My short bio: Seti Gershberg is an Anthropologist, Filmmaker and student of shamanism. He spent two years in Peru visiting remote areas, studying the mystical practices of the Q'ero and as an ayahuasquero with curanderos in the Amazon. His new documentary film series The Path of the Sun features two movies : Q'ero Mystics of Peru and Ayahuasca Nature's Greatest Gift - both films explore how shamanism and it's practices including the use of ayahausca as a healing medicine can change our lives for the better. Ore about the films can be found at www.thepathofthesun.com

My Proof: https://twitter.com/THEPATHOFTHESUN/status/506465092247244800 and https://www.facebook.com/sgchicago

Comments: 168 • Responses: 79  • Date: 

SetiFX12 karma

Has anyone worked with the Q'ero or with Ayahausca? What are your thoughts?

Quetzlcoatl20141 karma

I work with the Q'ero through the Munay-Ki rites and have had frequent contact with them since 2012. They have even guided me in the astral to address family shadow work. All of this despite the fact that I have never set foot in Peru nor met a single Q'ero paqo in person.

SetiFX4 karma

Did you know that the Munay Ki rites are not part of the Q'ero tradition?

Quetzlcoatl20142 karma

Yes. And I had reservations about proceeding with this stream for that very reason. The teachings that I will receive this year and into next will be from the Q'ero tradition, in Peru. Nevertheless, it speaks highly of the Q'ero spirit guides that they see the heart's true intention and desire regardless of ceremonial origin.

SetiFX3 karma

I agree with you on that comment. There is value in the application of the "spirit of the practice" in newer ceremonial practices. My experience with the Q'ero was one of their traditional practice, at least what remains. Many of their traditions have been forgotten or lost. Who will you be working with when you go to Peru?

Quetzlcoatl20141 karma

We have seen them, and spoken with them in sacred space. But we don't yet know their names. They are expecting us is all I can honestly tell you. It has been our experience that nothing of their tradition has been lost. The karpay that are available to native and non-native alike are the ones we are ready for. I can't tell you how much relief and excitement this awareness brings to me personally.

SetiFX5 karma

That is wonderful and I am happy for you. They are beautiful people with a beautiful tradition, but it is sad but true that much has been lost. What remains is very important and beneficial, but they even admit that the old sages new much more, and the fact that there really are no Altumisayuq's living means that there knowledge is not part of the tradition. If people tell you there are Altumisayuq's or that they are one - take it with a grain of salt.

Quetzlcoatl20140 karma

The knowledge shared that I refer to is not from this dimensional expression. My personal experience with the Q'ero has been exclusively non-ordinary, for lack of a better way to express it. And by this I do not mean inner planes guidance. When our light quotient crosses a certain threshold, after for example transmuting hucha as you referred to earlier, new (old) karpays may become available to the paqos.

SetiFX1 karma

Yes, I agree that a person can self develop or interact with the supernatural to relearn lost practices.

horizontalcracker8 karma

Anthroplogy is often intention neutral but your research seems to have a 'cause' behind it that is more than just providing education for others to make their on decisions. What made you decide to take this approach?

SetiFX10 karma

Great question - I took a subjective approach - like that of Carlos Castaneda. I do not believe one can be neutral. Like in physics if their is an scientist with an observation it will affect the outcome of the experiment - this is true for anthropologists as well. I wanted to tell the truth as I see it, but present what I would consider to be a fair and balanced presentation.

Andrei_Vlasov8 karma

  • Do you see all this just with a Scientific look, or do you believe in some part in what people you study also believe?.

  • And like an Anthropologist, do you know any culture or tribe in the past that doesn't have any religious notion or beliefs?

SetiFX7 karma

I believe in both science and the supernatural. I was first a student of shamanism prior to deciding on making a film about the topic.

There are many indigenous groups that I would consider not to have a religion, but where the West has touched these groups there have been attempts by religious organizations that send missionaries to change these beliefs -0 what you see in many cases is the mix of both. This is certainly true of the Q'ero where you can see some Christian practices in their work and lives.

hpcisco79652 karma

I believe in both science and the supernatural.

Can you elaborate on this? Do you believe, for example, that supernatural phenomena are things that, in theory, science will be able to explain at some point in the future? Or do you believe that supernatural phenomena are outside the realm of scientific explanation?

SetiFX12 karma

I believe at some point science and the mystical merge. I don't see why science would not be able to observe the mystical at some point along our evolutionary path.

hepatosplenomegaly-8 karma

When we can observe and explain a phenomenon scientifically it is no longer supernatural. You can go into the jungle and trip on hallucinogenic juice but don't try to make it more than that.

SetiFX3 karma

If you are saying that ayahausca does not produce a mystical or supernatural experience, as a scientist, please prove that.

SetiFX7 karma

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organicjavelin6 karma

Have you researched the folks in Oregon that use ayahausca as a christian ritual? (Santo Daime i think).

Was there any use of smoked DMT, or any opinions of it among the tribes?

SetiFX7 karma

I am familiar with Santo Daime and other 'syncretic"religions like Unioa do Vegetal that use ayahuasca as an entheogenic sacrament. I have not however participated in any of these types of religious organizations that use medicinal plants. I personally have had a number of spiritual or religious experiences while working with the medicine - so in my mind - there is a connection. I know working within the church has helped many. Dr. Maggi Qunilan who worte her PHD dissertaion on Ayahuasca had a patient that had Bulemia and after 7 weeks of working with Santo Daime -- she was cured. To me that is pretty powerful. Whether the result was due to the medicine alone or with the combination form Santo Daime is a question.

SetiFX6 karma

I am not a fan of smokeable DMT. First, to make it is dangerous and the chemical leftover is toxic - most smokeable DMT is made by people who cannot dispose of this toxic waste and simply toss it into the environment. Secondly, ayahuasca, the brew has an effect that is different healing component that is different than the smoke which I find solely works on opening ones consciousness, but doe not offer the healing benefits of the medicine. from the smoke.

hpcisco79655 karma

Where does funding for a film like this come from? Grants? Loans? What happens once the fund is released - how do you distribute it? Do you mainly focus on academic audiences or do you shoot for a wider appeal?

SetiFX4 karma

I funded this film out of my savings plus about $6,000 from kickstarter. I did receive a grant but my advocate on their board unfortunately passed away and the then the remaining members decided to grant the money to another cause. I am distributing the film VOD (video on Demand) through a website and via film festivals. I am also talking to organizations that can put together community screenings in different cities and festivals. The idea is to work as an independent alongside the Hollywood distribution network, but not be exclusive to it. Times are changing.

hpcisco79652 karma

Thanks for the response, that's really interesting - good luck! How much did the film cost to make?

SetiFX4 karma

It was a three year endeavor. I had to pay for travel to Peru and within Peru. I lived there for two years. I also traveled back once to do interviews in Philadelphia and Chicago. I purchased about $4k in camera gear. The Kickstarter funded an editing suite, and I have been back in the US for 14 months. I worked some this year to raise some extra money, but mostly I edited the films (1500 hours) so I had to cover all my expenses. It is not inexpensive to do a project like this. The next time though I will use OPM (other people's money) - I think finding a patron would be key.

UsedToHaveKarma3 karma

  1. What challenges/support (if any) did you get on this topic and subject from your academic community?
  2. What are some related shamanistic/entheogenic practices from other contexts?
  3. Is there a particular linguistic/rhetorical invocation practice for the mystical experience in the communities you studied? Would you describe it? Thanks!

SetiFX6 karma

I am not affiliated with a University, but I did go back to the head of my Anthro. Dept. and spoke with my former advisor who was now the dean - strangely - he wanted no part of the project and was of very little help. I also approached a filmmaker who had taken footage of the Q'ero in the early 80's and he also was of little help. However, those were the only two real challenges in the academic field. I received a lot of help from authors and other academics. It was a matter of networking and connecting to the right people.

SetiFX5 karma

The Q'ero speak Quechua, but there is some spanish that is mixed in. I heard "Santa Terra Pachamama" a lot in ceremonies, and the use of the term "sainted earth" in latin obviously comes from exposure to Catholicism. The invocations are different depending on the ceremony or ritual, but they all involve calling/invoking mountain spirits, pachamama (cosmic mother), and nature spirits. In many cases the Q'ero perform rituals as dualistic complementary pairs ands one calls the mountain spirits and the other works with pachamama. The rituals also always involve the use of a "mesa" or bundle of sacred objects and the manipulation of energy forces. For example, a ritual called Hucha Meekwi invloves the ingestion of heavy dense energy called Hoocha which people create and accumulate through personal interaction and replacing it with divine high vabrational light refined energy called sami.

SetiFX2 karma

I am not affiliated with a University, but I did go back to the head of my Anthro. Dept. and spoke with my former advisor who was now the dean - strangely - he wanted no part of the project and was of very little help. I also approached a filmmaker who had taken footage of the Q'ero in the early 80's and he also was of little help. However, those were the only two real challenges in the academic field. I received a lot of help from authors and other academics. It was a matter of networking and connecting to the right people.

SetiFX1 karma

Can you rephrase question 2 I am not sure what you are asking?

ajarndaniel3 karma

Hi there. Is it reasonably easy to find trustworthy shamans in Latin America? How much does "ayahuasca tourism" attract con-men and charlatans to the trade and spirit of shamanism?

SetiFX3 karma

Yes, you can find reputable shaman if you go about looking for them in a reasonable way. It would be a good idea however to get many referrals and not simply go along with someone you met on the street. The aya tourism boom has created an environment where charlatans take advantage of people every day. if you go to Iquitos or Pucallpa people will approach you in the airport. Taxi drivers will ask you on the way to your hotel. Don't go with them. Seek out westerners that have lived in the jungle and ask them. Ask people for recommendations on the many Ayahausca pages on Facebook. Ask experts who thy work with - they are all on Facebook as well. Talk to people who visited the shaman in the past and have been to their center.

ajarndaniel1 karma

Thanks for the response. I hope to get to Latin America in the not too distant.

SetiFX3 karma

I would love to return myself, perhaps even guide a group.

FraklinGangstaTurtle3 karma

Is Ayahausca safe and if it is, have you experienced anything profound, mystical or frightening whilst under its influence?

SetiFX12 karma

Working with Ayahausca that contains solely the two main ingredients, which is the Banesteriopsis Caapi (ayahuasca) vine and the leaves of Psychotria viridis (chacruna) is completely safe. In fact there is overwhelming evidence it is actually beneficial for the body and brain. Seratonin levels afterwards re increased for example. It is not safe if the shaman adds Toe, which is part of the Brugmansia family or a nightshade - this substance at low levels is toxix as it contains scopalamine - this can be deadly. The other concern is the environment - where you take it and with who. I know of a gal who traveled two days to work with a particular shaman who has a great reputation, but she stepped into the river and was bitten by a sting ray - she had to travel two days back to Cusco, and they did not have the skills there to properly treat her foot - so she had to be med evacuated to Italy where she was from for treatment - she almost lost her foot.

SetiFX8 karma

Yes, I experiences many profound things through ayahuasca that has dramatically changed me for the better - I had two particularly spiritual/mystical/religious experiences, the others were beneficial in many ways in that the brew allows you to see yourself through a new lens, and as Dr. Dennis McKenna says in the film, the brew is a disruptor and can change the path of synapses and helps them to re-align in new ways.

SetiFX6 karma

I have also had frightening experiences. Sometimes ayahausca is not ez. However it is cathartic. My difficult experiences in the end were the best in terms of healing and change. It is not a "party" experience.

fncvlns3 karma

Were you assisted with camera or microphone work by any of the Q'ero people?

SetiFX4 karma

I did not have the Q'ero film or record. I would love however to bring used camcorders to them and teach them - this is a concept that I have been kicking around for a while - I think it would be terrific to train high school aged kids how to use cameras and then go out and record their elders.

Quetzlcoatl20142 karma

There was a group called amazon voice.org that did that very thing. They launched a kickstarter campaign and raised all the funds necessary to shoot "Kantza" with the Shuar. Sadly, the project came to abrupt end due to unsavoury intermediaries involved in-country. Still, it's worth checking out the trailer - the Shuar took to the media tools with remarkable, some would say unprecedented, ingenuity. Btw, there's a group here in Canada called Wapikoni mobile that brings this idea to remote communities year-round, with stellar results for all concerned.

SetiFX2 karma

I have a friend that runs an organization that has built the first HS in Q'eros. I have talked with her and other educators about my idea, and I think it would work well. The first step would be to acquire a bunch of used camcorders. i spent enough time in Peru and have enough connections that I am not concerned about unsavory intermediaries as I can go directly through the Q'ero leadership.

Quetzlcoatl20142 karma

I'd be very interested in helping to fund that idea.

SetiFX2 karma

That's great! Let's get in touch offline and talk about it. You can connect with my via FB https://www.facebook.com/sgchicago send me a message and we can pursue this.

SetiFX1 karma

Here is the organization https://www.facebook.com/willkayachay

BoxRadish3 karma

Thanks for doing this, Seti. A few questions for you:

  1. What do you think of Benny Shannon's Antipodes of the Mind?
  2. Do you anticipate that the increased acceptance of hallucinogens in our culture will have any particular effects on our largest social institutions, like religious organizations, political groups or the government? How?
  3. This is really far out, but I've read about Amazonian people describing an experience in which they're "kidnapped" by spirits of some kind, and this starts them along the path toward shamanism. Some observers have related this with alien abduction experiences, particularly because some Ayahuasca inspired art depicts things similar to flying saucers. Could you please comment on this?

SetiFX5 karma

We are at a critical point in history where psychedelics are getting a second look. Whether this is permanent or not is in question. There are many challenges. Power structures as entities do not like being challenged and psychedelics will change people in ways that will challenge the core ideas and concepts of the power structure. Second, big pharma cannot now patent a plant, so they will not want to bring products to market because they will not be seen as profitable. That being said, if a tipping point is reached than it is inevitable that psychedelics will become more and more important to our daily lives. in the end, nothing but good can come out of it and if the collective consciousness wants it, then it will happen.

SetiFX2 karma

Thanks for your questions.

I have not yet read Antipodes, so I cannot comment on it. What I will say is that it is high on my reading list and I am looking forward to reading it soon. I have r=heard and read good things about it. What I will say on the subject though is that I am student of Joseph Campbell (Power of Myth, The Hero with 1000 Faces). I believe that what JC describes as the Monomyth characterizes the ayahausca experience and that everyone needs to be the hero of their own story. In this way, ayahausca provides healing as it helps you along the journey and to complete it in a way that is positive and corrective of meanderings off the path.

josedasneves2 karma

I thought Shannon's antipodes of the mind was a very legit attempt at formalizing a vocabulary for the phenomenological experience of ayahuasca.

SetiFX2 karma

I look forward to reading it - there are many good reviews and others have recommended it.

SetiFX2 karma

I was kidnapped by prankster spirits and was part of an alien abduction. I was able to outmaneuver the pranksters and learn how to remove myself from their grasp - this was a great learning experience in how to journey and music was a key component in my escaping from their clutches. The alien abduction was not a bad in any way. They were simply observing and not interested in harm. At least this was my impression.

itseemstoberaining2 karma

Do you believe those aliens and spirits are real, and not 'simply' a product of your mind on extremely powerful psychedelic drugs?

SetiFX3 karma

I believe it was a mystical experience in a supernatural realm. Part of me is skeptical, but that's how I was taught over my life - to be analytical - to look for evidence - for facts. But when dealing in these realms there is no way to determine fact - it is a matter of faith. Some shaman argue that in our current state we are actually in a dream and the spiritual realms are real. What do you think?

Honeydippedsalmon2 karma

Have you thought about going on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast?

SetiFX4 karma

Thanks and yes, in fact someone suggested it earlier. I have tweeted and FB'd Joe without a response, perhaps if people like yourself suggest me I may be able to get on his radar - I would love to be a guest on his show. I have been on several podcasts and radio talk shows, but the last interview was in november at KVMR Nevada City, CA.

organicjavelin2 karma

What do you think of Rick Strassman's research on this subject?

SetiFX5 karma

Rick's work was very important in that it got the ball rolling in the right direction for more research. I think personally, the experience was not what he wanted. But, it has certainly led to many eyeballs and opened a gateway for people to continue along the path. Right now studies on psychedelcs are getting renewed attention. Dr. Rolland Griffiths at John's Hopkins for example wis working with MDMA and psilocybin and seeing good results. More studies are under way and I credit DMT The Spirit Molecule and Rick's work as causal in bringing out this new research.

organicjavelin1 karma

As a followup, do you think the setting and procedure or ritual has a significant impact on the experience? Or is it more of an enhancement or subtle kind of thing?

SetiFX6 karma

Yes, I think the ceremony, ritual and shaman/guide are very important to the experience and is something I enjoy and look forward too. Is it absolutely necessary - probably not, but there are good reasons for it. First, ayahuasca can be a difficult experience - and sometimes in the extreme - I would not want to be on my own when having an intense journey. Having a shaman there who has experience can help you through the difficult parts, calm you down and guide you to a peaceful state. Preparing for the ritual sets the intention and this also plays into the experience. The shaman can also interpret things that you have seen and can help internalize the experience after it is over.

organicjavelin1 karma

Thanks for your answers :)

SetiFX2 karma

You are welcome - what else would you like to know?

skadandy2 karma

[deleted]

SetiFX3 karma

My first experience was very intense and life changing. it was not ez. I was uncomfortable physically and ti is was difficult emotionally given the visions I had. I also was very nauseous and did purge. it was in no way fun, but it was very cathartic. It helped me face some things I had internalized over my life. it cleared out baggage and allowed me to grow as a person. It helped me overcome negative patterns that damaged me - but I was unaware. I am very thankful for the experience and would welcome other similar ones. That may sound counter intuitive, but I believe nothing worthwhile comes ez and it is only through difficulties that we can overcome obstacles. What part of Peru are you from?

AKAM80theWolff2 karma

You wouldnt happen to know where one might find some mimosa hostilis root bark? Acacia confusa perhaps?

SetiFX2 karma

I would say either Bouncing Bear Botanicals of I am Shaman.....

Habbekratz2 karma

I have read that there are a lot of unexperienced shamans out there, especially in Peru because of the rise in Ayahuasca tourism.

These messages are kinda holding me back from going to an Ayahuasca retreat for now.

What are your thoughts/experiences about this?

SetiFX2 karma

The answer is yes, there are not only a lot of inexperienced shaman in Peru and other S. Am. countries but there are many charlatans who are not shaman and only want your money. They look like shaman, but they are not. That being said, you should not hold back if you are called, what you should do though, is conduct thorough research before you go, understand and be prepared for Amazonian travel, when you do go, and have many referrals from reputable people before you even talk with a shaman. The large majority of the tens of thousands of people who go to Peru for an ayahausca experience have a good experience, but lack of preparation or having a naive attitude or going unprepared can be a serious issue. You can contact me offline for more information on how to get started in your research.

Quetzlcoatl20142 karma

Namaste Seti, Simon G Powell was recently interviewed about entheogens, specifically psilocybin, and in the interview he made a remark about how it compared, for him, with his experience of Ayahuasca. He reported that Ayahuasca brought him to the same "plane" as psilocybin and that he saw little experiential difference between the two. He admitted to having taken Ayahuasca only once and that in wasn't in situ. Can you speak to context, and more importantly how the burgeoning field of Ayahuasca ceremony is potentially at risk from non-traditional, non-ceremonial consumption? http://www.plantconsciousness.com/speakers.html

SetiFX2 karma

In answer to your second question I do believe the ceremony is potentially at risk due to the fact that there are many players in the aya tourism world. That being said, there are 72 groups in the Amazon that use ayahausca and they all have varying traditions. The Shipibo for example traditionally did not offer ayahuasca to patients, the shaman would work with ayahausca to determine the patient's illness and recommend a remedy. However, Mestizo's do allow their patients to drink ayahausca themselves and this is what westerners want, so the Shipibos who now work with westerners allow them to drink. This is direct example a a practice that has changed. Is this a bad thing? That is another question. I think the medicine can heal on it's own, but it is better to be taken with who I would call a guide. Does it have to be in a traditional context to work. I don't think so. I think the healing properties are apparent in many ceremonial contexts, but having an experienced guide to help the journey IMHO is important. it is also important for follow up. In my experience the benefits of ayahuasca are long term but not necessarily permanent. For example, addicts may need a combination of ayahausca, therapy and regular follow up to relieve them of the addiction.

SetiFX1 karma

Great questions - thank you:

I personally find the experience on mushrooms to be very different from ayahuasca. I did not for example go to the same realms. I do believe that there are benefits to both as psychedelics have incredible potential to deal with a variety of disorders, however my focus has been on the study of ayahuasca so I am more able to talk about it in depth.

fncvlns2 karma

How much contact do the Q'ero have with modern technology? Do they tend to stay in their village, or how frequently do they travel to larger cities?

SetiFX7 karma

The overall population of the Q'ero is not very big. There are probably less than 4,000 of them in total, and some would argue there are less than 1,000 as the new Q'ero Nation was formed of 5 communites over the last 30 years and 4 of them were not necessarily the Q'ero we think of from Hatun Q'eros. That being said they now have a level of contact that involves technology. There is now also a growing Q;ero community in Cusco and those that have homes there have some modern appliances including cell phones and computers. I chat on FB for example with several Q'ero on a regular basis - although they tend to be of the younger generation. Q'eros itself is very primitive. There is no electricity, therefore no lights, no stoves, no heat, no plumbing. But I helped to bring a radio tower to Chua Chua two years ago - several villages now have these towers so they can effectively communicate throughout South America. One of the issue is migration and with migration comes an interaction with other cultures. Since our culture uses technology - they want it it. I did have the privilege of showing several Q'ero the footage of the Apollo missions - it blew their mind.

intronert2 karma

Did you talk to any of the locals from the same towns who were skeptical of the local shamans?

SetiFX2 karma

The only people that are skeptical are people who follow the beleifs of religious organizations that have a stake in converting the local indigenous peoples to their own beliefs. The Catholic Church, the Mormons, the 7th Day Adventists - etc. have all sent missionaries to Peru and elsewhere in S. Am. The message they bring is in direct conflict with the shamanic practices and unfortunately destructive to these beautiful cultures. What you find is that many of the shaman begin to syncretize these Christian practices into the traditional belief structures. This is true with the Q'ero to varying degrees and Mestizo Shaman. The people where there is more skepticism are the Brujos or witches - these are not shaman but practitioners of the dark arts - and it is not really even a skepticism rather a fear.

Quetzlcoatl20142 karma

Michael Harner has made it quite plain in his writings that an alternate to entheogens can be found in the drum. Of course this is relevant to the shamanic path, rather than a specifically therapeutic one. Have you experienced anything comparable to Ayahuasca through traditional drum trance techniques?

SetiFX2 karma

Trance can be achieved with entheogens, drumming, dance or meditation. The Sun Dance for example can bring people to a trance state. So yes, entheogens are not necessary to shamanic practice, but trance is. This is why many people do not refer to the Q'ero as shaman, as they do not enter trance for healing or ceremony. This is why I titled my film about the Q'ero, Q'ero Mystics of Peru. They are more mystical in that they work with nature spirits and energy. Most ayahuasquero's sing and use a rattle or shake leaves (shakapa), but do not use drumming, with the exception of Ronald Rivera who I interview - he uses the drum - but most others do not. The key is reaching the trance state, not the method of reaching it.

Quetzlcoatl20142 karma

Could you not argue that high altitude living, coca leaf ingestion and frequent ceremony are comparable to trance? But to get back to the first question, have you personally experienced anything comparable to Ayahuasca without the use of entheogens?

SetiFX2 karma

I would not argue that high altitude, coca leaf ingestion and ceremony would qualify as trance. It is not an ordinary state, but it is also not an entheogenic or trance state. After participating in well over 100 ceremonies with the Q'ero, in and around Cusco, the sacred valley and in a number of very unique situations in Q'eros itself i have never personally observed a Q'ero Paqo in a trance state. In answer to your other question I have not personally experienced a trance state without an entheogen, but I have also not tried to experience it in this way. I do believe fully that if I danced at ceremony for 24 hours during a non ordinary state could be reached - is it exactly like an entheogenic experience? I could not answer that. How about you? What has been your method?

Quetzlcoatl20142 karma

Shamanic drumming, ceremonial music, meditation, fasting, even tantric practices. I plan on travelling with the amazonian plant spirits soon, but my initial motivation is less therapeutic, rather more like a ceremony of gratitude, a pilgrimage of sorts to thank her for being among us and to find out what she intends to offer us next. The plant kingdom is undergoing a massive transformation, much like we are, their abilities are augmenting. Have you been to a powwow before Seti?

SetiFX2 karma

Gratitude and thanks are very therapeutic actions! I have been to ineepee and medicine ceremonies with the Lakota on a number of occasions, but not a large scale pow wow. I would love the experience though.

fncvlns2 karma

I'm somewhat confused by this statement. The fourth sentence indicates that the Q'ero do not enter trance for healing or ceremony, but the last sentence seems to imply that they do enter a trance state. Could you clarify?

SetiFX2 karma

Sorry for not be clear. Let me clarify. The Q'ero do not have any practice that I am aware that bring on a trance state. They do not work with entheogens and they do not have other methods that propel a practitioner into a trance in order to heal. The last sentence was a personal reference to me, not about the Q'ero. it has been observed around the world in shamanic communities trance can be achieved through dance - typically after a an extended period of time - after many many hours - I have no disagreement with this research, but do not know whether the experience is similar to that of taking an entheogen. Does that help?.

willfish3r1 karma

Have you ever crossed paths with Graham Hancock?

SetiFX1 karma

Yes I have. He and I have been in contact and I believe he will be providing a review of both of my films.

willfish3r1 karma

Are your films available online or to purchase anywhere?

SetiFX1 karma

Yes, you can buy them online at www.thepathofthesun.com

I posted some coupon codes earlier that provide discounts off some of the packages they are:

TPOTS50 is 50% off the Super Deluxe Package REDDIT33 is 33% Off The Path of the Sun Deluxe package

Quetzlcoatl20141 karma

"God wanted to hide his secrets in a secure place. 'Would I put them on the moon?' He reflected. 'But then, one day human beings could get there, and it could be that those who would arrive there would not be worthy of the secret knowledge. Or perhaps I should hide them in the depths of the ocean,' God entertained another possibility. But, again, for the same reasons, he dismissed it. Then the solution occurred to Him— 'I shall put my secrets in the inner sanctum of man's own mind. Then only those who really deserve it will be able to get to it.' A tale recounted to the author by an ice-cream vendor in the Peruvian Amazon" — Benny Shanon

A rather fitting hiding place wouldn't you say Seti?

SetiFX1 karma

I would agree and I love the quote. Thank for sharing!

channelph1 karma

What equipment did you use? How do the Q'ero compare to the first nation?

SetiFX1 karma

I wanted to travel light so i designed a kit that would fit into a medium sized kata camera bag. The kit included a Nikon D7000 and a Canon HFS200. The first camera was for b-roll and the canon was for interviews. Both shoot 24p HD. I have three very good lenses for the Nikon and a small Sennheiser shotgun mic. Then I carried a professional grade Gorrilla Pod tripod with a nice Manfrotto fluid head. Filters were a must given the varying weather conditions.

SetiFX1 karma

The Q'ero are like the first nation in that they beleive in an interconnection with the spirit world based on a natural perspective - the sun is a god, the moon, the ocean, the wind etc. are all spiritual beings. Other than that I think the first nations have many many many differing traditions, and the Q'ero practice would be different.

pinkberrry1 karma

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SetiFX3 karma

In a way - I did experience a sense of past lives on several journeys, but they were fleeting. I cannot say I spoke directly to an ancestor, but was overwhelmed by seeing myself in other persons in what appeared to be personal prior life events. I also experienced a sense of early genetic formation that was serpentine and ancient - like I am now made up of energy that existed in a life form that was prehistoric.

ClassicJenny1 karma

Do you have any recommendations for how much you should work with this? I know people who have only done it once, and others who have done a week long retreat with daily ceremonies. Is there a higher benefit doing it for a week or multiple days?

When I lived in Costa Rica I heard about many retreats and Shamans, but I've also been told to go to Peru for the "real deal". Any advice on this? Thanks for the AMA!

SetiFX1 karma

Working with ayahuasca is a personal experience and the healing benefits are achieved by personal work. Some people have a life changing experience working with it once, others are called to work with it more frequently. My personal experience suggests that the effects are long lasting, but not necessarily permanent. In that regard, people battling addiction, depression, anxiety, phobias or other mental disorders may need to work with it more than once. I have found that every session is different and I learn something new. Each experience works on a different aspect of "you", so it depends on what work you need to do. It would be better though to work with it for at least a week. I think single sessions may not bring the healing most people want. A week is a good start, you don't drink every night. All situations are different, I would say the average is 3-5 in a 7-day retreat, then afterwards you can evaluate for yourself if you need to work with it again.

ClassicJenny1 karma

Thanks for your response! I also was told that it is a good idea to come with intentions and/or questions to keep in mind while doing the ceremony. I would like to learn about my past lives and spirit guides. Do you have any other suggestions for things to think about? I can't think of a specific need for the ceremony (like addiction, etc.) but I am interested in a higher learning. Thanks again!

SetiFX1 karma

Yes, your intention is very important, but I have come to ceremony with a specific intention and in the end the result was something different - the plant will teach you what she feels is important for you, but having an intention puts you in the right frame of mind. Working outside of a ceremony can be beneficial, but I think also that something is lost without a guide/shaman it is like painting a wall with one coat of paint, or reading a book, but not reading the introduction or footnotes. You get a benefit, but it is not complete.

SetiFX1 karma

Going to Peru would be a great experience, but many shamanic centers there that cater to westerners are owned and operated by Westerners so is this "the real deal"? Maybe or maybe not. And, the Sipibo do it differently form the Shuar and from Mestizo shaman, so the long answer is, having an authentic experience in the jungle is great if you have the desire and means to do it correctly, but it is not necessary. I have worked with it here ion the US in a ceremonial format and benefited greatly. I think you can have a great experience regardless of location, the key is finding a situation and shaman that you trust and odes a good job.

ClassicJenny1 karma

Thank you! Do you recommend any places in Washington or Oregon or plan on coming up this way?

SetiFX1 karma

You are welcome. I am not familiar with people who offer ceremony in that part of the country. I would love to offer a community sponsored screening of my films anywhere people have an interest. And it is likely I would return to Peru with a group if that is of interest?

BonsaiCoordinates1 karma

As a current uni student who has recently studied shamanism I am fascinated by your research into it. I was wondering if you could ever see shamanism being accepted as a legitimate practice within more Western societies? Or do you feel that it will only be confided to in remote areas such as those you visited?

SetiFX2 karma

Thank you. There are many shamanic practices that are incorporated into the everyday lives of people around the world and those people believe it is legitimate - as do I. However, if you are asking whether it can be an institution itself like a religion - I would say that that thought is counter the practice which is spiritual and not organized or dogmatic. I see the majority of people in the world as people who believe in something beyond ourselves, and therefore the potential for shamanistic practice that benefits society to be incorporated into our lives has great validity and potential. There are many westerners that ravel to other parts of the world seeking this spiritual experience, then they bring it back and you see it all over now.

[deleted]1 karma

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SetiFX1 karma

Thanks, I would love to - and others have suggested it - but I need a connection to him that I do not have - I'm not sure how to get on his radar - now that the films are officially released I am hoping that will change - perhaps you could suggest something to him via a post?

[deleted]1 karma

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SetiFX1 karma

Great thoughts - I tweeted him and FB'd him - let's see if he responds. Thanks for the suggestions.

VictorVaughan1 karma

I am willing to bet that you could not or would not be willing or able to prove the legitimacy of this shamanism and mysticism you study, am I correct? Just like how it is blashpemy to ask the judeo-christian god for a "sign".

SetiFX5 karma

I do not see the proof lying in a mathematical formula, but rather in anecdotal evidence offered by the many hundreds of thousands or millions of people who benefit by the practices. That being said there will be much scientific evidence/proof brought forward on the use of psychedelics such as ayahausca as a healing modality for a variety of treatment modalities for depression, anxiety, ptsd, addiction, phobias etc. Just because we as humans do not have the intellectual prowess to prove a mystical experience does not mean that it is not legitimate. I wold love to see Richard Dawkins rise to the challenge of taking a psychedelic and then seeing what his response is on the topic and if his thought patterns as an avowed atheist materialist remain intact. I bet the would not, and that is why he has not walked that path - even though he said he would like to.

fncvlns1 karma

i feel like the legitimacy of a practice such as this is very subjective and dependent upon the reactions, beliefs, and needs of the practitioner or participant experiencing this. the visual/auditory experience might not be "real" as in tangible, but may have a real and lasting effect on one's thought process & physical/mental health.

SetiFX2 karma

I think it does go on beyond the placebo effect though, there is evidence to suggest that the patterns formed by synapses can be disrupted and altered through ayahausca - that would be scientific proof of a tangibly physical effect. So for addicts, this synaptic modification would prove to be very powerful and critical to permanently breaking old habits though an actual physical response. Now, this may be the case for phobias, depression, etc. More research needs to be done here. Exciting stuff though.

[deleted]1 karma

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SetiFX2 karma

I prefer not to recommend shamanic centers or shaman in order to remain objective in terms of my research. That being said - I would suggests that you start by going to ayahuasca.com, singingtotheplants.com/ and the Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/ayahuascaworld/

josedasneves1 karma

What do you think of Dobkins de Rios descriptions of Ayahuasca tourism in Peru? Are the Q'ero part of this circuit? Do you situate your work in this field?

SetiFX1 karma

There is an element of the ayahuasca tourism industry that includes the charlatans Dobkin de Rios discusses. It is a big concern of mine and is something that needs to be discussed so that people are aware of the phenomenon. It is essential to conduct proper research before identifying a true experience. However, the benefits of ayahausca are not the sole domain of the traditional or historic shaman or their practices. In fact, up until 1993 ayahausca was not used to treat any disease, it was a source of information, a teacher that would guide a shaman in making a diagnosis and identifying another plant that could be used to cure the illness or disease. In 1993 Luis Eduardo Luna came out with The Ayahausca visions of Pablo Amaringo and people saw the visions and thought they were cool and since then we have this steady increasing number of spiritual pilgrims heading to S. Am. to explore ayahausca, but the way in which they do it, to drink it themselves is relatively new. Is this somehow wrong? i don't thinks so. Is the experience different than traditional experience as elaborated by Dobkins de Rios? Yes, however, if the medicine heals, which I believe (and know) it does, then using it in a non-historic fashion by "newer" shaman is both relevant and acceptable, unless they are charlatans after your money and avoiding those people is key to a positive expereience.

SetiFX1 karma

The Q'ero do not use entheogens as part of their traditional practice. I have had ayahuasca with a Q'ero shaman though who went with me to another shaman (an american by birth who studied with Don Ignacio a Maestro ayahuasquero curandero from Infierno Peru) to work with the medicine himself. We did do a despacho beforehand, but it was only meant to set the tone and reinforce intention. If you find a Q'ero that is pushing ayahausca as part of his practice, or are working through a retail shamanic store in Cusco that hires Q'ero to perform ceremony when they also offer ayahuasca, I can assure you that this is not a traditional part of their practice, and they are not offering the true path of the Q'ero.

PuppySwag691 karma

Like DMT is there certain visuals that everyone can say they have seen? I heard there is a lot of jaguar, snakes, and birds of prey that come with the trip, have you heard or seen this?

flickerkuu2 karma

After some interesting experiences with a friend and a Shaman in Hawaii, I can attest to Jaguars being a continuing theme. My friend literally turned into a Jaguar, and proceeded to stalk around the property for a good half hour.

FYI, the brew consisted of Ayuasca root and Datura leave which means natural DMT was involved.

SetiFX1 karma

This just reminded me. I did in fact have an experience where I saw a jaguar - I can't believe I forgot. It was sitting on a chair just behind Ronald Rivera on a night we were to conduct part of his interview - but the medicine called me back a second time while I was preparing the camera equipment. I saw a Jaguar sitting on a chair plain as day - it was all black - and I also saw a crocodile or alligator. Thanks for jolting my memory.

SetiFX2 karma

I have seen multitudes of serpents. Never a jaguar or birds. I have also seen many visions that involve spirits and I have seen dragonflies. Serpents are the most common - and if you have heard Dennis McKenna talk he speaks of machine elves, and I have seen them too.

mxmeme1 karma

Can you describe your personal encounters, if any, with "ayahuasca charlatans"?

SetiFX3 karma

When I first arrived to Cusco in November of 2011 I found a retail outlet for the Shimbre shamanic center. It looked nice and had a video about the center and the shaman Mancoluto. He did not look like an ayahuasca shaman as I had seen and in his video he talked about san pedro and not ayahuasca so I thought something was fishy. I asked around and did not hear good things about this shaman and as it turns out a 19 year old man from Sebastopol California died under his watch. The death could not be determined via an autopsy, but Mancoluto is in jail now for hiding the body and lying to the police. There are also many storefronts that offer ayahausca in Cusco, and typically these places prey on tourists who decide to work with ayahuasca at the last minute and do not have time to do research. Some of the shaman are ok, but I personally believe them to be financially motivated. If you go to Iquitos or Pucallpa you will be bombarded by people who want you to drink with a shaman they know. Taxi drivers will ask you as will people in the airport - I would simply just stay away form these sorts. I am an analytic type of person so I did my research before I went to Peru and then after I got there.

mxmeme1 karma

Do you think there are people who should never try ayahuasca or probably shouldn't? If so what type of person should avoid ayahuasca?

SetiFX3 karma

I believe people who suffer from schizophrenia should not work with it. Most good shaman and many experts including leading academics suggest that it would be counter productive. Also, people with heart conditions should consult with a medical practitioner as heart rate does increase. Also, anyone using antidepressants or taking synthetic medication in general should also talk with a medical Dr. as interactions could be problematic and potentially deadly.

Nicolay771 karma

Is there anything of the cult to the moon and the sun left among peruvian shamans?

At least around Bogotá I know there was a temple for the moon, Chía, and a temple for the sun, Xué, but of course it all was destroyed by Spaniards.

SetiFX2 karma

Some believe the Q'ero tradition goes back thousands of years but it has not been proven to me. I am not saying it did not, but there is little factual evidence to suggest this. That being said, the Inca used to traveled to both places you have mentioned. The Q'ero do travel there and perform ceremonies. I have not seen or heard of the cult of the moon or sun in respect to shamanic practitioners in Cusco or Peru putting forth that they are part of it. There is an organization called the Great White Brotherhood http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_White_Brotherhood but their practices and beliefs are not something I have studied

YourFairyGodmother1 karma

Do you do sensory deprivation? I ask because really weird shit can happen.

(the bot (supposedy) killed an earlier version of this comment).

SetiFX2 karma

I first read about sensory deprivation when I was very young and wanted to experience it. There is a place in Chicago that has tanks and I was given a session as a gift. I was very disappointed. I found it uncomfortable and did not experience what I had read about. This does not mean that I believe there is no benefit - i just can comment form my personal experience. I would however try it again at another location.

kdupont1 karma

What do you believe happens when we die?

SetiFX1 karma

I believe we exist as a sole conscious entity and as conscious unity concurrently, yet in a timeless space. Part of "Causay" the vital living energy the Q'ero speak of that animates the universe.

kdupont1 karma

What do you think the purpose to our lives are?

SetiFX2 karma

I believe the purpose for everyone is individual. We are hear to learn and have an experience. Have you read Joseph Campbell? Either the Power of Myth or Hero with 1000 Faces? I believe our entire life experience is a monomyth and we are the hero of our own experience, whether we achieve what we come here for is determined by our decisions - I think depression, anxiety, decisions that lead to addictions are signs that we are making decisions that are counter to our purpose. Either way it is a learning experience.

mxmeme1 karma

Do you think the secrets of ayahuasca Q'ero will be held safe or possibly exploited on a large commercial scale?

SetiFX2 karma

The Q'ero do not work with ayahausca. They work with energy and nature spirits. Their teachings are open for all to are learn. The only requirement is that you have an interest. They do not believe their teachings should be held in secret. They believe it is in the best interest for the world to be open about what they do and what they have to say.

SetiFX1 karma

I think that there is a connection with the Q'ero and people who work with them to offer their services. To a degree it has gotten a bit commercial. That part I do not like. But in a way it is inevitable. I know most churches require a tithing. Synagogues an annual fee, donations to the Catholic Church - all organized spirituality and religion need money to operate and survive, so this would no be any different for the Q'ero. The exploitation is the tricky part. I do not see them being exploited currently. Their work is shared. They are innocents, but the people attracted to them tend to be good hearted people.

IShatOnYourChest1 karma

Hi! Thank you so much for what you do and for doing the AMA.

I recently had a soul retrieval done by a shaman (Huichol/Nauha traditions), and afterwards asked if he thought aya was a good idea for me. He said my heart was filled with an emptiness, and ayahuasca could fill it with something really good or really bad. And strongly recommended I do not partake in a ceremony. Have you heard of this before and does it align with "traditional" shamanism?

I've felt such an intense pull towards ayahuasca for a very long time. I can't let go of the idea that this is something I need to do.

SetiFX1 karma

You are welcome. I am curious. The Huichol work with both mushrooms and peyote as sacraments and for healing, did you discuss either of those? Was this an actual Huichol or someone who studied with them? The only people who should not work with ayahausca in my opinion are those that suffer from schizophrenia or those with a heart condition or those taking prescription medications. Other than those circumstances I would think ayahausca could be a benefit.

llosa1 karma

How can one study shamanism without moving to Peru?

SetiFX1 karma

Shamanism is a general term that describes a wide variety of indigenous traditions and practices from around the globe. The question is not whether one can study shamanism outside of Peru, rather which form of shamanism one would want to practice or study? I would recommend that you join some of the shamanic groups on Facebook - also you could use a website called Shaman Portal http://www.shamanportal.org/ to research many of the types of shamanism practiced in the west.

Hated_By_Many-2 karma

[deleted]

SetiFX1 karma

I have thought about a proper response to this question for a number of days as it obviously is an attempt to subvert the conversation by offering an ad homonym attack that has nothing to do with the thread and is an attempt to diminish the value of the conversation for an unknown purpose. Let me first state that I am using my real name and putting myself on the line by promoting a cause I believe in that is controversial. The author of the comment is hiding behind a pseudonym. However, I will respond to the comment because in a round about way the author brings up another topic. That of marijuana usage. For for too many years marijuana has been under attack. Many good people are in jail and have had their lives ruined by the ridiculously strict laws surrounding distribution and usage of marijuana. Thankfully, the tide is turning. As of this writing there are 23 states that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes and two for any reason. There are 9 states with pending legalization. Over half of Americans are pro legalization and the trend is obviously going to continue. Cannabis is a powerful medicine and it should be legal. I would like to make a statement about my personal usage. During the two year period while I was "studying shamanism" in Peru I smoked marijuana three times in two years. Since returning to the US I have obtained a legal prescription from my doctor to use it for medical purposes. I have restless leg syndrome and marijuana is the only medicine that allows me to get to sleep comfortably and sleep for 8 hours.

Hated_By_Many1 karma

Don't take it to seriously, I meant you no harm. Sorry if you perceived it like that and I apologise for putting this bad comment in your thoughts the past week.

SetiFX1 karma

This AMA was meant to be informative in a serious way. I think the combination of the name used in the post "Hated_by_Many" and the fact that there were no smiley faces or other emoticons to suggest the comment was in jest may have led to the perception. Hope that helps....