Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Cost of Aya Ceremonies in the States

There's been some discussion on a board I occasionally post on regarding the cost of an ayahuasca session when done in the US, as opposed to Peru. The initial poster in the discussion was horrified to learn that someone was charging $350 per person for an ayahuasca ceremony. Other people chimed in that that was way to much. Some people said they wouldn't pay more than $100, and someone who has an ayahuasca retreat outside of Iquitos said the fee there was only $50 a ceremony, and included sleeping quarters.
So I added this to the fray and will no doubt be excoriated soundly:
I don't do ceremony here in the States, but I certainly can look at the math and see where people get their prices.
Let's say you fly a curandero to the US for two weekends of ceremonies.
His flight will be $1500.
Let's say you pay him or her $1500.
Let's say it costs you $500 to feed and entertain the curandero while in town on days when not doing ceremony.
Let's say you use 8 kilos of caapi and 3 kilos of leaf to make 2 quarts of medicine. At $50 a kilo, 20 portions (2 quarts) will cost you $550. If you have 10 people a night for each of the four nights that will double that to $1,100.
Add an extra hundred bucks for toilet paper, mapachos, Agua Florida, and your total for serving 40 people will come to $4,700.
So you would be into it, not counting any time or profit, for $117.50 each.
Toss in maybe breakfast for the people following ceremony and you'ld be up to $125 a head.
Toss in extras, like gas to pick up the curandero at the airport, blankets for people, cushions for guests to sit on (then washing everything after they puked all over)...your basic costs would come to near $140 a guest.
What your time was worth to put the event together would be what you charge over that.
So I could see where putting on such an event would cost a good deal of money and take a good deal of time: getting 40 participants could take a few weeks work.
I guess the point of this post is just to remind people that flying people to foreign countries, paying them for their work, buying the medicine, and taking care of the extras really does add up. It's a very different thing than having people come to your established space outside of Iquitos, where the vine and leaves are free, the curandero doesn't cost as much to feed and so forth.
Personally, I like heading up the river and into the deep green for my medicine, but for those who want it delivered, well, there's a price to pay for that.

PS: Full Disclosure for Blog readers: I have done a couple of ceremonies here, but never utilized a curandero who had to be flown in, housed, paid, etc. Even then it's a long way from inexpensive.


Gritter said...

And..... it is SOOOooooooooooo much better in the Deep Green!!!! Nothing like it anywhere anytime.

Gritter said...

Buy a book! Buy a book. Buy a book.

mopz said...

I am always amazed at people who moan about the 'cost' of an ayahuasca ceremony. The potential value of a spiritual encounter via ayahuasca is priceless. Anyone who isn't prepared to fork out the cost of a television for a real journey into the spirit world has no business with ayahuasca.