Public Statement to the Ayahuasca Community


To the global ayahuasca community: We are a diverse group of people from around the world, woven together by a deep connection with the plant medicine ayahuasca, and we offer our most heartfelt condolences for the Nolan family on the tragic loss of their son, Kyle.

We, the undersigned, people who had direct experience with Shimbre, or have concern over what has transpired, believe Kyle was not given this medicine in a safe or supportive traditional environment. Ayahuasca powerfully impacts both the body and spirit, and while a purgative, is non-toxic. It must be facilitated in a ceremony by a person with extensive experience in all aspects of plant medicine, one who has studied for many years to understand the cultural traditions associated with ayahuasca as well as the myriad physical and psychological effects this plant teacher will have on the seeker. The facilitator, whether shaman, ayahuasquero or curandero, gringo or indigenous, should closely monitor and tends to the seekers’ spiritual, physical and emotional needs throughout the ceremony. The responsibility does not end there. The experience can be powerful, and at times disturbing, requiring support from the practitioner to help the seeker integrate the experience post-ceremony.

During the Shimbre ‘incident’ we believe this sacred medicine was administered by an irresponsible practitioner who did not follow the ancient traditional practice of staying with the seeker or student to insure physical and spiritual safety. Instead, in an affront to traditional practice, he sent his charges off alone into the jungle to fend for themselves following a superficial “ceremony”.

After the very first Shimbre (then called Chimbre) retreat in April, 2010, Rob Velez, the founder and funder of Shimbre was counseled both verbally and in writing by a number of concerned individuals that “Maestro Mancoluto’s” practices were not in keeping with the sacred traditions–and were in fact, very dangerous. In addition, Velez was warned the ayahuasca and huachuma (San Pedro) served by Mancoluto contained potentially dangerous admixtures of other plants. This counsel was not received in the spirit of deep concern and caring from which it was offered. Instead, it was regarded as an unfounded personal attack on Mancoluto and Velez’s business. Friendships and business relationships were destroyed as a result of these warnings.

Ayahuasca is legal in Peru as are retreat centers. A ‘bad scene’, operated ineptly by unqualified people, is not a crime. Still, many people who were concerned about the lack of duty of care and quality of ceremonies at Shimbre made their concerns known in the only medium left open to them at that time–the ayahuasca community. This same global community is now striving to learn from this tragedy, and facilitate a ‘Code of Ethics’ to self-regulate the business of shamanism as it spreads in the West, and as ayahuasca is administered in Peru.

We believe that this is an issue that goes beyond any one lodge or practitioner, and represents a turning point in the western shamanic re-integration. It is not something easily legislated against or decided for others. The questions it raises for the ayahuasca community in Peru and in the West, the tug of war between spirit and consumerism, remains. What do we do, if anything? We move forward. We build some type of foundation that can be used by our global community to have more dialogue, more informed awareness, and more solidarity and cohesion. Thus we encourage all interested parties to engage in discussion on the best ways to move forward, for the greatest good of all.

Sincerely and with deep sadness,


Dennis McKenna PhD
Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota, USA

Richard Meech
Toronto, Canada

Eion Bailey, USA

Rafael Monserrate
Los Angeles, California

Michael Maki,
Olympia, Washington

Howard Lawler
Iquitos, Peru

Rak Razam
Mullumbimby, NSW, Australia

Susan Blumenthal
Placitas, New Mexico, USA

Becca Dakini
Byron Bay, Australia

48 Responses to “Public Statement to the Ayahuasca Community”
  1. In order to minimize the chance of repetition of other tragedies similar to this one that happened to Kyle Nolan and his family, I strongly support the idea proposed by this statement about a self-regulatory code for ayahuasca drinking in Peru.

    This was very much what emerged from the working group on the religious use of ayahuasca in Brazil, when the ritual – but not therapeutical – use of ayahuasca was officially acknowledged as legal. The standard rules that were decided were the possible consensus among experienced ayahuasqueros under a governmental supervision. Although this was not a smooth process and there were points that were not fully satisfactory for this or that group – as it would be expected – the rules were an important commitment. Very few reports of incidents with ayahuasca have come from Brazil – almost all of them happened when these self-determined rules weren’t strictly followed. I personally wait for the day when the therapeutic use of ayahuasca will be recognized in this country. By then, new codes of ethics and self-regulatory agreements will also be necessary.

    I congratulate those who undersigned this public statement and hope that all the involved with ayahuasca in Peru join together in order to agree upon their own code for a safer healing experience.

    All Best,

    Luís Fernando Tófoli
    Universidade Federal do Ceará

  2. Sincere condolences to all those affected

  3. The Spirits have blessed this young man and we, as well.

  4. margaret cross says:

    May this situation bring more mindfullness to all of us. I send love and support to his family and everyone involved in this situation

  5. Thomas says:

    Sadly, I find this information to be somewhat “not surprising”. I watched Rob’s film “Stepping Into the Fire” about himself and his involvement in Shimbre. Just the scenes of ceremony in the video were cause for alarm to even a layperson.
    Rob’s whole attitude in the film does not ring true to the messages of Madre Ayahuasca. Albeit he heard the calling and made an attempt, but to Ignore the type of knowledge you imparted to him is inexcusable.
    Mancoluto did not appear to be professionally competent enough to be operating this type of center and sadly this incident confirms that as true.
    The tragic death of this young man while only pursuing a higher state of consciousness is the result of two wrongs here. I agree that there must be a better mechanism to prevent this type of incident from repeating itself.
    Thank you for sharing this information and posting this message.
    My Sincere Condolences to the family of Kyle Nolan.

  6. Sean Nolan says:

    I’m Kyle’s father. Thank you Thomas.

  7. Nikki W. says:

    Oh Sean, I’m so so so so sorry. My son, Kyle, is 18 also and getting ready to travel abroad so this hits a bit close to home.

    Sean, I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine how difficult this must be for you. Please know that for many reasons, we are all sending nothing but love to you right now while you try to heal in this difficult time.

    I wish I knew something to say that would help, but I am just at a loss.

    Such irresponsibility on their part. So horrible. Hopefully people like this will disappear and the practice will remain in the hands of the appropriate ones.

  8. Anonymous Seeker says:

    Terribly sad affair and potentially devastating for the image of this millennia-old medicine. It’s had such a profound impact on so many people, myself included, when used safely and with well-trained guides.

    I saw Stepping Into The Fire before my first experience with Ayahuasca, and was very excited because I didn’t know anything about the therapeutic use of the plants. Something about Mancoluto felt a little … weird.

    In hindsight, and watching bits of it again, with the benefit of dozens of healthy, well-prepared, sometimes painful but always productive ceremonies under my belt, I can safely say I’m glad I wasn’t able to afford to get to Shimbre from Europe.

    I know fear and ego runs deep and causes people to do many awful things, but what Mancoluto did – malpractice aside, I’m referring simply to his perversion of justice and moral crime of burying the poor boy’s body – is inexcusable for somebody in a position of power.

    The sooner the man is kept away from the well-intentioned (occasionally foolish) seekers who want to work with Ayahuasca, the better. I hope that in time Kyle’s tragic death can come to be a force for positive change, to make up for the damage.

  9. Wendy says:

    I am very sorry to hear the story about Kyle. I wish his family and nearest all my love an best wishes.

    I had an Ayahuasca ceremony a few days ago here in Holland. It was my first experience and it was led by a man who has learned the practice in Peru from other Shamans. He prepared everything very well and also made sure nobody could leave the house. It was an amazing experience and I’ve never felt an received so much love, for myself and for others. It opened up a whole new dimension in my life.

    I just watched the documentary and noticed that the people were sent off into the jungle. The place itself also looked a lot different than I was used to. We were in a place where everything was white: the beds, the pillows, the flowers, the candles and also our clothes. I also found it very important and healing to do things together with the group (meditation, yoga, laughing, cuddling and sharing). I couldn’t see this in the documentary which made it all a bit questionable, but I did like the fact how it all came to the conclusion of building a centre, and wanting to share the good in life. I hope we will not forgot that the intentions were all good.

    Best wishes, Nolan family. Our hearts to out to you.

  10. Arthur/Isis says:

    For the common wellness of the ayahuasca community.

    I suggest that a thorough medical intake must be completed prior to arrival at any retreat . This, to determine the existance of any underling medical conditions. Especially when dealing with those clinging to the last desperate straws of hope that ayahuasca could bring.

    It is an affront to humanity to monetize the ayahuasca and the indigenous cultures. Who do we westerners think we are?. Ayahuasca is a gift to humanity. The indigenous culture have been the gatekeepers and guardians of mankind’s medicine cabinet. As we encrouch onto their indigenous territories taking away their livlihood and desecrating their ancestral homeland we are, in fact, destroying the hopes and potential for cures for all of mankind.
    Lastly, in our well intentioned need to express our gratitude and sense of fairness we have repaid the indigenous people with a symbol of our sense of value…namely, money. We have created an imbalance with our good intentions: their wealth for our poverty. With this trade we will have infected them, not with small pox in the blankets of trade, but infected them with capitalism of ayahuasca tourism. Their religious indigenous spirituality has been cast off as a worthless by-product, a barrier to asimilation to the host cultures of each country/state.

  11. Sam r says:

    I followed this story with a heavy heart. The fact that Sean Nolan understands what went wrong here perhaps will help him grieve, as clearly what poor Kyle intended to drink (pure ayahuasca) would not have hurt him. I am filled with sorrow and wish the Nolans great love.

  12. Gary says:

    My condolences to the family of this young man. I also have watched the film Stepping into the Fire, which is how I have come to hear about this lads death. I have not had ayahuasca, but have researched it quite a lot. I intend to try it in the near future. But what concerns me most is the apparent willingness by some elements to use this tragic event to push some sort of agenda to regulate. I’m sorry, but these plants have served mankind well for thousands of years without the need for regulations, and I don’t see any names that I would expect to see in that list at the top of this page. Would I be wrong in wondering if any of those names on the list have vested interests? There seems to be attempts by the UN on down, to try to demonise ayahuasca and it’s compound DMT, and I do not want to think that those same entities would use this young lads death as an opportunity to realise those aims. I want the chance to try ayahuasca, and I want others around me to have that choice also. DMT is already outlawed in many countries by the UN, let’s not be too hasty lest we deprive ourselves of this gift through kneejerk reactions. Again, my heartfelt condolences to Kyles family.

  13. They mention use of san pedro and Ayahuasca together in their documentary, never mix these two experiences! Mescaline is a potentially fatal admixture to the MAO-A inhibiting effects of Aya. This center should stand as an example that Aya belongs in its own set and setting, with careful attention to diet and mixtures, and it should not be applied in large amounts until the individual has acclimated and worked up to it. The same dose will cause a similar, but variable reaction in all humans. This is where I think Aya needs community development. We need to carefully asses each participant, understand their medical history, restrict all other substances, and apply low starter doses (disappointing experience, but necessary) to determine sensitivities to MAOIs or hypertensive crisis. Failure to look at these details can result in a stroke, seizures, and/or heart attack. The best “shaman” to monitor you is yourself, you have to take responsibility for the concoction you consume and you are the first one who can determine if something is wrong. Start slow, start low, and you will steadily go where you need to be. The retreat aspects of these shamanic centers create so much pressure for blowing out your world view in one visit, but multiple sessions are needed across multiple visits to determine the efficacy and effects of the medicine. Aya will exceed the expectations you have of her, but you must exceed the expectations Aya has of you.

    If you want to contact me, do so via Bubble Mill. It is an Engineering firm for Cannabis extraction, but we are focused on the political issues surround neurotransmitter use and forming a community to fight for protected use under the first amendment. Our goal is to open the US to forming its own community of users and supporters, protected by the first amendment, but this lesson should stand at the front of everyone’s mind. I feel that by taking responsibility for what we seek, we can better address the social effects and taboos as relative to the western culture, but at the same time we can help educate western public.

    If you think the a RFRA lawsuit regarding all shamanic practice as a non-denominational first amendment right without race-based limitations sounds good, try to look up Bubble Mill and contact me via the website or facebook page. It only (lol, only) takes $400,000 to litigate through to the Supreme Court, an attainable amount given the size and growth of the US community. I am not looking for more business or more money, just putting my plan on the page to inform people who need to know. I hope that when this lawsuit is filed in 2013 (or early 2014) that we will come together to stand as a community, we are only what we believe and that is how they divide us.

    We cannot hesitate to mitigate this tragedy and take responsibility for our message as a community, these dangerous practices can be avoided through education and attention to detail. While all practitioners have unique beliefs or methods, this sort of negligence and deceit is unacceptable.

    My condolences to the family, you deserved the truth and your son deserved more. Now, this entire community must stand up and embrace you to offer what we can, please go with love.

    Graham B. Pritchett
    Bubble Mill
    Colorado, USA

  14. Daniel says:

    I know spanish fluently and i have high very intuition on people and must say i was aware that the “shaman” was not trustable just by the way he talked on the promotional video.
    I was also shocked to see that rather than using their money to deepen the understanding of the plants, the process and the DMT the video appeared to be made to sell something, which spiritually speaking was the cause of any tragedy that would follow. Bad Karma as someone would say.

    There is no shortcut to enlightenment.. to go from intense egoist to someone who suddenly sees everything is a too rapid development for us human beings.
    Take your time to really understand something… that is the true essence of love, the state which everyone in those videos is praising.

    My wish is to deepen our understanding of what is happening and getting people to get accustomed to the new knowledge rather than to dive into overdoses and radical consciousness shifts. The earth evolved very slowly.. there is no rush. Research, read, listen, understand

  15. Sat Nishan Singh says:

    I was really impressed by the “Stepping into the Fire” documentary – but now I see you have to very careful of the Ayahuasca center you attend – is there a list of recommended centers?

  16. Namasté,

    To second statement and question, is there a list of recommended Ayahuasca centres?



  17. William Koroskenyi says:

    I firstly want to express my heartache of hearing about this tragic event at Chimbre. Ten yrs ago I ventured deep into the Peruvian Amazon in search of an Ayahuascero/curandero. That experience changed my life so dramatically for the better. Over the past ten yrs I have found myself still living out the wisdom gathered from this other realm, and ceremonial communion with nature. I have also watched many documentaries on the subject, read many books, and spoken with many who have had experiences with the sacred vine, ayahuasca. Upon watching the documentary about Shimbre Retreat Center, I also was highly alarmed by the seeming lack of facilitation, and especially by the lack of energetic management of the ceremony. To send people off into the jungle to fend for themselves, is unsafe, and as anybody who’s experienced ayahuasca knows…the greatest of fears can be faced while sitting or laying down in ceremony, under close management you don’t need to come face to face with a poisonous snake to do so.

  18. O.G. says:

    I just watched the ‘Stepping into the Fire’ documentary this evening. Only part way through did I realise that Shimbre was the centre of the tragedy which I’d heard of a few months prior.

    I have never taken ayahuasca, however I have spent many years working diligently with other entheogens. Intuitively, I feel that the centre’s founder, Roberto Velez, simply dove in too deep too soon. It is my experience that you need time and practice with particular substances to understand how they colour your perceptions and how to comport yourself in those spaces. Starting a centre not long after your first aya journey sounds to me like a recipe for trouble. That said, clearly what happened was in Roberto’s destiny, and no doubt it has been a huge learning journey for him and his family. Having watched the film, I believe he is a man with a good heart, excellent drive and the power to create change. Unfortunately it seems he went about this shift in the wrong company.

    In the film, Mancoluto has a hard, egoistic manner – quite unlike the beautiful aya shamans I have known, who radiate a gentle, loving strength. He is also quite didactic and manifestly lacking in humility, which gives me reason to suspect he is no curandero. Who knows, perhaps he is indeed a brujo, knowingly or otherwise, as some sites suggest.

    What is clear is that where there is power, there will always be extremities of both light and shadow. If ayahuasca gives people the power to expand themselves, it is up to the entheogenic community to shed light upon practices and centres which do not operate in a spirit of loving wisdom. I applaud the signatories to the above Public Statement for doing just that. I offer my hearfelt condolences to the Nolan family, and pray that this experience makes the entheogenic community wiser, stronger, more discerning and more committed to holding safe and sacred space for work with these powerful medicines.

  19. Bill F says:

    I have been watching this same documentary, and now found this site, and learned of the tragedy. My sincere condolences to the family and friends. I will add to the two above: how does one find a reputable Ayahuasca center, where the procedures and rituals are done in accordance with tradition?

  20. dale says:

    What many personal comments in the “Stepping into Fire” documentary affirmed is that we are all one. There are as many different ways to discover this as there are people on our planet. Ayahuasca is one modality that many find appealing. Since we are all in this together it is important for all enlightened humans to encourage those who are still in bondage to their identification with material bodies to remember that we all contribute equally to a global awakening. There is no blame to assign. Kyle’s life and death is a reminder that each of us is part of a grand and impersonal opus orchestrated by universal love. Bodies come and go while mankind evolves. Time will last as long as is needful for every lost soul to be united in one purpose, complete oneness. This forum only supports that idea. Love is always the answer. We all love one another unconditionally whether we choose to acknowledge that truth or not.

  21. matt says:

    All conditioned things are impermanent. Attaichment to impermanent things is suffering. This body is not self. Clinging to form is pain, letting go is release.

  22. Basia Podbereski says:

    i have been searching for a Ayahusaca center for over 4 years,

    is there a list of recommended Ayahuasca centres? either in Brazil or Peru?

    another question,
    could someone who suffered a left brain stroke take this medicine?
    i have recuperated 100% of my physical faculties & 90% of mental faculties , but still fragile emotionally due to the damage of left part of my brain,
    the stroke was caused by overload of stress,
    otherwise i am physically fit due to being raw foodist

  23. iam says:

    Why so many jump to the conclusion that we know what happen, why it happened or how it happened.
    Aya can be a Great teacher to help clear out the cobwebs/ of mind mechanical garbage with hopes of making you more aware and better understanding of One. Kyle obviously went for it for good reason with much effort. Things happened and emotions follow. This one brings much sadness. My thoughts and love to the Nolen’s

  24. Beckett A. says:

    My fiance recently said to me, “we should plan a trip to Peru.” To which I replied, “good God, why?” Her explanation made perfect sense: pyramids, culture, mountains, rain-forest… That night I started researching all of the how’s and why’s of the trip. Whist deep into my research I found a bit about Ayahuasca in correlation with chakra, energy, meditation and spiritual growth. All of which have been very important to me for the last year and a half – all accept Ayahuasca. I had never heard of it.

    I’ve watched and read over a hundred personal accounts with the natural substances used for Ayahuasca, and have grown ever more fascinated as well as fearful of the experience. Fearful because I know deep down that it is something that I need to do, and I dread that something would go wrong. This fear is superseded by my curiosity. For better or worse.

    I seek to find the appropriate means in which to contact a Shaman who will practice this ancient ceremony for my fiance and myself in a peaceful and holistic environment. I ask for anyone who truly believes in this ritual to contact me in this regard. I am open to receive both positive and negative feedback. Keep in mind that I am not wealthy, I am a simple man who is putting himself through school. So if the only trustworthy practitioners currently charge thousands of dollars, then I will have to find another way entirely.

    That all being said. My heart aches with the very recent knowledge of Kyle’s death. Sean, and anyone else relative to Kyle, I lost my brother before his time, cancer has no heart, and I know what it feels like to loose someone so close. My father and I speak of him somberly even now that it has been 5 years since his passing. I share this with you so that you know, when I say, my heart aches for you and your loss, I mean it from deep within. I truly hope you find peace with this tragedy, even though such a wish can inspire anger as readily as it can inspire calm. Peace be with you.
    please state your thesis in the subject part of the email so that I can try to catch your messages before my spam filter does. Some things get filtered automatically that are not intended to be. I will be vigilant.

  25. Sean Nolan says:

    First thank you all of you for your comments. If you haven’t heard, shaman Mancoluto was given 3 years probation by the Peru justice system for burying my son secretly in the jungle, lying to Kyle’s mother and sister when they went down there twice to find him, and then we raised money ($9000) to bring Kyle home to California to bury him again.

    If I were Justice–and I have to say without command of all the facts yet with a father’s grieving–I would say Mancoluto was out of his league running this million dollar Shimbre center with a slick film produced by Rob Velez, Stepping Into The Fire, which along with the Shimbre website, since closed, promised a safe experience, with participants always attended to during the ayahuasca experience. There was no mention that ayahuasca participants were sent out into the jungle alone or largely alone, which accounts for why Kyle’s body was not found in a ditch for 24 hours, unreported, because dragged off and buried like a carcass in the jungle.

    I can’t say what kind of heart Rob Velez has, but his lack of attention to this shaman Mancoluto he appointed to run Shimbre Center and the warnings he had been given over two years about this shaman before my son’s death speaks to irresponsibility on his part which led to the death of my son.

    I want Rob Velez to step up, acknowledge his irresponsibility, and put in place with his money oversight or registry of these shamanic centers so potential clients (and their parents) have real information about what’s going on with these shamanic centers. Tell people, which we weren’t told, that Mancoluto believed himself a 5th generation Martian and after sending participants out into the jungle could climb the trellis into his raised hut and sit on a bank of batteries to watch Peruvian soap operas while claiming Martian ESP to keep everyone in the jungle safe.

    A death in the Shimbre jungle was bound to happen under these circumstances. I don’t want this to happen again.

    I have a current campaign going on to raise $3500 for release of Kyle’s autopsy completed in California, but donations have dwindled since it became more or less established that my son’s death was related to the shaman and not ayahuasca.

    My own transformation happened in the early 1980s when I was lucky enough to take, at that time, legal and pharmaceutical grade MDMA or ecstasy, as it’s now called, under controlled and safe conditions, and I expected the same experience for my son. Here’s what I posted today on Facebook’s “Causes:”

    “My 18 year old son, Kyle Nolan, died under suspicious circumstances in Peru this past September. He went to Peru to the Shimbre center, near Puerto Maldonado, to participate in an ayahuasca ceremony, died, and was secretly buried in the jungle. A wealthy American, a NY stockbroker, I believe, had a transformative experience in 2010 with shaman Mancoluto, after which he spent ~million dollars, created Shimbre, and then went back to New York. From 2010 to 2012 this New York stockbroker was warned repeatedly that his hand-picked shaman was out of control and Shimbre was unsafe. Both Kyle’s mother and myself researched Shimbre before we said OK to our son. We watched a glossy 90 minute documentary about Shimbre called “Stepping Into The Fire,” produced by the wealthy NY stockbroker, which you can easily watch online. The Shimbre website has been taken down since Kyle’s death, the place closed. Both the website and the documentary fooled us into believing the place was safe.

    I want to find out why my son died. I can’t pay for the release of his autopsy report ($3500), which is what I need to have a chance at justice for my son. I have a fundly campaign ongoing for the $3500 and a memorial page on Facebook for my son.”

    Thank you all again for your support.

    Sean Nolan

  26. Juha says:

    My deepest regrets for your loss, Sean. You are right. The way he Shaman acted was out of line and the staff of Shimbre should have done more research about Ayahuasca before starting the center. I can’t even imagine the pain of the thoughts of the handling of your son’s body give you. Nevertheless, do not become bitter. It will just cause more pain for you and your family. Try to see something positive in this tragic accident. You have certainly researched the use of Ayahuasca a lot after this and that knowledge and your experience has a great potential. The capitalization of spiritualism is a growing plague and you have cure for it. You can help all those who have been blinded by the promises of false healers who only do things to achieve more. The true giving is only giving, nothing is wanted in return. Spread your word, but don’t be angry. Everyone makes mistakes, and I sure you that the staff of Shimbre did not want this to happen to your son. Forgive them and forgive yourself. Be honest and you shall help many confused young and old people to find their true path. I’m not saying that Aya is needed to find enlightenment in life but it has a tremendous potential to cure misperception of life itself, when the Guide knows what he/she is doing. I wish you and your family all the best.

    Ps. Ayahuasca experience is something different than MDMA experience. Both great tools when used properly. To understand the potential of Aya, one must experience it himself before making any judgements.

    Best regards Juha!

  27. CY says:

    I know this sucks and all but people die. I don’t think shame and blame is the best route here. Just like with regulated FDA approved drugs, people die. Folks, people die. It is part of life, we don’t know if that was Kyle’s time to go or not. What is meant to be is sometimes beyond our knowledge.

  28. victoria says:

    To CT and Juha.this is not a look what I know or think!this is the loss of a child.that I know the pain of.the disrespect is appalling.”I know this sucks”what the hell would you know about the loss of your child;and…then to go on giving the father a tutorial on the differences of Aya and mdma heartless… Use your heart

  29. LMS says:

    Does anybody knows what the Peru Law did with Florian Schmatz, the interpreter in Chimbre/Shimbre who helped Mancoluto to hide Kyle?

    Then if i had gone in Roberto Velez shoes, i had helped The Nolan Family with the money and everything else, so i could have sleept well for rest of my life with nice dreams, Can he sponsor Chimbre to build these Big camp and the Film then 3-5000 us dollar is nothing to get the mind free.

  30. Rick says:

    There are multiple requests on here for a recommended list of centres, surely this would be a great addition to this website? A section where you could view reviews similar to how amazon works or any other product based website. Surely it would be legal to list ceremonies in countries where that status of ayahuasca is embedded into the culture.

    When I view the documentary I came away with the impression that the Chimbre Centre was a safe, professional experience that really appealed to me as I’m sure it did to others. The documentary was inspiring, had plenty of heart and the website answered any questions I might have. I didn’t detect any obvious issues and looked at making a trip there. Looks like I dodged a bullet!

  31. Morgan Maher says:

    Hi Rick,

    It is absolutely essential to do research regarding where and with whom one chooses to do ceremony – and yes, sometimes a center’s own media and information may not tell the entire story. Perhaps one of the best places to find reviews and information in this regard is in the forums, specifically in the Connections & Events section. You may find reviews, personal accounts, and other details, and of course one can post and ask for advice regarding any particular retreat center, curandero and so forth.

    Connections and Events: Ayahuasca-related events, gatherings, contacts, meetings, get-togethers, retreats, teachers, healers, shamans, facilitators, travel, tourism…

  32. Safaa says:

    Mr. Sean Nolan,

    Your words touched me. I have been curious about DMT for a while but, in honor of Kyle, I realize that life has more than enough beautiful things to experience just through people without needing something intense like ayahuasca. I feel Kyle’s spiritual journey led him all the way to the other side. I feel the love you have for Kyle in your words and I know that, although you miss him, he is both here and also in a Higher place. I will gladly make a donation to your fund. Thank you and your family for being an inspiration!


  33. Sean Nolan says:

    There’s an article in the March issue of Men’s Journal regarding my son Kyle’s death and ayahuasca.…uasca-20130215

    Here’s my question:
    Not sure why Roberto Velez now says: “The man [Mancoluto] was evil and dangerous…and the whole world needs to know so that no one ever seeks him again” when Velez was warned repeatedly the last two years his shaman Mancoluto was out of control and endangering people.

    Velez is the man who started Shimbre Center in Peru. He is a derivatives broker in NYC. He had transformative experiences with Mancoluto 2008-9, then spent a million or millions building the Shimbre Center and making the 90 minute promotional film, Stepping Into The Fire.

    For two years (2010-12) now back in NY, Velez was warned repeatedly his shaman was out of control, his particular ayahuasca brew included known toxins, esp. datura, and no one attended the ayahuasca participants wandering through the night jungle. In response Velez did nothing.

    Had I dug deeper, beneath the promotional film, perhaps I would have found cautions and warnings, but not many, because Kyle had not yet died.

    Shimbre (9 miles from Puerto Maldonado) has closed down because of my son’s death. The shaman got 3 years probation for secretly burying my son in the jungle. Not sure about his accomplice, Florian Schmatz.

    I want to find out why my son died.

    I’ve raised $8000 through to bring my son’s body home from Peru for forensic examination and proper burial. The autopsy by Dr. Kelly Arthur-Kenny is $3500 for it to be released to me, which is my current campaign: I’ve raised $2000 of the $3500 needed. Please help if you can.

  34. Dan K. says:

    I’m glad that I found this statement. I just watched the film by Velez and though I liked it, I’m glad I did additional research to hear about this tragedy. It’s a shame that something like this happened. Hiding a body is absolutely terrible.

  35. Millie says:

    To Sean and family, my sincere commiserations. I watched the video up to 60 minutes; and then paused to google Shimbre, and ended up here, like many more.

    For those of us who wish to try and draw back the veil Ayahuasca is very promising and compelling. I read about it for a long while before feeling I must try it. Not wishing to go to SA to do this I researched here in the UK and quickly found several places where I could take it, affordably, under supervision, with others.

    For the many who asked for addresses of safe places know they exist in the UK and Europe, but you will need to do your research. If you are advised to give up certain foods, alcohol, TV and other stimulants beforehand heed the advice. In fact if you are unhealthy do a detox beforehand. I personally would be careful if I had heart disease or very high blood pressure. One can get quite dehydrated during the 4-5 hour journey.

    Everyone’s journey is different but once you are ‘in the grip’ there is no turning back, and it can be most challenging.

    I previously had no history of taking hallucinogens so had no idea what to expect. You are ushered into another realm(s) which can be very frightening at times; it has not been called ‘the little death’ for nothing! Seems I have run out of space. Lots of information on the web; google and youtube.

  36. LisaDe says:

    Like many on here on extend my condolences to the Nolan family and wondered why this young man was unattended after the administration of the medicine, and wonder why there has been no news of a determination of what actually killed Kyle, e.g. was it a chemical or was there a problem with aspiration, or something else. The fact that the body was hidden makes one think perhaps something else. But notwithstanding I am glad the shaman at least showed authorities where the body was buried so the family could recover the body of their loved one. Majority of people know very little of shamanism and an incident like this only exacerbates lack of understanding and tolerance towards shamanic cultures and communities and therefore I am glad something has been said here to counter that perception and to let others know that those involved in shamanism care, that they are concerned and interested in what could be learned from this tragic incident.

  37. Eric LD says:

    Wow, huge condolences to the Nolan family. Thank you Sean for staying so strong in the wake of this horrible tragedy which no doubt has not faded a bit in the months since it’s happened… you could easily have been using your outrage to protest hallucinogens, shamanism, and spirituality all together, and no doubt would have been quickly supported by the government who’s best interest it is to keep these substances and ideas out of our hands – not for our safety – but for purposes of control. Instead you’ve directed your emotions into learning more about the circumstances rather than straight blame and shame towards the substance/ritual you previously didn’t know much about. It would be all too easy to play that game, and you remain strong. For all of those who have been helped by ayahuasca, though I can’t speak for them I know it must mean a lot. I can speak for myself and those of us who wish to partake in the experience eventually when I say thank you for not making it your life’s mission to rip it from our hands as others would. Again, ultimate condolences and gratefulness, Sean. Especially in being a parent with an open mind to his son’s choice of spirituality both before and after it lead him to tragedy. Thank you.

  38. Ari says:

    I am sorry for your loss Sean, i have been looking into travelling to Peru and i am only 19. I was wondering if anyone knew how to find a safe and reliable retreat to use. After watching this film it did make me feel good and want to go to Peru and do the rituals but i learnt to always do research and finding this made me feel sad. Seeing that their website has been shut down is also upsetting because it means we are all searching for answers and are left in the dark.

    I hope you raise the money Sean, but for anyone who has gone to Peru can you email me a good retreat to go to because i am now confused as to where i should stay.

  39. Sean Nolan says:

    An Australian interview re: Kyle Nolan’s death. Here are the questions:

    1, To your knowledge, why did Kyle choose to partake in a shamanic ceremony in Peru?
    2. What did you, yourself, know about these practices before he left for Peru?
    3. Did you have any concerns regarding Kyle consuming ayahuasca? If yes/no, why?
    4. What do you believe happened to Kyle at the Shimbre Shamanic Center?
    5. What do you aim to achieve by raising awareness of your sons death?
    6. What would you say are the main dangers surrounding shamanic practises and the consumption of ayahuasca in Peru?
    7. Is there any other information you want people to know about your current efforts to raise awareness of the shamanic practises in Peru?
    8. Lastly, why do you think these practises are illegal in Western countries like the US and Australia?

    1. My son was questing for self-knowledge.

    2. I knew nothing about ayahuasca before Kyle told me early summer 2012 he was interested in going to Peru for the ayahuasca ceremony. I then went online and did research, as did his mother.

    3. Sure I had concerns, especially the photograph on their (now down) Shimbre website, which showed an isolated 20′ x 20′ wood platform with a small tent in the middle of the jungle. But then the web text beneath said experienced facilitators will accompany and assist each participant at all times.

    And then Roberto Velez, man who started Shimbre (or Chimbre) wrote on an ayahuasca forum that…

    “on our center we will have western facilitators to help people and assist them…. not everyone can handle it alone… although they should.

    His last three words are a telling and chilling thing: “although they should.” Roberto Velez is a former Marine who uses usmc as part of his screen name. (God bless our troops, and I mean that, absolutely including the proud Marines.) Mancoluto, Velez’s chosen shaman, shares a similar tough love attitude. In Mancoluto’s case (now on probation for secretly burying my son), he retreated from each Shimbre ceremony to watch Peruvian soap operas while sitting on a bank of batteries. Prior to Shimbre, there are several accounts of ayahuasca participants being left alone by Mancoluto. Maybe Mancoluto’s just a lazy man out of his league. Not what bothers me. What bothers me is I read on the Shimbre website that ayahuasca participants would be attended at all times, and it was a lie, and my son Kyle died. It was 24 hours before my son was even found in the jungle by Mancoluto and his two accomplices.

    Also…Roberto Velez’s father is an esteemed member of the Peru consulate. Do you think I won’t have road blocks in getting blood and tissue samples from the Peru autopsy on my son who lay buried for two weeks in a hole in the jungle? Maybe not. We’ll see.

    4. I don’t know what to believe killed Kyle. His body was secretly buried two weeks hot like 105 degrees, then he was embalmed before the generosity of folks got his body back here to California. The most likely killer was too much datura in his drink. Odd because I owned a home in Oakland, CA where when I moved in there was a brugmansia or angel’s trumpet, devil’s weed. It’s actually illegal to grow in the U.S, but it came with my house: angel trumpets are usually thought of as white, but this baby had dark purple trumpets, the real mcCoy. Didn’t try it though, too risky I deemed. Feels like a warning now. Who knows, doesn’t matter.

    5. My paramount want is to have my son, Kyle Josef Nolan’s death, save another. Also it’s hard for me to not keep wanting his name spoken here. I miss him so much. I’ve proposed a registry of sorts, of ayahuasca centers, with client feedback, and have it come up first on google. I think that might be best. Certainly open to suggestions.

    8. That’s a dissertation :)

  40. Being an Austrian psychiatrist, neurologist and investigator of the Indian-American Shamanism, I was initiated into the traditional medicinal use of Ayahuasca nearly thirty years ago. By commission of the Public Ministry of Health of Ecuador a monograph about the psycho-energetic and spiritual principles of the shamanic healing was published in 1991. I carry out shamanic healing programs with Ayahuasca and San Pedro since more than thirty years. Having seen the movie “Stepping into the Fire”, I was surprised of two basic things: First that I never before saw or heard about that the participants could leave the ceremonial space of the shaman, in order to retreat to their tents. Second: Shamanic medicine is a spiritual medicine, in general terms (known since Mircea Eliade) based on the trinity of “Man – God – Medicine”. “Nature”, belonging to creation, consists likewise of vital and perilous energies. There is good and bad, light and darkness in nature and within ourselves; we therefore need, of course, spiritual directions and care in order not to go astray within ourselves during an Ayahuasca session. However, this “shaman” did not direct his ceremonies in accordance with spiritual principles; he made even some anti-religious comments.

    Please feel free to ask for my book, actually only in Spanish: “El Éxtasis Shamánico de la Conciencia – Principio Medular de la Medicina Shamánica”. I will send you for free.

    May God bless the transit of this young man towards His eternal light and bliss.

  41. Steve says:

    Like many others, I came across the website while watching the film and then trying to google Roberto Valez to see about getting rights to the film to make part of an online summit I am producing on science and spirituality. Roberto just can’t be found, nor his film company Mindscape TV. I was horrified to find out what happened at Shimbre and worse, how a cover up was attempted. Also, to know that Roberto was warned yet did nothing about it is equally horrifying. No wonder he appears to be in hiding. And he couldn’t even step up to the plate to help Mr Nolan get an autopsy for his son? Seriously? Roberto, you should already know from your ayahuasca experiences that everything autopsy for his son? Seriously? Roberto, you should already know from your ayahuasca experiences that everything we do in our lives counts. Are you taking no responsibility for this tragedy? And cowardly hiding from it?

    I have had two ayahuasca experiences in my life and they were some of the most meaningful experiences and opportunities for growth on the planet. It’s disgusting that this shaman and others who use this brew in unethical ways are not given a dose of their own medicine. I can’t imagine the hell they would experience during their own session. Not to worry. When they die, they will have to face all they are hiding from. This applies also to the shaman who are taking advantage of woman while they are under the medicine. Shame! You will pay. Please research well before finding a shaman or facilitator friends.

    Thank you mr Nolan. Deepest condolences.

  42. daver says:

    interesting it says ‘please note: Owing to the complex legal status of ayahuasca in many places, comments geared towards finding ayahuasca or ayahuasca ceremonies cannot be accepted. Comments with commercial intent are also not accepted.’ when many people are asking for just that. Who runs ? Obviously you must provide a list of recommended centres. Sort it out, you don’t think people are going to be put off by ‘ owing to the complex legal status of….etc!! If the legal status is that complex why? and If it is find out places where the legal status is not complex (legal) and then provide details of recommended places.

  43. Sean Nolan says:

    my comment, then a poem:

    I don’t believe people die from the ayahuasca vine, although my son,
    Kyle Nolan, died after an ayahuasca ceremony. I’ll probably never know
    what killed him. His body was embalmed in Peru, and Roberto Velez’s
    father is in the Peruvian consulate, and so far I’ve been stonewalled
    getting his pre-embalmed tissue samples back from the Peru autopsy In
    fact, the U.S. embassy in Lima has not responded to my requests for
    assistance in getting those samples.

    I’m implying everything, impugning no one. Justice for my son gives me that right.

    I agree with the posters who reminded us crime is everywhere.

    Read more:
    Follow us: @mensjournal on Twitter | MensJournal on Facebook

    Home Therapy

    You can evaluate yourself:
    put a plug in the tub,
    look through the water.

    What do you see?

    Hummingbirds and carrots,
    a fricassee?

    Are you restless looking at nothing?
    Flick a switch,
    focus on what’s in front of you.

    If you’re like me,
    self-consciousness will interfere–
    everybody gets excited–
    when you’re about to do something remarkable.

  44. Sean Nolan says:

    to set things straighter:

    Kyle was in excellent health, not on any medications. He had researched ayahuasca summer 2012 while he worked to save money for the trip to Peru. I think he chose to go to Shimbre because of their slick 90 minute promotional film called “Stepping into the Fire,” which can still be easily seen on the internet. His sister, Marion, who was home with him through the summer, said he watched it a lot. A film like that can really fire up an 18 year old’s imagination. I may never know what Kyle died from, but I know WHY Kyle died: the Shimbre website said that “experienced Western facilitators” will accompany participants at all times. That’s why I let my son go to Shimbre in Peru, because of that assurance. Kyle wasn’t found for nearly 24 hours after ingesting ayahuasca from shaman Mancoluto then sent alone into the night jungle. That lie about facilitators on the Shimbre website cost my son his life. Roberto Velez, Shimbre creator and NYC derivatives broker, was warned for two years about shaman Mancoluto, that ayahuasca participants were not guided but alone, and that the shaman was using potentially toxic amounts of toe’ (datura, brugmansia) in his ayahuasca brew. (I’m told some shamans add toe’ to heighten the experience for “tourists.”)

    As Swiatoslaw said, I’m objective, but there’s some things I can’t be objective about, which help fuel my fire: my son was unaccompanied high on ayahuasca into the jungle, wasn’t found for 24 hrs. When he was found by the shaman–and this is reported by the shaman, who can’t be trusted–Kyle was found 30 ft. from the platform he was supposed to reach. He was in a ditch, dead, in a fetal position. Then the shaman got his two assistants to help carry or drag my son’s body, bury him in another ditch, this time covering him with dirt. The thought of anybody touching my son without his or my permission even or especially when he’s dead is a place I don’t want to go very often.

    Here’s the link my comments are from:

  45. Morgan Maher says:

    Hi Dave – and anyone else wishing to gather further, more complete and in-depth information regarding ayahuasca – the legal status of ayahuasca, safety information, information about responsible ayahuasca retreat centers, reputable and respected curanderos, ethical considerations, so forth & so on – can visit The Ayahuasca Forums:

    There you will find numerous discussions, opinions, info, reviews, etc, on hundreds of related topics.

    Thank you

  46. Jay says:

    Condolences to Sean Nolan on the loss of his son, Kyle. I’m so sorry, bro.

    Watched the “Stepping into the Fire” movie on youtube. I’m not sure, but this Roberto Velez character seems a bit skeevy to me. I don’t think you ought to actively “promote” or “sell” something like ayahuasca, other than telling your friends about the experiences you’ve had with the plant. Something about his advertising of the plant doesn’t sit well with me.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. [...] not yet died. Here's the response to Kyle's death from the ayahuasca community, loud and clear. Public Statement to the Ayahuasca Community | Shimbre (9 miles from Puerto Maldonado) has closed down because of my son's death. The shaman got [...]

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