Part 1: Opening the Dieta
I had just left my job as Purchasing Director in a prominent local retailer company and was dealing with deep grieving feelings. Most of it I had loved: been able to mentor a large group of brilliant young professionals, traveling the world for product sourcing, the creativity involved in the design process of Home Décor and Textiles balancing the analytical challenges, not to mention the privileged income. Still, after three years of this I couldn’t deny the darkness I felt within the corporate world, the politics, the abuse of power over people, the manipulation games; neither could I deny my increasingly loud call to go back to a life dedicated to spirit and art so, I -once again- gathered my determination and shocked many with my resignation.
I had for long wanted to have an opportunity to do a “Dieta de Plantas Fuertes” or Strong Plants Diet, which is a plant medicine protocol that Yatchas in training follow (Yatcha is the closest Quechua translation to what westerners would call a Shaman or Medicine Man). It would include several ceremonial intakes of Mapacho (The Cleanser), Piton Tree (the Unblocker), Chiric Guayusa (the Way Opener) and Ayahuma (the Protector) all of them between two Ayahuasca ceremonies: one for opening and one for closure of this Strong Plant Dieta. I’m certainly no Yatcha in training but had requested permission to be guided in this protocol for my own healing and spiritual purposes. I felt so much need of clarity at this point of my life, and finally had the time to devote to this.
I arrived in Tena right in time for the solar eclipse of July 2nd, 2019. The jungle camp is composed of several wood cabins and an open setting Maloca (ceremonial space) with no modern comforts such as electricity or warm water but surrounded entirely by the most beautiful gardens and primary jungle. Ramon, our Yatcha guide had long grown sacred plants all around it. It had felt like ages since I had been able to connect with the Ayahuasca medicine as I devoted to daily life and worked with other sacred plants (mostly only as micro dosing) in the past year, yet in my heart I had carried the sadness of missing and longing for the connection with the loving energy and wise voice of the Jungle Mother so I was hoping for this Master Plant Dieta to help me prepare and reconnect.
This first night we would have Ayahuasca to “Open” the Dieta and the ceremony started with the passing of Mapacho liquid as rape used most frequently for nose snorting; I decided to instead go for the option of having it poured in my eyes which is also a traditional practice of the Quechua, I thought: how bad can it be? I had seen kids and “shamans in training” using it without a blink or the slightest of complains… I will just say I imagine pouring Tabasco sauce in your eyes would be less painful: a few drops and you will feel your brain, nose and throat burning…
As the effects of the Ayahuasca brew started to set in, I saw my visual screen filled with patterns of light and sound, full of mesmerizing and hypnotically moving colors…the patterns reminded me of snake skin yet this was adorned with colors of jewels like nothing to be found in nature. I’m certain these are the type of visions that inspired the famous Peruvian Shipibo textiles. As I was feeling the loving embrace of the Aya Spirit welcoming me back I could hear Ramon, our yatcha, singing his soothing beautiful Icaros. I don’t understand a word in Quechua but I imagined him praying for our healing and calling in blessings and protections for the opening of the diet and weeks ahead.
I stated my intention for the night for a deep cleanse that would allow me to face the following few weeks of yet to discover medicines with courage, strength and as much as feasible grace and ease. This was how my nightlong purging began: I must had thrown up and gone to the bathroom dozens of times, yet -as contradictory as it sounds- it felt all very gentle to me as I experienced no pain or discomfort. Before the force of my visions faded the wise voice explained the role of bodily fluids and purging in the healing process, I understood how they are used as mediums to attach and extract negative, sick or dense energies from our body… the tears produced by the Mapacho liquid in the eyes, the vomiting and diarrhea that are all too common to shamanic journeyers, phlegm and even period blood among others could also be mediums for healing releases. My own purging this ceremony didn’t end until we saw the sun rise illuminate the beauty of the jungle camp.
Part 2: Mapacho The Light of The World
We spent the day after our opening aya ceremony sleeping, drinking Bobinsana tea and daydreaming. We would start right away with the Strong Plants Ceremonies and the first two nights would be devoted to Mapacho (The Cleanser): which is a very concentrated liquid made from fermented Tobacco leaf extract. I had heard so much about the strength of this medicine that I confess I was dreading it. Ramon had explained it to be the strongest for clearing negative energies; others that have tried it were vocal about the flavor, the burning sensation it has while going down your esophagus and stomach and the often-violent purge force. In the past, I had seen people unable to hold it down for 5 minutes…. so, when Ramon had recommended it for me years ago, I had always found excuses to avoid it, until today.
Sensing my apprehension Ramon promised the first night I would be served a half dose of about half concentration strength indicating is best to get to meet new medicines in a gentler way. I have no complains about the flavor and the burning sensation felt no more uncomfortable than a strong ginger tea I would drink for sore throat. It did make me dizzy within an hour but not enough though as to prevent me from escaping the full of Mosquitos Maloca open setting and going back to my cabin. As soon as I hit my bed, I could sense the presence of the Mapacho spirit, and I asked: Where is the Light of this world? For long time, it had seemed to me that this world belongs completely to darkness…. Mapacho answered right away, unlike the wise voice of Aya, Mapacho answered with visuals instead; I saw the planet with clusters of dark density concentrated in the cities, in everything inorganic, in electronics and in areas with damaged or inexistent nature… In parallel, he showed me the light anchored inside the earth, the caverns, waterfalls, crystals, within many animals specially cetaceans, birds and certain mammals; I saw the light within many humans following the path of truth, and the many starseeds passing as humans fighting the good fight. I had tears of realization: how could I had overlooked what now seemed obvious: darkness is not (at least yet) the owner of this earth… He took on voice form to recommend me to live my life “Speaking from the Heart” and explained the power of influence that such approach brings. “When you speak to others from the heart, with no agenda or attachment, there is a wide range power of influence as others can sense truth with their souls” As of for the purging effects: I had expected vomiting but didn’t feel nauseous at all, I did however spend the rest of the night going back and from the bathroom for at least a dozen times
I had loved the energy of this medicine and the relative gentleness of the first experience so I felt much more confident the following night as I gulped down a full cup concentrated dose of Mapacho, I did it so fast I don’t recall the flavor, the burning was stronger than the previous day but not unbearable. Wow this time the energy hit me strong as I was laying in my cabin with eyes closed I could see thunder lighting inside my eyes, I had to walk up and inspect the night to make sure it was not an actual thunderstorm I was seeing through my eyelids only to find a clear sky…. I could see the electricity and thunder within my eyes all nightlong and got the insight that the medicine was working with my third eye. No further visions or insights came for the rest of the night and as sunrise arrived, I was eager to get over it only to realize that 8 hours later I was still very much under the effects while plummeting in my first failed attempt to walk; it took all my strength to call for help through the window. Ramon came to check on me: “you should get a cold bath to finish the effect of the medicine”, I replied: “I can’t even stand up!! This was way too strong” He set off and quickly came back with freshly squeezed orange juice which I later learnt is the Yatcha’s secret weapon for cutting off some of the medicines effects… my hand was shaky and weak while grabbing the glass but even with my first sip -as if it was a magic antidote- I started regaining strength. By the time I finished the large glass I was already feeling much better and heard Ramon calling me, he had prepared a warm plant (Chiripanga) bath which was a godsend: I came out of it ready for breakfast, feeling like a million bucks and grateful for Ramon’s assistance and wisdom.
Part 3: Piton for Unblocking Energies
After the Mapacho ceremonies we took a day off to rest (read sleep, dream and drink other plant teas) before moving ahead with the following ceremonies with Piton Bark “Soup”. This medicine is not as frequently used as Ayahuasca or Mapacho, over the years I had heard of Ramon using it in two instances: mandatory for drug addiction detox patients and also given to people that are not able to either swallow or keep down for 5 minutes the Ayahuasca brew. He called it a “vomiting plant” as when used as drug addictions detoxer, you are supposed to drink it, vomit it, drink some more, keep vomiting and so on… When inquiring Ramon about it he explained it to be a concentrated soup made from brewing the bark of a large old tree called Piton, used for unblocking energy. I tried to pledge my case: I have been drinking Ayahuasca somewhat regularly for the last 5 years, I have no history of chemical drug addictions, I had cleansed thoroughly with Tobacco the last two ceremonies…. Are you sure I need Piton? His answer was Piton is not as much for clearing energy as it is for unblocking energy (don’t ask me about the difference) so I resigned myself to comply with the traditional protocol.
This medicine looked and tasted like rotten chicken and veggies soup. In the Strong Plant Diet protocol, you drink one full cup to begin and an hour later (once you are already nauseated) you go through the misery of drinking a full second cup. I did not vomit once nor did the other person following the protocol in parallel (we must had been right about been thoroughly cleansed already) or maybe it may just cause that kind of effect on drug detoxing patients.
Instead, it felt like a warm cozy soothing energy inviting me to sleep and so I did through the night and days for the two Piton ceremonies and the resting days in between them. This medicine brought about the most lucid of dreams… I had several dreams where I met with people I had not seen in years. Two dreams (or trails of dreams) were of particular interest: In one I saw the president of the company were I had until recently worked making me yet another offer to convince me to stay; I denied it and while I was walking with her through a garden full of snakes I saw this big man snake hybrid (face and torso of a male over a body and tail of a large snake). In the other trail of dreams I would feel physical pain on several forms (a doctor drawing blood from my arm, a broken rib among other instances) the pain in these dreams felt extremely real, so much I would feel deep relief at waking up: I didn’t know it yet but later in what I would call my Grand Finale Aya Closure ceremony the nature and meaning of these dreams would be revealed to me
Part 4: The Great Master Chiric (The Way Opener to the Ayahuasca World)
Ramon announced: “Now you are thoroughly cleansed and ready to meet the Plant Master Chiric Guayusa” (its more popular version is the variety known as Chiric Sanango from Peru) he announced two full days off and encouraged us to use them to eat well, rest tons, regain strength and say our goodbyes to the outside world as this part of the diet (three ceremonies and resting days in between them) we would spend in seclusion. With no previous knowledge about this plant (in my 5 years visiting I had not heard of him giving this medicine to anyone) so we eagerly asked Ramon to explain what were we to expect: “This is THE master plant, a raw infusion of the shredded root and purple flowers of the Chiric Guayusa three. This is THE plant of the shamans and is the one that opens you up to the Ayahuasca world” I nodded as if any of that made much sense to me, he continued: “You will drink it and go immediately to your room, grab extra covers as tremors and bouts of cold and heat are expected”, “Open your heart and concentrate with this powerful medicine” were his last recommendations before serving a full cup of the somewhat pleasantly tasting infusion.
The first time we drank it on daylight am on a fasted stomach and headed on straight to bed: within 30 minutes I could feel my body vibrating, the vibration started in the face and mouth and extended all through my head, later to the neck, torso and legs until all my body vibrated. Cold and shaking came next, and then excruciating heat. All dizzy I changed on light clothes; the cabin seemed unbearably hot, so I ventured out for the open Maloca hammocks where I sank off in trance… I don’t know how much time passed but I overheard the cooking team and Ramon coming into the campground so I yelled for help. Ramon and his son literally dragged me to the bathroom as I couldn’t walk. After that, they dropped me back in my bed and I fell on the trance for the rest of the afternoon and night. Ramon came back in the morning (about 24 hours from the intake) to check on me and I was still very much under the effects, he performed an energy cleanse and left me with a jar of orange juice which I was not able to find the strength to serve and drink. It wasn’t until the night that I was able to walk out of the room and get down some water and food, still feeling remnant dizziness and vibration. Talk about strong medicines!!… I don’t recall any visions or insights with this plant, but I must admit it was the strongest energy I had ever felt.
I was too overwhelmed and a bit scared to be honest, by my first experience with Chiric to gather strength to participate in the second ceremony and asked to be dismissed from it: Ramon accepted reluctantly… The third and last ceremony I rejoined and found it similar in effects but significantly milder in intensity with a shortened, much more normal length of about 8 hours.
Part 5: Ayahuma (The Protector)
Ramon allowed significant resting time after Chiric, I could catch a glimpse of pride in his voice and eyes while talking about the pair of us doing the strong dieta and how brave had we been so far in the process. He indicated he would share another plant with us… one that wasn’t originally outlined in the program and that he only shared with close people in the path. It was the Ayahuma tree bark infusion and went on to explain that its number one goal is energetic protection.
I was served one full cup of it and had mild flavor and rather gentle effects for me. I could feel it clearly working in my third eye… making it visible and pulsating, it was very reminiscent of how I used to see it when I was child. Other than this I slept through the night. In contrast, the other Strong Plant Diet participant (a white Canadian wanting to learn the ways of the shamans) got two full cups and he related to us in the morning a night full of visions and premonitions.
Part 6: Ayahuasca Closure Ceremony (Grand Finale!)
I was to close my diet with this Ayahuasca Ceremony, perfectly timed for the Full Moon Lunar Eclipse of July 16th, it was only going to be my own diet closure as the other participant (the Canadian learning shamanic ways) was to remain for about 3 more weeks continuing his learning. As the nighttime arrived, we joked about my “graduation” and took bets regarding whereas we would be in condition to stand up and walk outside to see the lunar eclipse (expected for around 4 am locally).
Ramon served me a full shoot glass for the first time in my 5 years visiting him… he had always been very careful with my dosing, knowing that I’m very sensitive to the brew and that I get knocked out with half a glass. I guess my graduation night merited such so I gulped it down without complains but unable to avoid making faces at the flavor…
When Ayahuasca is strong, you don’t even notice you have sunk into its trance: It started with a procession of animals one after another: owl, wolf, birds, turtle, jaguar, anaconda, dolphins, whales among many many others. When I saw the Husky blue and red eyed my heart jumped in an immediate connection to him… I heard the wise voice explaining his bi-colored eyes: “he is a darkness/light balancer”. Next thing I recall is an image of my beloved Persian cat (Peteta) cornered in my closet back in my apartment, while the wise voice saying: “Peteta is old, she is dying” I immediately hit the brakes on the experience and said NO, I don’t want to see this. The wise voice replied: “We can either help you now… or when it happens, your choice” I started crying and went on to explain “I do want your help, but I don’t want to see this… I think the pain would pierce my heart”: “Let it pierce your heart: this is how you recover your humanity. And remember while doing this: DO NOT close your heart” was the reply
Next thing I remember is seeing the Ouroboros symbol: a snake forming a circle with its body the head eating the tail (pic below). The voice went on: “This is your universe now, half of this snake is white and half of this snake is black; for every inch of its tail she eats she regrows one inch of her body… she is eating herself eternally and the suffering and pain she endures comes from the struggle of light and darkness trying to annihilate each other”. I was next presented with another symbol: similar to the Ouroboros but this time there was an almost perfect circle closing in two perfectly balanced snake heads supporting a round clear crystal in between them (pic below). “This it how it should be: Light and Darkness in perfect balance sustaining Oneness. Instead of trying to annihilate each other, they recognize and reverence each other’s sacred role in creation and experience”. This was how for the first time in my five years learning from the wise voice I rebelled to her teachings stating: “not you too please don’t tell me this story of the balance between light and darkness. I just can’t accept it… so much pain and so much suffering caused by the darkness in this word, don’t ask me to hold that into sacredness. Even If I could understand this intellectually (which I don’t) my soul refuses to accept it: I’m sorry but I’m calling BS!”, and in the familiarity that I have acquired with the medicine I challenged: “Tell me there aren’t others in the higher realms and outside this planet that think like me. I know in my heart there must be others that share my view” the wise voice replied: “yes, exactly 50% of them… all the cosmos and universes are created in duality, ALL of them” I replied again in negation: “It can’t be… I have memories in my soul, memories of worlds of pure beauty and pure light, where there is only beauty and light and more beauty and more light, eternally… don’t tell me they don’t exist I begged, I remember them” The wise voice answered: “It only seemed to you they were eternal… the world you remember is a universe were the cycles of light and darkness take much longer than those on earth; they are measured in eons instead of thousand of years… you looked behind and could only see light, you looked ahead and could see only light because of the extreme lengths of such cycles: but it was just an appearance…”
“The pain and suffering you rebel so much against, the source of it is the illusion. For example: you suffer so much at the idea of Peteta leaving this world because you think you will lose her forever. This is only an illusion as in truth you know souls to be eternal and multidimensional, and soul families to journey together once and again. You will both meet not only in this physical plane but also in other realities, you never lose each other…” Trying to make sense of it I asked: “but what about the pain, forget about me I just don’t want her to suffer”. The voice replied “This is only a dream, remember the dreams you had recently were you experienced physical pain? we orchestrated them so you would understand: pain can feel real even in a dream but just as you woke up relieved they weren’t real.. Peteta will wake up relieved soon”
“This is also a lesson on avoidance and denial. How long have you been avoiding facing her aging and loss? All that suffering created came only from the avoidance… when you don’t want to listen, it makes the voices grow louder, now we are here to teach you through it and to help you through it…when she passes come back for the Heart Plants Diet” I hoped in silence this wouldn’t happen for several years yet!
Then I moved to ask, how should I approach this matter of pain and suffering in the world? Its been such a deep struggle and a source of constant grief to see so much pain… feeling that the more I help either homeless people or animals in duress, the more I find my efforts feeling less than a drop of help in the ocean of suffering. Should I do nothing then? I was shown a pillar of light coming down from the central sun covering the person or animal in question and anchoring light through them and inside the earth. “Invoke this pillar of light in such instances, we cannot intervene in a free will world normally but since you are calling on the assistance through from within, this legitimizes intervention. This will bring about so much more assistance for the person or animal in question than you can ever provide through material means”. I continued with my argument: “Aren’t we then supposed to take action? to fight the darkness in this world and to be the active agents of change?” My worlds were met with an immediate answer: “When you are focused on fighting the darkness you are not able to uphold the vibration of love”
Sometime passed as I digested all the information coming before I sensed the room was illuminated with full white light, I opened my eyes and could see it in all the windows and gleaming through inside the room: it must be the eclipse I thought!, as tempting as it was I knew it would be dangerous to walk out to see it in such a dizzy state. I closed my eyes and my vision was still in the room, but it was as if there was no ceiling and there in front of me was the most magnificent vision of a full moon eclipse bright in the sky while I heard the wise voice: “you wanted to see the eclipse right?” and I basked in the love and appreciation I felt from my caring spirit teachers.
PD: Two days after the closure ceremony I returned to my home in Guayaquil to find my cat in the exact same place I had seen her in my vision. I grabbed her and sensed her breathing short, took her immediately to the vet.. she would never come back home. In less than theee days I would have her breathing expire in my arms while I showered her in my love and let my heart be broken. The wise voice had advised when this happen that I would be coming back for the Heart Plant Diet, I never in my wildest dream (or nightmare) though it would be so fast.