Have you been following my Aya story on Youtube? Well, here's a little bonus for you to know about what I wish I knew before my first ceremony.
The dieta is probably one of the most key parts of this whole plant-based experience. In fact, it is so important that in order to become a shaman, initiates have to undergo extensive strict dietas in isolation for long periods of time just to be able to be considered for training. I think westerners, myself included, do not consider the weight of how food can interfere with the plant medicine's ability to deliver its messages to you long-term, if after your experience you go back to putting junk into your system. Just because your diet is relatively clean, like mines was/is, doesn't mean you can't stand to tidy it up even more after you sit in ceremony.
For example, initially, my tolerance for eggs was unbearable and my body let me know it. Now that it's been a minute, I can eat them again, but knowing how my body rejected it at first, I just don't want to eat them any more if I can help it. And I know that I can help it. If I eat eggs, I'm making a choice. If I drink alcohol, that's a choice. Whatever we put in our body, like everything else in life is a choice. And I'm actively working on making better choices, because it feels right to honor my body's desire to eat as clean as possible. It's not a burden, it's just some thing I want to do. A new little aspiration of mines to see how clean I can keep my temple.
But don't just take my word for it. Here's some good reads about why the dieta is so important before and after. Also, check out some of the documentaries about Aya as a whole for a more complete picture. I created a whole overview playlist on Youtube, which you can check out here. But also, here's an audio clip from a documentary found on Gaia.com, Ayahuasca: Journey into Infinity which eloquently explains the necessity of maintaining dieta. *Excuse the background music, someone was watching TV near me and I didn't think the recording was picking all that up, lol.
Icharos are the songs and chants that are performed during your ceremony with the Shaman that seem to control the tempo of the entire gathering. I've heard that after ceremony, one can listen to icharos to re-stimulate the medicine that is still within you to prolong its physical and psycho-active effects. I tried this myself, but did not feel any thing significant. Before and after ceremony, however I listened to a lot of soothing 432 hz meditation music, which I found to be extremely soothing.
"Traditionally, sound has been used for healing in many cultures. Throughout the indigenous tribes of South America, plant songs are an integral part of the healing process. The Onanya explain that all plants have their own songs and these songs, the ikaros, are taught to the healer during [their initiation] dietas – extended periods of time in isolation adhering to strict dietary conditions designed to receive the healing energy and teachings of the plants. Each different master/teacher plant possesses songs that are given to the apprentice."
Tobacco, the true, pure kind is very integral to ceremony and is used throughout.
"Mapacho smoke is important both for the shaman and for the participant in any shamanic ceremony: first, mapacho smoke is blown throughout and around the space or area in which it is to be performed in order to deter bad spirits from approaching. The shaman will then blow mapacho smoke over the head, hands and the whole body of each participant which helps to cleanse the negative energy from his or system"
What to Bring
Like I explained in the video what one needs for comfort is completely up to the individual. I just know now that I'd have done well with my own blanket, a body pillow or at least some type of cushion to lie down on and something to hydrate with, like coconut water. I was sure to bring tissue, which was needed because I surely cried a river and had to blow my nose constantly. I had some natural repellent, which was absolutely needed because, hello random jungle insects & mosquitos. And a couple of my fave crystals for comfort. It would've also been nice to have some fruit or nuts to snack on in the morning, and probably my toothbrush and natural toothpaste to brush my teeth after it was all over the next day. Fortunately, for me I went straight back to the comfort of my apartment the next morning. But to be safe, just pack whatever you'd need on an overnight or weekend trip and that should cover all the bases.
Your Moon Cycle
If you're a lady who menstruates, it would be a good idea to inform your shaman or facilitator(s) that you are cycling. It's not typically a problem, but you just want people to be aware to look after you, and maybe adjust your dose if they deem it necessary.
The first few days after my ceremony were a shock to my entire system. I couldn't concentrate on external stuff very well. Everything was super cerebral and inward feeling. I could hardly stand to be outside in the sun, or absorb loud sounds from traffic, smells were repugnant, and I deeply felt all of my senses. It was almost unbearable. It passed within a few days or so, but I had to do a LOT of grounding and being in nature helped with this tremendously. Here I am talking about my experience on IG.
Do your research on your shaman and group. Having a shaman and guides who are experienced is pivotal, because you never know what will come up for you emotionally during ceremony. So, having a compassionate, supportive community around you to safely guide you through is everything.