In the words of Graham Hancock, “we feel a sickness in the West and we feel it because we have severed our connection with spirit. You must reconnect soon or everything else will come crashing down. Ayahuasca is the remedy for that sickness.”
If you’re reading this, you’re already contemplating traveling to Peru for your own ayahuasca experience. Perhaps you want to “find yourself”; to heal some deeply set trauma; to understand the nature of the mind and the self; or as Graham suggests, you want to reconnect with spirit. Maybe you’re not even quite sure about why you want to drink but you feel the calling, nonetheless. Whatever your reason for wanting to drink ayahuasca, it is your own. What you absolutely need are experienced and loving people to guide you through the experience and provide a safe place to drink. Spirit Plant Journeys are those people and is that place.
I visited Spirit Plant Journeys in early October 2018, having first made my enquiry through their website in early September. Obviously, in the beginning, even after enquiring I was still extremely nervous and debating whether I would even go through with traveling to Peru. However, after I received my pre-registration phone call from Sarah, I was set completely at ease and booked right away.
Spirit Plant Journeys is Sarah’s creation and she is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful souls you will ever meet. With over ten years of experience working with traditional plant medicines and local Shamanistic healers, she is a wealth of invaluable wisdom that I greatly benefitted from during my trip. An open book, she will enable you to open up without fear or judgment and allow yourself to unearth truths you never realised you already had inside. A retreat such as this will be one of the most profound ten days of your life but it will take a lot of inner-work. I can’t stress how important it is to be able to feel comfortable whilst going on this journey and you are absolutely in good hands with Sarah for this. Free from dogmatic claims and prescriptive advice, Sarah is a natural counsellor and will empower you to seek out what you need to realise. With stoic levels of energy and a fantastic sense of humour I can safely say she is one of those people you meet in life that you will never forget.
Once I arrived in Huaran in the Peruvian Andes, I saw that the ‘Mountain Lodge’ they describe on the website was a slice of paradise. Surrounded by lush green mountains, fields of naturally growing crops, and happy free-roaming farm animals, I thought the location itself was enough for a transformative experience! The rooms were very cute and comfortable supplied with extra blankets if required. There were flushing toilets, warm showers, and electricity so we were in no way ‘roughing it’. Upon arrival, the owners of the lodge, Tania and Bjorn provided a tour of the property which is a lot bigger than initially meets the eye. They were wonderful hosts, and together with their staff they served delicious and healthy food and were always willing to accommodate specific dietary preferences. They also offered to wash your clothes so you don’t need to pack too much!
I also can’t speak highly enough of the rest of the staff that run the retreat and facilitate the ceremonies. Ryan met us in Cusco with the bus and I instantly saw that he was a genuine and loveable person that naturally settled any last minute nerves of the group. He was a great confidant during the retreat and was always available to talk, offer guidance and play some great Hendrix covers around the bonfire! Alan, who facilitated the ceremonies is a tall, lanky bundle of wisdom and good humour! He helped me through a slightly traumatic time and I will be forever grateful to him for it. And then there was Maestra Orfelinda, our Shipibo Shaman who ran every ceremony. When you meet her and undergo even just one of her ayahuasca ceremonies you will feel privileged to experience her hundreds of years of ritualistic practice and wisdom, passed down to her by her grandfather. She is a great spiritual healer and very in tune with everyone’s personal needs and experiences.
The ceremonies, of which we did five (three for the first three nights, followed by a day’s break and two final ceremonies) felt very safe and comfortable. There is a great sense of respect for these powerful plant medicines and I firmly believe they should not be consumed anywhere other than under the supervision of an experienced Shaman in these incredible and ancient ceremonies.
Like I said, your reasons to do this sort of thing are your own and your experience will be unique; but what did I take away from the retreat? I learned that I need to stop trying to control everything in my life. My mind is a useful tool but I had made it the King of my life; of my self. I realised that who I am, the love I feel for others, my drive and intuition is separate from my thoughts. It’s hard to articulate or understand this separation without experiencing it… after all, if we are not our mind or our thoughts then what the hell are we? But now that I have realised this nature, being back at home two weeks later I feel more at ease, more humble, less selfish, more aware of the things that really matter and less affected by those that don’t. I am more open to receiving and giving love and have already patched up some of my personal relationships. It feels like Bryan 2.0! The change feels slight but the results, I think are incredible.
P.S. There will be an opportunity towards the end of the retreat to buy some Shaman’s handmade art pieces so I recommend that you also bring some cash to the lodge.
P.P.S. Lastly, I recommend that you do the Machu Picchu tour at the end. Machu Picchu is a natural wonder and speaks for itself but it’s also the perfect way to close the retreat, especially if you visit the site with people from your group who will undoubtedly become your life-long friends. From a practical standpoint too, it will most likely be cheaper for you to book the tour with Spirit Plan Journeys so that you don’t end up paying extra for shuttle buses and taxis etc. They’ve run this tour so many times and it was just easier to let them arrange everything for you in this instance too!