I participated and helped run a Shamanic Tree Dieta with Blue Morpho from April 4-8, 2016. This was my first tree dieta so I didn't know what to expect. A dieta in traditional Amazonian Shamanism is a way to form a connection and build a relationship with the spirits of the thing your dieting. In this case it was trees. Not just any trees, shamanic spiritual trees that we use to provide structure and guidance in Ayahuasca ceremonies and life in general.
When we got to camp we were lead into the jungle where these trees grow and were taught the harvesting process of the tree barks we would be dieting. It was cool to see the way the shamans approached the tree and entered their energetic being while asking permission to harvest the bark for the purpose of a dieta. The shamans set their intention through the multiple realms by blowing mapacho (jungle tobacco) smoke on the tree and the area they will be harvesting from. They did this at the end as well for the tree to heal and rejuvenate the area of bark that was taken. This was also done in gratitude for allowing us the experience of working with the tree spirits and their guidance during our dieta.
The trees we dieted this particular week are as follows: (this excerpt below was taken from the Shaman who did the diet and his explanation)
Huaca Purana – Great for protection, healing and strengthening the physical body. Strong grounding presence.
Lopuna Blanca – One of the giant trees of the Amazon. Can provide stability and help move stagnant blockages. Very versatile and really good “go-to” spirit.
Wyra Caspi – The name means “air tree”. It brings lightness, freshness and calmness. Its medicine is great for calming down a turbulent mind and bringing the mind and body into balance.
Capi Rona – Stands tall and straight. Its inner wood core is an incredibly dense and strong hardwood. Its outer bark is thin and flexible. Its medicine reflects these qualities: very straight, strong, direct medicine with a flexible and adaptable expression. Brings freshness.
Tamamuri – can show you how to shine light in places that are difficult to see. It is traditionally associated with removing darkness. Also very effective at straightening your mind.
Shiwawaku – Strong, straight, colorful medicine. It has a very inviting presence. Often appears as purple medicine and its head spirit can come in the form of a Caucasian person dressed as a doctor.
Ayahuma – Protector and guardian of the spirit. Helps align and keep balance between body and spirit. Great tree for communicating with the spiritual realms. Very effective in dreams.
Punga Amarilla – Its head spirit looks like a yellow anaconda. Can be used for addressing fear and removing spirits that are difficult to move. It takes its snake body and wraps it around those little critters and sends them away!
Each of these trees have a tremendous amount of medicine that is available from them. When I talk about medicine, its not in the western sense where it is used to mask or cure a physical ailment but it is an energetic relationship to the spirits in which you receive divine wisdom, healing, guidance and support energetically. The idea behind the diet is that you are preparing your self and your body for the trees to take root in you energetically. As with all spiritual journeywork it is your unique experience and the way you connect to the plants that matters . The descriptions above are just a start, the more you explore the tree spirits and work with them your understanding will expand and deepen exponentially. The trees can manifest and share their medicines in many forms. Sometimes it is more subtle, other times it is more obvious. It is always in communion with you and your spirit which determines how you relate. You are building relationship with these energies, and they are in turn becoming your allies to help you with your life.
During the Dieta, you are not allowed to put anything into your system or on your skin that we do not provide you through the entire diet. You are not allowed to use shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, bug spray, or sunscreen. We only provide food and water to consume and purposefully it is a very bland diet. Breakfast consists of rice, boiled plantain and 3 hard boiled eggs. Lunch is rice, grilled plantain and a piece of fish or chicken. Each meal is delivered to your bungalow and is cooked using no salt, spices and very little oil. The purpose of this is to create an environment and space in your body that is clean and fertile for the trees to take root. We are stripping away any chemicals, substances, or anything that stimulates or depresses your body and mind.
There is plenty of time to relax, sleep, work with the spirits and be alone. It is recommended that the participant stays in their bungalow as much as they can so that they can create stillness within them and develop the connection to the tree spirits. There is time for you to take hikes in the jungle and swim in the fresh spring fed lake that is on property. There is also a meditation platform we used in the jungle with a mosquito net to help ward off the bugs. These activities are also meant to do alone. There is a no touching rule between guests, no hugging, no handshakes etc.. so there isn’t any transfer of energy between people. The idea here is that you are working on developing your relationship to the trees and the energy they bring into your being. You are developing the awareness on how the tree spirits communicate with you and you back to them so its important to keep your energy clean by not touching anyone else during dieta.
We break the dieta on the last day with a teaspoon of salt that you swish around in your mouth with water for about a minute. Salt is the traditional way of breaking a dieta. Salt dehydrates plants and stops them from continuing to live in physicality so to "end" the physical diet (not the learning, teaching and exchange of energy) we take salt into our physical body. This approach was taken into Amazonian tradition long ago and out of respect for the traditions we are learning from this is also how we break the dieta. On the last day we get an incredible breakfast after we finish, it tasted like heaven after eating what we did for the week!
What did I get out of the tree diet? As with all Shamanic journey work and connecting to the spirit realms, each individual experiences their unique journey. My experience is exactly;y what i needed in that moment for my journey to move forward and evolve. During the diet i was overcome with doubt and fear. Not in a way that was frightening but more in awareness that i was harboring these emotions and feelings deep within me about my journey moving forward. It was amazing to see where these emotions were coming from and how they were left over from how I felt a while ago. There was still some fear and doubt that I was working with now but I saw how these feelings in the past were only amplifying how I was feeling in this moment. This would be a lesson that has really impacted my life over the last month and allowed me to further explore what it means to truly live in the moment. The tree medicine took me on a journey looking at, how thinking about the past or the future affects how you feel and act in the moment.. right here and now. This would continue to be an exploration through the following two weeks as i did another Ayahuasca tour and a San Pedro tour with Blue Morpho. The dieta is an ongoing process that really starts to deliver in the following months after the tour is over. Im looking forward to continue to work with the tree spirits for a long time to come! As the tree spirits continue to teach me I'll follow up on this blog with a deeper explanation of my exploration.