Tag Archives: healing

Naysha: A Guide to Diets

What is a diet and what is the purpose?

Diets are part of the triangular base of shamanism. For shamans who use master plants to heal the diets is the most important part. Through the diets the shamans get their knowledge and healing powers. If we compare it with university studies we can say that the diets are the different courses that one takes.

When you do a diet you make an ally for life, according to the shaman Jungle Svonni. These allies help out in the shamans work in the ceremonies. The shaman works with the energy of plants that s/he has dieted and not with her/his own power. In that way they can keep their energy strong and in balance. Otherwise each ceremony would weaken the shaman, but instead it is the opposite. More diets, more energy and better work.

When you do a diet you create a contract with the spirit of what you will diet. Note that some shamans specialize in using one or more specific plants, which they have dieted for long periods of time or in succession. We do not always connect or feel a connection with the spirit of what we are dieting. As in normal life we are more compatible with some people than with others, and it is the same with the plant spirits. We are compatible with certain plant spirits but not with all. With time you will recognize which plant spirits connects with you better.

In his article Withdrawals or allowances Dr. Rosa Giove tells us that:

“Diets are temporary retreats in the mountains, usually ten days in isolation, with ritualized ingestion of so-called ‘plant teachers’ under a certain diet and very strict physical and psychological management.

A space in contact with nature, dedicated to the physical and energetic purification, to remove substances that block sensitivity is thus created. This favours the production dream, remembrance of past situations and not metabolized deep introspection; in short, the encounter with the ‘inner teacher.’

We opened an inner door that allows us to contact our being deep, but at the same time makes us vulnerable. By Therefore, energy measures are stringent protection for both ‘dietador’ m person doing the diet, and the person who treats you.”

Kinds of diets

In my experience there are two types of diets:

Learning Diets. All diets are about learning, but the degree of learning depends on the effort we put into each diet and the connection you get with the spirit of what we are dieting. The more restrictions you have in your diet, the more benefits you will get from it.

Healing Diets. All diets are for healing, but there are specific diets to cure specific diseases or problems. A person who performs a healing diet can vary the level of restrictions depending on the severity of the illness. The restrictions will depend on what the shaman recommends, but the basic rules do not change. The only thing that varies in this case is the food and that depends on the body. A person who is old or physically very weak may have a little more to eat, but always without SALT.

What to diet

You can basically diet everything, because everything that comes from our mother earth has a spirit. So it depends on what you want to achieve with the diet. Do you want to learn, cleanse or heal?

Photo: perfectly imperfect by Bùi Linh Ngân on Flickr
Photo: perfectly imperfect by Bùi Linh Ngân on Flickr

In the end you will achieve all, but to what degree will also depend on your intention and your needs. For example a person that wants to heal a specific disease such as diabetes will just do a healing diet for the diabetes. The plant spirit won’t be teaching much, but will be working with the body and the energy during the entire diet.

Usually you look at the characteristics of what you will go to diet. In the Amazon the shaman’s training consists in doing plant diets and that is what is offered in the Amazonian shamanic market. Therefore, knowing the characteristic of the plant is recommended before starting a diet. A shaman knows the plant by investigating it through diets, by working with the spirit in ceremonies or by dreams where it is shown how to use every part of the plant.

A common way to investigate a plant in addition to the diet is to cook a leaf, stem or root with Ayahuasca. The Ayahuasca will make the contact with the spirit more visual. When you start a diet you will drink it as a tea or eat a specific part of the plant, such as the bark, root, leaves or flowers. Each part has a different energy, a different function and purpose.

Diet rules

If you look at the meaning of the word diet, one understands that it refers to the “restriction of something”. What are these restrictions in a shamans diet?

Alcohol
Alcohol consumption, for obvious reasons, is not allowed while one performs a diet.

Sex
Sex or masturbation is not allowed for simple reasons. At the moment of orgasm you release your energies or you catch energies from your partner. When we are on diet we want the energy that is contained in the plant or crystal that we are dieting to become a part of us. If we have an orgasm we will lose the energy that we have accumulated.

Place
When one is on a diet it is recommended to stay away from the city, because our body is in an open state, which helps us to be receptive to the energies. Therefore the place will influence the outcome of our diet. You must be isolated or surrounded by those who are helping you with the diet, like the shaman or other people on diets. How isolated you need to be also depends on the plant that you are dieting. Some plant spirits can be more demanding than others, just like people.

Food
This point is very important because nowadays, especially in the city of Iquitos, various centers have no idea of the importance and the reasons behind the food that should be served during a diet. When you are on diet, you want to create the least amount of distractions in your body so that the spirit of the plant can work on you. The food should generally contain little nutrition or energy. It is usually recommended to eat rice and lentils once a day, since everything you eat will compete with the spirit of the plant that you are dieting. For example, if you eat a carrot, the carrot has lots of “personality”, which will compete with the plant spirit that you are dieting. This does not mean that you cannot eat a carrot. You can, but the benefits from your diet will decrease. If you eat vegetables in your diet your learning might decrease by 40 percent.

Chilis by Adam Baker on Flickr.
Chilis by Adam Baker on Flickr.

Chili
In Peru the shaman will normally close a diet or post diet with chili, since it cuts energies. Chili also has a hot energy, which can give you a headache while on diet. The only exception to this case is when one is dieting chili, but that is a very special diet and not very common due to its degree of difficulty. Then it is usually consumed as powder up the nose and it is mainly for protection.

Salt
Salt is one of the most powerful sources of energy for our body. Therefore it is a big interference for plant or crystal. Since we don’t want the energies to compete, salt is generally used to end the diet. It is a signal to the body that the diet is over. When you stop eating salt before starting a diet you are also opening your body to energies around you. It’s important that you eat salt before ceremonies or your body will feel weak. Also nowadays we are eating far too much salt. The amount of salt that we need is only 2 grams a day. It is also good to keep in mind that salt sometimes comes with additives such as Fluoride, which is a poison.

Touching
As I mentioned, when you’re on a diet, you are in a receptive mode, or one might say that your WIFI is switched on. Therefore it is important that the diet is done in a secluded place in nature, not only because of the importance of creating a safe place and being in contact with nature, but also not to expose yourself to other people’s energies. It is highly recommend not to have any physical contact with people. Remember that our skin can absorb everything, not only creams or water, but also energy. Handshakes and hugs are not allowed during a diet. The only contact you may have is with the shaman. Usually the shaman asks the patient to hold his/her hands as if to receive something and then blows smoke for healing, cleaning or to provide energy.

Electronics
You should not use any electronic apparatus during a diet, so forgot about your laptop or your mobile. The signals that electronics emit are not good for you during a diet. They can make you feel sick or give you headaches. Using your cell phone to communicate with the rest out the world while you are on a diet is not good, especially if you receive bad news. You need peace, not problems.

Note
Every shaman has their own specific rules about diets. These are kind of general rules. Some shamans are stricter and won’t even allow people to read books, but I think that is to exaggerate. You won’t be with your diet energy 24 hours a day, so you can have moments when you distract the mind. Just make sure that you read something nice.

If you have taken the decision to start a diet, you must finish. You have made a promise to yourself and might very well get sick if you don’t keep it. I will talk more about that in another post.

How to start a diet

Before giving a diet the shaman will first do an Ayahuasca ceremony with the person for the following reasons:

  1. To clean the energies and the body of the person who will do the diet. Obstacles are removed to be able to work with the spirit of the plant.
  2. Ajo Sacha
    Ajo Sacha

    To identify the plant that the person will diet. In the ceremony the shaman calls the spirits of different plants to see which is best suited to the diet that the person will start. The most common diet for those starting shamanic training is Ajo Sacha. It is a very popular plant because of its effectiveness to clean energy.

  3. The shaman also sets the time the person must do their diet. Diets generally have an average minimum duration of 3 days, which are usually fastings (just with water). 7, 10 and 15 days are the normal times of diets, but if you want to specialize in the use of a plant then diets are longer or repeated several times. It could be 30 days, three months or a year. After you have done several diets you will feel in advance how long to make your diets.
  4. The diet starts early in the morning the day after the ceremony by drinking tea or eating bark, roots, flowers or leaves of the plant that the shaman saw during the Ayahuasca ceremony. You will drink this tea for the first 3 days of the diet. You can also drink it throughout the diet, but it depends on the shaman and whether the diet is for learning or healing. In diets for learning it is enough to drink the tea the first 3 days. For healing diets the tea plant is taken during all the diet.

It is important to mention that diets usually are performed by taking one plant at a time. No two plants are mixed in a diet unless it is for healing the body or to heal a disease. In some Ayahuasca centres there are diets with up to 100 plants in one diet, but that is outright crazy. The only thing you get from these diets is CONFUSION. As we mentioned before, plants are not compatible with all energies. Also some plants are not compatible with each other, either for chemical or energetic reasons. Please, if someone offers you such diets – run!

Crystal diets

The crystal diets follow the same rules as the plant diets. This is how you prepare for a crystal diet:

  1. Clean your crystal. You can use fire or leave it over night in a glass of water touching the earth.
  2. Next day put the crystal in a glass of fresh water and leave it there all day and night. If you don´t have a plant ceremony to cleanse before you start your diet, then you try to water fast all that day. Drink plenty of water.
  3. The next day you drink the water from the glass. To continue dieting you pour fresh water into the glass with the crystal, leave it over night and drink it next day. You do so for as long as you want to diet it.

Remember that before you start the diet you must tell yourself and the crystal energy how long you want to diet it – 3 ,5,7 days – and then you must do it. During the diet you eat once a day, usually rice and lentils without salt and not too much. Just one portion.

NOTE: Before you do a crystal or stone diet, check if the stone or crystal has any kind of toxic metal in it. You will find plenty of information about it through Google.

How to close a diet

A diet ends at mid day. If you decide to do a 3 day diet, for example, then you close the diet around middle day on the third day.

You cut an onion and mix it with lemon juice and salt. If you don’t like onions you can use garlic. You make a salad with the onions, lemon juice and salt and then eat it .This will send a signal to your body that the diet is over.
.
Some shamans likes to close the diet with chilli. I don’t like to close my diet like that because chilli is too strong for the spirit. For me it is too hot.

Post diet

The post diet helps the spirit of what you were dieting to root firmly in your energy field. If you think in terms of making a new friend the post diet will help you make the relation stronger.

So how does it work?

You will continue to follow certain rules for a period of time. The post diet starts as soon as you have ended your diet.

aya diet 2 by Paul Hessell on Flickr
Photo: aya diet 2 by Paul Hessell on Flickr

In the post diet you can eat normally again, but you must avoid pork, chilli, refined sugar, lactose and alcohol. You must also avoid sex and masturbation, in order to help the energy of what you were dieting to grow roots. You don’t want to celebrate having finished your diet by having sex and drinking alcohol. Remember that your body and spirit just went through a very powerful and special experience.

How long should the post diet last?

Normally you can choose the number of days but remember that the longer your post diet is, the more benefits you will get from it. So for example if you were dieting for 15 days, then you should post diet for at least 7 days.

I normally end my post diet by eating chilli but that isn’t a rule. At the moment you eat pork, have sex or drink alcohol your post diet is over.

Now you can begin to appreciate how hard the shamanic training is. I have been dieting almost one and a half year, doing diets of different lengths and resting 3 days in between.

If you start different diets with only a few days between them, then you can have one post diet for them. For example if you do 7 days, then you rest 3 days, and start another 7 days diet , your post diet when you finish the second diet will be enough to cover the first diet also.

Love and gratitude

Naysha Silva Romero

Photo: BUTTERFLY by whologwhy on Flickr

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What I learnt by fleeing Macau

When I landed in Macau, China, as an exchange student, I saw myself as quite the globetrotter. It is easy to suffer from hubris if you are a white, well-off European. One might even say that it is part of the role. My hubris was particularly severe with a super inflated ego.

If I had gone to Hong Kong, just east of Macau, I might have managed. There the British successfully ruled together with the local Chinese people, which gave a certain respect. Macau on the other hand was ruled by the Portuguese, and they imposed an apartheid like regime that systematically oppressed the Chinese people. The shoe now being on the other foot, the Chinese in Macau let the Whites know what they are worth. They ranked me lower than a dog.

I went to a shop.
In shops clerks usually dealt with me in one of two ways. Either they had me under constant surveillance, as if I were a thief. Or they would constantly move around in the shop to make sure to stay as far away from me as possible, which made me feel like a leper.

I went to a restaurant.
– I do not eat meat. Can I get vegetables? I stammered in beginners Chinese.
The waitress looked at me as if I was an idiot, turned away and began to fold napkins. I tried to attract her attention. She didn’t give a shit. Finally I went up to her and interrupted her napkin folding with sign language.
– Here, look, menu. My mouth, here. Need food. Give me anything. This. Please.
– Yawn, she gestured back and continued folding napkins.

I needed a taxi.
I went to the first in the queue. The driver hastily took off without me in the car. So did the next one. And the next. They obviously didn’t want me in their cars. The only way for me to actually get a taxi was to sneak up from behind, jump in and buckle up before the driver had managed to escape.

During one of the few lessons I actually took at the university in Macau I got to know the I Ching – a Chinese divination book. In desperate need of guidance I asked what I should do. It warned of the consequences of a panicky retreat.

It didn’t take more than a month before I broke down completely and fled in panic. That evening I squeezed aboard the boat to Hong Kong and then lied to get on board the first flight back to Europe.

My culture clash with Macau left me with a broken ego and zero self-esteem. I was annihilated. Worthless. Just as the I Ching had warned I fled instead of confronting my hubris, which left me a wreck.

The depression that ensued lasted for four horrible years.

Looking back I can honestly say that it is among the best things that have ever happened to me. If I wouldn’t have crashed I probably wouldn’t have been on the healing journey that I am on today. I would still have been super inflated.

Another thing that I learnt from the entire ordeal is that I am still a pampered European, simply because it is in my power to have such a panic reaction and flee. Others are less fortunate. They flee from their homes and when it gets too hard for them, when people are racist and cruel, they are not able to swiftly escape the situation. They are forced to remain in it, which often comes at a terrible cost. We should help refugees far more and far better than we do today. One reason why we don’t is that our Western society as a whole has a super inflated ego and hubris. We could all need a trip to Macau so that we can get our priorities straight.

Photo: Lift off… 3 by Simon Allardice on Flickr

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I do not promote the use of drugs

I have on a few occasions been accused of promoting drugs.

I want to be crystal clear about this.

I DO NOT PROMOTE THE USE OF DRUGS.

By drugs I mean something one uses to flee from or numb oneself, without there being a good reason for doing so. For example, I have nothing against the use of reasonable amounts of painkillers to temporarily deal with pain. But if you start popping painkillers to get high or numb emotional pain that you should be dealing with, then I am against it.

Being against it does not however mean that I think it should be illegal. I do not think anyone should be persecuted or punished for using a plant or substance to flee from or numb themselves. People do so for a reason. They don’t have the tools to deal with pain in life. They are traumatized and hurting. They suffer from addiction, which they have often inherited. People should not be punished for trying to deal with their pain, even if they do so in ways that aren’t good.

All the effort that we are putting into stigmatizing, persecuting and punishing people should be re-directed to helping them heal. We should be giving them the best help we can and nobody should be afraid to ask for help, as people are under the current drug laws. Therefore I promote changing the drug laws radically, since they are causing enormous harm to individuals and to society as a whole.

I do promote the use of PSYCHEDELIC MEDICINE.

I am forever grateful for the healing and guidance that psychedelics have given me. And I have seen so much healing with such medicines. I have seen many breakthroughs that modern medicine could not describe in any other term than miraculous. But having worked with psychedelic medicine in the shamanic tradition I know that it would only be called so for lack of understanding.

Psychedelic medicines aren’t miraculous. They just provide healing that is beyond what many people can comprehend. That people can’t comprehend it doesn’t make it less real. It just means that they do not understand.

Our society is in desperate need of such medicine. We have so much healing that needs to be done. We need to reconnect with our roots, with all living beings, with mother Earth and with the Universe. We desperately need the guidance of the divine within ourselves.

That is what psychedelic medicine can do for us. Is doing for us.

I also promote every persons inherent right to THEIR OWN PATH.

People have free will. We all have a choice to make in every situation. Our choices, good or bad, create our life path and provide us with the lessons we need to learn in life. Trying to strip people of their inherent right to their own bodies, their own life, is the nastiest oppression. Trying to strip people of their free will is as evil as any Auschwitz, Gulag or Killing Fields have ever been. The fact that people try to do so under the pretense that they want to do good, that they want to help, and that they do so using law and state force does not make it any better. In fact it makes it so much worse, because they are unwilling to face and take responsibility for the pain and evil they are inflicting onto others. It is a crime against humanity.

Anyone with a kind heart and a sound mind should be disgusted and outraged by such laws.

So no, I definitely do NOT promote the use of drugs.
I especially do NOT promote the use of harmful drugs,
such as alcohol, nicotine, antidepressants and opiates.
I DO promote helping and healing
our fellow human beings who are in pain.
I DO promote the use of medicine,
psychedelic or otherwise,
that helps.
And I most definitely DO promote human free will
and every person’s right
to their own body and path through life.

Photo: Canopy by David Goehring on Flickr

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Naysha: San Pedro cactus – part 1

The original name for this cactus in the Peruvian tradition is Wuachuma or Huachuma. In Peru the shamanic use has been tracked back to at least 1500 B.C. When the Spanish came to conquer the Incas the people started to use the name of San Pedro, because it is a plant that can open the doors to heaven for you, just like San Pedro (Saint Peter) from the bible.

Kinds of San Pedro

There are several kinds of San Pedro cactus, and I won’t name them because that is a classification that scientists love to do. In the shamanic tradition the following differences are noted:

  1. The female and male San Pedro. The first one doesn’t have many spines around it, while the male San Pedro has a lot of spines. The male San Pedro is stronger and the shamans or curanderos often prefer them.
  2. The lines. The cactus has a numbers of lines, or columns, which also indicate the power of the cactus. Shamans prefer to use cactus with more than four lines. San Pedro with four lines are used for exorcisms.

Uses

  1. Better connection with nature. You might for example perceive the aura of trees, animals, rivers, lakes and people. For San Pedro ceremonies the ceremonial place is therefore very important, since it is the most important part of the ceremony. The shaman knows this.
  2. Healing. The energy of San Pedro harmonizes the chakras and helps us to get more benefits from practices such as reiki, reflexiology, kinesiology, massage, taichi, yoga, etcetera. The San Pedro shaman is one of the first practitioners to work with hands on healing of the body.
  3. Opens our creativity. It is very good for artists, painters, musicians and dancers, because it opens our eyes to the beauty of our mother earth.
  4. Visions. The San Pedro spirit shares visions and knowledge, which are really vivid experiences.

Naysha Silva Romero

Photo: Wuachuma by Pipe Acuña on Flickr

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Done

A little more than two years ago the Archangel Ishmael pushed me into a powerful purge of my life where all things that were no longer beneficial for me were expelled.

IMG_7891I burnt and erased everything I had made up till the age of 36. From my very first drawings I made at preschool to my latest work and study related stuff. As I danced around the fire that devoured it the sentence “my history starts here” was ringing in my ears.

My marriage went the same way and even though that was the most difficult part, I can see that it is what was best for us all. I am happy to say that I am now good friends with my ex and an active, loving father of my children. With the marriage out the window I also lost 95 percent of my friends, so I ended up spending my 40th birthday alone wondering if I had any at all. I used to think I had very close and dear friendships, but when it came to it most of them just vanished. Having lost all friends I slowly began attracting new ones that are on similar paths as mine, although I don’t consider many of them as close as I thought my previous ones were. It left me feeling very lonely, but from that loneliness I have found new confidence in myself and the conviction that I need to follow my path with all my heart, no matter what other people think about it.
My job met the same fate, even though I was too comfortable to take that step myself. But when I didn’t life stepped in and cast it out. That gave me three months to write my very first book which was a purging of another relationship.

One of the most powerful aspects of the purge has to do with truth, which has been one focus of this blog up until now. We all carry things within that we don’t want others to know about. Things that we are ashamed of; secrets that we don’t want to admit to. I have consciously used this blog to rid myself of those secrets, which has been a very challenging process. I have often sat in front of the computer with the feeling that I really don’t want to push the publish button, but every time that feeling has come to me I have known that I really must. And I am happy to say that I have pushed that publish button every single time, even though my ego has gone bananas trying to persuade me not to. For every time I have let something that I am ashamed of go I have walked a little taller and loved myself a little more.

In the very beginning I also did my forgiveness walk which was a powerful release of negative emotions that I held onto regarding others and myself. That day was year’s worth of emotional healing that also made me realize that I have a tendency to feel guilt and shame even when I shouldn’t.

● ● ●

At first I thought that the purge was only going to go on for a month or so, but the more I went into it, the more there was to work on. It dragged on and has challenged me in all aspects of life, to the point that I was unsure if I would ever be done with it. Then just last week a message came to me loud and clear.

I am done. The purge is over. Now the adventure continues. Work awaits.

● ● ●

Of late many things have become very clear. I now know what I need to do next to be of service and I will be happy to share that with you as things unfold. For now I have made some important changes to my blog. The tagline for my blog used to be “Being brave is only the first step”. At the time I didn’t really understand how well that would sum it all up. Now I am on my next step, so the tagline has changed to “Healing and growing”, because that is what I help myself and others to do.

psychedelic_blotter_art_640_07You can see big changes in my presentation and I have also added a short description of psychedelic medicine. I have also erased all blog posts that solely had to do with my truth purge, because they are no longer relevant to what this blog is to be. That isn’t to say that I won’t be paying attention to the truth. On the contrary. The truth is ingrained in me.

Now let’s get started. Tomorrow I will publish one of my most important blog posts to date – A guide to safely working with visionary plants, psychedelic medicines and life in general. I hope it will be of help to you.

Photo: Spread Love! by Vinoth Chandar on Flickr

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Naysha: Different kinds of Ayahuasca

1. Ayahuasca as a vine (physical aspect)

Scientific classification: According to botanists they had found approximately 20 types of Ayahuasca vine.

Shamanic classification: This classification is different from shaman to shaman, tribe to tribe and from tradition to tradition. Some maestros name the vine according to the colour of the flowers, other according to the colour of the vine when they scrape it.

2. Ayahuasca as its psychoactive effect

● The Harakmbut natives differentiate between 22 types of Ayahuasca that they use in ceremony.

● In the north of Peru the vine is defined as: tigre-ayahuasca, rayo-ayahuasca, cielo-ayahuasca, boa-ayahuasca, but they do not agree at all about the characteristics and effects.

The most popular classification for Ayahuasca seems to be:

1. According to the type fo vine

YELLOW AYAHUASCA or MASTER AYAHUASCA is a soft preparation, without a lot of purge and visions. It’s very good for first timers. The visions are soft and the taste is not so strong.

PINK AYAHUASCA or SKY AYAHUASCA is much stronger than the Yellow Ayahuasca and is good for people with a little bit more experience. It is very good for cleansing and healing. It is also known as RED Ayahuasca and is the most popular Ayahuasca.

WHITE AYAHUASCA works mainly in the sexual energy center.

BLACK AYAHUASCA has a big potential for healing and energetic protection. It is not very visual though. Most of the visions are covered by a dense black cloak. It is strong and does a lot of cleansing work. Visions are short but intense.

2. According to the mix

Here we can find differents kinds of Ayahuasca that target a problem more specifically. In the mix a third or fourth plant can be added. This is usually done at the end of the Ayahuasca preparation and which parts of the plant – bark, leaves or roots – will depend on what the shaman wants from the Ayahuasca, energetically speaking.

Ayahuasca + Chakruna+ Tabacco: This Ayahuasca is not one of my favourites. It can be demanding, especially if you have a delicate liver, but it depends on if it is Mapacho or the tobacco leafs from the plant. If it is a Mapacho the mix is very hot for the liver and can create physical distraction. Tabacco is a very powerful plant and spirit and is used for protection and cleaning. I am working on an article about this plant. There are Tabacco shamans in the Amazon.

Ayahuasca + Chakruna + Bobimsana: This is my favorite Ayahuasca mix because the Bombisana plant has the ability to open the heart and get in touch with all the magic inside and outside of us. It is very strong visually and the mareacion (MAREACION is the common word to describe the state one can find in Ayahuasca ceremonies) comes in waves, is strong and then disappears, then is strong again and then disappear. It does so approximately 3 times.

Ayahuasca + Chakruna + Toe: This mix has a very bad reputation, but mostly because people do not know much about Toe. This mix is one of the most powerful mixes, and it is a very visual Ayahuasca, like crystal water. The shaman must know how many Toe to put in this mix, because Toe has a very strong spirit and can be mortal. Toe is in my opinion more powerful than Ayahuasca. Therefore one must be very respectful, do several diets and train to work with this spirit. It is one of my favourite Ayahuasca and I never had any problems with this mix, but I had proper guidance and the shaman I worked with knew a lot about Toe.

Once more: guidance is very important in every Ayahuasca ceremony. There is a lot more to know about this sacred tea.

– Love and gratitude –

Naysha Silva Romero

* For details on classification I used the book: Shamanismo y plantas de poder. Piki EDITORIAL. The translation is mine and I have also added my own knowledge.

Photo: Ayahuasca Vine by Paul Hessell on Flickr

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What would you have done?

Now try this on for size.

You are single with three children. One day when your daughter is seven and a half years old the left side of her face is suddenly paralyzed. She can’t talk, swallow or breathe properly and begins hyperventilating. She can’t blink and saliva is running from her mouth. You rush her to the emergency room, but before the doctors have an opportunity to see her, the symptoms are gone.

After that it continues coming back and you ride the ambulance with your daughter many times. It takes the doctors one and a half years of testing to conclude that your daughter is epileptic. After that the medication begins and the side effects are severe. Your nine year old daughter goes lost as she begins scratching and biting herself and is aggressive towards you. You no longer reach through to her. She has problems sleeping, she has memory gaps and tics. She wakes up in the middle of the night with panic attacks and runs around the house screaming until she falls asleep of exhaustion many hours later.

The doctors want to continue medicating, but you see firsthand how the medication is driving your daughter to the brink of committing suicide, so you look for other alternatives. On the internet you find a lot of first hand stories from parents in similar situations whose children have been greatly helped with non psychoactive cannabis oil. It is oil that doesn’t get you high; it only has medical effects. You buy some oil and try it on your daughter and keep her off the medications. As you do so the daughter that you haven’t seen for the past year comes back, smiling and eager to play. During the following six months that you medicate her with cannabis oil she doesn’t have a single seizure and life as a family is good again.

But then you run out of cannabis oil and you don’t have enough to buy more. After two weeks your daughter has another seizure. You rush her to the emergency room where you tell the doctor about the remarkable recovery she has done on cannabis oil. The doctor orders a drug test which is sent to the girls regular doctor who then reports it to the social services. So now social services are going to determine if you are a fit parent for your child.

What is right and what is wrong in this case? What would you do?

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This is Titti Assarsons story. If you read Swedish you can read it in her own words here.

She has also started a petition to legalize medical cannabis.

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UPDATE 2015-06-16

Social services have terminated their investigation, since they have reached the conclusion that there seems to be no threat to the daughter.

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Why doctors should not be the first to meet patients with mental issues

Mental health problems often have their root cause in stress, trauma, abuse, addiction, and such. When we do not take care of unpleasant or challenging parts of life we eventually become ill. Sometimes it takes on physical expressions such as pain, but often it takes on mental expressions such as anxiety or depression. The only way I know of to actually recover from such states is to work with one’s personal development, to solve one’s life issues.

Efexor by mikael altemark on Flickr
Efexor by mikael altemark on Flickr

The problem with antidepressants is that they tend to put a lid on the symptoms without addressing the cause. I suppose the Swedish healthcare system hopes that a therapist will take over from there, but that contact often seems to be poor or non-existent. Therefore we today find ourselves in the situation that we are casually mass medicating the people with antidepressants without proper therapeutic backing, which means that many are getting medical help to put a lid on things, but are not getting the therapeutic support they need to actually solve the underlying problem. For many the antidepressants effectively lower the willingness to work with themselves, which sabotages their recovery. In addition there are all the terrible side effects reported, covering pretty much everything from apathy and obliterated sexual drive to suicide attempts.

I am not saying that such drugs have no raison d’être. They can be very helpful, especially in emergency situations. But before taking such drastic measures as to expose someone to medications with potentially lethal side effects, there are many other things you might try first.

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Self help

There is a great lack of awareness about how one can help oneself and others suffering from mental illness. Our educational system is so obsessed with measurable subject knowledge that it has very much neglected the truly important life lessons. Life skills should be a major school subject and include such things as how to take care of oneself, how to heal and evolve. A knowledgeable population can do far more for its recovery and well-being than the healthcare system can ever hope to do.

Lifestyle changes

In time depressed people program themselves to feel bad. It is often manifested in how they eat, dress, what the listen to, what routines they have, and more. Many find themselves in bad relationships, they are unhappy with their job or just generally miserable. Life coaches, nutritionists or Ayurveda doctors could be helpful to break negative patterns and focus on good goals.

Movement

Mental illness is reflected in the body. In the beginning only in the energy system, but over time it will become more physical. Movement is generally good because it gets the body’s energy flowing. Two traditions that are particularly good at working with our body and energy flow are yoga and chi gong. Dancing is also a great therapeutic tool.

Body therapy

Many feel alienated from their bodies and need much more body contact than they get, or allow themselves to receive. There are plenty of body therapies that may be helpful, such as medical massage, tactile massage, tantric massage, healing and courses in body awareness.

Meditation

While in a meditative state we release tensions and stress while also finding inner silence. In that silence it is often easy to find answers to why one feels bad and what needs to be done about it. In order to work therapeutically with meditation it is important to be prepared to take care of the stuff that it turns up. There are many more related practices in the alternative field, such as regressions, dancing, drum journeys and nature contact.

Talking

It is good to have a wise person to talk to when needed. Someone who can listen, reflect, challenge, inspire and help us find the answers ourselves. There are many people trying to do just that under such titles as psychologist, therapist, counselor, life coach, priest, witch and shaman. Other titles are less formal, such as a best friend or mother. It may be a tough journey to get out of a depression and it is good to have the support of someone.

Traditional medicine
Bushy Park 10-08-12 - 15 by Garry Knight on Flickr
Bushy Park 10-08-12 – 15 by Garry Knight on Flickr

There is much in nature that can be helpful in curing depression. St John’s Wort is for example an excellent way of naturally raising the serotonin levels. 2-3 cups of St John’s Wort tea for a few weeks makes a noticeable difference. The old Indian health system Ayurveda is also particularly interesting, because it works with food as medicine. The underlying idea is that disease is an imbalance in our body, which can be balanced with the right food. When it comes to the link between health and food, which have a strong correlation, your average Ayurveda doctor generally knows significantly more than both Western doctors and nutritionists.

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It is worrisome that doctors are the first to meet these patients. Doctors are specialized in medicine and therefore see medical solutions to the problems they encounter in humans. A therapist could, for example, meet a patient and see a person who needs to work with her bad self-confidence and make a plan for how to do so. A doctor on the other hand will listen to the patient’s symptoms and then turn to their library of drugs to find one that matches the symptoms.

In a way one can of course say that doctors are just doing their job. They are experts in medicine. When I look at it from the outside, I see a profession which lacks self-awareness. When it comes to really solving problems such as depression the doctor is a novice. If you want to help other people it is incredibly important to understand ones tools and their limitations. A person who has a broken leg should for example not be treated with healing and a change of diet. That person needs an emergency room doctor. A person who will treat a fracture with healing alone is probably somewhat of a charlatan, but is probably mostly clueless to their own limitations.

Stop, Collaborate and Listen by Mark on Flickr
Stop, Collaborate and Listen by Mark on Flickr

In my eyes a doctor who will medicate someone with antidepressants without further thought falls into the same category of dangerously ignorant people who should be called quacks. Medicines such as antidepressants are in no way a reasonable first response to someone feeling bad. Antidepressants are a disproportionate response, and when one adds that the medication lacks a proper therapeutic connection to the tools that the patient wants to work with, it shows a profound ignorance on the doctor’s side.

To summarize what I have written – it is currently the wrong profession that has the first contact with the patient, which often sabotages recovery. Antidepressants are the wrong tool to use, it is regularly used way too early and the connection to other therapy is at best patchy.

If we actually want to have a healthier population, this is a system error that needs to be addressed.

Photo: Electronic Shaman by Surian Soosay on Flickr

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Trapped in an unhealthy system of healing

We seem to be trapped in an unhealthy system of healing. We are so set on modern Western medicine having all the answers that we don’t see what else is out there. Alternative and traditional healing methods are being kept away from the public under the pretense of science, but with time there is coming overwhelming evidence that there are often far better treatments out there. But even with evidence the best treatments are often being opposed because they don’t fit in to our way of thinking.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say that we have a patient that is suffering from severe chronic pain, such as fibromyalgia. And let us say that we have four treatments which might help.
A. Painkillers.
B. Massage.
C. Cannabis oil.
D. Ayurveda.

Painkillers are a wonder of modern medicine and I think we should be truly thankful that we have them. When they work they are a great relief, but there are several very serious drawbacks to them. One is that they don’t always work, especially when it comes to more complicated conditions that modern medicine yet doesn’t seem to fully understand, such as fibromyalgia. While modern painkillers might be effective, they are far from 100 percent so. Another one is that these modern medicines come with a long list of side effects which are often worse than the ailment that they were first used to treat. Yet another one is that these medicines are addictive and possible to overdose and die from. People die every year from either unintentionally overdosing or mixing medicines which aren’t compatible, but also from intentional overdosing when committing suicide.

Some drawbacks are much less in alternative therapies, or altogether non-existent. Massage for example has much fewer side effects and counter indications, and I still haven’t heard of anyone killing themselves by overdosing massage. Hands on physical therapy is often effective for treating fibromyalgia, but the availability within the system of the modern Swedish health service is at best patchy. Many doctors will outright refuse to refer you to such treatment or even take your condition seriously. I have met a practitioner within the health care system that will give such treatment, but who will disguise it as something else in the paper work. And I have met others that are true miracle workers with their hands, but are written off as quacks by the health care system and thus excluded.

When the legal options are exhausted a few courageous people take matters into their own hands and try therapies and medicines which are illegal. Just yesterday I published a text by Andreas Thörn, a man who broke his neck and was paralyzed at the age of 15. He has suffered since and after having gone through the entire stock of modern medicines, except Methadone, he chose to try Cannabis. It turned out that it worked wonders for him, in a way that modern medicine hasn’t been able to for the last 20 years. Another person that I have featured here is Jens Waldmann who overcome his severe depression with the help of Cannabis. The doctors wanted to give him Bensodiazepin instead, fully aware that he had abused that medicine before and that it would not solve the underlying problem. Coming back to the subject of chronic pain Cannabis and Cannabis oil are well known for their ability to relieve pain, even such pain that painkillers won’t touch. In my experience smoking Cannabis is addictive, but definitely much less so than for example opiate painkillers. It might also have counter indications, but is less toxic than most medicines. It is actually physically impossible to die from a Cannabis overdose.

Ayurveda is a different thing all together. Food is the basic medicine in Ayurveda, since most (if not all) of our imbalances are a result of or can be alleviated with food. When you eat right you heal and stay healthy. It is a way of healing which requires dedication, but which also teaches you a great deal about yourself and how you can function better. Lifestyle changes are often fantastic medicine.

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Going back to what I was first saying – there seems to be an unhealthy emphasis on one way of healing. When modern medicine doesn’t do the trick, we are left hanging with no help. And even then we are openly discouraged to seek other healing methods.

There is no one system which works for all. No one truth that holds true for all. The painkillers might work for some of the patients, but what kind of healing system seeks to heal some of the patients while leaving others stranded? By bringing in alternative and traditional therapy we could be healing close to everyone. We just need to find out what works for them.

Of course there will be areas where Western medicine will still keep its dominance, simply because it is superior. One such area is acute physical trauma. But there will also be areas where Western medicine will be obliterated, simply because it is inferior. An area where Western medicine would probably quickly lose credibility is mental health, since it has a great lack of knowledge about people’s inner workings. Why else would the system be mass drugging us with such medicines like anti-depressants, even though they don’t do much more than put a lid on things and lower our motivation to heal?

For the sake of the people who need to heal is time to get rid of this dominance that Western medicine has had, but to do so we will also have to overcome our white egos, our bullying tendencies and the paternalism that has come with it.

Photo: Lost in Field by Rudolf Getel on Flickr

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Naysha: Becoming a shaman in the Amazon, part 2

Have you ever wondered why all people living in the Amazon aren’t shamans? Or why all aren’t working with sacred visionary plants such Ayahuasca or San Pedro? The simple answer is that you don’t become a shaman by just taking Ayahuasca or San Pedro. As I wrote in the first part, the way of the shaman isn’t an easy one. Shamans in the Amazon put a lot of effort into such things as diets.

Sacred visionary plants are just tools for the shaman. It is through the plants that shamans CAN SEE and CAN GET INFORMATION. But see what? What information are you talking about? Ayahuasca can show where in the body the root of the problem is. In case of a disease it also works like a x-ray machine. The shaman is helped to better understand the patient’s situation, their problems and necessary treatments by canalizing information from the spirits, from the plants, animals, etc.

When you start learning about plants, spirits and shamanism, your teacher will normally tell you which plant you should diet with. Why? Because s/he knows the plant spirits, what they look like in the Ayahuasca world and their functions. There are for example plants that are better than others to clean energies. The most common diet in the Peruvian Amazon is with the Ajosacha plant, which smells like garlic. It is normally the first diet that you do in your training. This is reasonable because when you will start a new spiritual path you need to clean your energies from the past. I began my training at the age of 22, so at that point I was cleaning 22 years of energies. This cleaning probably never ends, because we interact with people and this means an exchange of energy, both good and bad. So during your life you will need to repeat this diets as many times as you need. You are cleaning karmic energies from your family, mothers and fathers side as well. You need to be as clean as possible to work with people as a shaman.

What’s a diet?

Diets are temporary retreats in nature, usually for period in isolation, with ritualized ingestion of plant teachers and very strict management of the physical (food restrictions and more that I will be explain) and the psychological. A space in contact with nature dedicated to the physical and energetic purification, will help remove that which blocks sensitivity and will help you find your inner teacher. We open an inner door that allows us to contact our being at the deepest level, but at the same time that makes us vulnerable, which is why it is important that the place where we do the diets is isolated from cities or towns. When we do diets we are OPEN.

Two kinds of diets

In my experience there are two kinds of diets:

  1. Learning diets. All diets are about learning, but the degree of learning depends on the effort we put into each diet. It also depends on the connection you get to the spirit of what you are dieting, whether it be plants, crystals, or whatever. The more restrictions you have in your diet, the more benefits you will get from it.
  2. Healing diets. All diets are for healing also, but there are specific diets to cure specific diseases or problems. A person who performs a healing diet can vary the level of restrictions depending on the severity of the illness. The restrictions will depend on what the shaman recommends, but the basic general rules do not change. The only thing that varies in this case is the food, depending of the body. A person who is old and physically weak may have a little more elaborate meal, but always WITHOUT SALT.
How to start a diet

For the following reasons the shaman will often do an Ayahuasca ceremony with the person previous to the diet:

  1. To clean the energies and the body of the person who will diet, so the first obstacles of working with the spirit of the plant are removed.
  2. To identify the plant that the person will diet. The shaman in the ceremony calls the spirits of different plants to see which is best suited to the diet for that person.
  3. The shaman also sets the time the person must make in their diet. Diets generally have an average minimum duration of three days, which are usually fasting (just with water). Seven days, 10 and 15 day is the normal time of diets, but if you want to specialize in the use of a plant then diets are longer or repeated several times, can be 30 days, three months or a year. After you have done several diets, you will feel how long to make your diets in advance.
  4. The day after the ceremony the diet starts very early in the morning by taking prepared tea or macerated bark, roots, flowers or leaves of the plant that the shaman saw during Ayahuasca ceremony. You drink the tea for the first three days of the diet. After that you might continue drinking it, but it depends on the shaman and whether the diet is learning or healing. In diets for learning it’s enough to drink the tea the first three days. For healing diets, the tea plant is taken during all the diet, either 7, 15, 30 or more days, which also depends on the disease severity.
Important tip

It is important to mention that diets are usually performed by just taking one plant at the time. No two plants are mixed in a diet unless they are for the sake of healing body, or to heal a disease. I know that in some Ayahuasca centers, there are diets up to 100 plants in one diet, but this is outright crazy. The only thing you get from these diets is CONFUSION. As I mentioned before, plants are not compatible with all energies, and also some plants are not compatible with each other, either for chemical or energetic reasons. Please, if someone offers you such diets – RUN.

Naysha Silva Romero

Photo: autumn munchies by ankakay on Flickr

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