Plant Spirit Shamanism Amazon Retreat

The retreat has been canceled!

Vision plants catalyze our inherently visionary and potentially mystical dimensions of consciousness. may they be recognized and honored for the powerful and sacred substances that they are, proof of the importance and infinite vastness of the subtle inner worlds of imagination and illumination, and may they open an endless source of inspiration for new universal sacred art.



This is a 14 day retreat with Howard G Charing, co-author of ‘Plant Spirit Shamanism’ and ‘The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo’. We will be working at the Amaru Spirit Centre. During the two week Retreat (10 days in the lodge) we will be offering five Ayahuasca ceremonies.

Howard has been holding Plant Medicine Retreats since the 1990s, and over the years the programme has been continually developed resulting in a number of innovative practices. As an example, on our Retreats, the Ayahuasca is brewed in situ, and you are welcome to participate in the preparation, this means that you know where the medicine comes from and what the ingredients are.

During the Ayahuasca ceremonies, each participant is offered an individual limpieza and curación (cleansing & healing). This includes a rastreo (a traditional divination through psychic means) and from this diagnosis the shaman will proscribe a personalised plant medicine programme. This unique fusion of powerful healing practices can really help to clear unwanted, unhelpful, and tangled inappropriate energetic and emotional attachments that are often the hidden source of disease.

Currently, we work with three shamans; Elias and Sarah are indigenous Shipibo who work together in ceremony. Together they chant traditional Shipibo icaros weaving a fascinating and beautiful polyphonic harmony with male and female voices. Our other shaman is Antonio, a powerful Mestizo shaman who excels at diagnosis and advising of an appropriate plant diet.

Although there is an emphasis on ‘retreat’ space with the plants, there are a number of additional activities all focused on personal healing, wellbeing, and communion with the plants; such as plant and mud baths, tobacco juice purges, these as well as the personalised plant medicines are all included in the programme. The medicine programme we offer will leave you rejuvenated and filled with vitality.

Additional options, these are not included in the programme; are the services of a traditional bonesetter (she is very good – she fixed a painful lumbar problem for me), and Nicky Bovey an old friend now residing in Iquitos who offers a very deep Coca Leaf Divination and a profound healing ceremony. I have known him since the early 1990s, and he has developed a solid synthesis of psychic healing modalities over the years.

An additional feature of our programme and one that you should take into consideration is that unlike other Retreats, domestic Peru flights and hotels are included in the package.

About the Amaru Spirit Centre

Amaru Spirit CentreAmaru Spirit is based in the Amazon rainforest, located by the Itaia River near Iquitos, Peru. Amaru Spirit is run by David ‘Slocum’ Hewson, and his partner, Yolita. Both are dedicated to healing the body and spirit through cleansing, nutrition and the sacred use of ayahuasca.

Slocum and Yolita believe that a modern understanding of nutrition and physical cleansing can be added to the ancient shamanic art of healing the body and spirit through ayahuasca, and the two are necessary and synergistic. Over the past years Slocum has deservedly gained a reputation as a nutritional expert.

Eating predominantly raw foods and super foods, while limiting fats, salt, sugar and spicy condiments is an important prerequisite for working creatively with ayahuasca and the plant diet. The Amazon contains some of the most nutrient-rich foods on the planet. The fruits and vegetables that grow here are often described as ‘superfoods’, and the nutrition we will enjoy on this retreat deserves a special mention not just because it is delicious and made from local fresh produce. The Amazon contains an extraordinary wealth of fruits and plants of unparalleled healing value in a wide variety of illnesses. Many of these are part of the daily diet and in cleansing regimes which are the specialty of Amaru Spirit.

The accommodation is in comfortable traditional cabins or tambos. The beds benefit from comfortable mattresses and fly nets. The ayahuasca is prepared and brewed here at the lodge, and participants are welcome to help prepare the brew.

View photos of Amaru Spirit

The Maloca

M03 S

M04 S

Our ceremonies are held in a beautiful, spacious purpose designed Maloca. Great care and detailed attention has been made to the construction of this wonderful ceremonial and meditational space. The design incorporates Sacred Geometric principles and high quality materials that enhance the Ayahuasca experience. Although this may appear to some as ‘hype’, it is in fact far from it. The floor has been constructed with such precision and exactitude that there is not the usual floor ‘wobble’, ‘bounce’, and ‘shake’ typical of constructions of the region when people are moving. So if you are lying down on the mattress there is no shaking to disturb you. The Maloca was opened November 2014, and our group was privileged to have participated in the inauguration ceremony.

About the Plant Diet

In addition to Ayahuasca we will be offering traditional shamanic diet plants that expand our sensory awareness, and enhance visionary perception. The magical world to which we are transported by plants is not accessible through the verbal rational mind but through dream language. Thus dreams act like doorways during a plant diet and connect us with the plant spirit. The plants are:

  • Guayusa (Piper callosum) has the effect of giving lucid dreams (being aware that you are dreaming). With this plant you may experience that the boundary between sleeping and being awake is far more fluid than you had anticipated.
  • Ajo Sacha (Mansoa alliacea) has the quality of unfolding and enhancing our senses. People report that their senses of sight, hearing and smell become much sharper and gain the ability of an expanded affinity with the rainforest.
  • Bobinsana (Calliandra angustifolia) has the quality of reinforcing a person’s spiritual connection to the natural world, and invoking beautiful and colourful dreams.
  • Huingo (Crescentia cujete L) enhances lucid dreaming. It generates a mellow dreaming state.

About Ayahuasca

After being virtually ignored by Western civilization for centuries, there has been a huge surge of interest in Ayahuasca in the last twenty years or so. There is a growing belief that it is a kind of ‘medicine for our times’, giving hope to people with ‘incurable’ diseases like cancer and HIV, drug addictions and inspiring answers to the big ecological problems of modern civilization.

Without a doubt entheogens offer a potential to explore and transform human consciousness thereby acting as an enabler to bring an inclusive spirituality to our society and help to alleviate the alienation from nature that has brought humanity to a grave ecological crisis.

Spirituality is at the centre of the Ayahuasca experience. Purification and cleansing of body, mind, and spirit in a shamanic ceremony can be the beginning of a process of profound personal and spiritual discovery and transformation. This process can continue indefinitely even if one never drinks Ayahuasca again.

Ayahuasca is the jungle medicine of the upper Amazon. It is made from the ayahuasca vine ( Banisteriopsis Caapi) and the leaf of the Chacruna plant (Psychotria Viridis). The two make a potent medicine, which takes one into the visionary world. The vine is an inhibitor, which contains harmala and harmaline among other alkaloids, and the leaf contains vision-inducing alkaloids. As with all natural medicines, it is a mixture of many alkaloids that makes their unique properties. For example, Peyote, the cactus used by the North Native Americans, is said to contain 32 active alkaloids, so when one of those alkaloids, mescaline is synthesised in a laboratory, contrary to popular opinion, the result is not at all the same.

The oldest known object related to the use of ayahuasca is a ceremonial cup, hewn out of stone, with engraved ornamentation, which was found in the Pastaza culture of the Ecuadorian Amazon from 500 B.C. to 50 A.D. It is deposited in the collection of the Ethnological Museum of the Central University (Quito, Ecuador). This indicates that ayahuasca potions were known and used at least 2,500 years ago. Ayahuasca is a name derived from two Quechua words: aya means spirit, ancestor, deceased person, and huasca means vine or rope, hence it is known as vine of the dead or vine of the soul. It is also known by many other local names including yage, caapi, natema, pinde, daime, mihi, & dapa. It plays a central role in the spiritual, religious and cultural traditions of the Indigenous and Mestizo (mixed blood) peoples of the upper Amazon, Orinoco plains and the Pacific coast of Colombia and Ecuador.

Floral Baths

We will be offering los baños florales (floral baths), for ritual cleansing and to draw in creative and other benign energies. In this the individual is bathed in flowers which have been soaking in water for many hours. These baths are used to cleanse unhelpful energies, removing blockages so that the benign universal energy can correct the imbalance. These special baths help us to connect with and draw upon the strength and courage within ourselves, to overcome obstacles, and to lead a purposeful and productive life in accordance with our soul’s intention.

The Icaros

Integral to the ceremony are the chants that the shaman sings. These are known as Icaros, and the chant will direct the nature of the ceremony or visionary experience for the group and for individuals as the shaman during the ceremony will chant specific Icaros for that person’s needs.

The words of the chants in indigenous languages are often symbolic stories telling of the ability of nature to heal itself. For example the crystalline waters from a stream wash the unwell person, while coloured flowers attract the hummingbirds whose delicate wings fan healing energies etc. You might see such things in your visions but the essence which cures you is perhaps more likely to be the understanding of what is happening in your life, allowing inner feelings to unblock so that bitterness and anger can change to ecstasy and love. To awaken from the ‘illusion of being alive’ is to experience life itself.

There are several different kinds of Icaros. At the beginning of the session, their purpose is to invoke the mareación or effects, in the words of Javier Arevalo, ‘to render the mind susceptible for visions to penetrate, then the curtains can open for the start of the theatre’.

Other Icaros call the spirit of Ayahuasca to open visions ‘as though exposing the optic nerve to light’. Alternatively, if the visions are too strong, the same spirit can be made to fly away in order to bring the person back to normality. There are Icaros for calling the ‘doctors’, or plant spirits, for healing, while other Icaros call animal spirits, which protect and rid patients of negative energies.

About Slocum

SlocumSlocum has spent his working career as an artist, and the last 10 years have been largely dedicated to painting subjects from the Peruvian Amazon. He strongly believes in the connection between creativity, in all its forms and the healing process. Therefore at Amaru Spirit all visitors are encouraged to express themselves in a variety of forms, or whatever comes most naturally. His extraordinary art work can be viewed at

Slocum also made a contribution of a portrait of Pablo in the book ‘The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo’ published by Inner Traditions (2011).

Preparing for Ayahuasca

An integral element of this preparation is to undertake a diet intended to reduce excessive sugar, salt, oils, pork, fat, and spicy food in the body in preparation to be in communion with the spirit of Ayahuasca. Reduction of these should commence as soon as one commits to the experience.

Pork in particular is considered to be impure and is studiously avoided by Ayahuasca practitioners. Complete abstinence from pork and lard for at least two weeks prior to the first ceremony is recommended to participants to reduce the impact of the purge. It is also recommended that this abstinence continue for at least two weeks after the final ceremony.

In the initiatory diet for those seeking personal cleansing and healing, chicken, fish, wild game meat, fruits, and vegetables may be eaten but with little if any salt, sugar, oils or spices. The cleansing effect and strength of the visionary experience can be greatly enriched by one’s commitment to these preparations.

Sexual abstinence also forms part of the diet and is a traditional requirement of Ayahuasca cleansing and healing. We recommend abstinence from sexual activity for a few days prior to the ceremony, and to continue a day or two after the last ceremony.


It is important to know that, in some cases, the consumption of Ayahuasca in combination with some groups of prescription & non-prescription medicines can bear health risks.

1. Prescription Medicines

If you are taking prescription medication (including antibiotics), are subject to high blood pressure, have a heart condition, or are under treatment for any health condition), you need to consult your Doctor or Physician. Those with a condition of chronic high blood pressure should not drink Ayahuasca.

1.1 Anti-depressants

Ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis Caapi) contains MAOI’s (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) generally in the form of harmine and harmaline therefore Medical consultation is essential if you are taking Prozac or other antidepressants affecting serotonin levels, i.e. serotonin selective re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI).

SSRI’s block the reuptake of serotonin in the brain and because MAOI’s inhibit breakdown of serotonin, the combination of MAOI’s and SSRI’s can lead to too high levels of serotonin in the brain. SSRI’s are much more common than MAOI’s which are found in some anti-depressants. It is advised that you consult your Doctor or Physician about the use of temporary monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI).

These medications generally require a period of six to eight weeks to completely clear the system and must be reduced gradually.

2. Non-Prescription Medicines

Non-prescription medications such as antihistamines, dietary aids, amphetamines and derivatives, and some natural herbal medicines, i.e. those containing ephedrine, high levels of caffeine, or other stimulants, may also cause adverse reactions. We recommend that you discontinue all such medications, drugs, and herbs for at least one week prior to and following work with Ayahuasca.

3. Recreational Drugs

Avoid all recreational drugs, in particular MDMA (Ecstasy), cocaine, heroin. Also do not drink alcohol on the day of the ceremony.

4. Mental Health

Those with a history of psychiatric disorder, instability, or have a diagnosed mental disorder should not drink Ayahuasca.

5. Herbal Remedies

Use of herbal remedies for depression such as St John’s Wort (which also influence the serotonin levels) need to be discontinued as per 2 above.

Please note on booking you will receive a detailed document regarding preparation for ayahuasca and the plant diet.


Day 1 (Saturday 3rd November) Arrive in Lima & transfer to Hotel
Day 2 Leave Lima, fly to Iquitos and overnight.
Days 3 – 12 Go to Amaru Spirit Lodge by boat.
Day 13 The group returns to Iquitos and overnights there.
Day 14 The group returns to Lima & transfer to Hotel.
Day 15 (Saturday 17th November) International flights.

Please Note: Accommodation is shared throughout the programme. For those who prefer single rooms at the hotels there is a supplement of US$ 150 subject to availability.

Please Note: Most costs in Peru are US$ based, and because of the extreme fluctuations in the currency exchange rates over the past months, it is no longer practical to cost this Retreat programme in any other currency. So the programme is priced in US$. Please note that payment can be made in other currencies, Euros, RON, or Pound Sterling albeit at the US$ FX rate at time of payment.


The two week Retreat: US$2655

Payment via bank transfer, please note that Credit and Debit cards can be used via PayPal.
What the Price Includes:

  • Lima – Iquitos return flights.
  • Two nights Hotel in Lima
  • Two nights Hotel in Iquitos
  • Breakfast throughout plus all meals at the lodge
  • The Plant Spirit Shamanism programme
  • All ceremonies and services from shamans at the Retreat Centre
  • A Personalised and supervised Plant Diet

What is not included in the price:

  • International Flight from your country to Peru.
  • Hotel to airport transfers in Peru
  • Additional nights before or after the Retreat (I can book them for you)
  • Additional tips & gratuities

Payment Schedule

  1. To reserve your place US$ 600 Non-Refundable deposit
  2. The final balance payable by September 1st 2018

Cancellation Policy

If cancellation is necessary, the deposit is non-refundable. For cancellation participants must send cancellation notice by email to The receiving date determines the cancellation date.

Time Prior to Start Cancellation Fee
Up to 31 days 50% of tour price
30 days or less 75% of tour price

Journey facilitator: Howard G. Charing
Phone Enquiries: Tel: 0741 260 588, International +40 741 260 588
Personal Travel & Health insurance is mandatory for this journey. It is your responsibility to obtain this insurance.
Plant Spirit Shamanism Retreat 2018 – PDF


This was my first trip to Peru and my first experience in the Amazon. The entire trip was expertly coordinated and the accommodations throughout were always comfortable. Howard was an integral part of our group, and his attention to us made the trip a success from start to finish. He travelled with us and looked after us, always ready to take care of anything that might have come up.

Amaru Spirit Center in the Amazon jungle is a beautiful space envisioned along ideas of sustainable and holistic living. Everywhere the feeling was peaceful and protected. My tambo was spacious, with lovely views of the jungle plants and wildlife. The food was always delicious and thoughtfully prepared to work synergistically with the natural treatments available. Slocum and the entire staff were caring, available, and interested to see that everyone was safe, comfortable, and guided. I received several different treatments that were tailored to my specific needs, so ultimately they were conducive to my healing and growth. Working with visionary plants, and with both the physical and the spiritual techniques that I learned in this carefully arranged and supportive environment, was a personally transformative experience.

Sheryl S. (USA)

I’ve been to Peru a few times and from my first experience nothing was the same, everything is new in the new light of consciousness. During the time I have been in Amaru Spirit Lodge in November 2013, I felt that it was a holistic experience. The people I meet there, Slocum and his team are amazing. They created a really nice place close to nature, with a clean and comfortable lodge in the middle of the jungle, in harmony with local tradition and nature. The Ayurvedic food philosophy mixed with the jungle energy, the psychological and spiritual support provide by Howard, Slocum and Roman the local shaman, and the whole group energy and shamanic ceremonies with ayahuasca, all this elements created for me an amazing experience. Slocum is an artist and a spiritual man… and much more than this, and his art transfers to everything he does. I’m very glad I choose to have this experience in that place with these people. I really felt that I choose the quality over the quantity this time. A soft inner quality of mine that I start to see and feel. Thank you Howard for being such a good friend and sharing this experience.

Simona P (Bucharest)

Now, as far as I am concerned, the trip to Peru has opened a new door into my life. But I was looking for it. It doesn’t come just like that. Needed some previous activities and also a big openness for anything that life, Mother Nature, Madre Ayahuasca, Pachamama or other sources might bring into your life. As you said that night in the maloka’s door, I am not the same I used to be after this experience. So maybe considering some previous informal activity, if people without any experience might take part. Also where treating with couples, it is good for the couple to come together, to have the same experience, not just one of them. The location is perfect for what happened there. The food was great! The people there, especially Slocum, are of a great help. I loved this travel, the greatest of my life. I’ll go again!

Radu D (Bucharest)

The experience in the jungle at the Amaru Spirit Lodge went beyond all my expectations. In the middle of nature, the conditions at the lodge combine simplicity with good taste and things are very well done. Slocum’s dedication for this place is boundless and I can tell that people here truly leave much closer to nature, to its richness, diversity and to what it has to teach us. From the delicious ayurvedic food and the true consultations in nutrition that Slocum spontaneously and generously offers, to the impeccable quality of the Ayahuasca ceremonies, where I felt free and supported at the same time, to face aspects of myself which were hard to accept, the experience I had at Amaru Spirit gave me confidence that through the power of choice and dedication we can change and transform our lives and our inner state, to be happier and full of vitality! Thanks go to Howard for his integrity and the impeccability with which he organized this journey of inner discovery; to my group colleagues for contributing to an atmosphere of friendship and safety, which from my point of view is very important during this kind of experiences; to Slocum and Roman, for their boundless guidance.

Alexandru (Braşov)

I spent one week in November 2013 at the Amaru Spirit lodge, in the Amazon rainforest. It’s a beautiful and well managed resort, where I felt completely at peace. My tambo was spacious, comfortable, and well equipped. The food was simply delicious, and served and prepared in such a delightful manner by the super friendly and always happy kitchen staff. I took part in 4 ayahuasca ceremonies and everyone was unique and life transforming. Slocum was always there taking care of people and the limpezias he did with Roman the shaman have helped me a lot with integrating these enormous experiences. Roman was very friendly and interested in my visionary encounters. I felt helped, loved, understood and well looked after. Howard’s masterful support and powerful teachings in preparing for the ayahuasca and the jungle have made this journey a safe and uplifting one. I came back with a deep sense of gratitude and a renewed passion for life. Many thanks to Howard for making all this happen, to Slocum for his ever inspiring dedication and to every one in my group for sharing this amazing experience with me. And, of course, thank you generous Amazon and to you revered forest for your ever present unconditional love.

Anca D. (Bucharest)