As I write this, I’m near the end of day 6 of a 10 day master plant dieta (diet) on the mighty, heart-opening, mind-blowingly beautiful Huachuma; also known as San Pedro. I’m in isolation, in the middle of the desert, at a house tucked away from all civilization that backs up to endless BLM. It’s pouring rain, my body is vibrating, and I can see and feel the consciousness of every rock, every plant, every speck of dirt outside my window. It’s absolutely glorious. But it’s bloody difficult work.
This is my seventh dieta. I keep going back to this incredible process because it always helps me find my edges, and to expand past them, discovering more of what I’m made of. They also create an impenetrable ally in whatever plant I am convening with. Huachuma and I, we were already friends. Now, we are Jay-Z and Beyoncé style partners. For life. And that’s magical.
Before I started on this plant path thirteen years ago, I didn’t even consider that plants might have consciousness. Now, I know some plants better than I know my mother or my best friend. This is all because of the ancient and sacred path of a Master Plant Dieta.
It makes my heart exceedingly happy to see how many folks are drawn to connect with plant consciousness in this way; it seems more and more are exponentially called these days. Every single one of us, no matter what plant we join in partnership with, awaken to the urgency and sacredness of our relationship with this planet. And since her well-being is undeniably shaky (or rather, her tolerance of those threatening her livelihood), this alone is a central reason for the call to dive deep with a Master Plant.
But there are many more reasons a plant diet is life-changing. Come with me as we count the ways.
Master Plant Diets: Why They Matter, and the Two Ways We Work with Them
The path of a Master Plant Dieta is central to lineages like Shipibo-Conibo, Quechua-Lamista, and Mestizo traditions. These are normally taken on by individuals who are on the path to either becoming a shamanic practitioner, or those who are committed to using plant consciousness as a means of expanding their own. Plus, healing. There is always, always healing.
For those of us whose jobs involve working with powerful and sacred plants like Ayahuasca or Huachuma, it’s an absolute must to embark on a dieta every year or two. I personally would never, ever sit with someone who hasn’t done at least a couple of diets. This is where the work is. The shadow dancing. The downloads from plants much more ancient and wiser than we are. The mergence with unity consciousness. And the (re)discovery of our edges as a being immersed in the experience of duality.
There are two types of Master Plant Diets: The most traditional and old-school is the isolated variety. These typically involve immersion into the jungle or wilderness, guidance by a Maestro or Maestra, and one rock solid master plant. Participants unplug from the world, consume very little food (and all of it intentionally bland), and enter into a primary relationship with the plant spirit for the duration; about 7-14 days. More if the individual needs some radical deep healings or teachings.
Most plants are consumed 1-2 times per day, and these dietas normally involve opening and closing in an Ayahuasca ceremony; perhaps even more frequent use of Aya too. It all depends on the plant and the facilitator. Some plants are very easy on the body and can be consumed regularly (like Ajo Sacha and Lavender), some are much tougher on the body and need regulation with both consumption and ceremony (like Chiric Sananga and Mapacho). Each Curandero/Curandera will have their own protocol, as we all have a different way the plants speak to us, but this is the general flow.
The newer way to diet is called a Social or “Soft” Diet (Dieta Suave.) This requires a longer commitment, typically 30 days or more, and involves a dual approach. Participants continue their lives as per usual; work, relationships, and related duties. Additionally, they are carving out time and commitment to the selected plant each day too. Strict protocols around diet, sexual activity, and recreational time are honored, just as in an isolated dieta. Because the dieter is handling life AND mergence with their plant, more time is needed to create the connection, and receive the gifts.
Both dietas are magical, and both are incredibly challenging journeys. I’ve been blessed to do several of both types of diet, and they have solid pros and cons.
Choosing Between an Isolated and a Social Dieta
Here’s how I breakdown the differences of the dietas:
· These go deep almost immediately, as they are opened in ceremony and allow for complete immersion.
· They are intense, powerful, and you have the physical presence of a guide whenever you need them.
· You also typically have the opportunity to work with Ayahuasca before, during, and after the diet closes; she helps to strengthen the connection, keep you out of your ego/head space, and be truly open to all the magic the master plant is bestowing.
· The flipside is, these are truly intense experiences. Depending on the plant, they can also be very hard on the body, and do require a high degree of stamina to successfully complete.
· The diet is your full time job during the duration, and that includes any connection to the outside world. You have to be willing to give up all communications, and completely focus on the diet.
· These can be expensive and require the ability to drop everything and head for the jungle, mountains, or related isolated spot in nature. And by all means, please make sure you are the hands and guidance of someone highly experienced with plant diets.
· These allow you to handle your life, stay connected to your loved ones and work, and still have an epic journey with plant consciousness.
· They are typically less intense as the full focus is not solely on the plant, and therefore are a bit more gentle on your mind, body and spirit.
· These also teach us to deeply appreciate more subtle expansions of consciousness, but not at all by sacrificing the profundity of the results we are seeking.
· Because there are so many distractions in life, social dietas require more of a time commitment in order to deeply connect with the plant.
· It’s also a lot to handle; following a strict diet of fresh, bland food is challenging as you will likely have to cook most/all of your own meals, and allocating enough time for the connection is difficult when our lives are already so hectic.
· You will also likely not have the benefit of a guide in your physical presence. People like myself work with participants from a distance, and I make myself available as fast as I possibly can when needed, but some much prefer having assistance in the flesh.
Choosing the Best Partner Plant
The most essential part of any dieta is selecting the Master Plant. This happens in partnership with your shamanic guide, and it’s dependent on the benefits you are seeking as a participant. There are at least three dozen recognized Master Plants to choose from; some are common in our vernacular (like Rose or Sage) and some are likely to be new acquaintances (like Bobinsana or Noya Rao.)
Each plant has its own personality, superhero powers, and gifts to bestow. They each work with the body and spirit in different ways, so it’s essential that you are working with someone who understands the plant well; otherwise contraindications with medications, behavioral patterns, and similar health elements can occur.
It is absolutely positively crucial to employ a guide for any dieta; isolated or social. Choosing to embark on a diet without a protector is like hopping on an airplane without a pilot. It’s dicey at best; these are not spaces that most of us inherently know how to handle. So if you’re ready to dive in, find an experienced dieta maestro/maestra and follow their protocol with your whole heart. The partnership between you, the plant, and your guide is infinitely sacred and powerful.
The Many Benefits of Embarking on a Master Plant Dieta
In my journey thus far, I’ve dieted seven times on six different plants. I repeated my first diet because, like many of us, I just didn’t get it right out of the gate, and needed a do-over. Every single deep dive with plant consciousness is a profound learning experience. Dietas, for me, have been the game changers.
Sage taught me the very innate, impossible-to-describe space of protection and safety. She helped me to experience the most heightened place of purification and empowerment I’ve ever known. And she’s my #1 go-to in every ceremony experience I do now; she’s my proverbial American Express Card. I never, ever leave my body without her.
Lavender did wonders for my nervous system, and gave me my first tangible experience of being wholly, completely present; without resistance, and with great joy. She’s the ultimate chillout medicine, and she brings to the surface the awareness of why we resist serenity.
Ayahuasca was another dieta; yes, you can diet psychotropic plants, but obviously with extreme caution and guidance. I turned to her during a difficult time in my journey with plant medicine; I needed clarity on my path. She delivered in grand fashioned by being the catalyst for a complete and total breakdown in every aspect of my world.
And then came the breakthrough.
This one was by far the most impactful; as expected. I truly felt like I wasn’t ready ready, but it’s impossible to really be ready for that kind of transformation.
But I wouldn’t be a curandera without her divine assistance.
Ajo Sacha unlocked the secrets of the subconscious; and the collapse of typical dualistic structures. She taught me the intertwining of masculine and feminine (as such, I refer to Ajo as both a he and a she), the language of symbols, the falsehood of time as a construct, and he also showed me, in complete clarity, my human neurosis. Which then empowered me to transcend much of that destructive behavior, one day at a time.
My master plant diet on Rose taught me what love really means; by first showing me the false ways in which I held love through imprinted constrictions and conditions. She rocked my love life and helped me to change course, and she showed every way in which I was still abusing myself. She’s a sweet one, Miss Rose, but the lady has some serious thorns. As the feminine always does.
Finally, the latest dance with plant consciousness, here in the space of Cactus Love; well, he’s a life-changer too. I’ll know to what degree soon enough, but I can tell you I feel and connect with my heart in a much more tangible way thanks to Grandfather Huachuma, and the secrets of the universe are more and more illuminated, in every moment. He oozes wisdom, but he demands integrity and the strength to own our shit, too. He’s teaching me patience, compassion, and the ability to just be with nature. Not do. Not think. Not obsess over whatever the mind has a focus on. Instead, to feel my heart, to flow, to trust, and to be truly present. I know now why we call him San Pedro; Saint Peter holds the keys to the gates of heaven, and so does this incredible cactus.
Those are just the plants I have been blessed to know in an intimate way. I’ve also guided people through diets with Pine, Bobinsana, Mapacho/Tobacco, Rosemary, Cedar, Juniper, and many more. They all have such uniquely sacred information to share, with their own special flair and vibration.
What to Do if You’re Feeling the Call
If it’s time to know plant consciousness more precisely, I’d be honored to assist in your journey. I have trusted and uber powerful connections in the jungle for isolated dietas, and as previously mentioned, I remotely guide social diets too. I’d be honored to just help you figure out where, when and who to work with; as well as guide you to the perfect plant partner. You’ll never be the same if you choose this path, as expansion is a given. Proper preparation and integration support is key to making sure all the transformations assist in the most uplifting, joyful ways.
Whatever we are seeking to understand, there’s a plant for that.
If you’re ready to dive in, contact me here, and I will do all I can to make this magical for you.
And please, check out the upcoming Isolated Master Plant Diet, happening this October near Las Vegas, NV.
About the Author
Tina “Kat” Courtney, The AfterLife Coach, is a traditionally trained Ayahuasquera and plant medicine guide, as well as a vocal advocate for all sacred psychedelic spaces. Kat is an experienced Spiritual Coach, helping seekers prepare for and integrate these amazingly powerful medicines. Kat also works with people confronting issues around death and shadow, and anyone looking to be more deeply connected to their souls. Her calling is to be a light as we walk through our darkness, and to remind us that everything is always OK.