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Behold Retreats sets the standard for safe, legal,
and transformative plant medicine retreats.
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After nearly 6 decades of prohibition, psychedelics are coming back in a big way, with institutions such as the Imperial College in London, Johns Hopkins University, and Harvard studying, for example, the anti-depressant effects of psychedelics and entheogenic plants such as psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and Ayahuasca. The results of these studies for treating mental health concerns such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, addiction, depression, trauma, and recurrent negative behaviors has been overwhelmingly positive - when administered in the right set and setting.
Ayahuasca is an ancestral medicine from the Amazon, and has been used for thousands of years for it's incredible healing benefits. The healing that Ayahuasca offers can be positively life-changing, and as the psychedelic movement grows in popularity, the options for choosing a retreat can get a bit overwhelming. The abundance of options can lead us to what we call "analysis paralysis", causing us to either give up, or choose a retreat impulsively. Choosing a place to have your experience may be one the most important decisions you'll ever make, and it's important to choose your retreat with diligence and care. Published research based upon 2,267 ceremonies has shown that ayahuasca:
Every year, thousands of people flock to the Peruvian Amazon rainforest to embark on a spiritual retreat with Ayahuasca. Only in recent time has Ayahuasca's mysteries reached the Western world, and now people from all over the world are venturing deep into the lush jungles seeking alternative medicine and traditional ceremonies. Some come to forget their past. Some come to heal it. Some seekig an inner journey, enlightenment, others are just seeking the next high. They come with depression, anxiety, PTSD, relationship issues, mental health issues, and other maladies of that western medicine fails to address. They come for healing, and many will find it.
Despite the healing that plant medicines like Ayahuasca, Psychotria Viridis, San Pedro, and others can offer, the boom in Ayahuasca tourism is not without it's dark side. Tricksters, fake shamans, diluted or chemically-altered medicine, and poorly led ceremonies where personal injury, theft, sexual abuse, and even death are rising in tandem with the tourist dollars that are forever putting their mark on the fragile socio-economic ecosystem of the Amazon.
The risks and inconvenience of travelling to the Amazon are one reason that many people are seeking shamanic ceremony closer to home, but unfortunately, many European countries have some catching up to do in terms of Ayahuasca's legality. And despite its incredible, life-changing effects, many countries, including the United Kingdom, still consider the potent brew illegal because of its psychoactive DMT-component.
The legal barriers between Ayahuasca and her seekers doesn't mean that British Ayahuasca ceremony retreat centers do not exist, but it does make finding them somewhat of a hassle. Due to the illegality of this psychoactive substance (and therefore ayahuasca ceremonies as well), practitioners are hesitant to openly share what they are doing. And those who partake in a ceremony are also unlikely to talk about their Ayahuasca use in public forums, as doing so would endanger the people who lead these ceremonies since it's techically classified as a psychedelic drug.
When you begin to search for an experience, remember - this isn't like planning a yoga retreat. You are preparing to make a profound shift to your consciousness, in a space that is both incredibly powerful, and intimately vulnerable. The integrity of your facilitators - all the way down to the person who cooks your meals - cannot be overstated. You are putting your consciousness in the hands of people you have never met before, and while it may be the best decision you ever make, it does require your diligence.
To help you on your way, we have listed the 10 best options for those who are living in the UK - from Scotland, to East Sussex and beyond and want to participate in an Ayahuasca ceremony.
Because of the aforementioned reasons, the list does not include British Ayahuasca centers. However, for those who are willing to broaden their scope, they may be delighted to see the many other options for an ayahuasca ceremony that exist outside the UK, but which are still located nearby. In addition, contacting the listed centers may also open new doors for you.
You will find most options for your healing retreat or Ayahuasca ceremony in Spain and Portugal, where ayahuasca is decriminalized or is held in a legal "grey" zone. For more options, check out our list of Ayahuasca Retreats in Europe.
*Iquitos, Pucallpa, Machu Piccu and the Sacred Valley, Costa Rica are popular destinations, and Santo Daime and Kawsay Ayahuasca retreat center in Iquitos is an often-visited place. Indigenous person and Shipibo shaman Don Ronor from the Ayahuasca Foundation (Ayahuasca retreat Iquitos) is also a well-known and revered faclilitator of traditional religious ceremonies.
DMT, the psychoactive component of ayahuasca is still illegal in the UK despite the ironic fact that DMT is naturally produced in the human brain. So, technically, we're all breaking the law, but that's another story! There are definitely many underground options, but one must be very careful in situations like these as this is usually very little accountability in these places. The medicine world is not without corruption, so make sure you do your research. There are certain organizations who have religious exemption to serve ayahuasca, psilocybin, and other plant medicine like peyote, San Pedro, and 5-MeO-DMT, and we've listed them below. All in all, it's wise to be patient, be diligent in your research, and choose a place with a good reputation. Read guest testimonials, talk to people who've been there, and above all else, trust your intuition!
Because of the legal grey areas, Behold Retreats doesn't facilitate Ayahuasca in the UK, but we do offer some close-by options. As we mentioned, there are very few places in the USA serving Ayahuasca legally, so if you're willing to take a short flight to Portugal, Behold Retreats offers a holistic and modern approach to plant medicine refined over serving 1,500+ clients. Our organization curates and facilitates life-changing plant medicine journeys with an emphasis on client goals, preparation, and integration.
Guests of Behold Retreats can also choose between a variety of other entheogens, locations, and options, for example a small group retreat overlooking the jungle in Costa Rica, on the dutch country side with Psilocybin in the Netherlands or perhaps a culturally immersive encounter in the golden mountains of Mexico with 5-MeO-DMT (Bufo).
For those who do choose to attend a retreats in the USA, Behold Retreats offers high quality coaching before and after your retreat, and we can point you in the direction of a trusted retreat within the country. Apply for a free consultation with a plant medicine expert to share your individual needs and preferences, and to understand whether (or not) there is a mutual fit.
Group retreat sizes are smaller than most retreat centers - typically no more than 10-12.
Client safety and confidentiality are given the highest importance, and healers, facilitators, therapists, and coaches have decades of experience under their belt.
Shamanic Space offers intensive Ayahuasca healing retreats with Shipibo plant doctors. The center was founded nineteen years ago, by the Peruvian-born Shaman Rubén Orellana and the American psychotherapist and shamanic practitioner Michele Costa Lukis.
Their aim is to offer safe and legal Ayahuasca and San Pedro ceremonial retreats in Peru. As with most Ayahuasca centers, they solely work with the medicine with the intention of healing, be it spiritually, mentally, physically, and/or emotionally. Recreational usage is not permitted.
Over the years, the center has evolved to include workshops and retreats in the UK, Europe, and New Zealand. However, Ayahuasca ceremonies are only offered in the brew’s natural habit: the Amazonian jungle.
Nonetheless, they do offer some healing retreats in the UK, such as their Shamanic ‘Walking in Wales’ weekend, for example. While these retreats do not include mother Ayahuasca, they can serve as a way to get to know the center a little better before embarking on a Peruvian Ayahuasca journey with them.
Good to know! The consciousness-expanding San Pedro cactus is known to engender deep introspective journeys, and the visionary plant perfectly complements Ayahuasca’s healing.
Just like in the UK, Ayahuasca ceremonies are currently illegal in Ireland. However, law enforcement seems to be slightly less strict here, and because of this, you are naturally more likely to find an Ayahuasca center here than in the UK. This is especially true when searching online.
One such Irish retreat center is Ayayni. The center’s appeal already begins with its name: the combination of the words ‘Ayahuasca’ and ‘Ayni’. Ayni refers to a natural giving between ourselves and mother Nature; a profound, reciprocal exchange.
It is believed that through the act of Ayni, you can reconnect with your truth and live a more authentic and fulfilling life. In turn, a union of humanity and true awakening is possible. This is also what the center aims to facilitate.
Ayayni Shamanic Retreats has various venues, and they hold retreats in Ireland, Mallorca, and Colombia.
Joanna Shilson is Ayayni’s founder, and the team consists of expert shamanic therapists, plant specialists, and medicine musicians. Every single staff member has a unique quality or talent, but what they all have in common is that they are fully devoted to the expansion of human consciousness.
For information on dates, locations, and prices of their retreats, you can either send them a message or request to join their Facebook group.
Origen Sagrada describes itself as a community that helps others through Ayahuasca healing. This community is made up of like-minded people who want to provide health and healing through the power of sacred plant medicine ceremonies.
Their main Ayahuasca center is nestled in the Andes mountains just outside of Medellin, in Colombia where they host their aya healing ceremonies. As the center is surrounded by lush vegetation and beautiful flowers, the location is idyllic.
For those who can’t make it to Colombia, there is some great news: Origen Sagrada believes in providing the sacred medicine for all, and besides traveling to the US 4 times a year to host retreats, they also occasionally hold traditional Ayahuasca ceremonies in Ireland. You can check their upcoming events in Ireland here.
Pachamama Shamanic Healing offers 4-day Ayahuasca retreats in Ireland. The retreat serves as an opportunity to get to know yourself more intimately and find out who you truly are.
Throughout this entire process of self-discovery, you are accompanied by trained facilitators. Unlike in other Ayahuasca retreats, shamans do not guide the ceremonies. Instead, Pachamama Shamanic Healing’s staff consists of a group of experienced therapeutic counselors.
Apart from the Ayahuasca assisted therapy, these counselors also conduct a healing psychotherapeutic process of integration, emotional release, and sound therapy. The relaxing vibrations of numerous shamanic instruments guide you through the entire ceremony experience. Think of the beautiful sounds of the drums, didgeridoo, Tibetan bowls, and quartz bowls.
The retreat includes accommodation in the ceremony room, breakfast and lunch, shamanic remedies, psychotherapy work, varied cleansing rituals, and any follow-up support that you may need afterward. In addition to Ayahuasca, the powerful Kambo and Bufo Alvarius are also available.
Getting to the Netherlands from the UK isn't too much of a hassle. And the Acsauhaya Shamanic Retreat Center can definitely be worth the trip.
The aya retreat is situated in the middle of grasslands at the foot of a large nature reserve, making it the ideal venue to reconnect with nature.
The team has over 30 years of experience and they work together with authentic shamans from the Peruvian Ucayali area.
Ceremonies are held in a gorgeously renovated Dutch farmhouse. And each retreat includes fresh vegetarian meals, two Ayahuasca ceremonies, an integration toolkit, as well as private and group sharing circles the day after each experience.
Sinchi Runa is a revered and well-known Ayahuasca center in Portugal. Nestled in the rolling hills above the Algarve coast, this center provides those who visit a deeply authentic experience.
They offer several 8-day retreats, and their 23-day retreat is specifically catered to those who want to fully immerse themselves into their Ayahuasca journey and uncover all that the medicine has to share with them.
Each retreat includes a transfer to and from the retreat venue, daily homemade organic meals, and an English/Spanish translator. In addition to the ceremonies themselves, they also offer integration exercises and therapeutic activities.
Union In Arutam is located on the beautiful island of Tenerife, the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands.
After learning from the Shuar Amazonian Shamanism tradition, the retreats’ founder, Arutam Ruymán, began teaching medicine at the age of 22. And today, the retreat center has been conducting Ayahuasca ceremonies for more than twelve years.
Ceremonies are held in quiet locations, deep in nature. To make sure that each participant is truly ready for the intense journey that lies ahead, a preliminary interview with the community coordinator is required. And besides Ayahuasca, they also offer other medicinal plants, such as San Pedro.
Interesting to know! The Shuar are an indigenous people of Ecuador and Peru, who are well-known for their Ayahuasca shamanism and their use of ‘natem’ (the indigenous name for the Ayahuasca vine Banisteriopsis caapi).
Check out our article on the top 10 Ayahuasca retreats in Spain!
We would be honored to guide you in choosing the best retreat for your needs. Behold Retreats coordinates expertly guided retreats with Ayahuasca, Psilocybin, and 5-MeO-DMT (Bufo Alvarius) with highly experienced facilitators. Reach out to us to set up a complimentary discovery call and we can point you in the right direction.
Behold Retreats sets the standard for safe, legal,
and transformative plant medicine retreats.
Ready to heal, find peace, and live your purpose?
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