Skip to content

Ayahuasca Healings Controversy – Hard Questions Answered | Trinity de Guzman – EN06

Trinity De Guzman, founder of Ayahuasca Healings, is at the epicenter of a huge ayahuasca controversy. There has been a great deal of outcry in the medicine community from people who work with ayahuasca spiritually, as well as from scientific researches and policy makers around a number of key concerns.

Number one, the true legal status of Ayahuasca Healings in the United States. Number two, the safety of the people attending retreats at the Ayahuaca Healings retreat center from both the health and legal stand point. Number three, the way in which Trinity promoted their church and its business model and number four, the impact of their activities on the future of ayahuasca and its protected status as a whole.

Today, he will share with us:

  • [11:30] His experiences in traveling to different countries and how he discovered ayahuasca in Peru
  • [13:48] What led him to build to the first public, legal ayahuasca church in America
  • [15:22] The mission of Ayahuasca Healings.
  • [19:36] What makes Ayahuasca Healings legal?
  • [21:46] Is Ayahuasca Healings exempted from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act?
  • [1:41:57] His plans on how he would establish trust within the ayahuasca community amidst controversies.
  • and much, much more.

Mentioned in this episode:

Where to find Trinity de Guzman:

Medicine music for the soul

Fire Dancers by Shaman’s Dream

Acknowledgement:

Deepest gratitude to these artists, for allowing us to use their music in our podcast branding.

To know more about these artists, visit our Gratitude page.

YT banner

[rad_rapidology_inline optin_id=”optin_3″]

About the author, Lorna

Lorna Liana is a new media strategist and lifestyle business coach to visionary entrepreneurs. She travels the world while running her business as a digital nomad. Lorna's boutique agency provides “done for you” web design, development and online marketing services for social ventures, sustainable brands, transformational coaches and new paradigm thought leaders. She is also a personal development junkie, and 20 year practitioner of shamanism, with extensive training in Tibetan Bon Shamanism and the ayahuasca traditions of the Amazon Basin.

A self-professed ayahuasca snob and perennial ayahuasca tourist, Lorna has been drinking ayahuasca since 2004. She's been in approximately 150 ayahuasca ceremonies (from terrible to fantastic), and tasted wide variety of ayahuasca brews (from awful to exquisite).

Her ayahuasca experience spans 30+ different shamans and facilitators, 7 indigenous tribes, several Brazilian churches, and a host of neo-shamanic circles, in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Europe, the US, and Asia.

Through this widely-varied background, she hopes to shed some perspective on the globalization of ayahuasca.

Leave a comment

13 Comments

  1. Dhamma Huasca on 04/29/2016 at 4:16 PM

    Trinity is presenting his usual grandiosity and self inflation. And he has no idea what he’s talking about when he talks about the “laws of the land”. I can go into detail in a further post. Suffice to note at the moment that since this interview the retreats in Washington have been cancelled and no one was given refunds because AH either mismanaged or misused the money collected; AH was going to conduct retreats in Peru yet a curandero Diego Palma backed out of having them use his retreat center once he learned of their conduct; most of his core team has left including his primary and trusted coordinator who announced today he will no longer have anything to do with Trinity’s endeavors.

    I don’t think Trinity is necessarily a scam artist or worse as some people paint him. Yet he is delusional and lost in his ego dreams. Eventually he may be able to make a good contribution. Right now he needs to step back, listen and learn not try to lead. The movement he speaks of has been going full steam before he ever drank the medicine (which was only 3 years ago) and does not need the noise and trouble he brings.

  2. Dhamma Huasca on 04/29/2016 at 6:17 PM

    Trinity is displaying his grandiosity and self inflations full steam here. He has no idea what he’s talking about when he refers to the “laws of the land”. Many of us have gone over this many times.

    Suffice to say for the moment since this interview was done the retreats have been cancelled. No one has got refunds because the money was mismanaged or misused; Substitute retreats in Peru have to be rearranged because the curandero Diego Palma who owned the center they were going to use backed out once he understood the conduct AH was involved in; almost all the key people have left AH including Trinity’s close assistant who just announced today that he won’t be involved anymore in any of his endeavors.

    I don’t think Trinity is the scam artist or worse as some people paint him. Yet he is delusional and lost in his ego dreams. Perhaps some day he’ll be mature enough to contribute to this unfolding movement. Right now he needs to step back, listen and learn not try to lead. The movement he speaks of has been going full steam before he ever drank the medicine (which was only 3 years ago). He has only created noise and difficulties so far.

    • YumiSpewns on 04/30/2016 at 3:56 PM

      Thank you Dhamma for saving me 2 hours of listening to what I had hoped would’ve been a message from Trinity making a serious realization of his errors and taking measures to step away from his delusional iconic figure head. It amazes me that Trinity still cannot distinguish the significant differences between the established Santo Daime and the “pioneering” Ayahuasca Healings in their standings as a religious institution. Neither the UDV nor the Santo Daime expect an upfront 1000 plus dollars fee in order to participate for a weekend retreat as Ayahuasca Healings has expected, which is clearly a sign of a well-paved road to entrepreneurship, not of a church that wishes to facilitate a legitimate congregation in the community. Without a doubt, the DEA will notice this incredibly distinctive difference as well, thus will likely never grant recognition for protection of the RFRA.

  3. Timothy White on 04/30/2016 at 1:38 PM

    Thanks Lorna for providing this intelligent, probing interview with Trinity de Guzman.

    I am concerned that Guzman seems to have confused a money making operation with being in service to the medicine. It is telling that he admits to using his former marketing skills to make money off the plant that allegedly healed him from his past interest in making lots of money. I question how charging $1000 per person per weekend will help make ayahuasca more available to people who can’t afford to go to the Amazon. I would observe that there are many ayahuasca groups who manage to cover their out-of-pocket costs and even earn a modest living, charging from $100 to $200 per session.

    Even if one assumes that Guzman is sincere about his intentions to enhance access to the medicines, I think we should consider whether he may be hiding a profit-making entrepreneurial business under the legal guise of a 501-C-3 church structure. I find it significant that Guzman organized his church under the alleged protection of James Mooney’s Oklevahu Native American Church, which has indulged in charging a $1000 per person fee for attending a one-night peyote ceremony, which are traditionally open to all at no charge. It is true that under Constitutional law, the government can’t legally challenge the charging of money for church services, but I question the integrity of charging hefty sums of money in order to build a national franchise. He mentions that the $1500 to $2000 suggested donation per session, and that some people have donated “$5” or “only $500” per session, but if he isn’t about making money, I wonder why he hasn’t offered to refund any prepaid donations after canceling his retreats.

    It will be interesting to see how his efforts actually play out.

    • Dhamma Huasca on 04/30/2016 at 4:33 PM

      Timothy According to his now former assistant there was no money left to pay back anyone. It would be interesting to know how they went through $200,000 in a period of two-three months. Credit cards companies appear to be refunding peoples money. Of course they are going to want to be paid, it might get the IRS interested etc. Not likely they would get an exemption from the DEA anyway but this will likely catch their attention along with their ONAC affiliation and the fact that they weren’t really a church anyway.

      Note also that originally Trinity said the cancelling/rescheduling of the retreats was a “gift” and what people paid was actually a donation to the “church” not a fee for an actual retreat. The retreat was just going to be a “thank you”. Even though the website and all the PR was a about being a “legal” retreat not a church in which one could come continually to participate in fellowship.

    • Timothy White on 04/30/2016 at 5:19 PM

      Dhamma, Thanks for you comments. I know of another ayahuasca group in southern California who were contemplating affiliating with the ONAC, and I cautioned them, warning them against the tenuous legal protection being promised by ONAC in exchange for a pricey annual membership fee. The way that ONAC is selling memberships remind me of the old Universal Life Church programs, albeit their ministerial memberships were infinitely cheaper. The ONAC decision to allow a reported brothel to buy a membership in the church as a “sacred sex church” suggests that they are more concerned about making money than in the furthering the religious use of plant medicines.

      I have been tracking the ups and downs of constitutional religious rights since the 1970s. While I remain hopeful that entheogenic religious use will eventually be legalized, I remind my friends that it took the Native Americans almost a hundred years of fighting for their religious rights in the court before they won their current exemption. I personally feel that entheogenic churches should be protected under the RFRA, AIRFA, and our Constitution, but until the inquisitorial federal and state laws against entheogens are revoked, the religious right to use entheogenic sacraments is protected only by a willingness to defend those rights in court.

    • YumiSpewns on 05/01/2016 at 12:00 AM

      “It is telling that he admits to using his former marketing skills to
      make money off the plant that allegedly healed him from his past
      interest in making lots of money.”
      That was hilarious. Thank you.

    • Lorna Liana on 05/02/2016 at 11:58 PM

      @Mokshashaman:disqus It was quite an interview to prepare for. I had a lot of help by people better informed of the matter than I, such as @dhammahuasca:disqus – couldn’t have done it without his help and more. It was quite a crash course in the complexities of the issue. Originally I was optimistic, thinking – “Legal ayahuasca in the US, somebody had FINALLY done it.” Underneath the surface, so many things crawled. The talk-show style interview that I originally thought I’d do, I realized in good faith I couldn’t do. I do respect the courage Trinity had in showing up for this interview and answering these difficult questions. I do genuinely hope he can resolve the issues he’s created for his organization and step up as a leader. The first step in becoming a leader is listening. And resolving the money problem in a good way.

      • Timothy White on 05/03/2016 at 4:57 PM

        @lornaliana:disqus Thanks for providing the link to Gayle Highpine’s article discussing the legal issues raised by Guzman’s organization. As someone who has been studying Constitutional legal issues around the religious use of entheogens for several decades (initially those involving the NAC use of peyote, and later those involving the use of ayahuasca), I thought Highpine did an excellent job of summarizing how the federal courts have approached the issue so far. I also appreciate her insightful observations regarding the decidedly business-based approaches of both Ayahuasca Healings and the ONAC, and that she documents her observations with specific evidence drawn directly from Guzman’s own promotional literature.

        For the record, I should clarify that I value both the religious and psychotherapeutic use of plant entheogens, and I don’t even object to the responsible recreational use of other psychedelics. I personally believe that we should decriminalize all plant medicines and simply concentrate of educating people about any inherent dangers, just as we do with cigarettes and countless dangerous, over-the-counter household products. We rarely ban the sale of toxic glues and other dangerous chemicals simply because they could be used to inflict deadly harm; instead, we recognize that it is enough to require products to provide prominent warnings about the inherent dangers of misusing the poisons. As many have pointed out, the government has never shown any interest in banning the possession or use of more dangerous psychoactive plants—including Mescal beans and Daturas, which continue to kill or harm more individuals each year than either peyote or ayahuasca. At the same time, I recognize that government agencies are massive juggernauts that are very resistant to change, which is why I believe we must remain vigilant in our efforts to persuade the many hyper-zealous and ill-informed people in our society of the need to end the irrational and ineffective war against the entheogenic use of benign plant medicines such as peyote and ayahuasca.

  4. YumiSpewns on 04/30/2016 at 8:13 PM

    This
    past month of April, Trinity attempted to rent a facility for a couple retreats
    to be held in late May into June at a well-established Ayahuasca Wasi retreat
    in Pisac, Peru, so that he could compensate those who he already owed for the
    retreats that were suddenly halted in his Elbe, Washington. But Trinity
    as well had hoped to receive fresh revenue from those who have yet to
    “contributed” to the AHNAC to help backup funds that are now apparently
    legally frozen upon pending DEA approval of AHNAC legal status.

    However more complications
    arisen, Trinity wasn’t receiving any enough new interested attendees, perhaps
    because the retreat was set a bit too early for those who could make plans to
    participate, so no fresh money was to be had… Also Trinity failed to
    mention to Diego Palma, the owner of the Ayahuasca Wasi, about the serious
    legal/ethical troubles of owing several thousands of dollars to promised
    retreat attendees that he apparently can’t refund due to legal complications
    within the United States. Shortly after being asked about being aware of
    Trinity’s issues in the U.S., Diego Palma had cut off Trinity’s access to
    Ayahuasca Wasi retreat in order to disassociate himself from Trinity’s scandals
    that may be toxic to his own retreat business.

    Now to be fair, it is uncertain as to whether Diego fully understood the
    complicated situation Trinity had put himself into. In Peru, the retreats are
    businesses that offer spiritual services, so if a retreat were to be canceled
    for any reason, a refund may be easily granted if given sufficient
    notice. However in the United States, if Trinity were to refund those
    unfulfilled Elbe retreat holders, it would then turn the character of those
    AHNAC “donations” as actual payments of services, thus negatively
    impacting Ayahuasca Healings guise as a church, thus also pooling in the wrath
    of those who only wish to be compensated for their expense…a double bind
    indeed!

    Also as a former member of the AHNAC
    has explained in the “Ayahuasca Healings Is Not Legal” Facebook Group, a
    financial sheet of all of those received contributions and retreat expenses have
    been added to the AHNAC DEA exemption application and therefore are in hands of
    the “authorities.” This has apparently put both Trinity and Marc Shackman into
    a bit of a financial strain as well. By
    the way, that AHNAC former member to whom I’ve received quite a bit of
    information from, said he was a close friend of Trinity, these recent months,
    but he as well made his departure from supporting Trinity after realizing as to
    how reckless he has taken his movement and how negatively it has impacted many
    people these recent months.

    So at present, Trinity has pushed back his Peru retreats to be held the
    July/August time frame in hopes of gaining more participants to make up for revenue
    that is now in legal limbo. Also the
    retreat is now expected to be held in Yanahuara, a town close to Urubamba,
    quite close to Machu Picchu and adding an additional option for staying a day
    longer and visiting this sacred site via $350 extra fee, quite reasonable.

    Now that sounds quite inviting, but what’s
    important now is the handling of all this toxic energy of frustration coaxed by
    the mistakes and mismanagement of Trinity de Guzman, and hopefully he
    understands that he needs to tone down ego/iconic image, and carefully consider
    his level of participation in the retreat and if a lecture is to be required in
    the program, probably it would be best to hand that role to someone other than
    Trinity de Guzman. Also hopefully
    Trinity has offered full disclosure of his legal/financial dire straits to the Yanahuara
    property owner and humbly request assistance to make right to his debts held
    outstanding.

    Again, this will of course require of
    Trinity to let go of his ego. I’ve heard
    from many that have stated that he’s incapable to make such a release of the
    iconic role, much too hard of pill for Trinity to swallow, but I think he’s
    capable in doing so. In a nutshell, I
    believe Trinity started too big, way too fast without careful considering of
    all pertinent aspects and the taking on the solo “Brothers and Sisters,
    Ayahuasca is Love/World is in Pain” guru-like represented role of the AHNAC was
    just the icing on the delusional cake presented in an Aya Vision.
    Does that make him a scam artist, not necessarily? He should’ve simply taken his vision with much more
    humble beginnings (-: i.e. no large land purchases :-), and I believe there’s
    an awesome chance for all who are involved to come out of this for the better.

  5. YumiSpewns on 05/01/2016 at 12:20 AM

    This past month of April, Trinity attempted to rent a facility for a couple retreats to be held in late May into June at a well-established Ayahuasca Wasi retreat in Pisac, Peru, so that he could compensate those who he already owed for the retreats that were suddenly halted in his Elbe, Washington. But Trinity as well had hoped to receive fresh revenue from those who have yet to “contributed” to the AHNAC to help backup funds that are now apparently legally frozen upon pending DEA approval of AHNAC legal status.

    However more complications arisen, Trinity wasn’t receiving any enough new interested attendees, perhaps because the retreat was set a bit too early for those who could make plans to participate, so no fresh money was to be had… Also Trinity failed to mention to Diego Palma, the owner of the Ayahuasca Wasi, about the serious legal/ethical troubles of owing several thousands of dollars to promised retreat attendees that he apparently can’t refund due to legal complications within the United States. Shortly after being asked about being aware of Trinity’s issues in the U.S., Diego Palma had cut off Trinity’s access to Ayahuasca Wasi retreat in order to disassociate himself from Trinity’s scandals that may be toxic to his own retreat business.

    Now to be fair, it is uncertain as to whether Diego fully understood the complicated situation Trinity had put himself into. In Peru, the retreats are businesses that offer spiritual services, so if a retreat were to be canceled for any reason, a refund may be easily granted if given sufficient notice. However in the United States, if Trinity were to refund those unfulfilled Elbe retreat holders, it would then turn the character of those AHNAC “donations” as actual payments of services, thus negatively impacting Ayahuasca Healings guise as a church, thus also pooling in the wrath of those who only wish to be compensated for their expense…a double bind indeed!

    Also as a former member of the AHNAC has explained in the “Ayahuasca Healings Is Not Legal” Facebook Group, a financial sheet of all of those received contributions and retreat expenses have been added to the AHNAC DEA exemption application and therefore are in hands of the “authorities.” This has apparently put both Trinity and Marc Shackman into a bit of a financial strain as well. By the way, that AHNAC former member to whom I’ve received quite a bit of information from, said he was a close friend of Trinity, these recent months, but he as well made his departure from supporting Trinity after realizing as to how reckless he has taken his movement and how negatively it has impacted many people these recent months.

    So at present, Trinity has pushed back his Peru retreats to be held the July/August time frame in hopes of gaining more participants to make up for revenue that is now in legal limbo. Also the retreat is now expected to be held in Yanahuara, a town close to Urubamba, quite close to Machu Picchu and adding an additional option for staying a day longer and visiting this sacred site via $350 extra fee, quite reasonable.

    Now that sounds quite inviting, but what’s important now is the handling of all this toxic energy of frustration coaxed by the mistakes and mismanagement of Trinity de Guzman, and hopefully he understands that he needs to tone down ego/iconic image, and carefully consider his level of participation in the retreat and if a lecture is to be required in the program, probably it would be best to hand that role to someone other than Trinity de Guzman. Also hopefully Trinity has offered full disclosure of his legal/financial dire straits to the Yanahuara property owner and humbly request assistance to make right to his debts held outstanding.

    Again, this will of course require of Trinity to let go of his ego. I’ve heard from many that have stated that he’s incapable to make such a release of the iconic role, much too hard of pill for Trinity to swallow, but I think he’s capable in doing so. In a nutshell, I believe Trinity started too big, way too fast without careful considering of all pertinent aspects and the taking on the solo “Brothers and Sisters, Ayahuasca is Love/World is in Pain” guru-like represented role of the AHNAC was just the icing on the delusional cake. Does that make him a scam artist, not necessarily? He should’ve simply taken his vision with more humble beginnings (i.e. no large land purchases), and I believe there’s an awesome chance for all who are involved to come out of this for the better.

    • Dhamma Huasca on 05/01/2016 at 4:45 PM

      Yes, Yumi. Trinity needs to come clean, step back, listen and learn not try to lead.
      He is not mature or capable enough yet for that. Vision, enthusiasm, a certain kind of intelligence mixed with ego inflation usually ends up the way Ayahuasca (not)Healings has.

Leave a Comment