Proposal: An Ayahuasca Organization For Iquitos

by Captain Bill

A guest post by Gart van Gennip

As you may know, ayahuasca is rapidly becoming a major reason for people to visit Iquitos and the surrounding rainforest. Recent articles in the international press, specifically mentioning Iquitos as a destination, are fueling the interest in ayahuasca. An article in The Washington Post (which quotes our good friend Bill Grimes) was linked to hundreds of Facebook pages within a matter of hours.

While I think an increase in tourism should be encouraged, the increase in problems arising from ayahuasca tourism is not a good thing. Fortunately, the articles in the press have a positive tone and do not highlight the problematic side of ayahuasca tourism. Still, in order to get a handle on the situation, I think it is time that the Iquitos business community prepares for a possible surge in ayahuasca tourism.

•    Last year, a young German girl was assaulted and raped by a ‘shaman’ and his partner.
•    A few months ago, a man died after using ayahuasca
•    Recently, Jacek Slawek, who organized ayahuasca ceremonies at his lodge, almost died during a ceremony. After being in a coma, he regained consciousness, but has lost his senses. It appears that he has suffered brain damage from lack of oxigen.
•    Someone in Pucallpa recently organized an ayahuasca rave.
•    More and more drug tourists who are ignorant about ayahuasca, and seem to believe it is some kind of party drug, use it in combination with other drugs or alcohol, which can lead to serious health problems and cause all kinds of social problems as well.
•    Many visitors who are looking for a genuine and spiritual experience get taken advantage of, overcharged, robbed and left behind by local charlatans who are just out to easily make a lot of money at the expense of tourists.
•    Iquitos is quickly gaining a reputation as a drug tourism destination and a party town, but also as a place that isn’t safe and where people are out to rob you.
•    Iquitos is also quickly becoming a magnet for the wrong kind of crowd: from drug users to dealers, hustlers, con-artists and all kinds of criminals.

One of the main reasons why drug tourism can so easily get out of hand is that there is no regulation. There is no shaman certificate or diploma; there is no seal of approval from an independent consumer’s protection organization. There is no place where one can get reliable information and references. There is no blacklist of proven charlatans and con-artists, nor a white list of decent, honest, skillful shamans.
I regularly meet tourists who feel uncertain and confused about what to do and who to trust. Even (or maybe I should say especially) services offered through a variety of websites often prove to be unreliable or downright false.

Ayahuasca is legal and should remain that way. It is an important part of the local culture and traditions and to those who use it responsibly, it is an important spiritual tool. Drug tourism may lead to unwanted attention from the government as well as from other countries. That could lead to a ban on ayahuasca, which would have disastrous results on various levels.

In order to turn the tide on drug tourism in Iquitos, I propose that we start an organization. Its purpose should be:

•    To inform and educate all visitors to Iquitos about ayahuasca.
•    To warn all visitors about possible abuse, overcharging and false claims by those in Iquitos who are out to take advantage of visitors.
•    To build a strong relationship with iPeru in order to accomplish the first two points.
•    To build a network of reliable, reputable and experienced shamans and organizations, to whom we can refer visitors.
•    To guide visitors who are interested in participating in ayahuasca ceremonies to reliable, reputable and experienced shamans and organizations..0+..
•    To issue a list of requirements and guidelines to local shamans about the quality of their services.
•    To issue a seal of approval to those genuine shamans who provide authentic ceremonies in a safe and comfortable environment at a reasonable price.
•    To encourage local shamans to apply for our seal of approval, by proving that they meet the organization’s standards.
•    To put together and publish a blacklist of known offenders.
•    To open an ayahuasca center in Iquitos, where people can go for information, references, souvenirs and to share their experiences.
•    To build a website for the ayahuasca center with the same purpose, as well as a publicity platform for the organization’s members (and sponsors!).

I would like to call a meeting with all local residents and business people who are interested in ayahuasca, particularly those who work directly with ayahuasca, or who work in the tourism industry. If you agree that the current trend must be reversed and that tourists should be better informed and guided on their path to an ayahuasca experience, then you should help found this organization, join it, and promote it to others.

Starting this organization and eventually opening an ayahuasca center in Iquitos will benefit all: tourists; local residents and businesses; shamans and organizations; and Iquitos in general.

The only ones it will not benefit are the crooks, the thieves, the charlatans, the rapists, the drug dealers and other criminals.

And if this organization is successful, other cities and even countries may follow suit.

I would appreciate it if you would send me your feedback. And please, forward this article to anyone in Iquitos who you think might be interested, or should know about it.

Thank you, and please don’t hesitate to send your questions, comments and suggestions to me. I am looking forward to meeting many of you in person soon.

Gart van Gennip

Gart van Gennip is obviously a thoughtful, intellegent, talanted man. If you agree, be sure to check out his other ideas by clicking the link to, or this link to his Welcome to Iquitos tourism page. Gart’s email is at the bottom of that page if you want to contact him.

Read more of Gart’s ideas by clicking the links below;

Why I Stand Up For Animal Rights In Iquitos Peru;

Otto and Kimba Need A New Home;

Save The Rainforest: The First Battery Recycling Program In Iquitos Peru;

The San Pedro Lodge;

Allpahuayo Mishana; It Ain’t Disneyland;

Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve Revisited;

The Butterfly Farm Is A Must See When Visiting Iquitos Peru;

A Trip Into Pacaya Samiria Reserve;

I wrote this review of Gart van Gennip’s unique web site back in December 2008. Since those times it has grown up into a force in our virtual Iquitos community. Tu Comunidad-Virtual;

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 alan shoemaker February 25, 2011 at 10:42 am

yes, something needs to be done. a union of curanderos of Loreto should be established, a board of directors of curanderos and then everyone else that wants to become a member needs to go before the board and get approved.
All curanderos offering ceremonies should also be trained in CPR and should have on hand medicine/pills that can be given to participants to stop a hypertensive crisis.
The members would have a photo ID card and all the guide books would state that when you come here for ceremony, be sure you only participate in ceremony with a curandero (shaman) that is a member of this organization and has a photo check ID.
There are unions in Colombia and Ecuador already.
However, to set the record straight, there was no death as Gart mentioned above. It was a fraude. Go to the official Loreto morgue and ask. They never receieved any ‘body’ by the name that was mentioned as having died. This happened at the time the Curandero from Bogota was arrested in the States so if he would be prosecuted, perhaps it would help the prosecutor if there was evidence of death caused by ayahuasca. Later they released/deported the Shaman from Colombia.
There is no record anywhere of anyone ever having died from ayahuasca.
Gart is correct in writing that an organization needs to be established. I agree completely.

2 Gart van Gennip February 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Hi Alan!

Thanks for that ringing endorsement 🙂 While I applaud the establishment of an organization of shamans, I feel that it is not enough. A shaman’s organization addresses some, but not all of the points I make. For example, it doesn’t educate people about ayahuasca, and it doesn’t warn people about the dangers of falling in with the wrong people. But having an organization like you propose (and I believe are already working on) doesn’t necessarily exclude an organization with a wider purpose. They could work together perfectly.

I am surprised to hear that the reported death of a man didn’t actually happen. I am not one to publish facts without checking them thoroughly and since this story was in the newspapers, I assumed it had to be true. My mistake! However, there are many rumours about people dying, I just heard one last night, but I cannot substantiate any of them.

In any case, as you know, Jacek Slawek almost did die and it can only be a matter of time before other, more serious incidents happen.

3 Martin February 25, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Again we agree. I would be willing to help if I can for the short time I will be here. Great idea.

4 Maggie February 26, 2011 at 10:25 am

I don’t agree
People die in their thousands due to alcohol and cigarettes.
What makes you think she needs your expert help? If she does not want you to have visions you will not have them.
There is no proof that the substance itself caused any comas or near deaths. The sad rape of the German girl was tragic but don’t blame Ayahuasca itself (I know you did not- to be fair to you). Next you will want to regulate people’s flatulence.

5 Andy Metcalfe February 26, 2011 at 10:48 am

I agree that something should be set up.

The people who most need protecting in my opinion are the backpackers who are passing through Iquitos, and have probably read a little bit about ayahuasca in their guidebooks, but they don’t really have much clue about what they’re letting themselves in for, or who they can trust.

I think that pretty much all the people turning up for professionally run Ayahausca retreats know what they’re doing and are aware of the small number of risks involved. I’ve recently been researching and looking at all the different ayahuasca retreat websites, as I’ve been setting up own, and I think every single one of them requires people to fill in a questionnaire to specify which conditions they suffer from, and which medications they are taking.

But backpackers are generally pretty clueless, and usually being on a tight budget they want to do everything as cheaply as possible. I also know that even some of the good and honest shamans don’t always ask people about their health conditions or which medications they are taking (which is probably more to do with the language barrier than anything else). Perhaps providing the shamans with some leaflets written in English which they should give to participants to read before a ceremony would be a good idea.

I think I disagree with Gart that there’s a bad trend developing in Iquitos lately, as I don’t see much evidence of that myself and I’m pretty up-to-date with the ayahuasca scene here. In answer to some of his points:

“Last year, a young German girl was assaulted and raped by a ‘shaman’ and his partner.”

That was certainly tragic, and unfortunately, not entirely an isolated incident. But sadly, for as long as there are men who want to abuse their power and hurt women, they will usually find a way unfortunately. This kind of incident can and does happen with regular jungle guides as well. Hopefully an organisation will go some way to preventing this from happening in future, but in my opinion there will always be people who get taken in by con-men and put their trust in people they shouldn’t be putting their trust in. The reason some con-men are very successful is because they are good at pretending to be nice honest people and earning peoples trust.

“A few months ago, a man died after using ayahuasca”

It’s interesting that Alan says this never happened. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I do remember reading the newspaper article about it. I seem to remember the newspaper article also said something about the fact that the man had also been using alcohol and cocaine at the same time (or just after the ceremony ended).

I think one thing we mustn’t lose sight of is the subject of personal responsibility. A lot of times people die because of their own stupidity, and I don’t believe that a whole bunch of rules and regulations should be enforced just because a minority of people are morons (or is it the majority? I’m not sure sometimes!).

I’m a huge believer in personal responsibility. I try not to blame anything on anyone ever, even if on the surface something does appear to be someone else’s fault. If I attract an experience into my life – either good or bad – then I’m responsible for that, period.

“Recently, Jacek Slawek, who organized ayahuasca ceremonies at his lodge, almost died during a ceremony.”

This was a tragic and freak accident which I don’t think could have been prevented. Jacek was very experienced with drinking ayahuasca so he knew what he was doing.

We also have to remember that accidents do happen from time to time. They happen in all areas of life, and will continue to happen. No matter how many regulations you try to enforce, planes will still crash, boats will still sink, and people may occasionally die during an ayahuasca ceremony.

“Someone in Pucallpa recently organized an ayahuasca rave.”

Can anyone actually confirm this is true? I’ve also heard this rumour, but I’ve also heard a whole bunch of rumours in Iquitos that turned out to be false (as a friend of mine says “there are more rumours in Iquitos than there are mosquitos!”). I’ve tried googling ayahuasca raves in pucallpa, and about the only mention that comes up is this blog post.

I’m not saying I don’t believe it, but I’ve seen zero evidence it actually happened. Can anybody confirm it?

“More and more drug tourists who are ignorant about ayahuasca, and seem to believe it is some kind of party drug, use it in combination with other drugs or alcohol”

What are you basing this statement on? Have you actually met these people yourself? I’ve probably talked to hundreds of people about ayahuasca and I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who thought it was a party drug that was cool to mix with alcohol and cocaine. Not tourists anyway. I have heard rumours that ayahuasca is being used as a party drug by residents in Lima, but I haven’t seen any actual evidence of that.

But again, this is almost entirely an issue of personal responsibility. If people take ANY kind of drug, whether for recreational or spiritual reasons – they are responsible for the consequences in my book. If things go wrong for them they shouldn’t blame anyone else.

“Iquitos is quickly gaining a reputation as a drug tourism destination and a party town, but also as a place that isn’t safe and where people are out to rob you.”

You keep talking about drug tourists in Iquitos, Gart, but where are all these people? How many people have you personally met who you would consider to be drug tourists? In the 16 months I’ve been in Iquitos I don’t think I’ve met any. Not that I’m aware of anyway. Except of course a quite number of backpackers, who like most young people these days, enjoy getting high sometimes. But these people are still nearly always decent, friendly and honest people who would be passing through Iquitos anyway regardless of whether they can buy cheap cocaine here, or drink ayahuasca.

“Iquitos is also quickly becoming a magnet for the wrong kind of crowd: from drug users to dealers, hustlers, con-artists and all kinds of criminals.”

Being a frontier town for the last 100 or so years, I think most people would argue that Iquitos has pretty much always been a magnet for these kinds of people. Nothing has changed recently (and certainly not because of Ayahuasca), and I think if anything, Iquitos is getting progressively safer, not more dangerous, so I have to disagree with you on that point. I certainly haven’t seen any evidence of things getting worse. 95% of the tourists I meet seem like decent, honest people.

But anyway, overall I consider the idea of an organisation, or a union, to be a good idea, if nothing more than just to provide advice and education so that people can make better informed choices for themselves.

I would personally shy away from having a blacklist, unless perhaps people have already been convicted of a crime. There are lots of rumours flying around Iquitos about people, and it’s often impossible to know what’s true or not. Also, you probably don’t want to be making enemies out of certain shaman. They do have powers to hurt you quite badly in my opinion.

But I do think having a white list of shamans and Ayahuasca centers is a good idea, and then just say something like “If you use anyone not on this list, then you do so at your own risk”

I’d be willing to help set up the website.

6 Johan February 26, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I think the pucallpa rave never happened

7 Johan February 26, 2011 at 12:45 pm

There have been no activities on that page at all and the actual site for the organisation doesn’t exist anymore

8 Andy Metcalfe February 26, 2011 at 1:01 pm

It’s certainly interesting that an ayahuasca ‘rave’ was at least supposed to happen. After reading the information on their Facebook page it doesn’t sound anywhere near as wrong or disrespectful as most people would expect, or have been proclaiming.

It looks like it was being held with the cooperation of the Shipibo community and using some of their shamans to hold the ceremonies. So if the Shipibo community were totally cool with it, then who is anybody to say it was bad thing? It’s their traditions afterall.

9 Gart van Gennip February 26, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Both Alan Shoemaker and I corresponded with the organizer of the ayahuasca rave for a while through a blog or bulletin board. I can’t seem to find it anymore, but I do remember that I felt the Shipibo-link was basically a front to give it some credibility as a cultural event.
Also, I remember there were many reactions from international posters on the blog, expressing their excitement at the prospect of using ayahuasca as a party drug. The organizer did respond a few times to our concerns, but then stopped responding altogether. I don’t know of the rave eventually took place, but the intention certainly was there. I also have no indication that it didn’t happen.

While Andy is right that there isn’t much evidence of the increase of drug tourism, I have personally received various inquiries by e-mail, and on one occasion met a couple of tourists who would fit the bill. But you are right, Andy, when you say that the majority has the right attitude and intentions. For now, that is, because who’s to say if things won’t change in response to the attention in the media?

And while I agree that there is and should be a high level of personal responsibility and that, as the saying goes, shit will happen, I also believe that it is in everybody’s best interest if we take on the responsibility of trying to reduce the ‘shit’ to the minimum.

In any case, there are some very useful statements and suggestions here (as well as some wacky ones, thanks Maggie!) but I think we will all agree that everyone has the best interest of all parties involved at heart.

10 Andy Metcalfe February 26, 2011 at 3:34 pm

While I don’t think that Maggie expressed herself too well, I think I understand and agree with her concerns.

Ultimately when it comes to Ayahuasca you are dealing with the spiritual domain, and I think it’s fair to ask, can or should you regulate the spiritual? I would say no to both.

Many people believe (quite rightly I would say) that we all attract experiences into our lives (both good and bad) for the purpose of learning and growth. The idea that an experience is good or bad is just an opinion or a judgement. Most people, with greater hindsight, are usually grateful for all the bad experiences in their lives because of what it taught them. It’s almost always hardships and difficult experiences that teach us more about ourselves.

The universe is not a random and chaotic place, and this is one of the things the spirit of Ayahuasca teaches you. Everything happens for a purpose – even perhaps something as extreme as getting raped.

So, personally, I think its wrong to try and treat everyone like children and protect them from everything. Too many regulations is almost always a bad thing.

Having said that. I definitely don’t see anything wrong with setting up a website for the purposes of educating people and helping them to make better choices.

11 Gart van Gennip February 26, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Hi Andy!

I always say; bad experience is better than no experience (Jeannie can testify to that).

Maybe ‘regulating’ is not a very appropriate term. Of course one cannot regulate the spiritual, nor do I advocate regulating ayahuasca itself. On the contrary, I hope that the actions I propose will actually help keep ayahuasca as unregulated as it is now. So for me it is as much about protecting ayahuasca itself as it is about protecting those who come to Iquitos to experience it. Or rather ‘her’ as some people prefer.

Being Dutch and having lived in The Netherlands for quite a few years, I can only agree that overregulation is a bad thing. It makes for a suffocating society. Here in Iquitos regulation is mostly missing regarding all kinds of things, which is not good either. Let’s see if we can find the middle ground.

12 Gart van Gennip February 26, 2011 at 6:25 pm

By the way, Andy, thanks for that link on Facebook that shows that the Chinese in fact ARE trying to regulate the spiritual . I had to check to see if April 1st was already here 🙂

13 Andy Metcalfe February 26, 2011 at 7:23 pm

I’ve no doubt middle ground can be found and I think most of your proposals are good ones.

Anything that ultimately staves off the government from wading in with an iron fist can only be a good thing in my opinion.

14 Gart van Gennip February 27, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Some interesting reading about the question whether ayahuasca is becoming a party drug. Some of these comments are rather alarming.

Also a link to another discussion, where the original question struck me as ignorant:

15 Andy Metcalfe February 27, 2011 at 11:12 pm

I don’t think there’s anything to be alarmed about here.

The fact is, there are idiots everywhere who are going to abuse, or at least experiment, with anything that comes there way. Nobody can possibly prevent that, nor should they even begin to try.

But knowing the recreational drug scene fairly well (or at least I used to) I think I can say with a great deal of certainty that ayahuasca is never ever going to become a popular party drug.

I mean, who on earth (for the purposes of partying and having fun) wants to take a substance that makes you highly introspective, usually forces you to face your shadow side, while causing you to puke and shit half the night. I mean seriously? Does that sound like fun to anyone? Or am I missing something here.

I’ve no doubt that ayahuasca will find itself in a small minority of parties around the world, and no doubt a few people will try it if someone passes them a dose. There are idiots who will try absolutely anything at least once if they think they might get high, but you just can’t regulate, or even educate, against that.

A couple of discussions on the internet does not make a trend. Google pretty much anything and you’ll probably find at least one discussion somewhere.

Seems to me Gart that you’re trying to find a problem that doesn’t exist. Personally I think it’s far more productive to try and deal with problems that do exist. There are far worse problems in the world than the slim possibility of ayahuasca ever becoming a popular party drug.

And anyway, who’s to say it would be a problem?

Because even if for some bizarre reason, ayahuasca does become a popular party drug, who can say that would be a bad thing? The consequences of that might actually be mostly very positive.

My research indicates that DMT is strongly connected to higher states of consciousness. With higher levels of DMT in their brain I believe that people are more conscious, more connected and generally more loving and better people. The global controllers know all about that, and seek to stop if from happening, which is why they do things like add fluoride to the water supplies which calcifies the pineal gland (the part of the brain that naturally produces DMT).


Perhaps if a DMT based drug, whether ayahuasca, or something else, was to become hugely popular in the world, that might actually have some very positive effects on society.

Given that western society seems to be decaying at an alarming rate, I for one would welcome anything that might help to reverse that trend.

Gart, I think you need to relax and just go with the flow here. Don’t get your knickers in a twist about everything. There are bigger things happening here then you can possibly understand. The world is going to go through some monumental shifts over the next few years. My best advice to you would be to start drinking Ayahuasca again because then you might start to understand it all a little bit more 😉

Perhaps the spirit of ayahuasca actually wants to ‘infect’ the youth of world. The Earth is fighting back, and personally I think ayahuasca is one of her ‘weapons’. Good luck to her is what I say.

16 Gart van Gennip February 28, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Hey Andy!

That’s some solid advice and maybe you are right. Yes, I do plan to drink ayahuasca again, if only for the undeniable positive results many people report. And I may be a skeptic, but, as I always tell the believers; I hope you are right 🙂

I have one question for the believers, though: what would ayahuasca be, if there weren’t any people on earth? (I also ask the same question about God)

BTW, I received a mail from Ron. Looks like I will be visiting him soon. I will keep you posted.

17 Gart van Gennip February 28, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Regarding Andy’s link tothe article about fluoride: that would explain my dental history! When we were kids growing up, my mother used to give us 4 tiny little fluoride pills every night after dinner. This went on for years and years! But still I grew up to be a well-adjusted, sane, normal adult… oh, wait!

18 Andy Metcalfe March 5, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Gart, the fluoride pills might also explain why you’re an atheist and deny the spiritual side of life 😉

I also don’t like the way you call shamans (and to some extent, people like myself) ‘believers’. That basically puts us in the same camp as Christians and other people of faith.

Trust me, there’s a huge world of difference between believing in something because it’s written in an ancient book and having a direct experience of something. Shamans and gnostics generally don’t believe in things, they obtain their knowledge from direct first hand experience. Shamans don’t believe in spirits, they see and communicate with them on a daily basis. Spirits are as real to shamans as we are to each other.

This is a problem I have with most atheists, in fact I might write an article about this soon (going to call it “The problem with atheists”). But most of them seem to reject the idea that something can be true because they haven’t personally experienced it, or because science can’t explain it yet. Science is only ever as good as the instruments we have to measure with. And so just because something can’t yet be quantified or measured (ie spiritual/multidimensional worlds) doesn’t mean they don’t exist, or that humans can’t have direct experience of it. Humans are multi-dimensional beings capable of experiencing far more than what our 5 physical senses allow us to. The physical world is just the tip of the iceberg (as more and more quantum physicists are beginning to understand). Unfortunately 95% of the human race are currently stuck on the tip and don’t know what’s underneath. Shamans and gnostics are diving below and discovering for themselves just how freaking vast and incredible the universe actually is.

Anyway, I will write more about this another time. But please remember that calling shamans ‘believers’ is to deride and diminish who they are.

I’m glad that you’re going to drink ayahuasca again, and I hope that you do it quite a few times because she doesn’t usually reveal her secrets to people straight away. Ron Wheelock sums it up well in a recently published interview on reality sandwich (although I think the interview is a few years old at least).

“Ayahuasca can be very tempermental, different for everyone who takes it, can’t it?

Sure… I’ve had people coming in… And some of the people would be whooah… super powerful experiences and others it don’t even make ‘em purge. Nothing happens.I think that’s just ayahuasca… I mean I like to tell people if you didn’t have visions the first time you still had medicine, it’s still working in your body. But you’re not ready for it. It’s preparing you. Because I’ve seen many times with like groups, I mean a lot of people come here and just drink once or twice and go.

Or like in the States people might get just one opportunity to get to drink with me and then it’s six months or a year before they get another chance. But I’ve seen people come here and stay for two weeks and drink a couple of times and maybe just purge purge purge. And they’re like, I really don’t care if I drink that stuff anymore all it does is make me shit and puke. Not a very pleasant experience. And then by their third or fourth time they usually have really beautiful visions. So it’s just the ayahuasca preparing ‘em for the experience.

When I first started my work I didn’t know many songs. And ayahuasca was very strong here and I’d take it back [to the States] and it wouldn’t be very strong there. But then as I learned more songs and did more diets and got more energy… I mean, I carry the jungle in my body. The plants that I do diets with, they live in my body. So that’s why we say that the strength of the ayahuasca depends on the strength of the ayahuasquero, many times. Someone who’s not done diets and will just buy ayahuasca and take it home with them and drink, it’s a very good possibility it won’t do nothing to ‘em.

But if you keep drinking it and if ayahuasca sees you’re very sincere in your work, she’ll start teaching you. It’s like she’s got to test you sometimes. She don’t turn her secrets loose for free. We have to suffer, so that’s a lot of it right there. But if she really wants you, maybe the very first time she’ll give you really beautiful visions, I mean my very first time I had very beautiful visions.”

19 Nik February 18, 2012 at 4:50 pm

I followed this thread carefully after stumbling upon it by accident while researching ayahusca on the net. I am pretty appalled by some of the fanatical responses to the idea of responsibly regulating ayahuasca tourism. The comments by Andy Metcalfe seem especially offensive and fanatical. What i find particularly appalling is that this person, in one post, is actually blaming the young woman who was assaulted and raped by a “shaman” for being assaulted and raped. And i quote:

“Many people believe (quite rightly I would say) that we all attract experiences into our lives (both good and bad) for the purpose of learning and growth… The universe is not a random and chaotic place, and this is one of the things the spirit of Ayahuasca teaches you. Everything happens for a purpose – even perhaps something as extreme as getting raped.”

So the suggestion here is that it is acceptable that this young woman, who was seeking a spiritual experience, was beaten and raped because a) she attracted the experience herself, b) that it is ultimately supposed to be a healing experience, and c) that it is all part of the universe’s plan.

These kinds of severe cognitive distortions, which include being an apologist for sexual assault, are very indicative to me that just because one regularly ingests ayahuasca, it never means that one is a more aware or compassionate person. It takes a lot more to be a decent person than just ingesting a chemical, no matter how seemingly enlightening its effects may seem.

There is a lot more in these responses that i find to be very fanatical and indicative of a cult-like mentality. Everything from wacky conspiracy theories that atheists are atheist because of fluoride pills, to the belief that ayahuasca is the earth’s “weapon” for infecting the world’s youth with its agenda.

These posts, thankfully, remind me of how dangerous cults and religions are, no matter how sincere in their intent. And they remind me that psychedelics can not only cause illumination and breakthrough, but also psychosis and intense mental distortions. Take care brothers and sisters, and always always always question your own beliefs and experiences. Good luck to you on this dangerous slippery path.

20 Jeff Terrell September 27, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Hi Gart,

I have very anxiously been trying to find a center or shaman of integrity as I keep stumbling across negative reviews. Any reccomendations?


21 Andy M October 1, 2012 at 11:56 am

Hi Jeff

Take a look at and see if resonates with you. It’s a center I’m apart of, but we’re the only center in Peru that operate on a donation policy. We’ve had nothing but great reviews and feedback so far.


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