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Noya Rao, The Tree of Light

Noya Rao, known in Spanish as “Palo Volador” or “The Flying Tree” is a mythical plant, of which there are only three found in the entire Amazon Basin. When shed, her leaves glow brightly in the dark, which is one reason why she is also known by those that seek her as “The Tree of Light.” In Shipibo culture, Noya translates as “Flying” and Rao to “Plant Spirit” which has given rise to the affectionate naming of her as “The Flying Plant Spirit.” Noya Rao has been used in sacred ceremony by the Mahua Shipibo traditions for centuries and dieting on her bark is believed to be essential in the path towards becoming a healer.

Noya Rao is a “Master Plant,” and when completing a dieta with her, a student will be required to adhere to particular terms and conditions as determined by an experienced curandero and the master plant itself. A Dieta, to refresh the reader’s memory is best defined as a series of dietary and behavioural regimes that allow one to move effectively and safely into working relationships with such [sacred] plants.

“These relationships can bring about profound transformations and the Dietas are best designed to facilitate them.“

A dieta with Noya Rao will often occur in total seclusion and under the expert guidance of a respected and experienced curandero. The student will be required, for the period of the dieta to abstain from the use of toothpaste, deodorant, insect repellent, soap and other personal care products unless they are made with 100% natural ingredients and are free of any scent or perfume. They will also be instructed to not have sex or masturbate and are forbidden to eat pork, oil, salt, chocolate, red meat, sugar and certain fruits such as papaya, watermelon and mango. They must also not drink caffeine or alcohol.

Women are advised not to begin a dieta when they’re menstruating as this may make it difficult for the plant spirit to enter their body, causing dissonance and discomfort to both the woman and the plant.

It’s important to note that the conditions for an individual’s dieta are highly particular to that individual and are not generally replicable. They are established by the plant spirit indwelling within the Master Plant together with an experienced curandero. Depending on the severity of the restrictions, a curandero may attempt to bargain with the plant spirit to reduce the length, duration or to ease the restrictions imposed on the student.

The purpose of completing a dieta with Noya Rao, as with any Master Plant is for the student to slowly build a trusting, sincere and respectful relationship with what the Amazonian traditions believe are the plant spirits that dwell within. The ritual of the dieta also serves as an expression of determination and dedication to one’s spiritual, emotional and physical transformation. The dieta is therefore the practice necessary to make the mind more susceptible to the wisdom, knowledge and instruction provided to them by the plant teacher or spirit dwelling within a particular Master Plant.

A dieta with Noya Rao is said to enhance one’s connection and relationships to the spirits indwelling in other sacred plants and to facilitate profound transformation in the individual. Dieting on Noya Rao can lead to greater capacity for organised thought, mental clarity, activate one’s intuitive capacities and help to bring to light unconscious assumptions one may have about the world; in turn leading the dietero (a) to develop the courage necessary to abandon limiting beliefs and change their perceptions.

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