Go with the flow or resist

I have identified two ways to meet difficult situations.

Go with the flow.

When I accept what is happening and go with the flow, it is often not particularly uncomfortable. I accept what happens, which gives me the opportunity to learn from what I am experiencing at the same time as it is happening. Acceptance gives me a certain distance, letting me ask questions to myself and to the situation. What can I learn from this? is my favorite question.


When I do not accept what is happening, I try to force the situation to be as I want it to be. It is hard work and creates a lot of suffering, mainly in the form of negative thought patterns. My emotions control me and I am unable to see clearly. There’s really only one question repeating itself: Why? But I never feel that I get a sensible answer.

Photo: Oh, oh! by Andrew St. Clair on Flickr

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Shamanism in a globalized world

I have encountered a few comments about Jungle Svonnis statement about the persecution shamanism has been subjected to in Sweden. The comments point out that Ayahuasca and San Pedro aren’t indigenous to Scandinavia. The reasoning seems to be that since these plants aren’t indigenous to Scandinavia, they cannot be seen as a valid part of Scandinavian shamanism.

What this line of reasoning is saying is that some tools should or could only be used in certain cultural contexts. In this case that would be in South America, handled by healers indigenous to the area. It does not however take into account that we live in a globalized world where people in ever greater numbers are inspiring each other, learning new techniques from each other and letting their own cultural background be enriched in the meetings with other cultures.

Svonni makes the case that Sami shamanism has been almost wiped out by the brutality of the Swedish government that has persecuted the Sami people for hundreds of years. Svonni comes from a lineage of shamans, but to find his shamanic roots he was forced to go to South America, where shamanism is still alive. There he underwent extensive training, in which he learnt to work with Ayahuasca and San Pedro, among other things. But although his training was in South America, he still considers himself a Sami shaman and has returned home to work in Scandinavia.

These plant medicines are truly fantastic, but they are also only tools for the shaman. Today shamans all over the world are connecting in order to rebuild the knowledge that has been lost under the brutality of the inquisition, through to modern day colonialism and today’s repressive drug laws. While regaining the knowledge that is inherent to all people of the earth, they are naturally also learning each other’s techniques. These techniques have been created in a certain cultural context, but are by no means bound to them. On the contrary, each shaman must collect his or her own tools, and might very well be inspired by whomever or whatever comes in his/her way, just as an artist might.

Day 432 365 - It's a small world av Jason Rogers på Flickr
Day 432 365 – It’s a small world by Jason Rogers on Flickr

We wouldn’t dream of saying that only Asians should have the right to draw calligraphy, that only Chinese should train kung fu, that only Sami should be allowed to sing jojk, only Indians should do yoga, only Native Americans should do sweat lodges, only Rastafaris should wear dreadlocks or only Westerners use Viagra. But when it comes to plant medicines someone seems to have the notion that certain things should not be allowed outside their original cultural context, even when it is obvious that such plants are helping people of all backgrounds, successfully spreading to new contexts and have a long history of use all over the world. It seems absurd to single out plant medicines like that and say that they alone should be forced to remain within their original cultural context.

That is not the understanding I have of the human experience. My understanding is that the whole world and all the knowledge belongs to every single human being. All you need to do is to reach out and claim it. There is no copyright on sacred plant medicines or our individual spiritual journeys, and I find it repulsive if someone would suggest that there should be.

The whole world and everything in it belongs to us all.

Photo: Portal by Rory MacLeod on Flickr

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If that isn’t tragicomic, then tell me what is

Yesterday the Swedish tabloid Expressen revealed that one of the Swedish Green Party’s top political officials in the government was convicted for drug smuggling in 2012. The man had ordered psychedelic truffles, so called Philosophers Stones, from an online store in Holland, which were then discovered by customs. In the police interrogation the man said that he was drunk when he ordered the truffles and that he also felt bad.

Anyone who knows anything about psychedelics can appreciate why this story is tragicomic.

For the rest of you, I will now tell you why. The truffles that he ordered are excellent tools to cure both alcoholism and mental disorders. For having ordered substances that could have cured him, he was sentenced to 75 hours of community service.

Photo: Åsa Romson talar i Skövde by Miljöpartiet de gröna on Flickr (Björn Larsson Rosvall/Exponera)

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Psychedelic therapy to treat depression

Hi Daniel,

I am suffering from depression for 3 years now, and I saw your blog. Do you have any suggestions about using psychedelics to treat depression? I am from Israel and I am 27 years old.

Thanks a lot!

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Psychedelics are generally absolutely fantastic for working with depression. One reason is that depression usually has your negative thoughts going around in circles. It is hard to see anything else, because you are caught in a negative thought pattern.

It has been explained to me that the way the brain works is that the more times you think a thought, the easier it is to think that though. If one thinks of this as roads in the brain, then a new thought is like walking through a wild forest. After a while that walk becomes a path and when you have thought the same thought many more times that path becomes a road.

Bokeh Experiment 2 by Rachel Elaine on Flickr
Bokeh Experiment 2 by Rachel Elaine on Flickr

After three years of depression those negative thought patterns have become highways in your brain. What psychedelics do is to, at least for a brief moment, open up for totally new connections in the brain. Your thoughts get to walk off into the woods, explore new paths and create other roads.

What is important to remember while working with psychedelics, and I would say that this goes for any serious medicine or therapy, is that you will have to do the work yourself. You don’t take psychedelics and just get better. I can’t rule it out as impossible, since the miraculous impossible always seems to be happening with psychedelics, but I still want to say that you need to be ready to continue working with yourself intensely.

Psychedelics can help you find new paths to explore, but you need to make the effort to keep walking on them until they become the new highways in your brain. That is what you do when you take all the insights, lessons and challenges that you get during the session and apply them in your day to day life.

In my case I needed several doses of LSD over a period of time, and conscious work with reprogramming myself between sessions, to finally get rid of my four year long depression. The LSD showed me new paths and after the first session I managed to stay on that new path for a week before my thoughts fell back into their old patterns. After the second session I managed to walk that new path for two weeks. It took me approximately three months of dedicated work to cure myself completely.

Here are a few links to earlier blog posts that I think might also be helpful:

Reprogramming yourself to become happy

A model for working with personal and spiritual growth

An exercise to examine negative thoughts

Some thoughts for someone that wants to try psychedelics

Photo: bokeh forest by Asher Isbrucker on Flickr

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Reprogram yourself happy

I once met a man in India who said:
– You westerners dress so much in black that it is no wonder that so many of you are depressed.
At the time I dismissed what he said as nonsense, but when I was feeling really depressed a few years later, I was indeed dressed in black and I wore heavy Doc Martens boots on my feet.

When I realized that I began to replace my wardrobe. I started with the socks. Black socks were exchanged for socks with cows and pigs on them, striped, spotted and multicoloured. It is simply very difficult to be angry or sad if you put your feet up on the sofa and look down at a pair of goofy colourful socks. Then I changed my boots for sneakers, which gave me the feeling that I was floating through life. Suddenly I could dance again.

I used to listen to singer/songwriters with a heart ache or angry punk. Quite involuntarily, I one day heard the Swedish child artist Amy Diamond on the radio and started smiling at her song Shooting Star. That’s when I realized the importance of music for my mood. So I filled my mp3 player with the happiest, silliest songs I could find; mostly Disney. It is difficult to sneer at life and be a pessimist while listening to The Bare Necessities from The Jungle Book.

And I continued that way, to identify habitual patterns that made me feel bad. And I began to reprogram myself to feel good. That way I healed a four year long depression in less than three months.

● ● ●

I have a lecture on this subject called Relieve Depression Naturally, where I with humorous stories taken from life, show how we can reprogram ourselves to feel better without taking medication.

Photo: Beautiful Mannequin Woman by epSos .de on Flickr

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Stop Swedens human rights violations now!

This is a statement by the sami shaman Jungle Svonni that was recently given at a human rights conference in Warsawa.

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My name is Jungle Svonni, and I am a Sami shaman. We Sami are the indigenous people of northern Scandinavia and the Kola Peninsula. Currently our land is occupied by Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. My family migrates with our reindeers between Sweden in winter and Norway in summer.

Our ancestral culture and religion is shamanic. However, the colonizing countries, like Sweden and Norway, have for centuries acted to exterminate our religion. By cutting our spiritual connection to nature through shamanism, the connection of all our culture is lost.

Practicing shamanism has been illegal for centuries. Any cultural expressions related to shamanism, such as joik (the sami way of singing) or having a shamanic drum was severely punished, even by death. The heavy persecution resulted in the near extinction of shamanism among us. The persecutions of our roots have created social marginalization, a high rate of suicides and environmental problems, due to a decreased understanding for nature.

My grandfather and great grandfather were all shamans, but without any possibility to know or practice it fully. As a child I realized that this destructive situation must be fixed, if we Sami people are going to have any future. About ten years ago I left on a journey to the Peruvian and Ecuadorian Amazon, to rediscover my shamanic roots. I stayed with the native people for eight years, learning my own culture. In the end I worked as a shaman on a large healing center, where we among other things were curing drug addictions with great success.

Jungle Svonni.
Jungle Svonni.

Two years ago I moved back, to share the shaman knowledge with my people. Swedish authorities arrested and jailed me for 18 days. They confiscated my sacred plant medicine, the San Pedro cactus, and I was accused of smuggling narcotics – mescaline. The San Pedro plant is completely legal and can be bought in any Swedish flower shop. It was only the shamanic context that triggered the judicial to actions and imprisonment.

Media portrayed me as a criminal, fuelled by ignorant and false statements from the prosecutor. Surprisingly it took the judge one and a half year to find that the legal San Pedro has nothing to do with mescaline or the drug market. I became the first Sami shaman ever to win against the Swedish authorities, without denying being a shaman. But the core problem remains. One of the most important shamanic and natural sacraments Ayahuasca, is still not fully legalized.

Today shamanism is supposed to be legal in Sweden and Norway, protected by the fundamental rights. In reality shamanism is still persecuted. It is only accepted as a “play” for eccentric adults. If it is serious, if you gather knowledge from the nature as our forefathers did and use the natural plants sacraments, you can still today get arrested and imprisoned. The Swedish authorities would use the excuse that you allegedly have violated their narcotic law. But the shamanic ceremonies of Sami people have no connection to the drug problems of Swedish society. What about our human rights to search our roots and practice our religion, shamanism?

Today, the Sami people are prevented by law to educate us directly from nature through natural medicine. Plant medicine is a fundamental part of shamanism and to prevent people to practice their traditional religion is a serious violation of human rights and minority rights.

The wounds on my people are so deep after centuries of persecution that we must turn to our shaman brothers in the Amazon for our cultural survival. For centuries we were forced to practice a foreign religion, and speak a foreign language, our own being forbidden. Our mountains are destroyed by foreign mining companies, the lichen necessary for our reindeers are polluted by a foreign society. Our forests are cut down by foreign companies with foreign technology. But WE are NOT allowed to share the shamanic plant knowledge from our shaman brothers and sisters, which we so badly need to recover our own culture.

I was imprisoned and prosecuted. The reason was not the fully legal San Pedro itself. The prosecutor tried to incriminate me because it would be used in my Sami shaman practice. The human rights violations in my case show the arrogance and ignorance of Swedish authorities. Sami shamanism is finally reawakening after centuries of oppression. Sweden and Norway must reconsider how to deal with it, in order to hinder further violations of our fundamental rights!

Jungle Svonni

Main photo: A Sami Lapp family in Norway around 1900 by tonynetone on Flickr

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Life is motion

When water stands still it becomes stale and polluted.
When the body stands still it is overcome by worries and fears.
When a person sits still she becomes ill.

Life is movement.
Life is striving.
Life wants to be lived.
A life that stands still is about to wither away and die.

When I’m sick, scared or worried,
when I gave up, stand still and begin to wither,
that’s when I most desperately need to move.
That’s when I need to walk, run, dance,
swim, rip my clothes off and sing.

Please, help me to remember that.

Photo: Manoa by Daniel Zedda on Flickr

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