Plant Medicine Integrity.

"He was coming back and jumping right into having sex with people. Multiple people. I asked him, 'Aren't you supposed to abstain from sexual energy for a week or so?'"

This was a friend of mine was telling me about someone else they knew who had just come back from an ayahuasca retreat in the Amazon. This person had been done an intense dieta retreat, and they came back falling into their usual pattern around a robust sex life... Which is something the shamans coach us to be wary of when coming out of an intense medicine retreat - given how much you open up energetically and how raw you are.

My friend laughed and shook his head as he continued retelling the story.

"He said to me, 'Ayahuasca and I have an understanding.'"

I rolled my eyes. 

"Clearly he doesn't have an understanding with aya" I said. "He's saying 'fuck you' to the medicine."

I laughed. I knew the person he was talking about to me. And I could see them doing exactly what he said they were doing - completely disregarding the protocol. A protocol established over decades - possibly centuries - by shamans who have been studying and working with the plants in the Amazon. A protocol that one agrees to the moment they drink a plant in a dieta retreat.

For reference, the agreement I made with the Sanango medicine when I drank it that first night at the retreat last month included:

  • Abstaining from using external hygiene products (lotions, soap, tooth paste, make up, shampoo, etc.) for the duration of the Sanango dieta. (The first five days of the retreat.)
  • Following a very strict food diet for the duration of the Sanango dieta.
  • No touching other people for the duration of the Sanango dieta.
  • Staying away from alcohol, recreational drugs, and hard drugs for 30 days after dieta ends.
  • Abstaining from sexual thoughts, sex, sexual activity, sexual energy for 30 days after the dieta ends.
  • Promising to not eat pork, duck, venison, shark, alligator, or other low energy and skittish animals for 6 months after the dieta ends.

"It's about integrity," Matt, the shaman leading the retreat, reminded us. 

Most of us had been to a Sanango retreat before this one. But the reminder is always important. It's helpful to talk, again, about why the restrictions (or "liberations from..." as Matt likes to call them) are helpful to the experience.

You are inviting the medicine to enter you and work do it's best work on you. And you are freeing your body and energy up to allow it work deeply without few impediments. 

...Because what is important to know about the plant medicines - whether it be ayahuasca, Sananago, San Pedro/Huachuma - is that they work long after you leave the retreat. They continue to affect you after the ceremony space.

You're taking them with you, along the life journey, when you drink them.

Which is why I find it amusing and annoying when I hear people talk about how enlightening and moving a plant dieta was for them, but then see them intentionally ignore the restriction protocols.

The point is to change you. Taking the plants is big deal. And to get your money's worth, the full benefit, why would you ignore the guidance of shamans who know the medicine best?

I'll tell you why they intentionally ignore it...

Because they're fucking posers. Ego-driven posers.

They don't want to learn or change. They are allowing their egos to tell them that they know best.

"It's all good, bro," it says. "Nothing is gonna fucking happen if you ignore the restrictions."

Exactly. Nothing is gonna fucking happen.

All you had was the experience in the retreat. 

Integrity shot.

Money somewhat wasted. 

Better book your flight back to the jungle.