Via a Llayzhatan Bajo, Ecuador
The first of many rules at Gaia Sagrada is to not say anything negative about Gaia Sagrada, and to not leave a negative review. If you’re wondering why there’s very little honest reviews about the place, it is because everyone is under a gag order to not express themselves if they disagree with what happens there. It is a beautiful place with great facilities, comfortable beds, hot showers, beautiful animals, awesome people, breathtaking landscapes….but it also has its downside. It is run with a top-down authoritarian approach with a lot of rules that can make it feel a lot like a strict school. The people in charge posit themselves as “all-knowing” experts and if you disagree with them then you are doing something wrong or do not understand their superior knowledge. If you are looking for somewhere to heal yourself and want to be in charge of your healing, then this is probably not the place for you. During the san pedro ceremonies they offer a pseudo-psychological therapy session for everyone involved that all participants must sit through whether you like it or not. If you were hoping to commune with the universe and the natural world during your san pedro experience you are out of luck because you must sit in the one position for over 20 hours and listen to the traumatic experiences of over 30 people at the retreat and the sometimes questionable advice that is doled out in a slow and often condescending manner. If you are tempted to leave the ceremony and appreciate the natural world, then this is some kind of demon leading you astray or you are considered to be someone who is not supportive of the rest of the participants. This is one of the many cultish control mechanisms that they employ to get you to do as they want. If you leave the ceremony early, they threaten to kick you out of the retreat and not return your money. The ayahuasca is watery and not very strong, and the majority of people were not having the experiences that they had hoped for. This again was blamed on the participants either having too high expectations or that they were resisting the medicine. Christine is a well meaning person but can get carried away with controlling the ceremonies and it is clear that this can cause frustrations with the shamans. She makes it clear that she enjoys extremely long ceremonies and spends hours repeating the same prayers in a slow and drawn out manner. There are people who haven’t eaten for long periods, are tired or in physical pain, but she wants to be there so everyone has to stay. It wasn’t all together a terrible experience and some people really appreciate the way that it is run and gain a lot out of being there. If you are someone who wants to take some autonomy over their own healing and believes that they can make the best decisions about what they need, then this isn’t the place for you.