The Apoya retreat was exactly what I needed in exactly the setting I hoped for. Having ceremonial experiences in the jungle where they were born, with the people who have been cultivating the medicines and traditions, carries power that cannot be recreated outside of that place. And knowing that the fees for the retreat largely go to the families or to support projects for them was very important to me. The family took care of us by feeding us, the elders led the ceremonies using the traditions they have protected for thousands of years, the Apoya facilitators made the travel arrangements simple took care of our concerns and comforts, and did everything they could to accommodate any issues people ran into. This is truly the authentic experience of Ecuadorian shamanic healing ceremony.
“The healing experience is not only from the plants, but also the genuine character of the Secoya community. They are accepting, caring, full of wisdom and best of all, patient with the outside guests who have a different lifestyle. I felt accepted and tended too in this important soul searching quest. A highly recommended experience.”
One thing is for sure: in the 6 years I have been involved in medicine work, I have yet to come across a stronger and cleaner medicine than when I sat with the Secoya in Ecuador. I personally prefer drinking Yage’ to the more common Ayahuasca for a couple of reasons. One is that, unlike Ayahuasca, there is a slower rise to the peak experience. It is suggested that you drink at least 2 cups (if not 3 or 4) of Yage’ during ceremony. Each one builds upon the other. By the time 2 or 3am rolls around, we have truly entered deeply focused spiritual work. This gradual build up has allowed me to focus on my intention and truly go in to deeper layers of what I was there for without getting distracted by an early peak and drop off or lots of potentially distracting visuals.
Of course the medicine is one aspect of the overall experience, though an important one. Perhaps just as important are the medicine Elders (I prefer not to use the word “shaman”) themselves. The people holding the space and helping guide our journey safely yet deeply through the night in to the next morning. The main elder is vibrant, warm, generous and wise, who is somewhere in his 80s, works harder than most 30 year olds I know. His singing and his presence truly help provide the proper energetic container for all of the participants to really let go and invite the medicine to do its work. He is a skilled craftsman and an expert on the plant life and its many uses in his native homelands.
I was super excited to be able to receive a morning healing session with him (as anyone who was interested could). He swept all of the stagnant or stuck energy away and I emerged from that epic potent ceremony feeling full of life and gratitude. I am so pleased to have had the honor to sit with the elders. We had four generations of Secoya who sat with us in ceremony on a couple of the nights, and we all felt like family. We all dined together. Watched the amazing sunsets together and hugged each other with genuine smiles and appreciation when it was time to make our way back home.
Also, the food was amazing, the beds were comfy (and have mosquito netting) and you can swim in the streams!
I very much look forward to going back and seeing these beautiful people, plants, lands and waters again. I HIGHLY recommend anyone interested in healing and medicine work go live with these folks for a couple of weeks, you will never forget it.
I have a close relationship with the families in the Secoya community and have been down to drink and visit a few times before attending my first official Apoya Center retreat in February of 2019; so I may be a bit biased, but I have to say, I won't be drinking yagé anywhere else.
To put it simply: you'll be in the Amazon, next to a river, with a beautiful family and intimately-sized group, drinking proper, fresh yagé in hammocks, guided by Secoya elders in the oldest yagé tradition known.
The food is good, the price is honest, the benefits immeasurable and the soul refreshed.
My daughter and I traveled together to Ecuador and to the beautiful home in the upper Amazon of the Secoya people. It was our first time in South America.
The warmth and friendliness of the Secoya reflects their wise understanding of how to live in harmony with each other and their environment. Even though our visit was short I feel like they are family because of the way I felt embraced by the depth of their profound compassion.
The myriad gifts to be offered simply by experiencing the pristine jungle that is their home is reason enough to go but the ceremony and working with their ancient medicine ways is truly life changing. My relationship with my daughter and to myself was catapulted toward a greater depth of peace, love and joy. To lay in a hammock and hear the morning chorus of birds with this medicine was truly blissful.
If you are contemplating going to South America for ceremony you are fortunate to be on the right path. You will be safe here. You will be transformed to the you that is waiting to be known. A more authentic you. A happier you. A healthier you.
Blessings on your journey,