Isn’t It Illegal for This New Hampshire Church and Sanctuary to Offer Hallucinogenic Tea Retreats?
Editor's note: This article was written by a Townsquare Media Northern New England contributor and may contain the individual's views, opinions, or personal experiences.
It's a growing trend, albeit controversial, around the world. They're called Ayahuasca Retreats, and even streaming services like Netflix and podcasts like Gwyneth Paltrow's "The goop" have explored the popularity of these mysterious gatherings.
According to the Ground website, Ayahuasca has been used by indigenous tribes as a healing agent in the Amazon for hundreds of years, both for physical and mental distress. In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the government could not stop a New Mexico church from using the substance as a sacrament. However, the active ingredient, dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, remains a controlled substance under federal law, and is illegal to consume.
That's why these kinds of retreats are basically left alone, at least for now. That includes Pachamama Sanctuary, which is an Ayahuasca center in Canterbury, New Hampshire, just north of Concord founded in 2019.
The founder is Pastor Derek Januszewski, according to the website Truth Seekah, but how much longer he'll be around is still up in the air, according to Vermont Public. Pastor Derek's Pachamama Sanctuary has seen over 2,000 people since it opened.
Here's how Pastor Derek describes these retreats, according to Vermont Public.
It is like a spiritual psych ward. In a way, it is beautiful. You have people over here crying. You have people over here purging. You have people rolling around in the grass trying to get toward the earth. It is where we can lose our mind and find our soul.
According to Manchester Link, the Canterbury planning board issued cease and desist orders right before, denying Pachamama a review of its site plan because it didn't have proper documentation about the church's smoke alarm and septic systems, emergency signage, parking plans, and snow removal options in case of an emergency.
Pastor Derek, according to Manchester Link, said he was going to move somewhere else in New Hampshire after that meeting, and it looks like he did just that.
According to the Pachamama Sanctuary website, it's now somewhere in Concord, New Hampshire, but the Facebook page still lists Canterbury.