A while I go , I posted a video discussing the death of 18-year-old Kyle Nolan who died in Peru at the Shimbre ayahuasca retreat. You can see it here. Like many, I was wondering what really happened because ayahuasca is known to be safe, no-one has ever died of the brew itself, and I was wondering if foul play was involved or if something else was added to the. Since that time, I was able to talk to Kyle’s father, Sean, who is trying to raise funds to get Kyle’s autopsy results. Sean told me that it cam to light that ‘Maestro Macoluto’, the shaman who oversaw Kyle’s ayahuasca session, had a criminal record and was known to dose clients up and then let them find their way back to their huts, wandering unattended in the jungle at night, while he sat up in his perch on a throne made of batteries, watching Peruvian soap operas. Sean and I agreed that it was highly likely that Kyle had died from some kind of accident, maybe a snake bite or a fall, due to the shaman’s negligence.
I then received the following account from someone who had personally met Macoluto and states that this shaman was indeed in the habit of allowing people to wander in the dark unattended while on ayahuasca. He has agreed for me to re-post it here and this is what he says:
‘Hi dear, my name is Miguel and I have just watched the tube you have uploaded the 19/10/2012 with the subject: Teen Dies Taking Ayahuasca: What Really Happened?
Well, I’ve been drinking Ayahuasca for many years in Brazil and I have also had an experience with the “shaman” involved in the death of Kyle Nolan and I have some helpful information about this subject.
First of all, the brew prepared in in Brazil, in the main stream communities, is just made of Banisteriopsis caapi, Psychotria viridis and water, nothing else.
Second, the use of Ayahuasca i all these communities is carefully managed due the big responsibility it means. Therefore before taking part in any rituals the candidates have to go through an interview with the people in charge of the community. Along the ritual, the master in charge is the one to offer the Ayahuasca to the participants along the sessions. I mean he (or she) is the one to decide how much and when should the participants drink it. Besides that, in every ritual, there is always a team of experience helpers watching and helping the participants.
So, it is much more than just drinking the brew.
- I know there are also people using other mixtures such as Jurema but, as far as I know, it’s not wide spread in Brasil.
Anyway, about 7 years ago I had an experience in Cusco, Peru with the same “shaman” you are mentioning here.
In fact, he had impressed a journalist friend of mine that was visiting Cusco those days and I flew from Brazil to join them. So we made a deal of 2 sessions with San Pedro and 1 with Ayahuasca. Hence we drove for 2 hours from Cusco to the bank of a river and we settled a camp near the woods. According to the shaman’s plan we should rest during the 1st day, after the trip, then, drink San Pedro the 2nd day, rest the 3rd, drink San Pedro again the 4th, rest the 5th, drink Ayahuasca the 6th and rest a leave 7th and last day.
The days of the rituals we were asked to fast and not to drink water after 2:00 pm.
Anyway, the ritual started after dark around a bonfire. After displaying his tools the shaman started singing and playing some instruments to get us to the state before drinking the brew and then we started dancing around the bonfire until the shaman led us through the forest where we were left by ourselves. I mean, we were just left in the dark in the middle of a forest away from the rest of the group because he said we “would feel nature better”.
In fact, to me it was nice to lay beneath the stars, listening to the sounds of nature nevertheless besides my own expectation I cannot say I felt much and after a few hours we started calling each other and went back to the camp. That was it and though I didn’t wanted to compare this experience with the others I had with Ayahuasca before I couldn’t help noticing the lack of security along the experience. I mean, what if something wrong happens? We were isolated and the shaman was sleeping in his tend!
The next experience though was different. Although we follow the same ritual of the first day one of my friends got dehydrated and she was feeling so weak that she started calling for help. At certain point I could realized she was making some noise but as I didn’t wanted to interfere with her experience hence I just walked away but to our luck, another friend, who was nearer her, called me out loud and we both tried to help her. So, I went back to the camp to get water, some food as well as something warm her up just to find that our “shaman” was snoring (of course he hand’ drink a single drop of the brew because “he claimed he didn’t need to drink it anymore besides promising he would be taking care of us” therefore we decided to abort the experience and next day my friends and I got back to Cusco.
Some important points to remember:
- This shaman didn’t drink the brew he offered us to drink
- He wasn’t taking care of us
- We were isolated
Question: What would have happen to our friend if no one had listened to her call!
But this story didn’t end there…
Few days later l had to leave Cusco to visit my family in the north of Peru. Meanwhile, the same shaman convinced my friends to drink Ayahuasca in Machu Picchu. He told them that the director of the Machu Picchu compound was his friend and that he would allow them to drink Ayahuasca in the ruins after everybody had left! So, it happens that Machu Picchu is closed after (around) 5:00 pm and that to get there from Aguas Calientes (the nearest town) it is necessary to take a van up to the mountain for about 30 minutes. So, my friends arrived to the gates of Machu Picchu when it was already closed just to be informed by the shaman that there was a new director and that there were not allow to enter the premises therefore they had to drink the brew somewhere nearby and so they did just to regret it for life. The shaman served both of them a big glass of the brew (the shaman didn’t drink, of course) and left the guys by themselves. One of them just drunk half of it but the girl took it all! So, the rest you can figure out… In fact, they both survived but they had such a terrible experience! She even wrote an article about the experience.
Just to finish this, we are talking about the same guy Kyle Nolan met: Not a shaman, not a master, just a greedy merchant taking advantage of the innocence of spiritual seekers. Furthermore, when I read the news I got also sad because that could had happen to a dear friend of mine, deceived by the same “shaman” TWICE!
So I hope people get more aware of the responsibility of using and delivering entheogens. For many of us it is a sacred and beautiful path to healing and awareness whilst for others just another way to make money.
About Shimbre place, I don’t know much about that center. I have also seen a coverage about the death of Kyle Nolan (youtube) showing a very beautiful facility and people surprised with the misfortune of the young man. Anyway, when I met the shaman he had a store in Cusco but in order to make the ritual he had to find a place outside the city. I have also visited his humble house (near the store) and if memory doesn’t fail me, I think each one of us we paid about US$ 300 for the experience (wich was too much for me, taking in consideration that I was used to participate in several rituals in Brazil for a fraction of that) So he suggested us this place in the bank of the river 2 hours away (by car) from Cusco. During the trip to that place I had the chance to talk to the “shaman” and he told me he knew some people in the rainforest and that we could have an experience there if requested.
I mean, at that time it seems he hadn’t any structure to deal with the rituals and he was open to new experiences. He also said he could take us to the ruins of Chavin the Huantar that belongs to a very ancient culture he said he claimed to be a descendant or, at least of its tradition (and according to Wikipedia, Chavin is the oldest culture in the whole americas, to use entheogens). Ahotner thing I remember about this shaman is that every time my friend the journalist asked a question about his shamanic lineage and tradition he always changed the dates. I mean one day he said, for instance, it was10 thousand year ago and later or next day it could be 20 thousand, etc.
About taking ayahuasca alone, I don’t recomend it, mainly if you are a beginner and even if you already have some experience, for many reasons and I think the reason why people has being left alone in the mentioned facilities is probaly due to a commercial criteria. You must take in consideration that though the experience with entheogens is very personal the experience also has a group component.
I mean we are talking about a very deep experience enriched with large amount of variables most of which we cannot account hence we need to depend on the skills of the shaman in order to create the necessary conditions to take us along our inner journey as well as to bring us back safely and, whenever it is necessary, to solve any unpredictable situation.’
I sincerely hope that Sean Nolan is able to raise the funds he needs for the autopsy report and that he is able to get some answers regarding his son’s death, and may the peace of the God be with him.
To help raise funds for Kyle’s father to get his autopsy results, you can make a donation here. I don’t know why it is so expensive to get the results but it apparently is.
<p>Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / <a href=”http://www.freedigitalphotos.net” target=”_blank”>FreeDigitalPhotos.net</a></p>