Frequently Asked Questions
El Camino Sagrado ‘The Sacred Path’ Ayahuasca Retreats
Do I have to be a member of the Ayahuasca Healings Church to attend retreats in Peru?
Yes. However, a registration to an 8 day Ayahuasca retreat in Peru at the El Camino Sagrado Holistic Healing Center, includes membership to the Ayahuasca Healings Church in America. El Camino Sagrado is under different ownership than the Ayahuasca Healings Church, and http://ayahuascahealings.com acts solely as a booking agent for El Camino Sagrado’s healing retreats.
What do I bring? How do I prepare?
Please be sure to visit our preparation page, here: https://ayahuascahealings.com/peru-ayahuasca-retreat-preparation/
What do you recommend me to eat before the retreat?
Please be sure to visit our Dietary Guidelines page, here: https://ayahuascahealings.com/ayahuasca-dietary-guidelines/
Can I attend the retreat while I’m on medications?
Drinking Ayahuasca while certain pharmaceutical chemicals from medications are present in the system can be dangerous. Therefore we ask all participants to be free from pharmaceutical medications at least a month prior to attending a retreat. Certain diagnoses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or heart problems can also be a warning sign. Please be sure to read our Medical Guidelines here and to always disclose past and present conditions or health issues while filling out an application: https://ayahuascahealings.com/peru-ayahuasca-retreat-medical-guidelines/
How many people will be attending the retreat?
For each retreat there is a maximum of 23 guests/participants, with an average of 6-7 facilitators per retreat. We find that having larger groups is actually enjoyed more by our participants, as the group dynamic plays a valuable factor in your healing process, and the amount of fun you experience. Because after all, joy is the greatest medicine!
Most importantly, we aim to ensure there is a low guest:facilitator ratio, and aim to keep our ratio to no more than 4 guests per facilitator, so you can get all the personal support that you need from us. After leading retreats of all sizes, we find that this group size is most effective for your healing experience.
Where will I be picked up?
We recommend all guests to arrive a day early and stay at a hostel in Cusco. After registration, we will send you a list with recommended hostels. On the first day of the retreat you will be picked up between 9 and 10am at the hostel you are staying.
Can I get a private room?
Currently this is not possible but in the future it will be, for an additional fee. Please mention this in your application for more information.
What does an Ayahuasca ceremony actually involve?
At nighttime the curanderos (shamans), facilitators and guests will meet at the maloka (temple). Before the ceremony starts, the curanderos will perform an opening prayer, cleanse and energetically protect the space inside and out, before serving everyone their medicine.
Then the lights go out and we sit in silence for some time as the medicine begins to work. As the curandero starts singing the Icaros (medicine songs) you will likely feel the energy of the medicine responding.
During the ceremony, the other facilitators will play beautiful, more traditional songs as well. When the ceremony is complete, usually after five or six hours, candles will be lit and with prayers and words of gratitude the ceremony is officially closed. All participants can enjoy fruit and share their experiences together. Afterwards, participants can choose to stay in the maloca to rest or return to their rooms for sleep.
Which plants will the Ayahuasca brew contain?
The Ayahuasca is cooked by Leonardo and Lucia with two ingredients: the Ayahuasca vine (banisteriopsis caapi) and the leaves of the chacruna tree.
How many curanderos/shamans will be present during the ceremony?
There will be a high ratio of facilitators : guests during the retreat. During the ceremonies there will be two curanderos (shamans) and four facilitators present.
How long will the Ayahuasca ceremony last?
The Ayahuasca ceremonies will last six hours on average.
Can I ask for help in the ceremonies or must I be totally silent?
Of course, please don’t be afraid to ask for assistance, no matter what you may need. There are always helpers and staff available in the ceremony if you need help getting to the bathroom or are feeling overly distressed.
While it is good to work through purging and sit with your experience, if you are becoming overly scared or uncomfortable please ask for help.
This said, please refrain from talking or making too much noise during the ceremony. We understand sometimes things just come out, and during any cathartic (releasing) process, we welcome any sound that you need to make, but aside from this, please respect the noble silence of this sacred space and Icaros.
Can I drink Ayahuasca or Master Plants on my period?
Yes. Some Curanderos do not allow women to drink during this time, sometimes for cultural reasons but mainly because menstruating women are very sensitive, both physically and energetically.
At our center, almost always it will be possible for you to drink Ayahuasca during your period, but please let us know when you apply so we can monitor your dosage and care for you accordingly.
Can I drink Ayahuasca while pregnant or breastfeeding?
If you have never worked with Ayahuasca before we don’t allow you to participate in our retreats while pregnant for safety reasons.
If you have worked with this medicine before and are in the early stages of your pregnancy (pre third trimester), it is possible for you to drink a very small dose, but please let us know in advance.
If you are breastfeeding it is certainly possible to drink Ayahuasca but again please let us know in advance.
Do I have to wear white in Ayahuasca ceremonies? Are there any clothing requirements?
Our Curanderos and many of our staff choose to wear white in ceremony, because we believe white holds a cleansing, positive, healing and protective vibration.
We do not require you to wear any specific type of clothing or color during your Ayahuasca ceremonies. We do however recommend that you come to ceremony in loose, comfortable, clean clothing and be sure to have something warm as it can get cold. Having a headscarf or beanie handy can also be useful for managing your energy and warmth during the night.
If you have long hair we recommend you tie it back to avoid things getting messy when you are purging.
What else do I need for Ayahuasca ceremonies?
We recommend the following: a water bottle, mapacho cigarettes and matches, perhaps agua florida (flower essences) if you are called, and we will give you some tissue for wiping your face as it is often necessary. Most importantly, a head torch or small LED flashlight is a must. Please see our How to Prepare page for more details.
Where will the San Pedro ceremony take place?
The San Pedro ceremony will take place outside, in a beautiful sacred site.
What are the effects of San Pedro?
San Pedro has the power to heal deep wounds from the past so that you can go on living your life in freedom, instead of fettered by past injuries. The cactus is used for healing inner afflictions: physical, mental and emotional. Participants that ingest this sacred cactus, that is boiled down to a brew, often feel a strong connection to nature, the universe and all living things.
How long do the effects of San Pedro last?
After ingesting the brew, it usually takes at least an hour before effects come up. The strongest part of the ceremony usually lasts 6-8 hours, while the effects in total can last up to 14 hours.
What is breathwork?
Breathwork is a psychotherapeutic, meditative activity that involves the conscious alteration of natural breathing patterns. Breathwork has been associated with other body-centric practices, such as yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigong.
What are the health benefits of breathwork?
Various forms of breathing exercises can serve as powerful natural healing modalities which can greatly assist in overcoming stress, anxiety, overthinking and depression. It can help lower blood pressure. It helps in grounding and embodying, strengthening the connection between the mind and the body.
If I don’t like the Ayahuasca & Master Plant Retreat, can I leave?
Every human has free will and ultimately this prevails, however, this is often very emotionally confronting work and at times people do feel they want to quit mid-way and leave the center.
By coming here you are agreeing to our %guest guidelines and commitments% and we will support you in any way we can if you feel the need to leave if things get too challenging.
However, it must be said, during this type of healing work, there are many egoic and energetic structures within you that are coming up to the surface to be released. Because this isnt always easy, it may leave you wanting to leave if you are not fully willing to face what is within you that needs to be let go. If you leave at this point, these egoic and energetic structures that were triggered, will often have a greater hold on you, and if you leave, its common that things will actually be worse than before you came.
So it is important that before applying to one of our retreats, that you really check in with yourself, and ask yourself if you are fully willing to look within, to cleanup all that no longer serves you. Only if you are able to completely do that, and commit to staying, not to us, but to yourself, would we recommend that you apply to any of our retreats.
No refunds are available if you decide to leave at any point before the end of your retreat. If you feel you are not receiving something that we have said would be offered at the retreat, please let us know so we can try and resolve this situation.
If you have any other questions that were not listed here, please contact us and we will be happy to answer them for you.
And if you have not yet reviewed the page that fully explains our Ayahuasca and Master Plant retreats, then you can do so on this page here.
To fill out an application for the 8 day retreats in the Sacred Valley of Peru, click here.
To serving you in every way we can,