Sex + Setting: Friends Don’t Let Friends Sleep With Shamans

By Zoe Helene

Klara Souklava first traveled to the Amazon to experience ayahuasca ceremonies with hopes of healing deep wounds from her past. She had issues of self-love, trust issues with men, and the trauma of a rape to work through. Souklava dove deep, working with three male shamans whom she trusted implicitly at the time.

She now sees that she was too trusting and open with the shamans, and within the first three months of her visit to the Peruvian jungle, Soukalova had “some highly questionable and sexually inappropriate incidents” with one of them. She realized that “the shamans were not enlightened beings but normal men—some abusing their powers as healers.” This, of course, played perfectly into the very wounds Souklava was trying to heal.


Zuzanna Buchwald in the sweltering jungle heat by a secluded tambo (solo hut) at Nihue Rao.
Photo by Tracey Eller.

Souklava was fortunate. She was able to leave the unethical shaman and find ethical female shamans who brought a warmer, more nurturing energy to ayahuasca ceremonies. She found profound healing and is now sharing her healing story with people from around the world at Temple of the Way of Light, a women-centered ayahuasca healing center in the Peruvian Amazon. She’s also speaking out about her experience with the predatory shaman in hopes of helping women distinguish between highly trained, experienced, ethical and loving shamans and poorly trained or imitation shamans, as well as how to recognize any shaman who wants power, money, control, fame, or sex. As ayahuasca becomes a global phenomenon, fame and fortune can corrupt even highly trained, experienced shamans.

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