A new two-part documentary titled Getting High For God follows Mawaan Rizwan’s journey to rediscover his spirituality.
The first episode, Trip To The Mountains, was released on BBC Three on 16 August and is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.
— Mawaan Rizwan (@MawaanR) August 16, 2016
“I’m not practising, and I don’t believe in God,” said Mawaan in the first episode.
Having grown up in a religious environment, this distance from his spirituality has led him to become curious about people who claim to connect with higher powers on a personal level through various means, such as traditional medicines. These medicines include the powerful hallucinogen Peyote, which is used by members of the Oklevueha Native American Church in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Peyote, which originates from a small cactus plant, is said to be a powerful truth serum that enhances spiritual awareness, which is why it is used in these religious ceremonies. The drug has similar side effects to LSD including changes in vision, paranoia and emotional instability. The Oklevueha Native American Church have legal protections in place to allow its use in their rituals.
The first episode of the documentary follows Mawaan’s journey into the mountains with the church’s leader, James “Flaming Eagle” Mooney, and other members of the church. During the ceremonial retreat, he finds out more about the nature of the religion, the ceremonies involved, and the various motivations of its members.
In the second part of the series, Mawaan will be visiting Brazil to discover more about the religious usage of the drug Ayahuasca.
This is Mawaan’s second documentary for BBC3, following last year’s How Gay Is Pakistan?.