Bridges to ancestral wisdom

The McKenna Academy’s Biognosis project aims to renovate and digitize an immensely important collection of 150,000 biological specimens currently housed at the Herbarium of the Amazon in Iquitos, Peru. The herbarium includes vital knowledge on how the indigenous people use the plants for healing. It is our vision to make this reservoir of knowledge and wisdom available for future generations.

The Biognosis project
endeavors to

Digitize and renovate the Herbarium

Sorting, categorizing, mounting, photographing, and uploading the images of the specimens of the Herbarium to a database which would be accessible to researchers and ethnobotanical enthusiasts globally. The physical location of the herbarium will be upgraded to a world class facility in Iquitos.

Produce a documentary series

Produce a documnetary series on the current state of Amazonian traditional medicine and the impacts of globalization, climate change, and tourism. The first of these episodes have already been filmed called “BioGnosis, Bridges to Ancestral Wisdom.


Document the extensive knowledge of Juan Ruiz, current manager of the Herbarium, for a series of learning modules aimed at university level researchers. The learning modules are envisioned with interactive content, augmented reality, and multimedia presentations.

Create a visionary rainforest

Create an immersive, interactive VR environment that represents the collection in the herbarium in a virtual space accessible from anywhere in the world.


“As the Amazon continues to be threatened, it is more critical than ever to share stories from the people who are trying to protect it, for the sake of all life on Earth.”

Greg Hemmings, Film Director

The McKenna Academy embarks on a journey for the preservation, revival and empowerment of the wisdom of life that only the biodiverse Amazon holds. The journey started with the production of a short documentary. In 2021, our team visited the Herbarium Amazonense of the National University of the Peruvian Amazon and its surrounding areas to open a dialogue with the native wisdom keepers, young and old, academics and traditional practitioners.


“The Amazon is our Mother; it is the heart, lungs and soul of the Planet. It is dying. Humanity is killing it. But it is not too late to save this treasure. We must come together to share our knowledge and love, to unite the wisdom of the elders and the genius of science, to create a new paradigm for the Amazon to thrive in symbiosis with Humanity and all life on earth.”

Dennis McKenna

Biologue Photos

biologue videos

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credits of the film

Narrated by Dennis McKenna | Directed by Christina Chaya and Greg Hemmings | Produced by Elaine Shannon
Executive Producer Hemmings House | Foster Associate Producer Luis Solarat

Director of Photography Luis Solarat Assistant Camera Oscar Jarama Guevara Drone Pilot Oscar Jarama Guevara Production Assistant Antonio Barrera Location Sound Luis Solarat, Oscar Jarama Guevara Script Dennis McKenna, Christina Chaya, Luis Solarat Editor Diego Bauer Post Production Advisor Luis Solarat Archive Editor Laura McCarthy Colorist Diego Bauer Sound Mix and Design Tim E. Davidson Titles Ari Reisner Graphics Diego Bauer, Hugo Amadeu Santos Music Composer Dawid Rakowski Music Library Audio Networks Production Accounting Haley Adams, Ashley Leblanc Production Insurance Higgins Commercial Insurance Production Legal Lawson Creamer Administrative Support Angie Villafuerte Production Rentals Shimbillo Films Translation Jander Collantes,Diego Bauer, Abby Navarro, Christina Chaya Archival Photography and Film Dennis McKenna