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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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?
@ijesuschrist, I’m very interested in the human brain, but studying how certain chemicals affect it just isn’t enough. That being said, I won’t put my future at risk (although there are legal substances to choose from), and I need to get over some of the insecurities I have about the long history of schizophrenia on my mother’s side of the family. I think that led to a reluctance of “letting go” mentally. My friends say that I just need to get laid, even though even up to a few months I just wasn’t interested. There is someone I’m interested in now, so maybe I should just get it over with and see what cocktail nature will throw my way, lol.
So yeah, loosening up would probably be good for me.
@ijesuschrist, I would like to read more about its history and experiences people have had, but from what I’ve looked into so far it seems questionable. The documentary as well. What research has been done in animals is interesting, but by no means is it conclusive. At least there’s more weight to it than how I’ve seen quantum mechanics bastardized. I also haven’t read the book or watched all of the film, so I can’t properly judge them now. I’ll be critical of any scientific claims, but I will look more into your suggestions for people’s experiences. That’s what I wanted anyway, so thank you.
I don’t think I ever asked you before: how would you describe your spiritual beliefs? “Spirituality” is a fuzzy word though, since everyone seems to have their own meaning.
@seti, “have had 4-500 years of oppression, exploitation and slavery imposed on them from people’s who’s beliefs were catholic.”
You know I never really even realized this, that their ancestors probably had to become catholic, or faced death / torture. Makes more sense this way.
I really would love to support / see your film – kind of ironic though… but no way around that. Can’t make a movie from sticks and stones!
@dalniente, man… your FEAR of schizophrenia is the only thing that would lead to the schizophrenia. This is like the 7th time I’ve said this; Stop doing it to yourself. You’re afraid of fear, the fear of losing control in schizophrenia. An admirable fear, but fear none-the-less. If you stopped fearing this, you’d be fine.
yes, loosen the fudge up. Mescaline wouldn’t be something that would push you to schizophrenia, habitual drug use, being lazy, unambitious, and genuinely unaware would lead to schizophrenia.
And you really think that somehow someone would find out you were taking mescaline, and your whole future would be destroyed? That’s so unrealistic and improbable. How do you even suppose that would happen? Hell I knew a guy up in Toronto studying Clinical Therapies, finishing getting his Doctorate, did mushrooms and peyote every couple months.
Insanely improbable that it would put your future at any real risk…
@dalniente, My beliefs are dynamic. I’m constantly changing. I am rooted in science, determinism, and the belief that consciousness is rooted in the physical.
But I cannot explain these experiences, I could, but they are so mind blowing, and the feelings and epiphanies, it leaves so many questions, and few answers. How can just a simple molecule make me imagine the future, see the past, act on the present, view all things from multiple perspectives, all with such coherence and understanding? It could be explained physically, but after you (or if you) partake in something like a full blown DMT / Ayahuasca experience, no explanation will truly satisfy you that only pertains to the physical realm… or at least, without any “God” characteristic to it.
@seti, scientists are supposed to be open to new evidence. I said that we often put TOO much importance on anecdotal evidence. That’s not to say those claims shouldn’t be tested, there are just many reasons to question them. So, yes, controlled studies should be done, but it should be noted that some claims are not falsifiable.
As for the singularity, of course it’s possible. I have little doubt that we will make great technological strides if we don’t kill ourselves first. The problem many people fuss over is this: when will the singularity happen, and how? Some get it into their heads that they can predict the future with questionable methods that often lead to questionable results, or conveniently overlook the current state of certain technologies (and how they could be limited in the future).
I’ve seriously considered cryonics, but I’m also aware of its limitations (for example, freezing can cause irreversible tissue damage). Like I said before, my issue is really with people who hold many of the things we talked about as fact. Despite my criticisms, I’m involved in some related online communities. For example:
I’ll admit that I’m not an expert of the Incas. However, my understanding is that they still had a very stratified society. Some civilizations were ahead much of Europe (much of the Muslim world was a beacon of light at times) before they were basically annihilated, such as the Aztecs with their educational system.
Could you provide references? I’m not denying that many civilizations were quite advanced in certain ways, but we often over-romanticize the past and have limited reliable evidence to see how life really was for the common people.
Our actions have had many harmful, unintended consequences that should be reversed. We’re also capable of much more damage on a much larger scale. I think the damage some civilizations inflicted on the environment in the past is often underestimated, but many cultures also had religious beliefs that helped to form a kind of respect for nature (but by no means was that perfect).
With or without “ancient wisdom,” I think it’s safe to say that our survival depends on the planet we live on. Most of the environmental effects are driven by our modern lifestyle, so we should strive to minimize those effects with more efficient sources of energy,
@seti, Here is a picture I took of my friend when in Cuzco (look at us tourists!):
I’ll wait for your response to talk further… There was something else that the Shaman was saying that was odd.
Do the Q’ero’s speak predominantly in Spanish, or another tongue?
@ijesuschrist, I wasn’t talking about legal substances! (“Although there are legal substances to choose from.”)
Much of my fear of developing her illness has subsided, but what has remained is how rigid I can be about being “in control” of my own faculties. That’s what I really need to get over.
@seti, The shaman I went to see was from a place called “The Shaman Shop” in Cuzco – a bit of a tourist trap, but the guy I went to see was undoubtedly a Shaman, he lived up on the… Eastern? Hill? Near the ruins – a place called Monkey Cave I think, and some other carved out ruins, from some of the earlier people that moved to Machu Pichu.
Anyway, if you know about the Shaman shop I’d be interested too.
It just seems very odd down there, especially with what I’ve heard of the Mayans – they are extremely catholic, but still have Shamanism, its kind of like they do the whole Catholicism for the “What if?” factor – as if its more important that shamanism cause of “Hell”.
And it kind of resembled that way with some people in Cuzco, however the Shaman I met himself (REALLY WISH I SPOKE SPANISH!) was not having anything to do with the Corpus Christi.
I also visited another Shaman, out of chance, not intended, who had pictures of Mary and Jesus all over and wore a cross on his neck. Its very conflicting, to be honest. But I trust the people you are naming are a bit more, unconflicting.
And by the way I am not trying to grill you or challenge you in any way, I just feel like you would be the person to clear up these questions of mine! I Fully support your film, but I literally am at a point where I will not make it to next month on my $ right now – at some point I will need to be asking for money from some people… :\
@dalniente, Thanks for your comments, I’m not disagreeing with anything you have stated above, I think we have come to some good common ground.
Yes, the Inca society was stratified, and work was obligatory. It was rather socialistic as well. I’m still a student of their society and trying to find out more about it. A good first book on the Inca is Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, who was of Inca royalty and spanish blood. He was highly educated and provides many first hand accounts of the Inca.
It was written a long time ago so it is in the public domain and Google books has been kind enough to host it….
Here’s a link: