On top of our four Ayahuasca weekly sessions, we shall have one night dedicated to a Dream Journey with the Plant Teacher Toè (Brugmansia suaveolens).
The Toè Dream Journey - only done in Ashi Meraya among all other centres present in the region – is a ceremony that has been practised by the Shipibo people for divination, since immemorial time.
The settings are the same as for the Ayahuasca rituals – at night, in darkness – with the shaman singing his or her protective and healing icaros on to the participants who will be smoking the plant (dried Toè leaves mixed with black jungle tobacco) and/or drink the Toè brew.
Toè Dream Journey ritual at night in Ashi Meraya
Photo Courtesy: Isabel Grau
The plant teacher Toè may induce a profound intoxication. The beverage taken during the ritual is made by the freshly scraped Toè roots and stem (”raices y corazon”) left in infusion in cold water for a very short time, only a few minutes in fact, together with a mapacho cigar. The shaman will then filter the concoction and sing his protective icaros over the brew (which will be then ready to be served), to grant participants a safe journey.
This ritual takes place indoors, around 8 pm, whilst the shaman sings his – or her – icaros, in total darkness, after candle light has been extinguished. The actual ritual lasts about a hour, after which time we shall return to our bungalows and rest in bed, waiting for the Toè to favor deep sleep and profound visions.
As with Ayahuasca, the Toè ritual is done on a purely voluntary basis of participation. Toè is a very powerful plant teacher and one is required to fast on the night of the ceremony. Fasting for the Toè Dream Journey – in the same fashion that is done for Ayahuasca rituals – enhances visionary effects, may deepen dramatically one’s dreaming experience, and is a much due sign of respect for this truly wondrous, magical plant.
Both retireros (people attending the Ayahuasca retreat) and dieteros (guests doing the shamanic plant diet initiation) may take part to Toè rituals. There is virtually no difference between the brew prepared for either, aside from the length of time one may wish to diet with the Toè plant itself.