My Mazamet

Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho

The Last Shaman by James Freeman


This documentary is now on Netflix. Interesting concept. James suffers from acute depression. He’s tired. He’s tried all sorts of treatments but nothing has really worked. He decides to “give himself 12 months before he has a license to kill himself”. During this time he’s going to go to the amazon to try Ayahuasca. He hopes the experience will somehow change things.

I watched wondering how I myself might react to the drug. In a way I share many of James’ feelings. Always have. Like him I’ve taken all sorts of medication. None of them have been able to make me think the world is a good place. It’s not an easy way to live. Unlike James I don’t think there’s a solution.

31 comments on “The Last Shaman by James Freeman

  1. Steve Ruis
    January 20, 2017

    Now, that’s depressing. I agree with the sentiment that in some cases there is little to be done. Possibly not in yours.

    Have you tried acceptance? I do not ask such a question blithely. The reason I ask was I was a participant in a multi-day workshop focused on personal development. At the end of the main sessions, if we wished, we could “share” our situation with the group if we thought it could help. One woman decided to do this and with a physical presence having much in common with a sack of potatoes, she poured a story out of how as a child her father abused her sexually. This story was so sad we all were crying, including the workshop leader. At the end of her story she admitted she had looked for the workshop to help her deal with her situation (she had tried many things). When she finished, the leader, with eyes still glistening and with great compassion asked her “What if it weren’t wrong?” When I heard this question I had a visceral anger at him having asked such a thing, it sounded so much like a typical “blame the victim” sort of thing. When I thought a little, I realized he was asking her to see what would happen if she were to set aside the feeling that what happened to her was wrong. She said that it would be “very hard to do.” We understood. She had carried that burden for a long time.

    This occurred on a Sunday night. We reconvened on the following Tuesday evening to complete the workshop. While we were filing into the site from outside, this incredibly effervescent woman appeared, literally beaming. We didn’t recognize who this was,at first and then we grasped that this was the same woman as had told the life story that had us all in tears. Obviously, she had had a breakthrough with regard to her issue. (I won’t go into the details.)

    This breakthrough had occurred after several decades of nursing the issue and trying, sometimes desperately, to deal with it … and failin … and being quite depressed.

    I guess this came to mind because she kept trying, even after “everything else” had failed. Her transformation is still one of the most dramatic I have ever seen a person make and I am sure that it required quite a bit of bravery, and acceptance to accomplish. She appeared depressed beforehand and, I do not doubt, that she could have gotten psychologists to agree with that description … and then she … wasn’t.

    Depression can have physical or psychological reasons or both and maybe other causes we know nothing about. From the outside, though, to a stranger like me, far, far away, you have an admirable life and a developed mind. Maybe there is something out there or within you that will allow you the enjoyment in your life you seek.

    Keep looking … with acceptance of the world as it is … and maybe your life will be different for the better.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Carmen
    January 20, 2017

    Very moving story. I’ll add my supportive comments to Steve’s (admirably expressed, by the way!) and as someone from far, far away.

    You know, Mr. M., there aren’t too many people your age (and I can say that because I could be your mother) who have the keenly intellectual edge you have. Your ability to analyze and forthright manner in presenting ideas is commendable. I also appreciate your sense of humour. Surely someone with these attributes can find a way to see the world as a good place; it sounds to me like you’ve found a little corner of the world that’s good. So do keep looking. . .and thinking. 🙂

    (I don’t know how to do one of those little heart emoticons but you can imagine it)

    Liked by 4 people

  3. boyslikeme
    January 20, 2017

    I will check this one out for sure, I am a firm believer in the healing properties of hallucinogens if used correctly and with the right mindset! I highly recommend psilocybin from the mushroom to help investigate feelings of depression and origins of mental-states. At least with psilocybin you can retain a level of consciousness

    My experience with DMT (active ingredient in Ayahuasca) was so intense, but it needed to be. I circumvented the vomit and hippies and gave myself the drug directly. Complete disassociation – freedom from one’s “self”, the construct of personality – you without all the bullshit and memories. Aliens, spirits, dimensions, the usual!

    As a side-note – we all have endogenous DMT in our brains, a theory is that it keeps us all on the same conscious “trip”..

    You still have to return to your life though, to reality, that’s where the hard work belongs. I have gained much insight from the nether-regions of my mind on these substances, but that’s all. Sometimes ignorance is best in my opinion unless you are willing to change your life completely!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My (many) experiences with mdma/ecstasy in my 20’s were excellent. The first time I tried it, age 21, was the first time in my life in which I “relaxed”. Ever. But as the years went by the after-effects weren’t great. The haze started lasting longer and longer, and so by 30 I’d stopped.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. NeuroNotes
    January 20, 2017

    This day, Mr. M., you have gained my utmost respect. ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Curious Mother
    January 20, 2017

    Andrew Solomon is my favourite writer on depression. I recommend this essay, if you haven’t already seen it. There’s a few things floating around on Longreads at present about micro dosing with LSD, which I find intriguing. Like you, I found MDMA in my 20s & it was revelatory. Sometimes I can still recall those experiences in a way that helps. It wasn’t even illegal then and was very cheap. I wouldn’t want to take it mixed with all the cheap crap that it seems to have in it nowadays (and nor would I want my kids near it). We were lucky in this respect, I guess:

    Liked by 2 people

  6. makagutu
    January 20, 2017

    The world is not a good place, it was never meant to be. The world is just a place. Many times we have to struggle to make it livable, even if this is just an illusion.
    There are better days and worse days and in between drab days, happy days and what the fuck days.
    So go out there with a glass of your favorite wine and live

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Tish Farrell
    January 20, 2017

    Do not despair. There’s a lot of serious medical research going into mind altering substances of the Shamanic kind. Medics are finding that these substances, administered in very very small amounts can eliminate the anxiety that is often at the root of depression. Some people only need a single dose. I think I must have read this in the Observer recently. Magic mushrooms and ayahuasca were mentioned. Also some medics are wanting LSD back in their toolkit. Again a very tiny dose administered by a practitioner can apparently bring about a complete mind-body makeover in people who have suffered crippling bouts of depression for years. It seems to re-boot the system, but only to be approached with qualified guidance. Anyway certainly worth looking into though. But I’m also with Steve on the ‘letting go’. The Sedona technique is one I’ve discovered lately, and very simple in concept at least.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Ruth
    January 20, 2017

    I’m going to look up this documentary. It sounds interesting.

    You’ve written several posts of late regarding how terrible the world is. It can be. There are terrible things in the world, for sure. But I can second, or third, or fifth what Steve said about acceptance.

    These terrible things that happen to us and the things we see happen to others can weigh on us. And if we only see the world through that lens nihilism seems the logical end. I think that all of those terrible terribles grieve us. It’s possible to get stuck in the grieving process or to revisit stations along the way.

    I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t know but the five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Sometimes we get stuck and never make it all the way to acceptance, cycling through denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. We try to pretend things aren’t as they really are and then when we decide that, yeah, this really is as bad as we think it is we get pissed right the way off. Before we know it we’re searching for a fix of some kind – a pill, a drink, a rush of some kind. When that doesn’t work we get disenchanted with life.

    Acceptance isn’t a pardon for terrible things. It isn’t letting anyone or anything off the hook. But there is so much peace in just accepting that things have happened that I had no control over. Still have no control over. And just letting it the hell go.

    I agree with Carmen, too. With Mike, with your dogs, your house, your gardening, your love of entertaining, I know you’ve found something good in this life. Do what you have to do, even if it’s visiting a Shaman(I’ve also been hearing reports on the use of LSD in therapeutic doses for depression and PTST),to make those things the focus of your life.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. acflory
    January 20, 2017

    Just one word, PInky: HUGS

    Liked by 2 people

    • Always kind, even after putting up with me for all these years! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • acflory
        January 21, 2017

        I know. I’m a saint. :p

        -kicks Pinky up the butt-

        Btw, the Offspring and I just finished off a thick compote I made from the last of our home-grown apricots. I cooked about a kg of the fruit with only about 2? tablespoons of sugar over a very low heat with no added liquid. Came out tasting like a hot, deliciously tart ‘jam’.
        If you don’t have any fruit trees, you must get some!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. clubschadenfreude
    January 21, 2017

    would love to try aya. I’ve done salvia, hoping it would be some great revelatory thing. All I saw was my steam radiator and the rest of the world become Twizzlers (yes, the candy). then I zonk out and wake up a few minutes later remembering nothing.


  11. appletonavenue
    January 21, 2017

    I have heard stories of this for several years. Many claim it is a miracle cure to many things. I guess it all depends on your mindframe.

    I send you huge hugs! I hate depression, and hate seeing it in other people.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. belasbrightideas
    January 24, 2017

    I don’t think there’s A Solution either, MM – but I love life and embrace it, warts and all. It’s a miracle to embody and witness nature’s creations. To be part of the dance.

    Now. I’ve not done ayahuasca, though I know many who have. Personally I’m not into barfing. Plus, I’m one of those people who can stay high all day on one hit of pot. Always have been. That being said, this child of the ‘sixties finally ingested some amazing psilocybin a few years ago with my daughter who brought it on a visit from the Pacific Northwest. One time was all it took for me, and I was content. We had a sacred, expansive, creation-unfolding-kind of story that lasted for hours. Outrageous, informative, life-altering on levels I hadn’t considered before. But when I awoke the next morning, I looked like 10 miles of really bad road. Such experiences take a toll on the (aging) human body.

    I was happy to have had that experience, but quite frankly, both my husband and I prefer raising our own food and eating basic-ally and well. No alcohol or substances, yet we feel energized on life, corny as it sounds. If I want to trip out, I just look to the skies and there flies an owl or a hawk; swim in the ocean, and there sails a giant Manta or a dolphin. It’s a pretty remarkable world, all in all.

    Thanks for the recommend. Going to queue this documentary up just now 😉 xo


    • belasbrightideas
      January 24, 2017

      So we just finished watching a 2016 docu-film, Embrace of the Serpent. I think it was what we were meant to see. Powerful, powerful film. Couldn’t find the one you mention here (we only have Netflix DVD plan), but found this on Amazon Fire. Wow.


  13. Pingback: The Last Shaman –

  14. banactee
    August 18, 2018

    Drugs and medications are not the solution but may be helpful on the way to yourself!? But a real therapy does not require all this, my doctors always told me that medications will not cure a depression and that they are more a safety-net protecting against the real abyss such as suicide. Saying that there is no solution a very depressive statement, as there are certainly always optional paths to start and get rid oft melancholy.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


This entry was posted on January 20, 2017 by in thinking aloud and tagged , , .
%d bloggers like this: