In July, I moved to the very special and wonderful Nevada City, CA in the High Sierras. It’s simply beautiful here with all the giant Sequoias and Oaks, scenic mountains and Yuba River. The town is also a great placed filled with all sorts of artists and musicians and people with an “open conscious”. It has turned out to be a perfect place to edit The Path of the Sun.
So, where am I at with the project?
This video clip is part of a collection of interviews conducted with shaman, mystics, academics and authors while filming the documentary The Path of the Sun. The film is about shamanism, ancient wisdom and sacred plants and tries to answer the question "what value does shamanism have for the global community in the 21st century?
During the filming of the movie 18 interviews were conducted. Given the time constraints of a feature length documentary less than 5% of the recorded 30+ hours of footage will be used in the film.
Given the wealth of knowledge found in these interviews, short 1-3 minute video clips that will not be used in the film will be displayed on this YouTube channel as bonus material in order to provide a historic record of the interviews.
On October 21st, 2013 at 1 pm I will be interviewed on KNCO by Talk Radio Hosts Tom Fizsimmons and Hollie Grimaldi Flores and on October 24th, 2013 at noon I will be interviewed on KVMR by Mikail Graham on his show The Other Side. The talks for each show will center around and upcomming Lecture I will be giving at Elixart in Nevada City on October 27th at 6pm regarding Medicinal Plants. The Lecture is entitled "Medicinal Miracle or Madness? Ayahuasca.
Ayahuasca is a sacred plant and brew. It’s medicinal and diagnostic effects have been utilized by Curanderos in over 72 Mestizo and indigenous groups throughout the Amazon. These “non-medical” healers work to relieve ones sickness, malady and soul with the sacred brew. Ayahuasca 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 working with the medicine. And, although drinking Ayahuasca is a class 1 felony in the US, it has also been used successfully to treat alcoholism and drug addiction.
I was recently interviewed by Lainie Liberti from the "unschooling" blog called Raising Miro on the Road Of Life. Lainie and her son Miro, now age fourteen, have been traveling through Central and South America for the last four years. They are currently living in Cusco and beginning to bring down other groups of "unschoolers" to visit and learn from life. Unschooling according to Wikipedia is
"an educational method and philosophy that rejects compulsory school as a primary means for learning. Unschoolers learn through their natural life experiences including play, game play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child. While courses may occasionally be taken, unschooling questions the usefulness of standard curricula, conventional grading methods, and other features of traditional schooling in maximizing the education of each unique child"
In the interview I talk about the progress of The Path of the Sun, the subject of shamanism, ancient knowledge and sacred plants, as well as my own personal transformative experience I have had on this journey to Peru to work and live with shaman and film a feature length documentary.
The Inca followed both solar and lunar cycles throughout the year. However, the cycle of the moon was of primary importance for both agricultural activities and the timing of festivals, which reflected in many cases celebrations surrounding animal husbandry, sowing seeds and harvesting of crops. Important festivals such as Qoyllor Riti (Resplendent Snow or Snow Star), perhaps the most important festival given its significance and meaning, are still celebrated on the full Moon.
This year on May 25th, 2013 tens of thousands of indigenous andinos will trek to the 16,000 ft. Sinakara Glacier surrounded by four important mountains or Apus (Ausangate, Hunacauri, Qanyaqway and Colquepunku) that the Inca and their present day descendents believe are sacred spirits, some from as far away as Bolivia, to celebrate the transition of time from the past world to the new world, which is the significance of the Qoyllor Riti festival.
This weekend I will be making a presentation in Pisaq, Peru about the ceremonial practice called a Despacho and linking the ritual practice to both the Sacred Geometry found within the Chakana and the Mandala.
A despacho is an offering.
It creates a “right” relationship between us and the spirit world on all three planes of existence through the practice of ayni.
Ayni is a reciprocal non-monetary system of exchange that enhances relationships between people, families and communities. It comes from a place of Munay or love and allows people to live in a balanced, harmonious and sustainable relationship with the people in their lives and the world around them on this plane as well as the plane of the spirit world.
Performing a Despacho ceremony is a unique way for us as humans to connect with the energy in the universe and the spirit world - including the Apus, Pachamama and and Awki - Nature Spirits.
When the seed is nourished properly it will grow and in this sense the despacho is a tool used to manifest what we would like to attract into our lives.
By expressing love and gratitude from the bottom of our hearts and offering food, sweets and other objects or symbols of importance, we are demonstrating in the strongest way our intentions of good will, love and understanding to the spirit world - this right relationship is the basis for creating harmony balance and sustainability within the Kausay Pacha (The entirety of all the life force energy in the universe)
I find it very easy to meet people when traveling abroad. Several weeks ago I decided to spend the day above Cusco at an Archaeological site called Q'enqo. While there I met a couple Bob and Doris. Bob is in business and may take a shot at a statewide senate seat and Doris is a PhD at Penn State. We decided to meet for dinner and they brought along a friend from Israel who has been traveling through Peru. She is the author of a very new blog about helping people raise money for travel through travel blogs. Galia asked if she could interview me about The Path of the Sun and the Q'ero. I agreed and the text below is the result of the interview. You can also read it on her blog at Money 2 Travel
M2M: Who are the qeros , what is a “despacho” ceremony and how is it relevant to us “westerns”?
Seti: 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'ero 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 maintain a harmonious, balanced and sustainable relationships with Mother Nature through a reciprocity based system of exchange called Ayni.
One of the ceremonies that the Q’ero perform is called a Despacho. There are hundreds of different types, but in the simplest terms they are offerings to Mother Nature who the Q’ero call Pachamama and the mountain spirits called Apus. Performing a despacho ceremony is similar to prayer and places an individual into an ayni based relationship with both the spirit world and the natural world. Ayni is a form of reciprocity, and by offering food, sweets and intentions prayers will be granted. One of the great differences of the Q’ero belief system is that one needs to be in a “right relationship” with our environment and that of the spirit world for life to function properly. To the Q’ero the earth and the mountains are living beings and in order for the system to work one must take care of oneself, the spirits and the planet. If one of those pieces is not nourished, then eventually life will not be able to be maintained.
We see in the west a system where natural resources are depleted and eventually they will run out. We can learn very clearly from the Q’ero that to maintain our place on the planet we need to give back to the Earth so we can also live in balance, harmony and sustainability with our environment.
Men's Journal recently ran a story entitled "The Dark Side of Ayahuasca" that tries to make the point that criminal activities related to "ayahuasca tourism" including robbery, rape and murder are common and on the increase in Peru. You can read the entire article here:
While it is true and very unfortunate that Kyle Nolan died at the Shimbre Ayahuasca Center and other travelers to Peru in search of shaman and drinking ayahuasca have been the victims of violent crime including robberies and rape, the incidence of these tragic stories are actually very small in number and with common sense, thorough research and recommendations from trusted individuals can be prevented. One only needs to search for crime statistics on the FBI's website to see that violent crime is more problematic in our own backyard….. http://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-releases-2011-crime-statistics
The author does state correctly that many people are coming to Peru and other countries where the Ayahuasca "brew" is legal in search of the myriad benefits offered by the sacred plant medicine. However, Kelly Hearn unfortunately takes a wrong turn in concluding incorrectly that " what many of them (ayahuasca tourists) find is a nightmare. " The reality is that the overwhelming majority of travelers numbering in the tens of thousands each year find exactly what they are looking for, and that is answers to their personal issues, healing old emotional wounds, cures for their disease and addictions, confronting and overcoming fears, enhanced and broader spiritual beliefs, expansion of their consciousness and improved personal outlook and relationships with others. The medicine works!
The Path of the sun is seeking $5,000 in financing through Kickstarter in order to raise funds for 100 film festival submissions.
The purpose of this Kickstarter campaign is to secure funds for film festival entry fee submissions.
Additional funding outside of Kickstarter is in place to purchase editing equipment, software and other needed expenses.
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.
On November 14th Seti Gershberg the filmmaker and creative force behind The Path of The Sun was interviewed on Planetary Consciousness Radio a program of Planeta 2013 Radio Web by Host Gerardo Said and Co-host Maria Clara Castaneda regarding the film and ideas and concepts pertaining to the shamanism of Q'eros and the Andean Cosmovision.
The interview is conducted in both english and spanish and begins at 84:30 (84 minutes and 30 seconds) on the attached player above. The file is also also available for download.
Just in time for the holiday season the Kickstarter campaign for the Path of the Sun has launched. If you are not familiar, Kickstarter is a crowd funding platform that has helped raise over $450 million dollars for creative projects. It's a really cool partnership program where creative projects get funded and the people who provide funds get rewarded. And, the way the system works there are multiple reward levels so anyone can choose a funding level that is comfortable for their wallet. The reward levels for The Path of The Sun start at $10 and include screen savers, photography, CD's, DVD's, photobooks, digital prints. And at the highest reward levels there are despachos (offerings to mother earth), divinations and private audiences with Q'eros shaman via Skype and there is even a reward that includes a trip to Peru to meet and live with the shaman that are the subject of the film.
I am happy to announce that I will be exhibiting 10 photos of Q'eros children at the Museo Del Arte Contemporaneo Del Cusco as part of a larger exhibit featuring paintings and digital prints by Peruvian artist Martha Morales Polar who's theme is children.
My exhibit is called Q'eros - Children In The Middle
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. Now, while still one of the most remote communities on earth, the Q'ero are integrating with the outside world. A number of communities have radio towers. The 3-meter wide dirt road from Paucartambo winds up through the steep rocky mountain landscape, across dozens of waterfalls during the rainy season and will reach Chua Chua an annex of Q'eros this year. Many of the Paqo's from the Q'eros nation teach their ritual, ceremony and spiritual heritage to westerners throughout the Cusco region - and to do so they use cell phones.
What does this integration mean for the children? With one foot in the past and the other in the future these children are exposed to two worlds. And with that exposure to western ways comes new forms of learning, different subjects and a rapidly changing landscape at home as the community develops. Western societies impact with indigenous cultures in the past has mostly lead to a deterioration of traditional ways, loss of language, ritual and community. Will Q'eros be any different?This exhibition of photos of Q'eros children in their home land were taken in 2011 and 2012 and attempts to visually demonstrate some of the contrasts between the Q'eros of the past and that of today.
Each limited edition print sells for between $80-$120 and they are approximately 10" x 8". Only 7 of each photo will be printed and sold. Each print will be signed and numbered.
The major premise of the documentary The Path of the Sun is that indigenous culture, shamanistic practice, wisdom and knowledge learned through 1,000's of years of human experience and observation as expressed through the ceremonial and ritualistic practices and belief has value to us in the 21st century.
Wade Davis, Ph.D. is an anthropologist, ethnobotanist and Explorer in Residence at The National Geographic. Wade's book "The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World" discusses this exact point through stories that come from indigenous culture that spans the world from Polynesia, to Australia to Africa, Nepal and the Andes. He tries to provide answers based on indigenous thought that tries to answer a fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive?
Amazon.com says of the book:
In Polynesia we set sail with navigators whose ancestors settled the Pacific ten centuries before Christ. In the Amazon we meet the descendants of a true Lost Civilization, the people of the Anaconda. In the Andes we discover that the Earth really is alive, while in the far reaches of Australia we experience Dreamtime, the all-embracing philosophy of the first humans to walk out of Africa. We then travel to Nepal, where we encounter a wisdom hero, a Bodhisattva, who emerges from forty-five years of Buddhist retreat and solitude. And finally we settle in Borneo, where the last rainforest nomads struggle to survive.
Davis says that " Understanding the lessons of this journey will be our mission for the next century. For at risk is the human legacy — a vast archive of knowledge and expertise, a catalogue of the imagination. Rediscovering a new appreciation for the diversity of the human spirit, as expressed by culture, is among the central challenges of our time."
And why is this preservation important? There are many academic or historical or archival reasons, but in fact the important point to remember is that these belief systems, ways of being, models of looking at reality, or ritual or ceremony contain knowledge and wisdom based on experience and observation for 1000's of years - and the essence of these lessons or ways of looking at lives or healing the ills of society are contained within and are pertinent and valuable to our lives in the 21st century.
If you are interested in learning more about the concept of the importance of shamanism in the modern world, please purchase Wade Davis' book The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World. All proceeds go towards helping the funding of the completion of The Path of the Sun documentary.
Technorati Tags: "The Path of the Sun", Africa, Andes, anthropology, Australia, ayahuasca, bodhisattva, Borneo, buddhism, buddhist, civilization, culture, ethnobotany, exploration, indigenous culture, medicinal plants, National Geographic, Nepal, Peru, Polynesia, Q'eros, rainforest, sacred plants, shaman, shamanism, tribes, Wade Davis, wisdom
This is what the editors at Typepad.com have to say about this blog:
WHY YOU'LL LOVE IT: The Path of the Sun is a compelling documentary film and blog by artist, anthropologist, photographer and filmmaker Seti Gershberg, exploring shamanism and whether the knowledge and wisdom of its practitioners can better our lives and enhance our well being. The blog itself is a fantastic resource, designed to be provide information on shaman, shamanistic practice, ritual and concepts as well as a source to follow the happenings of the film.
Q’eros: A Study in Survival is a paper written by Photographer and Filmmaker John Cohen. In 1957 John spent seven months in Peru studying the people and taking photographs. When John went to Q'eros he discovered that some of the elders still used the quipu, a system of accounting and language developed by the Inca for keeping records. In 1957 John was literally one of the first outsiders to enter Q'eros lands. At this time Q'eros was still under the Hacendado system in Peru where the country was divided amongst few families who controlled land and commerce. In this system the Q'eros and most indigenous cultures where forced to live under servitude and in the case of Q'eros under a long history of abuse. In 1979 John returned to Q'eros to film a documentary entitled Q'eros: The Shape of Survival and in 1990 he returned again to film another documentary about the Carnival Festival Carnival in Q'eros.
The 1957 paper Q'eros: a study in survival is published by Natural History Magazine
More information about the Qiupu system can be found in the the book The Mathematics of the Incas. All purchases of books on Amazon recommended by The Path of the Sun help fund the completion of the movie.
By Ronald Rivera (Philosopher and Ayahuasquero)
Icaro of Ronald Rivera --‐ First Stanza
The sacred medicine Ayahuasca
Knows how to heal us, knows how to treat us,
The sacred medicine Ayahuasca
It cures you, it cures me, it cures us
The sacred medicine Ayahuasca
It heals us, it elevates us...
Ayahuasca is a ritual medicine used by Amazon healers for thousands of years. It has medicinal benefits for the body and the mind, it allows the awakening of the existential sense and the development of the mystic self. Ayahuasca is always drunk in the context of a ritual medicine, to reaffirm convictions, to contact the mythical world, to acquire valour, to cultivate personal wisdom and to shed light on the future.
Etymologically, Ayahuasca is a Quechua word that signifies: Aya = death or spirit and Huasca = rope or vine. It is translated as: rope of the dead, vine of the soul, climbing plant of the souls or vine that brings us to the world of the gods. The etymological notion synchronizes perfectly with the concept of the enthneogenic plant, a term which some contemporary scholars of this theme use to refer to those substances that have the ability to bring God alive within oneself.
Closely linked to the notion of the Sacred Plant, is the concept of Ayahuasca as a Teacher Plant which, strictly speaking, is not an exaggeration or a superstition because the experience with Ayahuasca actually does produce a bounty of a personal wisdom. The extraordinary state of consciousness that Ayahuasca produces is a fount of revelation, inspiration and awareness. Ayahuasca creates an awakening of consciousness, a spiritual initiation, and an evolution or personal development.
Ayni is a traditional form of mutual help practiced by the descendants of the Inca and the indigenous peoples of Andes. It is a philosophy of reciprocity. In the Inca tradition ayni is practiced amongst its peoples with each other as well as with nature and the spiritual world. For example, within villages or communities men and women work together for the benefit of all. So, when it comes time to harvest a plot of land for a particular family, all families within the community come together to work the land. When two Paq'os (Shamans) meet, one will be determined to be more powerful than another. The one with more poower is then obligated to teach the other all he knows. In both examples there is a direct benefit that not only helps the individual, but also helps the community as a whole.
"To remain calm when everyone else loses his nerve is the greatest contribution you can make to others: to be cool headed when a storm is raging is to act like the channel through which the "Intij Inti" will cast it's rays of light, clearing away the blackest darkness" Chamalu
Intij Inti - means "Sun of Suns" in the Quechua language, one of two languages spoken by the descendants of the Inka, including the Q'ero. Aymara, is also spoken in the Andean region and pre-dates Quechua, and the Incan empire.
In the late 70's Juan Nuez Del Prado a young Anthropologist made a long journey to meet and film the Q'ero in the highlands of the Peruvian Andes. The Q'ero are the direct bloodline descendants of the Inkan High Priests and are one group of the Shamans I will be working with. This film provided the first glimpse of the true Inka lineage after 400 years of hiding. An attempt to film them in the past had failed, but Juan was able to gain their trust, film them, their villages, way of life and go the Q'ollority festival, a gathering of now around 70,000 people that happens on the full moon in May or June and was the most significant festival for the Inkas. This film will show you where I will be traveling and the people I will be traveling to meet.
Becase of my interest in Shamanism I am frequently asked to define it. In my experience there is no one type of Shamanism. Like Judaism, Christianity and Islam there are many types and forms. Shamanism is not considered a religion because its practitioners describe it more as a spiritual practice and it tends to be less dogmatic.
Wikipedia describes Shamanism the following way:
Shamanism is an anthropological term referencing a range of beliefs and practices regarding communication with the spiritual world. To quote Eliade: "A first definition of this complex phenomenon, and perhaps the least hazardous, will be: shamanism = technique of ecstasy." Shamanism encompasses the belief that shamans are intermediaries or messengers between the human world and the spirit worlds. Shamans are said to treat ailments/illness by mending the soul. Alleviating traumas affecting the soul/spirit restores the physical body of the individual to balance and wholeness. The shaman also enters supernatural realms or dimensions to obtain solutions to problems afflicting the community. Shamans may visit other worlds/dimensions to bring guidance to misguided souls and to ameliorate illnesses of the human soul caused by foreign elements. The shaman operates primarily within the spiritual world, which in turn affects the human world. The restoration of balance results in the elimination of the ailment.
The "Wayfarer" does not concern himself or herself with things not understood. There is no distress from past mistakes nor an allowance to be overcome by a fear for the future. The Wayfarer is not afraid of going wrong or striving or of not being understood. The Wayfarer understands that we are here to experiment, to learn and be permanently available for life. The Wayfarer knows that life is a sacred path; that to live is to move forward instead of standing on the side watching; and that the ony way to move on is to throw oneself fully into each experientail sequence that awaits.
The thoughts of Chamalu