Matthew Mormello, our co-owner and ayahuasquero, was first introduced to plant medicines in 2011. Since then he has fully immersed himself in the world of ancient sacred traditions and practices. From studying with ayahuasca in Iquitos, Peru to using the sacrament iboga in Gabon, Africa; Matt's interest and commitment to plant medicine continues to grow.
When Matt was first introduced to ayahuasca through an episode of National Geographic and he was immediately drawn to the images and sounds. It was as if something deep and dormant in him had been activated, ignited! He thought, “This is it, this is what I have to do.” He didn't know how, but he knew he was being guided. They often say ayahuasca comes to you long before you drink the brew and at that moment ayahuasca was beckoning to him.
First, he had to address his addictions and his path led him to Mexico, where he was treated with iboga in 2011 on HBO’s VICE TV. After his treatment, he stayed involved by exploring the spiritual aspects of Bwiti, a tradition that uses iboga as a sacrament. Then, in 2013 he came to Costa Rica to work more intimately with iboga at a retreat center.
When Matthew arrived in Costa Rica, he had his first experience with ayahuasca and his connection with the medicine was instantaneous. In the years since he has participated in hundreds of ceremonies and has evolved into a powerful and compassionate ayahuasquero. He continues to travel to Iquitos every few months to continue learning and to complete master plant dietas with is teacher Don Ron Wheelock.
Our ceremonies are done with respect to the Peruvian traditions and are offered in darkness. Participants sit in silence while the experience is guided through music and song.
Matthew uses mapacho, unadulterated jungle tobacco, to cleanse the ceremonial space and invite protection. Each participant is offered a dose of ayahuasca. We sit together in silence for 30 minutes and once the medicine starts to take effect, Matthew will begin to sing. An hour into the ceremony we offer the opportunity to drink more ensure you have a full experience.
The ceremony lasts 3 – 4 hours. Matthew will close the ceremony with more mapacho, blowing smoke on each individual to close the chakras and seal the night.
After the ceremony, we will have a fire under the stars and overlooking the vast valley to the coastline.
What is a Shaman?
A shaman is a person who interacts with the spiritual realm through altered states of consciousness. Matthew considers himself an ayahuasquero, or one who works with ayahuasca, a common term that can be used interchangeably with shaman. Since 2014 Matthew has dedicated himself to mastering his craft. He has completed many master plant dietas and has learned valuable lessons in his years of facilitating ceremonies that have made him skilled in navigating energy, sensing spirits, and creating a safe container for all participants.
The ayahuasca shaman is responsible for guiding the experience through song. At New Life Ayahuasca, this includes Icaros(traditional medicine songs), guitar, drums, gong, singing bowls, bells, and flute. Matthew, a highly sensitive and intuitive empath, adapts the songs of the ceremony to meet the energy of the room. The songs of the spirit come to him, and his powerful voice carries them through the space. This is why it is so important to us to keep our groups intimate so that the energetic space is maintained with respect to each individual's experience.