Is it cheating to use psychedelics in the pursuit of personal and spiritual growth?
Plant teachers and psychedelic medicines are part of an especially powerful spiritual path that only few can handle. They aren’t for everyone, just as tantra or vipassana meditation isn’t for everyone. It is a genuine path of healing and spiritual growth that has been around for longer than any religion we have today and that has at some point in time been part of the practice of all of them. They are at the very core of the mystical experience that once upon a time gave birth to religions, although those religions have since fundamentally perverted the insights given. Psychedelics are the tools of healers, shamans, witches, visionaries, psychonauts, spiritual explorers and messengers. They are tools of change and enlightenment, of love and transcendence. They are catalysts of evolution and reconnect people to the source.
In the gospel of Tomas, Jesus says “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” That quote has been very inspiring to me, because the truth is so very apparent. When we try to hide things we are ashamed of, we are actually holding onto those most toxic moments of our lives, thus hurting ourselves.
I use my writing as a tool for healing. When I find something that I feel that some part of me desperately wants to keep secret, I write about it. Then I often find myself doubting if I should really reveal that which I feel ashamed of. That feeling is the final sign that I need to let go, so I publish. Every time I manage to bring something out into the open and release it, a weight is lifted from my shoulders. I walk a little lighter, a little taller and breathe a little deeper.
Some might think that I do so because I am an exhibitionist thrill seeker. To be quite honest it often scares and even sickens me to reveal myself. My ego is many times violently opposed and tries to get me off the idea of being truthful and transparent. But I push forward anyway, because when I release something it eventually looses all power over me and I heal.
This blog mostly covers the last 10-15 years of my life. My life has changed dramatically during that time, which has led me on a path of spiritual and self discovery. From having been an atheist drunk I have woken up to realize that I am a shaman, a healer and teacher. I have opened up contact to the spirit world and work with angels. I’m a natural at working with psychedelics and often have clear sight. Most of the time I’m not learning things in the area of spirituality and shamanism, I’m just remembering them from the many past lives I have spent doing the same things.
I have also found several great gurus along the way. It is clear to me that everyone and everything has the potential of being a great teacher, if I only approach them/it with that understanding. So many people have helped me remember who I am and have added to my knowledge. I am truly grateful. Three teachers have been especially prominent – my two children and my wife.
This journey is most interesting and rewarding, even in the parts that have been filled with hardship. It has left my head filled with insights and learning experiences that I now feel an overwhelming need to document in order to bring structure into what I know. I am releasing my first book shortly and I have the feeling that there are a couple more waiting to be written, where much of the material on this blog will reappear.
So far I have worked very much on my own or with a small circle of friends. Lately I have been feeling a longing to expand and find new friends also outside Sweden. I hope that my openness attracts other people who are on similar paths of self exploration, and it seems to.
I am also happy to share what I have learnt with others.
Social commentary and a push for change
There is so much that is properly screwed up in this society that I cannot help myself from commenting on some of it. Especially when it comes to drug laws I find today’s system utterly offensive, but politics in common are a mess. So I can’t help getting involved from time to time.
What this blog isn’t about
This blog is not about having many readers, pleasing people, earning money, making a name for myself, satisfying my ego or hurting anyone. If any of that was a priority, this would have been a very different blog.
Today’s repressive drug laws are at a dead end. The war on drugs harms society and citizens in a multitude of ways, of which I listed some in yesterdays blog post. Ironically it also prevents effective treatments for such things as addiction. But where can we go from here? Let’s imagine that all substances are legal. How can we organize the community to limit the damage and help addicts?
Legalizing all drugs would of course not mean that you could buy them next to the sweets at your local supermarket. And everything doesn’t just fall into place because they come under government control. There would probably need to be a combination of solutions, some of which already exist and others that don’t. Here are some possible parts to such a system.
In the current situation the entire drug trade is a black economy that is largely controlled by criminal organizations. If all substances were legalized they would become part of the regular economy, where it becomes possible to set up rules for manufacturing and quality control products. The substances would be provided with a table of content, just like any other commodity. The goods may additionally be provided with other labels, such as organic and fair trade.
Those working in the trade would have the same rights as other workers, would have the support of existing labor laws, would have the right to organize themselves into unions and would become tax payers.
Sales could take place within established models, such as the state control (pharmacies/tobacco sales) or as a state monopoly (in Sweden all alcohol is sold by the state run Systembolaget). Age limits could be imposed on substances and they could also be differentiated, so that one would have to be older to purchase some of the more potent compounds.
When drugs come under government control it is possible to steer people away from more harmful substances by levying heavier taxes on them. It’s would be easy to see which substances are economically costly for society and adjust the taxes accordingly.
Possibility to withdraw the right to use certain substances.
People should be able to lose their right to use certain substances if they commit crimes or harm themselves or others when they use them. I think it is strange that those who repeatedly get into fights drunk, drive intoxicated or get wasted on the verge of dying, still have the right to buy as much liquor as they can pay for.
When one shows that they aren’t able to handle a certain substance, it should be possible to revoke that person’s right to do so, in the same manner that one can lose ones driving license or license to practice medicine.
The possibility to exclude oneself from certain substances.
Many people are very aware of which substances they should not take. For example I know many who say they have no problem drinking beer, but go berserk if they drink hard liquor. It’s the same with all substances. What is pure bliss for one, can be hell for another. What one is able to take a couple of times a year without developing a craving for, another becomes addicted to after just a few doses.
But then again, many people know perfectly well what substances are dangerous for them. It could be made easy for them to take responsibility with the choice to voluntarily waive the right to use certain substances. They could also be able to set limits for themselves, by specifying how much of a substance they may purchase during a certain time period.
Many addicts will arrive at the point where they want to break free from their habit. During a certain period the window of change is open. The problem is often that they relapse because the substance will continue to be available to them. If they can exclude themselves from the right to buy certain substances, such as if an alcoholic does not allow him/herself to buy liquor, it would effectively help in the recovery process.
Licenses to handle certain substances.
With some particularly heavy drugs such as heroin, it would be possible to introduce a license allowing an educated person to handle the substance. For most substances it would probably be enough with basic education in school and a little everyday common sense, but with substances that carry serious consequences, it is important to be sure that those who use them have proper knowledge about risks and safety. The education for such a license may contain things like responsible management, how to use in a safe manner to prevent spread of infection, and how to deal with accidental overdoses. Such a license may be revoked if the person is irresponsible and for example sells substances to other people or uses them in an unsafe manner.
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In addition to the distribution itself – what can we do to get control of the situation regarding different substances?
Universal education in dealing with drugs and addiction.
I often wonder how drug education in schools can be allowed to be so absolutely worthless. The “education” is basically designed solely to scare people not to try anything. As a teenager I was an exchange student in the United States and the school that I went to worked in exactly the same way when it came to sex education. There was no information about STDs, contraception or sex. The whole message was only “you should not have sex until you get married”, and it was really crammed down the teenagers throats. It is a dangerous kind of indoctrination that creates ignorant and bigoted citizens, while increasing the actual risks.
Instead we should have a proper drug education, which includes such themes as:
∙ What is an altered state of mind and how you can you work with it?
∙ How to use drugs safely.
∙ What to do if you or someone else feels bad under the influence.
∙ How to manage an overdose.
∙ How to identify and get rid of substance abuse.
Use tax revenues for addiction treatment and prevention.
A legalization would generate tax revenue that I think primarily should go to addiction treatment and prevention. Even more money is now being spent on hunting, harassing and punishing people.
If we add a substantial part of those resources to create good addiction treatment, we will soon have the best addiction treatment the world has ever seen. Health care should be accessible and able to quickly help addicts who express a desire to receive care. Addiction is a disease and addicts should be treated as patients, not criminals.
There will always be addicts, but it is my firm belief that the addiction is to be found in the person – not in substance. People flee into abuse because they are fleeing from themselves, from the traumas they try to forget or from situations that are unbearable. Good prevention work builds on this understanding and aims to help people face themselves, help them process past trauma and to make their lives bearable. It helps them to stop fleeing and encourages them to take responsibility for their own lives. Much of today’s preventive work lacks this basic understanding.
Make substances available for scientific research, therapists, health care workers and healers.
There are many substances that are currently incorrectly classified as drugs with no medical value. This applies above all to psychedelics that are proven to be extremely effective in curing such things as addiction, depression, post-traumatic stress, empathy disorders and death anxiety. There are lots of stories about absolutely miraculous healing taking place with these substances, and they are at the same time very safe when used correctly.
Another substance that is being discussed greatly right now is cannabis and not only in its mind-altering form, but also as tinctures without the mind-altering properties. It is used with good results for such things as chronic pain, fibromyalgia, depression and end of life care. There seems to be some evidence that it also has cancer fighting properties.
These substances need to be made available to those who need the help and for the professionals who are working on this – from therapists, to regular health care workers, and also in alternative treatments. Today there are plenty of alternative therapists and traditional healers such as shamans, who have the knowledge and who have been passing it on for thousands of years. Here are exciting cross over’s to be made, when traditional methods of healing meet western medicine. Such work is already taking place. To fully take advantage of this scientific research needs to get started as soon as possible.
Making up for abuse committed by the state.
While the intention has probably been good, many people have been abused and badly treated under the current legislation. The current drug laws have stigmatized people, forced them into alienation, punished them, led people into a criminal lifestyle, actively withheld health care for sick addicts and has also led to many unnecessary deaths.
There is a need for redress and reconciliation. The very least the government should do is to apologize for the abuse that occurred under the current legislation.
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.
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.
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