DON EMILIO & HIS LITTLE DOCTORS by Luis Eduardo Luna (1982)

Last weekend, I read THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE SCREAMING ABYSS, the brand new tell-all memoir by Dennis McKenna, recounting his life with his older brother, Terence, and their adventures together exploring psilocybin, dmt, Terence’s nutty Timewave Zero/2012 idea, and so on. It is a brave, instructive, lucid and (yes) sobering look at the life of two unique psychonauts, one of whom is still with us, and one of whom haunts many of us.

In the book, Dennis mentions “Don Emilio & His Little Doctors,” a film by the scholar Luis Eduardo Luna. The film is available online, in its entirety, with the permission of Mr. Luna.

Here is the description:

This film, by Luis Eduardo Luna, is one of the very first films—if not the first—documenting ayahuasca among mestizo population of the Peruvian Amazon. It was part of Luna’s field work carried out in the Iquitos area during July and August 1981, concentrated on the practices of Don Emilio Andrade Gomez, a “vegetalista” living 12 km from the city. The film Don Emilio and his Little Doctors (1982) was made during that time. It is a complement to Luna’s doctoral dissertation “Vegetalismo. Shamanism Among the Mestizo Population of the Peruvian Amazon”, published in Stockholm in 1986.

Don Emilio was born in Iquitos in 1918. When he was 14 years old, and while working in the Amazon river, near the mouth of the Napo river, he took ayahuasca for the first time. He did it in order to curarse, a term that implies the cleansing and strengthening of the body. When he took ayahuasca for the fifth time, while keeping to the prescribed diet imposed by his teacher, an old man with a flute and a drum appeared in his visions to teach him icaros, magic melodies…

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About Jay Babcock

I am the co-founder and editor of Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curator of the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was one of five Angelenos listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. Today, I live a peaceful life in the rural wilderness of Joshua Tree, California, where I am a partner in JTHomesteader.com with Stephanie Smith.

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