We are a spiritual community based in Medellin, Colombia dedicated to honoring the traditions of our ancestors. We host short retreats at our center in Santa Elena every two weeks. We are elders from the Muinane and Siona tribes of Colombia.
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Emily Jane Steinberg October 19, 2018
I first encountered Camino al Sol in August 2018, when I attended a retreat in Southern California. The experience with the group was so positive that less than a month after this retreat, I accepted their invitation to visit Columbia, and traveled with them for 18 days to visit the elders of their community and do ceremonies in the jungles of Putomayo, the mountains above Medellin, and the jungles of Santander. Below is my more detailed review of this incredible community. I had been waiting for the right opportunity to work with ayahuasca for literally twenty years (ever since reading The Cosmic Serpent, by Jeremy Narby, in college), and I felt strongly that it was NOT something to chase after, and I would wait until it came to me in the appropriate way. This group was first recommended to me by two close and trusted friends who had worked with them earlier in the year. Their ceremonies in the US are now being held at a site in SoCal that is already sacred to me, where I have been attending retreats and doing deep transformational work for years. Taking this as the sign I was waiting for, I signed up for the full length of their US stay in August 2018, which encompassed 7 nights of ceremony across 10 nights, total (essentially, 3 separately held retreats, all back to back). This was a profound and, as it turns out, very courageous way to meet the medicine, but was exactly the right move for me. I do not necessarily recommend that other first-timers consider attending so many nights of ceremony at once - my wife and I were the only 2 people to do so - UNLESS you take it quite seriously, and do all the necessary preparations - follow the strict dieta, learn as much as possible (Highly recommend these 2 books: Ayahuasca: Soul Medicine of the Jungle, by Javier Reguiero, and The Ayahuasca Test Pilots Handbook, by Chris Kilham)., and, at the same time, drop all expectations, hopes and fears, and enter the ceremony with as much equilibrium as possible. It also helps if you have some kind of meditation experience, because the context of mindfulness, awareness and spaciousness, or just a background of working skillfully with your own mind, greatly helps to navigate the profound experiences of the medicine. I don’t think I could have handled these 7 nights so well if it weren’t for the groundwork of more than12 years of meditation and study I’ve done. Now, as for the close-knit team that is Camino al Sol: Samuel, Martine, Diego, Andrea, and Camilo - they are family to one another, and now, are family to me. They are all beautiful, careful and caring, a cohort of genuine, dedicated, and expert shamans (though they would not necessarily use this term themselves - because they would say, for example, that after as many as 27 years of walking this path, they are still learning its ways!). These five people are specifically responsible for bringing the plant medicines of the Carare tradition to North America, and they hold all the Camino al Sol retreats in the US and Mexico. Samuel is the main holder of the retreat center in Santa Elena (he lives there), and the others all hold the ceremonies there with him. The wisdom, knowledge and experience of this group can be traced to their main Taita, as well as directly to their elders in Putomayo, several of whom I was introduced to when they brought a group of us to Colombia in September. Through the ceremonies of the circle of word that would precede drinking the cups each night, and in the morning gatherings after breakfast, Samuel and Martine would freely answer whatever questions that any of us had, offering context, perspective, and useful teachings to help us assimilate our experiences, enlarge our understanding of the plants as both medicine and teacher, and, to generally support us on our continued personal journeys of healing. Healing is, after all, at the center of this. While of course occasionally people show up who are just looking to ‘try’ ayahuasca, or have an ‘epic trip,’ they quickly find out that it is far more profound than that. As Andrea explained to me, the medicine works first by healing ourselves, then by healing our family, and finally, extending that healing into the world. It is deep work, it is very hard work, and it is also beautiful work. I cannot imagine undertaking it with any other group. The container they create is impeccable. In Colombia the next month, my experience (again) exceeded every expectation, shattered every concept, accomplished more healing, integration, and transformation than I have encountered through any modality prior, and left me planning to return soon and often. I will be back to the next US retreat in November, and am clear that ayahuasca is a newly integral part of my own journey of spiritual healing and growth. I am so grateful to have found this community to heal and grow with. One final note: there is a huge difference between medication (what we are used to in the West, whether through prescription or self-medicating), and true medicine. Ayahuasca is the latter. It is a profound paradigm shift to reverse supposedly ‘incurable’ conditions through a medicine that can actually rewrite the biology of your mind and body, and I wish everyone could have the strength and circumstances to experience it, at least once. Especially with the community and team of Camino al Sol! Also note that the US-based people liaising with Camino al Sol changed in 2018. I have had no first-hand experience with the people mentioned in some of the older negative reviews but the new team, with Jo and Vlad at the helm, is a new chapter entirely. TL;DR: These people are the real deal, offering a supportive, open, welcoming and safe environment for the messy work of true inner healing to take place. Both at their US retreats and in traveling with them for ceremonies throughout Colombia, I was cared for and supported exquisitely. Highly recommend, with no reservations, for anyone looking to encounter and work with the sacred plant medicines in a scrupulous form, with greatest respect and rootedness in the traditions of the Carare community of Colombia.
Lila August 23, 2018
This review is solely based on the experience I had with Jo and her team. What can I truly say to even express my gratitude towards Jo and her husband, the Colombian elders (Martin, Samuel, Camilo, Andrea, Diego, and Natalia), and the owners of the land where the retreat took place. I had heard about ayahuasca about a year ago from a coworker but didn’t have the urge to truly experience the plant medicine until recently. A couple months ago I was at a crossroads with my corporate job that was creating intense anxiety and nervousness while harboring a lot of negative emotions I had built up over the years. At first I was pretty apprehensive since I had never experienced aya before even though I am familiar with other plant medicines. I did a ton of research on reddit and youtube on the plant medicine but still was unsure. However, speaking with Jo on the phone relieved any kind of hesitation or fear, she has AMAZING energy and is so loving/nurturing/knowledgable/positive etc. hence the reason why her nickname is Jo Mama; she really takes the time to take care of everyone’s individual needs or concerns and I am so blessed to have met her. I attended the first weekend of the retreat not knowing what I was getting myself into (plus I was going by myself) and before the first ceremony I was so nervous that I was shaking and scared out of my mind. Jo completely calmed me down, shared her own personal story with me and reminded me that I just need to BREATHE. The whole experience would not have been so amazing without the help of every single person there. I faced my fears, tackled many personal obstacles I had within me and came out a much stronger person. The elders provided incredible knowledge and support throughout the retreat and I felt nothing but unconditional love not just from the elders but also from the other people attending the retreat. Their music is so healing and awesome! Throughout the weekend we had amazing vegan food (thank you Henry), which I’m normally not a fan of and since the retreat I have gone vegan not just by choice but the plant medicine basically rewired my body in a way that I now enjoy a plant based diet. My past addictions to Taco Bell and juicy steaks are no longer which is crazy to me!! I came back for the second weekend however my cycle started and when that happens, you cannot attend ceremony because when women are on their cycle their energy is too powerful and may negatively affect the rest of the group (so plan accordingly). This retreat has been life changing for me!! What I described is only a fraction of the amazing adventure I encountered. My relationship with my parents is the strongest its ever been and I wake up every day feeling blessed and grateful. My anxiety has gone down tremendously and I notice that I am more patient and loving with others. It’s like the darkness I had in my life is now gone and I live my life with so much light. And that is just from one retreat! I look forward to the next retreat Jo and her team are putting together and will definitely be going to Colombia with this group in the future. Not only did I leave this retreat a better version of myself but I also gained a wonderful family. I love you all!! Heyyyyyyyyyy!
Elizabeth Isles June 01, 2018
I was so lucky to have found Camino al Sol two years ago and have participated in many retreats with them. They share traditions with respect and take good care of participants. The ceremonies last all night with healings, music and drumming by the fire. Camino al Sol is so sincere and dedicated to healing and helping... their retreats are excellent!!
M&M June 09, 2017
If you are seeking out one of the most impactful of life's experiences, offered by extremely nurturing, knowledgeable, talented, and powerful individuals, look no further. Spend a few nights with this amazing group and offer yourself the opportunity to forever evolve...
Yvette Diaz June 02, 2017
I am so grateful to have had the chance to experience a retreat with the folks of Camino al Sol. They were kind, caring, experienced and respectful of the traditions.
Ian Vogel May 31, 2017
Eighteen months ago I performed the most important Google search of my life. That search led me to finding out about Origin Sagrada (Camino Al Sol). Over the course of the last year and a half I have drank ayahuasca with this group of facilitators / shaman / healers (call them what you will) 20+ nights in California, Colorado and Colombia. In that time I have also drank with multiple facilitators not associated with Origin Sagrada. The facilitators of Origin Sagrada are as competent and well intentioned as any I have met. I can't imagine that it's easy for them to leave their families and communities for weeks at a time to do this kind of difficult healing work. It requires a kind of personal sacrifice and dedication to helping strangers that is not often seen in our culture. Together, with The Medicine, the guidance and wisdom of these facilitators has had an incredibly profound impact on my life. There have been many ups and downs in my experience with the ayahuasca but never have I felt alone, in danger, or neglected by any of the members of this group, ever. I now consider Danielle, the rest of this group and my fellow ceremony participants to be part of my family. One of the biggest and most unexpected blessings has been the genuinely great people I have met at these retreats. The environment cultivated by Origin Sagrada always brings in interesting, unique, and good hearted people. Words can't describe how fortunate I feel to have met so many wonderful people. Thru this kind of introspective work I have been able to examine and heal past traumas as well as gain a better understanding of who I am. There have been many ups and downs (both quite necessary for growth) in my experience with the ayahuasca but never have I felt alone, in danger, or neglected by any of the members of this group, ever. Countless times I've witnessed and heard ceremony participants tell their own stories of a profound kind of healing that western medicine does not provide. I hope that Origin Sagrada (Camino al Sol) continues this kind of deep and meaningful healing work for as long as they can. Anyone feeling the call to use this plant medicine will be in good hands with this group of shaman. If you are looking for an authentic ayahuasca experience then look no further. ~Ian
Anonymous May 09, 2017
"Helper" girls were incompetent and unsupportive. Paid very little attention. Several people from the weekend retreat did not get their massages or healing ceremonies, which were promised during at least one of ceremonies. Danielle and the musicians are total sweethearts, but for as long as those girls are there I will not consider this a good group. They need to fire them ASAP. For the sake of context, I got my period the day after the second ceremony. I originally signed up for the weeklong retreat, which included four ceremony days and one break day. The helper girls took me to the office and told me to stay there. I talked for awhile with the girls because I was upset that I was no longer allowed to participate in the ceremonies due to my period. After all, I didn't pay $300 extra to hear about the medicine of the period and why (TMI) I should get a big plant and save the blood from my menstrual cup and dump it into the plant. Yeah that was their advice. The girls later left and told me that they would be back soon, along with doing some bodywork to help cleanse my body and help get the negative energies out. They didn't do either one and left me alone in the office for hours. I know that I definitely was in there for at least four hours by myself because I was checking my tablet and trying to find stuff to do. Eventually, I felt the medicine coming back and the period acted as my purge in a way. I kept feeling the toxic energies being released through my body and they were getting stuck in the room. There was nothing to protect me from them (e.g., Palo Santo or mapacho smoke), which they normally have in the main house. They did not allow me to even step foot back in the main house and brought all of my stuff back for me. They STILL forgot my freakin' memory foam pillow and blanket! You know how smoke gets trapped in a room if you don't open the window? That's exactly how it felt with the negative energies being released from my body and becoming trapped in the office. It was so toxic and I was screaming for help while I was completely left alone and trying to fight off the negative energies. The group advises staying away from the puke during the ceremonies because of said negative energies, and it was no different from what I was experiencing. Eventually, it got so toxic that I could just not bear it anymore. The girls were outside and one of them was on her phone (eugh 😒). I told them that the negative energies were stuck in there and I needed to get away from the office as soon as possible. Once again, I was told to go back in there and that I wasn't allowed to go anywhere else until they were ready for me. I also asked to use the bathroom several times and they did not allow me to because it was back in the main home. It turns out that there was a public bathroom just down the road that they could've brought me to if they weren't as dumb as bricks. My entire period lasted only six(!) hours and I was told that I could still not participate in the ceremonies for three days, which ever so happened to be after the end of my retreat. I did not hear a single word about this on their website and part of me thinks that they were making it up so that they could be lazy and not do their job. The girls finally brought me to the bathroom when Danielle came along to check in on us. That was a few more hours later. I strongly believe that the girls did this to be mean to me and waited until Danielle came along because then she would not know what was happening between me and the girls for hours before. They clearly knew that the public bathroom was already there and I did not. They were not doing their job. Danielle was understanding about it and drove me home early that night, but the experience there was so negative and unsupportive to the point that I will not be coming again. To all of the facilitators at Origen Sagrada: I appreciate your quaint little sexist traditions, but it's time to evolve. If women are supposedly so powerful during their period, then how come they should be kept in isolation and forced to deal with the medicine still going through their body all on their own? I was experiencing full-blown visions and they did not check on me once nor did they provide the bodywork that they promised. I was screaming and in extreme spiritual and physical pain. Abandoning someone like that does not make any sense and is motivated by ignorance, laziness, and/or just being plain old mean. In spite of everything that happened yesterday, I still found my silver lining and it really helped me realize that sexism is still alive and well today. That doesn't mean that you should go to this group, though. Yesterday was a terribly negative experience and I could've lived without it. It was not healing whatsoever and was very glad that I got out. Some of you might remember me from the retreat(s) and view this with denial since I had a good time DURING the ceremonies and made a lot of amazing friends. For those who don't quite remember, I was the girl with the stuffed dolphin. Yes, the second night was incredible, but I also learned the hard way that the ceremony facilitators and traditions that matter just as much as the medicine itself. I could've had the exact same healing experience at another group, if not better. After all, they skipped a ton of the rituals this time and a lot of the newcomers were having a bad time too. I think they were trying to raise money for the people in Mocoa and fit as many participants in as possible. When there's too much people, the energies clash together and it's hard for the participants to get the support that they need. I felt so bad for a lot of the newcomers who said they will never be doing it again. The facilitators gave me guidance at the first retreat, but this one was just a money grab and I imagine it's not going to get any better. Heck, even the way that the medicine was treated this time was ridiculous. It was stored in the back closet to cool, which I have to say is pretty disrespectful to the spirits. This was my second retreat with Origen Sagrada (AKA Camino Al Sol), and I know that I will not be going back again. Did I mention that the ceremonies were even larger this time and the majority of the food was nowhere close to appropriate for the dieta?
email@example.com May 05, 2016
I became aware of the Camino al Sol group back in September 2015; my best friend in Ventura, California found their website and forwarded information to me about a retreat being hosted by the group in November. I had been wanting to experience an ayahuasca (or yage') journey since 2013, and had done some research about various retreat centres in Peru. Most of them indicated that I would not be able to do ayahuasca because I am on medication for hypertension. Danielle, the key organizer for the Camino al Sol group, reassured me that my dose would be lowered and that I would be in safe hands. And she did not steer me wrong! The November retreat was life-transforming and helped me overcome many fears, including my fear of death. I attended two more retreats in California (one in February and the other in April), and I cannot express how grateful I am to be connected to this tribe. They are passionate about upholding the traditions of their Elders, and helping people transform and heal. Attending their ceremonies is a truly amazing and mind-blowing experience, and I strongly encourage you to book a retreat with this group...you won't be disappointed!