Shadow Integration and Radical Truth in the Sacred Lands of Putumayo

“The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves.” – Bessel A. van der Kolk.


I remember actively resisting an open invitation for a 7 day Ayahuasca journey inside the sacred plant’s own home, deep down south in Colombia; in its Amazonian majestic forest. 

The person inviting me (J) was very well known to me as he became part of our team in creating the Soul Dreamers program. But despite trying to work together, our energies were not aligned. Something was disconnecting us, an unspoken truth which I consciously could not depict. Was it my misunderstanding of who he is, was it his resistance to the vision I was creating that was holding us still and occasionally breathless and annoyed? Was it me running away from a truthful honest heartfelt conversation together?

Through a pure natural unfolding of life events, one of our partner eco-communities, Ambi created a retreat earlier this year in January in the sacred region of Putumayo. The area is resided in its vast majority by indigenous tribes, and through a deal made with the Colombian government, the Inka tribes hold political and territorial autonomy including the possibility to hold their ancestral Ayahuasca retreats. The spiritual eco-journey was starting the year with the goal of alignment with new resolutions to be made offering a possibility of bettering ourselves, and a fresh possibility of inner genuine transformation. 

J repeatedly asked me to attend the retreat as to offer us a chance to become more in touch with each other’s feelings through the power of empathy and real connection that the plant medicine can unfold. However, I had other plans occurring at the same time including a trip to Mexico, and did not place much attention on the opportunity. “I am not meant to be in Colombia during this retreat”. Or so I rambled back..  

Spontaneously, 3 days before traveling, while setting up my health insurance, the travel agent in charge of it advised me loudly and firmly not to travel further to Mexico. He invoked a current state of affairs in connection to Romanian citizens being disallowed entrance, and instantly deported. He asked me to check the internet on previous cases of being denied entry due to a mass credit card fraud that certain of my fellow country men arranged. I was perplexed by its strong persuasion technique and while normally I would embrace wholeheartedly the road of adventure this time I felt an intuitive whisper telling me to change course.

So I diverted to Colombia instead. And subsequently joined J in the Putumayo retreat. 

Putumayo is a very unique place. It combines the land of coca mass production with US exported evangelism (read neo-colonization) while also nesting the spiritual home of ancient indigenous communities and millennial long healing practices. Not to mention the incredible landscapes at the start of the Colombian Amazonian forests.

The 7 day journey has been mind blowing to say the very least. Having a chance to drink the plant medicine in its actual birthplace is not only a blessing but also a humbling opportunity to delve deep into one’s own subconsciousness in real connection to the protective spirit of nature. The majestic long trees were synchronizing in their movement with the curling winds in front of my eyes. The swirling chickens and ducks were passing by in their daily routines showing how slowness and presence are the actual nature’s norm away from the agitations and stress of a socially constructed pseudo-life. A beautiful dog was regularly sleeping right next to my hammock giving me a sense of energetical protection in my inner journey. 

And during the one week miraculously-felt experience, I felt that understanding my own truth, and speaking it out is a gift not only to myself but also to others, and the most healing medicine existent out there. By knowing oneself, one can understand one’s desires, dreams, and especially boundaries, and set concrete informed actions leading to what works best in the connection to others. It allows for decisions to be made in full bright light. Radical honesty thus becomes an engine towards inner growth and societal happiness.

I also felt connected to J by empathizing with his own struggles and past but also with his desire to heal and improve his life and those around him. I learnt about his major childhood drama, I saw him in action helping the retreaters, and I understood him. I felt him closer. And I also told him in a radically honest way that I do not feel his emotions, I do not feel his connection. And he agreed that he needs to work on it. 

Overall, the Putumayo journey has also been one of meeting my own shadows, those hurt aspects of my soul deeply hidden within. Through the connection to the Ayahuasca intelligence, to the secretive jungle surrounding me, and most importantly to the safe environment created by the retreat organizers in the sharing circles, in  hearing their unbelievably beautiful played live music, I felt more whole, more integrated, more in line with my own fears, and more ready to act as one. 

When leaving the retreat, despite a natural body exhaustion, I also witnessed a burst of energetic light which made me feel connected to myself, and those meeting on my journey back to Bogota. I was happy, smiling, and ready to create further beauty in life. 


NB: We are launching our Putumayo retreats in 2023 with a 12 day Inner Journey in the sacred lands of Yungillo protected by the oldest Indigenous spiritual leader – Taita Querubin. He is 109 years old and alongside his son and grandson they will be the guardians of your connection to your soul. 

For more info on the retreat, and booking process click here 

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