Many years back I had a bottle of LSD with only a few drops left. One evening I emptied the bottle in my mouth, filled it with a little water, shook it and took that too. The dose was way higher than I had anticipated and left me quite incapacitated. There was absolutely no risk to it, but I did spend a lot of time crawling on the floor as the universe opened up before my eyes and gave me lessons on perspectives.
At that time I was spiritually awakening but I hadn’t connected to my inner shaman, so I was quite surprised at the long sequence of automated behaviour that followed. I was fully aware of what my body was doing, but I was not doing it. There was no thought, only automated actions and it was obvious that my body knew how to do them.
In this mode of automated action I stood up on unsteady legs and I then smudged my entire home for the first time ever. There was chanting and speaking coming from my mouth, but I was not creating it. It was just there, flowing through me. When I came to the kitchen I got all the food out and I sorted it into food with good and food with bad energy. As before there was no thought behind it. There was no “oh, I should have a look at my food” and no “is this good or bad for me?”. I simply took something and the feeling in me quickly determined if it was good or bad. Unsurprisingly locally produced ecological wholesome foods were good and sugary snacks and foods grown with poison were bad. Half my food got sorted out that evening and was shipped off the next morning.
This automated action continued for what seemed to be several hours. It was my first glimpse into ancient knowledge that I have amassed during past lives as a shaman. I didn’t understand that back then, but it has become ever clearer to me over the years. We have all lived many lives and it is common that we tap into the knowledge we have from past lives. I have had many past lives as a shaman, so naturally that knowledge runs deep in me. It is the same with anything that takes up much of your time. I had a friend that was a natural when it came to music. Looking back into his past lives he had many lifetimes as a musician.
In this life I don’t have access to all my previous knowledge, but it quickly reveals itself to me when I am faced with a situation where it is needed. I also recognize techniques, tools and such when I see them and having used them before I quickly adapt them to work for me. The feeling it gives is that I am not actually learning things – I am simply remembering them. The difference is paramount.
Photo: The Burning Fields by Lies Thru a Lens on Flickr
Someone asked a fellow shaman:
– How long does it take to become a shaman?
– Well, at least a couple of lifetimes. But often much longer than that, he answered.
I suppose that is why you shouldn’t trust a shaman with a Western style “shaman diploma” given to them after a weekend course. Few people who have spent lifetimes becoming a shaman would be interested in such a piece of paper.
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,
And I most definitely DO promote human free will
and every person’s right
to their own body and path through life.
This is my third trip report with seeds containing LSA. This time I used Ololiuhqui (Rivea Corymbosa) seeds, which are much smaller than the Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds I used for my last report. I tried them together with my partner. Her report comes after mine here.
I wasn’t really up for it, but it was the only time I could fit into my schedule right then, so when my partner asked I agreed anyway. We used 20 seeds each, ground them up a little and made tea of them, which we drank on an empty stomach.
01:00 The seeds come on very slowly. At the one hour mark I lay down to meditate. As before I ask the spirit of the seeds to show itself, but it doesn’t. I do however get a watery feeling. Something to do with water.
It feels as if the dose is to weak. I seem to be in the limbo zone – effected, but still far to normal to be able to work with the effect. Quite an unpleasant feeling. After 15 minutes of meditation I lose interest.
01:15 I do some drumming. After a while I am called back to meditate.
01:30-02:20 Sleepish effects. Nothing more substantial. It might be working with me, but if it is it is so subtle that I can’t even feel it while meditating.
03:10 We go outside and have a walk around the village. My partner seems to be having some quite interesting effects with spirit contacts, but I am left in the uncomfortable limbo. It is easy for us to communicate with each other.
05:00 We go home and I eat to come down from the unpleasant effect.
13:00 I wake up well rested and happy.
● ● ●
I made a couple of errors that are easy to recognize:
∙ I wasn’t up for it. I should not do ceremonies when I am not in the right mind set.
∙ We didn’t have the equipment to grind the seeds properly, which I believe made for a much lesser effect.
After having talked to a guide who is experienced in using seeds containing LSA I am re-evaluating how I approach the plant spirit. When it comes to psychedelic mushrooms, San Pedro and Ayahuasca they have all been very communicative with me and have shown themselves to me. I go into the meditation expecting the same of the seeds, but they seem to be hiding from me. I have two thoughts about this:
∙ The seeds might have a more occult energy to them, which the guide I have talked to confirms. I cannot say about the Ololiuhqui seeds, but it seems to be the case with the Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds. Being of a different energy than I consider myself to work in, they might be hiding for that reason.
∙ In the future I will let go of how I have successfully approached other teacher plants and only be open to what it wants to show me, instead of asking it to show itself to me.
I try to stay clear of expectations by not reading too much about the seeds before I try them, but after this unsatisfying and uncomfortable trip I felt compelled to read up a bit more specifically on the Ololiuhqui seeds. To me they seemed worthless, but when I take to Erowid I find reasons to go back for a second look.
In a bulletin by the late Albert Hofmann I find it described that the Ololiuhqui seeds are seen as a small green snake and are held as sacred together with psychedelic mushrooms and San Pedro, both of which I have great respect for. It is further described that they are still used in shamanic practice by several tribes in Mexico, but although I have looked around a great deal I am unable to locate any shamans on the internet that work with them.
In the bulletin Hofmann also describes that the seeds are used to work with the Virgin Mary and that they are used to heal the sick and wounded with her grace. This wouldn’t have sparked my interest if it hadn’t been for an experience I had a few weeks earlier with Ayahuasca. There I had a wonderful experience of the Virgin Mary where I just rested in her grace for a couple of hours. That experience left me a little surprised, since I have never before been in contact with the Virgin Mary and didn’t go looking for it.
After having read Hofmanns bulletin I very much look forward to revisiting the Ololiuhqui to see if I can find the connection to grace and perhaps also the healing of the Virgin Mary.
My partner’s experience
My partner and I crush 20 seeds each and let them soak in cold water. We open a hallowed room and invite the substance to work with us. I feel the energy immediately when I drink the water, it’s mysterious and heavy.
I ask the substance to show itself to me, after asking many times I see a spiral. After half an hour we are going to meditate, and just before I lay down I hear a voice in my head who says that I’m pregnant.
I reject it and try to focus on communicating with the substance. It becomes very empty and silent, until someone contacts me. It is a spirit who tells me that he’s named Owen and that he lives in my womb.
I: How can I be pregnant? I use protection.
He: *laughs*. Yes, it doesn’t always matter. Sometimes things are meant to be, and then it just happens. I am here of different reasons. I know you long for children, but it is not right for you right now. I and In* want you to know that we will come to you in the future, and that we love you. Do not rush, you know when it’s right.
I: Do you know In?
He: Yes, we know each other. We hang out a lot.
I: What should I do with you then? I don’t want to, and am not supposed to have children at this time.
He: You do not always get pregnant in order to have children. You’re pregnant right now because you’re supposed to learn something from it.
I: But what should I learn? I don’t want this right now, it feels like I’m going to have a hard time.
He: You’ll see what you learn. It’s mostly because I need you now. Before I come to you as a human I have to know/go through some stuff. I need to feel that someone is taking care of me, I need you to do that by taking care of yourself. Treat yourself well, you know how to, and I will learn from it. I am good at taking care of others but not myself. We will take care of each other. I will teach you and you will learn.
I: Okay. Will I need an abortion?
He: You may get an abortion. You may have a miscarriage. I might just disappear.
I: If you are an embryo inside my womb, you can’t just disappear?
He: I certainly can!
He: Just as the body adapts so that a woman can get pregnant even though she should not ovulate, so can embryos dissolve and be flushed out by, for example, vaginal discharge.
I: Oh, how do you know that?
He: Because I know that.
I: Who shall be your father?
I: So if I have children with someone else it will not be you and In?
He: No, then we do something else. But we want to have the experience of having you and Daniel as parents. The universe wants it. I might come before In does.
He: Because she still needs to learn things as a spirit. She is so messy now.
I: I have been told that she comes first.
He: Things change.
I: Why did it change?
He: Because it did. The only thing that is constant is change. Now go out and write this down and we’ll talk again later. I love you.
After that conversation me and my partner took a walk, but I did not think I got much out of the trip after that. I found it difficult to communicate with the substance, and my body felt restless, probably because the dose was far too low. However, I am very pleased with my experience. I look forward to working with LSA again. I have a feeling that it will be more instructive and stimulating at higher doses.
First of all it is important to point out that all words are made up. People have had a good think and come up with a word which in some cases has caught on. But understand this – they are all make-believe. Even the most precise of words with the clearest of definitions is made up by someone.
The meaning of a word is determined by the consensus people find around it. Some words have very precise meanings, such as the word centimetre. Other words have a general consensus, but can still be open to interpretation at some point, such as the word chair or forest. Yet other words are the cause of constant quarrel. What is art? Define love. Describe ego.
When it comes to words describing experiences and plants or substances with psychedelic properties there are many different words, but little actual consensus, in part because we are still in the process of trying to agree on them. There is often no exact right or wrong, but as with most things there are plenty of people with strong opinions on the subject. But just so that we are clear about this – those opinions are made up about words that are made up. In the end it is all make-believe.
Since there is still little consensus on these words it is important to ask the person using them what they mean by them, because what the words mean to them might be very different from what they mean to you. And if you are getting worked up about what they mean to you only to find out much later that they mean something totally different to them… well, it’s a whole lot of arguing about absolutely nothing.
It is also important to understand that the words and definitions we use are a reflection of what we need them for. A scientist needs very well-defined words, so the wording is very precise. This often leads to the words being quite complicated, because in the scientific world it is not a problem if a word is complicated, as long as it is well-defined.
I am not a scientist. My goal is not to be precise, but rather to be understandable. In order to help people I need them to understand what I am saying, which they won’t do if I use a scientific jargon. I need words that people at least have a clue about, and then we can take it from there.
So let’s talk about some of the words that are floating around out there.
Plants and substances
This is a distinction where there is much consensus, but which still causes confusion, especially for people who do not work with such things. A plant is something you will find growing in nature. It can be a cactus like the San Pedro or a vine like the Banisteriopsis caapi, which is used in the brew Ayahuasca. The psilocybin mushroom is by a biologist’s definition not a plant but a fungi, but for the sake of making this understandable I group it with the plants, because it is something that grows in nature.
A substance on the other hand is an isolated molecule or combination of molecules. It is something that a person has isolated, extracted or produced. Mescaline is a substance which one can get from San Pedro, DMT is a substance which can be found in Ayahuasca and psilocybin is a substance which can be found in certain mushrooms.
It is important, at least from a shamanic perspective, not to confuse these with each other. Eating a San Pedro cactus is not the same as eating mescaline. The San Pedro is a plant and as a plant it has a spirit connected to it. Or to put it in other words, it is alive and is able to communicate with us. Mescaline might give some similar effects, but there is no spirit there to communicate with.
Let’s take one of my favourite substances as an example. Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a substance in the meaning that it is an isolated molecule which does not have a spirit attached to it, in the shamanic sense of things. It is a very powerful medicine to work with and many of the effects might seem similar to mushrooms or cacti, but when working with it one is not doing so with the help of a spirit which is attached to the substance.
While all this is perfectly clear for people who work with such things, it is often very confusing for people who for example make and enforce laws. They often name a substance and confuse it for the plant, or the other way around. In a shamanic setting it is a world of difference and it is well understood that a plant cannot be reduced to a certain substance contained within it, because it will be missing the spirit.
What are these plants/fungi being called?
When writing this I asked people for the words they use for such plants. One person simply replied Teacher. Short and to the point. This is a common perception and while it might be figuratively speaking for some, most who say it mean it literally. They see the plant as a spirit separate from themselves who teaches them things, and this is an understanding which has been around for thousands of years in the cultural settings in which such plants have been used. It is a term that not only conveys what the spirit does, but it is also a word which shows respect.
In that cultural setting it would be disrespectful to confuse for example the San Pedro cactus with the word mescaline. It would be disrespectful in the same manner as if you called your university professor Book. Your professor is as little a Book as San Pedro is Mescaline.
A similarly respectful and common expression is Master plant. It says with all clarity that this is no silly little spirit, but a spirit worth listening to carefully. It is also common to call the plants by what help they give, such as Medicine plant or Visionary plant. They are medicine. They give vision.
A few people called them Spirit helper or Spirit guide. It still conveys the sense of there being another intelligence, but for me those terms carry a different meaning that are not connected to a plant.
Other words that try to capture the essence of these plants and substances
The fact that we are dealing with both plants and substances which have similar properties does confuse the situation. While the plant spirits have been known in shamanic use for many millennia they are still quite new to us in the modern world. These things haven’t really been known to us for more than a century, and to a broader public only half that time.
One thing that we are very good at in this modern world is playing with words, so it comes as no surprise that there is a wealth of different words trying to describe these plants, substances and experiences. Some are quite good while others are awful. Many are catchy and accessible, while others confuse things even more. Here come some of the ones that I like better:
The best thing about the word psychedelic is that it is well-known. People at least have a vague idea what it is, and even though the ideas might be off, it is a starting ground.
The term means “mind revealing” and is derived from the Greek psyche (soul, mind) and delein (to manifest). It was coined by the British psychiatrist Humphry Osmond in 1957. At the time he and Aldous Huxley were discussing what to call these wonderful plants and substances. Huxley sent Osmond a rhyme with the word he preferred: “To make this trivial world sublime, take half a gram of phanerothyme” (thymos meaning ‘spiritedness’ in Greek.) Osmond wrote back “To fathom Hell or soar angelic, just take a pinch of psychedelic.”
I wanted to share that story with you to show the playfulness and ingenuity that bright minds have put into making these words up.
Personally I think it is a word which is very suitable and it can be used for plants and substances alike. They are truly soul and mind revealing. They put us in direct contact with our inner workings, with or without the help of a spirit.
It is also a word that is easy to connect with other words, such as psychedelic mushroom, psychedelic medicine or psychedelic therapy. In that way it is good for communicating, which suites me.
I have heard several negative remarks about the word. A shaman friend of mine dismisses the word because it somehow doesn’t take the plants spirit into account. It reduces the plant to a mere substance, is the argument. I do not agree. There is nothing inherent in the word which says that it refers to a substance or which excludes a spirit. Those restrictions are not in the word itself, but in the critics own head.
This is another word which I like, but which is often (mis)understood in ways that narrow it down to something it doesn’t inherently need to be. The word hallucination was coined by Sir Thomas Browne in 1646 from the Latin alucinari meaning “to wander in the mind”.
That word goes well together with the notion that a hallucination is a visual projection of what is going on in the mind, which many such experiences obviously are. But many visual effects on such plants and substances are not projections of what is going on in our mind, which leaves many feeling that the word is incorrect. Many visual effects are universal and people report similar geometrical patterns, energy trails and other visual experiences that seem to emanate outside themselves.
I find that the anthropologist Jeremy Narby explains this wonderfully in his book The Cosmic Serpent where he studies shamans of the Amazon and compares their knowledge to Western scientific knowledge. There he makes a difference between inner and outer hallucinations. Inner hallucinations are projections of what is going on in our own mind, while outer hallucinations are things that are really there, but which are normally hidden from us. These outer hallucinations can be things like auras, spirits, energetic patterns and the fabric of existence. It is all there even when we don’t see it and what the plants and substances do is open us up to being able to see.
If the word hallucination or hallucinogen is used to only mean “projections of your own mind” it is not a suitable word to describe these plants and substances, since it leads us to believe that what we are experiencing only originates from within. If the word is used to mean inner AND outer hallucinations, then I find it to be very accurate. The visual effects are projections of what is going on inside AND they also reveal other realities to us.
The word entheogen was coined in 1979 by a group of ethnobotanists who wanted to capture the spiritual aspect of the experience. This also comes from Greek and is made up of entheos (full of god, inspired) and genesthai (to come into being). An entheogen is a plant or substance which wakes the God within, which inspires us, especially in a spiritual way.
I like this word because it captures the spiritual aspect in a way that the other words don’t. These plants and substances are to a very high degree being used in spiritual settings and with spiritual intentions, so it is fitting to have a word which highlights this.
I once channelled information from the spirit world about how dangerous drugs are. After having a list of different plants and substances I noticed that some were obviously missing. There was no mention of mushrooms, LSD or DMT. When I asked why the answer was very clear. “Many people have completely misunderstood these plants and substances. They are not drugs. They are keys to speak to the Gods.”
I couldn’t agree more. That is the most common view among people who work with such plants and substances in a serious manner, and that is also why no amount of legislation can ever stop people from using them. It is simply ridiculous to think that people will obey laws that try to stop them from speaking to God or themselves.
Substances of essence
This is not an expression I have heard being used, but when I asked for words someone wrote this. I think it is a wonderful expression, because it shows that respect can be directed towards a substance too. While I have heard several in spiritual settings dismiss substances and molecules, they are also truly miraculous and hold as much healing power as many plants. I find such dismissal to be disrespectful and lacking in knowledge in the same way that others disrespect the plant spirits out of lack of knowledge.
A couple of words I think are really bad
Drugs/dope. No one who has the slightest knowledge on the subject would use such words about plants or substances with psychedelic properties. When you hear someone using these words it is a red flag clearly stating “I have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about”. Unfortunately drug laws are often written and upheld by people who haven’t a clue.
Phanerothyme. I’m just using this as an example among many similar words. It translates into “producing visable feelings”. The person who created this might have put a lot of thought into it and the meaning might be quite true, but trying to communicate it is horrible. It is bulky, hard to pronounce, hard to combine with other words and nobody has the slightest idea what it means. It might work with a scientific intention, but in everyday communication I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole.
There are a lot of good words out there and there are a few bad ones too. Use the good ones and let the bad ones die. But perhaps more importantly, there are good and bad interpretations of the words.
If you meet someone who uses the words in a way that you don’t think you agree with, don’t take for granted that you don’t agree with one another. Simply ask them what they mean and have a friendly talk about your different choices in words. In many cases we get tangled up in trying to say that something is right and something else is wrong. When we do so we are missing the crucial point – it is all made up. Our language is make-believe. We often confuse the use of different vocabulary with being of different opinions.
Another point that I see in all this is that although there are several very good words out there, these plants, substances and experiences are so diverse and complex that they are hard to capture in a single word. Any way you choose to describe them you will automatically be missing other crucial points. The plant is a teacher, but is that all it is? Yes, these plants and substances help us sort out our inner workings, but is that all they do? Yes, they cause inner and outer hallucinations, but is that what it is all about?
I don’t think that the solution to all this is to make up yet more words, trying to capture that which cannot be captured. I think a good lesson is to simply understand that language itself is a limitation.
I will talk about shamans and not about gurus or healers. I will talk about the reasons not to be a vegetarian or vegan from a shamanic point of view. I won’t say that one way or another is wrong or right. IT’S A DECISION. But there is a lot of judgment and misinformation on the subject. The silent war between meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans must stop. It is not helping nature.
We lost the connection with our food when we let go of shamanism and our shamans. We are responsible for the pain that’s going on and when we become conscious of the importance of shamanism and reconnect to nature, then we will begin to understand how to correct our errors.
The comfortable life that each of us has chosen has disconnected us from nature. The city provides you with so much comfort. You fill your refrigerator with food that you buy from the supermarket, since you don’t have time to grow your own food, because you must work 8 hours a day in order to maintain your comfort. It is the same in all aspects of modern life. We have given up our power of being INDEPENDENTS and INTERCONNECTED and instead we DEPEND on corporations and governments. These problems won’t be solved by us becoming vegetarians or vegans.
A real shaman knows how to provide their own food. All good shamans that I have met hunt and fish their own food, as well as grow vegetables. Their diet is of course depending on where they live, so shamans in northern Greenland almost only eat meat.
For me the experience of fishing has helped me develop my connection with water and other elements. When you are fishing you learn how to read the water and the weather conditions. You need to become the fish and this is how shamanism works. I can connect and feel where the better areas are and where the fish are at that moment in the day. And then when I get them out of the water I never feel sorry or offer apologies. I thank the fish for giving me its life energy.
When you kill an animal you understand life and how fabulous our existence on this earth is. Our bodies are containers than contains a great source – THE SOUL. In the eyes of the animal you can see when the spirit leaves. It’s the light that disappears from this reality to pass to another that is better. Life is a cycle. Death is not bad. It’s a process, a continuation. We are never really born; we are constantly dying since we came to earth.
When you live a genuine shamanic life you understand that everything that surrounds you in nature is ALIVE and HAS A CONSCIOUSNESS – animals, plants and even rocks. Just because they don’t move fast does not mean that they are not alive. They are just having a different experience on earth. Shamanism was born in the hunting cultures.
Is the pain of an animal a reason to become a vegetarian or vegan?
No, it’s not. Everything that is alive CAN EXPERIENCE PAIN and EMOTIONS, but this is not a bad thing. It is one of the reasons why we are here, to FEEL. Plants can also FEEL. We are just not used to listening to their pain, but they can still feel it. It is trough the pain that we know that is better to feel LOVE.
It’s a different thing when we kill animals in factories. There is no respect in it, no consideration in the way animals are killed anymore. In the shamanic traditions the animal must die fast and with as little pain as possible. In the Sami tradition for example they kill the reindeer by first cutting the nervous system and then with a knife to the hearth. Then they wait until the animal does not move the eyes anymore before taking care of the meet and everything else. They use every single part, to honour the animal, the skin, the meat, and the antlers. This is how it used to be when the shamans actively worked in the communities.
Nowadays even the vegetables are being dishonoured in the way they are being grown. People are poisoning the vegetables with chemicals in order to make them look pretty, which is not good. There are a many lands and forests being burnt down right now in the Amazon, in Africa, in Asia in order to grow vegetables.
We must find the BALANCE in OURSELVES, because that is where all these problems begin. The problem is not if people eat meat or vegetables. The problem is how it is being done. If you want to make a change and help nature, start collaborating in your community with farming projects, permaculture and such. Get active in politics.
We must stop the industrial way of producing meat and vegetables. And the most important is to truly start to reconnect with nature. It’s easy to admire nature through your car window, but to live in harmony with nature is a different experience entirely and that is what shamanism is about.
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 consumption, for obvious reasons, is not allowed while one performs a diet.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
– So here is Daniel Wilby with his new book. I suppose we would call you a shaman?
– Well, perhaps you can call me a writer instead, I said.
You see, we have this way of thinking in Sweden called the law of Jante. To summarize it in one sentence you could say “Don’t think that you are special”. In Sweden we have a mentality of downplaying what we know, can and do. So without thinking I took a big step backwards and said “perhaps you can call me a writer instead”.
When I first understood that I am a shaman I felt very strongly that the title shaman isn’t a title that you give yourself, but rather a title that others call you. So when people asked me what I did I would tie myself in a knot trying to find other ways to express it, such as “I work in a shamanistic manner”. It was also a way of protecting myself from peoples presumptions about what a shaman is or does and the question of where I have trained to be a shaman.
While that worked quite well among friends who know what I’m talking about, it became tricky to communicate with others. Saying that “I work in a shamanic manner” didn’t indicate humbleness, but rather that I wasn’t sure what I was doing.
What I eventually landed in was that the word shaman can be used in different ways. Wielding it from the ego level, as a title to impress others, doesn’t go down well with me. When I meet such people I giggle a little at their inflated egos. Using it as a word to explain to people what I actually do is something quite different though. Most people have at least heard the word shaman and even if their view is often tainted by all sorts of crazydom, it does give them a general idea and the we can discuss it from there.
I regretted it as soon as I heard myself say “perhaps you can call me a writer instead”. I am a shaman. I’m just not the kind of shaman that yearns to be presented as one. In fact I’m the kind that cringes a little every time I call myself one. The only reason I do so is to explain to others what I do.
Photo: Daniel Wilby by Jamin Pirmia. Available as press photo.
First of all, to become a shaman you need to feel “the call”. Normally this call comes through dreams, through a revelation in a plant ceremony, through a blood linage (heritage), or such. If becoming a shaman is your destiny there is no way to avoid it. Life will always push you towards that path. Some people are afraid and others have a hard time accepting it, but in the end it is your own decision to walk that path. Shamans often live the hardest of lives. Why? I believe that a shaman must have lived and experienced suffering in order to understand pain itself. Without such experience one cannot help others in similar situations.
Who is a shaman?
A shaman is an intermediary between the spirit world and the humans. When I talk about the spirit world, I mean the plants, animals, rocks, crystals, mountains, etc. Everything is alive because everything that exists contains a spirit. Everything that exists is having an experience, and therefore also has a consciousness.
That a rock does not speak the human language does not mean that it is not having an experience. Its experience is very different from ours and exists for a purpose. I believe that we have been everything or that we have experienced every part of the consciousness on this planet, like being a crystal, a plant, an animal, a river. It’s just that our egos have made us believe that being a human is the highest way of being or consciousness, but in fact on this planet we experience different levels of learning and teachings. That’s why we feel more connected to certain animals, to certain plants, or to certain crystals, because we have been them at some point during our earth experience.
A shaman is doctor, a social worker, a storyteller, a sharer, a scientist – because when you are connected with the spirit world you can basically log in to all kinds of knowledge. There are no limits in the spirit world on how much we can evolve, grow and learn.
In Peru we connect to the spirit world through the use of sacred visionary plants and sacred master plants.
A visionary plant is also considered a master plant, because it teaches us something. As the name says, they help us to have visions. Plants like Ayahuasca, San Pedro, Peyote, Iboga and Salvia Divinorum are considered sacred visionary plants. There is a huge difference between visions and hallucinations. The visionary state is a state of clearness and total awareness. A vision is a revelation of information. Information that has been keep inside us (visions of your childhood or previous lifetimes for example) or information that the plants spirits reveal to us and which help us in our lives (for an example a vision of a tree that can heal a kind of cancer, or a vision of an animal that represents something important. A lion can for example say something about being strong). Hallucinations are unreal things filled with nonsense, normally produced in a state of delirium or when you have lost consciousness. In other words a hallucination is cheating the senses.
A master plant can be a visionary plant, but many master plants from the Amazon do not have any visionary properties, but the spirit contained within is very strong and therefore considered a teacher. The spirits of master plants show themselves in the ceremonies. There visionary plants are used as tools, to communicate with the shaman, share information, or to teach something. A master plants can be a pine tree or chaga mushroom. The most important way of connecting with master plants is through DIETS. In the Peruvian Amazon knowledge about plants and shamanism has been transmitted and received through DIETS for a long time.
What is a diet?
Diets are the triangular base of shamanism and are the most important part for those who use master plants as tools for healing. It is among other things through the diets that the shamans get their knowledge and healing powers. If we compare it to university studies, we could say that the diets are the different courses that one takes at the university.
When you do a diet you create a contract with the spirit of what you will diet with for a certain time and under certain conditions. This can be from three days, until many years.
Some shamans specialize in using one or more specific plants, which they have dieted for long periods of time. We do not always connect or feel a connection with the spirit of what we are dieting. This is the same as in ordinary life. Sometimes we are more compatible with some people than with others. It is the same with the plant spirits. We are compatible with certain plant spirits, but not with all. With time you will recognize the spirits of the plants that connect best with you.
When one does a diet one makes a friend, an ally for life, and these allies help the shaman work in ceremonies and such.
The shaman works with the energy of plants that s/he was dieting, and not with her/his own power. In that way you can always keep your energy strong and in balance. Otherwise each ceremony would make the shamans weak or dry of energy. But what happens after being in a ceremony is quite the opposite – the more diets, more energy and better work. The purpose of the diet is to clean, learn, reconnect and transform.
More about diets in the second part of how to become a shaman in the Amazon.