Michael Wiese (SAY Wee-see) is founder and publisher of Divine Arts Media, which publishes books on diverse topics with the common theme of integrating spiritual practice into daily life. His documentary film THE SHAMAN & AYAHUASCA and book with the same name: Journeys to Sacred Realms by Don Jose Campos – Through ritual use the psychoactive plant-based brew Ayahuasca, the shamans of Peru call upon the spirit world to aid healing practices and understand the cosmos. Internationally respected Peruvian shaman Don José Campos illuminates these practices with grace and gentleness, respect and gratitude for the gifts bestowed on him through 25 years he has been a practicing shaman.
Michael is an American director, producer, author, and publisher with over 35 years experience in film, television, pay TV and home video. He has launched video lines for National Geographic, The Smithsonian, NOVA, Audubon and PBS Home Video and written eight books on film. Learn more at www.DivineArtsMedia.com.
Respect for the healing, nutritional and spiritual power of plants is at the heart of The Shaman & Ayahuasca. Seeking healing for symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, filmmaker Michael Wiese (say We-see) traveled to Peru to study Ayahuasca (SAY Aya-wass-ka), a psychoactive vine-based plant brew widely known throughout South America for its healing and visionary properties. Ayahuasca is called a ‘plant teacher’ because it is known to heal physical, psychological and emotional ills and provide patients with transformative insights.
“What I like about Ayahuasca is that it’s a plant that unties knots,” writes Don José Campos, author of The Shaman & Ayahuasca: Journeys to Sacred Realms. “It loosens up one knot, then another knot…and continues to free you. And those knots are about hatred and pain and sadness. And what a good thing – to release all that, to untie all that.”
Intrigued by these extraordinary claims, Wiese journeyed to the home of Campos, an internationally known Peruvian shaman or curandero (SAY koo-rahn-de-ro) to experience firsthand the healing and transformative aspects of Ayahuasca. His 73-minute film, shot on location in the jungle and in the Amazonian river towns of Pulcallpa and Iquitos, Peru, documents Campos’ shamanic work and Ayahuasca ceremonies. The film was named Best Documentary at the Albuquerque Film Festival in August, 2010.
“The Shamanic world view is about how we collaborate and participate with nature,” Wiese says. “The film and the book are not anthropological studies that stand outside and try to understand what’s going on and try to make sense of a theory. Instead we directly jump in as artists and filmmakers and musicians or what ever skills we have, looking for direct experience and a connection to understand.”
In July 2011, Divine Arts Media, an imprint of Michael Wiese Productions, releasesThe Shaman & Ayahuasca: Journeys to Sacred Realms. Translated by Alberto Roman, a healing arts practitioner and musical collaborator, and edited and compiled by Geraldine Overton-Wiese, Wiese’s wife and collaborator with Campos, it juxtaposes the shaman’s teachings with the experiences of his visitors.
“The book was originally conceived as containing solely the transmissions of Don José, but as the journey unfolded, it became apparent that the experiences we were having were giving us direct lessons on how Ayahuasca manifests within our consciousness,” Overton-Wiese writes. “It was therefore agreed that some of our experiences ought to be included in the book to illustrate the words of Don José.”
Campos, in simple and direct language, explains Ayahuasca concepts such as the health and healing benefits of the dieta, a practice of following certain dietary and lifestyle prohibitions to better understand the healing power of plants. He also explains the connection curanderos have with nature through constant observation of plants, animals and the world around them.
Most of all, with poetic vision, he conveys the kindness curanderos cultivate toward everyone and every thing around them, and the mental, emotional and physical well-being that results from this mindset. Alberto Roman, translator for Campos as well as a musical collaborator and practitioner of healing arts for 20 years, sums up the curanderos’ positive message: “For me, these practices gives me a sense that life is inherently good, meaningful, and yours to fulfill.”
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