Land Based Healing, Holistic Recovery and Permaculture at Sacred Rebels Recovery

Makena and Sapha are the founders of Sacred Rebels Recovery, a project supporting individuals in recovery from addiction through land based treatment and plant medicine in Peru, in association with Nihue Rao Centro Espiritual.

According to the International Journal of Indigenous Health, land-based healing is a culturally defined practice, program, or service that takes place in an urban nature-based, rural, or remote location, on a land base that has been intentionally spiritually cultivated, honored, and respected (Hanson, 2012). The land is situated as firmly relational within an Indigenous pedagogy, and is understood to be an active “partner to the person or people engaged in the healing process” (Hanson, 2012, p. 2). Steps are taken to identify how an individual or community’s relationship with the land, self, and others has been disrupted and how best to help renew this relationship (Laurie, 2013). This has also been referred to as “land-based intervention” in the literature (Walsh et al., 2018).

Sapha and Makena discuss the importance of being in community, how they were first exposed to permaculture, and the magical way that gardens attract community and offer a meeting place for connection to spark. We also explore some ways that permaculture can be practiced, either to reproduce colonial systems or to deconstruct them.

The conversation turns to addiction, and the prejudice that people who use psychedelics can face from the recovery community. Sacred Rebels Recovery is bringing together land based healing with community, both in the jungle and virtually. Sapha and Makena share about working alongside the local community village Llanchama (sounds like yawn-chama), which neighbors Nihue Rao, about 1 hour away from Iquitos by motocar/river boat. This collaboration adds value to the recovery journey, as knowledge and healing is shared and integrated.

Sapha and Makena shared with me in an email that Sacred Rebels Recovery is indigenous owned and operated, and visitors/residents have the opportunity to access psychedelic therapy and permaculture during the inpatient treatment process, which is generally not available with treatment in North America. The modalities are traditional indigenous healing practices held in a traditional container by indigenous people.

Land based healing abroad adds a layer of adventure to the experience and an opportunity for the individual to be away from the city or town they used drugs in for an extended period of time. They also get the chance to experience a different culture, art, spirituality, and way of life. Their time away gives the family or closest care of the individual seeking treatment a break and ability to create healthy distance to allow space for healing on both sides. Seeking treatment internationally can also be more cost effective.

Sapha and Makena’s intention as stewards of the land is to develop food forests and systems that can thrive with native medicinal and edible plants, so the local community can continue to cultivate and enjoy the fruits of the land for years to come. They are also hosting ayahuasca retreats and residential programs for individuals on a path of addiction recovery.

The conversation also includes a discussion of the ways that ayahuasca and other native jungle plants have supported us in our individual recovery/mental health journeys.

There were various candid appearances in the background of this episode, from people splitting wood, dogs barking, planes flying overhead, birds singing, motorcars, to other jungle creatures. Thank you for your patience and understanding 🙂


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