One of the funniest DMT trip reports I’ve heard went something like this:
I smoked DMT and all of a sudden I was all alone in an enormous lecture hall. A door opened and in walked an alien. It walked over to the podium and began giving a lecture. I couldn’t understand a single thing it was talking about so I half shouted down to it “what are you talking about? I don’t understand”. It looked up at me and the otherwise empty lecture hall and in the tone of any absent minded professor said “Oh, I’m sorry. I was giving a lecture on interplanetary mind travel, but I am clearly in the wrong hall.” The alien then collected its things and walked out the door. And then I was back in my room again.
2. Which drug is associated with the most violence?
3. Which drug kills most people?
4. What kind of drugs are responsible for the most overdose deaths?
5. Name two drugs that have never killed anyone.
6. Name two drugs that have no or very little addictive properties.
7. Name two drugs that break addiction.
8. Name two drugs that are used to cure depression, trauma and abuse.
9. Which drugs are legal?
10. Which drugs are the most illegal?
You’ll find the correct answers below the picture.
There are obviously legal, country and time specific variations to these answers, but this is the general picture.
1. Which is the most common rape drug?
Alcohol is the most common rape drug. Many think that they need to be wary of people who want to spike their drinks with other drugs, but in the overwhelming majority of cases it is the alcoholic drink itself that is the rape drug. Victims and offenders are often drunk and even when there are other drugs in the mix, alcohol is almost always the main drug.
2. Which drug is associated with the most violence?
Alcohol is involved in most cases of violence. 70 to 90 percent of all violence (wars excluded) is directly linked to alcohol. This is as true for domestic violence as it is for violent encounters between strangers. There are a few other drugs (mainly ego enhancing and consciousness decreasing drugs) that are also associated with violence, but even in cases when other drugs are present alcohol is usually the main drug.
3. Which drug kills most people?
Tobacco is by far the most lethal drug. Tobacco kills more people than all other legal and illegal drugs combined. Alcohol is the second most deadly drug and in third place we find prescription medications. Science is having a hard time putting these in relation to each other, but estimates are that tobacco takes somewhere between two and fifteen times as many lives as alcohol.
4. What kind of drugs are responsible for the most overdose deaths?
Pharmaceutical drugs/prescription medicines are the most commonly overdosed with a deadly outcome. One reason is of course the availability but another very important reason is that medications often are highly toxic.
5. Name two drugs that have never killed anyone.
LSD, cannabis and magic mushrooms are a few non-lethal drugs, but there are certainly more. The doses needed to die from them are simply so ridiculously high that it is physically impossible to consume such quantities of cannabis or mushrooms. In the case of LSD it is probably possible to take that much, but you would need to take thousands of doses and as far as I know that still hasn’t happened. It is of course possible to die in an accident or such while on these drugs, but even so these are not drugs that typically make users accident prone. Science rather suggests that people using these drugs are usually more careful and considerate.
6. Name two drugs that have no or very little addictive properties.
Psychedelics generally have strong anti-addictive properties and are therefore fantastic for breaking addiction. Some such drugs are LSD, magic mushrooms (psilocybin), San Pedro/Peyote (mescaline), Ayahuasca, DMT, Iboga (ibogaine) and Salvia Divinorum. Another thing that several of the psychedelics have in common is that the user’s tolerance towards them increases rapidly, so even if a user would want to use it several days in a row it would quickly become meaningless to do so because the effects would vanish.
7. Name two drugs that break addiction.
LSD, magic mushrooms and Iboga are all well known in the treatment of addicts, but psychedelics of all kinds can be helpful. Before being made illegal LSD was among other things used to cure alcoholism. AA co-founder Bill Wilson was an advocate of using it specifically to treat cynical alcoholics by giving them a spiritual experience. Ironically LSD had a higher success rate of curing alcoholics than AA or any other program has ever had.
8. Name two drugs that are used to cure depression, trauma and abuse.
Again, psychedelics are fantastic tools for curing depression, trauma and abuse, especially LSD, magic mushrooms, Ayahuasca and San Pedro/Peyote. They make the user more aware of his/her situation and give insights and experiences that help the user deal with past trauma. Within a spiritual context the plants are especially helpful since they actually speak to the user in a way that an isolated substance cannot do.
Western chemical based medicine often uses medications such as anti-depressants but these medicines most often only put a lid on things and sedate the person. These medicines are also highly addictive and toxic, which makes them very dangerous in comparison.
9. Which drugs are legal?
Alcohol and tobacco are legal, although you need to be of a certain age to buy them. Prescription medications are legal as long as you have a prescription.
10. Which drugs are the most illegal?
Class A drugs are defined as drugs that are especially harmful, have a high abuse potential and that have no medical value. Among these you will find heroin, crack, cocaine, cannabis, LSD, magic mushrooms and mescaline. Which class a drug is placed in is however a political decision, not a scientific one. From a strictly scientific point of view this classification is utterly absurd. Heroin and crack would definitely fall within the definition of a class A drug, but so would the legal drugs alcohol and tobacco since they obviously are extremely addictive, harmful and lack all medical value. The psychedelics and cannabis on the other hand are proven to have huge medical value and do very little harm, so they would be stricken if the list was based on science. It appears however that drug policies are among the least scientifically based policies today.
First of all it is important to point out that all words are made up. People have had a good think and come up with a word which in some cases has caught on. But understand this – they are all make-believe. Even the most precise of words with the clearest of definitions is made up by someone.
The meaning of a word is determined by the consensus people find around it. Some words have very precise meanings, such as the word centimetre. Other words have a general consensus, but can still be open to interpretation at some point, such as the word chair or forest. Yet other words are the cause of constant quarrel. What is art? Define love. Describe ego.
When it comes to words describing experiences and plants or substances with psychedelic properties there are many different words, but little actual consensus, in part because we are still in the process of trying to agree on them. There is often no exact right or wrong, but as with most things there are plenty of people with strong opinions on the subject. But just so that we are clear about this – those opinions are made up about words that are made up. In the end it is all make-believe.
Since there is still little consensus on these words it is important to ask the person using them what they mean by them, because what the words mean to them might be very different from what they mean to you. And if you are getting worked up about what they mean to you only to find out much later that they mean something totally different to them… well, it’s a whole lot of arguing about absolutely nothing.
It is also important to understand that the words and definitions we use are a reflection of what we need them for. A scientist needs very well-defined words, so the wording is very precise. This often leads to the words being quite complicated, because in the scientific world it is not a problem if a word is complicated, as long as it is well-defined.
I am not a scientist. My goal is not to be precise, but rather to be understandable. In order to help people I need them to understand what I am saying, which they won’t do if I use a scientific jargon. I need words that people at least have a clue about, and then we can take it from there.
So let’s talk about some of the words that are floating around out there.
Plants and substances
This is a distinction where there is much consensus, but which still causes confusion, especially for people who do not work with such things. A plant is something you will find growing in nature. It can be a cactus like the San Pedro or a vine like the Banisteriopsis caapi, which is used in the brew Ayahuasca. The psilocybin mushroom is by a biologist’s definition not a plant but a fungi, but for the sake of making this understandable I group it with the plants, because it is something that grows in nature.
A substance on the other hand is an isolated molecule or combination of molecules. It is something that a person has isolated, extracted or produced. Mescaline is a substance which one can get from San Pedro, DMT is a substance which can be found in Ayahuasca and psilocybin is a substance which can be found in certain mushrooms.
It is important, at least from a shamanic perspective, not to confuse these with each other. Eating a San Pedro cactus is not the same as eating mescaline. The San Pedro is a plant and as a plant it has a spirit connected to it. Or to put it in other words, it is alive and is able to communicate with us. Mescaline might give some similar effects, but there is no spirit there to communicate with.
Let’s take one of my favourite substances as an example. Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a substance in the meaning that it is an isolated molecule which does not have a spirit attached to it, in the shamanic sense of things. It is a very powerful medicine to work with and many of the effects might seem similar to mushrooms or cacti, but when working with it one is not doing so with the help of a spirit which is attached to the substance.
While all this is perfectly clear for people who work with such things, it is often very confusing for people who for example make and enforce laws. They often name a substance and confuse it for the plant, or the other way around. In a shamanic setting it is a world of difference and it is well understood that a plant cannot be reduced to a certain substance contained within it, because it will be missing the spirit.
What are these plants/fungi being called?
When writing this I asked people for the words they use for such plants. One person simply replied Teacher. Short and to the point. This is a common perception and while it might be figuratively speaking for some, most who say it mean it literally. They see the plant as a spirit separate from themselves who teaches them things, and this is an understanding which has been around for thousands of years in the cultural settings in which such plants have been used. It is a term that not only conveys what the spirit does, but it is also a word which shows respect.
In that cultural setting it would be disrespectful to confuse for example the San Pedro cactus with the word mescaline. It would be disrespectful in the same manner as if you called your university professor Book. Your professor is as little a Book as San Pedro is Mescaline.
A similarly respectful and common expression is Master plant. It says with all clarity that this is no silly little spirit, but a spirit worth listening to carefully. It is also common to call the plants by what help they give, such as Medicine plant or Visionary plant. They are medicine. They give vision.
A few people called them Spirit helper or Spirit guide. It still conveys the sense of there being another intelligence, but for me those terms carry a different meaning that are not connected to a plant.
Other words that try to capture the essence of these plants and substances
The fact that we are dealing with both plants and substances which have similar properties does confuse the situation. While the plant spirits have been known in shamanic use for many millennia they are still quite new to us in the modern world. These things haven’t really been known to us for more than a century, and to a broader public only half that time.
One thing that we are very good at in this modern world is playing with words, so it comes as no surprise that there is a wealth of different words trying to describe these plants, substances and experiences. Some are quite good while others are awful. Many are catchy and accessible, while others confuse things even more. Here come some of the ones that I like better:
The best thing about the word psychedelic is that it is well-known. People at least have a vague idea what it is, and even though the ideas might be off, it is a starting ground.
The term means “mind revealing” and is derived from the Greek psyche (soul, mind) and delein (to manifest). It was coined by the British psychiatrist Humphry Osmond in 1957. At the time he and Aldous Huxley were discussing what to call these wonderful plants and substances. Huxley sent Osmond a rhyme with the word he preferred: “To make this trivial world sublime, take half a gram of phanerothyme” (thymos meaning ‘spiritedness’ in Greek.) Osmond wrote back “To fathom Hell or soar angelic, just take a pinch of psychedelic.”
I wanted to share that story with you to show the playfulness and ingenuity that bright minds have put into making these words up.
Personally I think it is a word which is very suitable and it can be used for plants and substances alike. They are truly soul and mind revealing. They put us in direct contact with our inner workings, with or without the help of a spirit.
It is also a word that is easy to connect with other words, such as psychedelic mushroom, psychedelic medicine or psychedelic therapy. In that way it is good for communicating, which suites me.
I have heard several negative remarks about the word. A shaman friend of mine dismisses the word because it somehow doesn’t take the plants spirit into account. It reduces the plant to a mere substance, is the argument. I do not agree. There is nothing inherent in the word which says that it refers to a substance or which excludes a spirit. Those restrictions are not in the word itself, but in the critics own head.
This is another word which I like, but which is often (mis)understood in ways that narrow it down to something it doesn’t inherently need to be. The word hallucination was coined by Sir Thomas Browne in 1646 from the Latin alucinari meaning “to wander in the mind”.
That word goes well together with the notion that a hallucination is a visual projection of what is going on in the mind, which many such experiences obviously are. But many visual effects on such plants and substances are not projections of what is going on in our mind, which leaves many feeling that the word is incorrect. Many visual effects are universal and people report similar geometrical patterns, energy trails and other visual experiences that seem to emanate outside themselves.
I find that the anthropologist Jeremy Narby explains this wonderfully in his book The Cosmic Serpent where he studies shamans of the Amazon and compares their knowledge to Western scientific knowledge. There he makes a difference between inner and outer hallucinations. Inner hallucinations are projections of what is going on in our own mind, while outer hallucinations are things that are really there, but which are normally hidden from us. These outer hallucinations can be things like auras, spirits, energetic patterns and the fabric of existence. It is all there even when we don’t see it and what the plants and substances do is open us up to being able to see.
If the word hallucination or hallucinogen is used to only mean “projections of your own mind” it is not a suitable word to describe these plants and substances, since it leads us to believe that what we are experiencing only originates from within. If the word is used to mean inner AND outer hallucinations, then I find it to be very accurate. The visual effects are projections of what is going on inside AND they also reveal other realities to us.
The word entheogen was coined in 1979 by a group of ethnobotanists who wanted to capture the spiritual aspect of the experience. This also comes from Greek and is made up of entheos (full of god, inspired) and genesthai (to come into being). An entheogen is a plant or substance which wakes the God within, which inspires us, especially in a spiritual way.
I like this word because it captures the spiritual aspect in a way that the other words don’t. These plants and substances are to a very high degree being used in spiritual settings and with spiritual intentions, so it is fitting to have a word which highlights this.
I once channelled information from the spirit world about how dangerous drugs are. After having a list of different plants and substances I noticed that some were obviously missing. There was no mention of mushrooms, LSD or DMT. When I asked why the answer was very clear. “Many people have completely misunderstood these plants and substances. They are not drugs. They are keys to speak to the Gods.”
I couldn’t agree more. That is the most common view among people who work with such plants and substances in a serious manner, and that is also why no amount of legislation can ever stop people from using them. It is simply ridiculous to think that people will obey laws that try to stop them from speaking to God or themselves.
Substances of essence
This is not an expression I have heard being used, but when I asked for words someone wrote this. I think it is a wonderful expression, because it shows that respect can be directed towards a substance too. While I have heard several in spiritual settings dismiss substances and molecules, they are also truly miraculous and hold as much healing power as many plants. I find such dismissal to be disrespectful and lacking in knowledge in the same way that others disrespect the plant spirits out of lack of knowledge.
A couple of words I think are really bad
Drugs/dope. No one who has the slightest knowledge on the subject would use such words about plants or substances with psychedelic properties. When you hear someone using these words it is a red flag clearly stating “I have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about”. Unfortunately drug laws are often written and upheld by people who haven’t a clue.
Phanerothyme. I’m just using this as an example among many similar words. It translates into “producing visable feelings”. The person who created this might have put a lot of thought into it and the meaning might be quite true, but trying to communicate it is horrible. It is bulky, hard to pronounce, hard to combine with other words and nobody has the slightest idea what it means. It might work with a scientific intention, but in everyday communication I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole.
There are a lot of good words out there and there are a few bad ones too. Use the good ones and let the bad ones die. But perhaps more importantly, there are good and bad interpretations of the words.
If you meet someone who uses the words in a way that you don’t think you agree with, don’t take for granted that you don’t agree with one another. Simply ask them what they mean and have a friendly talk about your different choices in words. In many cases we get tangled up in trying to say that something is right and something else is wrong. When we do so we are missing the crucial point – it is all made up. Our language is make-believe. We often confuse the use of different vocabulary with being of different opinions.
Another point that I see in all this is that although there are several very good words out there, these plants, substances and experiences are so diverse and complex that they are hard to capture in a single word. Any way you choose to describe them you will automatically be missing other crucial points. The plant is a teacher, but is that all it is? Yes, these plants and substances help us sort out our inner workings, but is that all they do? Yes, they cause inner and outer hallucinations, but is that what it is all about?
I don’t think that the solution to all this is to make up yet more words, trying to capture that which cannot be captured. I think a good lesson is to simply understand that language itself is a limitation.
People have always searched for the higher meaning of existence. In their search they have had sensations of the highest divine and tried to name that which cannot be named. They have sacrificed to Zeus, thanked Freya, asked Shiva for focus and God for mercy. They have searched inward and outward with dance, prayer, singing, yoga and meditation.
One of the oldest traditions in order to get in touch with the highest divine, and with the other realities that surround us, has been by using plants. In the beginning humans were very close to nature and talked with the sun and the plants, the wind and stones. Nature was a teacher who shared its wisdom, but who also helped humans to be able to get in contact to other realities.
Over time some people have however made the experience more academic than spiritual. While the original spirituality was based on every persons own experience and their own contact with the highest divine, nowadays many people are content to believe in a constructed religion. They do of course overlap, but I’m guessing that most religious people today do not have a personal experience of contact with the highest divine, but are satisfied with believing others’ descriptions of it.
To me there is big group of illegal substances that is intimately connected with spiritual exploration – mostly those we would call natural psychedelics. I’m talking about plants and preparations such as Ayahuasca, San Pedro, Peyote, Cannabis (semi-psychedelic), psychedelic mushrooms and Iboga.
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Ayahuasca is a preparation made from a jungle vine and another plant. Shamans have probably used it for more than 6,000 years to have contact with other realities and heal people. It is used almost exclusively in ceremonial contexts, but is banned in Sweden because it contains the natural substance DMT, which is also found in the human brain and appears to be heightened and released by prolonged meditation, sleep, and at the moment of death.
San Pedro and Peyote cacti are used in similar ways and in similar contexts, for deep transformative and spiritual experiences. As far as we know the knowledge to work with them is probably more than 4,000 years old, but as with all these substances it might very well have been used for much longer than that. Today the knowledge is kept alive by South American shamans and North American Indians. While the cacti itself is legal in Sweden, it is illegal to consume it because it contains the natural substance mescaline.
Cannabis is regarded in Hinduism as a gift from the god Shiva to mankind, created from his body. It has been used for more than 4,000 years, both spiritually as medically in Hinduism and Buddhism, but more recently also in religions such as Islam and Rastafarianism. It is celebrated for its spiritual, mystical properties, but also because it allows people to see through illusions and lies. In the drug context cannabis is among the least dangerous substances, much less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco, but it is being fought with tremendous zeal. The active ingredient THC is easily spotted with a quick urine test.
Psychedelic mushrooms are available in hundreds of varieties and on every continent. The most famous Swedish psychedelic mushrooms are the Liberty caps, used by witches and shamans. In Europe, however, the Christian mass murder of dissidents makes it difficult to track past use. The mushrooms produce similar deep spiritual experiences including contact with other realities, past lives, a connectedness with nature and with the universe. Liberty caps are commonly picked in cow meadows after the first frost, but if you do so you are a criminal. All mushrooms containing the natural ingredient psilocybin are forbidden to handle.
Iboga is a West African shrub that contains the illegal natural substance ibogaine. It is documented to have been used in Africa in a spiritual context since the 19th century, but before that it is difficult to say. It gives deep transformative experiences and having taken Iboga one will often lie down for an entire day. Nowadays Iboga is most famous for its medicinal properties, as it has been proved to be able to break even deep rooted addiction with only one or two trips. But to do so is illegal.
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These are just a few of the illegal substances that have been used in spiritual practice for thousands of years before such recent phenomena as Christianity came along. Natural psychedelics are found on all continents, and maybe even in all countries. The tradition of using them in order to get in contact with other realities and with the highest divine has been preserved in many places in the world – by shamans in South America, witches in Europe, yogis and shamans in Asia and medicine men/women in North America, Africa and possibly Australia. However, they have for long periods been forced to go into hiding, because above all Christianity has violently persecuted them. Today this continues with the help of the disrespectful and discriminatory drug laws.
Drug laws thus not only violate minority rights, but also each person’s inherent right to their own spiritual experience and journey.
There are those who argue that these plants should only be used in their original cultural contexts, that is only the shamans of the Amazon should be working with Ayahuasca, and only the medicine men/women of North America with Peyote. With that logic the Liberty caps should of course be legal in Sweden. But besides that these people seem to overlook that we live in a globalized world and that the spiritual search has never let itself be confined to places or cultural context. Just as religions spread across the world and have borrowed freely from each other’s cultural contexts, shamanism is also worldwide and practitioners are inspired by each other. There have also been new substances used in similar ways, with similar spiritual effects and with similar healing properties – LSD, MDMA and Ketamine, to name a few.
Some people speak of religious freedom. I guess that would be the freedom to settle for believing in other people’s descriptions of the highest divine. I’m not interested in religious freedom. I require spiritual freedom – the freedom to have my own spiritual experience and my own contact with the highest divine. If my spiritual path happens to involve working with plants and in a tradition that is older than any religion, that is my business as long as I do not harm anyone else. A law that tries to stop me from doing so is nothing more than oppression and discrimination institutionalized.
Are there aliens? Are there spirits? Are there intelligent beings in nearby dimensions? Let’s listen in on what ethnobotanist psychonaut Terence McKenna has to say on the matter.
DMT is a reliable method for crossing in to a dimension that human beings have debated the existence of for 50.000 years. Is there an invisible nearby world inhabited by active intelligences with which human beings can communicate? You bet. And if you don’t think so, then tell me you don’t think so after you’ve smoked 75mg DMT. Otherwise we just don’t have anything to talk about.
today I found your informational webpage. There is wealth of knowledge of personal growth, and spiritual development. These are subjects I am interested in experiencing more. I understand the notion of letting go of the past, and re-living/re-experiencing past traumas to heal the soul. I have been wanting to experience psychedelics. I live in the USA and do not know how to go about this. I am a regular person who wants to grow. I know that you can be of some guidance to me. I am curious to know what your thoughts are about this.
Warm Regards, Dewayne
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Thank you for your mail, Dewayne!
I have collected a few random thoughts for you this evening, just to get started. I’m posting it here, since others might be interested and have similar questions.
Is this my path?
It is very common that people that use psychedelics at some point believe that all the world’s problems would be solved if only all people would use psychedelics. Therefore you might from time to time meet people that will preach the gospel of psychedelics and try to convince you to give it a try. Psychedelics can be useful for many people, but it is a path of personal and spiritual discovery that is quite special and extremely powerful. Many people are far from being able to handle psychedelics.
I don’t want to convince people to try psychedelics. Instead I tell of my experiences. Some people will instinctively feel that I am speaking of a path that is similar to theirs, while others will feel the opposite. When using such powerful tools it is important that the will to use them comes from the seeker, and not from outside pressure.
In your case you already know that this is a path that you wish to explore, so I feel confident that psychedelics are for you. If they weren’t you wouldn’t be writing me on the subject. But other readers, please listen to your own inner voice and ask yourself if this is your path. Don’t let anyone else pressure you into it.
Why am I doing this?
If you are approaching this as a conscious exploration, you might want to have an idea why you are doing it and what you are looking for. It is often the case that the more precise you are, the easier it will be to reach the wanted effects. If you are looking for healing from trauma, as an example, your preparations might be different from if you are looking to connect with spirit or to explore your creativity.
Even though I think it is a good idea to have a clear intention, I don’t want to say that this is of paramount importance, because people’s paths are very different. Some work in a very structured manner, while others are much more intuitive and open to what happens in the here and now. But having said that I still think you should have some kind of idea what you are looking for in the experience.
What specific substance am I looking for?
The substance that you need will probably find you just when you need it. The universe has a way of working things out like that.
If you know what psychedelic you are supposed to start with – don’t settle for something else. We are sometimes tempted with lesser experiences to test our conviction. You might know that you need mushrooms, but you are offered MDMA. In that case, wait for mushrooms.
For healing and personal/spiritual growth I can only really recommend what I consider to be true psychedelics: mushrooms (psilocybin), ayahuasca (DMT), peyote (mescaline) or LSD. There are many others out there, but those are the most common. The three first are natural plant medicines. They are entities, plant teachers that will speak with you and teach you things. LSD is not an entity, but unlocks your own mental structures.
I don’t think of MDMA or cannabis as psychedelics and I wouldn’t suggest them for the kind of work we are discussing, even though I know they are being used successfully with that purpose.
On your own, with friends or with guidance?
What works best for you ultimately goes back to who you are and what attitude you have. Some people need someone to hold their hand. Others will jump off the highest trampoline the first thing they do.
If you haven’t used psychedelics before I don’t recommend doing it alone. Do it with friends that you trust, in a place where you feel safe and comfortable. Or do it with a proper guide or shaman in a safe setting, where you are taken care of by experienced people.
Be safe and feel safe.
Where can I find psychedelics?
If you don’t have any contacts this can of course be a little tricky, but you’ll need to go about it in one of two ways: 1. find contacts, or 2. find psychedelics.
You can find people who will help you out in cultures where such substances are being used, such as among ravers, psychedelic explorers, shamans, indigenous healers or in new age/yoga circles. Living in the US you have quite a lot of exciting places to explore. Coming up you have events like Telluride Mushroom Festival, Burning Man Festival, Horizons conference and Science and nonduality conference, to mention a few. You have communities like Reset.me and Sand. If you are keen on travelling close by you have Spirit Plant Medicine conference or you could go to the indigenous healers of Central and South America. There are plenty of retreat centers that work with psychedelics. You also have the peyote healers in the US, but I’m not sure how open their work is.
It is possible to find mushrooms and peyote in the wild. The plants in the area that you live are always the best to work with, so check out what might be growing close by. Be careful when picking mushrooms though, so you don’t pick mushrooms that are actually poisonous. Mushrooms containing psilocybin are often listed as poisonous, but aren’t actually.
There are a few thoughts for you, Dewayne. Please feel free to ask me more specific questions in the comment section or by mail.
All the best to you!
Photo: Walking Around (52th52) by Alexandre Normand on Flickr
Johan hade aldrig provat några droger tidigare, men fascinerades av upplevelserna som ett par av hans kurskamrater hade haft med ayahuasca.
– En av dem hade exempelvis haft väldiga problem med sitt uppblåsta ego, vilket ayahuascan hjälpte honom att övervinna. När han berättade det så blev jag väldigt intresserad, så jag bokade en resa till Amsterdam för att delta i en ceremoni med Santo Daime.
Santo Daime är en kristen kyrka, vars sakrament är den traditionella shamanistiska psykedeliska brygden ayahuasca. Kyrkan härstammar från Brasiliens djungler, men har på senare tid spridit sig över världen.
– Ceremonin som jag deltog i hölls i en vanlig kristen kyrka i Amsterdam, som de hade lånat för ändamålet. Vi var ungefär 100 deltagare och därtill fanns ett 10-tal andra som hjälpte till i ritualen på olika sätt. 40 euro kostade det.
Ayahuasca är en starkt psykedelisk och läkande brygd, som traditionellt använts av shamaner i Sydamerika. Den verksamma substansen är DMT. Brygden är mycket specifik och kräver såväl noggrann tillredning som en specifik diet innan intagandet. Renande kräkningar och även diarré är mycket vanligt förekommande under ceremonier.
– Ett tag trodde jag att jag skulle klara mig, men jag fick sitta med spannen mycket.
Resan som följde kom att handla mycket om kroppen.
– Plötsligt kunde jag uppfatta kroppen framför mig. Jag befann mig i en bubbla bakom min kropp och kunde se dess skelett och ryggrad. Snart upptäckte jag att jag kunde styra kroppen. Jag kunde röra huvudet upp och ner, röra på armarna, men det var kroppen som rörde sig, inte jag. Jag var själen bakom, men det fanns en connection mellan oss. Det var roligt att upptäcka och jag blev helt fnissig. Kroppen var som en leksak att upptäcka.
– Jag kom att tänka att det var lite som att köra radiostyrd bil. Kroppen lyder mig, jag bestämmer över den, men den är inte jag.
Johan had never tried any drugs before, but was intrigued by the experiences that a couple of his classmates had with ayahuasca.
– One of them, for example, had serious problems with his inflated ego, which the ayahuasca helped him to overcome. When he told me of his experience I was very interested, so I booked a flight to Amsterdam to attend a ceremony with Santo Daime.
Santo Daime is a Christian church whose sacrament is the traditional shamanistic psychedelic brew ayahuasca. The church began in the Brazilian jungle, but has recently spread worldwide.
– The ceremony I attended was held in a regular Christian church in Amsterdam, which they had borrowed for the purpose. We were approximately 100 participants and 10 or so helpers. It cost 40 Euros.
Ayahuasca is a highly psychedelic and healing brew, traditionally used by shamans in South America. The active substance is DMT. The brew is very specific and requires careful preparation as well as a specific diet prior to ingestion. Purifying vomiting and even diarrhea are very common during ceremonies.
– For a while I thought I wouldn’t have to do all the vomiting, but I needed to sit with the bucket quite a lot.
The journey that followed was much about the body.
– Suddenly I could perceive the body in front of me. I was in a bubble behind my body and could see its bones and spine. I soon discovered that I could control the body. I was able to move the head up and down, move the arms, but it was the body that was moving, not me. I was the soul behind, but there was a connection between us. It was fun to discover and I was giggly about it all. The body was like a toy to discover.
– I got the feeling that it was a bit like driving a remote controlled car. The body obeys me, but it is not me. I am the soul. At the same time, I realized that my soul, that it what is really me, actually feels how the body is feeling. When it feels bad, when it strains, when it is in pain or suffers from anxiety or physical ailments, then the soul feels the same suffering.
– I came to the realization that my body is here for me. It is mine to use in this life and I don’t want to cause it any distress. Then I realized that I am the one who feeds it. It is I who decides what to put in the mouth and if I feed it with bad stuff it can become too heavy and sick. That would be really bad, because I want a body that feels good and is easy to use. I want to learn what works best for it and what kind of nutrition it needs. Somewhere around there I managed to disengage myself from my attraction to chocolate. “Poor body” I thought, and since then chocolate no longer tempts me. Nowadays I see a mixture of substances which is named chocolate, and I no longer feel that I trust it. I know that the mixture of sugar and cocoa butter is bad for my body’s health.
– The body also needs to be touched, I understood. I wanted to feel it and give it love. It needs to know that I love it and want it to work. I started thinking about other people’s bodies and how some people shied before my touch. I understood that they, like myself, loved their bodies and were afraid that someone else would do it harm. It is important to approach the bodies of others with love and care.
– A lot happened having to do with my relationship to my own and others’ bodies. My shame about my own body has been substantially reduced afterwards. I went to a nude beach with a female friend this summer, which was no problem at all. It’s all very unlike me.
– The realization that others can touch my body, as long as they are caring towards it, also came with the understanding that it does not matter what sex that person has or where I am being touched. As long as the person is gentle and loving and open to how I feel and what I need, it feels good. And there a big part of my homophobia just disappeared.
– I looked at my body and my arms and thought of the time I had spent at the gym. Why work out? I thought to myself. The body is just a tool. It is just a doll and there is no value in it being extra beautiful. I am not the body, I am the soul. Some souls love to show off what they manage to do with the body. “Look how high my body can jump” or “listen how I managed to train my body to sing.” Lifting weights at a gym has become completely uninteresting to me, but I will gladly carry water to flowers or helping with anything that is for the benefit of nature. Making the body beautiful for others to enjoy no longer interests me. However, I want it to feel good and be strong.
– I used to have ticks around the eyes and involuntary head movements. Now I very rarely have them, because now I know that I control the body. I am the soul and I can choose what the body shall do. As long as I know that, I will not have any ticks, since I can deliberately turn them off when they come. On the other hand, when they do come, now I try to listen to the body. What is it trying to tell me right now?
Johan is now trying to put his many insights about his own body to practice in life.
– One of the most meaningful things I like to do after my experience with ayahuasca is to look into people’s eyes to see if there is anyone at home.
– My two biggest insights were that I have a lot to gain from being more flexible. I can be quite stubborn and believe that I am always right. The other big realization was that I have given up so often in my life. In the ritual I felt really bad and tried to distract myself to feel less discomfort. One of those who supported us during the ritual helped me to realize that I should not give up and bend down to the floor, but that I should instead stretch my body upwards and be with my friends, even when it feels like hell. And I did, even though I was sick and struggled and stood there on trembling legs about to faint. In life I have often given in to laziness, because of fear or anxiety, instead of fighting for what I want.
– I will do it again in a few months. I am in no hurry to do it again, but I want to. I’ll probably throw up and feel bad and have a difficult struggle, but I’m looking forward to it.
What do you mean by dangerous, Daniel? Do you mean for the mind or for body, or is it a combination?
I want to start with a disclaimer – I haven’t put a lot of thought into this. There are probably many sharp minds who have, but I can imagine splitting the harmful effects into at least six categories.
1. Physical damage and the possibility of dying.
Some substances are physically much more dangerous than others. For example, in Sweden 12.000 people die every year from smoking. This can be compared with the number of deaths for all illicit drugs together, which barely passes the 500 mark. This is comparable to the number of suicides, and some of them are of course suicides. Hundreds of people die each year from alcohol poisoning, but we have yet to seen anyone die of cannabis.
If we look at damage caused by substances, I have seen estimates that between 10-25 percent of the hospital beds in Sweden are occupied by someone who is there because of their drinking. And even though nobody is dying of cannabis, there are those who take physical damage, such as with memory impairment. Other physically dangerous drugs are, for example, opiates (including heroin), cocaine and amphetamine.
2. Physical and psychological dependence.
Some drugs are physically addictive, so that users get a strong physical craving for them. Some of the more well known are opiates, nicotine, alcohol and cocaine. From my own experience I can say that cannabis is also physically addictive, but much less so than nicotine.
There are many substances which do not create physical dependence, but people with addictive personalities don’t need a physical addiction to abuse a substance. The addict has a frame of mind where the search for the next high/intoxication is compulsive.
Drug opponents sometimes try to convince us that illegal substances that do not create physical dependence, instead automatically create psychological dependence. That is not my experience when it comes to psychedelics. LDS and magic mushrooms create no physical dependencies, but also seems to have built into the actual experience that people are satisfied and needs time to integrate their insights. Psychedelics sometimes also moderate or often solve addiction problems. Certainly there are addictive personalities looking for highs with psychedelics, but it is more common that people use psychedelics in a moderate manner.
3. Mental harm.
Here it starts to get tricky, because discomfort is not the same as harm. Is it mental harm to trigger psychosis or latent disorders? I do not think psychoses always let themselves be categorized so easily, because they can often lead on to something extremely positive. Many addicts have paranoid traits, but is it really a sign that the drug did something with their psyche or is it the result of a long, well-founded fear of the legal system?
Leaving this aside, I think that it is really important to address the “bad trips” reported on psychedelics. This is not to be regarded as mental harm, no matter how ignorantly one discusses the matter.
A bad trip pretty much always stems from the persons inability to handle that which comes up during the trip. It could be a childhood trauma, fear, or pain that you have caused others. When something like this pops up during a trip we can choose to face the problem, or we can try to escape from it. When we try to run away from aspects of ourselves that need healing, we hurt ourselves, which can lead to, for example, depression or psychosis. But the problem is not that we have the opportunity to confront this. The opportunity is really a great gift. The problem is that we do not dare or have the ability to meet these challenges and that we are fleeing from ourselves. Mental difficulties that occur in this way should therefore not be attributed to the substance, but rather the person’s inability to meet themselves. The solution to it all is education, support and guidance; something we get very little of in society today.
Flashbacks on psychedelics is a curious chapter in itself. There are those who suffer from involuntary lingering effects, such as prolonged light, bouncing sound etc. I cannot say much about that. However, there is another kind of flashback, the one where you experience new, but true perception. Example, let’s say you open up the ability to see energy patterns in nature. When the trip is over, the ability stays. It was there all along and just needed to be opened up, jump started. This could also be considered a flashback and for someone who cannot put the ability into an understandable context, it can be misinterpreted as mental injury. But again, the problem is not the substance or what it opened up, but the persons inability to deal with it.
4. Increased risk behavior.
There are substances that are clearly linked to risky behavior. In that sense I have not been in contact with anything more dangerous than alcohol. Example, I have driven a car plastered, really fast on a winding country road in the dark. If I had smoked cannabis instead, I might still have gotten behind the wheel, but instead of driving 40 kilometers over the speed limit, I would likely have driven 40 kilometers below it. When I smoked cannabis, it made me very careful and cautious.
It is no coincidence that drunkenness and violence go hand in hand. Alcohol brings out an aggressive mentality – of course not in all, but in very many – and it ‘s very easy to go out of control on alcohol. It is no coincidence that there is next to no violence at rave parties, where illegal substances are easily accessible. People on cannabis, MDMA, LSD or mushrooms often have a hard time understanding violence, and even more difficulty participating in it.
One myth regarding LSD is that you think that you can fly and jump out of a window. On alcohol, I have climbed scaffoldings and cranes, swum across lakes, thrown myself into channels, gotten into quarrels and driven cars. On LSD, I usually walked around in the woods looking at the flowers and trees, meditated, danced, explained to people how much I love them and felt at one with the universe.
5. Danger to society.
Some things are obvious risks to society, such as violence, abuse and theft. An economist would perhaps also count in sick days and lost productivity as dangers to society. We might with small differences all agree, and I think it is clear which substances are hazardous in this respect.
One issue that I think is interesting is whether there is a danger to society when its citizens refuse to obey unjust laws. I would argue that it is not a danger to society when people ignore the drug laws to seek alternative ways to heal, develop, connect to the divine, or just relax and have fun. It is on the contrary a very healthy challenge that will lead to positive change. Unfortunately, many get into trouble, being prosecuted for things that should not be considered criminal. That is a danger to society.
6. Spiritual danger.
From personal experience I can say that there are substances that connect us to the divine and there are substances that stun and disconnect us. Psychedelics such as mushrooms, DMT, mescaline and LSD have the ability to connect us. Substances such as opiates, alcohol, nicotine, amphetamines, and cocaine disconnect us.
When I talk about what is dangerous, this is not what I ‘m talking about. This has its own chapter.
To return to the question: what do I think of as dangerous?
When I say dangerous, I mainly mean what is physically dangerous – that is what kills, what hurts, what leads to physical dependence, what leads to dangerous behavior and what leads to violence and crime that affects other people. These substances I consider to be the most dangerous and they include drugs like opiates, alcohol, nicotine and amphetamines. Funny enough, these are all in some form legal and readily available, and the deadliest (nicotine) and the most risky (alcohol) are completely legal.
I am not so naive as to dismiss psychological risks, but we should not, as today, exaggerate them. These risks can be minimized with education and guidance. I see two main psychological hazards:
1. Abuse. The abuse is never in substance, but in the person. We need to help people overcome addictions, instead of stigmatizing them. Substance abuse is a sickness and should not be fought with law.
2. People freak out because they do not know how to handle life. We need to give people the tools to process trauma, fear, sadness, anxiety, depression, and similar things, so that they may take control of their lives instead of being caught off guard and freaking out.
The following is an excerpt from a channeling about substances, where two lists were presented. The first is an exact list. These substances are very dangerous and the list is sorted according to how dangerous they are. In the second list are some examples of substances that can be dangerous if we use them incorrectly. It is not sorted.
1. Heroin and other opiates