My first journey with Ayahuasca was with a traditional Quechua woman at her mountain home. After a lifetime of intrinsic knowing that something wasn’t right with the world and unseen forces were at play, I finally had the veil on the curtain pulled back. I was taken for a ride I have no way to describe and it led to six years of working with the plants of the Amazon and learning their ways.

I now host my own retreats with Ayahuasca and Huachuma in Portugal and since starting out on this journey I’ve been looking for a way to give back to the jungle and provide a way for other people to give back.
The message from Ayahuasca varies from person to person but one of the greatest consistencies is that she is healing our wounds. Healing our wounds so that we perhaps might be able to heal the wounds of the planet.
There are scars being driven deep into the Amazon rainforest on a daily basis through mining, logging, ranching along with the infrastructure these industries need. The simple truth is that it may not be around in another 50 years without our protection. Protection from us, from humans.
The solution is in the problem as they say.
On a species level I feel that we’re totally unaware and ignorant to the damage that’s being done and what it could mean for our survival. Although thousands of miles away for many, the Amazon represents the heart and lungs of our planet, both metaphorically and literally. Here the flowering of life so diverse and rich unfolds to a level unknown anywhere else on earth.
What knowledge and wisdom is held in this sea of green? We’ve already uncovered so much of it for use in allopathic medicine, not to mention the plants that are used in more traditional plant shamanism and healing modalities. Yet we have regressed as a species into plundering and thieving this resource, choosing greed over reciprocity. The sickness of man played out on an enormous scale, as swathes of rainforest are destroyed everyday in the pursuit of resource control and dominance.
Right there in the destruction of the Amazon we see our own internal wounds reflected back at us. Our own self destruct button, lack of care, lack of respect, lack of love. Instead chasing the next thing, the progress to who knows where, hoping when we have it we will feel better. When we get the ‘goody’ our pain will dissipate and we will feel satisfied.
Always chasing, never finding.
We chase what we already have. Our creative process runs wild into what could be, rather than celebrating and immersing ourselves in what is. The beauty that is all around and within us.
When I came across the Amazon Rainforest Conservancy project it represented something I’d been seeking out for many years. A way to genuinely give back to the Amazon and protect it for future generations.
In all power struggles there is an energetic currency and in this one that currency is money. Money is being used as a tool to plunder the Amazon in the same way that money can be used to protect it. It’s sad in some ways that we must protect it from humans rather than being able to talk sensibly with each other about the long term repercussions of destroying it.
And yet, that is the situation we find ourselves in. A time when nothing but concerted action will do.
It’s with great appreciation that I thank the team at the ARC for having the vision and dedication to do what’s now necessary. I look forward to supporting their efforts by donating after each Love Heal Forgive Ayahuasca retreat and encouraging guests to do the same. I’ll also match anything my guests donate.
It may seem like a cause far from home for some, and yet the vine is creeping around the world healing hearts and minds for a reason. Our survival could depend on it.
About Neil Kirwan
Neil is a practising shaman and runs plant medicine retreats with Ayahuasca and Huachuma in the south of Portugal.
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