The Sacred Science: A Documentary Review

The Sacred Science: A Documentary Review
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The following expose reviews the documentary The Sacred Science and sheds light on plant and psychedelic medicines.

Western societies have demonized death. But why? Due to fear and ignorance. Because there’s something to be afraid of after death. What is it? What is God? They are truly afraid of God, and He is life itself. So they stay away from death, and by doing so they stay away from life as well.”

It doesn’t take a neuroscientist (helpful though they may be) to convince readers who choose to mine the ever-abundant resources of the Internet to reveal the striking connections between psychedelics, healing, and the near death experience. Nearly all of religious history is hinged upon the death of the mind/ego in order that it give life to the spirit. As Guillermo Avarelo has recently said in Rak Razam’s Ayahuasca Sessions, the sacred plant path is often said to be the quickest way to reach such ends. [1]

The documentary The Sacred Science (2011), helmed by director Nick Polizzi, examines the effectiveness of utilizing the curative properties of plant medicines in the Peruvian Amazon in order to heal serious illness. A true curandero (the Peruvian term for shaman) is expected to know a variety of alchemical concoctions amongst the 44,000 different Amazonian plant species—knowledge said to be obtained by spirits who teach the curanderos exactly which plants to use and where to find them within the innerspace of the ayahuasca trance.

The central premise of Sacred Science is to transport 8 Westerners (from Australia to the U.S.) to see the way in which illnesses like diabetes, prostate cancer, alcoholism, depression, breast cancer, and Parkison’s may be mediated by utilizing a variety of indigenous medicines in the Amazon. Unfortunately, the film falls prey to the persistent trappings of 1st world tourism and the potential for the appropriation of other spiritual traditions, emphasizing that we must go elsewhere in search for these medicines, rather than attempting to find ways in which to utilize plant sacraments legally and carefully within our own gardens.

Of these 8 we only receive full confirmation that one of the patients was fully cured—the gentleman with diabetes, and in a short 10 days—but that may also be due to having a stricter diet while in the Amazon. It is worth noting that serious illnesses probably also need longer than 30 days in order to be fully cured by visionary plants. I would be curious to see the results of a long-term study to see the impact that 6 or more months could have had in consistent treatment on the Amazonian dieta.

Two recent documentaries that could be considered Western shamanism, Aya Awakenings and Sick Birds Die Easy, have highlighted the pervasive presence of death in the transformative spiritual experience. Rak Razam experiences the death of his mind in a harrowingly intense 5-MeO-DMT trip, and in Sick Birds the reaper is stumbled into as the group suddenly runs into tribal warfare and an accidental death while seeking an iboga healing ceremony.

In addition to providing an example of how lost the Westerner may be when truly confronted with the primal wilderness of the vast Amazon, Sacred Science is specifically striking in that it actually documents the very last days of a cancer patient who is finally able to heal cluster tumors through the Amazon’s ever abundant resources, before shortly passing away in the jungle afterwards. It is as if the medicine accelerated and settled his karmic debt, by freeing him of his physical ailment. Now he can finally move on and rest in peace. It is possible that someone in his condition could have been kept alive on pharmaceuticals and machines for much longer, but I wonder, would he have wanted that? Would any of us want that quality of life?

Additionally, the film earns itself extra kudo points by making sure that the sick westerners understand the entirety of what John Michael Greer has called the Green Path, in focusing on other useful sacred plants outside of entheogens first, before confronting the infamously daunting grandmother spirit ayahuasca. Unfortunately those without much background knowledge on entheogens will be a bit lost, as the viewer is given very little information as to the exacting effects, though this isn’t usually an issue for RS readers, a new comer to the movie would be referred to The Sacred Cookbook by the filmmaker which provides more information on some of the specific recipes.

The Sacred Science highlights the persistent failings of the imminent collapse of the Western medical system and big pharma, should they continue to push synthetic artifacts over natural medicines in use for over thousands of years. [2] It is a call to recognize the inherent psycho-physical power of what Christian Ratsch and Claudia Müller-Ebeling have deemed to be Witchcraft Medicine, and from this point of view it is certainly worth a watch.

[1] For NDE in the context of spiritual history see Ioan P. Culianu’s Out of this World: Otherworldly Journeys from Gilgamesh to Albert Einstein and Otherworld Journeys: Accounts of Near-Death Experience in Medieval and Modern Times by Carol Zaleski. Meditation disciplines that unite the brahman with the ahtman in the non-dual state can be equally valid and helpful when exploring entheogenic territory.

[2] For healing serious illness with entheogens/shamanic medicine in general see Psychedelic Medicine: New Evidence for Hallucinogenic Substances as Treatments by Thomas B. Roberts and Michael Winkelman. For ayahuasca specific treatment see The Therapeutic Use of Ayahuasca by Beatriz Caiuby Labate and Clancy Cavnar.

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