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Exclusive Clip: Experience “Jungle Fever” From The Movie “Aya: Awakenings”

 
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by Aaron Kase

on November 25, 2015

In the documentary Aya: Awakenings, experiential journalist Rak Razam journeys into the world and visions of Amazonian shamanism. In this 16-minute excerpt from the film, titled “Jungle Fever,” Razam ventures into the jungle to participate in an ayahuasca ceremony with a group of fellow Westerners.

The video (see player above) opens to the sound of an icaro, or traditional song sung by shamans during ayahuasca ceremonies, with a jungle background shimmering in geometric patterns.

“The trail is alive with the sound of birds, frogs, insects, and the screech of monkeys deep inside this fecund landscape,” Razam says as he treks through the Amazon jungle outside Iquitos, Peru. Soon, he and his film team arrive at the maloca, the wooden hut where the ceremonies are held.

The ceremony is led by an indigenous curandero, or healer, who learned the art of plant medicines from his grandfather starting at age 10. “You don’t choose to become a curandero,” he tells Razam. “And the few that do will enter the science because they are called by spirit.”

Before the guests drink the ayahuasca, the shaman bathes them in the river and blows mapacho smoke, from a native jungle tobacco plant, over them to bless them. “Tonight he will lead us through the subtle zones of the spirit,” Razam says.

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After the blessing, they return to the maloca, which is lit up with candles. “It looks like a fairy house in the jungle,” says Razam. From there, the ceremony begins. Ayahuasca means “vine of the dead souls” in the Quechua language, although the curandero notes that he refers to the spirits as allies, not dead souls. “Ayahuasca is medicine,” he says. “It is strength, intelligence, wisdom, and healing… Nature represents what life is, but ayahuasca is the mother of us all.”

Razam describes the brew as dark, phlegm-like, and foul tasting. Soon, the participants begin the purge that is typical of ayahuasca experiences — which curanderos consider to be the plant removing negative influences and energies from the body. “Racking heaves of spew usher forth from gringos all around me,” Razam says.

As the ayahuasca starts to take hold, “I can feel myself gently slipping away into a light trance,” Razam says, “and my last thought is that we have gone back to the jungle, back to the great green womb.”

When the candles go out, Razam sees energy patterns flashing in front of his eyes as the medicine comes on stronger. “Locks deep inside me that I never knew were there are tumbling open and I’m spilling into the spaces they reveal,” he narrates, “wrapped inside the mother, she who nurtures and destroys in her endless embrace.”

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Razam says he feels the plant examining him, opening up parts of himself that he has left unused. As the ceremony goes on, Garcia begins to sing icaros, and circles the maloca to blow more mapacho on the guests to chase away negative energies.

“It’s like there’s an invisible thread, and if you pull on it, the whole picture will unravel, revealing the true pattern underneath,” the filmmaker narrates.

In the rest of Aya: Awakenings, Razam 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. Watch the full film online at Aya-Awakenings.com/watch/.

  • Simon

    Rak Razam is too into story telling. i prefer the non-dual perspective offered by Martin W Ball and Octavio Rettig.
    otherwise you get lost in never ending nonsense regarding spirits, entities, mama-ayahuasca rather than seeing it all as aspects of your self.
    maybe this is because it matches my experience on entheogens, be it mushrooms, lsd, salvia or ayahuasca, i just encounter me. interpreting things as somehow Other is just non acceptance and story telling.

  • Ricardo

    I think excitement and enthusiasm does matter and Rak has got his story out there. it does come accross as sensationalising with a hyped up OMG vibe being expressed akin to many of the seekers i’ve met around the world who are looking for the next new age trend/fad/fashion. I suspect if Rak was more focussedo nthe inner work he would have understood honoring that which is sacred in a much more subtle and humble way. But then again this is journalism and even if it may influence many of seekers to blindly go looking for the latest salavation promise wandering into the clutches of the many and growing glut of psuedo-shaman wanna-bes.. then again it might influence others to do a lot more research before adopting a cultural cringe, those who know themselves will discern the truth from something like aya awakenings which is kinda of like a cartoony depiction of someone deeply missing the point.

  • Ross Hutton

    I find some of the comments here regarding Rak’s film and descriptions of his personal journey so typical of the ever so pious and slightly up themselves ethnogen scene critics. . According to the pious critics here everyone else is just an ethnogen tourist out to experience the next big new age fad ! Except us of course ! Everyone has the right to explore and experience the medicine whether it be for deeply profound reasons or just simply for curiosity, I’ve been to Iquitos and partaken in over 70 Ayahuasca ceremonies and i find Rak’s descriptions very well presented and accurate from my own experience. Ayahuasca will always be very personal to the individual of course he cannot speak for everyone but on the whole he does a fine job of describing the indescribable. Rak comes across in this clip as someone experiencing Aya for the first time to help the uninitiated understand what it’s like to experience an authentic ceremony.

  • Sophia

    I have seen this excellent documentary twice and I so appreciate Rak’s respect and appreciation for the medicines and the shamans who guide him. He presents the information in a way that is very accessible to those curious about this path. One’s experiences with these medicines are profoundly unique to the individual. I like that Rak does not make sweeping declarations but rather shares his personal experiences with candor and humor and reflects a genuine desire to bring this healing medicine into the greater collective. I hope his work reaches many people, as ayahuasca is powerful healing medicine on many levels. The key is to find a reputable shaman who will guide you with integrity. Rak clearly knows some good ones. I know a vet who cured his PTSD working with aya in the jungle and he now takes other vets with PTSD to Peru to heal. I have a friend who went to Ecuador to work with an aya shaman and she came back cured of her Lyme disease. The before and after was mind-blowing. Thank you, Rak, for having the spirit and the courage to put yourself out there in this way. May many suffering souls benefit from the information you are conveying.

  • Chris Isner

    Percy Garcia Lozano is a fraud, quite adept at duping credulous hippies like Rak Razam. Percy actually fakes drinking ayahuasca during his ceremonies (this is why he pours behind a row of bottles on his table. Seriously, the man actually sits on a throne!) If you want real healing in Peru, find a reputable Shipibo curandero like Wiler Noriega at Pulse Tours’ Ayahuasca Adventure Center. Real curanderos are humble, kind and immensely powerful during ceremony, as opposed to Percy who is conceited, condescending, abusive to his staff, and whose ceremonies are that of a child playing grown-up compared to real curanderos. Basically, avoid Mestizo curanderos (their ranks rife with charlatans) and by all means avoid gringo “shamans” like the plague.