Written by Alessandra Campos-Miller, MA
Giger’s cat, Muggi III
The documentary film, Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World, filmed one year before his death in May of 2014, provides an intimate portrait of the life and work of revolutionary artist of the subconscious, H.R. Giger.
The film takes the viewer on a spectral journey, drawing us irresistibly into Giger’s inner world. The work of Hansruedi, as he his affectionately called by his friends and family, is traced from the perinatal through his childhood, youth, adulthood, and present. The work of H.R. Giger is deeply connected to the subconscious and to the personal experiences with darkness and fear that Giger had throughout his life. Carmen Maria Scheifele Giger, H.R. Giger’s wife, eloquently describes the connection between his work and the deep levels of our subconscious, saying “You see his pictures and you feel like you’ve known them forever. They represent the deepest depths of our souls.”
Grof exploring Giger’s Ghost Ride
Dr. Stanislav Grof, whose book HR Giger and the Zeitgeist of the Twentieth Century is seen being prepared for publication at Giger’s home, further explains Giger’s connection to the subconscious. Grof guides the viewer through Giger’s “Ghost Train,” which recreates the perinatal journey in ride form. The ride features a train car which guides the rider through tunnels of lush plant life, flesh, blood, stony fetuses, mechanical bodies, and feminine anatomy.
A still from the movie, showing Giger and Grof working on the book, HR Giger and the Zeitgeist of the Twentieth Century
The ride had been a dream of Giger’s in his childhood, which Grof explains by stating that Giger clearly represents the “dark areas related to the trauma of birth which we have never consciously processed.”
The documentary features never-before-seen artwork, beautiful descriptions of Giger’s work by his loved ones, the opening of the H.R. Giger Museum in Switzerland, and even dedicates screen time to the mischievous prowlings of Giger’s cat, Müggi III. Devotees of Giger’s work, along with those who are new to the visionary work of this influential artist, will appreciate the loving treatment that is given to his life and work in Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World.
Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World is available to stream on Netflix. Stanislav Grof’s HR Giger and the Zeitgeist of the Twentieth Century is available for purchase via Synergetic Press.
Life of legendary ethnobotanist and Synergetic Press author, Richard Evans Schultes, portrayed in Academy Award nominated film, Embrace of the Serpent, starting March 25 in Santa Fe at the CCA.
An image from Embrace of the Serpent with Schultes’ character in the background
Embrace of the Serpent was Academy Award Nominated for BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM inspired by the real-life journals of two explorers: Theodor Koch-Grünberg and Richard Evans Schultes who traveled through the Colombian Amazon during the last century in search of the sacred and difficult-to-find psychedelic Yakruna plant.
Filmed in stunning black-and-white, SERPENT centers on Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and the last survivor of his people, and the two scientists who, over the course of 40 years, build a friendship with him.
Embrace of the Serpent will be playing at The Center for Contemporary Arts , Santa Fe
Starting March 25
Richard Evans Schultes classic book, Vine of the Soul, is published by Santa Fe based Synergetic Press.
VINE OF THE SOUL: MEDICINE MEN, THEIR PLANTS AND RITUALS IN THE COLOMBIAN AMAZONIA By Richard Evans Schultes & Robert F. Raffauf Preface by Wade Davis
Read more about the connections between Vine of the Soul and Embrace of the Serpent.
About the Book
This book is the story of a time that was—a time when the Amazon Indian was free to roam the forest and rivers, happy with their social institutions, unencumbered by acculturation or the cultural destruction of their ancient societies and virgin forests. The story is told through over 160 black & white photographs taken by renown Harvard ethnobotanist, Richard Evans Schultes during the ‘40s and ‘50s when he spent fourteen uninterrupted years living with the Indian tribes of the Amazon. Combining his scientific eye for documentation with a photographers eye for lighting, composition and character, he created an extraordinary record of the medicinal plants and flora of the Colombian Amazon.
Co‐authored by Robert F. Raffauf, an outstanding plant chemist, VINE OF THE SOUL contains some of the most significant photographs on this subject ever taken accompanied by detailed descriptions of the Amazon Indians use of medicinal and other sacred plant substances, with information on the bioactive chemistry and medicinal properties of the plants.
VINE OF THE SOUL (or ayahuasca) is a sacred drink used for millennia by shamans throughout the Amazon basin. This book is not just for readers interested in ayahuasca, and other psychoactive drugs; it is a remarkable record of a rich heritage that is in danger of disappearing altogether and should be examined by anyone interested in preserving the Amazon rainforest and the cultural heritage of its people. Thanks to attention drawn to the Amazon Indians by Schultes and others, the former President of Colombia, Virgilio Barco, in 1988 returned over six million hectares of land to the Indians for their exclusive use. The Colombian government further created a number of biological reserves, bringing the total area under protection to more than 20,000,000 hectares.
Dr. Richard Evans Schultes in Vine of the Soul
The second edition contains a Preface by Wade Davis, Explorer‐in‐Residence for the National Geographic Society; a Foreword by Sir Ghillean Prance, Former Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, England (Emeritus); and Epilogue by Michael Balick, Director of Institute of Economic Botany, NY Botanical Gardens.
Recipient of numerous national and international awards including the annual World Wildlife Fund Gold Medal, Schultes was awarded in 1983 the Cross of Boyaća, the highest honor offered by the Republic of Colombia. In 1992, Dr. Schultes was awarded the Linnean Gold Medal, the highest award a botanist can receive. Possibly more famous on the streets of Bogotá, Schultes was nevertheless the quintessential Harvard man, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Bostonian, a gentleman and a scholar.
Co‐authors Drs. Schultes and Raffauf passed away in recent years. This reissue is in commemoration of the authors life’s work. Remarkable plants; remarkable people; remarkable men.
“The medicine men of the Kamsa and Inga tribes of the valley of Sibundoy have an unusually extensive knowledge of medicinal and toxic plants. One of the most renowned is Salvador Chindoy, who insists that his knowledge of the medicinal plants has been taught to him by the plants themselves through the hallucinations he has experienced in his long lifetime as a medicine man. It is such knowledge, fast disappearing, that we must salvage for the potential benefit of all mankind.”