really IS a jungle out there. There are no police, no way to call for help. Many instances of rape that have occurred over the years have been because lone women have gone wandering off into the deep jungle with some local guy they met on the boulevard the night before. They wouldn’t do this in their own countries so why they choose to do it here is a mystery. Ayahuasca doesn’t rape them. Arsholes do. Arsholes just like you can find anywhere else in the world.
Also…. The occurrence of abuse against women at any of the bigger, more well-known centers has been predominantly at the Peruvian owned ones and NOT the gringo owned ones as you have stated.
Why is this ??
Because the gringos who run these centers just will not put up with it. They know it is very bad for business. (although i know of one exception)
As for making Ayahuasca illegal ??
Have we not learned by now what happens when you criminalize a drug ?? (though i don’t really consider Ayahuasca a drug)
Remember prohibition ??
What about the infamous ‘War on Drugs’ ?? An abysmal failure !!
When you make something illegal you just create huge opportunities for violent criminals to make lots of money.
If Ayahuasca was banned what would happen ??
People would still come here looking for it, only they would have to go deeper into the jungle, have to deal with the more unscrupulous shamans that were willing to break the law.
Result ??
More casualties. More rapes. More thefts. More deaths.
INFORMATION is what is needed !!
The whole expat community in Iquitos must take it upon themselves to help our visitors make INFORMED decisions.
I’m not talking about ignorant scaremongering but INFORMED decisions.
As for the gringos who run the various centers being in this business ‘only for the money’ i can only say i have personally not found that to be the case at all. Of course there are exceptions but then there are exceptions in all walks of life are there not ??
Spend enough time in Iquitos and i assure you, you will get ripped-off at some point !!
I have known Matt who runs the ‘Temple of the Way of Light’ for many years and have drunk Ayahuasca at his center, as his guest, on many occasions and i have always been totally blown away buy the love, compassion and attention to detail that is provided for his participants. He is also doing more for the indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon region than possibly anyone else here in Iquitos.
I received his clients from his center on a regular basis at my cafe and i can honestly say i was consistently impressed by how happy they all were. Buzzing with enthusiasm, full of joy, GLOWING !!!
Most of them already planning their next trip back to the Temple, either to participate once again or to sign on as volunteers, so swept away they were by their positive, life changing experiences.
Who are you to say that they have been conned ??
Who are you to say that the Peruvians that are working at the center are being abused ??
Have you actually been to the center ?? Do you have any fucking idea what you are talking about really ??
If Matt is only interested in ‘making a buck’, why then does he spend most of his life living in the jungle ?? (not many casinos out there) Surely, if he is only out to enrich himself, he would be sunning himself on a private yacht somewhere off the coast of the south of France right ??
I have personally found him to be a man of integrity, of tireless enthusiasm and deep compassion for humanity as a whole and i have deep respect for the work he is doing.
I also loved what he wrote here on this blog. Obviously he is a very well-informed, intelligent person. (though a bit long winded mate !!) Another example.
Joe Tafur, a fully qualified doctor, who owns the center ‘Nihue Rao’. Who has given up a promising career in orthodox medicine (which surely could have earned him a pretty good income right ??) in order to pursue his dream of healing people using traditional Shipibo practices. Go to his center mister ‘Anonymous’. Ask his workers or the Shipibo shamans working there if they feel they are being abused ??
If he is ‘raking it in’ as you proclaim, why does he ride up and down his track on a beaten-up old moped ??
These centers COST MONEY !!
Quite a lot of money in fact. We’re talking tens, if not sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars to set up and then a considerable amount just to maintain. Of course they have to charge people money for their services. How else would they survive ??
One more example.
David Hewson (aka ‘Slocum’)
A man who spent years tirelessly fighting (at his own expense) against the oil companies who were/are destroying the Amazon region and it’s communities. He also has a new center and he also is committed to helping people heal themselves using the local medicinal plants, not to ‘make a killing’ but because he is passionate about his work and wants to do do something positive for humanity as a whole.
So you see, Sir (or maybe it’s Madam ?? How are we to know if you hide behind this veil of secrecy ??) before you decide to write any more of this scurrilous, misinformed garbage, actually get off your arse and go and do some proper RESEARCH first o.k. ??
And last but not least. The number of tourists coming to Iquitos each year looking to work with Ayahuasca is growing fast and it will continue to do so. This is because the world we are presently living in and western society in particular is deeply dysfunctional and more and more people are being driven to heal themselves and to steer their consciousness in a more positive direction.
Get over it.
This is, and will continue to be, of great benefit to the local community as every Gringo that arrives brings with them money of course. Money that is spent on hotels, in restaurants, on local crafts, taxis, beer !! The more tourists that come, the more the local people will prosper.
Let us all try and work together to make this into a positive local industry that will continue to grow and grow.

69 Ash-Tree April 14, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Who ever wrote this article needs to get raped and dragged through the jungle by there hair at a non gringo based ayahuasca lodge.

70 A April 15, 2013 at 12:04 am

I want to refer to your last comment ‘Sol’

“Don’t dismiss my ayahuasca suggestions before you have tried them. Get some strong stuff and take a girl to bed with it.”

Your comment made my stomach turn!!!

It’s people like you that take the ‘S’ out of Sacredness and I wonder why your working with Ayahuasca at all… you say you know so much about Aya this and Aya that but you’ve learned nothing if that’s the way you talk about using medicine… like it’s some acid tab that your tripping on to just get ‘high’ on and get some girl into bed with you….

You Know Nothing!

Appalling that there are predators like you on this path, it makes me ill to know your out there perverting such a beautiful and sacred medicine….

Take that to ceremony, ask if that is an integral message that your spreading and see what our Mother Aya shows you!!
Bet it won’t be pleasant.

71 J J April 15, 2013 at 12:08 am

After reading the article about ‘foreign owned’ Ayahuasca centers I felt moved to write something about it. I was actually shocked by the tone of this piece of writing because of the force and amount of attack it was loaded with.

In fact my experience to date with ‘foreign owned’ healing centers have been quite positive and I didn’t see this exploitation of indigenous culture that they are talking about.

In some it appears a win win because the Peruvian’s get to share their knowledge of plant medicine and help people heal by using Ayahuasca, get paid well, while the foreigners got to also contribute their own skills during the retreats. If it wasn’t for the ‘foreigners’ influence there it would be harder for the Peruvian’s to communicate with the Western world because of 1) the language barrier 2) not having access or skills with creating websites for people to be able find them. Word of mouth works when people arrive up in Peru looking for a shaman, but not all people will not use this method as a way of finding shamans. Some people are more driven by fear and skepticism when it comes to drinking Ayahuasca. A lot of people want to read testimonials from others attending previous retreats and know they are in safe hands during their extremely intense, very personal and deep transformations.

This is affair enough, as I myself was faced with this very same dilemma when I first arrived in Peru in 2011. After being bombarded with this shaman and that shaman… I wanted to find a center that had a good reputation and was foreign run because I didn’t speak a lot of spanish. Also jumping on a boat going deep into the amazon jungle to some random shaman didn’t inspire me one bit. A woman traveling alone, first time in Peru, first time experiencing Ayahuasca…

I went online and researched lots and found a good foreign owned center. My experience with Ayahuasca Satsangha was excellent! They offered yoga, meditation, sat sang and other Eastern practices that I liked. The retreat was really good, the shaman was amazing and to this day I haven’t met one like him! I received so many benefits and if it wasn’t for the foreigners I may not of had such a deep and healing experience. Having an english translator helped me so much in and out of ceremony. I felt really safe, loved, cared for and nurtured throughout my retreat. I may not have experienced in a Peruvian center, not because they can’t but communication is a must when going through such an intense journey with Mother Aya. In fact I liked what this center were doing so much that after my retreat I volunteered at the community for some months, teaching yoga at the retreats and offered massage to the guests.

Living at the community for the length of time that I did, the shaman appeared quite happy with the situation because he got to do his good healing work, got paid fairly, had a translator (his apprentice). In this case making the blend of Peruvian and Western very complimentary.

Since this I’ve spent time at a Peruvian run center this year and had a wonderful experience with the currandera there, Otilia. The treatment I received while on a diet was excellent, the care, attention and love I felt was very healing for me. The only problem I was faced with was language barrier, I didn’t understand her feedbacks after ceremony when she shared what she seen and the one to ones were difficult for me to totally understand everything she was telling me. This was a problem! Also after spending 6 months in Peru, living and learning spanish – I can only imagine turning up a year ago with no spanish at all. I have also spoken to others that think she’s a wonderful healer but the language barrier seems to be an issue for others! I felt very safe at her center and recommend her to anyone who wants the Peruvian run experience and wants to drink with a powerful currandera (woman healer/shaman). Her prices were more affordable for me this year compared to other centers, but she didn’t offer other perks that other foreign run places offer.
All depends on what your looking for…

Going back to what was said in this article, I have to disagree that all foreign owned centers are exploiting indigenous people. This is a gross misleading statement that needs to be reflected upon with an honest heart. Some places are helping the indigenous by giving back to the local communities, giving them jobs, teaching them skills that they can use to make a better life for themselves and enjoy the abundance the western world is bringing to Peru. There are also some centers that are taking advantage of the locals and not paying them fairly, when charging large amounts of money for retreats and not giving back in any way to the community. These centers are the criminals and need to be boycotted, however it’s not all of them!

The culprits know who they are and many people know who they are too! When ill intentions are spread, the wheels of karma keep turning and what goes around comes around…

Spread goodness, light, healing and truly wanting to help mankind with a heart full of love that everyone feels it. To be moved to want to contribute and participate in the amazing dance with the Goddess Ayahuasca. Let the magical powers to heal continue to touch the masses so the healing of the planet can continue and we can all evolve to where we’re meant to in this life. This is a center I would support because whole heartedly, they want to make a difference in the world!

Whether it’s a Peruvian or a Foreign run center… does it really matter? As long as the good work is being done and all people are being treated fairly and no-one is being exploited…. this is what’s important.

All people deserve to have a good life, be treated with respect, make a fair living doing what they are gifted in and share their traditional ways with people in need.

All people deserve to have access to healing, medicinal plants of the amazon and indigenous ways of healing. To be treated well during their experiences, to feel safe, that it’s affordable and the healing works in the long run.

72 Jungle Jane April 15, 2013 at 2:31 pm


Really great post…you covered so many great points there and some….!
I also learned many things from it too, thanks.

Thanks for having the backbone to speak your truth and to call people on their BS.

For also, inspiring me to be less shy, not anonymous and speak my own truth about it…

My post: J J = Jungle Jane 🙂

Peace & Love

73 Captain Bill April 15, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Gosh Stace, you sound like you are opening a gringo owned ayahuasca retreat…

Maybe you didn’t notice the disclaimer at the bottom of this article; “The views expressed by this author are not necessarily the views of Bill Grimes, Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises, or the Captain’s Blog.”

I do know AIDESEP Worker personally, and have had several conversations with him. He is not anonymous to me. You ask rather disingenuously of him, “I was also highly suspicious of your writing this article anonymously ?? What are you afraid of ??” Duuhhhh…maybe being tarred and feathered and fed to the piranhas might be one possibility that entered his mind.

I guess you didn’t notice I published another article right after that titled, Gringo Self Loathing and Ayahuasca, written by Chris Kilham as a response to this article.

I’m pretty happy with the discussion that has taken place around this theme. I have learned a lot about people, both from the articles and the comments.

Bill Grimes

74 Jeremiah April 15, 2013 at 3:44 pm

First off to claim Ayuhascas knowledge wich SHE teaches to whoever she chooses as indigenous intelectual knowledge shows a great desrespect for ayuhsaca and totally misunderstanding of wall shamanism and what it is about . Ayuhasca and the plants themselves hold this knowledge and have been generous of helping the people of the amazon live with this knowledge for thousands of years But that does not mean the PEOPLE OWN IT. These plants are generously offering their knowledge now to the rest of the world wich is soo sick and badly in need of this knowledge and healing in order to have a chance to change their ways . These sick people will destroy the ientrie wamazomn, and perhaps the entire of world if they do not react, Shamansim is about healing and takig care of people and helping to live better, now there is a huge sickness in amnkind that threates to darag our whole species inot time od soulless misey as unrealsitic materilast ideals mislead people into liveing for the wrong reasons . To deprive these outsiders this healing will be shamanism shrugging off the respoinsniabliity it now has for the whole world .

Indigenous shamans are those that tend THEIR PEOPLE heal THEIR PEOPLE take care of THEIR tribe, they have their purpose but now shamanism is called upoin to answer to a new larger purpose and those indeginous shamans however knowledgable and skillful they may be at fulfilling th old purpose are unequiped to fulfill this new purpose without the help of people who can bridge the gap between their anccient knowledge and Western minds . Indeginous values and builsseness habits simply don{t cut it in running the healing centers without them learning new skills and benifiting from new knowledge .

Shamansim is not a stale set of traditional practiszes it is an evolving science, and to claim the whole science as intelectual property jujst reaks of a modern stupidity that points back to the very sickness that is causing mankind to destroy itself . It is evolving and changing , New practitioners with new puurposes are making new contributions to this field of knowledge and to try to stop that would only ensure shamnisms extinction as a practise and wouldd make it yet another hollow religion with no substance .

Peruvian culture simply does not respect women and ven rather well known knowledgable and skilld shamans cannot think of a woman a more as somethign they may be able to fuck or not, they cannot take the job seriously to help Women come to their greater selves . The point is not to slam Peruvian culture or indegienous shamans,and praise the gringoes the point os to realize that both have their strengths and their weakneses and they need eachother in order to handle this new much larger role that it is being called upon to try to help the greater Human race .

75 Stace April 15, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Gosh Bill….
If i were to open an Ayahuasca center i certainly wouldn’t be exploiting any of the local or Peruvian Indigenous people in the process. (as i never did in my cafe)
My principle motivations would be to continue to learn about the local medicinal plants (who don’t care where you come from), to continue do more healing work on myself and to help others to do the same whilst (hopefully) making enough money to survive on.
I am a man of simple tastes. I don’t need much. Don’t spend much.
I would be quite happy living in a modest wooden house in the jungle 🙂
If my principle concern was making lots of money i would have opened a chain of ‘pollerias’ (or a MacDonalds maybe ??)
Also, if i am now officially ‘Peruvian’ it wouldn’t be gringo owned now would it ??
As for the AIDESEP worker (though they claim not to have any idea who he is ??) being ‘tarred and feathered’ ?? Isn’t that EXACTLY what HE did (with your help) to the various ‘despicable’ gringos running centers without actually bothering to check them out first ??
I feel that maybe he heard some bad press about ONE gringo owned center and then tarred everyone else with the same brush ??
To my knowledge, there is one gringo owned center that should possibly be investigated and that is ‘Refugio Altiplano’. I have heard first-hand accounts from people who have stayed there of all kinds of abusive behavior (against both tourists and the local workers)
The other center that has a bad reputation is ‘Espiritu del Anaconda’ (which has since changed it’s name) and is Peruvian owned. I also have heard first-hand accounts from two separate women (two years apart) who had very similar stories of abuse that they suffered there whilst trying to do healing work.
I never advised anyone to go to either of these two centers.
I did read your disclaimer beforehand mate 🙂
I just feel that maybe you could have advised this person to tone it down a bit ?? Possibly do a bit more research before making such insulting claims against people that he probably hasn’t even met ??
To finish….
I am all for some kind of governing body that oversees the escalating demand for Ayahuasca centers. It should be well publicized and centrally situated so that anyone having a problem at any center can report it to them and the matter can be investigated. They could also possibly give a special license to the centers that could of course be revoked if that particular center seemed to be receiving a lot of complaints ??
Something along those lines maybe ??
The only problem of course is that we are are talking about Iquitos where corruption is rife at every level of local government !!
The right money in the right pocket and any problems seem to magically disappear 🙂

76 Captain Bill April 17, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Hi Jeremiah, I just want to thank you for making this brilliant, beautiful comment.

Bill Grimes

77 Sol April 19, 2013 at 3:33 pm

I would like to point out a couple of interesting points concerning ayahuasca:

The AIDESEP worker points out the gringos enriching themselves off native ceremonies, but fails to point out that these native ceremonies were, for lack of a better word, stolen, from now extinct tribes. Ever wonder why there are so many Shipibo in the Peruvian Amazon? Do your history and see the genocide and enslavement of other tribes over the past one hundred years by Shipibo. Why doesn’t the AIDESEP worker mention the groups the Shipibo have enriched themselves off?

My second interesting point, is that the entire ayahuasca ceremony as done now for tourists is wrong. If you don’t like my suggestion of trying ayahuasca alone in bed with a girl, at least try it alone with one experienced caretaker. Ayahuasca should never be done in a group setting with more than one person taking it. This is the McDonaldization of ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is a very personal experience and requires special concentration – concentration that will be distrupted by your sense of hearing – if the gringo next to you is screaming or vomiting, or your sense of smelling – if the gringo is soiling his pants. Do your research again to see that ayahuasca has never historically been taken by more than one person in a group setting. This group setting reminds me of an American “pot circle.” As I previously mentioned, I also own an ayahuasca lodge on the Upper Ucayali, and I would never allow two clients to take ayahuasca near each other.

78 Michael Breault April 24, 2013 at 1:58 pm

@ Sol
Can you provide more background, links, info to your points mentioned in this discussion? They are very interesting and I would like to learn more.

79 Kelcey August 10, 2013 at 4:19 pm

This article presents absolutely no facts. There’s no research, no statistics, and no evidence to support the claims made. It’s purely a rant. I do not support exploitation of anyone, but perhaps this writer should take the time to do some research before going off on a crusade. The correct way to write an article like this and present a compelling argument would be to present facts and figures that support the argument that foreign-ownership of lodges is exploiting the indigenous. Without this, the article is completely flat, and without merit.

80 Kelcey August 10, 2013 at 4:38 pm

I will present a counter-argument. Indigenous culture is under-siege. It is slowly dying due to the pervasive influence of consumerism and media. Technology has rapidly expanded this influence within the amazon, and without external demand, the curanderismo as a practice could easily fade into oblivion within generations.

What does that mean? Well, it means that the demand from outsiders to experience the ayahuasca tradition is in effect preserving the tradition. The external demand gives the indigenous an incentive to retain the knowledge that is slowly dying. Where does this demand come from? Well, foreign-owned lodges for one, spend a lot of time and money on marketing. I’m not saying there are not unscrupulous operators, but that doesn’t mean that it’s all bad.

A more holistic viewpoint, that isn’t fueled by anger, would be much more effective at discerning what is actually happening. Are the indigenous really being exploited, or are there externalities that must be considered? I posit that there are not only externalities, but there are many benefits to the indigenous that are not clear with a cursory glance. Not is the blanket statement that foreign-owned lodges exploit the indigenous wrong, it lacks experiential and quantitative reasoning.

The truth can only be determined through a thorough body of research, which first starts with a clear and accurate definition of exploitation.

81 Rodolfo August 11, 2013 at 7:58 am

bueno yo soy un shipibo y me duele mucho de ver este TIPO DE PAGINA ganar de una cultura y tradicion ajena , la ayahuasta es una “medical insurance” una seguridad medico de los shipibos ,, pero en realidad en este epoca esta mal usada y maltratado de los persanas que usan como es ‘substance abuse’ lastima pero en realidad la ayahuasca tiene su Buena y mala , .. UN EJENPLO REAL QUE PASA CON LA NATURALEZA ” LA CONTAMINACION ANBIENTAL ” ES LO MISMO QUE ESTAN ACIENDO CON LA CULTURA Y TRADICION DE LOS INDIGENAS SHIPIBOS ” LA AYAHUASCA” , si usas con la riquesa personal stop , si usas como divercion stop. si usas como drogas stop . la ayahuasca se respeta este mensaje los dejo en nombre de toda las comunidades shipibos de alto y de bajo Ucayali ,

82 Jack August 20, 2013 at 6:06 pm

I have been to Refugio Altiplano 3 times. First time was a great experience. There were like 5 people there when I went. When I left, there were 3. 3 shamans and 3 participants. That was really great. Beautiful experience. I went back a few months later , and there were about 8 people on average. OK experience.
But…..the last time was pretty lousy. 18 people and nobody could get really close to anyone in the group because there were just too many people. Scott was arrogant and appeared to be loaded most of the time. As a matter of fact, me and two people that I knew were sitting with Scott at 9 oclock in the morning, drinking an “elixer” that was as potent as wine. I had a blast the first time. Second time, I met up down there with a friend I had met the last time, and a friend of his. That was a great time also……with some reservations. Scott seems to be more concerned with money than anything else. My last trip to Peru, I went to his ex-girlfriends aya lodge, and was not impressed.
There is a shaman in the Iquitos area that I would like to meet. He seems to be the real deal. I’ve read a lot about him….all positive.
Don Lucho. Look him up.
later guys

83 Susannah August 23, 2013 at 10:26 pm

Hello All!
(For the sake of transparency: I lived in the Peruvian Amazon on an academic grant for 18 months during 2010-2012. For the majority of it, I lived in Shipibo households and villages. I have been through Iquitos. I have never attended an ayahuasca program at a retreat center. I have participated in ceremonies and have dieted with Shipibos. I am not an expert. I would like to share my perspective.)

What a vibrant discussion! Bill, thank you for posting this article. The dialogue seems relevant to the discussion of ayahuasca and Indigenous Rights (as framed by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, of which Peru was a signatory country on September 13th, 2007). You may refer to it, in English, at: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf. Although enforcement is often lacking, this is one of the strongest resolutions holding governments accountable to an international standard of Indigenous Rights. I would venture to say that most of us who have lived in the Peruvian Amazon are familiar with the continuum of oppression and privilege amongst indigenas, mestizos, and westerners. There is a reason that special rights and protections for indigenous peoples are necessary.

I agree with the author of the original thread in that the “technologies and cultures,” “knowledge of the properties of flora and fauna,” “oral traditions,” “literatures,” “medicines,” of ceremonies marketed as part of Ayahuasca/Shamanistic retreats are “cultural heritage,” “traditional knowledge,” “traditional cultural knowledge,” and “intellectual property” (Article 31). Maintaining, controlling, protecting, and developing this intellectual property is a right of indigenous people, with the State’s support. In addition, Article 12.1 assures Indigenous Peoples the right to “manifest, practice, develop, and teach their spiritual and religious traditions.” The development of healing ceremonies into an income-generating activity is thus protected. Likewise, there are nothing that specifies to whom these spiritual and religious traditions may be taught to. Non-indigenous people may and often do gain incredibly from cross-cultural experiences, including healing work.

Within this thread, many people seem concerned with ensuring reciprocity for the teaching and sharing of traditions. Articles 3, 4, and 5 focus on the right to economic and social self determination. Article 21 emphasizes the right to improve economic conditions. Article 20.1 includes the right to subsistence and development. If subsistence is not possible, Article 20.2 necessitates reparations.

Most indigenous groups in the Amazon rely on wide land bases to meet subsistence needs. After almost 500 years of Western contact (including colonization, slavery, discrimination of the people and mass alteration and extraction of the land), resources that their ancestors utilized are no longer available to modern indigenous peoples. Article 8.1 declares the right to not be assimilated by force or have their cultures destroyed. Many ayahuasceros, including participants in this forum, deeply understand the deep integration of humans and their cultures with the land. Article 8.2b asserts that the State shall prevent and provide redress for “[a]ny action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing [indigenous peoples] of their lands, territories, or resources.” Furthermore, Articles 26, 27, 28, and 29 protect the autonomy of indigenous people over their lands.

All right, so now we can see how signatory countries of the Declaration are responsible for protecting indigenous authority over their lands. When this does not happen for many reasons, the ability to live a traditional lifestyle ceases to be an option. This forced assimilation creates a need for viable economic options the Westernizing world. Ayahuasca has become an industry in the Amazon, but doesn’t create equitable opportunities for everyone. Even if it did, ayahuasca as a basis for generating income overlooks the greater issue: Indigenous Rights and the obligation of the State to protect them.

It’s great that NGOs, some affiliated with ayahuasca centers, are helping indigenous communities, but this is ultimately the responsibility of the State. If NGOs continue to help out, they are not holding the State accountable to fulfill its obligations. Little by little these organizations, no matter how well intended, may erode the need for the State to protect even basic human rights for their citizens like healthcare and education. Some may view the contributions of NGOs as a counterbalance to the detrimental effects of having ayahuasca retreat centers in the first place.

Rather than speak of these, I will paraphrase Rodolfo in his above comment. He would appear to be the only indigenous contributor to this forum: ‘Environmental pollution is a real example of what happens with nature, and this is just what you are doing with the culture and traditions of the Shipibos.’

In any case, I am grateful to see themes of cultural appropriation and indigenous rights brought up regarding this topic, and such an interesting discussion.
Thank you!

84 AIDESEP WORKER September 23, 2013 at 10:05 am

I want to thank the author of this last article, for she and Rudolfo
are basically the only ones to have considered the collective rights
of the indigenous. Most of the others have only considered the
individual right’s of the lodge owners. I know that I rained on the
parade of the ayahuasca lodges, but you know what? GOOD ! For they
really do strip mine indigenous cultures for personal gain. And as
Roger Casement wrote, ” Finance takes little account of the methods
whereby its golden counters are produced.” At best they are like a
foreign gold mining company in Honduras, who rob an indigenous people
of their river’s gold, but then built a hospital for them.


85 Odette Nightsky June 1, 2014 at 1:47 am

Thank you. I have supported quite a few people who have come out of these borrowed ceremonies and have ended up in the mental health clinic, to get back to a healthy balance.

I have been often asked if I want to it or can I recommend it. I always say (as I actually did today to a couple this morning) that spirit has said that this is not my path and if I felt invited by the spirit of the plant to take it, it would be best on the land of the original people under good guidance. For example http://templeofthewayoflight.org. Which feels very authentic and clear and I know someone that went there to be a helper and learn and she has come back with full respect of that time in life without ever needing to do it again. Blessings and thanks again for confirming what I feel is right. Odette

86 Captain Bill June 1, 2014 at 10:29 am

Dear Odette, Thank you for contributing to our conversation.


87 Jacob June 27, 2014 at 6:16 pm

I see a lot of insults and misunderstanding when I read over the comments. Makes me feel like we could all use some enlightenment?

88 Captain Bill June 28, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Hi Jacob,

I’m sure you are correct. We could all use some enlightenment.

Best regards,

89 Danc328 July 11, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Geez, I would have thought this a wonderful report, but as soon as you said white men, fault, I just turned off! You have some real problems you know!

90 Haark September 9, 2014 at 2:35 pm

From Guardian Website:
Ayahuasca is a way of making available DMT, a very powerful stimulator of seretonin receptors in the brain,” says David Nutt, founder of Drug Science, and the former chair of the advisory council on the misuse of drugs. “Basically, DMT doesn’t normally get into the body because it’s broken down by the stomach. But what native Americans learned hundreds of years ago was that if you make a drink with the plant product that contains DMT, and mix it with a bark product, the bark product acts as a blocking agent and the DMT can get into the body.”

91 Robert "Gringo" October 22, 2014 at 4:01 am

“For this is a”gringo” problem, not Hispanic or Nativo”

Alright, let me stop you right there.

I completely agree with this article. Culturally they are being exploited, like native american’s, aboriginals, and others. But this is NOT A GRINGO PROBLEM. This is a WORLDLY PROBLEM.
The moment you start pointing the finger at one person, group, what have you, is the moment you lose the truth of the problem. The problem is EXPLOITATION, and I see plenty of Hispanics and Native American’s from the United States go down to South America to take ayahuasca.
How dare you use your biased angst in an article that should be spiritually awakening, simply to bring down one group. Yes, indeed this one group has been the cause of many colonial exploitations, but they are led by an idea, not by their true identity, and that is what is lost the moment we play this blame game. How can we hope for social justice, justice in general, when we leave out a voice? Every voice is important for this collective understanding of our being, this world, who we are, why we are.

Truly, perhaps because I myself am of Irish/Scottish/Spaniard descent, felt offended when I saw that this is somehow MY problem. But I can see when it is an idea, not a person, that controls and manipulates peoples to do terrible things.

It is also a market problem, an international problem, WAY before a racial problem. Please get that right.

92 John December 4, 2014 at 11:36 am

In total agreement with article and the reason we are building a retreat near Iquitos.
To all of you interested in a genuine ceremony experience with true native shamans where 100% of all proceeds (open books) will be for the people of the community; please visit again for an update on developments.

We have started running campaigns in Pucallpa to aid injured and stray animals with the hope of working in Iquitos as well while at the same time bringing awareness to the people of just how bad these characters really are. Exploitation at its worst and something we are very very serious about putting and end to it; this belongs to our people and if it’s all about the money, then our aim is to put them out of business by simply charging cost. This can easily be done as the greedy thirst for colossal profits can not be quenched; something not justified in anyway all expenses considered.

We will be running ad campaigns as well as traveling to educate the communities of what is taking place with their resources that belongs to all of them.

Please look for an update on our progress.

kind regards to all


93 Chris Kilham December 21, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Hi AIDESEP- you returned in fighting form. As one Zen expression so aptly phrases it, look to the obvious. In this case, the obvious is that the moto has left the station. Indeed, gringo-owned, or partly gringo-owned lodges are here to stay, and the ayahuasca landscape is better for them. I think specifically of Nihue Rao, Blue Morpho, and Temple Of The Way Of Light. All do fine work, and many people have been healed of various health disorders through their fine programs. By the way, it is not at all the case that ownership or partial ownership of a shamanic lodge violates the United Nations Declaration On The Rights Of Indigenous people. Nice try, though. Know your treaties. The current situation with numerous ayahuasca lodges providing ceremonies for visitors has caused an increased native interest in shamanic practices, and this has a direct preservation effect on native culture. Anyway, I will look forward to more highly-charged vituperations from your corner.

94 Omar February 1, 2015 at 11:48 am

Since when did spirituality have anything to do with skin? Or the material world for that matter?

Whereas I completely agree with several points of this article, and I am against the commercializations of indigious people and all spirituality- I disagree with joining a whole race of any kind.

I am not “white” but being born with a specific skin doesn’t give you the right to do Anything, just as memorizing Icaros or having the talent to play guitar doesn’t make you a shaman.

If people are miss using the medicine they are opening up their karma for very unpleasant times. This is true faith.

95 Leo May 5, 2015 at 5:05 pm

If some centers are so eager to be honest why dont they put their businesstransaction, outpayed projects, paychecks to staff and owners including names on their webbsajt to download and also the constallation of business if its own by a holdingcompany outside Peru, i bet their is yearly high divident cashed out to benificials thats happen to be the founder of the center.
To be honest needs transparancy let also national legal accountant set name/phone on the dokments but i guess if somebody what to hide they will find incitament to fool desparate people as we talkning about remarkable big Money drawn from inocent/naive people.
Another question is what kind of spiritual contact you get in Communicate with, obviously the hight intelligence does not warn the person of scamming people.

96 Leo May 7, 2015 at 10:49 am

Math is mechanical and will not change or be impacted by looong mental and emotional koncepts, humans in the other hand does.

Yearly Income from participating in cermony 22 persons x 2100 usd x 2 times a month x 12months =1.108.800 USD or 3.458.023 soles PEN

Expenses on staff: Guessing Example 50 persons x 3300 soles = 165.000 soles or 52.906 USD x 12 months = 1.980.000 SOLES or 634.872 USD

Income in SOLES 3.458.023 – expenses 1.980.000 =
1.478.023 soles in gross income year or

Income in USD 1.108.800 – expenses 634.872 =
473.928 USD in gross income year

Leaves to further cover cost like
im guessing (because their is no transparancy) intrests to foreign lender/ bad curandero (if this 2 parts exist of course) facility cost, food, transportation, investment in Community other humans on salarys.

I ask for showing the books and constallations of Company if there is holdningcompany etc
If income comes in to UK/USA or tax havens what does Peru regulations says about this as the cash is earned in Peru?

Here is a questions for you all to wonder about foriengers alturism.

As all can see its a xtremly good business, why not let the real tresure be held/supervised by communeleaders with equal salary or a bigger part then the foriengers salary as the foreigner are not owning the forest/plants or lived there for genarations and also so no cashflow will leave the country?

By being a new Citizen of Peru why not share salary with your native or are you more valued then them who actually work and understand Peru only because you have a businessmind?

Is the people of Peru lesser valued then the foreing business owner as they relate to the low Peru montly salary when its comes to money?
Instead Peru can be moneywise rich by their natures tresures instead of remain poor as they always been.

Peru goverment like other banana rebublics does not seems care less who is expoliting who even if the national tresures are given away…but one thing is sure,,,the foreigners value them self higher and refering to national regulations regarding nationalsalary and profit…business as usual…THATS SAD.
I would rather see foreigner help the Peru people to take care of their tresures and of course get something for it instead of the natives situation right now, shit payment for incredible work.
Even if i guess that natives does not know anthing about nothing but they are still slaves under the Money like the rest of us on this planet so why noy Tech them to earn Money and reinvest in their country instead of exploiting their incent bodys?

Hope this forum is not created for centers to write lame answers whilst deleting sharp questions.

And by they way im not against this AYAHUASKA centers i actually looking for one to go to..but i find it diffcult to do this as there there are hypocrits and lyers crawling around the woods vacuumcleaning nice people for Money.

So please show your books/transactions without cooking them if you are so eager to be honest or just say simply you like making Money for my self unproportional and im not doing anything illegal doing so by providing good experineces that foreigners gladly pay for.
End of story.

97 John G December 16, 2015 at 5:21 pm

Well I must say I’m more confused now than ever, slightly disappointed, but still find myself laughing at the different ways people let their own personal beliefs/agendas ruin such beautiful things. The simple fact that a plant such as ayahuasca has made its way through the rape and pillaging of the native land and people, to the point where the type of spiritual connection to the land we ALL live on (me, I’m thousands of miles away from your land but the same land nonetheless, just separated by imaginary lines that came wayyyy before me, so I’ll chose to ignore their significance as it does not apply to this topic) is available to EVERYONE on the planet granted they can get themselves to Peru. What’s disappointing is that I am trying to do my research on the best place to partake in this beautiful EXPERIENCE, not pilgrimage, not birthright, EXPERIENCE, and I have stumbled upon this article. It could be a blessing and a curse by the end because of the things I’ve heard, but the biased slander on both sides of this argument have led me to almost want to denounce my relationship to fellow humans and just take SOL’s avice…already have a plane ticket. Seriously though, how could one not listen to someone who says “screw it, its a beautiful thing…do it alone if everyone around you apparently sucks”. Next time you all post, please provide the BEST place for someone to go to experience Ayahuasca for the first time.

I imagine there’ll be responses giving legitimate locations, some will not give anything but bash on the locations previously stated. Some will even say “I know of only ONE place NOT to go to”, but then decline to mention said place. (So really you just want people to find out for themselves, but to then come back to you to get an ambigous “I told ya so”?..why not help, STACE?” Some will even say that Ayahuasca is not for me, that I need to be personally called upon to observe it’s beauty. I am at the mercy of people who CLAIM TO KNOW WHAT THE HELL THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT, so think about that for a second. This nonsense arguing and slander against ideas that conflict your own is turning people away from the idea entirely. I’m not talking about Ayahuasca specifically. (in my case yes, but for the sake of argument think bigger)

One would be declined to take Ayahuasca ever based on the comments here…just as much as people would be declined to ever help indigenous people knowing that if the wrong person disagrees with your motives that your work’s progress will be halted due to slanderous rage from one specific person or group. So what should we do…just accept the shitty nature of human beings, or understand that what makes us all disagree with eachother is just a collection of personal experiences and preconceived notions that led us to do, or not to do, a certain thing. “TO BE, OR NOT TO BE…THAT IS THE QUESTION!!!” I’m sure you’re all familiar with that statement, but what does it mean?! It means that ALL of our egos are so caught up in what we believe is right, that we refuse to allow conflicting ideas to come to fruition. This concept becomes painfully obvious when we start applying it to ideas that people are very animated about already. No human being travels across the planet to work on or experience something if they don’t wholeheartedly believe in it. This applies to both ayahuasca and “helping indigenous people” (you want to help…GO HOME!), see how I applied my bias there but added some emotion..someone will be offended by that, but know it was just to illustrate a point). In this thread I’ve read that “gringo shamans” blame aid-workers for the issues, and the obvious that the first comment makes is that aidworkers, backed or not backed by a reliable organization, feel that this gringo shaman movement is screwing everything up (as if humanity wasn’t already about as screwed up as it’s gonna get).

Now, WHAT IF we are passed the most screwed up times in humanity. Humans haven’t dropped a weaponized atomic bomb since Hiroshima/Nagasaki, and the “average” (I use the term figuratively) coefficient of screwed-up-ness of the planet as a whole has diminished since. WHAT IF everyone who is working in the Amazon has been called for a purpose, and thus are working so hard at their own purpose that they unconsciously resent anyone working for something other than what they themselves are working on. WHAT IF ayahuasca’s “gringo shamans” were truly “called upon” (and i mean that in the sense that there was an internal drive, recognized or not, that catalyzed action) were the next step in bringing the most natural source of DMT experience (DMT, the spirit molecule…the one that’s in each and every one of us and our brains release it EVERY SINGLE NIGHT…it allows to you dream, which is your daily contact with the spiritual realms that exist beyond skepticism) to be available to EVERYONE ON THE PLANET. WHAT IF this friction we’re experiencing here was inevitable. The product of two types of people, both trying to help, but torn in the idea that there is too much to fix that one can’t possibly expect EVERYONE to dedicate their lives to the cause that they have dedicated theirs to.

Now I personally believe that humanity is a race with severe, severe amnesia. IT IS going to take a reconnection with our spirits to move this planet forward, maybe through nature (living in, appreciating, and helping the Amazonian rainforest)…maybe through internal travel (ingesting a substance like ayahuasca to help experience DMT)…MAYBE BOTH (hint hint ayahuasca retreats IN the Amazonian rainforest during this time of great transition…after all, in this thread it’s clearly been frowned upon to be seen as a drug such as LSD, but I won’t even start on how I believe Albert Hoffman just so happened to stumble upon such a complex molecule that has been demonized since).

I’ll wrap this up because I could go all day, so I’ll see where this comment takes the conversation. It may never even be posted, people may denounce it as nonsense since I’ve never even been to Peru let alone ingested Ayahuasca, but I found this article nonetheless and was compelled to offer my contribution…I am also still trying to do research on the best place to do it. I am going to use my best judgement if all you authorities don’t help me out, or AIDESEP worker doesn’t have the Peruvian government shut down all retreats and seize all Ayahuasca, and blacklist my passport…in the coming months. People will try to combat everything I’ve said with whatever preconceived notions they have about…guys named John, Westerners, Americans, the fact that I implied some knowledge of LSD, and psychadelic substances in general and their place in the modern world, again that i’ve never been there, that I may be young or old depending on someone trying to decipher my typing. See all the nonsensical bullshit that might sway one’s opinion on whether or not this post has ANY sort of validity, when in fact ALL I’ve stated is general fact and personal speculation for the most part…it will still be shot down. For the one’s who do chose to continue to help HUMANITY, not their personal interests, I tell you that I will consider myself a better person and thus contributing to a better humanity if not for the ayahuasca experience, for the fact that I left my comfort zone to try a new experience in a new culture, with new people. I submit to you that we please TRY, ATTEMPT, WANT to help in whatever way we can.

Thanks & Love to all,

John Gruber
jrgruber22@gmail.com (for those who wish to email any suggestions, it will come greatly appreciated)

98 Kim February 11, 2016 at 10:46 pm

I agree that native traditions are far too often co-opted by outsiders, sometimes dangerously so, but the author of this piece makes too many angry generalizations — as do some of the commentators. For instance, someone stated that the locals don’t want or need foreigners to put money into the community because “there is no poverty in the rainforest, people have everything they need.” That is a bit idealistic; I have seen a lot of disease related to malnutrition in the rainforest areas, and people wanting better access to medical care. Another thing I have seen is local shamans establishing relationships with “gringos” to set up retreat centers. Some of these foreigners are investing their life savings into new centers, giving up their lives and moving far away from their families to Iquitos (where they complain about the humidity and many other discomforts that they simply aren’t used to), and certainly not “living it up” like some people have stated. Of course this varies from person to person; some are taking advantage more than others. I really disliked the choices of the first “gringo” shaman I met in Iquitos. But I know another shaman from the U.S. who moved to Iquitos to start a center with a few local shamans, because that’s what the medicine and the people called him to do — and it has been incredibly difficult for him. He misses his home, his family, and his old way of life, but he stays for the work and for those moments of beauty that come with the work. Also, positive foreign relationships can help protect the community from foreign abuse; when a foreign country is “strip-mining” the area, it can help a great deal to have people from that same country spreading awareness of the abuse and calling people to action. Not all is bad. Look at the details.

99 david seeker March 19, 2016 at 4:09 am

I am coming to Iquitos next month, so I am looking at what I coming my way, and thinking about what I read here. I could go anywhere in the world, but I have chosen to come to Iquitos, because others have come before me and told me of their experiences. I will be spending at least $3500 on various things there, I decided to come because of the integrity, support and safety that is offered to visitors who make themselves vulnerable on aya. I am delighted that a good deal of what I spend will help the amazon cultures. I know I will care more about the amazon after my visit, the amazon is part of my world too, though it feels very distant from England. Opening the forest to visitors will help to keep the oil companies at bay, that is the real struggle here.

100 Mona April 8, 2016 at 9:56 pm

John Gruber, I’m inclined to your way of thinking…and maybe Sol is onto to something. I’ve never been impressed by pomp and circumstance and ritual tends to get, well, ritualized over time…can’t we just flow with spirit? Lol, perhaps if I had 1000’s to spend I would perfectly enjoy a higher end offering too. Good luck to all on your journey, see you at the finish line!

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