Filmed and Produced by Andrei Golovnev. Runtime 32 min (in English).
For home or academic use:$39.00. For public performace rights: $59.00.



"Pegtymel is a visual poem on the summer life of a reindeer-breeding Chukchi group. With stunning sensitivity and ethnographic intelligence the author photographs mostly camp activities. Against this background unfolds a tale of visions induced by the hallucinogenic fly agaric, mirrored also in old petroglyphs. Assembled together in a coherent mosaic structure, the visual materials give the impression of a cultural whole, of a global cultural form. A rare achievement indeed."
- Asen Balikci, Anthropology Today (December 2000)

The film depicts Chukchi reindeer herders everyday life on the Pegtymel River, on the coast of the Chukchi Sea in the northeast part of Russia. Daily life and the autumn ritual are intersected with fly agaric mushroom stories told by old man Natalko and rock art images painted a thousand years ago on the Pegtymel cliffs. The camera traces the vivid dialogue of ancient and current traditions, beliefs and rituals, humans and nature; these are impressively abundant and picturesque in Chukchi traditional culture today.

Andrei Golovnev

Dr. Andrei Golovnev is a well-known Arctic anthropologist and filmmaker and a leading expert on indigenous peoples and cultures of the Russian North. He is a Senior Anthropologist at the Institute of History and Archeology in Ekaterinburg, Russia, and founder and director of the Ethnographic Bureau, also headquartered in Ekaterinburg. He has led numerous anthropological and archeological expeditions in the Russian North, particularly studying peoples who depend on large-scale reindeer herding.

Gary Lincoff09/01/2013

Pegtymel is a phenomenal work totally transformative for anyone watching it intently. I've seen it a number of times now and I find it mesmerizing and totally absorbing.

I was in Kamchatka a couple of times in the 90's with a group we put together that was particularly interested in the use of this mushroom, Amanita muscaria, among the native peoples we visited. In all, we visited a dozen Koryak villages, well south of the Chukchi area of Pegtymel. We met shamans, herders, musicians, dancers, and villagers who all talked about their use of the mushroom. Nobody described or showed the way Pegtymel does the use of the mushroom to dissolve, even temporarily, the barrier between species. I'll be recommending this film on my speaking tours this summer and fall.

Gary Lincoff author and mycologist

Alan Piper in London, UK01/12/2007

Andrei Golovnov's filmâ Pegtymelâ contains a unique record of the experience of the use of wapaq, Amanita muscaria, a hallucinogenic mushroom, as described by a living representative of an ancient tradition. The film depicts the use of wapaq un-sensationally, showing how its use is incorporated into the annual cycle of the lives of a reindeer herding people living in the Chukchi region in the extreme NE of Siberia. The rock art shown in the film, depicting human figures in combination with mushrooms that may date to the Bronze Age, bears testimony to the antiquity of the use of Amanita muscaria and the role that it has played in the daily life of the people of this region. The role of song in "finding one's way through" the realms accessed through the mushroom experience of the Chukchi people is shared with the indigenous peoples of South America, who also integrate the use of psychoactive plants into their way of life and with whom the Chukchi share a common ancestry.

Alan Piper, author of The Lote Tree of the Furthest Boundary: Psychoactive Sacraments in Islamic Gnosis.

Gary Kofinas in Fairbanks, Alaska01/15/2007

PEGTYMEL and WAY TO THE SACRED PLACE are essential viewing for anyone interested in Human-Reindeer Systems of the Arctic and Russia in particular. They are exquisitely filmed, providing images that capture the heart of traditional life on the tundra. As well, they provide important insights into how culture plays in the social-ecological struggles of northern herders. Golovnev's mix of artistry and academic inquiry is captivating. We have shown this film with undergraduates and graduates at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and it always prompts interest and rich discussion. A must see.

Professor Carl Ruck01/25/2007

Long known only from 18th and early 19th century reports and inaccessible in modern times because the Soviet era actively discouraged the perpetuation of indigenous ethnic identities, the shamanism of the Chukchi people of far north-eastern Siberia and their ritual use of the fly agaric mushroom is reverently portrayed against the backdrop of the ancient petroglyphs of anthropomorphized mushroom creatures who evoke the mythic past that informs the stark existence of these present day nomadic reindeer herdsmen.

Professor Carl Ruck, author of Sacred Mushrooms of the Goddess: The Secrets of Eleusis and the forthcoming Hidden World: Survival of Pagan Shamanic Themes in European Fairytales.