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Ronny Wheelock prepares the Brew. Photo by Chris Kilham


Ron Wheelock
Carretera Iquitos - Nauta
Km. 9 - Quiruma
Loreto, Peru

(065) 965-761626

Amazon Jungle Journeys

Ron’s compound, called Amazon Jungle Journeys, is in the Carreterra Iquitos-Nauta district.

Iquitos is the largest city in the Peruvian rainforest and is known as the ayahuasca capital of the world. Ayahuasca tourism is now a vital part of the Iquitos economy with Westerners seeking traditional shamanic experiences and healings using the visionary Amazonian medicine. Besides bringing “spiritual tourism” to Iquitos , ayahuasca is being used in three new religions in Brazil . It has been credited with curing thousands of alcoholics and drug addicts, and is being studied by pharmacologists around the world.

Like indigenous shamans have been doing for centuries, Ron prepares his ayahuasca by harvesting the vine Banisteriopsis caapi and then boiling it with other plants and herbs for several days. After continuous praying over the mixture, Ron’s “tea” is ready to be used in a ceremony. Ayahuasca is said to give users the power to travel beyond their bodies, to see the future, and hunt and confront the demons that cause physical and emotional illnesses.

Ron lives with his girlfriend Karina Maria Diaz Paredes and conducts ayahuasca ceremonies twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. He has a 34 year old daughter, Christina, living in the U.S. , and a 5 year old son, Quetzalcoatal Luis Wheelock Angulo.

Interview by Victoria Alexander


How do you feel about being called “The Gringo Shaman of the Amazon”?

I like being known as “The Gringo Shaman of the Amazon”; after all, I am a gringo and it’s really not a derogatory term. As far as I know, I’m the only gringo ayahuasquero who works alone. The other gringos conducting ceremonies work with their indigenous teachers or hire other ayahuasqueros to work for them. I’m also the only gringo motocarrista and the only gringo rooster fighter here. The people in my community are pleased and honored to have me living here.

How long have you been conducting ceremonies?

I’ve been conducting ceremonies for quite some time. I began on a regular basis in early 2001.

Did your teacher, Don Agustin, tell you when you were ready to perform ceremonies?

No. No one told me when I was ready. The medicine told me and people started asking for ceremonies. It has been the same way with the healing work. The medicine told me “Now you are a healer” and soon afterwards I started having patients.

What was the process for setting up your own retreat?

This is still an ongoing process. I began by having ceremonies in my house. This went on for several years. As my work grew it then became necessary to build a dormitory for the ceremonies. But I feel I will outgrow this fairly soon. I trust the next step will present itself in time.

What spirit teachers do you have?

There are many spirit teachers. When you concentrate on one plant teacher and do the specific “diet” that the plant demands, then you work with the spirit of that plant. I have several spirits I work with. There are around 15-18 different ones that assist me in ceremonies. Some are like bodyguards; while others, the spirit of the wind and the master of love, are often present.

You have students who live at your retreat. What is the training like and what are the criteria for choosing a student?

I have people who come to me to learn shamanism in various degrees. But I do not choose them. They find me. I talk with them to see exactly what it is they are looking for. Then from there I select what plants they should use and for how long. Each plant teacher expects a student’s exclusive dedication for a period of time. The student is then able to build a lasting relationship with the plant teacher. All learning is an ongoing process that never stops.

Have you ever declined to allow someone to join a ceremony?

No. I have never refused anyone. I have a very open door policy. If someone has doubts about participating, I will talk with them and maybe advise against drinking. I never try to persuade someone to drink. All are welcome and frequently non-participating people attend a ceremony to support a family member or friend.

Do you ever worry about having people in a ceremony with mental problems?

Through my work with ayahuasca I have learned not worry about anything. If someone has mental problems, this may be just what they need. I always say the people that arrive are supposed to be here.

What would you say is the chief benefit of ayahuasca?

For me the chief benefit of ayahuasca is how it maintains and heals the body. All the medicines I take are natural. It is very common for someone who drinks ayahuasca regularly to live to be very old. My teacher Don Jose Coral Mori lived to be over 100, his uncle 130, and a close friend 112 years old.

You have a great reputation in ayahuasca circles. How have you avoided the rivalry among shamans?

Yes, I am fairly well known and take my reputation as a respected shaman very seriously. It has not been easy getting to this point. I’ve done a great deal of hard work. I have to keep myself disciplined and focused. I have not avoided the rivalries.

You give ceremonies twice a week. How do you separate the material world from the spirit world?

Yes, I normally give two ceremonies per week, sometimes more. There was a time when I first started giving ceremonies that I felt as if I was going crazy working in both worlds. It’s an adjustment that came about on its own terms. I truly love my work and life in the material world and I do not want to spend all my time in the spirit world. I am humbled and honored to work and walk in both.