Orillas del Río Uchima, Barrio Sacapo, Parroquia San Pedro de Vilcabamba, Loja, Ecuador
The certainty with which a recommendation can be made can not be quantified in numerical terms. The only certainty that one can trust is that of the heart, and with that strength of heart I recommend those seekers of truth, of light, of healing make the choice to attend the retreat at Casa del Sol. It will bring you home.
I attended a retreat at Casa del Sol in May of 2017. Factors in my life had completely blown up back home in the state, my car broke down, I resigned from my job because of stress, and I had to vacate my apartment. There was also a personal health scare that came up and after resolving that, I journeyed to Vilcabamba, to be cleansed, to be healed, to be recharged and reconnected more deeply with spirit. There are several options one can find online for a plant medicine retreat. Hell, they seem like a dime a dozen these days. Fortunately, I already knew where and with whom I wanted to seek help, at Casa del Sol, with Santiago and Ximena Ayala.
You see, a few years back, at another difficult point in life, I was blessed to come across the medicine for the first time. And Santiago was there. The healing I experienced during the first ceremony with him, the medicine, the spirits, and the Jaguar was unlike anything I had expected. A hard shell had developed over me, through the years, of pain, of suffering, of anger, of sadness. I imagine there are many others who carry this armor themselves. I’d like to ask where it came from, but we all know the answer to that, it came from me. From the repression of all those moments of low vibrational frequencies that we are zapped with throughout tough days, and tough times. It’s a protection against feeling, against releasing, against healing, against letting goooooo. And it jacks you up. I mean, seriously, man, it jacks you up!! But so it goes.
I sat on the Jaguar skin, in front of the fire of purification, for my personal session with Santiago. Everyone who wants, gets this opportunity. He spoke some words, he asked my name, he brushed my energy field clean with his condor feathers. His assistant did the same. Then he started to massage my back, very gently with thumb and forefinger, going along my spine from top to bottom. And as gentle as he did this, it felt like the energy of his hand was going about three inches deep into my body, into my energy field. It wasn’t anything to be concerned about and it happened quite quickly. Afterwards, he went to his chair in the circle directly across from me and began retching into a bag. I knew what he was doing, but I didn’t know what he was doing, if you know what I mean.
After my session on the skin, I returned to my seat. Over the next few minutes I began feeling a little uncomfortable, anxious, jittery and told the assistant I needed a breath and went up to the bathrooms. Within moments, I broke down sobbing like I never had before. Crying the hurt, releasing the sadness, eliminating the harshness. Well, some of it anyway!!! Santiago, with the help of the spirits, the ancestors, removed some of the hardness, the armor, that I had developed over myself through the years. I am forever grateful for his work and his kindness for that help.
(Side note: your personal journey is yours. To be shared with whom you choose. Do not take this lightly. You are your true guardian. I share my experience so as to shed a bit of sunshine into how things can be for a seeker, to pass along a little knowledge.)
This healing experience, these memories, is what brought me back to Ecuador for his help. Life had lifted me up from where I had been existing and practically carried me down to Vilcabamba and landed me on Santiago’s doorstep once again. To his home, where he takes ceremony with Ximena, his wife. This time, though, the experience was different. Here at Casa del Sol, the setting was more intimate. Two other seekers joined me for the retreat. We were able to share meals with Santiago and Ximena, exchanging stories about life, about the medicine, about healing and our journey’s. The kindness came from the heart, with everyone. A beautiful home in the foothills of the mountains was our setting to explore our soul’s needs, not particularly our own wants.
During this time, I shared some of what I had been doing with my life up to that point. I described my job taking care of children who had been abandoned and the stories of those children’s struggles. Ximena and Santiago just listened, holding space for healing, and asked a few questions along the way. It felt easy, comfortable speaking with them. And it also was important to give them a glimpse into some potential healing areas for the ceremonies to come. And did the healing ever come home!
Taking my seat on the Jaguar skin once again, this time Ximena and Santiago had the insight to push a couple of buttons and wham, boom, I’m releasing some deep seated pains and sadnesses from years and years ago. The flames of the fire flickered in front of me, the tears rolled down my face, the emotions banished into the flames before me. And Santiago and Ximena simply offered words of encouragement, Let it go, Ben. Don’t hold on to that. Don’t you want to be free? Yes, indeed, Senora. Quiero mi libertad!! These burdens we carry, of ourselves and of others in our lives, need to be let go. And I can not recommend more highly a retreat at Casa del Sol for this aspect of self growth.
I am forever grateful for the work of Ximena and Santiago. They are caring individuals, true hearted medicine carriers. Your time at Casa del Sol will be well worth your time. Be open. Be free. And let the spirit of the medicine take you home.