The Apprenticeship Program is a traditional training and initiatory process that one goes through in order to learn about oneself and to learn from, and work with, plants. It is therefore a process of self-mastery, initiation, and training to work as a Tabaquera.
Initiations were common practices in many cultures around the world. In our modern culture, we have gained and learned much. But one thing that has declined as an important part of an individual’s journey is the initiation rite. In many cultures, the initiation was given to adolescents
entering adulthood. It was a test and a rite of passage. It was a shedding away of the old self, the child, and a rebirth into one’s new role, the adult. This initiation process was also continued for a select group of individuals who either chose, or were chosen, to enter a special class, often the priestly cast, healers, or leaders. In order to do this a very strict and rigid process was undergone that challenged the initiate on all levels: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. These initiations ranged in time but often took place over the course of months and even years. Many initiations embody the archetypical process of death and rebirth. The old beliefs, traumas, ways of being, patterns, and visions are let go of or transformed and a new way of being emerges. This can be one death-like experience or a series of dying experiences. It’s said the journey of the curandero is a journey of many deaths. Much like an onion, each layer must die away to reveal what is closer and closer and to our true essence.
What is the Process?
In this initiatory process, we embark on the greatest journey. The journey of the Self. As was written at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, the foundation of all wisdom is, Know Thyself. Through a process of deep self-reflection and inquiry, we begin this process.
The apprenticeship program that we offer is based on the initiatory process that we ourselves went through in the Mamancunawa lineage. It combines this process with all that we have learned outside of this tradition as well. It is the process that allows one to earn the title of Tabaquero, a curandero specializing in tobacco and trees. The initiatory process is long, arduous, and involves a considerable time in isolation, fasting from food and other stimuli, and drinking very strong plant concoctions.
Isolation is a time-honored tradition in many cultures as an initiatory rite in and of itself. By isolating oneself from the outside world, and all stimuli, one is forced to be solely with oneself and one’s mind. This can present many challenges. Boredom, depression, anxiety, fears, loss of control, and many other things can arise. Truly we begin to observe our minds, the nature of the mind, and how it works. With nothing to do, no one to speak with, and nothing to distract ourselves, we are forced to go within and to observe the self. We begin a process of self-inquiry and begin to learn how the mind works. We also begin to still the mind and in doing so, we begin to become more sensitive to all of life. We begin to hear and see and smell in a different way. We become aware and sensitive to subtle things that were always present but we had overlooked due to outside forces and stimuli.
Fasting is the second part of this initiatory rite. Fasting has, as well, been used by many traditions around the world. Fasting is a fantastic way to heal the body just by itself. As we begin to restrict food, the body can shift resources away from breaking down food and begin to allocate those resources to repairing the body. As we begin to abstain from food, our body begins to have cravings. This initially can be very difficult as we are not used to being without food. As we continue our bodies can become very weak due to lack of food. But in this weakened state our sensitivity is greatly increased. It’s often said that when the body is very weak, the spirit is very high. Many of us may know this if we think about when we are sick, for example, if we get the flu. Our bodies stop craving food, we fast, and our bodies go into a healing modality. Often in that state, even though we are weak, there is an openness and ease with our minds. Thoughts may begin to flow, we become reflective, and we feel a certain sensitivity and awareness of the present moment. By taking minimal to no food, and ingesting only the plant we are dieting, we develop a strong connection to that plant as that plant is our only food. The plant is the only thing we are with for the duration of the diet, other than ourselves. The plant is usually mixed with tobacco as well, as tobacco is a great regulator, teacher, and is considered food for spirits.
When we ingest these strong plants we are first looking to clean and clear the system. This often involves a great deal of purging. These trees and tobacco all have very strong qualities of cleansing the blood, the gastrointestinal tract, and various organs where it is said we carry much of our sickness. As we begin to clear ourselves on the physical level, we also begin to clear and open ourselves on an energetic level. Things begin to move and flow as they were designed to do, much like when we were children. If we are familiar with Traditional Chinese Medicine, the meridians are opened and the Qi can flow. As the body is cleansed and harmony and movement begin to happen, then it is important that the body/mind/spirit are fortified. Many of the trees provide strength and protection so that as we enter into this new state, we are strong, grounded, clear, and protected from what life may send our way. It isn’t that we are invincible or stagnant, but that we are anew and have new-found tools to be able to navigate life in a new way.
Through this apprenticeship process, we are taught by the plants we diet about ourselves, about the nature of the world, and the world of plants. We are given tools to use and new ways of being. We are also instructed in this process by our maestros, our human teachers, on how to undertake this journey. The curandero/maestro is there with us each step of the journey. He or she cannot walk the journey for us. This, each initiate must do himself, but the maestro holds the space and guides the initiate through each part of the process. This includes holding the space, preparing the remedies, helping the initiate to understand what is arising within them, helping to interpret, and teaching them the tools to do the work. Tools that are taught in this process are how to work with tobacco and trees, how to make and prepare remedies, how to soplar with tobacco (energetically cleansing), how to make perfumes, how to sing icaros, how to give diets, how to work with a chacapa (a bundle of leaves used for cleaning), how to make and work with a pipe, how to make and work with plant baths, how to cleanse spaces, how to prepare various body and organ cleanses, and how to make remedies for various common ailments.
Also through the process, the maestro is teaching the disciple through presence and experience as well. The way of being, the energetic field, and the energy and power of the maestro can, as well, be passed onto the disciple. There’s a transfer of knowledge, tools, way of being, vibration, and vision. There is a synchronization of the work and energies from the maestro to the student. The maestro is present both physically and energetically for the disciple throughout the process. And in between diets the maestro is available for questions and for integrative work.
How Long is the Process?
In the tradition in which we work, one normally starts off by dieting tobacco. Tobacco is seen as one of a handful of master plants that has the ability to teach about the Self and to teach how to become a doctor (curandero). Tobacco is very useful as the first diet because it works on all levels. It cleans and clears. It opens us up. And then it begin to fortify and to protect. It leaves us clean, open, strong, clear, grounded, insightful, and with protection.
From there one begins to diet trees. There are a number of trees that are considered allies – trees that teach us and are able to aid us in this path of curanderismo. Trees are also seen as the bridge between heaven and earth. They root into the earth and reach towards the heavens. Each tree is selected by the maestro and given to the student based upon what the maestro sees will be most beneficial to the student at that time. Twelve trees are dieted in total. Once the initiate has dieted twelve different trees, she has had sufficient training to move into the final phase of the
In the final phase, one returns to tobacco. This final dieta is called the maestria, or the master teacher diet. This is the diet that officially aligns all of the trees that one has dieted. It’s also where the initiate drinks a large quantity of tobacco that allows him or her to fully embody the new role they are stepping into. While this may seem daunting, by doing all of the previous diets, the initiate is ready for the final initiation.
Each diet usually last seven days. This may seem long to some and short to others. Some diets can be extended to two weeks if the initiate wishes to go deeper into one diet. It’s important to remember that these diets tend to be shorter than some other traditional diets because the process is more intense. The length of time dieted with a plant depends on the maestro and how intense the process is. Usually longer diets are less physically intense but can be challenging given the length of time in isolation. There is usually much more food given as well as the body needs food for longer periods of time. And the plant is usually ingested at more spaced-out intervals. With these diets, in the seven days, usually food is abstained from and only juice is given twice a day. In addition the plant is taken every day during the diet, often invoking a strong physical and mental purge and a very deep process.
Who is the Apprenticeship Program For?
Really anyone who is looking to better understand themselves can greatly benefit from the Apprenticeship Program. Many who have done the program are not interested in working with plants at all. People from all walks of life have come to diet in order to heal themselves, learn about themselves, and strengthen their connection to themselves and to the world around them.
Some may come for one diet and have such a transformational experience that they end up staying through the whole process. Many have been opened to other ways of looking and viewing the world. And many people begin to incorporate aspects of these teachings into their own work. These could be as psychologists, massage therapists, counselors, teachers, energy workers, healers, coaches, really anyone. The program has the ability to deepen whatever it is that interests you.
And if you are interested in working with plants and potentially one day holding space with plants, then the Apprenticeship Program is ideally suited to you. Through the process, we learn to work with tobacco and trees and to continue in this lineage. It is a potent process and the sky is really the limit in how deep one wishes to take themselves and to learn. And this program can work as an amazing base for people who already work with other plants or would like to work with other plants such as ayahuasca, San Pedro (huachuma), coca, etc.
Time and Cost
Each diet is seven days. There are fourteen diets in total ( 1 tobacco + 12 trees + 1 tobacco maestria). Some diets can be extended to two weeks. So the minimum amount of time would be about 20 weeks even if one did all the diets back to back as a few days need to be taken between diets to integrate and recuperate the body. Some people will do the diets straight but its much more common that people do them in chunks of time. A diet here, a diet there. Or perhaps three or four diets in a row, then a break of a few months, and again another three or four; a process like this. The costs of the Apprenticeship Program is the same as doing diets individually. There is no extra cost for the additional teaching. When you say that you would like to begin on the program that is when we begin the extra process of teaching all of the additional tools. If someone commits to and pays for the entire process all at once we can offer a substantial discount as well.
The Apprenticeship Program is a difficult journey. It’s often said in many shamanic cultures that the path of the shaman is a path of suffering. Through the initiation, the student must go through a long process of isolation, deprivation, cleaning, purging, self-inquiry, and then rebuilding. This is a very challenging process. It is the archetypical Hero’s Journey. The greatest journey we can take,the journey within. But through this dying away of what is old, we can be reborn into what is possible. We can begin to see our own potential and the magic and beauty of what life has for us. We can begin to see that life is happening for us, not to us. We are no longer prisoners of our stories, but creators of our destinies and lovers of what is. Our dream space and our sensitivity to this world is opened. Through going inward we shed the old self and begin a journey into our path of wisdom and power. For those who are willing and feel drawn to embark upon this path, it can be the single most rewarding decision of our lives.
For more information contact me through the website, with the links below or in person via WhatsApp, Signal or Telegram +51931154425