Submitted by Howard G. Charing
We are pleased to present a dedicated programme in the Amazon rainforest, which is focussed on an inner and deep self-exploration and encounter with the power of the rainforest. This is an adventure into the magical world of the rainforest, and a transformative experience of the ancient mystical rituals of the plant spirit medicines.
This programme will take place in the Mishana Private Retreat Centre. We have 57 Hectares (140 acres) of land with a lodge in the Allpahuayo Mishana Nature reserve. Our lodge is located directly on the river, which is part of a 58,070 hectare nature reserve.
The uses of powerful hallucinogenic plants such as Ayahuasca and San Pedro have been developed by indigenous peoples and early civilizations over thousands of years, and their effects are highly dependent upon the context of the ceremony, the chants and the essential personality of the shaman, all of which can vary with surprising results.
Diverse urban uses have emerged recently and a few of these are spreading, while some traditional shamans travel the world, thus Ayahuasca is gaining recognition in Western civilization. But what really is the potential of these ancestral plants, and how can we get the most out of them?
In this special workshop – shamanism retreat, the Peruvian maestro ayahuasquero Alonso del Rio will be with us for 10 days and hold ceremonies with both Ayahuasca and San Pedro. Alonso will open us to a different dimension from working with a traditional shaman. He has both an Amazonian and Western background and is therefore well placed to understand the problems of modern people and help them to greater self-knowledge.
He will share his wealth of insight into Amazonian and Andean cosmology in a series of meetings with time for discussion and questions. Apart from the ceremonies, he will be offering a choice of two plants to diet: tobacco and guayusa. Both of these work with your dreams, making them more conscious and ‘real’, in order to rest the rational mind and explore more deeply inwards.
About the maestro
Alonso is a powerful maestro who interweaves Shipibo and other icaros with sacred music of his own to lead you on your journey; he is both a talented musician and an inspiring communicator of the Amazonian shamanic world. He first came into contact with ayahuasca in 1979 after spending three years working with huachuma (San Pedro). This was when he met Don Benito Arevalo, a grand Shipibo shaman with whom he developed a long relationship, and who gave him his first teachings in ayahuasca and other medicinal plants.
Later, taking ayahuasca alone as part of his traditional teaching, he says: “I didn’t feel comfortable reproducing the chants that I’d learned with my maestro, so one night I picked up my guitar and began to play what came to me and the result was surprising. From then on I was never without my guitar at ceremonies and over the years many songs came to me, set to different rhythms for ceremonies and incorporating teachings and revelations from the medicine itself.” He has published three CDs to date. Alonso lives in the sacred valley of Cusco where he runs a healing centre and a primary school for local children.
Our accommodation is in comfortable traditional cabins or tambos (dieting huts), a leaf roof supported by poles and with open sides (the most intimate way to sleep in the jungle). The beds benefit from a comfortable mattress and fly nets when necessary. The tambos are spread out to assure privacy and minimum disturbance from others. Participants have a choice of using either the cabins in the ‘Casa Grande’ annex or tambos for their retreat.
During the day when there are no activities, there will be hammocks to relax in, and you can read, or wander into the forest, or swim in the river (there is a small sandy beach). Our ceremonies and meeting will be held in either the Casa Grande with an open platform on stilts directly on the river with a magnificent view of the rainforest and star filled sky. Or our maloca (ceremonial temple), a large circular tambo made of natural materials and shaped like a womb. We will eat our meals in the lodge, the traditional meeting place, where food is cooked on a wood fire.
One of the unique characteristics of this programme is that we offer single accommodation throughout both in the hotels in Lima, Iquitos, and at our Centre in Mishana. This ensures that participants can obtain the maximum benefit from their encounter with the plants. The Diet really needs to be taken in solitude and personal retreat without distractions. This is a defining characteristic of this programme. Typically other programmes do not offer this and dormitory / shared accommodation is usually the rule. Our Tambos (individual accommodation huts) are all different and are spread out, some with more isolation than others and we also have individual accommodation rooms in the wing of our Casa Grande for those who would prefer being close to the main facilities. There are photos on the web or I can send pictures on request.
There will be opportunities to make night time dugout canoe fishing trips with Pedro our hunting guide and power boat trips along the river. There will also be a resident craftswoman to demonstrate and teach us to make the unique Amazonian crafts and textiles.
Howard G. Charing is a partner in Eagle’s Wing Centre for Contemporary Shamanism. His initiation into the world of Shamanism was sudden, which was caused by a serious accident, which resulted in severe injuries and a near-death experience. After many months of physical pain and disability, he had a transformational experience, which started him on a path to healing. If you like to know more about his work, Howard conducts “Plant Spirit Medicine” journeys to the Amazon Rainforest.