Indigenous cultures prioritize fasting before medicine work (plants, frog, sweats, etc.) for a good reason. When fasted, the body is believed to be more receptive to the ceremony since it’s not working on digesting other things. Also, many of these ceremonial practices involve purging in the form of vomiting, so the less you have in your stomach, the more easeful that process will be.
There is a time and place for fasting, and the indigenous wisdom here is the guide.
I’ve witnessed a distorted translation of fasting, or dieta, in modern society ~ in our tendency to take things to extremes (more is better) we have subtly infused our healing work with the idea that the less we eat, the more spiritual we become.
This is a false premise. If you’ve ever traveled to work with plant medicines in indigenous settings, you’ll likely have seen that after a diet or ceremony, there is a feast including animal protein, dairy, and other nutrient-dense foods. And while there may be some rules for a continued dieta for specific plant work, after the healing work is complete, indigenous people return to their diet of meat, rice, beans, salt, and fat, eating three solid meals daily.
I’ve witnessed a tendency to skip the ‘re-nourishment’ phase post ceremony work ~ the focus stays on lighter, less nutrient-dense foods, fasting for breakfast or only drinking cacao, ‘not feeling hungry’ and sometimes continuing to work with plant medicines in micro or macro doses in place of eating food.
Working with plant medicines depletes our minerals.
Our delicate hormonal system depends on minerals.
Staying up all night is taxing on our adrenals.
Purging leads to loss of electrolytes.
When we hyper-focus on cleansing and ceremony work without proper nourishment, our physiological system will adapt to survive. We can become airy, and flighty, memory dulls, we feel a lack of clear direction, and there can be a tendency to withdraw from life. This state has been confused with someone being “spiritual,” but the truth is, their body cannot create enough energy to be fully engaged in life.
And too often, instead of integrating the ceremonial work into the body, we feel less connected after the high wears off and feel we need more medicine - which, in my opinion, is actually our body grasping for nutrients. This continues to deplete us, and the cycle continues.
When we know how to nourish our cells and selves properly before, during & after plant medicine work, we can actually integrate the lessons into our daily lives by resting, putting things in action, and feeling nourished & contented in our lives as they are. We are balanced in our care for our physical bodies along with our psychospiritual work.
In a way, this premise is accurate, the less you eat, the more connected to your spirit you DO become because your body is shutting down capacity and your spirit starts to go back home. But didn’t we come to BE in our bodies? Didn’t we come here to enact big change, do the deep healing, and embody our spirit fully into these meat suits?