Frequently Asked Questions
These Frequently Asked Questions are excerpts from conversations throughout years of seminars. Remember that the sessions we host imply a willingness to work on yourself to be able to get results.
What type of preparation is needed before a retreat with Onanya Joni?
The preparation that we recommend is the one we consider more efficient for our ceremonies - it is specific to our organization.
Certain foods have a dense energy and should be eliminated - red meats, ham, pork meat, alcohol, strong spices, sugar. Reducing salt allows for your energetic body to be open and receptive to our work.
Processed foods are also hard on your energetic body.
Taking other psychotropic drugs can interfere in the effects with the Madre, block them or even provoke a shock. Please check our Health Concerns section.
It is also important to allow for a two week time period between ceremonies with different psychotropic plants (Peyote, San Pedro, Iboga), as a respectful attitude. Please be aware that negative effects work on you but also affect other patients in the medicine circle.
Menstruation is a time when women are in a cleaning process, naturally and fortunately. Adding a ceremony on top of that would not be wise, neither for her or other people present. This rule has to be respected the first three feminine moon days.
Certain anti-depressants have to be weaned over one or two weeks before the seminar as a precaution.
We recommend reading the document "Ayahuasca and toxicity", by Dr. Jacques Mabit.
Finally, sexual abstinence is recommended to concentrate your energy on your inner work. It is a strong disturbance on your energetic physical body, just as a violent sport or a night at the disco, sauna, etc.
Taking the Madre opens your body during a retreat. Having intercourse during that time would incorporate the energies of another person - also in a cleaning process - while wasting the energies you could have kept for your own personal process. So having sex is not a good idea, for very concrete reasons - nothing to do with morals or religious issues.
What other plants do you use?
We organize tobacco juice rituals for cleansing the body, mind and spirit. When we organize master plants diets we choose the plant according to the healing intention. Check our information on our Plants section.
Is Ayahuasca a drug?
The purity of DMT as it could be extracted from ayahuasca is 0.087%. For the DMT to be considered hallucinogenic, the intravenous dose should be between 75 mg and 1000 mg, and as an oral dose at least 10 times more. In court rulings for ayahuasca, mostly in Spain, the substance confiscated was considered to be outside the criminal code for a “drug” category.
Certain rituals like Santo Daime use cannabis, smoked within the ayahuasca drinking session. Operations by the police took this into consideration as a drug trafficking possibility. Please be aware that NO traditional indigenous ritual mixes cannabis with ayahuasca drinking. As a master plant, cannabis should never be smoked, but drunk, and never associated in a Madre ritual, except as a diet plant with all the restrictions and isolation requirements - the same goes for mixing ayahuasca, san pedro, peyote, etc. This has never been the traditional way for hundreds of years as developed by the High Amazon tribes who have specialized in entheogens. Check our Health Concerns section for a thorough article on Cannabis.
How important is the dose of the glass during the ceremony?
There is a "normal" dose, but each body, personal history, energetic field is different. It is important to adapt the glass of Madre. The right dose allows you to have effects to do your own work, to be centred and concentrated, but not to the point of loosing control of your body. Effects are also regulated by the healers. A second glass is suggested during the session.
At the end of a retreat, after a diet and having gone through several sessions, the patient also needs less - this is also a sign of the drink being non-addictive.
Is it possible to lose consciousness or have a crisis?
Cases are rare and can be easily linked with a sloppy preparation and not following the food and restrictions diet, to psychotic troubles or consumption of psychotropic plants outside of a ritualised and sacred context (meaning plants are taken in drinking format, the healer is prepared and has learned through diets, isolation, etc., according to the traditional process).
Sometimes you can lose consciousness temporarily due to a strong emotional breakthrough that you cannot handle. This can be quickly repaired with the healer intervention.
There may be an overflow for a patient that needs an intervention from the healer. It is important to read the documents sent upon your reservation on preparation and recommendations. The behaviour during the session is important for the group’s safety, and even if a person doesn’t think she can control herself, she actually can in 80% of the cases.
I’m afraid, what should I do?
It is perfectly normal to feel apprehension. Talk to the healers about your fears. Most people feel anxiety the first night. Things are done gradually, with a first connection, and healers are there to assist you.
If you are unwell, you may call them and they can use energetic tools to help you. People who are drinking for the first time have a smaller dose and can come to drink again during the session. The most important thing is relaxing and concentrate on your breathing.
Do we always throw up? Should I force myself?
La purga is one of the names for the plant, so throwing up is often involved. However, the plant chooses the way it purifies the body (physically, emotionally, psychologically). Sometimes, it stays longer. Sometimes you just go to the toilet, later. In no case should you push your fingers down your throat to throw up, or drink a lot of water to force the plant out. And other times, you just need another sip of the brew to trigger a purifying process.
When you throw up very early in the ceremony, there is sometimes a rejection of the plant caused by fears or insecurity. It could mean you are avoiding, consciously or not, to do the work.
Throwing up can come quickly if you’re available. There is sometimes a confrontation between the resistance of the patient and the strengh of the plant, which makes the process more difficult and the nausea very long. It is normal to throw up a lot more than you ingested and then the effect of general cleaning is stronger, with a deeper healing.
When you diet master plants, throwing up comes more seldom because the Madre works on a more subtle way. Experimented healers rarely throw up. Ayahuasca is toxic for toxic bodies.
Why are some people very joyful the following day, and others a bit sad? What is the best advice for after a retreat or ceremony?
There is always a feeling of well-being after a good cleaning. When the process is ongoing, the effects of the plant have to be integrated and this can take longer, after a few nights sleep. This explains differences in your mood the first few days after the sessions.
To integrate the effects of a retreat, you should keep on with the food restrictions for a few days. Eat salty food, it’s important, but avoid white sugar, red meats, alcohol and other psychotropes.
The sharing session with the healers is important to understand the process, just as writing to them later or contact a few days or a week later.
For people coming with no precise intention, for a “trip”, lacking roots and unwilling to face their inner world, the plant can be unsettling. Our type of sessions imply a willingness to work on yourself to be able to get results. The purifying process is more important than the visions.
If everything is "cleaned", who will I then be, what will be left?
Certain patients resist the cleaning process. When the healer works, it is as if he is entering a house. At the beginning he opens the windows, lets some air in, he does housework in general. Give him time and he will go into the kitchen, up in the rooms, even the attic... He starts with the vacuum cleaner, then goes on with details. If the patient resists, the icaro is received in a more difficult way.
Sometimes we wonder if a cleaning process can take away our more profound identity. We all have things we cling to. At the beginning of a session, patients are all in a boat. Some row with the shamans, others jump out, others try to prevent the boat from sailing. At the end, we all come to the other side of the river through the storm. Resisting makes things harder.
The work of plants does not consist in erasing memories, for example, but only emotions attached to events which are unhealthy, like a stagnated energy. You will always remember facts from your life, but as if you were reading them from a newspaper, without grudges or sorrow, associated to certain traumas. Sometimes we have to go through these events again, hand in hand with the plants - the madre or plants dieted - and healers. Sometimes we must look at things in the attic, to illuminate them, not eliminate them. When you switch the lights on, you may realize something’s not right and fix it. But you’re not losing who you are.
In a similar way, opening the heart means looking at what’s inside, all those wounds that have hardened it and that we can choose to let go of, keeping the lessons learned to apply in our life’s experience.
All the things that happened to us make us who we are, but some emotions are not useful, like rancor. Some connections in the past have to discarded.The plant cleans the bad things and usually does not confront us with something we wouldn’t be able to deal with.
People around me seem too heavy, they throw up a lot. Wouldn’t it be better to be alone?
The plant works best in a group, with a personalised healing adapted to each person in the session. We all have energies in common. Whatever is being cleaned touches us, meaning that icaros sung to others are also a healing for the rest.
Picture a huge washing machine in a room: why wouldn’t you just throw one of your socks in it? The purging process cleans energies in sessions, and it is even possible to see someone throwing up for the group. You will notice, in the sharing session, that many messages others received are also meant for other people in the same session. In any case, when you’re throwing up, think of things you would like to let go of and ask the plant for help. Sometimes it is not the right moment yet and you still need to bring awareness to your issues. Sometimes we’re too concentrated on what’s happening around us, and in our daily lives we tend to look for the enemy outside. Sometimes it is a way to sabotage our own process and avoid a confrontation with ourselves.
Don’t forget that the most powerful enemy and the one who knows the house better is inside. You’ll have to figure out the doors you’ve left open and have to close, when you feel “under siege”.
Why do certain people have visions and others not?
There are as many ways for the plant to work as individuals present in a session. Some people are more visual, others feel a strong communication, others doubt about the plant having a conscience and being able to talk to them. There are many levels of depth in a session. The first messages can well be coming from the ego. You have to be patient, concentrate on your breathing and avoid having too many expectations. Ayahuasca is not a button you push or boss around.
When you’ve done many sessions and feel purified, you become more receptive. A first session is always a first contact, a connection, to start a more profound work in the days to come. It depends on individuals, their concentration capabilities, their practice of meditation, emotional patterns, intention for participating, etc. If your intention is too broad and less precise, information can be blurred, confusing and dispersed. The important thing to remember is that you can interact with the plant, act on your process. You shouldn't participate as a tourist but with your whole heart set on your intention - remembering why you are here and what you came to work on.
Do we always have to drink the plant?
Traditionally, many patients come, in the Amazon, to receive healing through icaros without drinking. It’s often the case for older people and children with their mothers. It is possible to be healed without drinking, because the icaros of a healer trained in the traditional way, with the vibration of the plants, can heal. Sometimes it is even recommended to be healed without drinking.
Nevertheless, the energetic work is easier after drinking the Madre, because the plant opens the body of the patient and allows for the song, which is a kind of energy structure, to enter his energetic field, like a high biological molecular technology. It is also useful to be able to understand information and visual content symbolically, to understand and integrate the process. But sometimes a small dose of the plant allows for a deep process.
What is the difference between master plant diets and ceremonies?
The Madre is a revelator. It reveals an inner state, cleans and shows us the energies we carry, giving information on healing, clues on things to change in one’s life. Sometimes we just have to act on one revelation to change completely. The plant can also recommed a deeper healing needed, an operation, a treatment, suggest other plants. She’s the mother of plants, in the sense that she connects us to other plants. For some people, ceremonies are enough and there is a good understanding to bring back to their lives. For others, the master plant diet is recommended and essential.
Diets work in a more strict environment. You have to be isolated, meals are very simple, social contact is minimum. The master plants ingested are like specialists, just like an orthopedist, osteopath, cardiac surgeon, etc. The process is deeper and lasts longer. Some patients return to our seminars, later, carrying the same problems as before, because they were unable to apply changes in their lives, but with the master plant diets many problems are solved in a more permanent way.
Each plant that we diet will work with a different point of view. Some work on heart opening, others work on anger, which brings heart opening, others work on emotional memories. The benefits we get are similar to the characteristics of the plants on a physical level - such as flexibility, strength, resistance, etc. - that we will find on a psychological level - expression, rightfulness, strength of will, decision making capabilities, courage, etc.
There is also the possibility of tobacco rituals and other plants for vomitives (throwing up), according to each case.
These three ways of working - ceremonies, diets and vomitives - complement each other. The process is like an onion, where you peel to access different layers. For some the process is enough on one level, others wish to go further. The diet is the most advanced process you can do with master plants.
Why can’t we drink the plant on our own or try different kinds of shamans that work in a less restricted way?
The plant is a specific vehicle where several rules apply and the ritual follows a specific setting. The plant is ingested, then the icaros - songs that the healers who have dieted at least one year have received, with a peculiar vibration - interfere directly with the plant in the patient’s body, to activate it a certain way. Literally, the song describes the work to be done. Well, just as a bicycle has brakes on the steering wheel, you cannot decide to put the brakes on the seat! Everything, from the physical space to the spiritual setting has to be ritualised to ensure a safe process.
This apprenticeship is done through diets, directly. A maestro, the shaman supervising an apprentice, will wait for his student to receive information from the plants, in dreams or inspirations, before confirming knowledge. There is no academic lesson about the way to learn, because knowledge comes when the student is ready to put it into practice, never before - meaning his body is prepared and he has enough energy built in for healing others, as well a certain depth of personal work. As the shaman has dieted, his body is able to metabolise energies cleaned from patients. If he has no preparation, healing is compromised.
This is why drinking the plant alone is not recommended. It would be like going on a bus with no driver. Remember it is always possible to reach an altered state - even drinking bleach! - but the question is coming back as a whole, with all your different psychological and spiritual parts. Even if your body comes back, there have been cases of schizophrenia where people took psychotropic drugs as “rogues” - even if a friend was there as a sitter, something that seems to be the fashion nowadays. We’ve seen people de-structured by iboga, mushrooms or strong chemical drugs, like acids, on their lone experiences. Others drank the Madre alone and came back to recover parts of themselves they’d lost.
When you meet a shaman, always ask about his diets - it is the master plants diets that help him to work on others and protect them. Learn about his life in general, because it is not possible to be a healer, and also a drunkard or abuse patients. The work of a healer implies a moral and spiritual coherence, because otherwise there will be flaws in the session that backfire on patients.
Please be aware that no indigenous tribe - the ones working with plants for thousands of years - mix different master plants in a session - coca, peyote, san pedro, marijuana. Each plant has its place, its effect, and works as a healing process trigger. There’s no point in mixing them all in a session! Except if you lack competence for this specific job description.
Learning is a long process, an some would like to find shortcuts to use techniques they don’t master yet. Be aware that there are spiritual consequences in all therapeutic work. This can be verified throughout time and observing different patients that attend different kinds of rituals. You have of course free will, but your choices carry consequences, inevitably.
All ritual medicines have to be respected and bad healers only endanger the exceptional work that can be obtained with psychotropic drugs in a traditional and ritualised context. Any accidents could well close the doors for this biological technology in the western world, so choose wisely. Encouraging “neo” rituals endangers all those that follow the long demanding and traditional way of plants.