Many years back I had a bottle of LSD with only a few drops left. One evening I emptied the bottle in my mouth, filled it with a little water, shook it and took that too. The dose was way higher than I had anticipated and left me quite incapacitated. There was absolutely no risk to it, but I did spend a lot of time crawling on the floor as the universe opened up before my eyes and gave me lessons on perspectives.
At that time I was spiritually awakening but I hadn’t connected to my inner shaman, so I was quite surprised at the long sequence of automated behaviour that followed. I was fully aware of what my body was doing, but I was not doing it. There was no thought, only automated actions and it was obvious that my body knew how to do them.
In this mode of automated action I stood up on unsteady legs and I then smudged my entire home for the first time ever. There was chanting and speaking coming from my mouth, but I was not creating it. It was just there, flowing through me. When I came to the kitchen I got all the food out and I sorted it into food with good and food with bad energy. As before there was no thought behind it. There was no “oh, I should have a look at my food” and no “is this good or bad for me?”. I simply took something and the feeling in me quickly determined if it was good or bad. Unsurprisingly locally produced ecological wholesome foods were good and sugary snacks and foods grown with poison were bad. Half my food got sorted out that evening and was shipped off the next morning.
This automated action continued for what seemed to be several hours. It was my first glimpse into ancient knowledge that I have amassed during past lives as a shaman. I didn’t understand that back then, but it has become ever clearer to me over the years. We have all lived many lives and it is common that we tap into the knowledge we have from past lives. I have had many past lives as a shaman, so naturally that knowledge runs deep in me. It is the same with anything that takes up much of your time. I had a friend that was a natural when it came to music. Looking back into his past lives he had many lifetimes as a musician.
In this life I don’t have access to all my previous knowledge, but it quickly reveals itself to me when I am faced with a situation where it is needed. I also recognize techniques, tools and such when I see them and having used them before I quickly adapt them to work for me. The feeling it gives is that I am not actually learning things – I am simply remembering them. The difference is paramount.
Photo: The Burning Fields by Lies Thru a Lens on Flickr
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.
– You are a shaman, Daniel.
It was unexpected to hear, but obvious to me. The female shaman looked me over and continued:
– You have lived many lives as shaman. We belong to the same family.
When I worked with high doses of psychedelics, I often went into automated practice of shamanism – past lives activated and I started doing without a shred of thought. I speak with trees, have contact with spirits, cleanse, transforms and make it easier for others to liberate themselves. The mushroom talks to me and gives me powerful techniques. In sober meditation I get in touch with spirit helpers who share their wisdom and all around me I find knowledge that I already know.
A year or so ago I talked with a friend about shamanism. She put a book about shamanism in hand and told me to read it. I did so and realized that I did not have to. I already knew everything. I was already familiar with every technique and approach without having read a single book, spoken to anyone knowledgeable, seen a film or read about it on the internet. Sometimes I called them other things, but I immediately recognized them for what they were.
I already knew, but I felt a resistance in using the word. How could I call myself a shaman without ever having met one? It felt so artificial.
But as she looked into my eyes I recognized her from before. And she told me what I already knew. I am a shaman. Then she introduced me to my father, the Sun, and I felt that I had finally come home.