Meet Us

Anthony Esposito
Lead Iboga Provider & Bwiti Initiate

Anthony Esposito Iboga Retreats Costa RicaIn early 2013, the Spirit of Iboga called Anthony to heal the root causes of his depression, anxiety, addictions, and PTSD from sexual trauma. His experience was so powerful and profound that it became immediately clear he would serve the sacred medicine and spread the teachings of the Bwiti tradition.

Just weeks after his initial life-changing ceremony, Anthony returned to Costa Rica and began working with the medicine both on a personal level and in a training capacity under a 10th generation Bwiti shaman. In December of 2013, he traveled to Gabon, Africa, and completed a Full Initiation into the Bwiti tradition. In July of 2015, he returned to Gabon and underwent a Rites of Passage, a journey the Bwiti use as a passageway from childhood to adulthood.

Through his dedication to finding peace within himself, and by facing his own truth, Anthony has unveiled his innate ability to help others access their own healing power. He maintains deep gratitude for all of his experiences—the challenging and the beautiful—which have shaped his path and led him to harness his mind and connect to his heart, passion, and purpose.

After 6 years, three trips to Gabon, Africa and consistent self- inquiry, Anthony has developed a deep relationship with the Spirit of Iboga and considers the medicine one of his greatest teachers. He finds deep joy and healing in leading sacred Iboga ceremonies, guiding guests through spiritual self-discovery, and assisting them through the transformations that follow the profound teachings of this medicine.

Amber Antonelli
Provider Apprentice, Bwiti Initiate & Chief of the Village

Life for Amber as a young child was simple and relatively calm. Though her parents split at the age of 4, they remained close in both business and their parenting partnership. Early adolescence brought a wave of trauma and disconnection and by high school she was into full blown drug and alcohol abuse. Gratefully most of this was experimental and addiction never set in. However Amber felt ill at ease much of the time, always searching outside herself for answers.

In 2007 Amber and Anthony met and fell in love immediately. After a few years of very challenging and codependent ups and downs, she found her spiritual path quite by “accident” when Anthony was seeking relief from depression, anxiety and addiction.

Initially it was their work with Ayahuasca that began to open Amber’s heart and her mind and started to ease the feelings of disconnection that had plagued much of her life. One of the first and most profound shifts was in the approach to her work.

Since childhood Amber had a passion for cooking which grew quickly into a lifelong career. In 2011, after returning from months of deep personal work in Peru, Amber created her conscious culinary business, The Naked Bite, cultivating a connection with food in a whole new way. She began to channel her teachings from this higher consciousness into her passion for healing foods, educating others to shift their approach to nourishment through food, connecting their body, mind, spirit.

Amber’s immense internal shifts had begun, but it wasn’t until a few years later through her work with Iboga, that some of the deepest teachings fell into place. Amber connected to the Iboga medicine easily and has since healed on many levels through the infinite wisdom of this powerful teacher plant. Coupled with many other healing modalities and her own connection to her highest wisdom, Amber has found a deep power within.

Working with Iboga has heightened Amber’s already strong intuition to best serve those during this aspect of their healing path. She believes strongly in a wholistic approach to the journey within, the post retreat integration being of the utmost importance. Amber draws from her own personal process as well as trainings in multiple methodologies including a certification in the Being True To You transformational coaching program, Austin Shamanic Center Mesa Carrier Program and Conscious Creation Coaching with Nanice Ellis. She is committed to creating the most compassionate and loving container for Awaken Your Soul guests to do some of the deepest work of their lives in a safe and nurturing environment.

Raven Marie
Assistant Facilitator, Bwiti Initiate & Reiki Master

At the age of 29 Raven found herself feeling the weight of years of unresolved past wounds, verbal abuse, sexual trauma and deep-rooted feelings of abandonment. At the time she worked as a bottle server in the Miami nightlife scene. She was also dabbling with coke, drinking excessively and feeling as if her life was going nowhere fast. She struggled with anxiety, depression and sadness.

During this time Raven received a visit from a benevolent being showing her as a ball of light and being surrounded by other light beings blessing her on her journey. This encounter was a turning point for her, the desire to free herself from years of pain was ignited.

Raven then quit her job with a trail of financial debt hanging on her sleeve. She gave up her apartment and car and moved in with her best friend throwing herself into day-long meditations and seclusion. Ironically she was then hired to manage a restaurant and lounge in Dubai and although the opportunity was incredibly expansive, after the move Raven very quickly realized it was not the right fit.

Back in Miami Raven was led to the natural healing modality of Reiki. Her study of Reiki became the bridge between her own personal trauma and deep healing. For three years she rode a rollercoaster of extreme highs and profound lows experiencing a stint of homelessness, emotional upheavals, repairing the relationship with her father and the relationship with herself most importantly. She found solace in being in service through Reiki to Cancer patients, children, animals, friends and family.

Raven was then led to Costa Rica and began working with retreat centers and providing consulting and support to local wellness programs. This is where she encountered Iboga for the first time. This would become the redefining moment of who she was and how she would walk through life from that moment forward.

Working with Iboga granted her the opportunity to heal trauma throughout her ancestral lineage, as well as heal the deepest layers of her sexual trauma. She was freed from many things and in turn felt the love of Iboga so deeply that she followed the call to Gabon, Africa to be initiated into the Bwiti Tradition.

Raven is a Reiki Master, Advanced Belief Clearing Practitioner and a Holistic Stress Management and Ho’oponopono instructor. Using her own life experiences and lessons learned along the way she uses the gift of storytelling and these multiple modalities to inspire others to live with passion, to take risks, be unafraid to make mistakes and to recognize that pain can be transcended into power and love.

Teresa Rufus
Assistant Facilitator

Teresa was raised in the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona and northern Mexico and often taken on family field trips into the prickly wilderness of lava craters and mountains, thus creating a love affair with nature. When she grew up she worked in the creative arts—theatre, dance and writing—and co-managed a wilderness ranch based on principles of conservation, eventually leading to the protection of almost a million contiguous acres of ranching wilderness.

As can be quite common; Teresa’s home life as a child was riddled with woundings and traumas. Her coping mechanism became a mental fantasy world and loss of self that eventually meant full out-of-body dissociation and PTSD. Ultimately, the way Teresa  avoided feelings of pain and fear was through affliction rather than addiction. In her late teens, she developed mono and since through the decades has had progressively worsening and debilitating mystery illnesses like Chronic Fatigue and Lyme Disease that often kept her from participating in the life around her.

The most recent iteration of the affliction was a “catastrophic toxic mold exposure” in her home five years ago that caused extreme reactivity, and forced Teresa to leave home, family and city. Selling almost everything she owned, she hit the road as a mold refugee/gypsy, sometimes lasting only up to three days in a place before the reactions became severe again. Teresa moved between hotels and airbnbs, but was constantly on the lookout for anything that would help the condition.

When Teresa first heard of Iboga, she wondered– If the medicine could reset an addict’s mind, could it reset mine? If the medicine could detox and clear old patterns, she thought it might help her end this vicious cycle of illness that haunted her. In 2014 went to the Iboga House and after three profound, enlightening, soul-filled ceremonies, she finally found relief. Iboga helped when nothing else had touched Teresa’s condition. In addition to being effective at detoxing the mold toxins, it showed her clearly the root causes of the affliction. Her experience was beyond all that she had hoped for and knew immediately that she  wanted to go deeper.

Accompanied by a mindful diet and wellness regimen, Teresa’s extensive work with this plant has taken decades off of her 68 year old body in just a matter of 2 years, proving that her deepest pain and traumas actually became her greatest strength and her fountain of youth.

Teresa has grown to love Iboga as a precious teacher and guide and her dearest wish is to be of service to this profound medicine and those who are guided to do this work as well.

Charlie Gillig
Chef

Since a young age, Charlie has found great joy in food and cooking. He has found it to be a creative outlet for channeling both his positive and challenging energies. He has been involved on both sides of the food spectrum – working on vegetable and mushrooms farms and also working in restaurants and as a private chef.

Charlie grew up in South Florida, and throughout his schooling, he became interested in studying food systems from an anthropological lens, looking for ways to bring about equity and fairness in our food production and distribution systems.

After moving to Austin, Texas, he became increasingly interested in permaculture and organic gardening practices, and can be found with his hands in the garden just as often as with a knife and cutting board. He also studied nutrition and herbal medicine at The Wildflower School in Austin – focusing on herbs native to the central Texas region – in order to strengthen his palate of holistic healing modalities and to gain a greater understanding of food and herbs from a nutritional and energetic perspective. Charlie aims to cook and serve plant-forward meals which are highly nutritious and healing as an accompaniment to the plant medicine healing that takes place at the retreat.

Maria & Jose aka “Los Muchachos!”
Housekeeping Specialists

Both raised in nearby town of Esparza- The Muchachos make the  Awaken Your Soul world go around in the most fundamental and vital way. Always smiling and full of life, Maria and Jose are young, vibrant and easy to be around.

Maria is raising two young children and believes that if you are always looking back you will not see the good in front of you!

Jose lives with his two sisters with whom he is very close and enjoys spending his time off in nature, hiking and fishing. He has taken the medicine in small amounts and is curious to one day go deeper to explore within.

Isabel
Resident Ceremony Kitty

Isabel (typically known as Mama) was born in Miami and has been and nature-lover and a devout foodie her whole life. She has always had a compassionate nature but truly tapped into her empathic and healing abilities when her parents began to include her in these sacred ceremonies.

She now spends her days interacting with the peacocks and snoozing to save her energies for the ceremony nights. Isabel spends the entire ceremony time patrolling the sacred space and attending to those who need some animal connection!