I met Seti Gershberg via an online Ayahuasca community. After reading about some of my Ayahuasca experiences which I shared, Seti got in touch with me to share the documentary he had just finished making about Ayahuasca.
The Path of the Sun is a two-part documentary film, Ayahuasca Natures Greatest Gift and Q’ero Mystics of Peru. The films explore shamanism, consciousness and the Amazonian plant AYAHUASA. The documentary delves into the explosion of Ayahuasca tourism in South America, the dangers of Amazonian Ayahuasca travel and most importantly, the immense healing properties of this sacred plant medicine.
I have watched quite a few documentaries on this subject matter including Vine of The Soul by Richard Meech, DMT: The Spirit Molecule by Mitch Schultz, Stepping Into The Fire by Ouroboros, and others. Each documentary has its highlights and areas of focus. What I enjoyed about The Path of The Sun: Ayahuasca Natures Greatest Gift is its exploration of the current social and political atmosphere surrounding Ayahuasca, while also giving a strong informative understanding of the medicine; tradition and what can be expected from a ceremony.
After watching the doc, I had a chance to Skype with Seti and ask him a couple questions.
Aaron: At what point did you decide to commit to this project?
Seti: I decided to leave the corporate world and I was figuring out my next move. During this time of reflection and self analysis my interest in shamanism was rekindled. In college I studied and received a degree in Anthropology. This time of self re-discovery led me back to where I needed to be. I started to work with a healer from the The Lakȟóta (indigenous tribe in North America) and also had the opportunity to work with a Shaman in Chicago who worked with ayahuasca. It was with her that , I had my first Ayahuasca ceremonies. At the same time I was reading all I could on shamanism and came across a few books about the Q’ero if Peru. The Q’ero do not work with lang medicine, rather their focus is on energy. I was intrigued by their belief system and myths surrounding their existence. I then made the decision that I wanted to travel to Peru to work with the Q’ero and the curanderos of the Amazon. While I planned for the trip as a personal journey of self exploration, I began thinking of doing the documentary as part of the journey.
Aaron: In your film, Stephan Beyer mentioned that with the increasing boom in ayahuasa tourism, comes increasing money, power and influence for the Ayahuasqueros who are working with foreigners. What are your thoughts on this? Do you see this as something that will ultimately benefit local communities or is it something that carries more negative consequences?
Seti: It has definitely created a growing trend of charlatanism. There are a lot of so- called “shamans” offering ceremonies who were not around five or ten years ago. Many of them are in it for the money first, and helping others is second. That’s why it’s good to do your research. That being said, money going to that area of the world is a good thing. Third world countries need all the financial help they can get. That being said, hopefully the money flows to honest good people.
Aaron: On the issue of finding an authentic good-intentioned Ayahuasquero, can you recommend any resources to help guide those who may have felt the calling and are interested in working with the medicine?
Seti: There are a lot of good resources. Word of mouth is by far the best. Ayahuasca.com is a good website with lots of information. Steve Beyer (who is interviewed in my documentary) has his site, singingtotheplants.com. Facebook has some Ayahuasca groups. Also Youtube is full of first hand accounts. Don’t be shy to contact people and ask their advice. You will find most are open and happy to share. Although there are good retreat centers out there, I would recommend checking them out after you speak with individuals. Ultimately, after proper research has been conducted go with the shaman who you feel vibes best with you.
Aaron: What kind of audience is your film for?
Seti: It definitely wasn’t made to preach to the choir of ayahusca believers. Rather, the film is targeted towards people who don’t know a lot about Ayahuasca and entheogens. I made it with a broader audience in mind. It is for seekers of truth, free thought and open consciousness, people who are open to new ideas and modalities. This is for a wider audience that wants to be exposed to something new. It is important for me to bring a meaningful message to people in order to influence positive change in the world. Exposing a wider audience to the ways of the Q’ero and helping people overcome perpetuated myths about psychedelics and entheogens and understand that these substances are powerful medicine that can help treat anxiety, depression, phobias, PTSD, alcohol and drug addiction and other maladies can only help everyone n the long run. This work I have done was meant to start a ripple that spreads outward to sway public opinion in a better direction.
Aaron: Do you have a great behind-the-scenes story or most memorable experience you can share from the production of the documentary?
Seti: Well I have a funny story about film making and doing Ayahuasca simultaneously. I was with Ronald Rivera (Ayahuasquero) prepping for an interview with him. He suggested the interview might be better after an Ayahuasca ceremony once we had returned to a lucid state.
We started the ceremony at sundown. I drank a large glass. We waited 30, 45, 60 minutes and nothing happened. Two hours after drinking we still felt no affect. After this we decided to drink another big cup. After about 30 minutes the effect came on. A few hours later I felt I was back to a lucid state and began to set my camera gear up on the tripod. I started to fiddle with my audio gear and when I looked back at the camera a minute later I noticed it had moved. I thought it was weird and readjusted the shot and continued to prepare some other things. It must have happened five or six times, when I checked the camera it was always in a different position. I looked up to Ronald to tell him things weren’t working. When I looked at him I saw there was a massive black panther on the chair beside him. I quickly looked at the screen of my camera only to see an alligator on the monitor flying towards me. I looked back to Ronald and his arms were covered in moving tattoos. Apparently the second large cup of ayahuasca kicked in. My advice for people documenting the ayahuasca experience: If your going to make film and drink Ayahuasca, make sure i is fully out of your system before you start, or you
may find yourself in between worlds…
That concludes our interview. A big thanks to Seti for taking the time to chat with me and for letting me screen The Path of The Sun documentary.
Win a free “The Path of the Sun Deluxe Package”.
Congratulations to Liv Berger Beaty on winning The Path of The Sun Deluxe Package.
Seti has also been kind enough to offer exclusive discounts to Hippie Van Man fans, friends and followers. If you would like to see this Ayahuasca documentary, see below
You can use the code HVM33ANGG to get 33% off ($5 before discount) Ayahausca Nature’s Greatest Gift documentary.
You can use the code HVM33 to get 33% off ($15 before discount) The Path of the Sun Deluxe Package which includes;
- Q’ero Mystics of Peru +
- Ayahausca Nature’s Greatest Gift +
- Q’ero In Search of the Last Inca (Historic Q’ero film by Mo Fini) +
- Special Bonus Footage +
- 3 Bonus MP3’s from Shimshai
You can use the code HVM33SD to get 33% off ($45 before discount) The Path of the Sun Super Deluxe Package which includes;
- Q’ero Mystics of Peru +
- Ayahuasca Nature’s Greatest Gift +
- Q’ero In Search of the Last Incas (Movie by Mo Fini) +
- Andean Folk Songs Digital CD from Tumi Music +
- La Ventana Digital CD by Shimshai +
- 1 hour of Special Bonus Footage from Q’ero Mystics of Peru +
- 1 hour of Special Bonus Footage from Ayahausca Nature’s Greatest Gift +
- Medicine Songs by Ayahuasquero Ronald Rivera +
- Q’ero Pinkillu Flute Songs by Pampamisayuq Don Augustin +
- 2 Trailers for THE PATH OF THE SUN +
- 3 Bonus MP3’s from Shimshai