Once upon a time, legend says, the chief of the village, took a walk deep into the Amazonian rainforest. On the shores of Ucayali River, he stumbled upon a tall tree and was astonished at the transformation that was happening in front of his eys. The birds purched on the tree’s branches would turn into fish and dive deep in the water. Fish that swam in the shade of this tree turned into birds and flew away. Understanding he is witnessing a miracle and humbled by it, he quietly walked back to the village.
That night the tree appeared to chief in the dream and spoke to him. The tree told him that if he uses its medicinal bark, he would also be able to fly.
That is where the name of this master plant came from - Noya Rao. In Shipibo language, Noya means flying, while Rao refers to Plant Spirit. Due to its leaves that glow in the dark, Noya Rao is also known as Tree of Light. In Mahua Shipibo tradition, dieta done with this tree is considered very important process on the path of becoming a healer.
This fact alone inspired my facilitator to gently insist I do dieta with Noya Rao while doing ayahuasca ceremonies. Actually, it is considered that the ayahuasca experience is much more powerful when doing dieta with master plants. The ayahuasca helps you open to much deeper work and guidance that comes from the Plant Spirit.
Considering that I have not much weight to loose, I was concerned. And indecisive, as is usually the case. Her gentleness and kindness, as well her intention for my highest good, made me give it a try ( dieta, while it lasts, in this tradition, means no consumption of pork, or any other type of meat besides fish, sugar, diary, drugs, alcohol, oil, salt; no sex or masturbation. Dieta can be done for a week, months or even a year). The similar guidelines are followed for ayahuasca ceremony.That would mean we would hardly eat: no dinner before ayahuasca ceremony, and no breakfast after it, next morning. It is said that most of the time, when physically weak, our defenses weaken too and visions, insights and guidance from the Spirit comes more clearly and easily.
The ayahuasca ceremonies are strong and purging, and while she was whacking me left and right, Noya Rao was there, in my vision, calmly standing in front of me. First I was able to see just its trunk. On the moments I would see it in the middle of my torso while currents of my deep unconscious where emerging from infinite depths of my being. I saw my first level of consciousness being pretty much on the light of the day; the second level had a lot of work done on, like childhood, wounding and defense issues. That was also getting substantial light, while still had some smoky areas. The third level of my consciousness I just became aware of: murky waters, muddy, sticky grounds where you are not able to see where you are stepping neither where the currents are going, just got opened. It felt merciless, in my own being.
I was thrown on the ground, after immense physical suffering, nausea and vomiting. I went, in my vision, to different persons,from my everyday life, asking them to help me, to stop this suffering, to take me out of here. I was desperate and not able to place my body in any position, neither my mind on any place, so that I would feel some relief. Nothing. I just had to, not to go through suffering, but to be the suffering.. And nobody could come and save me. Nobody to pull me out and do it for me. I was alone, being with my helplessness and what I perceived weakness. I felt I was made of weakness, that I was weakness personified.
I could not move, stand up, stop the whole thing and just damn leave, as I usually do. I had to surrender. There was no place to hide and nowhere to go, as I would be the one to go with myself and all of this will come with me.
Noya Rao was standing in front of me. It wouldn’t hold me, encourage me, save me, pull me out of this hell. But it nevertheless stayed with me…waiting for me to connect to deep source of my inner power I have lost eons ago. It waited for me to get up on my own feet. No, there was no rewounding and I did not feel abandoned. I finally got the message. I have so profoundly disconnected from my source of strength that I did not imagine there is the other way around life but waiting for the powerful other to come and rescue me.
The trunk kept standing in front of me and emanating the light. Gentle, non invansive, grounded deep into its own being and frequency. So mutedly, it gave me guidance, so sacredly it changed my life and perspective. I made it to sitting position, being able to hold myself even in the weakness. As weakness slowly turned, and still keeps doing so, in the strength.
During the dieta in ayahuasca ceremony, the seed of this master plant was planted in our energy fields. It will keep growing, guiding and healing. It enhances connection and relationship to the spirits indwelling in other sacred plants. Noya Rao takes you to such deep levels of transformation, just like in the legend from the beginning of this story: fish to bird, in my case, weakness to strength.
As our legend continues, the next day, after his powerful dream, the chief went back to the Flying Tree and took some bark. Upon returning to the village, he made a medicine and put it around the village. He told villagers not to leave the place for next three days while they preform celebrations. But every night, his own son secretly went to the woods and played under the tree. In the morning of the third night, when the boy was coming back, his whole village was torn out of earth. As the village was being lifted up, the boy kept screaming his father’s name, but to no avail. It kept rising above the clouds and disappeared in the heavenly heights.
This Shipibo village is still missing today and the legend says it has become star in the sky.