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FDL Movie Night: AYA: Awakenings

AYA: Awakenings begins as independent journalist Rak Razam sets out for South America to explore the burgeoning business of shamanistic tourism, replete with a Shaman convention. The film quickly detours, however, and documents Razam’s own experience with ayahuasca, a psychedelic brew made out of the jungle vine Banisteriopsis caapi, which contains an MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor).

Most of the film consists of either still photographs from Razam’s journey or psychedelic graphics inspired by his experience, as he reads from his book of the same title. The most interesting part comes about half way through when Razam smokes DMT. With the help of a western scientist called Dr. Juan whose specialty is QEEG (Quantitative Electroencephalography), Razam has a skullcap with gel and electrodes attached to his head, and a computer reads his brainwaves during the experience.

Rakam tributes the title Awakenings to the inspiration of Terrence McKenna, who wrote in 1989:

“Psychedelic shamans now constitute a worldwide and growing subculture of hyperdimensional explorers, many of whom are scientifically sophisticated. A landscape is coming into focus, a region still glimpsed only dimly, but emerging, claiming the attention of rational discourse–and possibly threatening to confound it. We may yet remember how to behave, how to take our correct place in the connecting pattern, the seamless web of all things.”

Ultimately Awakenings is less an analytical documentary and more of a personal interior travelogue, and a celebration of this neo shamanistic movement. “You might think that ayahuasca is a niche subject” he says, “but it is rapidly becoming a mainstream one that is peaking in global media. Ayahuasca could be the new global sacrament.”

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FDL Movie Night: AYA: Awakenings

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AYA: Awakenings begins as independent journalist Rak Razam sets out for South America to explore the burgeoning business of shamanistic tourism, replete with a Shaman convention. The film quickly detours, however, and documents Razam’s own experience with ayahuasca, a psychedelic brew made out of the jungle vine Banisteriopsis caapi, which contains an MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor).

Most of the film consists of either still photographs from Razam’s journey or psychedelic graphics inspired by his experience, as he reads from his book of the same title. The most interesting part comes about halfway through when Razam smokes DMT. With the help of a western scientist called Dr. Juan, whose specialty is QEEG (Quantitative Electroencephalography), Razam has a skullcap attached to his head with gel and electrodes, and a computer reads his brainwaves during the experience.

Rakam tributes the title Awakenings to the inspiration of Terrence McKenna, who wrote in 1989:

Psychedelic shamans now constitute a worldwide and growing subculture of hyperdimensional explorers, many of whom are scientifically sophisticated. A landscape is coming into focus, a region still glimpsed only dimly, but emerging, claiming the attention of rational discourse–and possibly threatening to confound it. We may yet remember how to behave, how to take our correct place in the connecting pattern, the seamless web of all things.

Ultimately Awakenings is less an analytical documentary and more of a personal interior travelogue, and a celebration of this neo shamanistic movement. “You might think that ayahuasca is a niche subject,” he says, “but it is rapidly becoming a mainstream one that is peaking in global media. Ayahuasca could be the new global sacrament.” (more…)

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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