Ayahuasca is a powerful hallucinogenic brew made from plants which for thousands of years has been used as a spiritual medicine by indigenous Amazonian people in the Northern part of South America, with the earliest from Western missionaries in the 16th century reporting that the substance was “the work of the devil”. It is mostly associated with shamans who administer the drug to induce an altered state of consciousness in their subjects for medicinal purposes or as a shamanic means of communication, the powerful effects usually last for between 4 to 8 hours.
In recent years the experience has attracted scores of Western tourists who travel to South America to seek out shamans, often at purpose built retreats, in the hope that the drug can help them to heal or cure a variety of problems ranging from drug addiction to depression. It is not without its risks however, with some people dying after taking a dose of Ayahuasca, among backpackers the psychoactive drug has become a rite of passage and many seek out the experience despite it often being horrific.
Ayahuasca: Vine of the Soul is an award winning 2010 documentary by Richard Meech that explores the mystery of ayahuasca shamanism, it follows a naturopathic doctor and an accountant as they join others on a a quest for spiritual awakening and healing. The film ultimately opens the window on an experience which is pretty mysterious.