A film by Richard Meech

Screening at "The Other Side" 2011 Genessee St. Utica, NY
Wednesday, 8-8-12 at 7pm
Q&A with the director via Skype after film.
$5 donation

In the mid 1990s, I started hearing about Westerners going to the Amazon to participate in traditional ayahuasca ceremonies. These people were not the usual collection of anthropologists and enthobotanists doing fieldwork, but ordinary folks looking for emotional healing and spiritual awakening.

For years I had wondered why there was no recognized way for non-indigenous people to explore the power of sacred plants. When I made the “Millennium” series 20 years ago – the subtitle was “Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World”– I questioned why we, in the modern world, had ignored this aspect of indigenous culture.

I decided to meet some of the Westerners who drink ayahuasca and to find out why they do it and how it has affected their lives.

The resulting film,“Vine Of The Soul: Encounters With Ayahuasca”, has been an extraordinary adventure and a true labor of love. I had not anticipated nor imagined the emotional depths and spiritual journeys I would be privileged to witness.

In learning about ayahuasca, both through the filming process and my own ceremonial work, I have come to appreciate that there is a wide gulf in our popular understanding about the nature of healing.

Living with a profoundly material worldview leaves very little, if any, space for what can be called the spiritual. Spirituality and healing? What does spirituality have to do with healing? A lot more than I had thought, it turns out.

With ayahuasca one can have a direct connection with the divine or source of all creation, something one actually experiences, viscerally, in the depths of one’s own being. It can be healing on the most profound levels.

How extraordinary then, at the turn of our twenty-first century that we should be rediscovering the power of the sacred medicine, ayahuasca, that has been around for thousands of years. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, a measure of good timing. But just think: here is a humble jungle plant that has the ability to affect the consciousness of the one species that can determine the fate of all species – just when that need is greater than ever.