The Path of the Sun: Q’ero Culture and Ayahuasca

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Following my article about San Pedro, Ayahuasca, and plant medicines in Peru, I was contacted by Seti Gershberg, who lived in the Sacred Valley of Peru for two years, whilst studying with the Q’ero and Ayahuasqueros and making a documentary about it. I had a chance to see his documentary The Path of the Sun, which is available for download online.

This article was originally published in 2014, and has since been updated for accuracy of links and formatting.

The Path of the Sun

The Path of the Sun is a two-part documentary (each part is just over an hour in length) that explores Peruvian shamanism, ancient wisdom, consciousness, the healing powers of Ayahuasca, and how all this applies to our 21st century world. Throughout the films over 18 authors, anthropologists, therapists, and practitioners in these shamanic cultures are interviewed.

Q’ero Mystics of Peru

Q’ero Mystics of Peru is the first part of the documentary and provides a good base of knowledge of this unique indigenous culture that is shrouded in much mystery. Not a lot is known about the Q’ero, as they lived in relative isolation in remote Andean communities until the 1950’s. In the duration and aftermath of the Spanish conquest, they maintained a foothold on their culture and beliefs by living remotely in this way.

Their culture is based on living in close connection with the earth, and their healing experience and wisdom is handed down through the generations. They’re a very spiritual (and colourful!) culture based on simple yet fundamentally beautiful concepts such as reciprocity, love, and balance. Although most schools of thought suggest that there are no living bloodline descendants of the Inca, some people feel the Q’ero could indeed be of Inca heritage.

Another school of thought suggests that the Q’ero culture is coming into the limelight more and more because of a prophecy that they have been keepers of certain fundamental wisdoms that can now help western cultures who have lost their connection to the earth and provide a global spiritual direction.

In this colourful part of the documentary, elder grandfathers of the Q’ero Nation are interviewed and filmed, along with anthropologists and other leading experts on the Q’ero people.

Ayahuasca: Nature’s Greatest Gift

Ayahuasca: Nature’s Greatest Gift is the second part of the documentary, and explores the basics of ayahuasca including its original uses, how this plant medicine is made, and what it does. I was particularly interested in the socio-cultural commentary, such as the growing boom of ayahuasca tourism and its pitfalls, the common misconceptions about what ayahuasca can do, and how it can be used to treat issues like PTSD and alcohol/drug addictions.

Despite an overall favourable approach to the use of ayahuasca, this documentary isn’t candy-coated and paints a comprehensive and realistic picture of ayahuasca while interviewing ethno-pharmacologists, notable doctors, authors and Peruvian shamans.

2017 Update: On a more personal note, I’ve been working more with the plant medicines (including ayahuasca) since I published my first post about it. I now have a much broader depth of scope with regards to ayahuasca, and plant medicine in general, after apprenticing with a few different shamans over a few years. For more information, check out my post Learning to be an Ayahuasca and San Pedro Shaman

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2 thoughts on “The Path of the Sun: Q’ero Culture and Ayahuasca”

  1. I am very disturbed by all these Plant Spirit Ceremonies claiming to use ahusyasco when I know for a fact the plant is almost extinct, on the endangered species list and have been told by people not interested in just using 2 plants along with something called rape, that the only way you’re going to have the real deal and not just cook up DMT, is to be with a shaman along the Amazon. And not all of them have access to it any more due to too much picking. The individuals I know into this hallucinogenic path have not learned and used anything useful. I am watching a number of Americans basically becoming druggies, I am not hearing of any journeying or visions actually bringing back wisdom. I also know from long experience, you can’t just go to classes and become an Incan shaman. You have to be Incan and it’s very doubtful any genuine shaman would share their knowledge and secrets to those who can pay.

    Reply
    • Hi Barbara,
      I agree with a lot of what you say.
      Ayahuasca is being used at a much greater rate than it is being replenished, and is in great danger of extinction. I also believe it is being misused by a lot of people. These are two of the main reasons why I personally stepped back from my own shamanic studies and practices in 2017.

      However, I will also say that plant medicine changed my own life. I still have problems, fight depression, and deal with various crises. That’s life! But, because of the (hard!) work I did on myself with the assistance of plant medicine, my capacities to deal with life’s problems, and the level of self-awareness I have has changed how I see myself and the world. I am infinitely more compassionate, towards others as well as myself, than I was before.

      Here’s the thing. It’s not about having a journey or a vision that brings the wisdom. It’s about PRACTICING what we learn in ceremony. That’s where I think many people fail. It’s hard work, and there is little to no guidance given regarding integration of the ceremony experience into daily life.
      Ayahuasca is not a magic pill, and it doesn’t solve any problems in and of itself.

      I also agree wholeheartedly that you can’t just sign up for “shaman school” and emerge with the knowledge to lead ceremonies. I believe an apprenticeship, when it happens, is an organic and individualized process. The adage “when the student is ready, the teacher appears” is appropriate.
      And I think that any shaman who is willing to teach their craft (with the right intentions) will do so not for the money but rather because of a calling to do so. And they don’t work with anybody and everybody who “signs up”, but rather to individual students who start by doing the work on themselves and later become ready to take it to the next level.

      Reply

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