Traditional Amazonian shaman Don Armando Icomena is currently our main Maestro and the one with the most comprehensive experience in working with a vast array of plant teachers, vines and master trees. He is native of the Santana community of river-dwellers located off the Rio Amazonas, north of the jungle town of Iquitos, in the Peruvian Amazon. He is a most distinguished Palero (a shaman/vegetalista who is specialized in working with master trees), an Ayahuasquero (a Maestro specialized in working with Ayahuasca; and also one of the *very few* shamans in Peru who can prepare Ayahuasca made with the magical Puma chacruna plant), a Camalonguero (a Maestro skilled in working with Camalonga – Thevetia peruviana), a Toesero (a shaman specialized in working with the powerful Toé – Brugmansia suaveolens – plant teacher), a Sananguero (a shaman specialized in working with the Sanango class of master trees), a Sampedrista (a Maestro skilled in working with the San Pedro visionary cactus, to which he was initiated by his teacher in Tarapoto, in the region of San Martin, in Peru) and a Rosacrucista (an adept of Rosicrucianism, a mystical-esoteric tradition). He was initiated to Ayahuasca by his grandfather shaman when he was only 12, and initiated to the shamanic dieta (with many different master plants, master trees, shrubs, and vines) since the age of 15. After the initial 3 years of dietas learning the ways of traditional Amazonian medicine and la ciencia (the science) of Vegetalismo, at the age of 18 he was formally appointed as Curandero by his teacher. He has now fully matured 35 years of experience in the field of shamanic plant medicine, and he is one of the shamans with the most extensive knowledge of Amazonian plants we ever worked with in both Peru and Colombia.
Diet with nearly 40 master trees, vines, and plant teachers at once…
Not by chance Don Armando is the only shaman we came across in the last 21 years who prepares a very powerful concentrated brew made with a total of 35 master trees and vines (including the magical Lupuna blanca, the king of all master trees) to be taken during the long shamanic dieta and apprenticeship, and who also works with a vast array of plants like Ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis sp.), Coca* (Erythroxylum coca), San Pedro (Echinopsis pachanoi syn. Trichocereus pachanoi), Camalonga (Thevetia peruviana), Mapacho (Nicotiana tabacum, Nicotiana rustica), Cacao (Theobroma cacao) and Toé (Brugmansia suaveolens), which all rank among the most sacred and shamanically important plants in Peru.
With Don Armando you have the choice of following either a very intense & more powerful shamanic dieta than that is offered in the vast majority of the retreat centres in Peru – with nearly 40 among master trees, vines, and plant teachers, to be taken ALL at once, as a highly concentrated brew prepared in the guise of the Ayahuasca medicine – or else, go for the traditional shamanic dieta, dieting with only one master plant, master tree, shrub, or vine at a time (this will be anyway necessary/mandatory when dieting with special plants like Toé, Ayahuasca, Coca*, Camalonga, or Mapacho, among others).
In the specific case of the Ayahuasca diet, one may diet with either Cielo ayahuasca (the best for initiations), Suni ayahuasca (Soliman ayahuasca/black ayahuasca) and Lucero ayahuasca (learn more here).
The various types of shamanic dieta – I
In the strict shamanic dieta with master trees and in the shamanic apprenticeship dieta only the following food is allowed by Don Armando:
Boquichico (Amazonian river fish), Acarahuazú (Amazonian river fish), Tucunaré (Amazonian river fish), Palometa (Amazonian river fish), Sardines, Ractacara (Amazonian river fish) – all roasted/grilled and unseasoned – oatmeal, porridge (without any sugar or salt, known locally as mazamorra de avena), rice, salad, green plantains (roasted/grilled), green plantains drink (cooked green plantains ground in water and drank as juice), coconut water (occasionally), lemongrass tea, and lemon leaves tea.
Free range chicken (pollo/gallina de chacra) is only allowed at the end, when the diet is finished and deliberately broken (dieta de alta), either as grilled meat or in form of chicken broth. No oil, fat, spices, chili, salt, sugar, sweets, or fruit are allowed. Should one feel very debilitated during the dieta they could be given food with a little bit of salt and a a bit of sweet fruits (always “cured” by the shaman with special protective icaros, to avoid harm) for 1-2 days only, then they will return to their usual strict dieta, with no salt, sugar, fruit, fats, oil, spices, or sweets.
Medium strict shamanic dieta – II
For those who find it too hard to cope with the traditional strict shamanic dieta, there is a slight more flexible option with more food allowed, as follows:
Boquichico (Amazonian river fish), Acarahuazú (Amazonian river fish), Tucunaré (Amazonian river fish), Palometa (Amazonian river fish), Sardines, Ractacara (Amazonian river fish) – all roasted/grilled and unseasoned – oatmeal, porridge (without any sugar or salt, known locally as mazamorra de avena), rice, salad, green plantains (roasted/grilled), green plantains drink (cooked green plantains ground in water and drank as juice), coconut water (occasionally), lemongrass tea, and lemon leaves tea. A little bit of salt is allowed twice a week. Then vegetables like potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, beetroots, cabbage, lettuces, broccoli, Chiclayo vegetables and coriander. Fruit like bananas, apples, pears, grapes and mandarins might also be allowed. No sugar.
More flexible shamanic dieta – III
And for those who need an even more flexible option, with more variety allowed, the following food may be allowed in their dieta:
Boquichico (Amazonian river fish), Acarahuazú (Amazonian river fish), Tucunaré (Amazonian river fish), Palometa (Amazonian river fish), Sardines, Ractacara (Amazonian river fish), Paiche (Arapaima gigas, Amazonian river fish), chicken – all roasted/grilled and unseasoned – oatmeal, porridge (without any sugar or salt, known locally as mazamorra de avena), rice, rice pudding (unsalted/unsweetened), coconut water (allowed occasionally), salad, cooked green bananas, green banana juice (ground in water and taken as juice, unsalted and unsweetened), Chinese cabbage, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, Chiclayo vegetables, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, beetroots, potatoes, onions and garlic. A little bit of oil and salt is allowed. Fruits like bananas, apples, pears, oranges, and tangerines may also be allowed. Lemon leaves tea, as well as lemongrass and chamomile teas may be allowed.
Shamanic dieta with an individual master tree, vine (Ayahuasca, Renaquilla, Huarmi Renaco) or plant teacher (Coca, Ajos Sacha, Toe’, Camalonga, etc) – IV
Food allowed by Don Armando in the traditional dieta with an individual master tree, vine or teacher plant:
Boquichico (Amazonian river fish), Acarahuazú (Amazonian river fish), Tucunaré (Amazonian river fish), Palometa (Amazonian river fish), Sardinas, Ractacara (Amazonian river fish), all chargrilled. Green bananas (chargrilled), rice, oatmeal, rice pudding, salad, tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, cucumber, broccoli. All without salt and sugar. NO fruit. Coconut water, lemongrass and chamomile tea are also permitted.
Pre-dieta or diet-tester – V:
Food allowed by Don Armando in the more flexible pre-dieta (short diet tester):
Boquichico (Amazonian river fish), Acarahuazú (Amazonian river fish), Tucunaré (Amazonian river fish), Palometa (Amazonian river fish), Sardines, Ractacara (Amazonian river fish), green bananas (chargrilled), cooked green bananas, green bananas juice (ground in water and taken as juice, without salt or sugar), oatmeal, porridge (without salt or sugar), rice, rice pudding (without salt or sugar), coconut water (allowed but not every day), salad, Chinese cabbage, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, Chiclayo vegetables, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, beetroot, potatoes, onions, garlic. A little bit of oil and salt is allowed. Fruit like bananas, apples, pears, oranges and tangerines may also be allowed, as well as lemon leaves tea, lemongrass tea, and chamomile tea.
Shamanic dieta and shamanic apprenticeship – Disclaimer:
Whilst we will do our utmost to accommodate and cater for different dietary requirements (including for vegans, as an optional extra), please note that the shamanic dieta – and even more so the dieta for the shamanic apprenticeship – demands tuning with the food traditionally allowed, passed down to the shamans by the spirits of the plant teachers themselves. Don Armando maintains that the more flexible a shamanic dieta is, the less one will learn. And if one gets to the point of basically allowing most – when not all – food NOT contemplated in the traditional dieta, then one shouldn’t expect to be doing a proper shamanic apprenticeship. It will be more like a normal Ayahuasca retreat, and one may still receive visions and purge, but won’t learn from the mother spirits of the master trees and plant teachers, and won’t be doing a proper shamanic training.
A very powerful Ayahuasca brew
Don Armando prepares a very strong Ayahuasca brew with Cielo ayahuasca vine cuts mixed with the leaves of the Chaliponga (also known as Chagro, or Chagropanga, in Quechua – the Diplopterys cabrerana) vine, the leaves of the Chacruna (Psychotria viridis) plant, Mapacho cigars (organic black jungle tobacco), fresh Coca* leaves, and the bark of the Cacao tree (which ultimately gives the brew a rather sweeter flavor, and contains also a kind of gel which is soothing for the stomach).
The magical Puma chacruna plant teacher
Subject to availability (it’s a rare plant, hard to find), we endeavor to offer our participants to experience at least once in the course of their staying the Ayahuasca brew prepared with the magical Puma chacruna plant, possibly the most powerful ever main plant additive to the Ayahuasca medicine we know of. Don Armando first dieted with Suni ayahuasca (black ayahuasca) prepared with Puma chacruna for 3 months, when he was a 22 years old curandero, as part of a larger dieta of 9 months in the small indigenous Quichua community of Panayjillo, located near the Napo river, under invitation from the local Curaca (higher authority), Don Fidel Alvarado Do Santos.
The Puma chacruna grows in the rainforest, mainly on the edges of small jungle streams. The mother spirit of this plant appears in vision as either a giant, raging, all-powerful red-colored Puma (puma concolor), or as a giant black panther. It connects one with the earthly realm, with all living animals, plant teachers and master trees. Ayahuasca prepared with Puma chacruna delivers many more, more intense and much more powerful visions than the brew prepared with the conventional Chacruna (Psychotria viridis), or Chaliponga/Chagropanga (Diplopterys cabrerana). To find and harvest the Puma chacruna plant teacher in the wilderness it may be necessary to trek for a full day in the Amazon jungle.
Don Armando’s icaros are sang mostly in Quichua, or in a mixture of Quichua and Spanish. During the Ayahuasca ceremony he smokes two Mapacho (Nicotiana rustica/Nicotiana tabacum) cigars at once, to invoke and summon the genios (mother spirits) of the shamanic medicine, and the spirits of the Palos Maestros (master trees), inviting them to the ritual to share Ayahuasca with them.
The San Pedro
You may complement your Ayahuasca, healing diet, or shamanic plant dieta or apprenticeship retreat, with a San Pedro ceremony with Don Armando. Or else, for those who wish to do a more in-depth work with San Pedro, the legendary Cactus of the Four Winds, we also offer a full 8 days/7 nights San Pedro retreat with him (which includes 4 San Pedro, 2 Ayahuasca, 1 Camalonga and 1 smoked Toè ceremonies).
Please note that the traditional use of Coca leaves (whether fresh or dry) for shamanic, medicinal (including to treat/prevent altitude sickness) and religious rituals (including divination) is 100% legal in Peru. However, in most part of the Western hemisphere possession and use of the plant is restricted. Any other use of the Coca plant at the retreat other than for the performance of live shamanic rituals (for instance, when invoking the wisdom and healing powers of the plant), for the preparation of the Ayahuasca brew, and/or for the concentrated brew of master trees by the shaman, will not be contemplated and authorized.