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.