Orillas del Río Uchima, Barrio Sacapo, Parroquia San Pedro de Vilcabamba, Loja, Ecuador
I chose to attend Casa del Sol due to the recommendation of a friend of a friend, and my trust in taking another journey into the magical world of South American plant medicine was rewarded by one of the most meaningful experiences in my entire life. Having attended three retreats over the last few years in Peru, Colombia, and Bolivia, I had some experience with the shamanic path and exposure to a variety of different indigenous traditions and healing styles. While my time at the other retreats was positive, the 12 days I spent at Casa del Sol took the experience to a whole other level in terms of the loving community, beautiful environment, and overall heart-centered healing.
I’ve found that the most important factor at any retreat is the quality of the healers and how well you can connect with them. The husband and wife team who run Casa del Sol, Santiago and Ximena, are true warriors of the light, and some of the most humble yet powerful, sacred yet funny, disciplined yet compassionate people I have ever met. They offer an ideal blend of masculine and femine energies, and their work with both the fire and water elements at times made me gasp with its beauty and purity of intention. A huge advantage is that Santiago and Ximena, as well as their older son Mateo, are bilingual. This meant that all participants could fully share their reasons for attending and experiences as the retreat unfolded, as well as be supported without something being lost in translation. Compared to other retreats, I felt like the shamans understood the challenges of Western society and this helped provide a valuable perspective for integration and healing. Santiago and Ximena have a beautiful family and most importantly, they made all of us truly feel like part of their extended family. I look forward to going back next year with my partner and consider them my spiritual teachers.
Two other healers were very important to the overall experience: Mateo – their eldest son who is a shaman in training and one of the most mature and gifted young men I’ve ever met, as well as Titi – their Brazilian neighbor who shared the medicines of kambo and rape. He has a huge heart and a depth of knowledge that helped us learn important lessons during the retreat.
The ceremonies were varied and extremely powerful. I initially was looking to do more ayahuasca ceremonies but came to discover a deep appreciation for the medicine of San Pedro, and how the San Pedro, Temezcal, and Kambo ceremonies all provided an integrated way of healing, with each medicine offering balancing and cleansing for the other ceremonies. I celebrated my birthday on the first San Pedro hike and after bathing in a sacred mountain waterfall, I literally felt reborn! The ensuing ceremonies were each magical, aided by the beautiful songs of the healers, their heartfelt prayers, and a series of offerings that we provided to the various spirits that make up the shamanic cosmovision. I was deeply touched by how much they care for the natural world and their teachers, who are true guardians of the last sacred places on this planet, and their medicine is exactly what the world needs during this time of ecological crisis.
Due to the family environment and intimate size, our group bonded within a few days and I left with friends who I will cherish for life. This sense of community was also even more pronounced than any retreat I attended before. And they get results – I witnessed deep healings for a variety of issues (parental estrangement, ancestral trauma, reconnection to purpose, etc) and after the final sweat lodge ceremony we emerged to bathe in the river on their property and reenter the world with a new perspective and lightness of being.
If your heart is calling you, give yourself the gift of deep healing and a new perspective on life by attending Casa del Sol.