‘The Last Shaman’ is already 5 years old but it is still relatively a new film. And the subject is still very current and becoming more and more popular in the Western society thanks to such films.
It is a story of a Western young man named James, who at first just seems to have some first world problems. Soon we realize though that he is a very sensitive, lost soul who experiences depression and is trying everything he can think of to heal. He became numbed by the medication and just wished to look at a beautiful sunset and feel something. ‘I want to love and be loved’ – he says. He read about Ayahuasca in National Geographic and decided to go to Peru to try it. It was his last resort.
He tries several shamans before he finally meets Pepe from the Shipibos community. As a true healer, Pepe doesn’t take money from people. He heals James because his calling is to help others. He also spends a lot of time to facilitate the process of James’ treatment. It takes months and includes Dieta – 119 days of isolation during which James ingest various plants, including Mapacho tobacco and Ayahuasca. Then he is finally ready for a rebirth ceremony.
Unfortunately, Pepe’s good intentions aren’t rewarded – he is actually expelled from his own village and becomes exiled. Now he experiences similar feelings to what James used to feel, while James is on the way to become a shaman himself. He does not complete the process though because after Pepe’s disappearance he decides to leave the village himself. Pepe is not the last shaman ever existing but the last shaman that James worked and connected with. They actually became friends.
James realized that he never knew self-love or how to feel whole. He starts to see that his parents and then the society expected too much from him, causing his anxiety. He was not ready to play the game. He didn’t believe anymore that Western society has figured out how to be happy or loved of fulfilled. He considered sucide and gave himself 10 months to see if anything changes. After visiting the Amazon his attitude towards life has changed. He now has a will to live.
The last thing that this film touches upon is the problem of commercialization of Ayahuasca that should be taken in a ceremonial environment. It became a good business years ago and with time it is only getting worse. Pepe talks about prostitution of Mother Ayahuasca and the fact that some people using sacred plants just to make money. There is also a problem of appropriation of this sacred medicine by Westerners such as Gringo Shaman portrayed in the film – is mother Aya reaching outside the Amazon communities or are we just using and abusing indegious people and their knowledge?
‘In oneself lies the whole world and if you know how to look and learn, the door is there and the key is in your hand. Nobody on Earth can give you either the key or the door to open. Except yourself.’ A true Shaman will only guide you through the forest so you can find yourself.