Chairperson of IC’s Indigenous Advisory Committee, Jordão Souza, visited Google January 21, 2016 and gave this incredible talk about his personal journey to the Yawanawá Tribe, and his eventual participation in an intensive study with one of the great Pajés (shamans) of the Amazon. As the first person outside the tribe to embark on this “dieta” study, his profound insights provide a glimpse into the beauty and struggles of his historically significant spiritual evolution.
This is a report about a period of study, called a “dieta,” with one of the great Pajés (shamans) of the Western Amazon. The Pajé is Tatá from the Yawanawa, a tribe of about 800 people who settle near the Gregorio River in the state of Acre in Western Brazil. The Yawanawa have a rich culture and deep knowledge of entheogenic and medicinal plants. According to estimates from experts in ethnobotany at the Smithsonian about 95% of the plants used by the Yawanawa are not yet characterized. The dieta which extends over a period of twelve months involved moving to a small hut in the middle of the forest built for this purpose and beginning a strict dietary regimen of only drinking a manioc juice and eating a type of small fish. Prepared in this way, Jordão was introduced by Tatá to various forest medicines and their associated rituals as well as to songs, prayers, meditations and various healing techniques.
Jordão de Melo e Souza was born in 1993 in Rio de Janeiro. He is studying civil engineering at the PUC University in Rio. His areas of interest include sustainability in construction, management of forest resources and social inclusion in civili engineering. Jordão is a board member of the “Indigenous Celebration” NGO that is developing projects aimed at supporting the Yawanawa people. He is also involved in bringing up the infotainment park Topo da Mata in Rio de Janeiro. Jordão is the grandson of Padrinho Sebastião Mota de Melo, a known religious leader in the Santa Daime tradition. In 1985 his father Paulo Roberto Silva e Souza organized and led the scientific commission that convinced the Brazilian government to legalize ayahuasca for religious uses. This exposed him from early childhood to Amazonian shamanism and spirituality.