La Familia Ayahuasca offers small group (15 guest maximum) retreats in the area of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. These retreats are 8 days/7 nights/ 4 ceremonies in length.
We recognize how important and "big" this work with Ayahuasca is. We have been running retreats for the past seven years and through that experience we have found that small group retreats are an ideal setting for deep transformational work with the medicine.
Small groups allow us to provide a very high level of personal attention. In addition, an intimate setting allows you direct access to us, Zach and Jess, such that you can really get to know us on a personal level, ask questions about the medicine and the larger process of working with the medicine.
To take this concept even further, we want you to get to know us prior to you booking a retreat with us. We want "all parties involved" to feel as comfortable as possible prior to booking your retreat. Sure, this creates a few more steps in the booking process (an application and Zoom call with Zach & Jess), but again, through past experience, we have discovered that these extra steps are very much worthwhile.
La Familia Ayahuasca has its roots in Amazonian Mestizo Shamanism. Initially, with the intention of doing deep personal work for an extended period of time, Zach moved to Genaro Herrera, Peru in 2010. As a natural evolution of this personal work, Zach began studying the medicine with the Galindo family (Maestro Gumercindo Galindo and his father, Maestro Don Roldan Galindo). The Galindo family was an extension of the lineage that began Maestro Don Julio Gerena Pinedo, who was a highly respected shaman throughout the area, and became well-known among Gringos as well after being featured prominently in the book Ayahuasca in My Blood, by Peter Goreman.
Based on a dream his teacher had and visions Zach himself had during ceremony, Zach co-founded the La Familia Medicina retreat center with the Galindo family in 2011. La Familia Medicina was in operation from 2011- mid 2014.
Our Initial Evolution
With the blessing of his teacher, Zach began serving the medicine “solo” in mid 2014-2018. During this time, Zach continued to work intensely with Ayahuasca and other jungle trees and plants. In addition, Zach began working with North American trees by applying the shamanic dieta protocol with trees such as Redwood, Sequoia, Oak, Juniper, Pando (Quaking Aspen), Cedar, Cyprus and the Bodhi tree. It was through this work that Zach and his students came to appreciate how the shamanic dieta protocol could be used around the world to tap into the wisdom of plants and trees in every location, and that the wisdom of these plants and trees tended to be uniquely relevant for those living in their environments.
In 2015 Zach met Jess on a Redwood shamanic dieta retreat in Northern California. From that retreat onward Jess immersed herself completely in the medicine. Together, Zach and Jess not only worked intensely with plant medicines, but also dove deeply into the practices Buddhism.
In late 2017 Lake Atitlan Guatemala began calling Zach and Jess through visions and synchronicity. Prior to these experiences, Guatemala was not “on the radar”.
During the first visit to Lake Atitlan, Zach and Jess received a strong message that they were expanding beyond their traditional Peruvian Mestizo lineage. While they deeply respect and will continue to honor their roots, they intend to skillfully let go of limitations and boundaries and explore approaches beyond the Amazonian container. One might say, in a way, they have begun a new medicine journey.
Our Current Revelation
Truth is obvious. Truth needs no defense nor argument. Truth simply is. It might be worth considering that resistance to Truth is the cause of suffering.
On May 15th, 2018 Zach realized a significant Truth. It was time to step aside and encourage Jess to step forth as the spiritual leader of La Familia Ayahuasca.
Zach simply realized that Jess had surpassed him on the great spiritual journey, it was time for the teacher to become the student.
Many spiritual teachers have noted that it is time for the divine feminine to step forward, and be honored as the masculine has been overshadowing the feminine for much of the last 3,000+ years. While Zach had heard this message and agreed with this message, it was not until this moment that he was ready to fully embrace it.
Back in 2015, Zach “hooked Jess up” by introducing her to the plant medicines path and supporting her re-orientation on the larger spiritual journey. Since that time, Jess has grown leaps and bounds, exceeding expectations and knocking the socks off of just about everyone in her presence. Now it is time for Jess to “hook us all up” by sharing her medicine and expression of the divine feminine with myself and anyone who chooses to work with La Familia Ayahuasca.
Zach realized what a special being Jess is- she fully represents and embodies the positive aspects of the divine feminine. She is the loving and nurturing mother incarnate. She understands and represents the divine feminine perspective that the divine is imbued in everyone and everything. That the divine exists in the Universe as the Universe.
Jess is now the “go to” person at La Familia Ayahuasca in regards to the spiritual direction of La Familia Ayahuasca.
Zach, on retreats and in ceremony will take the role of the masculine- acting as protector and support. Of course he will remain step up when necessary, particularly when our son Bodhi needs Jess’s attention, and at the same time he will defer to Jess.
A Note From Jess
Over the last several months, maybe even the last two years, there have been tips and hints that it was time to support and uplift the Divine Feminine. After all, this is all she asks for— a canvas upon which to paint herself into bloom; a container in which the masculine is holding space for her dramatic unfoldment. Even so, I was surprised by Zach’s recent revelation. Surprised, humbled, and… exalted. He surprised me with this in a letter… and as I read it, despite my initial shock, I realized how much this is what I had been longing and wishing for. And I immediately felt in my bones that this was right.
Since our pregnancy and the birth of our son, Bodhi, my role in ceremony has shifted and evolved. With the addition of this new role as the spiritual and ceremonial lead of La Familia Ayahuasca, I have no doubt that my relationship— and OUR relationship— with Ayahuasca will continue to shift and change in extraordinary ways.
Zach has blessed me first by giving me an introduction to the medicine more beautiful than anything I was even capable of imagining. And Zach has continually blessed me in these last three years by supporting my studies and holding space for me to unmask myself, sometimes by trial and ordeal and other times by Grace.
Let it be known that it is my intention to return the favor… and that I feel ready to do so. Let me hold the space as we create, expand, dissolve boundaries, unfold and give birth to the next generation. That is, after all, what the feminine does.
ReviewsWrite a review - tell others about your experience.
Dana Caron September 19, 2018
Ceremony can be an intense and potentially transformative experience and the right guide is must. Zach and Jess do a wonderful job of creating a safe and supportive space for this to happen. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to sit with them and will likely do so again. They are attentive to ceremony participants and heartfelt in their dedication to the medicine and the gifts it has to give. The work they do can’t, I assume, be easy at times and they respond not just professionally but with great care and attention to the needs of the participants. And, bonus, outside of ceremony they are simply great people.
Kevin Johnson April 26, 2018
I have been working with Zach and Jess for a just over 2 1/2 years. It's hard to overstate how happy I am with La Familia Ayahuasca! When I work with this medicine, I want to be confident that I am safe and in the hands of experienced, compassionate, well trained and knowledgeable facilitators. These two are definitely the BEST, and the ceremonies are just wonderful. True to their Mestizo tradition, they incorporate traditional Icaros, Hindu and Buddhist chants, and crystal bowls. The atmosphere they create is very conducive to deep transformational work and healing. Participants also have access to the shamans 24hrs a day during retreats for extra help and counseling when necessary. Accommodations are always excellent, and the food is always healthy and fresh (Jess is also a nutritionist). If you are looking for an Ayahuasca retreat, look no further. Words fail to describe the beauty and sacredness that Zach and Jess bring to ceremony! I wouldn't sit with anyone else!
John Cole April 18, 2018
There really are no words to describe how life-changing and positive my experience has been working with Zach, Jess and La Familia Ayahuasca. But I'll try. They create a safe and supportive space for personal work and healing, without being too heavy-handed with personal philosophies, methods, or techniques. They give the individual the needed space to do their own work and they are always there to give more support when needed. While grounded in a traditional lineage, they are also open and understanding of other viewpoints and perspectives, and beautifully weave more Eastern teachings and elements into the high-vibrational sacred space they create. I can't recommend them enough to anyone called to do this work.
Jessica Brewer April 18, 2018
My life has been infinitely blessed since meeting Jess and Zach. Not a day goes by that I don't feel deep gratitude for being divinely lead to La Familia Ayahuasca. When delving into the most vulnerable and deepest aspects of ourselves, and allowing ourselves to open up energetically to healing, one must feel safe. I feel that this is the most important thing to consider when looking for medicine circles because without safety, we cannot fully relax therefor surrender ourselves to the work we're doing. My first time sitting with Jess and Zach, I remember walking through the door and literally feeling the safety, love, and appreciation radiating off them and everyone there. 9 ceremonies later, I know with confidence that I will be sitting with La Familia Ayahuasca for years to come. The ceremony that Jess and Zach share and hold is so special in endless ways; but what I think vibrantly differentiates them from other shamans is the embodiment meditations that Jess leads right before drinking, the sacred balance of masculine feminine that is very much felt during ceremony depending on who is leading or singing Icaros, and the persistence discussions and reminders of integration. If you're not familiar with this word, know that upon sitting with Jess and Zach this word will become one of your closest friends... which is how it should be! One other thing about La Familia Ayahuasca is that they are always evolving in subtle ways they feel will improve the ceremonies and retreat for those of us attending. To anyone reading this in search of finding a retreat, I speak from the deepest most genuine parts of my heart that this community is like no other and provides the most comforting, trustworthy, safe space for you to do the healing your soul is guiding you to do!
Bennifer April 17, 2018
I have participated in many retreats with Zach and Jess, and will start off by saying they deeply embody and practice the virtues of Honesty, Integrity, Transparency and Trust. Zach and Jess walk their talk and I am deeply blessed to have the many experiences of the Medicine with/through them. The sacred space that is created and held during, before and after ceremony is exquisite. The icaros that they sing are powerful and very healing. The food that I've had on retreat is clean, nutritious, and very nourishing. No matter what plays out in the ceremony setting, each of us is held deeply through the experience, without any judgement. The LOVE, compassion and wisdom that pours in through the individual blessings at the end of the ceremony help expand and intensify the deepening of the Medicine like nothing else. Trust in the sacred space, trust in the facilitators, trust in the experience, trust in every member of the group is what allows me to go deeper every time. I highly recommend Zach and Jess (LFA) to anyone looking to experience the Medicine and/or go deep with their practice. Their individual and collective offering and sacrifice to be clean, purified vessels for the Medicine, for the Divine, for Humanity and all Beings is very humbling and an endless blessing to all on the Path.
Jonson Yousefzadeh April 17, 2018
Zach and Jess as well as many of the other beautiful people I have met through them have been instrumental in helping me walk my path. The work done in retreat is unlike anything I have every experienced and well worth it. Being a relative 'newby' to any medicine work, I of course had some initial hesitation but this group has welcomed me in and allowed for me to feel comfort, support and guidance. I am excited to sit in future retreats with them.
keith nevins April 17, 2018
Zach and Jess make you feel right at home from the moment you arrive. they have everything covered from very comfortable sleeping arrangements to the best meals you could ask for. The ceremonies are hard to describe because they are so special. I was blown away by the icaros and music. You can really tell Zach and Jess put their all into making sure everyone feels comfortable and has a productive weekend. I cant wait for the next one!
Jacob Gasho April 17, 2018
Hi anybody who is reading this right now. My name is Jacob and La Familia Ayahuasca are really such fantastic people. When approaching this sort of spiritual work it can be quite nerve racking beforehand, especially if you've never done a retreat before. Zach and Jess though really made me feel welcomed and as comfortable as possible in order for me to have such a meaningful and life changing experience. I've never done any other retreats with another group before and I wouldn't plan to unless Zach or Jess recommended them personally. I highly recommend going through La Familia Ayahuasca and hope you, whoever is reading this, will have an amazing experience like I had with them and with Ayahuasca!
Amy Lee April 16, 2018
Zach and Jess are incredibly talented and skilled at leading retreats with presence, compassion and lightheartedness. I felt safe in their care, received personal attention when I needed it and had a truly life changing experience.
Nico Vasquez April 13, 2018
Although it is hard to find the words to describe such a transformative experience, I can certainly say that Zach and Jess are the real deal. The carefully cultivated environment I was welcomed into made me feel 100% at ease and secure. Many times throughout my retreat, I thought “Wow, I feel completely taken care of.” and, “I feel so nurtured here”. Accommodations were elegantly simple, comfortable, and safe. Everything I needed to know was explained and presented concisely and confidently. Pre retreat and post retreat, I have felt important and certain that I can be helped or have my questions answered with full attention. At all times during the retreat, day or night, I knew with certainty that if I needed anything at all, I wouldn’t be a bother if I asked for help. Each of these incredibly gifted people are highly skilled and caring, and they have fine tuned every aspect of the experience they offer. I have no doubts whatsoever in recommending this retreat and will definitely be back in due time!
Jessica Brock April 12, 2018
After years of psychotherapy and Western pharmalogical interventions for PTSD, I felt like I had reached a barrier. I had a deep desire to continue to dismantle the trauma I was holding onto, but found that words and medications were missing the root. It felt as though there were mental blockages, which in sessions felt like there was nothing else I could say about my experience yet I still had significant physical and mental symptoms of my PTSD. Looking for this missing link to unlock the unconscious ways I was clinging to my trauma, I began researching other treatments. I found research on various plant medicines to treat PTSD and was curious about ayahuasca, but on the fence. I came to Jess and Zach on a kambo retreat, not knowing they also led ayahuasca retreats. It was an auspicious meeting and I attended an ayahuasca retreat with them a few months later. The retreat was healing, restorative, revealing, and empowering for me. The physical space of the retreat is calming and comforting and reflective of energy and love that Jess and Zach put into it. The structure of the retreat maximizes your personal transformation as you are given opportunities to reflect and seek counsel on your experiences. You form an indescribable bond with the people on the retreat and in such a short time you develop a nurturing community. The work you do in retreat is hard, but you always have support and guidance. During the retreat, I faced feelings and emotional walls I wouldn’t have otherwise. I left with insights into my own journey and tools to integrate what I learned to bring about positive and systemic change in my life. Ayahuasca is and will continue to be an integral part in my journey to understand and move through my PTSD. I only wish I had found Jess and Zach sooner and that this powerful medicine was more widely used!
Charles April 12, 2018
After 10 years of failed mainstream modalities to treat PTSD, I found Zack and Jess. From the moment I talked to Jess on the phone I realized this would be something very special and meaningful in my life. Yes, absolutely the ayahuasca heals, but it was Zack and Jess who made the entire experience amazing. They provide a safe space to experience the medicine and make themselves available post retreat for questions and advice. Thank you!!!
Ryan Estes April 11, 2018
I've sat with Zach and Jess 9 times now. I'm looking forward to my next retreat. If for no other reason, I choose to sit with them because they put my safety and health first. I've experienced profound personal insights during their ceremonies. Aside from the medicine (which is incredible) here are some highlights: • Amazing food - seriously, I never eat this good. • Beautiful music • Great sense of humor • Integrated ceremony - I find the embodiment exercises and group-share dialog during their retreats to be incredibly stabilizing and tender. 5 gold stars, two thumbs up. If you're looking... you found it.
Nicholas April 11, 2018
My experience at La Familia Ayahuasca was one I will never forget. Zach and Jess work with medicine in such a way that allows individuals to be taught, healed, and cleansed during the retreat. They are caring and compassionate individuals who have so much to offer the world and anyone seeking an opportunity to learn and grow should seriously consider spending time with the both of them. Looking forward to my next opportunity to visit and meet new people who you will always share a bond with!
Scott Partridge April 10, 2018
I have been doing medicine (Aya and Dieta) work with Zach for almost five years. It has been life changing. To have such a gifted Shaman helping you along your own personal, spiritual path in life is a true gift an blessing. Once you find the right mechanic or barber in life you dont want to change. It just works. That is Zach. And to add his phenomanal wife and assistants to the mix, there are no words or phrases that can describe the complete work that is done on oneself when doing a retreat...
Keith Norris April 09, 2018
So you've done your due diligence on all things Ayahuasca. You've read everything you can get your hands on; you've scoured the message boards. Maybe you've even talked to friends with first-hand experience. And good for you! This an experience you definitely want to research extensively before you actually at on! There is, though, two final, but VERY important things you want to consider before setting on a retreat center. The first is the expertise of the facilitator(s). The second -- and this is vitally important!! -- is trust. Trust in the facilitator and trust in the atmosphere. Let me just say that I have done (as of this writing) 60+ ceremonies with La Familia Ayahuasca and I trust them TOTALLY. La Familia Ayahuasca creates a ceremony space and atmosphere that enables everyone -- from seasoned "pro" to jittery first timer -- to fully explore the depths of their inner world in a trusting environment. Set and setting is everything! I believe in the work and professionalism of these guys so much that I've introduced (and had a La Familia Ayahuasca retreat with!) my own kids. And what a fabulous, life-changing experience it was for all of us! If you're looking for the finest, most trustworthy retreat experience, look no further. I know I'll be back many, *many* more times.
Andrea Petty April 09, 2018
I have attended 1 retreat with La Familia Ayahuasca and my experience was profound and inspiring. Zach and Jess went above and beyond the entire weekend to help me connect with myself and the medicine. Though there was a group of us in attendance, I didn't feel 'lost in the crowd.' I felt personally cared for and supported throughout the experience. They both have so much wisdom and love to offer. I highly recommend them to my friends and family who are seeking this type of spiritual retreat.
Austin Felton April 09, 2018
Zach and Jess are true spiritual brain surgeons whom I trust with my life. If you ever get the rare opportunity to work them say YES or you'll be sorely missing out. I've never felt so much love and care in an experience, La Familia Ayahuasca is the REAL DEAL.
Jesse Jameson April 09, 2018
When seeking such a powerful exploration of self, my greatest consideration is the host and the environment. My experiences with Zach and Jess have exceeded my every expectation. Their ability to facilitate and hold a loving and supportive space for all they serve is awe inspiring.
Bibo Alex April 09, 2018
Hello everyone, It has been exactly 12 days since my retreat with la familia Ayahuasca, i wanted to wait until I settle back to normal life so I can give a good review to you guys, because just about 3 or 4 days ago I was still kind of under the effect of the medicine. My retreat time was magical. I really enjoyed every bit of it. The group was wonderful people, I really truly loved every single one of them. Zack, Jess, Bodhi, Kevin and Carol, they absolutely are amazing people, I can never forget them. I felt the love from the first time I talk to each one of them. I can't wait to see them again. I learned so much in the retreat time, it was so very beneficial for me. They know what they are doing no doubt. I recommend them for anyone wants to do this kind of work. LOVE IS EVERYTHING PEACE AND LOVE
Amy Pico April 08, 2018
Zach & Jess provide a safe space to do deep work with ayahuasca. I felt like my process was respected, and when I needed help, it was easy to ask for it! I would highly recommend attending a retreat with La Familia Ayahuasca for deep healing, developing community, and learning much more about yourself within a healing community.
Juan Zambrano April 08, 2018
This is one of the best experiences of my life!! I've been to many places around the world, but La Familia Ayahuasca really is something special. If you're looking for an awesome time with great people, this is it. I learned so much about my self in such a small amount of time & the learning keeps going. I am definitely sticking with La Familia Ayahuasca & not going anywhere else!! Seriously Blessed. Much love
Nick Patterson April 08, 2018
The most amazing shamans and experience anyone could ask for. Zach and Jess provide a retreat like no other while brining together a vibrant bunch of individuals that create a community. They offer a tremendous amount of insight into the medicine, the integration, and tools necessary to fully regurgitate your experience. No one i would rather recommend. Truly amazing individuals committed to guiding an amazing ceremony every time.
Andrew Linares April 07, 2018
Zach and Jess hold the sacred space well. I feel like I can dive deeply into the Medicine because the environment is safe and contained. Further, their personalities and presence foster connection amongst the participants. This is particularly important when it comes to integration and sharing. They are approachable and lovely people who are building community and doing amazing work. I highly recommend La Familia Ayahuasca.
Beau Turner April 07, 2018
I trust these people with my life. They are the most kind hearted and impeccable humans I have ever met, and doing a retreat with them is always the right choice for me. I consider it a great privilege to know Zach and Jess, and the skill and compassion in the work they do is absolutely infectious. My life has been elevated to beautiful heights since meeting them, and I know that I will work with them for the rest of my life, inspired to grow into the person that they wholeheartedly know I am to be. Thank you!
Maureen Cole April 07, 2018
La Familia Ayahuasca (Zach and Jess) run transformational retreats. Their deep knowledge and experience with plant-medicine combined with their respect for the tradition is exactly what I was looking for. Throw in their beautiful and powerful voices and articulation of the Icaros in a safe and caring environment and you simply cannot go wrong. I would recommend LFA to anyone who wanted to do beautiful, serious, transmuting work.
Randy Havens April 07, 2018
Zach and Jess really care about the retreats that they lead, and it shows in the every aspect of the retreat experience. The meals are delicious, the ceremonies are perfect and the guidance that Zach and Jess provide will help you integrate you experience into your everyday life. I'm so happy and thankful that I've met these wonderful people. I honestly don't think that anyone else can host a more awesome retreat. These guys really are the best.
Conrad April 07, 2018
The family behind La Familia Ayahuasca is incredibly passionate about their work and brings SO much to the table. I had my first ayahuasca experience with them this year and the changes have been incredible. For years, I had wrestled with feelings of restlessness, depression, and severe mood swings that would negatively effect those in my life that I love most... I would go on ridiculous exploratory vacations searching for what I felt was lost. I'd buy things. I'd lash out at those I loved. Ultimately, my wife started pushing me for medical invention, but I was opposed to typical pharmaceutical interventions as I'd gone through that circus ring when I was younger. So stepped in La Familia Ayahuasca... Out of the blue, a friend recommend that Zach and Jess as great healers. He had gone to their former sites in Oregon and Austin with great results. I decided to bite and went to a 3 day weekend retreat. The transformation has been an absolute blessing. The pain, anger, malice, resent, restlessness that my ego held onto so dearly has evaporated. I'm continuing to integrated the healing and knowledge gained from the weekend retreat into my daily life. Its work to integrate, but though diet, exercise, and daily meditation/yoga/simply being outside it all works out beautifully... All of these things have helped me keep balance and remain spiritually WOKE. There's so much more to learn about myself and the path. I'm happy and grateful for finding this healing. Thank you Zach, Jess and baby Bodhi for your eye-opening practice. Keep that healing train-a-chugging!
Dana Danielle Pickard April 07, 2018
As experienced travelers with Ayahuasca will say, it is difficult to put into words the beauty and profound nature of working with this medicine. Jess & Zach exemplify the spirit of Ayahuasca. You will be fully supported through your journey with them, as I’ve experienced many times. These two are some of the highest vibe people I’ve ever met; the more time spent with them, the better. They are big-picture amazing. Beautiful icaros & professionally structured ceremonies...I wish I could participate on a more regular basis. Thank you Jess, Zach, Ayahuasca, and all those I have met through doing this work. My life is greatly improved. Big love to you guys and your service to the world <3<3<3
Paul and Heather Clift April 07, 2018
I can't say enough about Jess and Zach. Their knowledge of working with this medicine is excellent. I've sat with a number of other groups over the last 11 years but the balance they bring with combining the masculine and feminine is truly unique. They provide a safe and healthy container for anyone's journey. Highly recommended....oh yea Jess has the voice of an angel
Christian M. Lenn April 07, 2018
Ayahuasca is probably not for everyone. Each person should make that decision after thorough research, medical consultation etc. Choosing the Shaman/maestro to open your psyche to must be done with care and “due diligence”. Zach and Jess were the perfect choice for me. I had never experienced ayahuasca before. Decades of recovery and antidepressants made me extremely cautious. Zach helped me through the titration process. So when I went to my first ceremony I was off antidepressants for the first time in twenty years. Zach and Jess open their home and their hearts to you. This is an extremely personal, safe and loving experience. I would trust them with those closest to me and I am.