Listed in Ayahuasca
The Temple of the Way of Light is a traditional plant-medicine shamanic healing center located in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest that offers intensive ayahuasca retreats with female and male Shipibo healers. We are dedicated to providing our guests with the opportunity to benefit from the ancient healing wisdom of the Shipibo people, and to helping this unique culture preserve its knowledge and identity in the 21st Century.
We work with some of the most respected and powerful healers (Onanya) from the Shipibo tribe. They are highly experienced, gentle, caring, and deeply dedicated to healing and embodying the wisdom and sincerity of their people. The healing traditions of the Shipibo people offer an ancient yet pioneering path to health, re-discovering our true nature and re-awakening to our true purpose.
The Temple firmly believes in respecting and honoring the ancient practices of the Onanya, experts in ayahuasca healing and plant-spirit shamanism of the Amazon. They bring a rich cultural and medicinal legacy to the healing process: time-honored rituals, intricate practices, an expansive cosmology, an encyclopedic knowledge of medicinal plants of the Amazon, and a far-reaching ancestral lineage.
The Temple has safely facilitated healing for thousands of people since 2007 and has forged an exemplary reputation for stringent safety protocols, compassionate care, and a balance of female and male healers and facilitators. We have used our experience to fine-tune a synthesis of ancient Shipibo medicine traditions and modern and Eastern integrative practices that now extends to comprehensive aftercare and integration support long after guests have returned home. All this takes place with an institutional focus on sustainability, permaculture, ethics, and social responsibility.
We offer ayahuasca retreat programs of varying duration, focus, and intensity, with a balance of female and male Shipibo healers, experienced western facilitators, floral baths, a steam bath, a high ratio of healers to guests, a high number of ayahuasca ceremonies, individual consultations, a nutritional and balanced ayahuasca food diet, and a strong focus on how to process and integrate healing, both during and after each ayahuasca retreat.
The safety of our guests is paramount. We are constantly working to offer the safest container and most effective ayahuasca healing experience in the Amazon. We have developed the most stringent health and safety protocols available on any ayahuasca retreat in Peru. The Temple’s commitment to guests begins with in-depth medical and psychological screening during our booking procedure and continues after the retreat through our integration support. Guiding you safely through deep personal healing and growth is our priority, both in and out of ceremony.
I offer my review to add a bit of balance and perhaps a bit deeper look into the Temple of the Way of Light. I offer my perspective as someone who has experience with many of the Temple’s offerings (the 12 day retreat, monthlong, three week, and integration coaching) and as someone who is trained as a psychotherapist utilizing modalities such as somatic psychotherapy (often used in the treatment of trauma), depth psychology (Jung), mindfulness, the Work of Byron Katie, and numerous other east / west practices. I also offer my perspective as someone who has experienced other retreat centers, who has sat in more than 50 ayahuasca ceremonies, and who has worked and dieted plants (aka isolation plant dietas) with respected Ayahuasqueros in the Shipibo tradition and a Tobaquero.
What I can share about the Temple:
From a medicine and healing perspective, the Temple does a good job of maintaining a safe healing environment and highly skillful healers for deep healing experiences. This said, although I have not personally experienced this, I have heard from two other guests who now work at other centers in Peru and an apprenticing medicine healer that they experienced the dark side of the shamanic world while at the Temple. There is an underculture to shamanic work that is not apparent to the layman but that people who spend time in the medicine world come to know of — a world where shamans psychically attack other shamans out of jealousy or other dark motives. I have heard that there were incidences of this at the Temple yet I haven’t personally experienced this there. On a whole, I believe the Temple does a good job of maintaining a safe environment and the balance of masculine and feminine healers is somewhat unique to the Temple.
As for the accommodations and food, I will leave that for others to comment on. My primary concern is the safety and well-being of guests and to me the safety of the healing environment and the healers, and the knowledge, training, and experience of the facilitators and staff is most important.
I will say that in my several years of attending the Temple and communicating with the integration team and founder, Matthew, I did have some experiences that brought concern and warrant noting.
Ayahuasca and integration coaching are yet unregulated fields. I.e. in the field of psychotherapy and coaching there are ethics that form the basis of the work. For example, all therapists and many coaches undergo training on the ethics of confidentiality. They understand that confidentiality is the foundation of building relationships founded on trust and they understand that a breech in client confidentiality is not only serious grounds for disciplinary action but also potentially harmful to the wellbeing of a client and certainly harmful to the client / therapist or coach relationship. That said, during my relationship with the Temple, they breeched confidentiality. None of the facilitators in the duration that I had a relationship with the temple had therapy backgrounds, and indeed the head of Integration Dr, Tanya Mate (daughter in law to Dr. Gabor Mate) is not a therapist and has no formal therapeutic background nor do the founders. Nevertheless, it seemed that within the organization they speak of confidentiality but were not actually aware of what that means. Indeed, on two separate visits to the temple one facilitator spoke ill of a prior high profile guest thereby breaking the prior guest’s confidentiality. I too had a personal experience in which the Temple breeched my confidentiality and I brought this and other concerns to their attention. This is an important point as with healthcare there are HIPAA guidelines around how information must be held and stored and in the therapy realm there are ethical guidelines around how information is held and shared. Yet, at the Temple there seems to be a lack of understanding of what confidentiality entails and the practice of confidentiality. This is likely true of most retreat centers which have been established and staffed by unlicensed individuals who have had no formal training in the practice of holding confidentiality and the ramifications of what that means. Yet, I share this information because the Temple speaks of confidentiality and has guests agree to uphold confidentiality yet has in my experience failed to do so themselves and failed in my opinion to fully grasp the gravity of such an error.
I too would say that in my communications with the Temple, I have found what others have noted that the founder, Matthew, is a businessman and that he and the communication of the Temple hasn’t always been transparent and forthright. At an extreme, I might say it has bordered on false advertising and dishonesty. For example, the temple promoted a “new” two week program and marketed it on their website as such. In reality, guests including myself arrived to discover that they were merely joining a monthlong program half way through that the Temple was not able to fully sell out. There was no actual difference in program between the month and the two week only in duration. There were many complaints from the participants as the joining half way through created a disjointed experience for both the monthlong and two week participants.
Lastly, I will add that while it is easy while influenced by medicine to put the Temple staff on a pedestal (or conversely to project negatively onto them), they are indeed human beings capable of the same fallibility of all human beings — no better. No worse. Just human. To expect otherwise or to expect that the Temple will be above any unintentional hurt or pain in your journey may be a set up for disappointment. As, I believe that the Temple does their best yet at times that means they have and do too unintentionally harm as all humans do until they no longer do.
P.s. this post has been reposted as it seems that the Temple responded to my initial post with lies claiming that the website information about the program states that the 13 day program joins the Monthlong program. Now it states that. However, originally the website did not state that. The Temple claims that they are dedicated to learning from their mistakes and they are. Unfortunately, they aren’t actually accountable (as they state) to the people who they hurt in the process and who led to them learning those mistakes AND if they consider being dismissive, totally nonempathic, showing no regard for or understanding of the impact to the people harmed through their negligence, and refusing to even respond to communication around breaches of trust and confidentiality then yes, they have been accountable. Otherwise, no, I’d deem their actions professionally irresponsible, lacking in integrity, hurtful, and the acts of unconsciousness despite what they claim publicly to repair their reputation.
Integrative Therapist – thank you for your review. We are always open to feedback and welcome constructive criticism. We appreciate the opportunity to improve any aspect of our work that is not in alignment with our mission and anything that is not of complete integrity. The Temple has evolved into one of the most respected ayahuasca healing centers in the Amazon due to being accountable for our actions and taking responsibility for any mistakes we make, then learning from them.
In response to your post, we want to share some of the actions we have taken.
Information about guests from previous retreats should never be shared outside of our team, and we are sorry that this happened. We are currently planning a staff training in confidentiality and developing standards for our integration team. Integration is a new field, and we are developing policies and protocols that are both respectful of the needs of our guests and functional in terms of how we work here at the Temple. We recognize that it’s important for guests on retreats and those working with our integration team be able to give informed consent as to how and when their information might be shared, and thank you for giving us this opportunity to re-evaluate how our integration team work outside Peru with our facilitation team in Peru.
Our retreat facilitators are not trained psychotherapists: they are experienced plant medicine people. We are proud to work with some of the very best facilitators in the Amazon / in the field of ayahuasca healing. We have comprehensive recruitment standards to ensure our staff, first and foremost, have many years of experience of personal work not just with ayahuasca, but with plant dietas too. We are continuing to improve our skills with regular staff trainings that include tools like non-violent communication, deep processing, self-inquiry, ontological modalities, and trauma release exercises, to add to the untrainable, unteachable element which all of our facilitators have in common: personal experience, kindness and compassion.
Regarding the “dark side of shamanism”, there is a culture of rivalry amongst many Amazonian healers. This is well known, and at the same time, the belief in dark shamanism, while it has its merits and some truth, is also often misleading. It is the result of several factors including gossiping, jealousy, competition, and mixing energies (of different traditions and systems) although most often it is simply fear based projections. While there are certainly people out there utilizing the power of medicinal plants for self-gain, we have worked closely with our team of Shipibo healers to establish and maintain the highest standards of care at the Temple over many years, and we trust the people we work with. We have a zero tolerance policy on what is called ‘brujeria’ (witchcraft) in the Amazon and are proud to work with a team of well-intentioned, highly skilled, kind and deeply caring healers from several core families.
Regarding the 13-day program: this retreat option was added about a year and a half ago. We no longer have the 13-day retreat guests arrive in the middle of the Deep Immersion retreat, but only at the beginning because we realized after a few trials that this format was not ideal for group cohesion. We make it very clear on the website that this offering is held within the Deep Immersion retreat (see the 13-day website description: “participants of this 13-day retreat join the 3-week Deep Immersion guests together at the beginning of the retreat and leave mid-way through the program.”). Our 13-day retreat continues to be very popular due to demand from people to have this style of retreat, with integrative practices, and more space between ceremonies but who do not have the ability to stay for 3 weeks.
And finally, yes, our founder Matthew is a businessman and is proud of the organization that he and his team have developed over the last decade. The Temple is / has always been run as a conscious (holistic) healthcare business passionately focused on individual and social transformation.