Ayahuasca retreats have been gaining popularity worldwide, and the UK is no exception. In recent years, more and more people are seeking out this plant medicine to heal, grow, and explore their consciousness. As we journey through 2023, the ayahuasca healing experience is more accessible than ever, with several retreat centres near the UK offering authentic shamanic ceremonies led by experienced healers. While the use of ayahuasca is currently illegal in some countries, including Ireland and the UK, the practice is becoming more widely accepted as a powerful tool for spiritual practice and personal growth. The caapi vine and other plants used in the brew are considered sacred by indigenous people, and the experience of drinking ayahuasca tea is often described as a deeply authentic and consciousness-expanding experience. If you are about to go into your first ayahuasca experience, then read as much information as possible to make an informed choice about where to go. In this article, we will delve into the world of ayahuasca retreats in the UK, how these healing ceremonies can lead to growth and self-discovery and find out where the best ceremonies are held.
Ayahuasca: The Transformative Sacred Plants from Peru and Colombia
Ayahuasca is a powerful psychedelic originating from the Amazon rainforest regions of Peru and Colombia. This sacred brew is made from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and the leaves of the Psychotria Viridis plant, which together produce a potent combination of healing compounds, including the powerful psychoactive substance, DMT (dimethyltryptamine). The ayahuasca vine is often referred to as “mother ayahuasca” and is considered a sacred plant by indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest. The vine contains the chemical compound banisteriopsis caapi, which is essential to the brew’s effects.
Shaman Roots: Connecting with the Shamanic Healing Process
At the core of the ayahuasca experience is the shaman, a skilled healer who has dedicated their life to understanding and working with plant medicine. These healers often hail from indigenous communities in Peru and Colombia, where they have undergone rigorous training and initiation to become conduits for the spirit world. During an ayahuasca retreat, the shaman plays a critical role in guiding participants through the spiritual journey, ensuring their safety and well-being throughout the process.
In the UK, several retreat centres have established strong connections with experienced shamans from Peru and Colombia. This allows participants to engage in authentic ceremonies that honour the traditional practices and wisdom of these ancient cultures.
Legal Status of Ayahuasca in the UK
The legal status of ayahuasca in the UK is somewhat unclear. Ayahuasca itself is not a controlled substance in the UK, but it does contain the Schedule 1 controlled substance dimethyltryptamine (DMT). DMT is a Class A drug under UK law, and possession, production, or supply of DMT can result in severe legal penalties.
The use of ayahuasca in a ceremonial context is not explicitly illegal in the UK, but there have been cases of law enforcement cracking down on ayahuasca ceremonies in the country. This is because the use of ayahuasca can violate UK drug laws, and individuals involved in the production or supply of ayahuasca can face criminal charges.
It is also worth noting that some countries, such as the United States, have explicitly banned the use of ayahuasca in any context, while others, such as Brazil, allow ayahuasca ceremonies to take place legally under certain conditions.
Individuals who are interested in attending an ayahuasca retreat or ceremony in the UK should do so only with a reputable and experienced shaman or facilitator, and they should carefully consider the legal risks involved. It is always important to research and understand the legal status of ayahuasca in any country before engaging in its use.
While ayahuasca ceremonies are currently illegal in the UK, retreats in other countries, such as Ecuador and Portugal, offer a safe and supportive environment for those interested in attending an ayahuasca retreat. These retreats often include workshops and integration exercises to help participants process their experiences and incorporate the insights gained into their daily lives.
Preparing for the Retreat | Ayahuasca Diet
Preparing for an ayahuasca ceremony involves a number of important steps, including dietary restrictions and other preparations to ensure a safe and transformative experience. Here are some key considerations for preparing for an ayahuasca ceremony:
- Ayahuasca Diet: The ayahuasca diet is an essential part of preparing for the ceremony. This diet typically involves avoiding certain foods and beverages in the days leading up to the ceremony. Common restrictions include avoiding salt, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, and processed foods. The purpose of the diet is to cleanse the body.
- Mental Preparation: Preparing mentally for an ayahuasca ceremony is just as important as preparing physically. This can include setting an intention for the ceremony, meditating, journaling, or engaging in other activities that help calm the mind and cultivate a sense of inner peace.
- Avoiding Certain Medications: Certain medications and supplements can interact with ayahuasca and can be dangerous when combined. It is important to inform the facilitators of any medications or supplements you are taking, including prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and herbal supplements.
- Physical Preparation: Preparing physically for an ayahuasca ceremony can involve a range of activities, including getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and engaging in gentle exercise. It is also important to inform the facilitators of any physical conditions you may have.
- Creating a Supportive Environment: Ayahuasca ceremonies can be intense and emotionally challenging. It is important to create a supportive environment, both during and after the ceremony, that allows for rest and reflection.
- Following Post-Ceremony Guidelines: Following the ceremony, it is important to continue to follow certain guidelines, such as avoiding certain foods and activities, and engaging in integration practices such as journaling, meditation, or therapy.
By taking the time to prepare for an ayahuasca ceremony, individuals can create a safe experience that can lead to deep healing and personal growth. It is important to work with experienced facilitators or shamans who can provide guidance and support throughout the process. Below is a helpful advice about how to prepare for an ayahuasca retreat:
Effects of Ayahuasca
Ayahuasca is a powerful substance that can have a range of effects on an individual’s physical, emotional, and spiritual state. Some of the most common effects of ayahuasca include:
- Visual and auditory hallucinations: Ayahuasca can induce vivid visual and auditory experiences that can range from beautiful to frightening.
- Emotional release: Ayahuasca can bring up deeply repressed emotions, allowing individuals to confront and work through them.
- Increased introspection: Ayahuasca can lead to increased self-reflection and introspection, allowing individuals to gain insight into their thoughts, behaviours, and motivations.
- Enhanced empathy: Ayahuasca can increase feelings of empathy and connection to others, allowing individuals to feel more connected to the world around them.
- Purging: Ayahuasca can induce purging, such as vomiting or diarrhoea, which is believed to help release physical and emotional toxins from the body.
- Spiritual experiences: Ayahuasca can lead to spiritual experiences, allowing individuals to connect with a higher power or gain a greater understanding of their place in the universe.
It is important to note that the effects of ayahuasca can vary greatly from person to person and can depend on a variety of factors, such as dosage, setting, and the individual’s mental and physical state. It is crucial to approach ayahuasca with caution, and respect, and under the guidance of an experienced shaman or facilitator. Below is a video of a typical ayahuasca experience:
What is the schedule like at an Ayahuasca Retreat?
An ayahuasca retreat typically involves a multi-day experience where participants drink the ayahuasca brew and undergo a spiritual journey. The exact details of what happens during the retreat can vary depending on the retreat centre and the facilitators, but here is a general overview of what you can expect:
- Pre-retreat Preparation: Before the retreat, participants are often provided with guidelines on what to eat and drink in the days leading up to the ceremony, as certain foods and substances can interact negatively with the ayahuasca brew. Participants are also encouraged to set intentions for the retreat and prepare themselves mentally and spiritually for the experience.
- Ceremony: The ceremony is the central experience of the retreat, where participants drink the ayahuasca brew and undergo a spiritual journey. The ceremony is typically led by a facilitator, who guides participants through the experience and helps create a safe and supportive environment. The effects of ayahuasca can vary, but they often involve intense hallucinations, deep introspection, and a sense of connectedness to the universe.
- Purging: Purging is a common aspect of the ayahuasca experience, where participants may vomit or experience diarrhoea as a way of releasing negative energy and emotions. This is often seen as a cleansing process and can be accompanied by feelings of physical and emotional release.
- Sharing: Sharing circles or group discussions are often included as part of the retreat experience, where participants can share their experiences and insights with others. This can be a powerful way to connect with others and gain a deeper understanding of the ayahuasca journey.
- San Pedro: Some retreats also offer the use of San Pedro, a cactus that is used for its psychoactive effects in traditional healing practices. The combination of ayahuasca and San Pedro is often referred to as a “medicine journey” and can lead to profound spiritual experiences.
- Integration: After the ceremony, participants are often encouraged to reflect on their experiences and process what they learned. Facilitators may offer integration exercises or therapeutic activities to help participants incorporate the insights gained into their daily lives.
Healing Experience of the Ayahuasca Journey
The healing potential of ayahuasca lies in its ability to bring to the surface deep-seated emotional issues and provide individuals with the tools to work through them. Here are some ways in which ayahuasca can facilitate healing:
- Emotional Release: Ayahuasca can help individuals access and process deeply buried emotions. The brew can bring to the surface unresolved issues such as past traumas, grief, and anxiety, and allow individuals to process and work through these issues.
- Increased Self-Awareness: Ayahuasca can provide individuals with a new perspective on their thoughts, behaviours, and emotions. This increased self-awareness can help individuals identify patterns and behaviours that no longer serve them and begin to make positive changes in their lives.
- Spiritual Awakening: Ayahuasca can lead to a sense of connection with a higher power or the universe as a whole. This spiritual connection can bring feelings of peace, joy, and a renewed sense of purpose.
- Enhanced Empathy: Ayahuasca can increase feelings of empathy and connection to others, leading to a greater sense of community and belonging.
- Physical Healing: Ayahuasca has been known to have physical healing properties, including the ability to reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, and improve overall health.
- Life Purpose: Ayahuasca can help individuals find clarity and direction in their lives, providing them with a sense of purpose and direction.
It is important to note that the healing experience of ayahuasca can be intense and emotionally challenging. It is crucial to approach ayahuasca with respect, and caution, and under the guidance of experienced facilitators or shamans. With proper preparation, an open mind, and a willingness to face personal challenges, the healing potential of ayahuasca can be a transformative and life-changing experience.
For many, the ayahuasca experience is a transformative one, offering profound insights into the self, as well as deeply emotional and spiritual healing. Participants often report a heightened sense of awareness, increased empathy, and a renewed sense of purpose following their journey with the sacred vine.
How to Choose an Ayahuasca Retreat in the British Isles
Retreat centres typically offer a range of services, including pre-ceremony preparation, integration support, and complementary therapies, such as yoga, meditation, and breathwork. This holistic approach ensures that participants are fully supported before, during, and after their ayahuasca journey.
Ayahuasca ceremonies are currently illegal in the UK, therefore these types of retreats in the UK are not openly advertised. The best way of finding out about where to go is through word of mouth at spiritual retreats or going to an event at the Psychedelic Society in London, which holds talks about plant medicines and alternative healing modalities. It is also currently illegal in Ireland too, however, the law is not so strongly applied and there are retreats that openly advertise such as the below:
Pachamama Shamanic Healing Ireland
When searching for an ayahuasca retreat near the UK, it is essential to do your research and ensure that you are choosing a reputable centre with experienced facilitators. Look for reviews from previous participants and pay attention to the credentials and background of the shaman and support staff.
Moreover, it is crucial to remember that ayahuasca is not for everyone, and potential participants should carefully consider their physical and mental health before embarking on this powerful journey. Consult with a medical professional if you have any concerns or pre-existing conditions, and be honest with the retreat staff about your medical history and any medications you are currently taking.
In addition, it is essential to approach an ayahuasca retreat with an open mind, a genuine desire for growth, and a willingness to confront and work through personal challenges. The ayahuasca experience can be intense and emotional, but it is often through facing these challenges that profound healing and transformation can occur.
10 best Ayahuasca Retreat Centers near the UK in 2023
Choose a retreat that aligns with your values and intentions. Retreat centres often have experienced practitioners with decades of experience, and some even offer the opportunity to participate in group sharing and therapeutic activities such as breathwork and kambo. In addition to ayahuasca, some retreats such as the Lighthouse Retreat Center in Portugal also offer the use of san pedro, a cactus that is also used for its psychoactive effects in traditional healing practices.
Ayahuasca Spirit Center
Pachamama Shamanic Healing
Sinchi Runa Retreat
Acsauhaya Shamanic Retreat Center
If you are interested to learn more about these retreats and others in Europe, please check out our article here.
As interest in alternative healing modalities and plant-based medicines continues to grow, ayahuasca retreats in the UK have become increasingly popular. With a focus on providing a transformative and authentic shamanic experience, these retreat centres allow individuals to explore the depths of their consciousness and engage in deep healing work. However, it is essential to approach this powerful plant with respect, thorough research, and an understanding of the potential risks and rewards. By doing so, you can embark on an ayahuasca journey that may forever change the course of your life in the most profound and positive ways.
Attending an ayahuasca ceremony can be a transformative and life-changing experience, but it is important to approach it with caution and in a safe and supportive environment. With the help of experienced facilitators and a sense of humour, participants can fully immerse themselves in the experience and explore the depths of their own consciousness in a way that is safe and transformative.