Ayahuasca Retreats in Costa Rica 215.310.1250



New Life Ayahuasca Overall rating: ★★★★★ 5 based on 96 reviews
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Shamanic Value

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Just before I traveled to New Life, I was given a book. It was a coincidence that the book was Stone Age Wisdom and that it was about shamanism. More important, it was something that I needed to read at just that moment – such are the synchronicities that pop up in your life if you’re ready to notice them. I knew a lot about Ayahuasca from reading and listening to Terrence McKenna. But I had given almost no thought to the other important factor in Ayahuasca ceremonies – the shaman. Author Tom Crockett wrote his book to demystify the function played by those who facilitate, host and present the ceremonies. His central premise is that shamanic work is about helping people to learn about and to heal themselves. You don’t have to be from a traditional culture and you don’t need a PhD in Shamanistic Studies. You just need to understand – intellectually and viscerally – the value of the rituals and pre-modern practices that can be so effective with or without the plant medicines. I feel very lucky that I ended up at a retreat with Matthew Mormello. The whole experience certainly engaged me in profound ways. Matt has obviously been trained well by traditional mentors but his background as an American helped make him and the ceremonies that much more amenable. He never refers to himself as a shaman but Matt’s efforts impressed me for their balance of wild energy and ceremonial dignity. I haven’t experienced so-called real shaman so I don’t know what I missed. But from what I know from reading is that Matt set the perfect tone and ambiance in which Mother Ayahuasca could do her magic. The experience can be a little intimidating so the other value provided by Matt and his partner Janae is safety. They really care about taking care of people. The feeling you get is love. They love what they’re doing. They love to help and serve. And they love enough to be really professional about the whole operation. The food is great. The rooms are great. The amenities are great. All in all: this is real value. The Ayahuasca experience is much more than merely drinking a plant medicine. It starts from the moment you are welcomed to the beautiful house high in the hills of San Ramon. This is something important to any shamanistic experience: the location. With a forever view of the surrounding hills, ocean and skies, this location is indeed liminal. The house is one with the sky and abounds with character and warmth. And all of that is buttressed by the warmth and care of Matt and Janae themselves. I’m still glowing and reverberating with little lessons from Aya weeks after the experience. If I didn’t get the genuine performance from a card-carrying native shaman in Peru, then I don’t care. I got what I needed. Thanks Matt and Janae, it was perfect.

Serene setting, beautiful experience

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This was my first aya experience and I went into it with great expectations. Matt and Jeanae, who are both wonderful people, have created the perfect environment and did not disappoint. All attendees felt safe and comfortable which allows for a more profound experience with the medicine. The food, property, guests, and Shaman (and Jeanae!!!) were all A+. I couldn't recommend this place more and I will most certainly be going back.

Profound Experience

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It's very difficult to describe what an amazing experience this was. Matt and Jeanae make you feel right at home upon arrival to their beautiful property. The rooms are amazing and very comfortable, and the view from the back porch every morning is breathtaking. Overall just a very positive energy surrounds this place and I instantly fell in love with it.. The ceremonies are unbelievably astonishing. Matt guides you through this intense experience with absolutely amazing Icaros, Gong, Drum, and Guitar. He becomes one with this medicine during ceremony, and it left me speechless. You can tell he puts 100% of his energy and passion into this, and I hold the upmost respect for him. Jeanae also plays the most beautiful sounding flute I've ever heard, and her presence during the ceremony is very soothing. Matt and Jeanae are very genuine and sincere people and I'm very grateful for what they have done for me. I cannot wait to go back!...Oh and Chopper is the coolest cat you will ever meet!
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Is Ayahuasca a Drug?


Drugs. They’re bad, right?

Well, let me begin by stating that when I ask the question ‘is ayahuasca a drug?’ I don’t mean the literal definition of the word which Oxford Dictionaries defines as “a medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body.”

When I pose the question ‘is ayahuasca a drug?’ I’m referring to what the word brings to mind. For most of us, when we think of the word ‘drug’ we usually associate it with harmful substances like cocaine and heroin. To call someone a ‘drug user’ is usually a dismissive term, implying that they are an addict or experience negative consequences in their lives due to drug use. From childhood we are taught ‘Drugs are bad! Don’t do drugs!’ Yet today, substances like ayahuasca, iboga, marijuana, mushrooms, peyote, LSD and the like are still lumped into the ‘drug’ category and we are still fed the same old propaganda warning us all of the dangers of psychedelic substances.



The whole concept of ‘is ayahuasca a drug’ came to me after a heated discussion with a close family friend regarding the topic (to keep their anonymity I will refer to them only as ‘he’). I myself am a former drug user, a heroin addict, dope fiend, whatever you want to call it. He would call himself a ‘recovering drug addict’, has 12 years sobriety and is actively involved in NA. He and I have never been particularly close, but we touch base on occasion and I was wondering if he had any interest in the work that I do and was also curious on his opinion of ayahuasca coming from a believer of the ’abstinence only’ approach to recovery.

When I asked him what he thought of ayahuasca, the response was ‘I look at it the way I view any other drug like alcohol, cocaine or heroin.’ Honestly, it threw me off. For a minute I didn’t quite know how to respond. Sometimes I forget that not everyone has a basic understanding of the scientifically proven benefits of ayahuasca and other psychedelics. I thought surely I can explain this. I can make him understand. I also hated the idea that someone I have been close to my whole life thinks of what I do (and what I credit for my continued sobriety) as nothing more than ‘giving drugs to people’.

So here is the argument I use to defend ayahuasca and other psychedelics to anyone who tries to categorize them as nothing more than ‘drugs’ – Take any substance such as alcohol, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, etc.. and apply the use of any of those substances to an individuals life and no matter what you will always see some kind of decline in the quality of their life. Whether it is as small as suffering a hangover to as debilitating as ending up on the streets or in jail – without fail there will always be some kind of decrease in the over-all quality of life with the use of non-psychedelic substances.

Now, take psychedelics. Of course psychedelics can be used in a way to get ‘high’ but I am referring here to the people that use psychedelics with a specific intention. When you take any person or group of people and apply the responsible use of psychedelics you will almost always see some kind of increase in the overall quality of life. Worst-case scenario there will be no change what-so-ever from before to after use.  What you will almost NEVER see is any kind of decrease in the users overall quality of life.

is ayahuasca a drug

Yet we still associate two vastly different categories of substances (psychedelics and non-psychedelics)  with such opposing effects (one increases quality of life, one decreases quality of life) under the same word – ‘DRUGS’. The lack of distinction between the two is holding back the acceptance and recognition in the public opinion of the true healing properties of ayahuasca and other psychedelics despite the multiple scientific reports proving their benefits. It is time to shift the current paradigm.

Too often we have guests here that have to attend our retreats in secret. They are ashamed and/or scared to tell their families or friends for fear of being judged because of the stigma attached to using a ‘drug’. They say “My mother/husband/wife/brother/employer would never understand me doing this.” Its time we start making the distinction and embrace these medicines privately and publicly for the amazing healing properties they possess.

Ayahuasca and other psychedelic have scientifically proven benefits across the spectrum of health care. We see evidence that psychedelics can drastically ease the fear of death for terminally ill patients. We see people finding relief from depression, anxiety and PTSD. We find that marijuana can significantly help people suffering from seizures and Parkinson’s. The list goes on and on.

So, to finally answer the questions, NO – ayahuasca is NOT a drug. It is a powerful, healing substance for those who take it with the intent of improving their lives.