Ancient Shipibo Song Medicine


The Ayahuasca journey requires commitment, courage and a genuine willingness to look deeply and lovingly at the darkest aspects of our selves. Through Ayahuasca we can realise life-changing growth, shed limiting behaviours and powerful fears that have held us back for years from realising our true potential.

What is Ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca is becoming more and more popular throughout western cultures and over the last decade we have seen the rise of the Ayahuasca enthusiast. Ayahuasca or yage is a psychoactive plant medicine made from a potent brew of the Ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) with the leaves of the Chacruna plant (Psychotria viridis). Their commingling creates a powerful drinkable medicine that is similar in structure to the body’s own serotonin. In the early 90’s ethno-pharmacologist Dennis McKenna at the University of British Columbia, discovered that Psychotria, when taken alone, is entirely inactivated in the human gut by the monoamine oxidase (MAO) enzyme system, but when brewed together with Banisteriopsis caapi-containing monoamine oxidase inhibiting harmala alkaloids, a profound psychoactive experience results.

Ayahuasca, well known by its Quechua name translates as “vine of the soul” or “vine of the spirits.”
Though first scientifically catalogued and classified by Western science in the mid nineteenth century, Ayahuasca has been used by the indigenous people of the Peruvian Amazon for healing and divine ritual since long before the arrival of the first Europeans in the 1600’s.

Sadly, when the Jesuit missionaries conquered and enslaved the indigenous people of the Peruvian Amazon in the seventeenth century, forcing them to convert to Christianity and abandon many of their ancient rituals, the Jesuits also prohibited the use of sacred plant medicines including Ayahuasca. These so called “diabolical potions” were naively believed to put the people in communication with the devil and deprive them of all reason.

Despite the destruction of these ancient cultures by the early Europeans that sought to destroy thousands of years of ritual and sacred tradition, the healing power and sacred ceremony of Ayahuasca remains alive and thriving today deep in the Amazon rainforest.

Western medicine has traditionally sought to cure illness and dysfunction of the body by controlling or making changes to the external environment at the level of the cells. This approach to healing may help the physical cells making up the human body to heal, but it fails to promote growth and healing at the level of the mind, soul and spirit.

How does Ayahuasca work?

Ayahuasca can take us on a challenging and revelatory journey through to our heart and soul, enabling us to unblock long held trauma, fear, hostility, anger, hatred and pain.

Ayahuasca works at the level of the physical body by directly cleansing and eliminating toxins and unwanted parasites. It is common when purging these entities for us to vomit, defecate, cry, yawn and laugh. Everyone will respond differently to Ayahuasca depending on what their body is needing to release.

Ayahuasca also works at the level of the psyche and emotions, allowing the negative aspects of one’s personality to be purged and released. Ayahuasca will help us to determine which wounds we are needing to heal and give us the strength and courage to purge all that is stifling our growth and human potential.
The sacred medicine Ayahuasca also works at the level of the spirit.

It is common for us to experience visions and to receive direct guidance from non-physical spiritual teachers after drinking the Ayahuasca brew. Ayahuasca can create a clear passage between our waking reality and a non-physical plane, allowing us to access wisdom from deep within and outside of ourselves. This wisdom can then be used to transform our everyday reality into one where we are more courageous, authentic, loving, powerful, intuitive and creative.

Why do people take Ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca fills the void that Western medicine has created. Ayahuasca is a medicine, “the great medicine” and “magical intoxicant.” When taken under the supervision of an authentic curandero who comes from a long lineage and a life-time of guidance under traditional elders, Ayahuasca can have a life changing effect on us. We are fortunate to have respected curandero, Don Miguel who hails from a long lineage of traditional Shipibo healers facilitating our Ayahuasca ceremonies. At our Ayahuasca retreats in Peru, Don Miguel brings his gentle, genuine, fun-loving sense of humour to the supervision of all members of the group in the collection, cooking and replanting of the sacred Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis.

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Improvements, Pricing Changes, and What’s On The Horizon For AYA Healing Retreats

While living mindfully in the present, we are always excited for the future and we have much in store for the coming year. Among other upgrades to better serve our guests, we will be:

  • adding new staff at the center that offer even better cleaning and laundry services
  • increasing the breadth and depth of training undertaken by our facilitators
  • offering more in-depth one-on-one preparation sessions to all of our guests, in addition to integration sessions
  • purchasing a Kangen machine for healthy, alkaline, antioxidant drinking water rich in minerals and purged of impurities.
  • purchasing additional medical equipment and continued medical training of staff for the safety of all, both here and in our community

Part of our improvement plans include raising our prices starting in 2024 to support our continuing efforts in improving everything that we do. With that said, we will always do our best to keep our prices attainable and within reach for as many people as possible, and we will also offer the possibility of discounts in a few different ways:

  • Earlybird discounts when you book your retreat in advance
  • Deep discounts for return attendees
  • Deep discounts for residents of Central and South America

We will continue to provide payment plans for all of our retreats, please contact us at to discuss options.

We are committed to prioritizing the quality of our retreats, giving you the most personalized and authentic experience possible, and caring for the health, safety, comfort and well-being of everyone who comes to AYA Healing Retreats.


Don Miguel

Shipibo Curandero

AKA Senen Yoi - 'Speaking the Truth'

Don Miguel was born into a Shipibo community called Roaboya on the River Ucayali. When Don Miguel was a child, Angel Sanchez Vargas, his grandfather was the community’s curandero. Vargas was an expert in sacred plant medicines and was frequently called upon to heal and share his spiritual wisdom with members of Roaboya. The school built some years later was named after Vargas and Roaboya went on to be recognised as the first indigenous community 114 years ago. Don Miguel grew up surrounded by the Shipibo wisdom and possess intimate knowledge of the sacred plant medicines. At a very young age he began his apprenticeship as a curandero through plant dietas under the supportive guidance of his grandfather. Miguel is also a trained literature professor and thoroughly enjoys teaching the Shipibo language and culture. Since 2012, Don Miguel has spent the bulk of his time leading lectures, workshops, initiation courses and retreats. Don Miguel will lead our Ayahuasca ceremonies, circle discussions and be available for personal consultations whilst on retreat.


Our comprehensive screening questionnaire has been developed in partnership with the International Centre for Ethnobotanical Education, Research and Service (ICEERS). Please take your time to answer it as honestly and with as much detail as possible. This information will remain strictly confidential and will only be used to assess your suitability for a place on retreat with AYA Healing Retreats and keep you safe

Please remember that the purpose of this screening questionnaire is to determine whether plant medicine healing is suitable for you…not whether you are suitable for plant medicine healing. Plant medicines are tools, like any other healing modality and like other tools for healing experiencing them entails certain risks. We need to make sure that our plant medicines will not compromise your wellbeing or harm you in any way before we allow you to begin your healing journey with us. In short, we care about your safety and we need to do what we can to ensure that during your time with us you are not at risk of harm. Plant medicines can be dangerous if the plants are not the right fit for the individual. Your answers to this questionnaire will help us to determine whether the plants we intend to use are going to help, rather than harm you

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