Maesto curandeoros (master healers) have traditionally used fasting, a diet of master plants and seclusion from others to seek guidance from the plant spirits and obtain the vital knowledge needed to heal others. A diet of teacher plants and trees is also central to the shamanic medicine apprenticeship. Young initiates will diet on master plants for months and sometimes year at a time. Throughout these dieta apprentices will develop a kind of capacity to “see” or communicate with the spirit realm. In the Peruvian Amazon in particular, the most direct way to develop this capacity to “see” and connect with the espiritus (spirits) is through master plant of shamanic dietas.
Before students can communicate with plant teachers, however, they must undergo a rigorous process of mental, physical and spiritual purification. Certain pants are often used in this process, including Ayahuasca, Tabacco and other plant purges (vomitivos). Mater plant dietas are usually accompanied by abstinence from sex, pork, red meat, sugar, deodorants, alcohol, caffeine, shampoo, toothpaste, oils and processed food. Abstaining from any substance or activity that might cloud the mind is essential for the plants and trees dieta to promote physical healing and spiritual transformation.
Throughout the master plant dieta, whether endured for a long time with the view to becoming a maesro curandero, or for a shorter time as is the case on our retreats, the types of plants and the order in which they are consumed will be determined by the maestro curandero. Put differently, the order and kinds of mastre plants (teacher plants or trees) are not random, they are especially tailored to the individual.