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Don Marcial lives in San José, km 26 Pucallpa, and gives Ayahuasca ceremonies and runs medicine plant diets. He has dieted 105 different jungle plants during his life; his first diet was at the age of 12. He speaks Spanish, his own Shipibo language, plus three other indigenous languages.
Don Marcial gives Ayahuasca ceremonies in the traditional style. A dose of Ayahuasca medicine is given with prayers and tobacco smoke at about 9pm or 10pm at night, the lights are turned off, and everyone lies down to wait for the effect to start. Once the effect has started, don Marcial sings Icaros (medicine songs). These songs come directly from the plant spirits he has with him, according to the needs of the people in the ceremony. The effect of Ayahuasca varies from one ceremony to the next, but often it involves clearing emotional issues, sometimes physically by vomitting into a bucket, or seeing visions of the plant spirits which come to help, or visions of other things, or reaching understandings about life issues and so on. After about 4-5 hours the effect diminishes, and then it is possible to sleep until the morning.
Medicine plant diets can last from 12 days to 30 days or even more. In the diet, you eat food with no salt or sugar, usually rice and other cooked starchy vegetables (green bananas or potatoes or yuca root), plus a protein (eggs, white fish or chicken). Without salt or sugar, you soon become very sensitive. Due to the increased sensitivity, everything chemical or with smell is avoided: you wash without soap, brush your teeth without toothpaste, and so on. You spend your time quietly in one location (the dieting hut) with very little contact with other people during this period. One or more doses of a medicine plant extract are given during the diet. This state of increased sensitivity allows you to think and heal and learn from the medicine plant. The diet is also accompanied by Ayahuasca ceremonies. The number of ceremonies depends on the preference of the person undertaking the diet and on their needs during this time.
In don Marcial's style of working, he also monitors the condition of the person who is dieting during the night, remotely, and does healing work to open channels and aid the process of learning with the plant.
The medicine plant diet is ended by the reintroduction of salt and sugar into the diet, and over a couple of days the person dieting comes back to their normal state of being. Don Marcial also prepares the person for returning to eating other normal foods by singing the "Arcana", which protects the body from the possible shock of various different foods and external influences after the diet. This is important because the plants are very fussy about some food items, different for each plant, and this can cause problems otherwise.
In the traditional way of working that don Marcial's medicine is based on, the effect of the plants is understood as follows. Each medicine plant has both good and bad spirits. Within a medicine plant diet, the curandero invites the good spirits to take up residence within your body. These good spirits can then do their work of healing and helping you throughout your life from that point on. The bad spirits are not invited into the body, but are kept around the body as protection. Don Marcial explains this as follows: the bad plant spirits are like your dog. You do not eat with your dog, or sleep with your dog; instead your dog sleeps on the patio and keeps the house safe; this is what the bad spirits do. He also explains the good and bad plant spirits as follows: It is like a hospital. The good plant spirits are like the doctors and nurses, and the bad plant spirits are like the soldiers guarding the entrances to the hospital.
Once someone has dieted with a plant, they then have the good and bad spirits of that plant available to them. He explains that each plant has a whole world of spirits or beings associated with it. In Ayahuasca it is possible to visit that world and receive help from the spirits there. If the person is a curandero, like don Marcial, then these spirits also come to help when he is curing someone. Each plant also has its own songs (the Icaros), and these also come to those who have started to learn to sing.
It is important to note that according to don Marcial's approach, all medicine plants have these good and bad spirits. This also applies to medicine plants from other traditions than jungle traditions. It is possible to do a diet on other plants as well, for example in theory it would be possible to work this way with the Bach Flower Remedies, and meet those spirits and work with them using this same jungle-diet approach. Those who have previously worked strongly with plants for healing may already have these plant spirits available to them in their bodies.
It is also interesting that this form of medicine requires very little theory or mental understanding. Rather it is the plant spirits that do all the work, and the curandero does not have to mentally choose any plant to work with -- rather he allows the plant spirit to come (out of all the spirits that he knows) that is best suited to the healing work at hand.
Don Marcial can provide diets with very many different medicine plants, but he lists the following few which he suggests are good for a first diet:
Chiric Sanango (15 days)
Villacocaspi (15 days)
Toë (12 days)
Huarme Renaco (15 days)
Suelda con Suelda (15 days)
The following plants are also available, and diets with many others could also be arranged after discussion with the Maestro:
Remocaspi (12 days)
Cahuapuri (15 days)
Chuiachacicaspi (15 days)
Wairacaspi (30 days)
Shihuahuaco (60 days)
Uchu Sanango (15 days)
Shorter versions of some of these diets can be arranged in discussion with the Maestro. For greatest benefit it is suggested that you let Marcial select the plant for you to diet. There are now two dieting huts available (as of Oct-2011). Both are close to the village and both have electric power. Unfortunately the two huts out alongside virgin forest were burnt down due to a land dispute (now settled), but they might be rebuilt if someone wishes to help out with that.
Gabriel Lynch has posted some videos from his visit to don Marcial on YouTube. This is don Marcial singing out of ceremony, so it is nothing like as strong as when he sings in ceremony, but still, maybe it can give you an idea:
Don Marcial's charges are as follows:
Ayahuasca ceremony: S/100 (about $40)
12-day diet: S/1700 (about $660)
15-day diet: S/2000 (about $780)
The prices of the diets include all food during the diet, accomodation in the dieting hut, medicine and ceremonies. Bedding, mosquito net and hammock are provided. The dieting hut is well protected with anti-mosquito mesh. Other types or lengths of diet can be arranged with the Maestro. If you wish to stay longer after the diet, this is possible by paying the day-to-day costs -- see below. (Note that the prices quoted above are in Peruvian Soles, with an approximate conversion to US dollars.) I suggest you offer to pay some of the amount in advance (por delante). This lets them stock up on food, which means that Inocencia can concentrate on cooking your food instead of selling handicrafts or travelling to/from Pucallpa.
The kitchen charges are as follows, payable to Inocencia (Marcial's wife) or the guide:
|Plate of food, outside the diet: (Please request meat in advance.)||S/3 to S/6|
|Washing clothes, per kilo: (Also, you can do your own washing/drying yourself on site for free, and there is a good laundrette in Pucallpa at Calle Portillo 526 for use after the diet.)||S/5|
|Night's stay, per person, outside a diet or ceremony:||S/10|
|Long-term stay:||Discuss with Marcial and Inocencia|
|Shipibo handicrafts for sale:||Ask Inocencia|
|One-way or round-trip to/from Pucallpa in moto-taxi for 1-3 people (if available):||S/20|
|Guided visit to deep jungle, per day, excluding boat hire, fuel, food and other expenses:||S/100|
Note that these are pretty much local market rates. You can tip more if you wish.
Malaria. A quick note on Malaria (from Jim). Malaria has been almost completely eradicated in the Pucallpa region. Pucallpa has always been a lower-risk area anyway -- Peru's main malaria region is the far north-east. In addition, the village is not alongside deep jungle, and there is an active malaria eradication programme. Marcial says that there have been no cases in the village since 2010, and even before then there were only occasional cases. So you may choose not to take anti-malarial tablets with relative safety. I found malaria tablets to be pretty unpleasant, and they are incompatible with the "no-smells, no-chemicals" principle of the diet, so I have never taken any during my entire time in Peru: that is, during 8 or more jungle diets -- in Tarapoto, Puerto Maldonado and Pucallpa -- and during very many other jungle ceremonies. You will be bitten by mosquitos and the near-invisible sand flies, but I believe the malaria risk is low. However, the final decision and responsibility for your health have to be yours.
PLEASE NOTE: don Marcial will be travelling abroad from 3-Dec-2012 to 5-Jan-2013, but will be giving ceremonies and diets as normal after that date.
don Marcial Nunta Maynas
San José, km 26, Pucallpa, Peru
Peru 061 788754 (direct to house)
Peru 061 784420 (alternative house number)
Peru 943 102 733 (Marcial's mobile phone)
E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org (addresses of sons, checked weekly)
It is much better to phone if you are planning a visit rather than writing an E-mail. Calling to reconfirm the day before will also ensure that Marcial is at home ready to receive you. However they are flexible and can usually take care of people who turn up without warning.
To get to km26, go to the junction of Jr Libertad and Ucayali in Pucallpa, near the old cinema, a couple of blocks from the central plaza. You might find a colectivo taxi for km26 there (S/3.50 a seat as of Mar-2011), but more likely is to find the combi bus (S/2.50 a seat as of Oct-2011). If you prefer a colectivo, walk down Ucayali one or two blocks and you'll find taxis for km34 which can also drop you off (S/4 a seat). You want the 'first entrance' (primer entrada) of km26 if they ask. At km26, the village is very small, just two main streets joined in a loop, so it is not hard to find the house by asking. Some of the km26 taxi drivers know the house and will drop you off.
For people travelling from abroad, Pucallpa can be reached by a direct flight from Lima. Check lan.com or www.starperu.com for online booking.
If you visit don Marcial, please consider sending me your testimony or perspective on the experience to put up here.
As far as the ayahuasca and the diets go, I firmly believe Marcial is gifted and has a keen ability to connect his students with the spirits of the plants. I had some unbelievable experiences here, some of which included: the most intense aya journey of my life, seeing energy patterns of peoples bodies (I didn't think this was possible without years of diet), telepathy, feeling spirits and other entities, etc, etc.
The first diet was, according to Marcial, for cleaning me out. The first diet was with bijaco caaspi and a few other minor plants. The second diet was much different and more potent. The second was with Toe and chewajacki caaspi. Quite intense. I drank toe and chewajacki on alternating days for one week without ayahuasca. Then, the following Monday I drank one vasito of Ayahuasca and had a rather quick mareacion that lasted about 30 minutes or so. Then about an hour later the second mareacion hit me and it was so intense, Marcial had to help me come down a little bit. I will say that night was pretty amazing.
So all in all, I can say that Marcial is a great Maestro without bruhu and he does have a good ability to connect his students with the spirits of the plants.
Gabriel has also written a longer account of his experience, which I have put up HERE
I did a 10-day diet with maestro Marcial in April 2012. After the first day and the first Ayahuasca night, don Marcial told me that the plant spirit of Chiric Sanango decided to do this diet with me. Since 3 months before I had had a dream about Chiric Sanango and actually felt the symptoms during my dream, it came as no surprise that exactly this plant wanted to diet with me...
During my diet I took Chiric Sanango 3 times and I had 4 Ayahuasca ceremonies. The Ayahuasca was very, very strong and I had the most exciting, terrifying and beautiful mareaciónes in all 4 ayahuasca ceremonies. On the first ceremony the mareación was so mindblowing, that I couldn't bear it anymore. Marcial could see exactly were I was and how I felt and asked me if I could bear it and I said that it was too much for me. I felt that I would die or become irreversibly crazy forever... Anyway, Marcial started singing his really powerful icaros and blowing tobacco smoke into my head and into my chest and so he could fully control the degree and intensity of my mareación! It was incredible. He really had everything under control! His singing was so strong that I felt the earth shaking, maybe it was just the floor, but in the dimension I was in, it was really like an earthquake, and then it started raining, and as it seemed to me, he invoked the spirits of thunder and lightning and I actually saw several flashes of lightning around the maloca. I was really impressed!
The Chiric Sanango mareación was quite light, very subtle: I felt my mouth, hands and feet going a bit numb, then I felt very sleepy. The day after I always had like a light depression and felt very dizzy. On the 6th day of my diet I could physically feel someone touching my head several times, but there was no-one in the hut. The next day Marcial told me first thing in the morning, that Chiric Sanango put a crown on my head. I was amazed! Also at a certain point of the diet, I could enter the spiritual world without having taken any ayahuasca or chiric sanango. The mareación just came back. It was very impressive.
Anyway, Marcial is indeed a very strong and powerful shaman, though very humble, quiet and really kindhearted. I felt very safe and well guided during all my very intense experiences. What I perceived as being negative points during the diet were the following: sometimes quite noisy, music from the nearby village, rooster screaming, children playing etc., total lack of comfort (I had many coakroaches in the hut and twice there was a rat in the hut during the night, which almost scared me to death...:)), when it rained heavily, the whole yard was flooded, which meant walking barefoot through water and mud, even during the night to go to the toilet, being scared of snakes and other animals in the water etc., very poor toilet facilities etc. [Note: It sometimes floods in the rainy season of January-February, but this year's strong rains in April are unusual and even caused major problems downstream in Iquitos. --Jim] There was plenty of food during the diet, more that I could actually eat, but unfortunately every day the same food 3 times a day, like rice, eggs, tomatoes and cucumbers. I couldn't face it anymore...
For me the most important thing anyway was to be with a very skilled shaman and to be well guided during my diet and ceremonies, so Marcial was definitely the right man! He is far overqualified and his icaros are very healing. I'm a completely new person after the diet, I feel renewed, refreshed and much stronger!
I undertook a 15-day diet with Chiric Sanango with don Marcial. I took three doses of the plant on alternate days at the start of the diet. The first and third were quite mild, but the second was much stronger with the characteristic "mareación" of Chiric Sanango. After that point, the diet was relatively quiet, and I tried to work on myself and contact the plant spirits. It took a while for me to understand what was needed, because I am not so sensitive as the Shipibo, but in the end I was able to connect with Chiric Sanango and with the spirits of several other plants that I had dieted previously. In this time I was going through much confusion and clearing, in quite an internal sensitive space.
Towards the end of the diet I received a number of Ayahuasca ceremonies. Don Marcial would give the ceremonies, accompanied by his wife who would rest beside him giving support, but without taking a direct role in the ceremony. Each ceremony was very different from the next. In one I was working through a lot of internal questions very intensively. In another, don Marcial massaged some discomfort out of my belly region, which he later explained was a 'shock' I had given to the Came Renaco plant by eating something wrong after a previous diet I had done, and which was causing me to vomit every ceremony with Ayahuasca, more times than necessary. In another ceremony I had huge discomfort in my belly, which was relieved by going to the toilet. In all the ceremonies don Marcial would sing, and there was one ceremony in which I remember very clearly the power of the songs. He explained later that he was singing to help the plants take up residence in my body. In another he was singing me through all kinds of discomfort and pain, releasing that discomfort from my body. It was hard, but I am certain that it was worthwhile.
He also started to teach me to sing so that I could take Ayahuasca on my own if I wished, to work on myself, connecting to him for help should I need it. This is the start of a process that will obviously take time and practice.
For me, don Marcial has a huge amount of knowledge, but that knowledge is deeply buried within him. Consciously, on a mental level, he did not have the answers very much to hand, but with a little questioning, sometimes extremely lucid explanations would come which helped me a great deal. However, there is a lot which he simply does not know consciously, which just comes to him in the moment when it is needed: when he is healing or working with Ayahuasca. For that reason at times it could be frustrating trying to understand something from him, but really I think this is inevitable.
Also, there are very many curanderos out there with very little respect for foreigners, who will tell you any old nonsense that they think you want to hear (for example: "Oh, that will be your third eye opening"), because they know that in general foreigners really are not sensitive enough to know what is happening to them on the spiritual levels at which curanderos are accustomed to work. However, with don Marcial, whilst it was not always possible to immediately understand what he was explaining or saying, in the end I could trust that what he was describing was real for him in his vision, and that it was a valid and honest point of view. Trust is something hard to come by when there are so many curanderos out there so willing to lie.
The only downsides for me of the diet with don Marcial was that at times there would be a bit too much noise from nearby houses in the village, people playing music or whatever. Sometimes this would bother me, and sometimes not. One day there was some kind of political broadcast on someone's radio which was giving me a lot of trouble -- however, I had my CD player with me, so I could blot this out with my own music or other relaxing sounds. So, this is worth bearing in mind. There is electricity in the dieting hut, so power is not a problem. The other thing is keeping the communication channels open, because as a Shipibo, brought up with a completely different way of life, don Marcial cannot always guess correctly what a foreigner is needing or is accustomed to. To me, jungle life is incredibly noisy, with all kinds of interruptions and distractions -- to the extreme in the cities like Pucallpa. A few radios playing music probably seems like tranquility itself to people from here. Slowly I am becoming accustomed to all of this.
The other thing was that on arriving I was hoping for a much stronger mareación from the medicine, to have a really strong 'chemical journey' with the plant, if you like. In the end, it wasn't like that, but in adjusting to this different approach, I learnt a lot of things. So this was all positive in the end. My understanding and approach has certainly changed significantly on a number of issues during this diet, and this is what I was looking for, even if some of the answers were not what I'd hoped for!
--Jim [ See also my other pages on Ayahuasca and Jungle Diets 2005-2006 and 2011-2012 ]