Monday, August 22, 2011

Response to Some Responses Regarding Ayahuasca Dieta

Okay, so my last word wasn't the last word. A couple of people took umbrage at my saying that the Ayahuasca dieta--no salt, no hot peppers, no pork and no sex--was made up by white guys in the last decade or so. See previous post, a couple of posts down, for that one.
I felt the need to clarify.
So I did.
So here is what I wrote about the responses to my response to the question of "Does anyone here reject the idea of a traditional ayahuasca dieta?"

Ah, the sting of having my ideas smashed to pieces....Double cut pork chops slathered in rich gravy indeed, Richard! HA! Those will kill you even if you're in shape and not doing medicine.
I don't think you guys were particularly railing against what I was saying. Steve, the fact that the diets differ for different groups makes my point, I think. Yes, there are restrictions. Yes, being quiet so that you can hear the spirits whisper is vital. But ayahuasca is of the jungle, part of the jungle, not apart from the jungle. And those who use it traditionally, remember, don't even drink, or if they do, do it rarely. People like my mother in law, father in law, aunts, uncles: They all drank a few times in their life, but the drinking was for the curandero, not them, as a rule--with a few major exceptions, like coming of age, getting married, that sort of thing. How it was among truly indigenous before outside influence, I can't say; I'm only speaking for modern indigenous (the few I know who utilize ayahuasca) and regular mestizos who live out on the river or in the poorer sections of Iquitos.
The point I was trying to make was that so many gringos are now doing ayahuasca, many with an eye on becoming a curandero, that the dieta has become a sort of one size fits all: No sex, no salt, no hot peppers, no pork. And I object to that. I just think most of that can be explained away by circumstance. Which is not to say that concentracion, as Wind points out, is not vital to someone trying to learn the medicine, trying to conquiste the medicine, to win it over as an available ally.
But there is more to the story than one size fits all. As I noted about chile peppers: Those who grow them sell them; those who can't grow them cannot afford them. Yet Jairo, whom Wind speaks about, and who is my late teacher Julio's son, always has hot peppers in lime and toronja juice with his simply boiled fish. Yet he told Wind not to eat pork for 30 days. But if someone on the river has a hindquarters of boar to sell, he'll ask me to buy it and then enjoy it, sometimes just a couple of hours before drinking ayahuasca, after a long day of cooking the medicine in unbelieveable heat. He does not--and I know few who do--recognize wild boar as pork. And Wind, a vegan who eats a lot of raw food, would not be generally surprised to have a lousy stomach from eating cheap pepperoni, I wouldn't think.
Again, this does not downplay the importance of a dieta, just the idea that one size fits all.
Here's an example, not related to ayahuasca, but related to general jungle magic on the same level. During certain times of the year hunting is very bad for the indigenous Matses. That is the time when they set traps deep in the jungle for tapir--the only animal large enough to feed a couple of families of 20 or so that might make up a small village.
First time I saw a trap set I had to stay maybe 100 yards away, because Pablo, the headman/curandero of the village, didn't want my stink anywhere near it. So he set the trap while I watched, strapping a sapling to a tree and pulling one end of it across a moist muddy area, then affixing it in place and putting a spike on the end of it. It had a trip line so that if a tapir walked into the mud the sapling would break free and the spike enter the heart.
Once done, he chewed a lot of leaves and spit them on the trip line to eliminate his human scent, then we left the area.
During the next few days, Pablo did copius amounts of sapo--five good burns three times a day, I think--and we didn't eat meat at camp. We saw monkeys, we saw sahino--boar-- one day, but he didn't hunt them. I asked why. He said it was because he was getting strong enough on sapo to project his animus, his spirit, into the trap as a female tapir, to lure a male tapir into the trap, and if he hunted any animals, the spirits of those hunted animals would tell the real tapir that the female luring him into the trap was Pablo, who had recently killed them.
Now there were two exceptions to that rule: The Matses could eat both river turtles and sloths during hunting season. Why? Because the large river turtles, both the charapa and the tarakaya (sp??) were so arrogant, that even if you killed them they wouldn't stoop to talk to other animals or animal spirits.
They could also eat sloths. Why? Because while sloths are among the biggest snitches in the world, they talk so slowly that by the time they explain what's going on the whole season for trapping is over.
Point of that story? If you met Pablo during that time and watched him not hunt boar or monkeys that crossed his path, and you didn't know the circumstance, you'd probably make a note to the effect that "Matses don't hunt boar or monkeys. Very curious."
Which would be totally incorrect in the big picture but correct from your view.
And that's how I see the standard dieta that claims, in bold letters, "no salt, no hot peppers, no pork, and no sex."
To me it's simply too big a hat to fit everyone. And historically, as Steve Beyer points out, it's not a "one size fits all" for different indigenous tribes. They might all have a dieta, they might all have regulations for an apprentice to ayahuasca, but each tribe would be different, depending on their circumstance. What would be the point of a 300 pound white guy not eating salt for 10 weeks while he was in the jungle? He'd simply die. So that would not fit him.
But to get that guy to hike 10 days in the deep green, eating lightly, listening to the forest, well, hell yes, that's a great dieta, even if he needed a salt tab once in a while to keep him from dehydrating.
Double pork chops smothered in gravy with rum and coke? Not hardly. Fried food? Sheer poison, no matter what you are doing or where you live. But then, even Wind, after eating all his food and his father's left overs, was sent out on a several hour walk without water/food and had ample time to eliminate/absorb all those fresh bean/fruit/veggie calories long before he drank the medicine.
So I'm not disagreeing with the idea of a dieta, I'm disagreeing with us white guys/gals who have decided to make rules for something which is a lot older than us and has been around a lot longer than we have been visiting the Amazon trying to learn about the medicine.
Thanks, gorman

Posts: 503
Joined: Wed Oct 25, 2000 10:25 am
Location: Joshua, Texas, USA

1 comment:

MJ FreeAndHappy said...

Please check out my hemp jewelry at