The end of a 6 month dieta
The end of a 6 month dieta
Dear Friends ~
I am writing you this message from Lake Tahoe, California. This is going to be a longer newsletter, where I will share some of the happenings of the last 6 months. On the 9th of August I entered a 6 month dieta deep in the jungle with the Yawanawá Indians. Together with Kristen, I will soon go into the closing ceremony of my 6 month dieta. The last months have been very intense; it feels almost unreal to be so close to the end of this time.
As most of you know I visited and lived with the Yawanawá Indians for months at a time during the last few years. What has grown in that period is a beautiful bond of trust. It has been so special to connect with them and to learn about their traditions, their stories, their songs and their joyful way of living. Such a connection with nature, such a connection with each other; living together like a tribe, like a family.
In November 2014 I entered a dieta with their most sacred plant Muca, some of you might be familiar with the blog posts of that time. It was a period that had a big impact on my life, resulting in my decision to close the centre in Peru, and to open a new chapter of my life. At the end of that dieta I came together with Kristen; a relationship which is one of the most precious gifts of my life. From that dieta many gifts have come into my life, both in the physical realm, as well as in the realm of Spirit.
During that dieta with Muca, Don Luis told me about a very special and dangerous dieta that only a few great man in the history of the tribe have attempted and finished. He told me that if I would finish that dieta I would become a “professor do professores”; a teacher of teachers. A great man, that would have many gifts to share with the world. But it was a dangerous and rigorous dieta… At the beginning I would take the heart of an Anaconda and after that for one year I would have to be without pure water, no fish, hardly any meat, no sweets and sugar, no fruits, no salt, hardly any vegetables, and for at least 5 months be in solitude deep in the jungle, even far away from the Yawanawá villages, and in complete celibacy for the whole year. For the first 2 or 3 months I would have the most intense nightmares of my life, where I would have to face all my fears and demons. Every moment I close my eyes I would enter a world that would scare me so much that I would be afraid to go to sleep. “When you break the dieta, the spirit of the Anaconda comes and kills you,” he told me.
But if you come out he said… you will be a dreamer. Whatever you wish for in your life, whatever you will dream, will come to you. In one form or the other, that force of the serpent will work its way, so that your dreams will become reality.
Hearing that story, something inside of me moved. Deep inside I knew that one day I was going to do that dieta. “Let’s see,” I said.
Last year I slowly felt the calling become stronger and stronger, and in February 2016 I met Tashka, the leader of the Yawanawa, in San Fransisco and asked permission to enter that dieta. I knew that his father, a great leader of the tribe, had entered the dieta the beginning of this century, and that he broke it in the 11th month. He died in a long process full of pain, fear and anxiety in 2004. The last person that had finished it must have lived around 150 years ago. Not a single white person had attempted it; not many knew about this dieta.
I hadn’t received an answer when we left for the Mariri festival last July. It was the first time I went to the jungle together with Kristen. I was so looking forward to be there with her, and to share this part of my life with my love. The festival in Mutum was amazing… such a great energy was there, so much celebration, such great music, so much dance and laughter and amazing ceremonies that lasted the whole night. There were several hundreds of Yawanawá in their traditional clothes celebrating their culture. We were there with a beautiful group of people.
In the festival I met for the first time Matsini, one of the spiritual leaders of Mutum, a village that already was receiving Westerners for several years, and a village that had offered long dietas to a few handfuls of Nawá; white people. I already had heard a lot of Matsini from several people and I was looking forward to meet him and spend time with him. One day Kristen and I went to buy a feather crown and walked into the house of Matsini. He was lying in his hammock in the living room and I started a conversation with him. Within minutes the conversation was very profound and the energy very special. I asked him if he knew about the 1 year dieta with the heart of the Anaconda, and he told me there and then some very detailed instructions that I hadn’t yet heard. Immediately I felt that I was speaking with somebody that knew. He had done several long dietas, two of which are a 1 year dieta with Muca, and a 6 month dieta with the Saliva of the Serpent, another rigorous and potentially dangerous dieta. He knew from experience…
What followed was an incredible row of synchronicities that led to a conversation with Tashka in the middle of a deep ceremony, where he told me that he had had a meeting with several elders of the tribe discussing my request to enter the 1 year dieta with the heart of the Anaconda. He felt he couldn't make that decision by himself. Together they had decided that the next step for me would be to do a 6 month dieta with the saliva of the serpent. If that would go well, and only then; we could we speak about the 1 year. Within less then a week from that conversation, we ended up in a place far away from the last village, deep in untouched, pristine jungle. A place so pure that it might be hard to imagine for people that have never been to the jungle or outside the grid of society. There we held a ceremony with a group of around 25 people - both Westerners and Indians, including a child and a pregnant woman. That night was a very profound night for me and in that ceremony, I received the confirmation that it was time for my next step on the path: to enter a 6 month dieta.
To enter a dieta with the Serpent is very difficult. First of all you have to find a snake. To find such an animal in the Amazon is very difficult. In all the months I have spent in the jungle before that moment, I had only seen 1 - Nalini. The Indians told me that the snake will only come on your path to open such a dieta when you are ready for it. “If you are not ready, she will not be there,” they told me.
The next morning we went with just a very small group of people with the boat, even further on the small Amazonian river and deeper into the forest. The sun was very hot, and I was sweating sitting in the boat next to Kristen, holding hands, knowing that this could well be the start of a period of 6 months without any cuddles or kisses. Many things were going on inside of my head: “Am I ready? What if the snake doesnt appear? What will that mean? Of course I am ready, I saw it last night. How will these six months be? Do I have the commitment to hold it, whatever comes up during that time?” I was nervous, and I hadn’t been nervous since a long time. It almost felt like going to an audition like I have done many times years ago in the classical music world. After 15 minutes on the boat we stopped to walk to a small lake that was somewhere close. Matsini walked in front of us, and we followed him. There were some strong man with us, we didn’t know what size of snake we could encounter; if it was big we needed some strong men to hold it down.
After 5 minutes of walking through dense jungle we found the small lake and within just a few minutes after that Matsini whistled. My heart almost missed a beat hearing that whistle, I knew immediately he had found a snake. We walked toward him, and there on the other side of the lake, with just a tree in-between us, she was…
A beautiful and very special snake. Later I learned that is was one of the most sacred snakes in the jungle, Matsini had never seen one before. For him this was a sign that what was happening was right. It didn't have a tail. Just after the middle of the body, the body stopped. It almost looked if the snake had had an accident, and the tail was cut of. Later they told me that this snake was called "Jiboia sin Rabo" in Portuguese; snake without a tail.
The preparation took a while; our faces were painted red like warriors, sticks were prepared to hold her down, people were chosen to help opening her mouth, and Matsini found a very specific type of palm leave, and cut a small stick from it. With that stick he would scrape the saliva from her throat, and that stick I would chew and swallow the saliva as the start of my dieta.
What followed was a very precious ritual; everything happened so perfectly. Matsini conducted it if he had done it hundreds of time. The saliva had no taste, no smell. After I took the Saliva I touched the snake with both hands, and in that time I put out my intentions for the dieta, and basically for the rest of my life. It took my time and worded them very carefully inside of me. I opened my heart as I had never done before at that moment. When I was finished Kristen stepped forward and with the beautiful guidance of Matsini she entered a 1 month dieta by touching the body of the snake. With her two hands she grabbed the snake firmly, almost massaging it. One of her intentions for that dieta was to open her voice. It was such a sacred moment for both of us… Nobody else, except for the people holding the snake, touched that animal. A very sacred bond was created between us that very morning.
Just half an hour later we were back on the boat again, and for 24 hours we couldn’t eat, drink, and also not talk or interact much with anybody. The Indians cleared another spot in the jungle for us and there we were, hanging in our separate hammocks, going into a very romantic period of our relationship...
That night we held another ceremony to celebrate the opening of the dieta. It was again a very powerful and deep night for me. There I learned that I was the first nawá that the tribe had allowed to enter this dieta. That night a journey started…. I don’t think I really knew what I had signed up for.
Now as I look back, I see that some of the months of this dieta were the most challenging months of my life. Of those 6 months I have spent almost 5 months in the jungle, mostly in solitude, deep in the jungle. The start of the dieta during the month of August was just amazing. We were with a group of 8 people 1 week into a 1 month dieta, when I opened my 6 month dieta, and in that time Matsini was with us several times. He shared so many special ceremonies and taught us so much; so many stories, so many songs. I learned so much from him, and for the first time I felt that I had found an example on this path. I am so grateful for that time, and for all that I learned from him.
In October I came out of the jungle for 2 retreats that we had in Peru, and in November, I went back to the jungle for 1.5 months. In that time Tata, one of the elders of the tribe, 103 years old and the only true Shaman I have met in my life, was dying. He was on his bed, and many of his students gathered around him. On his deathbed they were doing healings on him, and praying for him. There were ceremonies for him almost every single night. He was lying in his bed, clearly in his last days, he was not doing so well - he had lost so much weight as he hadn’t eaten for weeks and was coughing up blood, vomiting thick black stuff - yet there he was still teaching his students, sharing deep layers of wisdom that he hadn’t shared before; still every moment in service of his tribe…
Seeing that touched me so much. What an example of a great man, so humble, so in service, so wise..
The whole situation brought up many things inside of the tribe and inside of me. It was almost like a huge purging on a collective level; many layers of impurity came to the surface.
Inside of myself the dieta was very strong and I entered a very dark chapter of my life. Anger, hatred, fear, insecurity, and darkness that I had never experienced before came up inside of me. It was very difficult to deal with it. Especially since the whole tribe was fully focused on the last days of Tata, and I was by myself in the jungle, cooking my own green bananas and corn everyday. I had to walk to the fields, just to get a few pieces of corn. Then make a fire, put a pot with water from the tiny stream on. An hour later I could eat the hard cornels without any salt or flavour. There were moments were I was lying in my hammock questioning if my life had any meaning left; I didn’t feel I had anything to share, anything to give, any purpose. Life seemed useless, and I was questioning why I would keep going with it. My dreams were so dark, so frightening that sometimes I woke up in the middle of the night sweating and shaking of fear, afraid to go back to sleep again. Lying deep in the jungle on my mattress, half an hour walking from the closest human being. Many animals singing their songs…. my machete was always right next to me.
At any moment, I could have drunk a glass of pure water, or a bite of a sweet ripe banana and like that broken my dieta. But I didn’t, not a single time. I was fully committed to finishing it, whatever it would take, to whatever places it would bring me.
I felt so dark, so negative, so full of anger those days. I cannot remember any other time my life that I have felt like that. I lost 12 kilos over the course of the 6 months, several things were stolen from me, people that were supposed to take care of me were caught up in other things, and I felt betrayed and abandoned. The snake was singing her songs…
Coming out of the jungle I felt very disorientated. Arriving in the US, and seeing Kristen again did me really well. I jumped straight into Christmas, and did my utmost best to hide the feelings that were still inside of me. Driving back to San Francisco from Santa Cruz after Christmas, I was wondering inside of me what I was doing in the US. The election had touched me deeply and I was going back to our decision to live in the United States in this time. Driving on highway 1, the infinite Ocean to our left, the mountains to our right I closed my eyes. There I asked for a sign, a sign to let me know that I was welcome here. A sign that I was worthy of being alive, and being in the United States, a sign that I was welcome on this land. I still felt so insecure… a tear rolled over my cheek, wondering why the last months had happened as they had…
Just a few minutes later, staring out of the window of the car, Kristen siting next to me driving, something really special happened. A bald eagle, the national bird of the United States, came flying from the mountain range to our right, flew in the direction of our car, turned around, and with its white bright head and white feathered tail, it flew back over the mountains. It was the first time in my life that I had seen one flying.
It was such a special moment… It was if my inner world shifted 180 degrees. I opened the window put my arm out that amazing bird and shouted: “Jiiiiiiiihuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!!!!!!!! Strong Warrior!!!!!!!!!!”
Then I remembered… I am welcome, I am worthy, I am that I am…
It was a turning point in my dieta. And there in the car I remembered the words of Matsini: “Dennis, it can be that you will enter a very dark phase in your dieta. But know that whatever happens, you will come out of it. And when you come out, the last weeks of your dieta will be very fertile soil for you to plant your seeds for the future. In those last weeks plant as many seeds as possible for the rest of your life. Those seeds will grow into very strong trees; very strong pillars for you to build the rest of your life on.”
And that is what I did the last weeks: I have planted as many seeds as I could. Almost without any rest I have been up and running. Leading 4 groups of people through deep processes, filed for my Green Card, submitted a proposal for my first book to a well respected literary agency in NYC, planted 4000 ayahuasca vines in Brazil with 400 Rainha da Floresta’s, started the process to buy 85 acres of Rainforest in Brazil for preservation and cultivation, married the woman of my dreams (yes I know… very romantic wedding night, alone on the sofa in the living room…), made a wonderful connection with a very special musician that came to our circles, recorded a bunch of Yoga classes, and saw many new opportunities come into my life. Worked many hours on my new website (coming soon!) and as a gift found an amazing designer that is working on it right now. I worked almost non-stop, planting seeds for the future. And while my body was very weak (sometimes I had to hold myself when standing up to quick, not to faint) my spirit was shining.
And now I am here, sitting in a wonderful cabin on the shore of beautiful Lake Tahoe with my love. I will enter the closing ceremony of this strong period… I am so grateful for her, so proud of her of going through this dieta together. These months really invited us to find other ways to express love to each-other; without cuddles and kisses... These months have deepened our relationship in many ways, and I am so grateful for the 2nd of March coming up. On that day we will have our wedding ceremony in Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California. It will be a very intimate ceremony with our parents, our sisters and Kristen’s grandparents. In one of the most spectacular places of this planet, with the infinite Ocean and the Southern coast of California to our backs, where whales and dolphins swim by, and the splendid green mountains to our front, the eagles and condors flying high in the sky, there we will say our vows to each other. What a magical start of our marriage that day will be…
It seems that dreams are already beginning to come true!
In a few hours I will drink the first glass of water in 6 months, and will be able to kiss my love again… I cannot even imagine how it will be. Together we will stay here for a few days, reconnecting and celebrating this time.
What a gift this time has been… It has brought me so much humbleness, so much gratitude.
This dieta is about leaving the old skin behind, and letting the new skin emerge form beneath. And my new skin is forming itself. What I have learned in this life is that it is all a Journey, a very Sacred Journey. A Journey we call life. And it is all happening here on this planet, our beautiful Earth. This is what is coming up for me now, and this is what I will be sharing with all of you. A new portal is coming up where I will be sharing many new things:
Soon www.sananda-wasi.com will transform into a non-profit website, reflecting the non-profit status that Sananda-Wasi has had from the beginning.
But that will be for another time… Coming Soon!
Thank you all so much for being part of this Journey. So beautiful to feel the support... Thank you all.
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