Please support a film about shamanism, ancient wisdom and sacred plants
In the west our views about the world in which we live and the questions about our existence, in other words “our reality” are largely shaped by science and religion.
Many indigenous cultures, on the other hand, see their lives and understand their existence in a very different way. Their knowledge and belief systems are guided by experience and observation handed down orally over the ages. Many cultures also learn from plants. Their shaman ingest what they consider to be sacred plants such as ayahuasca, which allow them to travel into the spirit world in order to learn, grow, heal or be healed.
As we near the technological singularity why are non-western belief systems important to us in the twenty-first century?
The advancements to our society and culture stemming from the industrial revolution of the last century to the Internet explosion of today are clear. Yet, with all the knowledge we have gained we also tend to live in disharmony with our planet, other nations and within our own communities.
But what of the knowledge of indigenous cultures and the use of the sacred plant medicine ayahuasca – is there something for us to learn? Can their knowledge provide new insight? Can their wisdom enhance what we know? Is there a place for western style and indigenous knowledge systems to co-exist?
The Path of the Sun seeks to answer these questions by hearing the words, ideas, concepts and thoughts directly from two indigenous groups of shamanic practitioners: the Q’eros of the high Andes of Peru and the curanderos and ayahuasqueros of the Peruvian Amazon.
The Q’eros believe they are the direct bloodline descendants of the Inka. It was in the late 1950′s when a group of explorers headed by Anthropologist Oscar Nunez Del Prado went high up into the Andes to meet with the community for the first time. They found that many of the Q’eros lived at altitudes that exceeded 14,000 feet. Their homes were primitive stone huts, had dirt floors and grass thatched roofs. They claimed then and today that their shamanic ways are derived from the same practices of the Inka and tap into universal energy. This energy work is said to heal sickness, predict the future and manipulate their environment. Up until the middle of the 20th century, prior to frequent contact with the outside world they were able to live in harmony with Mother Nature through a reciprocity based system of exchange called Ayni.
Mestizo and Indigenous curanderos in the Amazon work to heal ones sickness, malady and soul with a sacred brew called Ayahuasca that is made from the vine Banesteriopsis Caapi and the Chacruna leaf Psychotria viridis containing one of the most powerful hallucinogens known to man DMT N-dimethyltryptamine. Ayahuasca is a powerful medicine that is said to be able to transport you to other worlds where one encounters spirits and intense visual images. Ultimately, the medicine works in a way that heals; from relieving stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders to in some reported cases curing physical ailments, illness and disease. Many practitioners and westerners that work with the brew also say that the medicine improves their lives and relationships as they are able to see things in a different way after drinking the brew. Ayahuasca has also been used successfully for decades to treat alcoholism and drug addiction.
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@ijesuschrist, darn, I keep forgetting to use the hash tag.
BTW, I know of one Q’eros that speaks castellano perfectly, the rest speak very broken spanish at best…
And, there is one Q’eros who speaks english – not too bad either. His name is Santos and his father is a shaman and his uncle is the President of Q’eros……
Guys I do not recommend that you use Salvia or San Pedro in the ways you are discussing.
First, I am a psychonaut. I have experimented with many substances from LSD to Ecstasy to Ketamine and many others. When I was young I used these substances for fun, they were cool and I was part of the counter-culture, an outsider. But what I learned over the years is that something was missing. For a variety of reasons the US war on drugs is exists. It’s goal is to keep teacher plants and other synthetic substances that have a medical benefit out of our reach. And in so doing, it has created the underground drug culture. But, what’s missing? THE SHAMAN. The guy with the knowledge. The teacher. The guide. The healer. The person who watches over you and allows you to be in a safe space to learn, grow, expand consciousness, create a relationship with the spirit world and heal. Therefore, I recommend that if you want to work with teacher plants, then do it in a traditional environment, with a shaman, or someone with experience.
This can easily be done in the US. There are thousands of people who participate. I am talking mainly about Ayahauasca, but you can find San Pedro practitioners as well. You also can also work with Peyote, but need an introduction into the Native American church.
Or, if you are afraid of the legal issues. Come to Peru. It is not only legal here, but it is considered Patrimonio Cultural – or a National Heritage by law.
Jersey girl (BTW I grew up in Bergan County) you will find that in the scientific world that there are 10′s of thousands of psychonauts, leading a double life of course. I did it, never got caught and made the decision last year when i started the film and left the corporate world, that I would come out as a psychonaut because of the low risk factor at this time of my life.
@ijesuschrist, this should answer your question. :)
If you could suggest some sources, I’d like something new-ish to learn over winter break. I think you can guess how I spend most of my time learning.
@seti, Doing it with a Shaman is the appropriate means, I agree.
I’ve been experimenting with them myself for a long time, however, and never “for fun”. Salvia divinorum with a shaman would be weird, though. Mescaline is such a forgiving drug, though, that even at decently strong doses, the introspective nature can be extremely rewarding.
I would err on the side caution with psilocybin, LSD, or ayahuasca, certainly. These are much more chaotic, more sporadic, and a teacher is or Shaman is encouraged. However, the two different trips are completely different, and can lead to dramatically different results. Although the Shaman can lead you certain places, to be completely lost (lol) is… something only one can experience by themselves!
Not always safe, but its something to behold.
But I know – a Shaman will tell you to never take the substances without another shaman. The one I was with was like “You did Ayahuasca alone? This is very not good” Made a gesture of slitting the throat… and I was really freaked out by that. He seemed so weird.
@whitefangk, what? Why not? Thats a really negative statement, do you care to elaborate?
@seti, Aren’t the Q’eros considered very highly catholic now? I went to cuzco and was surprised to see most of the indigenous celebrating “Corpus Christi”; chanting biblical things, and carrying around huge statues of Jesus and Mary.
I met one of the “Shamans” and he absolutely despised them, thought they were fools, and the whole celebration was stupid. He was extremely pessimistic about everything, which I could understand, but I assumed most shamans seem to rise above that type of petty attitude towards civilizations, in light of the greater scheme of things. He wasn’t having it, he also was very condescending to us, as we were Americans, but I could somewhat understand his views.
But really – that type of clothing (i.e. the Q’eros) and catholicism are almost synonymous in Cuzco… Do you have a comment for this?
@dalniente, sources? Yeah, peyote, psilocybin mushroom, salvia divinorum, you know.
I don’t have any sources. I’ve never read any books except “The Cosmic Serpent” which was lolz, I don’t recommend it. The only way you’re going to learn that stuff is to experience it. All the studying and reading in the world doesn’t really compare to 15 minutes of what the Shaman does. The veil gets lifted, and things become more clear.
Hence why films like this are important. We can’t just ‘extract’ that knowledge and put in a book, and write an equation for it. It must be experienced, and I would suppose, talking to any shaman for any good length of time would be quite the experience.
Sorry I keep bringing that up, but its relevant to the discussion lol.
@dalniente, I think you would get some interesting reactions, perhaps all of Phili and a bit of Jersey will be using that to say TY in a few years if you start the trend ;)
So, to your points….. Ancient wisdom is based on observation and experience. Sometimes this knowledge is learned over 100′s or 1,000′s of years. There is value in this. If it is known that a certain plant in the Amazon cures a certain fungus or another plant stops indigestion do I really need a scientist to run some tests to tell me the same thing? I’m not panning science, I just think science provides much value, but it tends to be rather arrogant. My point is that we need to listen to what others have to say. We don’t have to compare whether they are on equal ground. I wish I could remember where I saw a study that reported of several hundred plant species identified by healers in the Amazon to provide certain medical benefits, once studied in a laboratory nearly 100% did in fact provide the benefit stated by the shaman. How did they know that? Observation and experience. So what I’m getting at is, if we open our ears we can learn something, rather than dismissing indigenous ways because of a scientific social darwinistic attitude.
I don’t necessarily believe all that Kurzweil says, but hmmmm I think 70% of his prior predictions pre 2000 have come true. Not so bad. He will not be right on everything, but a lot of what he says may in fact become reality. Like mechanical devices running through our blood stream and hunting out and destroying disease – I think that is quite possible. the ability to download our consciousness onto the web in 2047, not so sure, but eventually, why not?
@seti, it was interesting to read to read what you had to say. I want to make it clear that I don’t have any intentions of doing anything crazy at first, or be completely without support. I’ve had salvia divinorum and San Pedro in mind for a while, but I don’t foresee taking much else anytime soon. I heard experiences from friends in New Mexico, and I know people up here who’ve taken them as well. That being said, would you have any additional advice for me?
As for spirituality, “Spinozist” would be accurate to describe many of my views. Honestly, I’m most interested in experiencing certain biochemical effects for myself. :)
@ijesuschrist, I know the Shaman Shop and Kush. Yes, the place is a tourist trap. Using shamanism in an exploitative way in my opinion is dubious. The same items that are sold in the shop can be purchased at other locations for much less. Offering Ayahuasca sessions every night at 6 pm. is not how traditional shamanism is practiced. That being said, Kush read coca leaves for me once and he was rather uncannily precise on a certain matter that goes beyond explanations. I am one who supports shamanism as it is practiced in a traditional setting in a non-exploitive way.
I am not surprised that many Mayans are Catholic, nor indigenous Peruvians. Both Mexico and Peru, and other Latin American countries have had 4-500 years of oppression, exploitation and slavery imposed on them from people’s who’s beliefs were catholic. That being said, my expertise is in Peru and I can talk specifically to the Andean Cosmology which, prior to the arrival of the spanish has a a core element to its spirituality that is a “complimentary dualism”. Where we see opposite in the west (man/woman, night/day, life/death) the Q’eros and other andinos see compliments. It is called Yanantin and Masantin in Quechua. So, the concept of Jesus and Maria, heaven and hell, good and evil and many other catholic artifacts that compose a dialectic can be embraced in a positive way. The Inca historically also embraced other beliefs that worked for them i a positive way. So the tendency for an andino to embrace another belief that works and incorporate it into their own mental modality works. That outlook I think is something that we can learn from in the West……
I don’t think “ancient wisdom” is necessarily special. It’s an appeal to authority. Granted, some of it is true, but a lot of it is also bull. I see nothing wrong with testing certain things though. Many things have an undeserved status.
If I were you, I’d also be aware of how I present the “singularity.” Proponents often confuse science fiction with reality.
@ijesuschrist, a trip (hey, that could imply a different meaning) sounds like it would be a fun learning experience. I’m also not really able to pack up and travel thousands of miles right now. :)
I’ve yet to try salvia divinorum (after finals?), but at least I live in NJ. You may remember from before that my involvement in healthcare (and hopes of entering a MD-PhD program) makes legality more of an issue for me.
@seti, we’ll see then!
People are arrogant, not science. Science is just a process. Overconfidence is a human flaw that gets us into trouble. Like we both said several times before, many “ancient” methods do work. For example, we isolated aspirin from willow. However, we need to sort the effective methods from the nonsense.
Our minds are riddled with biases, and we often tend to place too much importance on anecdotal evidence. Many effective bits of “wisdom” have stayed with us this long, but many things that seemed (or seem) to be “intuitive” or “common sense” turned out to be false and even dangerous.
I don’t to sound like I’m dismissing many of those beliefs entirely. I tried to make it clear that I want those things to be researched in well-conducted, controlled studies.
There are many misconceptions about nanotechnology. It’s much more likely that we will have specially designed chemicals in the near-ish future. Keep in mind that the scale nanotechnology is at is one billionth of a meter.
Sure, I’d love to respond.
While some Q’eros have converted to Catholicism, the majority practice their traditional spirituality. This includes offerings to Pachamama or mother earth, limpias which are energetic cleanings and karpays, which are initiation ceremonies – none of which are Catholic or Christian practices. In all of the ceremonies I have witnessed (100′s), I have never heard the name Jesus Christ, Maria, or any other “Christian” terminology. The closest ‘Christian like” phrase I have heard is Santa Terra Pachamama. They also do not cross themselves of have other ritualistic practices like genuflecting, eating the wafer, confession, and on and on, it’s just not practiced in their ceremonies, so I would definitely say that No – Q’eros and Catholicism ar not synonymous.
Many people in and around Cuzco are indigenous, but there are few Q’eros, maybe 30-40 or so living in the area…. Maybe – and that would include their families. So who you saw at the Chorpus Christie celebration I am not sure, but many Mestizo or Andean peoples have converted to Catholicism, my guess is that the people you saw at this celebration were probably not Q’eros, if they were Q’eros, it would be a very small minority. If you have some pictures I can tell by the clothing and textile patterns if they are Q’eros. It is not common to see Q’eros textiles in Cusco. You do see more of the hats that they wear, but they are tourist copies for the most part, if you know where to go you can get the real deal, but it’s not readily available. Their ponchos and woven cloth mantas are certainly not in most stores either. Like I said, send me some pics and I can comment further.
There are also many people in Cusco who claim to be shaman, who are not, they just look like they could be one and know they can make money by imitating shamanic practices, so they bad talk others. It’s a typical sign of a non-shaman or black witch (brujo) to bad mouth others. True shaman are about the light and would not do that, they are humble people.
BTW – the Q’eros are considered Patrimonio Cultural in Peru, by law, therefore they area cultural heritage. This status has been the source of much jealousy of the Q’eros community.
Hope that helps.
@dalniente, Salvia would probably be the last one to actually suggest. Yeah it will blow your mind, but you don’t learn much from it, except how far the mind can REALLY go… and really… really go. Salvia is pretty fucking weird man. It probably won’t enforce my points made thus far very much, other than you’ll definitely question your perceptions a bit more.
if you do it right. Most people don’t smoke salvia successfully and just “feel” funny and see things cartoonish. A real salvia trip blasts you into a child like dimension where you’ve completely forgotten that you took the drug, thus promoting “WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?” behavior. Plus, you may have no idea what your body is actually doing while high on salvia – I was trying to remove “people” from the inner membranes of reality… as I came out of the trip I realized I was clawing at a rock, fairly ferociously.
You can buy San Pedro legally, which has mescaline. . . Its much more forgiving, much happier, but with all its euphoria, can still be very profound – I would recommend this first.
Buying San pedro online is easy too, and you don’t have to go to sketchy head shops to buy it!
@dalniente, Oh, a book that has gotten good appraise (haven’t read) is DMT the spirit molecule, which basically covers the entheogen experience as a whole, but specifically with DMT – the active ingredient in ayahuasca, and arguably the most powerful/intense entheogen we know of. Not much to do with Shamanism, though.
I think holding Spinozism as your belief would probably ground you better for the experience as well, if not enforce it.
The most well know author on Mescaline is Carlos Castaneda, but his works are genuinely considered fiction (but I don’t think anyone knows). I would give those two a try, for they are all I can think of on the matter.
@dalniente, I hold the opinion that science is in fact arrogant. If a scientific study is not conducted then other non-scientific evidence is dismissed. To me that is a statement of superiority or arrogance. I would prefer a system that embraces anecdotal evidence and works it into the methodology. And, I’m happy you agree that you “want those things to be researched in well-conducted, controlled studies” To me that is listening to ancient wisdom.
Time will tell on the singularity, there are many amazing technologies being researched and developed. I am sure some will come to fruition. Some will fail, and others will surprise. I wanted a smart phone in 1995, but it took almost ten more years, and they are more than I ever hoped for. I think there will be many amazing technologies in all fields, but I also ask at what cost.
One piece of ancient wisdom that has been lost is the ability to live in balance with our environment. With all our technological savvy and knowledge we have not solved many of man’s basic needs. People go hungry, live in poor conditions, we pollute the environment (those iphones are toxic), so while we exceed in one area we fail miserably in others.
When the spanish arrived in Peru, they did not find poverty. Everyone had food, housing, education and a job, EVERYONE, and we are talking about an empire that included over 30 million people and was spread out over 2000 miles. So, how do we in the west with all our knowledge compare to an ancient wisdom on the basis of providing for the common good?
These are some of the ideas I am addressing in the film…..
@dalniente, IMHO knowledge that is known by few and unknown to many is special. I agree some of it works and some if it doesn’t. But isn’that the case of modern medicine? The point I try to make in the film is that we should listen to people who come from another perspective, and perhaps there is something here for us to learn.
Regarding the technological singularity – what do you refer to when you make the point that proponents confuse science fiction with reality? Can you give some examples?