Ayahuasca: Vine of the Soul (2010)

Last night I watched Ayahuasca: Vine of the Soul (2010), a documentary on the psychedelic ayahuasca, created from Amazonian vines. I actually watched a few different things on ayahuasca but this was the best. We follow a couple of Torontonians (!) on a trip to Peru to try some in the jungle under the supervision of Guillermo Arévalo, a traditional shaman. Along the way are interviews with ethnobotanist Dennis J. McKenna (brother of writer Terence McKenna) and Dr. Gabor Maté, addiction specialist. Compared to some of the sensationalist garbage out there, this was a reasoned, calm look at a healing substance unlike most anything else available.

I’ve been reading about yage since I was in high school, and have often imagined trying some ayahuasca myself. I have no plans to fly to Peru to do so however, and so the best I could manage would be a well-travelled water bottle filled with brown, swampy liquid. Or so this documentary suggested over ten years ago now. Perhaps nowadays there’s more ways to explore this unique plant concoction? 

As you might expect what with documentaries airing about its incredible potential for healing mental and/or spiritual problems, ayahuasca has since become a bit of a popular option for those who can afford to take it, trendy even. The documentary points out that the userbase has been markedly different from such popular psychedelics as LSD; professional people (and increasingly celebrities) are trying ayahuasca, and this has affected how this ‘drug’ is treated by the laws and police of countries in which it’s now found. 

Just a week ago, athlete Aaron Rodgers was cleared for ayahuasca use by the NFL. It’s possible that a perfect storm of ayahuasca’s newfound popularity combined with a medical zeitgeist that takes seriously the beneficial possibilities of, for example, ketamine and psilocybin mushrooms in treating depression, anxiety or addiction, will create an environment in which ayahuasca becomes widely available, beyond expensive retreats and clinic appointments. Maybe soon we’ll all have the opportunity to try it.