Don Ron Wheelock is widely known in Peru as The Gringo Shaman of the Amazon. A shaman is a person who, in tribal cultures, communicates with the spirit world. As intermediaries, shamans ask spirits to intercede in the lives of humans, healing them of illnesses, or granting favors. Since traditional cultures believe that spirits play important roles in peoples lives, the shaman must learn how to cooperate with the spirits for the benefit of his or her community.
Don Ron Wheelock was born in Independence, Kansas. In 1996 he went to Peru looking for a spiritual teacher. Don Ron first drank ayahuasca in Tamshiyacu with famed shaman Don Agustin Rivas Vasquez. While with Don Agustin, he made arrangements to return to begin the intensive training to become a shamanic healer himself using the South American plant medicine, ayahuasca.
Don Ron stayed with Don Agustin for 5 months doing many plant diets. Don Ron then began working with Don Jose Coral Mori, the teacher of Pablo Amaringo and Eduardo Luna, the authors of “Ayahuasca Visions”. After studying with both ayahuasqueros (shamans who work exclusively with ayahuasca), he began working on his own in 2000.
Don Ron is an ayahuasquero/curandero. An ayahuasquero is someone who has trained under a maestro ayahuasquero and has the ability to prepare the ayahuasca brew, complete the icaros and prayers during the preparation, set up the maloka (the ceremony space for the ayahuasca ceremonies) and conduct the ceremony.
As a curandero, Don Ron works with a large variety of plant and tree bark dietas. These dietas form a strong bond between the curandero and the plants dieted. Those plants become allies, and the plants teach the curandero how to work with them during the ceremony and in healing. A curandero can call on one of his plant/tree allies to protect the guest, to bring in the medicine, and help cure a guest.
Don Ron works with various energies and spirits. This skill of managing energies and spirits is particularly important in an ayahuasca ceremony as a person’s energies open up significantly in this space.
Unlike other ayahuasca retreats that have a team of shamans or invite available shamans to performs ceremonies, Don Ron drinks and conducts all the ceremonies himself without an assistant. His many years in Peru have given him a strong affinity for the people, culture, and language. Of course, being from Kansas, there is no need for a translator if you have any questions about your experiences with Mother Ayahuasca.
Like indigenous shamans have been doing for centuries, Don Ron prepares his ayahuasca by harvesting the vine Banisteriopsis caapi and then boiling it for several days. After continual praying over the mixture, Don Ron’s “tea” is ready to be used in a ceremony. Don Ron’s strong and pure medicine is used by other ayahuasca retreats in Peru.
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 and 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.
Don Ron is also on the forefront of the work being done using ayahuasca to treat PTSD. Ayahuasca’s active ingredient, the naturally occurring psychedelic compound DMT, causes users to revisit and process issues associated with personal traumas and suppressed memories in a safe, controlled setting. Many compare the experience to doing ten years of therapy in one night. A number of scientific studies have found ayahuasca to be effective in helping PTSD patients formerly considered untreatable, and there is a tremendous amount of anecdotal evidence that the cathartic effects of ayahuasca are real and long lasting. Typically only a few ceremonies, and often just one, are needed to create profound and positive changes.
Although classified as a schedule one controlled substance by the U.S. government, ayahuasca has no proven addictive or neurotoxic properties. It has in fact been used to treat various drug, nicotine and alcohol addictions. Anyone who has used it will attest that ayahuasca is a challenging experience, and certainly, cannot be used as a party drug or casually brewed “at home”. Users should know that it is dangerous to do ayahuasca while taking prescription anti-anxiety or anti-depression medication.
Ayahuasquero Don Ron (62 years old) lives with his partner Karina Maria Diaz Paredes and conducts ayahuasca retreats at his compound, El Purguero. He has a 43-year-old daughter, Christina, living in the U.S., and a 14-year-old son, Quetzalcoatl Luis Wheelock Angulo. Sebastian, 13, and John, 19, complete Don Ron’s family.