Little Saints: Eat a Mushroom, Talk to God
Magic mushrooms have the power to take you on a cerebral journey like no other. However, this insightful experience has more use and significance than simply going on a recreational ride. Over the last couple of years, science has been conducting a lot of research into psychedelic medicine, and it is finding many beneficial uses – some of which can be gained from psilocybin, the active compound of magic mushrooms.
Whilst modern science is only just realising the potential of magic mushrooms, it is something well known by other cultures of the world. They have been used for hundreds of years during the healing rituals of shamanic societies across the globe. To try and make this alternative remedy more widely known to western society, Oliver Quintanilla, in conjunction with National Geographic, has made a documentary exploring the traditional Mazatec rituals and healing surrounding the use of this psychedelic fungus.
Titled Little Saints, this new documentary follows the personal healing journey of six individuals from the USA. Along with Quintanilla, these six travel to meet a shamanic healer in Mexico who endeavours to use a combination of magic mushrooms, talk therapy, prayer, and visualisation to treat their ailments – which include anxiety, depression, drug addiction, and asthma.
One scene that really sticks out involves Lorrie Wessel, one of the six, who suffers from social anxiety. Through the nature and structure of her psychedelic journey, she realises that her social anxiety is not actually a disorder. In a heartfelt moment she reveals, “It’s gaining in my awareness that I picked the perfect environment to assist me with my growth and what I wanted to learn, and that nobody’s at fault. And that’s [true] for all of us. The mistakes we made are not really mistakes, because it’s the best we knew at the time.”
Throughout the documentary, leading scientists and medical professionals offer commentary and opinion, in hopes that it adds weight to the legitimacy of the documentary’s underlying message: that everyone can benefit from this. Quintanilla says he could have done the commentary himself, but it wouldn’t have the same kind of power.
However, he also adds that by taking mushrooms recreationally, users are more likely to have a bad experience. The aim of the documentary is not to encourage recreational use, but mushrooms as a healing sacrament, as part of a structured therapy. The title of the documentary is a representation of this idea. As explained by the priest José Luis Sánchez early on in the documentary, little saints is a loose translation for the Mazatec work for magic mushrooms. With little being a respectful word, and saints often being interpreted as “sacred things”.
What we can say for sure is that this documentary is well worth a watch, no matter your experience or knowledge of magic mushrooms. It is a real eye opener, and gives insight into both its traditional uses and the way it can heal where western medicine fails. Check it out!