deciding on a Shaman

Ayahuasca – the Gringo’s Guide by Allan Finney is now available on Amazon.

Do you need a Shaman to take ayahuasca?

You can email us for our current list of shamans that we’re aware of in Canada or for advice about finding a shaman in the Amazon.

Master Shaman Roger Lopez (deceased)

There are people who will tell you that you don’t need a shaman to take ayahuasca.

And that’s certainly one way to look at the situation. But for the rest of us, a shaman, practitioner, ayahuascero, facilitator or someone who has experience with the plant medicine is more than likely the preferred (and recommended) way for people who are new to the medicine.

Finding a qualified shaman or practitioner in Canada or the Amazon may take a bit of research. If you are contemplating a Canadian ceremony you also need to understand that Ayahuasca is illegal in Canada.

We also have an ayahuasca decision making guide that goes in-depth into making a decision to take ayahuasca.

Our recommendation is that it’s much better to engage in your first ceremony with someone who has experience with the medicine. There’s just too many things that can happen in a ceremony where you may wish you were with someone with experience. While Ayahuasca does work directly with you in a ceremony – it is very much a “one-on-one” experience – a qualified facilitator should really be a prime consideration for anyone contemplating “the work.”

While a shaman is certainly recommended, people do come to the medicine in their own way. If financial considerations or other impediments are keeping you from a ceremony with a qualified shaman, some people will undertake the journey by themselves or with a group. If you fall into this category at least try to find an experienced group of people to sit with. An Ayahuasca ceremony is not to be taken lightly.

The Meloka at Suipino, Ucayali region, Peru

The primary purpose of the shaman is to “hold the space” for people in the ceremony. This simply means that the shaman has enough experience to keep you safe on your journey, both physically and spiritually. You are going to a world that is vastly different than the “physical” world you are familiar with. Qualified shamans may also be powerful healers and work directly with the Ayahuasca spirit and other plant spirits in a healing ceremony.

Shamans are known to direct the healing energies of the plant spirits and open you up to a deeper, more profound experience. Most good shamans have had a major apprenticeship – a minimum of 5 or 6 years or more and preferably decades of experience.

Ceremony night at the Meloca in Suipino, Ucayali Region, Peru

If you’re just starting on the journey, you may be able to get recommendations from Ayahuasca social media groups found in Canada and around the world. Search Facebook, or use other social media platforms to find experienced people who can recommend centers or practitioners. Do your research before making a decision.

As well, there are others ways to experience the medicine other than a traditional Amazonian shaman. Many different types of ceremonies including entire religions have sprung up around Ayahuasca.  But the best advice for anyone contemplating an Ayahuasca ceremony is to find an experienced practitioner or group of people with solid credentials. Trust your instincts when choosing someone.

Because of the huge interest and growth worldwide in Ayahuasca, as in any “industry” there’s all sorts of people who are only in it for the money. This may result in anything from unqualified shamans offering ceremonies to someone trying to serve you Ayahuasca with a dubious heritage. Make sure you know who you’re drinking with and how the medicine was prepared.