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.
How to Free Your Soul: Liberating Your Authentic Self
In modern society, we tend to wear a lot of hats, or masks, or whatever metaphor you’d like to use. We have one for our home life, one for work-life, one for close friends and family, one for other friends we’re not as close with…. the list goes on. But what about that unmasked self? Your true, authentic self, the one maybe you only really know?
Is it even possible to show that authentic self to others without some type of filter? And is it even worth it? The short answer, yes. And by embracing this authentic self, you’ll be better prepared to take on the more meaningful pursuits of life, such as your soul’s core desires. These desires of attaining fulfillment, desire, and eventually enlightenment are what we’re all here to do right?
What Does it Mean to Free Your Soul?
To free your soul is to embrace the essence of that authentic self, and wear fewer masks. Of course, it may not always be appropriate to not put on some sort of filter for various life scenarios, but the more you work toward embodying that true self, the more secure you’ll become, subsequently improving your well-being.
And by improving your well-being at the most basic levels, you can then begin to pursue spiritual well-being at higher levels.
Understanding Core Soul Desires
Ancient Vedic texts tell us that there are four core soul desires: the desire for purpose (dharma), the means to fulfill our purpose (artha), the pleasure associated with living our purpose (kama), and freedom (moksha).
These four purusharthas, also known as the four aims of life, are intrinsic. They’re directly linked to the personal, unique Jivatman part of our soul and the infinite, unlimited Paramatman part of our soul.
Your duty, calling, or life’s purpose; you’ve likely heard the phrase “finding your Dharma,” which is typically meant in terms of finding your purpose in life that leads to happiness and fulfillment.
The concept of Dharma is an interesting one and can vary in meaning across the eastern religions that embrace it. Dharma can also refer to the underlying order of the universe or self-organizing nature of reality to which we inevitably align with. Dharma can also refer to the teachings of Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Jainism.
Prosperity, or having the things you need to do your dharma. Again, in eastern philosophy, these concepts aren’t simply defined and can mean a few things, but essentially your Artha is the foundational and material things needed in your life. For some, this can mean wealth, a home, and material prosperity—things that make you feel secure and not wanting. For others, however, this can mean health and wellness, because without these you’ll be distracted and focused on attaining them, rather than focusing on spiritual growth and some of the more intangible pursuits in life.
Desire or pleasure; the reward of living our dharma. You’ve likely heard the word Kama before in terms of sexual pleasure and desire—the Kama Sutra. But Kama isn’t purely sexual, it refers to any type of longing, wish, passion, or desire. When balanced with the other three goals of life, Kama is important and necessary to have, if you had no passion or desire for anything in your life, it would be meaningless and you’d probably be pretty depressed. Finding your Kama, and the Kama that really drives you is an absolute must in the attainment of happiness and fulfillment.
Liberation, freedom, or release. The first three lead to this last one. Moksha is tantamount to enlightenment, or the freedom from ignorance and suffering. This is much in alignment with enlightenment: literally lightening up (moving from the base chakras to the ethereal upper ones), and living from a place of love. It’s important to understand each of these forces at the beginning of your personal growth journey to end up experiencing Moksha.