Thursday, May 02, 2013

Another Person Asked Me About Dietas with Ayahuasca

So another person asked me about dietas and ayahuasca--you know, what's proscribed in order to get to the proper state to drink the sacred medicine. And once again I found myself poo-pooing the whole freaking idea. So for those of you who have not heard it, here's my rant.

Dear X: No, I have never done the dietas. I never heard of them before 2001, which was about 17 years after I started drinking ayahuasca. I did diet, but I didn't know it was for ayahuasca: Moises never let me eat tomatoes in Iquitos before one of our hikes. Said they were bad for the stomach: Too sour. He never let me eat pork either, because it too was sour. And he said sugar made you slow for hiking and you needed to be fast for hiking, not slow. And then we'd walk six or eight days in the jungle and only eat plants or a bird or monkey we came on. 
   In terms of the dieta that people talk about, I have to laugh. If people knew Peru as it really is, they'd know that if you grow hot peppers, you grow them for sale, not to eat. And if you live on a river where they don't grow and you go to buy them, well, they're very expensive--completely unaffordable. So no, most people don't eat hot peppers.
   If you want salt, it's for preserving food, not for eating. Peruvians in the jungle, until 10 years ago when cheap Chinese motors were introduced, had to canoe 8-10 hours to any place that might have salt. You bought it to preserve fish you were going to sell, not for eating--and since you didn't grow up with it, you didn't miss it.
   No pork: Well, if you raise pigs for sale, or just for pets, you know darned well that you can't take a pork chop without killing the pig. And no one in town--again, at least 8-10 hours from where you live, by canoe--would buy a dead pig. You bring the pig in live and draw a crowd, then kill it in front of everyone. People buy pieces of the dead animal while it's eviscerated stomach cavity is still steaming. So no, no pork. But remember that wild boar is okay to eat on an ayahuasca dieta--and wild boar is the same as pork. So it's not what people think when they talk dietas at all.
    No sex. Ha! Most curanderos I have known have had multiple wives and multiple girlfriends and they love sex, whether they are 30 or 70. Julio's youngest daughter came when he was about 71 or so.
   No coffee: Julio always had a big cup of coffee with cream and lots of sugar just before ceremony--along with a great big meal loaded with the hot charapita peppers in lime that I would bring. Why? Because he'd been tending a fire while cooking ayahuasca for 10-12 hours and was hungry and loved the treat of peppers and lime and needed coffee to stay awake during ceremony.
   I contend that all these rules are made up or misinterpreted by people who don't know shit. They ask a guy who lives on a river where no hot peppers grow if he eats hot peppers before ayahuasca and he says "no", and the idiot recording him then says "On an ayahuasca diet, you don't eat hot peppers." Freaking crazy. 
   Now, what I was taught was that if you wanted to learn a plant, you went out and sat with it. You slept with your arms around it. And you quickly learned that there were stinging ants protecting it and they made it impossible to sleep with your arms around it. And if you got past the stinging ants, there were wasps on the second or third night, and maybe tarantulas/scorpions on vampire bats coming to protect that tree on the fourth night. And then maybe a couple of constrictor snakes that lived up there who came down to kill you after a week.
   And if you got past all of that, well, then the plant/tree would be more than willing to treat you as an equal and teach you things. 
   That's a tough dieta. Eating platano and fish--the favorite food of people in the Amazon--may sound tough to us Westerners, but to a person from northwestern Amazonia, well, that's like telling a fat school kid that the only think he can eat is McDonalds and ice cream. It's not a punishment or a dieta, it's a freaking favorite.
   That's my take on dietas.

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