Shamanic Traditions

Noya Rao - Palo Volador

Noya Rao is a “Master Plant,” and when completing a dieta with her, a student will be required to adhere to particular terms and conditions as determined by an experienced curandero and the master plant itself. These relationships can bring about profound transformations and the Dietas are best designed to facilitate them. An additional master plant to consider is Marosa.

One in a Million

There are only 5 known matured Noya Rao Trees (and one “baby”). We are very excited and deeply grateful to be able to offer access to these magnificent natural wonders. The trees glow in the moonlight and possess a unique energy and capacity for deep healing. 

Noya Rao - The Myths and Legends

Noya Rao, known in Spanish as “Palo Volador” or “The Flying Tree” is a mythical plant, of which there are only five known in the entire Amazon Basin. When shed, her leaves glow brightly in the dark, which is one reason why she is also known by those that seek her as “The Tree of Light.” In Shipibo culture, Noya translates as “Flying” and Rao to “Plant Spirit” which has given rise to the affectionate naming of her as “The Flying Plant Spirit.” This tree has been used in sacred ceremony by the Mahua Shipibo traditions for centuries and dieting on her bark is believed to be essential in the path towards becoming a healer.

This dieta is said to enhance one’s connection and relationships to the spirits indwelling in other sacred plants and to facilitate profound transformation in the individual. Dieting this great timber can lead to greater capacity for organised thought, mental clarity, activate one’s intuitive capacities and help to bring to light unconscious assumptions one may have about the world; in turn leading the dietero (a) to develop the courage necessary to abandon limiting beliefs and change their perceptions.

Being a master plant, when completing a dieta with her, a student will be required to adhere to particular terms and conditions as determined by an experienced curandero and the master plant itself. A Dieta, to refresh the reader’s memory is best defined as a series of dietary and behavioural regimes that allow one to move effectively and safely into working relationships with such [sacred] plants.

Noya Rao Dieta Guidelines

A dieta with her will often occur in total seclusion and under the expert guidance of a respected and experienced curandero. The student will be required, for the period of the dieta to abstain from the use of toothpaste, deodorant, insect repellent, soap and other personal care products unless they are made with 100% natural ingredients and are free of any scent or perfume. They will also be instructed to not have sex or masturbate and are forbidden to eat pork, oil, salt, chocolate, red meat, sugar and certain fruits such as papaya, watermelon and mango. 

They must also not drink caffeine or alcohol.

It’s important to note that the conditions for an individual’s dieta are highly particular to that individual and are not generally replicable. They are established by the plant spirit indwelling within the Master Plant together with an experienced curandero. Depending on the severity of the restrictions, a curandero may attempt to bargain with the plant spirit to reduce the length, duration or to ease the restrictions imposed on the student.

The purpose of completing a dieta with any Master Plant is for the student to slowly build a trusting, sincere and respectful relationship with what the Amazonian traditions believe are the plant spirits that dwell within. The ritual of the dieta also serves as an expression of determination and dedication to one’s spiritual, emotional and physical transformation. The dieta is therefore the practice necessary to make the mind more susceptible to the wisdom, knowledge and instruction provided to them by the plant teacher or spirit dwelling within a particular Master Plant.

The Shipibo peoples possess many stories that have led Noya Rao to acquire an unique mythical status in their culture. Shipibo elders Don Miguel and Maestra Juanita are the custodians of two such legends.

The Myth of Noya Rao As Told By Don Miguel

The setting for this legend is an ancient Shipibo village, to the north of the Ucayali river mouth, somewhere between Pucallpa and Iquitos.

One day while out walking, the chief of the village found a tall tree on the river’s edge and was mesmerised by the transformation he witnessed in both the nearby fish and birds that came into contact with it. The chief stood on the bank and watched as fish transformed into birds and flew out of sight and as birds, perched on the tree’s branches transformed into fish, diving deep below the surface of the water. After witnessing what he took to be a miraculous happening, he walked quietly back to his village. That night, the tree showed up in his dream and spoke to him. It said that if he used its bark medicinally, he too would be able to fly.

The following morning, guided by this vision, the chief went back to collect the tree’s bark as he was instructed to do. The chief made a special tincture from the bark and used it to encircle the village, drawing a subtle line in the earth around the entire camp. The chief then gathered his people and told them that for three consecutive nights nobody was allowed to leave the village, as they were to throw a huge celebration. On the first night of the celebration while everyone was drunk on Masato, the youngest son of the chief decided to run into the jungle alone, to find and play with the tree that this father had described. While the boy was playing beside the tree he felt strong vibrations in the earth but thought nothing of it. He continued to play and retuned home as the sun was rising. 

The celebration continued the next day and that night, the second night of the celebration, the young boy left again, alone, to visit and play beside the tree. The vibrations in the earth were stronger this time, but he continued to play until morning. On the third night of the celebration the chief’s son disappeared again but because the villagers were so intoxicated by Masato, not one of them noticed he was missing. During the night, the vibrations in the earth were stronger yet again. In the first hours of the morning, as the boy was returning quietly home, he saw from a distance that his entire village was being torn from the earth. 

Terrified, the boy broke into a run, in the direction of his home, but it was too late as the village was too high above the earth for him to reach. He screamed his father’s name like death but nobody could hear him as the celebrations continued unperturbed. The village continued to rise above the clouds and disappeared into the sky leaving the young boy alone on the ground below. Today that Shipibo village is still missing, and many believe that it has become a star in the night sky.

The Myth of Palo Volador As Told By Maestra Juanita

The setting for Maestra Juanita’s legend is a small Shipibo village to the north of the Ucayali river.

In this small, isolated village was a young boy who lived on his family’s farm together with his mother and brothers. On the river’s edge, there was a majestic tree, known to the villagers as Noya Rao. Many had witnessed fish who contacted the tree transform into birds and soar up and out of sight. The young boy used to disobey his mother and in order to avoid working the family’s farm he would run far into the jungle spend his days playing in the river water beside the tree.

One day, his mother became worried as the boy had not returned by dark. Days passed and the boy never returned. Despite desperate attempts to locate the boy, he was never found. His mother continued to call his name for years, and the village people came to believe that he too transformed into a beautiful bird and flew far away.

Upon listening to the stories recounted by the Shipipo elders, it is evident that this tree is understood as having the power to profoundly transform lives and communities, quite literally. Based on my own experience of undergoing a dieta with this profoundly mystical plant, I too have come to appreciate that palo volador possesses the unique means to affect meaningful change within us, for the better.

My Journey With Noya Rao - By Elio Guesa

On the day of my 33rd birthday, I encountered Noya Rao for the first time and on January 1st, 2017, I began a twelve-month dedicated Dieta with her.

For thousands of years the Shipibo curanderos have been connecting with and working medicinally with this tree. They have cultivated an enduring relationship with this spirit and some say that they have been receiving etheric chips from the spirit realm, which they implant into people during ceremony. These seeds are believed to inhabit the dietero(a) and continue to grow inside them for the duration of their natural life. The implanting of these etheric chips is the method the Shipibo people use to heal others and to initiate recipients into the healing profession.

One of the brothers of the family who I was staying and studying with at this time believed that he had a wife in the spirit realm and a child in the tribe of the Chaikuni people who also inhabit the spirit realm. He told me that his son would gather these etheric chips and send them down to him in the physical realm to use as needed. One day, this brother, a highly revered Shipibo curandero received a message that Palo Volador had returned to the human dimension. He wasted no time and that day embarked on a journey in search for the tree. Some days later, exhaling smoke out through his tobacco pipe, he discovered the tree, in all its majesty on his daughter’s land.

Whilst completing my Dieta with Noya Rao, I was visited both during our nightly Ayahuasca ceremonies and in my dreams, by bright, vivid, ethereal beings of light; unlike anything I had encountered before. This experience ended in me shaving off the dreadlocks that I had spent the last seven years of my life growing. This symbolic gesture felt like the perfect wearable emblem for the mysterious transformation I had experienced. After expressing my deepest gratitude, I buried my hair in the earth next to her.

I can’t say exactly how they did, but these beings helped me to discover what I’ve come to regard as ‘my true self.’ After these nightly encounters, the masks that I had been wearing in my relationships, and the roles that I had been playing, quickly dissolved and I entered a state of being that was (and is) the most authentic and fulfilling I have ever known.

Cutting off the dreadlocks during the Dieta.

Noya rao Retreat Haircut

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Noya Rao Icaro

Watch Don Miguel sing the Noya Rao Icaro underneath a beautiful Noya Rao tree in the jungles of Peru. During the song the spirit of the tree is called upon to provide guidance and protection.

Maestra Juanita singing to Noya Rao

Maestra Juana will be your facilitator for our Noya Rao silent retreat. Juana is 60 years old and was born into one of the most respected and powerful healing lineages of the Shipibo tradition. She has dedicated her life to the sacred healing traditions of her people and has been studying as Maestra for more than 30 years.


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Improvements, Pricing Changes, and What’s On The Horizon For AYA Healing Retreats

While living mindfully in the present, we are always excited for the future and we have much in store for the coming year. Among other upgrades to better serve our guests, we will be:

  • adding new staff at the center that offer even better cleaning and laundry services
  • increasing the breadth and depth of training undertaken by our facilitators
  • offering more in-depth one-on-one preparation sessions to all of our guests, in addition to integration sessions
  • purchasing a Kangen machine for healthy, alkaline, antioxidant drinking water rich in minerals and purged of impurities.
  • purchasing additional medical equipment and continued medical training of staff for the safety of all, both here and in our community

Part of our improvement plans include raising our prices starting in 2024 to support our continuing efforts in improving everything that we do. With that said, we will always do our best to keep our prices attainable and within reach for as many people as possible, and we will also offer the possibility of discounts in a few different ways:

  • Earlybird discounts when you book your retreat in advance
  • Deep discounts for return attendees
  • Deep discounts for residents of Central and South America

We will continue to provide payment plans for all of our retreats, please contact us at to discuss options.

We are committed to prioritizing the quality of our retreats, giving you the most personalized and authentic experience possible, and caring for the health, safety, comfort and well-being of everyone who comes to AYA Healing Retreats.


Don Miguel

Shipibo Curandero

AKA Senen Yoi - 'Speaking the Truth'

Don Miguel was born into a Shipibo community called Roaboya on the River Ucayali. When Don Miguel was a child, Angel Sanchez Vargas, his grandfather was the community’s curandero. Vargas was an expert in sacred plant medicines and was frequently called upon to heal and share his spiritual wisdom with members of Roaboya. The school built some years later was named after Vargas and Roaboya went on to be recognised as the first indigenous community 114 years ago. Don Miguel grew up surrounded by the Shipibo wisdom and possess intimate knowledge of the sacred plant medicines. At a very young age he began his apprenticeship as a curandero through plant dietas under the supportive guidance of his grandfather. Miguel is also a trained literature professor and thoroughly enjoys teaching the Shipibo language and culture. Since 2012, Don Miguel has spent the bulk of his time leading lectures, workshops, initiation courses and retreats. Don Miguel will lead our Ayahuasca ceremonies, circle discussions and be available for personal consultations whilst on retreat.


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Please remember that the purpose of this screening questionnaire is to determine whether plant medicine healing is suitable for you…not whether you are suitable for plant medicine healing. Plant medicines are tools, like any other healing modality and like other tools for healing experiencing them entails certain risks. We need to make sure that our plant medicines will not compromise your wellbeing or harm you in any way before we allow you to begin your healing journey with us. In short, we care about your safety and we need to do what we can to ensure that during your time with us you are not at risk of harm. Plant medicines can be dangerous if the plants are not the right fit for the individual. Your answers to this questionnaire will help us to determine whether the plants we intend to use are going to help, rather than harm you

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