Gaia’s Top 10 Videos On Plant Medicine and Psychedelics
As taboos fade and paradigms shift, our society is coming to learn the truly profound therapeutic benefits of plant medicine and shamanic traditions. While the tides have been slowly turning over the past few decades with our cultural perception and understanding of psychedelics, we’ve now entered into an era in which these natural, mind-expanding modalities are being embraced more than ever. Check out Gaia’s growing library of videos on these shamanic traditions and their ability to bring healing to humanity’s collective consciousness.
In this ground-breaking original series, experts explore the history and use of psychedelic plants including political ambitions, the perceived shadow side, and the proper environment to experience these substances. From the origins of Shamanism to the spiritual expression of modern awakenings, discover the role of sacred medicine as a gateway to expanded consciousness, and its continued influence on humanity.
2. Ayahuasca: Vine of the Soul
Can a sacred plant medicine from the Amazon heal our minds and spirits? In the heart of the jungle, a naturopathic doctor and an accountant experience life-altering epiphanies when they drink the psychoactive brew ayahuasca, the “vine of the soul.” This award-winning documentary explores the mystery of ayahuasca shamanism, offering insights into the nature of spirituality, mystical experience, and self-healing discovered through an expanded state of consciousness.
Is ayahuasca a doorway to direct knowledge of the divine or a path that leads to psychological trauma? Can it cure modern addictions to drugs and alcohol or is ayahuasca itself a possible substance of abuse? Some call it a medicine, others a sacrament; the Amazonian shamans say it is simply a “plant teacher” that tells you what you need to know.
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3. Healing Powers
The modern War on Drugs has deemed that all mind-altering substances are harmful for individuals and society at large, but in our new series Healing Powers, we travel the globe to show how people have been using “drugs” for as long as recorded history — both to heal mental ailments as well as support more conscious connections to the world around us.
Watch as Mareesa Stertz personally participates in psychedelic and healing experiences, learning first-hand of the restorative powers of cannabis, psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, and other plant-based tonics, while meeting some of the individuals embracing alternative forms of medicine in an ever more pharmaceuticalized world.
4. Bufo Alvarius: The Underground Secret
A radical testimony of the strongest known natural psychedelic, tryptamine 5-MeO-DMT, produced by Bufo Alvarius, a toad of the Sonoran Desert. The breathtaking audio-visual adventure is enhanced by immersive animations inspired by the psychoactive effects of this extraordinary substance.
Fascinating stories of a group of Czech psychonauts are combined with personal insights of Stanislav Grof, a Nestor of transpersonal psychology, and Octavio Rettig, a modern shaman who has facilitated ceremonial contact with Bufo Alvarius for thousands of volunteers from around the world. For many, the experience has been life-changing.
Originally intended to simply document these experiences, the film evolved into an intense meditation on the nature of consciousness and being.
5. Neurons to Nirvana
A feature documentary about the resurgence of psychedelics as medicine. Psychedelics can be potent tools for getting to know who we are, who we can be, and for healing the trauma of a society that is addicted to greed and consumerism.
This film dares to break the taboo surrounding psychedelic medicines, by examining and revealing their proven potential to heal and alleviate suffering on a global scale. Through interviews with the world’s foremost researchers, writers, psychologists, and pioneers in psychedelic psychotherapy, the film explores the history and medicinal potential of five powerful psychedelic substances (LSD, Psilocybin, MDMA, Ayahuasca, and Cannabis).
6. Aya Awakenings
AYA: Awakenings is a documentary journey into the world and visions of Amazonian shamanism, adapted from the cult book AYA: A Shamanic Odyssey by Rak Razam. As Razam sets out to document the booming business of Amazonian shamanism in the 21st century, he quickly finds himself caught up in a culture clash between the old world and the new.
Braving a gringo trail of the soul, he uncovers a movement of “spiritual tourists” coming from the West for a direct experience of the multi-dimensional reality shamanism connects one to. Central to this is ayahuasca – the “vine of souls” – a legal South American entheogenic plant medicine that has been used by Amazonian people for millennia to heal physical ailments and to cleanse and purify the spirit.
7. Microdosing for Transformation
Paul Austin discusses the responsible and intentional use of psychedelics for spiritual transformation. He explains how microdoses of LSD, Psilocybin, and other psychoactive materials can help productivity, creativity, and flow states. From there we explore the benefits of combining microdosing with other consciousness enhancing practices, such as meditation and yoga. He claims the future is promising, as new research is underway combining different plant medicines for synergistic effects.
8. Amazonia: Healing With Sacred Plants
Psychologist, anthropologist, and author Alberto Villoldo has studied the shamanic healing practices of the Amazon for more than 25 years. In this beautifully filmed documentary, he shares the secrets of the jungle’s sacred plants and the healers who administer them, deep in the Amazon rainforest. Dr. Villoldo also explains the theory and process behind Ayahuasca, the legendary and powerful brew made by the shamans.
9. Terrence McKenna’s Prague Gnosis: Sasha Shulgin
Alexander Shulgin, Sasha to his friends, is nothing less than the godfather of psychopharmacology. Shulgin has given his life to the study of the pharmacology of the psychedelic experience. In the last episode of the series, while walking through the Old Jewish Cemetery of Prague, Terence and Sasha talk about tryptamine experiences, the problem with how America handles the drug crisis, and how they see themselves in all of this.
10. Mind Shift: Psychedelics and Religion
Many religions have used various mind-altering substances to connect with a creative mind, far beyond the limits of our five senses. In modern times, the use of these substances has become illegal. However, something is about to change. Daniel Pinchbeck talks with two luminaries to discuss the historical and future role of psychedelics and religion.
Artist, Alex Grey talks about the use of LSD as a creative tool for connecting with sacred reality through the visionary mystical experience. Then, author Michael Muhammad Knight offers his view of Islam that is considered controversial to some. Even more controversial was his profound experience with ayahuasca and the divine feminine. Both agree that bringing psychedelic sacrament back into religions would initiate a reemergence of the divine feminine and bring balance to the masculine dominance found in prominent religions in this inaugural episode.
Buckminster Fuller's Spaceship Earth Is More Relevant Than Ever
How do we make the world work for 100 percent of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological damage or disadvantage to anyone? That was the question posed by R. Buckminster Fuller when he devised the Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, the concept that we are all astronauts inhabiting a spaceship, hurtling through the universe, with a greater purpose than just being muscle-reflex machines.
The Earth is a Spaceship
There is a common experience that is shared between astronauts who traveled to the moon and looked back on Earth. A sense of enlightenment, utter transcendence, and overwhelming bliss from the beauty and perfection of Earth in its entirety. At this point astronauts understand the importance and necessity of taking care of our planet and the collective need to coexist peacefully.
Though he never went to space to experience this profound perspective, Fuller shared this sentiment and devoted his life to modeling a future that would embrace it. He was a designer, inventor, author, architect, and systems specialist, but most notably a visionary whose ideas focused on considering the greater picture even when working on the minutiae.
Fuller’s vision for humanity focused on the premise that our intellect gave us an innate duty to overcome physical constraints, ad infinitum, with our ability to think, reason, and solve problems. With this, he coined the word ephemeralization, the concept that the sum can be greater than its parts; that we have the ability to do more and more with less and less, until we can achieve everything with nothing.
Though this might seem paradoxical at its extreme, the utility that we have been able to achieve with technology has followed this line of thinking to a certain extent. Our ability to go from wired to wireless technology or fossil fuels to alternative renewables are examples that embody Fuller’s vision.
This is counter to the Malthusian line of thought, in which exponential population growth will inevitably outpace food production. Fuller argued that through design and technology there should be no reason to have people suffering and starving on Earth. He aimed to create a world that worked for everyone, employing technology to spread our limited resources and satisfy a growing population.
His vision became one which focused on a utopian society of sorts, in which a ‘critical path’ could be developed to cooperatively pilot Spaceship Earth. By using foresight that looked outside of the box and focused on systemic problems in every aspect; solving current problems with the prudence to also solve future ones.
Richard Buckminster Fuller
Fuller’s upbringing seemed to incubate the eccentric genius that he later became in life. His education started at a Froebelian kindergarten, where art and creativity were given as much encouragement as traditional education. Later in life, Fuller attended Harvard though he was kicked out twice, recognizing himself as a non-conformist, misfit.
After serving a brief stint in the Navy, Fuller and his father founded a company that provided affordable, lightweight, weatherproof housing, a concept that would later become the foundation of his design philosophy. But the company eventually failed, and shortly after his daughter passed away from polio and meningitis.
Fuller contemplated suicide when his family fell into financial hardship, which was compounded by the self-imposed guilt from his daughter’s death. Until one day, he had a profound experience in which he felt himself levitating off the ground, encapsulated in a sphere of white light. A voice told him:
“From now on you need never await temporal attestation to your thought. You think the truth. You do not have the right to eliminate yourself. You do not belong to you. You belong to Universe. Your significance will remain forever obscure to you, but you may assume that you are fulfilling your role if you apply yourself to converting your experiences to the highest advantage of others.”
After this turning point Fuller began to teach at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, an experimental school in Asheville, that had a non-hierarchical structure, atypical to most universities. There, students and teachers were considered peers and there were no grades, degrees, or planned curricula. Students decided when to graduate and education was equally balanced with art, farming, co-op labor, and construction projects.
Here, Fuller built his first geodesic dome which he would patent and become known for. This design would later become the iconic geodesic dome, Spaceship Earth, at Epcot Center in Disney World, an homage to Fuller and Walt Disney’s shared dream of a utopian society. EPCOT itself is an acronym that stands for Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow.
The Montreal biosphere, constructed for the 1967 World Fair is another commonly recognized geodesic dome designed by Fuller that remains to this day.
Though the first geodesic dome had already been ideated and built some 30 years prior, Fuller was the first to patent it and incorporate it into his schema for its myriad uses. He found maximum utility in the design as it used minimal material to provide the greatest amount of volume in a certain area.
A geodesic dome is a hemispherical structure consisting of rigid triangular elements, or an omni-triangulated surface. Fuller was attracted to it for its strength and simplicity, inspiring the construction of hundreds of thousands of them throughout the world. But despite, the avant-garde popularity of the geodesic dome, it was just one design feature that may have overshadowed his larger worldview.
Livingry not Weaponry
One of Fuller’s main concepts was that of livingry, a word he created in direct opposition to weaponry. Livingry touted inventions that supported and enhanced life, ideas, and objects; enriching and advancing human existence, rather than contributing to its destruction. He imagined what could be achieved if the aerospace sector of knowledge was applied only to producing technology that advantaged all of humanity, rather than divisive weaponry. He saw war as obsolete and the threat of total destruction as imminent.
Fuller viewed humanity as an experimental initiative of the universe. That experiment was to see if the universe, in all its complexity, could “maintain the integrity of eternal regeneration” while allowing us, humans, to discover and use mathematical laws to maintain that integrity on our scale.
The answer to this was yes, inspiring Fuller to develop an array of consumer household designs to fit his ephemerilized livingry concepts. He even coined another word to sell his ideas: dymaxion, a portmanteau of dynamic, maximum, and ion. He conceptualized a dymaxion house, dymaxion car, dymaxion bathroom, and others to solve every contemporary design flaw, though most never came to fruition, outside of fringe communes and individual projects.
Though his worldview never truly took off, today we can see a lot of Fuller’s sentiment in the tech industry. Whether directly inspired by Fuller or not, many modern digital solutions aim to solve all of our problems with ephemeralization, using the least amount of energy to gain the most utility; the internet being one of the greatest examples. Though he passed away less than 40 years ago, it would be interesting to know what might he think of our society today. Will we ever achieve a global society like Fuller envisioned?