In his indispensable essay on psychedelics How to change your mind (which is now also a series on Netflix), journalist and writer Michael Pollan talks about his experience with that famous “magic potion” called ayahuasca: «As soon as I swallowed the ‘medicine’ slipping past the point of no return, the voice of doubt fell silent and I abandoned myself to whatever awaited me. Which was no different from my other psychedelic experiences, with a couple of notable exceptions. Perhaps because the tea – thick, pungent and unexpectedly sweet – makes its alien presence felt in the stomach and intestines, the experience with ayahuasca is more physical than that with some other psychedelics. I didn’t throw up, but I was very aware of the thick brew moving inside me and, as the DMT (the active ingredient in ayahuasca) rose, I imagined it as a creeper winding around the loops of my intestine, occupying my body before making its way, in a slow and tortuous path, up to my head ».
The impression had by Pollan is not rare among those who take this decoction of Amazonian origin, used by indigenous peoples probably for millennia and composed of two fundamental ingredients: a vine, the Banisteriopsis caapi, called ayahuasca, and of the leaves of one or more plants containing the aforementioned DMT, the active principle, the same that our brain secretes at night from the pineal gland. The vine in and of itself does nothing, does not give hallucinations, but it is essential to deactivate an enzyme, called MAO (monoamine oxidase enzyme), present in our digestive tract, which has the role of degrading DMT. The vine ayahuascait basically “shuts down the security system” and causes visions to come.
Being a vine, stories and legends about its origin are wasted. More or less in all there is this sort of vine that grows and rises towards the sky to join earthly existence with the celestial levels of spirituality. And it is precisely from one of these legends that the director and animator Jules Guérin he left for a short film, fascinating and obviously psychedelic, dedicated to the magical Amazonian decoction and the shamanism linked to it.
Is titled A Shaman’s Tale and is made as a collage using many (and colorful) elements.
The story from which it takes the “the” is a Peruvian legend, which tells of an old man who tries to devise a way to heal the soul of the people more deeply. He then begins to meditate under a tree and so much time passes that in the end a vine sprouts from his chest and rises up into the sky.