Psychedelics are powerful substances with the potential to transform, heal, and awaken humanity. People have been journeying with entheogens for ages to journey to other worlds and dimensions, receive inspiration from spirit or undergo a shamanic initiation. Popular psychedelic documentaries are now helping to inspire generations of visionaries, artists, and truth-seekers, by waking them up to the pathways for higher growth and evolution that psychedelics can open us up to.
We chose 20 psychedelic documentaries ranging from stories rooted in the sixties to modern day discoveries and scientific research. Enjoy watching and learning about these amazing substances, from magic mushrooms to ayahuasca, and how they have been crucial change agents in the evolution of mankind.
1. DMT: The Spirit Molecule
DMT: The Spirit Molecule is a documentary based on a book of the same name written by Rick Strassman. This movie explores the complexities of dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a mysterious molecule that exists in nearly every living organism on earth. Aside from its strong psychedelic properties, very little is known about what it does and why it exists. This has led many to believe that the molecule’s main (and possibly only) function is to reconnect us with our spiritual side. The movie includes interviews with people of widely varying backgrounds who discuss their experiences with DMT.
2. Fantastic Fungi
When so many are struggling for connection, inspiration, and hope, Fantastic Fungi brings us together as interconnected creators of our world.
Directed by Louie Schwartzberg, Fantastic Fungi is a consciousness-shifting film that takes us on an immersive journey through time and scale into the magical earth beneath our feet, an underground network that can heal and save our planet.
Through the eyes of renowned scientists and mycologists like Paul Stamets, best-selling authors Michael Pollan, Eugenia Bone, Andrew Weil and others, we become aware of the beauty, intelligence and solutions the fungi kingdom offer us in response to some of our most pressing medical, therapeutic, and environmental challenges.
3. The Sunshine Makers
The Sunshine Makers follows the lives of Nicholas Sand and Tim Scully, two prominent LSD manufacturers who produced millions of hits/tabs during the 1960s counterculture. According to Sand, during one of his very first acid trips, he heard a voice say to him, “Your job on this planet is to make psychedelics and turn on the world.” Sand went on to do just that by teaming up with Scully and creating a brand of LSD called “Orange Sunshine,” which turned out to be one of the purest and most potent forms of LSD manufactured to this day.
4. Dirty Pictures
Dirty Pictures takes an in-depth look at the life of Alexander Shulgin, the prolific chemist and Navy veteran who first introduced 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) to psychotherapists in the 1970s. Overall, Shulgin synthesized over 200 different psychedelic compounds during his years as a chemist, all of which he tested on himself, his wife Ann, and some of their close friends. He also co-authored the books PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story and TiHKAL: The Continuation, and is said to be one of the most important psychedelic chemists of all time. Shulgin passed away in 2014 at the age of 88 years old.
5. A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin
A New Understanding takes a closer look at the use of psilocybin—AKA magic mushrooms—to treat anxiety in patients suffering from terminal cancer. This film focuses not only on the scientific research, but also the spiritual aspect of incorporating hallucinogens into the end-of-life process. The goal is to help patients have what’s referred to as a “good death.” A way to view death as not just the end of one’s life, but the beginning of a new, sacred journey. Studies reviewed in this documentary date back to the 1970s.
6. D’autres Mondes (Other Worlds)
D’autres Mondes focuses primarily on the healing power of native shaman and the plants they use. The practice of using therapeutic psychedelics dates back more than 4,000 years. This film shows how shamans used these substances and how they tied into the tribes’ overall belief systems and cultures. Each shaman speaks independently in this film and discusses information from their own personal life experiences. This film also covers some of the dangers associated with shamanism, such as misinterpreting visions or feelings.
7. Manifesting the Mind
Manifesting the Mind takes a look at psychedelics in general and doesn’t focus on one in particular like many other films on the list. This documentary examines what exactly psychedelics are and where they come from, as well as why they are so ostracised in Western cultures. This film includes testimony from many experts including Dennis McKenna, Alex Grey, and many others.
8. Peyote to LSD: A Psychedelic Odyssey
Set to a Grateful Dead soundtrack, ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes travels the globe and explores the use of various hallucinogenic plants in Peyote to LSD: A Psychedelic Odyssey. Schultes was one of the first Americans to get an up-close and personal look at psychedelics actually being used in ceremonies by native tribes. In this documentary, Schultes and his team discuss the discovery of magic mushrooms, peyote, ayahuasca, and more.
9. Aya: Awakenings
This film is adapted from the book Aya Awakenings: A Shamanic Odyssey, written by Rak Razam. Both the book and film follow Razam deep into the Amazon jungle as he discovers the ancient secrets of ayahuasca, a potent, plant-based psychedelic frequently used by shaman for various rituals. While searching for information about the Amazonian shamans and their modern-day use of ayahuasca, Razam inadvertently runs into an influx of Western tourists eager to try the substance for themselves.
10. Neurons to Nirvana: Understanding Psychedelic Medicines
Neurons to Nirvana delves into the newfound revival of psychedelic research, which has been swept under the rug for decades. For years, if a medical professional expressed interest in psychedelics, they were treated as if they were crazy. In recent years, an increasing number of researchers are focusing on the many ways psychedelics can be used as medicine. Neurons to Nirvana features interviews from some of the world’s most notable writers, researchers, psychologists, and therapists, in which they discuss the benefits of 5 popular substances: cannabis, LSD, psilocybin, MDMA, and ayahuasca.
11. Entheogen: Awakening the Divine Within
Entheogen is a full-length documentary that examines the traditional methods of reaching a divine and spiritual awakening in the modern world. This film explores a refined form of shamanism made to fit in our postmodern world. The central questions this documentary aims to answer are how can entheogens fit into our modern civilization, and can they solve our ecological woes? For reference, an entheogen is any psychedelic substance that can be used for spiritual development. The term entheogen roughly means “generating the divine within.”
12. The Last Shaman
From the outside looking in, James is living the American dream. But behind closed doors, he has no desire to live and contemplates suicide. Desperate to find a way out of darkness, in The Last Shaman, James travels to the Amazon rain forest with one mission: to save his own life. Without knowing any of the dangers that lie ahead, he starts searching for a Shaman who can help. James’ road to redemption isn’t easy — he faces many obstacles and even a few life-threatening experiences as he learns to acknowledge the space inside himself and understand a larger truth about how we’re all connected. After undergoing various forms of treatments from tribal plants and medicines, James is faced with the consequences of his own actions. He undergoes a life-changing experience that brings him a deeper understanding and acceptance of himself, and a more profound understanding of the interconnectedness of us all.
13. Magic Trip
Based on raw video footage of the legendary LSD-fueled cross country trip Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters undertook in 1964, Magic Trip offers a rare glimpse into an extraordinary moment in American psychedelic history. Colorful, uplifting and cheerful!
14. Terrence McKenna’s True Hallucinations
Terence McKenna rocked the world of hallucinogens with his groundbreaking books and unique insights into culture, history, and evolution. This experimental documentary takes a close look at McKenna’s time spent tripping in the Amazon basin, a period of his life that gave rise to several of his most recognized theories.
15. Psychonautics: A Comic’s Exploration of Psychedelics
A unique fusion of comedy and psychedelia, join comedian Shane Mauss as he dives headfirst down an entheogenic rabbit hole, in Psychonautics: A Comic’s Exploration of Psychedelics. Enjoy the stories of his most intense and bizarre experiences, and learn a thing or two from scientists and experts that weigh in from an academic perspective.
16. The Substance: Albert Hofmann’s LSD
When the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann first synthesized LSD, he wasn’t aware of the monumental importance of his discovery. It wasn’t until he involuntarily embarked on the legendary bicycle trip when he realized he was onto something. “The Substance” covers the history of LSD, as well as its cultural impact.
“Dosed” follows the journey of a woman who makes the conscious decision to turn to psychedelics. After enduring the gauntlet of prescription pills, Adrianne seeks out natural psychedelics in an attempt to address her inner turmoil.
18. Orange Sunshine
Ever wonder where all that LSD came from in the ’60s and ’70s? This film takes a look at the so-called Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a group of free-spirited surfers from Cali who went from carving barrels to setting up the largest LSD production operation in the country.
19. The Reality of Truth
Created by filmmaker and entrepreneur Mike “Zappy” Zapolin, and featuring Lost star Michelle Rodriguez, The Reality of Truth is an exploration of plant medicines and spirituality. Including interviews with dozens of leading spiritual and psychedelic experts, this film takes a peek at what both psychedelics and spirituality have in common, and the fundamental truth they are both pointing towards.
20. Journeys to the Edge of Consciousness
Take an animated dive into the psychedelic experiences of three of the best minds of all time: Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary, and Alan Watts. This colorful journey will give you a peek into the brains of these psychedelic pioneers, who expressed their ideas so vividly through literature and the spoken word.
21. From Shock to Awe
Following the journey of two US war veterans, as they venture into the Amazon to find a treatment for their PTSD, From Shock to Awe shows us the power of ayahuasca to heal trauma in ways that pharmaceuticals often cannot.
Enjoy These Documentaries With Care!
Fair warning, once you get started down the psychedelic documentary road, you may not want to turn back! Bring out the coconut oil popcorn, smoke a bowl, and turn on your favorite mood lighting for some stunning visionary documentary adventures into the world of psychedelics, and their powerful impact on the body, mind, and soul.