The Path of The Sun

Viewing Life from a New Perspective

An Interview with Seti Gershberg

Here at Open Mind Trips we recently had the chance to get in touch with Seti Gershberg, the man behind the film series “The Path of The Sun”, a two-part documentary called “Ayahuasca - Nature’s Greatest Gift” and “ Q’ero Mystics of Peru”.

The film gives a great overview of Ayahuasca in general, and of its healing properties, while presenting some of the challenges the we are facing as a result of the increased uses of Ayahuasca.

We had a chance to ask Seti some questions about his work, to gain a better understanding of it, which we would like to share with you:

Seti, you have done an amazing job making this two-part documentary, and you have put a lot of effort in it.

What  made you come up with the idea of creating The Path of the Sun, and what is your purpose with it?

"I had several different reasons for making The Path of the Sun.  First and foremost I would like to emphasize the fact that my interest in shamanism and medicinal plants goes back to the early 80's when I was in college and getting my degree in anthropology. Several years ago however, I was introduced to a Lakota shaman who invited me to participate in a number of Native medicine ceremonies. At that time I was re-evaluating some career choices and wanted to make a transition from working in the private sector to something more in line with my personal interests.

So, the introduction to Chief Leo who is a Lakota Road Man was fortuitous because it helped me get back to some early roots and helped me vision a new path for myself. Oftentimes people become stuck in their lives and careers.the path of the sun q'ero In my case it was no different. I was searching for answers and the universe responded. I reread Castaneda's series on the quest for knowledge through his work with Don Juan the Yaqui shaman and with the help of the shamanic work I was doing and the guidance I received from grandfather Peyote, I realized that my seeker/explorer/adventurer archetype needed to rise up and break free of the social confines to which it had been bound for years and had guided my decision making.

Now, later as I reflect back on this moment, I see it in terms of mythological hero's journey as described by Joseph Campbell in his work Hero with A Thousand Faces. I was in need of a transcendent experience and was called to a quest by my inner being.

At the same time that I was partaking in the medicine ceremonies with the Lakota, ayahuasca came into my life. People say that ayahuasca comes to you, and that was certainly the case with me. I participated in a ceremony in the Chicago area and had a visionary experience which led to the development of the film project. In the end my journey to film The Path of the Sun was an intersection point between my personal desire to effect a change in my life and a calling from La Madre Ayahuasca itself at the same time.

I do believe that Mother Ayahuasca's overall intention with calling me to film The Path of the Sun was to both guide me to make changes in my life, as well as provoking a change in how the world views Ayahuasca. In fact one of the spirits I met on one of my journeys suggested that I should guide others to the medicine and help spread the word about its healing powers. "

Well, you are not the first one to claim that Ayahuasca is asking us to help spread some awareness around the healing properties of this vine. I experienced this calling myself, but that was after a San Pedro ceremony. 
Do you think all teacher plants (e.i. Ayahuasca, Peyote, Iboga, San Pedro, Mushrooms etc.) are somehow working together on this mission to spread awareness around Entheogens?

"That is an interesting question that I have not thought about. I do believe that there is a plant intelligence and that plants and humans have a greater relationship that goes beyond simply food and gas exchange. I believe we are part of a greater organism and work in conjunction for it's survival. The earth to me is alive and we are all a part of it like a bloodcell is a part of us.

This could indicate that these plants have come to us to help guide us in our own survival, for if we destroy the planet we destroy not only ourselves but the plants as well, so perhaps the plants do work in conjunction with each other and send us messages in order to teach us. I do not think that there is any scientific evidence to suggest this, but perhaps the answer is supernatural and part of the great mystery?"

Yes, and speaking of great mysteries - what is the most interesting thing you found, when making The Path of the Sun?

"The Path of the Sun is a documentary series and is composed of two films about vastly different shamanic traditions. Ultimately, people are interested in discovering who they are and what it means to be human. We all have ideas about what consciousness is and how we fit intothe path of the sun ayahuasca shaman the realm of existence including our relationship with others on this plane and that which is a mystery and beyond explanation - in other words the supernatural.

What I find to be interesting is that not only do the shamanic traditions I have filmed, but others that I have researched try to describe this phenomenon and explain these concepts in terms of variation. Afterall we are all human and it seems that throughout history and across cultures there are commonalities.

Now to be sure, this is true if you view shamanism, spiritual practice, ritual and religion in metaphorical terms. In my opinion it is the belief in the strict definition of the written word is where we get into trouble. But in metaphorical terms many of these concepts start to appear as variations on the same theme and when you work with the Q'ero or with Ayahuasca or the Law of Attraction, the transcendent experience,knowledge and wisdom is very similar."

Those are some very interesting findings! Still after all these lifetimes, we humans still seek to find our truth about what it means to be human. To know what it means to be human you have to actually be one, and so far, so good. But some might say that Ayahuasca, as well as other Entheogens, may speed up this process of understanding human life, and maybe even get us closer to a more broader understanding of life in general, not just from a human perspective. I believe that as long as we have this need to understanding life, people will continue to seek answers in different ways, which is what leads some people to seek out places to view it through the perspective of Ayahuasca.

So based on the knowledge you have attained while filming your documentary, what would you recommend to these people seeking ayahuasca?

"I could talk about this topic for hours.  I have thought about it a lot. My opinion has changed somewhat from when I first began my journey. Then, I thought Ayahuasca should be experienced in a shamanic setting only. Now that could be in Peru, other South American countries, or anywhere that a shaman was present and a ceremony performed in a traditional way. But, Ayahuasca has taught me something, and that is that it is not my place to judge and lecture about the proper way of working with the medicine. What may be right for me, may not be right for others, so now I am less judgemental and believe Ayahuasca can be consumed in a variety of situations.

the path of the sun ayahuasca art

 I also, through my film work discovered that it is likely Ayahuasca will be offered in a psychotherapeutic context that is non-shamanic in the future. There are people who want to work with the medicine, but do not want the shamanic part. Purists may argue this is a bad idea, but I believe that cultures need to make their own myths and if people can benefit from using ayahuasca this way I see nothing wrong with it.

My personal preference is to drink it in a shamanic and healing context, that works for me, but I would not advise others that it must be served this way. It offers healing benefits regardless of context. This being said, however, I would caution people that the most important thing they can do is to prepare for the experience mentally, emotionally and physically, research the people that you will be working with thoroughly especially if you are going to the Amazon, and make sure that you are aware of all the safety issues surrounding Ayahuasca tourism. Avoid people who are inexperienced or if they are not recommended or overly commercial."

That is, interestingly enough, also a viewpoint we share here at Open Mind Trips. The purpose of this site is not to judge anyone or any way of working with these plants. We simply wish to create transparency, so that people have a better chance of choosing what suits them best. Everyone’s different and have different viewpoints, but in the end we hope to create a safe space for everyone to join together as one, and share information in a loving environment. This is the beautiful vision the Great Teacher Plants have shown us. This leads us to our last question:

Why would you call Ayahuasca 'Nature's greatest gift'?

"The title of the movie was derived from something that was said in the movie. Dr. Dennis McKenna calls it "one" of nature's greatest gifts. Well, one of nature's greatest gifts is not a very catchy title. I have also heard people say things like what about water or air, or chocolate? I look at it this way, things like water and air are necessities. They are requirements and we cannot live without them. So, in this sense they are not gifts, but givens. Now it may be argued that chocolate is a tastier gift than ayahuasca, and I would agree, but for me personally the only thing I learned from chocolate is that I need to brush my teeth afterwards and it makes a great valentine's day gift.

Ayahuasca however is the single most important teacher to me in my life that has come from nature itself.  I have had excellent teachers in school and do not in any way want to diminish what I learned from them, but regarding myself, who I am, what makes me tick, creating a frame of reference for my understanding of humanity, consciousness and the supernatural, Ayahuasca in that sense has been the greatest gift."

the path of the sun ayahuasca natures greatest gift

Well said Seti! Thank you so much for sharing your viewpoints with us. We are very thankful and honored that our paths have crossed, and we hope to be able to continue to be traveling along side on each of our different paths.

For those who are interested in viewing the Path of the Sun - you can download it here by sharing a modest donation with Seti for the great work he has done.